WHAT WE THINK: These are our goals for Shelby County in 2014

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Ours is not an omniscient view and hardly omnipotent. We prefer an omnibus of ideas.

Have you set your New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps you’ve set them and already broken them. You wouldn’t be alone.

We have been setting our community goals for Shelby County for the coming year, and unlike resolutions that might be broken, our objective is for each of these goals to be checked off the list and summed up as accomplished during our annual accounting next December.

We try to be ambitious but realistic in our goal-setting, and we attempt to address these issues from the voice of the public, to speak out for you and what we perceive are your best interests.

We welcome input from all of you, for those elected to serve and those who serve the elected. Ours is not an omniscient view and hardly omnipotent. We prefer an omnibus of ideas.

With that, we offer these goals:


Open the outlet malls.

This might perceive to be a carryover, but there appears on our horizon no bigger impact on Shelby County this year than the successful opening of the Outlet Shoppes of Louisville in southern Simpsonville and the development of the properties surrounding that interchange. We believe the next five years will be a maelstrom of activity there, particularly if the strong economic news nationally continues. We celebrate these developments with some key advice: Let’s be sure that our planning is at its highest quality, that zoning overlay districts are in place to guide the development and that we constantly are reviewing and updating traffic flow – even that ridiculous curve along Veechdale Road on the west side of the mall.


Recycle our future.

Apparently our only hope for improving the ecology of Shelby County falls to the Shelbyville City Council, which appears on the verge of introducing an ordinance for curbside garbage and recycling pickup. We commend that plan and encourage its expedient introduction. To the 109 Solid Waste Board we say this: We feel the $3.2 million – and probably rising – being spent on the new mega garbage center on Windhurst Way is true waste. We don’t believe taxpayers’ money is being well-spent, and we think the public will not be pleased with the additional fees for dropping household trash. We fear our roads will become litter magnets. For all of this we hold Shelby County Fiscal Court accountable. A countywide curbside service could have set the positive tone for the future of this community. Sadly, we apparently are being left by the curb with that idea, too.


Feeding our future.

The Shelby County Tourism and Visitors Commission will make its rounds this year suggesting a 3-cent tax on restaurant sales. We think that’s a tasty idea, but only if the commission’s board agrees to spend a piece of that rather large and growing pie on civic projects for Shelby Countians – such as the City Center in downtown Shelbyville. We think this is a painless way to help make Shelby County a better place to live and more attractive to new businesses  and tourists. To the Simpsonville City Commission: Take the lead on this.


Envision educational efficiency.

The Shelby County School Board’s Long-Range Planning Committee is meeting to develop the school footprint and facilities for the future. We encourage that group to look closely at the grant projects being developed by the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative. There are pilot programs that that will address the concept of learn-at-your-own-pace education and a more collegiate-styled curriculum. We like what we hear, and we would not want to see our long-range plans tied to buildings that are conceived for a 14-year educational program. We need this group to think as aggressively about the how as about the where and when.


Put the best person in the job.

In three weeks we likely will know who will serve us in many key elected offices for the next 2 to 6 years. We fear that there is not enough new blood or variety of voices in some of those roles. We see the status quo becoming the future as well as the past. Still, our ultimate goal is to have the best person in these roles, and we commit to presenting the dialogue along those lines. Your responsibility is to ensure that happens by going to the polls and voting.


Rebuild after fires.

We had such an encouraging conclusion to an otherwise demoralizing year in downtown Shelbyville. The awful fires of March and April that stole chunks of our history and retail foundation remain painful, but we are salved by the introduction of more than half-a-dozen new businesses on Main Street and the plans to reconstruct the old Chatham House. Add those to the blossoming Blue Gables project, and we see downtown energy gathering momentum.


Get answers on Jackleen Lane.

The courts have been clear in the precedents they have set: The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services owes all of us answers about its oversight of Jackleen Lane, the 15-year-old who was found drowned in Clear Creek after no one had noticed she had been missing for at least three days. We must be convinced this Cabinet truly is protecting our children and being vigilant, but instead of records we are receiving runarounds, which cost you money. All we are ask is that the law be followed. You deserve that. You are paying all of these bills. You would think Ms. Lane’s family would want to know if she was being protected, too.


Widen Mount Eden Road.

Now that Interstate 64 and Buck Creek Road are receiving much-needed widening projects that address traffic flow, safety and growth, it is time for our leaders to return to their plan for Mount Eden Road between I-64 and U.S. 60, which is perhaps the county’s most difficult traffic situation. That plan was delayed to accommodate the early replacement of the interchange at KY 55 and I-64. Let’s not let Mount Eden be shoved farther back. We need a wider and more efficient thoroughfare that is safer for residents and enticing to visitors. And the plan for a parallel bike/pedestrian trail is an essential part of that, too.


Let’s get wet.

The concept of a distillery being built in Shelby County appears to be more than a mirage – certainly the action of fiscal court would suggest so – and we think that idea, plus the development around the area of the outlet mall in Simpsonville, should lead to a public referendum to change the county from “moist” to “wet” so that it would be attractive to a new grocery store and be competitive with outlets in Jefferson County.


Carryovers from 2013:

  • City Center: The planned downtown performance/convention facility deserves to be funded and constructed, and the concept of allowing the long range planning for the school district to play the lead role on that stage is an appropriate one. We hope to see Act 2 before the year’s end.
  • Let’s get to the bottom of the death of Trey Williams. Mr. Williams died more than two years ago, and the wrongful death lawsuit that seeks to find the ultimate responsibility continues to drag along. Let’s get this case to court or off the dockets. The sad loss of a teenager is bad enough without continuing to haggle about the process for finding the answers.
  • We must continue our vigilance about how our taxing districts are spending the tens of millions of dollars they take in each year. The decision-making isn’t always forward-thinking, as we are learning, and we can’t just relax and let that be the case. We have to use each dollar for its most appropriate good.
  • Ramp up the final repairs at Exit 32 in Shelbyville and cut a ribbon on appropriate public responsiveness to a dangerous situation.
  • Expand the broadband access in Shelby County. State Sen. Paul Hornback says that his “AT&T Bill” would accomplish this goal. We hope that it would. We will seek proof – and more reliable Internet access for those more than a mile or two from the U.S. 60 corridor.