Wills named Farmer of the Year

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By Walt Reichert

John Wills was named Farmer of the Year at the 53rd Farm-City banquet Tuesday.

Extension Agent for Agriculture Brittany Edelson called Wills "one of the most well-rounded persons to receive the award."

"He spends incredible amounts of time following ag legislation that impacts locally and nationally," Edelson said. "He advises producers young and old."

Wills has farmed his entire life in the Rivels area of southern Shelby County. For the last 18 years he has worked for Jacobi Sales. He is the company's service manager. He is active in Shelby County Farm Bureau.

Now a part-time farmer, Wills raises some tobacco and helps his son, Darren, raise tobacco and straw.

The Farm-City banquet held in Shelbyville is the oldest in the nation. It celebrates the relationship between the agriculture and business communities. The Kiwanis Club sponsors the local Farm-City banquet. About 400 attended Tuesday's event.

County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger and Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty both proclaimed the week of Nov. 19-23 Farm-City Week in Shelby County and Shelbyville.

Harriett Allen, co-owner of Talon Winery in Lexington, talked about the benefits to the county if the winery opens a second location here in Shelby County. Allen said the winery in Fayette County attracts about 50,000 visitors every year. She told the audience her business would attract tourists to Shelby County and, at the same time, promote the county.

"We have a beautiful facility, a beautiful vineyard, we intend to build that in Shelby County," Allen said. "Our goal is to make Talon Winery and Shelby County a destination."

Allen and co-owner Charlie Tackett have bought land on Gordon Lane just south of I-64 off Ky. 55 South. They plan to put in a vineyard, and convert an existing home into a wine-tasting facility. In a previous interview, Allen said the earliest date for putting in the grape vines would be spring 2009.

But before that happens, voters in precinct A102 will have to vote yes on Dec. 11 to allow the winery to open since the land is in the county. Allen urged those in attendance to support the winery and vote yes in the special election.

Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Jack Brammer was the featured speaker and he regaled the audience with stories of the governors of Kentucky he has known since he started reporting on politics in the 1970s.