By Eugenia Jones
(In this week’s edition, Judge Greene discusses tourism, county maintenance/custodial, animal control, county parks, and litter abatement.)
“We are continuing to promote McCreary County with the hope we can reach potential travelers and outdoor enthusiasts,” Greene said. “Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a lot of events in 2020 were cancelled and some businesses were limited or completely shut down.”
According to Greene, McCreary County’s tourism director, Michelle Perry, constantly promotes the county in any way she can. Perry also sits on a number of boards including the Tourist Commission, Stearns Trail Town, and Chamber of Commerce. She also attends Heritage Foundation meetings. Despite last year’s ongoing pandemic, Perry organized a drive by Christmas tree lighting and Visit Santa event. County brochures were distributed, and McCreary County tourism increased their presence on social media.
“Michelle administers the transient tax program for the county which brought in $14,063.93 last year,” Greene noted. “We hope to be open for more outdoor activities this year such as the Trail Rides and Yamacraw Trail Runs. We also plan to have a bigger presence at the KY State Fair.”
Perry has worked hand in hand with Deputy Judge Nathan Nevels in meeting with Tammie Nazario regarding the planning and promotion of tourism and packaging of adventure vacations in McCreary County in conjunction with the regional Kentucky Wildlands initiative. Locals have been encouraged to use AirBnB and similar services to better market local properties and increase lodging for tourists.
“Additionally, we have renewed work on the trail around the left side of the county reservoir (Laurel Creek Reservoir) and completed plans for renovating the old city water intake into a wheelchair-accessible fishing platform,” Greene added.
Rick Stephens and his assistant maintain all county properties including all of the mowing and trimming.
“Rick and his assistant are always ready and able to handle anything that comes up” Greene observed. “They have initiated updating our lighting to LED fixtures and repaired several water leaks including a large one at the Sandhill Camp which he coordinated with the McCreary County Water District.”
Additionally, improvements have been made to both sets of restrooms at the Camp.
“They continue to make improvements to our facilities, including painting and pressure washing,” Greene stated.
Wayne Simpson and his two helpers keep the Courthouse and grounds exceptionally clean.
“Due to the pandemic, they had to step up and constantly wipe down doors, railings and sanitize everything,” Greene declared.
Animal control officer, Milford Creekmore, answered 739 calls and picked up 318 dogs and other animals.
“That doesn’t include numerous calls concerning livestock that escaped and caused a dangerous hazard on our roadways,” Greene observed.
“Even though the Splash Pad was closed this season due to the pandemic and rentals were down, there was still a lot of activity at the County Park,” Greene expressed. “We had baseball, park rentals, gym use, etc. Melissa Vanover, director for the county parks, stayed busy.”
Several improvements were made to the County Park and Sandhill RV Camp in 2020. An additional baseball field at the County Park received new lights. New sidewalks were constructed and the walking trail was covered with sealant. A grant was used to get new signage.
“Darrell Vanover always makes sure the Sandhill Camp is monitored and looking good,” Greene said. “The County Road Department made many improvements at the camp this year. The Blazin’ Bluegrass Festival was a success even though numbers may have been down a little because of the pandemic. The Spring and Fall Trail Rides with horses are two of our new events scheduled for this year. The camp is seeing more and more use, and we hope to expand on that in the coming year.”
“We have a crew of two full time (Dwayne Morrow, Dakota Keith) and one part time worker who have cleaned up the Transfer Station and made numerous improvements,” Greene observed. “Due to the down cycle of need for plastic and paper recyclables, our focus presently is on cardboard.”
The county has numerous recycling bins throughout the county and is working on acquiring more. The county has also worked on numerous illegal dump sites and hopes to acquire more equipment to help in that endeavor. Building on what began in 2019, the county funded two free bulk item dump events (four days) in 2020 at the transfer station in Stearns.
“More than 85 dump truck loads of mattresses, old televisions, appliances, etc. went to the landfill instead of ending up on the side of the road,” Greene declared. “The tire amnesty program was also a success. I must give a huge thank-you to the litter abatement crew, road department crew, magistrates, and county attorney for volunteering to help get people unloaded quickly and efficiently.”
(Next week, Judge Greene will discuss jail transports, emergency management, tax administration, and the road department.)