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Clay Cable says he’s enjoyed traveling across Carroll County in pursuit of the Democratic Party nomination for county judge-executive.
Speaking to the Rotary Club of Carrollton March 26, Cable said he decided to run for the post a little over a year ago when he learned that Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson planned to retire from the post.
“I’ve had a lot of fun out here doing it and seeing the people,” Cable said. “The county’s a lot bigger than you think when you start walking it, believe me.”
Cable said the county’s demographics are very different than what they were 30 years ago. Children also have changed from what they were 30 years ago, he said.
“Parenting, a lot of times, is almost nonexistent,” he said. There are a lot of single parents and grandparents trying to raise children.
This is reflected in the poor performance of Carroll County Schools in a recent state rankings story that showed the county below the average of counties in the Appalachian areas of the state.
“I was very disappointed in the rating we got [that was reported] in the newspaper,” he said.
Being an educator is not an easy job, Cable said. But he believes the problem can be fixed.
Some of this problem is caused by jobs not being available for parents, Cable said, while a lot has to do with the drug problem here. That’s something he saw first-hand in his three years as a Carroll County deputy sheriff.
As he campaigned, Cable said one person told him he attended the forum held in March at General Butler State Resort Park on the heroin problem and didn’t know the drug problem is as big a problem as it.
“Carroll County is an epidemic area,” Cable said. There were two deaths from heroin overdoses in the week prior to his appearance at Rotary. Coroner David Wilhoite, who attended this meeting, noted that on that Tuesday there were four non-fatal heroin overdoses.
“Are we going to solve it? I have my ways, but they’re not going to let me do that,” Cable told Rotary.
One problem that needs to be addressed is there are not enough beds for treatment and rehabilitation.
In addition to addressing the drug problem, Cable talked about improving the roads in the county.
“I’m interested in doing the judge-executive’s job to make a better county for the people who live here. I think our road system could be better,” he said. While most roads are paved and not in bad condition, he said there are no shoulders on most of them.
“Roads have been paved, repaved and paved again, but nobody’s ever put any shoulders on the roads,” he said. Some places have drop offs that can hang a vehicle up on its frame.
Cable said supporting Carroll County Memorial Hospital is something he would do as judge-executive.
“I’m very much for the hospital in this county. Without that hospital, we wouldn’t have the industry that we have today,” he said. “We wouldn’t have the service industries that are here servicing these industries.”
Cable said to know the importance of the hospital, one only has to talk to those who have had strokes and heart attacks and were stabilized there before being sent to larger hospitals for treatment.
“They’ll tell you it’s a little more than a Band-Aid station,” he said.
The people who “bad mouth” the hospital are the ones who want some kind of pain medication and didn’t get it. Cable said there are good physicians working at CCMH.
Cable discussed some of the census data he found on the county, which he called rugged and spread out.
“It’s pretty desolate in some of the places,” he said, explaining there are some “back country areas” that many people never see.
According to the 2010 census, there are 10,811 people in the county. Cable said he believes he’s met more than 8,000 of them in the last six months of campaigning.
A quarter of the population of the county is under age 18, he said. Cable went on to tell the breakdown of the rest of the population: 9.1 percent is 18-24; 29.9 percent is 25-44 years of age; 23 percent is 45-65; and 12.5 percent is 65 or older.
That census report showed that 14.9 percent of the county’s population lives at or below the poverty line.
“It’s a lot,” he said. “That kind of shocked me a little bit because I thought poverty was a little lower in this county.” With the public housing located here, he said he believes that’s probably pretty accurate.
Additionally, Cable said there are those who farm in the county and don’t make a lot of money. Some, he said, choose not to because they don’t want to pay more taxes and simply don’t want to earn more.
Duties of the job
Cable said the county judge-executive is responsible for managing all county-run operations, including the road department and emergency services such as rescue squad. As part of his role, the judge must also oversee the county’s budget and handle things such as natural disasters.
The judge also works with the hospital, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll County Community Development Corporation.
He said the judge is also responsible for overseeing the county’s infrastructure, such as ensuring that bridges are maintained.
“I won’t say it’s bad,” he said of the county’s infrastructure. “But it’s weak in places.”
Cable said he believes the bridge over the Kentucky River connecting Carrollton and Prestonville has issues, saying he’s seen large chunks of concrete fall out of it.
“My advice is don’t drive under it and don’t drive over it,” he said.
The judge-executive also works with industry, which he said Carroll County has more of than any of its neighbors.
“Why do we have that industry here?” he said. “There is one reason only, it’s the aquifer.” He said this body of water — the largest in the U.S. — is located about 100 feet down and runs from the river to the county’s hills.
Cable said when he left Dow Corning, the company was pumping almost 12 million gallons a day from the aquifer. The city of Carrollton and PMC Organometallix also use water from the aquifer, while others such as Kentucky Utilities make use of water from the Ohio River.
Cable listed many of the industries that have located in the county. He said there is one that many people don’t realize has grown into a multi-million dollar industry — the lumber yard at Exit 44 off of Interstate 71.
“It does look bad,” he said. “I have some ideas about what to do about that. But it’s something him and I will have to work out. He’s not against it. He said to come talk to him and I will.”
Cable said he will work on this even if he isn’t elected.
The county has only one entrance that doesn’t look like a scrap yard, a junkyard or is overgrown, he said, pointing to Hwy. 36 from Trimble County.
In addition to working on this issue, Cable said a lot of questions on Camp Kysoc and the proposed new Jefferson Community and Technical College Carrollton campus.
“I’m for the college, but we can’t build it as a community ourselves,” he said. Cable said, speaking prior to the state budget approval that included $12 million for the project. “If the state funds it, I think it’s a great benefit.”
The new campus can help support local industry and will bring people to the county, he said.
As far as Camp Kysoc, Cable said the county only has a five-year lease with a five-year option on the property.
“It would be detrimental to us to sink a lot of money into it and in five years the state comes up and says, thank you for the improvements, we’ll see ya,’” he said.
But what is there can be put to use for children in the community, handicapped children from the region and 4-H programs because of the many facilities that are still there.
Cable said there has been talk for many years about the need for a community center in Carroll County. “That’s not feasible to do at this point either,” he said, at least not to the size that people say they want.
While the county probably has the money to build such a facility, it doesn’t have the money to keep it up or to pay the people to operate it.
Cable said he believes something on a smaller scale would be the answer. “We can probably get some support from local industries and businesses to help,” he said. “They’ve always been very generous to the county.”
Cable said the office also comes with a lot of state-mandated responsibilities.
As he opened his presentation, he said he was glad to be back at Rotary, noting that he was a past president.
Born in Trimble County, Cable, 54, said he has been married to Lisa Hoffman Cable for 32 years and has three children — Daniel, Jacquelyn and Casey — and five grandchildren.
A U.S. Army veteran who served two tours of duty, Cable was stationed stateside in Texas and overseas in Germany.
Over the past 25 years, Cable said he has served the county through a lot of different boards and organizations, including the county ethics board, city planning and zoning board, city board of adjustments, as a Carrollton firefighter and a member of Ghent Fire Protection District.
Cable said he served on Carroll County Board of Education for seven years, two of those as its chairman. He also represented Carroll, Trimble, Henry and Owen counties on the Kentucky School Board Association for two years.
“Carroll County is a great county. It’s been good to me,” he said.
In response to a question at the March 26 meeting of Carrollton Rotary Club, Cable said he isn’t seeking the job for a personal agenda.
D.J. Carroll asked Cable why he should get someone’s vote over the other four candidates seeking the office.
“I think it’s pretty simple. I’ve had experience in city government. I’ve had experience in state government, “ Cable said. “I’ve had experience in county government. I’ve been involved in this county one way or another the past 25 years through different organizations, different things. I know what’s going on out there. I see it.”
As a former deputy sheriff, Cable said he saw a lot. He said he knows the county’s infrastructure and knows where it’s going.
“I’m out for you all. I don’t have any special interest groups,” Cable told Rotarians and other guests at the meeting. “My agenda has to do with the people of Carroll County and not me.”
Joan Moore, retired executive director of CCCDC, asked Cable about his long-term vision for the county and what steps he would take to achieve it.
“My long-term vision for Carroll County is to be the best county in the state of Ky,” he said.
The issues he believes that need to be addressed to make this happen are improving the county’s infrastructure, lobbying for the funding for JCTC Carrollton campus, better roads, bringing something like the YMCA to the county and bringing more stores downtown that people will want to shop at.
Cable said it’s also important to clean up the county. “Is our county full of trash? Yes it is. Drive slow and look at the roadsides.”
Cable also said it is important to improve the pay for deputies.
He said the job was both rewarding and “very unforgiving” because it is a lot of responsibility and takes a lot of time away from family.
With the situations deputies face, never knowing what’s on the other side of a door they knock on, he said there is a 50-50 potential that the person won’t come back home.
He asked how much is that service worth.
Currently in Carroll County he said it is worth $11.50 an hour. After three years on the job, he said he was earning about $12.60 an hour.
“That’s sad, it really is. That’s one of the reasons we don’t keep good law enforcement in this area,” he said. “Because the opportunities in Oldham County and Boone County are so much greater, the salaries are so much better, you can’t blame them.”
He said he would try to improve the pay for deputies and other county workers, such as paramedics.
Through the years, he said fiscal court hasn’t raised that starting wage from $8.66 an hour since 1984. Cable said he believes the starting wage needs to be adjusted over time with the pay increases that are given to county workers.