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Working to secure funding for a new community college campus in the county and replacement of the Hwy. 36 bridge at Locust Creek top Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson’s priority list for 2013.
In an interview Wednesday, Dec. 26, Tomlinson looked ahead to a busy year of county projects.
But before discussing the work planned in 2013, he said the community needs to remember that it has between 55 and 60 members of the Kentucky National Guard’s Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 138th Artillery based in Carrollton deployed in Africa. He said they will remain there much of the year, with their return not until late summer or fall.
“Think of them and their families as they go through the holidays,” he said.
Tomlinson also reflected on 2012, saying the community has seen a lot of loss of life in the year, adding that this puts things into perspective.
The judge-executive said there are a lot of projects that Carroll County will undertake in the new year.
Some are already underway, he said, while others will likely start when the weather breaks this March.
“The community college should be this community’s top priority,” he said.
Jefferson Community and Technical College has sought a new campus here for several years, even making it into the state budget several times only to be removed by the governor, the senate or the house.
After Camp Kysoc closed, Tomlinson worked to secure some of its leased land across from General Butler State Resort Park for the JCTC campus site.
He said a lot of people have worked to get the project to this point and have given it a lot of effort. The funding issue now rests with the general assembly.
Tomlinson said that what the community needs to focus on is workforce development, pointing out that JCTC is an important part of this. He said there are a lot of quality jobs that will come open in the next few years and people need to be ready to fill them.
“I do hope our people will join with me on it,” he said, to work on
securing approval of the college campus. It is something he discusses with state officials on trips to Frankfort and he will make another trip there soon.
“This is a true need here and for the region,” he said. JCTC supports a number of counties, he said, adding that people should not have to go to Indiana or Northern Kentucky to get the training they need.
Tomlinson stressed the need to continue working to strengthen the local healthcare system. He said that Carroll County Memorial Hospital is important to the community and the region in many ways.
He said it is a “key component” that supports local industry and business, as well as the needs of local residents.
Continuing to secure funding for improving healthcare will be one of his priorities in the new year.
Heating and cooling
Work is now wrapping up on a nearly $300,000 project to install a new heating and cooling system in the courthouse located in downtown Carrollton.
“We will be glad to get that behind us,” he said. The project was needed to replace both an aging chiller on the courthouse roof and a boiler in the basement that was plagued with problems, including one side that did not work.
Tomlinson said the project has gone well and they are now down to final punch list items that need to be addressed.
He said the timing may not have been ideal, but the county had to schedule the work to meet the guidelines to retain the $125,000 energy grant it received to help pay for the work.
As the new year begins, so will work on the streetscape project around the courthouse.
Tomlinson said the contractor will begin some of the electric work and other tasks that can be completed during the cold weather months, as part of a project that includes new sidewalks, new lighting and landscaping around the courthouse.
“We are looking forward to getting that started,” he said.
The project is expected to take about 90 days, depending on how weather affects the progress.
This work is funded with a $186,000 federal Transportation Enhancement grant.
Since taking over Camp Kysoc nearly a year ago, Tomlinson and fiscal court have worked to clean up the property and make repairs needed so it can be used again.
Tomlinson said it is now back in use, hosting a couple of events near the close of 2012.
He said there were between 125-150 senior citizens who attended a Christmas dinner at the lodge and Three Rivers District Health Department held a training program there for between 70-80 people.
“It’s an asset to this community,” he said. Tomlinson said he was glad the county was able to save the camp, leasing it from the state and preserving it for Carroll County.
In the spring and summer, he hopes 4-H and other programs can use the facility for camps.
He said there are projects that the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have agreed to help with to bring the Camp back to life.
Fiscal court still has to make a decision on what to do with the pool facility at the camp.
When warmer weather arrives, Tomlinson said fiscal court will look at how to address lining problems and concrete work that needs to be done at the pool at the Robert Westrick County Park on Hwy. 36.
Problems with the pool showed up during the summer season last year, but it was able to remain in operation.
He expects fiscal court can take bids in March and have the improvements completed in time for the pool to open around Memorial Day.
Tomlinson said there is other work that will need to be performed this spring with the ball fields at the park.
New county shop
Carroll County’s Road Department will have a new home in 2013.
Fiscal court purchased the state highway department building on Park Avenue from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in December.
Tomlinson said the road department’s old location in Prestonville was hard to maintain and much of the equipment had to be stored outside.
With the new facility, the county can keep its equipment inside, he said. Additionally, the building has pull-through bays and lifts for working on the county equipment.
“The court felt like we were getting it for a good price,” he said. The county paid $122,500. He said to build the building new would have cost somewhere around $300,000 and that doesn’t include the cost of the land.
The property transfer is expected to take a couple of months and the road department is expected to be in its new home this spring.
Motorists traveling through Carroll County in 2013 can expect to see a variety of road and bridge projects, some causing delays and even detours.
Tomlinson said the top project is replacing the bridge on Hwy. 36 over Locust Creek. Work is set to begin the first week of March.
But weather permitting, he said some utility work will be performed at the site in preparation for the bridge replacement and realignment.
When work does begin, the highway will be closed, which he said he knows will have an impact on residents who travel the road to work and for companies that use the route in their businesses.
Tomlinson said he will provide plenty of notice prior to the closure so everyone has time to prepare.
The other most visible project actually got underway in the fall, with work on the stretch of interstate that runs through the county.
Resurfacing on Interstate 71 is set to begin as soon as Ohio Valley Asphalt can begin making black top at its plant, he said. During the fall, OVA has worked to address base failures on both the northbound and southbound lanes.
Tomlinson said he knows the roads are now rough because of that work, but it will be resolved once paving can begin. The project, which will repave all of I-71 in Carroll County, extends to Exit 55 in Gallatin County. It also includes repaving ramps at Exits 43 and 44 and installing new guardrail along the interstate.
This work is set to be completed during the weekday evenings and on weekends to avoid disrupting traffic flow during the day.
Other projects Tomlinson said are on tap include the following:
Tomlinson said the new year is starting off on a good note with a job fair that will mean about 40 to 50 new jobs with Diversco, a contractor working at North American Stainless.
The job fair runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 5 in the old courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse.
“It’s jobs that we need,” he said. These positions range from housekeeping, packing and materials handling, to crane operators and tow-motor operators.
Many of the new jobs the county can expect to see do come from existing industry, Tomlinson said.
The county continues to work to serve the needs of industry to encourage growth.
“We are trying to help them as best we can,” he said.
New companies also have their eye on Carroll County.
Tomlinson said he has had visits from prospective industries looking at the county as a possible spot for locating or expanding their business.
“I believe that is a positive sign,” he said.
The economy has turned the corner, he said, noting that there are many positive signs that back this up, such as improving home prices.
Tomlinson said former Carroll County Community Development Corporation Executive Director Joan Moore gave leaders a good “roadmap” on workforce development before retiring to help guide them because a good number of quality jobs will come open here over the next several years as people reach retirement.
Tomlinson said he is looking for funding to prepare the workforce for the opportunities that lie ahead. He is trying to learn what “pots of money” are out there to assist with these projects.
One key element in this is JCTC, he said, because the college can provide the training needed for the industries. But because of space limitations, they are not able to add new programs, he said, pointing to the need for the new campus.
Tomlinson said he continues to work to bring expanded broadband service to the county. He said this is good for local businesses, students and the community.
The county has not made any headway on using a $65,000 grant for building trails to connect the county park with General Butler State Resort Park.
Tomlinson said the project was supposed to use a route that has been eroded by the Kentucky River in recent years. He said he considered an option that includes an $18,000 bridge, but it is not feasible unless the bank near Lock No. 1 can be stabilized.
“I would still like to do that,” he said. But he noted he did not make any progress because of the problems with the riverbank and the fact that the county is tackling so many other projects.
Two years to retirement
Tomlinson has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2014, as he plans to retire. But he said he is not going to stop working on projects that will improve life for residents of Carroll County.
When asked what he would like to see accomplished before the end of this term, he pointed to the Hwy. 36 bridge and the community college campus.
As he looks ahead to his last two years in office, Tomlinson said many people have told him he is too young to retire. But he said he will have his 30 years in at the end of this term.
“I will continue to do the best I can,” he said. “I have really enjoyed the job.”