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New Milton mayor 'hands on'

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

Having raced hydroplanes at speeds of 120 mph or higher and having taught high school for 31 years, it seems Denny Jackson’s newest job as mayor of Milton, Ky., would be a walk in the park.

“A lot more goes on in a small town than people realize,” Jackson said Tuesday, March 23, in his Milton City Hall office. “There are plenty of headaches.”

Water, for instance. This winter has been particularly rough on the city’s water system; leaks have sprung up in several places and have caused a loss of service at least twice to customers in the downtown Milton area.

Add to that the retirement of Danny Purvis, the water department’s field supervisor, whose last day is today. An open house is planned for Purvis from 4-5 p.m. today at City Hall.

Jackson said the city has advertised Purvis’ position, but it may take time to fill as any candidate must be licensed in drinking water treatment and distribution and wastewater treatment and collection.

In the meantime, the city is trying to minimize the loss of city water by repairing all leaks. “To be honest, the boys are doing a great job,” he said. “Work orders have gone down.”

Jackson said the city is considering whether it’s time to update the water lines. “It’s one of the things we want to look at. ... But, we’re not sure exactly what’s down there – and for how long.”

In the meantime, Jackson has been spending long evenings and weekends poring through thick binders to learn as much about the city’s water system – and other operations – as possible.

“I want to be a hands-on mayor. I want to know what’s going on,” he said. “Sunday is about the only day of the week I don’t come in here.”

Jackson took office after the death of previous Mayor Donnie Oakley, who died in September at age 53, while still in office. He had served as mayor for 12 years.

Jackson, who was a lifelong friend of Oakley’s and a city commissioner before becoming mayor, said, “I’m a little more vocal” in trying to keep Milton in the mix of things, especially the Milton-Madison Bridge project. He said he was pleased he was invited to Madison in February to attend Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s announcement of the TIGER grant funding for the bridge.

“I think Milton has been largely ignored” throughout the project, which started in earnest in August 2008. “We’re no less important than Madison. I don’t think we’re being ignored anymore.”

Born and raised in Milton, Jackson said he would like to see more development in the city and in Trimble County, but without losing the area’s “rural flavor.”

“This place was so special to me,” Jackson said, adding that he moved to Madison, Ind., as a young adult, but moved back after he married and started his family. “So much of Milton is the way it was when I was growing up. I like that, I really do; it’s one of the reasons I came back. ... I honestly can’t think of any place else to live in the world.”

Jackson said he’s pleased to see construction under way for the Dollar General Store, which is being built just across U.S. 421 North from city hall.

“I would like to see more stores locate here,” he said. “I think we’re on the right track. ... I don’t want to see a lot of factories come in, but some development could come in and it would be good for the community.”

Jackson’s term in office ends Dec. 31, and he said he will run for a full term in November.

“I would like a chance at a full term,” he said. “I truly think I have something to offer. I really do. ... I want to make things better for the community.”

In the meantime, Jackson said he invited Milton residents to call him about anything.

“If people have concerns, they can call me. That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “If they got a problem, I want to help.”

Jackson can be reached at city hall at (502) 268-5224.

 Jackson is the city’s eighth mayor since Milton was incorporated in 1954. Previous mayors are Wilbur Wood (1954-73), Cliff Gossom (1973-80 and again from 1988-90), Gary Rowlett (1980-85), Michael Cundiff (1985-88), Annabet Goble Garner (1990-97) and Oakley (1997-2009).