The Hancock County Fiscal Court met on Monday, October 10 and discussed, among other topics, the impact of Century Aluminum’s temporary shut-down on revenue as well as the possibility of grant funds that would greatly improve the Hancock County Senior Center.
Century Temporary Closure
As a result of the temporary closure of Century, revenue has been lost and Judge/Executive Roberts spoke on that. “There are, in my mind, two impacts – a local and a regional impact. There were many Hancock County people who lost their jobs and there were a lot of regional workers who lost their jobs too. The individuals who lost their jobs, their families are impacted by that.”
The idling of the factory is starting to add a million dollars a year onto the occupational taxes, Roberts said, and added that, “Also, when you have less traffic and people aren’t spending money at local businesses, that has impacted our small businesses.”
Possible Funding for HC Senior Center
Lana Morton, with Hancock County Senior Services, talked about two different grants for improving the Senior Citizens Center – “I’m going to be working on 2 grants, one is from the Owensboro Health Foundation and the other is from United Way – it’s a Green River Area grant and there’s a possibility of getting $7,500. I’m working with them and I’m looking at if we can ever get something going for the South Hancock Center using money to help get that started so that it isn’t cutting directly out of my budget. I do have money budgeted to get that started but it’s just a matter of coming to an agreement with the Fire Station to do that or somewhere locally to do that.”Increase in Jail Fees
Since the closure of on-site jail facilities, Hancock County has transported prisoners to Breckinridge County and the fee for each prisoner has been $29.50 since 2010. Cost adjustments were needed after 12 years and as of September 1, 2022 the new jail fee is $32 and that will go to $35 on July, 2023. Judge Roberts
said that with increasing costs, the adjustment in price is fair. “Breckinridge County approached us and they were needing some cost adjustments and we negotiated them down to $32,” he said, “just because of increased cost for them to hold a prisoner. It’s been 12 years since they have asked for an increase, so we had a conversation with them and we agreed on the modest increase. We know that some places are paying a lot more, so we were happy with where we are on that. When they are caring for a prisoner or when they’re holding a prisoner, their costs increase so we understood that.”
Hancock County Animal Shelter
The Hancock County Animal Shelter Director told the fiscal court that the shelter is full and that people are bringing in animals that they cannot receive due to lack of room. He also said that the company that normally sprays every month for pest control has not been showing up lately – “He hasn’t showed up in probably 2 or 3 months. He normally came every month except for June. He hasn’t been coming.” Judge Roberts said they would call and check on that.
Kim Estes Commended for excellence at HC Career Center
The fiscal court took a moment to recognize Hancock County Career Center Director, Kim Estes, and the excellent job she has been doing and how others in the region have been noticing and appreciating all that she does to make the career center great.
Franklin Gaynor Road to be Re-Surfaced
The funds were approved to re-surface Franklin Gaynor Road and Judge Roberts said, “It’s been a really tough spot out there. This has been a long time coming.” The agreement was made between Hancock County Fiscal Court with the Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Department of Highways and allows for $75,000 for that re-surfacing.
Mike Baker gave a positive report
Director of Economic Development for Hancock County, Mike Baker, attended the meeting and offered his synopsis and optimistic review of the Hancock County workforce and industry and started out by listing the most current unemployment rates: “Surrounding Counties: Daviess is 3.7, Henderson is 3.7, McLean is 4.4, Breckinridge is 4.3, Kentucky is 3.7 and U.S.A is 3.8. So, our whole region unemployment rate stays down and good news for us our community with the industry that we’ve got and all of our industries are doing pretty well.
Commonwealth is doing pretty heavy with common alloy product right now because this chip issue with these new cars is still, I think, keeping the line a little bit down.
Southwire business is good and their business is going to get really good now that this hurricane has come through and destroyed so much of the infrastructure for them in the south.
Century – we had a really good call with their Senior Vice President of Strategy week before last and they reiterated – a lot of the talk you hear is that they will never open again – so, you hear that a lot with the smelter being down 9-12 months but the Senior VP of Strategy said this is a temporary idling and that they still plan to re-open once the power market stabilizes. So that could be good news. And there could be some different options of maybe opening one or two lines and producing military-grade aluminum, high-purity aluminum our of one or two lines and that would be good to be able to bring back 100-150 people and run a couple of lines there. So there are still, I think, some opportunities there for those guys to re-open.
We’re still getting sited for working with the state on a couple of key inquiries around the electric vehicle battery industry.
There’s not a lot of decisions being made. I got a report this week, the electric vehicle battery industry in KY right now – there is a commitment in the state – a lot of that is already on the way – $9.2 billion investment in electric vehicle battery operations productions. That’s 8,500 jobs. Most of that’s in Elizabethtown and Bowling Green – that’s where the two big announcements have been. These electric vehicles continue to make the news both good and bad.
Our local story, I think, is still pretty good. We are not seeing big lay-offs. Our plants are still producing. Both industry – the main big plants and our second tier and smaller manufacturers are still doing well. We’ve got good activity at the Lewisport Industrial Park.
The Clear View Glass Company – their problem is they can’t start building because they’re so busy with their regular work. They are just absolutely covered-up. That’s a good thing. I told them, ‘You own the land so you build it whenever you’re ready to build it.’ They thought they’d be up and running by now but they have just been so busy – like a lot of other smaller businesses – some of the craftsmen that they have – they are having to do a lot of training and kind of grow their own workforce…Very positive overall.”