The Hancock County Fiscal Court met on Monday, February 13th. The most time sensitive item on their list was to approve the purchase of new electronic poll books, as the existing contract expires on May 11th of this year and the new e-poll books will need to be in place before the next upcoming election on May 16th.
Hancock County Clerk Trina Ogle presented the fiscal court with 2 estimates for the new poll books and one was decided upon and approved. “Years ago, we had a paper roster and when you went to the polls everyone had to be checked in against the paper rosters so you had to find your name on the sheet and sign the sheet and then we were able to issue you a ballot,” Trina explained.
“About 4 years ago, we went to an electronic poll book, which we’re replacing now. With the electronic poll book, you scanned your drivers license, your name came up, you signed the iPad and then we checked you in and you were able to get your ballot.
What’s happened is, our contract with the State Board of Elections has expired. They had contracted with Tenex and given us these electronic poll books to use. Now that the contract is expiring on May 11th, 2023, we have to replace these poll books on our own. Our election is May 16th, 2023 so that puts us in a bind that we’re not able to use the iPads that we’ve currently been using.
We have to react quickly to find a replacement. Fortunately, the State Board of Elections has allowed us to purchase the equipment and then apply for a grant and get reimbursed for these electronic poll books.
A company called Know Ink has partnered with our current election vendor, Harp Enterprises, so we will be working in connection with Harp and Know Ink to purchase our electronic poll books. Their estimate was 12 electronic poll books along with all of the equipment that goes with them – the printer, a stand, a case, a stylus and cords, etc., at $1,700 each. We are going to apply for a grant for $20,400 with the State Board of Elections to reimburse us for this cost.”
New Senior Citizen Center Nutrition Site Update
Program Director for Hancock County Senior Services Lona Morton gave an update about the new senior services nutrition site that will serve seniors living in the South part of the County.
South Hancock Fire Department is the location of the new center. Preparations are still being made before its grand opening. “I did get an email today on the update on the nutrition site,” Lona told the fiscal court. “The only thing I’m waiting on is a fire inspection on the building. There will be some signage that needs to be purchased, like handicapped signs to be put outside.
We’ve looked at the area and we feel like on the 2181 side would be the best to designate handicapped parking because of the entrance coming in. There is some signage that will have to be purchased for inside designating a handicapped bathroom. We’re not going to have a male and female (handicapped bathrooms). It’s just going to be one handicapped bathroom.”
Lona has been working on applying for grants that would help expand the senior program in the county. She stated in a previous meeting that she hopes to announce the dates for the start of the new nutrition site at South Hancock Fire Department by February or March. The fiscal court has agreed to back the expansion whether the grant comes through or not. The grant money would be an added supplement toward the new program.
When the new site at South Hancock opens, the tentative schedule is Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. with a lunch catered by Five Stars and served at 11:30 a.m. Lona said they are also looking at partnering with different agencies along with the public library to provide recreational activities such as Bingo, as well as educational activities, crafts and informational materials that are important to older adults.
They already have staff in place, she said, for the new site. They are trying to gage how many seniors will be in attendance at the new center once it opens. In order to help Lona and staff get a better idea, she said to please give them a call at the office: 270-927-8313, and let them know if you plan to participate weekly.
Lona added, “Especially the new magistrates, I want to encourage you all to maybe come out to the senior centers just to kind of see what goes on. One thing that I really do want to encourage you all in is to try to make a plan to ride a meal route with us. Just to get out and see how that goes. I think everybody’s done it. I know Judge Roberts did when he was (a magistrate) and Mark. It’s good, I think, for you all to see how that works, especially in your district.”
HC Animal Shelter – Need for More Kennels
Director of the Hancock County Animal Shelter and County Dog Warden Ronnie York vocalized the need for more kennels at the shelter in Lewisport. “My waiting list has been getting pretty high,” Ronnie said. “So I’d like to purchase some of those black wire kennels. I can put them right down the middle of the building. If I could get 4 of those, I could take them up and put them down as needed. It’ll help with this situation and even if we add on in a year or two it’s still going to help.”
He presented the court with 3 prices, one of which was from Tractor Supply at $379 for 4, 4×6 size kennels. “I was going to go talk to Tractor Supply and see if they’ll make a donation of 2, if I buy 2,” Ronnie said. If the new kennels are purchased, he can increase the occupancy at the shelter and take care of a few more on the waiting list.
Comcast High Speed Internet Contract
The approval was made for 2-year contracts with Comcast high speed internet, at $260 for the Hancock County Emergency Dispatch Center (EOC), $260 for the Annex and $169.90 for the Senior Center. These were previously 3-year contracts.
Occupational Taxes: July 2022 – January 2023
County Treasurer Melissa Johnson announced that the county occupational taxes brought in totaled $3,147,370.15. That total is from July 1st, 2022 through the end of January 2023.
Economic Development Report
Mike Baker, Director of Economic Development for the Hancock County Industrial Foundation offered an overall encouraging update. “The key, for me, is looking at the unemployed. There is anywhere from 130 to 204 people unemployed in the county in any given month. This is pretty much the story in surrounding counties, this 3.5 to 4.0 unemployment rate. There are jobs out there to be had,” he said.
Rickhouses in Lewisport – Could Spark Tourism in Future
“The first rickhouse for Green River (Distillery) is under construction,” Mike said. “If you drive by there, you can see a lot of activity. We don’t know all the details yet but we’ve heard reports that they plan to have 7 or 8 (rickhouses) on that site along with some other interesting operations.
There are a lot of interesting statistics coming out in 2022. The bourbon industry had 2.1 million visitors on the Bourbon Trail. That is huge for tourists – it’s up about 34 percent from 2021. Green River Distillery, in Owensboro, had over 9,500 visitors to the Owensboro facility and that was up by a significant percentage.
The point being that, depending on what they do here, it could potentially put Hancock County on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. And from what’s happening statewide, that could open up a whole new area of tourism for our community. Where we’re, primarily, known as a manufacturing community we could diversify a little bit more and hopefully have some tourism. That’s, I think, exciting with what’s going on.”
Mike added that, “Green River Owensboro – in 2023, they plan to introduce their label of bourbon to 21 new states across the country as they’re expansion plan. That could also come back in terms of making the county (a tourism site).”
Century Aluminum – Still Idled – Rumors of Sale are Untrue.
“Century Aluminum is still idled,” Mike said. “That’s their official position. We have heard some rumors around that they were for sale. We got confirmation from Century that that is not true. They are not for sale. So we’ll continue to watch that. Our other industries are pretty solid. Things are still good there.”
Kenergy/Conexon Broadband Internet Project
Mike said they are watching the Kenergy/Conexon fiber project for Hancock County very closely. “That’s going to absolutely be critical,” he said. “Every day we see more and more how critical that is to economic development. We’re hopeful of that happening sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, I think the economic development story in Hancock County is pretty good right now. We’ve got some good potential and opportunity. Obviously, our manufacturing is tied to the state and federal economy. We’ll continue to watch that and then go from there.”
Fireworks Show Contract – Vastwood Fourth of July Celebration
“We pay half up front to reserve the show,” Judge/Executive Johnny Roberts said. “The show went up a little bit this year.” The amount approved is $10,000, which is half of the total cost, and to be paid in advance to secure the fireworks show for the Fourth of July Celebration at Vastwood Park for 2023. Last year the total cost was around $18,000 and this year the total cost will be around $20,000.
By Jennifer Wimmer