2017 State of the County Address
Judge Executive Donald Carroll's 2017 State of the County speech is below. Click "Continue Reading" to see the speech.
Good afternoon and welcome to the 2017 State of the Cities and State of the County event. I am honored to share the podium with the Honorable Mayors Jenny Sewell, Mickey DeMoss, David Jackson, Arthur Johnson, and Chris Phelps.
Thank you, to the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce for being our host today. To Lee Lingo, your staff and Board, the work you do supporting our local businesses, providing a forum for discussion and new ideas, and fostering stronger connections helps make us a community.
I also want to thank Brother’s Barbecue for the delicious meal we were served and the Hopkins County Schools Career & Technology Center for their hospitality.
Thank you to our state and county-wide elected officials present, as well as our local and all city officials. We all benefit from your experience, expertise, and support.
Finally, I thank my colleagues on the Fiscal Court and all County employees for your dedication in serving the citizens of Hopkins County as we meet our challenges together. We were all saddened by the loss of Magistrate Linda Todd during the past year, but welcome Bill Rudd as the appointed Second District Magistrate to ably fill the remainder of her term.
During the past ten years, I have had several opportunities to deliver a State of the County Address. Previous speeches have focused on finances, people, projects, and a variety of topics that were pertinent at the time. Today, I have come to the realization that it is necessary to step back and have a broader prospective, because the state of the county is really a state of constant change. Like it or not, all of us involved with Hopkins County government are managers of change. That change starts with people.
When I go to my office, I greet my staff and start dealing with the issues of the day. Along the way and inside the Fiscal Court Room, there are photos of men and women who serve and those who have served as Magistrates and Judge Executives previously. I think of those whose pictures adorn the Historic Courthouse and wonder what they would think of Hopkins County today? What were there plans for the county? I always want to say think you to them for their service and for building such a strong foundation upon which we work today. But I also realize that they, and those of us who serve today, do not accomplish anything on our own. We are the public faces of Hopkins County, but the County has been blessed with dedicated employees who are the backbone, the heart, and the soul. Each person contributes to its strength and the vast array of topics we face – roads, criminal justice, taxes and finance, buildings, elections, emergency management, recreation, and on and on.
What will you remember about 2016? For me, it was a memorable year for many reasons.
But what stands out most in my mind is how we, as a community, despite challenges that came our way, continued to engage each other and come together about what is important to us, what is important to our children, and indeed, what will be important to our grandchildren.
Let us continue the tradition of looking back at the year before – at our accomplishments, our accolades, and how we all worked together to build on our mission to make Hopkins County a great place to live, work, and play, and how our accomplishments are positioning us for the future.
We solicited information from the Hopkins County Tourism and Convention Commission. They shared that sports related activities have accounted for an increase of hotel and restaurant patrons in the county. For example, in an event this past month, more than 200 shooters and 600 spectators from across the commonwealth attended the Kentucky State Indoor Scholastic 3-D Tournament at the West Kentucky Archery Complex. Visitors were so impressed with our facility that calls have been received asking how a facility like ours can be built. These events benefit our community in more than one way; they not only highlight our facility, but they also create direct spending for lodging and food, putting money into our local businesses. Even more importantly they are a wonderful recreational facility for our youth.
Our Public Works Department as made upgrades to two convenient centers, and all facilities were in compliance when inspected by the Energy and environment Cabinet. The new salt shed is complete and filled, large culverts throughout the County have been replaced to alleviate flooding problems, Road department employees have been active in the development of the new ATV Park at Barnsley, which will be open to the public on April 1st, and they have been diligent on the continuing maintenance of our roads.
The Community Development Director has coordinated archery practice for 12 of 14 schools in Hopkins County, and we have read of the success of the local, state, and international shooters. He shared that they are holding 13 tournaments at the building this year, with an average number of 500 shooters per tournament. It has hosted the College Regional Event with more than 10 colleges participating and have signed the contract for two more years. A coal severance grant has been approved that will add 156 much needed parking spaces at the Archery facility.
He also reported that the Historic Hopkins County Courthouse is 85% occupied with the Planning Commission, Central Dispatch, GIS, Premier Judicial Solutions, Child Support, Juvenile Justice, District Transportation, Public Defenders, Historical Society, and CASA having space.
The County Attorney’s office is pleased with the relocation of the Child Support Unit to the Historical Courthouse last year. It is working out well for their office.
The Jail’s Hopkins County Inmate Community Service Program continues to benefit the communities, through nearly 200,000 hours worked on 93 projects in various cities and the County. They maintain a successful garden project, and the Concrete Grinding Program saved $10,000 in annual floor maintenance costs. The Inmate Culinary Program continues to be beneficial, saving local government and nonprofit organizations money while teaching inmate culinary skills and trade. An Inmate Sewing Program has been instituted, which completed a jail wide mattress, slip cover, and blanket project using materials that are more durable and cost effective. The staff continues to be innovative.
Among other accomplishments, the Sheriff’s Office is now fully partnered with the Madisonville Police Department and the Kentucky State Police in combating illegal drugs in our County, and are also working closely with the DEA/ATF/ and FBI in combating these drugs. The Office at full staff with the recent hiring of two additional deputies. The position of a 2nd School Resource Officer was created, assigned to all middle and elementary schools in the county. The new user friendly website is operational and won an award for being in the top 20 in
Government websites. Citizens are now able to pay taxes online and social media is effective in getting vital information to the public. The office supported the KY. Sheriff’s Ranch summer camp and took approximately 30 children to attend.
During the past year, GIS has been involved with many organizations and municipalities with mapping projects for tourism, electoral district boundaries, city limit boundaries, and locations, to create web and digital access maps for emergency responders, and to obtain updated aerial photography. They also collaborated with the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce and City of Madisonville to create the official 2016 map and web-based story maps, and established a GeoMentor alliance with Hopkins County School Board to enhance geographic learning by promoting GIS technology within the K-12 classrooms.
Communications upgrades have been a focus of Emergency Management this past year. They were able to utilize grants to defray a portion of the cost of the Pictometry GIS imaging flyover and the Code Red Emergency Warning System. During 2016, EMA responded to 65 incidents which included missing persons calls, severe weather, and hazmat transportation accidents.
The Hopkins County Clerk’s Office serves as a notary service center, accepting notary applications as well as providing notary service to the public. Since they began operating their Passport Office in January of this year, they have issued 175 passports and are the only passport provider in Hopkins County.
Hopkins County’s employment rate has improved. For December 2016 it was 4.9%, compared to to 5.7% the prior year. However, if you are among the percent seeking employment, then this remains a problem we hope will be solved.
Planning continues for Hopkins County. While it may be true to say with any budget that there are usually more wants than there are resources, your Hopkins County Fiscal Court continues to make timely decisions that result in a balanced budget, while considering priority needs that must met.
Decreased coal production in Kentucky has directly resulted in Hopkins County receiving about half the coal severance funding as in the past. As a direct result of the revenue of our County being significantly reduced and expenses being significantly increased, and to be able to maintain the current level of service to citizens of Hopkins County, additional revenue was needed and the 0.5% occupational and net profits tax was passed effective January 1, 2016. To date, a total of nearly $79,000 in net profits and $2,866,000 in occupational/payroll tax has been collected. A good portion of these receipts have been used for road maintenance, public safety, and solid waste activities. In addition, due to increased calls, it was necessary to hire two new Sheriff Deputies and to purchase additional equipment. These funds are being used to fulfill our obligation of $1,000,000 to MCC, to purchase and maintain necessary County equipment, for 911 Central Dispatch activities, and for unanticipated expenses such as the unexpected and necessary replacement of the elevator in the Historic Courthouse.
Thanks to fiscal responsibility, we are a stable County….we have not cut services, we are blessed with a stable employee base, and we have maintained our excellent credit rating.
As a community, we need to continue our work to provide quality paying jobs for our residents seeking work. We must continue to create a business-friendly environment, attracting quality businesses, and support workforce development and training programs that are aligned with what employers need.
We must do this while at the same time creating an encouraging atmosphere with respect to businesses already committed to our county who seek to continue their growth, as well as to those who may be entertaining relocating to our area.
A sustainable workforce and business friendly environment will be key to our continued growth and development and to a strong and diverse economy.
Ray Hagerman, President of the Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation shared that in this fiscal year, their three main activities of Business Attraction, Business Retention, and Entrepreneurial Development have had a hand in creating 164 jobs in our community, with a possible 197 in the pipeline within the next 90 days. Their efforts continue to increase the number of jobs and amount of capital investment in Hopkins County. In doing so, ED mentors over 50 people annually who are looking to start new businesses, and on average at least 25 are launched each year. They look forward to the opening of the Innovation Station, a dedicated facility for Entrepreneurs and Location Neutral Workers, this September.
Every day my life is touched by people who remind me why our work in government is so important, people who bring into focus the value of public service and the impact of public policy. People who work together for the common good.
Former President Reagan once said, “If you’re afraid of the future then get out of the way. Stand aside, the people of this country are ready to move again.”
I think that’s a great way to describe the State of our County. The residents of Hopkins County feel the collective winds at their backs. We know we are a community with a rich and proud history behind us. It is that spirit that defines us and that spirit which will continue to be the cornerstone of our efforts as well as the efforts of my office and your Fiscal Court.
In closing, I will leave you with a portion of the Athenian Oath I feel strongly about which states: In all ways we will transmit this city – or in our case county – not only not less, but greater than it was transmitted to us.
Thank you again for coming today. May God continue to Bless you and May God continue to Bless Hopkins County.