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Proposed Russellville Road development put on hold
 Don Sergent  / 

A show of force by residents of the Stone Crest subdivision in Rockfield has resulted in postponement of action on a proposed 73-acre commercial and residential development along Russellville Road.

At the request of attorney Chris Davenport – representing property owner Tim Wheeler and developer Mirsad Alic – the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County voted Thursday to recess the hearing on the rezoning application for the property at 6309 Russellville Road until the commission’s Sept. 19 meeting.

Davenport’s request for a recess came after some 50 residents of the Stone Crest area showed up for the meeting to express their concerns about a development plan that included a trucking operation along with multi-family residential and commercial uses.

“This development borders the Stone Crest subdivision,” said Joe Hodges, one of the Stone Crest residents. “The idea of semi-trucks in our backyard is not something we wanted, and it’s not appropriate for that property.”

Hodges said he and his neighbors also had concerns about a history of sinkholes on the property.

“Our fear is that the brittle nature of the land would be problematic,” he said.

Davenport met with the residents after the rezoning application was postponed, and he indicated that further meetings will follow before the planning commission meets Sept. 19.

“It’s possible that we could make some changes (to the development),” Davenport said. “I do think there are many concerns we can address.”

Another resident of the area, Garry Chaffin, was glad to see the hearing delayed.

“Delaying this is a good move,” Chaffin said during the group’s meeting with Davenport. “The industrial part is a big concern. We’re not trying to fight progress. We’re just trying to protect our quality of life.”

While that development was put on hold, plans for a commercial development on Scottsville Road near the Plano community moved forward.

The commissioners, in a 9-0 vote, approved a development plan amendment submitted by Jackson White for a 5.66-acre tract at 5851 Scottsville Road.

White’s plan calls for developing the former Deweese Carpets property, zoned highway business, into a mixture of commercial uses. The plan calls for five buildings of approximately 11,925 square feet behind a 30,000-square-foot area reserved for a future commercial building that will front Scottsville Road.

“In that front area we’re trying to do a retail development and hoping to draw some restaurants on out Scottsville Road,” White said. “If you live out Scottsville Road, there aren’t any restaurants on that side of town. I think a lot of commercial things would work out there. That’s where all the rooftops are going.”

In other action Thursday, the planning commission approved the following:

  • Rezoning 0.436 acres at 8095 Smiths Grove-Scottsville Road for the Ruth Hughes estate from agriculture to residential estate in order to match the zoning of the property’s other 0.565 acres.
  • Rezoning 0.561 acres owned by Mary Fishback at 9136 Porter Pike from agriculture to residential estate to remove the split-zoning on the property.
  • Rezoning 1.053 acres owned by James and Sally Brown at 2929 Smallhouse Road to single-family residential (moderate density) in order to reconfigure the property and allow the construction of an additional single-family residence.

Guthrie holds round-table forum on child care issues
 Aaron Mudd  / 

GLASGOW – Sitting at a table Thursday with child care advocates and stakeholders, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie heard from a foster parent hoping to share her support for a federal grant program that enables her to afford daycare – and keep her job.

She said, “if I didn’t have this opportunity to participate in this program, either I wouldn’t be able to (take) foster children or I wouldn’t be able to work,” said Guthrie, R-Bowling Green.

During a roundtable discussion, held in the conference room of a local Days Inn, Guthrie heard from stakeholders connected to the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant. He then toured Let’s Go Play Academy to get an idea of how the additional child care funding was being put to work.

As the nation’s largest federal child care assistance program, the grant enables states to support low-income families in their child care costs, allowing them to work, get job training or an education.

In 2018, the program saw a historic increase in funding, with an additional $5.8 billion allocated over a two-year period, according to the Urban Institute, a D.C.-based think tank founded by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the War on Poverty-era. Previously, the program had been losing funding and declining, with the number of children served dipping to historic lows in 2015, according to the institute.

Through the increase, Kentucky has received an additional $42 million, a boon advocates and stakeholders were eager to communicate. Congress is currently going through the appropriations process after passing a budget last month to set spending caps for the looming fiscal year and suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021.

With the potential for further boosts in child care funding, Kentucky Youth Advocates and its community partners are organizing conversations with the state’s congressional delegation at local child care facilities, according to a news release. On Thursday, Guthrie met with representatives from KYA, Child Care Advocates of Kentucky and Let’s Go Play Academy.

Guthrie said he saw the value of the program, especially its economic and workforce benefits.

“The people who participate in the grant … have to be actively engaged,” in working, doing job training or pursuing an education.

“What a lot of us say is that we need to give people an opportunity to go back to work, and this is one way of doing it,” he told the Daily News.

Comer voices support for tariffs that have hurt farmers
 Don Sergent  / 

SCOTTSVILLE – U.S. Rep. James Comer’s roots in farming run deeper than those of the crops that dot the acreage in the 35-county 1st Congressional District that he represents, and yet the Tompkinsville Republican didn’t back down Thursday from his support of President Donald Trump’s tariffs that have taken a toll on those who make their living from raising crops and livestock.

Crops, particularly soybeans, have taken a beating from the president’s trade war with China, a big market for soybeans. Selling for $12 a bushel just a few years ago, soybeans are now going for around $8.50, with little hope for an increase.

“I speak to farmers often,” said Comer, who was Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner from 2012 to 2016. “They don’t like being on the front lines in a trade war, but they understand that we need to level the playing field.”

Comer, speaking at a town hall forum held in the Allen County Fiscal Courtroom in Scottsville, told the crowd of 40 or so local residents that Trump’s hard line with China will pay dividends in the long run.

“China doesn’t play by the same rules as we do,” said Comer, who represents a district that stretches from the state’s far western counties to Simpson and Allen counties in southcentral Kentucky. “They have a huge competitive advantage.

“The president is trying to create a situation where we have a level playing field with China. I feel like we’re making progress, but it’s going to be a rough road, especially for agriculture and the automobile industry. We’ll have a little more short-term pain in order to get the longer-term gain.”

Comer, who narrowly lost to Matt Bevin in the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary election before winning a seat in Congress the next year, gave a congressional update Thursday and fielded questions from those who came out. He expressed support for other Trump and GOP stances.

He voted against a pair of gun control bills that passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives earlier this year and defended those votes Thursday.

“I support the Second Amendment (spelling out the right to keep and bear arms),” Comer said. “I don’t think the government should come in and tell businesses if they can or can’t sell firearms.”

Comer acknowledged that calls for legislative action to address gun violence have increased in the wake of last month’s mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, but he isn’t ready to vote for bills that would impinge on the rights of gun owners or sellers.

“It breaks my heart every time there’s a mass shooting,” he said. “I visited Marshall County (where a high school student used a handgun to kill two other students in 2018) several times, and I never saw anyone in Marshall County say we have to have gun control. They realize that the shooter killed those children, not the gun.”

Comer does admit that action is needed.

“What I think will eventually pass is a better database to identify people who shouldn’t have guns,” he said. “People who are mentally ill, for example.”

The congressman also expressed support for Trump’s efforts to build a wall to protect the country’s southern border from people entering illegally.

“I support border security,” he said. “We’re going to secure that border one way or another.”

Comer pointed to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as a positive accomplishment of Trump and Republicans, saying it has boosted the economy, but he lamented the ballooning federal debt that has now gone past $22 trillion.

His solution to the increasing debt involves not raising taxes, but shrinking the size of government.

“I think government is too big,” he said. “I think we have some programs in government that are obsolete. We’re wasting too much money. Members of both parties are not serious about reducing the debt.”

Edmonson man pleads guilty in deadly road incident, sentenced to probation
 Justin Story  / 

An Edmonson County man accused of striking and killing a pedestrian pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to 12 months of probation.

James Rance Miller, 24, of Sweeden, pleaded guilty to a charge of fourth-degree assault, according to Miller’s attorney, David Broderick.

Miller had initially been charged with reckless homicide in connection with the death of Tammy Duncan, 49, who was struck on the evening of Oct. 12, 2014, while walking on Little Mountain Road.

The reckless homicide charge, a felony, carried up to five years in prison.

A grand jury indicted Miller in 2016 following an investigation by Kentucky State Police and the case went before an Edmonson Circuit Court jury last year, but a mistrial was declared after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

“It was a difficult case,” said Edmonson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Blake Chambers. “We wanted him found guilty on the reckless homicide charge, but we respected the jury’s verdict and took that into consideration when resolving the case with this plea agreement.”

At the trial, Chambers argued that Miller may have looked away from the road at his phone at the time of the incident.

The jury, however, came to a 10-2 verdict in favor of acquittal last year, Broderick said.

The defense characterized the death as an accident and presented evidence that Miller was driving from his home at dusk when he struck Duncan, who was wearing dark clothing.

“There was no alcohol, no drugs and no speeding involved,” Broderick said. “We believe this was a very unfortunate accident, we’re glad to get it resolved and we’re sorry for the family’s loss.”

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Miller will be on an ankle monitor for 30 days, but the remainder of his probation will be unsupervised.

“It wasn’t the best outcome, but we were glad to get justice for the Jaggers and Duncan families by having (Miller) admit that he recklessly caused injury by hitting Tammy Duncan with a motor vehicle,” Chambers said.