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ACJE: State of the County Address - 2022

Adair County Judge Executive Gale Cowan gave her State of the County address at the Columbia-Adair Co. Chamber of Commerce meeting held on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, in the Fellowship Hall at Columbia Baptist Church. She addressed the impact COVID had on County government over the last two years, before covering upcoming budget plans, recycling, and accomplishments such as new vehicles for the Sheriff's Office and updates at the Jim Blair Center. Judge Cowan also taled about the more than $1.3M in grants the County has received over the last 3 years.

By Gale Cowan, Adair County Judge Executive

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you today.

The state of the County address......I could just say, so far, we have survived COVID. That is the number one thing we have dealt with since I gave this address two years ago. As of last night, Adair County has had over 5,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in 2020. We have lost 95 Adair County Citizens. That is 95 loved ones that have been taken away from us too early. We have had multiple family members, employees, staff, and elected officials that have fought this virus, and some have had to fight hard to survive, just like some of you have. We have had employees in the hospital and out of work for weeks. I came in early many mornings and mopped floors, cleaned toilets, and disinfected doorknobs and handrails. I'm not going to ask my employees to do something I wouldn't do myself. And it wasn't just me. All the elected officials and staff stepped up and did whatever was needed. Whether it was in their job description or not. We did, what Adair County has done so many times before, we pulled together, worked together and got the jobs done.

COVID caused us to have to shut down some of our buildings to the public. Notice I said, our BUILDINGS... not our offices.

That was an Executive Order handed down from the Governor's Office in Frankfort. We could have not followed the orders, but I can promise you, had we not, we would have lost thousands of dollars in state funding. Because you know as well as I do, had we not followed the executive order passed down, Frankfort would have pulled any state funding possible. When the building was closed to the public, your elected officials did everything we could to still be available for the citizens of Adair County. And not just me... every elected official from me, Magistrates, County Clerk, PVA, Sheriff, County Attorney, Circuit Clerk, Jailer, Mayor, and City Council. Every office was staffed daily. Most days we had half the staff working, but every office was staffed and working for the Citizens of Adair Co. This kept staff working separate so if (or when) someone came down with COVID or got quarantined, the entire office didn't risk getting sick and having to quarantine at the same time......then we would have had to shut down.

COVID cost us a lot. We spent thousands of dollars on masks, Lysol, disinfecting wipes, plexiglass, and gloves. Just like a lot of you did. We bought laptops so inmates could still attend court, but it was via zoom or skype instead of in person so we could hopefully cut down on the COVID exposure being brought back into the jail. We should all be pro's at setting up a zoom meeting these days.

Now on to better things...

It's time to begin working on the budget for the next fiscal year. We will have a budget workshop sometime this month that will be given by the Department for Local Government. As everyone knows our budget is tight. It is every year. But I am happy to be able to say we were able to give our employees a raise this past year and increase what the county pays of an employees' health insurance. Most of our employees are still being paid less than they deserve but they are now more comparable with surrounding areas. For some of our employees, this was the first raise they had received in almost 10 years!! I'm a firm believer in "you get what you pay for". That goes for employees as well. It was time we helped our employees and they are grateful for what they got. We employee some very important positions. Not just anyone is cut out to be a 911 dispatcher. You need someone that can keep their cool and at the same time try to calm down someone who has been in an accident or console a parent who has found their child unresponsive and still get emergency personnel to them. Our road department employees.... they sometimes are like emergency personnel. They get called out on holidays, at night, on weekends. And believe me, they have earned their pay over the last month.

Recycling - I'm happy to say, Bridget Compton and I are trying to work on ways to get our recycling center back open. We are negotiating with a company that will accept our recyclables. One of our main issues is that most companies want a full trailer load of one item (such as cardboard, plastic, and paper). We don't have the storage space to store a full load of one particular item. Therefore, we must try to sell mixed loads. The recycling center was shut down when the prices of recyclables dropped to almost nothing and we lost our inmate labor, again due to COVID. Our budget was extremely tight, and we were looking for ways to cut costs. Since the Recycling Center was shut down, I think that has increased the amount of trash we have seen on the sides of the roads. It's disheartening when the litter crew picks up a couple miles of roadway, and before they can get back where they started, more trash has been thrown out. But they are trying. I'm going to brag on one of our employees here.... Robert Dean takes inmates out to pick up litter each chance he gets. He even picks up by himself on days he can't get inmate labor. (If the temperature drops below a certain degree, the state will not allow us to take the inmates out). That is what you call a dedicated employee and I want to thank him for everything he does for our county. We continue to apply and have received the Litter Abatement Grant each year. This year's grant is over $41,000. This helps pay for the staff salary, garbage bags, gloves, vest, and even educational material that we can get and pass out to school aged children. Even with the recycling center shut down, we were happy to still be able to have our ESCRAP and HHW events by the way of grants from the Division of Waste Management. We are planning to have our free tipping event again this spring (dates will be announced soon) and I'm also happy to announce that we think we will be able to have the 3-day Tire Amnesty Event in Adair Co. again this year. We have a meeting set up the end of this month and should learn more about that then. So, keep an eye out for that information.

KACO has provided a safety grant the past 3 years and I'm happy to say we have received this grant each year. We can submit projects up to $10,000 to update something that could potentially be a safety hazard. We submit a project and get a percentage of that covered by the grant. We have done work at the 911 building, gotten new bleachers at the softball field at the Jim Blair Center, and this year, we are replacing stair treads that have come loose and caused a trip hazard at the annex building. They are scheduled to begin that work this week, so we encourage everyone to use caution in the annex building later this week.

We have just approved the purchase of new voting machines for all precincts in the amount of $213,000.00. We currently do not have enough machines working to operate a full 16 precinct election. It was either spend money repairing machines that was going to have to be replaced within a couple years or go ahead and purchase the new machines now. The new machines will have a paper ballot scanner and ballot marking devices for a HAVA (Help America Vote Act) compliant voting system. Each paper ballot will have a unique bar code. It is our hopes that all 16 precincts will be able to be used for the primary election. With that being said, WE NEED ELECTION POLL WORKERS!!! If you are willing to serve or if you know someone willing to serve as a poll worker, call the County Clerk's Office at 270-384-2801.

Sheriff's Office - I'm happy to say that since I took office the fiscal court has been able to get the Sheriff's Office 5 new vehicles. Two of those were obtained through a USDA grant of $26,000. These 5 vehicles replaced cars that were 9-11 years old with 170,000-215,000 miles on them that were breaking down going to calls at times. The Fiscal Court approved the purchase and installation of computers for all the Sheriff Department vehicles. We also turned excess fees back over to the Sheriff's Office to allow an additional deputy position for the department.

We have two dispatchers on duty 24/7 now instead of just 1 part of the time. At times, I will agree 1 dispatcher would be enough. But several years ago, when dispatch was still located at the jail, we had a dispatcher have a medical emergency while at work. Had someone else not been there, that dispatcher could have lost their life.

Jim Blair Center - since I last gave a state of the county address 2 years ago, we have updated the ball field with new bleachers, as mentioned earlier, and maintenance on the field. We have 2 full size basketball courts outside with security lights to allow for night games, we have a pickleball court that is between the 2 basketball courts. For now, you need to bring your own net. We have patched the walking track to make it safer to walk on, and we are working now on new playground equipment.

Since the beginning of my term, we have blacktopped over 30 miles of county roads. I know that doesn't sound like much, but one mile of blacktop averages between $80-$100,000. It all depends on the thickness and the width of the road. That is over $2.5M dollars in 3 years. Even though I would like it to be much more, most of that money is determined by the state. We submit request, but the state will send someone to review the roads and they determine if the projects are funded or not.

I could go on and on. I want to encourage all of you to get involved in your city and county governments. Attend our Fiscal Court meetings. Attend the City Council meetings. Ring our phones off the hook. My door is always open. If you have an idea about something, come discuss it with me. If you can't get there during our normal hours, I'm happy to meet you after hours or on Saturday. I have done that many times the past 3 years.

Thanks again for your time and I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Grants Received (past 3 years)
  • Pass through Block Grant for Ambulance Service $10,000 (Each year)
  • Waste Tire Grant $4,000 (Each Year)
  • KACo Safety Grants - $3,000, $4,480.00, $8,000
  • House Hold Hazardous Waste Grants $14,700.00 and $11,700
  • Illegal Open Dump Grant $6,876.05
  • Wal-Mart Grant for 911 Center $700.00
  • Ky Cattlemen's Association Grant for Animal Shelter $1,000
  • Litter Abatement Grant $36,997.11, $37,024.62, $41,569.86
  • 80/20 Bridge $3,368.69
  • USDA (Sheriff Vehicles) $26,000.00
  • Jail Tech Grant $10,000 (2 years - applied for this year)
  • CARES Funding $728,755.00
  • LCADD Hazard Mitigation Grant - $108,633.00
  • Utility Assistance Grant - $200,000
  • HB566 - COVID Assistance for Jail $26,969.52
  • Homeland Security for 911 $10,000 and $43,000

This story was posted on 2022-02-09 08:55:02
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Glenn Seaton introduces local Internet services

2022-02-09 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
Local business community members and government leaders came together at the February Columbia Adair Chamber of Commerce meeting to hear talks about the state of the city and county.

First on the agenda was new Chamber member, Seltron LLC, owned by Glenn Seaton, pictured at the microphone. He told the audience about his background and the company's website services, Internet hosting and network security. He and his wife, Linda, and their daughter Kat were in attendance. They live on Bliss Road in Columbia.

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At the February Chamber of Commerce meeting

2022-02-09 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
The state of city and county government was the subject of the February Chamber of Commerce meeting. Pictured are the two guest speakers, Adair County Judge Executive Gale Cowan, at left, and Columbia Mayor Pamela Hoots, center.

With them at right is visiting campaigner Amy Neighbors from Edmonton. She is the first of five candidates to reach out for votes in the upcoming Primary election for the Representative seat vacated by the late Bam Carney, then filled in a special election by Sarge Pollock, and now reopened because of the Legislature's redistricting.

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DuoBroadband introduces new Adair Chamber rep

2022-02-11 - Downtown Columbia, KY - Photo by Linda Waggener,
DuoBroadband representation on the Columbia Adair Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be handed over to a new person at the next meeting. Past board members Eric West, at right, and Sherry Selby, center, have served their terms and pass the torch to Lisa Back, at left. She will attend board meetings and participate in Chamber activities in future from longterm sponsor DuoBroadband.

The next two meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at noon will be held in the fellowship hall of the Columbia Baptist Church where there's plenty of room to spread out and stay safe.

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