Hardin County Legislators Announce Effort to Revise State Law

PRESS RELEASE:

Hardin County United Supports Effort to Assure Voters’ Intent in Any Future Local Government Unification Vote

Elizabethtown, Kentucky – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced its support of an effort now underway by Hardin County legislators to revise existing state law in order to assure that any future vote which might be taken on local government unification respects the majority outcome of such a vote in each city.

HCU launched its unified government initiative on July 29, 2011. This initiative calls for the unification of Hardin County Government with each of the six existing municipal governments (Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Sonora, Upton, Vine Grove and West Point) under what is known as a Unified Local Government (as allowed by Kentucky Revised Statutes 67.900 – 67.940).

The process specified by Kentucky law requires each participating city along with the county to first pass an ordinance which creates the Unification Review Commission. The Commission, which consists of between 20 to 40 citizens, drafts the plan (charter) for the proposed unified government. Upon completion of its work, the Commission submits the plan to the voters for final review and approval.

The Unified Local Government concept, when first passed by the Kentucky General Assembly, was designed to provide flexibility to each city in a county which is considering unification in terms of participating on the Commission. In other words, it is up to each city council to decide if that city will participate in the Commission process. If the city council votes no on the ordinance which creates the Commission, that city remains a free-standing, intact city; however, it will not be given a seat at the table as the Commission designs the new unified government (nor will that city reap any of the benefits which will accrue to the unified community).

On the other hand, once the Commission has completed its work, the plan will be submitted to voters in the county and each participating city for review and approval. When the vote is taken, even if the majority of voters in one or more of the participating cities vote no on unification, those cities may still be subject to unification if the majority of all other voters approve unification.

“Speaking hypothetically, existing Kentucky law can be interpreted as requiring a city, let’s say Vine Grove to unify, even if the majority of Vine Grove voters voted no on unification and all of the other communities voted to unify,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “HCU has been clear from the beginning that a community’s vote needs to be respected…no means no. HCU believes that the law needs to be revised to assure the integrity of any community’s vote on unification,” Schmidt continued.

“I agree with HCU’s viewpoint that the law needs to be revised and clarified to allow Hardin County voters, in each of its cities, the flexibility to approve or not approve unification,” said State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-25th District). “I will be working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to bring about the changes needed in order to further strengthen this law and make it work for Hardin County,” said Lee.

“Many folks are concerned that their local city will be ‘forced’ into unification, even if the majority of voters in that city oppose unification,” said State Representative Tim Moore (R-26th District). “As this issue goes forward, we will need to be able to clarify the existing statutes and alleviate that concern. I look forward to working with my colleagues to assure the integrity of the vote in each community.”

“All aspects of unified government should be presented to the voters for their consideration,” stated State Senator Dennis Parrett (D-10th District). “Yet, when the plan is put forth, voters should rest assured that the majority vote from their community will be respected, be it positive or negative,” said Parrett.

Schmidt stated that the legislation will be drafted soon and filed at the earliest opportunity. Opportunities to partner with legislators from other counties which are considering unified government will be explored. In the interim, HCU will continue to communicate with each of the local government bodies and will keep each apprised of efforts to revise the law.

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Additional Contact Information:

The Honorable Jimmie Lee
Kentucky State Representative
270.300.2811

The Honorable Tim Moore
Kentucky State Representative
270.769.5878

The Honorable Dennis Parrett
Kentucky State Senator
270.723.5000

Press Release: Hardin County United Announces New Community Forums

HCU to Present Unified Government Study Findings to Interested Citizens In Five Hardin County Communities

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (August 22, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced five new forums to be held around the Greater Hardin County community which will present findings from the Hardin County Unified Government Study. The forums, which are open to all interested citizens, are scheduled as follows (each forum will begin at 6:00 PM and conclude by 8:30 PM):

  • Radcliff – August 25th, Meadowview Elementary School, 1255 West Vine Street
  • Elizabethtown – September 19th, Heartland Elementary School, 2300 Nelson Drive
  • Vine Grove – September 20th, J.T. Alton Middle School, 100 Country Club Road
  • Sonora/Upton – September 22nd, Creekside Elementary School, 151 Horseshoe Bend Road
  • Cecilia/Stephensburg – September 27th, Lakewood Elementary School, 265 Learning Place Lane

“Each of these forums will provide an excellent opportunity for interested citizens to learn more about unified government and how it might work in Hardin County,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “HCU has already posted a lot of information – including the complete Unified Government Study – on its Web site (www.hardincountyunited.com), but the forums will enable citizens to engage in the dialogue.”

HCU is focused on scheduling meetings and presentations with numerous groups and organizations throughout Hardin County. In addition to the five forums listed above, another 18 events have been scheduled and/or held, with additional events yet to be scheduled.

“HCU is committed to taking our story to the people of Hardin County,” said Hardin Circuit Judge Ken Howard, who chairs HCU’s Governance Subcommittee. “We want people to attend one or more of these events, which will be posted to the HCU Web site.”

Schmidt said, “The Unified Government Study has prompted lots of questions from elected officials and citizens. The forums will give us the opportunity to begin answering some of these questions.”

HCU’s goal is to encourage Hardin Fiscal Court and each of the six city councils to pass an ordinance which will establish a Unification Review Commission. Once the Commission has been formally established, it will draft a plan (charter) for the new unified government, which will ultimately be presented to the voters for review and approval. The plan adopted by the Unification Review Commission will address all aspects of the proposed new government, including such things as how many representatives will be elected to the new legislative council, taxing districts, services to be provided, etc.

“The most important thing to note, however, is that in the end only one group can unify local governments and that is the voters,” said Judge Howard. “The mere establishment of the Unification Review Commission by Fiscal Court and the city councils does not merge government. The development of a plan by the Commission does not merge government. Only a majority vote of the voters in each jurisdiction will unify local governments.”

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Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Press Release: Hardin County Public Library Board of Trustees Endorses the Establishment of the Unification Review Commission

Group is the First to Consider and Support Resolution

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (August 12, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Hardin County Public Library Board of Trustees has approved a resolution which calls for the establishment of the Unification Review Commission to develop a plan for unified government in Hardin County.

“The Library’s Board of Trustees believes that it is important for the citizens of the community to fully understand how unified government might work in Hardin County,” said Rene Hutcheson, Hardin County Public Library Director.

“The only way that this can happen,” Hutcheson continued, “is for the local government entities to pass the ordinance which will establish the Commission. Only then will we know what form unified government might take in Hardin County, and then the voters will be able to make a truly informed decision as to whether or not unified government is the correct pathway for Hardin County’s future.”

Under Kentucky law, local governments can unify under the Unified Local Government concept by combining county government with one or more participating city governments. Participation is optional and in order for a local government entity to potentially participate in unified government it must first pass an ordinance which establishes a Unification Review Commission.

Once established, the Commission, which will consist of between 20 and 40 citizens appointed by the participating government bodies, will draft a unified government plan which will be presented to the voters for final approval.

“It’s important to note that even if Hardin Fiscal Court or any of the city councils approve the ordinance to create the Commission that it does not mean the merger will occur, or that any of the government bodies are approving merger,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “Establishing the Commission simply creates the platform to study and draft a plan for unified government. Ultimately, the voters have the only (and final) say as to whether the community will unify.”

HCU believes that there are four primary benefits to be gained with unified government, including:

The ability for the community to speak with one voice and more efficiently target grants and appropriations which will benefit the entire community while improving the community’s standing and stature in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.,

The attainment of a new level of clout that will assist the entire community with economic development, the creation of new jobs and which will create Kentucky’s third largest community,

Streamlined government which will result in the more efficient delivery of government services to all citizens, and,

The achievement of economies of scale which will result in the more efficient use of public resources (tax dollars)

Hardin Circuit Judge Ken Howard, who also serves as the HCU Governance Subcommittee Chairperson, praised the action taken by the Hardin County Public Library Board of Trustees. “The Library Board of Trustees has shown real leadership by taking this historic first step towards the development of a unified government plan, said Howard. “The primary function for a library is to serve as the community’s source of information. In this case, the Board of Trustees has recognized the important role that the Unification Review Commission will play in not only creating the unified government plan, but also informing the citizens about how all of this will work and what the benefits will be.”

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Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Press Release: Elizabethtown MSA Ranks # 1 in Personal Income Growth

MSA Ranks First Among 366 Metros

Elizabethtown Metropolitan Statistical Area Hardin County Larue County KentuckyElizabethtown, Kentucky (August 9, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today acknowledged the outstanding first place ranking of the Elizabethtown Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in personal income growth during the year 2010.

The Elizabethtown MSA includes Hardin and LaRue counties.

The Elizabethtown MSA ranked first in income growth out of 366 metros throughout the United States, according to a study released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Last year, personal income grew by 10.1%. The Elizabethtown MSA was the only MSA to achieve double digit growth in 2010. This first place ranking builds upon solid economic growth in the MSA, including last year’s fourth place finish among all metros. Recently, the MSA has achieved the following positive rankings:

  • First MSA in Kentucky to move from recession to recovery (Source: Moody’s Analytics)
  • MSA led all Kentucky MSAs in job growth 2010 – 20112 (Source: Moody’s Analytics)
  • MSA ranked 16th nationally for job growth – 20113 (Source: New Geography 2011 Best Cities for Job Growth report)
  • MSA return to 2008 peak employment is expected in 20114 (Source: Governing Magazine)

“This is great news,” said Hardin County Judge Executive Harry L. Berry.  “This ranking confirms what we have known all along, and that is that this area is on a roll.  Hardin County continues to reap the benefits of base realignment at Fort Knox and our citizens are fortunate to have job opportunities that are not necessarily available in other areas.”

Since 2008, personal income in the MSA has grown from $3.895 billion to $4.388 billion in 2010, an astounding 12.7%.  The Elizabethtown MSA was the only Kentucky MSA to crack the Top 10 in 2010, which includes the communities shown in the following chart:

Elizabethtown MSA Ranks #1 in USA Personal Income Growth

“The number one ranking shall serve to shine an additional spotlight on Hardin County,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU.  “This is a game changer.  Rankings such as this one and the other positive trends shall assist in developing new business opportunities and will create new jobs, and it illustrates the power of this market as it considers such things as unified government.”

HCU is currently leading an initiative to unify Hardin County Government with each of the six cities located in the county by calling for the appointment of a Unification Review Commission.

The complete BEA report can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/mpi/2011/mpi0811.htm

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010.  The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies.  HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee.  Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Press Release: Hardin County United Launches Unified Government Initiative

Effort Will Create Kentucky’s Third Largest Community, New Clout in Frankfort and Washington, and Streamline Government;

HCU to Request the Appointment of a Unification Review Commission

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (July 29, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today launched an initiative to develop unified government in Hardin County by announcing the findings of its year-long examination of the issue.

During the past year, HCU commissioned a study of unified government which was conducted by Louisville-based consulting firm, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC. HCU’s Governance Subcommittee, chaired by Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard, conducted community leadership meetings with groups representing law enforcement, fire protection, Fort Knox, state elected officials and federal elected officials. HCU also received presentations from former Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson and former Lexington-Fayette Urban County Mayor Foster Pettit on the issue of government unification.

Upon review of the issue, both HCU’s Governance Subcommittee and Steering Committee reached consensus and agreed that Hardin County would be well served with unified government, citing the following benefits:

  1. The ability for the community to speak with one voice and more efficiently target grants and appropriations which will benefit the entire community while improving the community’s standing and stature in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.,
  2. The attainment of a new level of clout that will assist the entire community with economic development, the creation of new jobs and which will create Kentucky’s third largest community,
  3. Streamlined government which will result in the more efficient delivery of government services to all citizens, and,
  4. The achievement of economies of scale which will result in the more efficient use of public resources (tax dollars)

“Hardin County is fortunate to have good local government in place,” said Ken Howard. “The real opportunity here is to take local government to the next level, to capitalize on the growth opportunities presented by base realignment and ongoing Army restructuring at Fort Knox and the Glendale mega site.”

“Unified government won’t necessarily save money, but what it will do is organize government more efficiently and eliminate duplication of effort,” said Howard. “Our research indicates that the rate of growth in the cost of public services has been shown to be reduced in unified governments, thereby reducing the need for frequent tax increases.”

The Hardin County Unified Government Study examined Hardin County’s existing local government structure along with five communities in Georgia and Kentucky that have been through the unification process. Some of the key findings from the Study include:

  • Hardin County, a community of 105,000 people, is governed by 94 government jurisdictions, county and municipal departments, utilities, boards and commissions
    • (By comparison, In the case of Columbus and Muscogee County, Georgia prior to unification, the community was governed by 44 jurisdictions and departments; with unification, that number was reduced to nine primary departments)
  • Significant duplication exists between County government and the six municipal governments in terms of workers and budgets
  • In spite of the fragmented manner in which the community has developed, a significant urban core has emerged in Hardin County between the three principal cities – Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove – and the rapidly developing unincorporated areas of Cecilia, Glendale and Rineyville
  • If this area had no immediate boundaries, its population would total 85,000 people and it would easily be Kentucky’s third largest city (see map which accompanies this release)
  • Competition for support of issues, grant/appropriation requests, etc., exist in counties with more than one local government jurisdiction – would this process be better served with one request from a unified government speaking with one voice?
  • In the case of each of the five unified communities which were examined, the communities were able to streamline government, mitigate future cost increases and increase their standing and stature (clout) in their respective state capitols and in Washington, D.C.

“Unification has provided major benefits to the communities that have been through the process,” said Luke B. Schmidt, consultant to HCU. “In every case, communities came together through unification and began speaking with one voice and the net result has been increased clout with state and federal governments, expanded economic development and increased representation for all citizens through unified government councils.”

“Unified government leads to less parochialism and forces government to conduct a ‘big picture’ analysis of issues with more progressive outcomes,” Schmidt continued. “We found out that economic development prospects like to deal with one government, and in the case of Lexington, unified government is one of the four cornerstones that help to sell Lexington as a place to do business.”

Going forward, HCU plans to take the leadership role in educating and informing the Hardin County community and each government entity about the facts of unified government by speaking to various groups and interested parties.

HCU is hosting an information session open to all elected local government officials on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at Hardin Memorial Hospital’s fifth floor conference room beginning at 5:30 PM.

Citizens are invited to HCU’s community forum which will be held on Thursday, August 4, 2011, at the Hardin County Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School, 384 W.A. Jenkins Road, Elizabethtown, and beginning at 4:30 PM. Interested citizens are encouraged to attend.

HCU also plans to approach each local government entity beginning in September and request the passage of an ordinance which will create a Unification Review Commission (pursuant to Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapters 67.900 – 67.940). Members of the Commission (which will include between 20 and 40 citizens) will be appointed by those local government entities that choose to participate. The Commission will be charged with the task of developing a specific plan of unified government which will be presented to the voters to approve in November 2012.

Additional information on this issue can be found on HCU’s Web site (www.hardincountyunited.com).

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Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

Hardin County’s Key Growth Indicators Show Positive Trends

Elizabethtown MSA’s High National Rankings Reveal a Metro with Momentum

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (May 9, 2011) – As the base realignment at Fort Knox continues towards its completion in September 2011, the Elizabethtown Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) continues to grow at record rates which are now being recognized on a national basis.  The Elizabethtown MSA includes all of Hardin and Larue counties (and the cities of Elizabethtown, Hodgenville, Radcliff, Sonora, Upton, Vine Grove and West Point) – Kentucky’s Heartland.

Recently several studies have been released which clearly illustrate the growth in the metro area, in the area of job creation, personal income growth, housing values and employee compensation.

According to Moody’s Analytics1, the Elizabethtown MSA was the first fully contained MSA in Kentucky to move from recession to recovery in August 2009.  Job growth numbers are up substantially too: the Elizabethtown MSA led all Kentucky metros in job growth during the past year, as shown in the chart2 which follows:

Elizabethtown MSA Employment Growth Jobs

On May 6, 2011, New Geography, a respected online journal of information related to urban issues posted its annual ranking of the Best Cities for New Jobs4.  This study, which is conducted on behalf of Forbes, analyzes “the robustness of a region’s growth both recently and over time.”  The rankings include all 398 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) from which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports monthly employment data.

The rankings were based on an analysis of the following criteria:

  1. Recent growth trend: the current and prior year’s employment growth rates, with the current year emphasized (two points)
  2. Mid-term growth: the average annual 2005 – 2010 growth rate (two points)
  3. Long-term trend and momentum: the sum of the 2005 – 2010 and 1999 – 2004 employment growth rates multiplied by the ratio of the 1999 – 2004 growth rate over the 2005 – 2010 growth rate (two points)
  4. Current year growth (one point)

The rankings confirm the explosive growth which is underway in the Elizabethtown MSA.  Out of 398 metros, the Elizabethtown MSA ranked 16th in the U.S. (and first in Kentucky) by New Geography in its 2011 Best Cities for Job Growth report.  The Elizabethtown MSA moved up 87 positions from the previous report.  The following chart lists the Top 20 MSAs for Best Cities for Job Growth:

Elizabethtown MSA Best City Growth

“It’s gratifying to see that Hardin and Larue counties are reaping the benefits of base realignment at Fort Knox,” said Hardin County United Chairperson Harry L. Berry.  “More importantly, at a time when many areas of the nation are still in recession, Hardin County continues to benefit from a diverse economy which is built upon the military, manufacturing and agriculture.  Hardin County is indeed poised for additional and significant growth in the near future,” said Berry.

In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (U.S. Commerce Department) published personal income data for 366 metros, showing the change from 2008 through 2009.  The Elizabethtown MSA ranked fourth in the U.S. in per capita income growth during this period.  In fact, seven of the top 10 metros in income growth are markets with military bases which reaffirms the importance of base realignment (as shown on the chart5 which follows):

Employee compensation6 in Hardin County is also growing rapidly:

Elizabethtown Radcliff Vine Grove Compensation Growth

Finally, the manufacturing sector is also showing substantial growth, as shown in the chart7 which follows:

Elizabethtown MSA Industrial Manufacturing Growth
“Hardin County is strategically positioned for further growth,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC and consultant to Hardin County United (HCU).  “The recent merger of the four chambers of commerce into the new Hardin County Chamber of Commerce and HCU projects such as the ongoing unified government study and educational mapping study will enable the County and its citizens to make some strategic choices for the future.  Growth, new jobs and opportunities for the future are there for the taking,” said Schmidt.

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010.  The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies.  HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee.  Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

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Notes:
BACK TO POST
1  Source: Moody’s Analytics http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33312701/ns/business-eye_on_the_economy/

2  Source: Moody’s Analytics http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29976394/ns/business-eye_on_the_economy/

3  Source: Moody’s Analytics http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29976394/ns/business-eye_on_the_economy/

4  Source: www.newgeography.com/content/002208-2011-how-we-pick-best-cities-for-job-growth

5  Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Web Site: www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/mpi/2010/pdf/mpi0810.pdf

6  Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

7  Source: Moody’s Analytics http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29976394/ns/business-eye_on_the_economy/

Hardin County United backs push for increased alcohol sales

Hardin County United backs push for increased alcohol sales

The following article was written by Marty Finley and first appeared in The News-Enterprise on Thursday, March 24, 2011.  The full, online version is available here:  http://www.thenewsenterprise.com/content/hardin-county-united-backs-push-increased-alcohol-sales.

Organization feels change in law will boost business

Hardin County United has joined the charge for a special option election to expand alcohol sales in Hardin County.

The organization formally announced today its support for Yes for Economic Success, a collective of local organizations and residents that have partnered to lead concurrent petition drives in Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove.

“HCU fully respects the view that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is a personal choice,” said HCU Chairman and Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry in the statement. “However, HCU believes that it is entirely appropriate to allow voters to express how they feel about the issue and therefore we support the ongoing petition drive to obtain the required number of signatures to bring this issue to a vote in all three cities.”

HCU maintains it will increase revenue, expand economic growth and attract more tourists to the area if the laws are changed.

Members of Y.E.S. have said they are approaching the issue entirely from an economic perspective and feel the county is allowing alcohol revenue to seep into surrounding counties. In addition, Y.E.S. has said the current alcohol restrictions are hampering the growth of business.

Hardin County Clerk Kenny Tabb has said Y.E.S. will need to obtain more than 3,600 signatures total to place expanded alcohol sales to a vote in the three cities.

Press Release: Hardin County United Announces Support for Initiative to Change Alcoholic Beverage Laws in Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove

Successful Petition Drive will Allow Voters to Express Their Views on an Issue that Supports Economic Development

Elizabethtown, Kentucky (March 23, 2011) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that its Steering Committee has voted to support the ongoing petition drive of the YES for Economic Success (Y.E.S.) Committee to gather signatures of registered voters in Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove in order to allow for a referendum later this year and changing existing law to allow alcoholic beverage sales in all three cities.

Y.E.S. is a collaborative group of organizations and concerned citizens which is working to allow voters the opportunity to vote on changing the existing alcoholic beverage laws in all three cities.  While each campaign is separate, each campaign is running concurrently, allowing voters the opportunity to express their view on the same day later this year with the same ballot question.  To date, nine organizations in addition to HCU have endorsed the activities of Y.E.S.

“HCU fully respects the view that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is a personal choice,” said HCU Chairperson Harry L. Berry.  “However, HCU believes that it is entirely appropriate to allow voters to express how they feel about the issue and therefore we support the ongoing petition drive to obtain the required number of signatures to bring this issue to a vote in all three cities,” said Berry.

Members of HCU believe the issue of alcoholic beverage sales has become an economic issue.  Research indicates millions of dollars are being left on the table in surrounding counties by Hardin County citizens when they travel to Bullitt, Jefferson, Meade and Nelson counties to purchase alcoholic beverages.  It’s time to put these dollars in local cash registers along with the taxes that such sales generate.

Changing existing law to allow alcoholic beverage sales will enhance economic development efforts in all three cities.  The availability of alcoholic beverages in restaurants, pubs, etc., is an issue which is often considered by professional site selection representatives and business decision makers to be a quality of place issue.  Changing the law will make it easier to open new establishments in the historic buildings in downtown Elizabethtown and Vine Grove and in commercial areas in Radcliff.

Finally, changing the law will make the community more competitive when it comes to attracting tourists along the I-65 corridor.  Most tourists would like a choice when it comes to the opportunity to consume alcoholic beverages.  Most of the communities that Hardin County competes with in the tourism arena, such as Bardstown, Bowling Green, Columbus, IN, Jeffersonville, IN, Lexington, Louisville and Nashville allow alcoholic beverage sales.

“Hardin County United was established to follow-up, prioritize and implement various strategic goals which were established as part of the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, the consulting firm which conducted the Vision Project and provides consulting services to HCU.

“During the Vision Project, we asked community leaders many questions pertaining to ‘quality of life/place’ including their views of the current dining scene.  Only 28% of the respondents found the dining/entertainment scene to be ‘robust,’” said Schmidt.

“When asked if current alcoholic beverage laws hinder the development of new dining and entertainment ventures, nearly 70% said YES.  For those who answered YES to this question, 90% said that the laws should be changed in order to attract new dining and entertainment ventures (and improve the quality of place for the community),” Schmidt stated.

Additional information on this issue can be obtained by visiting the Y.E.S. Web site (www.2011yes.com).

Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010.  The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies.  HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee.  Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.

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Al Rider Introduces the Hardin County Education Roadmap

In May 2010, as follow-up to the Hardin County Vision Project, the Education Sub-Committee of Hardin County United, chaired by North Central Education Foundation, undertook identifying and researching all of the educational opportunities in Hardin County. From this research, an “Education Map” of experiences from birth through adulthood was formed. This pathway for lifelong learning offers something never available to this community before – an index of educational assets.

Download the Education Roadmap

We see many uses and ways this work can benefit Hardin County and the surrounding region.  Most importantly, it compiles all educational opportunities into one convenient place in an easily searchable format.

Personal Development

For our residents, this makes navigating the educational system easier. It also raises awareness of the varied opportunities offered by many entities. For new people moving into our community, it provides them with a quick glance of offerings in their new community and a reference tool as their education needs change during their time here.

When middle and high school guidance counselors begin to use this information with students, it will give them educational and vocational opportunities to explore right in their home community.

Community Development

Education is a major component of community development and this map gives the community an index of educational assets. Community leaders can easily see strengths to build upon and identify the skills needed to help the community grow. Education service providers can use the map to identify opportunities for expanded services to meet changing community needs.

Economic Development

Economic Development groups now have a powerful tool to show prospective companies the capacity of the community to provide the needed workforce, importance of education in the community, and the availability of educational opportunities for their employees and families. This inventory of the education and skills most prevalent in the community will also help economic development target companies who need the degrees and training currently being provided here.

Ft. Knox Development

Education in Hardin County is significantly impacted by the presence of Ft. Knox in our community. The education community works to continually meet the needs of Ft. Knox workers and their families. Now the product of this work and the available education is readily accessible. As the largest employer and basis for attracting new people in the region, this tool gives Ft. Knox a quick view of the education and skills readily available in this market.

Welcome from Judge Harry Berry

Welcome to the online portal to Hardin County United!  It has been my pleasure to have served as the Chairperson of this new organization since its beginning in 2010.  Hardin County United has a vision for the community’s future – and I’ll talk more about that in a moment.

First, I want to encourage you, your family, your neighbors, co-workers, etc. to consider this Web site as your connection to Hardin County United (HCU).  We have designed this Web site to serve as the platform from which to provide periodic updates on HCU’s activities, research and projects.  You should find this Web site easy to navigate around.

And, this site is designed to be interactive.  We will host polls on items of interest to the community from time to time (be sure and let us know what you think about some of the most important issues that we will be bringing to the community).  As research projects are completed, we will be posting those reports to the site (our first such posting should occur in a week or so and it focuses on education in the community).

HCU is organized with an over-arching Steering Committee and three operational subcommittees: Community Development, Education, and Governance.  At present, 58 of your friends and neighbors from throughout Hardin County are serving on the Steering Committee.  I appreciate the commitment that each of these people have made to the organization (you can see a list of who is serving on our various committees under the Committees tab).

In addition, our three subcommittees are chaired by key community leaders, each of whom is dedicated to working with their respective committees to bring real results to the table.  The Community Development Subcommittee is chaired by One Knox Executive Director Brad Richardson.  The Education Subcommittee is chaired by North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider.  And, the Governance Subcommittee is chaired by Hardin County Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard.  HCU is also receiving management and consulting services from Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, the consulting firm that recently completed the County’s Vision Project.

As I said at the beginning of this post, HCU has a vision for the future of the community (and, when we speak about “community,” we are referring to Greater Hardin County).

Hardin County is one of Kentucky’s largest counties – both in terms of population and area.  The County is going through a major transformation – one which is positive in every way – through the base realignment at Fort Knox.  While much of the country is still working through the remnants of the recession, we’ve been blessed as a community with almost 8,000 new jobs when all is said and done with the realignment.  We stand to serve as the growth center for Kentucky for the next several years.

When Hardin County Government commissioned the Vision Project, we did so with the intent of capitalizing on BRAC in order to further position the community for future growth.  The Vision Project identified our strengths as well as weaknesses, reviewed current growth opportunities and illustrated the need to maximize efficiencies.  Through the visioning process, we established 24 strategic goals for the community’s future over the next 15 years.

HCU was established to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies for those that the organization deems to be appropriate.  In the end, as we move these issues forward, we hope to engage the community in a dialogue about the community’s future and move forward and speak with one voice.  Experience has taught us that when we speak with one voice, we can accomplish so much more.

Be sure and sign up for our updates here on the site.  We look forward to including your voice in our community’s dialogue about the future!