Mayor, J-E discuss state of the community

Published 9:53 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More than 50 people packed the conference room Tuesday morning to hear and ask Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner and Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham about where things stand in the city and county.

The event, organized by the Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce, included questions from several Clark County students as well as business people.

Both men said the communities are in a good place, but there are a number of challenges and situations ranging from increasing growth in the county, illegal drugs, improving infrastructure and the looming state pension situation.

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“Local government is often referred to as the government of the people,” Branham said. “This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where services are provided.”

The city and county responsibilities overlap in several areas, including emergency medical services, 911 dispatch, parks and recreation, not to mention a revenue-sharing agreement between the city and county.

“This is an exciting time for Winchester and Clark County,” Burtner said.

On the horizon are a number of big projects, chiefly building a new water

treatment plant for Winchester Municipal Utilities and improving infrastructure around the city and county. The water plant is running near capacity most days, Burtner said, and is in the process of being replaced, with recent bids in the $19 million range.

Adequate housing is another concern, he said.

“We need to improve out housing stock,” he said. “Our neighborhoods are aging and housing is an issue.”

In response to a question about code enforcement, Burtner said the scope for existing laws is for safety-related matters, rather than if a neighbor paints their house pink or puts flamingos in their yard, he said. The city, he said, added a second code enforcement officer this year and, in Burtner’s decade as major, demolished 100 homes.

“We have attempted to be very aggressive,” he said.

Questions from the students touched on preventing shootings like last week’s where two 16-year-old girls were killed, to making Boonesboro Road safer and what they can do to make things better.

“Being here is an excellent thing to do,” “Burtner said. Be a part of future Winchester leadership program. Be involved. Be informed.”

“If we can affect our kids, they will teach us what to do as they come up,” Branham said.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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