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County approves resolution to start reopening process

Is Clark County ready to begin re-opening its economy?

Thursday evening, the Clark County Fiscal Court approved a resolution asking Gov. Andy Beshear to evaluate counties individually and allow Clark County to enter phase one. That would include reopening restaurants for inside dining, theaters and churches, as well as the possibility of an in-person graduation for George Rogers Clark High School.

“We’re in a very different position than a lot of other hotspots,” Magistrate Chris Davis said in offering the resolution. “With the resolution, what we would be asking is the governor to recognize we have met the benchmarks and allow us to enter the first stage of opening.”

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Beshear announced some health care offices would be allowed to reopen beginning Monday.

“This is not an active rebellion against the governor’s emergency declaration,” Davis said. “Really, it’s just asking the governor to consider it as we are a county that has dealt well with it.”

So far, Clark County has not had a COVID-related death, and the majority of the reported cases have recovered.

“I think Clark County has done an outstanding job … but nonetheless, it’s caused a lot of negative impact on our employers,” Davis said.

Support for the resolution, though, was not unanimous.

Magistrate Travis Thompson said he spoke to officials at both the Clark County Health Department and Clark County Public Schools prior to the meeting. The school board, he said, is already planning a virtual graduation, and Health Department officials believe the county isn’t close to meeting the established benchmarks to begin reopening.

Thompson said he thought the resolution was premature.

“I was taught to love my neighbors, and I can’t imagine leaving anything but to the health professionals,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ve met any of the benchmarks,” Magistrate Robert Blanton said.

Davis said the resolution has no legal bearing, but is a request for the governor to consider.

“I respect the governor and his office, but other people have opinions, too,” he said. “I just would like to provide the governor something to consider.”

“I do think it’s important if we send the resolution to the governor, we should be considered different than Jefferson County or Elliott County,” Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said.

Pace also added an amendment seeking feedback from the state on how to meet the benchmarks if it is determined Clark County has not.

The resolution was approved with a 5-2 vote. Thompson and Blanton voted no.

In other action, the court:

— accepted the audit of the Clark County sheriff’s 2018 tax settlement.

— accepted reimbursement from the Administrative Office of the Courts for its use of courthouse facilities. Pace said the reimbursement rate was reduced, which will lead to a $40,000 shortfall.

— accepted the Clark County Detention Center budget for fiscal year 2021.

— voted to retain temporary part-time deputy coroner Neal Oliver for another six months.

— approved the promotion of Eric Hunter to lieutenant at the Clark County Fire Department.

— approved a settlement for repairs to a bridge on Old Boonesboro Road.

— approved hiring William Shifflet as an equipment operator for the Clark County Road Department.

— approved a memorandum of agreement for a grant for the Clark County Animal Shelter.

— approved an order to establish separate checking accounts for several funds including the road department.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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