Future of courthouse bell discussed, but no action taken

For the last three years, the bell from the Clark County Courthouse has sat in storage.

Plans remain the subject of discussion, including where and how to display the bell, before the Clark County Fiscal Court.

Wednesday, Clark County resident Joe Barnes proposed installing the bell in front of the courthouse with a structure to enclose the bell from the elements. The structure would be four supports with a roof and plate glass to enclose the bell.

Barnes was looking for support from the court to resume work on the project. Barnes said he spoke with several people who would donate toward the project if it was displayed in front of the courthouse along Main Street.

“The point I’m at is deciding if we’re able to put the bell there,” Barnes said. “I feel like I can get a good amount of funding, maybe not the whole thing, to get this completed.”

Magistrate Robert Blanton said those he spoke with said the logical location would be behind the courthouse facing Wall Street. He also disagreed with the need for a structure over the bell. The city displays its bell outside City Hall and is completely exposed to the elements.

“Even if you could keep glass in (a structure), you’d have to clean it,” Blanton said.

No action was taken Wednesday.

The bell was removed from the courthouse in late 2017 when the bell tower was demolished after it was deemed structurally unsound. The new tower was installed in 2018, but the bell remains in storage. It was not planned to be reinstalled in the tower.

Later in the meeting, the court voted unanimously to approve a self-insurance plan for health insurance for county employees.

Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said taking the self-insurance plan will give the county greater control over its insurance and prescription costs, and hopefully save money.

The county was facing a 34 percent increase in premiums from Anthem for 2021, which would being the premiums to nearly $1 million, Pace said.

Rather than paying a set premium, Pace said the county would be liable for catastrophic losses beyond $75,000.

Pace said he expects the county to save money, but the amount of savings won’t be known until next year and the claims are tallied.

In other action, the Fiscal Court:

• approved an order to fly POW/MIA flags over the Clark County Courthouse and the James Clark Judicial Annex. Blanton said Kentucky Bank offered to buy the flags and donate them to the county. The county had planned to spend up to $400 for two flags.

• appointed road supervisor Allan Curtis as interim solid waste coordinator and compost program coordinator.

• appointed Perri Wilson as interim Chemical Stockpile and Emergency Preparedness Program director.