Burtner recognized for dedication to Bluegrass region

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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Though he officially retired as mayor at the end of 2022, Ed Burtner’s work is still being rewarded after 40 years of civic service.

At the Bluegrass Area Development District’s Jan. 25  meeting, Burtner was presented with the Don Hassall Visionary Award, recognizing individuals who have shown leadership in their pursuit to improve and build the Bluegrass area.

“We don’t give out an award every year, but we do when it’s a noteworthy individual who deserves to be recognized,” said David Duttlinger, the executive director for Bluegrass Area Development District. “With Ed Burtner retiring and [us] looking back over his 40-plus years of service to local governments and to communities, and public administration, I thought it would be fitting to reward him.”

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The Don Hassall Visionary Award recently changed names after long being associated with former Nicholasville Mayor Shelby Combs.

Hassall, a civil engineer who passed away in December 2022, played a significant role in the design and planning of public water and sewer services to many unreached areas of central Kentucky.

Before entering public service, Burtner served the country by enlisting in the Marine Corps at age 17 in 1969. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a sergeant and later served in the Vietnam War.

Eventually, by the early 1980s, Burtner was serving Winchester as the city manager.

Whether serving in that role or as Mayor, Burtner still found time to work with the organization to improve the region.

He was on the Bluegrass Water Supply Commission, helping to increase water to many drought-prone areas.

Burtner also worked closely with the Kentucky League of Cities, providing governance and seeking legislative options for further improvement.

Notably, he also rose to be on the executive board of the Bluegrass Area Development District.

The organization and the city of Winchester have previously worked together.

Previous collaborations include a stormwater mapping project, working on the Sphar building, addressing substance abuse issues, industrial development and recruitment and more.

The Bluegrass Area Development District sees Winchester, with just under 20,000 residents, as a “gateway city” for the region.

“It’s one of the first major cities that you hit coming in from the Appalachian area or coming from [Interstate] 64”, Duttlinger said. “It’s getting to be a big city, but still has a small-time feel and has a lot to offer.”

According to Duttlinger, Burtner also saw a broader vision of what Winchester could be beyond Clark County.

“Mayor Burtner realized that for Winchester to be successful and to grow [meant] that the region had to grow and be successful,” he said. “He totally got the fact that people may live in one location but work in another location…I think Ed Burtner truly is one of those remarkable individuals who truly [understood] how those things work with local government.”

Having worked with him previously, Duttlinger also offered a personal reflection.

“I’ve certainly enjoyed working for Ed Burtner. He’s a mentor to me,” he said.