Following general opening remarks by Winchester Mayor Dodd Dixon, Clark County Judge-Executive John Myers, and Winchester-Clark County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mike Caudill, several witnesses testified at length about state funding.
The first was Roy Palk, president of East Kentucky Power Cooperative, a 60-year-old, Winchester-based consumer-owned nonprofit that generates and provides electrical power for 16 rural electric cooperatives and 1 million residents in 89 counties.
"We're investing, in the next seven years, about two and a half billion dollars," Palk told the committee. "We are in the process of building three of the cleanest coal-fired power plants in the United States," he added, referring to a project to build two new generators in Clark County and one in Mason.
That new development will produce $40 million in state property taxes alone, he mentioned.
Palk thanked the legislators for including in the state budget $15 million for safety improvements to Irvine Road (Ky. 89) near the J.K. Smith Station at Trapp, and especially applauded the leadership of Palmer, Pasley and Myers for their efforts.
"Representative Pasley was able to speed up the process to secure these funds in two years when it normally takes six," he noted.
City Commissioner JoEllen Reed, a community liaison for Blue Grass Community and Technical College, testified, thanking the committee for appropriating $3.4 million to help establish a new campus for the college in the city's industrial park, and for $500,000 in the last session to equip the new building. That funding, as well as grants from local businesses and individuals, has the campus on target to open in January 2008.
Reed said a contract has been awarded to a Richmond firm, and construction should begin in about seven to 10 days.
The Winchester branch of the campus is currently located in the old library building at College Park, but the new building will be six times as large.
"We have over 500 students who attend college in a 4,000-square-foot building. It's pretty tight," she said. "The new building will be just under 24,000 square feet."
The building will have a computer lab, science lab and conference room, and the college plans to have a nursing program and partner with state universities to transfer some students into four-year programs after they've completed two years at the local college.
"I think this will have the most significant impact on this community of anything in my lifetime," said Pasley, who is in his 40s. "I personally want to thank the committee and the members of the General Assembly for allowing us to pursue this wonderful educational opportunity."
Scott Hisle, a member of the local parks and recreation board, thanked the committee for state funding for renovating the College Park gymnasium in 2000, and for a recent $1.4 million allocation for a second phase, which will include an indoor pool and community meeting rooms.
"When you go over to that gym at 7 o'clock at night and see all the people walking that track, you say, 'Wow, this is really neat!' This has really made a difference in our community. We certainly appreciate you helping to support that," he said.
Darren Diguette, executive director of the Clark County Association for Handicapped Citizens, thanked the legislators for the state funding to renovate the old Victory Heights/Odell Gross school, which has been converted into a center for programs for children and adults with disabilities, and for $100,000 to fund adult services.
Diguette said the organization serves only about 100 to 150 families, but for families with members who have Down syndrome, spina bifida, autism or other disabilities, the program is as important as programs that benefit the whole community.