Hail damage affects structures at Gunn Park

Though most of us are aware of damage done in residential areas of Fort Scott to homes and vehicles, we may not have considered the damage done to other structures within the city. One of the harder hit areas of town seems to be along Burke Street, which is very near one of Fort Scott’s most beautiful attractions–Gunn Park. Though at first glance the park may look undamaged, a closer look reveals some destruction.

Most notably, several of the newer playground structures were damaged, rendering them unusable and unsafe. Thankfully the city quickly took notice of the safety hazard and placed a temporary fence and warning signs around each of the damaged playground areas.

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One of the structures by the 2nd lake actually has a large hole in the slide portion of the play area, which shows just how forcefully the hail came down during the storm.

In addition, several shelter house roofs have been damaged, most notably the roof of the Fern Lake shelter house.

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The good news is that the city seems to have put new metal roofs on quite a few shelter houses already, including one of the historic shelter houses by the 2nd lake which was built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.

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The photo below shows a plaque commemorating the efforts of the Works Progress Administration and the City of Fort Scott during the Great Depression.

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Other familiar sights at the park, such as the old grills, have escaped damage from the storm. Perhaps the old saying, “They don’t make things like they used to” is true in this case!

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Lee’s Paws and Claws Animal Shelter

Most of us would call any organization that betters the community a good investment, but Lee’s Paws and Claws Animal Shelter (located at 721 240th Street in Fort Scott) goes above and beyond in that respect. The shelter, opened in July 2012, has rescued a large amount of animals since it opened. According to Interim Director Ann Gillmore-Hoffman, the shelter has taken in 109 dogs and 85 cats, while it has adopted out 73 dogs and 46 cats. The shelter has also returned 6 animals to their owners and transferred 27 animals to other no-kill shelters.

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Open Every Day 10:00 AM-2:00 PM

 

As visitors enter the shelter, they are greeted with a very clean, bright atmosphere and plenty of well-cared-for animals. The dogs have neatly designed runs that offer indoor/outdoor access as the animal chooses, while the cats have what all cats love–carpeted structures to climb and soft beds on which to take frequent catnaps.

According to Gillmore-Hoffman, the shelter plays an important part in the community in that it provides “a safe, healthy environment for stray or unwanted animals.” The community has gotten involved in several ways in the past year. Students from Fort Scott High School FFA along with other organizations raised $1,000 for the shelter, while kindergarten classes brought food and small monetary donations to the shelter at Christmastime. In addition, the FSCC softball team members take turns volunteering to walk dogs for the shelter. Gillmore-Hoffman mentions, “There is a lot of community involvement already, but we need a few checkbooks[to be involved]!” She says that fundraisers are essential to keeping the shelter running, and that having regular volunteers helps as well.

One big event coming up for the shelter is the “Strut Your Mutt” at Good O’l Days to be held Friday May 31st at 7:00PM. This event is an important fundraiser for the shelter, so get out there and show off your canine friends! In addition, the shelter will have a booth at Good O’l Days and will also be host on June 18th to Pawprints On the Heartland, an organization that offers low cost spay and neutering.

To get involved financially or by providing volunteer time, please contact the shelter at (620)-223-2888 or send them a check at PO Box  343, Fort Scott, Kansas 66701.

P.S. As an added bonus, you just might get a chance to hold a lap full of soft, purring kittens or cuddle with a friendly dog.

County Commissioners sign annual audit approval, address community concerns

At today’s meeting, County Commissioners signed an annual audit approval to be done by Terry Sercer, and also passed Resolution 14-13 to name Diehl-Banwart-Bolton as auditor for 2012 financial records for Bourbon County.

Commissioners also addressed a concern from local contractor Hubert Thomas of Thomas Construction Incorporated. Thomas was concerned that bids had not been consistently advertised in the past and requested that Warren, Coleman and Albright correct the problem by beginning to advertise all bids despite the precedent. Commissioners agreed that all bids should be advertised and agreed to change the practice.

Other announcements:

  • The courthouse and landfill will be closed for the Memorial Day holiday, with the exception that the landfill will by open only Saturday from 8AM-4PM
  • Commissioners revisited goals for 2013, which include hosting a sub-county meeting (which they have done), and developing the county calendar so that the community is aware of what is going on in Bourbon County

Chamber addresses community concerns, members learn history of FSPD

At this morning’s chamber coffee, those in attendance were greeted with the meticulously-kept bays of the Fort Scott Fire Department. The Fort Scott Police Department hosted the meeting, and sounds of laughter and jovial conversation rang throughout the room.

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Barbara Albright, member of the Chamber Board, welcomed attendees and asked for new Chamber of Commerce members or visitors to step forward. Common Ground coffee shop announced the hiring of a new manager, Tyler Hazen. Everyone in attendance seemed excited about the presence of the coffee shop in the community. Let’s face it–not many of us do well without our daily cup of joe!

Albright started the weekly “Dollars for Dolly,” in which members of the Chamber of Commerce may step forward and make announcements related to their businesses or the community by donating a dollar to the Chamber. Macy Cullison, City Economic Development Director, announced the opening of the Aquatic Center on Monday, May 27th. Cullison remarked, “We have a great staff of supervisors and lifeguards.”

City Manager David Martin and County Commissioner Barbara Albright next addressed a concern from the community that truckers traveling through the area cannot find places to eat early in the morning/late at night. Albright assured everyone that the Chamber considers informing local hospitality businesses and convenience stores of the needs of visitors an ongoing responsibility.

Martin also remarked that when he first accepted the position of City Manager, he was told that the police might not get along with the community, and that the police and fire departments might not get along. However, Martin said that both departments have proven that statement incorrect. Of the good rapport between the police department and the community, Martin said, “I have two chiefs that believe that [police and community can remain on good terms] from the bottom of their hearts” and that the police chief and staff have “citizens at their heart.”

Following this discussion, Chief Travis Shelton presented a short history of the Fort Scott Police Department. According to Shelton, Kathy West had the idea to collect and compile old photos of the Police Department to preserve its history. Shelton presented a few photos via projector and encouraged those in the community who held such photos to consider letting the department scan them and keep copies. Shelton presented a few interesting facts about the department’s past:

  • 1860–Fort Scott had only one town marshall
  • 1873–The department held a municipal ball to raise money to buy uniforms for police officers
  • 1878–James Eggleston was appointed as the first African-American police officer on the force

Other announcements:

  • The Aquatic Center has received a generous donation that has enabled the pool to offer season passes to lower-income families
  • Food 4 Summer program to be hosted at Buck Run Community Center. Volunteers needed to deliver food.
  • Terri Coop has formed the Bourbon County Long-term Recovery Committee in order to promote recovery in lower-income areas of the city. This program allows contractors to drop off leftover building/roofing materials north of town at the former site of Midwest Trucking.
  • Gary Palmer announced the ongoing photo exhibit “A Day in the Life of Fort Scott’s Working World” at Fort Scott Community College. The exhibit is located in the Ellis Family Fine Arts Center and according to Palmer, displays 31 photos. The project was funded by a grant written by Jill Warford of the Gordon Parks Center at FSCC.
  • Life + Style will present their “We Love Local Sale” May 28th-31st. The sale will include 20% off bake ware, pots and pans.

City of Fort Scott Press Release–City Pool Opening!

“It is pool season again! The City of Fort Scott is happy to announce that the Fort Scott Aquatic Center will be opening for the 2013 Aquatic Season on Monday, May 27th at 1:00PM. This season, Aquatic Center hours will be 1:00-7:00PM Monday through Saturday, and Sunday from 1:00-6:00PM. The Aquatic Center will be open full time through August 11th. For the remainder of the month in August, the Aquatic Center will be open weekends only (Aug 17-18, 24-25, and 31-Sep 2) from 1:00-6:00PM.

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Opening Monday May 27th at 1:00PM

Aquatic Center admission prices and season pass prices have remained the same this year. For more information on pricing, please contact the Aquatic Center office starting May 27th at 223.8142. Season passes will be sold throughout the summer during normal Aquatic Center hours, with the exception of the first week of operation; from May 27th-31st, season passes will only be sold from 9:00AM-Noon.

We are excited to kick off summer with the opening of the Aquatic Center and hope you and your family will join us for some pool fun this season!”

The Iron Star

The Iron Star is one of Fort Scott’s most popular stops for antiques, furniture, decorations and collectibles. Located in Historic Downtown Fort Scott, the store’s charm stems not only from its merchandise but also from the beautiful building in which it resides.

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Open Mon – Sat: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Owner Barbara Trimbur states that one neat thing about The Iron Star is that it offers a mix of the “old and new”–beautiful antiques as well as unique new pieces of furniture and other household items.

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This small business plays an important part in the downtown, attracting not only tourists, but also many local shoppers. According to Trimbur, her favorite part of being a downtown business is “meeting people from all over” and that The Iron Star loves to welcome tourists, but it also depends on local citizens to keep its doors open. The very morning I visited the store, several cars carrying local shoppers were already waiting to enter the store when it opened its doors.

Before entering the store, a visitor is greeted with the beautiful, well-kept exterior of the Victorian-era commercial building. When walking into the store, visitors will find tastefully appointed furniture for sale, as well as antiques from a variety of vendors. The store also offers a selection of decor items that are rustic and charming in nature, but the selection is wide enough so that a visitor might find something to fit a style of decor in any home.

The store’s biggest event is its Open House in November. According to Trimbur, The Iron Star started a tradition that many downtown business continue to follow. Trimbur said with a smile, “We have people calling to ask, “When’s your Open House?”

The welcoming atmosphere, tasteful merchandise and friendly associates have made the store what Trimbur terms a destination for downtown visitors, and I have no doubt that the store and its staff are a great ambassador for the store and for Fort Scott, just as the owner wishes.

County Commissioners’ Meeting 5/20/2013

At today’s Commissioners’ Meeting, Allen Warren, Barbara Albright and Harold Coleman discussed and debated a wide range of issues while listening to the concerns of citizens from several townships.

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Public Works Director Marty Pearson dropped by to report on storm damage from the previous evening’s storm. Pearson said, “A lot of wind damage–we’ve got a few trees we’re working on, so we’re trying to get them cleaned up.”

Other issues addressed by Pearson include repairs to one of the county’s road graders and possibly hiring seasonal workers for mowing.  The grader will need a new o-ring seal around its engine and transmission. The cost of repair, according to Pearson, is estimated to be around $2,700. Warren moved to hire 4 seasonal workers at $10.00 per hour, and  Albright seconded. Commissioners discussed possibly hiring retiree workers, who according to Harold Coleman, “got a lot of miles [of mowing] covered and the machines were taken care of.” Albright also mentioned that Fort Scott Community College might be contacted to let students know about the seasonal jobs at Public Works. Pearson expects the positions to be part-time, but that weather permitting, the workers could put in up to 40 hours per week.

After Pearson left, Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Michaels stepped in to discuss billing for Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. Because the payment schedules for the county and the Heartland differ, a problem arose. The county attempted to correct the issue by offering to pay with a credit card or by asking the company to change the schedule for that particular payment. When the company did not accept these measures, Commissioners and County Clerk Kendell Mason agreed that it would be best for the county to pay $100 in advance on the account to avoid late fees. Albright moved that the county should pay ahead $100, and Allen seconded.

Following the discussion of the electric bill, Sheriff Ron Gray and Undersherrif Bill Martin brought to the commissioners’ attention a proposal to possibly replace some of the county’s aging or damaged patrol vehicles. According to Undersherrif Martin, the county had only 2 fully functional patrol cars with which to work last month as a result of storm damage and patrol-related damages.

Gray and Martin have proposed a 5-year plan to purchase seven (7) new patrol vehicles for the county while keeping the three remaining vehicles they possess that are in good working condition. The vehicles Gray and Martin would like to purchase are three pickups (1500 range in size) and four SUV-type vehicles equipped with All Wheel Drive (AWD). Martin presented the state bid from Olathe Ford, which was $27,174 per truck, which includes all extra electrical equipment and installations of light bars, strobes, etc. The price for an SUV-type vehicle is estimated to be $31,858 fully equipped. Martin said that the vehicle would basically be a “Ford Explorer” with AWD.

Martin pointed out that though it costs a bit more to have Ford install the necessary components such as light bars, strobes and electrical work, it is worth the cost. Martin mentioned that if even one wire crosses another, it could ruin the vehicle’s computer system, rendering it useless. According to Martin, it is better in the long run to pay a Ford mechanic to do the work correctly.

Next commissioners and County Attorney Terri Johnson discussed the purchase of the building at 108 W. 2nd Street in Fort Scott that the county currently leases. According to Johnson, the price per square foot to purchase the building is very low–$35 per square foot. The initial cost for purchase of the building is estimated to be $162, 700. According to Johnson, the roof of the building needs to eventually have drains installed or be remodeled so that it sheds water effectively, and the electrical work also needs to be updated in the future.

Finally, Custodial Supervisor David Neville came back to update commissioners on last weeks situation regarding insurance. According to Neville, the insurance company still has not recognized the damage that will occur to the existing insulation on the roof of the courthouse during repairs necessitated by the April hailstorm. Oddly enough, Neville says that the scope of work from the insurance company includes 1/2 inch of insulation, but the company still does not acknowledge the 2+ inches of existing insulation that would be damaged.

The adjuster mentioned perhaps being able to work on the air vents on top of the courthouse, but remains firm on the company’s stand regarding repairing exterior walls of the correctional center.

County Commissioners’ Meeting 5/17/2013

Today  Bourbon County Commissioners Harold Coleman, Allen Warren and Barb Albright met to address several issues pertaining to the county and its residents.

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Grader operator Randy Hayden explained his concern that the existing culverts along 250th street near the state line in his district were not functioning properly due to overgrowth of vegetation and other debris. Hayden mentioned that a farmer who owns fields along this road could not enter his field through the original entrance, but rather had to create a new entrance to his field elsewhere. Hayden expressed his view that new culverts had been installed in other places along 250th, but that the area he mentioned still needed work. County commissioners addressed the issue.

Following this issue, commissioners signed off on documents pertaining to the repairs on the Noble Road bridge. The project is expected to take 120 working days to complete.

Later today, commissioners will hold a 20 minute executive session with Schafer, Kline & Warren, a consulting company based out of Kansas City.

After discussing the Noble Road bridge project, commissioners listened as County custodial supervisor David Neville explained the ongoing situation with repairs from the hail storm in April. Neville handed out copies of a preliminary proposal from contractor Wray Roofing, Inc., as well as an email message from Jeremy DeMuth of Kirberg Company which pointed out some potential problems with Wray Roofing, Inc.’s original proposal. The main issue is that the proposal does not include replacement of insulation that would be damaged during the roof repair process. Insurance for the both the Southeast Kansas Regional Correctional Center and the Bourbon County Courthouse has not acknowledged the issues with insulation on the courthouse roof, damage to vent hoods also on the courthouse roof, or the damage to the exterior side walls of the jail. Neville opined the scope of work estimated by insurance was not exactly what it should be.

Though the insurance company has recommended Wray Roofing, Inc., Commissioner Allen Warren requested that Neville contact the insurance company once again to explain that the scope of repairs to the buildings had not been correctly estimated. Warren stated, “We’ve got to stay in line with what our insurance will pay.”

Following the discussion of county building repairs, Bourbon County Emergency Manager Terri Coop reported on the situation with regard to storm damage. Coop had encouraging reports of contractors donating labor and materials to those in need: “Contractors are already out there volunteering.” Coop also mentioned that one contractor, Tim Emmerson of KCM, offered to act as a sort of liaison for the county with other contractors. Coop says, “We have heard some bad stories [about contractors] and will continue to hear bad stories,” but she emphasized that many contractors are doing a great amount of good in the area.

Chamber Coffee at Medicalodge 5/16/2013

Today a vibrant group of Fort Scott businesspeople met at Medicalodge, one of the area’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, to enjoy the hospitality of Deborah Madison and the Medicalodge staff.

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New members were introduced, and Aaron Nuss of Names and Numbers announced that the company now has a presence in the city to serve customers in the immediate area.

Medicalodge has been observing “Nursing Home Week” with activities all week long. Tomorrow will be “Farm Day,” and  the facility will have a petting zoo available to residents as well as any children in attendance.

Deborah Madison mentioned also that Medicalodges will be holding a benefit drive-through dinner Friday May 17th with the proceeds going to Relay for Life.

Jackie Warren stepped up to speak about her experience at an Extension Office Conference, and brought to attention the great things that are being done by the Chamber of Commerce in Fort Scott and all of the activities that the Chamber of Commerce does, especially in comparison in areas where the same kinds of organizations are not quite as involved in the community.

In news from FSCC,  congratulations are in order for FSCC Baseball Coach John Hill and the FSCC Baseball team as they have had a very successful season, in addition to being in the top 6 with regard to team GPA in the nation.

A few upcoming events with regard to the Bourbon County Fair were also mentioned. Two new events that will be added to the Bourbon County Fair this year. The first event is the “Big Bale” contest in which contestants decorate the provided hay bale. Anyone can participate (church youth groups, 4-H groups, etc), and cash prizes will be awarded to the winners. The deadline for registration for this contest is July 1st. Applications are available here at the Bourbon County Fair website.

A second event added this year is a baking contest sponsored by King Arthur Flour, the nation’s oldest flour company established in 179o. For everyone who registers for the contest, King Arthur Flour will provide one (1) bag of flour. There will be cash prizes for contest winners, and the deadline to apply is June 1st. Applications are available here at the Bourbon County Fair website.

Deborah Madison then thanked everyone for attending the Chamber Coffee event and also thanked everyone who had helped work on the Medicalodge building after the storm, as well as the staff at Medicalodge: “Team care–that’s what it really takes to keep this place running.” Madison also mentioned that the job is 24/7–it is not similar to working on a bridge, in which case the project has a definite end point. However, Madison did mention that Medicalodge staff members do their best to “build a bridge” with regard to establishing relationships with their clients.

Old Fort Antiques and Collectibles

Old Fort Antiques and Collectibles might be Fort Scott’s newest addition to downtown business in the area of flea markets, but its owners, Bud Hall and Josh Jones, have been in the business for several years.

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Open Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-5PM

As a visitor walks into the store located at 2 S National Ave, that visitor would immediately be met with the friendly smile of owner Bud Hall. Hall just happened to be examining and cleaning up one of his finds–collectible coins. A look around the store reveals a variety of rustic antiques and beautiful furniture. An antique gasoline pump stands guard by the side door, while vintage clocks keep time in the corners. No doubt this location, formerly the Downtowner Motel, is seeing some of these antiques for a second time in its career serving downtown Fort Scott.

Old Fort Antiques and Collectibles runs by allowing vendors space to display their merchandise. This allows the store to carry a wide range of available goods, including collectibles,  coins, furniture and appliances. According to Hall, the store opened at the beginning of March, and by April, a waiting list was in place for vendors. The store does, however, plan to offer more space very soon as they are cleaning out what was the kitchen area of the building.

When asked about what he enjoys most about owning a business downtown, Hall says, “I think just dealing with the people. I’ve been a salesperson for most of my life.” In addition to the fact that he loves working with people, and he says that his business loves “to buy and sell. We also love to deal in coins–gold and silver. We are always looking for new merchandise, and we would really like to get more into selling appliances.” He also mentioned that they are willing to barter with those who prefer that. The store will soon have a credit/debit machine to allow customers to buy with cards if they prefer to do so.

With its convenient location and hours, wide variety of merchandise and friendly staff, Old Fort Antiques and Collectibles is the place to visit for antiques and collectibles or that piece of furniture or appliance you’ve been needing.

Spring Renews Life at Gunn Park

Although Gunn Park is beautiful year-round, spring is an especially enjoyable time to be in the park enjoying its historic buildings, many lakes, wildlife, flowers and of course, the company of friends and family. Crews have been mowing to keep the grounds neat and tidy, and the lakes are stocked with trout, so don’t forget your fishing license!

A bit of history from fscity.org:

“June 3, 1910 – W.C. Gunn gives Fern Lake and the Stewart Farm to the City of Fort Scott for a park.

The first shelter house of stone was built in 1910 on the first lake (Fern Lake)

There was a large wood theater building on the other side of Fern Lake with a seating capacity of 800. During special events such as July 4th, the street cars would take as many as 10,000 people to the park in one day.”

 

Legislative Update at Common Ground Coffee Shop

Saturday at 9 am there was a legislative update at the Common Ground Coffee shop on Main street. Legislature members who were present were, Bob Grant, Marty Read, Caryn Tyson, and Jake LaTurner.

a_leg-up Marty Read talked about working on bills that would protect the rights of gun votes and mentioned that he was disappointed with recent legislation that will allow sexually oriented businesses within 1000 feet of a school.

Bob Grant represents the second district which includes a small piece of Bourbon County. He is on the appropriation and transportation committees. He mentioned that he is disappointed with the way that KDOT and KTA were being combined in a way that seems to be designed to allow the state to take money from KTA through KDOT.

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Grant also mentioned that he doesn’t feel Kansas should model itself after Texas and Florida who have done away with their income tax.

Jake LaTurner said that he pledged not to raise taxes. He feels that the current legislative session is on of responsibility and of trying to fix problems that have been building up over the years. He also has been supporting drug testing for people receiving unemployment benefits. He has introduced a bill to reform Kansas Open Meetings Act to require people to take minutes of meetings and cap prices on requests.

Caryn Tyson said this has been an interesting session because the dynamics of both chambers are different because there are so many new members and it is hard to anticipate what is going to happen with new bills. She said lobbyists and special interests are trying to push through bills that wouldn’t have passed before.

She talked about the bill drug testing for welfare recipients. It will require testing if there is suspicion of drug use. She is fighting to keep from losing the mortgage tax deduction. She is also excited about a bill that will allow veterans to note this on their drivers licence.

Susan Brown from USD 234 asked about the bills that will effect education. In particular she asked about cuts to at risk funding. Caryn Tyson said that the current At Risk Funding is based on the free lunches in a district. She said they are concerned that the free lunch program isn’t being audited very well and may be keeping money from going to the schools that need it. That is why they are looking at changing the formulas  that determine this.

Jake LaTurner said he doesn’t support the bill in its current form because he wants more money for education in the districts he supports.  He went on to talk about how there have been many schools suing the state for not properly funding education. He talked about a recent case that said the funding was unconstitutional. He feels this is a legislative issue and the courts shouldn’t be legislating from the bench. He pointed out that if people don’t like the funding they should “fire” their representatives and elect someone else.

Bob Grant said that the legislature “in it’s wisdom” gave the courts some oversite to how much money is spent on education.

Marty Read talked about how there is a big difference between the way that money is getting distributed between wealthy and poor school districts. He said he would like to see the money going right into the classroom. He would like to see good teachers getting paid more money.

Mayor Adams said that he felt the bill that would require partisanship in local elections was a bad idea. Grant said he opposed the measure. Read said he wasn’t excited about it, but he did feel that moving the election to November would be better. Tyson said she would like to move it to the odd year November for local government.

Alan Warren asked to hear some updates about changes to the way taxes are being applied to fixtures. Tyson talked about a business in Montgomery county that had a $400,000 tax bill that suddenly jumped to $10 million dollars, sued the county and won. She said there is a bill to try to balance this to fix problems in two counties without messing up businesses in a bunch of other counties that aren’t having a problem. She said that the bill the passed in the house had some language that could hurt small counties. She said that the confusion has to do with whether property is real or trade and gave the example of whether a washer and dryer should be considered property or personal because it is attached to the building.

Bob Grant said this is kind of a hot issue but not really because it only impacts to counties at this point.  He said they need to balance in order to keep these businesses from moving without hurting all the other counties.

There was some discussion about a bill that would either people at colleges to carry guns or require schools to have metal detectors in order to make sure that no one has guns on campus. Bob Grant said he would like to see campuses have the flexibility to vote and make their own decisions regarding guns.

Caryn Tyson talked about how they feel like they are working on a lot of issues just to counter the federal government. She pointed out that the federal government wanted to prevent anyone under 16 from working on a farm and through the efforts of the state legislature the federal government backed off on what they were trying to do.

Bourbon County Local News