Mayes, Ellis, and Devine discuss what’s needed for western Boyle County

Published 6:24 am Saturday, October 6, 2018

During the District 1 magisterial forum held Tuesday night at Perryville Jamboree, incumbent Dickie Mayes (D) and challengers Tom Ellis (R) and Steve Devine (I) were asked right off the bat about issues at the Boyle County Detention Center.

“We all know there are several issues with the jail,” began John Funkhouser, moderator of the event organized by the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce. “What do you think is the biggest priority and what do you plan on doing about it?”

Mayes said there are multiple issues, and said the fiscal court is currently awaiting the return of the finalized jail study around the end of November. He spoke of the responsibility of the judicial system and local judges in the problems of overcrowding. “People blame it on the drugs but … alcohol is our main issue in the jail, but the judicial system and the way they handle it” has not been helpful in keeping the jail population under control, he said.

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Ellis said money will not be the answer. He said there are extraordinary treatment programs in Boyle County and the community needs to work more toward getting “folks back into the workforce, able to get past their drug problems through rehabilitation and gain the ability to stand on their feet and get back into the community.”

Devine said he agreed. He said you can’t throw money at the situation without looking at the drug issue as being the main problem. “You have to look at each instance and see which would be the best fix for the problem.”

Candidates were asked if they felt there was a long-term need for additional recreation activity in Constitution Square Park, and what ideas they had in that area.

Devine said he thinks more activities in the park would “lock up Danville, transportation-wise … I hate to do away with things… but I don’t know what the solution is.”

Mayes said he doesn’t believe creating more events is what Constitution Square is about. He said there are parks “scattered throughout” the area, but said the park served as a great place for historical lessons for small school children.

“The great need is for our school systems to recognize that as Dr. Tom Clark said on his 100th birthday, that the Constitution was written here in Kentucky to pave the way to open up the westward movement for the entire United States,” Ellis said. He said Constitution Square is a needed educational tool, but said the main concerns of the people of western Boyle County are that the county is not doing enough for Perryville Battlefield, Main Street Perryville, Mitchellsburg and Parksville. “And that will be my emphasis.”

When candidates were able to develop their own questions for one another, Ellis asked, “In great detail, I would want to know how much they realize the consequences if Kinder Morgan were to ever get a deadly fluid flowing through a 74-year-old pipeline that would not qualify today under the FDA … standards, and the serious consequences to economic development if that pipeline … were to fail and contaminate Herrington Lake for as long as we’ll ever be alive.”

Mayes answered he was very well aware of the pipeline issue and the impact it could have on the community and its water source.

“I’ve been to the meetings and Mr. Ellis has been very active in them, and I think it’s left up to the — we gotta be watching … the Department of Energy.”

Devine said he’s totally against the pipeline plan, and agreed with Mayes that they’d have to “keep after Washington on it.”

Devine asked candidates what would be their first and main goal if elected. Ellis said his would concern a more direct focus on the budget and regional funding, and listed the issue of how money was lost on the ice skating rink previously installed downtown. He said there’s a feeling of “being totally left out” where funding to western Boyle County is concerned, and used Perryville Battlefield as an example.

“Can I address the issue of what he said about the park and the ice skating rink?” Mayes asked.

“No sir, what would your first and main goal be if elected?” Funkhouser said.

“To study the issue of the jail, the park issue, solid waste … and make the best decisions for the future … I want to leave a better Boyle County to live in …” Mayes said. He in turn asked candidates what they thought would make them a better able to serve people of western Boyle County, and included Perryville, Parksville and Mitchellsburg, and said there were some even smaller communities of the area he knew of.

Devine said first of all, “I believe I might have a little bit more stamina” than the other two, older candidates. He said when he sees a problem, he tries to find a solution and it didn’t matter who was Republican or Democrat.

Ellis said, “I can honestly relate to the folks of western Boyle County,” and told about growing up with a good work ethic, and in a small community that was “disenfranchised and left behind, and I can relate to all the issues that have been expressed to me on the campaign trail.”

When asked if they thought the Economic Development Partnership was doing a sufficient job, Mayes said he was disappointed that the “educational part” was left out, referring to workforce development. “We need to do better in EDP.”

Ellis said, “I’ll give you one example of a lack of accountability,” and talked about his involvement with the Kinder Morgan pipeline in 2014, and how it took over two years to get the attention of the county judge, fiscal court and EDP.

Devine said he feels there is always room for improvement. He said several factories are sitting empty and being used as warehouses, “yet their main goal is not to bring industries back, but to bring restaurants in…”

Candidates were asked what more the fiscal court could do to combat the overwhelming drug problem in Boyle County.

Mayes said it’s hard for the sheriff’s department and deputies, “who work had every day,” to stop the problem. “But we’re working on it … but you have to get the person to want to help themself before you can help them…”

Ellis said there are very few evening programs where the entire population can attend after hours, where not only police officials could be involved, but emergency medical personnel as well. “We can get all the parties under one roof” to work together on the problem.

Devine said both candidates had good points. “Will we ever get rid of the drugs entirely? I don’t think you can … It’s great to have the rehab programs … but the problem is when they get out; the drugs are still there.” He said he’d like to see more police presence to get rid of drugs.