Fiscal Court discusses funding for Art Center expansion; Court recognizes local women for Women’s History Month
Published 6:57 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2023
BY FIONA MORGAN
The fiscal court discussed a request from the Art Center of the Bluegrass for funds for their expansion project at their Feb. 28 meeting.
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The Art Center’s expansion includes renovating the building next door to their current building, to make room for a Stephen Rolfe Powell glass museum and expansion of arts programs.
The Art Center requested a $500,000 initial contribution from the county’s ARPA funds. The City of Danville had used ARPA funds to contribute to this project, and said it was a valid use of the federal money.
During the Feb. 28 meeting, magistrates expressed concerns about donating their ARPA funds, especially since the original purpose for ARPA funds was for infrastructure.
Magistrate Paula Bodner said some of her constituents told her they don’t want the county to use ARPA funds for the Art Center expansion, that they would rather have adequate roads.
“This is a wonderful project, but it’s one where I feel like we have to take care of our infrastructure first,” Bodner said. “Since this is a nonprofit, we’d have to open it up to all nonprofits to give everyone a chance to be on board with spending money on nonprofits.”
Magistrate Jason Cullen said he did not believe the finished expansion would benefit the county significantly, as a museum and art programs are generally not major income-producers.
Art Center Board Member and Centre College CFO Brian Hutzley, who is also chair of the new Development Corporation, said he believes this expansion will be an economic game-changer for the whole region.
Hutzley said that while things like roads and sewer are essential, they do not produce money back for the county. He said that a museum and event space will bring in people from around the world to spend their money in Danville.
Art Center Board Member Larry Weathers said, “This is going to redefine Danville and what Danville will be known for. The arts, globally, are becoming highlighted in every community, and communities that don’t move toward arts being centralized are going to be seen as archaic. We’ve been known to be historically bold, but I think now is an opportunity to be futuristically bold.”
Magistrate Jamey Gay talked about the idea to use the new building’s third floor ballroom for fiscal court meetings, since their current court room is very tight. He said they could pay to help renovate that room with the promise that they would use it for regular court meetings.
Cullen said they have other options in terms of court room expansion. The court did not decide how much to give the Art Center.
They agreed to table the matter until regular budget cycle discussions, which will be in a few months. They will have a better chance to look at what they really need to use ARPA funds for, and what appropriations they could possibly set aside for the Art Center’s project.
In other business, the court:
• Made a proclamation for Women’s History Month. This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is recognizing women who tell stories, either in media, news, stage, the arts, or other storytelling. Bottom recognized three women who have worked in Boyle County for decades:
Carolyn Crabtree, long-time local genealogy historian who has researched countless family trees; Karen Logue, who has directed community theater at West T. Hill for over 40 years; and Annabel Girard, who spent most of her career writing community stories at the Advocate-Messenger. Annabel recently passed away, and Bottom handed the recognition to her daughter Mary.
• Boyle County Jailer Brian Wofford said the State Auditors completed the yearly canteen audit on the jail. For the fourth year in a row, they found no deficiencies. Wofford gave recognition to Capt. Melissa Jones, Lt. Sarah Lyons, and Corp. Elaina Plyman for their hard work on getting that perfect score.
“That’s a lot of work especially on bookkeeping and keeping notes for when we get audited, and they have done a phenomenal job, not just for me but for the county,” Wofford said.
• The court also approved a salary increase for all jail employees’s starting pay from $15 to $18 per hour. Wofford said in this competitive labor market, they need to attract and keep more workers by paying a higher wage. He said the jail has lost at least three people to other local facilities because of salary. The change will likely take effect in April.
• Appointed Jennifer Broadwater to the CVB Board.