Hello! I am Scott Alexander, Perry County Judge Executive, and I'd like to look back at few highlights of my time in office. Depsite the budget shortfalls and lack of revenue from coal severance tax, I believe that we have still been able to accomplish a great deal in Perry County.
One of my earliest goals was to clean up Perry County so that visitors and citizens alike could enjoy the beauty of our communities. In addition to the annual county-wider cleanup, we added several mini-cleanup days across the county. We have also provided opportunities for citizens to get rid of electronic waste and even hazardous waste. We've opened the Perry County Garage to weekday dropoffs for waste items that are too large to be picked up on sanitation routes. Whether you live withing the city limits or out in the county, by just providing proof of your paid garbage service, citizens can get rid of larger trash items at their convenience and free of charge.
We've tried to add some sources of local entertainment and we've managed to keep them free or very inexpensive so the the good people of Perry County don't have to leave home to find sources of family entertainment in these difficult economic times. We created a Perry County Fair in June 2015; it is an annual 3-day event that provides the citizens of Perry and surrounding counties the opportunity to see exciting exhibitions, attractions and major musical acts...and they are all free! We've hosted a Haunted Jail experience for the past two years. In December 2016, we paired with the City of Hazard to make "Christmas in a Small Town", the biggest winter event in Eastern Kentucky! In addition to the annual Christmas parade and carriage rides, we added Christmas trees on Main Street and we even brought in an ice skating rink! We've also added safety features in the park to slow the flow of traffic as well as handicap accessibility to the park's restroom and shelters. We have worked to make improvements and upgrades at Eagle's Landing in Buckhorn, as well as the Hardburly and Leatherwood playgrounds.
We are proud to announce that our Senior Citizens Center has been selected as Senior Citizens Center of the Year for the Kentucky River Area Development District in both 2015 and 2016. By obtaining funds through the USDA, KRADD and the Commonwealth of Kentucy, we have been able to add in-house cooking of breakfast and lunch at the Center. While this requires more planning and more work, we feel the benefits to our senior citizens are worth the extra effort. Our center offers so many oportunities - health and wellness, community involvement, regional travel and even competitions with other centers. And believe me when I say that Perry County seniors are competitive - visit the center and you'll find seniors who shoot a mean game of pool and those who would just love to show you their Rook skills! On Fridays, musically gifted seniors play the center's piano, strum their guitars and there's even a saxophonist, while inviting everyone to sing along with well-known hymns and other tunes. I am very proud that we are working harder than ever to take care of our senior citizens, who have given so much of their livelihood to the betterment of Perry County.
In my tenure, my office has been awarded over $1.7 million in grant money. These are funds that Perry County would not have had without searching it out and actively pursuing it. Each grant we receive must be used specifically following the guidelines of the grant. We have grants earmarked for everything from much-needed improvements in our water and sewer, waste cleanups and recyclling, to homeland security, economic development, transportation alternatives and recreation.
One of the projects that I am most proud of came to fruition in March of 2016...the addition of the Galen College of Nursing in Perry County. In just a little over a year, we were able to develop a plan, obtain funding through a grant and other sources, find a location, design and remodel the building and begin our first classes. To do that in such a short amount of time, with all the red tape and guidelines that must be followed, is an amazing accomplishment.
Another area that we have been able to advance in Perry County is recycling. With funding from two grants, we have purchased two mobile recycling units and we creating a recycling center which will be up and running by summer 2018. By recycling, we are providing great benefits to Perry County. Not only does it save on landfill space, but it also conserves our resources and save energy. In general, it takes more energy to manufacture materials from raw resources than it does to use recycled products. Projects that make this kind of impact are the ones we need to be educating our community about and promoting in Perry County.
I am also actively and aggressively pursuing the first commercial drone port in the United States. The very thing that makes some businesses hesitant to come to eastern Kentucky, our remote location, is what is most attractive to those in the drone technology field. The industry shows so much promise and could bring millions of dollars to our local economy.
Finally, we have been able to invest again in our volunteer fire departments. With the loss of coal severance funds, we had been unable to support them monetarily. In May 2016, I was privileged to present the first quarterly checks in the amount of $2,500 to each of our volunteer fire departments. Each department will now receive $10,000 per year from the Perry County Fiscal Court. This is only one of the many ways that your tax dollars are at work, improving the capabilities of our county government to provide much needed services to our citizens. You will see even more progress being made in the weeks and months to come.
My vision is set on the future for Perry County and I am doing everything possible so that we are ready when we discover opportunities such as the drone port or our own nursing college. I am excited to explore new avenues that will provide incentives for our young people to stay in Perry County, making a commitment to raising their families here because they see the possibilities that we are creating for the next generation.
Even though it may seem like we have a long way to go, I assure you that we ARE making progress every day. Socrates said, “the secret to change is to focus all your energy, not on FIGHTING the old, but on BUILDING the new.” Just a LITTLE bit of progress every day adds up to BIG results. We may not be where we want to be yet, but we are closer than we were yesterday. I ask for your continued support and assistance in all these endeavors.