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NEW FACES IN NEW SPACES

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By Bryan Marshall

Three of the four city councils in Grant County will have new members in 2013.


Voters elected three challengers in the race for Williamstown City Council, failing to re-elect two incumbents.
The Dry Ridge City Council will have two new members with one incumbent not receiving enough votes to reclaim her seat.

In Crittenden, there also will be a new council member, but no incumbent lost their re-election bid.
Williamstown

With 10 candidates looking to fill only six seats, the race for Williamstown City Council was crowded and filled with new faces.
Challengers Jacqalyn Riley, Liz Wagoner and Troy Gutman finished with the top three vote tallies with 760, 753 and 725 votes, respectively.

Current council member Kim Crupper also received 725 votes, followed by fellow incumbents Eddie Gabbert (723 votes) and Charles Ed Wilson (661 votes.)
Stanley Woodyard (626 votes) and Robert Perry (560 votes) lost out on their re-election bids.

Challengers Thomas Conrad and Kenneth Ball received the least amount of votes with 545 and 444 votes, respectively.
Former mayor and current council member Glenn Caldwell did not seek re-election.

As a young candidate, Riley said she knew the race would be a challenge and she admits being surprised that she received the highest number of votes.

“I’m hungry and eager and ready to ask the questions that many citizens want to know,” she said. “I’m going to be that person for them.”

Wagoner said she was humbled that the community showed so much respect for her ability.
“I greatly appreciate it,” she said. “I’ll do all I can to measure up to their expectations.”

Gutman, who learned about his victory on the way back from a Williamstown Middle School basketball game, admits he is relieved that the whole process is over.

“I was really surprised that the voters gave me as much support as they did,” he said. “I was pleased and kind of humbled by it all. We had a lot of good people who ran. I think whoever was elected would do a good job.”

Now that the three new members have been elected, they will concentrate on several upcoming issues the council will face in the new year.

The most recent challenge has been whether or not to support a text amendment that would allow truck stops/travel centers in a highway commercial zone.

The issue developed after Love’s Travel Center expressed their desire to build a truck stop on Barnes Road in Williamstown.

The council needs to be careful how they plan for development for Barnes Road, said Gutman.

“I have nothing against having a truck stop in Williamstown provided it’s put in the right location,” he said. “I personally don’t feel like Barnes Road is the right location for it. I don’t feel like it complements what already exists on that interchange. I also feel like it could possibly deter other types of businesses from locally there in the future.”

Wagoner previously has expressed concerns with the traffic flow, the impact on nearby property owners and the impact on locally owned fuel companies if the project became a reality.
Riley said there needs to be a larger emphasis on generating revenue and she wants to see the council be patient, especially until there is more information about the progress of the Ark Encounter.

“For me, the question isn’t really about supporting a travel center on Barnes Road, the question really is the text amendment and if this community would really want to subject itself to multiples truck stops,” she said. “The answer I receive from a lot of people is no.”

Newly elected, Wagoner said she would like the community to sharing their input on the expectations that they have for the council
“As a new council member, my first priority is to get in there and understand what’s in place as far as our governing policies, our budget and how we’re managing our finances,” she said. “I need to understand that so I can be able to make good decisions going forward.”

Gutman’s number one priority will be addressing the rising costs of utilities.
“They’ve continued to rise,” he said. “I understand a lot of that is due to infrastructure upgrades with the building of the sewer treatment plant and looking at building a new water treatment plant. I think those projects have to be done, but I think we really need to watch in trying to limit those costs if we can. That also discourages businesses from coming here as well.”

Riley said she wants to see the city move forward in the right direction and be a part of that movement.
“I’m not someone who wants to sit back and have somebody else make decisions for me,” she said. “I want to be someone who’s proactive and involved in the trenches on finding out the data and what’s the best decisions we can make long term.”

Dry Ridge

Two challengers were elected and one incumbent lost in the Dry Ridge City Council race.
Kenny Edmondson was re-elected with 468 votes, the highest among the seven candidates.
Challenger Scott Bates came in second with 417 votes, followed by Carisa Hughett (406 votes) in third.
Hughett was appointed to the council in October after Karen Glore resigned from her position.
Newcomer Sara Cummins received 398 votes for a fourth place finish while current council members Fred Money (390 votes) and Jim Hendy (384 votes) filled the remaining seats on council.
With 360 votes, current council member Judy Curry was not elected back onto the council.
Cummins, who works at the Grant County Public Library and serves as secretary of the Ladies Auxiliary for the Dry Ridge Fire Department, said she was surprised by her election.
“It was almost disbelief,” she said. “I’m new. My husband is from here, but I haven’t lived here for very long so it was a shock.”
Cummins said she ran for office because she wanted to get involved with her community.
“I wanted to be a voice,” she said. “My main concern is public safety. I support the fire department 100 percent and I wanted to be a voice for them.”
Bates, who is a captain at the DRFD, is excited for his new opportunity.
He said he hopes he can help make a change in the city.
“Our city needs better public safety than what we have with our police department only being a one-man operation and outsourcing police protection to the neighboring city and our fire departments needing a lot of help,” Bates said.
Bates also wants to make the city more presentable to bring in businesses.
“I want to make the city a better and safer place for everybody to live in,” he said. “I want something for people to look positive at in Dry Ridge.”
Although she has been on the council since October, Hughett said she was honored to be elected by the people of Dry Ridge.
“I’ve always been interested in local government and making Dry Ridge a better place,” she said. “When you drive around and live in Dry Ridge and see there need to be changes, you want to be part of making those changes.”
Hughett admits that being on the city council is a learning process for her.
“I want the community to feel free to come to the meetings the first Monday of every month to show their concerns,” she said. “I cannot help them unless I hear from them.”

Crittenden

In Crittenden, one challenger joined five incumbents on the city council.
Martha Hicks received the most votes with 528, followed by James Purcell, who trailed by only one vote.
Clara Mulberry Brown and Donna Duley were also re-elected after receiving 508 and 501 votes, respectively.
Newcomer Larry Griffin was elected to the council in fifth place with 482 votes in his first run for office.
Brian Barkley claimed the sixth and final council seat with 449 votes.
Challengers Jay Pierce (419 votes) and Everett “Gene” Berry (346 votes) fell short in their election bids.
Griffin said he was happy with his successful campaign.
“I was glad to get it,” he said. “I was a little surprised, to be honest, because not a lot of people know me. I was glad it happened.”
Griffin said he plans to get out into the community to listen to the concerns of the citizens.
His priority will be to focus on achieving full-time fire and rescue services.
“I’d like to build a consensus between the other council members in trying to get a fire district going or at least work at something better than what it is,” he said. “We need better fire protection in our county. At the same time, which seems counter intuitive, we need to keep taxes low. I know we’ve got excess money in the city.”

Corinth

The four incumbents were the only candidates in the race for Corinth City Commission.
Donnie Dyer was the top vote getter with 42 votes followed by Paige Allen (40 votes), Virginia Deitz (36 votes) and Ted Fisk (35 votes.)