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As one year ends and another begins, we look at the questions that will be asked and answered in 2013.
1. What, if anything, will happen at the Grant County Detention Center?
Six lawsuits have been filed by former employees against Grant County Detention Center Jailer Terry Peeples since he took office in January 2011.
Some of the allegations have included illegal conduct at the jail while others deal with alleged retaliatory behavior by Peeples.
Peeples appeared in front of a Grant County grand jury several times in 2011, and although no indictment was handed down, the jury released a three-page report in December 2011 listing several problem areas at the jail and recommendations for Peeples to follow.
The Kentucky State Police investigated allegations of improper conduct by former chief deputy Dennis Bailey before clearing him of any criminal wrongdoing.
Bailey, who was let go by Peeples after briefly returning from suspension, has since filed a lawsuit against his former boss.
The state police have also admitted to investigating the jail, however, there have been no charges against Peeples.
Will the investigation lead to an indictment or charges?
Will the lawsuits be settled, taken to court or simply thrown out?
Regardless, the jail is likely to continue to be a topic of conversation among Grant County residents.
2. Will ground finally break on the anticipated Ark Encounter project?
When a press conference was held in Frankfort in late 2010 announcing the Ark Encounter project in Williamstown, the park was set to open in 2014.
The $150 million religious-themed attraction featuring the ark, live animal shows, a 40-acred walled city, children’s play area, Tower of Babel, first century village and bird sanctuary on a 160-acre site, off the Williamstown exit at Ky. 36 was supposed to break ground during the spring or summer of 2011.
Then, a sluggish economy led to less than anticipated donations for Ark Encounter, which was estimated to bring in 1.6 million visitors annually and create 900 full and part-time jobs.
In early 2012, Ark Encounter LLC did show a promising sign by closing on the final piece of land, known as the Finke property.
However, it was also announced that the project would now be built in stages instead of all at once because of a funding shortage.
Mike Zovath, senior vice president of Answers in Genesis, expressed confidence about the project to about 50 attendees at a March 2012 meeting at Williamstown High School.
“We’re moving along,” he said. “We thought we’d be there by now, but with the economy as it is, it’s just really been slow. To assure everybody that we are in this thing, we’ve got $9 million in the game already for property and all the work up to it. We’re going to see this thing through.”
Ark Encounter is trying to raise $24.5 million in donations and boarding pass sales for the project.
As of Jan. 7, the amount raised has exceeded $11.5 million.
Ark Encounter posted an 11-second video clip on its Facebook page this week of the first tree to come down as part of site preparation work.
It is a small step, but at least it is movement in the right direction.
3. Will the City of Dry Ridge decide to pull its ambulance service back to city limits?
A proposed emergency services taxing district has been voted down by the Grant County Fiscal Court.
Now, the question remains, what will the City of Dry Ridge do without a revenue surge as it deals with depleted reserves and increased costs?
The Dry Ridge Fire Department will present several options for the city council to consider during its Jan. 14 special meeting.
One expected option is for the DRFD to pull back its services to within city limits, a move that has been suggested previously by Mayor Clay Crupper.
By pulling back its services, residents who live outside of Dry Ridge’s city limits, who used to be provided fire and ambulance services without paying a tax, could be left without assistance when needed. (Does this sound OK??????)
Grant County Judge-Executive Darrell Link has expressed hope that the magistrates once again will look at his proposed ambulance taxing district, as well as potentially raising the $25 fire dues fee, as a way to increased revenue for emergency services.
With money dwindling, a decision one way or another is likely to be made within the next few weeks or months.
4. Is a potential truck stop in Williamstown on Barnes Road dead or alive?
5. What impact when the completion of the widening of Barnes Road have?
Long-awaited construction continues on a $3.8 million major realignment and widening of Barnes Road in Williamstown with the project anticipated to be complete this summer.
The one-mile section will go from approximately the east side of the Interstate 75 interchange to the rail road tracks at Arnie Risen Blvd.
The roadway will have three-lanes that include a continuous center turning lane, improved shoulders, curb and gutter.
Barrett Paving Materials, Inc., of Cincinnati, OH was awarded the contract.
“This road widening project will improve the alignment along this growing section of highway,” Rob Hans, Chief District Engineer for District 6, said when the project began in late 2011. “This in turn will improve safety and provide better access to St. Elizabeth Hospital.”
However, the road improvements also could bring about an economic boost if it attracts businesses to the area.
With an improved Barnes Road, Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner has said he anticipates increased interest by businesses coming to Grant County, calling the area “prime development land for restaurants and motels and hotels.”
Other questions to be answered in 2013
• How will General Assembly deal with pension reform, special taxing districts, expanded gaming and other issues in the 2013 legislative session?
• Is the local economy in Grant County bouncing back or continuing to decline?
• With tighter restrictions on pain clinics and methamphetamine precursors, is heroin the new drug of choice?
• Who will be appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear as magistrate of the second district to replace Brian Linder on the Grant County Fiscal Court?