Commonwealth Journal


November 17, 2011

Council weighs two-way traffic on Maple Street

Easier access sought

Somerset — Somerset City Council may soon explore the possibility of converting a downtown Somerset street from a one-way to a two way road.

City Councilor Pat Bourne stated during Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting that he’d been approached by a citizen about making the one-way sections of North Maple Street and South Maple Street into two-way streets to allow for easier access to downtown businesses.

“Someone was wondering why it couldn’t be a two-way street making it accessible getting to the post office and the (Pulaski County Judicial Center),” Bourne said.

South Maple Street, which connects to East Mt. Vernon Street and runs in front of Lynn’s Lunchbox and the judicial center plaza, is a one-way only street starting from its intersection with Market Street and going toward East Mt. Vernon Street. It remains a one way across East Mt. Vernon, where it runs between the Commonwealth Journal office and other downtown buildings. The street becomes a two-way once it intersects with Columbia Street.  

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said a study could be carried out to determine whether the conversion would be possible.

“Some of the businesses may object,” Mayor Girdler said.

“Someone’s going to object, regardless,” Bourne noted.

Bourne said the issue came about when a citizen complained to him that a person cannot travel from the Somerset Post Office to the judicial center easily. The one-way Maple Street requires that drivers traverse Fountain Square to go from one point to the other.

Mayor Girdler said he would look into a study on the street to determine any future plan of action.

“It’s not a bad idea,” Mayor Girdler said.

In other news from Monday’s city council meeting:

• Councilor Bourne inquired on any updates of the Somerset City Cemetery. The city is in the process of transferring operations and property ownership from the cemetery board, which had overseen the cemetery operations, to the city.  

Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese said the process to transfer the board’s cemetery trust into the city’s trust is underway and told the council she’ll soon bring the case before them to determine what they’d like to do next.

• Councilor Bourne also asked whether the city should make any quick moves concerning possible annexation along Ky. 914 to the West Ky. 80 area in response to a recent Commonwealth Journal article detailing the annexation plans for Burnside. The southern Pulaski County city has already secured right-of-way annexation up South U.S. 27 to Ky. 914, and had made its intentions known about expanding westward along Ky. 914, but the City of Somerset stepped in to object to the move earlier this year.

Since then, the mayors of both cities — Mayor Girdler and Burnside Mayor Ron Jones — have come to an agreement in which Burnside will back away from their westward annexation plans to allow Somerset to choose what it wants to do about the Ky. 914 and West Ky. 80 area.

Mayor Girdler told Bourne Monday that he chose not to schedule any work sessions on the annexation because the council had stayed busy with plans for the new Somerset Water Treatment Plant.

Groundbreaking for that was held on Tuesday.

Mayor Girdler said more than 20 different options have been prepared for the council to study in a future work session, which he said should be scheduled within the next two to three weeks.

Mayor Girdler emphasized that Burnside will not do anything until Somerset decides what it’s next step will be.

• Councilor Jim Mitchell asked Wiese about any updates on the firefighter back pay issue for the city. Wiese said she’s still awaiting word from the administrative law judge on the case. That judge, she said, is awaiting a response from the Supreme Court to a request that calculations for the back pay be clarified.

“I don’t think we have to wait on that,” Councilor Mitchell said. “We know we owe it, everybody else has already paid it.”

Wiese confirmed that several cities in Kentucky have paid what they owe, but she emphasized that a slightly different calculation would result in the city owing much less than the approximate $400,000 the State Labor Cabinet says the city now owes. A new formula would knock about 2/3 of that amount off, she said.

Wiese also stated that an article detailing the back pay case that ran in the Commonwealth Journal recently had alluded that the city’s attorneys’ fees were quickly approaching what they owe in the case. She said that is incorrect and noted their fees aren’t “anywhere near” the $400,000 they currently owe.

 “It’s a fraction of what we would owe,” Wiese said.

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  • When the parties are over, who will pick up the pieces?

    The City of Somerset recently voted to sell alcohol by drink and through store outlets. We believe that a number of city management members were quite pleased by this outcome by the support this vote received prior to that election. It means that the city will receive a boost in tax revenue, a big boost that will aid the city's financial picture greatly.
    A number of other Somerset citizens lament that vote because they have a number of realistic concerns regarding the consequences of that monumental decision. They are afraid, with reason, that the incidence of alcohol addiction will increase in proportion to the amount of alcohol consumed.We tend to share those concerns. Accidents, auto crashes, addiction related illnesses and social dysfunction related to alcohol will, by its nature increase.
    This vote comes at a time wherein methamphetamine and other drug addiction continues to soar. It seems that every issue of your paper carries stories about drug related violence, crimes, assaults and felonies of all description. How do you think the addition of an increasing alcoholism population will effect those numbers and this community? I am sure that the members of Somerset City management have considered that question and are seeking responsible solutions.
    We would like to suggest one: Help give Somerset something she has needed for decades, an effective and viable alcohol/drug treatment program. It is very doable and would prove to be very cost effective within a short period of time. We have all been misdirected to believe that we need to wage a "war on drugs" except that wars don't often have winners and America is far from winning the one we've been involved with since President Reagan declared it.
    Alcoholism and drug addiction are identical as disease entities, they share the same symptoms, pathology and, sadly, the same prospects of morbidity. On the positive side, they respond favorably to specific treatment.
    Localities where addiction was viewed realistically and treated effectively report high recovery rates and significant cost savings. The airline industry stated, in 1979 that they realized that they received $15 back for every dollar invested in employee addiction treatment. Sending addicts to prison is far more costly than sending them to treatment. Treatment works.
    I do not know what the projected sales of alcohol by the drink is, the city managers do, I'll bet. Well, if the city levied a 5-cent tax on each ounce of distilled alcohol, beer serving, and 4 1/2 oz. glass of wine, they would be able to fund a freestanding residential as well as an intense outpatient facility that would serve some 1,300 Somerset persons including their family members a year. Other funding would come from self pay, insurance, state and federal formula funds and court referrals.
    If readers of this letter care to discuss this issue further we give the editor of this newspaper permission to share our e-mail addresses to interested parties.
    We thank you for publishing this letter.

    Delbert Dyar
    Bronston, KY. 42518

    Alden R. Phelps
    Bronston, KY. 42518

    August 30, 2012

  • '... Salt in the Wound'

    Dear Editor:
    As a Christian, local pastor and one who worked very hard with K.I.D.S. of Somerset in the recent local option election, I would like to express my disgust with the distasteful cartoons on your editorial page in the June 29 issue of the Commonwealth Journal.
    When the results of the local option election were announced on June 26 both sides of the issue were represented at the courthouse. I was pleased with how civilized both sides were in their reaction to the outcome. David Carr and I stood with Pastor Ed Amundson, spokesperson for K.I.D.S., as he was interviewed by CJ reporter Chris Harris.
    Bro. Amundson was very conciliatory in his response to all questions.
    In conversation with Mr. Harris after the interview Bro. Amundson was very careful to make sure there were no hard feelings remaining from the election in which passions ran very high on both sides of the issue.
    We had said we would and we did accept the result of a fair democratic process. My FB posts that night and the following day thanked those with whom I had labored in the process. I stated that I would pastor in a new Somerset with the same passion I have had since I came to Somerset almost 16 years ago. The city of Somerset had spoken loudly and I accepted the result.
    Mr. Weddle with Progress Somerset has been very gracious in his comments. As I stated earlier when the result was announced both sides conducted themselves in a very civil manner. The election was over so let’s move on. Then the editorial board of the CJ decides to rub a little salt in the wound.
    On Friday as I read the editorial page I found this very distasteful cartoon with the heading “Caution ‘Wet’
    Paint.” I must assume by this they are ready to paint the town, a term that I, in my mind, associate with drunken revelry. The first cartoon made light of the fact that we deemed the consequences of this vote serious enough that we would pray about it. The second cartoon seemed to insinuate that the only way we could handle defeat is to drown our sorrows in a very dry martini.
    Why would the CJ, which should have had a primarily journalistic interest in the Local Option Election, be taking a victory lap?
    Why belittle a group of people who simply had strong reservations about the benefit of legalized alcohol sales?
    Why make light of people who believe in prayer and of the God to whom they pray?
    What is the purpose?
    Does the CJ have more interest in stirring the caldron of division in our community than being responsible and fair reporters of the events that affect the everyday lives of all of our citizens?
    Could it be that the CJ has cast off the restraint of journalistic integrity and objectivity to we are not just happy to report the results but we are also happy with the results?
    By this very action the CJ has said that people who believe in God, people who pray and people who were against the legalization of alcohol in Somerset are worthy only of our ridicule and nothing more.
    It is very true that we, who were on the No side, were soundly defeated and I tip, not my glass, but my hat to you on the other side of the argument for the effectiveness of your campaign.
    To the CJ I say if your actions with these distasteful cartoons are a reflection of your excitement about the final tally or an attempt to make those of us on the No side irrelevant, I leave you with this: We are still here, not just sober and praying, but soberly praying, for the city we love and call home. 2,167 Yes, 1,464 No is the reality of June 26, but only history can reveal the true winners and losers on that day.
    Thank you,
    Johnny M. Dunbar
    Somerset, KY 42502

    July 19, 2012

  • Group opposed to alcohol at Eagle’s Nest

    Dear Editor:
    K.I.D.S. (Keep It Dry and Safe) of Somerset and Pulaski County is opposed to the sale of alcohol at the Eagle’s Nest Golf Course in the Caney Fork Precinct of Pulaski County, Ky.

    March 9, 2012

  • The Perils of Alcohol

    Dear Editor:
    The Feb. 1, 2012, front page news of the Commonwealth Journal, read in big, bold letters, ALCOHOL at Eagle’s Nest.

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  • Reenactment Poorly Planned

    Dear Editor:
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    I am a living historian and travel from Florida to Virginia taking part in approximately 30 events per year; thus, I do know something of which I speak.

    February 9, 2012

  • Rockcastle Hospital responds to article

    Dear Editor:
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