Brook Ping’s name was in the news on multiple fronts Friday, none of which he found pleasant:
• His name was prominently mentioned in a letter from Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler to County Judge-Executive Barty Bullock demanding the reimbursement of $65,000 the city had forwarded the county to help purchase a $200,000 tract of land for a new senior citizens center from Ping, and
• Ping was at the center of a flurry of police activity as officers cordoned off the site of a former tobacco warehouse across from Pulaski County High School he owns where dirt and gravel from the construction of a new intersection at Main St. and KY 80 is being stored.
Ping, who chairs Somerset-Pulaski County United (SPCU), indicated it was his opinion that each action was in retaliation for his role in seeking a study of the benefits of merging county and city governments in Pulaski County. Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese and Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler contended otherwise.
As chairman of SPCU, Ping last week unveiled plans to study the feasibility of a merger of county and city governments with the goal of Pulaski County becoming Kentucky’s third largest city, behind only Louisville and Lexington. The study is expected to cost $35,000, of which SPCU had hoped Somerset City Council and Pulaski Fiscal Court would each fund a third, with the 80-member SPCU paying the remaining 33 percent.
SPCU representatives were met with a negative reception when they attempted to approach Somerset City Council with their proposal during the council’s regular session Monday. Not only did the SPCU representatives receive a scolding from Mayor Girdler, but the council unanimously resolved to grant Girdler and Wiese with powers “to contract for any needed legal services to protect the continued existence of the City of Somerset.” (The city paid to have the resolution printed as a full-page ad in the Friday, April 12, 2013 edition of the Commonwealth Journal.)