Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley

After months of little news, SPEDA — the fledgling Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority — got a boost this week as Pulaski County Fiscal Court approved the appointments of three board members recommended by Judge-Executive Steve Kelley.

Ron Pfaff of HPT Hotels has been appointed for a two-year term. Pfaff already serves on the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation (SPCDF), the organization SPEDA is intended to supplant.

Seth Atwell has been appointed for a three-year term. A partner at Evans, Harville, Atwell & Company, he has more than 28 years of public accounting experience.

Local entrepreneur Brook Ping has been appointed to a four-year term. His commercial developments include Reno’s Roadhouse, Muggbeez, El Taxco, End Zone Pizza, Fresenius Kidney Dialysis, TransAmerica Life Insurance, Stonebrook Farms, The Oaks of Lake Cumberland, Island Wine & Spirits, Central Kentucky Blood Center, Steak N’ Shake, Sleep Outfitters, L&N Federal Credit Union, Texas Roadhouse, Kroger Marketplace and the Pulaski County Senior Citizens Center.

The city and county governments reached an agreement to create SPEDA in October 2017. Both subsequently passed an ordinance as well as an interlocal agreement for the quasi-governmental entity, which is to be comprised of eight directors — the Somerset Mayor, the County Judge-Executive (both serving as long as they are in office), three directors chosen by the mayor and approved by city council, and three directors chosen by the judge and approved by fiscal court (all six serving no more than two staggered, four-year terms consecutively).

The SPEDA interlocal agreement ties in with the occupational tax agreement in that it calls for the county to appropriate funding to the Authority as agreed upon in the separate tax agreement (currently $800,000 each fiscal year). The contribution shall be considered as a 50-50 split between the county and city.

In late December, Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler estimated that the new entity could be organized within 90 days, though the transition from SPCDF could take years.

Seven months later, it is the county taking initial steps to shape up SPEDA’s board of directors.

On Tuesday, Judge Kelley said he’d recently returned from an economic development conference in Buffalo, New York, and was excited about moving “forward with the next chapter” of local economic development.

“I think it’s going to serve us well for some time to come,” Kelley said, adding that he hopes the county vote encourages Somerset City Council to vote on Mayor Girdler’s selections at their next meeting.

Magistrate Mike Wilson made the motion to approve the new board members, which passed with a second from Mike Strunk.

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