The members of the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) had a plethora of updates at its June meeting, including one on the potential Ag Expo center, county funding from federal ARPA funds and a new intern joining SPEDA for the summer.

Chris Girdler, president and CEO of SPEDA, told board members that he and representatives from attorneys Frost, Brown and Todd have taken steps to move forward with the plans for looking at bringing an Ag Expo to Pulaski.

At last month’s meeting, SPEDA members agreed to become the funding back stop for the project, with an eye on bringing in more investors.

The center would be used for cattle auctions, rodeos, concerts and other entertainment events.

On Thursday, Girdler explained, “We have signed all the paperwork authorizing [the attorneys] to move forward. … We’re anticipating in about 30 days being able to advertise the RFP (Request for Proposals) out there on a nationwide scale. I’m hoping by the August SPEDA meeting we’ll have a lot more news to share.”

He said that after that after advertising for RFPs, he believed it would take around 60 days to collect the submissions for review.

The project has been one county officials have spent several years looking at and trying to get off the ground.

Also at Thursday’s meeting County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley explained that $1.2 million in the county’s ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds that have been earmarked for SPEDA will still get to the organization, but part of those funds will be delayed due to the recent election and upcoming changing of the guard.

Kelley said that he will be meeting with representatives to sign the ARPA agreement on Monday. The county was awarded a total of $12 million, part of the funding given out by President Joe Biden’s administration to help governments with lost revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The county has contracted with Compass Municipal Advisors LLC to help manage its funding.

The money will be divided into three payments. The first part of the award should be given out as soon as possible, with a second payment to be given within 60 days of the first.

However, the third payment will be reserved for being given out within 30 days of the new year – after County Judge-Elect Marshall Todd takes office.

Kelley said that the ARPA funds, despite being federal money, were subject to the state of Kentucky’s “65-35 Rule.”

Kentucky law dictates that only 65 percent of a government’s budget can be spent in the fourth year of an office’s term, meaning there must be at least 35 percent of the budget’s funds available to the incoming administration.

SPEDA’s June meeting sported a new face among SPEDA’s office staff, namely, its new intern – Macy Norfleet.

The recent Somerset High School graduate is the daughter of Skip and Penni Norfleet, and will be attending Somerset Community College in the fall.

As Girdler told Norfleet that SPEDA was excited to have her joining for the summer, Norfleet responded, “I’m excited to be here.”

Girdler also pointed out that she was highly recommended by Forrest Spillman, a SPEDA board member and one of Norfleet’s teachers at SHS.

Spillman said Norfleet had “survived my class for four years” in a variety of subjects. “I’m thrilled to see you here,” he told her.

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