Federal OK needed to begin Hwy. 245 project

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By Alex Wimsatt

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - While Bullitt County Tourism Director Troy Beam was hoping to see the Interstate 65 exit 112 interchange beautification project get underway last fall, the project has hit a snag. 

During the January regular meeting of the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission Beam said the Federal Highway Administration had to approve the project before it could move forward.

The plan drawn by Louisville design firm QK4 includes landscaping of locally grown plants, board fencing synonymous with the bluegrass region and limestone boulders. 

Shortly after the highway administration struck the initial plan that was submitted more than eight months ago over concerns that the boulders could pose potential safety hazards for motorists, the plan was altered and resubmitted.

The Federal Highway Administration is still considering the plan.

Beam said he hopes at least some of the limestone elements in the plan can be maintained because of the stone’s significance to Kentucky’s signature bourbon and thoroughbred industries. 

“Our contact with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is continuing to work with staff at the Federal Highway Administration in hopes of maintaining as much of the original design features as possible,” said David Reed of QK4.

As for when Bullitt County Tourism may hear something from the highway administration, Beam said he has no indication of when that might be. 

In other business:

*After seeing months of steady increases in restaurant tax revenue, the commission reported October receipts decreased from 2011. 

In the absence of newly appointed treasurer Tom Kelly, Paroquet Springs Conference Center Director Vicki Downing reported restaurant and motel tax revenue for the months of October and November. 

Restaurant tax revenue for the month of October deposited in November totaled $53,005, which is $4,478 less than the commission collected during the same period in 2011.

As restaurant tax revenue fell, so did motel tax receipts.

Motel tax receipts for the month of November deposited in December decreased by nearly $3,000 from $36,878 the same period in 2011. 

Following months of steady gains, November marked the second straight month hotel tax revenue decreased from the previous year. 

There was no explanation for the drop in hotel tax revenue, however, Downing said the decrease in restaurant tax receipts could be attributed to a significant Shepherdsville restaurant temporarily closing to rebuild from the ground up. 

*Beam shared with commissioners and article highlighting Kentucky’s booming bourbon industry and the positive impact it’s having on the state’s economy and tourism industry. 

Recently featured in the Lane Report, a Lexington-based publication that focuses on business and economic development in Kentucky, the article was encouraging to Beam. 

Titled, Booming Bourbon Building an Even Brighter Future, the article discusses the industry’s multi-million dollar expansion and how it’s drawing thousands of visitors from around the globe to Kentucky distilleries like Jim Beam in southeast Bullitt County. 

“Looks like this is going to be a good year,” Beam said. 

With that he shared that Bullitt County attracted more visitors in 2012 than in 2011. 

Beam said more than 600,000 people visited Bullitt County attractions in 2012, up more than 75,000 from 2011. 

*Commission chair James Watkins wished to point out that the commission is accepting grant applications for public events. 

The commission will accept grant applications until March 1 for 2013 events. 

For applications and eligibility requirements, contact Bullitt County Tourism at (502)543-8687 or email Jackie Allgeier at jackie@travelbullitt.org.

*The next regular meeting of the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at Paroquet Springs Conference Center. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. The public is invited.