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Stumbling blocks continue to clog road toward beautification

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By Alex Wimsatt

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - While local tourism officials were hoping to finally begin work on the Interstate 65 Exit 112 interchange beautification project this spring it appears construction may be pushed back yet again. 

Bullitt County Tourism Director Troy Beam reported the long-awaited project has hit yet another snag. 

After working months with Louisville design firm QK4 to get federal highway officials to sign off on the original beautification plan, Beam said one of the key elements had to be taken out. 

QK4’s appeals to maintain the Kentucky limestone boulders featured in the original design were rejected based on safety concerns, Beam told commissioners.

Not only did federal highway officials reject the limestone elements in the six-year-old plan, they recently took issue with the trees planned for the interchange.

Beam said fighting to keep the boulders in the plan appeared to be a battle they could not win, adding that he felt it would be best to give up on the boulders and try to maintain the trees in the original plan instead.

The commission agreed, and so it was back to federal highway officials for the beautification plan. 

“Is this thing ever gonna get done?” Commissioner Tom Kelly said. “Talk about your red tape.”

In other business:

*After some consideration, a request for $10,000 a year to co-sponsor the Future Farmers of America’s annual convention for the next three years was turned down. 

However, the commission did vote to give $3,000 for the 2013 convention, which will take place in Louisville after being held in Indianapolis last year.

Beam said the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau was soliciting sponsorships to support the FFA event, which brought thousands of visitors to the area when it was annually held in Louisville. 

Because Louisville is no longer the primary host city for the convention, but rather the biannual host with Indianapolis, commissioner Jay Patel suggested the commission give $3,000 to the event, but only on a year by year basis. 

Patel put his suggestion in the form of a motion. The motion passed unanimously. 

*The commission considered a request by a local group for a letter supporting the Heritage Hill Golf Course in Shepherdsville. 

The Concerned Families of Bullitt County, which requested the letter of support, was formed last year in opposition to proposed industrial rezoning near the Heritage Hill neighborhood and golf course.

Beam said that while he would favor a letter that simply supported the golf course as a renowned attraction benefitting Bullitt County tourism, he advised the commission steer clear of controversy.

Kelly said he saw no problem with a mild letter of endorsement for the golf course itself, but nothing that might denote the commission was taking sides. 

He then made a motion to send a letter of support for the golf course as a local tourist attraction. The motion passed unanimously. 

*Commission treasurer Tom Kelly reported that while December 2012 hotel tax receipts increased from 2011, restaurant tax receipts fell slightly. 

Hotel tax revenue for the month of December deposited in January rose 17 percent from the same period the previous year. 

During the month of December the commission collected $29,312 in hotel tax revenue. In 2011 the commission collected $25,038 .

Restaurant tax revenue for the month of November deposited in December fell nearly two percent, from $49,444 in 2011 to $48,504 in 2012. 

*It was with a sense of happiness and sadness that assistant director of Bullitt County Tourism Jackie Allgeier submitted her letter of retirement to the commission. 

Allgeier, who has devoted several years of service to the commission, said she appreciated her time there, adding that she would greatly miss working with tourist and convention staff and commissioners. 

With that she said she was looking forward to retirement, taking it easy and enjoying more time with her friends and family.

Commission chair James Watkins said Allgeier would be missed. 

“We appreciate the time you’ve been here,” he said. 

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