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Two familiar faces battle for District One magistrate

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2014 MAY PRIMARY ELECTION

By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - It will be a battle between a current and a former officeholder in the First District race for magistrate in the Republican primary.

And the winner would face unopposed Democrat Michael G. Thomas in the fall.

Ruthie Ashbaugh, who is completing her first term on Bullitt Fiscal Court, will be challenged by Dennis Mitchell, who served 13 years previously as magistrate of the First District.

Ruthie Ashbaugh

During her first term, Ashbaugh is pleased with some of the accomplishments achieved in her district and in the county.

That led the 67-year-old to file for a second term.

“I love helping people,” said Ashbaugh. “I just feel there is a lot more that I want to see done.”

She pointed to the work to finally get relief for residents in Big Valley.

For years, the sewage treatment plant did not work properly. With the help of people like Linda Belcher, Mike Higgins, Jerry Kennedy of the Bullitt County Sanitation District and Roger Recktenwald of the state, the plant is now operating.

“That is great for the people in that area,” said Ashbaugh. “It took a lot of people but it was well worth it.”

She is proud that work has been done on various road and drainage projects. However, as she talks with the residents, these two areas remain the number one concern.

Concerns recently over Knob Creek Road have been turned over to the state, said Ashbaugh.

Serving as a member of the salary committee and the emergency services committee, Ashbaugh said she has seen progress made.

While the salary committee has stopped meeting, the emergency services group is still active.

Trying to address a turnover issue in EMS and Central Dispatch, Ashbaugh said the committee was able to recommend some pay increases, which fiscal court approved.

Over the course of the next four years, Ashbaugh said there are several projects she would like to address.

First, she would like the county to have some role in getting an indoor aquatic facility built.

She said there are a lot of youngsters who have to go to other counties if they are interested in competitive swimming.

And those just interested in swimming for relaxation or exercise do not have any options when the pools close after the summer.

“I think it would be good for the entire county,” said Ashbaugh.

She would also like to see more roads qualify to be taken into the county maintenance program. With that, she would like to see more blacktopping done.

The expansion of water has been significant but more is needed. She said in her district there remains pockets of land which need the availability of water service.

When talking to the voters, Ashbaugh said her mission to help people has not changed. Plus, she stresses her preparation in advance of court meetings.

“I am prepared,” said Ashbaugh. “I work hard for the people and that will continue over the next four years.”

“I enjoy being around people,” said Ashbaugh.

Dennis Mitchell

A resident of Nichols, Mitchell has long been involved in county government.

Not only did he serve three terms on fiscal court, Mitchell was on the Bullitt County Joint Planning Commission for eight years.

And, although he’s been out of office for several years, Mitchell has never lost touch with the people of his community.

The Republican is now making a bid to return to fiscal court.

“I feel I know the pulse of the people,” said Mitchell. “I’m out there talking to people every day.”

Mitchell said he can look back on this three terms on fiscal court with pride.

When he took office in the late 1980s, over half of the roads in his district were not paved. When he left, all those roads in the county’s maintenance program were surfaced.

Some of the roads were even widened.

Water expansion started in the western part of the county. Thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Patton administration, Louisville Water Co. took over operation of the Kentucky Turnpike Water District. This allowed a more rapid expansion of service.

The county started utilizing the litter abatement program, which is still in use today.

One of the keys to progress, said Mitchell, was the ability and the willingness to talk with state officials. If it meant going to Frankfort to ask for guardrail or blacktop money, Mitchell said he would make that trip or phone call.

In the next four years, Mitchell has several goals.

First, he wants to see a fiscal court that will act with peace and harmony. Disagreements are fine but Mitchell said they must be handled in a professional manner.

Second, he would like to get back to seeking out additional funding for his district and the county. Mitchell said he is willing to make that effort to bring in more funds for county projects.

One project would be a $1.4 million drainage upgrade from West Blue Lick Road to the Salt River. Already listed as a number two priority on the KIPDA list, Mitchell said taking surface water away from Blue Lick and to the river would improve the quality of life at two schools and 800 homes.

Third, Mitchell would like to see Highway 44 West elevated from the VFW Post to Bullitt Lick Baptist Church. When heavy rains come, flooding of the road is common.

He would also like to see a study done on parallel alternate routes for Highway 44 and Cedar Grove Road. The expense of widening Highway 44 is too much. However, there might be a way to find a parallel road to alleviate some of the congestion.

Finally, he would like to see as many jobs as possible come to the county. He supports the Economic Development Authority and its efforts to bring jobs, especially the better paying positions, to the community.

“I don’t care to ask for funds,” said Mitchell, 67. “I will work hard for the people and I think I’m qualified for the position.”

Leadership skills and the ability to have a vision for the future will be the key to the county’s progress, said Mitchell.