Tax and utility increases, new jobs and where to build a new county jail were the dominant news stories in Morehead and Rowan County during 2013, according to the staff of The Morehead News.
Also among the dozen top stories were the loss of a third Rowan County son to the war on terror, a former public employee’s guilty plea, political retirements, legislative redistricting, a fairness ordinance, a new animal shelter, the debut of a new symphony orchestra, the first doctoral degrees awarded by Morehead State University, and a brutal killing.
By a split vote of 3-2, the Rowan County Board of Education voted to slightly increase school property taxes in hopes of offsetting budget cutbacks required by state funding cuts.
After nine years of no increases, water rates went up 12 percent and sewer rates jumped 14 percent for customers of the Morehead Utility Plant Board.
Nearly 1,800 Rowan County customers of Grayson RECC received an 8 percent rate increase for electricity, the co-op’s first rate hike since 2008.
Independent Stave Company, the world’s largest barrel maker, began building a new lumber mill on KY 377 north of Morehead, promising an investment of more than $7.2 million and the eventual creation of an estimated 70 jobs to manufacture barrel staves.
Premier Bandag announced an expansion of its tire recapping plant.
Morehead developer Dan Markwell said he would build a new shopping hub downtown, including a new Fazoli’s restaurant.
The search for a new county jail site ignited two neighborhood squabbles and Rowan Fiscal Court restarted the site selection process.
Residents of the KY 801 and US 60 west corridors said they didn’t want the facility near their homes.
At year’s end, no decision had been made on where to build a replacement for the Rowan County Detention Center, now the property of MSU.
The War on Terror touched Rowan County again in May when Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Fannin was killed in the crash of a surveillance plane in Afghanistan.
Terri Cline Alderman, former executive director of Morehead Tomorrow, pleaded guilty to theft charges and served four months of a five-year prison sentence before being released on shock probation. She repaid more than $76,000 in missing funds.
A scramble for county offices began in 2013 with the disclosure that five longtime, incumbent officeholders would not seek reelection in 2014.
Retiring from office are Judge-Executive Jim Nickell, Jailer Don Hall, Clerk Jean Bailey and Sheriff Jack Carter.
Legislative redistricting impacted Rowan County when all 18 precincts were placed in the 99th House District of State Rep. Rocky Adkins.
State Rep. John Will Stacy, who had represented all or part of Rowan County for nearly 20 years, had the remainder of his district combined with another.
State Sen. Walter Blevins kept Rowan County but had several other counties added to his 27th Senatorial District.
Blevins later surprised political observers when he filed to run for Rowan County judge-executive in the 2014 primary. His Senate term goes through 2016.
Morehead received statewide publicity when it became the sixth Kentucky city to pass a fairness ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Following several delays, the Rowan County Animal Shelter on KY 801 near Clearfield was constructed and put into operation. It accepts dogs and cats from Rowan, Bath and Fleming counties.
The Cave Run Symphony Orchestra made a successful debut, performing to a standing room only audience at the Morehead Conference Center as the final event of Hometown Holiday.
MSU awarded its first doctoral degrees at spring commencement. A doctorate is the highest earned degree at any institution of higher learning.
Casey Shay, 26, is in jail awaiting trial on murder charges following the March point-blank shooting death of his girlfriend, Cassie Owens, 21, at a mobile home they shared with their three-year-old daughter.
Keith Kappes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 784-4116.