Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

October 31, 2012

Reapportionment Commission backtracks on plans

By Leeann Akers - Managing Editor
Journal-Times

Oct. 31, 2012 —     The Carter County Reapportionment Commission last week chose a magisterial redistricting plan to recommend to Fiscal Court but apparently will revisit the plans again before making a final recommendation.  

    The Commission, comprised of Walton (Corky) Clevenger, Guy Underwood, and MaLenda Haynes, met three times to review possible plans for reapportionment in order to comply with the 2010 census.  

    The Commission decided to present three plans at the next Fiscal Court meeting while recommending one of them.  

    However, Carter County Clerk Mike Johnston said Tuesday that the Commission would meet one more time.  

    “It seems like the plans may have been incorrect,” Johnston told the Journal-Times. “We don't want to make a recommendation and then end up having to change it again.”

    Johnston said figures and maps representing one of the possible plans were incorrect and that members of the Commission want to double check the plan slated for recommendation

    The Commission originally chose to recommend a plan that will keep five magisterial districts and none of the current magistrates will be affected by the changes.  

    The plan would make the population of each district between 5,220 and 5,700, which perfectly aligns the districts into the suggested population variance of five percent in either direction.   

    If the Commission sticks to last Friday’s now tentative decision, only six precincts would move to a new magisterial district if the plan is accepted by the Fiscal Court.  

    District 1 would lose Buffalo and Oakland but gain Alpha Hall. District 2 stands to lose East Grayson and Stovall but gain Oakland. District 3 would lose Alpha Hall, moving to District 1, and Pleasant Hill, going to District 4.  

    If approved, District 1 will be made up of Iron Hill, Courthouse, Alpha Hall and Gregoryville.  District 2 will consist of Oakland, North and South Rush, and North and South Midland Trail.  

    District 3 will be made up of Stovall, East Grayson/ Stinson, Hitchins, Denton, and Willard.  District 4 will be Pleasant Hill, Grahn, Eagle Hill, Pleasant Valley, Clark Hill, Cedar Grove, and Soldier. District 5 will be Upper Tygart, Brickyard, Olive Hill Courthouse, Smokey Valley and Buffalo.  

    The Commission also took future population changes into consideration.  According to 2010 census data, precincts in the west side of the county were the slowest growing while Oakland, South Midland Trail, North Midland Trail and East Grayson/Stinson were the fastest growing.  

    The commission was formed in response to an order filed July 30 by Greenup Circuit Judge Robert B. Conley, stating that all parties involved in the case had agreed that the Fiscal Court had failed to comply with statutory requirements regarding apportionment in the fall of 2011.  

    A lawsuit was filed by Carter County GOP Chairwoman Mignon Colley when the Fiscal Court rejected the recommendation of the 2011 Commission, which would have added a sixth magisterial district.

    In addition to rejecting the committee’s recommendation, Fiscal Court refused to consider alternative proposals, including one by Magistrate Brad Brammell that would have kept the number of districts at five, but reshuffled voting precincts among some of them.

    Clifford Roe made the motion to keep the districts unchanged and Sonny Fankell seconded. Those two were joined in voting yes by Ronnie Greenhill. Brammell and Brandon Burton opposed the motion.

    Prior to the vote, County Attorney Patrick Flannery warned the court it could be inviting litigation by refusing to reconfigure the districts.     Under state law, he said, any citizen who feels the districts are out of alignment could file suit and the county could ultimately be responsible for all legal fees in the matter, plus be ordered to reapportion.

    At press time, no date had been set for another Commission meeting.

    Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by phone at 474-5101.