By Keith Kappes - Publisher
Aug. 21, 2013 — Based on three years of observation as publisher of these newspapers and after an uplifting day of inspiring discussions at the Community Partners’ Summit two weeks ago, I offer my personal wish list for Carter County.
Nearly all of these things have been proposed by public officials or private citizens and many are underway.
I simply added a couple of my own ideas to round out the list of 12 projects and programs, henceforth to be known as the dandy dozen.
In no particular order, they include:
Certifying Olive Hill as a Kentucky Trail Town. This could develop into a tourist attraction as significant as Carter Caves.
Achieving a $1 million endowment for Carter County Community Fund. Other communities have seen the positive results of helping themselves through private giving.
Establishing a residential drug treatment facility. Outpatient programs also could be based in such a facility. What about the former Upper Tygart school building?
Renovating the old OHHS as Olive Hill Arts and Education Center. Last week’s announcement of another grant was a major step forward but ongoing support will be needed for full utilization.
Rechanneling Tygart's Creek through Olive Hill. If this does not happen, Olive Hill’s economy will continue to struggle.
Creating “splash parks” in Grayson and Olive Hill. Less expensive to operate and maintain and safer than swimming pools, these facilities offer recreation for all ages.
Forming the Carter County Tourism Commission. A countywide approach would generate considerable tax revenue from room rentals to fund aggressive marketing of Carter County as a tourism destination.
Converting former Carter school to a community center. Building the new school nearby preserved the community’s identity. The old school could serve a different but equally important purpose.
Implementing mandatory recycling countywide. Carter County’s abundant natural beauty often is hidden under roadside litter.
Approving a library tax for permanent support of public libraries. The county and both cities provide voluntary support and that is appropriate. However, a modest tax would allow the libraries to provide more services and improve facilities.
Managing legal alcohol sales to protect the public and maximize economic benefits. Grayson can increase its tax base and local job opportunities through legal sales but it must firmly and fairly enforce state and city ABC laws and regulations.
Development of a free medical clinic. Even with expanded Medicaid and subsidized health insurance, many adults will remain uninsured and unable to pay.
As a native son, my dream is to never again hear someone say they are ashamed to be from Carter County.