The Kentucky River basin’s special role in the future security and economic
development of 41 of the Commonwealth’s 120 counties was featured at a breakout
session during the Kentucky Association of Judge-Executives and Magistrates at the
Louisville Marriott. Chaired by Franklin County Judge-Executive (J-E) Ted Collins, the
meeting challenged the 55 attendees from most of the basin counties to work together to
get the resources to help the river help their communities. A resolution to do this was in
Panelists included Mike Kimmel Vice-President/Deputy Director of the Louisville
Waterfront Development Corporation, Owen County J-E Carolyn Keith and her VISION
Director David Morgan, CANOE KENTUCKY’s Ed Councill citing the river’s many
opportunities for economic development along with Frankfort Tourism Director Joy
Jeffries who updated the group about the Capital City’s efforts to reconnect with the
Kentucky River and maximize its economic and revenue benefits.
The hour session was followed with a 30-minute Q&A with many county officials
who wanted to know more about what to do to resolve river problems in their respective
areas. Many were directed to Deputy Finance Cabinet Director Jerry Graves. “As a
member of the Kentucky River Authority, I can tell you that we have a plan to fund the
locks and dams from Frankfort to Carrollton (One through Four) followed by Ten and
then work our way up river as local people and their officials want to work with us,” said
Graves. “If I had my way, I’d like to make the trip to Boonesboro again,” he continued.
Welcoming remarks from Collins included the “we need to work together “ theme
and challenge to his colleagues. His words were repeated at the closing with remarks
from Frankfort Mayor Gippy Graham: “This river is so critical to all of us and our future
that we must put our shoulders together to move forward.”
Louisville’s experience provided the advice to be persistent and do not let this
economy keep you from asking for private funds. He cited $37.5 million as raised locally.
Owen County highlighted their project’s two major recommendations (an adven-
ture water park and a National Kentucky River Park) as the keys to maintaining the rural
ambiance of their county and its small river towns.
Jeffries briefly reviewed the Franklin County Riverfront Development Plan as the
centerpiece for revitalizing downtown Frankfort. Her take away message was that “many
partnerships provide so much enthusiasm and energy that many of the plan’s most inno-
vative features are already being implemented.” This was particularly true of work with
Kentucky State University, Kentucky Bar Association, and the State, City and County.