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Job cuts take 'Joy' out of Millersburg

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

BOURBON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - The sign sits at the town's limits and welcomes all visitors to Millersburg. It promises to preserve the past, live in the present, and offer a vision of the future, only the future for the town isn't looking too bright.

"We were a bustling little town in the 60s 70s and 80s and then it kind of (shoo) just like a vacuum, it's gone," described lifelong resident, Victoria Livingood.

Livingood says restaurants are gone, businesses moved, and things have changed but the town has always adapted.

"I've lived here all my life, and I've seen so many things come and go."

However, the latest news is hard to handle. On Friday, Joy Global announced the mining machinery plant that sits in the heart of the town, is cutting nearly 80% of it's staff.

"Another stab to the heart. Now this business which is the main "bread line" of Millersburg," said a disheartened Livingood.

The plant, which was started by local families in the 1950s, is keeping only 37 positions, according to Mayor Jon Ott. The rest of the plant's production is being moved to Texas. Joy Global could not be reached for a comment about the move.

For Millersburg, 150 jobs will be lost by October. Mayor Ott said his heart breaks for those that are now facing an uncertain future. He added that he's exploring what can be done to help them recover, including a possible job fair in the future.

"We can't make it here without industry. We've got to have industry coming here!" exclaimed Livingood.

"Millersburg losing joy is equivalent of georgetown losing Toyota," explained Mayor Ott.

In a small town like Millersburg, cuts like these could also mean trouble for others.

"See, that's going to hurt my business because my customers won't have a job there, so they won't be coming here," said Livingood who runs a barber shop on Main Street, just a block from the plant.

"We're going to be looking at approximately a $100,000 loss in payroll tax," said Mayor Ott, "that's over half of our general fund budget."

The loss will be a hard hit to the budget, but the real impact is yet to fully be realized. Some in the community are hopeful that another business can be brought in.

Councilman Nathan Zingg said, "Hopefully, we'll be able to turn something around."

"When one door close another one is supposed to open so let's wait and see what opens up. Let's hope that it's for the better!" grinned Livingood.

Or as the Mayor explained, "It's not the final blow. It's a big blow it's going to hurt, it's not the end."

While the road may be hard, Millersburg is not giving up.

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