Legislators award funds to Laurel County projects

May 8—The Laurel community will be seeing some improvements, thanks to some funding obtained by state legislators.

The announcement and symbolic checks were made at Creekside Gardens' The Calico on Tuesday morning with several legislators present for the ceremony.

Jason O'Bannon, owner of Creekside Gardens/The Calico, hosted the event and gave an overview of the operations. O'Bannon purchased the property that occupies the former Dairy Dart and stockyards property off South Main Street five years ago and has expanded the business to include a meeting space amidst the flowers and foliage offered for sale. He now operates an industrial maintenance business, Creekside Gardens and The Calico.

Senate President Robert Stivers said the cooperation of legislators on both parties has improved as well as relationships with surrounding states.

"There is no longer a rivalry among Ohio or Indiana," he said. "We've been reducing the state income tax, from 6% to soon being 3 1/2%. There's no comparison. If you want to start a business, would you go to a state where you have a higher tax rate or would you come to Kentucky where it's 3 1/2%? Most people want to come to Kentucky?"

Stivers said Kentucky is the place that is drawing many businesses and he advocated that.

"We want to attract businesses and keep our young people here," he said.

Stivers outlined some of the projects that benefit from the state funding. He said extending KY 30 had "opened up the Red River Gorge." Widening Interstate 75 to 3 lanes from Corbin to the Tennessee line is another funding project, as is making Hal Rogers Parkway a four-lane roadway from London to Hazard.

Stivers added that having London native Brandon Storm on the Transportation Committee had also been a plus, as Storm is familiar with the needs of the area. He added that transportation., i.e., adequate roads, is essential for that expansion of jobs and tourism opportunities.

Storm added to the project list, stating that KY 192 would be widened to accommodate the traffic and that the expansion would continue to the Sazerac bourbon-aging facility. He also announced $6 million allocated for the Hal Rogers Parkway project and $53,000 to resurface Hoskins Lane.

A regional fairgrounds also got a financial boast with the announcement of $1 million allocated to its development.

A new city complex that will house London City Hall, the London Police Department and Laurel Dispatch also got a $1 million dollar grant for a new facility that will be added onto the back of the current City Hall.

Corbin will also benefit, with Stivers announcing that Corbin City Utilities and the City of Corbin were both granted funding. The $4.9 million for the utility commission will improve sewer service for residents along KY 1232 which is in both Laurel and Whitley counties. The City of Corbin's grant for $3.5 million is for land acquisition and construction for a tourism initiative.