A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky League of Cities names annual award winners at annual conference in Northern Kentucky

The Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) has announced its annual awards for Elected City Official of the Year, the City Employee of the Year and Enterprise Cities Awards for innovative city programs and projects. The winners were recognized at the KLC Conference & Expo in Covington. KLC will make formal presentations locally to all winners in coming weeks.

The Elected City Official of the Year Award recognizes an official who demonstrates outstanding leadership and innovation. This year’s recipient is Villa Hills Mayor Irvin “Butch” Callery. Callery served as the mayor of Covington prior to retiring to Villa Hills. There, he was asked to run for mayor. Since taking office in 2015, Callery has led a culture of openness and inclusiveness and has had virtually unanimous support from the city council. Callery oversaw $3 million in sidewalk and road improvements and has hired key positions in police, code enforcement and finance. He reinstituted a Vacant Properties Commission and has focused on planning and zoning issues. Currently, the city is working on a 100-plus-acre mixed-use development. The mayor has also focused on planning, technology and updating a 20-year-old ethics ordinance. Mayor Callery also started a program to bring school children to city departments to learn about government. His commitment to thoughtful development resulted in Villa Hills being recognized by the American Planning Association earlier this year.

The award is sponsored by Adams, Stepner, Woltermann & Dusing, PLLC, which provides a $1,000 donation to the charity of Mayor Callery’s choice.

The City Employee of the Year Award brings recognition to an exceptional city employee who performs at a distinguished level to improve his or her local government and community. This year there was a tie resulting in two winners.

Simpsonville City Administrator David Eaton has been on the job for 12 years. He has done amazing work in the small city including the creation of Simpsonville Village Center, a downtown district that is now the site of community events and is attracting downtown business. Eaton oversaw construction and expansion of several city properties including a wastewater plant and expanded recreational facilities. Under his direction, Simpsonville has strategically attracted a healthy mix of business and industry, most notably the Outlet Mall of the Bluegrass with more than 100 businesses and 2,000 jobs, all while maintaining the city’s rural appeal. Prior to Simpsonville, Eaton served as a councilmember and as mayor of Shelbyville.

Georgetown City Attorney/Chief of Staff Andrew Hartley has worked for the city only four years but has made changes that have benefited not only his city and county but many cities. Hartley was directly involved in creating the joint Code Enforcement Board among Scott County and the cities within it. He also helped create the interlocal framework for House Bill 189, which created a shared law enforcement jurisdiction among multiple law enforcement units and led to the Bluegrass and Central Kentucky Unified Police Protection System (BACKUPPS), which now includes dozens of agencies and is a national model for policing. Hartley is known for his continuous effort to streamline processes and save time and money. He launched a one-stop shop for permits and other business in an old city building. He oversaw the building’s rehab and saved $750,000. He also brought much-needed technology upgrades to the City of Georgetown.

The City Employee of the Year is sponsored by the law firm of Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., L.P.A., which provides a $500 donation to the charitable choice of each winner.

Enterprise Cities Awards recognize city projects or programs making a true impact in their communities. Winners include the cities of Bowling Green, Morgantown and Paducah.

The City of Bowling Green won for its Academy for New Americans in response to the city’s large international community. In 2012, the city created an international community liaison to advocate for the nearly 14 percent of its population that is foreign-born. The Academy for New Americans is a five-day program that provides education and access to information about city and community services, public safety and more, and promotes citizenship, volunteerism and civic engagement among the city’s newest citizens. In 2017, the program had 26 graduates from 13 countries. The total budget for the program is $6,100. Louisville Metro has now adopted Bowling Green’s Academy for New Americans program.

The City of Morgantown won for its outstanding Morgantown Renaissance strategic plan which aligns with the city’s comprehensive plan and economic development. The City of Morgantown has an average household income of less than $12,000. The city conducted surveys among residents. Using those results and other data, the city established 20 action items in the areas of quality of life, downtown development and infrastructure. Specifically, the city is focusing on code enforcement, updating ordinances, sidewalks, community events, downtown business and homeownership. The city rebranded, established a strong social media presence and launched a beautification program and downtown events to build pride and community engagement. Morgantown is an example of a small city that is making a big recovery. It was the only city to receive the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Life Well Run distinction.

The City of Paducah is the third 2017 Enterprise Cities winner for its Fountain Avenue Health Park. This is the second year in a row that Paducah has won for a project in the Fountain Avenue area, which is undergoing a renaissance. The child obesity rate in Paducah-McCracken County is nearly 16 percent. In 2016, the City of Paducah and its parks department partnered with the area health department to create the Fountain Avenue Health Park on a repurposed lot near neighborhoods with high obesity rates. Ultimately, 10 community groups and 1,000 volunteers came together to make the park a reality. Nearly all of it was paid for through grants and sponsorships. The park includes walking/biking/running trails, an inclusive playground, community garden, fitness equipment stations and open free-play fields, and it is used for after-school programs and health screenings. The city will monitor the long-term impact of this sustainable project.

The Enterprise Cities Award program is sponsored by Collins & Company, Inc. The sponsor provides $1,000 for each winning program to help continue its success.

“Our awards recognize the great work officials and employees are doing in our Kentucky cities,” said Jonathan Steiner, KLC executive director/CEO.

From Kentucky League of Cities

Related Posts

Leave a Comment