By Nick Lewis
Today’s column starts off with excerpt from a “fun-spirited” column I wrote in January 2008 titled “Back to the Future.” It was about a fictional dream that predicted the outcome of certain events of much interest or controversy in Richmond and Madison County.
Below is the excerpt where Bonnie is waking me up. Following this are my parting comments for our governments, chambers and tourism organizations in Madison County.
“Nick, wake up the football game is about ready to start. You’ve been sleeping for almost 12 hours and what was all that mumbo jumbo talk about last night?”
I respond, “What are you talking about? I don’t remember anything. It’s the best sleep I’ve had in a long time.”
Bonnie replied, “Richmond joining consolidated 911 dispatch. You know that’s a hopeless case. Then you said something about Jan and Jimmy drinking wine on Sunday at the winery, but they don’t sell wine on Sunday. That’s wishful thinking; however, it is a no-brainer and the fiscal court needs to get’r done. Then there was something about two incumbent city commissioners getting defeated. You know that will never happen, you turkey. And finally, there was something about kids being transported to the aquatic center by Robert Blythe and getting in free. I think you are all wet behind the ears on that one, too.”
I looked up at her with a big grin on my face and said, “Bonnie, I know I’m a dreamer, but if you believe and have faith, dreams can come true and miracles will happen. Just wait and see what this New Year brings.”
When Paradise Cove opened in the spring of 2008, Friday night was deemed community night and admission was free to families. In November 2008, Rita Smart was elected and leapfrogged all current city commissioners. In November 2010, the only incumbent left was Robert Blythe. Consolidated 911 dispatch was approved in December 2009, while Sunday wine sales were passed in November 2010. I guess I got 3.5 out of 4 right, because I don’t ever recall that Blythe drove a bus loaded with kids to Paradise Cove, or did he?
I really can’t predict the future; my predictions were based on my visions that would make our community a better place to live. Changes were needed in city government, and the other predictions just made common sense as do the ones below.
Today EKU, the Madison County Board of Education, and the Bluegrass Army Depot are addressing major budget reductions and tough decisions must be made which ultimately involve people.
When job losses are involved, it has a direct correlation to revenue generated from payroll tax. These three entities are the largest employers in Madison County, so the impact will be significant. There are no facts about the potential tax revenue loss, but it could be millions.
This will severely impact governmental services we take for granted, and it will require all local governments to be creative and think outside the box. It will require them to partner even more on combining services that make sense without compromising public safety. It will require them to question what roles local governments should control or services to provide.
City commissioners and magistrates alike must be visionary, analytical and inquisitive. They must do their homework before they speak or act. They must be good listeners and be proactive rather than reactive. They must let common sense and reality guide their actions or decisions rather than emotions and egos. If they do this, then we have the opportunity to overcome the uncertainty of our future.
At the present time, all three governments are operating well, all things considered. However, they have some real challenges ahead that must be addressed with smart action.
With that said, is it time to seriously consider one local government for Madison County? If that is not conceivable because Berea wants to be left alone, then why not a Richmond and Madison County Fiscal Court? Countywide 911 is working. The city and the fiscal court have partnered with the closing of a fire station that also appears to be working, so why not start the process to go all in.
Madison County has so much to offer, but if we aren’t creative, we will miss opportunities to make it even a greater place to live. With that said, is it time to combine both chambers under one umbrella? If we believe it can’t be done, then it won’t have a chance.
I know this one will raise some eyebrows as well, but can there be just one tourism entity in Madison County? Again, if Berea and Richmond continue to live in the past, the future will be nothing but a dream and opportunities will be lost.
We can’t operate as we have in the past and if we don’t realize that now, then we are in trouble. Private businesses already know the consequences of that mindset; it’s time governments, tourism and chambers realized it as well before it’s too late.
And that’s just how it is!