Ground is expected to be broken later this month on the International Bluegrass Music Center in downtown Owensboro. The city has already pledged $3 million to the project and now Daviess County says it’s contributing $500,000 dollars to the project over the next five years.
County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly says the music center will be the next step in the development of downtown that already includes the new convention center and two new hotels.
“This area, this block – an entire block – sits right at the end of that corridor,” said Mattingly. “It certainly will be an attraction to people who come into the community for conventions and in and of itself will be an attractor for visitors.”
Mattingly says the county’s money for the project comes from excess from a hotel-motel tax. He says in the past, similar money has been used to pay a million dollars on a bonded indebtedness of the Riverpark Center.
“We thought that since this [money] comes from visitors who come into this community, it’s specifically tasked to be spent on arts organizations in the downtown area and tourism,” said Mattingly.
The Bluegrass Music Center could open as soon as next year. The $12 million project has also received $5 million dollars in private donations. It's scheduled to include a 1,000-seat indoor theater and a 2,000-seat outdoor stage.
Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly on proposed trail
Leaders in five Kentucky counties are gauging public support for an 80 mile trail that could be used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
The proposed trail would begin in Audobon State Park in Henderson County, and run through Daviess, Ohio, and Grayson counties before ending at Rough River Dam State Resort Park in Breckinridge County.
Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly told WKU Public Radio that local leaders are taking the idea to the public.
"All the county judges and mayors are going back to their communities to set up meetings where they can gauge the support in their communities,” Mattingly said. “We've kinda formed a loose coalition of the counties involved, so that we can apply for a federal grant."
Mattingly says the federal grant would fund a study that would look at the direction the trail would follow.
The Daviess County Judge-Executive cautions that it would take decades to plan and create an 80 mile trail. Mattingly says it took 25 years to finish the 15 mile greenbelt that rings Owensboro.
A proposed budget for Daviess County includes a $1 million increase in spending on general fund operations, and a two-percent cost of living increase for county employees.
Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly presented an 87 page document outlining a $23.5 million dollar plan for general fund spending next fiscal year, a nearly 5 percent increase over the current year.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports the new budget keeps property and payroll tax rates at the same levels, and contains one-million-dollars less for the Daviess County Detention Center. The facility has generated more revenue on its one, and that $1 million will instead be freed up for capitol projects.
Mattingly says he’s happy the proposed county budget contains $2.5 million less in overall debt than the current fiscal year, with no new debt taken on next year.
The price tag for a new downtown convention center in Owensboro now stands at nearly $40 million. The city-county organization overseeing the construction effort has approved the use of $3.5 million in contingency funds for the project.
A Daviess County leader says he hopes the counties in his region will soon be included in some sort of coal tax college scholarship program. The scholarship fund announced this week by Governor Beshear includes nine counties in eastern Kentucky. While not criticizing the Governor's plan, Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly told WKU Public Radio a college scholarship program paid for by coal severance tax dollars could greatly benefit his and other coal-producing western counties, like Henderson, Webster, and Hopkins.
Daviess County's Judge-Executive says he's pleased with federal lawmakers' responses so far to the idea of creating a new interstate highway across western Kentucky and southern Indiana. Al Mattingly and other political and business leaders from the region this week went to Washington DC to lobby lawmakers for funding for the proposed I-67, a four-lane interstate running from Washington, Indiana through Owensboro and continuing to Bowling Green, where it would connect with I-65.