Mason County Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer and Maysville Mayor David Cartmell provided update on issues and events during the annual State of the Community meeting Friday at the Maysville Country Club.

The event is sponsored each each by the Maysville-Mason County Area Chamber of Commerce.

Pfeffer began by discussing the expected closure of Dayton Power and Light power generating stations in southern Ohio, which is scheduled for June 2018.

According to Pfeffer, there are roughly 500 company employees and 200 contractors who work at DP&L during routine operations.

"That's approximately an $80 million payroll," he said. "There are some who are at retirement age and others who are getting close. But, we will have labor and labor is a driving force. We need to use that positively."

Pfeffer also updated the community on the flooding from July. According to Pfeffer, the county incurred about $3.2 million in damages from the heavy rainfall.

"That's county, city and transportation and all areas," he said. "In the county alone, there was about $1 million in damage. Thankfully, we did not lose any lives in our county during the flooding, but there was life lost in another nearby county."

Pfeffer also said there will be a bid opening next Tuesday for the Administrative Office of the Courts project in order to move forward on repairs on the Mason County Justice Center.

"I know there has been a lot of leaking coming from that roof," he said.

Pfeffer spoke briefly about Maysville and Mason County teaming up ...

"We're the only city-county to do that," he said. "We received an $80,000 energy grant for the city and for the county."

He also touched on the issues with the Kentucky Retirement System.

"The retirement system is not good," he said. "The one thing we have seen as cities and counties is a breakdown of what our participation rate will be. Currently, we're at 19 percent for employees. That's going to 50.47 percent for next year. Hazardous is right around 32 percent and is going to 60 percent. That means about $400,000 more that we're going to have to pay into the retirement system."

Moving on, Pfeffer said the MACA plant is up and running, the county is working on putting together a Bourbon trail from Maysville to Northern Kentucky and Kentucky Wired is still in the works.

Cartmell told guests he was pleased with the current state of affairs in Maysville.

"I think Charles Dickens would be pleased with our town," he said. "It really is the best of times. With the closing of the plants, you would think it would be the worst of times, but we have more industry coming in and I think 2018 will be one of the best years since I've been mayor. Fiscally, we are in wonderful shape."

According to Cartmell, the city has a $10 million surplus.

Cartmell also briefly touched on the drug and crime problem in Maysville.

"I've talked with our police and we do have a drug problem," he said. "Drug problems usually cause crime problems. There has to be something more we can do as a community. We need to get people back to work. The buzzword for next year is infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure."

Cartmell also said there will be some construction going on in downtown, soon, with Columbia Gas installing new lines.

"We have 100-year-old water mains," he said. "We've had several breaks, so it needs to be updated. Next year, and the year after, will be a tough grind downtown while this is going on, but we'll pull through it."

Cartmell said the city has also torn down several blighted properties; the Maysville Fire Department and the Maysville Police Department have both received grants; there are currently updates underway at the Browning Park on Wall Street; and other parks are in the works in town, including one on Forest Avenue; there are new bed and breakfasts in town; and small businesses are returning to downtown.

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According to Cartmell, he and other officials are continuing to work to make Kentucky 9 a four-line highway.

"The river is dying," he said. "Even more so with the closure of the plants. (Kentucky 9) will be our lifeline. We've had several industries interested because of the proximity to Braidy Industries two counties over. This is something we want our money spent on."

During the meeting, one person also asked about the possibility of repairing or removing the abandoned Hayswood Hospital building downtown.

Cartmell said he has talked with several officials and it would cost roughly $3 million to repair the problems with Hayswood.

"We've gotten so many grants to test this and test that and we found out exactly what was in it," he said. "Our last big grant was to the US Army Corp of Engineers and they said it would take $3 million to clean that place up."

Cartmell said he has been to the National Brownfield and Environmental Protection Agency meetings and the EPA representatives wear "ask me about Hayswood Hospital" buttons. 

"It's without a doubt, the dirtiest hospital in Kentucky," he said. "The only thing it doesn't have is radioactive waste, because the radiation department is so small. But, it is the asbestos king of Kentucky."

Cartmell said the current owner of the building is Esther Johnson under the name of Classic Properties. It is a single asset company in Covington.

She paid $40,000 for the building, according to Cartmell.

"The city has never owned it," he said. "We would like to find an angel investor who will step in and build apartments in order to revitalize the neighborhood. Every time we have had an investor who was interested in renovating the building, she has felt it was time to turn the building over."

Cartmell said the structure is in sound shape and can be renovated if someone will do the work.

"It's a fine structure," he said.

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