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New direction for proposed property sale

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By Rebecca Morris

Grayson County magistrates voted Tuesday to offer to sell land near the Grayson County Detention Center to the City of Leitchfield.
During their June 19 meeting, members of Grayson County Fiscal Court approved offering almost 47 acres off Shaw Station Road for sale by sealed bid.
But during Tuesday’s special meeting they rescinded that motion and instead agreed to offer Leitchfield first dibs on the acreage.
County Judge-Executive Kevin Henderson said that move was required because the county, by law, can’t directly sell property to an individual or company.
Leitchfield, though, doesn’t have the same restrictions and has other property nearby. It could, Henderson said, use the acreage to promote industrial growth.
Baillie Lumber, also off Shaw Station Road, is interested in a potential expansion on some of the acreage. Its current site is landlocked by the road and adjacent railroad tracks.
“We need to look at the potential (of the land), not just looking at what is right in front of our faces, but looking down the road,” Henderson said. “We all know how important it is for the county to grow.”
The county will offer the property to Leitchfield for $325,000, or $7,000 per acre. That’s about $1,000 more per acre than the county paid for the land back in 2002.
The county will retain 15 acres near the detention center for any future expansions or other needs.
Leitchfield could address the land purchase as early as next week.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, magistrates approved committing $200,000 to an effort to try to secure federal money to build the first leg of the west side of the William Thomason Byway.
Last month, the Leitchfield City Council approved allowing Mayor William Thomason to apply for federal BUILD, or “Better Utilizing Investments for Leveraging Development” monies for the roughly $23 million project.
Supposedly, the more matching money or in-kind services local governments can offer, the better chance for funding a project has. Leitchfield has approved a local contribution of $200,000 too,  plus hundreds of feet of right-of-way along the proposed route.
The city could know as soon as December if it has qualified for any BUILD funding. Kentucky has been allocated more than $150 million under the program.
Earlier this year Kentucky included in its 2018-2020 budget $1 million in 2019 to design an extension of the William Thomason Byway in Leitchfield from Ky. 259 to Ky. 54, better known locally as Owensboro Road. It is only a preliminary phase of the project. The budget included no money for right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation or construction of the extension.
City and county officials have been trying for years to get a bypass connecting the Western Kentucky Parkway and Ky. 54, and then further north to the new industrial park on Leitchfield’s northwest side and Ky. 259. They’ve said it would help pull semi traffic heading to the Bel Brands USA plant, the industrial plant and other facilities off the downtown streets.
“It’s very important we do this because it’s going to fix the traffic problems” along U.S. 62 near Grayson County High School, the Grayson Coun­ty Technology Center and Lawler Elementary School, Henderson said. It also could lead to an overpass or underpass for the nearby railroad and help with a possible expansion of Bel Brands USA in the future, he said.
Magistrates approved the commitment after making sure Grayson County wouldn’t have to provide the money at this time. Henderson said the county’s been told it would only have to provide the money if the project qualifies for BUILD funding and then only near the end of the work.