MUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (2/17/13) – The February meeting of the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce Thursday covered a huge range of critical topics that concern the county's future.
Tommy Barton, Executive Director of the Greater Muhlenberg Parks and Recreation System, gave a progress report on improvements and new equipment either in place, or on the way to parks all across the county. Barton noted that new basketball courts and other equipment will provide much needed recreational activities for the youth of the county.
Progress also continues for renovations at Luzerne Lake that he said "will showcase the lake, with hopes to put up shelters and have an annual fishing tournament." The highly popular “Rails to Trails” system continues to expand and see improvements, thanks in part to an $80,000 matching grant from the state.
Other park projects include new playground equipment in Powderly and Weir, due in large part to private donors and use of county employees for much of the labor needed.
Barton then updated plans for "Phase One" of a 10-year-master plan to create an enormous county park next to the Muhlenberg County West Campus High School. When phase one is complete, the park would feature five baseball and softball fields. Again, much of the initial cost is being covered by donations, including funds from the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation.
The meeting's second speaker was Muhlenberg Sheriff Curtis McGehee, voted Sheriff of the Year in 2012 by the Kentucky Sheriff's Association.
Sheriff McGehee noted that the park and recreation plans Barton spoke of will help make his job easier, by giving the young people of the county a positive alternative to drug abuse. McGehee told the group that the ongoing drug problem he and other law enforcement are now dealing with in the county was dealt a big blow with the recent arrest of thirty-two people, resulting in numerous felony warrants issued.
McGehee said that the department is "now in the final phase of the roundup," with the public’s help. Many have contacted law enforcement via the department's website and with "Hot Spot Cards," which allow citizens to anonymously make law enforcement aware of suspicious activity in their area.
He also said that existing and new neighborhood watch programs have help reduced drug and other crimes "as much as ten percent" in the county. The sheriff commended the citizens of Millport and Nelson Creek for stepping up and forming new neighborhood watch programs.
McGehee concluded by mapping out law enforcement improvements in training to deal with possible violence in county schools, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut. The sheriff noted that after meeting with the Muhlenberg Board of Education, he said he was "impressed with current plans of action, and that the main objective now is to make law enforcement more knowledgeable of present plans already in place."
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