Christian Fiscal Court approves donation for Breathitt statue, final reading of budget

Christian Fiscal Court approved final reading of a budget for the upcoming fiscal year Tuesday morning and a $12,500 donation to the Pennyroyal Arts Council toward construction of a statue of Hopkinsville native and former Governor Ned Breathitt.

The family of Governor Breathitt is working with a steering committee through the Arts Council to raise funds for a bronze sculpture of the late governor, with $120,000 of the estimated $170,000 cost already achieved through private donors.

Former Christian County Attorney Mike Foster spoke to court Tuesday, noting some of Breathitt’s accomplishments and reminding that he began his career practicing law at the historic Christian County Courthouse. The proposed statue would be located on the front lawn of the courthouse, which is next door to the Alhambra Theatre.

The Hopkinsville City Council Committee of the Whole recently declined to move forward with a donation, but Judge-Executive Steve Tribble recommended that the fiscal court give $12,500.

Among those opposed to the county designating funds was Magistrate Jerry Gilliam, who says while he will support the project personally, he doesn’t believe it’s the right time to spend tax dollars on such a project.

Magistrate Rich Liebe disagreed with Gilliam, saying several cities, counties and states across the country have honored significant people with statues over the years and he believes Governor Breathitt is deserving as someone who helped bring Hopkinsville Community College and the Pennyrile Parkway to the county and for his role in improving civil rights in Kentucky.

The donation was approved on a 5-3 vote, with Gilliam, Philip Peterson and Magaline Ferguson voting ‘no.’ Peterson echoed Gilliam’s thoughts and Ferguson says she’s been approached by several constituents who were opposed to the donation of tax dollars.

Meanwhile, court unanimously approved final reading of a $45.7 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes a 5 percent cost of living adjustment for all county employees.

It also includes about $13 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds for expansion of broadband internet access in partnership with Pennyrile Electric and HES Energy Net, with Judge-Executive Steve Tribble noting Todd, Trigg and other counties in the Pennyrile region are joining on to the partnership with their own federal funds.

Court approved a bid to purchase de-icing salt for the upcoming winter, with Road Department Superintendent Paul Finley noting they are currently at max capacity on salt.