CATLETTSBURG Gov. Matt Bevin announced the approval for $838,000 of discretionary funding in Boyd County on Saturday, but he was met by protestors prior to reaching the podium at the courthouse.
The discretionary funding will be given to Boyd County for road resurfacing through the Department of Rural and Municipal Aid.
“These dollars are for need in the community that affect safety and economic development,” said Bevin. “(For Boyd County) it’s for resurfacing of roads that have fallen into a state of disrepair and ditching and culvert work for areas that have had significant flooding on a regular bases.”
The roads that will be fixed (and the allotted funds) are the following:
— Mitchell Street, $38,392
— Valley Street, $31,261
— Spring Street, $15,174
— Sandy City, $42,693
— Oakview Road, $220,000
— 6th Street, $150,000
— Beech Street, $130,000
The city will receive $20,000 to replace the culvert on Oakview Road.
“To my knowledge, the time I’ve been in office we have never received any funding of this nature,” said Mayor Steve Gilmore. “We are pretty excited to be on the list to get some help. Our county and sister city is getting some attention. We couldn’t budget all that work to be done without this funding. With this award we would be able to improve these areas.”
Geri Linder, a Bevin supporter, said she came out Saturday because she was “interested in what the governor has to say. I support him, and I think it’s rude for people to be across the street making noise.”
The funding Boyd County is getting is a positive thing, she said. She is happy one of the roads she grew up on is one of the roads that will be improved.
“We greatly appreciate Gov. Bevin’s decision,” said City Manager Mike Graese. “The city would be very appreciative of any discretionary funding from the governor and the Rural and Municipal Aid fund to make the limited resources go further.”
The event continued when he asked the crowd if they had any questions for him.
Melissa Conley stepped forward along with two other protestors. She is the president of the Boyd County Education Association.
“We have begged for him to hear our concerns,” she said. “And this is the first opportunity we’ve ever had. All of this was fighting for our kids.”
Bevin is unpopular among many public school teachers as a result of budget cuts and proposed pension changes. He has been labeled a bully and has delivered harsh words to teachers over the last year-plus.
Heather Thomas, a local teacher, spoke out, too.
“You came in my classroom and you looked at me like you saw through me,” she said. “You didn’t speak to any teacher in my classroom. You acted like we didn’t exist. You talked to the kids, but you didn’t talk to one of us, and that hurt. You acted like we didn’t matter.”
Bevin agreed to have one-on-one meetings with Conley and Thomas and another protestor who were there. The meeting between them is to be determined.
“My emotions are everywhere,” Conley said. “I’m glad. It would only hurt our kids to refuse a conversation with him, and that’s why I wanted to hear him out. We put kids first.”
Gilmore hopes northeastern Kentucky remains a funding focus.
“Any time we get these, it’s some of our own tax money coming back to us and that is how it is suppose to work,” Gilmore said. “Hopefully we can stay on the radar to get funds as they are available.”