By: Cris Ritchie — Editor
September 24, 2013
HAZARD – Mayor Nan Gorman presented a sort of state of the city speech to the Hazard-Perry County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, noting the city remains on sound financial footing despite a sagging economy.
Recent news reports have detailed the poor financial health of major metropolitan cities like Detroit and even smaller towns here in Eastern Kentucky. And while there have been cutbacks locally in Hazard, Gorman said the city’s debts are paid and the pensions are safe. The city’s employees have options for health care, and the city government is not neglecting its duties to the residents of Hazard and Perry County, she added.
“We’re solid in our accounting, and we’re all right,” Gorman said. “I want you to know that.”
The city currently has a population of 5,467, and the city government employs 138 people in a variety of positions, from the water department which supplies water to a vast majority of the county to the housing authority which oversees developments on Liberty Street and in Lothair, among other areas.
Gorman also spoke about development in the city limits, and how that development has changed from Hazard’s early years as a river town to today’s city which has sprawled north toward Highway 80. She specifically mentioned the development of property next to Highway 80 recently incorporated into the city limits and on which the new East Perry Elementary was built. Land around the school is owned by the Begley family, and she expects there will be new development there in the future.
“Now we have a beautiful new school out there, and there will be further development as our economy improves,” Gorman said. “The Begleys didn’t make that property for nothing.”
Gorman noted ongoing projects in the city, including the use of a $3 million grant to improve the city’s water system. That project will install water meters around the county which Gorman said will save on the city’s overtime costs. The intake at the water plant will also be improved as part of the project.
Gorman also took a moment to note the need for a new police station in the north end of town. The Hazard Police Department is located in the downtown area, and while development continues in the north end of town, Gorman said the city should work toward adding a second police station to that area of Hazard.
“It would be a great advantage to have a police substation out on (Highway) 80,” Gorman said. “With the school out there and the cross roads, and when you think of the drug traffic, this will be to our advantage, something to work for.”