The Bell County Chamber of Commerce held their monthly “Soup and Sandwich” series luncheon on Thursday at Pine Mountain State Resort Park. Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock was the speaker at the event.
Brock welcomed the crowd by expressing how thankful he was for the large turnout and the ability to transfer information with each other.
“That way the community at large has information that they need, to know where we stand, where we are going and what’s going on in general,” explained Brock. “So, your being here — I greatly appreciate that.”
Brock spoke to the crowd about what he referred to as the good, the bad and the ugly concerning Bell County.
He started with the ugly.
Coal fire generators are being shuttered at record breaking numbers throughout the United States and this years record is expected to shatter last years record. Seven Kentucky generators are expected to be shuttered in 2013, second in the nation only to Ohio with 12 expected shutters.
“It has a negative impact on our economy here, it trickles down,” said Brock. “It shows up across the board.”
But while the United States is shuttering coal fire generators in record breaking numbers, the rest of the world has plans to build 1,200 new generators. Three-fourths of these coal fire generators are in China.
“There is a chance, among all that ugly that we might get to sell some coal to China,” Brock pointed out. “Because they do want a higher quality coal, (and that) is what we have.”
The bad news was about the focus task force. Brock spoke of how the focus task force fell apart when the opportunity to build a hotel in Pineville came about.
Brock went on to explain how one of the key elements to the focus task force was the tourism board. When the hotel opportunity came about, accusations were made that Brock was operating illegally and outside the bounds of his authority.
The attorney general rendered an opinion that Brock was not operating illegally and what he was proposing was legal but the damage was already done and the investor for the motel backed out.
The good news is there are numerous opportunities for Bell County tourism scheduled for this year.
There are two big ATV events planned for this year. There was a conservative estimate of ten-thousand people at last year’s event.
Ricky Skaggs has been scheduled to headline this year’s bluegrass festival in the spring and will hopefully be accompanied by Dale Anne Bradley. Country singer, Jamie Johnson, just confirmed that he will sing at the fair this year.
The fall event is expected to be the biggest Bell County has ever hosted with over twenty-thousand people. Brock pointed out that he was wearing a Duck brand shirt and then explained why.
“We are trying to get (Duck Dynasty),” said Brock with a smile. “No promises, but we are close.”
The next “Soup and Sandwich” series luncheon is scheduled for March 21, with state Sen. Brandon Smith speaking. This luncheon will also be at Pine Mountain State Resort Park.