By GINA KINSLOW
Glasgow Daily Times
Bobby Richardson is beginning his 45th year as city attorney for Cave City, which has seen plenty of change during his tenure.
“The first meeting that I went to, the city council met in a garage-type structure where they kept the fire truck,” said Richardson, of the Glasgow-based Richardson Gardner & Alexander firm. “They had a table in there and in the back corner was a holding cell. They didn’t have a full-time city clerk or any city officials except city policemen.”
He recalled Hampton Reynolds, who worked at the Peoples Bank, being the city clerk at that time.
“He carried all of the city documents in his briefcase,” Richardson said.
Cave City now has a city council chambers, a full-time city clerk, a police force and the fire department is located around the corner from city hall.
J.B. Gardner was mayor when Richardson started as city attorney in the late 1960s.
“Their only source of income back then was city property taxes, and they never did have enough money to pay bills, so they were always issuing what they called warrants,” Richardson said.
The city borrowed money to finance city government and then paid the loan when property tax revenue began to come in.
“They collected the property taxes themselves at Cave City. I believe the people paid them at the water company, the Green River Water District office,” Richardson said.
City council meetings in those days were rather lengthy, sometimes lasting up to three hours. One of the first items of business, after approving the minutes of the previous meeting, was to recognize people in the audience.
“The city council ended up trying to referee property disputes, boundary disputes and spats between neighbors,” Richardson said. “I remember a fella by the name of Paul Logsdon, who I liked a lot. I remember one of the things he complained about was dogs running through his garden and knocking down his beans and he said it was a hounddog that ran sideways and knocked down two rows at a time. That was so funny. I remember that from back then.”
Another dispute involved honey bees that a resident kept near Brian Doyle Park.
“Everybody said they were his bees. Bees travel long distances and how did they know they were his?” Richardson said. “That went on for two or three months.”
The city council was perplexed about the problem.
“I finally said, ‘We ought to require all the bees to wear identification tags so that we can identify the owner,’ “ Richardson said. “We spent much of our time dealing with issues like that there weren’t any answer to. That was every meeting.”
Former Mayor Leo Esters spoke fondly of Richardson recently.
“Bobby was one of the best you could get, in my opinion. He was always at the meetings and he always advised you to the best of his ability,” Esters said. “He kept us all pretty well straight. If I was mayor again, I’d hire him again.”
At one time, the current mayor’s office was a conference room where the city council met and the police department was located where the city clerk’s office is now.
“The building over there where the city council is now, where they meet now, was the old fire department garage,” Richardson said. “I believe it was when Chris Holder was mayor that those council chambers were constructed. Before that everyone just sat around a table.”
When the council sat around a table to conduct city business, Richardson remembers that all of the city’s bills were put onto the table, and at the end of the meeting the council decided which bills to pay.
Holder followed Esters as mayor and served one term. Bob Hunt then became mayor, serving 18 years.
“Me and Bobby got along fine. He probably wrote 98 percent of the laws that pertained to the city of Cave City. He didn’t have to go look it up because he wrote it and he could remember it,” Hunt said.
Hunt said Richardson gave good advice during his stint as mayor.
“He probably knows as much about city government as anyone I’ve ever talked to,” Hunt said.
Wayne High, who worked for the city for many years, would often fetch Richardson a cup of hot coffee before the start of council meetings.
“He’s been awful nice to me,” High said. “He’s been a nice friend.”
City government in Cave City has come a long way, even though the city itself has not grown very much.
“When I was a youngster and used to go over and visit a great aunt and uncle, Cave City was one of the most attractive little towns anywhere. A lot of business went on,” Richardson said. “The appearance and the business deteriorated, but they are working on that now and I think the services are there for the city. They’ve got a good sewer system. They’ve got a good police department and apparently a good fire department. It seems the public works department does an awfully good job.”
During the past 44 years, Richardson also served as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and balanced his time between his private law practice, his political career and duties as city attorney.
“It was difficult, but you see how young I was?” he said, pointing to a picture of him being sworn into office as speaker of the house by Judge Cass Walden. “I didn’t notice it being a problem when it was going on. I do remember a few times I had to get somebody to attend the meetings for me.”
Richardson served 20 years as a member of the state legislature, four of which were as speaker of the house and six as majority leader.
Asked about the best time he has spent as Cave City’s city attorney, Richardson picked right now.
“People seem to be working together. They seem to have their financial act together and everybody seems relatively satisfied,” he said. “There’s been a big turnaround in morale and in finances. I’d say that now is as good of a time as any that I’ve been in Cave City.”