CAVE CITY — Helen Siewers with Cave Country Trails Inc. spoke to Cave City Council members Monday night about a proposal for a new segment of what is called the U.S. Bike Route System.
She explained the idea is to tie communities into a network that generates bicycle tourism all across the country.
The TransAmerican Bike Route, which spans from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado all the way to the East Coast in Virginia, passes through LaRue County.
“The TransAmerican actually has its longest segment in any state in the state of Kentucky,” she said. “Our proposal is to develop a north and south route that comes off that east and west route. The north and south route will come right through Cave City and continue down to the state line in Tennessee where it will pick up with the designated U.S. Bike Route 23 that is in Tennessee and goes through Nashville and all the way down to the Alabama state line.”
She continued that counterparts in Alabama are working on a similar designation that will take the bike route all the way to the Gulf of Mexico near Mobile.
“If we can get this project shepherded through numerous local governments and then presented by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to the American Association State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), then it will become part of the U.S. Bike Route system,” Siewers said.
She gave two maps to the city council. One showing the context of the proposal relative to U.S. Bike Route 76, which is the TransAmerican Bike Route that goes east to west and its connection to U.S. Bike Route 23. The second one showing the path the route would take through Cave City.
“It's a route that would basically go along Mammoth Cave Road in front of the Welcome Center and the Cave City Convention Center,” she said.
It would also follow Broadway Street and then turning left to go up along Old Dixie Highway, Siewers said.
She asked the city council to adopt a resolution in support of the development of U.S. Bike Route 23, which it did near the end of Monday night's meeting.
Siewers has spoken to other government entities about supporting the development of the bike route, including the Hart County Fiscal Court, the Munfordville City Council and the Horse Cave City Council. She plans to speak to the Warren County Fiscal Court, as well as Simpson and Larue County Fiscal courts.
“We wanted to come to you because it does come right through the heart of Cave City,” she said. “Technically, the roads that would be touched are state maintained, so you're approval isn't technically required but like I said because it does come right through the heart of the community we wanted you to be aware of it.”
Mayor Dwayne Hatcher pointed out that Cave Country Trails Inc. is an initiative that is about two years old.
CCTI began in 2015 with a series of public meetings and then it was organized formally as a nonprofit in 2016.
“Through a series of public meetings in Barren, Hart, Edmonson and Warren, we've had over 150 participants and we've matched a potential network of trails of 1,500 miles. That includes hiking trails, equestrian trails, water trails along the Green River and some other paddle-able rivers and also the bike routes are some of the quieter rural roads. That's what this piece would be a bike route network,” Siewers said.
Hatcher told council members the development of the bike route would have an economic impact on Cave City.
“One thing to think about when tourists come through a community is they might stop for gas. They might stop for food. For cyclists, food is their fuel and so it can be good for business for the restaurant business, the convenience stores and also for lodging,” Siewers said.
She asked that when the bike route is designated that a plan for sign posting along the route can be done.
“That has been done on the TransAmerican U.S. Bike Route 76, but at this point we are just strictly looking to get it mapped so that is part of the U.S. Bike Route network,” she said.
Hatcher told Siewers he knew the designating of the bike route was a huge project and is requiring a lot of input from a lot of different people.
“We express our appreciation,” he said.
Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale also spoke to the city council about two things.
The first item was about the Resource Responders in the county, which was started about a year ago.
“It's really been successful. It targets the overlooked population in our county. We focus on our inmates that are being released from our detention center. Obviously, they have fell on hard times or bad luck or whatever. We want them to be productive citizens in our county,” Hale said. “When I say this has been successful, we have about 40 that have either went on for higher education and I know we have four that are on the honor roll at WKU-Glasgow.”
Hale continued that the program tries to remove that obstacle for the inmates.
Obstacles could range from not having the proper clothes for a job interview or not having steel-toed boots, childcare or transportation.
Program officials partner with local district and circuit judges, who make referrals.
Once a month program officials talk to the inmates who are about to be released from the detention center.
“We let them know they are important and we want them to be a productive citizen in our county,” Hale said.
Some who have received assistance through the program have returned to thank those who gave them help, he said.
Hale told the city council if wanted to be a program partner to just let him know.
“We would love to have you. There's about a 40-member (group) of volunteers who want to make a difference in the community, such as social services, vocational rehabilitation, Kentucky Career Center and we have folks coming in who just want to tell their stories,” he said.
The judge-executive also talked to the council about the recruitment of business and industry to Barren County.
“We have had a lot of business and industry to look at our county. And right now all we have available is our 12-acre build-ready site which is in our industrial park in Glasgow and we have a spec building, 40,000 square foot spec building sitting on 11 acres. That's really all we have to offer to companies who are in a hurry and ready to locate,” he said.
Most businesses and industries want 20 to 25 acres.
“And yes, we do bring them over here and we do show them this 40 acres,” he said. “When they see the 40 acres, it's a mountain. They know six to eight months to level and get it build ready.”
Hale, Hatcher and Dan Iacconi with the Barren County Economic Development Authority met with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet last week.
“The entrance is fixing to start with the widening of Ky. 70. I just encourage you all to think about where you are now and where you need to be. That would be a prime piece of land for someone if it was ready,” Hale said. “I just encourage you and I'm here to support you in any way that I can.”
Also during Monday's meeting, Cave City firefighter Wayne High was recognized for his many years of service to the Cave CityVolunteer Fire Department and to the city.
“He's not only done things for the Cave City Fire Department, but for Glasgow and all the other fire departments around the county. That's just phenomenal. We sure do appreciate your service Mr. High,” Hale said.
The city council has wanted to recognize High for his service for quite some time, but has not been able to due to some health issues High has experienced.
“We are certainly proud that Mr. Wayne High is able to make it here today,” Hatcher said.
Cave City Fire Chief Kevin Jandt presented High a plaque on behalf of the Cave City Volunteer Fire Department.
“Mayor, council members, city attorney we're here to present Wayne with a plaque for all he's 37 years and continuing service to the Cave City Fire Department and the citizens of Cave City. Wayne is actually our oldest, active member right now in the department. We could be up here all night telling stories about Wayne and everything he's done,” Jandt said. “Wayne, I want to thank you for all your years of service and continuing service to the Cave City Fire Department and the citizens of Cave City.”
Hatcher also read a proclamation recognizing High.
Prior to the start of the city council meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the application of $61,000 in grant funding through the Recreational Trails Program to make improvements to the walking trail at the Thomas Doyle Recreation Park off Mammoth Cave Street.
The city council also adopted a resolution urging the Kentucky General Assembly to pass legislation redirecting a portion of the in-lieu of tax payments the Tennessee Valley Authority pass to the state back to the TVA counties for economic development and job creation.