GLASGOW – The 2020 recipient of the ECHO – Exemplary Citizens Helping Others – Award is a student at Caverna High School.

“The recipient of this award has a loving, caring, giving heart,” said Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale as he was about to present it to LeBraun Hamilton at 2020's first quarterly breakfast gathering of the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce.

The award, which Hale started a few years ago, is “given to individuals who go above and beyond to make a difference in this community,” Hale said. These individuals' acts have such impacts that their echoes can be heard for years to come, he said.

“The first time I met this individual, I shook their hand and I wanted to hang onto every word they were saying, and it was awesome.”

He said this person, who is only 15, dedicates time to helping other people, maintains a 4.0 grade point average and has excellent attendance. Hale rattled off a list of clubs and organizations in which the recipient was involved and/or volunteers as well as accomplishments before finally naming Hamilton, whom he called a role model.

“This is crazy; this is huge,” Hamilton said. “It's amazing, because this is what I want to do … for the future.”

He spoke for a few minutes and said that since joining the Caverna Key Club, “I've just always wanted to give back to the community, because they've gave a lot back to me. So doing this, and helping others, has helped me to get through everything that I've gone through. … I want to be able to build better futures, to have other leaders to build our community stronger. I want to get out there and make the world a better place.”

He listed a few projects in the works at nursing homes and with food-insecure individuals to make people happier and to make them want to be more involved.

“We're going to be reading to the elementary students. We're going to be doing all kinds of stuff just to build their skills, to help them to help others. That way, they will get the feeling that I'm feeling right now,” Hamilton said.

After the applause subsided, Hale said to the crowd, “Well-deserving. He's only 15. What's your excuse?”

When he got laughter, he said, “Seriously, as a community, we can do these things. We can come together and we can do it.”

The presentation was made at the conclusion of Hale's annual state of the county speech, the traditional agenda item, along with the state of the city from the Glasgow mayor, for the first chamber breakfast of each year.

Hale said about 340 new jobs had been created, but “we're still struggling to fill jobs, so we have to work on that, and we are working on that.”

About 146 new homes were constructed and about 66 permits for commercial buildings were issued. He touched on some of the new companies that have come and are coming here and some that have expanded, like Rural King and Nutrien Ag Services, and the new diesel program at the Barren County Area Technology Center. He talked about the fact that Big Bud Botanicals, a hemp processing facility, is coming to the Chapatcha Industrial Park in Cave City.

“OK, let's talk a little trash,” Hale said, showing photos on three large screens of some properties that were not maintained as well as some, “what some would call a nuisance.”

“Well, Barren County, if we're wanting to attract, we've got to clean up a little bit. We really do,” he said.

Efforts are being stepped up to better enforce some of the rules and laws already on the books, Hale said, and landlords are responsible for cleaning up any messes renters create.

He also talked about transportation infrastructure, recreation programs, schools, i.e. “workforce builders,” and the 2020 census. He challenged the crowd to promote the county.

“We're not dying on the vine, and I'm tired of hearing that,” Hale said. “We're growing.”

Glasgow Mayor Harold Armstrong said that when he started as mayor a year ago, the city had a lot of vacancies and they've all been filled, as have been those created by retirements over the year.

“The good part about that is, everybody's doing their job 100 percent, and some 110 percent,” he said.

He attributed that to two things, starting with city officials' working together with the county government and other cities and local organizations and committees.

“We're all working together for the end goal of making the quality of life in Glasgow better,” Armstrong said.

As revenues trend downward but expenses trend upward, the mayor said, “We've been challenged to find out ways to make ends meet.” He said the city got roughly $700,000 from grants and other sources to improve facilities and quality of life.

He offered thanks to the 164 people who work for the city. Armstrong said about 80 percent of the upper management have come up through the ranks.

He said some new jobs have been added and the local economy has improved a little, but work is underway to bring more jobs.

“Our goal, too, is to provide for the ones that are already here,” Armstrong said.

He said he didn't want to bore the crowd with things they've done already.

“We're going to continue to make things better as we go. And this crowd here is evidence of how the community is behind this effort or willing to work and help us be better …,” the mayor said.

Also at the breakfast, Gerald Printing was named Small Business of the Quarter. The company has been in business since 1971 and has more than 90 employees and seven locations in Kentucky and Tennessee. In addition to printed paper products, its services also include apparel and signage.

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