The news stories that make it to the ears of all of Jessamine County often get there online. And the news that blows up on Twitter and other social-networking sites ranges far and wide and becomes a big deal for different reasons. Some stories are famous for their heartwarming effect — life-saving Good Samaritans at the county courthouse, a local team and individual bringing home statewide titles. Some spread to share sadness, in a scary school shooting that rocked a nation, in the ending of a Christian-music tradition that touched tens of thousands of lives in 43 years. And some are infamous — a divisive issue over the form of city government, a huge marijuana stockpile hidden in the country woods, a development tied up in seemingly endless litigation. Regardless of how or why they came onto your timeline, these are the 10 biggest stories of 2012 in Jessamine County — and some take more than 140 characters.
Jessamine splits between 6th, 2nd House districts
Thousands of voters in western Jessamine County found some unfamiliar names on their ballots in November.
More than 9,000 voters in the county were moved from the 6th Congressional District to the 2nd District by redistricting that took effect in February. Instead of voting in the hotly contested, airwave-dominating race between 6th District incumbent Rep. Ben Chandler and Republican challenger Andy Barr, those now in the 2nd District chose between incumbent Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie and little-known challenger David L. Williams.
Several local Republican officials claimed in February that the redistricting favored Chandler by moving traditionally Republican areas out of his district; in his 2010 bid to unseat Chandler, Barr won the vote in the three counties that moved to the 2nd District with the portion of Jessamine County. Guthrie is based on Bowling Green.
“I think it’s kind of ridiculous to have us in a territory that’s two hours away,” Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater said in February. “It’s contiguous, I know, but it will still basically be dominated by someone from Bowling Green who is going to be our elected official. I think it’s just politics, unfortunately.”
If the move was to ensure Chandler’s re-election, it failed. Barr won the vote in the portion of Jessamine County still in the 6th District and won election to Congress with 51 percent of the vote across the district. Guthrie won his portion of Jessamine County easily and took 64 percent of the vote across his district.
Jessamine County Judge-executive Neal Cassity said in February he wasn’t worried about the county having split representation. He said Jessamine County was in the 5th Congressional District and had two different state representatives when he took office.
“We didn’t have any problem working with (multiple representatives) back then,” he said. “I think we can work with whoever’s there; I just kind of hate to see the county split.”
Wilmore also shifted representation in the Kentucky House for a short period of time. The state redistricting that was initially approved moved 9,300 voters from Democrat Bob Damron’s 39th District into Republican Stan Lee’s 45th District. A Kentucky Supreme Court decision in February affirmed a previous ruling that the new districts were unconstitutional, so the entirety of Jessamine County returned to the 39th District under the old lines.
Saylor's departure causes domino effect of school-leadership restructuring
The departure of two top school officials in the spring led to a shakeup and the naming of three new assistant superintendents.
Jessamine County deputy superintendent Owens Saylor was named the new superintendent of the Daviess County district March 26. Just five weeks later, chief operating officer Paul Hamann announced he was retiring after 37 years in Jessamine County schools.
“I’ve been thinking about (retirement) for the last year,” Hamann said April 30. “When Owens got the job, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll just hang on because it will be tough for (superintendent) Lu (Young),’ but the bottom line is she’s fine with it. I’ve discussed it with her, and she understands that it’s just the right time for me and my family.”
Young orchestrated a shuffling of titles and duties that created three new assistant-superintendent positions — chief of staff, chief academic officer and chief operating officer. Director of teaching and learning Kathy Fields became chief academic officer, and her former position was eliminated; director of secondary schools Jimmy Adams was promoted to chief operating officer, and director of special programs Matt Moore was promoted to chief of staff.
Fields and Moore are both Jessamine County High School graduates. Fields returned to the county in 1995 to become principal of Nicholasville Elementary School; Moore’s 20 years in education have all been spent in Jessamine County.
Adams is the newest of the three to Jessamine County, having just finished his third year in the district when he became chief operating officer.
Moore’s vacancy as director of special programs was filled by Michelle Gadberry; Adams’ vacancy as director of secondary schools was filled by Maurice Chappell.
Courthouse passersby save attorney's life
It could have been a scene from a movie last June 8 at the Jessamine County courthouse, circuit clerk Doug Fain said.
Local, ordinary citizens — a postman, an attorney and a radiology technician — selflessly came to the aid of a man they did not know and are possibly the reason he is still alive.