Shelbyville named state’s ‘City Government of the Year’

Shelbyville city leaders

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The city of Shelbyville between Lexington and Louisville has been named City Government of the Year by the Kentucky League of Cities.

Fort Wright Mayor David “Dave” Hatter was named Elected City Official of the Year and Mayfield Fire Chief Jeremy Creason was named City Employee of the Year.

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For 2020, the association received more than 50 awards nominations, it said in a statement.

“Part of our KLC mission is to support innovation and quality governance,” said J.D. Chaney, KLC Executive Director/CEO.  “The annual awards program shines a light on the great work that officials and employees are doing in our Kentucky cities.”

Chaney said this year, with COVID-19, cities and city officials have taken the lead in keeping communities safe, assisting businesses and continuing to provide services during this historic time.

The award winners, selected by an independent panel of judges, will be recognized this week during the KLC Virtual Conference & Expo. KLC will also make formal presentations locally to all winners in their home cities in coming weeks.

The KLC City Government of the Year Award recognizes a city that has done something transformational.

Shelbyville received the honor for its transformational “five in one” $9 million downtown redevelopment strategy.  KLC will make a local presentation to the City Council on October 20, 6:00 p.m. (EST) at Stargazer Plaza, 612 Main St., Shelbyville, KY.

“It is humbling for the City of Shelbyville to be named as Kentucky’s ‘City Government of the Year’ by the Kentucky League of Cities,” said Shelbyville Mayor David Eaton.  “This recognition speaks well of the hard work and joint efforts of the Shelbyville City Council, city employees, ShelbyKy Tourism, and Shelby Main Street.  These accomplishments are the result of all parties working together in the best interest of our community. Their forward-thinking commitments to our citizens bode well for the future of our great city.”

The City of Shelbyville’s downtown area experienced two major negative events over the last decade. A large business closed, leaving blighted, unsalvageable structures and in 2013, a devastating fire destroyed three historic buildings on Main Street.

These holes visually tarnished the downtown area and hurt the community economically.

Nevertheless, the Shelbyville City Council looked upon these circumstances as an opportunity to invest in and promote downtown redevelopment and growth.

Shelbyville ambitiously undertook five major projects simultaneously, all of which were purposed to promote, enhance, and interconnect downtown. Through a strategic and highly inclusive process, the City worked with large and local businesses, investors, the chamber of commerce, the tourism office, county government, Shelby Main Street, the historical society, local community groups and committees, and many others to bring back its downtown.

The first project was the creation of a new 48-spot parking lot on donated land one block from the heart of downtown restaurants and businesses. Project two replaces the site on Main Street destroyed by fire in 2013.

The Stargazer Plaza outdoor venue represents a $1.5 million investment that provides opportunities for concerts, receptions, parties, and general gatherings downtown.

Project three is a sculpture art walk through the downtown district providing public art in the city’s business center. Project four is the new Shelbyville Conference and Welcome Center, now under construction, which represents another $6.5 million investment.

This collaborative effort with Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC), will bring thousands of people downtown for conferences, weddings, meetings, and other events.

Project five, in conjunction with the Conference and Welcome Center, is the $1 million Seventh Street Corridor Renovation Project. New sidewalks, lighting, and landscaping will frame the northern entrance to Shelbyville’s historic downtown and will create a warm, inviting landmark linking all five projects.

The projects are already attracting new businesses and private enterprise.

City leaders are confident that the investments will be returned several-fold, particularly for tourism. The City has worked hard to brand itself as a destination as the Saddlebred Horse Capital of the World, with many other attractions.

With the “five-in-one” effort, new marketplaces are opening, business expansions are in the works and tourism opportunities are broadening.  The City is keeping the community informed of progress through social media, which has kept people engaged and excited.  Combining these five projects into one vision shows Shelbyville has, and will continue to lay the foundations necessary for current and future generations to enjoy their city.

The award is sponsored by Collins & Company, Inc., which will provide a $1,000 donation toward a city project.