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Owenton mayor reflects on the state of the city

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By Molly Haines

According to Owenton Mayor David “Milkweed” Wotier, vision, opportunity and progress are the main things the City of Owenton needs to focus on in order to move the city forward.

Wotier gave his annual state of the city address Thursday during an Owen County Chamber of Commerce meeting held at the Smith House restaurant.

“This year, we start a new decade and embark on a journey together to determine how we want to move forward as a community,” Wotier said. “We must ask ourselves, ‘If we truly want to move forward, what kind of place do we want Owenton/Owen County to be in the next 20, 30, 40 years for our children, grandchildren and even our great-grandchildren?’ ”

Wotier said strengthening what the city and county already have and pursuing what is still needed is key in moving forward.

“In the past 10 years since I took office, we have focused on meeting the water needs of a growing community,” Wotier said. “Since 2001, we have linked forces with Kentucky American Water Company to provide top quality and increased quantity of water to what was at one time ranked as one of Kentucky’s worse sources of drinking water. Since KAWC purchased our municipally-owned water system on Sept. 15, 2005, great leaps have been made to improve our water supply.”

In the past year, Carrollton Utilities, the provider of the city’s natural gas, has had many additional residential hook-ups, Wotier said.

“However, Itron, our largest manufacturing plant, is also the leader in the amount of natural gas purchased for testing of meters at their Owenton facility,” Wotier said. “They purchased a total of 6,394,300 cubic feet of natural gas last year. Itron currently has 203 full-time employees with 43 temps. Their contracts are up 63 percent from last year. They have added on a warehouse to their present building, with plans to build additional space to meet the demands of their growing work load. Itron has proven to be a very valuable and important part of the heartbeat of Owenton/Owen County.”

Wotier said the city of Owenton’s newest industry, KHI, had already begun efforts of tomato growing.

“They are currently bringing in equipment from their Burlington plant,” Wotier said. “According to Frank Downing, executive director of the industrial authority, the amount of acreage will be about the same as last year.”

Wotier said there is much opportunity to explore and plan for the future, citing the Owen County Public Library as a door to life-long learning, and tourism as a way to stimulate the local economy.

“I am a bit dismayed at some of the comments that have been made recently about tourism in the county,” Wotier said. “Owen County has much to offer. I’m amazed at the people who live right here in Owen County and have no idea what we offer as far as crafts, pottery, antiques, as well as agricultural and recreation adventures.”

Wotier said drug and narcotic use have been down in the city of Owenton over the past three years.

“I promised you then, ‘we are going to make a statement against drugs in Owen County.’ We are not going to tolerate it. Our police force continues to make every effort to rid the city of any and all illegal drug activity,” Wotier said. “This is not to say there is no drug problem here, certainly that is not the case, but we continue to chisel away at it.”

Wotier also discussed the nuisance ordinance the Owenton City Council passed last year.

“This new ordinance allows us to take stronger action against property owners who are negligent in keeping their properties in an orderly manner,” Wotier said.

The times demand innovation, imagination, decision and a sense of togetherness, Wotier said.

“Let’s be pioneers on that journey together. For I believe as someone once wrote, ‘I am not afraid of tomorrow because I have seen yesterday and I love today,’ ” Wotier said. “It is my prayer and earnest desire, that future generations will look back and see our efforts to offer effective leadership and their tomorrows will be better because of their yesterdays.”