Ousted Economic Development Authority executive director Darlene Bussell was given a 60-day reprieve at Tuesday’s Cynthiana City Commission.
The Harrison County Fiscal Court voted on June 11 to end its contract with Bussell as the EDA director.
However, on Tuesday, following a 90-minute closed session, the commission agreed to continue to pay Bussell’s salary at her current rate.
Prior to the executive session, Mayor Steve Moses allowed visitors to speak on Bussell’s behalf.
Bruce Florence, Maysville Community and Technical College/Licking Valley Branch director, said that with a declining enrollment trend at the college, Bussell’s plan for a welding academy is vital to keep the Licking Valley Campus progressing.
Previous discussion raised concern about Toyota also developing a welding school.
Florence said Toyota’s program will be geared towards their needs, whereas the Harrison County welding academy would serve a dual role in offering welding to high school students during the day and evening college classes for adults.
Mark Sutton, owner of Robertson County Lumber, who is purchasing property at the Business Park to open Thorobred Lumber in Harrison County, said the progress made so far to make that happen has been a result of Bussell’s assistance.
Likewise, Brent Chidsey, who will be establishing Bay Horse Innovations Inc. in the Business Park, said it would be a loss for the community if Bussell was not serving as the director.
He said he had looked at other locations in Virginia and Kentucky and that Bussell’s quick responses to his queries led him to Harrison County.
He said his building should be going up within the next month and that production is expected to begin by Thanksgiving.
Others who spoke on Bussell’s behalf were Paul Wilson of Paula’s Restaurant and Mary Grable.
Wilson said Bussell helped her build a business plan when she was trying to purchase Family Fare.
Grable said she was bothered by the fact that the city pays money to the county for the Economic Development Authority, but has no input as to how the money is spent.
“If she leaves, we’ll lose projects to other counties that she started,” Grable said.
Moses made the motion to go into executive session. Following an obvious extended pause, Commissioner Jack Keith seconded the motion.
Following the closed session, Commissioner Billy Grayson said “There has been too many comments, negative comments, and we are at a point of standstill.”
He said conditions of the contract, while not in writing yet, are that the city will pay her a the amount of her regular salary. However, she will be responsible for deducting her own expenses and paying her own taxes.
Grayson said there will be joint meetings with Planning and Zoning, Chamber of Commerce, fiscal court, Economic Development Authority and the city.
“We will sit down with these groups and develop an action plan for deliberate direction. We all have to agree. This doesn’t mean that she’s going to be the person to take us there,” Grayson said. “This is all for the next generation. If she can’t do it, we’ll get somebody else.”