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Hunting banned at The Homeplace

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By Calen McKinney

 

As of last week, hunting is not allowed near the public walking trails at The Homeplace on Green River.

At last Tuesday's regular Taylor County Fiscal Court meeting, magistrates discussed some concerns that have been voiced about hunting on the property.

Taylor County Attorney John Bertram told magistrates that the former owner of the property, Buster Hall, has said when he sold the land to The Nature Conservancy in June 2000, he retained the right to hunt on his land. Bertram said he isn't sure if that is included in a written agreement.

According to deed records, the county purchased the property from The Nature Conservancy in December 2002 for $677,000. Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers said the property was given to the county as a grant with the understanding that it would be always be a nature conservancy area.

Recently, Rogers said, some walking trails have been created at The Homeplace and the concern centers on whether those using the trails could be in harms way if hunters are in the area.

Magistrate Matt Pendleton asked if the county's insurance policy allows hunting on any county-owned land. Rogers said he doesn't know if that has been discussed. However, he said, he believes magistrates need to decide whether they will allow hunting on the land.

"I know this court has not given [Hall] that authority," he said.

Magistrate Richard Phillips asked how many people are allowed to hunt on the land and where the hunting boundaries end. He said there are many unanswered questions in the situation.

From a liability standpoint, he said, he believes hunting shouldn't be allowed at The Homeplace.

"God forbid somebody gets hurt out there," Phillips said.

Magistrate John Gaines asked if there have been hunters on the property before, to which Bertram said there have been. He said Hall has said the hunting stands on the property aren't his, however.

Bertram said Hall has said he isn't hunting on the land, though his family members have in the past.

Rogers said he recommends that hunting not be allowed at The Homeplace. The said the county has spent $80,000 on the trails there and they are open to the public.

"I doubt that the court wants to take that liability on their hands," he said.

Rogers said the property is divided into two areas, one that extends to Tebbs Bend and the other that includes the home and other buildings at The Homeplace.

Pendleton asked Rogers if there is part of the Hall land in the area not near The Homeplace that can be used for hunting. Rogers said there is and the county doesn't own it.

Magistrate Tommy Corbin made a motion to not allow hunting at The Homeplace property the county owns. Phillips seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved, though Gaines abstained from voting because he said he knows Hall well.

Last Thursday, Hall said he retained hunting rights on the property when he sold it to The Nature Conservancy. Though that isn't in a written contract, he said, there were several people there when that verbal agreement was made. And he said he believes that contract can't just be changed now.

"That's the way I look at it," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, that's the way it is."

Hall said he likes to ride around his former property, on which he lived for more than 40 years, a few times each year. And he said his son and grandson like to hunt on the property a few times a year.

He said his family members have hunted on the property since 2000 and he hasn't received any complaints about it. However, he said, the area in which his family members hunt is not near the populated portion of the property.

"It's as far away as you get," he said.

On Friday, Hall's son, Tommy, who lives in Adair County, said there is no animosity between his family and magistrates. And he said he realizes insurance companies might not like hunting on public land.

"I totally understand that," he said.

He said he and his family don't hunt on the land often, but he wants to be able to take his children hunting.

Tommy said he would like to be involved with managing the land, since he grew up there and it's special to him.

"I want other people to be able to enjoy it."

Also at the Meeting:

• Rogers told magistrates that the county recently received notice that it was awarded $48,000 in grant funding to help install emergency sirens in the county. He said the money would likely pay for two sirens.

However, he said, magistrates voted last month to withdraw from the grant process, so the county won't receive the $48,000. Rogers said he believes the county should wait and see if it receives grants before voting to refuse them.

Pendleton said he was in favor of withdrawing from the process so other counties who were going to install sirens could have a chance to receive some funding. He said he is glad another county received the money.

• Rogers said the county received a Department of Agriculture grant that will allow the Taylor County Animal Shelter to spend $1,650 to help those adopting to not have to pay for spaying and neutering their new pets, which is required.

The shelter will use the money to offer adoptions to residents at a reduced cost of $25, until the grant funding is spent. As of last Thursday, there were 19 vouchers for $25 pet adoptions left.

Those who would like to adopt an animal, but can't afford the $100 adoption fee, can contact the shelter and, if income is verified, receive a pet for free.

• After a lengthy discussion, magistrates agreed to have Carrier, the company that currently services the heating and cooling system at Taylor County Courthouse, compile a request for bids to replace the current system or install a four-pipe system. A Carrier representative presented magistrates with written specifications for the systems and they were unanimously approved. He said the proposals are permanent solutions to the problems with the heating and cooling system.

• Those visiting Green River will soon have access to it via Lemon Bend Road. Stephen Martin was granted a request for a one-year agreement to allow visitors to cross his property to get to the river.

Rogers said allowing this access will give those wanting to go to canoe on Green River a way to spend a half-day canoeing trip in the area. The new trip will be included in tourist information literature.

Rogers said Martin asked the county to be responsible for keeping the area clean and a trash can to be placed there. Taylor County Jailer Hack Marcum said inmates at the Taylor County Detention Center can collect the trash.

• Rogers said he received a letter from officials at Staff Management stating that there are jobs available at Amazon.com. Those interested can apply at the Staff Management office.

• In his monthly report to magistrates, Marcum said that during the month of October, inmates housed at the Taylor County Detention Center performed 2,493 hours of labor in the community. If paid minimum wage, the hours would equate to $18,074.25. Inmates work with fire, street, housing, park, school and road department workers. A work crew picks up trash, mows and helps with recycling.

In October, the jail housed an average of 237 inmates each day, with 119 being state inmates. In all, 30 percent of the inmates housed at the detention center in October were Taylor County's inmates, who are non-revenue-generating customers.

In October, jail contracts with the state and Green, Cumberland and Jessamine counties produced $154,463.66 in revenue.

• A streetlight at Bluegrass Estates will be installed.

• Magistrates approved their monthly requests for work to be done on county roads. The requests include repairs to tiles and potholes, replacing signs, shoulder work, mowing and more.

• Magistrates voted to state that Pickett Spur Road is included in the county road system and the county will maintain it. Rogers said there has been controversy about the road being in the system, though records show it was added in 1991 and nothing has been stated since about it being removed.

• First reading of a 35 mph speed limit on A. Cox Road was approved. First reading of a request for a 10 mph speed limit on Crawley Road was also approved, though Gaines voted against that because he said he believes that speed is too slow for a roadway.