The Louisa Rotary Club held their weekly meeting on September 3, via Zoom. The meeting started with prayer led by Chris Jobe and then followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and then the Four Way Test.
State Senator Phillip Wheeler was this week’s guest speaker for the Rotary Club. Wheeler grew up in Pikeville Ky, graduated from Pikeville High School in `1996 and then attended Transylvania University in Lexington Ky, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and German. Phillip was chosen as one of the 50 Fulbright Teaching Scholars to the Federal Republic of Germany and taught English conversation at Werner-von Siemens Gymnasium and Albertus-Magus Gymnasium in Regenburg, Germany during the 2000-2001 academic year.
Following the completion of the Fulbright Scholarship in 2001 he returned to Kentucky where he enrolled at the University of Kentucky College of Law. He graduated in 2004 and returned home to Eastern Kentucky where he began practicing as an associate counsel at the Kirk Law Firm, first in Paintsville and then at the Pikeville office after it opened in 2004.
Phillip was chosen to compete as the Republican nominee for the Special Election for the 31st Senate District seat representing Pike, Martin, Lawrence, Elliott and Morgan counties in January 2019. He went on to win the March 5, 2019 Special Election and became the first Republican to hold the 31st District Senate seat since 1966, a period of 53 years.
Wheeler immediately went to work for the people of the 31st District and was appointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Natural Resources Committee in addition to several subcommittees. He was also chosen by the Senate Leadership to serve as co-Chairman of the interim session Task Force on Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Systems that was charged with studying and finding solutions for rural Kentucky’s ailing water systems. Phillip is also a member of the bipartisan Mountain Caucus, Sportsmen’s Caucus, and Bourbon Trail Caucus. Phillip is currently standing for re-election for a four-year term as Senator for the 31st district in 2020. He is currently a resident of Pikeville, Ky along with his wife Crystal and their 8 year old son Weston.
When Wheeler asked what Lawrence County needs, Dr. Robbie Fletcher, Superintendent of Lawrence County Schools, spoke up to say he needed $17,000,000 for a new elementary school. He stated that Louisa East Elementary School was one of the top 100 schools that needed replaced in the state. He said about one fourth of those 100 schools have been replaced so that number could be more like 50 now.
Dr. Fletcher also asked the Senator if Lawrence County could get a position for an Economic Development Coordinator someone to advocate for Lawrence County. Pike and Martin County both have that position in their counties.
Assistant Lawrence Co. Judge Executive Vince Doty reminded Wheeler that we have citizens in Lawrence County that still need drinking water. Phillip acknowledged that 4 out of his 5 counties are in the 20 most endangered water districts in the state. He stated the Task Force on Water and Wastewater was trying to find federal funds for these districts.
County Clerk Chris Jobe gave an update on how is is hoping to provide additional polling locations for the upcoming election.
Dr. Fletcher also provided some updated information on the schools.
He said if the schools are back to in person sessions, the day after Election Day would be an NTI day to allow staff to properly clean the schools. He also stated the school is working with Foothills to provide internet service to those that don’t have it. He said Foothills has been amazing to work with.
Fletcher spoke about the new updated guidance on having to wear masks at all times now even if students are six feet apart. He also spoke of the challenges they are facing with sports especially in traveling to away games. To meet the guidance, he explained that only 12 students could be on one bus and it would take six buses to get the football team to its first away game and that cost would be an estimated $3,500.00. He also said approximately 300 people can be allowed on the home side for ballgames and 100 for the visitor side. He spoke of allowing so many tickets for students and after those are utilized then the rest would be a first come first serve basis.
He also said there would be an app that you would be able to purchase tickets on so everything is paperless. He also spoke about the delivering of meals on Tuesday would be expanding to all students in the county. He said it might be challenging but they will make it work.