September 1, 2009,
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Fire Chief James
"Bubbles" Switzer dies unexpectedly - Magistrates
set county tax rates - Work expedited to reopen Ky. Rt. 8
east of Vanceburg - Burglary reported at grocery - Road
striping is underway
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James "Bubbles" Switzer dies unexpectedly
By Dennis Brown
Vanceburg Fire Chief James “Bubbles” Switzer
died unexpectedly last week, resulting in an outpouring of sympathy from all
around the area and a firefighter’s funeral with a procession including fire
trucks from some 25 emergency and fire departments.
Switzer, 52, had served as Chief of the
Vanceburg Volunteer Fire Department for the past 25 years. He was a member of
the department for ten years prior to becoming chief. He died Sunday afternoon,
Carl Chaney, who is Vanceburg’s Assistant Fire
Chief and Lewis County’s EMS Director, said he had known Switzer for about 40
years and had known his parents and other family members well. Over the years,
he said, he came to know Switzer as a friend, professional and dedicated member
of the community.
“For those of us who knew him, as closely as
we worked with him, he never did anything for personal gain,” Chaney said.
“He always had everyone else in mind.”
Chaney joined the Vanceburg Fire Department in
1997 after moving to the Black Oak area from Garrison, where he was also a
firefighter. “Bubbles really had an interest in the fire department. He was
continually involved in bettering the department as well as all emergency
services in the county,” he said.
had worked for Shunks Blade Division in Bucyrus, Ohio, and was a bus driver for
the Lewis County School District. He had worked as an EMS technician for Lewis
County Ambulance and Conley Ambulance Service in Vanceburg for several years.
former member of Vanceburg City Council, he was a CPR instructor and also a
member of the Lewis County Volunteer Fire Department. He was most recently a
dispatcher for the Lewis County E-911 Dispatch Center. He was a member of Happy
said Switzer had worked his regular shift at the dispatch center Friday night
and had participated in activities at the Lewis County School and Agricultural
Fair throughout the previous week.
compassion for kids in the area was exemplified by the annual Christmas toy
drive for donations of toys for underprivileged children and he would often
reach into his own pocket to help out youngsters who might not have enough
change to purchase a treat.
said firefighters, especially younger ones, respected Switzer’s experience and
training and took direction .
him well. He said Switzer’s main concern at a fire or accident scene was
for the safety of the firefighters
added that Switzer would also often try to recover some personal items for
families when their homes and other belongings were destroyed by fire. “He
was just an all-around good guy,” Chaney said.
added that he and Switzer would often get together just to chat or to talk
about events going on with fire and EMS services in the area. “Bubbles
always had some good ideas,” he said.
was visible at community events around the area as a champion for fire and
EMS services and served as the grill chief for the fire department food
booth turning out barbecued ribs and bratwursts.
would have been Switzer’s birthday. Friends and family members held an
impromptu get-together and release of balloons on that day at the firehouse
on Front Street in Vanceburg where Switzer had spent countless hours.
memorial had earlier been placed at that same location where anyone could
light a candle in Switzer’s memory.
turned out for the visitation and funeral. Switzer’s fire-engine red
casket was carried on the back of a fire truck past the firehouse on Front
Street and rejoined the procession to the Lewis County Memory Gardens where
he was laid to rest.
Street in Vanceburg east of Court Street was blocked off to allow for the
parking of emergency vehicles line up to be in the procession to the
cemetery. Many in attendance at the funeral waited outside after the funeral
home filled to overflowing.
said it was an honor driving the truck carrying Switzer’s body. He said he
was asked to do so by Switzer’s son Eric, who is also a Vanceburg
procession, which included numerous fire and emergency response vehicles and
stretched for more than a mile, traveled through Vanceburg and up the AA
Highway to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway, then passed beneath an
enormous American flag held aloft by ladder trucks from the Maysville and
Grayson Fire Departments.
parked along Ky. Rt. 8 after the roads in the cemetery were filled. The
mourners gathered in and around the tent set up for the graveside and
Chaney said the position of fire chief is
appointed by the mayor although there has been no speculation as to who
might be appointed to fill the void left by Switzer’s death.
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Magistrates set county tax rates
By Dennis Brown
Lewis County Fiscal Court approved property tax
rates for property owners last week in a special session. The rates are mostly
unchanged from the previous year.
County tax rates for Lewis County real estate
remained at 13 cents per $100 valuation after a motion by Magistrate Milt
Stanfield to keep the rate unchanged from the previous year. The rate on
tangible personal property and public service companies was also left the same
as the previous year at 14.1 cents per $100 valuation.
Magistrates generally followed the
recommendations of the governing boards in adopting rates for taxes which will
help to fund those entities.
The Lewis County Board of Education requested a
rate of 40 cents per $100 valuation on real estate, up slightly from the
previous rate of 39.8 cents; 40 cents for tangible property, down from 40.3; and
49 cents for motor vehicles and watercraft, unchanged from last year.
Rates for the Lewis County Public Library
remained unchanged at four cents per $100 valuation on real estate; 7.1 cents
for tangible personal property; and 1.76 cents per hundred on motor vehicles and
The Lewis County Health Department also
requested rates at the same level as the previous year: 3.4 cents per $100
valuation on real estate; 3.8 cents on tangible personal property; and 3.8 cents
on motor vehicles and watercraft.
In each of the fire tax districts in Lewis
County, property owners will pay a tax rate of 10 cents per $100 valuation on
real estate. The county’s fire tax districts are protected by the Firebrick,
Black Oak, Kinniconick, Camp Dix, Tollesboro, Garrison and Lewis County
Volunteer Fire Departments.
The rate on timberland and forested acres was
unchanged at three cents per acre.
Adopting the rates for the Lewis County
Extension District resulted in some discussion concerning the compensating
tax rate, which allows taxing entities to
effectively receive the same amount of funding each year although the rate
may fluctuate while taking into account total property valuations for the
Thomas Massie addressed magistrates and said the
formula the state uses to determine the compensating rate is incorrect and
would result in tax increases for property owners each year. He added that
any rate increased by more than four percent could be recalled by voters.
Massie said the library board had contacted
Frankfort concerning the compensating rate and learned of the discrepancies.
Although the extension board had requested a
rate of 5.6 cents per $100 valuation on real estate, magistrates set the
rate at 4.8 cents, an increase of four percent over the previous rate of 4.6
The extension board requested 8.45 cents per
$100 valuation on tangible personal property and was awarded 8.6 cents by
magistrates, four percent more than the 8.27 percent rate from last year.
The rate on motor vehicles and watercraft remained unchanged at 3.12 cents
per $100 valuation.
Massie also addressed the court concerning the
county’s insurance tax and noted that some Lewis County residents license
their autos in Ohio and are able to avoid paying the local tax.
The insurance tax, Massie said, “… is the
most regressive tax we have. Whether you have a clunker or a $30,000 SUV,
you pay the same amount for state required liability insurance.”
Judge Executive Steve Applegate responded that
he was aware that some people skirted the law in registering their autos
because of the lower tax rates in Ohio.
Before adjourning the special session,
Applegate announced that the county had been awarded $210,856 from the state
for some road resurfacing projects.
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Work expedited to reopen
Ky. Rt. 8 east of Vanceburg
Transportation Cabinet is expediting efforts to reopen Ky. Rt. 8 between
Vanceburg and Black Oak following an embankment failure that closed the roadway
a month ago.
Department of Highways was forced to close the state maintained roadway after torrential rains hit the area in late July. A
200-foot section of Ky. Rt. 8, about two miles east of Vanceburg, began to
buckle and slip as water-saturated soil beneath the
pavement gave way.
Bryant, chief district engineer for Department of Highways District Nine, said
it soon became apparent that repairs would have to include
an engineered stabilization of the embankment.
“While it will take some time to repair correctly, it’s our goal to get the
work done as soon as possible,” Bryant said.
crews first attempted repairs to the roadway on Saturday, August 1, by
temporarily patching the roadway with 48 tons of asphalt so it could reopen to
traffic. However, continued soil movement caused the roadway to slip further.
days later, crews attempted a lengthier patch using 100 tons of asphalt to even
out the sloping highway – and again it continued to move, creating hazardous
strengthening the highway with blacktop had worked in the past, it became
obvious at that time that we would
to pursue a more construction-oriented solution,” said Deanna Miller,
engineering branch manager who oversees highway projects in District Nine’s
then, the highway department has investigated erosion and drainage in the area,
ordered core drilling to better understand the geology underneath the highway
– the only rock lies 40 feet below the surface – and sought locations of
utility lines, all in preparation for a construction project.
project got under way Friday when highway crews began excavation. Upcoming work
will stabilize the ground beneath the roadway, rebuild the surface, and address
current and future drainage issues.
the project progresses engineers will gain a better understanding of soil
conditions and requirements, which will lead to a more nearly
specific timetable for repairs.
understand the importance of this highway to those who live and work in Lewis
County,” Bryant said. “But we need to take the time to make the correct
repairs to ensure there’s the least chance this will happen again.”
During repairs, the roadway will remain closed
to through traffic at the site of the embankment failure. Motorists may detour
using Ky. Rt. 59, Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway and the AA Highway.
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Burglary reported at grocery
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department is
investigating a burglary last week from a Camp Dix area grocery.
Deputy Tom Polley said the burglary happened at
Rayburn’s Grocery overnight Thursday and was discovered when the owners
arrived to open for the day on Friday.
Polley said the burglars gained entry by
breaking out a window in the front of the building and took various items from
the store building.
Polley said items taken included cigarettes
valued at $1,260 and smokeless tobacco products valued at $190.
He said the burglars also took five cases of
soft drinks, snack cakes, milk, sandwich buns, hamburger and hot dogs. The cash
register, containing a small amount of change, was also taken in the burglary
along with credit records kept on customers who charge at the grocery.
Anyone having any information concerning the
burglary should contact the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Polley is
continuing the investigation into the break-in.
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striping is underway
for the Kentucky Transportation Department are continuing to apply roadway paint
markings on various area highways.
with Reynolds Sealing and Striping Inc., which was awarded a $660,077.59
contract by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for the work, have been
retracing roadway stripes in Bath , Nicholas, Fleming and Mason counties. This
week, weather permitting, crews are expected to stripe roadways in Mason, Lewis
and other counties.
Blair, with the District Nine office in Flemingsburg, said striping will
continue through September in counties north of Interstate 64, which will be
followed by work in Carter, Elliott, Rowan and other counties then by work on
major routes such as I-64, AA Highway and US 23.
As work progresses, motorists should watch for
slow-moving paint trucks and other equipment on roadways. Please “Drive
Smart” in all work zones.
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