Poorhouse Spring: How Do You Spell ‘Revival’?
A sewer system, a park development, a new school, and improved roads — all in the offing — may spell big changes for Wally Thomas's community. What happens when promises come true?
Could Ewing, Kentucky, (pop. 300) and the West End be primed for rejuvenation?
Several changes now on the horizon could truly reinvigorate the West End of Fleming County over the next few years. First and foremost, from my perspective, Ewing should have a municipal sewer system in place. It’s needed for more reasons than most people probably realize, and not just for the small amount of development that it may bring. That part is okay but needs to be tempered so that we do not have structures popping up everywhere. Planning and zoning would curtail this, but those are the worst words you can say to a lot of people: “It's my property, da*% it, and I'll do what I da*% well please with it.”
Of course, the main reason we need the sewer system is for health and sanitary reasons. I am tired of seeing wash water on Main Street. I am tired of watching pump trucks pumping septic tanks on a regular basis. I am tired of looking at substandard housing due to the failure of another homemade septic tank and too few leach lines installed. I am tired of seeing grass spots that are way too green at odd times of the year. I am tired of seeing pools of septic water rise to the surface and make too many yards look like swamp land.
It is wrong, and it really needs to be remedied. I am not a fan of big government, but this is a public health problem that state and federal funding should be available to solve. It is hard to tell the blue-collar worker with a family to provide for that he must find a way to pay an additional $50 to $ 60 each month so his wastewater can be piped away. With proper funding, this expense could be reduced to $ 20 to $30, but current funding estimates put us closer to $50. Somewhere, somehow we will find the money to charge customers less than that.
Marvin Lewis 'Pete' Worthington, of Ewing represented 70th District in the Kentucky General Assembly for 23 years
The Commonwealth of Kentucky recently bought land in Western Fleming County (and a parcel in Robertson County), property adjoining the area designated for Elk Creek Lake. The lake project, one of the many ideas that the late State Representative Pete Worthington had for the district that he served and loved, also may contribute to the area’s rejuvenation.
Elk Creek Lake is proposed to be an approximately 330-acre lake. The budget for the land purchases, dam construction, road construction and related costs is roughly 12 million dollars (2002 costs). The construction takes no housing, no valuable farming structures, no highly productive farmland or really anything of value. It could help provide some flood control, though this is not the main objective.
The lake should become a valuable resource for the Western Fleming Water District. Their treatment plant is a good stone’s throw from the proposed project, and a pipe from the lake to the plant insures a long-term, back-up water supply when the Licking River is less than full flowing. The property is virtually next door to Blue Licks State Park, already a tremendous asset to the region, and the lake would add to its attraction. There would be higher occupancy at the lodge, increased sales at the restaurant, and more use of the pool and campground. At one time, approximately 6 million dollars had been set aside for the project. I do not know if it is still available, but Pete had a vision for this lake, and we owe it to his memory and to the area to see that vision through.
The next big item for the rejuvenation of the area is the possibility of a new school in Ewing. It has long been discussed. It has been needed for longer than that. The current Ewing Elementary is by far the oldest school in Fleming County. Opened in the 1920’s, it still offers too many reminders of that time. It has served generations of families, including mine, well, and I have more appreciation for this building than maybe any other structure in this county. But, it is time for it to serve another purpose.
Photo: Tammy Thomas
Despite its old building, Ewing Elementary had the highest test scores in several counties when results were released in the fall of 2007. They are trying to improve on those scores as I write this. These kids, these teachers, this staff and this part of Fleming County deserve a new school. When compared to all other schools in this county, Ewing has had far less than its share over the past several years. It is time for this to be remedied.
The West End has seen a fair number of new residents and some progress in over the past few years. There are a number of developments that should help these trends continue and maybe even increase. Highway 68 has always been the route away from the West End, to Maysville in one direction and to Lexington in the other. It seems there are more than a few vehicles from this area making those daily trips. With the completion of the most recent phase of US 68’s improvement toward Lexington a few years behind us now, we should start hearing more about the next phase, which should be near Millersburg. With that phase and the final leg toward Paris in the future, the drive from Lexington to The West End will be an easy 30 to 40 minutes. That is forty minutes from the high cost of living and other travails of big city life.
Even with gas at $3.50 per gallon, I know a lot of people would welcome that 30 to 40 minutes of driving for the great quality of life, friendly neighbors, room for the kids to play and the peace of mind and comfort to be found in a small town or the rural area we have to offer.
Maysville is also getting its next road project, an outer loop. It will make driving from the West End to some of the higher paying jobs in the factories in Maysville somewhat easier. And it may make the trip to Cincinnati a bit easier, too.
Technology; transportation; education; quality of life; friendly and helpful neighbors; low cost of living. These are the things that most families look for and have a true desire for when they are choosing a place to live. They make a comfortable, happy life. Most people are willing to drive a few miles to work each day if, at day’s end, the trip home ends at a great place. We offer that in The West End. With a little help, a little luck and a few decisions based on fact and need and not on politics, we can make rejuvenation even more of a reality in the West End.