Thrasher, Watts settle lawsuit

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By Randy Patrick

Donald Thrasher, the Cox’s Creek resident who sued Nelson County Judge-Executive Dean Watts over re-naming of the old section of Louisville Road he lives on, and Watts have reached a settlement.

Thrasher has agreed to dismiss the lawsuit in return for Nelson County getting an attorney general’s opinion on the judge-executive’s authority in naming the roads.

In the event that the attorney general says the county judge-executive has the authority to unilaterally name the road, there will be a public hearing to get the residents’ input, but no vote will be taken and the outcome of the meeting will be nonbinding.

“That part of the settlement is just for public … input purposes,” Watts said after the Fiscal Court meeting Tuesday. “The road has already been named.”

After the realignment and reconstruction of Louisville Road (U.S. 31E) was completed this summer, Watts renamed the parts of the old road that were turned over to the county by the state as well as the part called North Salt River Road, which remained a state road. That’s the part of the old road Thrasher lives on.

Watts said the attorney general’s opinion will clarify whether the county judge can name the state road because that part of the state statute is unclear. There is no question about whether the statute gives the judge the right to name county roads, he said. That’s a point on which he and Thrasher differ.

Also attending the meeting Tuesday was Donna Cheek who lives on the part of the old US 31E now called Kimbley Creek Road.

Thrasher and Cheek presented a petition to the Fiscal Court with about 72 names asking that the sections of the old road known as North Salt River, South Salt River and Kimbley Creek Road be named Old Louisville Road, and that signs be put up giving the numbers of addresses for each part of the old road.

In the event the attorney general’s ruling goes against Watts, the residents want the petition to allow them a public hearing to rename the roads.

Watts said they should have submitted the petition long before he named the roads.

The judge-executive said he had originally considered doing what Thrasher was now proposing, naming the old U.S. 31E sections 1, 2, 3, 4 and so forth, but “that didn’t seem to fly” with David Evans, the GIS coordinator for the city of Bardstown and Nelson County who is heading up the mapping project for E-911. Evans thought it would be less confusing to give the old sections new names.

“When you’ve got somebody doing his job and he’s pouring his heart and soul into what he’s doing, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt in making those decisions,” Watts said. “David is excellent in what he’s trying to do.”

Thrasher said during the meeting that Evans “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” in suggesting that the county could lose E-911 funding if it doesn’t change the road names.