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Judge-Executive Steve Cornish on Monday said he would “probably do it again” when asked about his decision to order cinders placed on a private road during last month’s ice storm.
By Tuesday, he had issued a statement through County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis’ office, saying that while he still thought the decision was “morally correct,” he would in the future consult the county attorney before taking similar action.
Lewis, who investigated the incident following a complaint by Magistrate John Wayne Conway, concurred with Cornish that his actions were “morally correct,” but added that there were also “technically incorrect.”
Each called the decision “morally correct” because Cornish gave the order to help a dairy farmer off Lock Road save a load of milk during the ice storm when a milk truck could not access the farm. In the statement issued through Lewis, Conway agreed with that assessment.
Lewis’ “technically incorrect” comment is apparently because of Cornish’s decision to use county equipment and materials on a private road, which is not allowed under state law without first obtaining an emergency order to do so.
The farm, located off Lock Road, is owned by the Sharp family. In an interview Monday morning, Cornish said the farm lost electricity during the storm and the road leading off Lock Road was covered in ice.
“I called [highway foreman] Chip Chambers and asked him to send a truck out there and asked him to put cinders on the hill,” Cornish said. “It took about two buckets of cinders from a front-end loader and quarter of a load from a single-axle dump truck.
“It’s not like we covered the whole driveway, and it wasn’t scraped.”
Cornish said the county did not have to pay for the cinders it has in stock, which were used on the road.
The property in question is private, but the Kentucky River Authority has an easement to use it to access one of the river’s locks. A spokesman for the authority said it performs routine maintenance on the road and had it paved a couple of years ago. The spokesman said neither the state transportation cabinet nor the authority provides snow or ice removal.
A spokesperson with the state attorney general’s office acknowledged getting a call from an Anderson County Fiscal Court magistrate about the situation. The spokesperson said the attorney general’s office is not investigating the situation, and that the magistrate, who was not named, was advised to contact the Anderson County Attorney’s office.
That magistrate was Conway, who called Lewis and requested she look into it.
Along with issuing a statement for Cornish and Conway, Lewis issued a statement of her own, saying, “I have concluded after researching facts and law and reviewing matter with the parties involved that the county has been fully satisfied and will suffer no damage because of these actions.”
The statement she issued for Cornish and Conway said that each agreed the actions were “morally correct” under the circumstances, and that it was never their intent to treat anyone differently. They added that a different policy has been implemented so that in the future, “efforts will be made to consult the county attorney regarding emergency orders in these types of situations.”
E-mail Ben Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.