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Inmates, others spraying county park

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State confirms workers need certification

By BEN CARLSON

A highway department employee apparently isn’t the only one to violate the state’s regulation on spraying weed killer on public property.

County employees in other departments, along with inmates on work release from jail, spray weed killer in the county park and around the courthouse, but do not have the required state certifications to do so.

The spraying appears to be done in numerous locations in the park, including the perimeter of the playground, skateboard park, in drainage ditches and around large drainage pipes.

The issue surfaced earlier this month when it was revealed a highway department worker whose certification had lapsed sprayed weed killer around a street sign and had some of the substance blow back into his face.

That triggered Magistrate John Wayne Conway to question highway foreman Chip Chambers about the incident. Chambers admitted the infraction and said he was working to get his employees recertified with the state.

Both Conway and Chambers are candidates for judge-executive.

The issue swelled, though, when another candidate, Donna Drury, notified state agriculture officials of the infraction after reading about it in The Anderson News.

The county was cited, but the state investigator who issued the citations said it would not likely pay a fine if further infractions do not occur.

The Anderson News then questioned if other county employees were spraying in the park and around the courthouse. When asked, current judge-executive Cornish said yes, but because they are county workers spraying county property, he didn’t think they needed certification.

Cornish added that county workers spray only chemicals purchased at a local retail store, and do so only “in spot places.”

“No ball fields, soccer fields, picnic areas, etc. are being sprayed,” Cornish said.

But a look around the park reveals what appears to be numerous sprayed locations, including the perimeters of the skate park and playground, and ditch lines where weeds are clearly dead but nearby grass continues to grow.

When asked if county employees spraying weed killer in the park and around the courthouse need state certification, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture said yes.

“Pursuant to [state statutes] the people you describe are noncommercial applicators,” he said.

That statute, KRS 217B.040 (19), states that noncommercial applicator means any individual employed by golf courses, municipal corporations, public utilities or other government agencies making applications of pesticides to lands owned, occupied or managed by his or her employer.”

The statute also says that pesticides include substances used to kill weeds, including those that can be purchased over the counter.

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.