The Messenger Staff, Feb 19, 2020
Public Affairs Projects
Hardin County, KY is one of the largest counties in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with a population of nearly 110,000 people, and is the principal county in the Elizabethtown – Fort Knox Metropolitan Statistical Area. Hardin County is the home of Fort Knox, one of the country’s largest Army posts. The community has a thriving economy with nearly 75 manufacturing companies which employ thousands of workers.
In 2010, Hardin County Government, while preparing for massive growth brought about by base realignment (commonly referred to as BRAC) at Fort Knox, elected to conduct a community visioning process. The Hardin County Visioning Project, sponsored by county government in partnership with the Lincoln Trail Area Development District and the United States Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, included a strategic assessment of the community, an analysis of benchmark communities, an extensive survey of over 100 community leaders and resulted in the development of 24 strategic goals for the community to consider implementing over the next 15 years.
The overarching theme from the visioning process was one of unification, along with the elimination of duplicative services where they exist.
Hardin County United (HCU), created to develop implementation strategies for many of the goals, elected to pursue the issue of unified government and retained L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC to conduct detailed research on the issue of unified government.
Luke Schmidt worked closely with the chairperson of the HCU Governance Subcommittee, which oversaw the project. As the project moved forward, the following milestones were achieved:
- Conducted detailed analysis of the existing government structure in Hardin County (included county government and six incorporated cities)
- Interviewed panels of impacted groups (e.g., law enforcement, fire protection, state elected officials, federal elected officials, Fort Knox, etc.)
- Conducted site visits to communities which have previously unified their local governments (included Athens – Clarke County, GA; Augusta – Richmond County, GA; Columbus – Muscogee County, GA)
- Facilitated presentation to HCU Governance Subcommittee by the last mayor of the City of Lexington (KY) and the first elected mayor of the Lexington – Fayette County Urban County Government
- Facilitated presentation to HCU Governance Subcommittee by the last mayor of the City of Louisville (KY) and the first elected mayor of the Louisville – Jefferson County Metropolitan Government (Louisville Metro)
- Researched the three existing Kentucky statutes which allow cities and counties to merge
In the end, a 200+ page report was presented to the HCU Governance Subcommittee. The research illustrated a significant amount of duplication of government services among the existing Hardin County jurisdictions (94 units of government which govern a community of 110,000 people). The report indicated that communities that have unified generally are able to provide government services more efficiently, are able to hold down the rising cost of providing government services and have a more unified approach to economic development which assists in creating new jobs.
- Attain a new level of clout as Kentucky’s third largest community
- Speak with one voice and more efficiently target grants and appropriations in Frankfort and Washington, D.C.
- Streamline government
- Achieve economies of scale within local government
The HCU Governance Subcommittee and Steering Committee both agreed to move the issue forward in the community, by recommending that the community’s jurisdictions unify under the Unified Government statute. The process started by significantly ramping up the HCU web site to include lots of information for the community’s citizens on unified government.
HCU also produced a collateral piece on the issue which was used as a leave-behind. HCU’s Governance Subcommittee chairperson and Luke Schmidt gave 24 presentations in the community on the report, its findings and the potential benefits of unified government. One issue which quickly developed concerned what would happen if one jurisdiction’s voters, when voting on a plan of unified government were to vote no on the issue, while the other jurisdictions’ voters all voted yes. HCU agreed that the current statute was vague and pledged to clarify the issue.
Luke Schmidt worked with members of Hardin County’s delegation to the Kentucky General Assembly, along with representatives from the Kentucky League of Cities and introduced House Bill 190 (which eventually became House Bill 189). House Bill 189 strengthened the existing statute and gave added protections to voters in the various jurisdictions which might consider a plan of unified government. As HB 189 moved through the legislative process it never received a single negative vote either at the committee or floor level in both the Kentucky State House of Representatives and the Kentucky State Senate. HB 189 was signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear.
The next step was to work to pass an ordinance in each jurisdiction which would create a Unification Review Commission. The Commission, as outlined by Kentucky law, would create an actual plan of unified government which would ultimately be presented to the voters in each participating jurisdiction for review and approval. Only the Commission can legally create such a plan and only the voters can approve it. While there was significant interest in moving towards the Commission, the environment was not yet right to pass the ordinances. Unifying local governments is a lengthy process which often results in negative votes/actions before ultimate, final success. HCU is now evaluating its next step with regard to moving the issue forward.
Maxwell Technologies is a San Diego-based company and is one of the largest manufacturers of ultracapacitors in the world. In addition to its San Diego facilities, the company also has extensive operations in Switzerland and China.
Maxwell Technologies is one of the world’s leading producers of ultracapacitors. Ultracapacitors are used to distribute energy from batteries to and through short burst/high energy applications. Ultracapacitors are used in a variety of applications, including automotive, aviation, energy distribution, mass transit, etc.
As the use of ultracapacitors increases, Maxwell Technologies reached the conclusion that it needed to develop a safe and environmentally efficient means for its customers to dispose of its products. Ideally, the company would like to recycle the various components which are contained within its products. Maxwell Technologies retained L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC for the purpose of launching this project and developing the first post-consumer (end use) market for spent ultracapacitors in Europe.
Luke Schmidt first met with company officials in San Diego to obtain a greater understanding of the company’s products and sales and distribution channels. A similar meeting was held with company officials in its European division located in Rossens, Switzerland.
Meetings were conducted with key customer groups throughout Europe in order to gain a better understanding of the various applications of ultracapacitors and how they are used in various product applications in the field. In order to develop the recycling system, an appropriate end-use market needed to be confirmed.
It quickly became apparent that battery recycling companies might provide the most productive end-use market opportunities. Luke Schmidt met with the CEO of the European Battery Recycling Association in Paris and from this meeting was able to develop a list of potential end-use market companies throughout Europe. Individual meetings were held and site visits conducted. The list of potential end-use markets was narrowed down to two companies – one in France and the other in Sweden.
Luke Schmidt facilitated lab-scale testing of Maxwell Technologies’ ultracapacitors in both locations. The French company was confirmed as the most appropriate end-use market for Maxwell’s products. Luke Schmidt facilitated a contract for recycling services between the French firm and Maxwell Technologies.
In 2010, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC was retained by a trio of clients (the City of Pikeville; the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board; and, the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce) for the purpose of developing commercial air service at the Pikeville – Pike County Regional Airport (PBX).
PBX is a modern airport which sits on top of a mountain on land which has been reclaimed from an old coal mine. PBX has a 5,300 foot long runway with a full Instrument Landing System (ILS). PBX will serve a large portion of the Central Appalachian coalfield, with a catchment area population of 345,000 people in nine Kentucky counties, three Virginia counties and one county in West Virginia.
Luke Schmidt has worked closely with the principals from each of these organizations in moving this project forward, in what has been a true team effort, with significant milestones having been achieved to date, including:
- Developed new market profile
- Scheduled/conducted meetings with several potential airlines
- Facilitated the award of a $750,000 USODT Small Community Air Service Development grant to support the new service
- Facilitated the award of a $1,000,000 Kentucky multi-county coal severance tax grant to support the new service
- Secured resolutions of support for the Kentucky coal severance tax grant from Floyd County (KY) Fiscal Court and Pike County Fiscal Court
- Called on numerous legislators from Eastern Kentucky, the governor’s chief of staff and the secretary of the cabinet for economic development to garner support for the Kentucky coal severance tax grant
Project Progress to Date
Significant progress has been made on this project, including the successful recruitment of new commercial air service to PBX. Accomplishments include:
Secured a commitment for service (public charter flights) from Corporate Flight Management (Smyrna, TN) and Public Charters, Inc. (Scranton, PA)
- CFM will operate as the Direct Air Carrier and will be responsible for all flying aspects of the project (aircraft, flight crews, etc.)
- PC will operate as the Indirect Air Carrier and will be responsible for all non-flying aspects of the project (ticket sales, aircraft ground handling, etc.)
Facilitated the development and execution of an Air Service Agreement (between the City of Pikeville and PC) and an Airport Use Agreement (between the Pikeville – Pike County Airport Board and PC) to support the new commercial air service
- The new service will be operated by Corporate Flight Management dba Appalachian Air
- The new service will connect PBX passengers to the Nashville International Airport (BNA) and to the nine airlines which currently serve BNA with 50 nonstop markets, including low-fare carrier Southwest Airlines, which has a major presence at BNA
- The daily service will be operated with state of the art British Aerospace BAE Jetstream J32 aircraft
- The Jetstream J32 is a pressurized, 19-passenger aircraft with a stand-up cabin, two pilots and which cruises at 265 MPH up to 25,000 feet
- The new service was formally announced during a ceremony at PBX airport on November 6, 2013, which was attended by Governor Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers, Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn, State Senator Ray Jones, State Representative Leslie Combs and over 300 community leaders
- In a statement, Governor Beshear said, “Passenger air service will open new opportunities for much of Eastern Kentucky. What has historically been one of the more difficult regions of the Commonwealth to reach will now be less than an hour and a half flying time from connecting to the global air system in Nashville.”
- In a statement, Congressman Rogers stated, “As we face a new era in Eastern Kentucky and work to expand our industrial portfolio, this commercial air service launches us into the competitive market. With new economic challenges ahead, we have to access greater opportunities, embrace new technology and create innovative strategies to shape our future, and this air service will provide unprecedented access to this important energy producing region.”
This ongoing project has the potential to substantially impact future economic development efforts in Eastern Kentucky, Southwestern West Virginia, and Southwestern Virginia and will assist in creating new jobs.
The Kilgore House & Garden Tour is the primary fundraiser for the Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center in Louisville. The Tour is held every May and features six private homes and gardens.
In 2012, the Kilgore House & Garden Tour committee elected to step up its game in terms of promotion. L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC stepped forward to provide assistance on a pro-bono basis. The cornerstone of the project included the development of the Tour’s first-ever promotional web site. The web site provided background information on the Tour, a page dedicated to each home and garden on the Tour, along with an all-new online ticket sales option (linked with Pay-Pal).
Luke Schmidt also led efforts to significantly expand the Tour’s media outreach beyond Louisville. New press packets were developed and new press releases were issued. In addition to working with local media outlets (which included live television broadcasts on three of the four Louisville stations), media outreach for the first time also extended up and down the Ohio Valley with scheduled meetings with news and feature editors. Articles on the event were published in the following publications:
- The (Elizabethtown) News-Enterprise
- Evansville Courier Press
- Henderson Gleaner
- Lexington Herald-Leader
- Louisville Courier-Journal
- Nfocus Magazine
- Sophisticated Living
Additional listings on the event were published in the following publications:
- The (Bowling Green) Daily News
- The Cincinnati Enquirer
- The Kentucky Enquirer
- Kentucky Monthly
- The (Nashville) Tennessean
This effort resulted in a total of 12 articles/listings which reached a potential audience of 847,554 people.
Finally, in addition to the regional media outreach and the new web site, Luke Schmidt also facilitated the development of a new Facebook page for the Tour, which in its first year “liked” 81 regional news publications with potential reach to over 2.3 million people.