Times Journal

Posted November 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Department of Local Government (DLG) Commissioner Tony Wilder joined Russell County Judge/Executive Gary Robertson on Monday, October 27, to announce $1 million in support of economic development and job growth in Russell County.

The $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) will allow the Russell County Fiscal Court and the Russell County Industrial Development Authority (RCIDA) to purchase equipment to lease to local manufacturer Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems Inc.

Gov. Steve Beshear affirmed his support of the project.

“I applaud Russell County for their innovative use of this grant to purchase and lease equipment to support a business that employs local citizens. The lease will produce a quality return on investment,” Beshear said. “I offer my thanks to the many state, local and business partners who worked together to make this project happen and are helping boost the community’s local economy.”

The Russell County Fiscal Court is receiving the $1 million CDBG on behalf of the RCIDA to purchase plastic injection molding equipment to offer Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems through a capitalized lease. RCIDA will lease the equipment to the company at a rate of two percent for eight years.

“This project is a win-win for local government and local businesses in Russell County,” said Commissioner Wilder.

The lease agreement, made possible through the CDBG, will allow Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems to more efficiently grow its business, which in turn will create more stable jobs and investment in the community.”

“We appreciate Dr. Schneider being a partner with our local government in helping create new jobs for our citizens and look forward to working with Dr. Schneider in the future to move our county forward by expanding their company here in Russell County,” said Judge Robertson.

This past April, Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems cut the ribbon on its $29 million parts manufacturing operation in Russell Springs, which is creating 155 full-time jobs for the community. The 64,000 square-foot plant manufactures parts for companies such as Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and more.

The German-based automotive supplier is an 87-year-old family enterprise and a pioneer in the processing of plastics and produces high-end vent and trim systems for top automotive original equipment manufacturers around the world.

To encourage the investment and job creation in Russell Springs, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved up to $4 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

Russell County also has been certified by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board as a Work Ready in Progress Community. The certification is an assurance to business and industry that the community is committed to providing the highly skilled workforce required in today’s competitive global economy.

The state’s CDBG program is administered by DLG and funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Kentucky’s Congressional leaders’ continued support of the CDBG program ensures the availability of continued funding in Kentucky and nationally.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.

For more information on Dr. Schnneider Automotive Systems, visit www.dr-schneider.com/en.


The Russell County Industrial Development Authority has received a $10,000 federal grant from Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) through The Center for Rural Development to be used to perform a comprehensive Facility Assessment for Re-Use Plan for the Fruit of the Loom facility.

Grant funding will be used to hire an architectural and engineering team to conduct a comprehensive building and site analysis of the more than one-million square foot facility which sits on 78 acres adjacent to U.S. Highway 127 in Jamestown. An inventory of building information, site data, utilities, aerial pictures, and other pertinent date shall be compiled into a professionally developed marketing brochure which will be used by Fruit of the Loom, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and RCIDA to market the property to prospective industrial clients.

“This is the first of many steps that must be taken to effectively market this property to prospective business and industry,” said Greg Jones, Executive Director of the RCIDA. “The Fruit of the Loom facility is a unique property and it will not be an easy task to find another company with the financial resources or need for a million square foot facility,” The building assessment and marketing plan is expected to take up to six months to complete.

Fruit of the Loom Corporation announced in April 2014 that it is closing the Jamestown facility and moving its operations off-shore to Honduras to save money. The company plans to lay off all 600 employees by the end of the year. The plant was first opened in Jamestown in 1981 and reached a peak employment of 3,247 in 1990.

The ARC funding was awarded through The Center for Rural Development’s Developing and Implementing Communities Strategies Program.. This program provides seed money to support, develop and implement job creation and community development projects. “The RCIDA is extremely grateful to The Center for Rural Development for recognizing the significance of this project and for its willingness to invest in Russell County’s future,” Jones said.

“Stimulating innovative and sustainable economic development in the region we serve is at the core of The Center’s mission and RCIDA’s project aligns perfectly with that mission. We are pleased to be able to offer this support and assistance to help Russell County move forward,” said Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of The Center.

The Russell County Industrial Development Authority is a quasi-governmental organization formed in March 1991 to promote Russell County as an attractive business location, to recruit new business to the area, and to assist existing manufacturing companies and small businesses to grow and expand their operations.


There has been some confusion and bewilderment among some regarding the new ramps to the Cumberland Parkway.

Many have wondered why the highway department would destroy the existing ramps only to replace them with much tighter curved ramps.

In order to clear up the confusion, Amber Hale, Information Officer for the Department of Highways, and Jeff Dick, Section Engineer for this area of the Department of Highways, offered to provide insight into the project as well as to encourage safety by motorists.

In short, the new ramps are temporary, and are located in such a way to not be in the area of construction of the new, straight ramps. The old ramps were located directly where the new ramps will be.

“They were necessary to enter the next phase of construction,” said Dick. “To be able to keep the intersection open we had to do temporary ramps which do have tighter curves.”

The project, initially projected to be finished before the end of the year, had hit a few delays.

“We’ve had so much rain that it’s really put us off,” said Hale. The weather, along with utilities construction being added to the contract has put the projected date past the date that is allowable for some types of construction, mainly laying asphalt.

The originally 120 working days project will likely add another 30 working days, but much work will be suspended on November 15. They may continue to do work, Hale explained, but it will likely be late spring or early summer before the project is completed, when asphalt is allowed to be laid. Per regulations the highway department enforces a cut-off date for the laying of the new roads, due to deceased temperature.

There were a number of issues of safety that Dick and Hale wanted to be sure everyone understands. Among those concerns is that people using a GPS system may not have the updated map, which could result in the GPS instructing a driver to make a turn which could put them going the wrong way on a one way ramp.

As it is now, when entering the parkway off Hwy. 127, one has to actually turn to the opposite direction and go in a half circle to enter, but when the straight ramps are completed drivers will turn directly in the direction of the area one is going. So if a GPS map hasn’t been updated, the device will have the driver going the wrong way; and as stated, dangerously in the wrong direction on a one way ramp.

There will be wrong way signs, and possibly added devices like flags to draw attention to that fact.

“We always encourage the public to always read the road signs, pay attention and don’t always rely on the computer system,” Hale said.

So far during the construction, there have been very little problems with traffic, and both Hale and Dick want to encourage everyone to be alert to activity at the interchange; to be safe and considerate to the workmen and women who are daily at risk while the job is being completed.

Follow all signage instructions and keep the speed down through that area. Pay attention to cones and barrels placed along the sight, as they can become dangerous objectiles if hit, endangering workers.

There have been many inquiries as to why they decided to build new entrances and exits at all, Hale said. She explains that the initial design of the interchange was to facilitate the usage of the toll booths and was considered safer for drivers entering and exiting the parkway.

With the closing of the toll booths, the design then became more of a hazard than a help, she said. Whereas, the new design is much easier.

“And besides that, it’s going to be so much easier getting on or off the parkway,” Hale said. “But the main thing is, it’s safety. And it’s hopefully going to reduce the amount of potential accidents that could occur out there.”

Dick said the problem is that they call a “point of conflict” where people are wanting to get on and off the parkway at the same spot, a difficulty we all know well.

With the new ramps and transition entrance lane there is no point of conflict, therefore less anxiety of what to do when trying to exit the parkway as someone is attempting to enter it, or vice versa.

Throughout the project there will continue to be lane changes, Hale said, as construction progresses.

The speed limit at the interchange area is 15 mph. Entrance and exit speed on the temporary ramps is 15 mph and the speed limit on the parkway in the area of the construction project is reduced from 70 mph to 55 mph.

If you have ever traveled to the Wal-Mart in Columbia, then you’re quite familiar with style ramps that Russell County will soon have. Slowly the old initial circular style design is being phased out in preference for the new straight design throughout the state.

Once the project is completed there will be large banks of lights, illuminating the entire area, another safety feature for the new interchange.

You may have also noted that they have taken out the median running through the interchange on the bridge, this will now be used as turning lanes, which will facilitate traffic movement through the area.

Another point of confusion, Hale said she’s received questions about, is whether the ramps are going to be on and off of Hwy. 619 on Hale’s Highway. She said that the way the construction is progressing does look as if there may be ramps at that location, but that is not the case. The construction is the beginning of the exit ramp, just as you get under the Hwy. 619 bridge, and the other is the end of the entrance ramp onto the parkway.

Once it’s all said and done, the new ramps will be a great addition to the road system, and as Dick put it, Hale said, “It’s a short inconvenience for long term improvements.”