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Lee, Jefferson counties win NACo awards

By Susan Riddell, Editor
The Achievement Awards program is a non-competitive awards program that seeks to recognize innovative county government programs. One outstanding program from each category will be selected as the “Best of Category.”

Two Kentucky counties were recently announced as National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award winners for 2022.

Louisville Jefferson County Metro Government earned an achievement award in the Civic Education and Public Information Category for its motor vehicle online appeal program, and Lee County was awarded for Operation Simba in the Community and Economic Development category. Here's a look at the winning entries.

Operation Simba, Lee County

In 2010 LION Apparel, Inc., left Lee County with an empty 64,000 square foot factory, moving 30 full time jobs elsewhere. In late 2020, manning issues led LION to consider moving some of the production line again to one of three other communities.

After an icy winter and a devastating flood, Beattyville and Lee County contacted LION to make an argument for reviving the Beattyville facility.

In discussions between April and June of 2021, Lee County and Beattyville worked with educational, regional and state partners to address training, funding, utilities and employment concerns to bring LION home.

With 75 jobs promised, and a minimum wage of $13 an hour, the Lee County Economic Development Team identified and coordinated assets to answer all LION concerns, which resulted in the reengineering and reopening the factory with one sewing line in late 2021.

At the time of LION’s reopening and ribbon cutting, Lee County Judge/Executive Chuck Caudill said the reopened facility will benefit the entire region.

“LION returning to Lee County is not just a benefit to Beattyville and Lee County, but to the entire region, as it creates an opportunity for scores of jobs,” Caudill said. “On behalf of Lee County Fiscal Court, I’d like to thank Gov. (Andy) Beshear, his staff, the Kentucky River Area Development District and EKCEP for working so diligently to help us make this a reality.”

The revived operation now produces thermal liners, the innermost layer of firefighter protective garments. LION’s investment supported facility renovations and new sewing and seam sealing equipment. The company also is coordinating with the Lee County Area Technology Center to establish an apprenticeship program, as well as a work-based experience program with the Lee County School District for high school seniors.

Motor Vehicle Online Appeal, Jefferson County

Jefferson County PVA Colleen Younger’s “You Have a Right to Appeal” public information campaign has made it simple and convenient for taxpayers to appeal their property value in Jefferson County for years.

In 2022, they saw the need to provide the same best-in-class customer service for motor vehicle owners to appeal their assessed value.

Their team worked quickly to develop the Motor Vehicle Online Appeal tool, providing taxpayers relief when they needed it, and it's also taken a great deal of work load off the motor vehicle department because employees can send customers to the self-service tool.

Annually, PVA staff members set up booths at local libraries for property owners to meet with PVA to begin their property appeal.

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