Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — Due to a change in state statutes, permitted handgun owners and owners of long guns will be able to carry their weapons on city and county property.
Marshall Judge-Executive Mike Miller told county commissioners about the change in the law at a meeting of the Fiscal Court Nov. 7. He said he received notice from the Kentucky Association of County Officials in a letter. The new law makes it a class A or B misdemeanor for local governments to restrict a resident’s right to bear arms on county property. The law went into effect July 1, and all local ordinances in effect restricting weapons on municipal property must be rescinded within 6 months.
“What this appears to mean to me, is that a person can walk into a fiscal court meeting carrying an AK-47, and there is not a thing we can do about it,” Miller said.
Miller added that the Marshall County Judicial Center is exempt from the law as it is owned by the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts.
“This could be problematic, especially in our parks,” Miller said. “Every summer, the parks are packed with young people, and parents can’t monitor them all the time. There are so many things that could happen.”
Sheriff Kevin Byars said the new law appeared to apply to the Sheriff’s Department as well. He said when officers encounter a citizen lawfully carrying a firearm, an officer may ask the civilian to surrender his or her weapon during a transaction with police. An officer may disarm the weapon during the encounter, and return it, unloaded, when business concludes.
“The way this law reads, (a disgruntled resident) may have to shoot one of you before we can do anything,” Byars told residents.
County Attorney Jeff Edwards said he has encountered no cases where residents have challenged the law by bringing weapons onto county property. He was unsure what law enforcement could do to protect themselves or public officials on city or county property.
In other business, commissioners passed a resolution in support of Wacker Chemical seeking an industrial revenue bond to expand its Calvert City Plant. While the plant is not yet seeking its bond, Miller said the German chemical producer is considering an application for $30 million to $50 million to expand the plant.
“This will create possibly 15 new, high-paying jobs,” Miller said. “They are looking at preliminary funding for the project and are hoping to order equipment to start up in 2014. Any time there is an investment of that magnitude, it’s a benefit to the entire county.”
Edwards said if and when Wacker applies for the industrial revenue bond, the county will need an ordinance applying for the bond as a partner to the company.
At the beginning of the meeting, Possum Trot-area resident James O’Bryan asked the Fiscal Court to consider adopting a stronger land usage and nuisance ordinance. O’Bryan said he originally objected to deed restrictions when he moved to his subdivision 20 years ago. Now he considers the restrictions to have proven vital in preserving his property value.
O’Bryan called for the change because he felt storage of dilapidated vehicles near another property of his hurt the value of his land. He added he was working within the law to resolve the situation, but believed stronger nuisance ordinances were needed to preserve value of property around the county.
The court passed a resolution in support of United States Enrichment Corporation workers injured or sickened due to exposure to radioactive materials. The measure asked federal elected officials to support workers claims of injury or illness and did not recognize any one agent or group acting on behalf of workers.
Miller said several county residents worked at the facility, and the county supported all workers injured at workplaces.
The court also voted to purchase a 3⁄4-ton pick-up truck with utility bed for the Marshall County Road Department. The low bid came from Country Chevrolet at $29,455.11. Russell York, superintendent of the road department said the truck suited his needs.
Commissioners also voted in favor of spending $3,200 to secure a Marshall County Emergency Management communications tower. Melissa Combs, director of emergency management, said she would ask groups using the tower for their equipment to help defray the cost. She said the guy wires were needed because additional equipment had made the tower top heavy.