If we could change one thing about governmental affairs in the southern Pennyrile’s public agencies, it would be the engagement of more people who want to know about local issues. Too often, councils, commissions and boards conduct business for thousands of constituents who don’t understand what’s at stake, how it will affect them, what it will cost and why it matters.
That’s why it has been interesting to watch Cadiz resident Dan Clemons’ take on a controversial decision on his street.
Clemons lives in the historic Main Street district. Among Kentucky’s smaller towns to occupy the county seat, Cadiz has one of the most attractive old residential neighborhoods in Kentucky. In fact, the neighborhood is the reason Dan and his wife picked Cadiz for their retirement. He’s invested both financially and socially.
So when he heard a crematorium was planned at Goodwin Funeral Home on Main Street, Clemons headed to city hall to learn more.
For the past several weeks, Clemons has been questioning city officials about the planning commission’s role in regulating construction of a crematorium. Clemons and some of his Main Street neighbors do not want a crematorium in the historic neighborhood. The thought of cadavers burning in close proximity to their homes is unsettling, and they have concerns about the environmental impact.
After hearing complaints, John Vinson, who owns the funeral home, decided he and his business partner won’t install the crematorium on Main Street. But that’s not the end of this story.
Clemons, to his credit, has insisted that the planning commission and its chairman, Bob Brame, account for the decision that gave the funeral home clearance to build the crematorium in the first place.
Under the Kentucky Open Records Law, Clemons filed requests for city records related to the crematorium. It’s important to understand that Clemons filed the requests to get his hands on information he felt the planning commission was hiding from him.
Whether one agrees with Clemons’ resistance to a crematorium on his street, there should be no doubt that he’s handled his queries like a pro. He refused to take “no” for an answer when a public official said records he wanted did not exist, and he researched the open meetings law to understand the proper way to obtain those records.
Clemons gets it. He knows he has a right to public records that reveal how elected and appointed officials do business on his behalf.
There are many ways to be a good citizen. Clemons is demonstrating a way that we don’t see often enough.
Kentucky New Era editorials are the consensus
opinion of the editorial board, which includes Publisher Taylor W. Hayes, Opinion Editor Jennifer P. Brown and Editor Eli Pace.