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No Hellcat For Harrodsburg

Commissioners Discuss School Zone Safety

The Harrodsburg Herald/Robert Moore
The Harrodsburg City Commission have opted not to buy a Hellcat after overwhelming public opposition. Officials say they will work with the Kentucky League of Cities for other uses for the city’s alcohol tax revenue. (Image:Dodge Hellcat via

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The Harrodsburg City Commission have opted not to buy a Hellcat. At their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the commissioners officially rescinded the motion to approve purchasing a 2023 Dodge Hellcat Wide Body for $100,430 from the city’s alcohol regulatory fee.

On Sept. 25, the city commission voted to approved purchasing the car for the Harrodsburg Police Department. But by Sept. 27, Mayor Sam Carr announced the purchase was on hold. An subsequent article on the approval of the purchase showed the public was overwhelmingly against the idea.

“We did not purchase this,” said Commissioner Missy Banks on Tuesday.

Officials have maintained the HPD’s hands are tied in what they can with the alcohol tax funds. They are limited by statute to only use 18 percent of the funds for equipment, which is based on the number of calls related to alcohol. The rest can only be used for alcohol and drug education and has to be spent by the end of the year. On Tuesday, Banks said the city is working with Kentucky League of Cities to investigate other options moving forward.

The city commission voted to increase the annual operating budget by $50,000 for school zone safety improvements. Commissioner Charlie Mattingly said the city has ordered solar lights to mark the school zone round Mercer County Schools. In addition they will repaint the pedestrian crossings and install more speed limit signs. Mattingly said the city is looking at installing a stoplight at the intersection of Moberly and Tapp Road but it would take three or four months to install.

“It’s just going to take time to implement this,” he said. “Hopefully we can make it safer for everyone.”

HPD Chief Tim Hurt said the department is working with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office on improving safety near the schools.

“I’ve been out there for every morning for almost 12 years,” said Sheriff Ernie Kelty, who directs traffic at the intersection going into Mercer County Intermediate School while a deputy directs traffic at the high school.

“That 25 mile per hour speed limit is important,” Kelty said. He said traffic coming from the bypass is often traveling faster than the speed limit. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit,” the sheriff said.

Kelty said they have discussed putting more officers out there, but there are 11 lanes of traffic on the bypass.

“When you put police officers out there directing it, they have to be in perfect synch,” Kelty said. “It’s going to slow down traffic even more.”

Kelty said a traffic light, which could be operated via remote control by the police during peak hours and left as a flashing yellow warning light for the rest of the day, would be the best answer, but still not a perfect one.

“I don’t know what the perfect answer is,” Kelty said.

The sheriff attributed the congestion at the school zone to a variety of factors, including population growth and young drivers. “You’ve got them all coming into one space,” Kelty said.

“What about the women drivers?” asked Commissioner Isham.

The sheriff said the school has changed starting times and bus schedules to alleviate the traffic. He said they have looked at what other school districts have done.

“I haven’t seen one yet that ain’t congested,” Kelty said.

For the rest of the story, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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