Due to COVID-19, GRADD cancelled its annual dinner, but the pandemic could not stop the GRADD Board of Directors from recognizing one area community and three local individuals who have shown outstanding achievements and contributions that benefit the regional community and add to our quality of life. 

Judge/Executive of Ohio County and GRADD Board of Directors Chairman David Johnston stated, “the GRADD Regional Excellence Awards recognizes outstanding achievements within our seven counties that highlight efforts to enhance quality of life as well as a dedication to public service.  This year’s recipients reflect an exceptional commitment to their communities and an eagerness to help others.  I am extremely proud to announce the 2020 winners. Each has made a tremendous impact in improving the health, safety and well-being of residents in our region.” 

2020 has proven to be a once-in-a-lifetime challenge for our entire community.  Almost every aspect of our lives has been affected by the pandemic – work, school, faith, socializing, travel and, of course, health. As COVID-19 has swept across the nation and the world, leaders have emerged, bringing calm to what could have turned into panic.  The Green River region has been lucky to have one such leader, Clay Horton.   In February, long before “COVID-19,” “Coronavirus,” “masks,” or “social distancing” had become part of our everyday lives, Clay was already hard at work, preparing our community to deal with a public health crisis. From the start, he offered a calm, measured and consistent message of what we might expect and how we could prepare.  While the Green River region hasn’t been spared by the virus, those early efforts gave our families, friends and leaders the information they needed to make smart decisions about how to address the pandemic and reduce the risks of transmission, infection and even death.  As the disease has swept through our community, he has remained at the forefront of local effort, to protect us all. He continues to inform and advise as the pandemic – and development of vaccines to fight it – have progressed.  For his calm, common-sense approach to providing information and support to protect the lives of everyone in the Green River region, Clay Horton is being recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Charles Reid Regional Citizenship Award.

Jeremy Moore is thoroughly dedicated to the safety and well-being of the GRADD community. Serving as the Clay Fire Chief and Director of the Webster County Emergency Management, he has years of experience that make him an exceptional leader for the GRADD Hazard Mitigation Council.  His devoted efforts with the Hazard Mitigation Council have assisted in the formation of the GRADD Hazard Mitigation Plan as a comprehensive strategic tool for preventing and responding to a wide range of regional disasters and emergencies. The thoroughness of this plan, which he helped create, made GRADD communities eligible for critical funding from FEMA.  He always stands able and willing to share advice and assist in locating resources for any community. Wearing these many hats keeps him incredibly busy; however, he always makes time to serve GRADD communities. His extraordinary and selfless commitment to our region makes him an excellent choice for the Texal Brooks Regional Leadership Award.

Steve Gold has continuously improved the lives of the residents of Henderson County and beyond since 2008, when elected as the county’s first full-time attorney.  He has been a strong advocate for families and youth through his work on the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines Review Commission and the Kentucky Juvenile Oversight Council. He is a founding member and ongoing board member of the Henderson Boys and Girls Club. These and many other activities and community service speak to his dedication to Kentucky’s children.  In addition to extensive work within the county, he has served on numerous commissions, task forces, and committees at the state level, ensuring Henderson County has a voice in Frankfort. Through his work as president of the Kentucky County Attorney’s Association, he has been able to establish a direct line of communication between Henderson County and the Commissioner over the Child Support Enforcement Program.  His commitment to the people of Henderson County and beyond demonstrates the leadership of Wendell Ford, making him an excellent choice for the Wendell H. Ford Legislative Leadership Award.

The Ohio County Park Project has been named the 2020 GRADD Community of the Year. For years, Ohio County Park has served as the primary home for recreation in the community. Contained within its 500 acres are amenities such as camping facilities, trails, playgrounds, golf and disc golf courses, a driving range and volleyball and basketball courts.  Ohio County Fiscal Court has taken on the challenge of updating and improving the park – adding new facilities, such as a veteran’s memorial area and a dog park, and renovating older ones, such as refurbishing the park building and resurfacing and remodeling  the basketball courts.  As the park has grown, the county has sought to use it to improve residents’ physical and mental health by adding nature trails and outdoor exercise areas. And because Ohio County is committed to ensuring the park’s benefits are available to all, a vast majority of these services are provided free of charge.  But the work isn’t done. County leaders continue exploring ways to add to and improve the unused or underdeveloped areas in the park. Future improvements include plans to add lighting to the already existing three-mile walking trail.  Often, recreational projects take a back seat to more pressing civic concerns.  While managing its civic concerns such as streets and sewer and police protection which are vital to a community, Ohio County realizes that having a place to appreciate nature and enjoy time with family and friends – especially as we grapple with a global pandemic – make the difference between simply existing and truly living.

Published on December 3, 2020