County Connection: Bourbon Co. walks fine line between retaining rural roots and expanded growth

02/28/2018 10:50 AM

PARIS – Michael Williams has served as judge-executive of Bourbon County since January 2015. Williams says that despite being only 15 miles from Lexington, the county has seen its population remain the same.

“The population tends to run just under 20,000,” Williams said. “One of the things that is a challenge for us is our population hasn’t increased in nearly a century.”

While Williams admits that many in the county want to see it remain primarily rural, he believes that some controlled growth could be positive.

“We need jobs and housing ourselves here in the community,” Williams said. “We want a good mix, we want to continue to have a mix of industry as well as small businesses and agriculture to flourish in the community, and that is indeed our heritage.”

Williams says that Bourbon County is not immune to some of the challenges which face most counties today around the commonwealth.

“Certainly budget issues are our concern, there’s been a dramatic reduction in the resources available for counties from the mobile fuel tax,” Williams said. “We’re down about a million dollars over the last 4 years here in Bourbon County with monies to operate our road department. We’re facing certainly some challenges regarding whatever happens with the pension funds with the legislation that’s pending. It’s going to cost Bourbon county government about $350,000 additional in our cost that we provide for the pension fund for our county employees.”

Williams believes that the county’s residents have done a great job of protecting the architectural heritage of the county and the result is that many historic structures in the county are still standing and have been preserved.

“We have several organizations here in the community that go out of their way and focus on preserving the architecture,” Williams said. Historic Paris-Bourbon County, which also operates the Hopewell Museum is a very prominent group and is very There are several offshoots of that organization that are in place committees that are focused on the architecture and maintaining that integrity.

Probably the most striking building architecturally in the county is the grandiose beaux-arts Bourbon County Courthouse in downtown Paris which was designed by Frank Milburn of Columbia, South Carolina and opened in 1905 on the site of where the three previous courthouses stood, all of which were lost to fire.

“I think it’s the grandest courthouse in the state of Kentucky”, Williams said. “It is indeed a structure that would be cost prohibitive to build today. The cost of the materials, the granite of the superstructure, the marble of the walls and hallways was imported from Egypt.”

The courthouse features four paintings in the dome depicting the four seasons and capture the principal crops of the day during the early 1900’s.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at


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