Perry carries over optimism to new year


Graves County Judge-Executive Jesse Perry is optimistic on the new year for Graves County while also being pleased with several accomplishments the county saw in the previous 365 days.

Perry spoke on areas of roads, internet access, hemp and economic development, as well as questions pertaining to local ordinances to add protections for gun owners.

With roads and bridges, he said the completion of a bridge project on Alben Barkley Road in north Graves County would complete a list of three or four bridges the county had on its immediate list.

"I keep a list of roads that need to be resurfaced or have drainage issues, once we get those completed, that road's off the list," Perry said Friday. "We've got a huge task at hand trying to keep our roads maintained to keep moving forward. But we do more with less because we have a wonderful roads department covering 600-plus miles of county road."

He said that as important as a good road is to the county, good internet access is also important. He again has put an emphasis on improving areas' access in 2020 for education purposes and also for business purposes.

"My goal is for this year we can come up with some funding mechanism that we would be part of helping get good internet in these areas." he said. "It has to be addressed. Everyone deserves good internet."

Last year saw several announcements from hemp processor GenCanna on both good and bad fronts with the plant announcement and expansion, as well as it halting construction on its site north of Mayfield due to numerous liens. Perry said he is still bullish on what hemp can mean to Graves County.

"When all that got started, there were a lot of other businesses that spurred off of that. All the growth the county saw from that, it was still a positive change for our county," he said. "Going forward with what the hemp industry looks like, I think it's here to stay and we'll see more growth from that."

Perry said there are still many unknowns about the crop and its future, but said that is a common theme with any new venture. He said farmers were learning about the crop itself, planting and tending and harvesting in new ways that most farmers don't experience with known, existing crops.

"Anytime you have new business, you're going to have growing pains. And we're having those," he said, "but I think going forward it'll be a good thing."

Perry did say he has voiced to both State Sen. Stan Humphries (R-Cadiz) and Rep. Richard Heath (R-Mayfield) that he believes hemp companies in the state should be licensed and bonded as any other agricultural business.

"It should be no different for hemp companies," Perry said.

Still, he has witnessed numerous building projects in Graves County to help spur more economic development.

"New lumber and fresh dirt. You see a lot of construction going on and we'll continue to see that growth," he said. "You hear people say we need that 1,000 employer job, but if we keep whittling away with the five here and 15 there, we'll see the benefit."

Perry also noted the cooperative work with the City of Mayfield, mentioning the joint active parks and recreations board and economic development. "We all have to be steering in the same direction, and we are."

With news of Marshall County's fiscal court examining becoming a Second Amendment Sanctuary and other surrounding counties examining the potential legal ramifications, Perry said he has had some citizens approach him on the matter. A resolution to affirm the county's and officials' upholding the Second Amendment is on the agenda for Monday's fiscal court meeting.

Perry said in his mind, his oath when he took office includes supporting the gun rights for citizens.

"I am in favor of supporting a resolution to say I support the Constitution I was sworn in under, and the Second Amendment is part of that," he said. "I took the oath and all the elected officials took and oath to abide by the law."

Eric Walker is the news editor for The Mayfield Messenger. He has also worked as a staff writer for the Messenger, editor for the Murray Ledger & Times, and in public relations. He is married with two sons.