Rob Estes was announced as the new McCracken County director of Emergency Management during Monday evening’s fiscal court meeting.

The McCracken native looks forward to returning to public service again.

“I was born and raised in McCracken County. This is my town. I graduated from Heath High School, my children graduated from county schools, I have a daughter now in a county school and I was a Paducah Police officer here for 20 years,” Estes told the court. “I’ve missed public service. Once it gets into your blood there’s nothing like it.”

Estes has made a life out of it. He was in the United States Marine Corps for four years, serving during Operation Desert Storm, in addition to being in the reserves for two years.

After his military service ended, he became a Paducah Police officer. During his 20 years in the department, he worked as a patrolman and a detective for the drug division, even spending time as a training officer before retiring in 2014. After five years in the private sector, he was hired as the director of Keeton Correction in Paducah in April 2019 — a position he held until his hiring by the county.

His annual salary, according to the hiring court order by the county, will be $64,000.

McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer was highly complimentary of Estes, describing him as “a strong, strong individual” with high integrity saying: “I just think he’s going to be outstanding.”

Commissioner Bill Bartleman also spoke highly of Estes.

“I think we all appreciate you taking on the challenge. I think your background with the police department is right on to do this. Your service as a training officer will be a big help to all the volunteers in all that they do.

“I think there’s a great squad out there, a lot of hardworking people spend a lot of hours that they give up to serve the community and I think you’re going to be a big asset to help them do their job even better than what they have in the past.”

Clymer also thanked April Watson on Monday for her time spent as interim director in the immediate wake of the retirement of Jerome Mansfield in December.

“She’s done a very credible job,” Clymer said. “I appreciate her efforts. She handled that very well.”

On the subject of filling Mansfield’s shoes, Estes was hesitant. He admired the former emergency management director and all that he achieved. His legacy, though, the new director said, will only make the changeover less difficult.

“That’s really difficult because Jerome was a great man,” Estes said. “To be able to come into a place where Jerome has been will make the transition a lot easier because of the high standards that he set.”

In other court happenings:

• The court approved the first reading of a zoning creating a new section in the zoning ordinance to recognize two types of solar energy systems permitted in the county — typical private or residential use and commercial production of solar-based electricity for sale to a public utility in an agricultural district. This change was made because of an interest by an undisclosed company in developing a solar farm in west McCracken County, Deputy Judge-Executive Steve Doolittle said. This project could be as large of an energy footprint as 60 megawatts covering 500 to 600 acres.

• McCracken County Community Development Project Manager Steve Ervin gave a brief report on the potential of the county participating in a grant program designed to aid residents in danger of being disconnected from their utilities. The grant could provide a relief fund of $200,000 to resolve unpaid utility fees, which exceed $1 million in the county, many of which are due to hardships caused by COVID-19. If granted, the court need only decide how those funds will be dispersed and between which utilities.

• An ordinance refunding liquor license fees for county businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19-enforced closures was passed following its second reading.

The next meeting of the McCracken County Fiscal Court will be on March 8.

Monday’s fiscal court meeting can be viewed in its entirety below:

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