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Unity is not a buzzword for the new leaders of Hardin County’s three largest cities.
In an overt symbol of support, incoming Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker, Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall and Vine Grove Mayor Blake Proffitt have taken steps to build their relationships beyond the superficial — attending each other’s swearing-in ceremonies and communicating with each other in recent weeks on ways their cities can cooperate after they take office in January.
As the four chambers of commerce prepare to unify and the county rallies around Fort Knox, all three find a compelling argument in working together.
Walker, who was sworn in Monday night at Pritchard Community Center, said it starts with visible support at the ceremonies, but he wants the partnership to be more than symbolic.
“It’s not just about attending each other’s swear in,” Walker said, adding that he wants the partnership to coalesce into something productive in the coming months.
Consensus building between the cities, county government and Fort Knox was a crucial tenet of Walker’s campaign, and he said reaching out to the other mayors is a natural evolution on that campaign promise.
“I intend to do just that,” he said of improving relationships in the county.
Duvall said the talks between the new mayors started a few weeks before his ceremony Dec. 21, which Walker attended. Proffitt was absent, but he said he found out about the ceremony a day late.
“Had I known, I would have been there,” Proffitt said after the Elizabethtown ceremony Monday night.
Duvall said the three men have been discussing ways they can work together and the idea of a public show of support developed from those discussions.
“To me, it shows that we’re there to support (each other) for the betterment of our own communities,” he said.
And with each man stepping into a new role, Duvall said, they have similar tasks ahead of them.
Duvall said he has some ideas he plans to pitch to his fellow mayors in the coming months, although he declined to discuss them in detail Monday.
Walker said he thinks the cities and the county can work together in a similar manner that the four chambers did prior to agreeing to merge into the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce.
As an example, Walker said he would support regular meetings between the county’s mayors and Judge-Executive Harry Berry to discuss ways in which the governments can cooperate to improve services and aid one another.
“I think if we work together, we can accomplish a lot more,” Walker said.
Proffitt agreed and said he believes the tide is changing as people see positive attributes emerging from partnerships such as One Knox and the chambers' relationship. Unity is a concept Proffitt has believed in for years, even while people were chastising him for celebrating accomplishments of neighboring cities in the county.
But, Proffitt added, a division between the cities is not beneficial to growth of the county.
“We are stronger as one county than we are as one city,” he said. “Maybe it is a little better if it’s not just me.”
Proffitt also believes in Walker’s suggestion of an alliance between the cities and the county. While all of the players have not made it official, Proffitt believes it is inevitably going to become a reality.
Proffitt said his previous relationships with Duvall and Walker makes it easy to support them — if they see one another at a ball game, for instance, they stop and chat.
“We don’t have any preconceived notions about each other,” Proffitt said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 email@example.com.