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Image 1 of The State Journal April 30, 2012

Part of The State Journal

MONDAY SISTERS TEAM UP TO OFFER HOME COOKING IN JETT BUSINESS ■ F R A N K F O R T, K E N T U C K Y 50c ■ A5 A P R I L 3 0 , 2012 S TAT E -J O U R N A L .CO M Farmer’s sense of entitlement ‘toxic’ Auditor releases findings that include several questionable uses of tax dollars BY KEVIN WHEATLEY KWHEATLEY@STATE-JOURNAL.COM Former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer oversaw “a toxic culture of entitlement” during his eight years with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, a report by state Auditor Adam Edelen says. The audit, released today, details misuse of state resources and employees for his personal benefit, timesheet and travel reimbursement abuses by employees close to Farmer, and questionable spending of state and federal dollars. A key feature of the report was the 2008 Southern Asso- ciation of State Departments of Agriculture conference in Lexington that cost taxpayers more than $96,000 and included gifts such as 25 Remington rifles worth $449 each, 52 knives, 50 cigar boxes, 30 $50 mall gift cards, 175 watches and 50 bottles of Markers Mark bourbon. Only 13 of 17 member commissioners attended the SASDA conference, and Farmer, who was the association’s president at the time, took a majority of the remaining gifts to his home, the audit shows. He personally signed for 13 rifles, and seven of those were returned to auditors during their investigation, according to the audit. One of the rifles had number 32, Farmer’s jersey number during his playing days on the University of Kentucky basketball team, added to it. The department, which tried to hide or disguise its financial support for the event, also paid more than $15,000 to register 53 depart- ment employees for the SASDA conference, and many of those were used as staff for the event. That cost the state more than $53,000 for more than 2,000 hours and overtime pay, the audit says. “The extravagance of this conference that had less See AUDIT, A7 Opening Derby Day Frankfort Fac: Mattie Elrichard Clay HANNAH REEL/HREEL@ STATE-JOURNAL.COM Senior Activity Center librarian Mattie Clay puts a book back on the shelf Friday morning. She’s living history with deeply-rooted stories to tell BY JORDAN SMITH JSMITH@STATE-JOURNAL.COM M attie Elrichard Clay’s yes is her yes. She thinks the best clothes you can get are from Goodwill because they’re old and old clothes are made better. She loves classic hymns and she stocks the library at the Senior Activity Center with aged classics. C all her old-fashioned, that’s fi ne. She was born in 1931, so the shoe fits. But when it comes to her heritage – the rich story of family ancestry, teeming with deep connections to the Kentucky land she’s always cherished – don’t call it outdated. Call it love. Mattie and her husband, John, live on a Franklin County farm that’s been in the family since 1886. John’s ancestors were some of the first African Americans to farm in the county, and now, 126 years later, he and his wife are some of the last. After a morning of work at the senior center library, Mattie pledged undying love for the farm in her slow, Southern rasp. It’s where John was born, where the two raised their children and where every member of the Clay family tree could make an honest living, even if no other employment was available. “We still live here because it’s his land and I love him and I love his land,” Mattie said. “The land has its own spirit – it still has the spirit of our ancestors.” “You can feel it,” John agreed. “It draws you.” Making ends meet wasn’t always easy, Mattie recalled. She and John had to work jobs and the farm to survive. Mattie was the librarian at Byck Elementary in Louisville for 17 years, and John worked at the local U.S. Postal Office, unable to use his degree in accounting from the University of Louisville because of racial discrimination. John’s coworkers in the mailroom included men with doctorates and degrees in economics and history. All the while, the pair raised tobacco on their 60 acres in Farmdale, continuing even when John retired in 1988 and Mattie in 1990. Now, Mattie loves taking care of her small flower, herb and vegetable garden on the property and acting as the senior center’s librarian. “I was recovering from a stroke in 2004 and came to the center to visit, became the librarian and I’ve been happy ever since,” she said. Mattie knew happiness as a child, but she knew hardship too. Her father, Thomas Biggerstaff, had a degree in dentistry but had to work on the See HISTORY, A12 WEEKLY POLL: Traffic safety Would you support a traffic-safety crackdown in local neighborhoods? Yes, 68% No, 31% Total votes: 45 Vote on or mark Yes q No q and return CLASSIFIED, CMYK HANNAH REEL/HREEL@ STATE-JOURNAL.COM Michelle Kent mops the floor at New Leash on Life, a thrift and architectural salvage resale store, on Broadway. The store, which will donate all proceeds to the Franklin County Humane Society, opens Derby Day. New thrift store will help give animals a second chance as well All proceeds go to Franklin County Humane Society BY KEVIN WHEATLEY KWHEATLEY@STATE-JOURNAL.COM Curiosity often gets the better of people when they pass the vacant Broadway storefront with doors stacked outside its entrance at the corner of Wilkinson Boulevard. They won’t have to wait long for what’s coming. New Leash on Life, a thrift and architectural salvage resale store that will donate all proceeds to the Franklin County Humane Society, will open its doors during the Governor’s Derby Celebration Saturday. “We’ve had a lot of that,” owner Michelle Kent told The State Journal after a man walked to the front door at 415 W. Broadway and asked if the shop was open. “It’s a good thing.” Kent, a retiree and Humane Society volunteer, hopes the anticipation translates into a steady stream of revenue for the animal shelter. She and her husband, Stephen, bought the property for $70,000 in August and have been renovating it with help from donors and volunteers. The store currently will accept donations, which are tax deductible, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. See THRIFT STORE, A7 Envision Award winners celebrated STATE JOURNAL STAFF REPORT Several residents and organizations were honored Thursday at the 2012 Envision Awards for their work in making Franklin County a better community. Winners were chosen on the basis of their contributions to community development, downtown revitalization, historic preservation, walkability and trans- portation. The award ceremony was held at the McClure Building, one of the places honored Thursday. Joe and John Dunn, who own the McClure Building at 306 W. Main St., received an Envision Award for their work in renovating one of downtown Frankfort’s landmarks and providing space to businesses and local non- >>SPORTS, B1 n FCHS runs well at Walden Invitational n WHHS’ Curlin, FHS Jouett wins at Dunbar >>BUSINESS, A5 Hospital employees awarded for humanitarian efforts profit organizations. Envision Franklin County, which gave out the awards Thursday, said in a statement that the Dunns were honored for bringing the McClure Building “back to life,” after previous owners allowed it to remain unoccupied and go into disrepair. Also receiving awards Thursday were Betty Burris, the city’s transportation director, First United Methodist Church, Hearn Elementary, and River Trail/Frankfort Department of Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites and Walk-Bike Frankfort. EFC said Burris received the award for her work on making public transportation “more accessible and relevant.” See AWARDS, A7 TONIGHT’S WEATHER Showers and storms, low 63 WEATHER, A12 B4-6 | COMICS, B7 | EDITORIALS, A4 | OBITUARIES, A2 | SPECTRUM, A6 | SPORTS, B1-4 | TV NEWS, B8 | BUSINESS, A5 CMYK

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