- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Both women in the running to become the next mayor of Orchard Grass Hills agree – the city needs more community involvement.
Though residents come to council meetings on occasion, Darlene Yarberry and Tracy Bowles – the candidates for mayor – say residents usually only come when there’s a problem they need the city to resolve.
When the City of Orchard Grass celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, both candidates hope the event will allow residents to meet others in the neighborhood and representatives in their government.
Yarberry, the incumbent, began serving as interim mayor in May. She first joined the council in 1999 and served until 2004.
Bowles became a council member five-and-a-half years ago, also filling a vacant seat. Bowles said Yarberry is responsible for encouraging her to join the council – they met through their daughters’ friendship.
When Bowles joined the council, she said the biggest issue was drainage, and many residents had lots of drainage issues and concerns. Now, she said she thinks the council has a handle on it. Her concern is community involvement. She describes her upbringing as old-fashioned, and said she likes “Sunday night suppers and community gatherings.” She’d like Orchard Grass Hills to have more of a community feel.
She wants more community gatherings, because she said when people get together as a community, the leaders can hear about the things people are concerned about. She hopes to have a town hall or a community center in the area at some point for residents.
One of the biggest issues Yarberry said currently facing the city is financial. She said Orchard Grass is losing a lot of money to city and county governments from insurance premium surtax. The surtax comes from car and home insurance and it is money Yarberry said could help pave roads and fund other projects within the city.
Insurance companies are supposed to go by a city’s insurance code, she said, but they don’t always follow it, filing the tax by ZIP code.
Because Orchard Grass doesn’t have a city ZIP code, the money goes to Crestwood or Pewee Valley. Yarberry said it would just be a battle with the postmaster to let Orchard Grass have its own ZIP code.
She also cites drainage as an issue, but like Bowles, she credits an “excellent city engineer” for helping deal with the problem. Drainage is something Yarberry said she thinks will be an ongoing problem. She also wants residents to know more about how the city works.
“We want (the residents) to be civic-minded,” she said, “and know that it’s OK for them to help out. If they see something that needs to be done or they want it to be done, they can help out. And the city will help them.”
The city already distributes a quarterly newsletter, she said, but she’d like to see it become monthly. She also wants residents to utilize the city’s Web site.
Bowles said there hasn’t been much community involvement since she’s been on the council, only about 20 residents have come to meetings and made comments. The city has hosted dinners in the past, question and answer sessions and meet-and-greets, but with little-to-no turnout. She said she wants to see an open-door government where people come to meetings and make their comments, and let the council and mayor know what’s going on. She wants to host a meet-and-greet to help residents feel more at ease.
“It all comes back to community,” Bowles said. “We have a small, wonderful
She wants to address issues like the abandoned mini-mart up the road, which she believes could promote crime if it sits vacant. She’d like to see it become a restaurant or a grocery again.
“I want to see what other communities are doing and how, as well as how to bring it to Orchard Grass,” Bowles said.
Bowles said if elected, she thinks she can make a difference. She talked with other council members about forming sub-committees to work on different things.
“I think we can be pro-active in that,” she said. “It would be easier if everyone had a task they could work on between monthly meetings.”
She said she has a strong personality, and she’s a people person – both traits she thinks are good for the position of mayor.
“I see that the city could be so much more,” she said, “and I have no problem getting out and encouraging people to get involved.”
Yarberry said the past few months have included a lot of learning for her. She said she hit the ground running with a lot of things to do in the city. After she got into it, she said she started seeing things that could be different, and hearing what the council wanted to change in the future.
“I felt like I was the one who could help make that happen,” she said.
Yarberry said she thinks to be a good mayor it takes honesty. Residents also have to know they’ll get a response from you if they call. She said mayors should also be able to utilize their resources so when something comes up they know who to go to. She has already been working with Judge-Executive Duane Murner and Magistrate Rick Rash about the storm water mandate.
And then there’s passion for the community in which you live.
“I’m trustworthy, I’m honest and I try to be diligent,” Yarberry said. “I do have a passion for where I live. I love Orchard Grass Hills.”
She said the council and other city officials have a passion for their city as well.
“(And) that makes all the difference in the world,” she said, “when people are passionate.”
Bowles said she likes Orchard Grass because it’s a small community.
“I have always liked that it was a small community,” she said. “I think it’s easier to get to people.”
She plans in the next week to do a tour of the neighborhood, meet with people she doesn’t know, find out about them, let them know about her, and hear what they think about the city.
Bowles is a stay-at-home-mom who said she has lots of time – something she thinks is a plus for the position.
Yarberry works as a health technician at the VA Medical Center and is in school at Ivy Tech in Sellersburg studying to be a medical assistant. She said she has enough time to fulfill her mayor responsibilities as well.
“If people want someone who believes in, has passion for what they’re doing, has a goal to see projects accomplished, the community informed, and has a good handle on what’s going on throughout the county,” she said, “(and) keep it all balanced, I believe I’m the person for the job.”
As for Bowles, she said she doesn’t feel previous mayors have had enough time allocated for that job. It’s a full-time job, she said, that she plans to devote a lot to.
“You should be able to devote a lot to be effective and grow,” she said. “I have everyone’s best interests at heart, and I would act in everyone’s best interest to grow our city.”
E-mail us about this story at: