Local News

Hawkins Vows To Continue Fighting Police Storage

A measure to block funding for a proposed police storage facility in south Louisville has failed.

The facility would hold unused ammunition and explosives confiscated by the bomb squad. In the spring, Councilman Doug Hawkins raised concern over its location near Cardinal Hill Reservoir. Despite assurances from police and others that anything stored in the facility wouldn’t pose any danger to nearby homes or the water supply,  Hawkins remained skeptical.

Last night, he withdrew his sponsorship of a measure to block funding for the facility, after it was amended by the Metro Council to allow the project to move forward.

“We haven’t quit fighting,” says Hawkins. “We’ve got other places to take it and we will not let them put that bomb storage facility up there, period.”

Hawkins said he may try to take the issue before the state legislature, but offered no further details. Some council members have accused Hawkins of exaggerating the matter to boost his campaign for the state Senate, which he denies.

Local News

Council Committee Split On Cardinal Hill Funding

We reported on this issue in July. Hear the in-depth story and see a video about it here.

An ordinance that would withhold funding for a proposed Louisville Metro Police storage facility in South Louisville has failed to win approval by the Metro Council Public Safety Committee.

Metro Police were going to use the facility near the Cardinal Hill Reservoir to store explosives and unused ammunition, but plans were stalled after Councilman Doug Hawkins raised concerns about safety.

The Republican-backed ordinance failed Tuesday by a 2-2 vote along party lines. Democrat Mary Woolridge was absent.

Metro Police Major Rodney Milburn says Cardinal Hill is an ideal choice for the facility.

“The site that was selected seemed like a very equitable location,” says Milburn. “It offered security, it offered an area that is not open to the public generally. Sort of off the beaten path a little.”

Milburn also accuses Councilman Hawkins of exploiting the issue for political gain.

“I think that the issue’s come up more so to take advantage of getting a person’s name out than actual listening to the concerns or what the Police Department or other agencies of Metro Government have to say,” he says.

Hawkins, who’s running for the state Senate, denies Milburn’s claim.

The full council will take up the matter next week.

Local News

Councilman Fighting RFG Mandate

Louisville Metro Councilman Doug Hawkins’ latest legislation takes aim at high gas prices.

Hawkins says the requirement that Louisville use cleaner burning reformulated gasoline, or RFG, is driving prices up by as much as twenty five cents per gallon. He wants Governor Steve Beshear to opt out of the RFG program for Louisville that was imposed by the state in the 1990s as a way to meet federal air pollution guidelines.

Hawkins is proposing a resolution to that effect in the Metro Council and gathering signatures on petition to send to the governor.

If that happens, Hawkins says he’d be ready to find new ways for the city to meet federal emission guidelines.

“There are other options we’d have to put into place but I don’t think they’re as terrible or as draconian as having to pay extra for the reformulated gasoline,” he says.

Attorney General Jack Conway is currently investigating gas prices in Louisville, and he says RFG is only responsible for five to ten cents of the total cost of a gallon of gas.

Hawkins is running for state Senate in the fall election, but says the actions are not an effort to boost his candidacy.

Local News

County GOP Revives Annual Picnic

The Jefferson County Republican Party is reviving its party picnic this year.

GOP officials can’t remember when their last picnic was, but new chairman Brad Cummings says the party needs a way to unite area voters.

“It’s a large county and so you end up having people say ‘The south end and the east end and the southeast’ and we have strong voter populations in all those areas and yet very seldom do they all come together,” says Cummings.

The picnic will feature speeches by local candidates for various offices, including state senate candidate Doug Hawkins and U.S. Congressional candidate Anne Northup. It will be this evening at Charlie Vettiner Park in Jeffersontown.

In-Depth News Local News WFPL News Department Podcast

Mayor/Council Members Clash On Police Storage

Since April there’s been controversy surrounding the safety of a proposed police storage facility near the Cardinal Hill reservoir in Louisville. This month, the Mayor’s office agreed to look at other sites for the facility. But the arguments could be more explosive than the structure itself.

At the Cardinal Hill reservoir site, Lieutenant Rich Sohan with the Louisville Bomb squad looks out at the center of the controversy.

“There’s a burmed wall, an earthen wall about 600 feet away from where we’re standing right now,” says Sohan.

Underneath that wall is a reservoir. The structure that would go on the surface 600 feet behind it has been called a bomb storage facility and a bomb shelter, but officially, it’s a type two storage magazine. As such, it will follow federal guidelines and not store more than 50 pounds of explosive material.

Councilman Doug Hawkins says that’s too much to put near South Louisville’s water supply.

“The problem is, what kind of a seismic wave would it create?” he says. “And would some kind of seismic wave compromise the reservoir?”

“In order to cause damage to that reservoir, which is underground, you would have to be able to have a charge, sub surface which would send all that energy to there in order to damage that reservoir,” says Sohan. “It would take a lot more than 50 pounds in order to do that.”

Sohan says the facility will temporarily store materials the bomb squad confiscates and doesn’t consider dangerous enough to detonate. That means fireworks, weapons and the occasional dynamite, grenade or antique war shell.

Hawkins doubts the materials will be that benign.

“It’s not Jerry’s cherry bomb squad, it’s the bomb squad,” he says. “They handle very serious, very deadly munitions.”

“We gave out a list to every one of the 26 council members a list of the stuff that had been in the sheds we have today,” says Mayor Jerry Abramson.

He adds that the list doesn’t include…

“…Nuclear devices, anthrax, bombs, hydrogen…”

“I mean, all we’re trying to do is get the facts out so people can understand,” he says.

The city legally has to have a place to store bomb squad materials. The current facility doesn’t meet federal guidelines, and Abramson accuses Hawkins of delaying the new storage facility by exaggerating the Cardinal Hill situation to energize his campaign for the state Senate.

“Councilman Hawkins has a way of, for lack of a better term demagogue-ing an issue,” says the mayor.

Hawkins says he’s not exaggerating, and the city has not been honest about the site, not about the search for an alternate location and not about what will be stored there.

“Not at all. Not one iota,” he says. “They have not been honest at all. This has been one exercise in deceit and it’s been controlled by the mayor and by the administration.”

At the Cardinal Hill site, Lieutenant Sohan points out that if the facility were to explode, the first thing damaged would be a MetroSafe tower. If it fell, a multi-million dollar communication system would be crippled. He says the site is as safe as any other that meets federal guidelines. And he’s not alone.

“In my opinion, it’s much about nothing,” says Paul Haydon, the executive vice president of Armag. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal there myself.”

Armag is the Bardstown-based company that makes the storage units, or magazines. They sell the same facilities to the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Armed Services. The only difference between the facilities is the locking mechanism on the door.

“Magazines are built for the safe and secure storage of the contents, in this case, explosives,” says Haydon.

Haydon says accidental detonation isn’t a major concern for his clients…security is, though. It’s the type of security that could be compromised if maps of the magazine’s location were distributed, like they were by the city at a Metro Council meeting. It could also be compromised if the location were featured online, like it is in videos on Doug Hawkins’ YouTube page.