WBKO First Alert

Ohio County Festival Faces Controversy

Rosine is a small town of about 30 people in Ohio County, but organizers and county officials say the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Festival brings thousands from all over to listen to music, but this years festival isn't going to come without controversy.

"It's our number one tourist drawing event of the year. It basically at times doubles the size of our county," said Ohio County Judge/Executive David Johnston.

However this year, that's been the issue, how will people get there?

Several people who come bring RVs and larger vehicles, so organizers wanted to widen an entry way at a railroad crossing.

"You lose visibility. You can't really see where that crossing is because it's so high. Now with the wider gravel we put in here it becomes much safer in here. People are less likely to fall off the road or get onto the wrong part of the track," said Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Festival Founder Campbell Mercer.

But on Wednesday, Paducah and Louisville Railway employees took a big chunk of the gravel out that was used to widen the route to the event.

"I didn't have any warning. I didn't get an e-mail or phone call about it, nor was I told what the parameters were, five feet, ten feet, 30 feet from the center line, or something like that," said Mercer.

Paducah and Louisville Railway President Tom Garrett made these comments.

"It appeared someone was trying to make their own railroad crossing. Also, that it is a safety issue with people and trains."

However, Mercer said he wasn't trying to widen the crossing, just the gravel leading up to it and after the tracks.

"I'm a little befuddled by P&L's take on it, they think widening it makes it more dangerous. I think most of us say widening it makes it safer. I think maybe if they narrow it enough, it will just drive the festival into extinction. I think if Mr. Garrett and I get together, things will get ironed out. We can get this crossing permanently widened," said Mercer.

Mercer said the event will go on, no matter what.

The festival runs from October fourth through the seventh.

Organizers say the bluegrass festival brings in eight to nine million dollars to local county economies, and as of right now, the railway says there is no resolution. but they are in communication.


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