Ohio County Festival Resolves Controversy with Railway

By Michael Gossum | 

Organizers are getting ready for the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Festival in Ohio County that starts tomorrow, but they didn't get where they are without overcoming a big problem.

The problem was an entry way that has a railroad crossing, and the Paducah and Louisville Railway and festival organizers were at odds about it.

"It was our only entry way, one of the landowners had landlocked us on the east side, so this became our only entryway. For safety reasons, for ambulances and firetrucks to enter, and also our RV's are huge," said festival founder Campbell Mercer.

So, it was important something was done.

The railway said it appeared someone had tried to make their own crossing, but festival officials say they were just trying to widen a crossing.

Mercer and railway President Tom Garrett came to a compromise, and got the crossing widened.

"I was happy with the new agreement, Mr. Garrett's happy with it, within the next 24 hours he had his crew in here tearing out the old crossing, and put in a new state-of-the-art crossing, that's two and half times wider than the old one," said Mercer.

Garrett was traveling on business Wednesday, but did give us these statements.

We wanted to help the community with this event, but certain safety concerns had to be addressed and that they are glad to have helped out and widened the crossing.

"The railroad has helped us for the next 100 years. What they've done here is allowed this to grow like it should, and that's in a safe manner," said Mercer.

What was last week's controversy is now this week's celebration.
The festival gets underway Thursday morning at ten, and will run until about 8 pm on Sunday.

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