PACRO seeking new administration


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall

PADUCAH, Ky.---An organization created to help the region withstand the setbacks of losing one of our largest employers is suffering some setbacks of it's own.
The Paducah-Area Community Reuse Organization or 'PACRO' is scurrying for solutions to help itself while helping workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Members say the decisions they make now, could impact all of us in the coming months.
PACRO exists to help people directly or indirectly affected by the closure of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
If PACRO is unable to pull itself together and bring in new industry, the entire region could suffer.
The organization started with an 8 million dollar grant from the Department Of Energy back in 1997.
In light of PGDP's closure, that money was to be used to grow existing businesses, create new ones, reuse old facilities, build spec buildings, etc.
now most of the funding sources have dried up, the director abruptly retired, and the Paducah Area Development District, or PADD, the organization that managed PACRO ended it's contract with the group.

Last month, the PACRO board voted to move PACRO director John Anderson from Mayfield to Paducah's Commerce Center.

Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler says she didn't expect what happened next.

"You know we voted to move it to Paducah then we get a letter that PADD is pulling out  and Mr. Anderson is retiring as director. The manner in which it was done was a little surprising to everyone," Kaler said.

Monday the PACRO board, made of local leaders, made some quick decisions.

They formed a search committee tasked with finding a new administrative agency.

President and C.E.O. of the Paducah Economic Development Agency, Chad Chancellor, says the group needs to refocus on developing a re-use plan at the Paducah site.

"My interest is on the workers, I'm not worried about political factions or making people happy or mad my interest is on them, and we're about to have some laid off," Chancellor said.

Right now everyone here says their main interest is getting their own organization in order, before they can help anyone else.
Board members aren't sure exactly who or what agency will fill PADD's shoes.

The search committee says they'll act fast.

Since 2006, when the D.O.E. funding stopped, PACRO paid PADD anywhere from 37 to 80 thousand dollars each year for administration.

On Monday another meeting was held about the future of the plant. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear met with U.S. Department of Energy leaders and urged them to immediately begin site cleanup, and save as many jobs as possible.