Bridge to be renamed in honor of Tony Ellis

By By Jody Norwood jnorwood@heraldledger.com

Republican lawmakers voted last week to override vetoes by Gov. Matt Bevin that would have prevented renaming a local bridge in honor of a Lyon County man.

John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said vetoing vetoes is government working as it is supposed to.

"It is a signal to the citizens of Kentucky that our constitution works," Thayer told the paper.

With the override, the state will be required during the next month to rename the U.S. Hwy. 62 bridge joining Livingston and Marshall counties over the Tennessee River to the "George A. 'Tony' Ellis Memorial Bridge." The naming is one of more than three dozen name changes to roads and bridges across Kentucky.

Other bills saved by the Republican-led General Assembly include House Bill 540, which creates regulations for drones and Senate Bill 91, also known as Tim's Law, which aimed to make it easier for mentally ill individuals to get help.

In his veto, Bevin wrote that the bill was "well intended" but that "... [n]ot only would this permit the restriction of liberty for individuals who have not committed crimes and do not pose a threat to anyone, but it would do so based on speculation about what might happen or might not happen in the future."

For friends and family of Tony Ellis, the name change continues efforts to remember the civil engineer who donated his time and ability to helping build his community.

Friends of the family began raising funds last December for a greenhouse in his memory.

Organizers are halfway to their goal of $40,000 by May.

"We've had quite a few donations," said Rae Wagoner, who began the project with co-worker Becky Kinder. Kinder and Wagoner work with Debbie Ellis, Tony's wife. "We are applying for some grants that are already in place. Money is coming in to the school board on a regular basis."

Wagoner said a $10,000 donation by Lyon County Farm Bureau helped get fundraising rolling.

At last months monthly meeting of the Lyon County Board of Education, an itemized donation list included several friends and co-workers who have given to the project.

"We appreciate all the support that's come through so far," Wagoner said.

Anyone wanting to donate to the project should contact the Lyon County Board of Education at their offices at 217 Jenkins Road in Eddyville. Donations are tax deductible.