By GINA CLEAR THE NEWS-ENTERPRISE Sep 29, 2021 Updated Sep 30, 2021
An autumn breeze whispered Tuesday through the corn stalks in the field across from the DeRamos’ Glendale home.
Built about five years ago, the DeRamos’ view soon will change with the announcement of a $5.8 billion investment for twin manufacturing plants, which will consume 1,500 acres directly across the street off Gilead Church Road.
“I’m excited and nervous,” Ranetta DeRamos said. “Some mixed emotions. I think it’s definitely put Glendale on the map nationally.”
In preparation for the construction, which has been anticipated since earlier this month after an economic package was passed during a special session of the General Assembly, the DeRamoses planted trees to help obstruct the view of the future industrial complex.
“It’s going to help the economy and we’re all for that,” John DeRamos said. “However, I’m kind of nervous how it’s going to affect us.”
The couple believes Gilead Church Road might be used as an entrance for some of the 5,000 people the Ford and SK Innovations production plants will employ to produce batteries for next-generation electric Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
That belief has led them to advocate the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to include a run-bike lane when Gilead Church Road is widened, Ranetta said.
“We all have bikes,” she said. “That’s some of the things I’m trying to do to keep it to where I can still run and ride my bike without a big impact with traffic that I anticipate will be coming.”
Aafter traveling with the military for several years, John said he wanted to return to the Glendale area for the peace and tranquility the green pastures and corn fields afford his family. Now that peace is in question.
“It’s just mixed emotions,” he said. “Yes, it’s going to help everybody, but how much is it going to hurt us?”
But the DeRamoses have no plans to sell their home and move away.
“I’m pretty confident in the leaders that be that they’re going to consider us little folk down here and make sure we can live with what’s coming in,” Ranetta said.
The loss of farmland always was part of the deal for Larry Jaggers II, whose father, Larry Jaggers Sr., negotiated the sale of his portion of the 1,500 acres for the site.
“It is bittersweet,” the younger Jaggers said. “It was a farm that I grew up on that we had the chance to rent back. I knew something was going to happen, but it was home.”
Jaggers and his father lease the land from the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation and said the loss of the farmland is going to weigh on future prospects.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “When you take up 1,500 acres, that means it has to be found somewhere else.”
With the possibility of land being taken up for other sites to feed the megasite and others in Cecilia potentially being used for a large solar farm, Jaggers said finding land to farm is becoming more difficult.
“It just makes opportunity to pick up a piece of ground even tougher,” he said. “It’s going to be tough until this thing settles down a little bit.”
Jaggers said his lease is “yet to be determined” what can be done to the farmland in the future.
“I’m hearing, especially if they want to get something done by 2025, that they’re going to get started pretty soon,” he said. “I don’t know at this point whether I’m going to have any or all of this crop done. I’m satisfied that it is probably just this crop.”
Although the loss of the farmland poses a challenge for Jaggers, he is optimistic about the opportunities the plants will afford the area.
“I’m not against what’s happening,” he said. “This ground, I knew that when it was sold, it wasn’t going to stay rented back to farmers, but then this is a great opportunity for a lot of employment. It’s a big thing. It’s a good thing.”
Mike Cummings, a 19-year resident of Glendale, shares Jaggers’ optimism.
“I think a majority of people will like it,” said the former owner of Whistle Stop, an iconic Glendale eatery.
Cummings said residents are finding comfort in the news that the changes won’t affect downtown Glendale that is home to antique dealers, restaurants and other merchants.
“To our knowledge our little Main Street in Glendale will not be touched,” he said. “The heart and soul of Glendale will still be here. There will be a lot of development, a lot of housing, a lot of traffic, but I feel like it’s a great thing for Hardin County and a great thing for the state.”
As children, Bronnie Jeffries remembers a time when he and friends would ride bikes around during the Glendale Crossing Festival. Now the festival is so crowded, those opportunities are no longer.
“It’s funny,” he said. “I’ve been here my whole life. Now it’s Kentucky’s second largest festival and some of us old Glendalians say, ‘I kind of miss the old outhouse races.’
“But we sure like having the sidewalks filled and the recognition,” he added. “That’s what this factory is. It’s just moving forward.”