Bourbon Co. Tobacco Heritage Thwarts Smoking Ban Proponents
PARIS — A mural showing a tobacco harvest has been on display high in the second-floor rotunda of the Bourbon County Courthouse for more than 100 years.
"Burley put me through school," Judge-Executive Donnie Foley likes to say. "Burley built this courthouse, burley built the schools, burley put food on the table." And because of that, he said, he can't imagine a day when Bourbon County goes smoke-free.
Tobacco is part of the culture. "Just about every county farm raised some amount of tobacco," said Foley, who along with the Bourbon Fiscal Court resists efforts to enact a smoking ban.
Foley, 61, remembers when there were five tobacco warehouses in the county, and sale days were equal parts party and business. The Chamber of Commerce brought out free coffee, doughnuts and ham sandwiches.
In 1990, Bourbon County led the state in tobacco production, and it remains one of the top counties for burley production.
In Bourbon County, as in most of Kentucky, most tobacco is raised on small farms run by families whose lives turn on the bounty or bust of the harvest.
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