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John Shircliffe: Citizen of the year

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By Robin Bass

John Shircliffe was named Citizen of the Year by the Spencer County-Taylorsville Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon, making him the newest member of a highly-regarded group of community servants.

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“This has been a long time coming,” said Chamber President Kerry Stevenson.

The chamber president spoke briefly about Shircliffe’s accomplishments, including the success of the Main St. Committee under his leadership. Stevenson also touted Shircliffe as the driving force behind the renovation to downtown Taylorsville.

“And there are many other accomplishments,” said Stevenson, too many to list during the hour-long luncheon.

When Shircliffe rose to accept his award, he was further honored as Chamber members rose to their feet and gave him a hearty round of applause. He accepted the plaque with a big grin and asked Stevenson if he could say a few words.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” said Shircliffe. “Serving Spencer County, by far, has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done.”

Shircliffe’s first step toward that journey was five years ago when he was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The county was just beginning the process of updating the comprehensive plan of residential, agriculture and commercial zoning regulations. Rather than rubber stamp the previous plan, Shircliffe said he pushed for – and succeeded in – getting proper language about building standards, overlay districts, signage restrictions and other elements of modern rural/urban planning.

“I’ve always been a big fan of planning. I’ve always had a passion for it,” said Shircliffe.

Planning and Zoning Chairman Steve Tichenor said that Shircliffe has brought a lot of innovative ideas to their discussions over the years.

“He adds diversity to our commission, another point of view that gives us something to think about,” said Tichenor. “I don’t agree with him all the time, but I do appreciate his opinions.”

Tichenor said that Shircliffe has worked hard for this community, especially with the Main Street program and is “well deserving” of being named Citizen of the Year.

Mayor Don Pay echoed those sentiments. Pay was instrumental in pegging Shircliffe as chairman of the city’s Main Street program.

“John is an idea man,” said Pay. “We have a shared vision for this community and for rebuilding the city.”

Through a collaboration of ideas, Taylorsville has undergone a tremendous transformation. At first, the improvements went unseen as the city replaced aging water lines. Then came the structural changes, such as resurfacing streets and pouring new sidewalks. But it was the beautification phase that really sparked imaginations; a phase that was spearheaded by Shircliffe.

Pay said since Shircliffe began as chairman of the Main Street Committee, the volunteer base has become stronger than ever.

“People see the progress being made and that is generating a lot of excitement.Volunteers want to be a part of that,” said Pay.

For Shircliffe, working with the Main Street program was never about recognition. He just enjoyed designing streetscapes on his computer and dreaming of all the possibilities.

“When I started with Main Street, I didn’t like speaking in front of people,” said Shircliffe.

Now he regularly appears before city commissioners, fiscal court and chamber luncheons to provide updates on the renovation progress. Shircliffe said the experience has taught him how to be a better communicator.

Other areas where Shircliffe has volunteered his time include:

• organizing a group of 30 volunteers to help Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi;

• organizing the planting of trees in Taylorsville during the fall of 2007 and 2009;

• chairman of T.R.E.K. and Spencer County Trails Association;

• chairman of Kentucky Gourd Festival Art Show

• helped create walking tour with John Lilly of the historical society;

• designed new Taylorsville logo and marketing material;

• member of the schools facility committee, JDRF Carnival for a Cure and Reaching our Community;

• donated Main Street signs and decorative fencing around courthouse; and

• renovated the Sanctuary Arts Center (with his wife’s help).

Prior to moving to Spencer County, Shircliffe volunteered his time organizing the Garvin Gate Blues Festival in Old Louisville. While serving as chairman, the festival grew and now boasts an annual attendence each year of 15,000.

As for the future, Shircliffe said his plans are to continue helping in the community and hinted that he is considering some new ideas and areas he would like to serve.

“I’m a big believer in shaking it up and reinventing,” said Shircliffe.

Shircliffe and his wife, Judy, live on a 40-acre farm off Grays Run Rd. with their children, seven horses, two dogs, seven cats, and a few fish. Their children are Jonathan 18, and Alexandra, 15.

When he’s not volunteering, Shircliffe is running his business Eagle Sign & Design and Commercial Properties. With the help of two dozen employees, Shircliffe designs and creates custom bronze and aluminum signs, monuments and     related streetscape and architectural products.

Shircliffe has owned his own business since 1995. Prior to that, he was the general manager at the Brown Cullen Company where he helped the company grow from $180,000 in annual sales to $850,000.