Project inspired by local young fisherman with autism and cerebral palsy
The Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) has received a $3,333 grant to help build a handicap-accessible pier at Pulaski County Park on Lake Cumberland, filling a need for the community and fulfilling a dream for a local young man with autism, cerebral palsy and a love for fishing.
The grant, awarded by the Somerset-Lake Cumberland REALTORS®, is part of a new Kentucky REALTORS® (KYR) initiative that encourages realtor associations to play a leadership role in making their communities better places to live and work. KYR made $60,000 in Community, Economic Development & Housing Affordability (CODE) grant funding available to qualified programs and projects across Kentucky — $10,000 in each of the state association’s six regions. A focus was put on projects that drive economic growth, make quality-of-life improvements and support homeownership.
Soon after moving to Somerset, Kevin Pinson and his family struggled to find a good fishing spot that was accessible to his son Ryan’s special needs. So he put his energy into trying to fulfill this need in his community — a safe, practical resource for the mobility impaired members of the community to access the lake — and made it part of his flagship project as a member of Leadership Lake Cumberland.
Upon hearing about Pinson’s idea, SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler wanted to find a way to make it a reality — not only for the Pinsons, but for the many residents and visitors to Lake Cumberland who could benefit from such access. Because there is not a handicap-accessible pier anywhere on Lake Cumberland, this is an exciting and much-needed project, Girdler said, and further demonstrates Somerset and Pulaski County’s leadership in quality-of-life initiatives.
“I greatly appreciate the Somerset-Lake Cumberland REALTORS® and their support of our organization and community projects such as this,” Girdler said. “This pier will connect Ryan to what he loves, fishing and the outdoors, and it will help handicapped adults and children, disabled veterans, the elderly population and anyone who cannot otherwise access our beautiful Lake Cumberland because of an impairment. With a lake as large and heavily visited as ours, it is crucial we meet this need. This project impacts a significant number of people and greatly enhances the community’s quality of life.”
Girdler said SPEDA chose to build the pier — named Pinson Pier in honor of the Pinson family — at Pulaski County Park because the park offers public access to the lake and more than 800 acres of walking and biking trails, shelter and cabin rentals, and campsites. The pier is part of a larger initiative SPEDA is undertaking in partnership with Pulaski County Fiscal Court to improve other areas of the park. More details on the pier design and park renovations will be available in the near future.
“A special thanks to the Corps of Engineers for their support, guidance and help in this process,” Girdler said. “In particular, Michael Lapina and Jonathan Friedman have been extremely helpful and we look forward to working with them throughout our Pulaski County Park renovation project.”
Donna Foster, the 2020 president of Somerset-Lake Cumberland REALTORS, expressed gratitude to KYR and its president, Lester Sanders, for making the grant available to support initiatives in Somerset and Pulaski County that improve quality of life.
“With SPEDA’s support, this grant award is being applied to a handicap-accessible pier that our community will benefit from for years to come,” Foster said.
Sanders said the CODE Grant Program is a way for KYR to give back to its membership, directly affecting local communities and individuals. “This initiative is just one of many ways that KYR continues to advocate for the citizens of Kentucky,” he said.
Kevin Pinson thanked KYR, SPEDA, the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, his Leadership Lake Cumberland classmates, and all those who supported his passion project.
“I know there are countless other individuals living in our community who would love to enjoy a lake day,” he said. “Ryan and our family are very excited to see the increasing interest and actual progress being made to make Ryan’s dream a reality.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the Pinson Pier project or helping with the effort should contact SPEDA at (606) 425-5409.