Community leaders in Western Kentucky are coming together in hopes of addressing issues plaguing part of the Bluegrass.
Mayors, judge executives and other city and county officials filled the room at Ballard Convention Center in Madisonville Wednesday for the inaugural Western Kentucky Coalition meeting.
It's the first time counties in the Green River Area Development District (GRADD) are joining together with one common goal in mind: improving the quality of life for their citizens.
"We've got 24 counties represented and hopefully all those counties and the cities within them will come together to work together to represent Western Kentucky," Hopkins County Judge Executive Jack Whitfield said.
Members said this new coalition will strive to bring the most pressing issues each community faces to the forefront, including infrastructure, healthcare and education.
"We are very limited in Western Kentucky, most of the cities have decent access, but once you get out of the city limits, out in the county, there's very limited broadband access," Judge Whitfield said. "So I think that's one thing we'll be looking to get support for, is to increase that access."
One of the main focuses for the coalition moving forward: forming a collective voice on the region's issues to make a larger political impact.
"We have noticed in the past our fellow citizens in Eastern Kentucky do a really good job of being in lockstep when it comes to their big issues; they go to Frankfurt and D.C. of one mind, same with folks in Northern Kentucky and they tend to make a lot of progress," said Brad Schneider, Henderson County judge executive. "We haven't been as good about that here in West Kentucky for whatever reason, so we're going to try and improve this with that."
Members hope this more organized representation will give them a better chance of being heard during the next legislative session when it resumes in Frankfurt in January.