From the Daily Independent
Sunday Morning, August 16, 1955
City of Bellefonte Celebrates Fourth Birthday
Eastern Kentucky’s Youngest Town Incorporated in 1951
Eastern Kentucky’s youngest city proudly bearing one of the oldest and most familiar names of this section of the state — Bellefonte — observed its fourth birthday this summer.
The City of Bellefonte was born on July 3rd, 1951 destined not to become a bustling busy metropolis of towering steel and concrete with wide traffic-choked thoroughfares, but a quiet residential community nestled in the shade of giant oaks that once sheltered the log cabin homes of its earliest inhabitants who toiled at the nearby Bellefonte charcoal furnace years before Ashland, its thriving industrial neighbor city, was laid out into town lots and incorporated.
An order of the Greenup Circuit Court entered on July 3rd, 1951, in response to a petition signed by almost every resident of the Bellefonte section, established and incorporated Bellefonte as a sixth class city of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In Kentucky the smallest incorporated community is a “city.” State laws do not provide for villages, hamlets, townships etc. A city progresses through the different classes from sixth to first through growth in population and the type and scope of the public services provided to its residents.
The City of Bellefonte’s corporate limits enclose an area of approximately one-half mile square on the north side of State Route 5 which forms part of the boundary line between Greenup and Boyd counties. They are roughly bounded on the river side by Mt. Savage Drive and on the west by Country Club Drive to include the residents on the west side of the drive, the Bellefonte Country Clubhouse and Swimming Pool, and a strip of the Bellefonte golf course. The city area includes about 95 homes which are occupied by Bellefonte’s estimated 250 to 275 residents.
Residents of the Bellefonte area requested incorporation as a city with several purposes in mind, perhaps the main one of which was the preservation of the rural beauty of the community. They were also moved by the desire to join forces in an effort to find the very best solution to the growing community of fire and police protection and adequate water supply, sewage disposal, etc.
In attaining their first objective — the preservation of the rustic atmosphere of the subdivision — the people of Bellefonte had the valuable assistance of the founders of the and officials of the Means and Russell Iron company who originally developed the area as a fine residential back in the early 1920’s and in all deeds restricted the land to residential use only.
Church Being Built
A Presbyterian Church, the first of any denomination to be built in Bellefonte, is nearing completion a short distance from the school and within sight of the ruins of old Bellefonte Furnace.
Although no contract with the Ashland Fire Department has ever been arranged, an agreement with the Westwood department on a volunteer basis is now in effect.
Building and zoning ordinances have been adopted to preserve the city’s sylvan air as well as to provide eventually for better fire and health protection. There is some talk of enlarging the city limits but it is being temporarily held up by the question of taxes. This seems though, a very minor problem as the taxes for all of the citizenry of Bellefonte amount to only $2,000 a year.
In the order incorporating Bellefonte as a sixth class city, the Greenup court named five city trustees who act in the capacity of a town council. They were Davis E. Geiger, Fred M. Gross, George H. Todd, Mrs. George H. Beddoe and John C. Vigor.
Town Officials Named
At their initial meeting held in October of 1951 in the home of the late LeWright Browning, Bellefonte’s Board of Trustees organized and immediately launched efforts on a program of community improvement.
John Vigor was elect as chairman of the Board of Trustees or “mayor,” and John Layne was elected as city clerk. The home of George H. (Bro) Todd was designated as the board’s official meeting place for regular meetings to be held on the second Monday of each month.
The new city officials then began the consideration of Bellefonte’s community problems of public health, safety and convenience. What were those problems and was was their order of importance to Bellefonte?
The Board of Trustees gave a great deal of thought to the protection of property from theft, vandalism and fire. They arranged for the appointment of one of their residents, Fred M. Gross, as a deputy sheriff on the staff of the Greenup County sheriff with full power of arrest, and for the periodical patrols of the area by the Kentucky State Police. The opened negotiations with the Ashland Fire Department seeking an arrangement under which assistance might be given in the event of a major fire.
Bellefonte obtains its water supply third-handed. Pumped form the Ohio River by the City of Ashland, it is sold to the City of Russell, then to the Means and Russell Iron Company, then to the residents of Bellefonte. The water supply particularly during the summer months is inadequate. The original sewer system was built by the subdivision’s developers in the early 920’s and has been extended to several new sections of Bellefonte and was being taxed almost beyond capacity.
As more and more families moved to Bellefonte the enrollment at the Bellefonte Grade School, a part of the Russell School District, increased. Classrooms began to be crowded.
These were among the major problems to be worked out by Bellefonte’s new city fathers. There were other problems of less pressing importance such as the improvement of streets, installation of street lights, public transportation, etc.
In planning community improvements, the Board of Trustees seeks the opinions and desires of all the residents of the new city. They receive these opinions and desires first-handed form the citizenry in old-fashioned “Town Meetings” which are held in the city’s largest building the Bellefonte Country Clubhouse. The trustees report to the people and the people report to the trustees in these meetings which are more-or-less informal and which take on the atmosphere of a neighborhood gathering.
Town meetings held in August of 1952 and March of 1953 attracted attendance of around seventy, a high percentage of Bellefonte’s adult population. More recent meetings have drawn almost a hundred attendants, and increase in line with the city’s growing population.
The Bellefonte of today is not a great deal different on the outside from the Bellefonte of 1951, but many inner changes have taken place. The chairmanship of the town council has passed from Mr. Vigor to Mr. Todd. The council however remains unchanged except for replacement of Mrs. Beddoe by John Gavigan.
The terms of the present councilmen will expire in November but as yet neither the mayor or any Bellefonte citizens have filed for election. Deputy Sheriff Gross has been replaced by Constable W.M. Bush of Flatwoods who makes his rounds from three to four times nightly. The clerk and treasurer now are Mrs. William Hull and Homer Steele.
And the city even has a police judge, H. William Steele. Although he has no court as such, it has made no difference to date as he has never been called upon to try a case.
At the request of the residents, the Means and Russell Iron Company installed 1,100 feet of laterals to receive sewage systems fro a number of new homes. There has been a great deal of building in recent years which made this absolutely necessary. Bellefonte Drive and Amanda Furnace Dr. have been ditched and drained, but as yet nothing has been done toward installing street lights. The Bellefonte roads being curvy as they are would necessitate a light at every turn, an expensive proposition.
Work was begun on the Bellefonte School in June of this year and should be finished shortly before Christmas. It includes the construction of two new classrooms, a gymnasium with stage, and more modern lavatory facilities. The kitchen and lunch room are being rearranged and rejuvenated to make way for larger incoming classes.