Last updated: October 01. 2013 9:00AM - 2852 Views
Cris Ritchie — Editor

Plans are underway to transform this vacant lot in Vicco into a city park, utilizing a donation of playground equipment. (photo by Cris Ritchie | Hazard Herald)
Plans are underway to transform this vacant lot in Vicco into a city park, utilizing a donation of playground equipment. (photo by Cris Ritchie | Hazard Herald)
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VICCO—Officials with the city of Vicco are experiencing a financial windfall in the wake of national attention stemming from the city’s approval of a fairness ordinance early this year that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. And with the prospect of a reality television deal looming, the city stands to benefit even further.

City Attorney Lori Reynolds updated members of the city commission last week about the city’s six-month exclusive contract with a Manhattan production company currently planning to shoot a pilot episode based in Vicco. Reynolds said the contract to shoot the pilot has been completed, and she was told by the production company that they are planning for a full season.

“They are 96, 97 percent sure we’ll get a reality series from it, at least a first season,” she said, add the company is currently negotiating with a network for fees and time slots.

The city of Vicco stands to benefit financially from any series shot in city limits, Reynolds added, as the city will be paid a location fee as part of the contract. Mayor Johnny Cummings and Police Chief Tony Vaughn, along with members of the city commission, will also sign what Reynolds described as “character contracts” for separate amounts of money.

Three networks were initially interested in the show, Reynolds said, include A&E, which dropped out a couple weeks ago to concentrate on its hugely popular “Duck Dynasty” show. Reynolds noted city officials turned down a production company with the ABC network after hearing their ideas for the show during a meeting on Skype.

“They were going ‘Honey Boo Boo’,” she said, referencing the TLC reality show. “They wanted us to have senior citizens dancing and stuff that doesn’t happen. They wanted set-up, set-up, set-up.”

Cummings said he was only interested in participating in a show that centers on the positive aspects of Vicco.

“I wanted something positive with people helping people,” he said.

The city commission is currently considering three beautification projects within the city, including a river walk and park, the latter of which is being boosted by a donation of playground equipment. Reynolds said the city’s production company, called Jane Brain, has requested to film those projects as they get underway as part of the series.

“We want to show Vicco, not just a gay rights town,” she said.

City officials are also looking to capitalize on the attention Vicco has received this year, including a recent appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” Plans are underway to improve the city’s website after a Virginia man promised to donate funds for the site’s set-up. The city is expected enter into a contract with Hazard businessman Jordan Palmer, who will maintain the site. Reynolds said a portion of the site will include information about the city and its history, while the other will focus on e-commerce by selling T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise. The revenue generated from the site will go back to the city.

“We’re going to set it up to where all the money will come into an account that Vicco only has their hands on,” she said. “So, we’re going to make it really secure.”

In other business, Police Chief Tony Vaughn briefed the commission on an initiative that will place several surveillance cameras around the city. Vaughn said the cameras will be installed in different places from the Ky. 15 exit into the city to the intersection of Ky. 1095, and will overlook areas such as the Peoples Bank location.

The commission also received an update on rehabilitation work being completed on the city’s waste water treatment plant. Mayor Cummings said the project includes the replacement of several parts that were not working or had fallen into disrepair. The overall goal, he said, is to get the plant up to capacity and then pursue avenues for funding a new plant in the city.

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