The state announced on Friday afternoon that Gov. Matt Bevin has appointed a new chairwoman of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission. Tandy Patrick, a Louisville attorney who had previously served as chair, was named to replace Alston Kerr, who had been chair since 2008.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, also said he has officially requested an audit by State Auditor Mike Harmon of the park’s finances.
In a news release, Don Parkinson, secretary of the Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage, did not say whether Kerr resigned. Parkinson said that Rebecca Jordan of Georgetown and Matt Dedden of Burlington also were appointed to the commission. Jordan replaces Luther Deaton; Dedden replaces W.B. Rogers Beasley. The terms of Deaton and Beasley had expired.
Jordan, a reining enthusiast, has been on the commission before and is on the separate Kentucky Horse Park Foundation board. Dedden is a former Boone County commissioner.
“The people of the commonwealth have asked for a change in leadership at the Horse Park and Tandy has proven herself as an exceptional leader,” Parkinson said in his release. “During her previous tenure, Tandy was instrumental in bringing the World Equestrian Games to Lexington. The Horse Park is fortunate to once again have her talent.”
Patrick, a saddlebred owner, also served as interim chairwoman of the independent World Games 2010 Foundation after Jim Host resigned in 2007. Patrick also chaired the Horse Park commission under Gov. Ernie Fletcher.
Of Kerr, Parkinson said: “Alston has been an asset to the Horse Park and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She shepherded the Horse Park through the well orchestrated World Equestrian Games in 2010. We wish her all the best in the future.”
Kerr could not be reached immediately for comment.
Thayer has filed legislation to reduce the commission from 17 members to nine; the bill has passed the Senate and has been sent to the House State Government committee.
Thayer said Friday he was “delighted” with the appointments.
“They are excellent appointments by Gov. Bevin and it shows he is committed to getting some good people on the Horse Park to take a look at some of the problems I’ve identified and some identified by the Finance Cabinet,” Thayer said. “There are some good people on that board, and my hope is they will work closely with some new members to take a close look at policies and procedures I’ve brought to light in the last few weeks.”
Finance Cabinet Secretary William Landrum on Feb. 25 sent a letter to Horse Park executive director Jamie Link saying that the park’s small purchasing authority had been cut from $20,000 to $1,000. Landrum testified to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee last week that the Horse Park had been making daily purchases from food vendor Sysco, which is not under contract to the state. According to Landrum’s letter, the park made $500,000 worth of purchases in the last 11 months.
The purchases also were identified as a problem in a 2015 audit, done at the behest of Horse Park management by the Finance Cabinet.
Thayer wants the new audit to “lay out a road map for the commission and management at the park to address these problems,” he said.
Republicans also were angered when Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear re-appointed first lady Jane Beshear, who served on the World Equestrian Games Foundation and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, to the commission just before leaving office. Jane Beshear apparently remains on the board.