Editor’s note: This is the third in a series profiling the four Republican candidates in the May 6 primary for the open seat on the Highland County Board of Commissioners.
Fred Kay says that his four decades in business in Highland County and the surrounding region, his work with law enforcement agencies, and his overall knowledge of economic development would serve him well as a Highland County Commissioner.
Kay has owned and operated a construction business that he estimates is responsible for 80 percent of the grain bins in Highland County, numerous churches, and many other facilities. His latest project is building the Paint Township substation for the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District.
A resident of the southern portion of Highland County on U.S 62, Kay said he hopes to work as “a dedicated team” to bring more industry, business and additional jobs to Highland County. He said he has been successful completing similar tasks in his position as CEO of Kay’s Construction, erecting factories in Clinton, Brown and Clermont counties, plus three facilities in Highland County.
Kay’s Construction also built the National Weather Station in Wilmington and was the primary contractor for construction at Airborne Express for more than 20 years. The company has also built 11 churches, most recently Good News Gathering on the south end of Hillsboro.
“I saved them $1 million,” Kay said in an interview this week. He said he takes pride in bringing in projects at lower costs. “I’m out to save everybody money,” he said.
Kay, 77, is a longtime pilot – “I’m still flying under the power lines,” he joked - who has worked with law enforcement for decades on aerial reconnaissance investigations.
He said he has so far worked with five Highland County sheriffs, and has received a certificate of appreciation for dedicated volunteer service as a pilot for the sheriff’s office, furnishing his time and airplanes as a special deputy.
Kay said he has been disappointed by how much the sheriff’s budget has been cut over the years.
“The sheriff can’t be cut too much,” he said, citing the need to fight drugs and to focus more on crime at the Rocky Fork Lake region.
“I’m strictly against drugs,” he said.
Kay, also a longtime farmer, said he has contemplated running for commissioner for several years.
“I always did want to do it,” said Kay. “I declined a chance to run as a Democrat 20 years ago.” But he said he believes he will have considerable support from Democrats who will vote in the Republican primary election.
Kay said he would work closely with his fellow commissioners and be a frequent presence in the office.
“I’ll be there as much as needed,” he said. “Tom (Horst) and Shane (Wilkin) spend a lot of time there, and I will too.”
Kay said he enjoys attending meetings, and wants to find ways to attract more jobs and businesses.
“I’m for economic development,” he said. “I know a lot of companies through building projects, and I’d like to see Highland County land something else since DHL closed out.”
Kay and his wife, Patricia, have been married for 55 years. Kay joked that they have no children “yet.” He said he is passionate about fighting animal cruelty.
“We have seven dogs,” said Kay. “I can’t stand to see animals mistreated. I don’t want to see anything abused.” He said he will work closely with the Humane Society and other organizations to rescue and protect animals.
Kay said he feels good about the campaign so far.
“I’m real happy with it,” he said. “We’ve done a good job getting signs out, and I’m getting a lot of feedback. I want to do a good job.”