The following article by David Strange was originally published on 27 Dec 2015.
I have recently written to you about Mt. Washington and Lebanon Junction, two of the eight cities in Bullitt County. This time, allow me to tell you a little about the city of Hillview in north Bullitt County, next to the Jefferson County line.
Before the 1950's, northern Bullitt County was primarily farm land and forest. There were multi-thousand-acre farms of trees, cornfields, grass, cattle, and horses. There were a few grand estate houses, a scattering of small homes, and even an occasional small subdivision. Interstate 65 did not yet exist. A person traveling along the winding, narrow little two-lane Preston Highway could expect to enjoy the sights of "the country," looking across the mostly open farmland to the western hills of "The Knobs."
But after 1950 a series of population explosions occurred that few people could then imagine, much less prepare for. Factory work had become plentiful in Louisville. International Harvester was thriving; Ford was expanding rapidly with its new plant on Fern Valley Road; and General Electric Company was building its thousand-acre home-appliance factory that would eventually employ 25,000.
People came from everywhere to get a piece of this new blue-collar prosperity. For practically the first time, nearly anyone willing to work could get a good-paying job. With prosperity came the desire for better homes. Families and developers looked to the south into Bullitt County and saw buildable, inexpensive land close to work. Subdivisions shot up everywhere. Between 1960 and 1970, the population of Bullitt County jumped 65%, northern Bullitt by 103%.
Inevitably, trouble began to develop along with the growth. Infrastructure was inadequate. Roads fell apart. Crime soared. Thousands of people who had moved "to the country" found themselves in a new, but poorly regulated urbanized area. The problem was made worse by a perceived inadequate response by county agencies. A movement began, led by the Northern Bullitt County Area Council, to develop a more local, more responsive government; to develop a city.
Petitions were started and plans were made. Eventually a small one-half mile square area was laid out consisting of portions of Lone Acres, Overdale, and Maryville subdivisions. But what to call this new city? It seemed divisive to name the city after any one subdivision, and most leaders wanted something to signify a fresh start. The founding leaders looked out at those ageless hills on the horizon, and came up with the simple but solid name of "Hillview."
And so on March 28, 1974, the new city of Hillview was incorporated. The city expanded and grew rapidly as people fled Jefferson County taxes, restrictions, and especially court-ordered school busing. Within four years, the city of 4200 passed Shepherdsville as the county's largest city. (Today the population is nearing 9,000; Shepherdsville has grown to roughly 12,000).
It was a shoestring start. I remember the first police cars were actually the officers' private cars, equipped at their own cost with lights and siren. The "police radio" was a CB radio, based out of the mayor's house. I remember being personally proud for the city police years later when they finally bought their first real, fully equipped car.
Over time, the city developed, went though growing pains, and became the energetic city that it is today. Leaders have tried for years to get a much-needed city zip code and post office to avoid confusion with Jefferson County areas. The city has had some recent serious difficulties, struggling through a very costly lawsuit that threatens to push the city into bankruptcy.
But despite such problems, Hillview has done well. It has received accolades as a "Health Concious City," due partly to a vigorous focus on community activities. Youth soccer and baseball are popular programs. In 2014, Hillview built the first skateboard park in the county and a paved walking track; both are near the city police department and community center for both security and to promote good community relations. A gigantic "Christmas Basket" program and fun community Easter Egg hunt are done every year. In 2015 Hillview was rated, at #18, as one of the safest cities in the state.
One of my favorite activities, a Thursday night fish fry and free jam session and music show, provides a friendly venue for eating, visiting, and enjoying really excellent country, bluegrass, and gospel music.
Most of northern Bullitt County is no longer the vast farmland of my youth. It has grown into a collection of several small cities (Another of which I will tell you about next time). But despite the urbanization of the area, or perhaps because of it, Hillview is a gathering of good people; hardworking people who enjoy one another in the evenings as they gather in yards and soccer fields and basketball courts. I like to imagine that once in a while, in the cool twilight of the day, people of Hillview might look across at the sun setting over those hills on the horizon, and sigh a pleasant sigh. The day's work is done; the family is home; dinner is on the table; life is good. May it be so for every one.
More information about Hillview can be found at its city hall and community center, or by visiting its new web site at www.HillviewKy.org.
Copyright 2015 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.