Officials in Grant County, Kentucky were so convinced that creationist Ken Ham’s $92-million Ark Encounter would lead to a major tourism boom that they decided to fork out as much as $18 million in tax incentives for the project.
The state also designated $11 million in road funds for an expanded interchange off Interstate 75 to deal with the expected increase in traffic.
But the tourists did not come in the expected numbers. Now the Ark Encounter not only looks like a white mammoth, it’s left Grant Counter “teetering on bankruptcy”, according to this report.
Grant County Judge-Executive Steve Wood ruefully said:
It’s been a great thing but it’s not brought us any money.
Grant County faces a major budget shortfall that Wood has said might have to be solved through a combination of a 2 percent payroll tax and job cuts to the county’s workers. Wood says that there’s no doubt the Ark has been a major disappointment.
I was one of those believers that once the Ark was here everything was going to come in. But it’s not done it. It’s not done it. I think the Ark’s done well and I’m glad for them on that. But it’s not done us good at all.
Writing for American News X, James Stahl labelled Ham “an ultra-religious swindler” and described the Ark Encounter as a “monument to Ham’s ego”.
He also pointed out that Grant County’s ecomomic woes may cost sheriff’s deputies their jobs. He quoted assistant Grant County attorney Julie Scott Jernigan as saying.
After June 1, sheriff’s deputies would have to be laid off. No one will answer 911 calls. The road department can’t buy salt this year.
Ironically, the idea of the Ark Encounter spurred Grant Co. into becoming a ‘wet’ county allowing for the opening of bars and full-service restaurants. County officials were evidently surprised that nobody had jumped at the chance to open a bar catering to far right evangelicals.
He quoted Steve Wood as saying:
I’m shocked, I’ll be honest with you. We were told [the vote in favor of alcohol sales would] bring restaurants, particularly with the Ark. It hasn’t.
Not surprising that nobody wants to try to sell booze to the same crowd that fought in favour of prohibition.
In the end, it seems Ken Ham has bilked citizens of Kentucky out of money. We will be sure to send our thoughts and prayers their way and hope they vote for some more intelligent officials.
Ham became even more of a laughing stock than he already was when he recently decided to bathe his ark in rainbow colours – not attract gay visitors but show that the Rainbow™ was the rightful property of Christians which had been misappropriated by deviants.
Hat tip: Matthew Carr