HI, I'M MEREDITH.
I was born in 1968 in Frankfort, Kentucky to the late Robert L. “Bobby” Hyatt, Jr & Nancye Gash Hyatt. I was the baby of our family, the surprise! My sister Tammye (Doug) Hood lives in Mt. Sterling and my brother Todd (Lois Ann) Hyatt lives here in Lawrenceburg. I grew up on Linden Drive and began singing at an early age. Music lessons starting in 3rd grade and studying voice at the University of Kentucky throughout high school encouraged a natural transition into a music focus at the collegiate level.
Up until the age of sixteen, I attended Glensboro Baptist Church in the little community that my mother grew up in. I would venture to say I was the youngest church organist in Anderson County, as I began playing the organ at Glensboro as a 6th grader while my dad led the singing. As I got older, I spent my Wednesday and Sunday nights at First Baptist Church for GA’s and youth activities. I would also spend many nights traveling throughout Anderson County singing at revivals and homecomings with a hymn book in my hand and a milk crate to stand on. Church was a big part of my childhood here in Anderson County and probably where many of you would have met me when I was young.
My youth was full of 4-H activities from speech and demonstration to performing. I learned a lot about leadership and what I could do through 4-H and I believe many of those experiences to have laid the groundwork for much of the community involvement I’ve committed to over the years. I graduated from Anderson County High School in 1987 and was a very involved student. I spent sporting events cheerleading on the sidelines and was an active member in a variety of clubs and organizations. I also spent my high school years coming to community clubs and organizations to speak and sing as program entertainment.
I have loved this little town from the time my parents brought me home to it and it has loved me back for all these years. I feel grateful that life gave me the opportunity to leave for a little while to see the world, but even more so that it brought me back to Lawrenceburg afterwards…
In 1987 I left Lawrenceburg to major in vocal performance at Eastern Kentucky University. I was fortunate to begin a career with Kings Production & Paramount Parks singing and dancing at Kings Island Theme Park. While attending Eastern, I participated in Greek Life through my sorority, Kappa Delta, was a football hostess, and explored various theater opportunities with EKU Theater as well as Lexington Musical Theater. I even became a transient student at NKU for a semester to participate in the Winterfest Season at Kings Island.
My final years with Paramount’s Kings Productions led me to cities all across the United States performing shows for different communities. I ended my 5 year employment with a Department of Defense Mediterranean tour which took me to seven countries under United States Military escort performing for our military during the holidays. I traveled my senior year as an ambassador for the EKU Alumni Association and, upon graduation, took a job with TMC Long Distance before being offered a contract with Opryland USA in Nashville, Tennessee. Unfortunately, a career in performance of that capacity would not pan out after a dancing injury that following winter would require an ACL reconstruction.
Eastern gave me so much: friendships, opportunities, and love. It’s where I met my now-husband, Bart, and where we began planning our future together! He was my “groupie” back then in more ways than one - he attended my shows and he took care of me after my injury. Now he’s my “groupie” for life!
After my ACL reconstruction, we took time to wedding plan and evaluate where we wanted to raise a family. I was soon given an opportunity to interview for a position as a major account representative for CellularOne out of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. It brought us closer to family and allowed me to continue physical therapy, so off to Elizabethtown we went! For around 5 years, I was responsible for 35 counties handling all government accounts and corporate business in those communities. Shortly after our wedding in 1995, Bart and I decided that we were ready to put down roots and that the best place to do that was in the farthest end of my work territory, my hometown, Anderson County.
Bart, a native of Olive Hill in Eastern Kentucky, settled in to the Lawrenceburg life effortlessly, taking on a position with Hitachi in Harrodsburg and beginning to build a career in automotive sales and marketing where he currently serves in an executive role as Vice President. After they were born, we brought each of our 3 children home to Lawrenceburg: McKenna in 1997, Dalton in 1999, and Allaka in 2003. We began to establish our future and our family here in Anderson County, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Life has a funny way of putting you exactly where you need to be, exactly when you need to be there. I count myself fortunate that, professionally, I have been able to prioritize a schedule for my family that allowed me to attend ball games, dance recitals, choir concerts, and everything in between.
My years with CellularOne taught me a lot. I saw many parts of Kentucky I’d never seen and worked with some of the best people. I also put a lot of miles on my car in sales! I would eventually find my way into another major account role with Bellsouth Mobility in Louisville working with some of the largest accounts in the city. It was during my second pregnancy that I approached my dad who had run his own insurance company, Hyatt Insurance, for over 40 years to give me a chance at the insurance business. If I could do sales I wanted the opportunity to work with him and in my community. I became licensed and went to work! But the good Lord, Deb Catlett, and my dad had other ideas. I guess he figured that education in music and all the U-Hauls he rented over the years were good cause for encouraging me to open my own business. So while I worked insurance by day, I would teach piano and Kindermusik at night and on weekends until, finally, I had to make a choice. And thus, the Lawrenceburg Academy of Performing Arts was born!
I received a call to purchase an established Kindermusik program in Danville. With that opportunity and the students I had locally, I knew that working this business would allow me the best of both worlds: working to help support my family financially and being home more often to spend time with my children. So dad retired, and I bought his building on Court Street… and painted it purple. I loved that little space, but eventually needed something bigger so I moved to a larger location on US 127. And somehow, a gift shop or two joined me along the way.
In 2006 another opportunity would present itself to me, and working as a music teacher in the elementary school where my children attended became my reality. My music business degree and 10 years of being self employed made me the perfect candidate for alternate certification, and so my time in public education began. Teaching school by day while continuing my private lessons in the late afternoon/early evening kept me busy while raising little ones and seeing my parents through cancer diagnoses they received 45 days apart. I’m thankful for the blessing that all my coworkers at school, my Academy families, and the Anderson County community as a whole were during that time. I taught at Saffell Street Elementary for 10 years and loved on many children during my tenure while hopefully making music activities fun and instilling an appreciation for the musical arts. I wrote every grant I found out about and built a classroom of opportunities both culturally, theatrically and musically! I oversaw a children’s choir, theater group, and took children to KMEA All State Choir every year but one!
It was also near the end of my time at Saffell Street that I would decide to run for Magistrate of the 4th District and plant my seed in local government…
I decided to run for public office during a time in my career where I was contracted within our school system as an elementary music specialist and knew that at the end of my 10th year of teaching I would be leaving to return to self employment full time. Not only would this allow for the flexibility and availability to public service, meetings and conferences, it would also give me the ability to fully immerse myself in the understanding of the ins and outs of county Government. I spent January-May juggling both my role as music educator and that of Magistrate, along with my private students.
The fiscal court meets twice monthly - one day meeting and one evening meeting. I took off once monthly, half a day without pay, to attend the day-meetings of the court. I was assigned to the standing committees of Transportation and Animal Control for the first term and, upon full Court re-election my second term, requested to be moved to the Budget committee. This past year I presented a new committee to the court, the Policy and Procedure Committee, and was subsequently named Chair after I discovered several KRS mandated procedural updates in our Administrative Code that were not being addressed along with a review of ordinances and other day-to-day operations that should be updated for proper running of our local government. I have been a part of all special committees regarding tourism and served in two interview panels for hiring our previous Tourism Director.
I’ve been an active participant of the Local Officials Training program with the Department of Local Government and my courses/credits are public record on their website. In 7 years, I have completed the 40 hour training program each year but one. That was the year our family personally dealt with health issues and the loss of my father-in-law who was a great mentor to me in my role of local government. He not only was a Captain with the Kentucky State Police, but served several terms as Lewis County Sheriff and we enjoyed many conversations about the functions of local government.
I have been an active participant in the Magistrate & Commissioner’s Association and Kentucky Association of Counties programs & conferences and have been the only local official to attend the National Association of Counties Conference. I’m also the only Anderson County public official to participate in the National Association of Counties High Performance Leadership Academy with Colin Powell. I was one of hundreds of government professionals across the United States to participate in this 14 week program in 2021 and receive certification of completion.
I have also been a soloist of the National Anthem at the KACo conference before opening comments from our previous Governor. My commitment of continued education is an example of my being a life long learner and has taken me across the state to allow for specific training topics important to me and our community that would coordinate with my work schedule and flexibility of my studio families who know and understand my commitment to this community and public service. It is also indicative of my commitment to gaining as much insight and understanding of county government on ALL levels to better serve the citizens of Anderson County.
My family has also been a strong supporter of my commitment to service in my magisterial role. They have seen me walk out of hospital rooms, get up from the dinner table and reschedule prior commitments to be available to my constituents and to be responsive in a timely manner. I may not have always known the answer to issues or concerns, but I’ve always come through on my commitment to find the answers and learn more in the process. And to say I’ve enjoyed the friendships I’ve made along the way would be an understatement!
Relationships I’ve made wouldn’t be possible without the support I’ve received from my home base, and in the spirit of Christmas and having them all under my roof at one time, I’d like to introduce you to them and show you how commitment to leadership and community is something my husband and I have fostered in them from a young age.
My husband Bart Lewis is from Olive Hill, a small Eastern Kentucky community. He was a star athlete that probably would have landed him in professional baseball had an injury taken him away from the Reds tryout his senior year. He went on to major in Finance at EKU and would become President of Sigma Chi fraternity and Vice President of Student Government. My years of nagging him to get into local government in Anderson county is what turned into him encouraging me to run for office. Bart traveled around with me prior to marriage working in the sales end of the automotive industry before going to work with Hitachi Automotive Industries. He is enjoying 25 years with this company and currently serves as Vice President of International Sales and Marketing for North America. He was instrumental in working with Anderson County Little League as president and also founded one of only two Challenger Division programs in the state for individuals with physical and intellectual challenges. He still serves as commissioner for the Challenger Division today and this program is a very active part of our family unit.
Our oldest daughter, McKenna, 24, graduated with a Marketing degree from the University of Evansville in 2019. She was active in leadership within Chi Omega Sorority, President of the Student Government Association, and is currently rounding out her third year of a three-year term as a Student-Elected Trustee on the University of Evansville’s Board of Trustees. She works full-time as a Mortgage Loan Originator with Republic State Mortgage, serving families all over the state, and works weekends downtown at Sweet Mash. She puts in many hours assisting in marketing efforts for my small business and others, not to mention her dedication to Arts programming for people of all ages. She devotes time each year volunteering with the Anderson County Distinguished Young Women program, a program my parents and I have served over the years and one that is near and dear to my family’s heart.
Dalton, 22, is a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University where he graduated this past May with a degree in Business Management with a Minor in Marketing. During his time on the Hill, he served two terms as President of Sigma Chi Fraternity and held roles within IFC on campus. He is currently a licensed insurance agent working with State Farm in Bowling Green and serving families all across the state just like his sister. My dad would be so proud of his career choice! Dalton has fostered much of the same love of Challenger League as his dad, and makes time on weekends home during the spring and summer to volunteer at games.
Allaka, 18 is a Freshman at Eastern Kentucky University majoring in Business Management. She is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority and plans to attend beauty & barber school to one day open her own small business in Lawrenceburg. She is our baby, but she is on her way to achieving her dream of owning her own salon and we couldn’t be more excited for her.
All of the Lewis children are graduates of Anderson County High School where they were active in a variety of clubs, organizations, sports, and leadership roles. Our membership as a family had us very involved in First Baptist Church throughout their youth and we attribute much of our children’s servant-like nature to their faith-based upbringing. Bart, Allaka, and I are new members at Ninevah Christian Church and look forward to finding our place in our new church community in the coming years.