BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WHAS11) – “Prayers for Crystals Safe Return” and “Standing with the Ballards” are messages of support found on signs around Bardstown for a family who has been through so much tragedy.
Now, instead of being in the ground, more than two dozen of these signs have been removed by City Code Enforcement, just three days after Tommy Ballard's funeral.
Ballard was shot and killed while getting ready to go hunting. His death is still under investigation by Kentucky State Police.
Ballard is the father of missing Bardstown mother of 5, Crystal Rogers. Rogers has been missing since July of 2015.
“There's no regard for anybody's emotions, there is no regard for anybody's feelings, they just did it. It was a shock,” community member Raquel Benz said.
It was a shock to community members who support the Ballards and for Tommy's grieving widow Sherry, who released the following statement through a family friend:
“I want to thank all the community for their never-ending support, we love you each. I have to say it broke my heart to learn the signs had been removed. They promised Tommy they would not.”
“People who have relatives that pass get at least 3 days off of work and we haven't even hit that mark yet, so it’s just very sad and hurtful that our city would have such a blatant disregard for this community's feelings,” Benz said.
“As simple fix to this would have been to do a public announcement, if they are in the wrong, the code enforcement board, they have rules and regulations, but in a time of bereavement we all feel the need to have that sign in the yard,” Kecia Copeland, Bardstown City Council member, said.
Mayor John Royalty says these signs along with real estate and yard sale signs were removed from city right of ways and easements to be in line with city ordinance. Royalty says no sign in violation of the ordinance was exempt. The signs that are not placed on right of ways were not removed, and the signs were not destroyed, but instead kept to be picked up by the Ballard family.
"We are in support of the Ballard family 110 percent, and we have been supportive of them by allowing the signs to stay out there and they have been in violation for over a year now," Mayor John Royalty said. "The timing is just what it is, it's, when I over the weekend when I was inundated with phone calls that others are going to start putting signs up its time that we have to draw the line.”
Royalty says he has personally offered to help the Ballard family place signs where they will not be on right of ways. He says he had previously discussions with the family to get the signs moved off the right of ways.