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New Lexington early education center, road to be named after trailblazing African-American pharmacist

Dr. Zirl Palmer Lane road sign
Josh James
Dr. Zirl Palmer Lane road sign

A new Head Start center is coming to an East End neighborhood in Lexington. The city hopes it’ll be a project that keeps a local community intact amid increased development in the area.

One word that kept coming up over and over again at a press conference announcing the new Head Start Center is “transformation.”

First District Councilman, and At-Large council candidate, James Brown has been a key driving force behind the project. He explained just how the new facility and accompanying road will change the William Wells Brown neighborhood at the corner of Shropshire Avenue and Fifth Street.

"I think they'll see more of what a complete neighborhood looks like. You'll have that facility right across the street from the school, with single family housing that's going to be affordable. It's going to not only support the neighborhood and give folks that live in this neighborhood an opportunity to stay here but it's also going to support the families and students that are involved in William Wells Brown school."
Councilman James Brown

Brown hopes the center, which will be named after Dr. Zirl Palmer, who operated the only Black-owned pharmacy in Lexington in the 1960s, will contribute to the cohesiveness – rather than push apart – the community.

"When you're thinking about a neighborhood like East End that's seeing a lot of development and redevelopment, displacement and losing the culture is at the front of mind for a lot of people," Brown said. "So to be able to have a new project adopt Dr. Palmer's name and give some inspiration to this project tied to workforce, education, and stable housing, is just paramount."

Community Action Council will run the Head Start Center, with room for 52 students.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.