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OUR

REGION

Messenger-Inquirer

2019 edition

DAVIESS • HANCOCK • MCLEAN • MUHLENBERG • OHIO AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT OUR AREA'S ARTS, BUSINESSES, COMMUNITIES, INITIATIVES AND MORE


OUR REGION

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

Welcome to Our Region We are proud to present our 2019 regional edition celebrating the ways our area is succeeding. Our newsroom covers five counties: Daviess, Hancock, McLean, Muhlenberg and Ohio. These counties blend together and benefit from many of the same things, such as the William H. Natcher Parkway transitioning to Interstate 165, officials expanding broadband internet access to our most rural areas and legalized hemp cultivation taking off. But each county has a distinct personality and its own successes. For example, while corn and soybean harvests were favorable for many Kentuckians in 2018, Ohio County enjoyed the highest yields in the entire commonwealth. Livermore is ramping up efforts to be designated a Kentucky Trail Town. A spectacular new recreation complex is on the horizon for Muhlenberg County. Hancock County is thriving from a new generation of young farmers taking the reigns. And Daviess County is celebrating the first anniversary of both the new Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum and the city’s seat on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Sometimes, our area’s greatest strengths are borne out of the challenges we face. When negotiations over new O.Z. Tyler Distillery rickhouses fell apart with Daviess County, Ohio County stepped in and will now be home to nine of the new facilities. A one-vote win in the 13th District House race and the recount that followed led to election reforms within the Daviess County Clerk’s office. When Livermore was recently left without a grocery store, a McLean County businessman stepped in to assist his neighbors. With every challenge, our communities rise to meet it. There is so much to celebrate in this five-county area. Let’s take this opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to our neighbors and highlight the history, culture and people that make our area so unique. And, as we look to the horizon, the future of our communities is bright, indeed. Thanks for reading.

PUBLISHER Mike Weafer

ADVERTISING Angela Mayes

Advertising Director

Shelby Mays

Advertising Assistant

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Krystal Caudill Nic Drury Holly Hayden Sam Howard Lynn Saffran

EDITORIAL

Jodi Keen Special Publications Editor Bob Bruck City Editor

REPORTERS

Renee Beasley Jones Jack Dobbs Bobbie Hayse Keith Lawrence James Mayse Jacob Mulliken Austin Ramsey Don Wilkins

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- Messenger-Inquirer COVER ART top left: Evan Mattingly | top right: Greg Eans, M-I | bottom left: Seth Dukes | bottom right: Greg Eans, M-I

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4 OUR REGION

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

I-165 an economic development tool BY AUSTIN RAMSEY

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fficials in Daviess County celebrated a monumental achievement this year — the official designation of the former William H. Natcher Parkway as I-165, a spur of I-65 that runs from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. Although construction to upgrade the four-lane controlled-access highway is still ongoing, state and federal transportation officials amended the conversion agreement late last year in order to designate the highway stretching from Bowling Green to Owensboro an interstate, even before several interchange projects along it are completed. Plans to rebuild interchanges at Kentucky 69 (Exit 50) in Ohio County, U.S. 231 (Exit 36) in Butler County and U.S. 231 (Exit 9) in Warren County were left off the two-year highway spending plan last year. Those outdated “cloverleaf” interchanges don’t meet interstate standards, and, with no funding, and thereby construction, on the key interchanges in sight, it seemed the original Interstate Conversion Agreement would delay final interstate designation — at least until the next General Assembly budgetary biennium. “But, in just listening to the discussion over the last few weeks, we understood the importance of expediting the interstate shielding for I-165,” said Federal Highway Administration Division Administrator Thomas Nelson Jr. “So, (KYTC) Secretary Greg Thomas and myself revised the agreement to move the shielding up a little bit quicker. What we’ve done is modified the agreement to say that the (project) has to be under construction or included in the statewide transportation improvement plan (STIP). With that, it will make it a little bit quicker for us to get these I-165 interstate signs along the corridor.” That means a lot for Owensboro and Daviess County, which, as Mayor

Photo by Austin Ramsey, Messenger-Inquirer

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speaks before a small crowd at Stryker Logistics LLC in Bowling Green in March about economic development opportunities in the state and the recent transition of the William H. Natcher Parkway into I-165. Tom Watson has often said, are left on a cul-de-sac between major routes in Evansville and Louisville. The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce has been pushing to turn the state parkway into a federal interstate since December 2004, arguing that out-of-state businesses and industries don’t understand that parkways are virtually the same as interstates. “It will absolutely attract business, talent and people,” said Candance Castlen Brake, the chamber’s president. “If you look at Owensboro on a map and see our connectivity to an interstate, it is a game-changer. Having actual shields on 165 is

something for us to celebrate. There will now be interstate shields leading to our community — something we thought was impossible just a few years ago. This will create boundless economic opportunities and tourism opportunities for our community. This kind of success is what happens when everyone works together. Our local, state and federal transportation leaders and elected officials all have worked tirelessly on this. And our business community has been right there alongside them. Daviess Judge-Executive Al Mattingly agreed. “While we know what parkways are, most folks are not familiar with the

term,” he said. I-165 was originally intended to be called I-65 Spur, but, according to a renumbering the American Association of State Highway Transportation, spurs no longer technically exist. That distinction itself can be important. “So, it is a ‘spur,’ but it won’t have a ‘spur’ name,” said Gary Valentine, Natcher-I-165 project manager. “All former interstate spurs now have an interstate name. I think that means a lot to the communities for economic development reasons. Having interstate name designation gives local economic development officials the opportunity to check off that ‘interstate’ box for potential new investors.”


OUR REGION

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

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Regional hemp growers attracting both generational, first-time farmers BY DON WILKINS

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he legalization of hemp has attracted both generational farmers and nontraditional growers across the region looking to capitalize on the in vogue crop. Ohio County pharmacist John Fuller is among the nontraditional growers looking to seize the opportunity. And for Fuller and his wife, Amanda, it’s more about the CBD oil derived from hemp that interested them. The couple, who owns and operates Midtown Pharmacy Express in Beaver Dam, has been selling CBD oil at the business for some time. “We started carrying CBD with no great outlooks but people were asking for it,” Fuller said. “Patients started using it and we started seeing just crazy benefits and hearing crazy stories for it and how much it’s helped people. And not just one condition but all kinds of conditions.” And in the summer of 2018, the Fullers purchased a 64-acre farm on U.S. 231 to begin developing their hemp operation, which includes a grow house for cloning and a greenhouse that keeps the hemp plants until they’re ready to be put into the ground. During the first week of June, the Fullers began planting what would become 18 acres of hemp, making them the largest among the 10 growers of the crop in Ohio County. A total of 81 acres has been planted in Ohio County. Fuller said the weather didn’t cooperate in the beginning, but his hemp plants have rebounded. “It started raining the 5th of June

Ohio County residents John and Amanda Fuller stand in their hemp field behind their home just south of downtown Beaver Dam on U.S. 231. The Fullers, who also own and operate Midtown Pharmacy Express in Beaver Dam, planted 18 acres of hemp from which they plan to extract CBD oil. Photo by Don Wilkins, Messenger-Inquirer

tobacco as he adopts hemp into his crop portfolio. “It’s kind of the same infrastructure you need for tobacco but everything you know about tobacco you just throw it out the window,” said Murphy, a thirdgeneration farmer. “... My dad and I had 20 acres of dark tobacco this year. My No. 1 goal is to be done with the tobacco crop. The (tobacco) companies keep cutting our prices every year.” Murphy started out with 2 acres of hemp last year and increased it and it stunted our crops’ growth for highest at 16 growers and 327 acres; to 10 acres on ground about 3 miles about a month,” Fuller said. “... It’s Hancock has 10 growers using 70 from Beech Grove. been a challenge to grow hemp.” acres; and Muhlenberg has five He said his plan is to have a In Hancock County, Jack Ramsey growers using 96 acres. large-scale hemp operation. is another nontraditional farmer Agriculture Commissioner Ryan “I’m looking, probably for next whose family decided to plant a Quarles said Kentucky was limited year, I’m talking to a few guys to small crop of hemp on their Big to 16,000 acres for hemp for this getting up to 75 acres,” Murphy said. Roots Lavender Farm. growing season but will increase to Starting in 2020, the state’s Ramsey said he’s tending to a 60,000 acres next year. little less than 2 acres. “That doesn’t mean all 60,000 will hemp program will transition from research to a commercial phase. “It seems like this is where be planted,” Quarles said. “... These “We still need and we’re in everything is heading,” Ramsey said. stats reflect an increased enthusiasm desperate need of research in all “... Our main focus is just getting the for the crop. For example, we had aspects of hemp production, and (CBD) oil. But the hemp seems to 211 in 2018 grow hemp. This year also hemp products as well,” Quarles be going pretty smoothly. It seems we had 1,000. Last year, we had 70 said. “There’s a lack of product to be growing itself. We’ve just been processors, and this year we have standards right now. Consumers keeping the weeds out of it.” 200 processors.” want transparency. So we need to According to the Kentucky A number of the generational develop a framework that gives the Department of Agriculture, Daviess farmers embracing hemp are ones consumer the confidence that when County has the largest number with a tobacco background. they buy a hemp product, it is as of growers at 28 using 400 acres McLean County farmer PJ advertised.” in the region. McLean is the next Murphy said he’s phasing out his


6 OUR REGION

Regional bridges receive $26.6 million in funding BY JACOB MULLIKEN

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

o address the state’s ailing bridges, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and state legislators launched the Bridging Kentucky Program in 2018. The $700 million program is a six-year endeavor meant to restore, renew and replace more than 1,000 bridges in all of the state’s 120 counties, Bridging Kentucky Communications Manager Ed Green said. “These are relatively small bridges,” he said. “But together this is one of the cabinet’s top priorities. We have committed to taking care of and repairing the infrastructure we have in place.” Daviess County is receiving roughly $6.6 million toward repairs on 10 bridges that made the program’s list. These projects are slated to be completed between now and 2024. Four of the projects that are the focus of 2019 are Old Kentucky 54 (mile point 3.5) over the north fork of Panther Creek, open to traffic; Kentucky 764 (mile point 2.2), under construction; Rockport Ferry Road (mile point 0.8) over Kelly Creek and Graves Lane (mile point 1) over Allgood Ditch, both entering construction by the end of the year. The remaining six bridge projects, all scheduled to enter into advanced construction between July 2020 through June 2024, are: Kentucky 81 (mile point 6.5) over Panther Creek; South Hampton Road (mile point 1.1) over Burnett Fork; Old Kentucky 54 (mile point 1.2) over Hurricane Fork; Old Hartford Road (mile point 0.6) over the south fork Panther Creek; Jewell

Road (mile point 0.8) over the south fork of Knoblick Creek; and Halls School Road (mile point 0.4) over branch of Delaware Creek. McLean County is receiving roughly $5.4 million toward repairs on seven bridges that made the program’s list. These projects are slated to be completed between now and 2024. Two projects are the focus in 2019: Kentucky 81 (mile-point 5.7) over slough, under construction; and U.S. 431 (mile-point .8) over the drain to Cypress Creek, entering construction by the end of 2019. The remaining five bridge projects, all scheduled to enter into advanced construction between July 2020 through June 2024, are: Kentucky 81 (mile-point 6.9) over slough; Kentucky 81 (mile-point 5.2); Kentucky 140 (mile-point 9.4) over Stroud Creek; Kentucky 140 (mile-point 8.2) over Branch of Long Falls Creek; and Kentucky 1412 (mile-point 0.1) over tributary of Green River. Ohio County is receiving roughly $8.5 million toward repairs on 13 bridges that made the program’s list. These projects are slated to be completed between now and 2024. Four projects are currently under construction: Adams Fork Road (mile-point 2.9) over west fork of Adams Creek; Rocky Creek Lane (mile-point 0) over branch of south fork of Panther Creek; West Halls Creek Road (mile-point 1.3) over branch of Halls Creek; and Johnson School Road (mile-point 4.9) over the ditch. Four projects are slated to go into construction later this year: Kentucky 85 (mile-point 9.6) over branch of west fork of Lewis

Creek; Sunnydale Road (mile-point 2.4) over branch of Rough River; U.S. 62 (mile-point 11.9) over branch of Three Lick Fork; and U.S. 62 (mile-point 12) over Three Lick Fork. The remaining five bridge projects, all scheduled to enter into advanced construction between July 2020 through June 2024, are: Old Mill Cemetery (mile-point 1.7) over Big No Creek; Renfrow Road (mile-point 2.3) over Crow Hollow Branch; Hamlin Chapel Road (mile-point 0.7) over north fork of Muddy Creek; Burgess Lane (mile-point 0) over Slaty Creek; and Arnold Leach Road (mile- point 2.1) over Ford Run Creek. Hancock County is receiving roughly $2 million toward repairs on three bridges that made the program’s list. These projects are scheduled to enter into advanced construction between July 2020 through June 2024. These projects are Kentucky 69 (mile point 10) over Caney Creek; Kentucky 2181 (mile-point 8.5) over Caney Creek; and Muddy Gut Road (mile-point 1.8) over branch of Muddy Gut Creek. Finally, Muhlenberg County is receiving $4.1 million toward repairs on four bridges. The first two are the focus of 2019: Union Ridge Road (mile-point 2.4) over Rocky Creek, open to traffic; U.S. 431 Bridge (mile-point 28.3), currently under construction. The final two projects, Kentucky 601 (mile-point 0.8) over Caney Creek, and Greenbrier Lane (mile-point 0.1) over Road Creek, are scheduled to enter into advanced construction between July 2020 through June 2024.

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

ALLOCATIONS BY COUNTY

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Daviess County $6.6 million

7

McLean County $5.4 million

13

Ohio County $8.5 million

3

Hancock County $2 million

4

Muhlenberg County $4.1 million


OUR REGION

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

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Unemployment rates continue to be low in region BY KEITH LAWRENCE

at 4.7%; and Muhlenberg at 5.9%. That’s good news for people hunting jobs. ive years ago, in May 2014, Daviess County But it’s not so good for companies trying to hire registered an unemployment rate of 6.3%. workers. That was the eighth-lowest jobless rate in Earlier this year, Erica McCarthy, communication the state at the time. manager for California-based Alorica, which has a And local officials wondered if the local customer service center in Owensboro, said, “We are unemployment rate would ever get below 6% again. pleased to be in a thriving, forward-thinking city like It had been stuck there since the beginning of the Owensboro that is active in developing its downtown, Great Recession five years before. riverfront and quality of life for its residents. “Quite a few economists believe that 6% is full However, with Owensboro experiencing some of the employment,” Madison Silvert, then-president of the lowest unemployment rates the city has ever seen, Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., we haven’t been able to hire as fast as we’d like to said that summer. meet the growing demands of our business.” A year later, the Federal Reserve said that “The low unemployment rate is definitely a catch “full employment” would be reached when 22,” Brittaney Johnson, president of the EDC, said unemployment fell to between 5.2% and 5%. earlier this year. “It is great, the economy is good So, how do you account for the past few months? and citizens are able to find work. On the other In November, unemployment in Daviess County side, when we are recruiting new companies or our sank to 3.2% -- the lowest since 1972. existing companies are interested in expanding, And it continues to hover at or below 4%. we have to be very creative to recruit employees/ It was 3.6% in May, 3.4% in April, 4% in March, 3.8% talent.” in February and 4% in January. Still, Johnson said recently that several local All counties in the region have seen low companies are planning expansions in the coming unemployment rates in recent months. months. In May, Hancock was at 3.5%; McLean at 4%: Ohio In May, the local workforce stood at 48,042. MESSENGER-INQUIRER

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It has swung as low as 43,222 in January 1991 and as high as 51,305 in June 1999. As recently as October 2015, the number was only 44,224. But in May, 46,292 people here had jobs. That’s more than the total workforce just four years ago. Daviess County’s highest unemployment rate in the years since the Great Depression was 14.7 percent in February 1987. That was the ninth-highest rate for a metropolitan area in the nation. But these days, there’s more talk about a shortage of full-time workers than a shortage of jobs. In November, Candance Castlen Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, said, “Only 53.5% of our people between 16 and 65 are working.” Most of the others weren’t in the workforce because of illness and other factors. Brake said she’s heard estimates that as many as 1,000 jobs are waiting to be filled locally. But even with workers in greater demand than at any time in recent year, the median household income in Daviess County is $48,371, or the equivalent of two $24,000-a-year jobs.

Connecting western Kentucky through the internet BY JACOB MULLIKEN

especially in the face of streaming, it has been able to do what it was e live in a connected world — intended to do, said Daviess County well, most of us. Judge-Executive Al Mattingly. In states like Kentucky that “I feel better about it now than when experience lower-than-average median I first came into office,” he said. “All household incomes — roughly $11,000 of the counties put some money into less than the U.S. average — and lower- it and formed the ConnectGRADD than-national-average health rankings corporation in the early 2000s. By the — No. 42 — the need for internet time they got it in place, it was like connectivity is vital, especially in terms having dial up in a fiber optic world. of not exacerbating issues statewide. When they first started, they were For Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, looking at limited use, there wasn’t live Hopkins, McLean, Ohio, Union and streaming or any of that, but the speeds Webster counties, the Green River Area they were set up for couldn’t compete. Development District (GRADD), in One thing we have been trying to do conjunction with provider QWireless, is change out the legacy equipment started the ConnectGRADD initiative and install some newer high-speed to connect those residents who lack equipment.” access to larger internet providers. While some users have had issues, While the initiative has certainly especially during high-use times, he faced its fair amount of road blocks, said, there have been success stories.

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“Everybody wants the latest, fastest thing,” Mattingly said. “I had a guy from over in Ohio County that completed his degree and others that say it is the worst because they can’t download movies. 85% of the population are served in a larger area; the people that really benefit are those out in our rural communities where it is not economically feasible to bring AT&T and some of those bigger companies. We are continuing to play catch up, but we have come a long way in the past two or three years.” A major success story for the initiative took place in the rural Ohio County town of Rosine. Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston and QWireless joined together to install high-speed internet and computers that allow people in that community access to the outside world, Mattingly said.

“I can tell you AT&t won’t go there,” he said. “Why do it for ten customers? That is the success story of ConnectGRADD we are providing a service to rural areas that would go unserved.” While ConnectGRADD has been a boon for many, Johnston said, it is still very much a work in progress. “Now, about everyone has it and now the major complaint is about the speed,” he said. “It is a constantly moving goal, but we are always connecting. We have ConnectGRADD, which has gotten a bad wrap, but it has provided internet and we are constantly moving to improve it. We are hoping with KentuckyWired (a multimillion project meant to bring fiber to the rural areas) that we will be able to bring high speed internet to our rural communities.”


8 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

DAVIESS COUNTY

INSIDE

DAVIESS COUNTY ARTS/7, 10-11, 24 DEVELOPMENT/8 EDUCATION/14-15 GOVERNMENT/18-19 HEALTH/16 LAW ENFORCEMENT/12-13 ON THE HORIZON/26-27 TOURISM/22-23 UTILITIES/20-21

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

Hershel “Woody” Williams, second from left, walks away from a visit to the Charles E. Shelton Freedom Memorial at Smothers Park on his way to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, where he was the keynote speaker during the Kentucky Department of the American Gold Star Mothers’ 2019 annual meeting and luncheon. Williams is the sole surviving U.S. Marine to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II.


OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

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ARTS

Bluegrass hall of fame drawing international visitors

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BY KEITH LAWRENCE MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum in downtown Owensboro drew approximately 20,000 visitors from 11 countries, 35 states and at least 470 zip codes during its first six months of operation. Carly Smith, the marketing director, said visitors have come from Great Britain, Japan, the United States’ minor outlying territories, France, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, India, China and Germany. And that level of tourism is already having an impact on the community, Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said recently. “Since its opening, Daviess County has experienced record growth in hotel occupancy,” he said. “A large part of Owensboro being selected as a Brand USA city is thanks to the Hall of Fame. That recognition alone is an incredible measure of success.” Brand USA is promoting Owensboro and nine other cities/ states to international travelers as great American music cities. Terry Woodward, the Hall of Fame’s board chairman, says he was pleased with the first six months. “We opened in October, which is not the best travel time,” he said. “I think it’s done extremely well.” The Hall’s Woodward Theatre has hosted 21 concerts since October. And several of those shows have been streamed on the internet. “The last I heard, the Rhonda Vincent show had been viewed 347,000 times,” Woodward said. “And 150,000 of those were the night of the show.” He said, “We’ve had comments on the show from people in Russia, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland and a lot more countries.”

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer

Chris Joslin, executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, plays his Martin D-28 Dreadnought acoustic guitar in February in the Picking Parlor at the museum. Woodward Theatre also doubles as a movie theater. “We had a soft launch of movies at Christmas,” hall of fame Executive Director Chris Joslin said. “We want to introduce the community to our capacity to show movies. We’ll be showing movies some weeks during Friday After 5. We’ll definitely do it again at Christmas. We have so many ideas. We’re looking at Valentine’s Day, Halloween, 4th of July.” Next year, he said, “We’re thinking about doing something monthly. It’s another way to engage the community.” The third floor was originally

planned to include a restaurant. But the Hall of Fame wasn’t able to attract a restaurant, so that space is being used for special event rentals. “One thing that has exceeded our expectations is third-party rentals,” Joslin said. “Several groups from conventions at the Owensboro Convention Center have come over here to do programs. We’re getting our fair share of wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners.” He said, “We plan to launch the outdoor shows during the Owensboro Air Show in September when a lot of people are downtown. Starting in 2020, we plan three or four outdoor

shows a year.” The Hall of Fame has seven full-time employees, he said, plus “two about three-quarter time and a host of part-time workers and volunteers.” “We have people from St. Louis, Louisville and Lexington who have come to several shows,” Joslin said. “We want to see more of that. People have to come to Owensboro intentionally. We have to give them a reason. That’s why we partner with O.Z. Tyler. The museums in town, even Holiday World, give people an incentive to come. To make the trip, they have to have more than one thing to do.”


10 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

DEVELOPMENT

Kentucky 54 area continues to grow BY KEITH LAWRENCE

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Gateway Commons, the new shopping center between Kentucky 54 and Pleasant Valley Road, is attracting stores from both inside and outside the county.

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he Kentucky 54 area on Owensboro’s east side is the fastest-growing part of the county. Gateway Commons, the new shopping center between Kentucky 54 and Pleasant Valley Road, is attracting stores from both inside and outside the county. TownePlace Suites, a 102-room all-suites hotel, recently opened there, as did the new 14-screen Malco Owensboro Cinema Grill with its reclining seats, bar and grill. The lineup of stores — both those already open and those about to open — includes Hobby Lobby, Kirkland’s, Tuesday Morning, Burke’s Outlet, Shoe Dept. Encore, Gabe’s, 2nd & Charles, Nick T. Arnold Jewelers, American Eagle Outfitters, Ross Dress for Less, FFO Home — formerly Furniture Factory Outlet — and General Nutrition Corp. Church’s Chicken has also bought property for a restaurant in Gateway Commons. In February, the Daviess County Board of Education agreed to purchase two properties in and

A Drake’s restaurant is going in between Cheddar’s and Courtyard by Marriott. And Zips car wash recently opened in the center. East Parrish Avenue is the same road as Kentucky 54 but has a different name north of U.S. 60, and business is booming there, too. McAlister’s Deli opened there, as did Shogun Bistro and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. A Moe’s Southwest Grill is Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer opening there too. And there are strong rumors The new Malco Cinema includes the Screening Room Bar & Grill, a full bar servthat International House of ing beer, wine and cocktails. Pancakes is planning a restaurant adjacent to Gateway Commons on Kentucky 54, are building an in that area. for a new Daviess County Middle 18,000-square-foot strip center Houses continue to be built in School — and eventually a new across Kentucky 54 from the the subdivisions that line Kentucky Highland Elementary School. entrance to Gateway Commons. 54. But Gateway Commons is just It’s called Gateway Crossing. And as the population of part of the Kentucky 54 expansion. Highland Pointe is also growing. that part of the county grows, Carl and Kim Lewis, who own Liberty Financial is building a developers say, so will the number the Nation’s Medicines franchise new office there. of stores and restaurants.

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12 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

ARTS

Music festivals bring life to Owensboro BY JACOB MULLIKEN

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OMP and PorchFest OBKY titillated over 30,000 combined music lovers this

June. 26,000 bluegrass fans packed Yellow Creek Park to the brim for ROMP this year. With over 200 volunteers throughout the June 26-29 festival, the execution of ROMP ran seamlessly, said Carly Smith, marketing director for the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum and ROMP. “Regardless at how seamless it is, ever y year after the festival we take an inventor y of areas we can improve upon,” she said. “There is

always room for improvement; we have kind of hit our sweet spot on the logistics and attendance.” The hall of fame also introduced a simulcast live from Yellow Creek Park for the first time this year in its Woodward Theatre, a practice that she believes will grow in future years, she said. “We debuted the simulcast from Yellow Creek from 2 p.m. to midnight, and that was well received,” she said. “We partnered with WKU Public Broadcasting, and we will definitely discuss expanding. It was definitely received by folks that wanted to check it out but couldn’t make it out. This is an

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

Chuck & Alyssa perform to a crowd on the lawn of Lee Hall’s home during the 2019 PorchFest OBKY on Griffith Avenue in Owensboro.

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OUR REGION | Daviess County easy way to test the waters.” ROMP, as it has continued to do over its 16-year histor y, continues to grow and has become a staple to the Owensboro tourism and music scenes. Prior to ROMP, on June 8, PorchFest OBKY launched into its second year and, despite inclement weather earlier in the day, doubled its attendance from last year, said Andy Brasher, PorchFest co-organizer. “We are really pleased with how it went,” he said. “The turnout was great, despite the weather issue early on. We had watched it leading up and that whole week we tried to tell ourselves that we couldn’t freak out. It turned out okay, aside from that hour, and people still came out.” Roughly 5,000 spectators attended this year’s free music festival that showcased 45 acts spanning 15 porches along Griffith Avenue between Fredrica Street and Robin Road. What really

impressed Brasher was how open attendees were to the intended spirit of the festival. “The thing we were really blown away with is that people really got that the heart of it all was all about community,” he said. “That combined with music — that crucial piece that brought us together. They were respectful and generally enjoyed it. All of that made for a cool event. We are proud of the community for being such a big part of that.” In terms of next year, he and his fellow organizers haven’t begun piecing it all together. “We haven’t really started on the planning,” he said. “We know we are going to do it gain. We haven’t really gotten into logistics, but intend to accept submissions later in the fall and we will start reaching out for sponsorships. The community wants it and we are glad to do it. That is really where we are at right now.”

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

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Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

Wood & Wire performs on stage during the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s 16th ROMP Fest at Yellow Creek Park.


14 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

LAW ENFORCEMENT

OPD’s flex team created to combat gun violence, drug crime BY JAMES MAYSE

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BY THE NUMBERS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

ast year, the Owensboro Police Department was facing a surge in gun-related violence, including nonfatal shootings and reports of firearm discharges across the city’s west side. In response, the department’s command staff created a “flex team,” a special unit dedicated to combat drug and gun crime. The special unit made a big impression in a short period of time. In two months between September and November 2018, the unit issued 139 drug charges, served 103 arrest warrants and confiscated six firearms, a pair of brass knuckles and an ax.

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In two months between September and November 2018, the unit issued 139 drug charges, served 103 arrest warrants and confiscated six firearms, a pair of brass knuckles and an ax. The team was then disbanded. In June of this year, after three shootings that resulted in five deaths between January and June 9, a new flex team was formed. The team was then disbanded. In June of this year, after three shootings that resulted in five deaths between January and June 9, a new flex team was formed. “They are out there and doing their thing,” OPD public information officer Andrew Boggess said in June. “They are out there making a difference.”

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The flex team is not part of OPD’s regular patrol but an additional unit that focuses on violent crime and drug offenses. A goal of the flex team, in both its deployments, is not only to arrest serious offenders but to create stronger connections between OPD and west end neighborhoods. Much of that work is done not

in a patrol car, but on foot, meeting people and talking to them on their streets. “A lot of it is not enforcement; it’s being visible and building trust in the community ... so if something does occur, we’ve developed those relationships,” Boggess said. The hope is, when an incident occurs, residents “can turn to an officer they trust, and maybe (they) can give some critical information, too.” The team made just over 400 traffic stops during its work last year, but almost 300 of those resulted in only verbal warnings. That’s because the team is out to investigate gun and drug crime, not to be an oppressive presence in the community.

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OUR REGION | Daviess County “They are focused on particularly violent crime, felony charges and drugs,” Boggess said. The team is “not just pulling people over and making tons of traffic stops and writing frivolous traffic tickets,” he said. Tim Collier, who owns a local auto cleaning business and is the founder of My Brother’s Keeper, said the flex team has made an impact on the west side neighborhoods, but he said there is more work to be done to curb criminal activity. “It calmed down for a while,” Collier said in late July. “... It has calmed down quite a bit. It was pretty rowdy.” The team has “slowed things down,” Collier said. In August, members of My Brother’s Keeper were preparing to present their recommendation of a curfew to the Owensboro City Commission. Collier said the group is also

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Owensboro Police Officer Andrew Boggess looks over some of the weapons that were seized by the department’s flex team on the city’s west side in 2018.

looking for ways to reinstate a summer jobs program for teens, to keep them out of trouble. “We know we won’t be able to get it together this year” but are working toward having the program in place by next summer, Collier said. At the time the team was disbanded in November, OPD Chief Art Ealum said the flex team could be reinstated whenever needed. Boggess said last month the team is not tied to working just on the city’s west side. “We’re constantly looking at where crime is occurring,” Boggess said. “If we are having a rash of crime in a certain area, that’s something the flex team will turn to address. “The very nature of that time is they’ll be able to change” their focus, Boggess said. “... They are able to go wherever they are needed.”

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16 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

EDUCATION

Education institutions expand campuses, invest in future BY BOBBIE HAYSE

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ducation is on the horizon in Daviess County and Owensboro, with several school districts and colleges in the area expanding and investing in the future.

OWENSBORO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Owensboro Public Schools plans to open up a new middle school at the site of the former Owensboro Middle School-South campus — previously the 5-6 Center — and will be completing renovations this summer with hopes to finish before students step back in classrooms in August. The Innovation Middle School, or iMiddle, will be modeled after the Owensboro Innovation Academy and part of the district’s innovation program that is already in place, acting as a sister school and feeder to the OIA. While the OIA uses STEM-based career pathways for high school students, iMiddle would have a liberal arts focus using museums as a tool. The renovations include site paving, ADA toilets, remodeling existing space for new band and choir rooms, a new family resource center and building two resource rooms. The media center and cafeteria will be expanded, and one computer lab will be constructed along with one administrative suite. The project will cost about $13.3 million, most of which, Superintendent Nick Brake said, would be spent on energy and other mechanical items that needed an upgrade, such as the roof, HVAC and lighting. He said the building is the district’s most inefficient, and these upgrades will amount to a $485,000 savings over 10 years.

DAVIESS COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Daviess County Public Schools officials are still hopeful the Apollo and Daviess County high school stadiums will be operational during the

This rendering shows the completed version of Saint Ann Hall, a new residential hall at Brescia University. upcoming school year. In 2018, the board of education approved $15.1 million for the two projects, which entailed building a new $9.3 million Apollo Eagle Stadium and a $5.8 million renovation to Daviess County High School’s Reid Stadium. The $15.1 million was the original pre-bid estimate. The current cost of both stadiums is $16.88 million, which breaks down to $10.2 million for Apollo and $6.6 million for DCHS. Apollo’s stadium is scheduled to be completed this fall, with the district hopeful to be able to play its final home football game in the stadium on Oct. 25. Reid Stadium is expected to be completed by the first game of the year, with the track being finished in early August and the stadium in full use by Aug. 30. The current total cost of both

projects is now $16.8 million — $10.2 for Apollo, and $6.6 for DCHS.

Photo submitted

population swell to more than 1,000. Brescia broke ground on the Moore Center in early 2016 and started construction of the C.E. Field Center BRESCIA UNIVERSITY Brescia University officials launched for Professional Studies two years later. Construction of a new residence a new $3 million special initiatives hall started in February and will be campaign, called “Onward, Brescia!: completed in August, and a second one Stepping into Our Second Century.” is on the drawing board. According to the Rev. Larry Hostetter said Brescia has already Hostetter, Brescia’s president, private received a $250,000 commitment for colleges across the nation face many challenges. Due to a declining number the new campaign and is waiting to hear about the possibility of a $100,000 of 18-year-olds and mounting financial corporate donation. pressures, 20 colleges have closed In 2025, Brescia will celebrate its since 2016, he said. 100th anniversary. Its origins started “If we stop moving, we die,” with the Mount St. Joseph Junior Hostetter said. College for Women in 1925. Brescia has experienced strong “We are constructing another growth during the past five years. The strategic plan that will usher in another university enrolled a record number era for Brescia University,” Hostetter of freshman in 2018, and, for the fifth said. straight year, Brescia saw its student


OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

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KENTUCKY WESLEYAN COLLEGE footsteps of the University of Kentucky

Kentucky Wesleyan College has in recent years partnered up with top schools around the country to provide more opportunities for its students. The school recently partnered with Emory University in Atlanta, particularly with the university’s Candler School of Theology which has a program that KWC Assistant Professor of Religion Jim Coleman says has “for decades graduated future pastors and missionaries and educators who have deeply impacted and enriched the life of the church.” Candler is a seminary of the United Methodist Church that, according to a press release sent by KWC, is “grounded in the Christian faith” and is shaped by the Wesleyan tradition of “evangelical piety, ecumenical openness and social concern.” In 2018, KWC began a partnership with the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy that both saves students money and shortens the amount of time it will take to receive a degree. The partnership follows in the

School of Medicine that KWC partnered with in 2017. Through this accelerated partnership with UK’s College of Pharmacy, students will be enrolled in a three-plus-four program that allows them to spend three years studying pre-pharmacy at KWC and then transfer to UK for four years while they complete their doctor of pharmacy degree. After they complete their first year at UK, they will have earned a bachelor of chemistry degree from KWC. Jason Mitchell, director of enrollment management for the UK College of Pharmacy, said that partnership is a win-win for both schools and marked “a pivotal moment.” It’s “the beginning of impacting health care throughout our great commonwealth, the region, the nation and the world because our students at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy make big impacts in the world of pharmacy,” he said.

3rd Region softball champs Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

Daviess County’s Emily Stanley, from left, Emma Young, Abby Newman and Savannah Northern celebrate after the Lady Panthers defeated Muhlenberg County 12-0 to win the 2019 3rd Region Tournament championship game at Vastwood Park in Hancock County.

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18 OUR REGION | Daviess County HEALTH

Syringe exchange program off to encouraging start BY RENEE BEASLEY JONES

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

n early Februar y, Green River District Health Department opened its syringe exchange program, or SEP, at the Daviess County Community Health Center, 1600 Breckenridge St. The SEP is a harm reduction program started to curb the transmission of blood-borne pathogens, such as HIV and hepatitis C. Often, those diseases spread through needle sharing or improper disposal of used syringes. During its first four months of operation, the Daviess County SEP had 88 total visits from 44 unique clients. Six of those participants requested information about substance abuse treatment programs. Between early Februar y and the end of June, the SEP gave away 2,206 syringes, and clients returned 1,115.  The SEP is open noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays. “However, we routinely ser ve clients that come in outside of those hours,” said Clay Horton, GRDHD public health director. The program has enjoyed a successful start, he said. Clients sought assistance immediately when the SEP opened, and the numbers of clients grew from 14 in Februar y to 25 in May. Horton expects to expand

BY THE NUMBERS During its first four months of operation, the Daviess County SEP had 88 total visits from 44 unique clients. Six of those participants requested information about substance abuse treatment programs. Between early February and the end of June, the SEP gave away 2,206 syringes, and clients returned 1,115. 

the SEP’s hours in the future. Also, the health department recently received a grant from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, which provided $75,000 and a customized van for off-site ser vices. In the future, the mobile unit will be used, in part, to expand the needle exchange program. “We have been working on a partnership with Audubon Area Community Ser vices and Owensboro Regional Recover y to help support a part-time peer support specialist to work in the Green River Exchange locations,” Horton said. “We hope that position will improve our outreach and level of trust with the high-risk community.” In 2015, Austin, Indiana, which is near Louisville, reported an HIV outbreak among people who injected drugs. At the time, Austin SEE EXCHANGE/PAGE 19


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20 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

GOVERNMENT

Recount in state House race prompts election changes at Daviess clerk’s office BY JAMES MAYSE

the contest called for the votes to be recounted, clerk’s office election fficials at the Daviess workers had to devise a plan to carry County Clerk’s Office out the task, which was no small found themselves with a feat, given that nothing in state law considerable mess, and no easy dictates how to conduct recounts in solution, the day after Democrat state House and Senate races. Jim Glenn defeated Republican DJ “The big challenge was Richard Johnson by one vote in the 13th (House) and Tonya (Payne) District state House race in the developed a process to do the November midterm election. recount,” County Clerk Leslie The close election was sure to McCarty said. “We really learned a be contested, but the process for whole new process. It was executed handling the contest was in the hands so brilliantly that other counties took of the House of Representatives. notice.” When the House committee handling House, the office’s chief deputy

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Going forward, electronic poll books will ensure that poll workers check in every voter, so votes won’t appear without a signature. clerk, said the staff opted to conduct the recount in public with opportunities to view to process given to residents, the candidates and the press. House said the office took the additional step of asking media outlets to document steps in

the process, such as when the office was ordered to turn over uncounted absentee ballots to the Kentucky State Police. The office never received any complaints, from either party, that county officials were attempting to sway the recount. “I think they trusted all of us,” House said. “The process was transparent.” “We didn’t have a dog in the fight, except to do it correctly,” McCarty said. The recount resulted in a tie, which threw the process back to the

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OUR REGION | Daviess County House committee overseeing the contest. The contest ended in February when Johnson voluntarily withdrew, saying he wanted to avoid a lawsuit over the election result if he won the seat by lot or by a coin toss. Glenn, who was already working as a legislator, continued on, and Johnson later declared his intent to run for the seat in 2020. In reviewing the election, some problems with the process were discovered. For example, six votes were cast in the race that did not have signatures on the poll worker books, with election workers unable to later determine if three of those votes went to either Glenn or Johnson. In another case, one polling place contained two House precincts, and two voters went to the wrong precinct. As part of a larger redistricting plan, changes were made so no polling place will contain more than one House precinct in the future. “That can’t happen again,” House said. Going forward, electronic poll books will ensure that poll workers check in every voter, so votes won’t appear

without a signature. With the e-poll books, which were provided by the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office, voters must check in with their (photo?) identification. Votes without signatures “typically will happen every election,” House said. But when the race is decided by just a few votes, or a single one, missing signatures in poll books become a big concern. “You don’t like to go up and explain to people why there was an undercount,” House said. McCarty said a plan for the future is for the office to purchase voting machines that will better detect markings on ballots. Paper ballots with slight or non-standard markings were an issue in the recount. McCarty said the county clerk’s association is also advocating for a state law that outlines how recounts should be conducted. A bill that addressed recounts did not pass in the 2019 legislative session. “There is not an automatic recount” in Kentucky House races, McCarty said. “If there’s a one-vote or a two-vote difference, maybe there should be.”

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

21

EXCHANGE FROM PAGE 16

had HIV rates rivaling those in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Ser vices. As a result, federal health officials analyzed ever y county nationwide to determine how many might be susceptible to a similar outbreak. “Of the 220 counties across the U.S. identified as highly vulnerable, 54 are in Kentucky,” CHFS literature reports. “Kentucky has also had some of the highest rates of hepatitis C in the nation for several years. This is foretelling because most of these new hepatitis infections are from people who inject drugs and share needles, cookers and other contaminated equipment. Hepatitis C rates like those in Kentucky are seen as the canar y in the coal mine for an HIV outbreak.” In 2015, Louisville was the first city in the state to start a needle exchange program. In Februar y, about 45 counties in the state had them. According to research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, SEPs do not encourage drug use or increase user frequency. Also, one of the center’s studies showed people who use needle exchange programs are five times more likely to enter drug treatment programs.


22 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

UTILITIES

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer

Above: An Owensboro Municipal Utilities truck drives

through standing water along East Fourth Street on June 9, 2018. A water main burst at the OMU Plant A water treatment facility and flooded the immediate area, prompting officials to put in place boil water and conservation orders. Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

Left: The scheduled shutdown of Owensboro Municipal

Utilities’ Elmer Smith Station east of Owensboro could mean lower electricity rates in the city by this fall, according to a five-year financial forecast the utility has produced.

As plants retire, OMU eyes new kind of future BY AUSTIN RAMSEY

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

wensboro Municipal Utilities’ decision to begin retiring the Elmer Smith coal-fired generating station a month earlier than scheduled should only serve to reduce revenue and operating costs more than expected, officials say. The municipal utility faces a far different future than it has ever encountered before as it faces a total retirement date and looks to begin purchasing its retail power from Henderson-based Big Rivers Electric Corp next year. Meanwhile, after a slew of water main breaks at the utility’s eldest of two treatment plants in 2017 and 2018, OMU is amid a three-fold

expansion at the newer William Cavin Water Treatment Plant that will retire the latter and propel the community’s drinking water needs well past the 21st century. But the future comes at a cost. With the east side Cavin expansion came a 32 percent rate increase and upward of $70 million in borrowed money of which the Owensboro City Commission had to approve. Commissioners did pass another electricity base rate increase this year that was offset by the City Utility Commission’s energy cost-cutting measures — namely the plant retirement and a bond defeasance strategy. But last year, OMU hit customers with two energy cost adjustment rate

increases of a half-cent apiece to help cover projected wholesale energy losses and a 20 percent hike in water bills that will help pay down debt on a water treatment plant expansion. It was “unfortunate, but necessary,” said Commissioner Tony Cecil before casting his vote last year. By retiring Elmer Smith completely next year, the utility will save big on energy and environmental control costs — savings that it can and will plan to pass onto its customers. That means more affordable electricity. The city commission’s approval this year of the rate decrease scenario should mean bills roughly 6 percent smaller

on average by June 2020. “We have generation that’s down, of course, because of our single-unit dependency,” said OMU Senior Financial and Budget Accountant Laura Chapman. “It’s down 26% over last year’s budget. As a result of that, we’re going to have reduced wholesale revenue and (energy cost adjustment) revenue.” Taking into account more than $22 million in debt service funding, a 2.5% increase in the city’s cash dividend plus some free utility services and routine capital expenses, OMU projects a modest $681,000 net cash flow by fiscal year-end. It’s a predictable byproduct for any utility exiting the energy


OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

City Utility Commissioner Tom Maddox, center, gestures toward one of the two settling basins or clarifiers at Owensboro Municipal Utilities’ William Cavin Water Treatment Plant while OMU Production Technical Services Manager Russ Evans looks on. At left is utility commission Chairman J.T. Fulkerson.

production market. As generated electricity wanes, it’s making way for new OMU ventures like telecommunications. According to department superintendent Chris Poynter, OMU expects to launch a $3.6 million fiber-to-home construction push into the city’s core next fiscal year, which may drive down what was already unexpected net income for a few years but should continue to expand its broadband internet market presence. The OMU water system is expected to remain on target with prior year delivery numbers, although revenue is beginning to show the signs of a pair of rate increases the City Utility Commission and Owensboro City Commission passed last year. The increase in capital is covering the costs of the three-fold expansion at the Cavin plant. That project is progressing within budget and on time, officials have said.

Photo by Austin Ramsey, Messenger-Inquirer

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24 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

TOURISM

O.Z. Tyler tours a local attraction

Distillery marks one year on Kentucky Bourbon Trail BY KEITH LAWRENCE

fter a $7 million expansion in 2017, O.Z. Tyler Distillery became the 10th-largest privately-owned distillery in the world. Another expansion currently underway is increasing production capacity to 95,000 barrels a year. And when that is completed, the local distillery will be the fourth-largest privately owned distillery in the world.

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

O.Z. Tyler Distillery tour guide Caryn Wells talks to a group of visitors on a 45-minute to one-hour tour of the facility in northwestern Owensboro on June 26.

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In June, O.Z. Tyler marked the end of its first year on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Nicole Ebelhar, manager of visitor experience for the distillery, said visitors have come from Switzerland, Germany and Canada as well as Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Records of visitors are kept by calendar year. In 2017, the tour drew 2,619. Last year, including five months before it was on the trail, the distillery reported 4,817 visitors. By mid-June this year, it had logged 1,622 — 200 ahead of the same time last year. Those numbers are lower than local

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OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

25

Right: Paula

Schones of Henderson takes a sniff of the high wine from tour guide Caryn Wells while touring the O.Z. Tyler Distillery recently in Owensboro. Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

be some lag time before some visitors make their way to us.” He added, “We plan on enhancing our grounds at the distillery later this summer with additional blacktop, landscaping and walking paths.” Ebelhar said the tours end with a 15-minute tasting of bourbon, honey bourbon and rye. And the distillery’s cocktail lounge is open during the tours, she said. Bottles of bourbon are available for purchase in the gift shop along with other souvenirs. Tours can handle up to 30 people at a time. They are available at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Tickets are $10. To book a tour, call 270-240-0060.

By the leaf Photo by Austin Ramsey, Messenger Inquirer

Aaron Walker of Walker Farms in east Daviess County grips the edge of a dark tobacco leaf in one of his good patches in 2018.

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officials had hoped for. But they are expected to grow. Adam Johnson, senior director of Kentucky Bourbon Trail Experiences, said, “Most people plan their trips a year out. Numbers typically bump up over time.” Each year, he said, an average of 10,000 people visit all 16 distilleries on the Trail. That means O.Z. Tyler should hit that level at some point in the near future. “Visit Owensboro is all in on bourbon,” Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mark Calitri said. “In addition to several digital ads stretching across multiple marketing platforms, we are partnering in a year-long campaign with The Bourbon Review, which is the largest bourbon media publication in the world.” He said, “We fully expect visitor numbers (at O.Z. Tyler) to grow as we deploy these marketing tools.” Jacob Call, master distiller and director of operations at O.Z. Tyler, said he’s happy with the numbers for the first year. “We are pleased with the increased tourism numbers that the bourbon trail continues to bring to our distillery,” he said. “We have just completed year one, and we expect the visitor count to keep increasing. Many of the bourbon trail visitors book their trips months or even a year in advance, so I’m sure there will

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26 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

ARTS

Lights, camera, Owensboro: Local film scene thriving BY JACOB MULLIKEN

horror genre. Businesses and organizations “We did live shows and interviews and that have given us a ton of support, Volumes of Blood took off for a time,” he said. “Then we started t is common that those seeking the taste would have never found success without the doing paid gigs and segued into commercial of Tinseltown head west to Los Angeles to town’s, and especially the library’s, backing. It projects like weddings and now I am doing it full seek their cinematic fortune. Others look no has gotten a lot better and a lot stronger.” time. Visit Owensboro is one of our clients, Grey further than their backyards. Starks has taken a different Wolf Industrial, Atmos Industry, Owensboro natives P.J. Starks and Alex approach to film than Clark, “Our business has treated me the Bluegrass Museum and of Clark not only spent their formative years in who focuses less on creative well. I didn’t expect to get to course ROMP.” Owensboro, they brought up their families and storytelling and more on Like Starks, Clark has found the point that it is now. The a great created vastly different film companies. the stories of Owensboro’s deal of support from the chances that I have been Starks, along with partner Eric Huskisson, commercial sector. community that has allowed started Blood Moon Pictures and has focused While studying media given have been awesome.” him to evolve his craft, he said. more on the creative aspects of indie films and at Owensboro Community “Our business has treated — Alex Clark me well,” he said. “I didn’t the horror genre through the duo’s Volumes of & Technical College, life Blood series. Their films have not only depended happened and Clark traded in co-owner, Alexander Francis Films expect to get to the point that it on the community but been inspired by it, Starks his camera to focus on being a is now. The chances that I have said. dad. His wife, Bri, encouraged him to get back been given have been awesome.” “Overall local support has been great,” he into filmmaking. The two started a YouTube While commercial projects seem to be the said. “In the beginning, because of the genre, it channel, “Owensboro’s Indie Connection,” and bread and butter for those pursuing film in was a tougher sell, but over time it has gotten a began covering local bands, Clark said, and now Owensboro, both filmmakers are expanding lot better. It can be a mixed bag in this part of they operate under the banner of Alexander their brands and the city’s place in the history of the world because some don’t agree with the Francis Films. filmmaking.

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28 OUR REGION | Daviess County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

ON THE HORIZON

Frederica continues to attract business W

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer

Niko’s Bakery & Cafe opened earlier this year in Wesleyan Park Plaza.

ith the Kentucky 54 area developing rapidly in recent years — and several Frederica Street stores moving to Gateway Commons — some worr y that the center street of Owensboro may be dying. Others disagree. “In the short term, there may be some growing pains out there,” Brian Howard, executive director of the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission, said recently. “But you still have a lot of anchors (on Frederica) — Walmart, Sam’s, the home improvement stores — that aren’t going anywhere. I don’t see the majority of businesses going anywhere.”

“Stores come and stores go. They always have,” he said. “But we still get calls from national retailers and restaurants asking about both Frederica and Kentucky 54. The traffic is still there. I don’t see it going anywhere. “... I talked to my staff, and we all agree that it will remain a ver y viable corridor,” Howard said. “U.S. 431 is a ver y viable corridor.”

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OUR REGION | Daviess County value a couple of years ago. Several stores have moved from the mall to Gateway Commons since then. And the 40-year-old mall is still struggling. But businesses are still moving to Frederica Street. In 2018, Tammy Devore and Baldeep Hayer opened their 63-room Best Western Plus on Goetz Drive across the street from Texas Roadhouse and Golden Corral. “There are lots of restaurants in walking distance,” Devore, the hotel’s manager, said of the area around the hotel. “That’s the whole idea of choosing this location.” Also last year, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers renovated and moved into the former White Castle location at 4641 Frederica St. And earlier this year, Harbor Freight Tools opened at 5079 Frederica St. — the old Don Moore Nissan location. Matt Hayden, who is developing Gateway Commons, said he doesn’t

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

29

nearing completion. Work is slated to start later this year on an apartment complex on the property.

WESLEYAN PARK PLAZA

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer

The 63-room Best Western Plus opened in late 2018 on Goetz Drive. believe that Frederica Street is dying. “We’re actively buying property on Frederica,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to redevelop that corridor.”

He and Jack Wells are already redeveloping the former Texas Gas property on Frederica as “The Shoppes at 3800 Frederica.” Azzip Pizza has opened there, and Ollie Wash, a car wash, is

Wesleyan Park Plaza is also growing again. The Glass Factory moved from Kentucky 54 into the former Bakers Rack location in Wesleyan Park in mid-October. The Nousiadis family, which owns Niko’s Italian Cuisine in The Springs on East Parrish Avenue, opened Niko’s Cafe & Bakery in the old Fantastic Sam’s location on the south side of Wesleyan Park earlier this year. Shoe Stop is relocating from Towne Square North into part of the old Kmart location in Wesleyan Park Plaza. And Bella Ragazza Boutique recently announced its plans to move from downtown to the old Radio Shack store.

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30 OUR REGION | Hancock County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

HANCOCK COUNTY

INSIDE

HANCOCK COUNTY AGRICULTURE/34 BUSINESS/30, 32-33 DEVELOPMENT/31 GOVERNMENT/29 LAW ENFORCEMENT/35

Right: Colton White displays a plant named CBD Rx Cherry #9 in 2018 at Mile Marker No. 5 hemp farm in Hawesville. Messenger-Inquirer file photo


OUR REGION | Hancock County GOVERNMENT

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

31

Roberts focusing on economic development

Judge-executive aims to expand access to high-speed internet

internet across the county. “We basically have no residential fiber (cable) in Hancock County,” Rober ts said. “To be able to retain people in our community, it’s almost to the point where (broadband) is a BY JAMES MAYSE MESSENGER-INQUIRER necessity.” A lack of high-speed internet ohnny “Chic” Rober ts spent ser vice throughout the county 20 years as a four th-grade also hur ts education because teacher in Hancock County, some students are forced to where he was born and raised go to the librar y after and also ser ved a term as school to use the internet, a magistrate on Hancock Rober ts said. The county Fiscal Cour t. is working on a request Rober ts loved working for proposals to expand with students, he said, but internet ser vice, Rober ts he wanted to do more for said. the county. In economic “As you get older, development, Rober ts you think about ways Johnny said the county is selling you can give back to the Roberts a parcel of land near community,” Rober ts said Lewispor t for future development, in a July inter view. So Rober ts although he said he couldn’t go decided to run for Hancock into details. He said he is also County judge-executive. looking at possibly lowering the In November, Rober ts county’s proper ty taxes while defeated longtime incumbent increasing the occupational tax. Jack McCaslin to win the seat. Seeking new jobs for Hancock McCaslin was an institution in County is a major par t of Fiscal Hancock County politics, having Cour t’s job, Rober ts said. spent 13 years as a magistrate “With local government, the and 20 years as judge-executive. industr y and businesses pay our While Rober ts said he had bills,” Rober ts said. “That’s why initiatives he wanted to work on we want to expand jobs. We look as the county’s chief executive, going to the judge’s of fice instead at that ever y day.” Rober ts said he hopes he can of back to his classroom was a make a dif ference for Hancock transition. “No question about it, you miss County. “At the end of the day, life the kids,” Rober ts said. “I did go back and visit a couple of times.” is shor t, and you tr y to leave things a little better than when But since taking of fice, you found it,” Rober ts said. “You Rober ts has settled into his do wish you could help more new role. A major priority is expanding access to broadband people.”

J

On the mound

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

Hancock County players gather around coach Dwayne Wroe at the mound during the 2019 All “A” 3rd Region championship game at Whitesville City Park.

Hancock County High School 80 State Route 271 S. Lewisport, KY 42351 Phone (270) 927-6953 Fax (270) 927-8677 Ashley Gorman, Principal

North Hancock Elementary School 330 Frank Luttrell Road Lewisport, KY 42351 Phone (270) 927-7900 Fax (270) 295-6332 Paul Poole, Principal

Hancock County Middle School 100 State Route 271 S. Lewisport, KY 42351 Phone (270) 927-6712 Fax (270) 927-9895 Traci Sanders, Principal

South Hancock Elementary School 8631 State Route 69 Hawesville, KY 42348 Phone (270) 927-6762 Fax (270) 927-9400 Jennifer Howe, Principal

Hancock County Board of Education 83 State Route 3543 Hawesville, KY 42348 Phone (270) 927-6914 • Fax (270) 927-6916 Kyle Estes-Superintendent


32 OUR REGION | Hancock County BUSINESS

County manufacturing sees investment, jobs increases BY JACK DOBBS

S

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

ince its creation in 1985, the Hancock County Industrial Foundation has been attracting new industr y to the area. “We are ver y fortunate in that we have a long histor y of heavy manufacturing (in Hancock County),” said Mike Baker, director of the Hancock County Industrial Foundation. Baker said the HCIF operates as a nonprofit corporation working to enhance and increase manufacturing industries in Hancock County. Of the industries that have seen growth in Hancock County, the largest has been Aleris, which manufactures rolled aluminum products. Aleris currently employs more than 2,000 workers in the Hancock County area. Because of this, Baker said that Aleris has experienced a $500 million capital investment. As a whole, the manufacturing sector in Hancock County has seen a capital investment of more than $750 million since the HCIF was founded in 1985. “Our existing industries continue to thrive in our community,” Baker said. In addition to the industries already present, Baker said Hancock County possesses a firm transportation industr y, with various trucking companies and a growing agricultural presence. Baker said that even the Hancock County Airport is experiencing growth, with the runway length being increased to 5,000 feet.

As a whole, the manufacturing sector in Hancock County has seen a capital investment of more than $750 million since the HCIF was founded in 1985. “In addition to these investments, many of our smallto-midsize industries have also experienced growth and reinvestment,” he said. There have been challenges, however. Decreasing interest in manufacturing jobs has created a shortage of employment in the field. “The biggest issue is our aging workforce,” Baker said. “Sustainability is in building a capable workforce.” Even though the average worker age in manufacturing is increasing, Baker said that there has been great interest in the manufacturing realm. He said around 50% of Hancock County High School graduates head to college while the other half seek employment in local manufacturing positions. Because of this, HCIF has partnered with the Owensboro Community & Technical College to provide educational ser vices to high school students and graduates who are considering a career in manufacturing. “Our goal is that young folks will be able to make a contribution from day one of employment,” Baker said. “With a strong presence of manufacturing (in Hancock County), it’s absolutely critical.”

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OUR REGION | Hancock County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

33

DEVELOPMENT

Public library system seeks funds for new home BY JACK DOBBS

S

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

ince 2012, the city of Lewisport in Hancock County has been trying to construct a new library. Now, the new project is coming closer to reality. Tina Snyder, director of the Hancock County Public Library system, said that the project has requested a grant worth $500,000 to fund construction of the new building. “The community is excited,” she said. Snyder said the library has made the request for funding as a “tier one” organization. “We’re going in as a tier one, and most of the time, a tier one gets the funding,” Snyder said. Snyder said that the library moved

Hancock County as a whole. One of these features is the addition of a meeting room. The seeking of a grant comes after several years of planning the new facility. Since the idea of constructing a new library building was first presented about seven years ago, the HCPL managed to acquire land that originally housed the former Lewisport Elementary School, according to a previous MessengerInquirer article. The school was bulldozed in Rendering submitted 2018, and in April of this year, the This rendering shows the proposed Hancock County Public Library. construction plans for the new library in 2005 to its current location — a “We’re all very excited,” Snyder said. were approved. building with about 1,800 square feet. In addition to the increase in space, Snyder said the construction effort When the new facility is completed, it Snyder said the library will contain will likely receive news on the grant will be 8,450 square feet, an increase several new features that are lacking between one and three months after of almost 370%. not just in the current facility, but in applying.

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34 OUR REGION | Hancock County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

BUSINESS

PERENNIAL FAVORITE

Hawesville lavender farm finding success BY DON WILKINS

C

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

alifornia native Erin Ramsey found her oasis in Hancock County in the form of a lavender farm. But settling down on a large plot of land with her family and establishing Big Roots Lavender Farm at 3204 Truman Young Road near Hawesville, wasn’t ever where she thought she’d end up. “We never thought we’d ever be farmers,” Ramsey said. “I grew up in San Francisco, and I didn’t even keep a house plant.” Ramsey said she met her husband, Doug, while he was stationed with the U.S. Navy in San Francisco. They would eventually move to his hometown of Evansville. “We were renovating a historic home for years and thought we were going to retire there,” Ramsey said. But on what Ramsey called a “wild hair,” the family decided nearly three years ago to invest in a farm away from the hustle and bustle of city life. “From an outside perspective as being city people, it was quintessential Kentucky with its tobacco barn and rolling hills,” Ramsey said. According to Ramsey, nine members of her family moved to the farm in December 2016, bringing three generations with them. Along with Ramsey and her husband, three of their four children, three grandchildren and a daughter-in-law live and work on the farm.

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer

Erin Ramsey works in a row of lavender in June 2018 with her dog, Honey, at her family’s farm, Big Roots, in Hawesville. In May 2017, the Ramseys had 1,900 lavender seedlings shipped from Washington state. They planted two types — an English variety called Folgate and a French variety called Grosso. Known for its purple color and pleasant scent, lavender is also associated with certain “healing” properties. It’s known as a remedy for sleeplessness, anxiety and depression. Although Kentucky isn’t known for having the most optimum lavender growing conditions, Ramsey said it can be done and they’re proof of it. Ramsey said the tobacco that was once grown there was a sign that lavender could survive. “We knew that tobacco soil was

good for lavender,” said Ramsey, adding that soil samples they sent the University of Kentucky confirmed they were right. Still, the Ramseys had to be strategic in their planting. Lavender also requires attention with regard to weeds and pests like most crops. “Here, we have to keep our rows wide apart for air circulation because of the humidity,” Ramsey said. “... And we have to mound. Lavender can take on a lot of water but it can’t sit in water. Root rot is its No. 1 killer.” And during the past two years, the farm has lost 600 to 700 lavender plants. “The goal is to fill in those holes of all the plants we lost and eventually start selling the (lavender) plants,”

Ramsey said. “That’s a big request from people. They come wanting to buy a plant.” Lavender, however, is perennial and the Ramseys still had plenty left for their customers to pick this year. After receiving instructions to snip 2 inches above the wood stem, customers are given a pair of scissors and allowed to hand-cut for $10 per bushel. The lavender season typically runs from June to July in Kentucky. On June 28, Karen Forbes of Hawesville was making a return trip to the farm with her daughter, Darla Bright, and her granddaughter, Rose Bright, who were visiting from Indiana. Forbes said she dries the lavender


OUR REGION | Hancock County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

35

Photos by Don Wilkins, Messenger-Inquirer

Left: Beth Wilkerson, a member of the Owensboro Photo Club, shoots pictures of the rock labyrinth June 29 during an outing at the Big Roots Lavender Farm in Hawesville. Right: A butterfly lands on a lavender bloom June 29 at Big Roots Lavender Farm in Hawesville.

MORE INFORMATION Visit www.bigrootsfarm.com to order lavender products online, or schedule an event by calling 270-697-3334.

for its calming aroma. “It’s very relaxing and helps you unwind,” Forbes said. “It’s just nice walking through the rows here smelling it. ... You just don’t hear about lavender farms.” Along with the lavender, the farm features a gift shop that doubles as an event space. Big Roots sells lavender soaps, bubble bath, massage oil, body mist and T-shirts. Many of the lavender products are made in their home. And this year, they started offering lavender lemonade and lavender lemon poppyseed shortbread. In the rear of the property is an old tobacco barn that was repainted in the familiar lavender color. Sunflowers and newly planted hemp are also being grown on the property.

Although the lavender season is over, Ramsey said the store remains open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from noon until 4 p.m. Sundays through August. Since opening to the public in 2018, Ramsey said the farm has attracted hundreds of people. Big Roots Lavender Farm, which operates under the slogan “Grow Peace,” is open without charge to people who want to enjoy the scenery or walk the rock labyrinth that has been created within the lavender field. “We built it from all the stones in our creek,” Ramsey said about the labyrinth. “And when you’re walking in it, it’s a time to let go. When you get to the middle, it’s a time to meditate or pray. Ours is set up that, if you have something that no longer serves you, you can leave it behind and we’ll take care of it for you. So people come and having moving experiences.” Visit www.bigrootsfarm.com to order lavender products online, or schedule an event by calling 270-697-3334.

T H E E X P E RT S I N P R OV I D I N G I T S E RV I C ES A N D S O LU T I O N S

B a s e d i n We s te r n Ke nt u c k y, o u r vete ra n - ow n e d fi r m h a s o p e ra te d a s a s t rate g i c tec h n o l o g y p a r t n e r to m a n u fa c t u r i n g fa c i l i t i e s a n d s m a l l b u s i n e s s i n t h e re g i o n fo r 2 6 ye a r s . We a re co m m i t te d to p rov i d i n g va l u e to o u r c l i e nt s w i t h q u a l i t y s o l u t i o n s a n d u n p a ra l l e l e d s e r v i ce .

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36 OUR REGION | Hancock County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

AGRICULTURE

RARE COMMODITY

Maceo farmer brings youth to otherwise aging profession BY DON WILKINS

M

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

aceo farmer Tanner Stroup is a rare commodity these days. At age 24, Stroup is bringing youth to an otherwise aging profession. According to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, the average age of a Kentucky farmer is 57.6 years old, while the U.S. average is 58.3 years old. Stroup, who is originally from Lewisport, is also unique in that he wasn’t born into a generational Kentucky farm family. His exposure to farming came during the summers he spent as a teenager working on the Anthony, Kansas farm of his great-uncle Ray Graves. “My great-uncle out in Kansas farmed wheat and cattle,” Stroup said. “I’d help them run combines out there thrashing wheat. And that’s when the bug bit me, I guess.” In 2012, the year before Stroup graduated from Hancock County High School, the Stroup family invested in a 100-acre farm in Lewisport. “We started there and kept going,” Stroup said. And in a matter of seven years, those 100 acres have swelled to 5,200 acres of farmland in Daviess and Hancock counties. Stroup said they accumulated the acreage from area farmers looking to retire. “We just expanded with them,” said Stroup, whose family business is called First Class Services Inc. Stroup’s father, Randy, already owned a trucking business prior to getting into farming. The trucking operation is now part of hauling the

Photo by Alan Warren/Messenger-Inquirer

Tanner Stroup checks his 24-row, high-speed 1775 NT planter in preparation for spring planting March 14 on his farm in Maceo. At age 24, Stroup is bringing youth to an otherwise aging profession. According to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, the average age of a Kentucky farmer is 57.6 years old, while the U.S. average is 58.3 years old. corn, soybeans and wheat the family grows. “You’ve got to have trucks to farm; they go hand-in-hand,” Stroup said. Stroup said he’s “hands-on” when it comes to the farm operation. His father oversees the trucking side, while his sister, Cessilee, helps with the financial end. The Stroups also have five employees who help run the farming operation. One of them is Jeff Bratcher, who Stroup considers his “right hand.” Bratcher has experience in both farming and trucking.

Bratcher said he was driving for Randy Stroup when he was pulled from there to help with the farming side. “I’ve been with them since Day 1; I’m impressed (with Tanner),” Bratcher said. “He doesn’t mind working.” The Stroups have moved their main operation to Maceo, where the bulk of their farmland is located. Stroup and his fiancée, Sarah, have purchased a house there as well. Despite his youth, Stroup is no different than most farmers who are

itching to get out into their fields in spring. In March, he had his brand new 24-row, high-speed 1775 NT corn planter already attached to his John Deere tractor in preparation for spring planting this year. “As soon as the weather breaks, we’ll start putting down the (anhydrous) gas and putting the fertilizer down,” Stroup said this spring. “We’ll actually try to plant a few beans in the time, too, if the ground is dry enough. We’ve been trying to plant beans as early as we can and get a yield bump from that.”


OUR REGION | Hancock County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

37

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Bozarth still dedicated to service as Hancock sheriff BY JAMES MAYSE

H

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

ancock County Sheriff Dale Bozarth worked as a supervisor at what was then Commonwealth Aluminum before running for sheriff. Bozarth had a strong family connection to the sheriff’s office: Phil Bozarth, who was sheriff until retiring shortly before the end of his term, is a relative, and a cousin worked as a sheriff’s deputy. Law enforcement is a career that always fascinated Bozarth, and he was elected to his first term in 1998. Bozarth, who is now 56, has been Hancock County sheriff ever since.  “Hancock County is a great county,” Bozarth said in a recent interview. “I don’t know if I would want this if it was anywhere else.” For Bozarth, learning the ropes of law enforcement was a learn-as-you-go experience. Sheriffs, as elected officials, aren’t required to attend the state’s law enforcement academy, so Bozarth began learning from deputies as soon as he was elected.  “I had to pick it up as I went,” he said.  The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is a small agency, with two deputies, a civil papers and D.A.R.E. officer who teaches the anti-drug program in the schools,

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a school resource officer and five part-time court security officers. Bozarth also works patrol shifts. “We were a little thin” on staff when Bozarth became sheriff, he said. “But we’re thin now, too.” The department has not cut services despite increased demands, such as to provide court security, Bozarth said.  “A lot of agencies are low on manpower like we are and have stopped teaching D.A.R.E., but we still do that,” Bozarth said. Sheriff’s deputies still provide what Bozarth sees as services to community residents, such as funeral escorts, he said.  “We are still fighting to do what we’ve done all along,” he said. “We are still providing the basic services we always did.”

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smiling when it’s over. “I’ve taken a few guns from people and talked them in the right direction,” he said. But there have been tough moments, such as knocking on the doors of people Bozarth knew to inform them a loved one had been killed in a traffic collision. “That’s the bad thing ... as soon as they open the door and see you, they know,” Bozarth said. “What has made this job bearable is I’ve been lucky. I’ve had good staff. I’ve had two (deputies) that have been here for 18 years ... they like Hancock County and they like serving Hancock County.” Bozarth said his plan is to run for one more term before retiring. “If my health holds up, I’ll try one more,” he said.

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Hancock County doesn’t have a jail, and people with Hancock County charges have to be held at the detention center in Breckinridge County, so Bozarth and the deputies spend a lot of time on the road transporting inmates.  “It really affects us a lot on court days,” Bozarth said.  Although Hancock County has just 9,000 residents, the sheriff’s department deals with similar issues of drugs and crime like those faced by the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department. “We still have the same problems, but not near the quantity, thank goodness,” Bozarth said.  When asked about incidents he has worked over his career, Bozarth said, “I always remember the incidents where everybody is

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38 OUR REGION | McLean County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

MCLEAN COUNTY

INSIDE

MCLEAN COUNTY BUSINESS/38-41 GOVERNMENT/42-43 ON THE HORIZON/44-45 PARKS & RECREATION/37

Right: A convoy of 35 tractors starts

out from Myer Creek Park for the sixth annual Livermore Lion’s Club tractor ride in September 2018. Photo by Bobbie Hayse, Messenger-Inquirer


OUR REGION | McLean County

SACRAMENTO New splash pad in PHARMACY Livermore’s future PARKS & RECREATION

BY BOBBIE HAYSE

T

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he new Livermore splash pad has experienced some delays but plans to open as soon as it can. The splash pad is south of the caboose in Livermore’s Depot Park. It was made possible through a land and conser vation fund grant that included a 50-50 match. This means the city was responsible for half of the $28,000 spent on the project. The splash pad is 500 square feet and includes 30 spray nozzles. It is a por tion of what Livermore City Clerk Andrea Shelton said was the Livermore Depot Park Improvement Project. The projects included re-painting the caboose, which had faded to a light pink and is now back to its vibrant red color, and a new Depot Park sign. There are plans for the city to use its own funds to place some benches in the park, as well, Shelton said. The splash pad is unlike a spray park, which has water coming from “up above.” This splash pad will cater more to younger children, Shelton said. The concrete work, spray nozzles and electrical components are installed at the park, Shelton said. Livermore Mayor Jesse Johnson said city of ficials are excited to have the first splash

MORE INFORMATION The splash pad will be open from 11 a.m. to dusk from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting. This schedule was determined because the city doesn’t want the water running all night and there are a lot of early-morning walkers at Depot Park.

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For more information about the status of the splash pad, or for upcoming events happening in and around Livermore, visit cityoflivermore.info. pad in McLean County be placed in Depot Park, which he hopes “will become a venue for families to visit.” “The children will be able to enjoy the splash pad and the adults can utilize the 1/5 mile walking track,” Johnson said. Shelton said once the splash pad is operational, it will be open from 11 a.m. to dusk from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting. This schedule was determined because the city doesn’t want the water running all night and there are a lot of early-morning walkers at Depot Park. For more information about the status of the splash pad, or for upcoming events happening in and around Livermore, visit cityoflivermore.info.

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40 OUR REGION | McLean County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

BUSINESS

Pharmacy among many concerned about benefit managers BY RENEE BEASLEY JONES

subcontracted pharmacy benefit manager, disobeyed that law regg Henr y hoped a earlier this year, said Henr y, new state law would stop owner of Sacramento Pharmacy. corporate pharmacy benefit In April, CVS Caremark — one managers from lowering Medicaid of the nation’s largest pharmacy reimbursements made to his benefit managers and the owner pharmacy for medications he sells of about 45 CVS pharmacies in to Medicaid patients. Kentucky — slashed WellCare Under a new state law, reimbursements for medications pharmacy benefit managers to Sacramento Pharmacy by an are not allowed to reduce average of 50% without prior reimbursements more than 5% notification or required state without providing pharmacies a approvals. 30-day notice. Also, they must Sacramento Pharmacy receive prior approval from the wasn’t alone. Cuts took place at Department of Medicaid Ser vices. pharmacies across the state. WellCare, one of the state’s After independent pharmacies managed care organizations, put up a fight, state officials and CVS Caremark, WellCare’s stepped in. On May 7, the

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

In addition to ending pharmacy benefit managers’ ability to slash reimbursements at will, SB 5 requires more financial transparency from pharmacy benefit managers and the managed care organizations they represent.  Department of Medicaid Ser vices revised its guidance to pharmacy benefit managers and managed care organizations. State officials told CVS Caremark and WellCare they had to reinstate former rates and make restitution to pharmacies. “WellCare immediately responded and met the state’s new standards,” said Alissa Momberg Lawver, senior director of corporate communications.

“Today, all reimbursement rates have returned to the previous rates, and all pharmacies have been reimbursed.” Henr y agreed — to a point. WellCare reverted its rates back to normal; however, he said his records show the corporate giant still owes him another $1,000. Another independent pharmacist told Henr y his reimbursement wasn’t paid in full, either, he said. “If you are unsure about the

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OUR REGION | McLean County word of the law,” Henr y said, “you might call (state officials) and get clarification. (CVS Caremark and WellCare) were testing the water to see what they could get away with.” In late May, Henr y held a town hall meeting in Sacramento, which drew at least 10% of the town’s residents. He wanted people to put pressure on legislators and to know the problems their local pharmacy was experiencing. He and other independent pharmacists across the state continue to pressure legislators to cut out CVS Caremark, which they call the “middle man.” Henr y has heard a bill is in the works for the next legislative session to do that. Since his WellCare reimbursements were cut earlier this year, Henr y has talked with legislators and taken his battle to social media. His Facebook posts have been shared by state and national platforms.

And in September, Henr y and some of his colleagues have a meeting scheduled with Attorney General Andy Beshear, who won the Democratic primar y and will run against Gov. Matt Bevin in November. In addition to ending pharmacy benefit managers’ ability to slash reimbursements at will, SB 5 requires more financial transparency from pharmacy benefit managers and the managed care organizations they represent.  “WellCare is only compliant when they choose to be,” Henr y said. The company still has not opened its books to the Medicaid commissioner’s office, as it was instructed to do last year, he said. That is imperative for state lawmakers to make wise decisions about future Medicaid reimbursements to independent pharmacies.

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42 OUR REGION | McLean County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

BUSINESS

Camron’s Foodliner prepares to reopen grocery later this year BY RENEE BEASLEY JONES

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amron Knott started working in Owensboro grocer y stores when he was 16. Now, he owns two. Camron’s Foodliner in Sacramento opened in September 2004. And later this year, he plans to open a grocer y with the same name in Livermore at 313 Henton St. It’s the location of a former IGA. He’s renovating the 15,000square-foot building, which has offices, a conference room and warehouse. The former IGA in Livermore closed more than a year ago, Knott said. People there are eager for him to reopen the grocer y. He went six weeks without

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OUR REGION | McLean County posting something on social media stores in Island,” Knott said. about the store, and he heard lots “They’ve dried up, and no one has of grousing from local folks. His stepped up to take them over.” store is a topic of conversation in He has proved successful in Livermore. rural areas — even in a business “’When are you opening? I can’t known for low profit margins.  wait.’ That’s pretty Considering that much what I hear,” wages, utilities and Knott said of comments the cost of goods have Compared from Livermore-area increased considerably to the 1950s residents. over the past few years, and ‘60s, Being a grocer runs gross margins are less mom-and-pop today than they were in his veins. His mom worked at a Foodland 30 years ago, Knott stores are in high school, and said.  few and far his dad worked in the “You have to watch between grocer y business at ever y penny to make these days. least 30 years, including it in this business,” he some years with said. Foodland. Knott hopes to open Compared to the 1950s and Camron’s Foodliner in Livermore ‘60s, mom-and-pop stores are few by the end of the year.  and far between these days. Many “It’s like building a house,” he folded long ago due to competition said. “The plumber comes across from big-box grocers, such as a problem. Then, you need an Kroger, Sam’s Club and Walmart.  electrician. It takes time. I want to “There were two mom-and-pop do it right.”

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44 OUR REGION | McLean County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

GOVERNMENT

Livermore makes strides toward Kentucky Trail Town designation A new water fountain was recently added at the Yellow Jacket Basketball Court behind Livermore City Hall. This fountain will help serve not only ball players, but also bikers and walkers. Additions such as this fountain culminate to help Livermore become a certified Kentucky Trail Town.

BY BOBBIE HAYSE

roads throughout Livermore and McLean County. embers of the Livermore These cycling paths would Enhancement Foundation range in difficulty and distance, are taking steps to turn from 17 miles to 45 miles. The the area into a certified Kentucky task force is currently seeking Trail Town. grant funding to provide signage In addition to bolstering the for the cycling routes. local economy, the group said it These designated bike trails will also help promote health and will connect with the National wellness throughout the county. Bikeway, and Ralph Thacker, Formed as a committee of co-director of the Kentucky Trail the Livermore Enhancement Town Task Force, hopes it will Foundation, the Kentucky Trail bring more people to the area. Town Task Force is responsible “We have a unique setting that for fulfilling requirements we want to take advantage of,” he mandated by the state to earn the said. certification. For the past year, the task force One of the large projects it’s has been working toward the currently tackling is creating a Trail Town certification. Additions cycling plan for existing, low-use to the area such as a disc golf

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OUR REGION | McLean County course, skate park Certification and tennis court allows communities “There are very allow visitors and to receive special few places where residents to enjoy marketing and the natural areas and you can play tennis branding from the be physically active. Kentucky Tourism, and watch the “There are ver y Arts and Heritage barges go by at few places where you Cabinet. Kentucky the same time.” can play tennis and Trail Towns are also watch the barges go featured on websites, Ralph Thacker by at the same time,” social media, co-director of the Kentucky Thacker said. visitor guides, state Trail Town Task Force Partnerships with highway maps and local businesses other promotional are crucial to materials. certification, Thacker said. More tourism equates to Adventure tourists require more money spent locally, but lodging, equipment and food. many benefits extend beyond an Many of these visitors are influx in revenue. In addition to interested in experiencing showcasing the area’s natural authentic local cuisine and resources, an increase in outdoor learning about the overall stor y activity also helps promote healthy of the community. Thacker living habits. has purchased a property in “We want to lead our Livermore that he plans to make community to the next generation available as lodging to help with some positivity,” Thacker facilitate tourism. said.

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46 OUR REGION | McLean County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

ON THE HORIZON

Thunder on the Green a staple of county entertainment

F

BY BOBBIE HAYSE MESSENGER-INQUIRER

or 25 years, the Kentucky Drag Boat Association has held Thunder on the Green in the city of Livermore, which organizers say has made a positive impact on the economy. According to Sonny Renfrow, who helps organize the event, more than 2,000 people attend each year, and there are anywhere from 50 to 70 racing teams involved in the event that takes place on the Green River. A unique aspect of this event, Renfrow said, is that spectators are able to close to the action. “Folks can get up close and personal and actually spend time in the pits talking to the drivers

The river race track, which has traditionally been a quarter of a mile, has been shortened to 1,000 feet for safety reasons. and crew members,” he said. “It is really something remarkable to get a chance to experience, especially when you can get that close to it.” The river race track, which has traditionally been a quarter of a mile, has been shortened to 1,000 feet for safety reasons. Renfrow says that, in addition to providing a fun and family-friendly event for the community, it also helps the local economy. Visitors and racers from all over the country

will flock to Livermore, which is good news for area businesses. “Over the years, it has been a remarkable boost to the local economy,” said Renfrow. Thunder on the Green is a counted race for the KDBA High Points Championship Series, as well as included in the Lucas Oil Division 3 Drag Boat Racing series. KDBA President Barry Salsman said Livermore is “the best place for the race,” drawing the most spectators and sponsors. “It’s a big plus for the club,” he said. “The community really turns out. It’s a big event. It’s our best event by far (and) it has been for years.” Livermore is one of the few venues where spectators can stand

within 30 yards of a boat taking off and traveling 160 miles per hour, he said. “People like that. It’s just the thrill of the competition. Everyone seems to like it,” he said.

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OUR REGION | McLean County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

47

Messenger-Inquirer file photos

Above: Gerry and Denny Petoskey of Dacula, Georgia, enjoy the boat

racing at the 2017 Thunder on the Green in Livermore.

Left: David Wehunt, of South Carolina, sets his time during the 24th

annual Thunder on the Green event in 2018 in Livermore.

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48 OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

MUHLENBERG COUNTY

INSIDE

MUHLENBERG COUNTY AGRICULTURE/48-49 COMMUNITY GRANTS/50 GOVERNMENT/53 HEALTH/52 LAW ENFORCEMENT/51 ON THE HORIZON/54 UTILITIES/47 Right: Jerry Timmons uses a circa1880-1890 grist mill that he set up in downtown Greenville to grind corn meal, bird feed and grits to sell at his vendor booth at the annual Squash and Gobble. The mill was powered by a 1932 U2 Farmall tractor motor. Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer


OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

49

UTILITIES

Paradise fate still looms over hundreds of jobs

T

BY AUSTIN RAMSEY MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors took a historic step earlier this year, voting 6-1 in favor of closing down the last remaining coal-fired unit at Paradise Fossil Plant in Muhlenberg County. Despite pushback from as high up as the White House and more recent efforts to save the plant by running it for secondary power, the decision effectively closes one of the nation’s most recognizable coal-fired power plants and it threatens a legacy of coal in Muhlenberg County that stretches back nearly a century. The community of Paradise, atop which the plant was built in 1963, was memorialized eight years later in John Prine’s hit song of the same name. The first commercial load of coal ever hauled in Kentucky, in fact, came from a mine in Muhlenberg County just south of the McLean County border. But despite the community’s rich history, largely built in the shadow of age-old smokestacks near the Green River, the TVA board in February said Paradise has outlived its design and now costs the federally-owned corporation more to operate than its worth in power generation. It will be retired alongside the Bull Run Fossil Plant in Clinton, Tennessee. Unit 3 employs about 130 people alone in Muhlenberg County. Staff said about 40 percent of those employees are eligible for retirement, and the remaining will be given the option to join a corporate reassignment program. Still, the ripple impact on a community of slightly more than 30,000 people will be substantial, experts predict.

“Any time operations you lose shutdown Muhlenberg Alliance for Progress jobs in a isn’t Director of Business Development community, expected Gary Jones said he is currently it’s a tough until late negotiating with an industry that thing to next year, swallow, has shown interest in the Paradise a total of 67 especially Regional Business Park, which has jobs have high-skilled, sat empty for more than a decade. already been high-paying eliminated jobs like at Murray’s these,” said west Kentucky operations, a Muhlenberg Alliance for Progress spokesperson said. Director of Business Development In March, Kentucky Emerald Gary Jones. “TVA has been a good Land Company (KELC) LLC, which corporate partner for many years; is managed by Samuel S. Francis we don’t want to knock them or question their intentions, but we are whose businesses have sold coal to TVA, offered to pay TVA $129 disappointed. It will have an effect million to acquire the western on everything — on our school system, our county government and Kentucky power plant and sell its the coal miners, truck drivers and other jobs we have. It creates a lot of turmoil I wish we didn’t have to go through.” Jones said he is currently negotiating with an industry that has shown interest in the Paradise Regional Business Park, which has sat empty for more than a decade. Paradise Unit 3, in particular, had received 11th-hour support from high-profile advocates such as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and even President Donald Trump, but officials at TVA insisted that their responsibility was to lower costs to all 10 million customers in the Tennessee Valley, despite small-scale socioeconomic drawbacks. “Myself, my wife and my son all work in the mines,” said John Stringer, an employee of Murray Energy Corp. which owns a mine that supports the Paradise plant. “It will affect our jobs, our hobbies, our livelihoods. It will affect our entire lives.” Although total Paradise

generated secondary power back to TVA. TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson has said the public corporation will consider the offer, but that it may take a while before a decision is announced; Paradise is yet to have been declared surplus property. It may be a hard sale, too, because the loss of nearly 1,500 megawatts worth of baseload through the U.S. Enrichment Corp. near Paducah, plus an additional 1,500 megawatts of nuclear load capacity elsewhere in the system and several new natural gas combined cycle plants, have rendered Paradise Unit 3 and the Bull Run plant obsolete, officials have said, meaning increased generation may be unnecessary.

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50 OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

AGRICULTURE

BUZZWORTHY

Muhlenberg County home to unique honey kitchen BY DON WILKINS

As the honey is removed from the extractor, it collects inside of a he Muhlenberg County Farmers large tank that contains a spout at the bottom. The honey can then be Market is not only a place for released into a 5-gallon bucket. selling locally grown produce “If you fill a 5-gallon bucket up, it during the summer months, but it’s weighs about 60 pounds,” Lear said. also where honey can be made and Brenda Walker, treasurer for the sold at the same time. Built about five farmers market, said it’s “nice to have years ago, Muhlenberg’s farmers a shared space” with the beekeepers market, at 604 Cleaton Road in association. Powderly, has the rare distinction of “So many times you get all of having its own attached honey kitchen. these separate groups and they stay Curtis Lear, president of the Paradise Beekeepers Association, said separate within the county,” Walker the kitchen was a product of having an said. “They don’t merge or ever come together and do things. That’s what the active beekeepers group and having farmers market is about — it’s about an asset that could be used by anyone interested in extracting their own fresh community.”  Lear, who’s been a beekeeper for honey. about 11 years, considers himself a bee Lear said the Paradise Beekeepers hobbyist who tries to maintain three to Association had input during the five hives. planning stages of the market. He said one hive typically will “There are only a few honey kitchens in the state, and they went to a produce an average of 40 to 50 pounds couple of different ones just to see how of honey in a season. “I’ve gotten 100 pounds out of a hive they were set up,” Lear said. twice but that’s uncommon,” Lear said. The kitchen contains three “You get 100 pounds out of a hive, that’s essential pieces of equipment — an bragging rights.” uncapping machine that removes the Photo by Don Wilkins, Messenger-Inquirer Kevin Perry of Bremen is relatively thin layer of beeswax that seals the Beekeeper Curtis Lear, right, checks a beehive with Kevin Perry on April 16. Two new to beekeeping and joined Lear honey in a cell; a 20-frame industrial hives are kept next door to the honey kitchen at the Muhlenberg Cooperative honey extractor; and a honey tank that inside the honey kitchen to be Extension Office. can store the extracted and filtered honey. The kitchen also features garage-like doors that can be raised for vehicles to back in for easy hive dropoff. Lear said the honey extractor was purchased by the state and stands out among the equipment. “You can go out and buy a $250 Bookstore & John Kirtley, Agent extractor,” he said. “But if you have 80 422 N. Main St frames, it may take you two or three Greenville, KY 42345 days to extract the honey at home Bus: 270-338-2323 108 N. Main St. john.kirtley.qflv@statefarm.com where it will take a half-day here. So Downtown Beaver Dam this encourages beekeeping without 270-274-8900 the expense of buying your own $1,000 MON SAT 10AM-5:30PM extractor.”

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OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County educated about the equipment. Perry said he inherited one hive from a friend who moved to Florida in the fall. “I told him to bring them to my house and I’ll take care of them,” said Perry, who had been interested in beekeeping prior to taking on the hive. “So I got a couple of books and started reading (about beekeeping). … My hive made it through the winter, and I think it looks pretty good.” Two hives are also being kept next door outside the Muhlenberg Cooperative Extension Office, which could be used later in honey extracting demonstrations at the kitchen. When Lear and Perry checked the hives in the spring, honey could be seen forming on some of the frames. Honey can be extracted in both the spring and fall. Lear said the look and taste of honey will vary on factors such as weather, the season and the types of flowers used by the bees. “Typically, I just extract the one time in the fall,” Lear said. “… Most of the

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

51

Photo by Don Wilkins, Messenger-Inquirer

New beekeeper Kevin Perry, left, of Bremen talks with Curtis Lear, president of the Paradise Beekeepers Association, on April 16 about the industrial honey extractor inside the honey kitchen that’s attached to the Muhlenberg County Farmers Market in Powderly. time your springtime honey is going to “If they don’t get honey at be a little lighter color.” Christmas, they’re disappointed,” Lear Lear said he will sell some of his said. honey but gives a lot of it away to family The Paradise Beekeepers as well. Association meets at 6 p.m. every

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third Thursday of the month at the Muhlenberg County extension office. For more information about the honey kitchen or removing a swarm, call 270-269-7766.


52 OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

COMMUNITY GRANTS

Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation makes impact BY RENEE BEASLEY JONES

A

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

t the end of 2008, the Messenger-Inquirer picked Felix E. Martin Jr.’s $50 million bequest to Muhlenberg County as one of the region’s Top 10 stories of the year. It may rank as the single largest gift ever from an individual to the residents of a Kentucky county, said Alyssa Manning, president of the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation. Since it was established, the foundation has distributed about $25 million in grants to benefit Muhlenberg County. And yet, as of mid-June, the foundation held $62.5 million. In July, the organization doled

out another $150,000 in summer community grants. “From the foundation’s establishment, we have focused on programs that can help make a long-term difference for our county,” Manning said. “Early on, we identified needs to support economic development and youth services, and those needs have continued to be a priority.” Early childhood education is one way to focus on both of those issues at the same time, she said. “The preschoolers of today are the workforce of tomorrow,” Manning said. The foundation created and manages two signature programs to promote early childhood learning:

SOAR and Muhlenberg Achieves.   SOAR coordinates about 20 programs that help preschoolers with learning readiness. While SOAR may not be able to take all the credit, third-grade reading scores have improved across the county, Manning said. This summer, the foundation kicked off another new program. In partnership with Muhlenberg County Schools, the foundation offered free camps to kids who will enroll in kindergarten this fall.  The Martin Foundation partners with schools, county government, substance abuse programs, senior centers, arts groups and other nonprofits. It funds college scholarships, early childhood

programs, wireless broadband, entrepreneur training, rides to work, walking trails, playground equipment and work-ready programs, to name a few needs. In 2013, the foundation provided funds to build the first phase of Muhlenberg County Park, a large outdoor athletic complex next to Muhlenberg County High School. Earlier this year, the foundation approved a new $3.25 million grant to build the park’s second phase, which is an indoor recreation facility that will host regional basketball, volleyball and archery tournaments.  “We’ve partnered with community members who have committed $610,000 to the program,” Manning said.

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OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

53

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force focusing on expanding capabilities BY JAMES MAYSE

through financial support from local governments, and by auctioning items he Pennyrile Narcotic Task Force that had been forfeited to the agency went through lean financial times through drug cases, he said. over the last year. The JAG dollars were ordered The Central City-based task force released to agencies last August. does drug investigations in 13 regional “The money has been steadily coming counties, and a major source of its back to our office, and we’re just now funding comes from federal Justice getting to the point where people we Assistance Grants. When those funds owned money to, we have paid them got tied up in a lawsuit over sanctuary back,” Thompson said. “We made it cities in 2017, Pennyrile director David through and we are bouncing back, and Thompson found himself scrambling to what I’m most proud of is the work never keep the agency afloat. stopped.” “There were times we hardly had With financial troubles behind them, anything in the bank,” Thompson said in Thompson said he is focusing on how a recent interview. “We were month to to make the task force more effective in month.” working drug cases and taking illegal At times, just making payroll was a drugs off the streets. challenge, Thompson said. But the work The Pennyrile task force covers continued. 13 counties and focuses on larger “We adjusted to working cases without drug trafficking operations that law any money” and financing operations enforcement agencies in rural counties

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

can’t conduct themselves, for lack of manpower. The partnering counties also attach detectives to the task force and work together on investigations. The Pennyrile task force is one of several agencies across the state and works to support the state Office of Drug Control Policy. “We do deal with street level (drug dealers), but our main focus is the mid-level to high-level dealers, because that’s where we can really make a difference,” Thompson said.  Arresting larger drug dealers hampers the region’s drug distribution network. “That news travels,” Thompson said. “When you take someone big out, that scares those lower-level dealers.” Going forward, Thompson wants to add to the agency’s detective staff, giving the agency the ability to take on more investigations. The funds for more investigators will come from

the former assistant director’s salary. The last assistant director, Terry Nunley, left the agency when he was elected Muhlenberg County jailer last November; his position with the task force was not filled. Another initiative is to create a fund to start an drug interdiction team from deputies at area sheriff’s departments. The Kentucky State Police intercept vehicles carrying drugs on state highways, but Thompson said more deputies working the roads would further cut into drug shipments. “KSP does a great job” intercepting drugs, Thompson said. “... But there’s more that can be done.” Thompson said his goal is to create a fund so sheriff’s deputies can receive overtime pay to intercept drugs on the roads. “Once we do that,” he said, “I believe we can make a difference.”

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54 OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

HEALTH

Muhlenberg healthplex outperforms expectations in first year BY RENEE BEASLEY JONES

medical services, including urgent care, family medicine, pediatrics, wensboro Health officials are orthopedics, cardiology, pain management, urology, occupational beaming about the healthplex medicine and OB/GYN. in Powderly, a 41,000-squareThe Powderly healthplex wasn’t foot facility that opened Jan. 8, 2018. the busiest of the three; however, it When it came to the number of visits and projected revenue, the facility exceeded expectations by the widest outperformed expectations, said Gary margin, Lee said. “Bringing a facility like a healthplex Lee, OH regional clinics director. to a rural county has advantages for In early 2018, OH opened three the people who live there and need identical Healthplexes in Powderly, its services. They don’t have to drive Henderson and Madisonville. Of the to a larger community, which can be three, the Powderly facility sits in the a barrier to getting needed care,” he most rural area. said. The three clinics offer one-stop In addition, the healthplex shopping and high-tech care in one brings in more tax revenue for local location. They provide laboratory governments and more shoppers for services, X-rays, mammography, local stores. low-dose CT scans, ultrasounds and Since opening the Powderly more. complex, Owensboro Health has They also offer a wide range of

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

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added women’s health services, and the health system’s medical group brought in urology, medical oncology and hematology, along with expanded cardiology services. And there could be more additions in the future, based on the next Community Health Needs Assessment, Lee said.  “If we see we have a large number of referrals in another area, we hope to bring those services to Muhlenberg County,” he said. Another thing that makes the Powderly healthplex different from its sister clinics in Henderson and Madisonville is the Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital. The health system operates the county’s only hospital. Owensboro Health does not operate hospitals in Henderson or Madisonville.

“ ... We’ve been able to offer services that we wouldn’t have been able to offer if the hospital wasn’t there,” said Sarah Beth Cole, manager of the Powderly healthplex. The hospital and healthplex use Epic, the same electronic medical record-keeping system used by all Owensboro Health facilities. It allows seamless health care for patients, and physicians can easily keep track of a patient’s visits between the hospital and healthplex. “OHMCH and its staff are committed to the success of the Powderly healthplex and to the patients in the community that (both of us) serve,” Cole said.  That support system is essential to delivering quality health care to Muhlenberg County residents, she said.


OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

55

GOVERNMENT

Economic development is center of McGehee’s efforts as judge-executive BY JAMES MAYSE

Valley Authority announced plans to close its coal-fired unit at urtis McGehee ran for Paradise. The unit is expected to Muhlenberg County be shuttered by the end of 2020. sheriff because he was “If they follow through, it’s interested in taking a more going to be a pretty tough hurdle active role in drug prevention, for us to jump,” McGehee said. particularly by teaching children. “... Where it’s going to hit us the “I was a chaplain and special hardest is that so many jobs are deputy with the sheriff’s going to be lost.” office for several years,” To help attract new he said. “I’d ride with the businesses and jobs to deputies and I saw a lot of the county, McGehee and substance abuse issues and a number of community substance abuse arrests.” groups, including local As sheriff, McGehee businesses, the Felix spent eight years giving Martin Foundation and presentations in the schools elected officials launched Curtis about the dangers of drugs efforts to improve the McGehee and alcohol. “That’s the community and strengthen thing I enjoyed the most,” he said, the workforce.  “going to schools and community “Early on this year, we had a events where there were kids and ‘Get Clean’ campaign,” McGehee talking to them” about drugs. said. The effort, which is still When McGehee was elected ongoing, is a beautification effort, Muhlenberg judge-executive in where trash thrown along roads November, he brought similar and highways is collected.  concerns about substance abuse “Today, there are inmates out to his new office. But McGehee’s on the roads picking up trash,” hope now is to address drug use McGehee said in a July inter view. and drug trafficking through “Our roads look so much better economic development. than they did a few months ago.” “Young people are realizing The trash collection has they can make a lot of money an economic motive, in that selling pills,” McGehee said. an attractive community is When people consider they “can more appealing to people looking go to work for $7 an hour or make to locate their business. “If any $200 a day selling drugs,” many investor drives through and sees “unfortunately can take the wrong garbage on the road, they might road.”  not invest in Muhlenberg County,” “If we can give people the McGehee said.  option to work and have decent A similar effort is going on jobs,” he said, some won’t turn to to improve the community’s drug trafficking for income.  health through exercise and “I tell people, economic proper eating habits. That effort development is Muhlenberg is another partnership between County’s lifeline,” McGehee said.  Muhlenberg Fiscal Court and The county was hit with rough agencies such as the health economic news after McGehee department and Owensboro took office, when Tennessee Health-Muhlenberg Community

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To help attract new businesses and jobs to the county, Muhlengberg judge-executive Curtis McGehee and a number of community groups, including local businesses, the Felix Martin Foundation and elected officials launched efforts to improve the community and strengthen the workforce.

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

Hospital, McGehee said. “I feel if we have that foundation, we get clean and we get healthy, we’ll be much more efficient in marketing our community to industr y,” McGehee said.  As judge-executive, McGehee said he regularly travels to businesses to promote the county

and visits businesses in the region to see if they are hiring. Any job listings McGehee receives he posts on the Muhlenberg judgeexecutive’s Facebook page. Economic development is “pretty much the heartbeat of the court,” he said. “If I have spare time, I’m out looking for jobs and industr y.” UP TO

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56 OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

ON THE HORIZON

Muhlenberg County begins construction on recreation center

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BY JACK DOBBS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

n 2008, residents of Muhlenberg County voiced their support for an increased focus on parks. As a result, a 35-acre park was constructed in conjunction with Muhlenberg County Schools. Now, the parks department is expanding the park to include a large recreational center. Tommy Barton, director of the Greater Muhlenberg Parks and Recreation System, said this summer that construction on the facility had just started. “We have so many fall and winter sports that they don’t have enough gym time,” Barton said. “We’ll also do all of the youth programming for basketball,

Photo courtesy of Sewell and Sewell Architects

Shown is an artist’s rendering of the interior of the proposed recreation center. volleyball, archer y there.” Barton said that the new facility will feature four multi-purpose courts, which can change between use for basketball and volleyball. They can even be turned into one large archery range. Barton also said the facility will feature batting cages on an upper

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level mezzanine, along with some general purpose classrooms. “We want to have a place for the kids to get together and hang out, and then we want to turn around and make an economic impact by bringing in travel tournaments on the weekends,” Barton said. The total cost of construction is

expected to stand at just under $4 million, Barton said, with more than $600,000 having been raised through local donors. “This is not taxpayer-funded,” Barton said. “Most of the funding is from the Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation, and about a quarter of it is local donors. There are no tax dollars involved.” The Felix E. Martin Jr. Foundation was created in 2008 and works to enhance the educational and cultural needs of Muhlenberg County, according to the foundation’s website. Barton said the foundation has donated $3.25 million toward the facility’s construction. Barton said the facility is expected to be completed in late March or early April 2020.


OUR REGION | Ohio County

OHIO COUNTY

INSIDE

OHIO COUNTY AGRICULTURE/59 BUSINESS/56, 58 GOVERNMENT/60 LAW ENFORCEMENT/62 ON THE HORIZON/63 PARKS & RECREATION/62 TOURISM/61 Right: Donna Lamasters, 78, of Hart-

ford, rides up the Ohio County Public Library’s bookmobile handicap lift during a visit to browse some books. Jean Westerfield, left, a library employee, assists her. Photo by Austin Ramsey, Messenger-Inquirer

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

57


58 OUR REGION | Ohio County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

BUSINESS

Rickhouses an economic driver in Ohio County

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BY AUSTIN RAMSEY MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he story that led to the construction of nine new O.Z. Tyler Distillery bourbon barrel storage facilities in Ohio County wasn’t exactly a normal means of economic development. Officials there are quick to admit that it was a bit of good luck that brought the development their way. But that’s not to say they’re unhappy to cash in on the extra bit of tax revenue those storage sites may bring. “This was a win not only for Ohio County but for the region as a whole,” said Chase Vincent, executive director of the Ohio County Economic Development Alliance. Since O.Z. Tyler first announced its intent to expand production and build more storage warehouses in the region, site selection was fraught with controversy. Initial discussions at the MidAmerica Airpark in Daviess County fell through last year when the distillery couldn’t reach a competitive price with Economic Development Properties Inc., which is a conglomerate organization representing the city of Owensboro, Daviess County and the Owensboro-Daviess County

Industrial Foundation. barrels each, will be fenced in, kept Then in January, expansions under lock and key and guarded by hit a snag yet again because the an onsite employee, in accordance Owensboro Metropolitan Planning with U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Commission denied a request and Trade Bureau policy. to rezone 32 acres of farmland The rickhouses come amid a northwest of the U.S. 60 Parrish massive production expansion at Avenue exit, where the distillery the distillery, and they represent had resolved to build a major economic its rickhouses instead. development win for Negotiations with Ohio County, which Initially, elected officials has battled the loss O.Z. Tyler was turned the distillery’s of coal-related tax seeking to attention back to the revenue in recent airpark in February, years. build just six but when the Greater Preliminary rickhouses, but Owensboro Economic numbers indicated the number has Development Corp. that the rickhouses increased with facilitated meetings would have brought between Crown cheaper land and Daviess County at least Investment Group and $400,000 in additional fewer zoning other airpark tenants distilled spirits (or restrictions in earlier this month, the barrel) tax revenue. By Ohio County. talks fizzled once again, 2020, when an ongoing and officials withdrew expansion at O.Z. Tyler their conditional use is expected to wrap permit for the airpark property days up, the distillery planned on paying before the Owensboro Metropolitan the county $1.1 million in taxes, a Board of Adjustment was scheduled number that could double in just to consider it. three years. Initially, O.Z. Tyler was seeking Taxes are lower in Ohio County, to build just six rickhouses, but the but the revenue is still expected number has increased with cheaper to be significant. Once expansions land and fewer zoning restrictions are complete, the distillery is in Ohio County. The warehouses, expected to produce roughly 95,000 capable of storing upward of 20,000 barrels per year, making it the

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fourth largest independent bourbon distillery in the world. While the distillery and its partner continued to try to work out a solution for rickhouses within Daviess County, that kind of tax revenue attracted a lot of attention, said O.Z. Tyler master distiller Jacob Call. He and Crown Investment President Michael King received countless calls from landowners and county leaders in every surrounding county and some from as far away as Bowling Green and even Lawrenceburg. King has a family connection to Ohio County, however, and, with the recent designation of I-165, daily transportation of barrels to and from the distillery is made all the easier.

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OUR REGION | Ohio County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

Racing into history

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60 OUR REGION | Ohio County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

BUSINESS

Officials: Alcohol sales have no ‘negative’ impact on Ohio County

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BY JACOB MULLIKEN MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he legalization of alcohol sales in Beaver Dam and Hartford have shown no negative impact, according to officials. Beaver Dam was the first city in the county to legalize alcohol during a special local-option election in 2016, in a vote that came down to a 6% margin in favor of alcohol sales. Since becoming legal, alcohol sales have had a positive economic impact, Beaver Dam Mayor Paul Sandefur said. “Beef O’Brady’s opened in February, and it wouldn’t be here if we weren’t wet,” he said. “A restaurant like that won’t come to a small community like ours if it is dry. It has had a positive impact in the tax

revenues for our police department. The regulatory piece can only be used to regulate two liquor stores, four or five restaurants and a lot of the convenience stores.” The impact has definitely been felt at the Beaver Dam Amphitheater and its average 3,000 person audiences, Sandefur said. “I feel it has been a big boost,” he said. “Our attendance numbers have even gone up. Especially with an outdoor concert with some 3,000 people, beer and that go together. We have not had any issues at any of the concerts. It has been a positive.” The positives aren’t just economic; they have had a noticeable social impact as well, Sandefur said. “DUI’s have gone down,” he said. “... People have a 15- or 20-minute drive

and think, ‘I’m not gonna wait.’ Well, if it’s five minutes, it is a bit different. Before the election, we heard the stories that everyone else had and have really had no problems that I am aware of at all.” In Beaver Dam, the economic impact has been noticeable, but in Hartford, which legalized alcohol sales in 2017, there has been little impact, said Hartford Mayor George Chinn. “We have not noticed a negative impact,” he said. “However, we only have one liquor store, three convenient stores that primarily sell beer and one restaurant with a license. I don’t know that it has been a big plus. Right now we collect on our licenses. It hasn’t had a negative effect and there hasn’t been any need for extra police. It is such a small business, there won’t

be a lot of revenue generated from it. Any positives will be small, but it is just a convenience for those in the community to have the convenience of having it here in town. There hasn’t been a positive that we have really felt.” On a county level, the impacts haven’t been felt either, but as long as alcohol sales help Beaver Dam and Hartford, then it helps Ohio County as a whole, Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston said. “Beaver Dam feels the effects, Hartford doesn’t,” he said. “That is because Hartford isn’t big enough to tax it and Beaver Dam is. If it helps either city, it helps the county, but we don’t have a way to measure that. It has been dry so long and with those two cities selling, it seems like it has become the norm quickly.”

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OUR REGION | Ohio County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

61

AGRICULTURE

Ohio County tops state in corn, soybean yields in 2018

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BY DON WILKINS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

here was no better place in the state than Ohio County in 2018 to grow corn and soybeans. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Ser vice (NASS), Ohio County reached an average of 202 bushels of corn per acre and 59.6 bushels of soybeans per acre — both tops in the commonwealth. It was also the only county to average above 200 bushels of corn per acre. Greg Comer, Ohio County’s extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, attributed the yields to avoiding most of the immense rainfalls that other counties, such as Daviess, experienced. “We’re not affected by the Ohio River like (Daviess County) and they did have some heavy rains,” Comer said. “... But there were (weather) differences even in this county. In the southern part of the county, I heard reports that they were kind of dr y. Whereas, right around Hartford and north, we tended to have steady rains all the way through har vest, which was a highly unusual year for us. I thought the opportunity for some good yields was out there.” Darren Luttrell farms in the communities of Dundee and Olaton, which are north of Hartford. And he agreed that last year was one of the more ideal growing seasons. “It was a better-than-expected year,” Luttrell said. “We knew when we shelled our first corn that it was going to be really good. Our field that we planted first, probably our best ground, was in the 260 (bushels per acre) range. We ended up with a 240

Darren Luttrell, right, and his son, Jeffery, stand next to one of their corn fields on their Olaton farm. The Luttrells averaged 240 bushels of corn per acre in 2018. Photo by Don Wilkins, Messenger-Inquirer

average on corn and that was the best we’ve ever done by 11 or 12 bushels. So it was phenomenal for us.” David Knopf, director of the NASS Eastern Mountain Regional Office in Kentucky, said 2018 was an overall good year for both soybeans and corn. “Statewide, the yields were strong, but not record highs,” Knopf said. “Plentiful moisture during the growing season supported yields. Rains continued in September and October making har vest, especially soybean har vest, extremely challenging.” Along with Ohio County, the remaining top four corn yield counties were Bourbon (196.8 bushels per acre), Fayette (195 bushels per acre), Lewis (195 bushels per acre) and Butler (194

bushels per acre). In soybean yields, McLean County was second in the state at 59.4 bushels per acre, just barely behind Ohio County at 59.6. McLean County farmer Jonathan Ayer said not waiting to plant soybeans after corn has been a contributing factor to higher bean yields. “In the past two to three years, we’ve been planting corn and beans on the same day,” Ayer said. “And it’s as early as we can in April. Used to, we’d treat our beans as a secondar y crop instead of a primar y crop. But since we’ve been treating our beans as a primar y crop like our corn, our yields have been increasing.” Ayer farms about 4,000 acres — 2,000 in corn and 2,000 in soybeans — that spread out over

four counties. “It wasn’t the highest overall but we had an exceptional year in McLean County and probably the best we’ve ever done in McLean County,” he said. Rounding out the top five soybean yield counties were Spencer (59 bushels per acre), Union (58.5 bushels per acre) and Marion (58.3 bushels per acre). As far as overall corn production, Daviess County ranked third in the state with 10,618,000 bushels. Christian County ranked first with 12,832,000 bushels. And in overall soybean production, Daviess County ranked second in the state with 4,934,000 bushels. Henderson County ranked first with 5,429,000 bushels.


62 OUR REGION | Ohio County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

GOVERNMENT

Experience as educator brings perspective as state representative BY JAMES MAYSE

“As a legislator, you have a before, he has pointed out role in trying to get whatever that some of those funds are bill you’re pushing for passed, going to areas such as the cott Lewis said he was already and a lot of that is building teacher pension system as very familiar with Frankfort relationships,” Lewis said. If a opposed to going directly to when he decided to run for fellow legislator doesn’t accept school districts, he said. the 14th District state House of your point of view, “you can’t “I’m able to break that Representatives seat. be offended.” down, where someone “I had been going to Scott “You have to keep trying else might not have the Frankfort every year I had been Lewis to convince them this issue is knowledge (of education superintendent,” said Lewis, who important,” he said. budgets) to see” the distinction, had been superintendent of Ohio As a legislator, keeping an open Lewis said. County Schools, a position from mind is important, he said. Education issues remain a priority which he resigned after becoming a I’ve always been one who tried to for Lewis, as do pension issues. In House member. A Republican, Lewis get as many insights as I can before I February, he filed a bill with Rep. Travis had been Ohio County Schools’ make a decision.” Brenda, a Cartersville Republican, superintendent for six years. Lewis said his perspective as that would have created a two-level The 14th District covers Ohio a public school official has been retirement plan for new teachers while County and part of Daviess County. While Lewis knew area legislators beneficial in Frankfort. For example, requiring teachers to work to age 55 to receive their full retirement benefit. The and was accustomed to advocating for when legislators have said state bill did not make it through the regular education issues in Frankfort, he said government is providing more General Assembly. he had to learn the legislative process. money to education than ever

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Lewis, who was a member of a legislative working group on public pensions, said he doesn’t know if his pension bill will be revived next year but he is still interested in pension reform. When asked about local issues, Lewis said improving infrastructure, such as roads in Ohio County, is a focus. “Our infrastructure in rural Kentucky is starting to get some age on it,” Lewis said. While the parties disagree strongly on some issues, there are areas where both Republicans and Democrats work together, Lewis said. “For the most part, we are able to agree to disagree and move forward,” he said. “... But there are some issues that gather a lot of bipartisan support.”

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OUR REGION | Muhlenberg County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

63

TOURISM

Amphitheater instrumental to Beaver Dam tourism’s success

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BY BOBBIE HAYSE MESSENGER-INQUIRER

he Beaver Dam Amphitheater’s 2,000-square-foot stage in the city’s 33-acre park has already had some legendary acts on it in the short amount of time since its inception: John Prine, Old Crow Medicine Show, Shooter Jennings, Sheryl Crow and more. Since its 2014 opening, the Beaver Dam Amphitheater has experienced a metamorphosis evidenced in recent seasons by the quality of shows coming to the venue and the number of people they attracted. It is funded by the city’s restaurant tax that can only be applied toward tourism efforts, which means the more people who are attracted to Beaver Dam for the shows, the more money that is generated to bring more shows. This, Beaver Dam Tourism Commission chairwoman JoBeth Embry says, is creating a positive cycle that means the facility, and the city, are bound for success. Embry said the restaurant tax, and thus the concerts coming to Beaver Dam, have “really transformed” over the last few years.  “We have seen a transformation from having a few shows to now a full summer lineup of concerts where we are offering at least a couple of events a month,” she said. The commission wants to reflect all genres of music, so while the shows have been heavily focused on country in the past, the commission has been trying in the last year to bring a mix of music, including an all-’80s show that has had success the last few years.  She said the commission will be making the ‘80s Rocks the Dam concert an annual event.  Heath Eric’s company, the Eric Group, is contracted by the Beaver Dam Tourism Commission to be the booking agent and promoter for shows at the Beaver Dam Amphitheater. He works alongside the city’s mayor, the

Photo courtesy of Kellen Fleener/Beaver Dam Tourism Commission

Tyler Childers performs at the Beaver Dam Amphitheater in August 2018. The Beaver Dam Tourism Commission has been working hard to bring bigger acts to the amphitheater. tourism commission and Embry to bring a variety of shows to the area that will appeal to all audiences. The “world-class facility” Beaver Dam has built is “second to none,” Eric said, which helps to attract the top acts. What Eric is looking for when determining how to fill out a season is figuring out which acts would be a good fit for the facility, and acts that will generate tourism, sell tickets and bring people in from out of town. Eric said Beaver Dam is attracting people from Louisville, Nashville, Bowling Green and all over the country.  Beaver Dam Mayor Paul Sandefur echoed these sentiments and added that the amphitheater has truly become “an asset to the community.” When the city first began talking about an entertainment venue to

be built in their city park, they first thought it would be something small for local acts. Then the tourism commission realized there is nothing like an amphitheater in this area, and it could put the city in a niche market to bring people in. “So we went with it and built it,” Sandefur said, adding that there have been some bumps along the way, but that especially in the last year, the shows have been bringing in a record number of people to the city. He hears from businesses all the time that they can tell when a concert is in town because “business really picks up.” When John Prine performed at the venue in 2018 to a sold-out show, Sandefur said they sold tickets to individuals from 40 states, 102 of Kentucky’s counties, and Canada

and Australia. “My son and I always drive the parking lot during the show, and there’s always 12 to 20 states represented in the parking lot,” he said. Looking ahead, he said the city is working to expand the variety of music and entertainment performed at the facility so they can keep reaching a wide variety of audiences. “We have tried to have a mixture, and it’s been hard to do,” he said. “Most of our music in the past has been geared more toward country, but we did that ‘80s Rocks the Dam concert last year and we had a huge response to it.” For more information about the amphitheater, or to stay tuned to upcoming shows, visit beaverdamtourism.com, or check out the Beaver Dam Amphitheater Facebook page.


64 OUR REGION | Ohio County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

PARKS & RECREATION

Ohio County to build dog park at fairgrounds

O

BY BOBBIE HAYSE MESSENGER-INQUIRER

hio County Parks Director Beau Wright is working toward a five-year goal that includes providing more activities for the public, like the dog park being built at the county park in Hartford, located off Kentucky 69 North. The dog park will be located in the northwest portion of the park, just down from the Park Office, and to the right of the horse arena. It will include fenced in running areas for large dogs, and one for small dogs, with obstacles for the animals, as well as a portable watering station for both humans and their four-legged canine companions. Wright estimated it was about an acre total, with about 1,000 feet of fencing. 

It’s a small project, Wright said, that can make a big difference. “It’s just something small we can do, and maybe it can grow if it does well,” he said. Total cost for the project will be about $3,000, and park employees will be doing a majority of the work.  Wright said he came up with the idea for the dog park because he always sees people bringing their dogs to walk around the park trail, or on some of the more open park grounds. He wanted to provide those individuals with a safe space for their dogs to run free. “This is the taxpayers park,” he said, “So we’re always trying to come up with little things here and there that we can do to make it a better experience.”

The 500-acre park features 83 campsites and a splash pad, and one new addition: an air conditioned “tiny cabin” that can sleep two-to-four comfortably. The tiny cabin is the first of what Wright hopes to be many. He and the City of Beaver Dam are working together to provide concert-goers who come to the area to see shows at the Beaver Dam Amphitheater more options for cheap overnight stays.  “Really, it’s all about bringing people to the county in general and showing them a good time,” he said. “This county has a lot to offer.” Wright is also working toward some grants for solar powered lights for the three-mile walking trail at the park, and new playground equipment. 

The dog park is scheduled to be completed by the end of August, but Wright and the county are reaching out to area people, organizations, and businesses who might be interested in sponsoring a sign to be displayed on the fence. Wright said the money has already been allotted for the park, and it will be built regardless of sponsorships, but he wants the county to feel included in the project. “It’s not always about the money,” he said. “It’s about county citizens having some input in the project. I want them to feel like they have been a part of something.” For more information on how to sponsor a banner, call the park office at 270-298-4466.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Sheriff details sheriff challenges, solutions of hiring in rural areas Ohio County details challenges, solutions of hiring

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BY JACK DOBBS

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

or five years, Tracy Beatty has been the sheriff of Ohio County. In that time, Beatty said he has had to constantly adjust to shrinking budgets as well as a decrease in new officers. “Law enforcement has taken a hard blow in terms of their retirements,” Beatty said. “When I started 24 years ago, our retirement was a 27-year retirement with full benefits. After the last couple years, they’ve gone to a 401(k) system.” Under a 401(k), Beatty said, the retirement plans of officers and deputies are much less stable, since they fluctuate depending on the stock market. Beatty said this change has caused a decrease in the recruits Ohio County has received. Beatty

said the retirement benefits are no longer seen as an incentive to work in Ohio County. Because of this, Beatty said the sheriff’s department has lost $25,000 in order to alleviate the problems with the pension fund. These ongoing issues have taken their toll on the department, especially in hiring new officers. “We are in a hiring process at the moment,” Beatty said. “We’ve had three applicants here and there are not a lot of people interested in becoming a policeman nowadays. There are no benefits (and) there’s a lot of social media criticism toward the police,” he said. But the challenges facing law enforcement in Ohio County are not limited to retirement plans. Beatty said that for the past few years, the

operating budget for the department has gotten smaller. This year, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department has operated on a $1.7 million budget. Beatty said that of that amount, all but $300,000 of it is dedicated to paying the salaries of the employees along with benefits such as health insurance. The $300,000 left in the budget does not include upkeep of the police cars or the purchasing of new police cars and various other equipment the department needs, Beatty said. He believes the issues are indicative of a larger problem, he said. “Not only are we having issues, it’s an issue all across the state and the nation,” he said. Beatty said that several solutions have been pursued to curb these

challenges. A yearly cost of living increase has been provided, which he said stands at an average of 1.9% per year. Moreover, the sheriff’s department enacted free insurance for an officer that lives alone, as well as paid vacation time and take-home cars. “We try to stay competitive so that our police officers are not leaving for other agencies that pay more,” he said. Though these new programs aim to increase the incentives to work in Ohio County, Beatty said there has not yet been a marked improvement in the department. “We’re still fresh into this transition,” he said. “Our workforce has changed, and I think that overall there are a lot of jobs available right now.”


OUR REGION | Ohio County

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

65

ON THE HORIZON

Officials say Ohio County has ‘bright’ future BY JACOB MULLIKEN

it produces money and is good for the community, but we can’t put all hio County has had a big of our eggs in the coal basket. We couple of years — legalized recognized the need to diversify alcohol sales in Beaver and have been progressing that Dam and then Hartford; the way for a long time.” success seen by the Bluegrass County officials have been Crossing Industrial Center; the working with OCEDA (Ohio new Bill Monroe Museum; and County Economic Development O.Z. Tyler Distillery’s commitment Alliance) to attract new business to to build nine new rickhouses east the county, a partnership that has of Hartford near the Ohio County proven fruitful, Johnston said. Park. “We are growing economically All of these accomplishments are in the county,” he said. “There was just the tip of the iceberg for Ohio a time where our economy was County’s future, Judge-Executive cold in agriculture, and now we David Johnston, said. are diversified in manufacturing. “The future here in the county is We have Bluegrass Crossings bright,” he said. “This momentum Industrial Center that is doing well, began before me. Our county has and we have new ones coming in the philosophy that we love coal, and looking all the time. Like a lot

O

MESSENGER-INQUIRER

of communities, we are needing to attract people to come here to work. We don’t have enough workers sometimes to fulfill all of the jobs.” In an effort to fill current jobs and prepare for the potential of future positions, county officials are looking inward and creating initiatives that would give the county the Kentucky designation of a “Work Ready Community.” “It is a state-designation based on the educational attainment of people,” Johnston said. “To achieve the designation, we need to increase the number of people in our county that have an associate’s degree or better. We have gone from 17% to 19.5% and our goal is 25%, which we can do. We have

really made improvement in this area and hope to hit that mark so that we can better recruit.” The county has enjoyed the success of the Beaver Dam Amphitheater and the Bill Monroe Museum and hopes to benefit further when O.Z. Tyler’s rickhouses are completed, he said. In fact, one feather in its cap is that, while other counties are closing hospitals, the Ohio County Hospital is expanding. “We are adding on a $17 million surgical wing to our hospital,” Johnston said. “Where many counties our size are closing hospitals, we are progressing. There are a lot of things to be proud of here, and we will continue to be looking forward.”

Uncrafted Territory to be region’s first microbrewery

Brett Renfrew holds out a session glass bearing the Uncrafted Territory Brewing Co. logo. Uncrafted Territory, expected to be the region’s first microbrewery, is slated to open in Beaver Dam soon. Photo by Austin Ramsey, Messenger-Inquirer


Patient-Care Services in Owensboro Audiology & Speech

Healthpark

Surgical Specialists

2211 Mayfair Avenue, Suite 402 270-688-6140

1006 Ford Avenue 270-688-5433

2801 New Hartford Road 270-683-3720

Behavioral Health

Home Care

Surgical Weight Loss Center

2211 Mayfair Avenue, Suite 409 270-417-7980

2816 Veach Road, Suite 303/307 270-688-2182

2235 Mayfair Avenue 270-688-1500

Cancer Care

Infectious Disease

Therapy: Outpatient Physical, Occupational & Speech

Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center 1020 Breckenridge Street 270-688-3600

1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 405 270-417-7850

Oncology & Hematology 1000 Breckenridge Street, Suite 200 270-688-3445

2211 Mayfair Avenue, Suite 305 270-688-2018

Cardiology 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 202 270-417-7500

Cardiothoracic Surgery 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 201 270-417-7510

Children’s Center/Pediatrics 1000 Breckenridge Street, Suite 300 270-688-4480

Convenient Care Sports Medicine Walk-In Clinic 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 500 270-417-7940 Urgent Care 2211 Mayfair Avenue, Suite 101 270-688-1352

Family Medicine/Primary Care Family Medicine (Breckenridge) 1000 Breckenridge Street, Suite 401 270-688-4401 Family Medicine (Parrish) 811 E. Parrish Avenue, Suite 101 270-691-8040 270-684-1145 Family Medicine (Triplett) 1325 Triplett Street 270-686-8500 Owensboro Health/U Of L Family Medicine Residency Clinic 811 E. Parrish Avenue, Suite 102 270-688-2077

Gastroenterology & Hepatology 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 401 270-417-7800

Maternal & Fetal Medicine

Neurology 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 500 270-417-7830

Obstetrics & Gynecology 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 300 270-417-7700

Occupational Medicine 2211 Mayfair Avenue, Suite 102 270-688-1351

Oncology & Hematology 1000 Breckenridge Street, Suite 200 270-688-3445

Orthopedics & Sports Medicine 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 500 270-417-7940 Sports Medicine Walk-In Clinic 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 500 270-417-7940

1006 Ford Avenue 270-683-9355

Urgent Care 2211 Mayfair Avenue, Suite 101 270-688-1352

Urology 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 302 270-417-7880

Vein Center 2801 New Hartford Road 270-683-3720

Weight Loss And Nutrition Surgical Weight Loss Center 2235 Mayfair Avenue 270-688-1500

Healthpark 1006 Ford Avenue 270-688-5433

Owensboro Health Regional Hospital 1201 Pleasant Valley Road, Owensboro, KY 42303

Pain Management

• General Information ....... 270-417-2000

1000 Breckenridge Street, Suite 205 270-688-3550

• Health Info Line 24 hr .......855-417-8555

Palliative Care 1201 Pleasant Valley Road 270-417-4751

Pediatrics/Children’s Center

• Billing Inquiries .................270-685-7500 • Gift Shop/Florist ............... 270-417-3126 • Maternity Services ............ 270-417-5300 • Medical Records .............. 270-417-6800

1000 Breckenridge Street, Suite 300 270-688-4480

• Pastoral Care .....................270-417-2100

Plastic Surgery & Dermatology

• Patient Representative ....270-417-4350

2915 New Hartford Road 270-688-3700 Pulmonology 1301 Pleasant Valley Road, Suite 404 270-417-7515 Rheumatology 811 E. Parrish Avenue 270-688-5100

• Patient Information ...........270-417-3118


FREE CONCERT!

W E D N E S D AY, AUGUST 28, 2019

6:00 PM

HO P E

IS

Bring Your Lawn Chair

REA L

GOSPELFEST L U R AY PA R K - 1 3 0 W. B R O A D S T R E E T, C E N T R A L C I T Y, K Y

Jason Crabb

The Hoppers

The Bowling Family ...and more special guests •

Story Time begins at 5:30 pm at the stage.

Concert t-shirts available for $10 @ Greenville and Central City locations - Proceeds benefit the Feed the Hungry Program. MEMBER

Adam Crabb

Terah Crabb Penhollow

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