Daviess County

City of Owensboro, KY

A new study is attaching cost estimates to proposals that would provide an interstate spur for the Owensboro region.

The study, commissioned by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, looked at plans for an I-69 spur-designation for the Audubon Parkway, and an I-66/I-65 spur for the Natcher Parkway.

Among the key findings of the study:

*The cost for upgrading over 23 miles of the Audubon, from Henderson to the U.S. 60 interchange at Owensboro, would run between $14 million and $15 million. Such a move would require the Pennyrile Parkway to be upgraded to I-69 status at the western end of the Audubon.

*Obtaining an I-65 spur status, by upgrading 72 miles of the Natcher Parkway stretching from I-65 in Bowling Green to U.S. 60 in Owensboro, would cost $66 million to $76 million.

*Upgrading U.S. 60 and 72 miles of the Natcher would cost as much as $148 million. The consultants advised against trying to designate U.S. 60 as a spur, citing high costs and the surrounding residential area.

City of Owensboro

The mayor of Owensboro says the city should consider trying to annex nearby subdivisions in order to boost its population.

Ron Payne made the comments following the release of census numbers showing Bowling Green has grown at a faster pace than Owensboro.

Those figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reflect populations on July 1, 2013.

Bowling Green retained its position as the state’s third-largest city, with a population of 61,488 people. Owensboro remained fourth-largest, with just over 58,416.

That 3,072-person advantage by Bowling Green is more than the gap between the two cities during the 2010 census. Four years ago, Bowling Green had just an 800-person advantage.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and City Manager Bill Parrish are talking about meeting with homeowner associations in subdivisions along Kentucky 54 in order to gauge their interest in being annexed by the city.

A distillery in Owensboro will once again produce Kentucky’s signature spirit.

Officials with TerrePURE Kentucky Distillers announced Tuesday afternoon that they are purchasing the Charles Medley Distillery and will create bourbon and other lines of spirits.

The project is expected to create as many as 70 new jobs at the distillery, which sits on 28 acres of land in Daviess County. TerrePURE will invest $23 million to purchase and refurbish the distillery.

The company plans to renovate and repair buildings at the site, and install new equipment. TerrePURE says its goal is to have the distillery operational in 18 months.

The President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, Madison Silvert, says a 2012 economic impact study shows the distilling business has a far-reaching impact on jobs in the Bluegrass State.

“The job multiplier for distilling was 3.19, so that means that for every new distilling job, 2.9 new jobs are created somewhere in the commonwealth," Silvert told WKU Public Radio. "That is the third largest job multiplier of all industries in the state of Kentucky, behind light truck manufacturing and automobiles.”

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the state exported $383 million of its distilled spirits in 2013. That accounts for 21 percent of the U.S. total in that area.

Silvert added that it will mean a lot to the Owensboro area community to have the Medley Distillery up and running again.

City of Owensboro

Leaders in five Kentucky counties are gauging public support for an 80 mile trail that could be used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

The proposed trail would begin in Audobon State Park in Henderson County, and run through Daviess, Ohio, and Grayson counties before ending at Rough River Dam State Resort Park in Breckinridge County.

Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly told WKU Public Radio that local leaders are taking the idea to the public.

"All the county judges and mayors are going back to their communities to set up meetings where they can gauge the support in their communities,” Mattingly said. “We've kinda formed a loose coalition of the counties involved, so that we can apply for a federal grant."

Mattingly says the federal grant would fund a study that would look at the direction the trail would follow.

The Daviess County Judge-Executive cautions that it would take decades to plan and create an 80 mile trail. Mattingly says it took 25 years to finish the 15 mile greenbelt that rings Owensboro.

Bluegrass Music Service Expanding Presence to Owensboro

Feb 1, 2014
Kevin Willis

A Tennessee-based company that provides online services for fans of bluegrass music is establishing a presence in Daviess County.

Terry Herd, co-founder of Nashville-based Bluegrass Today, told the Messenger-Inquirer that the decision indicates how significant Owensboro, Ky., is in the bluegrass music industry.

The city is home to the International Bluegrass Museum and hosts the annual ROMP: Bluegrass Roots and Branches Festival, which was named the "event of the year" in 2012 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Bluegrass Today, which launched about two years ago, includes news, airplay charts, forums and directories for fans.

The company said Sean Dysinger will head up its presence in Owensboro.

Owensboro Convention Center

The new Owensboro Convention Center opens for business Wednesday as the Ag Expo begins. The city also has grand opening festivities slated for this weekend. 

Work began on the 170,000 square foot, $40-million dollar facility in March 2012. Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne says the finished product is impressive.

“You go in and the lobby is 60 feet high and you have a lot of lot of unique artwork in there and two huge ballrooms up on the third floor.  Off those ballrooms to the north and you have a balcony overlooking the Ohio River,” said Payne.

Payne says despite the facility’s size, it will be able to play host to events large and small.

“The exhibit hall can actually be separated into three separate exhibit halls if you want to do it," said Payne.  "Or you can take the panels and open up the entire thing. So, lots of versatility which gives you a lot of options.”

Kentucky House Republican Leadership

Kentucky’s newest House member was sworn into office Tuesday on the opening day of the 2014 General Assembly session. 

Representative Suzanne Miles of Owensboro was also appointed to serve on the House Agriculture, Judiciary, and State Government Committees. 

“I’m excited about serving on these committees, and hope to utilize my background as a small business owner, an advocate for our farming community, and my passion for government to help move our Commonwealth forward,” said Rep. Miles.

Miles, a Republican, won a special election in December to serve the remaining term of former Representative John Arnold.

Miles' victory eroded the Kentucky Democratic Party’s margin of control in the House. The Democrats now have 54 seats against the Republicans’ 46.

Mountain Workshops

A photograph and video exhibit on display at WKU’s Mass Media and Technology Hall is dedicated to documenting the stories of those who live in Owensboro and Daviess County.

Owensboro: An Old River City Discovers New Life features 40 photographs and 21 video narratives. It’s the work of those who participated in the 38th annual Mountain Workshops, a one-week hands-on workshop led by the WKU School of Journalism and Broadcasting's photojournalism sequence.

For five days in October a group made up of both student and professional  photojournalists made their way to Owensboro to find interesting people and stories that could be told through still and video images.

WKU Photojournalist-in-Residence Josh Meltzer, who  helps direct the Mountain Workshops, met WKU Public Radio’s Kevin Willis at the gallery to talk about how some of the images came to life.

Owensboro 'Blue Bridge' Won’t Open As Scheduled

Nov 7, 2013
Emil Moffatt

Transportation officials say they won’t hit the Nov. 15 target date for re-opening the “Blue Bridge” in downtown Owensboro.  But Kevin McClearn with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the extra work this month will reduce the number of traffic disruptions next year. 

Crews have been re-painting the bridge and repairing beams, joints and concrete on older sections of the bridge deck.  No timeline was announced for re-opening the bridge, but crews are expected to continue working for a “few more weeks”, trying to take advantage of milder weather. 

The bridge has been closed since mid-May. When open, an average of 8,500 cross the Blue Bridge each day.

Kevin Willis

On an unseasonably cool Friday afternoon in Owensboro recently, the sounds of an unusual summer camp were being heard in the city's downtown.

About 50 campers from across the country--and some from other countries--were in Daviess County to learn the finer points of one of the great instruments of bluegrass music during the eighth annual Bill Monroe Style Mandolin Camp.

Held at the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the camp is a three-day affair focusing exclusively on the instrument Bill Monroe played as he gained the reputation of being the "Father of Bluegrass Music."

"This is the only camp that I know of that specializes specifically on mandolin style. And it's no other instruments--it's all mandolin players, all Bill Monroe, all the time," says Mike Compton, the camp's director.

Compton is a Mississippi native who now lives in Nashville. He says it's an honor to be a part of a camp that pays tribute to an American musical genius.

Even those who don't consider themselves bluegrass fans are likely familiar with the name Bill Monroe. The Rosine, Kentucky, native gained acclaim for his technical wizardry on the mandolin, inspiring legions of fans throughout the U.S. and beyond.

Daviess County Leaders Drum Up Interest in I-67 Plan

Sep 11, 2013

Business leaders in Indiana and Kentucky are joining forces to drive interest in a cost-effective interstate proposal that would use existing infrastructure to link the states.

The Interstate 67 project would tie into Interstate 69 near Washington, Ind., and eventually link up with Interstate 65 in Bowling Green, Ky.

Washington Mayor Joe Wellman says the ability to tie into I-69 in Washington has spurred interest among Daviess County officials.

The Washington Times-Herald reports a $200,000 study shows the road would draw at least 16,000 vehicles a day and could ease congestion on I-65 near Louisville.

Coalition member Hank Menke says there's no money for the project right now. But he hopes the study has sent a strong message to state transportation officials that the idea is worth considering.

Spectator Killed in Crash at Western Kentucky Raceway

Sep 9, 2013

A spectator has been killed and two others injured during a crash at a raceway in western Kentucky.

Daviess County Coroner Jeff Jones told the Messenger-Inquirer that 21-year-old Ryan Peters died Sunday night from injuries suffered when a car hit him after crashing at the Windy Hollow Raceway. Jones said several spectators in the pit area were struck.

Two others were taken to Owensboro Health Regional Hospital with injuries, but information on their conditions hasn't been released.

The Daviess County Sheriff's Department said emergency crews were called to the track after two cars apparently crashed and one hit the wall in a turn before striking spectators in the pit.

The Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.

Emil Moffatt

The repainting of Owensboro's "Blue Bridge" is running ahead of schedule. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd says the original plan called for the bridge to be closed until late this year to allow painting to be completed on the main truss of the span, which connects Daviess County to southern Indiana.

"We think we'll be finished with the main truss around the middle of next week," Todd told WKU Public Radio Friday. "That will allow them to turn around and then begin painting the approach spans."

Todd says two full work crews have worked a combined twelve hours a day, seven days a week throughout the summer to get the main bulk of the work done on the span officially known as the Glover H. Cary bridge.

The contractor is hoping to have the approach spans painted before November 15th, when the bridge is set to re-open. An estimated 8,500 vehicles cross the Owensboro Blue Bridge daily.

Emil Moffatt

As early-morning fog gave way to a clear blue August sky, 30 teams dressed in bright-colored t-shirts climbed into narrow wooden boats, adorned with a dragon head in the front. The teams paddled out to the starting line in the middle of the Ohio River.  

Todd Petzold expressed cautious optimism as his team prepared to participate in the Owensboro Dragon Boat Festival for a second straight year.

“We’re team MPD, and we’re not going to sink this year. And we’re going to have fun,” said Petzold.

The teams were made up of between 15-20 people, including men and women. Their experience level ranged from veteran to novice.

They’re taking part in an athletic event and tradition whose origins date back to the year 278 B. C. in China and a man considered the father of Chinese poetry, Qu Yuan.

Daviess County has the largest caseload of any county in Kentucky without a family court.  The Kentucky Supreme Court last year certified the need for two family court positions in Daviess County, but budget constraints have delayed any action.

"The money has not been allocated,” says Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton, Jr.  “The budgets have been so strained in the last few years that expansion of any sort has been put on hold.  I've not met any resistance from legislators in terms of the need, it's just a matter of the funding."

Minton says family judgeships could possibly be created without additional state appropriations.  He says when a judge retires in one part of the state, that judgeship could be moved to a county in need of a family court. The retiring judge would not be replaced if he or she had a small caseload.  The Administrative Office of the Courts can decertify a judgeship if deemed no longer necessary because of declining caseloads.

"There are places where the populations and caseloads have grown and there are places where the populations and caseloads have shrunk over time," says Minton.  "It's been several generations since we have addressed the deployment of judicial resources around the state, so it needs another look."