Daviess County

The Owensboro fire chief says lightning accompanying a storm likely caused a blaze that gutted the auditorium of a church in Owensboro and cut off power to the neighborhood, including Brescia University.

The fire started at about 3:30 CDT Monday and burned throughout the morning as firefighters poured more than 3,000 gallons of water a minute onto the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ Church. There were no injuries.

Fire Chief Steve Mitchell told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer the attic above the church auditorium was engulfed in flames and it wasn't long before the roof collapsed.

Five nearby houses were evacuated. A power grid was shut down, cutting power to several blocks of homes and Brescia University.

No life-threatening injuries are reported following a bus crash in Tennessee involving students from an Owensboro college. Members of the Kentucky Wesleyan Singers and Chamber Singers were aboard the charter bus that went over a small hill beside a road in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, late Sunday night.

A Chattanooga TV station reports 22 people were taken to hospitals.

A Kentucky Wesleyan College spokeswoman told WKU Public Radio the rest of the group’s week-long tour has been cancelled following the accident. The singers began their tour with stops in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, Nashville and Signal Mountain, Tennessee. They were on their way to sing in Atlanta when the bus accident occurred.

A contract has been awarded to an Ohio company that will be responsible for painting Owensboro's "Blue Bridge." The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced the winning $10 million bid placed by Spartan Contracting, LLC, was less than half of the engineer's estimate for the project.

The Glover Cary Bridge crosses the Ohio River and connects Owensboro and southern Indiana. Transportation Cabinet spokesman KeithTodd says the bridge is scheduled to be closed May 13-November 15 during the first phase of the painting project.

"The bridge was scheduled to be painted in 2017, and some of the community leaders in Owensboro wanted to go ahead and move up the painting date of the project. They have just completed a renovation of the Owensboro riverfront, and they wanted the bridge--which is right in downtown Owensboro--to get a new paint job," Todd told WKU Public Radio.

Kentucky and Indiana are splitting the cost of the project.

An estimated 8,500 vehicles cross the Glover Cary Bridge on an average day.

Wendell H. Ford GEC

Owensboro will be playing host this week to one of the most recognizable faces in Democratic politics. President Bill Clinton is attending a fundraiser to benefit a cause championed by an old friend.

President Clinton will be in Owensboro Wednesday to help raise money for the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center. The fundraiser at the Riverpark Performing Arts Center costs $1,000 a person, and includes a VIP reception with President Clinton and dinner.

In addition to serving as Kentucky Governor, Ford served in the U.S. Senate from 1974 to 1999, and was Democratic Whip the first six years of Clinton’s presidencies.

President Clinton has appeared in Daviess County before: in 2000, he presented an education award to Audubon Elementary School, and he campaigned at Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2008 on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

A Daviess County restaurant and bar is on a quest to offer the world's largest selection of bourbons.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports Spirits at The Miller House in downtown Owensboro currently has at least 200 types of bourbon in stock on a daily basis. That's double what it had a year ago.

General manager Aaron King said that number puts it among bars with the largest selection of bourbons in stock. He said there are about 250 different bourbons.

"There are bars that claim they have 120 bourbons and say that's the largest collection and there are bars that say they have 250 bourbons," King said. "But when you go there, they aren't all in stock."

U.S. Bank plans to expand its mortgage operations in Owensboro, adding a new facility and 332 jobs to its operations in Daviess County.

The bank’s investment, announced Friday afternoon, comes at a time of increased demand for mortgage services in the area, and represents a $15.2 million commitment. U.S. Bank is the fifth-largest bank in the country, and currently has 1,900 employees in Owensboro.

As part of the expansion, U.S. Bank has been given preliminary approval for $2.8 million dollars in tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program.

visitowensboro.org

Sports tourism is expected to have a $20 million impact on the Owensboro community this year.

Jared Bratcher is sports marketing director for the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer there will be more than 50 tournaments, including figure skating, hockey, baseball, running, soccer, softball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, fishing and football.

There's some type of tournament in town every month and they will fill every hotel room in the city on 10 weekends this year.

daviesskyschools.org

Schools in western Kentucky have started to consider options if federal funding cuts are implemented next Friday.

If Congress doesn't move to stop the cuts scheduled to take place on March 1, nearly $3 billion in education funding would be cut.

Daviess County Superintendent Owen Saylor told the Messenger-Inquirer that the district is trying to prepare just in case.

"Worst case, we're looking at $535,000 in lost funding for our district alone," Saylor said. "We don't want to scare anyone. We don't like giving bad news, but if nothing changes, we're like everyone else. Eventually you have to cut jobs."

Rogue Cinema

An independent filmmaker from Owensboro is wrapping up an effort to help spotlight other filmmaking talent in the region.

"Unscripted: An Indie Film Xperience" is the brainchild of P.J. Starks, and is a collaboration between his film company and the Daviess County Public Library. The series of short films written, directed, and produced by filmmakers in the Owensboro-Daviess County region concludes Friday night.

Starks says the series gives attendees the chance to see the local films, and then watch them again with the director offering live, interactive commentary.

"It gives the public and the community an opportunity to see the types of talent and artistry we have in the area, and the types of films being made, because it really does run the gamut," says Starks.

Legislation introduced in both the Kentucky House and Senate is designed to help keep aluminum smelter jobs in the northwestern Kentucky region of Daviess, Henderson, Hancock, and Webster counties.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports Sen. Joe Bowen and Rep. Tommy Thompson, both of Daviess County, have introduced identical bills in their respective chambers. Bowen told the newspaper the legislation is aimed at allowing Century Aluminum in Hawesville to buy electricity on the open wholesale electricity market.

That is currently not allowed under state law.

Last summer, Century, which employs 700 workers, announced it would shutter its smelter unless either the price of metal went up or its electric rates dropped. The smelter terminated its contract with Henderson-based Big Rivers Electric Corp. Before that, Century was Big Rivers largest customer.

Owensboro's "Blue Bridge" to Close for Six Months

Feb 5, 2013

A rusting a faded bridge that connects Owensboro, Ky., to southern Indiana will close for around six months while it is painted.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne made the announcement Monday during a speech at the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Payne said the $17 million paint job for the Glover H. Cary Bridge, known simply as the "blue bridge," would take up to two years if a lane is kept open for traffic, so officials decided to close it and get the job done quicker. He said the bridge would close in May after the International Bar-B-Q Festival and wouldn't "until they get it finished," which is expected to happen by November.

"I kind of like that," Payne said of the shorter schedule. "Knock it out all at one time."

The president and chief executive officer for Owensboro Medical Health System announced his resignation Tuesday.

Jeff Barber made the announcement during meetings with the the OMHS management team and medical staff leadership. His retirement will begin July 26, following a nearly 40 year career in health care.

Barber joined OMHS in 2004.

A news release from OMHS says a search committee consisting of current and past board members will lead the search process for Barber's replacement.

Rogue Cinema

Owensboro filmmaker P.J. Starks is set to launch a new film series called "Unscripted Xperience", which allows audiences to meet and offer live commentary with filmmakers and actors. Starks donates to charity most of the money raised from the events, and he hopes the "Xperience" will help raise the profile of independent filmmakers in the Daviess County region.

WKYU-PBS is planning to tape the Feb. 1 film series session and produce a piece for the program Main Street that will likely air in early March.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer has this profile piece of Starks and his upcoming film series.

Unique Granite and Marble Inc. plans to expand their manufacturing operations in Owensboro, creating 25 new full-time jobs and investing $400,000 in the project.

Unique Granite and Marble has been manufacturing custom granite and quartz countertops in Owensboro since 2004 after transitioning from home building and remodeling. The company currently employs 28. With the expansion, the company plans to establish a new division to produce countertops for large commercial and multi-family units throughout a six state region.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $250,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

Officials in Daviess County have begun making a list of every household without water.

Daviess Judge-Executive Al Mattingly told the Messenger-Inquirer that the move is aimed at making the county the first in the state to have every home connected to water lines.

He said funding is available from the state to help pay for the extensions, and the county hopes to partner with rural water districts and homeowners to get lines extended.

Community Services Director Nate Pagan says he is making a list of homes that aren't connected and is asking those who want service to contact him at 270-685-8424, or npagan@daviessky.org.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports the 2012 General Assembly approved $160,000 in coal severance funds for extending waterlines to homes in Daviess County that are currently reliant on well weather.

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