T.J. Samson

T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow announced Wednesday that it will cut between 39 and 49 employees from all departments beginning immediately. The hospital released the news at a news conference in Glasgow.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports interim CEO Henry Royse said the difficult decisions were based on a costly roll out of an inadequate financial software program and the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Besides the staff layoffs, senior management and salaried physicians will have their pay cut by 10% and employees making more than $10 an hour will see reductions of 2% to 6% beginning in September.

Despite the decisions that the hospital was faced with, the administration claims to be still encouraged by the hospital's future. The cuts won't impact the quality or access to care "that drives nearly 1,200 employees of T.J. Samson every day," according to a news release.

This latest news comes after the non-profit hospital offered employees early retirement last year. At least two dozen people, including then CEO Bill Kindred, accepted that offer.

The city of Glasgow has taken another step toward limiting the impact of methane gas released from its landfill.

Governor Steve Beshear was in Barren County Wednesday to present Glasgow city leaders with a $100,000 grant from the state to pursue a landfill gas generation project.

Currently, methane emitted from garbage at local landfills is vented into the atmosphere. Under the new plan, methane would be piped into a generator and converted into electricity.

“This methane gas to electricity process is something we need to do more of in this country," Beshear said. "And to take refuge in a landfill, and take the methane gas off of that and turn it into electricity and put it on the grid so that people can use it--it saves us all money, it saves the environment.”

Glasgow mayor Rhonda Trautman says the city is acting now to avoid problems later.

Emil Moffatt

Over the last decade, thousands of dogs rescued in Barren County have found new homes, not only in South Central Kentucky, but also in other parts of the country. It’s thanks to a partnership between a Glasgow animal shelter and PetSmart Charities.

A few minutes before five o’clock on a mild March morning in Glasgow, a large green van pulls into the parking lot of a one-story brick building.  About a half-hour before, the lights of the animal shelter came on, an employee of the Barren River Animal Welfare Association took several shelter dogs out for a walk in preparation for the long road trip ahead.  The destination for 24 dogs is a shelter in Dubuque, Iowa.

Volunteers begin streaming into the shelter’s lobby more than an hour before sunrise. It’s all-hands-on-deck for the next few furious minutes as they prepare the dogs for the journey on PetSmart Charities’ “Rescue Waggin’”

“Once they get here, we’re supposed to be able to load one dog every five minutes or three minutes," said Margie Patton, who runs the shelter in Glasgow.  "Sometimes we can do that, sometimes we can’t.  We have volunteers who will have dogs ready, so that when one goes out the door, the next one is ready to be checked by their vet tech."

Barren County Schools

The superintendent of Barren County Schools says he would be willing to consider the idea of year-round school.

The concept has come up recently following several episodes of harsh winter weather that led many school systems to cancel classes over a dozen times.

Barren County Superintendent Bo Matthews says it might be a good idea to think about officially shortening the summer break, since it is often gets impacted by make-up days caused by bad weather.

"The summer break, if you will, continues to get smaller if you look at school calendars around the state,” Matthews told WKU Public Radio. “So, in some respects, it wouldn't be a stretch to see us begin to creep further into the month of June."

Barren County has missed 16 days this school year due to bad winter weather. Lawrence County has missed 32.

Barren County Government

Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer will not seek re-election to a fourth term. Judge Greer says her family had a lot to do with her decision to retire.

"My family doesn't want me to run again, so I just gave in and said okay," admits Greer. "I've loved what I've done and if I was 20 years younger, I wouldn't think twice about running again and again."

During her three terms heading Barren County government, Greer tells WKU Public Radio that the highlight was building the correctional center. 

Greer's retirement leaves no shortage of potential successors. 

Barren County Magistrate Chris Steward is seeking the judge-executive post, as well as five others. They include Brian Taylor, W.R. Tarry, David Honeycutt, Don Gossett, and Rob Strickland.

If a Barren County organization has its way, an unoccupied building on Glasgow's downtown square will be turned into a year-round farmers' market.

Sustainable Glasgow has applied for a matching grant from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund to pay for half of the cost of renovating the building.

"It could be our permanent home, it would be on the square, we could have an indoor food court, and we could market more local farm products and farm-to-table prepared foods," Sustainable Glasgow President Jerry Ralston told WKU Public Radio.

The group's plans for the facility would also include a full commercial kitchen and cold storage for produce that could be sold by vendors in the building and wholesaled to local restaurants, schools, and hospitals.

Ralston says he hopes to hear within the next few months whether Sustainable Glasgow's grant application has been approved.

A federal judge is allowing former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton to remain free while he appeals his conviction on two counts of witness tampering.

U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley concluded that Eaton has raised two reasonable issues that could result in his winning a new trial. Eaton had been scheduled to report to a federal prison in Oakdale, La., by Sept. 30 to begin serving an 18-month prison sentence.

He was convicted this year in federal court of directing two deputies to write false incident reports for the FBI. Federal investigators were probing accusations of civil rights violations during a 2010 arrest. Prosecutors had sought to force his immediate surrender, but McKinley noted that Eaton has complied with all pre-trial release conditions and is not a flight risk.

The ex-wife of a former Kentucky lawmaker serving life without parole for murdering another woman is launching her book Wednesday.

Tracey L. Damron was married to former Rep. Steve Nunn, the son of the late former governor Louie B. Nunn, while he served in state government. A news release says the book, "Trail of Feathers," covers "love, death, murder, political power, deception, the supernatural and ultimately spiritual consciousness."

Nunn pleaded guilty to the 2009 death of his ex-fiancee.

The release says Damron, who lives part-time in Pikeville, now practices as a medicine woman, conducts spiritual retreats and attends spiritual workshops.

She is announcing the book's launch Wednesday morning on the steps of the Capitol in Frankfort and will attend book signings at bookstores in Frankfort and Glasgow on Wednesday and Thursday.

Steve Nunn Apologizes to Ex-Fiance's Family

Jul 25, 2013

Facing a team of attorneys, imprisoned former Barren County lawmaker Steve Nunn apologized to the family of the ex-fiancee he was convicted of killing but declined to say he shot her, complained of health problems and refused to answer questions about her death, according to the transcript of his deposition.

Nunn, the son of former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn, also repeatedly said in the brief July 11 deposition that his heart was racing and he didn't feel comfortable talking about the September 2009 death of Amanda Ross until he consults with a lawyer.

"My mind is sputtering, I guess, at best," Nunn said during the questioning at Green River Correctional Center in Central City. Nunn was sent to prison for life without parole after he pleaded guilty in June 2011 to first-degree murder with an aggravating circumstance in the shooting of his ex-fiancee.

On Tuesday, Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael ordered Nunn to "fully and completely" answer queries from attorneys in a lawsuit over Ross' death.

Governor Steve Beshear joined Glasgow and Barren County leaders Wednesday for a ceremony honoring a new facility that will offer long-term care for those with mental illnesses.

Residents will begin moving into the new Glasgow State Nursing Facility in early September. Glasgow mayor Rhonda Trautman says residents at the facility require a higher level of care than those at most long-term care facilities in the state.

"These are people who are primarily suffering from mental problems who need counseling. They have a variety of issues, and there is a large group of patients there who suffer from Huntington's Disease."

The new facility in Glasgow replaces another state-run long-term care facility in Barren County that had become antiquated.

"The older center has been part of our community for decades. The original building used to be the state tuberculosis hospital," said Mayor Trautman.

The new nursing center will employ 167 people.

Kevin Willis

Two women from Barren County who played significant roles in the fields of flight and education are being honored this weekend. The Kentucky Historical Society will dedicate markers in honor of Nettie Depp and Willa Brown Chappell.

"Chappell was the first African-American woman to earn her pilot's license in the U.S., and that was in 1937," said Becky Riddle, with the Kentucky Historical Society. "She also was the first African-American officer in the Civil Air Patrol, and the first American woman to hold both a mechanic's license and commercial pilot's license."

Chappell was co-founder of the National Airmen's Association of American, which worked to get African-Americans into the U.S. Air Force. In 1940, she co-founded the Coffey School of Aeronautics, which trained black pilots. Some of those pilots went on to be Tuskegee Airmen.

Nettie Depp in 1913 became the first female public official in Barren County, and served as superintendent of county schools from 1914 to 1917. Depp helped lead efforts to unify local schools and create Barren County's first four-year high school, housed in the former Liberty College.

The Aug. 1 sentencing of Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton remains on schedule after a federal judge rejected a motion for acquittal or a new trial. 

In May, Eaton was convicted on two counts of witness tampering during a trial in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.  The sheriff and two other law enforcement officers were accused of beating a suspect in handcuffs and trying to cover-up the incident to federal investigators. 

The witness tampering convictions stem from Sheriff Eaton asking two deputies to lie in reports to the FBI about what they saw at the scene of Billy Stinnett’s arrest.  U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley this week issued a ruling upholding the jury’s verdicts. 

“Ultimately, based on evidence presented at trial, a reasonable juror could believe that while there was not sufficient evidence to convict Eaton on the unreasonable use of force charges, there was sufficient evidence to believe that Eaton engaged in witness tampering," McKinley wrote in his order.

When he is sentenced next month, Eaton faces up to 20 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines, he is likely to receive a much lighter sentence.

T.J. Samson

A lawsuit filed against TJ Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow seeks to seat a new board of trustees at the hospital.

The Bowling Green Daily-News reports the suit was filed Thursday in Barren Circuit Court by Warren County attorney Alan Simpson. The suit claims that the original agreement incorporating the hospital in 1926 called for a board of trustees to be elected by those who had contributed more than $25 to the establishment of the hospital.

Those suing say a change to the articles of incorporation in 1968 disenfranchised those original shareholders.

An attorney for TJ Samson says the lawsuit is baseless and without merit, adding that the way the governing board is selected has never before been challenged.

A group of Barren County citizens has mobilized to challenge recent changes at the hospital, including a 2011 decision that only one corporate member, TJ Regional Health, would act and vote through its board of directors. The lawsuit says the for-profit TJ Health Partners was later formed and is thought to be a subsidiary of TJ Regional Health.

Many local doctors’ practices have recently been purchased by the Health Partners, a growing trend nationally as the health care environment undergoes fast changes.

The city of Glasgow is joining forces with regional power providers to make better economic and environmental use of methane emitted from local landfills.

Following a vote this week by the Glasgow City Council, mayor Rhonda Riherd Trautman can now open negotiations with Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative and East Kentucky Power Cooperative to create a landfill gas generation project.

Currently, methane emitted from garbage at local landfills is vented into the atmosphere. Under the new plan, methane would be piped into a generator and converted into electricity.

Trautman says the city is trying to act in advance of new federal regulations regarding methane that go into effect in 2016.

The Glasgow City Council has unanimously passed a resolution pledging the city's support for an expansion of the WKU-Glasgow campus.

Glasgow mayor Rhonda Riherd Trautman says the resolution passed at Monday night's meeting offers the city's bonding authority to help fund a building expansion at the school's regional campus in Barren County.

WKU President Gary Ransdell has talked repeatedly in recent weeks about the need for the school to find alternative revenue streams in order to pay for major projects, in light of declining state aid for higher education.

WKU-Glasgow administrators say they need more classrooms, office space, and food services.