Friday was a solemn day in the Muhlenberg County School System. Classmates mourned the loss of eight children a day after they died in an early morning fire in the community of Depoy.
Superintendent Randy McCarty spent much of the day at Longest Elementary School, where two of the Watson children attended.
"Elementary kids have a hard time expressing themselves," said McCarty. "The kids know what's going on, they know their classmate has died, and now we're trying to find a way to let them express themselves, whether it's through art or writing poetry or songs."
Two other Watson children were students at Muhlenberg County High School's East Campus.
While McCarty has only been on the job as a superintendent a short while, he says it's the worst tragedy he's dealt with in education.
"I've been a principal at a high school and I've seen young people killed in car wrecks, but when you have eight kids die from age five to 14, that's different," McCarty added.
McCarty says grief counselors will be on hand for as long as needed.
Meanwhile, a candlelight prayer service will be held Friday at 7 pm at Calvary Baptist Church in Central City where the Watson family attended.
A girl who escaped a house fire in Muhlenberg County that killed her mother and eight siblings is communicating with her hospital nurses.
Pastor Tim Burden said Friday that 11-year-old Kylie Watson has written "I'm hungry" on a dry erase board. Burden says Kylie's father, Chad Watson, is also making progress at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Eight of Chad Watson's children and his wife, Nikki, died in a house fire in Depoy early Thursday morning. Investigators say a combustible material made contact with a baseboard heater.
Burden, a close friend of the family and the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Central City, says the church is holding a candlelight vigil Friday evening.
The father and daughter were both listed in critical but stable condition Friday morning.
The state medical examiner late Friday said the nine people who perished in Thursday's fire died of smoke inhalation.
Nine family members are dead and a community is in shock following a Thursday morning house fire in Muhlenberg County.
Investigators with the state fire marshal's office and Kentucky State Police say the fire was accidental and caused by combustible materials coming into contact with an electric baseboard heater. The fire at the home in Depoy was first reported shortly after 2 a.m.
The blaze took the lives of 36-year-old mother LaRae Watson, and eight of her children: 15-year-old Madison; 14-year-old Kaitlyn; 13-year old Morgan; 9-year old Emily; 8-year-old Samuel; 6-year-old Reagan; and 4-year-old twin brothers Mark and Nathaniel.
“Eight of the victims were located together in a room close to the front of the house," Kentucky State Police spokesman Stu Recke told reporters. "The other victim—the ninth victim—was located approximately ten to 15 feet away from them.”
Two family members survived the fire and were transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. The father—36-year-old Chad Watson—was listed in critical but stable condition. His daughter—11-year-old Kylie Watson—was listed in stable condition.
Phil Everly is remembered at the Merle Travis Music Center in Central City, Kentucky
For 15 years beginning in 1988, Phil and Don Everly returned to the town of Central City, Ky. to perform an annual benefit “Homecoming” concert which, at its pinnacle, drew a crowd four-times the town’s population. On Saturday, hundreds of people from that same town turned out to pay tribute to Phil Everly, a day before what would have been his 75th birthday.
The recognizable hits poured from the stage of the Merle Travis Music Center. As one performer put it – being asked to pick out an Everly Brothers song to cover was like being led into Fort Knox and being asked to select a favorite piece of gold to take with you.
He picked "Bye Bye Love" and "Wake Up Little Susie".
Two of the Everly Brothers second cousins, Tim Giageos and David Everly performed four songs including "All I Have to Do is Dream" and "When Will I Be Loved."
One of the Everly Brother’s first cousins, Diana Sue Taylor described one of the first memories of her famous relatives – when she was eight years old was escorted backstage at the Civic Center in Hammond, Indiana.
A memorial service is being held this weekend for Phil Everly near Central City, where the Everly Brothers entertained for years at a homecoming benefit.
The Central City Tourist and Convention Commission said the service will be at 2 p.m. CST Saturday at the Merle Travis Center in Powderly with music from cousins of the Everly Brothers and a tribute band.
Phil Everly died Jan. 3 at 74. With his brother, Don Everly, the duo had 19 top 40 hits between 1957 and 1962.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Everly Brothers began the homecoming concerts in 1988 and continued through 2001 to help raise scholarship money and funds for other projects.
The Tennessee Valley Authority has decided not to close a coal-fired power plant in western Kentucky. The nation’s largest utility was facing congressional pressure to keep open the Paradise Fossil Plant.
In a vote Thusday, the TVA's Board of Directors decided that one of the three units at the plant in Drakesboro will continue burning coal, while the other units will be converted to natural gas.
“It’s unnecessary and tragic that the Obama administration’s actions have forced utilities to discontinue coal operations at any of these units,” U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement. “I fought hard to prevent these changes and fortunately one of the units will continue to burn coal, saving hundreds of jobs."
In his statement, McConnell also vowed to continue fighting what he called the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda that threatens the livelihood of Kentuckians.
In a meeting last month with McConnell, TVA President Bill Johnson said several factors, including the current regulatory environment, forced the utility to review the future of the Paradise Fossil Plant. McConnell responded that Muhlenberg County couldn’t take anymore hits, given the upcoming retirement of Kentucky Utilities’ Green River plant in 2016.
Studies suggest reading to children early in their development enhances their vocabulary, helps them identify letters and become better readers. Yet, less than half of U.S. children are read to on a daily basis.
To counteract that problem, reading is being doctor-prescribed in certain parts of the commonwealth, like Muhlenberg County.
Dr. Billie Galyen sees about 6,000 kids a year at her pediatric clinic in Greenville.
Five-year-old Brady and three-year-old Noah are there for check-ups. Every child six months to five years old leaves the office with a new book to take home and a prescription to read.
A Muhlenberg County health clinic will soon begin operating as part of the Owensboro Health network. Dr. Marshall Prunty founded Family Practices of Greenville, PSC, 29 years ago. Dr. Prunty says it has become too difficult for a small operation such as his to keep up with the paperwork and filings related to the Affordable Care Act, Hippa, and other regulations.
"It gets to the point where I probably almost need two or three people just to take care of the regulations. And in a small, independent office, you just don't really have the resources to do that,” Dr. Prunty told WKU Public Radio.
Dr. Prunty's office will begin operating as Owensboro Health Multicare Greenville on May 1st.
His office provides family medical care for children and adults, as well as on-site lab testing.
Dr. Prunty's office currently serves patients in Muhlenberg, McLean, Todd, and Ohio counties.
A mild-mannered western Kentucky farmer who never turned away a stray cat left a portion of his estate to every county-run animal shelter in the state.
County officials received checks earlier this month for $1,432.47 from a man they never met, a Muhlenberg County dairy farmer named Bland Hardison.
Hardison died in 2008 at age 86 and had set up in his will a gift for the state's animal shelters, said his widow, Jonell Hardison. In total, Hardison set aside nearly $1 million in donations to various charities upon his death, and the estate took years to settle.
Jonell Hardison said Wednesday that her husband loved his pets and even the strays that would wander onto the farm.