Muhlenberg County

Muhlenberg County Fire Survivors Improving

Feb 10, 2014

The conditions of a father and daughter who were the only survivors in a Muhlenberg County house fire that killed nine family members have been upgraded.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center officials said Monday that 36-year-old Chad Watson and his 11-year-old daughter, Kylie, are both in stable condition. Hospital spokesman Craig Boerner said the two had been in critical but stable condition since they arrived on Jan. 30 but were upgraded over the weekend.

Police say the fire started when a combustible material fell against an electric heater in a bedroom overnight in the home in the community of Depoy near Greenville, Ky. The blaze killed La Rae "Nikki" Watson and eight of her children, ages 4 to 15.

The funeral for the nine family members was held Saturday.

Lisa Autry

Several hundred mourners filed into Muhlenberg County High School Saturday to remember a mother and her eight children who died in a house fire. 

Among them was Charlotte Groves, who had a firsthand account of the tragedy.

“I lived next door to them, I’m the one who called 911,” she said.

Charlotte Groves was awakened in the middle of the night on January 30 to screams coming from her neighbor’s home engulfed in flames.  Chad Watson and his 11-year-old daughter Kylie escaped the burning home, but his wife Larae and his eight other children did not.

“He kept it together for his daughter.  He kept saying 'God is a good God, they're in a better place.'  He was remarkable,” said Groves.  “He tried to go back in there three times but he told us the fire was so hot every time he tried, he got burnt.”

Inside Muhlenberg County High School, nine closed white caskets were lined up on the stage of a packed auditorium.  Propped up on easels behind the caskets were large pictures of each family member: 36-year-old LaRae Watson, and 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 Raegan; and 4-year-old twins Mark and Nathaniel.

“In the 27 years I’ve been in the ministry, I’ve never had anything that has devastated me and touched me anymore than this,” said Tim Burden.

A Muhlenberg County town is preparing to bury a mother and eight of her children who died in a house fire.

Members of the Watson family died Jan. 30 when police say a combustible material fell against an electric heater in a bedroom on a sub-freezing night in the community of Depoy near Greenville, Ky.

Killed were 35-year-old LaRae "Nikki" Watson, 15-year-old Madison Watson, 14-year-old Kaitlyn Watson, 13-year-old Morgan Watson, 9-year-old Emily Watson, 8-year-old Samuel Watson, 6-year-old Raegan Watson and 4-year-old twin brothers Mark and Nathaniel Watson.

The father, 36-year-old Chad Watson, and 11-year-old Kylie Watson, escaped the blaze and were at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. The funeral service is being held at the Muhlenberg County High School's west campus Saturday afternoon.


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.

Emil Moffatt

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.

Muhlenberg County Holding Memorial Service for Phil Everly

Jan 16, 2014

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.

Tennessee Valley Authority

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. 

Lisa Autry

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.

Authorities say 16 people in Hardin, Muhlenberg and Nelson counties have been charged with drug trafficking after a yearlong investigation.

The News-Enterprise reports that the probe, titled "Operation Pill Crusher," netted arrests of 14 residents of Elizabethtown and one New Haven resident.

A warrant was also served on an inmate at the Green River Correctional Complex in Central City.

All but one of those arrested June 28 was charged with trafficking in prescription medication. One man was charged with selling marijuana.

Officials said that the prescription drugs being illegally sold included morphine, hydrocodone and Oxycodone.

Ron Eckart, director of the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force, said detectives served arrest warrants after spending two weeks pursuing indictments through a Hardin County grand jury.

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.

Kentucky Coal Plant Makes Top 10 Polluter List

Jan 3, 2013

A Tennessee Valley Authority coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky has landed on an environmental group's list of top polluters.

The report Thursday from the Environmental Integrity Project says the TVA Paradise Fossil Plant near Drakesboro emitted 1,505 pounds of arsenic, 1,907 pounds of lead and 1,409 pounds of chromium in 2011. The plant was third on the group's metal emissions list that used the most recent data available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The 2,200-megawatt plant is the largest in Kentucky by wattage output. TVA said in 2011 it is spending $500 million to upgrade pollution controls on two generating units at the plant. TVA's website says the work was to be completed by last month.

A Kentucky National Guard firefighting team is returning to Greenville on Tuesday, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 and a year to the day since the soldiers' departure. The unit will be welcomed home Tuesday afternoon at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center.