Owensboro

TVA

Another of Kentucky’s coal-fired power units will be shut down in the next few years, further reducing the state’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Owensboro Municipal Utilities announced last week that it plans to shut down Unit 1 of the Elmer Smith Power Plant sometime between 2019 and 2021.

The Elmer Smith plant has two coal-fired units; Unit 2, the larger of the two, will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.

The plant is the latest of the state’s coal-fired power plants to be shut down. As the state’s coal fleet ages — more than half of the coal plants operating in 2011 were built before 1970 — utilities are being forced to decide whether it will save money to update the plants or shut them down. In many cases, the decision is influenced by stricter environmental regulations and the low cost of other fuels, like natural gas.

Elmer Smith Unit 1 produced more than a million tons of carbon dioxide in 2014. Kentucky is facing steep carbon dioxide emissions cuts under the federal Clean Power Plan, and the unit’s retirement will get Kentucky’s projected emissions a little bit closer to compliance with the federal standard.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Ann Gordon

An estimated 80,000 Kentuckians are serving as caregivers to family members suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Greater Kentucky-Southern Indiana chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association wants more of those caregivers to be better informed about resources available to them.

Community Outreach Coordinator Helene French says one of the most important lessons she tries to get across to caregivers is that they can’t do it alone.

“You need to build a team, and think about what that team is going to look like--of family and friends, neighbors, people in your community, your physician, and nurses, and community resources.”

French says caregivers should look into government and private programs that provide help with respite care for those with dementia. Some of the governmental services available are income-based, while others aren’t.

Chris Joslin

The incoming executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum brings a background in music and business to the job.

The Owensboro-based group today announced that Chris Joslin will lead the museum starting September 1. Joslin toured nationally with the bluegrass group Crucial Smith, playing banjo and resonator guitar, before working with a healthcare company and an executive search firm in Nashville.

Joslin received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Belmont University in Nashville, as well as a Masters of Business Administration from Belmont's Massey School of Business.

Joslin says he’s looking forward to being a part of the annual River of Music Party, held every summer in Owensboro.

“The work at the museum, combined with the energy and success of ROMP—it’s just a dream job.”

Another aspect of the job that attracted Joslin is a planned International Bluegrass Music Center, to be built in downtown Owensboro. Construction will start this fall, with the facility scheduled to open in 2017.

Joslin currently calls Franklin, Tennessee, home. He and his wife will soon make the move to Daviess County.

Gabrielle Gray, the longtime leader of the IBMM, stepped down in December.

Flickr/Creative Commons/tableatny

Three Owensboro-based institutions are combining efforts to build a new state-of-the-art track and field facility.

Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro Public Schools, and Owensboro Health announced Tuesday  that they will collaborate on the new facility, which will be located between the north and south campuses of Owensboro Middle School.

The project will feature a high-quality synthetic track surface, a steeplechase pit, a runway for long and triple jumps, a javelin area, a pole vault runway, and a shot put and discus/hammer throw event pad.

“We will be able to host collegiate track and field meets that Owensboro and Daviess County have not been able to do before, and it also creates an opportunity for the region, generally, from an economic impact and activities standpoint, to host large AAU meets,” said Kentucky Wesleyan College President Bart Darrell.

The Owensboro Health Track & Field Complex will be located between the Owensboro Middle School North and South campuses on South Griffin Avenue. Both Kentucky Wesleyan and Owensboro High School will use the new facility to host meets.

The facility will cost an estimated one million dollars, and will also be used to promote wellness activities for the general public. No timetable for the facility’s completion has been set.

American Legion Volunteers Guard Owensboro Recruiters

Jul 22, 2015
Photo courtesy of Phillip Evans

Some members of American Legion Riders, Post 9, in Owensboro, Kentucky have taken up a volunteer mission to guard the U.S. Armed Forces recruiting center in town, after five members of the military died as a result of shootings at two Chattanooga, Tenn. recruiting sites last week.  

Phillip Evans of Owensboro was one of about a dozen American Legion volunteers who took turns at the local recruiting center Monday and Tuesday.  Evans served in the Marines from 1990 to 1994. 

“My active duty service ended, but I was never relieved of my duty to defend my brothers,” said Evans.

Evans said the current volunteer mission is clear.

"We're doing this to deter anyone that may seek to do harm to our active duty military," he said.

Evans said he has a concealed carry permit and brought two guns, an AR-15, which  is a military style rifle, and an XDS-45, which is a pistol. He said the American Legion members talked with the local police and sheriff's departments, who asked them not to conceal the firearms, and the volunteers agreed. 

Evans said the American Legion volunteers will continue to keep watch at the Owensboro recruiting center until they feel it’s no longer necessary.

Daviess Co Fiscal Court

An estimated 1,000 African-Americans who fought for the Union in the Civil War are being honored in Owensboro.

The Daviess County Bicentennial Committee is unveiling a historical marker on the courthouse square Friday evening for the Daviess County men who fought in what were known as “colored” infantries and cavalry units during the war.

The marker will be unveiled at 6 p.m. at the northwest corner of the courthouse.

Committee Co-chair Aloma Dew was one of the driving forces behind getting the marker established. She says the black men who volunteered for the units took great personal risks.

“We know of a couple of men who walked from Pleasant Ridge, which is about 15 miles outside of Owensboro, into Owensboro to sign up. They were slaves and they knew that if they were apprehended there would be a high cost to pay,” Dew said.

Lisa Autry

The two surviving members of a 2014 Muhlenberg County house fire are filing a lawsuit against a construction company.

The fire killed LaRae Watson and eight of her children after an electric heater ignited combustible materials inside the home. Chad Watson and his daughter, Kylie, are suing Owensboro-based Jagoe Homes, claiming the company hasn’t fulfilled its promise to build the Watsons a new home at no cost.

The lawsuit was first reported by WFIE-14 TV in Evansville. The suit claims the Watsons suffered “severe emotional harm and distress” when they didn’t receive the home they say they were promised.

Owensboro attorney Travis Holtrey is representing Jagoe Homes, and says a response to the lawsuit will be filed soon.

“We have full confidence that after that answer is filed, and after the matter is presented in the proper format, it will be determined that Jagoe Homes did not violate any law," he told WKU Public Radio Wednesday.

Holtrey wouldn't comment on whether or not Jagoe had made a promise regarding the building of a new home for the Watsons.

City of Owensboro

Owensboro City Commissioners appear set to give final approval to a city budget that includes fundingfor a golf course and the new International Bluegrass Music Center.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports that the city commission Tuesday night gave first approval to a budget plan that increases Owensboro’s occupational and net profits tax rates by six-tenths of a percentage point. Final approval of the budget is expected at a special called meeting Thursday afternoon.

The slight tax increase would generate more than $834,000 a year, which would be used to keep the nine-hole Hillcrest Golf Course open.

It would also cover the city’s $2.4 million dollar commitment toward the building of a new downtown bluegrass music center.  

Mayor Ron Payne says the city has reached an agreement with the Hillcrest Golf Association that will turn the course into a city park if less than 10,000 rounds a golf are played there each year.

The mayor of Owensboro is planning to introduce a plan to save a city-owned golf course from being sold.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports Mayor Ron Payne will share the plan with the city commission at its Tuesday evening meeting. The city’s proposed budget does not include funding for Hillcrest Golf Course, listing it as eligible to be sold to private interests.

A new ordinance that includes funding for the nine-hole course will be introduced as an amendment to the budget during the city commission meeting.

The ordinance proposes to fund the golf course through a slight increase in the city’s occupational tax.

The increase would also help cover the city’s recent $2.4 million commitment to the construction of the new downtown International Bluegrass Music Center.

International Bluegrass Music Museum

A Bowling Green businessman is taking over as chairman of the board of trustees at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro.

Mike Simpson is a lifelong bluegrass music fan who spent childhood summers in the Ohio County town of Rosine, which was home to the man considered the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. He takes over the museum’s board chairmanship from Dr. Peter Salovey, President of Yale University.

Simpson says the new International Bluegrass Music Center scheduled to open in 2017 will strengthen Owensboro’s appeal to tourists.

“And it will join other cities such as Cleveland, with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Nashville, with the Country Music Hall of Fame, as having one of the few centers dedicated to one genre of music.”

He also predicts the center will rival other major attractions in the commonwealth.

“Much in the same way that the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, and the Quilt Museum in Paducah drives economic tourism to those regions.”

Construction on the new music center is set to begin this fall. The International Bluegrass Music Museum recently completed a $15 million campaign to get the project underway.

City of Owensboro

The city of Owensboro is allocating $5 million for the construction of the new International Bluegrass Music Center project along the town’s riverfront.

The money is being made available through a partnership between the city and state announced Wednesday by Governor Beshear and city leaders.

Owensboro has been providing matching funds for a federal allocation supporting the riverfront. As a result of the new agreement, the state Transportation Cabinet will invest available state matching funds for a portion of the city’s responsibility for that federal allocation.

The move allows Owensboro to invest $5 million of its funds in the new International Bluegrass Music Center, completing the $15 million project.

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne believes the entire state will benefit from the new music center.

“We told the Governor early on that this is really not an Owensboro project, this is a Commonwealth project. Bluegrass is international, and we will be promoting not only Owensboro, but the state of Kentucky.”

Payne says the new music center is needed because the International Bluegrass Music Museum currently housed in the city’s downtown has outgrown its current facility. He thinks the new center will a jewel along Owensboro’s riverfront.

“It will have an auditorium in the facility, and it’s the intention of the bluegrass folks to broadcast a bluegrass opry out of there throughout the world.”

Construction on the new bluegrass music center will begin this summer, with the opening scheduled for 2017.

The next President and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce won’t have to go far to begin her new job.

The chamber announced Thursday that Candance Brake will lead the organization beginning March 16.

Brake was most recently Executive Director of the Green River Area Community Foundation in Owensboro, which shares a building with the Chamber of Commerce.  She served as an Owensboro City Commissioner from 2004 until 2010, and was previously an executive vice-president of the chamber.

Brake earned her bachelor’s degree from Brescia University in Owensboro, and has a Masters of Public Administration from WKU.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Facebook

Citing a need for docking locations on the Ohio River between Louisville and Paducah, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded the city of Owensboro a $1.5 million grant toward the building of a new 500 foot dock for traveling boaters.

City attorney and assistant city manager Ed Ray says the intended location for the transient dock is in front of the city’s convention center.

Former President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Joe Biden plan to attend the Owensboro funeral for Wendell H. Ford.

The former Senator and Governor passed away last Thursday at the age of 90.

Ford served in the Senate six of the eight years Clinton was in the White House, and was a Democratic Senate colleague of Biden for 24 years.

Daviess County state House Rep. Tommy Thompson told WKU Public Radio Monday afternoon that former state Democratic Party chairman Jerry Lundergan, a close friend of Clinton's, said the former President would be in Owensboro Tuesday.

The news was first reported by the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

Ford’s funeral service is Tuesday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Owensboro. Visitation is being held Monday evening until 7 p.m. at Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory, and after 10 a.m. Tuesday at the church.

A private service of committal will held in Elmwood Cemetery.

Ford’s family has asked that expressions of sympathy be made to the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center in Owensboro, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

Kevin Willis

The executive director of Owensboro’s International Bluegrass Music Museum is stepping down after a 12 year run.

However, Gabrielle Gray will maintain her presence in the region’s bluegrass community.

Gray will keep her position as the Executive Producer of ROMP, the annual bluegrass music festival in Daviess County, and she will also remain the museum’s primary grant writer.

Assistant Director Carly Smith, who has been at the museum since 2011, will serve as interim director while the search for a permanent replacement gets underway. That search will be led by Yale University President Peter Salovey.

A news release issued by the museum quotes Gray as saying that nothing gives her greater pleasure than helping to present ROMP at Yellow Creek Park each summer.

The Museum recently announced that legendary singer-songwriter John Prine will be one of the headliners during next year’s festival.

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