Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly on proposed trail
Leaders in five Kentucky counties are gauging public support for an 80 mile trail that could be used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
The proposed trail would begin in Audobon State Park in Henderson County, and run through Daviess, Ohio, and Grayson counties before ending at Rough River Dam State Resort Park in Breckinridge County.
Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly told WKU Public Radio that local leaders are taking the idea to the public.
"All the county judges and mayors are going back to their communities to set up meetings where they can gauge the support in their communities,” Mattingly said. “We've kinda formed a loose coalition of the counties involved, so that we can apply for a federal grant."
Mattingly says the federal grant would fund a study that would look at the direction the trail would follow.
The Daviess County Judge-Executive cautions that it would take decades to plan and create an 80 mile trail. Mattingly says it took 25 years to finish the 15 mile greenbelt that rings Owensboro.
The latest debate over the route for Interstate 69 revolves around the highway's path from Southern Indiana into Kentucky
While researching his book, “Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway”, Matt Dellinger traced the very early history of I-69 to a southern Indiana landowner, who in the early ‘90s, wanted to build a toll road from Evansville to Indianapolis.
“This man, David Graham, in Washington, Indiana, had been talking to this economist who said ‘look, your problem is, that it is too small a project. If you continued this proposed highway all the way to Mexico, then the numbers would change and the economics of it would look a lot more attractive if it was an international trade route,’” said Dellinger.
Twenty years and billions of dollars later, I-69 remains incomplete, although there has been progress, If I-69 ever is complete, it will extend from Canada to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Dellinger says funding issues and sometimes, the proposed route of the interstate have impeded progress as each mayor, congressman or senator along the way has tried to steer it in a way that would most benefit his or her constituents.
“These arguments about the route have been going on since the idea was very, very young. It is about politics and it is about economic development,” said Dellinger. “The bridges are obviously key points in the route. They’re kind of the pillars that the rest of the route is defined by.”
The latest dust up over I-69 doesn’t take place far Washington, Indiana.
A Tennessee-based company that provides online services for fans of bluegrass music is establishing a presence in Daviess County.
Terry Herd, co-founder of Nashville-based Bluegrass Today, told the Messenger-Inquirer that the decision indicates how significant Owensboro, Ky., is in the bluegrass music industry.
The city is home to the International Bluegrass Museum and hosts the annual ROMP: Bluegrass Roots and Branches Festival, which was named the "event of the year" in 2012 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Bluegrass Today, which launched about two years ago, includes news, airplay charts, forums and directories for fans.
The company said Sean Dysinger will head up its presence in Owensboro.
The new Owensboro Convention Center opens for business Wednesday as the Ag Expo begins. The city also has grand opening festivities slated for this weekend.
Work began on the 170,000 square foot, $40-million dollar facility in March 2012. Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne says the finished product is impressive.
“You go in and the lobby is 60 feet high and you have a lot of lot of unique artwork in there and two huge ballrooms up on the third floor. Off those ballrooms to the north and you have a balcony overlooking the Ohio River,” said Payne.
Payne says despite the facility’s size, it will be able to play host to events large and small.
“The exhibit hall can actually be separated into three separate exhibit halls if you want to do it," said Payne. "Or you can take the panels and open up the entire thing. So, lots of versatility which gives you a lot of options.”
Kentucky’s newest House member was sworn into office Tuesday on the opening day of the 2014 General Assembly session.
Representative Suzanne Miles of Owensboro was also appointed to serve on the House Agriculture, Judiciary, and State Government Committees.
“I’m excited about serving on these committees, and hope to utilize my background as a small business owner, an advocate for our farming community, and my passion for government to help move our Commonwealth forward,” said Rep. Miles.
Miles, a Republican, won a special election in December to serve the remaining term of former Representative John Arnold.
Miles' victory eroded the Kentucky Democratic Party’s margin of control in the House. The Democrats now have 54 seats against the Republicans’ 46.
A meeting where members of the public can sound off about a requested rate increase by Big Rivers Electric Corporation has been rescheduled.
A meeting was to be held Dec. 10 in Henderson, but was called off due to bad weather. The new date is Monday, December 16, in the Stagg Meeting Room at Henderson Community College, beginning at 5 pm.
The meeting will include a presentation by staff with the Kentucky Public Service Commission about the proposed rate increase by Big Rivers, the biggest power supplier in the region. Earlier this year the PSC granted a rate increase of $54 million by Big Rivers after the loss of its biggest customer, Century Aluminum of Hawesville.
Public comments will begin no later than 6 pm.
A second public meeting will be held in Frankfort on January 8, and will be linked through video conference to sites in Brandenburg, Owensboro, and Paducah.
The city of Owensboro has embraced the Ohio River in recent years, hoping it will lead to a revitalization of the downtown area and now the city is awaiting the results of a study on whether a marina would help attract even more residents and visitors to the river.
“We’ve asked these consultants to come back and tell us about the possibility of building not a seasonal marina, but a year-round marina at English Park," said city manager Bill Parrish. "It would be just down the road from our downtown redevelopment."
The city recently built a convention center by the Ohio River and two hotels are under construction.
Parrish says that the study is expected to be complete by April 1. Part of that study involves a public comment session at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the police department community room.
“This is a study to see if a marina makes sense and what the cost might be. We would be absolutely open to it being operated by the city, by a private entity or a public-private partnership of some type,” said Parrish.
For five days in October a group made up of both student and professional photojournalists made their way to Owensboro to find interesting people and stories that could be told through still and video images.
WKU Photojournalist-in-Residence Josh Meltzer, who helps direct the Mountain Workshops, met WKU Public Radio’s Kevin Willis at the gallery to talk about how some of the images came to life.
Commuters in the Daviess County region will be able to cross the Ohio River “Blue” bridge over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has announced that the bridge will reopen November 27, the day before Thanksgiving.
The Blue Bridge has been closed to traffic since May while it received a fresh coat of paint. Some work will continue on the Indiana side of the bridge after it reopens, but the contractor is confident the painting will be completed in the next two weeks.
The 4,600-foot bridge connects Owensboro to southern Indiana and is used by an average of 8,500 vehicles a day.
Transportation officials say they won’t hit the Nov. 15 target date for re-opening the “Blue Bridge” in downtown Owensboro. But Kevin McClearn with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the extra work this month will reduce the number of traffic disruptions next year.
Crews have been re-painting the bridge and repairing beams, joints and concrete on older sections of the bridge deck. No timeline was announced for re-opening the bridge, but crews are expected to continue working for a “few more weeks”, trying to take advantage of milder weather.
The bridge has been closed since mid-May. When open, an average of 8,500 cross the Blue Bridge each day.