Owensboro

Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts

The just-concluded legislative session contains a major victory for Daviess County.  

The final budget agreement includes funding to create a Family Court. District and circuit judges currently handle family issues.  

John Minton, Jr. has been advocating for the judgeship since becoming Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court in 2008.  He says the goal is to keep family cases before the same judge.

"It's possible under the system without Family Court for a family to have issues in different places before different judges with different outcomes, so Family Court allows us to process all the issues around families in one place.

Family judges preside over cases such as divorce, child custody, adoptions, and domestic violence.  Daviess County is the largest county in the state without a Family Court judge.

Once the law becomes effective in mid-July, Governor Bevin will appoint someone to serve as Daviess County Family Court Judge until the position is up for election in November.

Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne announced Friday that he will not seek re-election and will retire at the end of the year.

Owensboro Living reports Payne has served in local government for 38 years.

In Owensboro, he has been City Commissioner, City Manager and Director of Finance and Administration.

Prior to working in Owensboro, he was director of finance for the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Payne is a certified public accountant. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran and served in Vietnam.

City of Owensboro

Owensboro's hotels and motels are putting a lot more heads in beds.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports in the past two years alone, hotel revenues jumped 36 percent up to nearly 22-million dollars, and this year is already 13 percent ahead of 2015.

The upsurge really took off in 2014 with the openings of both the Owensboro Convention Center and the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Downtown Owensboro/Waterfront. Plus, a third 90 room downtown hotel is planned near the convention center with a possible opening in 2018.

Apus Air

Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport is getting a new flight school that trains pilots for Chinese airlines.

Apus Air announced this week that it is constructing a flight training center at the airport. The project will create 35 jobs.

CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation Madison Silvert says the regional airport is a perfect fit for the company’s needs. 

 “They were looking for an airport that had the right balance of runway links and amenities and low traffic so they could provide a confident environment for new trainees,” says Silvert.

The California-based company is making an investment $1.65 million in the new facility.

Joe Corcoran, WKU Public Radio

Owensboro is stepping up its mission to become the nation’s bluegrass music capital. Construction of a new downtown performance center and museum is set to start this spring to go along with the city’s thriving local music scene.

Also, a program in local schools is looking to create new fans for bluegrass long into the future.

At Sutton Elementary in Owensboro, 400 students recently sat cross-legged on the cafeteria floor. They clapped along to a bluegrass band called the Rigs. The band performed as a part of a program created by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro.

It’s called Bluegrass in the Schools, and it’s been bringing the music to students since 2003.

Tom Stites, the fine arts coordinator for Owensboro Public Schools, said the goal of Bluegrass in the Schools is to encourage a new generation of bluegrass fans and musicians and performances like this make the most of a unique Kentucky heritage. “It’s a chance for our children to connect with their culture, because the bluegrass roots run so very deep here," he said.  "And it’s not part of what our children experience every single day in their lives. I think it’s important that they continue to be connected with their background and where bluegrass came from.”

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Organizers of the International Bluegrass Music Museum's annual concert fundraiser say Old Crow Medicine Show, Lee Ann Womack and Marty Stuart have been added to the show's lineup.

The annual ROMP Festival will be held at Owensboro's Yellow Creek Park in June. It's the festival's 13th year.

Other additions to the lineup include Billy Strings, a reunion of Louisville-based group, 23 String Band, and Nashville bluegrass band, Sheriff Scott & the Deputies.

The Del McCoury Band, Sam Bush Band and Steep Canyon Rangers are already signed up to play at the event.

Owensboro Health Regional Hospital

A hospital in Daviess County is using new technology to connect parents with their babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Owensboro Health Regional Hospital has installed a camera system that allows parents to view images of their child on a secure, web-based video stream. The Owensboro Health Foundation funded $50,700 for equipment, installation, training, and a one-year remove service contract to help get the system up and running.

Owensboro Health’s NICU medical director, Dr. Bridget Burshears, said the new camera system allows parents with a child in the NICU to see images of their baby at any time.

"Any parent who has signed up for the program can log on to the internet website, and log in with a specific log-in name and password for that specific baby, and be able to see that infant in their isolator crib, and see what they are doing at any given time,” Dr. Burshears said.

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.

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