Kentucky's fourth largest city began its journey Tuesday night toward joining seven others that don't discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or identity.
The Owensboro Human Rights Commission presented a proposed ordinance, with director Sylvia Coleman recommending its consideration and approval. In fact, all five members of the City Commission expressed support Tuesday night for the fairness ordinance, prompting Mayor Ron Payne to instruct the city's legal staff to bring it to the commission for future consideration.
The Fairness Campaign's Dora James says Owensboro officials have been working toward the ordinance since December. She says it all started with a simple chat between a campaign member and a city commissioner.
If Owensboro approves the ordinance after a first reading on the 19th and a second reading next month, it would become the eighth Kentucky community with such a law.
An experimental drug used to treat two Americans infected with the Ebola virus was created in Owensboro.
Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol are reportedly showing significant improvement after being treated at an Atlanta hospital with a drug called ZMapp.
Compounds used in the drug are grown in genetically modified tobacco plants in an effort overseen by the Owensboro-based Kentucky BioProcessing. The Herald-Leader reports that KBP received a federal contract in 2007 to work on a drug that could treat those exposed to the Ebola virus.
An Ebola outbreak in west Africa has claimed nearly 900 lives, with many more victims infected. Brantly and Writebol, who were giving medical treatment to Ebola victims when they fell ill, are the first known humans to receive Z-Mapp.
A spokesman for the company that runs the Owensboro operation says production of the drug was already being ramped up for approval testing later this year, and that schedule may accelerate given the magnitude of the current Ebola outbreak.
KBP is also involved with the Owensboro Cancer Research program, which this week was given a federal grant to further its research into a possible HIV vaccine using tobacco plants.
HIV vaccine research being conducted in Owensboro is getting a boost from a federal grant. The National Institutes of Health Monday announced a five-year, $14.7 million dollar grant for a project being led by the Owensboro Cancer Research program.
The goal is to create a gel-based vaccine that involves tobacco plants.
Researchers in Daviess County have been extracting a protein found in red algae, injecting it into tobacco plants, growing the tobacco on a massive scale, and then extracting the protein for use in a gel. Lab tests show the protein blocks HIV cells from entering uninfected cells.
Researchers have developed a gel using the protein that they hope can be used to stop the spread of HIV during sexual intercourse.
Owensboro Cancer Research program director Kenneth Palmer says the irony of using tobacco plants to possibly create a medical breakthrough isn’t lost on him.
An electrical engineering firm is set to inspect the 112 lights atop the Glover H. Cary Bridge in downtown Owensboro. That means drivers should expect delays all of next week, beginning Monday.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports the lights on the top of the bridge haven’t been turned back on since the bridge was closed for re-painting in the spring of 2013. The bridge re-opened in November, but the lights remain off, pending inspection to make sure they meet current National Electrical Code standards.
The traffic lanes on the bridge are illuminated by street lamps.
One of the candidates in the highly-contested Kentucky U.S. Senate race has agreed to take part in an event in Owensboro next month.
Incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell confirmed he will appear at the Red, White & Blue Picnic on Aug. 26. The event is sponsored by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce. McConnell’s Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes has not said whether she’ll attend.
Wendell Ford, who represented Kentucky in the U.S. Senate for more than two decades following a term as governor, has announced he’s been diagnosed with lung cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments in his hometown of Owensboro.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports Ford’s son, Steve delivered a press release to the newspaper’s office Friday morning. In the statement, the 89-year-old says doctors recently diagnosed a malignant tumor in one lung. He says that malignancy has started spreading.
Ford says he is maintaining a “very positive outlook” and has “complete faith in my doctors”.
He says his scheduled public appearances have been put on hold indefinitely.
A new law that went into effect this week in Kentucky is changing the way the state views faith-based mental health counselors. Kentucky is now licensing such counselors, which means their services will be covered by insurance policies.
One of the faith-based counselors impacted by the new law is Joe Bob Pierce, who works with Cornerstone Counseling in Owensboro. He says the change in state law could encourage potential clients who might have been put off by having to foot the entire bill.
“Clients that otherwise might have to pay out-of-pocket to see a pastoral counselor now will be provided a bit of subsidy, or help, or in some cases their entire fee for counseling will be handled by the insurance company.”
Pierce’s counseling service is located inside Third Baptist Church in Owensboro. He says while many of his clients are deeply rooted in traditional Baptist beliefs, he has also counseled individuals who don’t claim any religious affiliation.
He says his clients are interested in receiving help from someone who will take into account the spiritual aspects of their lives,
“It may not necessarily be a dimension that is religious in terms of being attached to a particular faith. But I think it’s very much a part of our make-up as people.”
To be licensed by the state, pastoral counselors must have a master’s degree in the field and meet the same qualifications as other licensed counselors.
An Indiana transportation panel is making recommendations that could lead to the start of a new corridor linking southern Indiana with Daviess County, Kentucky, within five to ten years.
The road will be called the Mid-State Corridor, and will run from Pike County, Indiana, to the Natcher Bridge east of Owensboro. That road was formally known as I-67, but the name was dropped because only federal officials can create a new interstate.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports the Indiana Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure also believes construction should start on the proposed Interstate-69 bridge at Henderson within five years. Funding concerns are a major issue for the projects, however, with the federal Highway Trust Fund running out of money.
If a creative solution isn’t found, blue ribbon panel member Hank Menke told the paper that the Mid-State Corridor might have to be built as a toll road.
The corridor is expected to cost Indiana $444 million, with Kentucky chipping in $177 million.
The Indiana panel’s recommendations now go to Governor Mike Pence.
Owensboro is shooting to become the northernmost point on the Americana Music Triangle looking to join other cities on the 1,500 mile trail that includes nine music genres.
Currently, New Orleans serves as the southern point while the northern points include the Tennessee cities of Memphis and Nashville.
Aubrey Preston and the Franklin, Tennessee based Americana Music Association created the trail and recently visited Owensboro to discuss with local officials the possibility of including it.
The city's become a hub for bluegrass music and tourism. It's home to the International Bluegrass Music Museum and holds and annual bluegrass festival, the River of Music Party or ROMP, that draws about 20,000 people.
A stable of Kentucky lawmakers are learning how natural gas can be developed to meet the state’s transportation needs.
Industry experts briefed members of the committees on energy and natural resources at the Owensboro convention center Thursday on the viability of natural gas filling stations, which are currently limited across the state.
“It’s an important issue for Kentucky," said Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter, a co-chair of both committees. "Gas has become a major player, in providing energy sources for Kentucky, and that's why we wanted to come to Owensboro."
"One of our members, this is his home community, and they've got a beautiful facility, and they just worked hand-in-hand so we could hear a presentation from the gas association and learn more about what they're doing."
Natural gas is expected to comprise a larger share of the state’s energy sources in the future.