Owensboro

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.

Legendary songwriter John Prine will appear in Owensboro next year as one of the headliners of anannual bluegrass music event.

The 68-year-old will perform next June at the River of Music Party.  Prine wrote the famous song “Paradise” about the coal-mining industry in Muhlenberg County, and he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album in 2004 for an album that featured a recording of Stephen Foster’s song, “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The rest of the 2015 ROMP lineup will announced as acts are booked, with the full slate expected by mid-February.

Owensboro City Commissioners are throwing their support behind a plan to build a new processing plant at the city’s riverport.

At a meeting Tuesday night, commissioners praised the plan that would be financed by $25 million  of city issued bonds. The Messenger-Inquirer reports an ordinance authorizing the bonds will likely come up for a final vote next month.

Under the plan, a new milling facility would be built in partnership with Solvay Chemicals. While the city would issue the bonds used to pay for the project, the Riverport Authority would be responsible for repaying the cost of the bonds over ten years.

The estimated economic impact of the new processing facility is between $45 million and $65 million.

Judge: Kentucky Must OK Sale Of Alcohol Distributor

Nov 14, 2014

A Franklin County Circuit Court judge has ordered the state to approve the sale of a small Owensboro distributor to Anheuser-Busch in a decision that could prompt a legislative fight when the General Assembly meets in January.

Judge Phillip J. Shepherd ordered the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a wholesale beer distributor's license to Anheuser-Busch within the next week, which would allow the sale to go through. Other alcohol distributors and retailers have opposed the sale, arguing it would give Anheuser-Busch too much power to control how competing products are distributed.

A spokesman for the department said the state is reviewing the decision. Shepherd noted the case is part of a debate that dates back 50 years over whether brewers should be able to own the distribution.

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce

A lot has happened in Owensboro in the last 2 ½ years. And the person at the helm of the city’s Chamber of Commerce during that time says she expects the momentum to continue.

“I started and then two months later Smothers Park and the brand new downtown revitalization opened,” said Amy Jackson. “Then six months later, we were working on new things; a year and a half later opening up the new convention center and so it’s really just continued to gain steam.”

But Jackson’s last day as CEO and President of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce is Friday.  She’s leaving to take a position with First Security Bank in Owensboro. Jackson says she’s pleased with the direction in which the chamber and the city are headed.

“It’s to be applauded to know that within a year of opening that downtown revitalization, the public investment has been already matched and surpassed by the private investment,” said Jackson.

Businessman Kirk Kirkpatrick has been named interim leader of the Owensboro Chamber.  The chairman of the chamber's board says a search is underway for Jackson’s permanent replacement.

Daymar Colleges Group

A for-profit college targeted by Kentucky’s Attorney General says it will close its Louisville operations, and is seeking to transfer its students.

The announcement is the latest bad news for Owensboro-based Daymar Colleges Group.

The Courier-Journal reports Daymar has submitted a closure plan to its accrediting body that would lead to the shuttering of its classrooms, and transfer most of its 89 Louisville-area students to other schools, or Daymar’s online program.

Daymar runs more than a dozen campuses in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, with around 2,000 students. Daymar has recently closed operations in Scottsville and the western Kentucky town of Clinton, and has sold--or is trying to sell--buildings in Owensboro and Louisville.

Tonya Ratliff’s 15-year-old son Tyler has been living with diabetes for 10 years.  Two years ago, doctors told the Owensboro family they’d have to start replacing the insert in Tyler’s diabetes pump more frequently.

“It already was a lot, and that would double it," she said. "So I was like ‘I don’t think I can do that,'."

With three sons, it would be an extra financial burden the Ratliff family. Their doctor told them about a foundation that helps pay for medical expenses not covered by a healthcare plan.  

Since 2007, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation has given 7,500 grants across the country. In the last three years, 90 of them have been in Kentucky, providing nearly $300,000 for families with children 16 and under. The organization is trying to increase the number of Kentucky families who receive assistance.

“It was a life-changing experience for us, because we literally lived paycheck to paycheck and this was a great burden off of us,” said Ratliff.

The program can cover up to $5,000 dollars in expenses, and each child can receive a maximum of $10,000 over a lifetime.

Emil Moffatt

The only way to get across the Ohio River “Blue Bridge” in Owensboro Saturday morning will be by foot.  The bridge will be closed to vehicles from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. for a Bridge Day event. 

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says a marked detour will take cars over the US 231 Ohio River “Natcher” Bridge, a route that will add 10 minutes of travel time between Reo, Indiana and downtown Owensboro.

Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro has appointed its 34th president.

The school announced Thursday Barton D. Darrell will be officially introduced as its next leader at a news conference on Tuesday.

Darrell has been a vice-president at the school for 11 months. He has extensive ties to the Bowling Green area, serving as a partner with the law firm of Bell, Orr, Ayers, and Moore beginning in 1991. Darrel served as general counsel for the Warren County Public School system, and is a former president of the Bowling Green-Warren County Bar Association.

His father, Bob Darrell, is a professor emeritus of English at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

The news conference to introduce Barton Darrell as the school’s new president is Sept. 9, at noon in Rogers Hall at the Winchester Center. The public is invited to attend.

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