Ground is expected to be broken later this month on the International Bluegrass Music Center in downtown Owensboro. The city has already pledged $3 million to the project and now Daviess County says it’s contributing $500,000 dollars to the project over the next five years.
County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly says the music center will be the next step in the development of downtown that already includes the new convention center and two new hotels.
“This area, this block – an entire block – sits right at the end of that corridor,” said Mattingly. “It certainly will be an attraction to people who come into the community for conventions and in and of itself will be an attractor for visitors.”
Mattingly says the county’s money for the project comes from excess from a hotel-motel tax. He says in the past, similar money has been used to pay a million dollars on a bonded indebtedness of the Riverpark Center.
“We thought that since this [money] comes from visitors who come into this community, it’s specifically tasked to be spent on arts organizations in the downtown area and tourism,” said Mattingly.
The Bluegrass Music Center could open as soon as next year. The $12 million project has also received $5 million dollars in private donations. It's scheduled to include a 1,000-seat indoor theater and a 2,000-seat outdoor stage.
A new study is attaching cost estimates to proposals that would provide an interstate spur for the Owensboro region.
The study, commissioned by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, looked at plans for an I-69 spur-designation for the Audubon Parkway, and an I-66/I-65 spur for the Natcher Parkway.
Among the key findings of the study:
*The cost for upgrading over 23 miles of the Audubon, from Henderson to the U.S. 60 interchange at Owensboro, would run between $14 million and $15 million. Such a move would require the Pennyrile Parkway to be upgraded to I-69 status at the western end of the Audubon.
*Obtaining an I-65 spur status, by upgrading 72 miles of the Natcher Parkway stretching from I-65 in Bowling Green to U.S. 60 in Owensboro, would cost $66 million to $76 million.
*Upgrading U.S. 60 and 72 miles of the Natcher would cost as much as $148 million. The consultants advised against trying to designate U.S. 60 as a spur, citing high costs and the surrounding residential area.
The mayor of Owensboro says the city should consider trying to annex nearby subdivisions in order to boost its population.
Ron Payne made the comments following the release of census numbers showing Bowling Green has grown at a faster pace than Owensboro.
Those figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reflect populations on July 1, 2013.
Bowling Green retained its position as the state’s third-largest city, with a population of 61,488 people. Owensboro remained fourth-largest, with just over 58,416.
That 3,072-person advantage by Bowling Green is more than the gap between the two cities during the 2010 census. Four years ago, Bowling Green had just an 800-person advantage.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and City Manager Bill Parrish are talking about meeting with homeowner associations in subdivisions along Kentucky 54 in order to gauge their interest in being annexed by the city.
One of Kentucky’s most well-known cancer treatment centers is receiving a multi-million dollar grant to find new treatments and vaccines.
The James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville announced Friday that they have been given a three-year, $5.5 million dollar grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
The Center’s director, Doctor Donald Miller, says the grant will help continue a partnership between U of L and Owensboro Health that is exploring the use of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
“We have two vaccines--one for cervical cancer, one for colon cancer that are ready to move forward into early phase clinical trials, and this grant will primarily support the testing of those vaccines over the next three years,” Dr. Miller said.
The grant will also seek to further develop plant-based drugs that would allow a higher concentration of anti-cancer drugs to be delivered to tumors.
A distillery in Owensboro will once again produce Kentucky’s signature spirit.
Officials with TerrePURE Kentucky Distillers announced Tuesday afternoon that they are purchasing the Charles Medley Distillery and will create bourbon and other lines of spirits.
The project is expected to create as many as 70 new jobs at the distillery, which sits on 28 acres of land in Daviess County. TerrePURE will invest $23 million to purchase and refurbish the distillery.
The company plans to renovate and repair buildings at the site, and install new equipment. TerrePURE says its goal is to have the distillery operational in 18 months.
The President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, Madison Silvert, says a 2012 economic impact study shows the distilling business has a far-reaching impact on jobs in the Bluegrass State.
“The job multiplier for distilling was 3.19, so that means that for every new distilling job, 2.9 new jobs are created somewhere in the commonwealth," Silvert told WKU Public Radio. "That is the third largest job multiplier of all industries in the state of Kentucky, behind light truck manufacturing and automobiles.”
According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the state exported $383 million of its distilled spirits in 2013. That accounts for 21 percent of the U.S. total in that area.
Silvert added that it will mean a lot to the Owensboro area community to have the Medley Distillery up and running again.
The rise to prominence in the opera world continues for an Owensboro native.
Last week, Anthony Clark Evans was named a winner of the Sarah Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music foundation. Evans is one of only five young opera singers nationwide to win the $5,000 award this year. The audition for the grant was by invitation only.
“What it really means to me, is that I’m able to maybe make a few extra trips here and there and audition for more people because I’ll have a little bit of extra cash just sitting in the bank,” said Evans. “I’ll be able to maybe take a flight out to New York again to sing for somebody that’s important out there.”
The 28-year-old baritone now resides in Elizabethtown but is currently studying at the Ryan Center of Lyric Opera in Chicago. He says he comes from a long line of singers.
“It really comes from my father. He was a trained singer and his father was a trained singer. I think it goes back four or five generations,” said Evans.
He studied voice at Murray State, but left school twice to save up more money to continue his education. The second time away, he got married and the couple settled in Elizabethtown where he took a job at a car dealership.
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.”