Owensboro

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has joined the list of confirmed speakers at Owensboro’s Red, White & Blue Picnic later this month.  Grimes’ November opponent, Senator Mitch McConnell already committed to the August 26th event.

The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce sponsors the picnic which begins at 5 p.m. on the lawn of the Daviess County Courthouse.

City of Owensboro, KY

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.

Kentucky BioProcessing

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.

The University of Louisville

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.

Emil Moffatt

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.

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce

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.

Third Baptist of Owensboro

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.

City of Owensboro, KY

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.

International Bluegrass Music Center

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.

City of Owensboro, KY

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.

City of Owensboro

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.

The University of Louisville

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.

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