Members of the public who would be impacted by a potential rate increase by Big Rivers Electric Corporation have opportunities to speak out this week. The Kentucky Public Service Commission is holding meetings in Owensboro and Henderson, and a chance for Brandenburg residents to link via video conferencing.
The Henderson-based Big Rivers wants approval for a rate adjustment that will raise $74.5 million dollars in increased revenue. The possible 20 percent increase would account for an extra $24 per month for the average customer. Industrial customers would see nearly 17 percent rate increases.
The utility says most of that new revenue is needed to offset the loss of the Century Aluminum smelter in Hawesville, which will cease to be a Big Rivers client in mid-August. Big Rivers provides power to a region extending from Meade County through Owensboro and Henderson and into Paducah in far western Kentucky.
The Public Service Commission will hold two meetings this Thursday for public comments on the proposed rate hike. The first is at South Middle School in Henderson at 1 p.m., and the second will be at the Owensboro Community and Technical College that evening at 5:30.
Big Rivers customers in the Brandenburg area can watch the Owensboro meeting via a video-conference at Meade County High School starting at 6:30 p.m. eastern.
A truck crash at the Natcher Parkway/US 60 Interchange in Owensboro will require some of the ramps to be closed for most of Friday.
The northbound Natcher to westbound US 60 ramp and eastboud US 60 ramp to southbound Natcher will be closed to allow recovery of the truck.
Motorists may use the remaining open ramps to maneuver around this crash site. Caution is required due to emergency personnel in the area.
Due to spilled fuel, damage to guardrail, and the need for emergency personnel to continue their work at the crash site, these ramps are expected to remain closed most of the day for clean up and repair work.
Kevin's interview with Owensboro Health's Gordon Wilkerson
It's the last week of preparations before Saturday's official opening of the new Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. The 447-bed facility sits on 162 acres of land in eastern Owensboro, and is opening this weekend after three years of construction.
Owensboro Health spokesman Gordon Wilkerson says the hospital has been trying to make the transition as painless as possible.
"We'll be identifying patients who will still be in the hospital Saturday morning and who will need to be moved to the new facility. And we're working closely with their family members to ensure they have at least one family member present during the move," said Wilkerson.
The final price tag for the new hospital on Pleasant Valley drive was $385 million, and was paid for by a bond issue in 2010. Wilkerson said the costs associated with the new facility will not lead to increased care costs for patients.
Officials are taking cue from Tennessee in their effort to make Owensboro synonymous with bluegrass music.
Owensboro mayor Ron Payne wants to rename Second Street so that it reflects the city's growing reputation as a hub for bluegrass music. He says in Tennessee, Nashville, which is known for country music, has Music Row; Memphis, which is known for blues, has Beale Street.
Payne said he's already talked to City Commission members and now he's ready to hear ideas from the public for renaming the street.
A construction worker has died following an accident at the site of the Owensboro “Blue Bridge” painting project. Daviess County Coroner Jeff Jones says the man—whose identity has not been released—died Monday evening after being taken to the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital.
Co-workers found the 35-year-old unconscious in safety netting at the work site. He was cut from the netting and taken to the hospital with burns on his hands, indicating that he may have come into contact with energized electrical wires on the bridge.
The contractor and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet safety personnel will conduct an investigation into the incident.
The Glover H. Cary Bridge—also known locally as the “Blue Bridge”—is closed until November while it gets a fresh coat of paint. The bridge connects Owensboro with southern Indiana, and is used by an average of 8,500 vehicles a day.
Owensboro police reported clearing 77.1% of violent crimes and nearly 39% of property crimes in 2012. Those figures put them above the national averages of 48% for violent crime and 19% for property crimes.
Police chief Art Ealum says the clearance rate comes from the department's efforts to build close ties with the community. Ealum says the city's relatively small size allows patrol officers to interact with the public in a way an officer in a large metro area can't.
In 2012, the department had 101 full-time officers and five reserve officers.
Kevin's interview with Nick Brake, incoming head of Owensboro Public Schools
The incoming chief of the Owensboro Public School system says fully-funding pre-Kindergarten programs would be the best education investment state lawmakers could make.
Nick Brake will take over as leader of Owensboro's school system July 1, following seven years with the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation.
He told WKU Public Radio increased pre-K funding is money well spent.
"If you fully fund those programs, not only do you contribute three-to-one to their earnings later, but every dollar you spend there ends up saving the state money on the back end with benefit programs, criminal justice, and other savings," Brake said. "It's a long-term investment and sometimes those are difficult for public policy makers to swallow, but I think it's an investment that needs to be made."
Brake signed a four-year contract Monday to take over as leader of the Owensboro Public School system.
A proposed budget for Daviess County includes a $1 million increase in spending on general fund operations, and a two-percent cost of living increase for county employees.
Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly presented an 87 page document outlining a $23.5 million dollar plan for general fund spending next fiscal year, a nearly 5 percent increase over the current year.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports the new budget keeps property and payroll tax rates at the same levels, and contains one-million-dollars less for the Daviess County Detention Center. The facility has generated more revenue on its one, and that $1 million will instead be freed up for capitol projects.
Mattingly says he’s happy the proposed county budget contains $2.5 million less in overall debt than the current fiscal year, with no new debt taken on next year.
A Daviess County native who is an Alaska-based military policeman will serve 16 years in prison and will be dishonorably discharged for selling secrets to an FBI undercover agent who he believed was a Russian spy, a panel of eight military members decided Monday.
Spec. William Colton Millay of Owensboro, pleaded guilty last month to attempted espionage and other counts.
Military prosecutors painted him as a white supremacist who was fed up with the Army and the United States, and was willing to sell secrets to an enemy agent, even if that would cost fellow soldiers their lives.
Defense attorneys said Millay was emotionally stunted, was only seeking attention and was a candidate for rehabilitation.
Three finalists have been named for superintendent of Owensboro public schools. The Messenger-Inquirer reports the finalists are county school administrator Mark Owens, economic development leader Nick Brake, and Oldham County principal Rob Clayton.
The three were chosen from a pool of 16 applicants.
The new superintendent will be selected in early May to replace Larry Vick, who is retiring.