Owensboro

Two western Kentucky airports will close their air traffic control facilities in April after the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday mandated the shutdowns because of budget cuts.

Pilots flying into and out of Owensboro-Daviess County Airport in Owensboro and Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah will be responsible for keeping proper distance from each other while in the air and for their own safety during takeoffs and landings.

During bad weather, the FAA tower in Memphis, Tenn., will monitor the airspace around Paducah. The FAA tower in Evansville, Ind., about 34 miles away, will monitor Owensboro's airspace in rough weather.

The two control towers were among 149 hit with closure by the FAA, which is being forced to trim $637 million for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Both the Owensboro and Paducah airports host commercial commuter airlines.

The Owensboro fire chief says lightning accompanying a storm likely caused a blaze that gutted the auditorium of a church in Owensboro and cut off power to the neighborhood, including Brescia University.

The fire started at about 3:30 CDT Monday and burned throughout the morning as firefighters poured more than 3,000 gallons of water a minute onto the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ Church. There were no injuries.

Fire Chief Steve Mitchell told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer the attic above the church auditorium was engulfed in flames and it wasn't long before the roof collapsed.

Five nearby houses were evacuated. A power grid was shut down, cutting power to several blocks of homes and Brescia University.

With only two days left in this year's Kentucky General Assembly session, time is running out for supporters of legislation meant to keep two western Kentucky aluminum smelters—which employ about 3,000 people—from closing.

Under state law, the smelters are required to purchase electricity from the nearest company—Big Rivers Electric, in this case.  The smelters say lower aluminum prices have them struggling to pay the bills; they're asking for more options for where they get electricity.

Their legislative supporters want to let the smelters purchase electricity on the open market.

Opponents argue that giving the smelters lower rates or open market options would increase prices for the average customer.

No life-threatening injuries are reported following a bus crash in Tennessee involving students from an Owensboro college. Members of the Kentucky Wesleyan Singers and Chamber Singers were aboard the charter bus that went over a small hill beside a road in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, late Sunday night.

A Chattanooga TV station reports 22 people were taken to hospitals.

A Kentucky Wesleyan College spokeswoman told WKU Public Radio the rest of the group’s week-long tour has been cancelled following the accident. The singers began their tour with stops in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, Nashville and Signal Mountain, Tennessee. They were on their way to sing in Atlanta when the bus accident occurred.

A contract has been awarded to an Ohio company that will be responsible for painting Owensboro's "Blue Bridge." The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced the winning $10 million bid placed by Spartan Contracting, LLC, was less than half of the engineer's estimate for the project.

The Glover Cary Bridge crosses the Ohio River and connects Owensboro and southern Indiana. Transportation Cabinet spokesman KeithTodd says the bridge is scheduled to be closed May 13-November 15 during the first phase of the painting project.

"The bridge was scheduled to be painted in 2017, and some of the community leaders in Owensboro wanted to go ahead and move up the painting date of the project. They have just completed a renovation of the Owensboro riverfront, and they wanted the bridge--which is right in downtown Owensboro--to get a new paint job," Todd told WKU Public Radio.

Kentucky and Indiana are splitting the cost of the project.

An estimated 8,500 vehicles cross the Glover Cary Bridge on an average day.

Wendell H. Ford GEC

Owensboro will be playing host this week to one of the most recognizable faces in Democratic politics. President Bill Clinton is attending a fundraiser to benefit a cause championed by an old friend.

President Clinton will be in Owensboro Wednesday to help raise money for the Wendell H. Ford Government Education Center. The fundraiser at the Riverpark Performing Arts Center costs $1,000 a person, and includes a VIP reception with President Clinton and dinner.

In addition to serving as Kentucky Governor, Ford served in the U.S. Senate from 1974 to 1999, and was Democratic Whip the first six years of Clinton’s presidencies.

President Clinton has appeared in Daviess County before: in 2000, he presented an education award to Audubon Elementary School, and he campaigned at Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2008 on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, who was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

A Daviess County restaurant and bar is on a quest to offer the world's largest selection of bourbons.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports Spirits at The Miller House in downtown Owensboro currently has at least 200 types of bourbon in stock on a daily basis. That's double what it had a year ago.

General manager Aaron King said that number puts it among bars with the largest selection of bourbons in stock. He said there are about 250 different bourbons.

"There are bars that claim they have 120 bourbons and say that's the largest collection and there are bars that say they have 250 bourbons," King said. "But when you go there, they aren't all in stock."

U.S. Bank plans to expand its mortgage operations in Owensboro, adding a new facility and 332 jobs to its operations in Daviess County.

The bank’s investment, announced Friday afternoon, comes at a time of increased demand for mortgage services in the area, and represents a $15.2 million commitment. U.S. Bank is the fifth-largest bank in the country, and currently has 1,900 employees in Owensboro.

As part of the expansion, U.S. Bank has been given preliminary approval for $2.8 million dollars in tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program.

visitowensboro.org

Sports tourism is expected to have a $20 million impact on the Owensboro community this year.

Jared Bratcher is sports marketing director for the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer there will be more than 50 tournaments, including figure skating, hockey, baseball, running, soccer, softball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, fishing and football.

There's some type of tournament in town every month and they will fill every hotel room in the city on 10 weekends this year.

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Country music legend Merle Haggard will headline this year's Romp Festival near Owensboro. The three-day bluegrass festival is held as a fundraiser for the International Bluegrass Music Museum.  Marketing Director Danny Clark says Haggard is sure to please with a mix of country and bluegrass.

"I'm really glad he's coming because he has such a tie-in with bluegrass music. A lot of people know he actually recorded a bluegrass albumn a couple of years ago and had a lot of great performers on there with him,” says Clark.

The 76-year-old Haggard will be joined at ROMP by other legends like The Del McCoury Band and Sam Bush. This year's festival will be June 27th through 29th at Yellow Creek Park. The full lineup of performers and ticket information is available online at RompFest.com.

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