Somerset

Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial

A Pulaski County memorial to slaves buried in unmarked graves is moving forward with a grant and some media attention.

The Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial began as a response to the murder of nine African-Americans by a white supremacist during a Bible study in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015.

The memorial has been awarded a $1,000 grant from the Puffin Foundation, an organization that funds art projects often excluded from mainstream grants because of race, gender or social philosophy.


GE Lighting

The General Electric glass plant in Somerset is beginning a phase-out of operations this month. The plant employs 71 people, and will close August 11.

A G.E. plant in Lexington that employs 139 people will also close on the same day. The lighting industry has seen a decline in sales for incandescent, halogen, and specialty linear fluorescent lamps. The Somerset facility makes halogen lamps, and the Commonwealth Journal reports the plant is operating at 70 percent below capacity.

Pulaski County Alzheimer's Disease Respite Center

An Alzheimer’s day care center that serves people from five Kentucky counties is shutting down after 30 years. The closing of the center in Somerset is due to a cut in state funding.

The Pulaski County Alzheimer’s Disease Respite Center was expecting to get its usual state funding of about $86,000 – that’s about half of its annual budget. Other funding comes from the United Way and local government.  

Executive Director Pat Brinson says she found out about the funding cut at a public meeting just before the start of the current fiscal year and she was stunned.

“I contacted someone that day when I got back in the office, and it was just like, well, they can go somewhere else. Our clients are from a productive generation that did not live on handouts and now we’re forgetting them.”

Ken Shmidheiser

Construction of a new $70 million manufacturing plant in Somerset could begin in the next few months. A tentative deal is in place to lease 23 acres of land.

The preliminary agreement with a group of Houston investors is for land near the Somerset Rail Park.

Local rail transportation and the new state-of-the-art Somerset Energy Center have been major factors in attracting the project.

Martin Shearer is Executive Director of the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation. He says the energy center allows control of natural gas, a key part of the project.

city-data.com

There’s been another big step in the plan to bring a huge natural gas manufacturing plant to Somerset.

The Commonwealth Journal reports preliminary documents have been signed to provide natural gas to the proposed $70 million facility and to build the plant on 23 acres near the former Crane Company building.

The proposed project would convert natural gas into other products.

Somerset Community College

Somerset Community College has received a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the reach of its 3-D printing program.

The main focus of the grant is to advance biomedical applications for 3-D printing in the region.

Eric Wooldridge is associate professor of 3-D printing at Somerset Community College.  He says the technique is already playing a big role in biomedical field.

“We actually can take full body MRIs and select sections that we want to print off. It can be the actual organs. It can be the bone structure. Whatever a surgeon or physician may need to better prepare for surgery or plan diagnostically what they’re going to do.” 

He says the process uses different types of materials to create physical forms.

EKU Closing Campus in Somerset

May 30, 2016
EKU-Somerset Campus

Eastern Kentucky University is closing a satellite campus in Somerset.

Media outlets report the university announced in a news release that the 5,000-square-foot office will close on June 30 due to state budget cuts.

EKU faces a 4.5 percent reduction in state support for each of the next two fiscal years. The news release says EKU also has an estimated $8 million in additional costs for mandated retirement contributions and other needs.

One class at the Somerset branch is scheduled to finish in June. No other classes are scheduled during the summer.

Regional campuses in Corbin, Danville and Manchester are unaffected by the decision.

Creative Commons

A Pulaski County school crossing guard has died after being hit by a truck. 

According to Kentucky State Police, 69 year old Doyle Patterson of Somerset died Wednesday night at University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.

Patterson was struck Wednesday afternoon at Southwestern High School. 

The pickup driver was 62 year old Windell Phelps, also of Somerset.

No drug or alcohol use was suspected, and police don’t expect any charges to be filed. Police say Phelps is also a school employee.

Investigators in Pulaski County are trying to determine what caused a fire that destroyed a farmhouse and killed two people.

Pulaski County Public Safety Director Tiger Robinson tells local media outlets that the fire occurred Sunday afternoon at a house about a mile and a half off the road.

The names of the victims had not been released as of Sunday night, but Robinson says the victims were a man and a woman.

Robinson says snow and ice made it difficult for crews to reach the structure, but the delay did not make much of a difference.

A Kentucky city has agreed to drop its lawsuit challenging the state auditor's authority to do special examinations of cities.

Assistant Auditor Libby Carlin says Auditor Adam Edelen's office will bill Somerset $50,000 to cover the costs of doing the exam that led to the suit.

The exam cited a number of problems in city financial and personnel practices.

Those problems included failing to get bids as required for some work, not having contracts in place for special deals on city natural gas and failing to follow the pay and job-classification plan.

Edelen's office referred findings to the state attorney general's office and other agencies.

Both sides issued a short statement Friday saying they had resolved the dispute.

Owners and managers at several Pulaski County convenience stores are accused of recruiting shoplifters to bring them stolen items for them to resell. Grand jury indictments charge ten people with engaging in organized crime. Some of the defendants also are charged with food stamp fraud.

Police were alerted to the thefts by Gary Jones, a retired Somerset detective working as a loss-prevention officer at Kroger. He told police that several shoplifters he had detained said they were stealing to sell to local convenience stores.

A Kentucky lawmaker says his hometown city hall intruded into the free market by going into the retail gas business. Sen. Chris Girdler says he's preparing legislation that could shut down the pumps to the public.

The Republican's proposal comes months after the city of Somerset opened a retail gas station. The no-frills venture on the outskirts of town unnerved filling station and convenience store operators.

Girdler says his bill seeks to assure private business that government won't compete for their customers.

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler says the proposal amounts to an overreaction to something that's working. He says the feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

The Girdlers are distant relatives.

Pulaski County Detention Center

The attorney for the Somerset man accused in the fatal shooting of defense attorney Mark Stanziano this summer may be formulating an insanity defense in the case.  The lawyer for 40-year-old Clinton Inabnitt has filed notice of a potential insanity defense. 

The Herald-Leader reports a psychiatrist testified at a hearing Tuesday that Inabnitt is schizophrenic, delusional and refuses to take his medication.  On June 27, prosecutors say Inabnitt shot Stanziano multiple times outside his office in downtown Somerset.  

The judge in the case ordered Inabnitt to be given anti-psychotic medication -- forcibly if needed --  and says he’ll re-evaluate the case in 60 days.

Three Pulaski County residents are being charged with passing counterfeit money throughout the region.

The three were arrested this week by the Pulaski County Sherriff’s Department. The Herald-Leader reports that 37-year-old James Diars of Somerset; 54-year-old Linda Alton of Tateville, and 51-year-old Betty Stewart of Burnside were arrested after sheriff’s deputies investigated a report alleging that someone tried to pass counterfeit bills at a southern Pulaski County business.

Deputies later determined the suspects were trying to buy merchandise with the fake bills.

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s office says a separate fake bill that was later recovered had the same serial numbers as other fake bills confiscated by both the Somerset Police Department and by police in Danville.

The three suspects were being held in the Pulaski County jail, and are each facing charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument.

After years of complaints about high gas prices in Somerset, Ky., the city council and mayor did something about it. Last month, Somerset began selling gasoline to the public.

"It should have been this way years ago — fair," says Bob Thomas as he fills up his green pickup truck at the municipal Somerset Fuel Center.

The price is $3.36 a gallon, lower than the statewide average.

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