Is it 'Socialism' or giving the people what they want? Hear the debate over Somerset's retail gasoline experiment
Late Wednesday morning Bob Thomas was pontificating about the state of the local economy and congress as he was filling up his green Toyota pickup truck at the city owned fuel station. The facility is bare-bones with no snacks, no sodas and no lottery tickets. It’s not on a main thoroughfare, but set back a bit from Highway 27.
It has been open less than a week, but has generated plenty of controversy and nationwide attention. It’s believed Somerset is the first municipality to sell gasoline directly to customers.
“It should have been this way years ago: fair,” said Thomas. “You get me? If the people at the refinery is making money on the gas and the city is going to make a little money. I don’t mind you making you a living whenever you come to work for me and pay you a fair wage. But I don’t want to send you to the Bahamas on a 30 day vacation, though.”
It was complaints similar to Thomas’ that led Somerset’s City Council to broach the topic of selling its own gasoline. The city had already been selling compressed natural gas for two years. In fact, much of the infrastructure the city needed to begin selling gasoline was already in place to service Somerset’s fleet vehicles.
Counting Crows, a band which had several hits in the 1990s, is set to perform this weekend at the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset. The schedule of artists also includes St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a band featured in March on Morning Edition.
Festival president Tiffany Bourne says organizers aren’t restricted to any particular kind of music when they finalize the lineup.
“We just look at any and all genres for musical excellence,” said Bourne. “We try to bring musical excellence to rural Kentucky. We don’t really have a criteria, we just pick what we think the crowd’s gonna like.”
Bourne says this weekend’s lineup will include some local fare. Four local singer-songwriters have been chosen to perform in the “Songwriter Social” at Noon Eastern Saturday.
“That’s another great part of our festival is that we have a lot of local bands that get to share the same stage as national artists,” said Bourne.
Classmates of a murdered Somerset attorney are honoring his memory by seeking to create an endowment in his name. Mark Stanziano, 57, was shot and killed June 27 outside his law office in downtown Somerset. A suspect charged with the murder has pleaded not guilty.
Shortly after news of the killing broke, a group of Stanziano’s former University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law classmates decided to begin a fundraising campaign towards an endowment that would benefit the school’s moot court team.
U of L development officer J.P. Davis says the team offers law students the chance to practice what they’ve learned in a mock courtroom setting.
“The competition actually provides students with the opportunity to practice traditional appellate advocacy, mock trials, and alternative dispute resolution skills. It basically gives them an experiential opportunity to hone in on those skills,” Davis told WKU Public Radio.
Davis says the school is setting a $25,000 goal for the endowment.
The next step in the "Shaping Our Appalachian Region", or SOAR initiative, is taking place Thursday. Ten working groups will be mapping out strategies and preparing to take more suggestions from eastern Kentuckians.
The ten SOAR working groups cover everything from agriculture to broadband to business recruitment. Dentist Nikki Stone with the University of Kentucky Center for Rural Health heads up a group examining health issues. She admits Appalachian Kentucky has some of the worst health conditions in the nation, but also some of the most passionate people with innovative ideas. Stone says some past practices also deserve attention.
"My grandparents lived way up into their 90's. You know, they ate healthier foods. They grew their own foods. They got a lot more exercise than what we're getting now. So, I think if we bring back some of the older traditions, we'll be a healthier group of people," said Stone.
A bluegrass musician buried in an unmarked grave in Somerset is going to receive a proper grave marker this weekend.
Leonard Rutherford was a popular bluegrass artist in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and performed as part of the Burnett-Rutherford Duo.
But Rutherford fell on hard times and was found dead along a Somerset road in 1951 at the age of 53.
Somerset Cemetery manager Tricia Neal says Rutherford's grave site was only recently identified when a local historian began asking about the long-forgotten musician.
"I started looking and I couldn't find him anywhere,” Neal told WKU Public Radio. “And I ended up just finding a penciled-in name on the back of an old index card. It had a note where he had been buried in this grave, and I went out to the cemetery and found it."
Federal investigators have spent time at the scene of a small plane crash in southern Kentucky that injured two men.
WLEX-TV in Lexington reported that the Federal Aviation Administration arrived in Pulaski County on Tuesday morning and spent the day trying to determine why the aircraft went down. The plane crashed Monday about a quarter of a mile from where it took off near Bronston.
The FAA took pictures, examined the wreckage, and walked around the large field where the plane went down. A spokesman for the FAA says the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause within a year.
The pilot, 54-year-old Gary McGothlin of Lexington, was in fair condition at the University of Kentucky Hospital. The passenger, 55-year-old Charles Jackson of Winchester, has been discharged.
Here is a list of the top performing schools in the Pulaski County and Somerset Independent school systems that are rated either Distinguished or Proficient in Friday's release of Unbridled Learning statewide test results:
Two Somerset residents have been sentenced in connection with a plan to try to bribe a prosecutor. Attorney General Jack Conway's office prosecuted the case because the local prosecutor was a witness. Conway's office said 46-year-old Dormus "Bubby" Dalton and 45-year-old Virginia "Carol" Hampton entered pleas Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
Tru-Check Incorporated has built a new national headquarters facility in Somerset, and is announcing plans to create ten new jobs. The company, which provides meter services to gas, water, and electric utility firms, is investing about $1.2 million in the new facility.
The next public forum over Kentucky's upcoming health insurance exchange is being held Wednesday in Somerset. The federal healthcare overhaul calls on each state to create its own marketplace in which residents can compare and purchase insurance plans, or sign up for Medicaid.