Monday, March 31, 2014

Accident: Road Closed in Sebree

UPDATE - Road Clear

J-E News Editor
According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet  (KYTC), an accident has blocked Highway 56 at the intersection of US 41 and KY 370 in Sebree.
According to authorities, a coal truck struck a fire hydrant and utility pole. Check back for more details as they become available.


According to Keith Todd (KYTC), the scene was cleared as of 12:30pm today, Monday, March 31, 2014.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Middle School project still “on schedule”

J-E News Editor
Webster County School Board blew through a short agenda on Monday night in near record time, wrapping up in just over a half hour.
The Webster County Middle School project has suffered through some delays since the school board initially voted to move forward with construction almost two years ago. Originally construction was expected to be completed in time for the current school year, but unforeseen delays associated with state permitting pushed the opening back far enough that, in November of 2012, the board had to ultimately delay the project by a year.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Turkey Season

Conservation Officer
The 2014 spring turkey season is coming up on April 12 with youth season preceding it on April 5th and 6th.  I spoke with our private lands biologist Thomas Young about what we can expect to see this year.  According to reports from around the state last year’s hatch was unremarkable, meaning that we can expect a normal harvest.  Habitat conditions were favorable with the rain, making for an abundance of insects for turkey’s diet.   Thomas did say that this year’s breeding season should be about the time season opens.  For those of you that were frustrated with last year’s early reproduction this is wonderful news.  Maybe ole Tom Turkey will respond to your calls instead of just meandering around ignoring you.

Providence Chamber looking to change course


J-E News Editor

Under the guidance of new president Elizabeth Holloman, the Providence Chamber of Commerce is looking to plot a new course, trying to become a stronger advocate for local businesses.

Audubon Area Weatherization program helping local people

J-E News Editor
For many Webster County residents, the cost of ever increasing utilities has become unbearable, especially when winter is as harsh as the one we are still trying to finish. For some of those people there is some help out there just waiting for them.
Audubon Area Community Services, Inc. has quietly been helping out those in need through their Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). WAP provides services to reduce the energy costs and improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. Energy audits are conducted to determine which energy efficiency measures are most appropriate and cost effective for each home. The focus is on energy conservation, health and safety.
Tony Lindow with WAP said that it is a lot easier to qualify for the program than most people think. A family of four making less than $47,000 a year, or a single person living alone earning less than $22,980 have already met the income requirement.
“To apply they need to supply us with the past twelve months’ heating and electric bills,” said Lindow. “They also need to bring a deed or title, a social security card for any household members and the past year’s income for anybody over 18.”
Last week workers were at the Clay home of Lisa Ronemous, installing new installation and weather striping throughout her house. She also received a new energy efficient refrigerator.
“I’m tickled to death,” Ronemous said. “I feel like a kid on Christmas!”
She said that she applied for the program over a year ago at the urging of a friend, but she never thought that she would be selected. Ronemous is a renter, and believed that not owning her home would disqualify her from the program. It turned out that this wasn’t the case.
“They called me out of the blue and told me that they had the funding to do my house,” she said. “All the owner had to do was show them a copy of the deed and agree not to raise my rent because of the improvements.”
“It worked great for me,” said property owner Gary Williams of Clay. “All I had to do was sign my name. My renter took care of the rest.”
WAP works hand-in-hand with contractors to identify the needs of applicants, and then carry them out. These improvements include things such as HVAC replacement and repair; air sealing; water heater replacement and repair; insulation; window and door replacement and repair; general electrical; plumbing; general repair and other related services.
AAA Insulation from Whitesville was dispatched to carry out the improvements to Ronemous’ home.
“We do 50 to 100 houses for Audubon Area every year,” said Tony Roby with AAA. “About ten years ago we answered an ad for a contractor, and we’ve been doing this ever since. Before that they were running their own crews, but decided to start subcontracting the work.”
Contractors who wish to work with WAP should contact Weatherization at (270) 686-1670 to answer a Request for Qualified Contractors (RQC). Respondents who meet the minimum qualifications will be placed onto the agency’s Approved Contractor Listing and will be eligible to bid on weatherization projects as they arise. This RQC does not guarantee that any goods or services will be purchased from respondents, nor that any contract will be awarded.
Any Webster County residents who wish to apply for the program should contact Caroline Frazier at 2270-639-5635.

Local girl turns party into charity

J-E News Editor
Today’s youth often have a reputation for sitting at home, playing video games and being generally disconnected from the community, but at least two area elementary school students have stepped up in a big way to help their classmates and their community.
Dixon student Brookelyn Whitledge recently celebrated her eighth birthday with a skating party for her friends and family. When Dwayne and Valerie Whitledge were planning her party, Brookelyn asked if guest could bring shoes rather than gifts.
“I wanted other people to have shoes,” she said. Brookelyn’s mother said that for a little girl, she has a ‘pretty big heart’.
“A couple of Christmases ago our church did a shoe tree program,” Valerie said. “I think that inspired her to do this.”
In all Brookelyn gathered 43 pairs of shoes that she presented to the Webster County Advisory Council last Wednesday. After seeing her success, one of her classmates decided to do the same thing.
A Clay eighth grader has also become active in her school, although she prefers to remain nameless. She met with the Advisory Council on Wednesday to seek their help starting a program that she has named “Project: Pass It On”.
In a prepared statement she wrote, “The idea of Project: Pass It On is to empower. To increase confidence in middle school girls across Webster County.”
The idea of the program is to take gently used clothing that is donated by area middle schoolers and give it to those sixth, seventh and eighth grade girls who might not be able to afford nice named brand clothing.
“When you’re in these pre-teen/teen years, your appearance is important to you,” she told the council. “You want to be yourself, but you don’t want to stand out in a negative way due to your wardrobe.”
According to this young lady’s plan, each school would have a place to make donations. After they were collected, the clothing would then be switched with the clothing gathered at one of the other schools in the district so that no one would be able to guess who was wearing the donated clothes.
Working in cooperation with Advisory Council, she hopes to have the program up and running by the fall semester.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

More Than 321,000 Now Enrolled Through kynect

March 31 Deadline Approaches

More than 321,000 Kentuckians are now enrolled in new healthcare coverage through kynect, and that number is expected to keep growing in the final 10 days of open enrollment.
A preliminary analysis has found that approximately 75 percent of all enrollees report that they did not have insurance before signing up for healthcare coverage through kynect. With approximately 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians prior to the start of open enrollment on Oct. 1, kynect is helping significantly reduce that number and ensure access to quality, affordable care each day.
It’s clear that Kentuckians are responding quickly to the deadline for enrollment on March 31, 2014. In the past seven days, nearly 3,100 Kentuckians have signed up each day for quality, affordable health insurance.
Individuals who remain uninsured as of April 1, 2014 could face a financial penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. That penalty applies to every uninsured member of a household and increases significantly from year to year.
“Tens of thousands of Kentuckians have taken the initial application steps and know they are eligible for a subsidy to help lower the cost of purchasing health insurance,” said Carrie Banahan, executive director of kynect. “In these final days of open enrollment, we strongly encourage those folks to complete their applications and choose a plan. After March 31, subsidies to help cover the cost of a private health plan won’t be available again until the fall enrollment period – and by that point, being without insurance may cost you on your taxes.”
Since Jan. 1, 2014, hospitals and other healthcare providers have received more than $45 million in payments for services provided to individuals newly eligible for Medicaid coverage. These include payments of $18 million to Kentucky hospitals and $15 million to Kentucky pharmacies. The vast majority of the nearly 20,000 newly insured patients seen by hospitals and reimbursed for services would have been considered indigent prior to Medicaid expansion and most likely would have been written off as uncompensated charity care by the hospitals.
Gov. Beshear’s decision to expand the income eligibility requirement for Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level has allowed many low-income Kentuckians access to health care, many for the first time. These include individuals making less than $15,856 a year and families of four with income below $32,499. These figures don’t include reimbursements to healthcare providers for patients with new private health insurance.
About 1 out of every 13 Kentuckians, or 7.5 percent of the state’s population, now has health insurance through kynect.
Nearly half of all kynect enrollees (49 percent) are under the age of 35.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Accident blocking one lane of 41A in Dixon

J-E News Editor
       A two vehicle accident in Dixon blocked the north bound lane of 41A in front of the Webster County EMA Friday morning.    
      According to witnesses, the driver of the loaded coal truck appeared fine. The driver of the second vehicle, a Chevy pickup, was taken from the scene by a life flight helicopter. Witnesses say he was awake and talking with first responders.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

KY law makers take a stand for KY coal

Rep. Jim Gooch and Sen. Dorsey Ridley
J-E News Editor
Kentucky law makers took a stand on Wednesday, passing House Bill 388 (HB388), legislation that would create coal-friendly power plant emission standards in an attempt to head off stricter regulations that are expected to be introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by June of this year. The bill started in the State House under the leadership of Representative Jim Gooch (D-Providence), Chairman of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee.
“Coal mining provides jobs and low-cost electricity for all Kentuckians,” said Sen. Dorsey Ridley, a Democrat from Henderson who represents several counties in the Western Kentucky coalfields. “People in Louisville and Lexington often forget how important Kentucky coal and the low electric rates it provides is to their local economies.  I hope the swift passage of this bill sends a message that coal powers Kentucky, now and in the future.”
The bipartisan legislation, which is now on the desk of Governor Steve Beshear, enables the Commonwealth of Kentucky to push back against what many consider the EPA’s “anti-coal” regulations.
HB 388 would give Kentucky the ability to create common sense greenhouse gas emission guidelines. The EPA is currently taking public comments on rules that would act as a virtual ban on new coal-fired power plants, and is expected to announce additional rules this summer that would lead to the closure of many existing coal-fired generation stations.  This is happening in spite of the fact that the Clean Air Act gives states – not the federal government – the primary role in determining standards.
The bill passed both the house and senate with unanimous votes, a rare feat for any bill. All that remains is for the governor to sign the bill into law.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Clay Council discusses law enforcement, fire department

J-E News Editor
Clay City Council invited Sheriff Frankie Springfield to it’s most recent meeting to discuss the future of law enforcement in their area. Lonnie Rogers, one of the town’s two police officers, recently announced that he was leaving to take a position with the Christian County School system, leaving the police department short handed.
Roger’s departed the Clay Police Department two weeks ago.
“At this time we have no plans to replace Lonnie,” said Mayor Rick Householder. “We will look into that at a later date. For now we’ve asked if Sheriff Frankie Springfield and his deputies could help out on days when Police Chief Chris Evitts is off.”
The Webster County Sheriff’s Department will be stepping up patrols in the Clay area to assist.
In other business, although the new Clay Fire Department building is progressing according to schedule, Fire Chief Jeremy Moore secured extensions to the grants that are paying for the $249,000 project. Like many grants from the state, these came with a set completion date which will be up later this year.
“We are looking good on time,” said Householder. “We plan to have it done by the original deadline, but we were worried that if something was to happen and we weren’t done on time, we’d lose our funding.”
For the last several years, Fire Chief Jeremy Moore has been saving extra funds to help the department purchase a new fire truck. At the meeting council members were told that State Representative Jim Gooch would soon be presenting a proposal in Frankfort to help Clay pay the remainder of the cost.

Water District will conduct cost of service study during summer

May consider rate increase following study

J-E News Editor
Concerns over rising electric rates were the biggest concern of the Webster County Water District at it’s monthly meeting, held last Thursday morning in Dixon.
District superintendent Paul Lashbrook told the board that over the last three months they have received bills from Kenergy for $7,001, $9,730 and $12,800.
“A lot of that has to do with the electric rate increase,” he said. “We’ve also had uncommonly cold weather, which had a little to do with it too.”
Lashbrook cautioned the board that the $12,800 bill from February might not be the highest, saying that the bills often ran a month behind.
“We’ve been doing a lot of research on the cost of producing water,” he said. He said assistant superintendent Robert Schindley has been feeding data on expenses and salaries and feeding them into a computer program. “It came to about $2.00 per 1,000 gallons of water produced.”
Lashbrook’s suggestion to the board was that they bring in a professional to do a cost of service study. That study could identify areas where the district could be losing funds, helping them to tighten up their expenditures.
“I’m sure they’ll suggest that we should raise the rates, and I’m sure we should,” he said, pointing out that the water district had not increased rates since April of 1999. “None of us wants to raise rates, but we have an obligation to keep the water district financially solid. I’m not saying we are going to go broke tomorrow, but stuff is starting to break and wear out on us.”
After some discussion with the board members, it was decided that the cost of service study should wait until after the Public Service Commission (PSC) makes a decision on another rate increase request filed by Big Rivers, the company that supplies Kenergy with electricity.
The board will consider having the study done sometime in mid-summer.
In other business, board members decided not to change the district’s policy on water turn ons. Currently when water is restored to a structure, the worker who turns the service back on will stay with the meter until it stops running.
At last month’s meeting the board discussed changing the current policy to require that the property owner or some other representative be in the home to sign a waiver form before service was restored. The concern was that if the service had been shut off to allow some plumbing work to be done, those lines might start to leak when filled with water. If no one was home it could flood the entire house, leaving the county open to some liability.
“This would open up a whole new ball game for us,” said Schindley. “I think it would cost us a whole lot more down the road.”
He said that under the new policy, district employees would be forced to work on the customer’s schedule. This could lead to lots of down time and even over time.
Lashbrook said that he spoke with several other districts, and everyone had the same policy that is currently on the books for Webster County. Apparently the service contract signed by customers when they start their initial service releases the district from liability in such cases.
It was reported that the county had finally received all bills for damage caused to pumps at the Green River water intake last month when an unknown shooter destroyed a transformer. After being shot the transformer blew, causing two of the intake motors to burnout.
The final cost was between $20,000-$21,000. Lashbrook expects the districts insurance to cover all but their $1,000 deductible.
Finally, board members voted to purchase a new service two-wheel drive service truck. They will pay $20,070 for a new 2X4 1/2 ton Dodge Ram, which is expected to arrive in about six weeks.
All but $70 of this purchase was included in the yearly budget.

Coal truck wreck knocks out power

J-E News Editor
      A coal truck owned by Hutchison Trucking went off the road Wednesday morning on Highway 120 near Green Grove.
      The truck was heading west on 120 at about 11:30 am when Its front tires exited the road. The truck then jumped an asphalt driveway and crossed the highway. It then went through a fence and downed a power, knocking out power to Kenergy customers in the Green Grove area.
       The driver was transported to Baptist Hospital by a personal vehicle.

Dixon’s Bourland Park to get new ball field

J-E News Editor
Dixon Little League Commissioner Steve Sowder was at last week’s Dixon Commission meeting to request approval from the city to construct a new ball field.
Sowder told the commission the second field would be used for younger players, and asked the Commissioner to consider purchasing a backstop and a power pole for lighting. The total cost for the City was estimated at about $2,100 for the backstop, plus the cost of the power pole.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the project, and then followed up by agreeing to purchase the requested equipment.
Both Bourland and Baker Parks officially reopen in March as soccer, baseball and softball programs get underway. These leagues will last through July.
Mayor Linda Frederick presented the Commission with a copy of the recently completed audit on behalf of City Auditor Mike Overby, who was unable to attend the meeting due to a family illness.  Frederick said Overby reported to her that the audit was a good report, and suggested the Commission review the report at their convenience. 
Frederick added that Overby offered to come to a future meeting to discuss his findings, or to meet with the commissioners individually.
Water Operator Jamie Harkins told the commission that a driveway recently torn up during a waterline repair would also have to be repaired. It was noted that a sidewalk grant the city has recently received cannot be used in this instance. 
Commissioners also reviewed a letter sent to a resident concerning a dangerous situation. Apparently there is an open pit located on the property on Highway 132 West. Commissioner Royster suggested giving the resident time to come up with a solution for fixing the problem before the city take sany action.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Rep. Jim Gooch appointed to Southern States Energy Board

State Rep. Jim Gooch, the longtime leader of the House’s Natural Resources and Environment Committee, has been named to the Southern States Energy Board, a key position that will help him better promote Kentucky’s energy resources.
“This is a prestigious group, and its recommendations carry a considerable amount of weight when it comes to issues tied to energy and the environment,” said Rep. Gooch, D-Providence.  “I’m honored to now be a part of this and look forward to taking what I learn and implementing it here at home.”
 Rep. Gooch will serve on the board with Governor Beshear; Dr. Len Peters, the secretary of the state’s Energy and Environment Cabinet; and several other state legislators, including Rep. Rocky Adkins, who serves as the board’s vice chairman.
 The Southern States Energy Board was formed by governors and legislators throughout the South in 1960, in an effort to improve economic development and quality of life through innovations in environmental and energy programs.
Rep. Gooch noted that the board plays a major role in amplifying Kentucky’s energy goals.  Last fall, for example, it put its support behind a resolution that calls on the EPA to recognize different greenhouse standards for coal- and natural-gas power plants. 
 “Resolutions like this give Kentucky’s arguments a much stronger voice, which is more important than ever as we take on federal regulations that seem determined to reduce the positive impact coal can and should play in meeting our country’s energy needs,” Rep. Gooch said. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Doc Cole retires

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
The career of Doctor Wayne Cole is a small town success story. He went from working in the coal mines to being one of the last small town doctors you will ever find. And he did it all right here in Providence, the town he has always called home.
On October 1 2013, Doctor Wayne Cole quietly retired from the medical field after more than 40 years of serving Webster County families. 
Those of us who have been treated by “Doc” through the years expected a lot of pomp and circumstance to come along with his departure, but that’s just not the kind of guy he is. He would rather tell you about how proud he is of his daughter and granddaughters that are carrying on the family tradition. 
Daughter Dr. Kelly Cole still works at Methodist Family Medicine Providence, formerly known as Cole Clinic. Granddaughter Chrissy Branson recently became a nurse practitioner, granddaughter Candie Outlaw is an RN, and another granddaughter, Carlie Cole, is a Registered Radiology Tech. His youngest daughter, Kimberly Reusch, is a speech pathologist.
But it isn’t fitting for a man who has meant so much to so many to simply fade into history. Many people, like myself, have been treated right there in his living room on Main Street in Providence. I’ve heard others talk about Doc making house calls for people who were unable to get out. I’ve also heard the stories of him staying in his office until every patient was seen, regardless of what time it was. There are even stories about Doc treating patients he knew would never be able to pay.
Doctor Cole started his private practice in 1966.
“When I started out it was just me and two girls working out of a house on the highway,” he recalled. “Back then I was working 7:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night. During the flu season that year I saw 162 patients in one day. Two other days that same week we had 140.”
During his early years he spent a lot of time at the hospital, delivering between 150 and 175 babies at Cardwell Hospital in Providence.
“After 1973 everything changed,” he said. “Federal regulations made it so that we couldn’t maintain the hospital any longer. We just couldn’t comply with all of the new regulations.” 
During his career Doctor Cole was dedicated to the well being of his patients, but there was a lot more than that. From 1984 to 1999 he was a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air National Guard. He was on the Green River District Health Department for nearly 30 years. He also served four years on the Providence City Council and four years as the mayor of Providence.
“Whenever Dr. Wayne Cole began to think about retiring, Methodist Physician Services began to discuss with him the possibility of continuing services there with Methodist Hospital Physician Services obtaining ownership,” said Mary L. Whitledge, Methodist Hospital’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager. “Dr. Wayne Cole’s daughter, Dr. Kelly Cole is now the physician at the same clinic where her father served the community for many years. Dr. Wayne’s granddaughter, Chrissy Chumley, APRN has also joined our team there at Methodist Family Medicine Providence.”


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fiscal Court hears from Henderson Water District

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
The Webster County Fiscal Court was in session on Monday morning. Magistrates moved through a lengthy agenda rather quickly.
One item of discussion was Riden Road near Green Grove. The property owner near the end of the road has approached the road department about adding an additional quarter mile section of road to the snow plow route.
When the county paved Riden Road years ago there was a gate that blocked access beyond a certain point. Everything beyond that gate was designated private property, meaning that county maintenance ended at the gate. Since the gate has been removed and the current property owner has paid to have the remainder of the road paved.
“I think we could go back there and clear it if we get more snow,” said Judge Executive Jim Townsend. “Then we can get measurements to see about adding the road into our system.”
Magistrate Tony Felker said he would speak with the property owner. 
Up to this point everything that lies beyond where the gate once was has been private property. If the property owner agrees to have their drive added to the county road system, that would most likely mean that the drive would become a public road.
In other business, Pete Conrad, the superintendent of the Henderson County Water District (HCWD) came before the court to discuss an increase to tap on fees. HCWD provides water services to residents in extreme northern Webster County, near the Henderson County line.
The increase would move the tap-on, or new service, fee for the average resident from $475 to $650.
“We haven’t changed these rates in almost ten years,” said Conrad. “Currently we are charging $475 for new services, but it costs us way more than that to put the new service in.”
Conrad also told the board that he was appearing before them mostly as a courtesy. The Public Service Commission has required him to speak with the fiscal court in the largest area that HCWD serves, but he told the magistrates that he felt he needed to appear before everyone that they serve. He said the ratio of Henderson to Webster County customers is about 90 to 10.
The court voted to wait until Conrad appears before the Henderson County Fiscal Court before making a decision to accept his proposal.
Tracy Bracewell of Nature Chem met with the magistrates as well. He presented the court with a proposal to provide weed spraying services to the county. For $19,500 dollars Nature Chem will spray 100 miles of Webster County roads  on three occasions during the year.
Magistrates accepted the proposal. They will be driving roads in their districts during the next week to look for areas they feel need to be among those that Nature Chem sprays.
Finally, the Fiscal Court will hold it’s annual budget hearing at the community center in Dixon on Monday, March 24, 2014 starting at 9:00 a.m.

Providence Tourism Commission looks to grow

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
The members of the Providence Tourism Commission have been tasked with creating and supporting events in the city of Providence that will help to fund the generation of tourism dollars. They due that with funds gathered from the city’s “tourism tax”, which comes from a $0.03 tax on food that is prepared and sold in the city limits.
That tax generates $20,000-$25,000 quarterly, or close to $100,000 per year. At last week’s Providence City Council meeting the commission had $300,000 in their bank account.
That figure, however, is a bit misleading. Although the seven member panel is selected by Mayor Eddie Gooch, the mayor nor the city council has any control over how those funds are spent. Commission members must follow state statutes that allow expenditures on only two areas:
•City beautification projects
•Programs or projects that will generate tourism for the city
That rules out patching potholes or buying new city equipment, which is what some people think the commission should be doing. Such expenditures would not be allowed by state law.
“We also get a lot of request from people holding cancer benefits,” said Carol Hill, the treasurer of the commission. “While we would love to help, we are not allowed to use tourism money for that.”
That doesn’t mean that people looking to host an event shouldn’t contact the tourism commission. 
“We are always open for suggestions,” Hill said. “We can try to come up with things ourselves, but we can’t please everybody. We can only come up with so many ideas. We’ve been approached by people about different things, and as long as it’s for tourism, we try to do it.”
Hill said that the commission meets on the third Wednesday of every other month at 4:30 p.m. in Leonard Law Office on Main Street. Those meetings are open to the public, who are encouraged to attend.
There is currently one vacant seat on the commission. The other members are (* member whose term is ending):
•Ben Leonard - Chairman
•Jennifer Gobin - Secretary
•Carol Hill - Treasurer
•Mary Powell *
•Katherine Turner *
•Stephanie Cross *
Hill said that members are appointed for one three year term. Beyond that they have to be appointed one year at a time.
In the past the commission has provided funding for Octoberfest, the Uptown Park, Veterans Plaza and light pole banners for Christmas, spring (etc.). In addition, the commission makes an annual payment of $5,000 for Providence Municipal Golf & Recreation Center.
The commission also picks up half the cost of the fireworks display on July 4, and all of the entertainment for that celebration.
Last year the commission voted to provide funds for a new soccer complex planned for Highland Avenue by the city park. They also paid for the stripping and sealing of Frank White Track at Westerfield Park. They provided $19,000 of the $35,000 needed for repaving and repairing the tennis courts at  the Golf and Recreation Center and $19,000 to repair cart paths at that facility.
This year the commission is looking to provide $19,000 for tennis court repair at city park and more funding to continue to repair the cart paths at the Golf and Recreation Center.
Hill also said the commission has discussed creating a paid staff position for someone to handle the day-to-day operations of the commission.
“We are all volunteers and have other jobs,” said Hill, who works at Providence Elementary School. “If we had someone who could just work for us and plan events, I think we could get a lot more things done.”
If the commission does decide to follow through with that plan, it would be subject to the same guidelines as any other tax funded organization. This means the position would have to be advertised and posted for the public to submit applications.

Webster County schools look to start boys soccer program

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
“We’re going to have boys soccer at Webster County High School  next school year,” Interim Superintendent Pete Galloway told supporters of the movement to create the new sports program in Webster County.
It was a bold statement from Galloway, but, at least vocally, he had the support of the school board.
“Athletics is a piece of the academic puzzle,” said board member Mickey Dunbar. “If we commit to improving our academics, we need to commit to improving athletics. It will create new opportunity for our students.”
The measure was not up for vote on Monday, but it was on the agenda to be discussed. A group of parents, represented by Allison McCormick, approached the board in the fall with a request to launch the new program for next school year. At that time the board offered guidance on how to proceed, and told Webster County High School Athletic Director Matt Bell to look into it.
Galloway presented his recommendation to the board, suggesting that the district adopt not only boys soccer, but also co-ed archery as official school sponsored sports. The catch being that to create two new teams, the board will have to find the funding to hire at least two additional coaches.
“When I got here I spoke with Matt Bell and he suggested the gender equity committee felt that at this point we needed to adjust salaries of existing athletic coaches rather than spreading the salaries thinner by hiring two new coaches,” said Galloway. “We talked about where WC coaching salaries match up with surrounding district salaries. It was an embarrassment. If we are going to be  in the top 20% of districts  in the state academically, we are going to expect to have those same standards athletically.”
Galloway’s proposal included a $6,000 - 7,000 increase next school year to hire the new coaches and to provide the existing staff with much needed raises. But that budget is pending on a two percent increase proposed in the Governor’s new state budget.
“I am volunteering to coach boys soccer free of charge to get this going until a coach can be found,” said Troy Grant, the coach of the webster County girls’ soccer team.
“Please don’t let money table this issue,” pleaded Matt Pratt, an assistant with the girl’s team and commissioner of the Webster County youth soccer league.
Allison McCormick asked superintendent Galloway if the next step was to take the proposal to the to high school site based committee, but he told her that this wasn’t a site based decision.
At this point it is unclear whether there will be enough interest to have both a varsity and JV squad, that will depend on how interest meetings the rest of this school year go. The hope of everyone involved is that the addition of the boy’s program will allow the district to hold onto students that have otherwise transferred to schools that had a boy’s soccer program.
“Henderson County has boasted that they have five of our boys on their soccer team,” McCormick told the board. “Maybe this will help us convince them to come back.”
In other business, the school board voted to increase meal prices for the 2014-2015 school year. Breakfast will be going from $1.40 to 1.50, while lunch will increase from $1.90 to $2.00.
Earlier this year Food Service Director Shane Bosaw spoke with the board about the need to increase prices. Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reimburses food services $2.65 for every child on the free lunch program. The FDA is requiring schools to begin raising meal prices to match the reimbursement price if they want to continue to receive federal funds.
The board also voted on Monday night to hire Kem, Duguid & Associates from Hopkinsville to be their new auditor, cutting ties with long time district auditor Mike Overby.
Galloway pointed out that this was in no way a negative mark towards Overby.
“The KSBA recommends that school boards change auditors every four or five years just to get a fresh look,” he said. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Area fire fighters called into action near Diamond

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
Area fire fighters were called into action earlier today to fight a series of fires that stretched from near the intersection of Highway 120 and Cedar Street in Providence, to Luttontown-Lisman Road on the outskirts of Diamond.
“It looks like it started on or near the railroad tracks near Cedar Street,” said Webster County EMA Director Jeremy Moore. The fire, or a series of fires, then followed the railroad tracks.
In several location in Diamond the grass fires got near houses, but the fire fighters were able to extinguish them without trouble.
Providence Fire Chief Brad Curry said that a CSX train had left Dotiki mine at the approximate time of the fires. Authorities managed to stop the train near Green Street in Providence where it was held for 30 minutes to an hour.
"This has happened multiple times in the past," said Curry. "Those times it was an additive they put in the train's fuel to clean the stacks out. If they don't get it all burned out, it can spark a fire."
According to Moore, CSX say that they had no problems on their train. There is no word on what else may have sparked the blaze.
Curry reported that he was aware of at least eight different fires along the CSX railroad that runs from Dotki through Providence, but he was pretty sure there were more between Diamond and the mine.

Monday, March 10, 2014

School Board names Yarbrough as next superintendent

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
                To much applause from gathered faculty, staff and community members, the Webster County Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday night to appoint Webster County native Dr. Rachel Yarbrough to succeed interim superintendent Pete Galloway at the helm of the Webster County School District starting July 1, 2014.
                 Yarbrough is currently the Superintendent of Crittenden County High School in Marion.
                 Galloway has been serving in the roll since December, following the resignation of long time school Superintendent Dr. James Kemp. He is the retired superintendent of the Graves County School District.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Police chase suspect already on probation from other charges

A Sebree man exchange shots with police and led law enforcement officers on a high speed chase from Clay to Dixon last Tuesday night that ended when the suspect came to a roadblock set by Webster County Sheriff Frankie Springfield and Deputy Mitch Townsend.
At approximately 6:10 p.m. on Tuesday February 25, 2014, Kentucky State Police Post 2 received a call for assistance from the Webster County Sheriff’s Department and the Clay Police Department for a complaint that shots were fired into a residence in Clay, KY.
Upon the arrival of law enforcement, the perpetrator returned to the residence, striking Deputy Scott Starkey with his vehicle and firing additional shots into the residence. At this time, officers discharged their firearms at the perpetrator, striking his vehicle.
The suspect then fled the scene, leading State Troopers and Clay Police Chief Chris Evitts on a chase along highway 132 with speeds reaching 80 to 100 mph. According to Sheriff Springfield at some point during the chase one of the tires on the car had gone flat, but that did not slow the suspect.
Sheriff Springfield and Deputy Mitch Townsend, who had been monitoring the chase by radio used their cruisers to block the road near Dixon. When the chase reached their position the suspect had no other choice but to stop.
“He tossed his weapon during the chase, otherwise things could have gone very differently,” Springfield said.
According to Springfield the suspect sat in his vehicle for several minutes before obeying law enforcement instructions to exit his vehicle, at which time he was taken into custody.
The perpetrator, Tommy R. Branson, age 61, of Sebree, was charged with the following:
•4 counts of “Attempted Murder.”
•1 count of “Attempted Murder (Police Officer).”
•1 count of “Assault-1st Degree.”
•1 count of “Wanton Endangerment-1st Degree.”
•1 count of “Criminal Mischief-1st Degree.”
•1 count of “Tampering with Physical Evidence.”
•1 count of “Fleeing/Evading Police-1st Degree.”

This is the fourth time that Branson has had the attention of law enforcement during the last year.
He was arrested and charged with arson following a fire on Starl Shelton Road near Sebree. On Tuesday, October 8, 2013 Branson appeared before a Webster County Grand Jury for that charge. The jury requested the matter be dismissed because “insufficient evidence was presented to warrant an indictment.”
On January 14, 2014 Branson once again appeared in the Webster County Court House, this time for three separate incidents.
The first was a 3rd Degree Criminal Trespassing Charge. Prosecution in that case was deferred for two years during pretrial conference on the grounds that Branson not have any contact with the property owner or committee any further offenses.
The second charge was 3rd Degree Criminal Mischief. At 3:00 p.m. on October 4, 2013, according to the Sheriff’s report, Branson approached a vehicle parked in the vicinity of Dixon Bank and smashed it’s windshield in with a shovel.
Branson was assessed a $100 fine, plus given 90 days in jail, which was probated for two years as long as Branson did not committee any other offences.
The Third charge was 1st Degree Wanton Endangerment stemming from an incident that happened on October 22, 2013 at approximately 7:00 p.m.  The report from the Sheriff’s Department said that Branson pulled up behind a stopped vehicle at the stoplight in Dixon. He then drove forward until he made contact with the other vehicle, pushing it into oncoming traffic. When the oncoming car managed to pass without incident, Branson fled the scene.
Branson was assessed a $100 fine and given 365 days jail time, which was probated on grounds that he complete one year of treatment at the Boulware Center in Owensboro, have no contact with the driver of the other vehicle and that he pay $2,414.14 restitution to that person.

Chief Officer of the Providence Code Enforcement Board resigns

Providence Council held a routine regular session Monday night in the council chambers with all members present.
The council accepted the resignation of Gary Myrick, Chief Officer of the Code Enforcement Board. Myrick had severed in the capacity since January 2008. He drew praise from Mayor Eddie Gooch for a “job well done”.
“We certainly want to thank Gary for an outstanding job. His hard work and expertise has certainly been appreciated and has definitely made a huge difference in the beautification of Providence,” noted Mayor Eddie Gooch. “Gary will certainly be missed.”
City officials are currently accepting applications for the part-time postion that will be vacated by Myrick.
In other business, the annual city audit was postponed due to inclimate weather and will be presented at the March 17 meeting.
Providence Fire Chief Brad Curry informed council members that the new ambulance should be delivered next week. It will be the newest of the fleet of two ambulances, with the city purchasing a new ambulance every five years.
In final business, Councilman Scott Frederick noted that he had received complaints about multiple thefts on Thompson Street. After a brief discussion, Mayor Gooch said the city would increase police patrols of the area.
The council then adjourned to executive session for the dicussion of possible litigation, returning to regular session with no action to report.

8ft snake found in Webster County

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
A tip to The Journal-Enterprise led to a big discovery for Fish and Wildlife Officer Todd Jones last week. A very big discovery. 
On Wednesday of last week a reader contacted The Journal-Enterprise office to report seeing the body of a very large snake along side highway 493 in rural Webster County. I contacted Jones who met me at the location.
“It’s definitely an exotic snake,” he said after examining the carcass. “It was definitely raised in captivity, and probably died in captivity.”
At the scene Jones said the snake looked to him like a boa constrictor, but said he would let the professionals make a positive identification. After taking a few pictures to send to herpetologist John MacGregor of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Jones retrieved a tape measure from his truck to measure the animal. The snake measured in right at eight feet in length.
“These boas are native to the tropical parts of Central and South America and could not survive the cold temperatures we have had this winter,” said MacGregor. “Even in captivity they are susceptible to lethal respiratory infections if exposed to cold temperatures.”
“Our fish and wildlife laws only cover native wildlife,” Jones said. “You have to have a permit if you want to keep a native animal like a deer or a raccoon. You don’t on an exotic animal.”
Jones said that some cities and counties have adopted ordinances governing the keeping of dangerous exotic animals, but none in Webster County.
“You would really be surprised to see what some people have in their houses,” he said as he examined the snake. “An animal like this could do some major damage if it was hungry or felt threatened. Especially to a small child.”
Jones also said that he believes reptile owners are not sure what to with their exotic pet when it dies. He believed that this was part of the reason for this snake appearing on the side of the road.
“People get these snakes out of state and when they die, suddenly they get scared because they don’t know what the local laws are,” explained Jones.
MacGregor said that the proper means of disposing of a dead body is much the same as you would do for any other pet.
“I suppose it could be buried in the back yard like any other deceased pet, or put out with the trash to eventually be taken to a landfill,” he said. “A large dead snake is really not much different from a large dead dog, or a load of decaying meat in the dumpster behind a super market.”
Any report of a potentially dangerous snake in Webster County automatically catches the attention of MacGregor.
“I am always interested in reptile reports from Webster County, especially if they are backed up by photographs so I can verify identification,” he said. “Believe it or not, we have no valid records for any venomous snakes in Webster County since the time of W. D. Funkhouser’s “Wild Life in Kentucky” (published in 1925).  Funkhouser reported at least one Copperhead from Webster County but had no records of Cottonmouths or Timber Rattlesnakes from there.”
All three of these venomous snakes are confirmed in Hopkins County.  
“Timber Rattlesnakes seem to be extremely rare there (1 verified observation in the eastern part of Hopkins County), Cottonmouths are common in a few places (Tradewater River, Clear Creek, and Pond River) but in general have a very restricted range in Hopkins, and only the Copperhead seems widespread in the area,” MacGregor said. “Most reports I get of “Water Moccasins” in the Western Coal Field region turn out to be some type of harmless water snake.  The Copperbelly Water Snake, Diamondback Water Snake, and Midland Water Snake all occur in Webster County and are often mistaken for Cottonmouths.”

Some county voters to be in new district for May primary

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
Some residents of Webster County will find themselves in new magisterial districts when the May primary rolls around, forcing them to travel a lot further to reach a voting booth.
County Clerk Valerie Newell reports that population shifts in a few areas of the county mandated that the changes be made, even if the voters in those areas don’t like it.
“KRs 67.045 requires that after each US Census is conducted the county must initiate reapportionment proceedings in May of the first year following the census and establish precinct boundaries,” Newell said in a letter to residents who will be redistricted.
Residents of the A102 South Dixon district and the B105 Slaughters district will now find themselves in one of the two Providence Districts. 
The North Providence district currently has 655 registered voters. The changes will add an additional 195 voters, while the South Providence district will add 75 residents to it’s 870 voters. Of those voters, 70 will be moved from the South Dixon district, with another 200 being moved from the Slaughters area.
The area of South Dixon being moved to North Providence will be all residents below a line that starts where Slover Creek Road crosses Slover Creek; then follows highway 270 east to US41A; then follows Villines Road to Lisman Mount Myria Road and finaly ends where Vanderburg Lisman Road crosses over Slover Creek in the east.
North Providence will also be adding a large section of the Slaughter’s magisterial district. That section is within a line that follows Catesville Providence Road east to 138; follows 138 to Old Dixon-Slaughers Road and then follows that road until it intersects highway 120. Highway 120 serves as the dividing point between  North and South Providence.
South Providence’s new area will include everything south of 120 from highway 1069 west.

Webster County man charge with murder in Henderson

A Webster County man was arrested on Monday in connection with the Saturday night death of a man at Double Dukes Saloon in Henderson.
Robert R. Brantley, 38 of Sebree, was arrested Monday and charged with murder for the Saturday night death of a man at Double Dukes Saloon in Henderson. Henderson Police say the victim was Adam W. Hogan, 34 of Uniontown, KY.
The Henderson Police Department said that Brantley had been working as a security guard at Double Dukes.  The death  occurred when Double Dukes personnel were removing Hogan from the bar area. Witness statements and evidence obtained from the autopsy lead to the murder charge.
Brantley is housed at the Henderson County Detention Center.
The investigation is continuing and authorities say that other charges are possible.  Detectives are requesting that any witnesses from the night of the incident, whom they have not spoken to, contact them at the Henderson Police Department along with anyone who may have recorded the incident on a smartphone.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

College and Career Ready

The following is the sixth in a series of monthly articles from Webster County High School regarding efforts to help students earn the distinction of College and/or Career Ready, which is a key component of the Kentucky Department of Education’s “Unbridled Learning” accountability initiative aimed at producing graduates that are better prepared for the rigor of college-level coursework and the increasing demands of the world of work and a global economy.  This month’s focus is the ACT. 

by Tim Roy. 
WCHS principal

“Use a number 2 pencil, completely fill in your circles and make your mark dark.”  The time has finally arrived for our WCHS juniors to hear those final instructions and to put their hard work from the school year into practice.  Tuesday, March 4 is ACT day across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  On that day, every high school junior from Pikeville to Paducah will focus their attention toward achievement on the English, Math, Reading, and Science sections of an assessment that will likely have a big impact on not only their senior year, but also their plans for next steps after high school.    
For much of the school year, a portion of each day’s curriculum has been designed to identify our juniors’ ACT strengths and weaknesses and to allow our teachers to work with them in order to improve in the areas needed so that they are ready for the ACT, next Tuesday.  For many of our juniors, this will be the first time they have officially taken the assessment.  For others, this will just be another opportunity to improve upon already-received scores.  Regardless, our teachers have worked with all juniors on practice exercises and various diagnostic and formative assessments throughout the year in order to prepare them for this important day.    
As we are becoming increasingly aware, performance on the ACT is being used by many to determine which graduates are admitted to colleges/universities; which students will receiveacademic and athletic scholarships; which students can qualify for specific college programs; and which candidates can be employed in various jobs in business and industry.  In order to prepare our students to be candidates in all of those instances, WCHS is upping the ante when it comes to expectations for student performance on the ACT.  
Many of our newest policies are focusing on requiring students to have already met ACT benchmarks in order to be eligible to serve as Teachers Aides and Peer Tutors or to earn an Honors diploma.  The latest high school graduation requirements for the Commonwealth mandate that schools must provide remedial (or “transition”) courses during the 12th grade year to high school seniors who have not reached benchmark scores.  We’re in the process of planning those courses so that we’ll be ready to provide that opportunity to next year’s seniors.   
 As you can see, it is becoming increasingly important for our students to strive for and earn those benchmark scores in order to create future opportunities for themselves.  Tuesday is the testing ground to prove just where our juniors stack up in relation to the ACT benchmark scores.  For a variety of reasons, the scores our juniors earn on Tuesday are very important for them, our school and our community.    
Over the next few days, we hope you will join with us to encourage any WCHS junior you see and remind them just how important this is for our whole community.  In addition to the implications for school and district accountability, ACT scores should bring a sense of pride to the local community.  We hope that the scores our juniors receive, this year, will be something you can be proud of.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Late season winter storm slows Webster County

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
A late season snow and ice storm has slowed most of Western Kentucky to a crawl, just when most Webster County residents though we had seen the last of winter.
As of 8:45 a.m., Rob Mooney with the Webster County Road Department said that there are still no roads in the county that he would say are in good shape.
“It’s cold and it’s not going anywhere,” he said this morning. “It would probably be best if people would stay in off the roads and let us get them take care of.”
Mooney added that the county has five plows and three other pieces of equipment out trying to get roads under control.
“It’s just slow going right now.”
Providence Police Chief Brent McDowell is also urging citizens to stay off the streets.
"Roads are terrible," he said. "My advice is, unless its an absolute emergency or you have no choice but to go to work, stay in off the roads for a few days if you can. Stay in until they get them cleared, which wont be any time soon with the temperatures the way they are."
Webster County schools announced Sunday afternoon that there would be no classes today, Monday, March 3. At the last school board meeting Superintendant Pete Galloway had said that the district had a target date of May 30, 2014 for the last day of school. 
Today’s cancelation will no doubt eliminate all hope of ending school before the start of June, and road conditions are not looking promising for tomorrow.
“If we do not receive any forgiven days from the legislature, this will make out last instructional day June 2,” said assistant Superintendant Alan Lossner.
The district has yet to make a call for Tuesday, but check back at