Week In Review

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | geans@messenger-inquirer.com A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird flies near an old metal barn roof on a farm in rural Beech Grove, Ky. A study released last week by scientists in the United States and Canada reports a net loss of 2.9 billion birds since 1970.

Week in review 9-29 to 10-4


BIRD DECLINE — A recent scientific report had some alarming news about bird populations in the United States. The report, which received national attention, said the U.S. and Canada have seen bird populations decline by almost 3 billion since 1970.

But you don't have to take that information lying down. There's a lot people can do that would help birds recover.

Planting native plants that provide food or habitat for birds, or attract insects birds eat, would help replace habitats that have been lost. Also, experts said people should curtail their use of pesticides and herbicides, which kill insects birds eat. Cats kill countless birds each year, so people can reduce bird deaths simply by keeping their cats indoors. It's better for the cat, too.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAM — Daviess County court officials will hold a new training this fall for new volunteers for the county court system's "restorative justice" program.

Restorative Justice, which is currently being used in juvenile cases in the county, brings the perpetrator and the victim together in a mediated session, where they negotiate a way to provide closure and compensation to the victim. Cases can be referred to the program by the courts or schools, and the cases are mediated by trained volunteers.

A coordinator from the University of Minnesota's Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking will return to Owensboro later this month, to discuss the program with school officials and train volunteers.

OPD AND FIRE DEPARTMENT TRAINING — The Owensboro Fire Department and the Owensboro Police Department will begin training together in the near future on how both agencies will respond together, so firefighters can provide immediate medical care during an ongoing violent incident, like a shooting.

AVIATION CAMP — About 50 girls learned about careers in aviation Saturday morning, during an annual girls aviation camp at Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport.

FLEUR-DE-LIS — Gary’s Fleur-de-Lis, 2219 Frederica St., is celebrating its 30th anniversary in November.

FOOD DRIVE — McLean County High School students collected more than 40,000 pounds of non-perishable food for Tri-State Food Bank during its annual food drive.


CURFEW — The Owensboro Police Department is hoping to have information to present to city commissioners by fall on curfew citations and how they are handled in court.

The information will help commissioners decided how to proceed on a community proposal to lower the juvenile curfew. The current juvenile curfew is at 1 a.m., but a citizens group, My Brothers Keeper, has suggested changing it as a way of deterring juvenile crime.

Police Chief Art Ealum said the department is gathering information on the number of times a juvenile's parents are charged with a juvenile violating curfew, and who those charges were disposed of in court.

FOOD TRUCKS — Five years after the city began allowing food trucks, there are 11 licensed to operate in Owensboro.

However, Tim Ross, the city’s public events director, said, “There are numerous other food trailers/trucks that operate around town on private property or at a special event.”

KIDNEY RESEARCH — For the past 15 years, Owensboro Community & Technical College students studying biology in Timothy Dick’s courses have been involved in kidney disease research, and some of this year’s round of students will be presenting their findings at a regional student research conference November.

ADAM CRABB — Adam Crabb is returning to Owensboro for a 7 p.m. Nov. 1 concert at the Owensboro Convention Center with Ivan Fleming, a Tennessee-based musician.

FIREFIGHTER — Pavel Zboril, a native of the Czech Republic who moved to Owensboro in 2017, recently became a professional firefighter with the Daviess County Fire Department.

KING LEAR — Theatre Workshop of Owensboro, along with Owensboro Theatre Alliance, which is a collaboration between Owensboro Community & Technical College, Kentucky Wesleyan College, and Brescia University, will present the Shakespearean classic “King Lear” Oct. 3 at the Empress Theatre, 418 Frederica St.


ASSESSMENT SCORES — The Kentucky Department of Education unrolled its new five-star accountability system on Tuesday that was five years in the making.

The release of the 2018-19 state assessment scores through the new Kentucky School Report Card comes several ups and downs for area school districts, with some fairing much better than others.

One district in particular that shined bright was McLean County Public Schools, and in particular Sacramento’s Marie Gatton Phillips Elementary, which was one of just 56 schools in the commonwealth to be rated five out of five stars in the new accountability system under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The new rating system rates schools from one star to five, one being the lowest and five being the highest possible score.

MARIE GATTON PHILLIPS — McLean County’s Marie Gatton Phillips Elementary School was one of just 56 schools in the commonwealth to receive five stars in the Kentucky Department of Education’s new five-star accountability system, according to the 2018-19 assessment scores that were released Tuesday.

The new system rates schools from one star to five, one being the lowest and five being the highest possible score. There were 89 one-star schools, 251 two-star schools, 643 three-star schools, and 233 four-star schools, according to KDE.

VFW — The Owensboro Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 696 building, located at 311 W. Veterans Blvd., was part of the 2019 Daviess County Kentucky Property Valuation Office’s valuation circuit and the veterans organization saw its property value more than triple from its $525,000 in 2015 to roughly $1.8 million this year.

BUDDY WALK — The Green River Area Down Syndrome Association's Buddy Walk broke records for attendance and fundraising Saturday with 2,800 guests and $121,000 raised.

GRAFFITI — An Owensboro man was charged with three felony counts of first-degree criminal mischief, in connection with 26 instances of spraypainting that took place last week.

BLOOD SUPPLY — The Western Kentucky Regional Blood Center made a plea Monday for donations because its supplies for several types are below safe levels.


JUDGE SEATS — Daviess District Judge Lisa Payne Jones and Daviess Circuit Judge Joe Castlen will change places later this year, when Payne becomes a Circuit judge and Castlen moves to Fiscal Court.

Castlen is retiring from Circuit Court, with Jones taking her place. Castlen has agreed to fill in as a District judge until a permanent replacement can be appointed.

The Administrative Office of the Courts will start looking for Jones' replacement after she officially vacates the District Court position. Castlen said he hopes the position will be filled by March.

CHRISTMAS CARD — This year, Mayor Tom Watson decided that it was time to take a different approach to the card’s design and hand the Yuletide reins over to another local artist, Aaron Kizer. He replaced Rex Robinson, who was originally commissioned to do the card by then-Mayor David Adkisson in 1988. Robinson has been designing the card since.

BEACON AWARDS — Lighthouse Recovery Services honored Jennifer Seaton, Shane Sheriff and Barry Johnston with Beacon Awards for their work in the substance use community.

HARM REDUCTION — The Muhlenberg County Health Department earned a nearly $70,000 grant to expand and improve its harm reduction program.

CRUISE-IN — Jeeps will be featured at the Sunset Cruiser's final Downtown Cruise-In of 2019 from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

LIBRARY ARTS PROGRAMS — Daviess County Public Library is launching headfirst into its end-of-year programming, with October being an eclectic month filled with music and comedy.


OCTC GRANT — Owensboro Community & Technical College has received a $2.1 million grant to expand internship opportunities at the college.

The federal grant was announced Wednesday by Rep. Brett Guthrie's office. The grant will go toward the E3@OCTC program, which provides students with internship opportunities.

OCTC President Scott Williams said the grant's goal is to increase the number of students who participate in internships to 60% in five years.

SPECTRA CITY SUBSIDIES — Spectra Venue Management is on track to carry the Owensboro Convention Center into the black by 2020, allowing the city of Owensboro officials to begin collecting on one of the city’s largest destinations.

At a regular City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Spectra General Manager Laura Alexander presented the Philadelphia-based venue management company’s annual year in review to city officials laying out the progress of the convention center as well as the Owensboro Sportscenter.

STILLAGE — O.Z. Tyler Distillery is offering 87,000 gallons of stillage — a byproduct of bourbon making — a day free to area farmers as cattle feed.

ECHO LAKE — Echo Lake Foods will reopen its Owensboro plant, which was heavily damaged by a 2018 fire, early next year and hire 100 to 125 people at $13 an hour.

ESTES PAWS — Mary Rhineburger believes that schools are more than their test scores, which is what she hopes to exhibit through her work with the new Estes Elementary School newspaper — Estes PAWS.

BURN BANS — The majority of the state is now under a burn ban, which includes Daviess, McLean, Ohio, Muhlenberg and Hancock counties. According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, there are 109 of the state’s 120 counties that have a burn ban in effect.


OMU — In a special meeting Thursday, the City Utility Commission passed two measures estimated to save Owensboro Municipal Utilities a total of $24.5 million over the next nine years.

As part of OMU’s ongoing rate stabilization plan, commissioners agreed to take $14.3 million from the electric utility’s reserves to retire some of its bonds, and they approved refinancing about $88 million in bonds to take advantage of lower rates.

“It’s like paying your mortgage,” said Sonya Dixon, OMU spokeswoman. “If you are able to pay that off early, you will have that interest savings.”

K-PREP — Owensboro and Daviess County public schools officials each met Thursday, respectively, to further discuss the Tuesday release of the state assessment test results, referred to as the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress, or K-PREP test.

One thing most all officials could agree on is that the state’s new five-star rating system simplifies what is actually taking place within Kentucky schools, and that in some cases it is not an entirely accurate or fair portrayal of how students are performing on a daily basis.

RAND PAUL — Beginning Oct. 1, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul set out on a three-day, nine-location tour around Western Kentucky to speak with community leaders, community members and to perform a few pro bono eye surgeries.

FAIRNESS FIGHT — At a regular Daviess Fiscal Court meeting on Thursday, community member Chad Benefield, a fairness advocate, brought a local group’s fight for a countywide ordinance to Judge-Executive Al Mattingly and the commissioners for the first time.

NEW BEGINNINGS — New Beginnings Sexual Assault Support Services and the Catholic Diocese of Owensboro have partnered to help survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

AMMO BOX CASE — Jordan M. McClure, 30, of Indian Creek Loop, was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, and first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance in the incident, where a suspicious ammo box was found by a person bush-hogging a field near Country Heights Elementary School and the Daviess County East Fire Station on Kentucky 54.

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