Man Arrested In Church Vandalism
Historic Belle Key Church Sustains Damage
Darren Doyle, story:
A Wingfield man was arrested on Saturday after he was accused of breaking into an historic church and barricading himself inside, according to the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff's Office stated that around 2:20 pm on February 26, 2022, deputies were dispatched to Belle Key Church located at 4051 Brownsville Road at Rhoda to the report of someone kicking in the door of the church. When law enforcement arrived, they reportedly discovered that David Hughes (37) of Wingfield, had gained entry into the church and had barricaded himself inside, officials said. Officers said they could hear Hughes screaming and throwing things around in the church building. Law enforcement said they were able to talk Hughes out of the church and he was placed in handcuffs while officers entered the church building to assess for damage.
Hughes was allegedly exhibiting behaviors of intoxication and stated to law enforcement that he had used methamphetamine the previous night, the Sheriff's Office said. Hughes had broken the door, door frame, and a window of the church, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The church is nearly 140 years old.
Hughes was placed under arrest and charged with:
Hughes was lodged in Hart County Jail.
Fiscal Court Hears Comments From Public On ARPA Projects: Magistrates Will Vote In Future Meetings
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
The Edmonson County Fiscal Court met in person today for the first time in nearly a year. While little was discussed during the regular meeting, the focus today was about the special called meeting that was held after the regular meeting.
That meeting was for the purpose of discussion regarding Judge Executive Wil Cannon's proposed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) appropriation between magistrates and the public. About three dozen community members showed up for the special meeting.
Judge Cannon welcomed everyone to the meeting and reminded the audience that what he'd already outlined were suggestions only. All of the $2.3 million that the county will receive in ARPA funding will be voted upon by magistrates. This was to hear feedback from the public as well as magistrates.
He began by reminding everyone that three expenditures had already been passed through the fiscal court, which were $150,000 worth of premium pay for county employees (a $2/hr bonus for hours worked and lost during the COVID shutdown), a $67K skid steer machine for the county road department, and a $245K ambulance, which was voted upon at the last meeting.
He also noted that the county had already budgeted for new voting machines, and that the fiscal court had voted to purchase them; however, that amount was budgeted from the general fund. Since that time, Cannon learned that the machines could be purchased through ARPA funds and he suggested that in order to free up those funds in the regular budget. He also noted that the state allowed some financial assistance on the machines and the final bill would be $127K.
He continued with his proposed list that included the following:
Judge Cannon said he realized that different people had different ideas as to how the money needs to be spent and we have to start somewhere.
He said that the animal shelter was something the county was simply going to have to do.
According to KRS 258.195 (1): The governing body of each county shall employ, appoint, or contract with an animal control officer, or shall contract with an entity that employs, appoints, or contracts with an animal control officer, and shall establish and maintain an animal shelter as a means of facilitating and administering KRS 258.095 to 258.500. One (1) or more counties may enter into intergovernmental agreements for the establishment of regional animal shelters, or may contract with entities authorized to maintain sheltering and animal control services. Animal shelters shall meet the standards provided by KRS 258.119(3)(b) within three (3) years after July 13, 2004. Governing bodies may adopt additional standards and ordinances related to public health, safety, enforcement, and the efficient and appropriate operation of their shelters and their animal control programs.
He said that he didn't know if BG/WC Animal Shelter would even continue the contract with the county this past year, since the county's original 5-year plan was fulfilled; they did, but he didn't know if they would again, as they don't need money from the county, they need the space that the county's animals are utilizing.
He also discussed the cost of a county animal shelter, for which he'd suggested a $700K allocation.
"I don't think it's going to cost $700,000 to build an animal shelter, but it might cost more than you think now to build an animal shelter," he said. "I'd like to get it done for a lot less. That doesn't mean we have to spend $700,000 on an animal shelter. If we can build it for $400,000 that would be great, and that would leave $300,000 for the fiscal court to decide what to do with at a later date."
He continued by saying the reason he's advised to allocate that much is to ensure that all the funds will be available to make sure everything is completed. He also said he didn't think anyone would believe it would actually cost that much.
He also discussed again as to how the funds can be spent, which are for items normally purchased in the county's normal governmental expenses.
"If anybody's under the impression that we can just write a check to fire departments for X amount of dollars, that's not going to happen," he said. "We can't do that. We can't do that for the ambulance, we can't do that for the water department, we can't do that for anything unless fiscal court approves it as an item that we'd normally spend through the regular government process. Because the fire departments, the ambulance service, the water district are not in our normal government process (none receive funding from county's general fund), there's a little bit more that has to be done."
He then asked for comments from the public.
Mike Clubb, member of Kyrock Fire Department outlined just the basic costs of equipment necessary for local firefighters. He said turnout gear (the normal firefighter clothing/equipment setup per person) ranged anywhere from $3400-$5000 each. Clubb said the annual budget for Kyrock is only $20,000 and $15K of that is insurance premiums.
"I mean, everybody struggles, and Bear Creek and Rocky Hill's not here and they don't receive as much funding as some of the others, and they really need equipment to be beneficial to their communities," he said. "But they don't have it, so they do the best they can. We all do the best we can."
Clubb also discussed other financial constraints that the local volunteer fire departments have and asked the court to reconsider the $5K allocation.
"Every little bit would help and I understand it has to be give to everybody else, too, but $5,000 is not going to go a long ways," he said.
The question was asked about the timing of the spending of the funds. Keith Brock, a representative from Compass Municipal Advisors, LLC., a company that will help administer Edmonson County's handling of the funding received from ARPA, said the county has until December 2024 to allocate the funds and until December 2026 to spend it all.
County resident Paul Miller suggested that the court simply wait until the next administration takes control of the fiscal court, since the judge executive and three magistrates are not seeking re-election and will be different in 2023.
Cannon said he somewhat agreed with Mr. Miller, but he felt like he would not be fulfilling his duties if he didn't at least get a plan in motion.
The court also heard from Preserving Edmonson Pride member Shaksa Hines. She said PEP would like to advocate for the hiring of a commissioned grant writer. Member and local business woman Andrea Brantley later spoke to the same subject. They each believed that hiring a grant writer could stretch the funding out tremendously.
Edmonson County Superintendent of Schools Brian Alexander said that Kyrock desperately needed to be connected to a sewer system. The county sewer only goes as far north as the KY State garage on HWY 259 N. He suggested studying the cost of bringing sewer further north.
Jordan Jones, a candidate for judge executive, asked if the water district was putting up any of their own money for the proposed water project. Edmonson Water General Manager Tony Sanders said he couldn't answer that, as it would be a decision made by the board.
Jones also asked Mr. Brock from Compass if the county was completely protected in the event of an expenditure made through Compass that was audited and found in violation of the spending requirements.
"It's not an insurance policy," Brock said. "It doesn't work like that. It's not just Compass, we do have a legal firm involved as well, Stites and Harbison. They sign off on every expenditure approval, so it's a two-part process: the court approves it, they put their signature on it. We can't guarantee that something might not happen, but I think obviously, there's a layer of protection there."
He and several others in the audience spoke against the RV hookups at Chalybeate.
The question was also asked about another potential property for an animal shelter that was reportedly offered to the county a couple years ago. Local businessman Jeff Jacobs was in attendance and he spoke on the matter.
Jacobs said he had purchased some buildings behind the Riverhill strip mall and offered one of those and 3/4 of an acre lot to the county for animal shelter use at a heavily discounted rate in exchange for the Jacobs name being on the building somewhere. Cannon said he remembered the conversation differently. He said Jacobs didn't actually offer it at that time because it was currently being used for storage and that sometime later it would be available.
"Well, I mean, I felt like I offered it to you at that price, but I don't want to argue about that," Jacobs said.
Cannon responded with "I don't recall ever hearing a price."
Jacobs said the offer was still on the table and Cannon said he would be interested in looking at it, and also getting someone from another animal shelter to take a look and see if it would be a feasible option.
County Attorney Greg Vincent asked the crowd to consider an important point, which was that while the county did not need to make hasty decisions, it would definitely have to make timely decisions. He noted that in order to determine the costs of just one project, it might be necessary to include architectural plans, environmental studies, or other proposals or measures. He said even though the timeline is two or more calendar years, it would be far less time than many would think to have everything in order on some projects.
Another candidate for judge executive, Greg Hudson, suggested that since a vote for an animal shelter was coming soon, to stop the arguments about that topic.
Several other opinions were given on a wide range of subjects; many of which where off topic from the ARPA discussion.
Judge Cannon asked for opinions from the magistrates.
District 1 Magistrate Mark Meeks said most of the calls he was receiving was for the court to slow down on the process so that the court could take more time to determine the most needed areas. Cannon agreed but also noted that nowhere was there any implication that the court was voting on these items today; however, there were timelines in order to put things in play.
District 5 Magistrate Johnny Brooks said he was in favor of both the water project and animal shelter and he was open to seeing if 50/50 grants could stretch out the funding.
District 4 Magistrate Edd Rich had to leave for a doctor's appointment during the meeting.
District 2 Magistrate Corey VanMeter said he knew the animal shelter had to be built and he was also in favor of supporting fire departments and emergency services as much as possible. He also wanted to explore PEP projects. Cannon said he liked the idea of some of the projects from PEP but that they were cosmetic and not all would be possible.
District 6 Magistrate James Vincent said he was in favor of supporting fire departments and the water project could be helpful to a large number of people. He was also interested in researching additional grant possibilities.
District 3 Magistrate Charlie Tarter was absent due having a scheduled surgery today but sent a statement to the fiscal court as well as the Edmonson Voice. We spoke to him Friday and he shared his thoughts with us.
"I'm 100% against $700,000 for a dog shelter," he said in a phone interview. "Plus all the expense to keep it up. I'm not for the RV hookups at Chalybeate Park. On the voting machines, $130,000 was budgeted for that already. I'm not sold on using ARPA money for that. It just seems like a rush in fiscal court to make these decisions now. I don't think we need to make snap decisions about this."
In Tarter's submitted statement, he also noted that he was in favor of a $20K expenditure for each local fire department.
County Treasurer Tammi Willhite asked magistrates to consider using the ARPA funding for the voting machines, even though the county had already budgeted the amount. She said the county had only $100K in the general fund in 2018, which was far too tight, but now they have $1M in that fund, thanks much in part to conservative spending from the budget.
As the three-hour meeting came to a close, Judge Cannon said the discussions would continue during future fiscal court meetings.
Edmonson Voice Report:
A Cincinnati, Ohio man has died as a result of injuries sustained in a crash on I-65 on Sunday, according to Kentucky State Police.
On Sunday, February 27th, 2022, at approximately 3:20 p.m., Kentucky State Police Post 3 received a call for service in reference to a single vehicle injury collision on Interstate 65 near Cave City. Troopers responded to the scene of the collision located at the 53 mile marker of I-65 northbound.
KSP said that Mark D. Baughan (70) of Cincinnati, OH, was operating a 2013 Nissan Juke northbound on I-65 near the 53 mile marker when Baughan lost control of his vehicle and struck the center concrete barrier wall causing the vehicle to overturn. Mark D. Baughan was was flown to the University of Louisville Hospital and was listed in critical condition. KSP reported that a passenger in the vehicle identified as Laura Baughan (68) of Cincinnati, OH, was transported to TJ Samson Hospital where she was treated and released with minor injuries. Kentucky State Police Post 3 was notified at approximately 6:30 p.m. that Mark Baughan had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at the University of Louisville Hospital.
The investigation is being led by Trooper Bo Hubbard. He was assisted at the scene by Barren County EMS, Air Methods, Cave City Fire Department and KSP personnel.
Fire Claims Pig Road Home
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Firefighters were paged to the 900 block of Pig Road around 5:10 PM on Friday evening.
The home was fully involved when firefighters arrived on scene.
The home and all contents were lost in the blaze, but firefighters were able to control it so it did not spread to nearby structures.
The resident, Mary Marquez, suffered minor burns in the incident. She told the Edmonson Voice she thought the fire started from a wall heater. She also said she lost a pet in the fire.
Responding to the scene were the Chalybeate, Brownsville, Rocky Hill, and Wingfield fire departments, as well as Edmonson County Emergency Management, Edmonson EMS, the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office, Warren Rural Electric, and the Edmonson County Water District.
No other injuries were reported.
Public Comments: Meeting To Follow Monday's Fiscal Court To Discuss ARPA Funding
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County Fiscal Court will hold a special public meeting on Monday, February 28, 2022 immediately following the 9AM fiscal court meeting in the upstairs room of the courthouse for the purpose of discussion of the allocation of approximately $2 million in funding.
The funding was awarded to Edmonson County Fiscal Court in March of 2021 as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Edmonson County Judge Executive Wil Cannon presented his ideas for appropriating the remaining funds at the last fiscal court meeting.
Besides funding already voted upon by magistrates that included premium pay for county employees ($150K), and a new skid steer for the county road department ($67K), he suggested the following allocations:
The purpose of the meeting is to not only continue the discussion between magistrates and the judge executive, but also to hear comments from the public.
Edmonson County Schools are running on a two-hour delay today, Thursday, February 24th due to potential icy conditions in the county.
Darren Doyle, story:
Kentucky State Police are investigating the death of a two year-old child in Brownsville, according to a press release.
KSP reported that they were requested to investigate the death of the child in Edmonson County on Monday February 21, 2022. According to the press release, the child was transported to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital where he was pronounced deceased in the early morning hours. Kentucky State Police detectives responded to the residence in Brownsville to process the scene.
The cause of death has not yet been determined and an autopsy has been scheduled, KSP said. The investigation by the Kentucky State Police is ongoing.
Edmonson Voice Report:
The Edmonson County Sheriff's Office has reported several arrests made over the weekend that include multiple felony drug charges, outstanding felony warrants, and other charges.
The Sheriff's Office stated that while serving a felony probation violation warrant on Randy E. Chapman, 43, of Park City during a traffic stop on Chaumont Road on Saturday, February 19th around 2:30AM, deputies reportedly located a container of suspected methamphetamine along with multiple items of drug paraphernalia. A passenger in the vehicle, Tabitha Redmon Lindsey, 42, of Drakesboro, allegedly falsely identified herself as another person, and was later properly identified. Ms. Lindsey allegedly gave deputies the false ID because she had two arrest warrants, the Sheriff's Office said. She was served those two warrants for various theft and drug related offenses, and was charged with new methamphetamine possession charges. Both Chapman and Lindsey were lodged in the Hart County Jail.
On Saturday, February 19th, at approx. 10:45 pm, a traffic stop was made at the Jr. Food Store in the Kyrock community, where two passengers in the vehicle, Mr. Joshua P. Guthrie, 36, of Brownsville, and Brandi M. Simmons, 29, of Munfordville, were arrested. According to the Sheriff's Office, Guthrie had an active arrest warrant from Warren County for traffic charges. After obtaining consent to search, deputies reportedly located suspected methamphetamine in a backpack belonging to Ms. Simmons, the Sheriff's Office stated. She was charged with Possession of Controlled Substance 1st (Meth) and both were lodged in the Hart County Jail.
On Sunday, February 20th, deputies approached a man on Eagle Way to ask about potential illegal activity on the road. During the consensual encounter, the man allegedly gave deputies a false name, the Sheriff's Office stated. The name he allegedly gave was known to deputies, and he was confronted about this fact. According to the Sheriff's Office, he then admitted that he gave a false name, and identified himself at that time as James E. Hope, 41, of Bowling Green, and stated that he lied to the deputies because he had an outstanding warrant from Butler County. The Sheriff's Office also stated that while being placed under arrest, he admitted that he had methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia on his person, and was charged with Possession of a controlled substance 1st (meth) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was lodged in the Hart County Jail.
In addition to the felony drug charges, the Sheriff's Office also reported arrests on felony indictment and other outstanding warrants, along with multiple alcohol intoxication arrests.
NADA Book Values Rising Due To Increased Used Car Prices: Beshear Returning to 2021 Rates
Darren Doyle, story:
The Governor signed an executive order that is meant to stop an increase in vehicle property taxes caused by soaring used car values, which have risen more than 30% in Kentucky since last year.
According to a press release from Andy Beshear's Office, the property valuation for the average motor vehicle in Kentucky rose from $8,006 to $11,162 in just one year. The Governor said the abrupt adjustment warrants a change and under the order, a Kentuckian will pay a tax amount similar to last year – if they own the same vehicle in the same condition and are living in the same county – and they will not pay taxes on the inflated value for the next two years.
The Governor said those who have already paid their 2022 taxes will receive a partial refund from their local county clerk’s office. Edmonson County Clerk Kevin Alexander said that as he understands the order, the refunds will be automatically issued to those who have already paid this year's vehicle property taxes and there is no additional work to complete for the taxpayer.
According to Edmonson County PVA Kyle White, the department of revenue is supposed to have all vehicle assessments rolled back to 2021 values on and after March 1st.
“If someone needs to license between now and then we can manually reduce that value at PVA,” he said. “We would go ahead and do that automatically but I can’t get a report telling me what’s due in February. If we can correct these last couple weeks for people, they won’t have to wait the period for their refund.”
The executive order directs motor vehicle values to be returned to their 2021 assessment for both the 2022 and 2023 tax years, which is effective immediately.
Fiscal Court Passes Industrial Bonding Ordinance To Lure Business Ventures to County
New Owner of Park Mammoth Resort Looks to Enter Agreement With County
Darren Doyle, story:
In an effort to promote more industry in Edmonson County, the local fiscal court heard from bond attorney Gil Johnson on Monday, who explained the benefits of industrial bonds and how they might work in the county.
The discussion was based on previous conversations with County Attorney Greg Vincent and the new owner of Park Mammoth Resort, Preetesh Patel, who is currently working on plans for a completely new facility.
Industrial bonds are normally issued by local governments for the purpose of helping a business obtain more desirable financing and property tax breaks during their first years. The bonds help the business get started, and in turn, the local government benefits by the creation of jobs and other revenue brought on by the business' customers spending other money in that area.
County Attorney Vincent said that in his research, he found that it's very feasible that the local government could issue IRBs to Park Mammoth without opening liability to the county.
Attorney Johnson, who told the court he'd been part of over a billion dollars in industrial revenue bonds (IRBs) in Warren County, explained how they could help Edmonson County.
"The process is simply this: the county, at some point in time, identifies a project, a private project, to come into the county that would stimulate economic development, create jobs, and boost such things as tourism, for example," he said. "At that stage of the game, the local government can decide that we will provide an incentive to help the project move forward. And in this case, the only incentive available is the issuance of industrial revenue bonds. What does that do? Well, that allows the county to take title to the property, lease it back to the developer who would develop it, at no obligation or responsibility to the county. But because the property is technically owned by the county, under KRS chapter 103, specifically 103.285, a property tax abatement is provided."
Mr. Johnson went on to explain that county governments don't generally cut out the property taxes for the life of the project, and they can be constructed so that the business must pay 100% of local school taxes, to which about half of Edmonson County property taxes go (45.9 cents per $100). The business normally also makes a commitment to a certain number of full time jobs and investments in other ways to the community, all of which can be agreed upon by both parties.
"You are doing it solely for the purpose to facilitate the developer's project, the construction and acquisition of the project, and provide some incentive to allow him to go forward--to give him some break for a period of time, whatever that time period that you agree with the developer," he said.
Judge Executive Wil Cannon asked Mr. Johnson if any other taxing districts would be included in tax payments from the developer with IRBs.
Mr. Johnson said that no other taxing districts would be included in the developer's tax payments, which in addition to school taxes in Edmonson County are state, county, library, ambulance, extension office, health department, and conservation taxes.
"The county owns the property and improvements," he said. "You have a deed to it. Because you own it, you can't be assessed a tax. There would be technically be no tax at the state level, no tax at the school level, any of your other taxing districts at the county level, whatever other taxing districts are involved. So what occurs is, we enter into what we call a payment in lieu of taxes agreement and we identify what taxes would be paid."
He then said that IRB holders pay 100% of the required school taxes in Warren County and Bowling Green, which are billed separately. In addition, he said that from past experience, businesses are free of the property taxes (aside from school) for 10 years, then pay 50% for the next 20.
County Attorney Vincent pointed out that since about half of an Edmonson County tax payer's property tax bill goes toward local school tax, the county would not be out a great deal in property tax abatement. Vincent also noted that the location of Park Mammoth is near the Edmonson County Industrial Park, and an all-new resort in the area could lure more businesses to the industrial park.
"And also, you could look at this as a trial run for these incentives going forward, because if this seems to work out, this is going to be something our Industrial Authority is going to be able to use in the future to help lure other businesses here," Vincent said. "They've been at an impasse at times, trying to come up with ways to get certain businesses here because other communities were offering things that we couldn't match. Now this will put us on equal footing or better footing than some once we adapt to this process and they understand and can use it going forward."
A business like Park Mammoth would also pay recreational taxes for Parks and Rec and transient room taxes for Tourism. The former owners, The Fortress Group, LLC., filed for bankruptcy in 2019. After failing to turn the business around as they had said, they shut their doors and left around $60,000 in room and rec taxes still owed to Edmonson County.
Mr. Patel spoke regarding how he feels this will benefit everyone involved.
"We're not just bringing the cabins and the hotels and things like that," he said. "There are going to be other local industries that come about, whether it's attractions, restaurants, or other things. There's gonna be somebody that gets inspired to create another business that's also gonna generate more tax revenue and bring more people to the area. You know, like the golf course. I think it'll just be multiple things that'll bring people here, and (they) will want to stay longer to do more things here."
A motion was made by Magistrate James Vincent and seconded by Magistrate Edd Rich to approve resolution EC22-07, which will allow the county to move forward in taxable industrial revenue bonds for Pratishta, LLC., (Park Mammoth Resort).
The motion passed unanimously with the exception of Magistrate Corey VanMeter, who was absent from the meeting.
Magistrates Vote To Move Forward With First Process of Establishing Regional Jail
Darren Doyle, story:
During the Monday, February 14th fiscal court meeting, Edmonson County magistrates voted to proceed with the first steps in possibly establishing a regional jail between Ohio, Butler, and Edmonson Counties.
Magistrates approved ordinance EC 22-05, which binds the county to only start the process, which will allow two representatives from Edmonson County to be part of a larger jail board. This board will oversee the research for a new jail between the counties, which includes hiring an architect, conducting environmental studies, searching for the most desirable property, and more.
Edmonson County Attorney Greg Vincent has discussed in multiple fiscal court meetings that this is the first process the county must agree to in order for Edmonson County to be part of the possible project. This step requires the hiring of outside firms to administer the work necessary to begin the project.
"The only thing this binds us to do, is to start the process," said Vincent. "We are not bound to create or build a new jail, we are not bound by any property, we're not bound to do anything at this point. We're telling the other counties that we're starting this process with you. We agree on the template on what things will look like, if--if we go forward."
Vincent reminded the court that the county would not be financially bound to the building of a jail until the issuance of bonds, or borrowing money to build it.
"At any time before the issuance of bonds, we can say 'you know what, we don't like this, we're not going forward with any more, we can't do it, we don't like you,' whatever, and however we want to phrase it. We're allowed to pull out at any point in time, prior to the issuance of bonds."
He went on to say again that this ordinance only allows the county to be part of the initial investigation, approved architectural plans, chosen property, the completed environmental studies, Frankfort approval, and the board receiving assurance of federal or state funding, and the final numbers being known in the completion of the project, and nothing past that.
In the January 24th fiscal court meeting, Vincent said in the event a regional jail is built, each county's financial commitment for the construction and first year of operation would be 50% from Ohio County and 25% each from Butler and Edmonson. After the first year, the percentage of a county's inmates would then determine what each county's financial commitment would be.
In that same meeting, he noted that architects are not cheap and other legal representation would likely be needed in order to avoid conflicts of interest. There would also be environmental and soil studies and he said he anticipated somewhere around a total of $200K in expenses for just the first stages alone. At that number, Edmonson County's commitment would be $50,000. He also added that the number was only his estimation and that it obviously could be higher or lower, but nevertheless, a financial commitment of some type would have to be made by the county if magistrates voted to move into the first stage.
Judge Wil Cannon suggested to magistrates that $64K be designated for this process, as laid out in his suggested list of funding allocation from the $2.3M in ARPA funds the county has received; however, magistrates will have the final say on how all the funding will be spent.
Edmonson County currently has a jail budget of $477,700. Current county inmates are housed at Hart County Jail, which normally runs the county nearly $25,000 per month, depending on the amount of inmates at the time. Currently, the county has 48 inmates housed at the Hart County Jail, which is a bill of $2,160 per day.
Magistrates voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, with the exception of District 2 Magistrate Corey VanMeter, who was absent for the meeting.
Edmonson Voice Report:
A Bullitt County man was arrested on Saturday after a disturbance call led to an outstanding warrant arrest along with a felony drug possession charge.
According to the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office, a deputy was dispatched to the 1900 block of Noah Stevenson’s Road for a possible disturbance involving an individual identified as William W. Hendrix (56) of Brooks, Kentucky on Saturday, February 12, 2022, around 10AM.
The Sheriff's Office stated that it was determined Hendrix had been fired from a work position and was suspected to be in possession of the keys belonging to the work truck of his former employer and would not relinquish them back to the employer, nor would Hendrix leave the premises, officials stated. After law enforcement arrived and made contact with Hendrix, it was discovered that he had an outstanding warrant out of Bullitt County for failure to appear on charges of Operating on Suspended or Revoked Operator’s License, according to the Sheriff's Office. Hendrix was immediately detained for the outstanding warrant.
During a search of his person, law enforcement reportedly found the keys to the work truck of Hendrix’s former employer, as well as suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, the Sheriff's Office said.
In addition to the warrant being served, Hendrix was charged with:
Mandatory Quarantine for Close Contacts Lifted For Asymptomatic Students
Edmonson Voice Report:
The Edmonson County Board of Education amended the district's current Covid-19 Operations Plan at last night's board meeting, according to the school district Facebook Page.
"Effectively immediately, students (regardless of vaccination status) who are identified as close contacts at school will not be required to quarantine as long as they are not showing symptoms. We will continue to notify parents if/when their child has been identified as a close contact at school," the announcement said.
"This update does not affect current quarantine procedures for household contacts. Household contacts will continue to quarantine (regardless of symptoms), due to the continued exposure to the infected individual within the home."
"Our current masking policy has not changed, and continues to be based on the percentage of overall positive cases within each school building. At this time, all of our schools are mask-optional as they are all below the 2.5% positive threshold," the post read.
"After gaining feedback from our school community, as well as surrounding school districts, our Board of Education members felt it was the appropriate time to revisit and update our quarantine procedures for students exposed to a positive individual while at school," said Alan Talley, Director of Pupil Personnel for Edmonson County Schools.
"We will continue to communicate with families when students are exposed at school and identified as close contacts. We ask that all parents continue to communicate with schools as Covid situations arise in the home. While we have decided to no longer quarantine asymptomatic close contacts from school, school administrators will work with parents who believe a quarantine from school is the right choice for their family."
Darren Doyle, story:
Rhonda Clemmons, a former Edmonson County employee wanted on 52 counts of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument and one count of Theft by Unlawful Taking over $10,000, has been arrested in North Carolina, according to Sheriff Shane Doyle.
"It has been confirmed that authorities in North Carolina have apprehended Rhonda Clemmons on her felony warrant from Kentucky," Sheriff Doyle said. "The Commonwealth Attorney's Office will be seeking extradition to bring Ms. Clemmons back to Kentucky to face her charges."
Clemmons was indicted in April of 2021 after being accused of stealing approximately $30,407.77 from the Edmonson County Tourist & Convention Commission from January 2019 to May of 2020
Fiscal Court Discussion: Cannon Outlines His Plan For Spending $2.3M Of Government Funds
Magistrates Approve $245K For New Ambulance, Meeting Scheduled To Discuss Further Funds
Darren Doyle, story:
The Edmonson County Fiscal Court was awarded $2.3 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March of 2021; however, when the county was first made aware of the funding, it wasn't immediately known as how the money could be spent.
In a fiscal court meeting on March 22, 2021, Judge Wil Cannon was quoted as saying, "It can only be spent certain ways. We're not positive, really on how it can be spent. We think it will be similar to the CARES Act money which will be emergency personnel-kind-of things."
At the time, Cannon also said that some of the uses discussed were water and broadband utilities but that broadband services would be funded differently, and that money from this grant would not likely go there. If anything, broadband funding would only be complimented by the county's spending.
He also explained how the wrong commitment to the funding could end up costing the county funds they don't have.
In a June 14, 2021 fiscal court meeting, Cannon explained a possible scenario where one resident that might live at the end of a road with no county water. The funds could be used to bring service to the resident; however, the county water company would have to use more resources to maintain that single customer than they would receive from the customer's use of their services, which wouldn't be cost effective.
In September of 2021, the fiscal court voted to hire Compass Municipal Advisors, LLC., a company that will help administer Edmonson County's handling of the funding received from ARPA. The company receives 1.5% for each transaction they make for the county. The purpose for hiring the company was to ensure the money was spent per government regulations; however, it now seems the company was not needed at all, according to the latest updates on those regulations.
Today, Judge Cannon told the fiscal court that the feds have now given much more freedom to county governments on how to spend the money.
"Now they've had their final ruling on the issue and they've decided that up to ten million dollars, which we got far less than that, you can spend on it on the purposes of general government," he said. "And that means you can just about do anything with it that we would normally do with out budgeted money. There's not very many restrictions."
Cannon then outlined where he thought the money should be spent after researching current needs from various county offices. He also reminded magistrates that $150K was already spent on premium pay for county employees, along with $67K for a new skid steer for the road department. His proposed plan was as follows:
The water project was laid out by Edmonson Water General Manager Tony Sanders who said the total $1.1M project would consist of improvements to multiple pump stations, new service to E Hack Road, and improvements on Luttrell Cemetery Road, Segal Road, Carl Ashley Road, and HWY 70. Sanders noted that Edmonson Water was recently awarded over $422K from the state, and if fiscal court voted to fund $650K, then they would be looking to make up around $200K to complete the project.
Cannon also said that the ambulance service was also in need of a new ambulance, which will cost around $250,000; since the original plan was to put a portion of funding to water and ambulance services, he felt like that needed to remain a priority. A portion of Edmonson County property taxes go directly to the ambulance service, the same as school, library, extension office, health department, and conservation district, and the water department also has it's own revenue stream; however, after the meeting, Cannon told the Edmonson Voice once the restrictions on how to use the funding became looser, he wanted to present ideas that he felt would help the most residents.
"We have to find ways to spend this money that will benefit the most people in Edmonson County," he said in a phone interview. "A new ambulance will be good for the whole county and the ambulance service has to borrow money for new ambulances. This was what some of this money was intended for back at the beginning, just like for the water service."
District 1 Magistrate Mark Meeks said that while he appreciated Cannon researching the various needs, he thought separate meetings were supposed to be held to discuss possible ways to spend the money, but that it sounded to him as if money was already obligated.
"We haven't obligated anything. This is what we're doing now," said Cannon. "This is the meeting we're having, to try and hash things out."
The court agreed to hold a special-called meeting to discuss these plans further and Cannon asked the court for approval on the ambulance purchase, as the ambulance service had a short window on when they could make the purchase, due to supply-chain issues.
Magistrates voted to approve the ambulance purchase and a meeting is scheduled to discuss more funding possibilities after the next fiscal court meeting.
Edmonson Voice Report:
An Edmonson County Grand Jury recently returned the following indictments for February, 2022:
Christopher K. Carpenter, Wanton Endangerment first degree, Possession of drug paraphernalia - firearm enhanced, Possession of marijuana - firearm enhanced, Criminal trespass first degree.
Melinda Katherine Pharris, Possession of controlled substance first degree - second offense- meth, Tampering with physical evidence, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Public intoxication - controlled substance, Persistent felony offender second degree.
Samantha Seabolt, Possession of controlled substance first degree - second offense - meth, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Endangering the welfare of a minor.
Ryan A. Minton, Possession of controlled substance first degree second offense - meth - firearm enhanced, Possession of drug paraphernalia - firearm enhanced, Wanton Endangerment first degree.
Ronnie Saltsman, Possession of controlled substance first degree -second offense - meth- firearm enhanced, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Possession of a handgun by convicted felon, Wanton endangerment first degree, Persistent felony second degree.
Coty Patton, Trafficking in marijuana (eight ounces to less than 5 pounds), second or > offense, Trafficking in controlled substances in or near a school building, drug paraphernalia - buy/possess, Endangering the welfare of a minor, Persistent felony offender second degree.
Kenneth Buchanan, Wanton Endangerment first degree, Terroristic threatening third degree, Alcohol intoxication in a public place, Possession of open alcohol beverage container in motor vehicle, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Possession of marijuana, Resisting arrest.
Barbara J. Buchanan, Fleeing or evading police first degree - motor vehicle, Wanton endangerment first degree, Operating vehicle with expired operators license.
Jeremiah B. Jackson, Trafficking in marijuana - firearm enhanced, Possession of controlled substance first degree - firearm enhanced, Possession of drug paraphernalia firearm enhanced, Tampering with physical evidence, Endangering the welfare of a minor (three counts).
Shelly Jackson, Trafficking in marijuana - firearm enhanced, Possession of controlled substance first degree- firearm enhanced, Possession of drug paraphernalia- firearm enhanced, Endangering the welfare of a minor (three counts).
Elizabeth S. Cockrell, Trafficking in controlled substance first degree - greater or equal to 2 grams meth - firearm enhanced, Trafficking in marijuana - firearm enhanced, Possession of drug paraphernalia - firearm enhanced, Convicted felon in possession of a firearm, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Donnie R. Cockrell, Trafficking in controlled substance first degree - greater or equal to 2 grams meth - firearm enhanced, Trafficking in marijuana - firearm enhanced, Possession of drug paraphernalia - firearm enhanced, Convicted felon in possession of a firearm, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Ronnie Cockrell, Theft of motor vehicle registration plate/renewal decal, Driving on DUI suspended license, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Nicholas Balford, Possession of controlled substance first degree (meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia, Tampering with physical evidence.
Stephanie A. Poteet, Possession of controlled substance first degree (meth), Possession of drug paraphernalia, Tampering with physical evidence.
Jacob E. Cline, Complicity to burglary second degree, complicity to theft by unlawful taking under $1000.
Anthony Shane Gipe, Burglary second degree, Theft by unlawful taking under $1000, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Travis L. Johnson, Driving on suspended license, Possession of marijuana, Theft by unlawful taking (shoplifting), Possession of controlled substance first degree - second offense, Tampering with physical evidence, Trafficking in controlled substance third degree - first offense (greater than or equal to 20 but less than or equal to 120 D.U. drug unspecified, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Cory J. Burns, Disorderly conduct second degree, Strangulation first degree, Harboring a vicious animal (two counts), Escape third degree, Fleeing or evading police second degree, Resisting arrest, Wanton Endangerment first degree (police officer, two counts), Assault third degree (police officer, two counts), Disarming of peace officer, Wanton Endangerment first degree.
Joshua Fox, Assault third degree (police officer, two counts), Fleeing or evading police second degree - on foot.
Raymond C. Edwards, Trafficking in controlled substance - greater than or equal to 2 grams meth- first degree, Possession of controlled substance first degree, Possession of controlled substance third degree, Controlled substance not in original container, Fleeing or evading police second degree- motor vehicle, Rear license not illuminated, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Johnathan Shirazi, Sexual abuse first degree- victim under 12 years old
Jeffery C. Gillingham, Strangulation first degree, Stalking first degree, Assault fourth degree- domestic violence, Intimidating a participant in a legal process, Violation of Kentucky EPO/DVO, Possession of controlled substance first degree - meth, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Possession of marijuana.
Garvis Lee Hayse, Assault fourth degree- domestic violence, Assault fourth degree- child abuse, Convicted felon in possession of firearm, Convicted felon in possession of handgun, Possession of marijuana - firearm enhanced, Possession of drug paraphernalia - firearm enhanced,
James Hunter Vincent, No tail lamps, Operating on suspended/revoked operator's license, Failure of owner to maintain required insurance, Possession of controlled substance first degree- meth, Failure to produce insurance card, License to be in possession.
John English, Possession of controlled substance first degree, Drug paraphernalia buy/possess, Possession of. marijuana.
Alyse Cox, Possession of controlled substance first degree, Drug paraphernalia buy/possess, Possession of marijuana.
Corey Winchester, Flagrant non support.
John T. Howard, Operating motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol - first offense- aggravated circumstances, Wanton endangerment first degree, Criminal mischief first degree, Assault second degree (two counts).
Kevin A. Sanders, Alcohol intoxication in a public place first degree, Leaving scene of accident/failure to render aid or assistance, Criminal mischief first degree.
Terry D. Finn, Receiving stolen property $10,000 or more, Possession of controlled substance first degree - second offense- meth, Possession of drug paraphernalia, Trafficking in controlled substance first degree - second or greater offense, Trafficking in legend drugs, Criminal mischief first degree, Operating on suspended OL, Obscuring the identity of a machine $10,000 or more, Trafficking in stolen vehicles or vehicle parts, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Eric Hack, Trafficking in controlled substance first degree, Possession of controlled substance first degree - meth, Drug paraphernalia buy/possess, Possession of a controlled substance third degree, Possession of controlled substance not in proper container, Persistent felony offender second degree.
Tony Daniels, Trafficking in controlled substance first degree - second or greater offense, Possession of controlled substance in first degree (meth), Drug paraphernalia buy/possess, Possession of controlled substance first degree, Possession of a controlled substance third degree, Possession controlled substance not in proper container.
Heavenlea Lynn Casey, Trafficking in controlled substance first degree, Possession of controlled substance first degree - meth, Drug paraphernalia buy/possess, Possession of controlled substance first degree, Possession of controlled substance third degree, Possession of controlled substance not in proper container, Persistent felony offender second degree.
Note: An indictment is only a formal charge and is not an admission of guilt. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
EDMONSON COUNTY FISCAL COURT
NOTICE OF REGULAR AUDIO/VIDEO TELECONFERENCE MEETING
In accordance with KRS 61.823, KRS 61.826, Executive Order 2020-243, OAG 20-05, 2020 Senate Bill 150 and the March 31 Attorney General Advisory, the Edmonson County Fiscal Court will meet in session at 9:00 a.m. on February 14, 2022 to consider the following Agenda. The meeting will take place via audio teleconference due to the current public health situation with the fiscal court not meeting in person. The public may attend via audio by dialing: 1-312-626-6799, meeting ID 828 2982 3956, password 571589 or by going to the following link:
EDMONSON COUNTY JUDGE EXECUTIVE
Issues Identified as Part of Statewide Single Audit of Kentucky for Fiscal Year 2021
Edmonson Voice Report:
Mike Harmon, Kentucky’s 47th State Auditor of Public Accounts, today released Volume 1 of the Statewide Single Audit of Kentucky (SSWAK) for Fiscal Year 2021, which includes 19 findings. Of those 19 findings, nine relate to issues identified by auditors with Kentucky’s Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI) and the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system.
“Last year, our auditors detailed issues within OUI ranging from ‘auto-pay’ and the problems it created, to IT security concerns including employees having access to remove stops on their own accounts,” said Auditor Harmon. “While some things appear to have improved, particularly with internal controls, this year’s SSWAK report confirmed multiple instances of fraudulent claims within the UI system. OUI failed to fully implement controls to detect fraudulent activity, which resulted in many claimants receiving payments before OUI flagged them as potentially fraudulent and stopped further payments.”
Among the issues related to fraudulent UI claims:
“Our review found even though OUI took action to stop payment on these fraudulent claims, they did so after each claim was inappropriately paid for at least two weeks,” Auditor Harmon said. “From the small samples of claims the auditors reviewed, more than $118,900 was confirmed to be fraudulent, with over $31,000 paid to one out-of-state claimant. While OUI utilized software and tools to detect fraud, clearly a concerning number of fraudulent claimants received payments.”
In addition to issues identified within OUI, the FY 2021 SSWAK audit also contains findings for the Finance and Administration Cabinet, Commonwealth Office of Technology, Department of Revenue, Department of Agriculture, and Kentucky Horse Park.
“The Auditor’s office is tasked with ensuring that state government is accountable and transparent to those we all serve, the taxpayers of Kentucky,” said Auditor Harmon. “I am extremely proud of the dedication and professionalism of the audit staff who worked hard to complete this year’s SSWAK report, and I often say that government works most effectively when all parts of it are working together to do their jobs.”
You can review the first volume of the SSWAK report here. Volume two of the SSWAK, which focuses on the Commonwealth’s compliance with federal grant requirements, will be released in the coming months.
Fence and Gate Damaged
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
A vehicle was stolen out of the county impound lot, located on Veteran's Memorial Highway (KY 259), and found later abandoned, according to the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office.
On Friday, February 4, 2022, the Sheriff's Office was made aware of the incident, where a 2005 GMC Envoy had been stolen from the lot. According to the Sheriff's Office, it appeared that entry into the lot was gained through cutting the fence and then the stolen vehicle was used to drive through the impound lot gate, as well as the gate located on the road leading to the lot. Both the impound lot fence and the locked gate on the road leading to the lot had been driven through and damaged.
On Sunday, February 6, 2022, the stolen vehicle from the impound lot was discovered on an abandoned property on Park Boundary Road. The Sheriff's Office stated that it appeared the stolen vehicle had been hot-wired in order to drive it through the gates and off the impound lot property.
The investigation is ongoing by Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office with multiple suspects. Various arrests and charges arrests are pending, the Sheriff's Office said.
Edmonson Voice Report:
A Bowling Green man has died as a result of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle accident on KY HWY 185 in Butler County, according to Kentucky State Police.
KSP said they received a request by the Butler County's Sheriff's Office to respond to a fatal collision near the 4000 block of Reedyville Road (KY 185) in the Roundhill community of Butler County on Wednesday, February 9th, 2022, at approximately 6:15AM.
According to KSP, their investigation revealed that Dustin W. Fields, 36, of Leitchfield, was operating a 2017 Chevrolet pickup in the southbound lane of Reedyville Road near the 4000 block, while Timothy R. Phelps, 63, of Bowling Green was operating a 2006 Scion SUV in the northbound lane at the same location. The two vehicles collided in a head on manner near the center dividing line of the roadway, KSP said. Timothy R. Phelps was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Butler County Coroner. No other injuries were reported in the collision.
The investigation continues and is being led by Trooper Michael Wathen. He was assisted on the scene by Butler County Sheriff's Office, Butler County EMS, 4th district and Morgantown Fire Departments, Butler County Emergency Management, Butler County Rescue Squad, and Butler County Coroner.
Will NOT Be NTI Day
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County Superintendent of Schools Brian Alexander has announced no school for Edmonson County for Friday, February 4, 2022. He said it will NOT be an NTI day.
"It's going to be an old-fashioned snow day tomorrow due to the risk of power outages and kids not being able to do NTI work at home," he said.
Project Made Possible In Part With Federal Funding
Darren Doyle, story:
CMTA Energy Solutions, a national leader in high performance building design and energy savings, has partnered with the Edmonson County School District on a guaranteed energy savings contract.The Edmonson County Board of Education entered into this agreement with CMTA at the December Board Meeting.
The total $6.3 million dollar investment is made possible in part with funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), which is part of the Federal Coronavirus Aid Relief, and is expected to save the school system over $150K annually in energy savings.
The majority of the work will take place, including all of the HVAC replacement at the High School and Middle School, during the summer. New HVAC controls and bipolar ionization devices will be installed to help reduce certain viruses and bacteria in the air in air conditioning units district wide. A lot of the kWh savings comes from installing over 8200 LED lamps and 1400 new LED fixtures district wide, and will encompass every facility in the school district.
This project will be headed by CMTA Energy Solutions Project Manager, Brian Duvall, who is a 1994 graduate of ECHS and originally from the Sunfish Community.
"The Edmonson County School District is extremely excited to work with CMTA on this Guaranteed Energy Savings Project," said Edmonson County Superintendent of Schools Brian Alexander. "The financial savings our District will see from this project will benefit us for many years to come. I want to thank our Board Members for their foresight in entering into this project."
Callie Beliles, Facilities and Safety Director for Edmonson County Schools said the groundwork for the project began as far back as May, 2021.
"This will be a game changer for our Maintenance Department, headed by Lannie Deweese, as most of our HVAC equipment has exceeded its expected lifespan," she said. "With more efficient equipment and controls, we will see instant and significant savings, which will allow us to put tax payer dollars back into our classrooms. The new equipment will allow us to provide a cleaner environment for our children. The LED lighting upgrades will modernize our facilities, and create a brighter learning environment. It has been a pleasure to work with our local contractors in an effort to put money back into our local economy."
CMTA Construction Manager Kyle Larkin said he looks forward to a continued relationship with EC Schools as the project progresses.
"Of the many improvements that will be made, I think overhauling the HVAC Systems and modernizing light fixtures will not only have an obvious monetary, but a tangible benefit on morale as well," he said. "We also get to bring in a helicopter to replace rooftop units, which is always fun for the community to watch."
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County Schools have cancelled in-person schools for Thursday, February 3, 2022, according to Superintendent Brian Alexander.
"Based on information from local, regional and national weather information, there is a strong possibility that inclement weather in the form of ice could impact Edmonson County as early as 11:00 am tomorrow," Alexander stated. "With this in mind, Edmonson County Schools will be closed tomorrow, February 3, 2022, and will utilize NTI day #6."
He also added that an announcement concerning Friday, February 4, 2022, will be made once the impact of Thursday's weather is surveyed.