Early In-Person Voting Begins October 13th
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County Clerk Kevin Alexander discussed possible voting options with the Edmonson Voice for the upcoming 2020 General Election, where the current plan includes all county polling places open to the public.
Details for the plan include:
1. Absentee ballot by mail
VOTER ID NOW REQUIRED:
Alexander also is reminding all voters that Senate Bill 2 was signed into law on July 15th, which requires all Kentucky voters to present a proper photo I.D. Secretary Adams issued a statement that answered frequently asked questions.
"While non-photo ID (or personal acquaintance with the poll worker) previously was required to vote, the ID presented will now need to include a photo of the voter to be valid as defined in KRS 117.375(12), as amended," one portion stated.
"The most common form of a valid photo ID is your driver’s license. Other examples of acceptable ID (as long as they include your name and photo) are: Military ID, College ID, or Kentucky government ID. A voter’s identity still can be confirmed by personal acquaintance with an election official, but now the election official must sign an affirmation."
According to Secretary Adams, Kentuckians who were unable to get a driver’s licenses or photo ID due to the pandemic because their clerk’s office was closed, or because they were afraid of exposing themselves to COVID-19, can sign a document explaining this concern and cast their ballot.
Any further voting questions can be directed to the Edmonson County Clerk's Office at 270-597-2624.
Alyssa Doyle, photos:
Katie Lindsey, a senior, was named the 2020 Football Homecoming Queen at Edmonson County High School on Friday, October 9th at the annual homecoming game against Russellville.
She is the daughter of Ronnie and Jennifer Lindsey.
The junior princess was Maham Shahbaz, daughter of Muhammad and Uzma Shahbaz. Sophomore princess was Macy Allen, daughter of Matt and Jill Allen. The freshman princess was Leah Ballance, daughter of Bill and Tyra Ballance.
Problems With Future Animal Shelter Site Deal: Lien Amount Is Currently Greater Than Balance Owed By County
Owner Currently Faces $15K In Penalties
Darren Doyle, story:
During today's Edmonson County Fiscal Court meeting, Judge Executive Wil Cannon said he had been in contact with Rollin Rountree, the current owner of the future proposed animal shelter property who is now currently facing a $15,000 penalty on the balance owed to him from the county.
Magistrates voted to purchase the 12-acre property for a price of $105,000 on September 23, 2019. The terms of the deal were as follows: the county paid $20,000 down with the balance of $85K being paid once the seller moves completely from the property, which was supposed to be June 1, 2020, then extended to July 1, 2020, penalty-free by the fiscal court. Rountree is forfeiting $1,000 per week for every week thereafter until the seller surrenders the property, which is currently $15,000.
Cannon said that if Rountree vacated the property today and the county paid the $70,000 balance ($85K minus the $15K in penalties) the county wouldn't be able to close on the property due to there being a current $80,000 bank lien against the property. Judge Cannon advised the court that Mr. Rountree was working to secure another loan that would release the current property lien, but that was going to cause at least another 45-day delay for closing. The question was then asked about when to stop the weekly penalties. Judge Cannon then asked County Attorney Greg Vincent about the next course of action.
"I presented a plan a couple of months ago that would've given the county an opportunity to secure something and the court voted against it," County Attorney Vincent said.
That was in reference to a fiscal court meeting on August 10, 2020, where Vincent addressed the court with a recommendation of filing a lawsuit against Rountree, who at the time was 5 weeks past due to finish the deal.
"This lawsuit would be asking a judge to require Mr. Rountree to comply with the contract and simply make him turn it over to the county, as the signed contract says," Vincent said on August 10th. "The county will have to sue Rountree, his wife, and the bank, because the bank holds a mortgage against the property. This is a common lawsuit and there's not really any defense to it. The bank will insist their mortgage will be paid and the county will insist to take ownership of property. All this does is force Mr. Rountree to uphold his end of the already agreed upon and signed terms."
Magistrates and the Judge voted 4-3 against the lawsuit on August 10th.
Vincent said the next step would be up to the fiscal court. Judge Cannon said the item would be placed on the agenda for the next meeting for further discussion.
Darren Doyle, story:
A special hearing was held just before this morning's Edmonson County Fiscal Court meeting to allow public comments for the proposed 2020 property tax rates, which were unchanged from last year. At the September 14th fiscal court meeting, magistrates voted to keep the property tax rate for the county the same as the previous year, which is 13.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. Judge Wil Cannon said the county had the option of taking the state compensating rate which was a lower 13.5%; however, he said keeping rates the same would assist the county with keeping up with inflation costs while keeping rates the same as they've been for several years.
No visitors attended the tax hearing and magistrates voted on the final reading of the tax rates, which passed unanimously.
Judge Wil Cannon also discussed a location that will be available for an upcoming drive-in flu vaccination opportunity for county residents through the Barren River District Health Department, which will be at Chalybeate Fire Department. He said the plan was to use their facility for individuals to drive in, get vaccinated for a fee, then exit the rear of the building onto a driveway that will lead back out to the road. More details will be released as they become available. At least one local pharmacy has already been providing drive-in flu vaccinations for about a month.
Sheriff's Report: Sheriff Shane Doyle reported on two incidents that recently took place at Blue Holler ATV Park: one, which was a fatal crash, and another where an individual brandished a handgun at a deputy as law enforcement approached an ATV on the roadway near the park. Doyle said as the deputy attempted to make contact with the operator, an individual flashed a handgun then went off-road and entered the park. Sheriff Doyle said Blue Holler officials were currently working with his office to identify and locate the individual. He also said the park is expecting another big crowd this weekend as Blue Holler plans to host a concert by country artist Trace Adkins.
Judge Cannon also reported 20 county inmates currently housed at Hart County Jail.
Judge Cannon also announced that according to the County Clerk's Office, in-person early voting will be available on Tuesday, October 13th.
Cannon then read two letters from residents; the first commended animal control officer Kenny Heath for his professionalism in his handling of some stray dogs at her residence, and another who commended the fiscal court and road department on recent improvements made to Cub Creek Cemetery Road.
The county also voted to:
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for October 26th at 9AM.
Darren Doyle, story:
Halloween plans in Edmonson County are moving forward, according to Judge Executive Wil Cannon's Office, with some safety measures in place for this year's event.
Normally held on the courthouse square, this year's event is being moved to Chalybeate Park and scheduled for October 31, 2020 from 3:30PM to 7PM.
Businesses and organizations are encouraged to set up tables to hand out candy and treats in the park, which will be set up along the walking trail there.
"We plan to set tables at least 10 feet apart for safe distancing and we've extended the hours in order to be able to accommodate more people safely," said Tammi Willhite, county treasurer. "This year's Halloween looks a bit different due to COVID, but the Judge Executive's Office feels like this is the best route for an enjoyable event that will also be safe."
Judge Cannon's office also said that hand sanitizer will be available throughout the event. Bagged treats are encouraged and individuals handing out treats are recommended to wear masks as well as gloves if handling treats.
The Kentucky Department of Health has issued recommended guidelines for Halloween; one item most notable is the recommendation of a face covering separate from a Halloween mask. It is unclear whether the state recommends wearing a face covering under or over a Halloween mask; however, many Halloween masks cover more than a large number of face coverings that are currently being used by individuals. These guidelines are state recommendations only; they are not mandated.
Some of the recommendations shared from the state for trick-or-treating are:
The event is organized by Edmonson County Parks and Rec.
There are currently no county mandates on other Halloween activities, such as trick-or-treating, haunted houses, hayrides, etc. Individuals may participate in these activities according to their own choosing. Having outdoor or porch lights on during trick-or-treating is an indication that the residence is participating in trick-or-treating. One that does not wish to participate is asked to keep porch lights off.
According to state data, Edmonson County is ranked 3 on a 1-4 scale of severity of the virus outbreak. With 1 being the least and 4 being the greatest, Edmonson County is listed as "accelerated," having between 10 and 25 cases per 100,000 people. As of Thursday, October 8th, Edmonson County had a total of 14 known active positive COVID-19 cases for the entire county, (12K residents) or .01% of the county's population, (one-tenth of one percent).
Darren Doyle, story:
A Brownsville man is facing multiple felony charges after he allegedly attempted to flee from law enforcement when they tried to serve him with a outstanding warrants.
According to the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office, officers arrived at a residence on South Main Street on Tuesday around 5PM in an attempt to serve multiple warrants on Douglas E. Meeks (23) of Brownsville. A press release from the Sheriff's Office stated that as the Sheriff approached the house, Meeks was spotted and ordered to stop, but he continued on inside the house and exited outside the back. Meeks allegedly fled from the house as law enforcement ordered him to stop and informed him he was under arrest, where he then ran into the woods, according to the release. Officials said after a short foot pursuit, Meeks was subdued and placed into handcuffs.
Meeks was served with two Warren County Bench Warrants, stemming from probation violations over two separate felony cases involving drugs.
The Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office also charged Meeks with:
Meeks was lodged in Hart County Jail.
Darren Doyle, story:
Governor Andy Beshear extended his mask mandate in his daily press conference today, October 6, 2020, for another 30 days, which makes the third time since signing the executive order on July 10th declaring that all Kentuckians must wear a mask when inside public places and other situations.
Beshear said wearing a face covering is the single most important thing everyone can do to fight COVID-19.
“We saw with the last escalation that we have the power to stop it if we simply do what we know works and that is wearing a mask and engaging in social distancing,” he said. “If we are honest with ourselves, we know that fewer people are wearing masks right now than they were when we took steps in July on the mask mandate to stop that escalation.”
Today Beshear said there were at least 74,194 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 1,054 of which were newly reported.
The Governor also mentioned that Kentucky has a 98.3% coronavirus survival rate.
Darren Doyle, story:
A Louisville-area man has died as a result of an ATV crash early this morning at Blue Holler Off-Road Park, according to Kentucky State Police Post 3, in Bowling Green.
Troopers responded to a call of an ATV fatal collision that occurred at the park, located at 5410 Nolin Dam Road, where they reported that 30 year-old Adam Jones of Fairdale, KY, was operating 2020 Polaris RZR on an unlit trail in the Blue Holler Off-Road Park.
According to KSP, Jones lost control of his vehicle, causing it to exit the trail and overturn several times. Jones, along with a passenger in the vehicle, 22 year-old Lukas F. McCoy of Fairdale, were ejected from the ATV, KSP reported.
Adam Jones was pronounced deceased on scene by the Edmonson County Coroner. Lukas F. McCoy was transported to The University of Louisville Hospital where he is in stable condition. A third passenger in the vehicle, 22 year-old Megan Hayden of Pleasureville, Ky, sustained no injuries.
The ATV park hosted an event this weekend called the "Redneck Rave." According to Redneck's Rave's Facebook page, the event is described as "America's wildest & craziest Country party."
The investigation is still ongoing and being conducted by Trooper Aaron Hampton. He was assisted on the scene by Lincoln Fire Department, Edmonson EMS, and the Edmonson County Coroner.
Darren Doyle, story:
A former resident of Edmonson County has been arrested for murder after law enforcement received a tip regarding his whereabouts last week after an Edmonson Voice article was published about the suspect.
Rodney McNutt, (48), of Clarksville, IN was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Office and the Louisville Metro Police Department in Louisville on September 24th.
McNutt was wanted for the death of Adam Galloway, 44, who was found dead inside his apartment (according to a report from WDRB in Louisville) at the The Annex of New Albany complex just after 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. McNutt is a former Edmonson County resident with a criminal history in Edmonson County.
According to Sheriff Shane Doyle, an individual called the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office after reading the Edmonson Voice article published on September 21st that listed McNutt as a wanted suspect in a murder case and gave them an address as to where McNutt could be found.
"We immediately contacted the New Albany, Indiana Police Department and relayed this information about the suspect," said Sheriff Doyle.
New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey said McNutt was arrested at a residence in Valley Station on September 24th and taken to Jefferson County Corrections where he was later extradited to Indiana and eventually Hart County Jail on October 2nd, where he now faces other charges in Edmonson County.
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County remains steady in it's known active COVID-19 cases for another week as reported cases totaled 11 countywide, according to a report yesterday from the Barren River District Health Department. It is only an increase of one known case since last week.
Total number of known Edmonson cases dating back to March is 158, with 135 of those reported as recovered. Deaths have remained the same (12) for months, ten of which were reported from Edmonson Center. No new cases have been reported from residents at the facility since June. Active known cases are calculated by subtracting the sum of recoveries and deaths from the total known reported amount, (135+12=147. 158-147=11).
Edmonson County Schools began in-person instruction this past week. Superintendent of Schools Brian Alexander said things had gotten off to a positive start.
"We had a great week," he said. "From the transportation to everything going on in our schools, I'm very pleased and glad that our kids are getting back to school."
The staggered schedule, Mon/Weds for one group and Tues/Thurs for another group allows for small classroom sizes that permit students to social distance without having to wear a mask for the full school day. School policy for masks is centered around the phrase "If you move, you mask," which allows students the freedom to remove masks when sitting at a desk or anytime the opportunity is presented for students to safely social distance from others.
Governor Andy Beshear's mask mandate is set to expire next week, although language in the mandate states that it could be renewed. The executive order that was first announced on July 10th for the 30-day mask mandate has already been extended twice; first on August 6th, then again on September 7th.
Kentucky's statewide cases have not consistently decreased since the mask mandate was put in place. The Governor has repeatedly stated that positive cases and deaths would be much higher without the mandate while others argue the mask mandate isn't contributing to the slow of the coronavirus spread.
On Friday, Governor Beshear announced 1,039 new positive reported cases in Kentucky. Friday's numbers were the second-highest single-day total since the beginning of the pandemic, and the third time this week Kentucky has had over 1,000 cases in a single day.
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Personnel working on the top structure of the courthouse, or cupola, discovered a hidden gem inside last week, which was the original bell that was used when the courthouse was first built in 1874.
According to information obtained by Judge Executive Wil Cannon's Office, the cupola was used to house the bell, which was rung when court was about to begin. At that time, the cupola was open and the bell was visible. The bell was also rung on special occasions over the years.
We spoke with former Edmonson County Circuit Court Clerk Ann Stewart, who served as clerk from 1970 until 2000. She said as a young girl, she remembered the bell being rung frequently--every day, to be exact, at 12 noon.
"They rang it everyday at noon as a reminder of the time," she said. "For years and when I served in office, they rang it at the start of every court session which was at 9 AM. They also rang it when it was time for the jury and everyone in the court to take a lunch break, then they would ring it again after lunch to call everyone back into the courtroom."
She also provided interesting insight for the reasoning why the bell was no longer used. She said the rope used to ring the bell hung down into the courtroom and at some point the rope was fashioned into hangman's noose, which was used as the handle. Mrs. Stewart said that it regularly grabbed the attention of those coming into the courtroom but that around 1978, a district judge named Robert Hawley thought the noose was inappropriate in the courtroom. He asked that the rope be placed back up into the ceiling tiles, which a jailer obliged. It was then that the bell stopped being used.
She also said the cupola was boarded up in the late 70s or early 80s as a result a birds being able to come inside the courthouse through the structure. She said birds even made their way into the courtroom and that boarding up the cupola was the only way to be sure to keep them out. She also added that the sealing up of the cupola had nothing to do with the function of the bell, nor did the bell's use or lack thereof have anything to do with the sealing of the structure.
Last week, the cupola was disassembled and the bell was discovered inside, still intact after decades of being sealed up. Workers took photos and sent to the the Judge's Office with one worker reportedly asking, "Did ya'll know there was a bell up here?"
The Judge Executive's office said they reached out to local historian and retired educator Norman Warnell, who had undergone extensive research on the courthouse and bell.
In a statement sent to Judge Cannon's Office, Mr. Warnell wrote:
"The Edmonson County Courthouse was completed in 1874. The bricks used in the construction were cast in a kiln that stood where the lowest place in the parking lot between Cee Bee Food Store and C & C Firearms. At the same time, the bricks used in the courthouse at Morgantown were cast there, and shipped down Green River where a building similar to the one in Brownsville was constructed."
"The bell that was hung in the Brownsville Courthouse was cast by the W.M. Kaye Bell Co. of Louisville. Kaye was an English immigrant and served as mayor of Louisville during the Civil War. After his death, one of his sons took over the River Street foundry (est. 1841) until it went out of business in 1895."
According to the Judge's Office, plans for the bell are for it to be restored and permanently mounted in the courtyard square so it can be used for Memorial Day and other veterans and local programs. It is cast in solid bronze and still has the ringer inside. It is currently at least 146 years old.
*10/2/20, 11:07AM: This story was updated after speaking with Mrs. Ann Stewart, former Edmonson County Circuit Court Clerk from 1970-2000.
Edmonson Voice Report:
A Kentucky man who allegedly stole a truck and drug the vehicle’s owner alongside the vehicle has been charged federally, announced U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman.
“Our National Parks are to be places of respite from the outside world; not violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “Violate their sanctity by victimizing other visitors and be prepared to face swift federal charges and ultimately federal prison.”
Dusty G. Westmoreland, 30, of, Summershade, Kentucky, has been charged with Robbery under 18 United States Code 2111.
According to the criminal complaint, a motor vehicle accident occurred resulting in a fire at Mammoth Cave Parkway and Brownsville Road, within the boundaries of Mammoth Cave National Park. A witness to the accident stopped to see if anyone was inside the burning vehicle, according to a statement from USA Russell Coleman's office. Westmoreland allegedly entered the witness’s Ford F-150 truck and he witness opened the driver side door attempting to stop Westmoreland from stealing the vehicle. A struggle ensued, with Westmoreland allegedly striking the victim and dragging him down the side of the road, resulting in injuries to the victim.
Coleman's office also stated that a maintenance employee of the park saw the Ford truck a short time later stopped on the side of the road in the park, and Westmoreland standing beside the truck. On-duty park rangers and the Kentucky State Police took Westmoreland into custody at gunpoint.
If convicted at trial, the maximum sentence for Robbery within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States is not more than fifteen years.
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged and must be made under oath before a United States Magistrate Judge. The charge set forth in a complaint is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Assistant United States Attorney Mark Yurchisin of the U.S. Attorney’s Bowling Green Branch Office is prosecuting the case. The case is being investigated by the National Park Service park rangers with assistance from the Kentucky State Police.