Edmonson Voice Report:
State Auditor Mike Harmon today released the audit of the sheriff’s settlement – 2018 taxes for Edmonson County Sheriff Shane Doyle.
State law requires the auditor to annually audit the accounts of each county sheriff. In compliance with this law, the auditor issues two sheriff’s reports each year: one reporting on the audit of the sheriff’s tax account, and the other reporting on the audit of the fee account used to operate the office.
Auditing standards require the auditor’s letter to communicate whether the sheriff’s settlement presents fairly the taxes charged, credited, and paid in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.
The sheriff’s settlement is prepared on the regulatory basis, which is described in the auditor’s opinion letter. Regulatory basis reporting for the sheriff’s settlement is an acceptable reporting methodology, and this reporting methodology is followed for all 120 sheriff settlements in Kentucky.
The sheriff’s financial statement fairly presents the taxes charged, credited and paid for the period April 17, 2018 through April 15, 2019 in conformity with the regulatory basis of accounting.
The auditor noted no instances of noncompliance. The auditor also noted no matters involving internal control over financial reporting and its operation that were considered to be material weaknesses.
The sheriff’s responsibilities include collecting property taxes, providing law enforcement and performing services for the county fiscal court and courts of justice. The sheriff’s office is funded through statutory commissions and fees collected in conjunction with these duties.
The complete audit report can be found by clicking the file below:
Several Drug Possession Charges & More, Plus One Suspect Still Wanted
Edmonson Voice Report:
Three separate incidents over the past two days have resulted in multiple local felony arrests by the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office that include several drug possession and other charges.
In a press release, the Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office said they and Probation and Parole responded to New Grove Road on June 10th in reference to a tampering alert from an ankle monitor belonging to Keith Wallingford (35). Officials reported that after an extensive search of the property, Wallingford was not found to be at the property but his ankle monitor was found detached from his person and still on the premises.
Four days later, the Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of a suspect, matching Wallingford’s description, possibly burglarizing the resident’s garage. The Sheriff's Office said that Wallingford was seen leaving the area in a red Toyota minivan. Deputies reportedly found the vehicle at a residence on Mt. Zion Road where the home owner reportedly confirmed Wallingford to be inside the home. Deputies found Wallingford at the home and after a brief foot pursuit, a probable cause search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of suspected methamphetamine and several forms of drug paraphernalia, according to the Sheriff's Office. They also said that the burglary complaint was deemed unfounded.
Wallingford was placed under arrest and charged with:
The Sheriff's Office also said in a press release that on June 15, 2020, officers were dispatched to the 100-block of Bluebird Road for a social services complaint involving Tasha Brooks (33), Eric Green (28) and a juvenile. Based on findings from the complaint, the Sheriff’s Office conducted a probable cause search warrant of the residence. Deputies reportedly found a large amount of suspected marijuana, suspected methamphetamine, and various forms of drug paraphernalia, and officials said that all items were easily accessible to the juvenile.
Brooks was arrested and charged with:
A press release from the Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office also stated that on the same day, deputies returned to the 100-block of Eagle Way to follow up on leads concerning the whereabouts of Eric Green, who was wanted on multiple warrants.
The Sheriff's Office said homeowner Darrell Smith gave consent to search the property for Green. In a room of the home, deputies reportedly found Jagger K. Filback (19) along with a juvenile. According to the Sheriff's Office, deputies also saw drugs and drug paraphernalia laying in plain view in the same room. The homeowner reportedly gave additional consent to search the residence for drugs/paraphernalia and deputies reportedly found suspected marijuana, suspected methamphetamine, an open alcoholic beverage, various forms of drug paraphernalia, and a loaded pistol.
Jagger K. Filback was arrested on scene and charged with:
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
It was a solemn and quiet afternoon for local law enforcement and other emergency personnel as over two dozen men and women in uniform stood at attention one last time to honor a fallen officer, which was Edmonson County K-9 Deputy Tango.
Today, the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office made the announcement of Tango's passing.
"The Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office is devastated to announce that our beloved K-9 Deputy, Tango, has passed," said the Sheriff's Office in a press release. "Tango succumbed to an aggressive kidney disease and with his health rapidly failing, our office made the difficult decision to put Tango to rest."
Tango became ill a couple of weeks ago and after several tests, it was determined that he had developed a kidney disorder which could not be treated. In a gut-wrenching ceremony yesterday at Thomas Veterinary Clinic in Smiths Grove, Tango was honored as he made his final trip with his handler, Deputy Jordan Jones into the clinic. Tango was euthanized peacefully around 6pm last night with his family close by.
Jones was more than Tango's handler. Tango lived with the Jones family and he became part of it. Deputy Jones was instrumental in the acquisition of Tango nearly four years ago, as he spent hours of his own personal time researching and training to be a K-9 handler.
"Deputy Jones and Tango were a perfect team, and there is a huge hole in our hearts from his loss," the statement from the Sheriff's Office stated. "Tango can never be replaced."
Tango specialized not only in narcotics detection, but also criminal apprehension and tracking. He was outfitted with his own specialized law enforcement and safety gear, which included a bullet-proof vest, and he had a custom seat with special ventilation in Deputy Jones' police cruiser.
The local community made it possible for Tango to be part of the Edmonson County Sheriff's Office. 100% of all the funds required for Tango was raised through donations and benefits. Those came from a multitude of events, which included a benefit firearm auction hosted by C&C Firearms in September of 2016 that raised nearly half the funds at once.
"The Edmonson County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend a special thank you to the following agencies who assisted us in Tango’s final hour: Brownsville Police Department, Kentucky State Police, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Smiths Grove Police Department, Brownsville Fire Department, Chalybeate Fire Department, Wingfield Fire Department, Kentucky Probation and Parole, Edmonson County EMS, and especially to Thomas and England Veterinary Clinic for their dignified and caring treatment of Tango throughout his life," said the Sheriff's Office. "We would also like to thank Hills Pet Foods for all of the high-quality nutrition they provided for Tango."
Tango was a favorite among students in Edmonson County as he was routinely part of school assemblies and played a vital role in the local D.A.R.E. program. He would regularly demonstrate his abilities to track items and perform through obstacle courses; however, students became extremely excited when Tango would attack their principal, who would wear a protective sleeve as Tango was instructed to bite down on their arms.
He also gained national attention with his appearance on two cable television programs, "Live P.D." and "America's Top Dog," both on A&E.
"Lastly, we would like to thank Deputy Jordan Jones and his family for the excellent care and love they provided for Tango during his life and career with the ECSO," the Sheriff's Office stated. "We know that Tango wasn’t a pet in their home, but a family member."
Tango, a 6-year old German Shepherd is survived by his handler, Deputy Jordan Jones, his human family Courtney, Riley, and Lilly Jones, and one canine sibling, Gunner.
Darren Doyle, story:
While Edmonson County's confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen by 7 over the past week, Genesis Health-Edmonson Center nursing home facility has reported that only one positive case remains for residents in their care.
Cases at the facility began to rise in April with the highest total rising to 33 positive residents; however, with measures in place to keep the spread down, the facility managed to contain the virus. While all eleven virus deaths reported in Edmonson County were residents from the facility, all other positive cases have been reported as recovered. More than half of Edmonson County's total confirmed cases were reported from Edmonson Center, which included both residents and staff members.
Edmonson County's total number of confirmed cases (from the beginning) rose to 70 today, with a total of 33 recoveries reported from the Barren River District Health Department. District wide, they reported a total number of 1,879 cases with 1,251 recoveries and 47 deaths.
As of 4 p.m. June 12, Governor Beshear said there were at least 12,166 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 331 of which were newly confirmed Friday. He also reported 4 new deaths for a total of 497 statewide.
Edmonson County currently has no free testing sites listed on the state's COVID-19 website; however, Edmonson residents can be tested anywhere tests are administered. On Wednesday, Gov. Beshear announced expanded drive-thru testing which included another location in Warren County. These tests are free but you need to schedule an appointment to be tested. You can click here to find out more.
An Edmonson County Grand Jury has returned the following indictments for June, 2020:
Keith Wallingford, Possession of firearm by convicted felon, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Victor L. Constant, Possession of marijuana, Possession of controlled substance first degree-meth, Public intoxication, Harassment (no physical contact), Criminal trespassing third degree, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess.
Wesley Potter, Theft of identity of another without consent, Unlawful access to computer first degree, Fraudulent use of credit/debit card under $500 w/6MO period, Theft by unlawful taking or disposition all others under $500, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Kristyn Vincent, Unlawful transaction with a minor second degree, Possession of marijuana, Possession of controlled substance first degree-first offense-meth, Unlawful transaction with a minor third degree, Possession of open alcohol container in motor vehicle.
Kabura Niyonkuru, Unlawful transaction with a minor second degree, Possession of marijuana, Possession of controlled substance first degree-first offense-meth, Unlawful transaction with a minor third degree, Possession of open alcohol container in motor vehicle, No registration plates.
Hassen Abdallahas, Unlawful transaction with a minor second degree, Possession of marijuana, Possession of controlled substance first degree-first offense-meth, Unlawful transaction with a minor third degree, Possession of open alcohol container in motor vehicle.
Virgil Vertrees, Trafficking in marijuana (8oz to less than 5lbs)-firearm enhanced, Possession of controlled substance first degree-cocaine (firearm enhanced), Three counts of Endangering the welfare of a minor, Three counts of Wanton endangerment first degree, Drug paraphernalia-buy/posses (firearm enhanced).
Mildred T. Justice, Possession of controlled substance first degree-third or greater offense-meth, Possession of controlled substance third degree, Unlawful transaction with a minor first degree-illegal controlled substance under 16yrs of age, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, No operator's license, Careless driving, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Danielle Patton, Trafficking in marijuana (8oz to less than 5lbs)-firearm enhanced, Possession of controlled substance first degree-cocaine (firearm enhanced), Three counts of Endangering the welfare of a minor, Three counts of Wanton endangerment first degree, Drug paraphernalia-buy/posses (firearm enhanced).
Tiffany Glass, Trafficking in controlled substance first offense, greater or equal to two grams of meth, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, Trafficking in marijuana (less than 8oz) first offense, Possession of controlled substance first degree-first offense-meth, Tampering with physical evidence, Illegal possession of legend drug, Possession of marijuana.
Amy E. Riggs, Trafficking in marijuana (8oz to less than 5lbs)-firearm enhanced, Possession of controlled substance first degree-cocaine (firearm enhanced), Three counts of Endangering the welfare of a minor, Three counts of Wanton endangerment first degree, Drug paraphernalia-buy/posses (firearm enhanced).
Sasha L. Wilkerson, Possession of controlled substance, first degree (meth), Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess.
Mason R. Cline, Trafficking in marijuana (8oz to less than 5lbs) second or greater offense-firearm enhanced, Trafficking in controlled substance second degree-second offense-(greater or equal to D.U. drug unspecified-schedule one and two non-narcotics) firearm enhanced, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess firearm enhanced.
Seth D. Harrod, Trafficking in controlled substance-first offense-greater or equal to two grams of meth, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, Trafficking in marijuana-less than 8oz- first offense, Possession of controlled substance first degree first offense-meth, Tampering with physical evidence, Illegal possession of legend drug, License to be in possession, Possession of marijuana, Vehicle headlight/taillight color violations.
Brandon Hagan, Manufacturing meth first offense-firearm enhanced, Trafficking controlled substance first degree-greater or equal to two grams meth-firearm enhanced, Trafficking controlled substance third degree firearm enhanced, Tampering with physical evidence, Possession of handgun by convicted felon, Unlawful possession of a meth precursor firearm enhanced, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess-firearm enhanced, Engaging in organized crime, Possession of marijuana-firearm enhanced, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Charles Neighbors, Burglary second degree, Theft by unlawful taking under $500.
Randall S. Decker, Possession of controlled substance first degree-third or more offense-meth. Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess.
Charles D. Ford, Failure of owner to maintain required insurance-second offense, Careless driving, Trafficking controlled substance first degree-greater or equal to 2 grams meth, Trafficking in marijuana, Tampering with physical evidence, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Steven D. Alford, Possession of controlled substance first degree-meth, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess.
Jerry M. Napier, Kidnapping-adult victim, Kidnapping-child victim, Assault second degree-domestic violence, two counts of Wanton endangerment first degree, Endangering welfare of a minor, Trafficking controlled substance first degree-second offense or more-meth, Tampering with physical evidence, Possession of marijuana, Resisting arrest, Persistent felony offender second degree.
Christopher S. Durbin, Trafficking controlled substance first offense-meth, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess.
Cheryl R. McMillen, Speeding 26mph or more over the speed limit, Trafficking in controlled substance first offense-meth, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, Reckless driving, Possession of open alcohol container in motor vehicle, Persistent felony offender second degree.
Barton Houchin, Escape second degree, Criminal mischief third degree, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Christopher S. Evans, Burglary second degree, Theft by unlawful taking under $500.
Richard Conger, Manufacturing meth first offense, Trafficking in controlled substance first degree-meth, Trafficking controlled substance third degree, Unlawful possession of meth precursor, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, Possession of marijuana (all above charges firearm enhanced), Tampering with physical evidence, Engaging in organized crime.
Samantha Rishel, Leaving scene of accident, three counts of Wanton endangerment-first degree, Alter/defacing/damage traffic control device, Criminal mischief third degree, Reckless driving.
Sandra J. Ashley, Fraudulent insurance acts $500 or more-less than $10,000.
Marty D. Childress, Assault fourth degree domestic violence-minor injury, Strangulation first degree, Resisting arrest, Terroristic threatening third degree.
Rodney Howell, DUI first offense, Operating vehicle with expired operator's license, Possession of controlled substance-opiate first offense, Prescription controlled substance not in original container.
Bradley Curtis Tarter, Trafficking in marijuana-less than 8oz, Possession of marijuana, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, Possession of controlled substance first degree-hydrocodone, Possession of controlled substance third degree-oxycodone (all above charges firearm enhanced), Rear license not illuminated, Careless driving.
Erik Harley Anderson, Forgery second degree, Theft of identity of another without consent, Theft by unlawful taking over $500, Possession of controlled substance first degree-meth, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess, Persistent felony offender second degree.
Joshua P. Gutherie, Theft by unlawful taking less than $500, Possession of controlled substance first degree-meth, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess.
Gilbert C. Mason, Possession of handgun by convicted felon, Persistent felony offender first degree.
Ricardo S. Huffman, Burglary first degree, Strangulation first degree, Assault fourth degree domestic violence-minor injury, Wanton endangerment-first degree.
Faith L. Lindsey, Manufacturing meth first offense-firearm enhanced, Trafficking controlled substance first degree-greater or equal to two grams meth-firearm enhanced, Trafficking controlled substance third degree firearm enhanced, Tampering with physical evidence, Possession of handgun by convicted felon, Unlawful possession of a meth precursor firearm enhanced, Drug paraphernalia-buy/possess-firearm enhanced, Engaging in organized crime, Possession of marijuana-firearm enhanced.
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.
EC Resident Leaves Warren East To Come Back Home
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County High School named local resident Jonathan Williams the new principal at ECHS earlier today. Williams leaves his role as principal at Warren East High School to fill the vacancy left by departing principal Brian Alexander, who was named Edmonson County Superintendent on May 5th.
Williams described the announcement as a "dream come true,"
"When I took the job at Warren East I really expected Mr. Alexander to stay at Edmonson County for a few years, so I didn't see the opportunity coming so fast," he said. "I've always wanted to work here at my home and to be named principal at my alma mater, I mean, it's literally a dream come true."
Williams said with children of his own going to school here, being part of the same school system is very meaningful for his family.
"Honestly, it's hard to believe. I'm just overwhelmed with emotion."
We spoke with newly named Superintendent Brian Alexander about the hire and asked his thoughts.
"First, I want to commend the Site Based Decision Making Council for their diligence in this process," he said. "They interviewed three good candidates and they felt like Mr. Williams was the best choice. I believe it's a great hire because not only is Jonathan a very qualified and experienced principal at both the elementary and secondary levels, but also because he's a hometown guy that's really community-minded, and that's also important in Edmonson County. I look forward to working with him and I believe he'll do an outstanding job."
A 2001 graduate of Edmonson County, Mr. Williams served as the principal of H.W. Wilkey Elementary School in Grayson County prior to his role as Warren East Principal. Before that, he was a special education teacher at North Warren Elementary School from 2009-2011. Throughout his tenure in education, Mr. Williams has served the students of Hardin County, Edmonson County, Glasgow Independent School District, and Warren County. He's also served as an interventionist and assistant principal.
When asked about plans for the 2020-21 school year, he gave an expected answer, due to the current COVID-19 situation.
"We don't even know for sure when school will start," he said. "There are just so many variables that will come into play before we can really discuss details for next year, but one thing I want to work on is school spirit and some pride for our school and county."
Williams said at some point, an inferiority complex has crept into the community that's somehow led people to believe Edmonson County isn't as good as other school systems, or can't accomplish the same positive results.
"We need to do away with that. High school is a great experience and I know when I was a student here, there was such great school spirit. We were proud to say we were from Edmonson County and I want to see that again. We have a superintendent that's supportive of that idea and I think we're going to see him do some creative things."
Mr. Alexander said that there is an adopted school calendar, but a decision on when school will start will be made at the next board meeting in July.
"This is such a fluid situation and it seems things change every day," he said. "We're working on alternatives if they're needed, but we're going to do what's best for our students and staff. Whatever we decide, we're going to make sure it fits within our community."
Williams said he's looking forward to getting to know some of the newer staff with which he's unfamiliar, as well as some of the teachers that had their same roles there when he was a student.
"I hope my former teachers can forget about some of the things that happened when I was a student since I'm going to be principal," he said with a laugh. "But seriously, I've heard such good things about (asst. principal Chad) Mr. Johnston, and now that Mrs. Nikki Culbreth and Mr. Kevan Alford are going to be counselors, that's also a plus. I hope the community will embrace me as their principal because I love this community and am so thankful to be part of it in a new way."
Jonathan and his family reside in Sweeden.
Edmonson Voice Report:
Kentucky State Police, Post 3 in Bowling Green is currently investigating a Roundhill fatal shooting in Butler County near the Edmonson County line as requested by the Butler County Sheriff's Office that occurred just before 4:30 pm Monday afternoon. Law enforcement responded to the scene of the shooting located on Sleepy Hollow Road in Butler County, which is off KY HWY 185 headed towards Warren County.
KSP said upon arrival of law enforcement, Ricky Watkins (33) of Franklin, Ky was located on Sleepy Hollow Road with an apparent gunshot wound. Watkins was pronounced deceased on the scene by the Butler County Coroner.
The investigation is being led by Detective Graham Rutherford. He was assisted on the scene by KSP personnel, Butler County Sheriff's Office, and the Butler County Coroner. Bear Creek Fire Department was requested to help set up a landing zone for a medical helicopter according to radio traffic but that was apparently cancelled.
The investigation is ongoing. No additional information was immediately available.
Edmonson Voice Report:
United States Attorney Russell Coleman today announced the charging of Robert Alan Thompson, 33, of Hodgenville, Kentucky, for online enticement of a minor and production of child pornography.
“Our most basic job in law enforcement is to protect families from violence and safe from predators; when the later are wolves in a sheep‘s clothing of a teacher, that becomes even more urgent,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “As this result shows, the federal partnership with AG Cameron and local partners like the Radcliff Police Department are delivering to protect our most vulnerable Kentuckians.”
“We won’t stand for child exploitation in the Commonwealth, and we’re going after anyone who tries to take advantage of children,” said Attorney General Cameron. “I appreciate the work of our Cyber Crimes Unit and the strong partnership with U.S. Attorney Coleman, which were instrumental in bringing these charges.”
According to the Complaint Affidavit, following execution of a state search warrant, Thompson told investigators that he had received two pictures of underage boys (13-14 years old), from Matthew Lyons. Lyons, 33, was previously charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in April 2020, for several child exploitation offenses, including sex trafficking of a child, online enticement, and attempted production of child pornography.
Thompson is a former middle school teacher in both Franklin and Hardin counties. Hardin County fired Thompson following his arrest on related state charges in April 2020. A Detective with the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office Department of Criminal Investigations conducted a digital forensic examination of Thompson’s phone. During the examination, the Detective discovered Thompson’s social media discussions with a minor (John Doe 1). Further investigation revealed that John Doe 1 was Thompson’s former middle school student. During the online communications, Thompson urged John Doe 1 to send him (Thompson), sexually explicit images. John Doe 1 complied.
The online enticement charge carries penalties of not less than 10 years and not more than life in prison. The production of child pornography charge carries a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison. A conviction under either or both charge also involves fines and Supervised Release of at least five years and could be any number of years up to an including life.
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a United States Magistrate Judge. Charges set forth in a complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless is prosecuting the case. The Kentucky Office of Attorney General, Department of Criminal Investigations, with assistance from the United States Secret Service, Kentucky State Police, and Radcliffe Police Department, conducted the investigation.
Edmonson Voice Report:
Edmonson County Fiscal Court has qualified for reimbursement of up to $413,000 from the federal government for the purpose of coronavirus relief, as discussed today at the county's fiscal court meeting.
It is not an up-front sum, but a payback program that will put funds spent from coronavirus back into the county's budget which includes salary reimbursement, emergency and safety equipment, work via telephone and video, and to aid emergency services from the sheriff's office, local fire departments, and ambulance services.
County offices will have to submit receipts and other proper documentation for verification purposes and the U.S. Government will reimburse the county as necessary. The funds are available from usage from March 1 to December 30, 2020.
The resolution for the fund was approved by magistrates at today's meeting.
First Reading Of County's Fiscal Year 20/21 Budget Is Approved
Magistrates approved the first reading of the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget of Edmonson County Fiscal Court that showed an increase of $191,958 for the county's general fund.
The county's general fund budget rose 9.4% to $3,181,075 this year, compared to last year's $2,989,117. The county's road fund budget was approved at $2,109,706, a lower amount from last year's $2,123,848. The lower amount was due to last year's $523K in discretionary funds, which was not available this year.
County Receives Only One Bid For Backhoe Purchase: $79.5K
Magistrates approved to accept the bid from Diamond Equipment in Bowling Green for a 2016 Case 590 backhoe at a price of $79,500, which was the only bid submitted to the county. A recent accident totaled the county's backhoe, which resulted in a $36K insurance payout towards the purchase of another one. After a brief discussion, Magistrate Johnny Brooks made the motion to accept the bid, which was seconded by Magistrate Mark Meeks. During the discussion, it was made known that the additional $43,500 needed for the purchase was within the road department's budget and was no major issue. The road department saw an additional $400K in FEMA grant money over the past year for the purpose of the erosion and deterioration of some county roads due to flooding.
Dispatcher Promoted To Assistant 911 Director:
Long-time local dispatcher Robin Rigdon was promoted to the title of E911 Assistant Director, as voted upon by magistrates. Her pay will increase by $1.80 per hour. Robin has been a dispatcher in Edmonson County for 19 years, according to E911 Director Pat Prunty.
County Employees To See Slight Raise:
Magistrates approved a 2% raise for all county employees. It is a standard cost-of-living increase
Magistrates also voted to:
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for June 22, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. in the upstairs courtroom of the Edmonson County Courthouse.
National Title Game Held Online Due To COVID-19:
ECMS Becomes Only Second School In Tournament History to 3Peat
Darren Doyle, story:
The Edmonson County Junior Academic Team has completed their 2020 season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic with their third consecutive national championship, which was accomplished in an online competition this year due to the virus.
The team competed in the Junior National Academic Championship from May 31 - June 6, where Edmonson County played it's way to a 5 - 1 record in the preliminary rounds and earned the #3 seed in the National Playoffs.
During those playoffs, the Wildcats began to show their depth of knowledge and their ability to play under pressure, where they first competed against Orlando Christian from Florida. Edmonson County came away with the convincing victory by a score of 605 to 160. In the quarterfinals, they faced off against Winburn B from Lexington, KY. Again, Edmonson dominated from early on in the game and never looked back, winning by a final score of 535 to 245.
The semifinal match was against Upper Dublin, from Pennsylvania. The Wildcats took an early lead, but Upper Dublin made a late charge in the fourth quarter. The change wasn't enough and the Cats held on for the 485 to 420 victory.
In the national championship game, Edmonson County faced off against Emerson School from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The two teams met in the preliminary rounds, with Edmonson winning that game 390 to 245. In the finals, the game was back-and-forth from the first to last question. In an unprecedented ending, the scored was tied 445 to 445. The executive director of the National Academic Association, Chip Beall, stated that a championship game that ended in a tie would not go to overtime, but instead both teams would be named national champions.
This is the third consecutive national championship for Edmonson County. Director Beall stated that Edmonson County became only the second academic team to ever win three straight junior division national championships, joining Longfellow Middle School from Virginia (2009-2011).
"It is an honor to be named national champions," said Coach Nick Skaggs. "There are several amazing academic team programs across the country that never win a national championship, yet we have been fortunate enough to be named national champions each of the past three years. These kids have continued to work hard and kept their focus through some very tough times. They were sad when the state tournament was canceled, but they looked forward to the opportunity to prove that we are still the best team in the nation."
The National Academic Association allows for junior division teams to play up to two ninth graders along with their traditional 6th - 8th grade students. Joining this year's ECMS team was ninth grader Brody Johnson, who was MVP of the 2019 National Tournament. The team members of the national championship team were Brody Johnson, Brayden Johnson, Evy Bolton, Lola Bolton, Brycen Daniels, Emma Sackett, Lyla Wood, Ian Dooley, Ace Daugherty, Ashton Johnson, Emberlei Stevens, and Kennedy Webb. The team is coached by Nick Skaggs, Alan Florence and Keela Skaggs.
ECMS Principal Brandon Prunty discussed his pride for this year's team.
"For the last several weeks, they've continued to have virtual practices online to prepare for nationals," he said. "All their hard work and preparation has paid off for them yet again. Being national champions for three years in a row is beyond impressive, but they've worked hard and they deserve it."
Edmonson County Middle School finished the season with a record of 38 wins and only 9 losses. They won the district championship, region championship, qualified for the state tournament (which was later canceled because of COVID-19), and won the national championship.
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County's confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by two today, according to the Barren River District Health Department, bringing Edmonson's total number of confirmed positive cases to 63. In addition, the BRDHD also reported seven new recoveries in the county, which brought that total to 30 recovered cases.
Edmonson County's death reports from the coronavirus have been steady at 11 for over a week with all deaths being reported from Genesis Health, Edmonson Center. No report was given today from their facility.
District wide, there are 1705 total reported cases with 1048 recoveries for a 61% current recovery rate. There have been 42 total deaths reported as a result of coronavirus.
According to the Team Kentucky website, there have been a total of 10,977 cases statewide confirmed to date. There have also been 3,316 recoveries reported in KY with 466 deaths from the virus.
A press release from Governor Andy Beshear's office today provided several tips and updates for KY's fight against COVID-19.
Stay safe this weekend
This week, the Governor reminded Kentuckians that the novel coronavirus is still in our midst and Kentuckians need to take precautions to prevent its spread. The Governor and state health officials are asking all Kentuckians to keep gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
Other guidance includes wearing masks, maintaining social distancing of six feet or more, gathering outside instead of inside, washing hands frequently, covering food and individually wrapping plates.
Pharmacy refills update
Today, Gov. Beshear signed an executive order that extends previous orders allowing pharmacists to dispense 30-day refills. This order will be in effect until July 7.
Today, Gov. Beshear signed an executive order prohibiting price-gouging, extending a previous order. This order will remain in effect for the duration of the state of emergency.
Healthy at Work
To see the state’s full reopening schedule and industry-specific guidance, including updates announced this week, visit healthyatwork.ky.gov.
“Follow the rules, be healthy at home and be healthy at work,” said Gov. Beshear. “Let’s continue to make sure that we work to defeat this pandemic.”
More Virus Recoveries Reported Today
Darren Doyle, Editor/Owner:
As of today, June 2, 2020, we are reducing the amount of COVID-19 related articles that we plan to publish--as long as the confirmed numbers stay within the same realm as they are now.
The coronavirus pandemic is a very real situation that has claimed the lives of 107,000 in the U.S., with 376K worldwide. Until the last few days, this has been the top news story over the past two and a half months from every single legit news outlet in America, and rightly so.
Here in Edmonson County, the number of confirmed cases has risen much slower than much of the rest of the country and as of today, there have been a total number of 61 confirmed cases in the county, according to the Barren River District Health Department. From those 61 cases, there have been 10 total deaths, (all reported from Genesis Health Care, Edmonson Center) and 21 total recoveries.
According to their most recent report to the Edmonson Voice, Edmonson Center has had 30 residents test positive for COVID-19, along with 4 staff members. We were the first to report their initial confirmed case on April 21, 2020. Over a three-week period, their confirmed resident cases rose to 30 and people began to fear what could happen; however, the virus failed to spread any further within the facility. The fact that they were able to keep this away from the rest of the facility and wiping out half of their population or more is simply amazing and they deserve all the credit for measures taken before and during this virus outbreak.
Locally, 61 confirmed cases out of 12,062 total Edmonson County residents isn't a pandemic. It's a miracle. Simply put, this virus hasn't spread here like it has in other places and we all should be very thankful. That's a rate of one-half of one percent of our local population (.05%). That doesn't mean a pandemic still can't happen, and it certainly doesn't mean that we can go right back to doing everything like we did this time last year. What it means is, we're ready to try easing back into phases of normal life without spreading fear.
With cases increasing one or two a week here, that's not news. At this point, we all know that we must take precautionary measures to stay healthy and to maintain current numbers. As the owner of this company and the editor of what is published day in and day out, it's my responsibility to publish the most important and impactful local news that we have available each day. And the fact that coronavirus isn't the top news story everyday is newsworthy in itself.
We will continue to monitor local numbers from the BRDHD, who have been excellent in providing information as well as statewide numbers from the Governor's office. Unless the numbers change drastically, we plan to reduce our coronavirus-related articles down to about one per week.
We strongly encourage everyone to maintain safe practices, follow the recommended guidelines, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, wear masks if it makes you more comfortable, but please don't scoff at those who don't. Yes, some will act irresponsibly, but that's the case in any other situation, and in any other part of the country.
Are we out of the woods? Who knows, maybe--maybe not, but the truth is, there is no coronavirus pandemic in Edmonson County right now according to the available numbers, and that's a fact. Anyone who says half of one percent of the population sick with a virus is a pandemic is incorrect. The dictionary defines pandemic as "disease prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or whole world, or an epidemic over a large area."
Again, we are not saying that the virus shouldn't be taken seriously or that it's no longer newsworthy; we are simply saying that according to our local numbers, it's thankfully not the top story right now. Yes, there could be many here carrying the virus and be totally unaware, but we simply aren't seeing increasing numbers of sick people or those losing their lives--again, reasons to be thankful. Continuing to make local COVID-19 stats the top story based on current numbers is irresponsible.
Thanks for making the Edmonson Voice the number one local news source in Edmonson County. Stay connected with us 24/7 so we can keep you connected with your community. Please act responsibly, and stay healthy and safe.
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
One local student is hoping to use his newly discovered talents to help Edmonson County Schools.
Parin (pronounced Pa-REEN) Patel, an 8-year old resident of Chalybeate has recently taken up painting and he's looking to turn his new hobby into a fundraiser for Edmonson County Community Education and the EC Family Resource/Youth Services Centers.
Parin's family own and manage Chalybeate Food Mart on Chalybeate stretch, where the paintings are available at very affordable prices. His father, Manish, explained how Parin discovered his new hobby.
"Kids play so many games on the iPad and phone," said Manish. "Games are okay, but some kids do it all the time and it hurts their brains. We saw Parin using his games so much so we decided to limit his game time and encourage him to use his time for something better."
Manish said once Parin reacted so strongly to Manish removing the iPad from him, he knew it was time to look for other ways for Parin to spend his time. That's when Parin started watching YouTube videos on painting techniques and while his mom helped with a design or two to help get him started, he quickly developed a unique style that easily caught the eye of others.
After seeing how much Parin enjoyed painting, the pieces of art began to pile up and that's when the family had an idea: to sell the paintings and donate the money for some type of charity in Edmonson County.
Chalybeate Food Mart made a substantial donation to last year's Cram the Cruiser event, a local fundraiser that goes to provide school supplies and necessary items to help all Edmonson County students start the year with what's needed. Mr. Patel agreed that the same local cause would be a good beneficiary for Parin's work.
"We thought that Parin could maybe inspire other kids to do something like this," said Manish. "There's nothing wrong with playing games but there is more stuff to do than games all the time."
Parin picked up his favorite painting, which was a blue and purple blend of a night sky with the black outline of trees.
"I like painting nights and stars," he said as he also described some techniques he used to achieve some of the effects, which included q-tips, toothpicks, and certain ways to manipulate brushes.
Jamie Carnes, Supervisor of State and Federal Programs for Edmonson County Schools, said local school organizations have not been able to plan any type of event as they normally do because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"We just don't know what--if anything--we're going to be able to do this year because of the pandemic, so Parin's efforts are certainly welcomed and appreciated by our programs," he said.
The paintings are various sizes. Currently, there are four 16 x 12s, ($15 each) two 8 x 10s, ($10 ea) and one 5 x 7. The paintings are not likely to last long but more are available at the store.
You can stop by the store to see in-person or to order one of Parin's unique creations. All proceeds will benefit the school program.
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
Edmonson County District Court is set to resume proceedings June 9th for criminal court cases and June 11th for district civil cases.
Edmonson County Attorney Greg Vincent discussed the schedule and how operations are scheduled to work once the court reopens.
"Criminal district court cases will resume on Tuesday, June 9th. This includes traffic violations, misdemeanor charges, and juvenile criminal cases," he said. "Civil district court cases will resume on Thursday, June 11th, which include small claims, lawsuits less than $4,000, and probate cases."
He also discussed the restrictions and limitations that will be utilized and enforced in the courthouse during this reopening phase, which include the following:
Edmonson Tests Will Be Administered In Barren County
Darren Doyle, story:
The KSP Driver Testing Branch announced today that it will resume permit testing in select counties where the required CDC/Healthy at Work guidelines can be adhered to. In an effort to ensure the safety of permit applicants and staff, we have implemented a registration process where everyone will be required to schedule a specific date for their permit test. KSP will begin taking appointments, by phone, on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.
It's important to note that these tests for Edmonson County residents will be administered in Barren County, not Edmonson.
"Written tests will be on Thursdays in Barren County beginning June 11," said Edmonson Circuit Court Clerk Tanya Hodges. "People will need to call our office to make an appointment to get a test card prior to testing in my office. When they get their card we will give them info about contacting Barren County to set up time. This is for CDL testing, too."
KSP also said today that an announcement would be expected later about driver testing resuming sometime in July.
Darren Doyle, story:
The Administrative Office of the Courts announced on Friday that circuit court clerks statewide may resume limited driver’s license services pursuant to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Order 112204, which includes the local office of Edmonson County Circuit Court Clerk Tanya Hodges.
The changes start June 1, 2020, and provide the following:
Driver’s license services were suspended March 18 when Gov. Andy Beshear closed in-person government services due to the pandemic and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray issued an official order giving citizens a 90-day extension to maintain the validity of licenses that expired during office closures.
"Citizens who have a lost or stolen drivers license/ID or ones that expired between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020 and do not require additional testing can access a form online at drive.ky.gov --fill it out, mail to me with money and I will print and mail license/ID to them," said Clerk Hodges. "I will also be taking appointments for all other drivers license/IDs for Mondays and Thursdays. People can schedule appointments beginning Monday, June 1 and call anytime to make appointments. The first actual appointment will be on June 8, the second day of appointments June 11 and so on."
Hodges said the reasoning behind appointments are currently allowed on certain days only is to follow the Ky Supreme Court guidelines.
"My office is so small that only two people can be at my counter at once to be in compliance. The entrance to the courtroom is also parallel to the entrance to my office so people aren't allowed to stop in for license on court dates and remain in compliance."
Hodges also added that many county residents don't realize the circuit clerk's office is a state office and must follow the orders of the Ky Supreme Court. Often times the local office may not be able to operate like other local county offices.
You can call the Edmonson County Circuit Clerk's Office at 270-597-2584. Other helpful tips are published below:
What do I do if my driver’s license, permit or ID card expired or was lost between March 1-June 30, 2020?
If your driver’s license, permit or ID card expired or was lost between March 1-June 30, you must apply for renewed or reissued credentials through a remote application process.
1. To apply, you must complete Form TC 94-191 if you reside in any county other than Fayette, Franklin or Woodford and Form TC 94-192 if you reside in Fayette, Franklin or Woodford counties. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will make your existing photo available to the circuit court clerk so you will not need to submit a new photo.
2. You must submit your application and payment by email, mail or drop box to the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in the county where you reside. You can find address/email information for all 120 circuit court clerks here. You can also place your application with payment in a secure drop box at the entrance of the judicial center or courthouse.
You can pay with a check or money order by mail. You can pay by cash, check or money order through the secure drop box. If you choose to pay with a debit/credit card, the Office of Circuit Court Clerk will call you to take your payment information over the phone. There will be a small processing fee when paying with a debit/credit card.
It will take five to seven days to receive your credential by mail once your application has been processed.
What if my driver’s license, permit or ID card expired or was lost before March 1, 2020?
If your driver’s license, permit or ID card expired or was lost before March 1, you must apply for a new credential in-person at the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in the county where you reside. You’re encouraged to make an appointment by calling or emailing the Office of Circuit Court Clerk. In addition, some circuit court clerks are providing an online scheduling tool. You can find address/email information for all 120 circuit court clerks here. You can also obtain new credentials through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s regional office in Frankfort. You can make an appointment with KYTC by visiting its website.
How can I renew or obtain a new commercial driver’s license?
Starting June 1, commercial driver’s licenses will be issued in-person by the Offices of Circuit Court Clerk. You’re encouraged to make an appointment by calling or emailing the Office of Circuit Court Clerk. In addition, some circuit court clerks are providing an online scheduling tool. You can find address/email information for all 120 circuit court clerks here. You can also obtain a CDL through the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s regional office in Frankfort.
When can I take a written permit test or a road test?
The Kentucky State Police administers the permit test and road test. The KSP controls these services and you can visit the KSP website for updates here.
How do I obtain a REAL ID?
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet issues REAL IDs and the federal enforcement date of the REAL ID Act is now Oct. 1, 2021. The regional driver licensing office in Frankfort has reopened with limited services. You can visit this schedule page to learn more about the services offered there.
Directory of Circuit Court Clerks
Offices of Circuit Court Clerk provide driver’s license services in all 120 counties for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. For a directory of circuit court clerks by county, click here.
About Circuit Court Clerks
Circuit court clerks are responsible for managing the records of Kentucky’s Circuit and District courts. Circuit clerks are constitutionally elected officials from all 120 counties and serve a six-year term. They provide professional recordkeeping, receive money due the courts, pay money to required parties and to the state, record legal documents, provide legal documents and other legal materials, maintain the jury system, administer oaths, handle affidavits, and issue driver licenses and non-driver ID cards.
About the Administrative Office of the Courts
The Administrative Office of the Courts in Frankfort is the operations arm of the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of nearly 3,400 court system employees and 406 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.
Darren Doyle, story:
A better outlook was reported today for COVID-19 related news in Edmonson County today from the Barren River District Health Department with five new recoveries over the past three days. Total confirmed cases have somewhat plateaued in the county over the past two weeks, specifically at Genesis Health, Edmonson Center, who hasn't reported a new positive resident case in over two weeks.
Warren County's confirmed cases reached 1,000 today with 1,544 cases reported in the BRDHD. There have been a reported total of 793 recoveries throughout the district for a 51% recovery rate so far. Total deaths reported for the district are 39 for a 2.5% death rate from confirmed cases.
As of 5 p.m. May 29th, Governor Andy Beshear said there were at least 9,464 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 283 of which were newly confirmed Friday.
“Today’s report is up, and up a fair amount, in cases. We’ll have to wait the next couple days to see whether it is just labs getting caught up from the weekend or whether it is in and of itself significant and something we’ll see moving forward,” said Gov. Beshear. “If you look at the last four days on average, it would be 158 cases per day.”
Northwestern Portion of County Falling Behind
Darren Doyle, story:
Census response rates in Edmonson County are currently behind the national and state average, according to data available on the U.S. Census Bureau's website.
As of today, the county as a whole is at 47.5% response rate, with the lowest responding tract in the Mammoth Cave/Nolin Lake area at somewhere between a 31% and 40% rate. Kentucky's rate is now 63.9%, and the National rate is 60.2%.
The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade, according to 2020Census.Gov. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location.
"Think of your morning commute: Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems," the site states.
The response rates also affect local programs and schools, as they help determine how money is allocated for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education.
"The area in brown is part of the Update Leave operation, where Census employees are currently dropping off questionnaires at houses; this is a no-contact operation,: said Julie Travillion, the area's partnership specialist for the Census Bureau. "The next lowest area is the pink area, below 50% self response. Blue areas are best, and the darker the blue, the better the response rate."
Citizens can respond to the Census online at 2020Census.Gov and look for Respond. There are also other options which include by mail, or by calling 844-330-2020.
Nursing Home Resident Cases Still Holding
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County has three more confirmed COVID-19 cases since Friday, according to the Barren River District Health Department. That brings the county's confirmed cases to a total of 59 with one new recovery for a total of 13 recoveries and 9 total deaths reported.
No deaths have been reported outside of Genesis Health, Edmonson Center and there have been no new resident cases reported there in over two weeks. They have a total of 30 reported resident-positive cases with 4 positive staff member cases.
Throughout the Barren River District, there was a total of 1,464 positive cases reported with 603 reported recoveries. There have been 27 deaths reported in the district.
KY's COVID-19 website reported 8,951 total confirmed cases statewide, which is 122 more than reported yesterday. The following businesses were allowed to open yesterday, provided they follow their specific guidelines:
Darren Doyle, story:
The seller of the property purchased by the county last year for the purpose of a future animal shelter was granted a penalty-free extension on clearing out the property by the Edmonson County Fiscal Court in a vote today.
Rollin Rountree sold the property to Edmonson County Fiscal Court in September of 2019 for the purpose of a future animal shelter and county storage. Stipulations in the purchase contract said the seller would be penalized $1000 per week for time spent at the property past the acquisition date, which is June 1, 2020. Personal property of the seller still remains at the site which includes multiple vehicles and various pieces of large equipment.
Mr. Rountree spoke to the fiscal court today and said the property where the vehicles and property were going to be moved had been too wet to do so and he simply couldn't do it in the time period since September. He said many of the items were moved over the weekend but he still needed more time and asked the court for an extension. He also said he had no intention of still being on the property now when he sold the land to the county back in September.
Judge Cannon said a penalty-free extension would neither hurt the county nor cost the county any more money as nothing yet had been put in place for the use of the property. He suggested magistrates make the motion to allow an extension through July 1st. A motion was made by Magistrate James Vincent and seconded by Magistrate Johnny Brooks with a unanimous vote yes. Mr. Rountree thanked the court for their understanding.
The majority of today's meeting was dedicated to issues with money owed to the county from The Edmonson County Tourism Commission and a former tourism employee, which can be read about here.
There were a few reports given to the court from county offices:
County Road Supervisor Greg Carroll said crews had been installing tiles on Denham Road, Alexander Creek Road, Sulphur Road, Villa Drive, Cedar Grove Church Road, and Reagan Road. He said mowing crews were in district 5 and were moving a bit slower than normal due to low manpower. He also said crews were still working on paving various roads. He said the county insurance on the recent backhoe resulted in $36K claim from the insurance company and he was currently on the hunt for a similar model that could be purchased for around that amount.
Sheriff Shane Doyle said his office was continuing to work with the Corps of Engineers for patrol around the Nolin Lake and campground areas through a yearly contract and that it was working smoothly. He also reported that up until this weekend there had been no issues with Hart County Jail accepting local prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic. He said one prisoner ran a slight fever and was taken to the hospital but even with medical clearance the jail refused to take him. He said the issue was eventually worked out but that the jail's requirements needed to be better outlined to prevent a similar situation in the future. He ended his report by discussing several new drug investigations and that one deputy that had been attending the law enforcement academy was planning on returning in July when virus restrictions are loosened.
County Clerk Kevin Alexander reported that his office had been busy throughout the virus pandemic. He said that he knew people were frustrated that certain business couldn't be handled in-person at his office, but there are only a few employees there and they can’t afford for one member of the staff to be sick. He said his office will likely be closed to foot traffic until after election, which is June 23rd. He also noted that most other county clerks where staying closed until July 1.
He reported that the state is recommending absentee voting for all voters. He stressed that there are no local races here, which usually results in a 12-15% turnout. He also noted that even though there was a presidential primary, both republicans and democrats have their candidates set. He said he wasn't a fan of the voting situation but it's what we all have to deal with, currently. He noted that several poll workers had already declined to work polls as a result of health concerns if normal polling places would've been opened. He added that people can still vote in-person at one place, which will be the Community Center, but that ballots can be requested online at GoVoteKY.com or by calling his office at 270-597-2624.
The court also voted to:
A. Approve County Clerk’s April 2020 Excess Fee Account Report, pending final audit.
B. Acknowledge EMS Week Proclamation.
C. Approve to adopt Huckleberry Lane into Edmonson County Road System, contingent upon receipt of survey and deed transfer.
D. Acknowledge Big Reedy Watershed 2019 Financial Report.
E. Acknowledge Edmonson County Conservation District 2019 Financial Report.
F. Approve to hire Rob Logsdon, full time road department employee, at $12.50 per hour, date of hire 5/18/2020.
G. Approve to advertise Backhoe Bids
H. Approve to advertise Road Material Bids for FY 20/21.
I. Approve 2020/2021 Waste Tire Grant. (Cannon noted that this was different than tire amnesty, and that this grant allows the county assistance in removing old tires from road sides and other county property).
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 8th at 9am at the Edmonson County upstairs courtroom.
Fiscal Court Votes To Terminate Former Tourism Director As County Employee Amid KSP Criminal Investigation
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
The former director for Edmonson County Tourism, Rhonda Clemmons, was terminated as a county employee today, in a vote by Edmonson County Fiscal Court as a criminal investigation led by the Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement and Special Investigations unit is underway.
It was learned at the last fiscal court meeting that the Tourism Commission was behind $22,000 in payments to the fiscal court. An item on last meeting's agenda stated, "Approve to hold previously approved payment of $3,645.28 and future payments until $22,000 is paid in full by Tourism Board as recommended by the County Attorney." The amount of $3,645.28 has been collected by the county in room taxes.
During the last meeting, Judge Executive Wil Cannon explained the current situation with further guidance from County Treasurer Tammi Willhite. Cannon said local room and rec taxes are collected by the Judge Executive's office with all room taxes being turned over to the tourism commission. All in-county businesses that provide lodging are required to pay this quarterly tax. The tourism commission was directed by Rhonda Clemmons, under the authority of the tourism commission board, with Shaska Hines currently serving as chairman. Until today, Clemmons was a full time county employee with salary and benefits but the tourism board paid the county $8,000 per quarter for their portion of her salary. The Edmonson County Planning Commission also contributes to Clemmons' salary and benefits package for her role as secretary there.
Cannon reported at the last meeting that when the commission was asked about the past due payments, Clemmons allegedly said there was no money as a result of the coronavirus pandemic; however, Cannon also said over that time period, the county turned over more than $50,000 in room taxes over to Tourism, much of which was prior to the pandemic.
Today, Judge Cannon said that despite the money being owed to the county by Tourism, the county needed to back the Tourism Commission as much as possible and turn over the current amount to them, in order for Tourism to pay their current bills to survive.
"At this time, I feel that the fiscal court needs to back up Tourism as much as we possibly can because they are a vital part of the economic growth in Edmonson County," Cannon said.
The Judge Executive also added that the Tourism Commission had a current plan in place to get their bills paid, including what is owed to the county and he asked Edmonson County Tourism Chairman Shaska Hines and Treasurer Rene Childress speak to the fiscal court today regarding the situation.
"As Wil has already said, there is a criminal investigation going on, but without getting into all of that, basically, we have a plan on paying back the county all the money that we're finding out is owed," said Mrs. Hines. "As of right now, we owe the fiscal court $22,000 and the city of Brownsville $1800, those are the only two outstanding bills that we're aware of at this time. We plan on continuing to operate with just volunteers at this time, which is by commissioners without a director. At some point when the monies are recovered and the money starts to come back in, we plan on hiring another director."
Mrs. Hines referenced a written outlined plan that was distributed to magistrates and said the commission was bringing in a CPA to overhaul the organization's finances and monitor the books. After the meeting, Mrs. Hines gave a statement to the Edmonson Voice on behalf of the Tourism Commission.
"The board as a whole feels heartbroken. At this time, there is an investigation by the Kentucky State Police as the board has found recent forged checks and ACH (electronic) payments from the board bank account paid to personal accounts. The board has found transactions to Windstream paying an account not owned by Tourism and reimbursements and checks payable to businesses without board approval."
KSP had no information available regarding the current criminal investigation.
Cannon recommended the court continue to turn over the room tax to Tourism in order to help them continue to operate. Magistrate Edd Rich, who was part of the meeting through phone call, made the motion which was seconded by Magistrate Mark Meeks. The motion passed unanimously.
Hines also confirmed to the Edmonson Voice that Clemmons was no longer an employee of Edmonson County Tourism. Despite this, Clemmons officially still remained a county employee.
The court later went into closed session to discuss the county employment of Ms. Clemmons. Once open session reconvened, fiscal court was set to vote on agenda item "Approve to terminate Rhonda Clemmons' employment."
Judge Cannon began the open discussion with the following statement after informing the court that Ms. Clemmons' father passed away yesterday:
"The question was whether or not we need to do this another day or wait another two weeks on it, but I think I'd probably be delinquent in my duties to go another two weeks, and on the other hand, everything in me says to go another two weeks, but it is my job to protect taxpayers in the county and we can't control events outside of this, persons dying and what have you, and it might seem heartless, but my recommendation after thinking it over is to just go ahead with it."
He also opened up the floor for other motions and that the issue could possibly be tabled, but putting it off would cause the county to have to pay another round of insurance for Clemmons and place the county at risk for other record keeping issues during that time period if the court ended up terminating her employment anyway.
"As heartless as it may seem, I see that we have a duty to take care of the business we've been elected to do," he said.
Magistrate James Vincent asked if the termination would be handled by registered letter or by some other means.
Cannon said it would be certified mail as he doubted there would be further face-to-face contact with Ms. Clemmons. He said the county has previously sent certified mail to her and there has been no response. Cannon then asked for a motion.
After a brief wait, Magistrate Johnny Brooks made the motion to terminate her employment.
"I don't see that we have a choice," Brooks said in the motion. Magistrate Edd Rich seconded and all magistrates and the Judge Executive voted in favor except for Magistrate Meeks, who chose to abstain from the vote.
Ms. Clemmons did not immediately reply to messages sent today from the Edmonson Voice.
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Fallen Edmonson County Veterans were honored today in a private ceremony in the Brownsville Courtyard at the Wiley N. Willis Veterans Memorial Wall.
Hosted by the Edmonson County DAV 32 and local DAV Auxiliary, a few veterans and their families attended today's private event to honor local veterans who were killed in the line of duty.
DAV Chapter #32 Commander Jack Hasty opened the ceremony with prayer and Adjutant and KY State Jr. Vice-Commander Mike Stoyonovich read each name of the fallen from the war memorial. An honorary wreath, donated by Madison's Flowers, was placed in front of the memorial wall just before DAV member Benny Durbin played "Taps" at the conclusion of the ceremony.
"We thank you for coming today," said Maurita Miller, DAV Auxiliary member. "We couldn't have our normal ceremony under the circumstances, but we felt it was important to have something on Memorial Day. We hope to have a full ceremony later on when there is not as much danger to the public to meet."
Mr. Hasty had similar comments.
"We will plan to have a ceremony later that will combine our Vietnam Veteran ceremony that we didn't get to hold in March. We appreciate seeing you all here today," he said.
The following names of Edmonson County soldiers killed in the line of duty were read aloud:
World War I Deaths:
Edmonson County April 6, 1917 through November 11, 1918
June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975
Darren Doyle, story:
Edmonson County's confirmed positive COVID-19 cases rose by two more today, according to the Barren River District Health Department. The BRDHD also reported a total of 1,399 confirmed positive virus cases in the district with 509 recoveries and 27 total deaths.
Edmonson County's total number of confirmed cases are now at 56 all-time with 12 recoveries and 9 deaths, with all deaths reported from Genesis Health, Edmonson Center.
The center reported no changes in their numbers today, which include 30 positive residents and 4 positive staff members. The nursing home facility has reported no additional positive residents in almost two weeks.
As of 5 p.m. May 22, Governor Andy Beshear said there were at least 8,426 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 141 of which were newly confirmed Friday.
“We now think that we have not only plateaued but are in a decline on overall number of cases, especially when you look at the amount of testing that we’re doing. And that is really good news,” said Gov. Beshear. “It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, but it’s really good news. It’s a place that I’m happy where we’re at.”
Beshear also reported five new deaths Friday, raising the total to 391 Kentuckians lost to the virus.
Gov. Beshear announced that new guidelines are now available for fitness centers, auto racetracks and movie theaters, which all can begin operating again June 1. Auctions also can be held starting June 1. Horse shows can be held again starting June 8. Bars, gatherings with 50 or fewer people and venues that hold 50 or fewer people can reopen June 29, if they meet guidelines.
Businesses that can open today, May 22, at 33% capacity can expand to 50% capacity a month later, on June 22, if they meet the guidelines. For more information on the Healthy at Work timeline and industry requirements, click here.
Courthouse To Remain Closed, Freedom Fest Cancelled For 2020
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
Edmonson County Judge Executive Wil Cannon has announced that Edmonson County Parks will reopen to the public May 22, 2020, this includes Bee Spring Park, Chalybeate Park, and Hwy 70 Park.
Judge Cannon is reminding everyone to please practice social distancing measures and clean personal hygiene with proper handwashing while at the parks and especially when using the restroom facilities.
Basketball courts and walking trails will be open to the public in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
"The pavilions will also be available to use on a first come, first serve basis," he said. "We're asking for common sense and social distancing for all these areas."
Cannon also said that the courthouse will likely remain closed to foot traffic to the public until sometime in June; however, Tuesday's upcoming fiscal court meeting will be held there.
"Yes, it's going to be an in-person meeting available to the public but we're hoping the amount of visitors will be limited," he added. "As far as the fiscal court is concerned, we're asking only the essential members of the court and the associated county employees to attend. We can't keep anyone from attending, but we are asking anyone who comes to please follow the guidelines and spread out."
Cannon also said that this year's youth league baseball and softball seasons have been officially cancelled and as a result, there will be no Freedom Fest fireworks gathering this year.
"With the restrictions in place, we can't properly plan for a fireworks gathering this year," he said. "We won't be able to accommodate a large gathering or serve concessions like we normally would so we're simply going to have to put it off until next year."
Edmonson County High School named Emma Rose Vincent valedictorian of the 2020 senior class and Lauren Ballance the salutatorian at ECHS.
Emma Rose is the daughter of Tom and Laura Grace Vincent of Chalybeate. She has been offered a scholarship at Centre College in Danville, KY where she plans to play basketball for the Colonels. She finished high school with a 4.425 GPA.*
Lauren is the daughter of Bill and Tyra Ballance of Smiths Grove. She has been offered a scholarship at Western Kentucky University where she plans to attend in the fall. She finished high school with a 4.417 GPA.*
*Grade point averages higher than 4.0 are made possible by taking dual credit courses in high school which also grant college credit.