Saturday, September 24, 2016

Motorcyclist injured in U.S. 60 crash

The Kentucky State Police is investigating a one vehicle, injury-collision that occurred on US60 at approximately the 15-mile marker on Friday at 4:38 p.m.

The preliminary investigation revealed that Stoney Knight, 60, of Henderson was operating a 2000 Harley Davidson motorcycle westbound on U.S. 60. Mr. Knight lost control of his motorcycle coming out of a curve. Knight went off the roadway unable to correct himself. Mr. Knight was ejected from the motorcycle and both he and the motorcycle came to rest off the right side of the roadway. Knight’s motorcycle had severe damage from the collision.

Knight was transported via helicopter to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Ind., for treatment. He was not wearing his helmet.

Mattoon Volunteer Fire Department, Crittenden County EMS, Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department and Air Evac assisted KSP.

A motorcyclist was seriously injured in a crash just south of Mattoon on US 60 East Friday afternoon about 4:30pm.

The injured biker was flown by AirEvac to a nearby hospital. No other information was immediately available.

Library seeking grant for expansion

Undersized and in need of updating, Crittenden County Public Library is seeking a state grant to help fund the first construction at the facility since it was built 41 years ago. Director Regina Merrick said the $2.5 million project, if approved, will help the library better serve the public in a number of ways, including improved access to the building and compartmentalizing areas of special interest inside.

"CCPL has strived to provide services for the past 40 years in our facility, but as the years have passed, our ability to meet the community’s needs have become more difficult," Merrick said. "With the proposed addition and renovation of the public library, I feel that we can be a vital partner in the growth of our community."

This effort marks the second time the board of trustees has elected to pursue money from the Public Library Facility Construction (PLFC) Fund for expansion to bring the building up to current state standards and meet patrons' changing expectations of libraries. The application for the grant will be submitted next month and a decision from the Kentucky Department for Library and Archives (KDLA) should be known by the end of the year.

Though the original architecture of the library has stood the test of time aesthetically, the structure is four decades old and was built for the needs of the mid-1970s. Outside of regular maintenance and work to shore up the building after settling several years ago, there has been no construction at the site. In fact, many of the young children who attended Story Hour when the building first opened are now bringing their grandchildren enrolled in the reading program to a facility that remains virtually the same as 41 years ago.

"Our library was built as a state-of-the-art building in 1975. Since then, the community’s needs have changed," Merrick said. "Better access to technology, more meeting spaces, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) access to the building and educational opportunities for children and adults are all part of the plan for an expanded library."

More programming for adults and young adults, in particular, is one of the needs a larger, modernized library can better meet. And the board of trustees is also looking to add evening and weekend hours to better serve the public, even if the grant is rejected.

Daryl Tabor, president of the five-member governing board, said financing the project would not call for any additional tax revenue nor jeopardize the library's current financial stability. The library currently has no debt or budgeted capital expenditures.

The board plans to contribute $100,000 from savings and borrow $2.4 million. The annual debt service would be about $185,000 for 20 years. As proposed, $165,000 would come from PLFC funds, with the balance from the local library. About three-quarters of that $20,000 should be met with additional tax revenue from a state-mandated increase this year in county property assessments.

"The library is bursting at the seams and desperately needs more room to accommodate the needs of our patrons, and this is the right time to seek expansion," Tabor said. "The beauty of this proposal is that taxpayers will be on the hook for nothing extra. It's long overdue, and we hope KDLA will see how this project is a win-win for everyone."

The public library was founded in 1952 with only $3,200 – $2,900 from the state and $300 from Crittenden Fiscal Court. When the library taxing district was approved by county voters seven years later, the statute under which it was created set the tax levy at 5 cents per $100 of assessment on property. Unlike other local taxing districts, the rate cannot be changed; and outside of annual state aid check, the library receives no other public money.

For several years, the library has planned for an expansion. While board members have changed during that period, Merrick, as director has kept the proposal on course. Though the grant request was not approved two years ago, she believes the library stands a strong chance of catching the eyes of decision-makers in Frankfort.

“When we did not receive the applied-for grant in 2014, we were told that we needed to think bigger. We needed to plan for space that would take care of our needs for the next 20 years" explained Merrick. "We have the land in place, and we are not planning a huge change in lifestyle, budget-wise. I think that will appeal to the grant committee.”

This year, there are three other libraries in our region asking for assistance from the $1 million pot of PLFC money. None, however, have what KDLA considers sub-standard facilities when it comes to space and parking.

Currently, the local library serves 27,000-plus patrons annually with only 5,139 square feet under roof, ranking it 109th of 119 library systems in Kentucky. It has less than a third of the space of Caldwell County's library and is smaller than those in all surrounding counties. KDLA standards call for 7,000 square feet in a county our size (population under 25,000).

The proposal calls for an additional 3,950 square feet to include special areas, office space, a garage for the bookmobile and a covered porch. Those special areas would include separate enclosed reading and genealogy rooms, an isolated children's area and additional meeting space.

"Currently, we cannot have more than one program at a time, because beyond the meeting room, the rest of the library is wide open," Merrick explained. "The expansion of the current meeting room, an additional meeting space and the other separate spaces will allow at least three meetings or programs at one time.

"To be able to offer an adult program and have space to have a children’s program at the same time?  Unprecedented in our library."

Furthermore, access to the library would be greatly improved through the addition of 20 off-street parking spots and increased handicap-accessibility. Currently, the library relies on only a couple off-street parking spots for patrons. Curbside parking is minimal and is often overwhelmed by courthouse patrons, particularly on days court is in session. And parking and access for disabled patrons is almost nonexistent.

"This will change the way the library is used for years to come," Merrick said of the overall plan.

Crittenden County Public Library has an annual materials circulation – books, audio, video, magazines, etc. – of more than 41,000, and its 28,000-plus books give Crittenden County a higher books-to-resident ratio than all but 26 of the library systems in the commonwealth. It hosted 7,200 public Internet sessions (not including WiFi) last year and 870 children enrolled in programs. It ranked 79th in visits per capita and 58th in circulation per user despite having the 11th smallest building in Kentucky.

Merrick is planning an open house at the library for sometime next month in order to give the public a view of the expansion plans and see how it will benefit the community.

The board of trustees includes Tabor, Vice President Brenda Underdown, Treasurer George Sutton, Secretary Dulcie Hardin and Carol Harrison. The board meets at 5 p.m. the fourth Thursday of every month in the library's meeting room.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Area Deaths

V. Frances Ramage, 90, of Fort Mill, S.C., formerly of Niagara Falls, N.Y., died Thursday. Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion is in charge of arrangements.

Madison LaShae Conger, 15, of Crestview, Fla., formerly of Marion, died Tuesday from injuries suffered in an automobile accident in Florida. Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion is in charge of arrangements.

Edith Mae Wheatcroft, 96, of Marion died Thursday. Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion is in charge of arrangements.

Community Baby Shower!

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Lori is doing our catering!

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Benefit Glow Ball Golf Saturday

Crittenden County's high school golf team is hosting a Glow Ball Rocket Golf Scramble tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 24) at The Heritage Golf Course at Marion Country Club.

One glow ball will be provided for each player and others can be purchased. Nine holes will be played before dark and nine more after dark. There will be a meal and a number of contests associated with this event such as putting and closest to the pin.

Cost is $75 for a 2-person team. All proceeds benefit the CCHS golf program.

Tee time is 3pm.

For information, or to register, call golf coach Vicki Hatfield at (270) 285-3566.

This event is open to the public.

Circuit clerk plans to adjust Saturday schedule

Beginning Jan. 1,  Crittenden County Circuit Clerk Melissa Guill will be reducing her weekend office hours. After the first of the new year, the office will be open 9-11 a.m. only one Saturday per month. Guill said that will be the first Saturday unless weather, holidays or other circumstances close the courthouse that particular weekend.

“No matter what, the office will be open one Saturday a month,” Guill said in a social media post seeking input from the public.

Until 2017, however, the office will remain open 9-11 a.m. each Saturday unless affected by a holiday or weather. It will also be closed Oct. 1 for the annual Pumpkin Festival.

Guill said the change will address multiple concerns, including the safety of the lone deputy who staffs the office on Saturday. It will also reduce the number of compensatory hours accrued on weekends. Though Guill is elected locally, hers is a state office, and Frankfort requires comp time to be kept to a minimum.

The circuit clerk said Saturday traffic for licensing at her office is rather low, and the types of transactions available on Saturdays are already limited because Frankfort offices are not open on weekends. For basic renewals, she is willing to make arrangements for anyone who cannot make it to the office during regular business hours.

“I want to make this change as easy as possible for the public and my office,” Guill said.

Crittenden County Sheriff’s Department, according to office Deputy Mandi Harrision, currently has no plans to change its weekend hours. The office is open every Saturday unless holidays, weather or special circumstances like the Pumpkin Festival close the courthouse.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mineral museum free on Saturday

The Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum in Marion will open its doors for free admission Saturday as part of Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day Live! On this day only, participating museums across the United States emulate the spirit of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities, which offer free admission every day. Those museums wil open their doors for free to people who download a Museum Day Live! ticket. 

“The mineral museum is proud to be a part of Smithsonian magazine’s 12th annual Museum Day Live! because it allows us to share the beauty of the museum with everyone,” said Tina Walker, museum director.

The mineral museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The Museum Day Live! ticket is available for download at Visitors who present the ticket get free entrance for two. One ticket per household is permitted.

Injury accident on 365

Emergency personnel have responded to an injury accident on Ky. 365 in Crittenden County about three miles from the Union County. The accident happened shortly after 5pm.

Preliminary reports are that two vehicles were involved in the crash.

At least one person was taken to Union County Hospital where AirEvac was to be waiting.

No driver testing in county Oct. 7

There will be no driver’s testing, written or road, on Friday, Oct. 7, per Crittenden Circuit Clerk Melissa Guill.

Area deaths

Rocky Allen Darnell, 61, of Marion died Saturday. Myers Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Robert M. Conyer, 73, of Marion died Wednesday. Gilbert Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Courthouse closed due to threat

Crittenden County Courthouse has been closed due to a threat. It was evacuated shortly after 2:30pm Thursday.

Sheriff Wayne Agent said the courthouse was shut down and all county and state employees sent home for the day. The closing was done as a precautionary measure, the sheriff said, and the courthouse will reopen on schedule in the morning.

A yet unidentified caller made the threat from a 911 call that went through central dispatching at Marion City Hall. The caller threatened to "shoot up the courthouse," the sheriff said.

There is some indication that the call came in from another county. Agent said investigators are working on tracking down the caller and authorities have placed special security at the courthouse.