Friday, June 22, 2018

Ferry facing uncertain future amid funding crisis

Unless there’s an increase in funding, some changes are inevitable for the Cave in Rock Ferry.

Ferry franchise owner Lonnie Lewis of Cave in Rock says that after almost 24 years of operating the service across the Ohio River, he’s losing money and cannot continue under the current contract, which he is trying to renegotiate.

Lewis is meeting via teleconference with Kentucky Department of Transportation officials and area leaders Friday afternoon. There will be another meeting with transportation officials and the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday in Paducah.

Lewis said the agreement that keeps the ferry going was renewed recently without an opportunity for him to discuss the financial climate that is currently making his ferry business a losing proposition. Kentucky and Illinois share the expense of operating the ferry, but Kentucky administers the financial records and payments. Each state kicks in about $400,000 a year to keep the ferry going 16 hours a day, 365 days a year, barring high water, wind or other issues that prompt its occasional, temporary closing.

Lewis said new federal mandates coming in July and higher operating expenses are pushing his costs beyond revenue. One new federal regulation will require two deckhands on the rig at all times. Only one has been required since the ferry began operating. But that changes next month.

Hours ahead of Friday’s teleconference, Lewis told The Crittenden Press that the ferry will shut down July 1 if additional funding is not made available. He said closing it, at least temporarily, is necessary to make changes and adapt the way it’s operated. Lewis said it would reopen, but didn’t say exactly when. He did say it would not operate under the same hours. Most likely, the service will be limited to just 10 hours a day, and it might be closed on holidays.

Lewis said Illinois is on board with additional funding, but he’s not sure what Kentucky plans to do.

Keith Todd, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Highways, said the state does not have an emergency fund per se to increase the ferry’s annual revenue. He said money would have to be diverted from other state sources until next year when the legislature could consider bumping up the ferry’s budget appropriation.

There is very little or no chance that a fee will be charged for riding the ferry, although a toll was required for decades until Lewis purchased the ferry company in 1994 from former operator Tom Patton. Lewis said Illinois has a provision in its agreement that prohibits fees for service because Illinois provides other free ferries across the state. Allowing Cave in Rock Ferry to charge would be discriminatory against citizens of southern Illinois, Lewis explains.

Lewis owns legal rights to operate the service. The franchise was originally issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia, well before Kentucky became a state, Lewis said. Lewis also owns the real estate surrounding the ferry landing on the Kentucky side of the river and the property at the end of Ky. 91 which stops at the river bank.





Thursday, June 21, 2018

U.S. 60 milling in Union County starts Monday

A contractor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will begin milling and paving along a section of U.S. 60 in Union County Monday.

Milling and paving planned along U.S. 60 runs from just north of Union County High School extending eastward through the U.S. 60-Bypass intersection and through downtown Morganfield to the Ky. 359 intersection, a distance of about 3.7 miles.

The contractor has completed upgrade work on sidewalk ramps, as well as other prep work at intersections along the route in Morganfield.

The contractor plans to start milling and paving at the western end of the project area and work eastward along U.S. 60 to Morganfield. Milling is anticipated on Monday and Tuesday, with asphalt paving to follow starting about Wednesday or Thursday, weather permitting. 

The contractor hopes to complete paving by the July 4 holiday. The contractor will then return to the work zone after the holiday to complete should work and other finish activities.

Appropriate caution is required where equipment, flaggers and other personnel are along the roadway in close proximity to traffic flow.

Paving along this section was planned last year, but delayed until major utility work through downtown Morganfield could be completed and the roadway base allowed to settle.

Rogers Group Inc. is the prime contractor on this $748,358 highway improvement project.

Lots happening in summer football workouts


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Let's listen to what QB Hunter Boone and receiver Ethan Dossett have to say about summer workouts.

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Teen missing from Livingston County

Authorities in Livingston County are asking for the public's assistance in locating a teen who is believed to have run away from home.

Livingston Sheriff's Department says Eric Cloutier, 17, ran away from his foster home near Smithland three weeks ago, on Thursday, June 7, 2018.  

Investigators believe that he may be en route to Michigan where he has relatives.  

Should you have contact with Cloutier or know of his whereabouts, please contact the Livingston County Sheriff's Office at (270) 928-2122.

Patriotic service is Wednesday

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Area deaths

Loretta Lynn Glover, 45, of Marion died June 8 at her home. Gilbert Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Smithland bridge restriction scheduled

A contractor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans a lane and load width restriction on the U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge at Smithland in Livingston County starting Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

The U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge at Smithland will be restricted to one lane traffic with an 8-foot maximum load width to allow a detailed inspection of the bridge structure. The load width restriction is required due to the use of an Under Bridge Inspection Vehicle, or UBIV, placed on the bridge deck to allow inspectors to reach all elements of the bridge structure.

This lane and 8-foot load width restriction is expected to be in place on the bridge from approximately 7 a.m. to about 3 p.m. each day through Thursday, June 28.

Appropriate caution is required where equipment, flaggers and inspection personnel are along the roadway in close proximity to traffic flow. Some minor delays are possible during the movement and placement of equipment to facilitate the work.

All Kentucky bridges get a detailed inspection every two years, with long-span lake and river bridges getting an extra walk-through inspection annually.

The U.S. 60 Cumberland River bridge at Smithland, also known as the Lucy Jefferson Lewis Memorial Bridge and the Smithland Bridge, is a 1,817-foot through-truss structure that opened to traffic in 1931. About 5,100 vehicles cross the bridge in an average day.

The 87-year-old U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge at Smithland is scheduled to be replaced.  The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is purchasing right-of-way for the site of a new bridge immediately downstream from the existing structure. Plans call for final design of the new bridge to be completed next year with letting of a contract for construction of the new bridge tentatively scheduled in February of 2020. Construction of the new $40 million bridge is expected to take about two years to complete.

Are you ready for some football?

Crittenden County's Rockets are ready for a stellar football season in 2018 and already plans are being made to improve technology and teaching on the sideline during games.

It is surprising what's next for Rocket football in the way of in-game diagnostics and strategy.

You can read about this and get other information, stories and previews about the Rocket football team only in The Crittenden Press, which is available on newsstands now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What's news this week in Crittenden County...

Don’t report for jury duty and you could face contempt of court charges. Simply ignoring a juror summons is not an appropriate response, Circuit Judge Rene Williams told six local citizens who didn’t show up the last time they were notified for jury duty...

For the full story and the following headlines, pick up a copy of this week's issue of The Crittenden Press:
  • Local boys’ musical talents featured on NBC’s ‘Little Big Shots’ next week
  • Judge revokes probation of several
  • Burglary suspect enters plea of guilty
  • Grand jury indicts 1
  • Group wants to name PO for James
  • PSC: Kenergy’s digital metering accurate
  • 2 Illinois escapees have ties to Marion
  • Tolu fireworks July 7; Marion restricts use
  • Victory Gardens ready to produce
  • Council seeks revenue, savings to address needs
  • Near record heat continuing
  • Bechler on child welfare council
  • West’s non-traditional path to teaching equally as rewarding
  • Local school district sees abnormally high number retiring
  • School district seeking substitutes
  • New special education director named
  • Rogers Group donates 300 tons of rock to Lions
  • Kirby assigned to ministry in Tolu
  • SPORTS: Rocket football installing technology adding in-game playback to sideline
  • VAUGHT'S VIEWS: UK recruit will not reclassify in Texas
  • FORGOTTEN PASSAGES: Marion Post Office celebrates centennial birthday
  • Marion native writes about hometown
  • Program promotes literacy for youth, teens and adults

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Illinois prison escapees have local connections

From left, Justin Bray, Johnny Tipton and Zachery Shock  recently escaped from an Illinois prison. Bray has been apprehended, but the other two remain at large. One possibly has ties to Marion. (WEVV-TV image)
Local authorities say perhaps both of two escapees still on the loose from an Illinois prison have a connection to Crittenden County. It's unclear at this time exactly what type of ties, but police here say they've been notified to be on the lookout.

They say both men should be considered dangerous.

Law enforcement officials here had been searching land and on the Ohio River Tuesday evening.

Click here for more.

Ky. 506 closed Wednesday at 5-mile marker

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to close a section of Ky. 506 in Crittenden County on Wednesday.

Ky. 506/Piney Fork Road will be closed at mile-point 5.2 to allow a cross drain to be replaced. This is along Ky. 506/Piney Fork Road between the Pleasant Hill Road/Hunt Road intersection and the Weldon Road intersection.

Ky. 506/Piney Fork Road will close at this site at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday. It is expected to reopen to traffic about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

There will be no marked detour.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Area Deaths

Dorothy Binkley, 89, of Marion died today at her home. Gilbert Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Randel Lee Ramage, 80, of Burna died Sunday at Baptist Health in Paducah. Boyd Funeral Directors and Cremations Services is in charge of arrangements.