Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Up, Up and Away !

Many of you have looked at the Balloon Dude video posted at The Press Online. Of course, the Balloon Dude is Jerry McDonald and his wife, Angel, is a preschool teacher at Crittenden County Elementary. Last week, the preschool students brought their dads and grandfathers to class for a special day. As part of the event, the group released dozens of balloons -- courtesy of the Balloon Dude.

Each of the helium-filled balloons had a return postcard attached to it. Ms. Angel tells me that so far, three cards have been returned. One was from from Herndon, Ky., one from near Clarksville, Tenn., and one from Nashvhille, Tenn.

The students are really excited to find out where their next balloon will have taken them !

The inset photo is from the release last week.

School threat checked out

Police and school officials were on high alert Wednesday morning after administrators received tips about a potential threat by some students.

Two Marion city police officers, Sheriff Wayne Agent and School Resource Officer Greg Rushing were all at Crittenden County High School and Middle School as students arrived. Teachers and administrators were also posted at strategic locations and on the lookout for anything threatening, said Al Starnes, school safety director.

"We got wind of a threat so we took all of the precautions we could," Starnes said. "We found nothing, but you have to take these things serious."

Police and school officials said that several students may have been involved in the threat. Some were searched before school, but no names were released.

Starnes said the threat involved someone saying they were going to bring a gun or guns to school.

"We had officers at every entrance," Police Chief Ray O'Neal said. "We were taking every necessary precaution."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This week's issue

We're working on a variety of stories for this week's newspaper. The printed edition of The Crittenden Press will be on newsstands at about 3 p.m., Wednesday.

•The lead story this week will identify the five finalists for superintendent of Crittenden County Schools. Interviews of candidates by board members and school officials started this week.

•Jennifer Kennedy Dean of Marion will be present during the National Day of Prayer service at Washington, D.C. We will have details about that trip.

•Caldwell Springs Fire Department has a new chief and officers and members are working to revive the volunteer agency. The Press will have a complete wrap-up of those efforts in this week's issue.

Cozart signs college deal

Crittenden County senior Breanna Cozart has signed a letter of intent to play collegiate volleyball at Kentucky State University. She is pictured here with her parents, Stephon and Heather, seated next to her and coaches and school administrators looking on as she signed the scholarship papers Monday at the high school. See this week's printed edition of The Crittenden Press for more details.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Super interviews scheduled

Crittenden County Board of Education will begin interviewing superintendent applicants tomorrow.

On Friday, board members selected five finalists for the job to replace a retiring John Belt. 

The first interview will be with Victor Zimmerman, the current Lyon County Middle School principal. He will arrive in the district around 11 a.m., to meet with staff and take a tour of facilities. At 3:15 p.m., a meet-and-greet with faculty and staff with take place in the high school library. The public will have the opportunity to meet Zimmerman at 5:30 p.m., when the board convenes at Greenewell, Frazer and Peek Law Offices in Marion. The open meeting will continue through dinner, but the board's interview process will be closed to the public.

The next candidate, Travis Hamby, will be in town Wednesday on the same schedule. He is the current assistant superintendent at Trigg County Schools.

More details and dates of interviews will be available in this week's edition of The Crittenden Press.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Biggest Game In Years

Crittenden County High School's baseball team lost 1-0 to Murray High in the Class A Sectional Championship Friday at Gordon Guess Field in Marion. 

Murray senior pitcher Bradley Cobb struck out 10 and pitched a no-hitter while Crittenden's Alex Wood threw a 4-hitter. Murray scored an unearned run in the sixth after a couple of errors.

It was the biggest baseball game played in Marion in many years. Murray (15-7) will advance to the state championship series next week. The Tigers left Marion after the win and headed to Louisville where they will play three games Saturday in the Louisville Invitational Tournament.

Crittenden (6-12) had never reached the sectional finals of the Class A until Friday.

School board narrows search

Crittenden County Board of Education met in closed session earlier tonight to discuss superintendent applicants. While neither the names nor the number of finalists was released Friday, retiring Superintendent John Belt said that information will be made available as soon as interviews with the finalists are scheduled. Belt, who will retire June 30, said he will attempt to complete the scheduling this weekend. 

We will attempt to have that information available in the May 1 edition of The Crittenden Press. 

Yesterday, Livingston County Board of Education announced its five finalists to replace Jack Monroe, also retiring June 30. (See entry below.)

Library extending hours

Crittenden County Public Library is adjusting its hours in order to better serve its after-5 visitors. Beginning May 5, the library will remain open until 6 p.m., Mondays and Tuesdays. Previoulsy, the facility was open past 5 p.m., only on Mondays, closing at 7 p.m.

Library Director Regina Merrick said the change in hours does not add additional staff time and should benefit more library goers than remaining open late only one day. Traffic, she said, has been heavy on Mondays between 5 and 6 p.m., but very light the last hour.

New library hours as of Monday are:
  • Monday, 9 a.m., to 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, 9 a.m., to 6 p.m.;
  • Wednesday, 9 a.m., to 1 p.m.,
  • Thursday, 9 a.m., to 5 p.m.,
  • Friday, 9 a.m., to 5 p.m., and
  • Saturday, 9 a.m., to 1 p.m.

Governor names Caldwell judge

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed Sherman Chaudoin to serve as Judge-Executive of Caldwell County.

Chaudoin currently serves as executive director of the South Kentucky Industrial Development Association. He is a former mayor of Princeton. Chaudoin has also served in the U.S. Air Force. He and his wife, Diane, reside in Princeton.

Chaudoin replaces Van Knight, who passed away April 9. The appointment is effective May 1. Chaudoin shall serve until the general election on Nov. 4, 2008.

Courthouse open Saturday

Due to a reporting error, it was incorrectly stated in The Crittenden Press that the courthouse in Marion would be closed Saturday. Only Madeline Henderson's Circuit Court Clerk office will be closed. All courthouse offices regularly open on weekends will be open this Saturday.

Livingston super finalists named

Livingston County Board of Education has narrowed its search for a new superintendent to five candidates, with one of those currently serving as an employee of the district and another a former Crittenden County High School football coach.

From a board meeting last night, the five finalists being interviewed and considered are as follows:
  • Riley Ramsey, currently serving as director of pupil personnel of Webster County schools;
  • Kennith Bargo, former Rocket football coach in the 1980s and currently director of pupil personnel of Warrick County Schools in Booneville, Ind.;
  • Shirley Menendez, instructional supervisor in Livingston County;
  • Jason Hamby, now assistant superintendent in Trigg County; and
  • Thomas Dimit, an education attorney and consultant from Toledo, Ohio.
The board will meet again Monday and Wednesday evening of next week, said Pat Wyatt, Livingston County schools director of public relations.

Meantime, Critenden County's board of education meets tonight to further discuss their search for a replacement for John Belt, who will be retiring as superintendent at the end of the year. Belt said the names of three candidates were suggested Monday from a screening committee to board members.

It is possible at tonight's meeting that the board will schedule interviews with finalists beginning Monday and running through May 13.

"As a best case scenerio, those decisions will be made tonight," Belt told The Crittenden Press in an e-mail.

The board has set May 20 as the deadline for hiring a new superintendent.

Back Roads

Crittenden County's annual Back Roads Tour starts today and runs through the weekend. Stop by the Marion Tourism Center on Main Street for more information. The courthouse lawn is full of vendors and information booths. 

Local historian Brenda Underdown has posted an interesting piece on her blog this morning. It may give some Back Roads tourists something to look for. See Brenda's blog.

Game Day !

The biggest thing going on in Marion today - save the start of Back Roads Festival - is the Class A Sectional Baseball Championship at Gordon B. Guess Field at City-County Park.

The Rockets are playing in the round of 16 against Murray High, winner of the First Region. Crittenden beat Lyon County earlier this week in the Second Region championship. Today's game starts at 6 p.m., and the winner qualifies for the state tournament.

If you have not experienced a game at the newly remodeled ball field, this is the day to do it. Weather will be great, highs in 80s and a little breezy.

Guess Field has been improved because it will be home to the semi-pro Marion Bobcats this summer. For more on the stadium and Bobcats, click this You Tube Video.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grand Jury indictments

Crittenden County Grand Jury met last Thursday and indicted seven individuals on various charges, most of them were drug related. A theft charge against Victoria King was dismissed.
Four of the seven individuals were indicted following an undercover drug-buying operation that included a confidential informant.
Those indicted were as follows:
•Rodney Barnett, 36, of Fredonia on three counts of trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school by complicity. The charges stem from undercover buys on three dates during the fall of last year. According to court records, a digital camera was used to record the transactions. The indictment alleges that Barnett, in conjunction with Tanya K. Moodie (also indicted), sold 20 doses of Xanax to a cooperating witness on Oct. 20, 2007. The charges indicate that the informant paid $1 per dose for the pills. Additional buys were allegedly made on Nov. 16 and Dec. 15. Police records say that on those dates, the informant purchased 30 doses Xanax and 16 doses of Nurotin for $60 in November and 26 doses of Xanax, 11 doses of Adderall and eight doses of Nurotin for a price of $100 in December. All of the alleged buys were made at a home in Marion with 1,000 feet of a school.
•Tanya K. Moodie, 63, of 608 Blackburn Street, Marion was indicted on the same charges as the above defendant. Police records say that Moodie and Barnett were both involved in the same alleged drug sales to the informant.
•Michael E. Hillyard, 49, of 535 East Bellville Street was indicted on four counts of trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school, second-degree, second-offense trafficking in a controlled substance by complicity, and being a first-degree persistent felony offender. Hillyard, court records say, sold marijuana and Lortab tablets to an undercover informant on five dates in the fall of 2007.
•Joseph Lee Shewmaker, 34, of 109 Sterling Lane, Marion was indicted for first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and third-degree trafficking in a controlled substance. Court records allege that Shewmaker sold drugs to a confidential informant, including six doses of Percocet and eight doses of Valium.
Thomas Michael Tackwell, 29, of 630 Country Road, Grand Rivers was indicted for second-degree burglary. Police records allege that Tackwell broke into a home in Marion and stole a Sentry fire safe on Dec. 4, 2007.
•Lenoard D. Tolley, 32, of 228 Keeling Street, Marion was indicted for flagrant non-support for being behind by $16,905.02 in child support.
•Kevin Ray Curry, 31, of 510 Henry Road, Fredonia was indicted on a charge of first-degree possession of a controlled substance which police allege was methodone, a schedule II narcotic. Court records say that on Feb. 28, Curry was observed on the ground beside of his vehicle which was parked on the side of the road in the Caldwell Springs community.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rock quarry visit

The Crittenden Press visited the area's newest limestone rock quarry a few days ago. We will have a feature article on the Slats Lucas Quarry in this week's printed edition. The quarry, operated by Warren Paving of Hattiesburg, Miss., is named for a long-time local quarryman. It's located near Pinckneyville on the Cumberland River in the edge of Livingston County.

Jonathan Gilland of Fredonia is the quarry manager. He took us on a tour of the site and gave us an up-close look at some of the heavy duty equipment.

Stay tuned for video footage, too, which will be posted at Wednesday.

Cage match

The first ever Crittenden County cage fighting match was held Saturday at the National Guard Armory. The event drew a packed house and featured several local fighters, including a regular champion Danny Stoner (pictured facing camera).

Word on the street is that so many local men are fighting in area events that there is talk about starting a training center in Marion.

To see video of Saturday night's event, go to and check out the video news page.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stabbing Saturday night

Josh Sisco, 24, of Fords Ferry Road in Marion is lodged in Crittenden County Detention Center facing two counts of second-degree assault after allegedly stabbing Jackie Jones and Josh Jones during an altercation Saturday night at a residence on Fords Ferry Road.

The Joneses were treated for stab wounds and released from Crittenden Hospital.

More details will be available in The Crittenden Press printed edition this week.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Accidents

A two-car accident in downtown Marion Friday around noon sent four people to the hospital.

Charlotte Holloman was in one vehicle (gray car) and Kayla Adams and two children in another (the red Blazer). The two collided at the intersection of Court and Bellville streets in front of Gilbert Funeral Home.

Both drivers and the two children were taken to the hospital, but none appeared to have serious injuries.

Another three-vehicle wreck on U.S. 641 just south of Marion damaged all of the vehicles, but there were no injuries reported. An infant child involved in that accident was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but did not appear injured. 

Different angle

This morning's earthquake was apparently not of the New Madrid fashion.

Early newscasts say the quake was centered at New Salem, Ill., in the east-central part of the state. That's a different fault zone than the one that normally gives us reason for concern.

The quake measured 5.2, the biggest in more than 35 years.

Big Shaker

The New Madrid Fault rattled us out of bed this morning. The earthquake tremor was not enough to do any damage, but it was the hardest shaker I remember in a long, long time. 

We'll have to see what the national seismic activity watchers say about the actual rating. The quake occurred at about 4:40 a.m.

Wonder if county officials are questioning their decision to drop earthquake insurance on all county-owned buildings a few weeks ago?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Lila N. Rustin Scott, 93, of Marion, died April 15, 2008 at 4:37 p.m. at Livingston County Hospital.

Evelyn C. Witenbarger, 72, of Marion died April 16, 2008 at Crittenden Hospital

Sisco Chapel Road now open

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has reopened Ky. 2132, also known as Sisco Chapel Road, in Crittenden County between Mexico Road and U.S. 60.

The highway had been closed for about two weeks due to a washed out culvert on a tributary of Sandy Creek. The Crittenden County highway maintenance crew completed replacement of the culvert today and the roadway was reopened to traffic, according to Keith Todd of the Kentucky Department of Highways.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ferry should reopen Wednesday A.M.

The Cave In Rock Ferry between Crittenden County and southern Illinois should reopen Wednesday morning, according to owner and operator Lonnie Lewis.

It's been more than a month since the ferry last operated, but Lewis said the Ohio River has dropped enough to resume regular operation of the free transport.

"There is water still over the road on (Ky.) 91 today, but we'll open up in the morning if the water continues to fall like it has," Lewis said Tuesday.

The river needs to be around 42 feet for the ferry to operate. It last ran March 12.

Press has parts

If you've been in the farming, trucking or swapping business around Crittenden, Caldwell, Lyon or Livingston counties over the past six decades, you surely know Preston "Press" Driskill.

A self-described "trader," Driskill, 77, is known far and wide for his vast assortment of used and new parts, mostly for farm equipment. He specializes in tractor tires, but has just about anything you might need at his salvage yard in the Piney community.

You will not want to miss this feature story in the printed edition of The Crittenden Press which will be on newsstands after lunch Wednesday.

Roads Update

Several roads are now open and passable that had been closed due to high water or repairs necessitated following recent flooding.

Now open are: Hebron Church, Baker Hollow, Belles Mines, Weston and Claylick Creek roads in Crittenden County.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wanna Go Fishing ?

Chip Frazer, who has deep roots in Crittenden County, will be the guest angler on this weekend's ESPN2 fishing series, "Wanna Go Fishing?"

The new cable television series, which started earlier this month, airs at 6:30 a.m., Sunday. Frazer, who lives in Washington, D.C., was randomly selected to participate in the filming of the show. He is a military officer in the U.S. Army, graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, husband and soon to be the father of three. He is the son of "Slick" Frazer, who grew up in Crittenden County.

Frazer's fishing trip was in Puerto Rico. A full article will appear in The Crittenden Press printed edition this week.

New 5 bucks

In case you haven't encountered the new $5 bill, here's one.

The tellers at Peoples Bank in Marion say this the first one they've seen. It was negotiated at The Press office last week.

The new bill is supposed to be tougher to counterfeit.

UPDATE: Roads closed

Ky. Highway 120 has reopened to traffic at the Crittenden-Webster County Line between Marion and Providence at Montezuma Bridge. However, several state and county roads remained closed as of Monday morning, including Sisco Chapel Road (Ky. 2132) between Moore Hill and Mexico (pictured).

Other highways in Crittenden County that remain closed due to high water include:
Ky. 91 at the Ohio River Landing, Cave In Rock Ferry closed.
Ky. 132 in the Fishtrap area near the Crittenden-Webster Line.
Ky. 135 at Sawmill Hollow between Tolu and Carrsville.
Ky. 1917 at Wolf Creek near Shady Grove.

The Ohio River is is at 43.5 feet at Cave In Rock. It needs to be around 42 feet for the ferry to operate.

"It dropped a foot yesterday," ferry operator Lonnie Lewis said. "We still need to go another 18 inches."

Lewis said the ferry will possibly open at some point Tuesday, if the river continues to drop at the current rate.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To Iraq and back...

The Crittenden Press printed edition featured two area natives in this week's coverage of the five-year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad in the Iraq war. This is one of those stories. 

Sgt. 1st Class Scott Hurley grew up in Iuka on the Cumberland River and spent a great deal of time running around the hills and hollows on his grandparents' farm in the Forrest Grove community of Crittenden County.

Since graduating from Livingston Central High School in 1996, Hurley has seen a whole lot more of the world. He joined the military 12 years ago and was deployed to Bosnia in 1998, Albania in 1999 and to Iraq from October 2006 until this past December.

For a boy whose childhood centered around baseball and hunting and fishing in western Kentucky, Hurley's military career has broadened his understanding of world dynamics. He spent time in Balad, Iraq in the Salah al-Din province where his 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry unit provided security. He watched as Iraqis found the courage to go back to work and restart their lives and businesses following the height of insurgency in the country.

"I believe progress was being made," he said, pointing out that attacks were reduced and Iraqi citizens started returning to normal routine over the past year.

"The training of the Iraq Army and police forces improved as well," he said.

Because of his experiences abroad, Hurley has become a savvy observer of people. His survival has often hinged on his own ability to judge a situation quickly and accurately.

Like most Americans, Hurley watches closely the candidates and their campaigns for U.S. president. He says that despite the pre-election rhetoric, the options in the Middle East are limited.

"It's hard to say about the elections affecting deployments. What politicians say in the campaign and what they do after the election usually doesn't match up," he said.

Hurley understands the need for proper transmission of messages. As sergeant first class in a communications platoon, his job is to ensure that headquarters is able to talk to all of its troops in the field. His battalion is half armor, half infantry – known as a combine

Hurley plans on staying in the U.S. Army for another eight years, at which time he will be vested for full retirement. Right now he's at Fort Hood in Texas, but understands that another deployment to the Middle East is virtually certain.

"The thing I miss the most about home is the time with family, and I miss all of the hunting and fishing seasons," he said.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fatality on U.S. 60 Friday

A 79-year-old Hampton man died in a single-vehicle automobile accident about 9:15 a.m., Friday at Dyer Hill Curve on U.S. 60 in Livingston County. Raymond Caver was westbound when, for unknown reasons, his vehicle crossed the eastbound lane striking the guardrail. It followed along the guardrail a short distance then traveled back across the eastbound and westbound lanes, running off the road. The vehicle overturned and came to final rest on its top. Carver was pronounced dead at the scene by the Livingston County Coroner.

Road closure

KY 902 N in the edge of Caldwell County will be closed today to allow the repair of a slide along the shoulder. A highway maintenance crew and a contractor were at the site starting at 8 a.m., and are expected to be there most of the day. The closure is near Walnut Grove Baptist Church. Motorists may detour via KY 1077 to Fredonia and via KY 139 to Princeton.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

High-tech war experience

The Crittenden Press printed edition featured two area natives in this week's coverage of the five-year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad in the Iraq war. This is one of those stories. Tomorrow, online, we will feature SFC Scott Hurley.

For Ryan Boisture, the past eight years have been fast-paced and explosive, all largely thanks to the war in Iraq.

A 1998 graduate of Crittenden County High School, Boisture joined the military as the battle sabers began rattling at the dawn of the 21st century. He had an understanding of technology and was assigned to the White House Communications Agency.

From there, the action got a little hotter when he was sent to the Middle East, serving 13 months in Kuwait and Iraq. It was there that he learned many valuable lessons, some of which provided him with the skills to succeed outside the military. He was honorably discharged a couple of years ago, but has kept his hand on some very strategic buttons.

Now, at 27, Boisture is married and the father of
three. His job is still directly related to the military's Operation Iraqi Freedom, but he's stateside and uses the knowledge he gleaned from the U.S. Army and online college courses. He now maintains communications equipment for a government contractor.

"I manage a stack of seven servers which consist of a Cisco, Terawave, Avaya Conference Bridge, Nortel, Video Switch, Sequoia and a management server. Pretty much, to put it more simply, I keep Yuma Proving Grounds communicating in an orderly and expedient fashion," he said.

Yuma Proving Grounds is located in the Arizona desert. It's one of the United States' most sophisticated centers for weapons testing.

"What I do is in direct support of the weapons and munitions testing," he said.

"The things that go on here would blow your mind if you’re into blowing things up," Boisture continued. "Most ground to air, mortar intercept and wireless controlled explosive device defeating systems are tested right here."

It's not Star Wars, but pretty close and what Boisture does is control the Internet, Ethernet, Intranet and all of the highly-technical devices that allow command and control to communicate with people and electronic equipment.

Before going to Arizona, Boisture was with another government contractor in Albuquerque, N.M., that worked on highly-profitable projects aimed at developing jamming devices to counter improvised electronic devices (IEDs) used by insurgents in Iraq.

While his current job with Northrop Grumman is rewarding, he'd love to be back home. Like so many young people who leave Marion, Boisture has found that he is much more employable elsewhere.

"I’m home-sick," he said. "I would love to be able to find a decent job back there somewhere; nothing special, just something that could provide a comfortable living."

Baseball update

The game today has now been cancelled. Crittenden and Dawson Springs will not play the scheduled Class A game due to weather.

Late obituary

Robbie Jo Beavers, 44, Marion died Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at Crittenden Hospital.
She was a member Marion Baptist Church.

Survivors include her parents, Jerry and Evelyn Beavers; a sister, Kristi Beavers; a brother, Kurt Beavers and his wife Deitra; a niece, Kayla and her husband Jamie Travis; a nephew, Tanner Beavers; and a great-niece, Carly Travis, all of Marion.

She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Roy and Robbie Coleman and Carl and Melvin Beavers.

Funeral services are at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 12 at Gilbert Funeral Home with Rev. Mike Jones officiating. Burial is at Mapleview Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m., Friday at the funeral home.

Condolences may be left online at Gilbert Funeral Home.

Baseball today

Due to field conditions in Dawson Springs, Crittenden County's Class A Second Region Baseball Tournament game today at Dawson has been moved to Marion. The game will be played, contingent on the weather, at Gordon B. Guess Field at Marion-Crittenden County Park at 4:30 p.m.

Dust off your quilts

Fohs Hall will be decked out with quilts for the Backroads Quilt Show scheduled for April 26. Quilts can be displayed by anyone and do not have to be made by the exhibitor. 

This is not a sewing competition but the opportunity to view quilts which are works of art.

The featured quilt display in the Nunn Room will be provided by Donna Haire. It will be called “Entertaining with Quilts” and will have a tea party focus. Wanda Rudd will be providing hands-on quilting for anyone who wants to sew a few stitches.
Quilts can be entered from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Each quilt will include an information card listing the owner and maker, date when made and pattern, if known, and other information which may be of interest to viewers.  Cards will be available at the show or can be picked up in advance at the county Extension office located on the lower level of the Crittenden County Courthouse.

The quilt show is free and will be open for viewing by the public from 10 a.m., to 3 p.m. Spectators will vote for the show favorite called The People's Choice Award. The winner will be announced at 3 p.m., and will receive a plaque and $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant. Quilts can be checked out from 3 to 3:30 p.m.

Previous Backroads Quilt Show award winning quilts are not eligible for the show favorite award, but can be displayed.

The show is also free to the public and is sponsored by the Crittenden County Extension Homemaker Association. For more information contact Sarah Ford at 965-3833 or Rudd at 965-5904. For more information on Backroads Tour see the Marion Tourism Website.

Getting hosed

When the war in Iraq started 5 years ago, Late Night comedian Jay Leno quipped that government officials feared oil prices could skyrocket during the invasion. The good news, he said, was that once Baghdad had fallen, gas would "be free!"


A CNN story out this morning says that the recent spike in fuel prices has provided Baghdad with a $6.4 million windfall. It seems that we American consumers of gasoline, and providers of security in Iraq, are paying three times – at the pump, as taxpayers and more tragically with our soldiers' lives.

I have always tried to frame this ongoing war in a broad context and struggled to think that it had some redeeming value. However, that approach is crumbling even for the staunchest conservative idealist. The U.S. has spent $600 billion on the war over the last five years. That's in cash alone. We've given the lives of more than 4,000 of our bravest men and women, on which a monetary value cannot be placed. The costs are astronomical.

Getting gouged over our philosophy to fight for freedom is one thing. Getting it stuck to us by those who we are now protecting is another.

With crude oil topping out at $112 a barrel yesterday, up $35 since the 2003 invasion, it's becoming ever plainer that we're getting hosed from top to bottom. 

Note: I'll have a little more later today about some of our local soldiers who have served their country admirably during the war.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bobcats fill open roster spot

The Marion Bobcats have added another hurler to their 22-man roster, filling a pitcher's spot on roster that opened when another player had to pull out due to family obligations.

Kyle Medley of Springfield will fill the roster spot initially held by right-hander Adnonios Constantatos of New York. Medley, a 6-foot, 195-pound pitcher for the Belhaven College Blazers in Jackson, Miss., will add only the second pitcher with roots in Kentucky. The other Bluegrass native is Chris Buckman, a fellow righty.

Constantatos, dubbed "A.C" by Bobcats Manager Steve Fowler, had to withdraw from the summer league due to a family illness.

Medley will wear No. 22 for the Bobcats when KIT League action begins May 30. The 19-year-old is 10-18 with a 2.29 career ERA for the Blazers.

The team's roster is again complete and can be downloaded in PDF format from the Bobcats' home page.

-- dkt

More details on Knight death

Van Knight, Caldwell County's Judge-Executive, died early this morning from a fall.

According to Gale Cherry, mayor of Princeton, Knight fell last night and hit his head. Cherry said he died in Nashville from hematoma, or blood clotting, from head trauma.

A resident of Fredonia, Knight had served as Caldwell County Judge since 1994.

He was in his late 60s and is survived by a wife, Carol, a son and a daughter, according to Crittenden County Judge-Executive Fred Brown. A close friend of Knight's, Brown said he also had a son that died within the last couple of years.

"He was a good buddy of mine," Brown lamented. "And he was a great community leader and worked hard at it."

Under Knight's leadership, Caldwell County added several new economic development projects, including Bremner and about a half dozen other plants, according to Brown. Plans for a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a new hospital in Princeton were also finalized under Knight.

Cherry said Wednesday morning that she had just seen Knight the day before during a community meeting. When the fall was first reported, the mayor said, it was not thought to be a bad injury.

"They didn't think it was that serious," she said.

However, Knight was eventually flown to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville after being taken to Caldwell County Hospital.

According to Knight's biography on Pennyrile Area Development District's Web site, the judge-executive listed gardening, landscaping, horses and old cars as his hobbies. Among many other boards and agencies on which Knight served, he was member of PADD's board of directors.

Gov. Steve Beshear will appoint a temporary replacement as judge-executive in Caldwell County, until a special election can be held.

This week's news

The Crittenden Press is working on some major news stories that will be out in today's issue of the newspaper.

We've just learned of the tragic death of Caldwell County Judge-Executive Van Knight, pictured at right. Knight, who had had no serious health problems, fell Tuesday night and hit his head. He later died at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. Also from Princeton, a wet-dry vote in the golf course precinct failed by five votes. The area will not be able to sell alcohol.

In Crittenden County, state police are investigating the tampering with and possible theft of medications at Crittenden Hospital. A full-scale investigation is underway by police and the hospital.

Mary Hollamon, a senior at Crittenden County High School, was recently elected president of the state FCCLA organization. She's only the second person from Crittenden County to ever serve in that lofty capacity.

We have a couple of local soldier stories from men who served in Iraq. On this, the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, we will profile how two area military men viewed their roles in the fighting and what's happened to them since then. We visited with Ryan Boisture, who is now retired from the U.S. Army, and SFC Scott Hurley, who is still serving and may make it a career.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

U.S. 60 back open

U.S. Highway 60 is back open to traffic after being closed almost all day. A section of road caved in where a cross drain failed between Marion and Salem in the Midway community. 

Keith Todd, public information officer for the Department of Highway, said the temporary pavement has been put down at the location. Drivers can expect a more permanent fix in a few weeks. 

Todd said motorists should exercise caution on all roads and bridges were high water may have created hazardous conditions.

Warning: Traffic Alert

U.S. 60 West at Midway in Crittenden County is closed. The state highway is closed due to a failed cross drain. A crew is attempting to make emergency repairs, but it is likely the road will be closed all day. Local traffic may detour through Ky. 297 and Ky. 723 between Salem and Marion. 

Monday, April 7, 2008

Several Roads Closed

Crittenden County Judge-Executive Fred Brown says the recent heavy rains, including 5.5 inches over a 24-hour period late last week, have taken a heavy toll on county roads. Brown estimates damage at $250,000 or higher. 

Brown said that county crews worked overtime Friday and Saturday trying to ensure the safety of roads and bridges. He said motorists should approach all washed out and previously flooded areas with caution. 

Damage to Baker Hollow Road may prevent it from being open until later this week. 

As of Monday, the following county and state roads and highways were closed: Baker Hollow, Weston, Phin Croft, Enon Church, Providence, Hebron Church, Blackford Church, Cool Springs, Ky. 135 at Sawmill Hollow, Ky. 120 at Montezuma Bridge at county line, Ky. 132, Ky. 1917 and Ky. 91 at the Cave In Rock Ferry. 

Motorists should use caution approaching any of these roads.

Judge Brown said that the recent heavy rainfall coupled with severe winter storms in February and March have been especially hard on area roads. So far, the county has not received any state disaster relief for those damages. Damage has been widespread. Large sections of asphalt have washed out in many places, culverts have been washed out or damaged, bridge decks have washed partially away or suffered from washouts underneath and gravel roads have suffered tremendously.

Restaurant changes name

The Main Street Grill & Coffee Shop... that's the new name of the downtown restaurant known for ages as the Coffee Shop.

Owners Bill and Kory Wheeler say they are changing the name because visiting patrons from out of town often came in thinking it was some sort of Starbucks style coffee shop. Since the restaurant specializes in breakfast, lunch and dinner and not mocha locha latte, the owners decided to give it a more suitable moniker.

The second floor of the restaurant will also be opening this summer. It will be known as the Loft and will be available for meetings and banquets.

Renovations continue this week, but the Main Street Grill & Coffee Shop should be back in action by Friday, or at the very latest Monday. Another remodeling closure will take place later this summer.

Ferry to remain closed

The Cave In Rock Ferry that connects Crittenden County with southern Illinois will likely remain closed through the weekend.

The National Weather Service predicts the Ohio River, which separates the Kentucky from Illinois, will not dip below the required level for ferry operation until sometime Sunday. Lonnie Lewis, owner/operator of the ferry, said the river must be at 42 feet or below at Shawneetown, Ill., before he can transport cars to and from Ky. 91 and Ill. 1.

The river is expected to crest at 45.4 feet Thursday morning at Shawneetown.

-- dkt

Ky. 120 closed at Webster line

Water, water, everywhere.

The main artery in to Webster County from Crittenden County is closed, due to rising water from the Tradewater River. Ky. 120 will remain shut until the floodwaters recede, cutting off the most direct route from Marion to Providence.

Commuters should seek an alternate route until further notice.

-- dkt

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Judge J. Wendell Roberts dies

The Courier-Journal reported today that former Marion attorney Judge J. Wendell Roberts died late last month at his home in Venice, Fla.

After practicing law here from the late 1970s until 1987, Roberts was appointed to the bench of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Kentucky. He presided over several important cases.

Roberts died March 29. A memorial service will be held here at Fohs Hall April 19.

-- dkt

Funeral set for drowning victim

The funeral for Kate Hearod, the two-year-old girl who drowned Friday morning in rural Crittenden County after the car in which she was riding was swept off the road in floodwaters, will be 1 p.m., Tuesday at Lakeland Funeral Chapel in Eddyville.

The girl was pronounced dead at Livingston Hospital Friday morning about three hours after she and her mother, Heather Hearod of Hampton, were swept up in floodwaters on Ky. 855 North near Frances. Heather was rescued and suffered only minor injuries.

The mother and daughter were en route from Livingston County in the pre-dawn hours to Lyon County where Heather worked at Hilltop Nursing Home and Kate was enrolled in daycare.

Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m., Monday at Lakeland Funeral Home. Kate will be buried at Fredonia Cemetery in Fredonia.

On Saturday morning, authorities recovered the 2007 Dodge Charger in which the Hearod's were riding in a low-lying area about 15 off Ky. 855. The car remained submerged until after nightfall Friday.

-- dkt

Friday, April 4, 2008

Autopsy performed on infant

The two-year-old infant caught in floodwaters in rural southern Crittenden County appears to have died from drowning according to Kentucky State Police.

The autopsy on Kate Hearod was performed late this morning at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Madisonville, listing the preliminary cause of death appeared to be from drowning.

The little girl and her mother, Heather Hearod, 22, were trapped in a 2007 Dodge Charger after Heather drove in the predawn hours into swiftly moving water along Ky. 855 about 11 miles southwest of Marion. A state trooper responding to the scene said the driver didn't have time to stop before hitting the water. He said black marks only six feet long apparently indicated she came up on the water very quickly.

Authorities have yet to locate the car swept away in the current.

Meantime, road crews spent most of Friday repairing damage around the county from floodwaters created by as much as seven inches of rain over a short period last night. Marion City Administrator Mark Bryant said significant damage was created to several streets in Marion, particularly Yandell Street.

-- dkt

This just in ... again

Reverse Wednesday's post that the ferry across the Ohio River here would be open this weekend.

Cave-in-Rock ferry operator Lonnie Lewis said today that last night's rain -- as much as 7 inches here -- will likely shut down the ferry for the weekend. Lewis said river stage forecasts had shown a drop to operational levels would arrive Saturday. But that, of course, was before last night's deluge.

"It's going in the wrong direction," Lewis said of the water level.

March 12 was the last time the ferry transported cars from Critttenden County to Illinois. At the moment, Lewis has no idea when the river will fall to 42 feet at Shawneetown, the mark by which operation can resume.

One thing's for certain, it won't be this weekend.

-- dkt

New curator enjoying museum job

Dot Meredith just loves her new job.

The western Pennsylvania native has spent the last 14 years living in Marion, soaking up the local history and getting to know its people. That's why starting her new career as curator of the Crittenden County Historical Museum this week has been so exciting.

"I was just meant to be here," she said today inside the old Presbyterian church on East Bellville Street.

Meredith had 10 visitors on Tuesday, opening day for the museum this season. She's had visitors from Florida already and will be hosting two students utilizing the museum as a research tool for school projects.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m., to 3:30 p.m.


Out of commission

Your editor's blog will out of commission through late Sunday. If anything breaks, Crittenden Press Managing Editor Daryl Tabor and Press Asst. Editor Allison Evans will be updating the blog.

Jail OK'd to house federal inmates

Along with funding for jail debt reduction reinstated in the state's budget, Crittenden County Detention Center got some more good news this week.

The facility, according to Jailer Rickey Riley, has been approved to begin housing federal inmates. He received notice from the U.S. Marshal's Service out of Paducah that the county's application to lock down federal prisoners had been approved. That means more money to the jail.

But don't expect any Al Capones or Charles Mansons in stripes to call Crittenden County home. Riley said most of the inmates will be detained on federal narcotics charges.

"They won't be any more dangerous than the state inmates we're keeping now," Riley said.

The 133-bed facility today is housing 109 inmates, with all but 12 local inmates bringing in money for the jail from other counties or the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Twenty-one of the inmates are women.

-- dkt

Drowning is confirmed

Although her name has not been released, authorities have confirmed that the young girl, who was swept up by flood waters early this morning, has died. The Press Online will continue to provide coverage of this terrible tragedy.

Erratic driving

Police scanners often provide for some entertaining situations.

Just a few minutes ago, a Marion police office was dispatched to investigate some erratic driving reported by a concerned citizen in town. After receiving a description of the vehicle, Patrolman Marty Hodge located the vehicle and pulled over the driver to investigate.

The driver, a young woman, was taking her driver's test with the driving instructor in tow.

I'd bet the call was placed from another driver operating their vehicle while talking on the cell phone ...

-- dkt

Flood rescue

Just returned from a rescue mission where Crittenden County Rescue Squad members retrieved a young girl from flood waters crossing the highway on Ky. 855 North between Frances and Salem.

The child, about two years old, had been caught up in the flood waters for about 45 minutes when two rescue squad members, using a borrowed boat from a nearby resident, found her. It was unclear how long she had been under water, but rescue squad member Rick Mills performed CPR on the girl before she was rushed by ambulance to Livingston Hospital about six miles away.

The girl and her mother had been traveling southbound on the highway about 5:45 a.m., when they unsuspectingly ran into the flood waters crossing the road. The mother tried to swim to safety carrying the child, but lost her in the swift waters. The mother eventually made it out of the water. Police did not immediately identify the mother nor the young girl.

We will have updates and more information on this potentially tragic accident in the coming hours. The inset photo is of the scene after everyone had left other than Trooper Darron Hollimon who was still investigating.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

State's budget will fund promised projects

Some last-minute bargaining in Frankfort will help keep the county's budget on track and could prevent a rate increase for rural water users. Those same dealings also look as if they will lead to replacement of Marion's 82-year-old water main, according to one legislator.

Kentucky lawmakers passed the state's biennial budget just before a self-imposed midnight deadline Wednesday.

If that doesn't sound exciting, $2.45 million in local projects were in jeopardy of being lost until both houses agreed upon a compromise that guarantee at least half-a-million dollars of those projects. And, Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D-Henderson) all but promised Thursday afternoon that $900,000 for Crittenden-Livingston Water District debt reduction and $1.05 million for City of Marion water and sewer projects would be reinstated.

"I cannot imagine it not happening," he said from his home office two counties away.

Ridley said the General Assembly will take up the funding of specific water and sewer infrastructure projects when they return to Frankfort April 14 after an 11-day veto break.

The senator and Rep. Mike Cherry (D-Princeton) returned to their western Kentucky homes Thursday after both voting in their respective chambers for the latest two-year spending plan. Neither were thrilled with the budget overall, with Cherry calling it "woefully hurting." But both were satisfied with its impact on municipal development needs in Crittenden County.

"This is very definitely important to rural legislators," Cherry said of wording added back into the state budget that spells out the specific projects to be funded with coal severance money.

As a coal producing county, Crittenden will now receive from the severance funds:

-- $440,000 for debt reduction related to the new 133-bed Crittenden County Detention Center;
-- $20,000 for the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum;
-- $30,000 for Dam 50 tourism improvements; and
-- $10,000 for a memorial park on the riverfront in Dycusburg.

Judge-Executive Fred Brown and the fiscal court have been counting on that money to keep the county afloat. Without line items in the budget identifying the specific uses for this money, the fiscal court will have to make application to the Governor’s Office of Local Development in Frankfort before spending each dollar. And, that half-million in coal severance money is intended for economic development projects, jeopardizing approval on what had been planned as next year’s payment on the new jail.

"I'm absolutely pleased with the single county (coal) money," Brown said Thursday morning learning of the House approval of the budget.

Brown said Ridley phoned him Wednesday night around 9 p.m., shortly after the Senate passed the budget 35-3. It was not until two hours later at 11 p.m., local time that the House okayed the plan 74-21. And, Gov. Steve Beshear has told The Courier-Journal he will not veto the budget.

The $440,000 now ensured for the jail will be used to help make the county's annual payments on the 133-bed facility. The judge said it will be split about evenly over the next to years to assist with its payoff of the $7.7 million jail.

But, Brown is still concerned the money municipal utilities projects, to be funded through state bonding, might go missing.

"Hopefully, the water and sewer money will be in there," he said.

Cherry and Ridley both said the prospects were good that both Crittenden and Livingston counties will be received that money once promised them.

"When we return on the 14th and 15th, I feel confident we'll get it settled," Ridley said.

That should ensure that rural water customers in the two counties will not see a rate increase due to a lack of anticipated monies to pay down debt. Crittenden-Livingston Water District Superintendent Donnie Beavers told The Press for this week's print edition that without the nearly $1 million once promised from the new state budget, as much as a five-percent increase on water rates was possible to pay for its final phase of water line extensions.

The City of Marion's planned replacement of its aged cast-iron water line along Main Street also appears to be back on, if the mid-month return of lawmakers to Frankfort sees a return of the bonding projects.

A five-term representative of Crittenden County in Frankfort, Cherry is unhappy with how the budget address social concerns.

"It doesn't do anything to help health and human services and education," he said. "At best, we tread water in education."

Under the same spending plan, higher education would see a three-percent cut in funding. Though not pleased, Murray State University Board of Regents Chairman Alan Stout shuttered to think that cuts could have been worse. Gov. Steve Beshear and the House had supported plans for a 12-percent reduction in higher education spending.

“It would be difficult for us to maintain the current level of service and programs without tuition increases,” Stout said about the proposed three-percent reduction for colleges.

Stout said the state seemed to have "taken a step back" in higher education.

Late-Thursday afternoon, Gov. Beshear expressed his displeasure with the budget, particularly in light of the latest report on the state's economy. That gloomy report showed March tax receipts down 6 percent from March of last year.

The governor said he may have to call a special session later this year to raise revenue.

Cherry said a quarter increase on the state's cigarette tax could have overridden cuts in the budget, particularly the three-percent cut to higher education. A tax on certain services that appeared in the House's version of the budget with the 25-cent cigarette tax hike was also removed by the Senate and never restored.

-- dkt

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

This just in ...

Lonnie Lewis, operator of the Cave In Rock Ferry, says the river is dropping quickly and he thinks the ferry might be open by Saturday, if no more substantial rainfall comes our way.

The Ohio River is now at 44.5 feet at Shawneetown. That's 11.5 feet above flood stage. However, the river is falling about a foot per day and the ferry can safely operate at 42 feet.

The ferry connects Crittenden County, Ky., and Hardin, County, Ill., at Cave-in-Rock.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

2nd Region star to TN

Second Region basketball star Scotty Hopson of University Heights is apparently heading to the University of Tennessee. UK had been courting the talented 6-foot-6 senior. Reports late Tuesday say Hopson committed to UT while on a visit to the Knoxville school with his mother. Hopson led his private high school in Hopkinsville to a 30-5 record this past season.

Supreme Court throws out verdict

This week's Crittenden Press printed edition will be on the streets tomorrow afternoon and there are several breaking news stories on the those pages.

Foremost is the addition of several full-time jobs at Tyler Manufacturing in Marion. The company, located in the former Tyco building, is going to be adding another 25-30 jobs this summer. We will have details in The Press and online you can already view a video news story and take a tour of the plant.

Also new this week is the Kentucky Supreme Court's reversal of a guilty verdict in the 2006 trial of Ronnie Dameron, 46, of Marion. Dameron (pictured) was convicted of sodomy and burglary almost two years ago and has been serving a 70-year sentence in the state prison. Now, the state's highest court has ordered a retrial. See this week's Press for more details.

Law firms merge

Greenwell & Frazer Law Firm in Marion and Peek Law Firm in Smithland have merged to form Greenwell, Frazer and Peek. The firm has offices in Marion and Smithland with four attorneys serving and representing clients throughout western Kentucky. The attorneys at Greenwell, Frazer & Peek are Bart Frazer, Brandi Hagan, Stewart Peek and Clint E. Watson.

The firm recently launched its new web site. The firm and its downtown Marion office have quite a rich local history, which you can read about on the site.

We will be taking a closer look at the GFP Law Firm in future blogs.

Legend gone from UK

Bill Keightley, the familiar face on the sideline and longtime equipment manager for the University of Kentucky men's basketball team, died last night in Cincinnati. He was 81.

Reports say that Keightley died from internal bleeding caused by a previously undiagnosed tumor on his spine.

He worked under six coaches at UK, including Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and current coach Billy Gillispie. He served the basketball team for 47 seasons and became known as Mr. Wildcat. He was on the bench for the 'Cats' final game of the season in March against Marquette in the NCAA Tournament.