2013: The Year in Review

OJ Stapleton Editor

January 2, 2014

The past year saw plenty of change in Logan County.

Logan County become one of the first in the state of Kentucky to offer a countywide recycling service and plans were announced for a revamped Russellville Area Technology Center. And the beat of time claimed the careers of two of the county’s longest-serving civil servants as District Judge Sue Carol Browning and county jailer Bill Jenkins announced that they would step aside for new blood at the end of their current terms.

Three elementary schools also got new principals this past year.

Those were just some of the top stories from Logan County in 2013. Here is a recap of them and others.

Countywide recycling becomes reality

In June, Logan County became one of the first counties in the state of Kentucky to institute a mandatory countywide recycling program.

The Logan County Fiscal Court approved to accept a bid from Scott Waste Services for an exclusive contract for collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste in the unincorporated areas of Logan County and the cities of Adairville, Auburn, Lewisburg and Russellville. This bid included curbside co-mingling recycling. Co-mingling means you do not have to separate or bail your recyclables. A customer will just drop them all in the proper container and wheel them out to the curb the same as they do their trash.

Scott Waste has been the sole service in the county for the past few years, however, the city of Russellville had their own contract separately from the county and three cities. By combining the customers into one unified contract, Scott said it would offer recycling as well. There will be a 75-cent increase for the unincorporated areas of the county and for the city of Russellville. The increase for Adairville, Auburn and Lewisburg is less at 45 cents. The contract will run through 2020.

Magistrate Thomas Bouldin began working towards a unified agreement after pushing for a pilot program that offered curbside recycling for 350 plus customers over a year ago. Most of those were in Bouldin’s district. The program proved to be very successful, prompting Bouldin to push for recycling to be offered to everyone who took waste service.

At this time it is not mandatory to have trash service in the unincorporated areas of the county, but it is mandatory in the four cities.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that Logan County has made the progressive decision to implement county-wide curbside recycling. It’s a great example of how citizens can work with city and county officials to create programs that positively impact our community and our future,” Bouldin said. “I’m especially proud that Logan County is leading the way for other counties across Kentucky as they consider developing their own recycling programs.”

Bouldin also commented on the youth of the county, saying he believed leading by example would teach our children to be environmentally responsible.

Tornado hits south Logan County

The National Weather Service classified the tornado that hit south Logan County in June as an EF2.

The Enhanced Fujita scale (EF scale) rates the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada based on the damage they cause. The scale has the same basic design as the original Fujita scale—six categories from zero to five, representing increasing degrees of damage.

The tornado that tore through south Logan was first spotted off the ground around Watermelon Road. The first reports of a touchdown were on Vick Road, said Logan County Emergency Management Deputy Terry Cole.

From Vick Road the tornado, which was approximately 300-400 yards wide on the bottom, produced winds from 130-135 mph and caused severe damage in numerous places while in Logan County.

According to Cole, when the tornado touched down on Vick Road it did extensive damage to the home place of J.B. Atkinson. The tornado then touched down on Spring Valley Road, tearing through several large trees. The tornado then traveled onto Beauchamp Road where more trees fell prey to the massive vortex. Kirby Road was next, where it flattened a tenant house, and then onto Schochoh Road where it did the most damage on the Lee Robey farm. A historic family home was destroyed on the Robey Farm along with barns, vehicles, sheds, silos, trees, telephone poles and killing livestock. After the Robey homestead the EF2 traveled through Denise and Tremble Roads taking two more tenant houses with it, and then Conn Road where it ripped the roof off of the Kenny and Diane Perkins home. The tornado eventually crossed into Simpson County where it eventually dissipated.

“We are so blessed,” said Cole. “You can replace property, but you cannot replace someone’s life.”

Seven people were reported injured, but none critically.

Cougars win Fourth Region baseball title

In 1989, Ethan Meguiar was a young sophomore on the Logan County Cougars baseball team that won a regional championship.

In May, now head coach Meguiar got his second regional championship as a Coguar after his team battled for seven innings to defeat the Russell County Lakers 3-2 and win the Fourth Region championship.

The game started off rough for the Cougars, as the Lakers loaded the bases early in the first inning. A sacrifice fly gave the Lakers a 1-0 lead.

Lead-off batter Gage Hales stepped up to the plate and singled for the Cougars. Dustin Cartas walked and Matt Harper singled to load the bases early in the inning. Ian Woodall hit a ground ball and reached first on an error, driving in Hales to tie the game at 1.

In the bottom of the third, Cartas tripled, and Harper brought him in with a double to put the Cougars up 2-1.

The Lakers tied the game in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of the inning, Hales led off with a single. Caleb Bruner sacrificed, Cartas walked and Harper drove in Hales with a single.

The Lakers put two runners on base with no outs in the seventh, but couldn’t bring them in, and that was the ball game.

Hunter Britt threw five innings and senior Ryan Basham finished up for the Cougars. Britt gave up two runs on eight hits and struck out one. Basham struck out one and gave up two hits.

“Hats off to our guys,” Meguiar said. “It was a nail-biter from beginning to end. We had some mistakes but we played through them. We have played excellent defense all week. Britt gave us every pitch he had, and Basham stepped up … and did his job. We have to prepare for the state tournament, but right now we are just tickled to death to be here.”

The Cougars went on to face St. Xavier in the state tournament and lost a heartbreaker 2-1 in extra innings.

Lady Cougars win region volleyball

After a five-game match against Bowling Green, the Logan County Lady Cougars would go another five games against the South Warren Lady Spartans to win the team’s second Fourth Region volleyball championship.

The Lady Cougars fought hard to win the title 3-2 (26-24, 24-26, 25-20, 22-25, 15-13) against the Lady Spartans.

In the opening game, the Lady Cougars and the Lady Spartans would battle and keep the game tied throughout the entire game. The Lady Cougars would get a small lead, but the Lady Spartans would always come back. The two teams would tie the game 24-24, but the Lady Cougars would pull through with a 26-24 win.

The Lady Cougars won their first match in the state championship against Raceland, but then fell to Henry Clay in the tournament quarterfinals.

Holloway murder trial put on hold

The murder trial of Timothy Claytor of Lewisburg, was delayed by months, due to a recent decision by the Kentucky Court of Appeals to hear Claytor’s case, and to decide if he should be immune from prosecution due to self-defense.

Claytor’s attorney Stewart Wheeler entered a motion to dismiss the case due to self-defense. The motion was denied at the local level by Circuit Judge Tyler Gill. Wheeler said due to a recent case heard by the Court of Appeals on Feb. 15- Farmer vs. Commonwealth- it states that if a circuit court does deny a motion such as this, the defendant has a right to appeal and have their case heard in front of the Court of Appeals to decide if they are immune from prosecution due to self-defense.

“I think Judge Gill is a very learned and exceptional trial judge and I know he decided this was the way he thought it should be, but I am hopeful the Court of Appeals will overturn his decision, but one never knows,” said Wheeler. “The Court of Appeals does have the power to say Tim is immune from prosecution.”

Wheeler says he is hopeful this case will be heard in six to eight weeks, but admits he is not sure. Wheeler added there has only been two or three cases similar that have gone before the Court of Appeals and no one really can predict how long it will take.

“This is another opportunity Tim would have in his case and I am hopeful he will be found immune from prosecution due to self-defense,” said Wheeler.

Claytor is charged with murdering 46-year-old Dale Holloway of Russellville at the end of 2012.

The trial is expected to resume early this year.

Teen charged with death of ex-girlfriend

A 19-year-old was indicted Nov. 22 on a charge of first degree manslaughter for allegedly causing an accident that caused the death of his former girlfriend. The accident occurred on April 30 on Hwy. 68-80 between Russellville and Auburn.

The grand jury was presented evidence by Commonwealth Attorney Gail Guiling stating that Troy L. Gregory of Auburn, intentionally used his vehicle to force 19-year-old Tracy Owen of Lewisburg off the roadway This caused her vehicle to strike a tree, resulting in her death.

This indictment comes at the end of a six month investigation into the accident by the Logan County Sheriff’s Department and the Kentucky State Police. Through combined efforts, an accident reconstruction investigation took place, while a separate criminal investigation was being conducted.

Gregory was arrested on Nov. 25 by the Logan County Sheriff’s Department and the Auburn Police Department. During the investigation, the sheriff’s department found that a 1987 Chevy pickup truck, operated by Gregory, had entered the lane of travel of a 1998 Chevy Monte Carlo, operated by Owen. Upon collision in Owen’s lane of travel, Owen’s vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree. Owen was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Guiling offered the grand jury three other options besides first degree manslaughter which included: murder, showing intent; second degree manslaughter, showing want and reckless homicide, which says Gregory was recklessly operating his vehicle when he struck Owen.

Plans announced to revamp RATC

At the Logan Economic Alliance for Development (LEAD) annual business and industry appreciation luncheon in October, Tom Harned announced big plans that his group has for the Russellville Area Technology Center (RATC) building.

At the gathering, Harned, the executive director for LEAD, said that the group is spearheading a massive fund drive to revamp the RATC building.

The plan is to raise $2.5 million locally for the proposed $10 million renovation project.

“We will be asking the state through legislative action for the other $7.5 million,” Harned said. “We don’t anticipate that it will happen quickly or easily though. This is a big project and it will take some time to accomplish it, but we are ready to go to work on it and we will continue to work on it until we get it done.”

LEAD contacted educational architectural firm Ross Tarrant four months ago and brought them on board to draw up plans for the new RATC.

Former RATC principal Eric Keeling had plans drawn up for what the new building should include and Harned said that Ross Tarrant used that as a starting point for its work.

“We approached them and asked that they take the design work that had previously been done and take it to the next level,” Harned said. “They did that and came up with a cost projection of $8.5 million.”

Harned said that other $1.5 will be used for furnishing the newly revamped RATC with the furniture and educational equipment it needs to be a state of the art training facility.

The plans call for a large new addition to be built on to the back of the building which can be used as an adult training facility in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. It will be able to be closed off from the rest of the facility so that it can be used after normal hours.

Three elementary schools get new principals

* At Stevenson Elementary Debbie Brown, who previously served as the instructional supervisor for the Todd County Board of Education, took over for outgoing principal Tammy Corum when she retired over the summer.

“I am excited about this opportunity, but I know I have some large shoes to fill,” Brown said when she was hired. “But I welcome that challenge.”

Brown had spent the past four years working in an administrator at the Todd County Board. Prior to that, she spent 17 years in the classroom at North Todd Elementary teaching many different grades.

“We are pleased with this decision and we know everyone else will be too,” said Sherry Bouldin, the vice-chair of the site-based decision making council. “This is absolutely the best thing for the school, the children and the community.”

Superintendent Leon Smith praised the site-based council for doing a good job in the selection process.

“We really did scrutinize the applications we had, the council spent a lot of time scrutinizing the applications we had,” Smith said. “We also did a lot of reference checks.”

The final open principal position in Logan County was filled on Friday just before the schools were to begin their week of state assessment testing.

* At Chandlers Elementary, the site-based decision making council picked Caycee Spears, who had been working as the school’s acting principal since Elisa Brown left the position in March.

“I think it was an easy decision for them to make,” said Logan County schools superintendent Marshall Kemp. “I think they did well to pick him.”

The site-based council conducted interviews of four of the 19 applicants they had for the position, before quickly deciding on Spears.

Spears said he was extremely happy for the opportunity to become the school’s new principal.

“Having worked here for the last three years as the assistant principal, I’ve gotten to know the students, the parents, the community, the faculty and the staff really well,” he said. “I feel like everything is heading in the right direct and I hope to continue that going forward and take Chandlers to the place it needs to be.”

* At Adairville Elementary, Katina Kemplin, the assistant principal at Auburn School, was named the next principal.

“I think the council made a very good decision,” Logan County schools superintendent Marshall Kemp said. “Her ability to be an instructional leader and her knowledge and experience and work ethic was closely aligned to the criteria that they had set early on the process of hiring a new principal.”

Kemplin had been the assistant principal at Auburn for the past five years. Prior to that, she worked as a curriculum specialist at the school and for the district.

And before working for Logan County schools, she spent 10 years as a middle school teacher in Barren County, including in 2000 when she was named the Middle School Teacher of the Year in Kentucky.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Kemplin said. “I am really looking forward to working with the staff there. I want to get to know them and the students and the parents and all the people in that community that make the Adairville school so successful.”

Lewisburg gets new fire station

Gov. Steve Beshear paid a visit to Lewisburg in May to celebrate the city’s new fire station.

“I wanted to come and see what investment was made, and when I walked in I saw a substantial return,” Beshear said.

The event was held at the new 70-by-110-foot facility that was made possible by a $500,000 grant, along with $250,000 from the Carpenter Foundation.

One of the main reasons the city needed a new station was overcrowding. The Fire Department was having to house one of its older trucks at a different location because it just didn’t have the space.

Warren McReynolds was an intricate player in obtaining the funds needed for the new fire station. The governor couldn’t say enough good things about McReynolds, calling him an “asset” to Logan County.

“Logan County has an asset because of Warren McReynolds,” Beshear said. “I can’t tell you how many times when my door is open it’s Warren. He starts by inviting me to a fish fry and then asks for something for Logan County, and it’s always something worthwhile and beneficial for Logan County.”

The new building is approximately 9,000 square feet, and has plenty of room to fulfill the needs of the firefighters. There is a training and conference room, sleeping quarters, bathrooms, showers, an office and a decon room. The old fire station is across the street.

Judge Browning decides not to run

District Judge Sue Carol Browning informed attorneys in Logan and Todd counties in September that she had decided not to run for reelection in 2014.

She will finish out her term and let someone new take over after next year’s election cycle.

“This is just something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Browning said. “The time is right for me to move on to something else. I’ve been doing a lot of praying about what the next chapter of my life will be.”

Browning said that she wanted to give any potential candidates plenty of time to weigh their options.

“I didn’t want anyone to have to make a last minute decision,” she said. “I don’t think anyone should have to decide with a week’s time if they are going to give up their practice. I wanted to try and give all of the other attorneys a chance to think about it. It is a big decision and an important job, and no one should jump into it without giving it a lot of thought.”

Browning had a hard fight to win reelection the last time she ran, but said that didn’t factor in to her decision not to run this time around.

“Not really, because I always had in mind that I always wanted to work this long as a judge,” Browning said. “I had thought that I would do this until I was around 50 and I will be 51 when I finish out my current term.”

Jenkins to retire as jailer

Dec. 31, 2014, will be the day Bill Jenkins hangs up his keys to the Logan County Detention Center and calls it quits.

Jenkins, who has been serving as jailer the past 17 and a half years, has decided not to seek re-election this time around. He says it is time to quit while he is ahead and still in good health to do so, wanting to spend more time with his family, in particular his three-year-old granddaughter.

“I have enjoyed serving as jailer throughout these years,” said Jenkins. “It has been a very rewarding job, one that I hope I have been able to help people along the way.”

Jenkins became jailer in 1996 after retiring from the Kentucky State Police, where he served for 23 years as a trooper and detective for the Logan County area. Becoming jailer was a job, he says, was offered to him the first time, and not one he was seeking himself.

According to Jenkins, his predecessor Ray Max Sanders asked him if he would be willing to become the jailer. Sanders was leaving before his term ended, and according to Jenkins, took him to meet then judge executive Johnny Guion, who eventually appointed him to jailer.

“I felt my experience with the KSP could possibly help with the job of jailer. I wanted to bring that experience in to help the community,” said Jenkins, who didn’t know at the time the job would end up being as time consuming as it has been. “I don’t think people realize this job takes one hundred percent of your time,” said the jailer, adding that even when he is off of the clock, he is still not off of the clock. He said that has been one of the toughest parts of his job.

Auburn School receives huge honor

The Logan County school district received a big honor in September as Auburn Elementary was named one of five Kentucky public schools as 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools, based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement.

The honor, given out by the U. S. Department of Education (USED) on Tuesday, was the second ever for the district. Adairville Elementary was a National Blue Ribbon School in 2001.

“This is a very nice honor and one that is not easily attained,” said Logan County schools superintendent Marshall Kemp. “We try to do the things that will put us on the path to success, especially for the students and this shows just how hard we are working.”

Auburn was among the 286 public and private, elementary, middle and high schools across the country recognized this year.

The national Blue Ribbon Schools program has become a trademark of excellence and a symbol of quality recognized by everyone from parents to policy-makers.

New Creekwood Nursing Home opens

Russellville’s new Creekwood Nursing & Rehab Center is a state-of-the-art facility that opened in March.

The new property is located on Boyles Drive in Russellville, nested between two golf courses and a stone’s throw from Logan Memorial Hospital.

Construction on the $11.7 million center began last year, however, plans to build a new facility have been in the works for over a decade.

Creekwood, which is owned by Creekwood Nursing & Rehab Center Inc., has been located on East Third Street in Russellville since 1962, with additions being added on in 1974 and 1982. Before it was named Creekwood in 2000, it was the Russellville Healthcare Manor. Due to age and lack of space, a new location and building was needed. The new facility is almost triple in size as the old one at 65,000 square feet.

Adairville sells hosiery mill

A large portion of the building which was given to the city of Adairville when the business packed up and left town was scheduled to be torn down after selling off the usable portion of the old Auburn Hosiery Mill.

The project demolition project cost $138,00. The money came out of the $185,000 the city got from the sale of the other portion of the hosiery mill, which isn’t being torn down.

In October, the city agreed to sell the new warehouse portion of the property to Pro Solutions, a company from Springfield, Tenn. The city received $185,00 from that sale and will be netting a tidy profit even after paying for the demolition of the unusable portion of the hosiery mill.

The old warehouse part of the building had a leaky roof which caused mold to grow all throughout the structure.

New Auburn Senior Center opens

After two years of planning the city of Auburn’s Senior Center opened this year. The center, which is located behind the city park across from the senior apartments, is up and running and is a vibrant new piece of the community.

The 4,084 square foot facility includes an activities room, warming kitchen, restrooms and office space. When entering through the front door, you are met with a very large activities room complete with a floor to ceiling stone fireplace. The warming ambiance of this center is sure to be inviting to all who use it.

That’s right, although the seniors will call this place home, the structure will also be rented out during the times when the seniors are not occupying it. Rather it be for wedding receptions or birthday and anniversary parties, people will be able to pay a small fee to hold their events there.

Building the center was one of Auburn Mayor Dewey Roche’s goals. He says his dream has now come true and he cannot wait until it is open.

Auburn has had two senior centers in the past, said Roche, but they eventually died off with those who frequented them. He said he thought there were many in Auburn who would utilize a place like what is being built. He said it was his dream to have a center in Auburn just like the ones in other cities in Logan County.

The city received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in 2010 for the project. The city of Auburn has also chipped in an additional $100,000 for the project. According to Roche, it has taken this long to finally get going because of cost. The city bid out the project a few times, but kept having to go back to the drawing board because it was too expensive.

Alreco aluminum plant hits snag

Plans for the new Alreco aluminum plant on Clarksville Road fell behind schedule as the parent company, MHM Metal, continued working to perfect the process in which it will be recycling aluminum recycling byproducts at its new site in Logan County.

The plant will be the first of its kind in the U.S. Alreco already has a similar facility operating in Australia, where MHM Metal is based.

“It is a new process, and I don’t think they got up to full production in their Australian plant as quickly as they anticipated,” said Tom Harned, the executive director for the Logan Economic Alliance for Development. “They are still pretty much on the same timeline. They are working on their design and engineering of their process. We are anticipating seeing that get going over the summer.”

Once they have all the kinks worked out, Harned said he expects the company to finish work at the old ITW facility on Clarksville Road.

“We want them to have it working as smoothly and efficiently as possible before they commit to the facility here,” Harned said.

Alreco has already done some work at its Logan County facility. The office building has been remodeled, a new parking lot was constructed and the old water tower was taken down.

Tenn-Tucky State Line Tavern gets pole dancing permit

After months of legal battle, bar owner Sheila Haley got an entertainment permit to allow pole dancing at the Tenn-Tucky State Line Tavern just south of Adairville.

Logan Circuit Court Judge Tyler Gill issued a ruling in January on Haley’s appeal of county Judge/Executive Logan Chick’s decision to deny her entertainment permit at the south Logan County bar. Gill’s ruling ordered Chick to issue the permit, which he did almost immediately after Gill’s ruling.

Haley applied for the permit in March of 2012 so that she could pay for pole dancers to entertain patrons at her establishment.

After causing an uproar with local churches and a very heavily attended public forum, Chick elected to deny Haley’s request about a month later.

Haley hired an attorney and filed an appeal of Chick’s ruling soon after.

She was denied a request to have the appeal heard in a trial by jury, but Gill did hear oral arguments from County Attorney Joe Ross and Haley’s counsel, Alan Simpson of Bowling Green, in Circuit Court in December of 2012.

“It was a long hard fight and I had to pay a lot of money for an attorney for what I should have been granted in the first place,” Haley said. “But I am happy with the result.”

Speed limit decreased through Auburn

A stretch of US 68/KY 80 through Auburn will have the speed limit decreased in February.

The speed limit will be reduced from 65 mph to 55 mph from a point 500 feet west of US 68X at the traffic light in Auburn to a point 660 feet east of KY 103.

The reduced speed area will encompass the signal at KY 103, the RJ Corman railroad crossing, as well as the connection with old US 68 on the west side of Auburn.

Signs will be installed on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

“RJ Corman had some concerns about the speed limit around the railroad crossing,” said Keirsten Jaggers, the Public Information Officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “This has been a collaborative process to make that area as safe as possible.”

In all, the stretch of 55 mph will be about 2.2 miles from one end to the other.

The area around the traffic signal in Auburn was also a concern - and one that Logan County Judge/Executive Logan Chick is glad to see fixed.

“I’m 100 percent for this change,” Chick said. “I never thought about the speed limit at the railroad crossing, but I am glad they are including it.”