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Hopkins County will follow 'red' county guidelines for sporting events

The Hopkins County School Board approved an override to a Kentucky High School Athletic Association bylaw, which waived the requirement for students to be “on schedule” to graduate at the beginning of the year to participate in sporting activities.

The amendment was added during the summer by the KHSAA, but the board has decided to remove that waiver for the upcoming winter sports.

“Essentially, the way we were operating last year is the way we are going to operate from the winter sports season forward,“ said Marty Cline, assistant superintendent for Hopkins County Schools.

Though no official action was taken in regards to the Kentucky Department of Education and Kentucky Department for Public Health’s new color-coded COVID-19 metric for ranking the risk factors of infections in counties, Cline said Hopkins County will continue to follow those guidelines moving forward.

The new metric ranks counties as green, yellow, orange or red based on the number of active cases per 100,000 residents. In-person classes and sports are allowed in the first three categories, although the KDE recommends remote learning only in orange counties.

Hopkins County has been fluctuating between yellow and orange in recent days

If a county crosses into the red group, the KDE says that only remote learning is allowed and that sporting events must be canceled. This would include both home and away games.

The new metric, however, is based on a seven-day rolling average of daily new cases within a county.

The metric places any county with a rate above 25 cases per 100,000 as a “red county.” With a seven day rolling average, that number can change fast, with a relatively large or small number of new cases on just one or two days capable of moving a county up or down within the ranking system.

In Hopkins County, for example, the magic number is a daily average of 11 new cases in a seven day period. If that number is reached, that would give the county a per 100,000 rate of 24.6. As of Friday, the local seven day average was 4.4 cases per day, or 9.84 cases per 100,000. Rounded up to 10, that places Hopkins County in the orange group.

Madisonville North Hopkins had two soccer matches with Caldwell County canceled last week after Caldwell was deemed a “red” county. Other changes to sporting events have also taken place.

Superintendent Dr. Deanna Ashby said a total of 6,348 students are participating remotely and in-person this school year, which is about 120 student less than last year.

In other news, the board:

• held a public hearing before the regularly scheduled board meeting for the community members to ask questions about the general tax levy on real property and personal property.

“These are the same rates as last year,” said Eydie Tate, finance director for the Hopkins County Board of Education.

The tax levy was approved by the board during the regular meeting along with a bid for a surplus Ford van and the Madisonville North Hopkins High School tennis court project. An agreement with the Hopkins County Fiscal Court for school resource officers was also approved.

• approved during the meeting were school activity fundraisers, demolition of the Old Hopkins County Career and Technology Center, replacement for the Grapevine Elementary cooling tower and approving Grapevine Elementary to apply for a grant to be used for technology and school grounds.

• approved the treasurer’s report given by Tate, leaves of absences, invoice payments VSP Insurance renewal for the 2020-2021 school year, the 2020-2021 working budget, non-resident pupil contracts with school districts and increased the number of days and pay category for computer training specialist job from 200 days to 260 days and the pay category from 3A to category 2.

The next scheduled board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.

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Johnson honored by city council

A group gathered at Dr. Festus Claybon Memorial Park on Monday afternoon to honor the late Bobby Johnson Sr., a Madisonville City Councilmember that represented Ward 6 and former Madisonville Police Department Chief.

A tree was planted in the middle of the park close to the basketball courts with a plaque at the foot of the tree that had a portrait of Johnson engraved on it with his name.

“The city council immediately wanted to do something special for Bobby Johnson,” said Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton. “Bobby Johnson was always one of those people that could walk into a room and make it a better place. His spirit could calm tension, raise camaraderie, build bridges and mend fences. No matter what season of life he was enjoying, he seemed to always enjoy life. He put his family and community first, and his heart was truly that of a servant leadership. His legacy will live on in this community. My hope is that we will all rise up to meet his expectations.”

Cotton shared about his visit with Johnson while he was in the hospital in Nashville.

“He spoke with me that day more than he talked to me the whole year I had been in office,” he said. “He loved his family and his community, so one thing about Bobby Johnson is that he is definitely missed in this community and will always be remembered.”

Retired MPD Chief Ron Hunt worked with Johnson while at the MPD.

Hunt shared anecdotes of their time working together saying that he had known Johnson for many years.

“He was a wonderful person,” said Hunt. “The things that he loved about life mainly were his friends, family and his church. He was proud of all he did. He is just a super guy all around. I loved him dearly.”

Hunt said he and Johnson were instrumental in rebuilding the Madisonville Police Department.

“What had happened in the past was in the past,” he said. “He was a big hand in that. In those five years that he was assistant chief, I knew the department was in good hands.”

Branch Street Church of God in Christ Elder Kenneth Walker said it was an honor to pastor Johnson.

“When I look at this tree that has been planted in his honor, it has great symbolic meaning,” he said. “As the roots of the tree grow deep, that symbolizes Bobby Johnson. His roots in the community go deep. I still miss Bobby and seeing his smiling face. He was not a man of a whole lot of words but when he did speak, he said a lot.”

Cotton closed the dedication talking about the placement of the tree.

“If you knew Bobby, you knew that his love of basketball was very close to his heart,” Cotton said. “This tree is at the center court of the basketball courts.”

Johnson died in February at Baptist Health Madisonville. He was born to the late William Johnson and Katherine Jones-Johnson Jan. 10, 1953, in Madisonville.

Before serving on city council, he was police chief for six years before retiring after 33 years of serving at the MPD.

Camp, Augsdorfer rejoin Messenger staff

By The Messenger Staff

The Messenger welcomed back two familiar faces to its staff this past week as Robert Augsdorfer and Jodi Camp have returned to the paper.

Augsdorfer was with the publication until March as a sports reporter when the pandemic hit.

He is a graduate of Vincennes University in Indiana.

“I’m excited to have Robert back and look forward to increasing coverage of our local high schools and athletes in the coming weeks,” said Editor Jon Garrett.

Camp, who had previously served as an intern at The Messenger, joined the staff Monday. Most recently, Camp worked at the Franklin Favorite.

A graduate of Western Kentucky University, she will be replacing Brandon Buchanan.

“Jodi will focus on our schools and our local health care coverage,” said Garrett. “I think she will be a good fit both internally and in the community.”

“I’m excited to transition into a daily paper with a more upbeat pace,” Camp said. “I remember Madisonville being a very energetic town with something happening all the time,” she said.

Camp currently lives in Hopkinsville but is planning to relocate to Madisonville sometime in near future.

Hopkins County COVID cases increase by 17 over weekend

The Hopkins County Health Department reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 from the weekend.

With the new cases, the total now sits at 596 with 38 deaths reported and 474 recovered from COVID, leaving the total of active cases of COVID in the county at 84.

The department has also been issuing citations to local businesses that are not following mask mandates.

“It is going with the governor’s mandate,” said Denise Beach, director of the Hopkins County Health Department. “It does carry the force of law behind it that local health departments would do the enforcement on his mask mandate.”

Beach said the department has been working with businesses for the past few weeks issuing just warnings and offering mask education, but has now evolved into citations.

“Environmentalist or one of the administrators go out and visually verify that there are problems,” said Beach. “Most of the people being cited right now are for their own employees not wearing masks or not wearing them appropriately like below their nose or around their chin. We have been required to start doing that by the governor’s mandate, and we will continue to do that as long as we are required to do so.”

Beach said the department follows up on all calls received by the public relating to the use of masks in businesses.

“We can only cite them if we do see it,” she said. “We have to visually confirm. We do follow up on every call we receive.”

Beach said the proper wearing of masks in businesses will stop the citations.

“We don’t want to give citations,” she said. “We just want people to wear their mask and we are required to do that. If everybody would just put their masks on and wear them, there wouldn’t be any issues at all. When you wear your mask you are showing empathy and concern for everyone else around you.”

As of Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported 406 new COVID-19 cases across the state with one new death reported.