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Hopkins County schools start COVID-19 vaccinations

As vaccinations for school personnel began Tuesday across Hopkins County, the school board continued to move forward with a plan for in-person classes in the district.

At Monday’s board meeting, a return to hybrid learning on Tuesday, Jan. 19 was discussed.

Staff who wanted the vaccine at the Hopkins County Central Office were vaccinated on Monday, and five schools followed Tuesday. The rest of the district’s schools are being offered vaccinations on Thursday and Friday of this week.

“We have about 49% of our faculty and staff that are going to take the vaccine,” said Hopkins County Schools Supt. Dr. Deanna Ashby.

Ashby said she feels the district is headed in the right direction as in-preson learning nears.

Assistant Supt. Marty Cline updated the board on winter sports with contests in the district having already started. He asked the board to approve power lifting to start on Tuesday, Jan. 19 since it is considered a winter sport.

“Neighboring districts are following a method of when they go back to their hybrid or in-person instruction is when they plan on putting the workouts together for power lifting,” said Cline.

Spring sports are allowing preseason conditioning and continue to follow the guidelines of operating with 10 players and a coach or nine players and two coaches. The KHSAA Board of Control will meet on Thursday, Jan. 21 and the school board will decided to revisit the topic of sports at that time.

The Hopkins County Health Department announced on Tuesday there were 42 new COVID-19 cases in Hopkins County with 1,156 active COVID-19 cases. There have been 111 COVID-19 related deaths and 1,965 people have recovered.

On Monday, Hopkins County Schools reported they had 22 student positive COVID-19 cases and 11 staff positive COVID-19 cases. The elementary schools had 14 cases, middle schools had seven, high schools had 10 and district-wide there were two reported cases.

In other news from Monday’s meeting, the school board:

• approved invoice payments to Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects PLLC in the amount of $172,108.40 for services on the new Hanson Elementary School and two invoice payments to Downey Construction in the amount of $118,591.97 and $68,419 for the Browning Springs Middle School Fieldhouse and Bus Driver Training Center.

• approved the base bid and contractor agreement for the James Madison Middle School Cooling Tower Replacement bid to Mechanical Consultant, Inc.

• approved the sale and use of revenue bonds to be used for the construction of the new Hanson Elementary School.

• approved the traditional calendar and variable calendar for the 2021-2022 school year.

• presented the #LionChaser/#GiantSlayer award to Pride Elementary for being recognized at one of Kentucky’s Shine Bright Schools.

• approved a school grant for the Hopkins County Community and Technical College for a Samsung Solve for Tomorrow grant in an undetermined amount to be used for app development and marketing equipment.

The Hopkins County School Board will meet for a special called meeting to discuss replacement school board member applications at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Hopkins County Community and Technical College. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the HCCTC.

Popeyes coming to Madisonville

Madisonville residents can soon look forward to eating some famous Louisiana chicken as Popeyes is anticipating the opening a local restaurant by the end of March.

The new facility is currently under construction on Midtown Boulevard across from McDonald’s — with hopes of being up and going before spring, said Matthew O’Bryant, construction manager.

“We just felt like it was a good place to have a Popeyes because it is some good chicken,” he said. “We are excited to be coming to town.”

Popeyes was started in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana by Alvin Copeland Sr. selling spicy New Orleans style chicken, according to their website. They have over 2,700 restaurants in the U.S. and around the world.

Frank Wallace, building official for the City of Madisonville, said work on the building and foundations started in early December and they are currently working on adding the plumbing and electricity.

KPS Construction, out of Indianapolis, is overseeing the construction of the building, said O’Bryant.

There are few changes to the Madisonville location that people may not expect, he said. There will be a double drive-thru, which is not normal for Popeyes.

The exterior itself will resemble the design based on the Louisiana locations, said O’Bryant.

“It is not an orange building anymore, it is actually going to be a light gray color. It almost looks white and the inside is an all new design as far as the dining room,” he said. “It is a good-looking store.”

Popeyes is currently taking applications for manager positions, he said. They will not start advertising for crew members until a month before they plan to open.

“We are hiring managers right now because we usually try to train the managers for 6 to 8 weeks before we open, and we will usually start hiring crew members about three weeks out,” he said.

In all, there would be about 50 jobs created, O’Bryant said.

The hours of operation will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Saturday. To apply for a manager position, visit jointeampopeyes.com.

House races to oust Trump as he blames Democrats

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House pressed swiftly Tuesday toward impeaching President Donald Trump for the deadly Capitol attack, taking time only to try to persuade his vice president to push him out first. Trump showed no remorse, blaming his accusers instead for the "tremendous anger” in America.

Already scheduled to leave office next week, Trump is on the verge of becoming the only president in history to be twice impeached. His incendiary rhetoric at a rally ahead of the Capitol uprising is now in the impeachment charge against him, even as the falsehoods he spread about election fraud are still being championed by some Republicans.

As lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol for the first time since the bloody siege, they were also bracing for more violence ahead of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, Jan. 20.

“All of us have to do some soul searching,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., during a House rules debate, pleading for a change of heart among colleagues still backing Trump.

Trump, meanwhile, warned the lawmakers off impeachment and suggested it was the drive to oust him that was dividing the country.

"To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger," Trump said.

In his first remarks to reporters since last week’s violence, the outgoing president offered no condolences for those dead or injured, only saying, “I want no violence.”

Impeachment ahead, the House was first pressing Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to remove Trump more quickly and surely, warning he is a threat to democracy in the few remaining days of his presidency.

The House was expected to approve a resolution calling on Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to declare the president unable to serve. Pence, who had a “good meeting” with Trump on Monday, their first since the vice president was among those sheltering from the attack, was not expected to take any such action.

After that, the House would move swiftly to impeachment on Wednesday.

Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” — in the impeachment resolution after the most serious and deadly domestic incursion at the Capitol in the nation’s history.

During an emotional debate ahead of the House action, Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., urged her Republican colleagues to understand the stakes, recounting a phone call from her son as she fled during the siege.

“Sweetie, I’m OK,” she told him. “I'm running for my life.”

But Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a top Trump ally just honored this week at the White House, refused to concede that Biden won the election outright.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., tied such talk to the Capitol attack, interjecting, “People came here because they believed the lie.”

A handful of House Republicans could vote to impeach, but in the narrowly divided Senate there are not expected to be the two-thirds votes to convict him, though some Republicans say it’s time for Trump to resign.

The unprecedented events, with just over a week remaining in Trump's term, are unfolding in a nation bracing for more unrest. The FBI has warned ominously of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of Biden’s inauguration and Capitol Police warned lawmakers to be on alert. The inauguration ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol will be off limits to the public.

The final days of Trump’s presidency will be like none other as Democrats, and a small number of Republicans try to expel him after he incited the mob that violently ransacked the Capitol last Wednesday.

A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot a woman during the violence. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.

Few Republicans were expected to support either piece of legislation, but some were heavily weighing their decisions.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., spoke to House GOP colleagues late Monday of the significance of the impeachment vote and encouraged them to consider it a “vote of conscience,” according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private call. She has spoken critically of Trump's actions.

In the Senate, Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible.”

No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Trump to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment.

Biden has said it's important to ensure that the "folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage -- that they be held accountable.”

Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down Biden's first days in office, the president-elect is encouraging senators to divide their time between taking taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving COVID relief while also conducting the trial.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer suggested in a letter to colleagues Tuesday the chamber would do both.

As Congress resumed, an uneasiness swept the halls. More lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering during the siege. Many lawmakers may choose to vote by proxy rather than come to Washington, a process that was put in place last year to limit the health risks of travel.

Even Republicans who have resisted the proxy system are now cleared to use it by House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

Among Trump's closest allies in Congress, McCarthy was among those echoing the president, saying “impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together.”

Democrats say they have the votes for impeachment. The impeachment bill from Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Ted Lieu of California, Raskin of Maryland and Jerrold Nadler of New York draws from Trump's own false statements about his election defeat to Biden.

Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.

The impeachment legislation also details Trump's pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes, as well as his White House rally ahead of the Capitol siege, in which he encouraged thousands of supporters last Wednesday to “fight like hell” and march to the building.

The mob overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were finalizing Biden’s victory over Trump in the Electoral College.

While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.


Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Jill Colvin, Ellen Knickmeyer and Bill Barrow contributed to this report.

Tourism board to discuss summer concert series, project updates Thursday

The Madisonville Tourism City Council Committee and Tourism Advisory Board is reaching a point where decisions have to be made regarding the Summer Concert Series.

“We are kind of still at a little bit of uncertainty on where we are now compared to where we will be in a few months,” said Adam Townsend, the chair of the board. “We are at a point where we have to start making decisions about those events.”

Townsend plans to bring up the issue at Thursday’s board meeting.

Townsend said the series is an annual event that began with mostly local artists and an occasional regional cover band.

“Up until four years ago, it was mostly local artists and then maybe a regional cover band,” he said. “It wasn’t until the restaurant tax went into effect that the money to bring in bigger artists and really expand took place.”

Townsend said 2020 was the first time the series had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have had to cancel individual mics before because of things like weather,” said Townsend.

Townsend also said the city has been in contact with the group that books artists for the series.

“I don’t know all the options that are being presented now,” he said. “Some artists may only be looking to do certain types of shows and things like that.”

Townsend added that the tourism board has put forward around $450,000 to $500,000 for all the concerts in previous years.

The outlook of tourism in Hopkins County and Madisonville is still too early to tell, according to Townsend.

With the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines going on in the county and the rest of the state, Townsend said he would like to see the series go on in a safe way if possible.

“If we can safely get back to them, I hope we can,” he said. “Right now, I just don’t know if we will be able to. I would love to see the series back. They bring 5,000 people to downtown Madisonville on average. It is a nice place for the community to come together and for people who are from outside of the community to learn a little bit about Madisonville.”

Also on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting are updates for Mahr Park projects — including the Event Barn, Maintenance Barn and the playground equipment.

Other projects that will be discussed are the Grapevine Lake Mountain Bike Trails, the Sports Complex and the Waltzing Waters Christmas Show.

The 5:30 p.m. meeting will be held virtually over Zoom.