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Hopkins County receives $155,500 for broadband expansion

Hopkins County was among the 11 projects awarded a Delta Regional Authority grant for broadband expansion in the amount of $155,500.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday $4,755,270 in grants from the DRA to update infrastructure, expand broadband and health care access, improve economic development opportunities and more in communities across Western Kentucky.

The investments will fund projects that will create or retain 80 jobs, provide workforce training for 433 Kentuckians and will improve the lives of 32,400 families, according to Beshear’s office.

This grant will allow Hopkins County to add five broadband communication sites.

“This grant from the Kentucky Department for Local Government and the Delta Regional Authority, along with matching monies from the Hopkins County Fiscal Court, will help Hopkins County continue to move forward with our broadband expansion,” said Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield, Jr. “Recent events have proven that broadband access is no longer a luxury but is an absolute necessity for our businesses, our homes and especially our children’s futures. Thank you, Gov. Beshear, DLG Commissioner Keene and the DRA for helping Hopkins County move forward.”

Whitfield said phase one of this project has already begun by setting up towers in the northeastern part of the county.

“Then we moved around and put what is called a drain in for all the signals to come in so they can go into fiber,” said Whitfield. “Then we will be able to start wrapping around the south end of the county.”

Whitfield said he is hopeful for more funding through state and federal grants with the combination of county funds, which Whitfield said would be around $150,000 used in county funds.

“We got a grant last year, the same DRA grant, that allowed us to start phase one and this one this year will allow us to keep going,” he said.

Whitfield said the goal is to obtain around 50% matching grants saying it is more promising to receive grants when the entity’s own money is also being used for the projects applied for.

“If you show that you are not just asking … that helps to get that grant and basically doubles what we would have been able to put in by ourselves,” he said.

There are also other avenues Whitfield and the county are looking at, but there is legislation that makes working with private companies difficult in the commonwealth.

“Kentucky has some antiquated statutes and rules that make it hard for some companies to be able to do broadband internet access in the commonwealth, so we are working to try and change some of that,” he said.

With COVID-19 limiting in-person teaching and still forcing some workers to stay at home, Whitfield said it is important to finish this project.

“Just from our children’s perspective and our schools right now, there are so many doing remote learning that it is critical they have some kind of access to be able to just attend school at this point,” Whitfield said. “So many people are working from home and you can’t do that successfully if you don’t have broadband access.”

Whitfield added that some have chosen to not live in Hopkins County because of the lack of broadband.

“We have had people that were looking to move to Hopkins County,” Whitfield said. “They had a realtor and had a house they wanted. One couple in particular, one was in charge of shipping and she did all her work from home on the computer and the home they wanted to buy did not have access to decent broadband internet, so they ended up not coming to Hopkins County. If we are going to grow in the future, we have to keep working on this and get decent access.”

“These 11 projects will make a great difference for infrastructure, economic development, health care and education, which are all priorities as we build a brighter, better Kentucky,” said Beshear. “We are grateful to the local leaders who made these projects possible and for DRA’s continued investment in Kentucky.”

Department for Local Government Commissioner and Kentucky DRA Designee and Alternate Dennis Keene said DRA remains a crucial partner for the commonwealth.

“We appreciate the work of the DRA and their investment in Western Kentucky,” said Keene. “Because of these projects, western Kentucky families will have greater access to critical resources, which is very important as we look for ways to rebuild our economy and provide real opportunity for all Kentuckians.”

The DRA, which works to improve economic opportunity and create jobs in 252 counties and parishes in the eight-state Delta region, is investing in these key projects through the States’ Economic Development Assistance Program, which provides direct investment into community-based and regional projects to support basic public infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, workforce training and education, and small businesses development with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and through the Community Infrastructure Fund, which targets physical infrastructure projects that help build safer, more resilient communities in the Delta region, according to a release from the Governor’s office.


Local
Genealogical Society working on family history book for Hopkins County

The Hopkins County Genealogical Society is asking current and former Hopkins County residents to tell their stories for a Family History Book.

“Our purpose in the society is to preserve family records and histories, so this goes hand in hand with our purpose as a society,” said Betty Cox, president of the Hopkins County Genealogical Society.

The book will focus more on preserving family history and genealogy than history in Hopkins County, said Theresa Ray, vice president of the Hopkins County Genealogy Society.

“We want more than just the dates and who married who, we want some of the family legends to be put in there like, ‘grandma used to get a coal out of the fireplace to light her pipe’,” said Doug Sikes, with Acclaim Press. “That is great stuff, and we want to document about life in Hopkins County.”

Cox said she was planning on writing about her mother-in-law who passed away earlier this year. She worked at the parachute factory here in Hopkins County during World War II and she learned to ski at the age of 60, said Cox.

“I’m going to do a story on her life because she was such a wonderful person,” she said.

Anyone can write a story for the book as long as you live in Hopkins County or have ever lived in Hopkins County, Sikes said. Every household gets a free story of 500 words and a free photograph. Anyone wanting to write a little more than 500 words there is a charge of 15 cents per word and for a second photograph it is $15. The book is for sale as a pre-order for $59.95.

The book will contain history about Hopkins County and have a history of all the churches, businesses, clubs and organizations throughout the county.

“This will be kind of like a written time capsule of what life was like in Hopkins County in 2021 so that 20 years, 50 years, 100 years people will be able to refer back to it and see what was going on here,” said Sikes. “What happens is when one of our elders dies all that experience and knowledge evaporates instantly. Now it is preserved on paper is lasts forever.”

For anyone wanting help in researching or writing your family story for the book, members said they will be available to assist by phone or email. Ray said for those that don’t have email they have in the past just mailed information to people.

“If they just want to tell us the stories and we can write it up, then let them read it and let them prepare it,” said Cox.

Anyone can write down their family stories for the book, she said adding this would be great for middle and high school students to do.

The deadline for all the stories and photographs to be in to the Genealogical Society is Nov. 16. The book will be ready late next year.

Family histories, photographs and book orders can be mailed to Hopkins County Family History Book at P.O. Box 51, Madisonville, Kentucky 42431 or emailed to hcgs_ky@yahoo.com. Their office is located at 14 Court Street. Delivery to the office is by appointment only due to COVID, so call 270-327-1876 before dropping off materials. For help with research, call 270-825-0438 or 270-836-0929 or email hcgs_ky@yahoo.com.


Local
Madisonville man found after falling from deer stand

A Madisonville man was found Tuesday morning around 8 a.m. after he had been missing overnight.

Rick Plunkett, a Hopkins County School system employee, suffered non-life threatening injuries after he fell from a deer stand Monday afternoon and was not able to get up until help arrived Tuesday morning.

The Madisonville Police Department reports that members of the Hopkins County Board of Education contacted the department asking for a welfare check to be performed on Plunkett, who was last seen leaving to go hunting around 4 p.m. on Monday.

Along with the MPD, the Hopkins County EMA, Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office, Richland Fire Department, Earlington Fire Department and members of the Hopkins County Board of Education headed to the woods off of Highway 1337 where other members of the public met them to assist with the search.

A new ping from Plunkett’s cell phone showed a possible location in the woods near the 5000 block of Beulah Road. After traveling there, Hopkins County Sheriff deputies located Plunkett’s vehicle and followed a nearby path to a deer feeder where they also found Plunkett lying at the foot of a deer stand.

Plunkett was conscious and said he had fallen off the deer stand and was unable to move after the fall.

Once the team and a Medical Center Ambulance crew removed Plunkett from the woods, he was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


Local
City accepting bid for Mahr Park playground equipment

The Madisonville City Council approved a bid Monday night for Timberform Playground Equipment at Mahr Park Arboretum.

The bid was awarded to Integrity Recreation Concepts in Owensboro in the amount of $88,380, which includes delivery of the equipment.

The items in the bid include two custom log rope net climbers at a total of $10,400 or $5,200 each; one giant rope swing at $31,295; six full round steppers at a total of $2,010 or $335 each; six more full round steppers at $2,460 or $410 each; one nest swing at $6,365; one double belt swing at $2,065; one quad double belt and double tot swing at $4,220; one embankment slide chute at $3,570 four 8-foot log benches at $4,940 or $1,235 each; one bird’s nest at $6,695 and one belt swing at $5,360.

The delivery of the equipment is an estimated $4,580, according to Integrity Recreation Concepts.

“It was an estimated six week delivery time,” said Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton. “Some of this equipment we’ll be able to get sooner. As it comes in, it will be installed.”

Cotton also noted the price of the Birds Nest is not including the custom log to support the equipment.

“It was an item that we could put in a custom log if we choose to,” Cotton said. “Or once we get everything done, we can see what the elevation of that birds nest is going to be. There’s several different elevations on the property so there’s a chance we might not have to have the actual log post that it would sit on. It could be something different.”

Work has already started at the Mahr Park Arboretum, according to Cotton.

Also at the meeting, both the Madisonville Police Department and the Madisonville Fire Department gave their reports for August.

The police department responded to 3,756 calls, made 212 arrests, initiated 433 traffic stops and had an average response time of 3.61 minutes.

The fire department reported the department responded to 123 incidents with 76 of those being medical and 47 of those being fire. Station No. 1 had an average dispatch to arrival time of 4:31 for EMS and 3:37 for fire; Station No. 2 had a dispatch to arrival average time of 4:10 for EMS and 4:28 for fire; Station No. 3 had a dispatch to arrival average time of 5:05 for EMS and 5:37 for fire and Station No. 4 had an average dispatch to arrival time of 5:21 for EMS and 4:47 for fire.