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Chamber prepares for golf classic, other annual events

In a year unlike any other, the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce looked to be operating like a well-oiled machine as staff prepared for the annual Golf Classic on Friday at Madisonville Country Club.

“No one anticipated that this particular classic would be this popular,” said Libby Spencer, chamber president. “We are sold out. We have 36 teams, which is really exciting.”

The maximum number was determined by the number of golf carts available and socially distancing guidelines.

“We will be following all masking and social distancing guidelines,” said Spencer. “We did work with the health department on our plan to make sure that everybody was safe.”

Some changes this year will include avoiding the typical large gathering before play begins.

As the golfers set out for the 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. shotgun starts, where all the golfers start on a different hole, they will get a box lunch to take on the cart so no one is gathering to eat meals. Snack bags will also be distributed, said Spencer.

Spencer said they will be wiping down the golf carts between the 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. tee times. There will also be hand sanitizer stations and masks available.

Spencer said Baptist Health will be promoting breast cancer awareness through the selling of masks at the outing.

“We are banning together to have breast cancer awareness masks, so you can purchase those,” said Spencer.

They have also asked their sponsors to make videos for the welcome to cut down on the number of people gathering. Spencer said that may be something they continue to incorporate in future years.

“We are always accepting sponsors, we don’t have any hole sponsors left, but we are always looking for ways to add value to our members and the event,” said Spencer. “We do have opportunities if there is a brand or something you are trying to get out to at least 150 golfers and leaders in our community.”

The golf tourney is important for the community because it is a great way to market the chamber members, come together to network and raise money, she said.

“It does raise money for our mission, and we are an advocate for business and our community. It is a great way for us to increase member benefits by raising more money,” said Spencer. “Something that was really important to me coming in, because my husband and I are business owners and we are members of the chamber, we wanted to see more value for our members. So it is this type of event that helps fund new opportunities.”

The chamber is about to launch their own 401(k) plan and they recently launched Blue Mind Health, a concierge health care service, she said.

One upcoming event Spencer highlighted was the Farm City Appreciation on Monday, Oct. 27 at the Danny Peyton Outdoor Education Center and Farmers Market at Mahr Park Arboretum.

“That is our opportunity to recognize farm of the year as well as all those involved in the agriculture industry,” said Spencer. “They are really important to the fabric of our community, and it is a great opportunity for the chamber and the extension service to collaborate.”

The Holiday Open House will be held on Nov. 6-7. The two-day event provides an opportunity to band together and bring business to some of the smaller brick and mortar establishments that may have seen a dip in sales because of COVID-19.

The Evening of the Stores event that usually happens in February may be subject to change due to COVID-19.

“We are going to send a survey out to our members to see if we want to do that virtually, or if we want to move it to the spring,” she said.

The pandemic has given the chamber a chance to stop and look at what they want to do as an organization, she said.

“We have 450 members, and we need to add value to them. So we are focusing on what we can do to make sure they have what they need to operate,” said Spencer. “To look at the needs of our community and see how the chamber can step in.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, the chamber and the City of Madisonville partnered together to purchase masks for the businesses in the city and selling them at cost. Masks are still available for purchase, said Spencer.

Two amendments to appear on Election Day ballot

Lee Riddle

Two constitutional amendments will be on the General Election ballot this year.

To remain unbiased, Kentucky’s county clerks are asking voters to educate themselves on the proposed amendments before voting.

The first amendment, also known as the Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights Amendment, states that crime victims would gain specific constitutional rights.

According to a sample ballot provided by the Hopkins County Clerk’s office, those rights include the right to be treated with fairness and due consideration for the victim’s safety, dignity, and privacy; to be notified about proceedings; to be heard at proceedings involving release, plea, or sentencing of the accused; to proceedings free from unreasonable delays; to be present at trials; to consult with the state’s attorneys; to reasonable protection from the accused and those acting on behalf of the accused; to be notified about release or escape of the accused; to have the victim’s and victim’s family’s safety considered when setting bail or determining release; and to receive restitution from the individual who committed the criminal offense.

People like Dr. Emily Bonistall Postel, who is the director of outreach for Marsy’s Law for Kentucky, said the law is “straightforward” and a “commonsense tool to correct a troubling imbalance in our justice system.

“While individuals who are accused and convicted of crimes currently possess constitutional rights, Kentucky crime victims who have had their lives forever changed are not afforded similar protections,” Postel said. “Marsy’s Law provides victims the constitutional right to be notified, to be heard, and to be present in the process that seeks to hold their offender accountable to society for the wrong committed against the victim.”

Amendment One is opposed by a group comprising the ACLU, Republican Sen. John Schickel, Kentucky’s 9th Circuit Commonwealth Attorney Shane Young and the Kentucky Tea Party.

The group released a joint statement saying that Kentucky law already grants victims many of the rights already mentioned in Marsy’s Law, including the rights to timely notice of all court proceedings, to be heard in release, plea, or sentencing proceedings, to be present at trial and all other proceedings, and the ability to consult with Commonwealth or County Attorneys.

The group also stated prosecutor offices have victims’ advocates.

“If victims feel uninformed or unsupported by these advocates, the advocates should be provided with additional resources. If the laws we have in place aren’t serving victims, let’s amend our laws, not our Constitution,” they wrote in their group statement.

Amendment Two on the ballot seeks to increase the term of commonwealth’s attorneys from six to eight years beginning in 2030 and increase the term of district court judges from four to eight years beginning in 2022. It would also require district judges to have at least eight years of legal experience. Currently, the requirement for district judges is two years.

The amendment was sponsored by Republican legislators Rep. Jason Nemes, Rep. Derek Lewis, Rep. C. Ed Massey and House Speaker David Osborne.

“If we have the commonwealth’s attorneys at six years, and the circuit judges at eight-year terms, it makes re-circuiting very difficult,” said Nemes in a statement, adding the amendment would align the district judges’ terms with all the other judges and said the amendment would increase the qualifications and the professionalism of the judiciary.

Fourteen Republican legislators voted against the bill. Sen. Wil Schroder said he supported increasing the legal experience requirement for district judges, but said eight year terms were too long for “any elected official in Kentucky.”

To also help explain the amendments, Lee Riddle, with the Hopkins County Attorney’s Office, will be on the Hopkins County Clerk’s Facebook page today talking about the amendments. An exact time for his appearance has not yet determined, according to Hopkins County Clerk Keenan Cloern. But, she said, the video will be saved on the page for later viewing.

To watch, visit www. facebook.com/ Hopkins-County-Clerks- Office.

11 new COVID-19 cases in the county since Tuesday

Hopkins County reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total active cases to 112 with 502 recovered and 38 deaths.

“We are continuing to see an increase in cases,” said Hopkins County Judge Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. at the weekly city-county update on Facebook.

Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton encouraged residents to continue to wear masks, wash their hands often, avoid large gatherings, and to make sure to social distance and keep good personal responsibility practices.

Dr. Wayne Lipson, medical director at Baptist Health Madisonville, said the COVID-19 numbers are up, but the hospitalization’s have remained in the single digits.

“I think that is a testament to people wearing masks,” Lipson said.

The flu vaccine is now available with Baptist Health offering a drive by clinic on Saturday from 9-2 p.m. at the Clinic Tower, 200 Clinic Drive. The clinic is available for anyone over the age of 9. For children under 9 years old, it is recommended to visit the Urgent Care, 1010 Medical Center Drive, or the child’s pediatrician, said Lipson.

“We recommend everyone to obtain flu vaccine,” he said. “If you protect yourself against one, you are better off.”

Baptist Health is working with the state to start a COVID-19 vaccination program, said Lipson.

“It will be done in tiers,” Lipson said. “There are four different companies that are getting closer and they each have different ways it is stored, but we are preparing.”

Lipson said they are still learning, but compared to where they were in March, it is a 180-degree difference.

The Hopkins County Health Department is still issuing citations for businesses not following a state mandate requiring masks to be worn by employees and customers of businesses in the commonwealth.

The health department recently issued citations to two businesses for their employees not wearing masks or not following the mandate requiring customers to wear masks South Main Diner and Quality Quick #7 were both cited, according to the health department.

In follow-up visits by the health department, the following businesses excelled regarding COVID-19 protocol: Catering and Creations Express 1, Sonic on North Main Street, McDonald’s on North Main Street, Wal-Mart, Arby’s, Swaggy P’s, Taco Bell, Country Cupboard, the YMCA and Wicks’ Well.

Biden, Trump snipe from road and rails after debate chaos

PITTSBURGH (AP) — President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden kept up their debate-stage sniping from the road and the rails on Wednesday, fighting for working-class voters in the Midwest while both parties — and the debate commission, too — sought to deal with the most chaotic presidential faceoff in memory.

The debate raised fresh questions about Trump's continued reluctance to condemn white supremacy, his questioning the legitimacy of the election and his unwillingness to respect debate ground rules his campaign had agreed to. Some Democrats called on Biden to skip the next two debates.

Biden's campaign confirmed he would participate in the subsequent meetings as did Trump's. But the Commission on Presidential Debates promised “additional structure ... to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues."

Less than 12 hours after the wild debate concluded, Biden called Trump's behavior in the prime-time confrontation a “a national embarrassment." The Democratic challenger launched his most aggressive day on the campaign trail all year, with eight stops planned for a train tour that began mid-morning in Cleveland and was ending 10 hours later in western Pennsylvania. Trump was to address voters and donors in Minnesota late in the day.

Biden balanced criticism of Trump with a call for national unity.

“If elected, I’m not going to be a Democratic president, I’m going to be an American president," Biden said at the Cleveland train station. As his tour moved into Pittsburgh, he accused Trump of never accepting responsibility for his mistakes, promising, “I’ll always tell you the truth. And when I’m wrong, I’ll say so."

While some Republicans feared that Trump's debate performance was too aggressive, he gave himself high marks as he left Washington. He had spent much of the morning assailing Biden and debate moderator Chris Wallace on social media.

“It was an exciting evening. I see the ratings were very high and it was good to be there,” Trump said.

The first of three scheduled debates between Trump and Biden deteriorated into bitter taunts and chaos the night before as the Republican president repeatedly interrupted his Democratic rival with angry jabs that overshadowed any substantive discussion of the crises including the coronavirus threatening the nation.

Trump and Biden frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”

Trump refused anew to say whether he would accept the results of the election, calling on his supporters to scrutinize voting procedures at the polls — something that critics warned could easily cross into voter intimidation.

Trump also refused at the debate to condemn white supremacists who have supported him, telling one such group known as Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” Asked directly on Wednesday if he welcomed white supremacist support, he first said only that he favored law enforcement but when the questioner persisted he said he had always denounced “any form of any of that.”

On Capitol Hill, Republicans showed signs of debate hangover with few willing to defend Trump's performance.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney called the debate “an embarrassment” and said Trump “of course” should have condemned white supremacists.

“I think he misspoke,” said South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican senator. “I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”

Trump did not say he misspoke when asked on Wednesday but claimed he did not know who the Proud Boys were.

“They have to stand down — everybody. Whatever group you’re talking about, let law enforcement do the work,” he said.

The president's brash debate posture may have appealed to his most passionate supporters, but it was unclear whether the embattled incumbent helped expand his coalition or won over any persuadable voters, particularly white, educated women and independents who have been turned off in part by the same tone and tenor the president displayed on the debate stage.

With just five weeks until Election Day and voting already underway in several key states, Biden holds a lead in national polls and in many battlegrounds. Polling has been remarkably stable for months, despite the historic crises that have battered the country this year, including the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and a reckoning over race and police.

While Biden distanced himself from some of the priorities of his party's left wing — and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — Tuesday night, there was no sign that he had turned off his party's grass-roots activists.

Sanders said Wednesday on ABC's “The View” that it was “terribly important” that Biden be elected, and campaign digital director Rob Flaherty said Biden had raised $3.8 million at the debate's end in his best hour of online fundraising

Increasingly, the candidates have trained their attention on working-class voters in the Midwest, a group that helped give Trump his victory four years ago and will again play a critical role this fall.

Biden and wife, Jill, traveled through Ohio and Pennsylvania aboard a nine-car train bearing a campaign logo, a throwback to Biden's days as a senator when he commuted most days via Amtrak from his family's home in Delaware to Capitol Hill.

He drew several hundred masked supporters to one afternoon stop in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, his largest crowd he has had since suspending traditional events back in March, according to his campaign.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat, said that Trump's behavior in the debate was exactly why suburban voters across the Midwest and beyond have turned against him.

“I feel like he took an axe to one of the great American rituals we have in this country,” Ryan said.

Trump, meanwhile, was attending an afternoon fundraiser in Shorewood, Minnesota, a suburb to the west of Minneapolis, before appearing at an evening campaign rally in Duluth on the shores of Lake Superior.

While Trump carried Ohio and Pennsylvania four years ago, he narrowly lost Minnesota, one of the few states he hopes to flip from blue to red this fall. That likely depends on finding more votes in rural, conservative areas and limiting his losses in the state's urban and suburban areas.


Peoples reported from New York. AP writers Lisa Mascaro, Brian Slodysko, Laurie Kellman, Darlene Superville and Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed.


AP’s Advance Voting guide brings you the facts about voting early, by mail or absentee from each state: https://interactives.ap.org/advance-voting-2020

Madisonville confirms Halloween plans

Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton confirmed Halloween plans during Wednesday’s weekly Facebook live update.

“Trick-or-treat is still going on from 3 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31,” said Cotton. “It is on a Saturday.”

Cotton said there are ways to avoid the Halloween crowd this year.

“If you are not comfortable taking your children out, that is OK,” he said. “You don’t have to. If you are uncomfortable handing candy out that is OK. Just turn your porch lights off.”

Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. asked that parents be respectful if they come up on a house with the porch lights off and move on to the next one.

For those staying home this Halloween, Cotton suggested the website www.halloween2020.org that provides tips and information regarding COVID-19 in every county in the country as far as COVID numbers, infection rates and death totals.

Cotton said the plans for Halloween are subject to change based on what orders come from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office.

“We will update on that,” he said. “However, we will be moving forward with Halloween as planned.”

During the broadcast, Cotton and Whitfield announced the frequency of the broadcasts will be changing to once a month with the next scheduled update set for Nov. 4, the day after the General Election.