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Deadlines approaching for voter registration, mail-in ballots

Betsy Johnson arrived at the Hopkins County Clerk’s office near closing time on Tuesday to drop off her mail-in ballot.

“Right now I’m not really sure about the mail-in ballot, that’s why I dropped it off,” she said.

Johnson was one of an estimated 2,100 that have requested a mail-in ballot in Hopkins County, and she says it is partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and partly because she is “rebellious.”

“If you tell me I can’t do something, I will say yeah I can,” she said. “I think people need to learn that there are options. I’m a senior citizen, I have health issues and it is something that is available. I don’t want to be exposed at the polls, so it seemed like a good thing to do.”

Johnson said she has been a Democrat all of her life and actively working on campaigns since 1967 when she was just 23 years old.

She said she and her husband worked together on many campaigns in the state as well, and that being involved politically was something she had been taught to do by her family, particularly her grandfather, who would take time from farming to put out campaign signs.

“You have to do it,” Johnson said about voting. “It is your right. It is what our country is made up of.”

The deadlines for voter registration and mail-in ballot applications are Tuesday, Oct. 5 and Friday, Oct. 9 respectively.

Voters can either come into the county clerk office in person or do so online at www.govoteky.com, said Hopkins County Clerk Keenan Cloern.

Mail-in ballot applications can also be applied for online at govoteky.com, or can be done in person at the office. The ballots also can be dropped off in person at a poll drop box

There are other opportunities to vote in person besides Nov. 3.

“We will do Saturday voting as well,” Cloern said. “It will be drive-thru voting at the county clerk’s office, and we will bring ballots to their car. It was very popular in the primary.”

There will be seven “su%ers” on Election Day, Cloern said.

“These will be the only polls open on Election Day. Any voter in any precinct of the county can go to any of these su%ers at their convenience to vote,” she said.

In addition, early voting locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following dates across the county:

• Oct. 13-14 — Ballard Convention Center at the Fairgrounds in Madisonville.

• Oct. 15-16 — Dawson Springs Library at 103 W. Ramsey Street in Dawson Springs.

• Oct. 19 — First Baptist Fellowship Hall at 114 E. Moss Avenue in Earlington.

• Oct. 20 — Mortons Gap City Hall at 131 Cross Street.

• Oct. 21 — Nebo Community Center at 100 S. Bernard Street in Nebo.

• Oct. 22-23 — Hanson Baptist Church Hall at 130 Sunset Road in Hanson.

• Oct. 26-27 — Nortonville City Hall at 199 S. Main Street in Nortonville.

• Oct. 28 — St. Charles Community Center at 6209 Nortonville Road.

• Oct. 29 — White Plains City Hall at 112 NE Railroad Street in White Plains.

• Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 — at Ballard Convention Center again.

Saturday drive-thru voting will be Oct. 17, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31 from 8 a.m. to noon at 24 Union Street in Madisonville.

The polling places on Tuesday, Nov. 3 will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The seven voting locations are the Archery Complex located at 3100 Grapevine Road in Madisonville; Ballard Convention Center, Dawson Springs Library, Elks Lodge located at 875 Princeton Road in Madisonville; Nortonville City Hall, Rizpah Temple located at 3300 Hanson Road in Madisonville and at the Nebo Community Center.


News
AP
Court to release grand jury record in Taylor case

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general acknowledged that he never recommended homicide charges against any of the police officers conducting the drug raid that led to Breonna Taylor's death, and said he didn't object to a public release of the grand jury's deliberations.

Amid outrage over the jury's decision last week to not charge any of the officers for Taylor's fatal shooting, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Monday that he also did not object to members of the panel speaking publicly about their experience.

“We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented," Cameron said in a written statement.

Cameron also revealed late Monday that the only charge he recommended to the grand jury was that of wanton endangerment. He had previously declined to say what charges he recommended.

The grand jury last week charged Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing through Taylor’s apartment into an adjacent unit with people inside. No one in the adjacent unit was injured. Hankison, who was fired from the force for his actions during the raid, pleaded not guilty on Monday.

None of the officers was indicted in the killing of Taylor, who was shot five times after they knocked down her door to serve a narcotics warrant on March 13.

In a TV interview Tuesday evening, Cameron also indicated that he had recommended no charges against the other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove.

Speaking to WDRB-TV in Louisville, he remarked of the grand jury, “They’re an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that. But our recommendation was that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their acts and their conduct.”

At a news conference last week, Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in firing their weapons because Taylor’s boyfriend had fired at them first. Mattingly was struck by a bullet in the leg. There was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s bullets hit Taylor, Cameron said.

“For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment,” he said.

He also said at the news conference that prosecutors “walked them (the grand jury) through every homicide offense and also presented all of the information that was available to the grand jury.”

A judge ordered the public release of the grand jury proceedings during Hankison's arraignment Monday.

Cameron said the grand jury is meant to be a “secretive body,” but “it’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen.”

The attorney general said a record of the proceedings would be released Wednesday, and that the public “will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.”

An attorney for Taylor’s family reiterated the need to release the complete record.

“Since the grand jury decision was announced, we’ve been saying that Daniel Cameron clearly failed to present a comprehensive case that supported justice for Breonna,” attorney Ben Crump said in a news release Tuesday.

A member of the grand jury sued on Monday to have a record of the proceedings released and allow the panel’s members to talk publicly about their experiences. The grand juror’s attorney, Kevin Glogower, said Tuesday that Cameron has “yet to answer what was actually presented as far as the charges and the individual they were directed to.”

“I think that’s important to know and my client feels the same,” Glogower said.

The grand juror’s lawsuit accused Cameron of “using the grand jury to deflect accountability and responsibility for (the indictment) decisions."

The public disclosure of grand jury minutes is rare. Most states have laws that would make it impossible. Other states, such as California, allow it under very specific circumstances, and some require a judge’s order.

Grand jury transcripts were released in the police shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri. But a judge refused to release the minutes of the grand jury that decided not to indict New York City officers in Eric Garner’s death in 2014, citing in part concerns over secrecy. In Georgia, 11th Circuit this year ruled against releasing grand jury records in the 1946 lynching of two Black couples.

A coroner’s report says Taylor was shot five times and died of multiple gunshot wounds. It says she was hit in the torso, her upper left arm and both legs. She tested negative for drugs and alcohol.

The night of the botched drug raid, the officers were carrying a “no-knock” warrant but Cameron said a witness testified that they knocked and announced their presence at Taylor’s door.

On Tuesday, The Courier Journal reported that the witness gave conflicting accounts. Aaron Sarpee told police in March nobody identified themselves, but in a follow-up interview in May he said he heard officers announce ”this is the cops,” the newspaper said, citing documents it obtained.

———

This story has been edited to correct that the court is releasing the record of the grand jury deliberations, not the attorney general, who said he has no objections. It also has been edited to clarify that the judge’s order to release the information came during an officer’s arraignment hearing, not in response to the grand juror's request.

———

Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.


Local
Rise in COVID-19 cases locally impacting visitation at nursing homes

Nursing home guidelines are directly influenced by the number of COVID-19 cases in Hopkins County and base their restrictions on those figures.

“We find out what the community risk is and that determines if we test weekly or bi-weekly, or if they have an outbreak, they may be testing twice a week,” said Lainie Brinkley, an administrator for Hillside Center.

Hillside Center is still not allowing inside visitation but are allowing people to visit outside as long as they keep six feet distance and wear face masks, Brinkley said.

Hillside Center now has a lab to run their own COVID-19 tests as all skilled, long-term care facilities will have their own lab. Brinkley said it is nice to have the in-house testing since they can get the results back in 15 minutes.

She said Hillside has not had any trouble locating Personal Protective Equipment with the help of their parent company, Genesis Health Care.

“If we were running low or another facility was running low, then we could just get it from one of our sister facilities,” said Brinkley.

The Homestead — a senior living facility in Madisonville — has not been as lucky having not received a donation of PPE since the Hopkins County Health Department donated at the beginning of the pandemic. Ashley Miller, administrator for Homestead said, they have been purchasing everything themselves.

“We are not a skilled facility so it is kind of hard to supply everything on $42 a day,” said Miller.

Homestead is also not allowing inside visitation, but is allowing visits outside as long as proper protection is worn and precautions are taken.

“We are, of course, wearing masks and encouraging residents to wear mask, but it is their home,” Miller said. “We are encouraging them to keep their distance and have marked off spots in line in the dinning room.”

Brinkley said at Hillside they are waiting for the community risk to decline before they will allow visitors to return inside.

“The community can actually help us by wearing a mask and reducing the amount of cases in the community,” she said.

The COVID-19 cases in Hopkins County increased by 11 Tuesday. The total number of active cases now stands at 101. In all, there have been 641 total cases reported since March with 502 recovered and 38 deaths.


Local
MPD awaiting autopsy results in death investigation

The investigation into a death that occurred in Madisonville nearly three weeks ago is still awaiting an official autopsy report.

On Thurday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m., Madisonville Police Department detectives responded to 454 Murray Street where they found a person deceased in the home.

According to a police report, the deceased individual was covered in sores and bugs. At that time, detectives said the condition the individual was found in did not appear to be the cause of death.

MPD investigators charged Madisonville residents Missy Clark, 35, and Tiffany Dukes-Hankins, 30, with knowingly abusing and neglecting a person. Jerry Hankins, 37, also of Madisonville was charged with wanton abuse and neglect of an adult by a person.

All three are being held in the Hopkins County Jail on $10,000 cash bonds. According to the Hopkins County Jail website, Clark and Jerry Hankins made their initial court appearances earlier this month.

The website indicates that Dukes-Hankins will appear in court at 9 a.m. on Friday.