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Booker making campaign stop in Madisonville today

The African American Coalition of Hopkins County will host U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker tonight at the Ballard Convention Center in Madisonville.

AAC President Bill McReynolds said guests must have a ticket to attend in person and masks are required. McReynolds anticipates upwards of 140 people to attend the event.

“Members of our African American Coalition of Hopkins County Facebook Fan/Group page who cannot attend in person will receive a link to access the event through Zoom,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds called Booker a “man for the people.”

The doors will open at 5 p.m. with a meet and greet beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the event beginning at 6 p.m.

“Regardless of which political party people are affiliated with, if you know about Charles Booker and what he stands for, you would have to agree that he’s a man for the people,” he said. “In today’s world, where there seems to be so much negativity and division everywhere, he brings a fresh vision and outlook on the future of all Kentuckians.”

McReynolds said the timing for Booker to run for U.S. Senate couldn’t be better.

“He’s high energy with much needed fresh fire, love and passion for Kentucky,” he said. “He resonates with his fellow Kentuckians because he listens to the people. His campaign has gained serious momentum … it’s for reasons like these that the AAC had to bring him in. We want Charles Booker to connect directly on a personal level with Hopkins County and Western Kentucky.”

In a video, Booker addressed the city talking about his upcoming appearance.

“I can’t wait to see you,” he said. “To help tell the story about how we are going to transform Kentucky, I need you to be there.”

McReynolds said this will be Booker’s first time visiting Hopkins County.

“More and more folks are beginning to realize that his movement has the ability to bring real transformative change to the Commonwealth,” McReynolds said. “We are equally excited to have him, and a lot of work has gone into this event over the last three months.”

From Louisville’s West End, Booker grew up in what is known as one of the poorest zip codes in the state, according to his campaign website.

Booker was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2018 and in 2020 ran in the Kentucky Democratic Primary against Amy McGrath for Sen. Mitch McConnell’s seat. He is now running for Rand Paul’s U.S. Senate seat.

For additional information or tickets, call 270-836-9087.

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Chamber, ASAP offering opioid resources to businesses

The opioid crisis that has left a path of destruction in its wake knows no boundaries. While lives have been lost and families torn apart, the local business community has also felt the lasting impact of addiction on its workforce.

With that in mind, the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy of Hopkins County have partnered to offer resources to businesses through what’s known as “Training in a Box.”

Chamber Member Director Lisa Miller said brochures, posters, information on the needle exchange program in Hopkins County, and where people can go to safely dispose of medication is included in the leave behind being offered to businesses.

“We need a healthy workforce and that is what we are hoping to provide,” she said.

Frank Williams, president and owner of Ronald Johnson and Associates, said a couple of his past employees had some problems with drug use, so he is hoping to use the resources to get ahead of the problem.

“I don’t think I have any issues right now,” he said. “I just want to make them aware of the situation.”

At company safety meetings, Williams is planning to incorporate the training material to his workforce.

The idea started in 2019 when the Chamber held a Regional Summit on opioid addiction. Miller said she applied for the same grant this year, but because of COVID-19 didn’t feel comfortable having 500 people in the same area.

“So, I rewrote it with a little different option,” said Miller. “I thought, ‘I will take the training to them.’ ”

The Chamber and ASAP received just under $20,000 to create the Training in a Box. Miller said they ordered 500 boxes and started contacting organizations like the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville, the Hopkins County Health Department, the Pennyroyal Center and Brightview asking for information to include.

“People started responding and giving me information they thought would be helpful,” said Miller.

According to the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Office of Drug Control Policy, more than 1,964 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2020, which is a 49% increase compared to the previous year. Nationally, there were more than 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020, which is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in 12 months.

Miller said she is hoping anyone who needs the help will have access to the available resources.

“I want them to know that people have been there and have recovered and that there are people and organizations in our community who want to help them,” she said. “I want them to know that we don’t want this increase in overdose deaths to continue, we want to see it go the other way.”

Miller said they are looking for volunteers to help stuff the boxes on Monday and Tuesday. On Oct. 4 and 5, she has rented a U-Haul and plans to go from one end of Hopkins County to another, delivering boxes to any open business.

“Chamber members or not, we want them to have this information and be able to utilize it in their workforce if they should ever need it,” said Miller.

If anyone does not get a box the first week of October and wants one, they can contact Miller at the Chamber office to request the information by calling 270-821-3435.

Construction complete on Dunham's mall location

After five months of construction and renovations, Dunham’s Sports has a coming soon sign up at Parkway Plaza Mall.

Don Allender, owner of Matrix Commercial Construction and the general contractor on the project, said he was finishing up construction on Wednesday and had already handed everything over to Dunham’s.

“They will start having inventory come in and will start shelving and inventorying,” he said.

Dunham’s Sports was started in 1937 in West Bloomfield, Michigan as a small shop called Dunham’s Bait & Tackle, according to information obtained from the company’s website. Over the years the business has grown to include over 235 stores across 22 states from Nebraska to Maryland. The company’s main offices are still located in Michigan.

Allender began converting the forman Gordmans’ location in the mall to Dunham’s in May. He said everything went smoothly during construction and they were ahead of schedule.

His company is based in Michigan, the same state as Dunham’s, and has been a building contractor for Dunham’s for seven years. He travels all over the country working on new stores.

“I don’t have employees, so when I got here, I hired a lot of local people, which helped me immensely,” said Allender. “Your local contractors have been a big plus to this.”

He said all the local contractors stepped up to the plate to get everything done. He said Josh Mitchell from Downey Construction was a big help in getting things completed ahead of schedule.

Although no opening date has been announced, positions are being advertised for cashiers, team managers, and general managers for the Madisonville location.

County accepts bid for EMA communications project

The Hopkins County Fiscal Court accepted a $277,899 bid this week from VEI Communications to work on a project for the county EMA.

Hopkins County EMA Director Nick Bailey said the project will make improvements for the public safety radio system that all the first responders in the county use. The improvement will be focusing on Mortons Gap and the southern Hopkins County area working off the tower that is in the city to bring a fourth system location in the county.

According to Bailey, the system went live in 2015.

“When this project started, the whole idea was to bring all the public safety services onto the one system,” he said. “We had three systems going into it that got us nearly 90% of the county covered with mobile radios. We wanted to build it out to have roughly 90% coverage with portable radios too, which are the radios that the officers and firefighters carry.”

He said that the Mortons Gap and south Hopkins area are where there are some dead spots when it comes to the portable radios.

“Mobile radios are fine but you want an officer to be able to get away from their car and firefighters to get away from their truck,” said Bailey. “That is what the whole goal of this project is to get enhanced coverage in that area.”

According to Bailey, the trouble spots in the southern part of the county are large because of the geography.

“You have a ridge of hills that kill the signal coming from some of the other towers,” he said.

Bailey said the county now roughly has around 70% handheld coverage but said that this fourth location is going to get the system closer to the 90% range.

The use of handhelds has advanced over the years, Bailey said.

“It use to be that handhelds were pretty useless a couple of miles from the transmitters where now you can sit in Dawson Springs and talk on a hand held to someone in Madisonville,” he said. “That’s the big plus on this system that it allows that and it allows us to share the system because prior to this everyone had their own separate systems. All of the expense was going on but this brings everyone on one page.”

The time frame of this project is still being impacted because of COVID-19 and the supply chain, Bailey said.

“We already have our frequency license from the FCC,” he said. “The problem is that we are at the mercy fo COVID-19 … and getting the equipment is an issue.”

Bailey said the national shortage of semiconductors will impact when this project is completed.

“The goal is to have the project completed by June 2022, but it might not start until spring based on the availability of the semiconductors,” he said.