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'Kids Count' in Trigg, throughout the state
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Local educator James Mangels notes that a study released recently by Kentucky Youth Advocates paints a picture of the community and the needs that its families have.

“As educators, we need to be cognizant of the complete profile of our community and how it compares to the rest of Kentucky and our nation,” observes Mangels, the director of student services and personnel for Trigg County Public Schools.

Kentucky Youth Advocates released its 2021 Kentucky Kids Count County Data Book on Nov. 10, taking a look at the lives of youth in all 120 counties and considering the impact of economic security, education, health and family and community on their lives.

In Trigg County, the study’s researchers found that the number of teen births had decreased, dropping to 29.6 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 in the years from 2017 to 2019, in comparison to 42.9 in 2012 to 2014.

Additionally, the county had more children exiting foster care, 76% in 2018 to 2020, than it did in the years from 2013 to 2015.

This was a point Mangels thought stood out in the study, and he noted that there were collaborative efforts between the Department for Community Based Services and foster parents to reunite children with their families after they were placed in foster care.

He also noted that, at 3.3 for every 100 students enrolled in the district in 2018-2019, the county’s out-of-school suspension rates were significantly lower than the state average of 9.6 per 100 students for that same year.

“This is a direct result of teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors and rewarding students for exhibiting such behaviors,” Mangels said of rates that had also improved in the county, from 4.5 in the 2013-2014 year.

The 2021 study shone a spotlight on racial issues in the state, in particular examining data separated by race and ethnicity and considering the impact of systemic racial injustice on children and families and solutions to advance racial equity so every child can thrive, officials with Kentucky Youth Advocates explained.

Births to MothersAmong the findings for the local community: in 2017-2019, there was a 31.1% incidence of births to mothers without a high school degree among the county’s white population; for black and Latinx populations, those births weren’t calculated for fewer than six events.

Additionally, there were 10% of white children in poverty in the county in the years from 2015 to 2019, although figures identifying the percentages of local black and Latinx children in poverty were suppressed because the estimate was unreliable. The study defined poverty as the percentage of children under age 18 who live in families with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty threshold.

In considering children in foster care, Kentucky Youth Advocates found that, in Trigg County, 21.6 black youth under age 18 per 1,000 children in that same age group lived in foster care due to abuse or neglect in 2018-2020. Among white youth, that rate was 26.5, and the rate among Latinx children was not calculated for fewer than six events.

The study also noted that, for every 1,000 children ages 10 to 17 in the county who were booked into a secure juvenile detention facility last calendar year, 9.7 were white children; none of these children were black or Latinx.

The study identified 3,086 children in Trigg County who were ages 0 to 17 as of last year, most of them or 2,528 who are white.

That figure also includes 218 black youth from ages 0 to 17, 95 Latinx youth, 227 of two or more races, four Alaskan native and Native American youth and six youth identified as Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander.

There were no Asian youth in the county.

The study identified eight youth living in Trigg County in 2020 as “all other races.”

In its profile of the local community, the 2021 County Data Book considered 17 factors spread across four categories of economic security, education, health and family and community.

Factors ImproveAmong the factors related to economic security, there were improvements in three of those factors while the fourth, i.e., children living in food insecure households, found that the baseline data was either not comparable or overlapped with the latest timeframe, or the change was neither positive nor negative.

In education, the county saw a slight decrease in one category, with the number of high school students graduating on time dropping from 93.8% in 2015-2016 to 93.5% in 2020-2021.

There was no change in the numbers of student homelessness, which remained at 1% in 2020-2021, as it had in 2015-2016.

That is below last year’s 3% in the state.

Among health factors, Trigg County saw improvements in smoking during pregnancy, children under 19 with health insurance and teen births but experienced an increase in the percentage of low-birthweight babies.

Again, data for the percentage of young adults with health insurance was not comparable, overlapped with the latest timeframe or had a change that was neither negative nor positive, the study found.

In family and community, the county had an increase in the percentage of births to mothers without a high school degree, the number of children in foster care and the number of youth incarcerated in the juvenile justice system.

The only improvement was in the percentage of children in foster care leaving the system to be reunited with their families, with 76% leaving foster care in 2018-20 in comparison to the 71% in the years from 2013 to 2015.

This year marks the 31st edition of the publication of the County Data Book, which brings attention to the needs of the state’s children and encourages efforts to strive for improvement.

“We at Kentucky Youth Advocates believe that when we measure outcomes for kids, we can change outcomes for kids,” agency officials noted in a press release introducing the newest Kentucky Kids Count County Data Book.

The book is available online at kyyouth.org/kentucky-kids-count.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

Inaugural holiday event piques interest
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Vicky Brush and her sister Kim Brush sat at their booth in the rear of Trigg Tropics Tanning.

Surrounded by the colorful poinsettias, candles and other handmade items of their craft, they greeted customers during the community’s inaugural Mingle & Jingle.

“It’s been busy,” noted Vicky Brush of the recent event that gave people an opportunity to visit local businesses and vendors while getting in a little Christmas shopping.

Prospective customers began dropping by for their goodie bags even before the shopping got under way on Saturday morning, said Beth Sumner, the membership director for the Trigg County Chamber of Commerce.

Sumner set up in front of the Renaissance Stage on Main Street to hand out the bags, which were filled with coupons, gift cards and other items, and the bags were quickly gone.

The chamber partnered with Cadiz-Trigg County Tourism to sponsor the Mingle & Jingle, which featured 28 businesses and vendors from throughout the community, everything from Wildcat Chevrolet on Hopkinsville Road to Cadiz Ace Hardware on Cardinal Drive and Mildred’s Flowers on Main Street.

Several vendors also set up shop in both the Janice Mason Art Museum and Trigg Tropics.

Tanning salon owner Melissa Long said quite a few people visited her business on Saturday.

“Being a first year, I think it’s done really good,” she noted of the Mingle & Jingle.

Long said it was also good to have other vendors in her location to bring more people in to see the craft work that artisans do.

Set up in the back room of the salon, Vicky and Kim Brush were selling their handmade wares repurposed from items such as bed springs, old doors and Mason jars.

Together the two sisters operate their All Brushed Up venture, and Kim Brush said Mingle & Jingle was their first Kentucky show.

She said she liked the event.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase businesses and vendors,” she noted.

Cowboy Kettle Corn owner Brent Houston said he’s taken part in Cadiz events for years, and he said the recent event went well.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the people to get out and enjoy what Cadiz has to offer, and then they get to come over here and enjoy some super great food,” Houston said.

Wanda Calhoun, who owns Mildred’s Flowers with husband Ralph Calhoun, said the event was about getting people out in the community to “see what’s here,” she said.

“We hope they’ll want to do more things in downtown Cadiz (and) support local,” said Calhoun, referring to a campaign encouraging people to support their local merchants.

Out and about with her family, Kathy Johnson said she did plan to visit most of the businesses and vendors in the event.

She said the Mingle & Jingle was a really good idea and gave people a chance to walk around and see what the businesses offer.

“I like to try to shop in Cadiz,” said Debbie Armstrong as she stopped by to pick up her goodie bag. “It helps the merchants. It’s just a good thing to do.”

From her vantage point on the sidewalk in front of the Renaissance Stage, Sumner chatted with passers-by and suggested places they could visit on their shopping excursion.

One place had tons of cute stuff, she urged one shopper, adding that a particular food vendor had a menu item she might want to try.

“You really need to go check them all out,” Sumner noted of the participants in this past weekend’s Mingle & Jingle holiday event, a first in the community.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

Officer lauded for helping student
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Officer Shawn Young of the Cadiz Police Department has been recognized for using life-saving measures to help a student during an incident last month in the school cafeteria.

“A failure to act or after-action delay could have led to a tragic outcome,” Cadiz Police Chief Duncan E. Wiggins noted in a press release of Young’s quick response during the incident in the cafeteria at Trigg County Middle School.

In recognition of his actions, Young received a Police Life Saving Award on Nov. 17 at the police department.

The incident occurred on Oct. 29 in the school cafeteria when a student experienced an obstructed airway.

“Officer Young was able to access the problem and provide life-saving measures by giving abdominal thrusts, clearing the obstruction,” Wiggins explained in the press release.

“The child’s breathing was restored, and an assessment by the school nurse was completed,” he continued.

Wiggins further noted that Young’s quick response, his recognition of the medical emergency, immediate actions and follow-up assessment resulted in the student’s life being saved.

Young came on board with the department earlier this year as a school resource officer for the Trigg County Public Schools.

His response to the choking student occurred during his regular duties with the school system, and in recognition of that action, he received a ribbon that he’ll wear on his dress uniform.

Wiggins said the award also came with a letter that was signed by the police chief and Cadiz Mayor Todd King.

“Very rarely does this ever happen,” the police chief noted. “And when we (see) that action of an officer being exemplary, obviously we’re going to recognize that.”

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

Forgotten Angels to benefit local residents
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The Pennyrile Area Development District is seeking individuals to help fulfill the Christmas wishes for residents of Better Senior Living and other personal care homes in the region.

“These residents are kind of set aside by society, and they may not have friends or family that remember them at Christmas,” observed Cindy Tabor, the district’s long-term care ombudsman who each year coordinates the agency’s Forgotten Angels Project.

Tabor noted that the residents of personal care homes are usually younger than nursing home residents and sometimes suffer with mental illness rather than physical limitations.

“We focus on this group of residents because they seem to be most forgotten by friends, family and society,” Tabor explained in a letter written to the sponsors of the project.

Supporters of the annual project are asked to drop by the PADD office at 300 Hammond Drive in Hopkinsville and take an angel off the tree that for safety precautions has been placed in the outer lobby of the office.

Individuals may also call or email the PADD office to have an angel sent to them.

Each angel includes a wish of a $25 value or less from a personal care home resident.

Additionally, donors may provide stocking stuffers such as board games, playing cards, gloves, scarves, throws and snacks including raisins, trail mix, pretzels, popcorn and sodas.

“Many people load a large Christmas bag of these extra goodies along with the personal wish requested and return it to the PADD office,” Tabor noted of the stocking stuffers.

After a year and a half that Tabor described as unforgettable, she said it’s time to get back to joy, and Tabor finds joy in the giving.

Each year Forgotten Angels fulfills Christmas wishes for residents at seven personal care homes in the Pennyrile region, including two facilities each in Hopkinsville and Madisonville, one in Princeton and another in Central City, in addition to Better Senior Living in Cadiz.

Tabor said the Cadiz facility has 40 residents who will benefit from the project this year, among a total 400 in all seven facilities who will receive gifts through Forgotten Angels.

She said individuals participating in this year’s project should return items to the PADD office by Dec. 15. Anyone who can’t drop off the items may call Tabor at 370-886-9484 or email her at cindy.tabor@ky.gov.

The gifts should be unwrapped.

Donations may also be monetary.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.