Hopkinsville came together Thursday morning to celebrate and honor local military veterans for Veterans Day. Two separate events were held across town; one at University Heights Academy and the other at the Veterans of Foreign War Post 1913.
Local veterans, public officials, students and their parents all came together just before lunch Thursday inside the Hopkinsville VFW as the VFW celebrated Veterans Day and presented the winners of the post’s Voice of Democracy and Patriot Pen essays.
The essay contests are held through the VFW each year and asks local students to submit essays and compete for a chance to win a certificate as well as a cash prize. Each student who enters receives a cash prize, however, the first through third winners, win more than the rest.
First place for the Voice of Democracy essay wins $125, while second place earns $75 and third receives $50. All other students earn $20 each.
First place for the Patriot Pen essay earns $100, while second receives $75 and third wins $50. The rest get $20 each.
VFW Post Commander John Brame first presented the first place winners of each essay and allowed them to read their essays aloud to the crowd to honor Veterans Day and its importance.
Brame first presented the winner of the Voice of Democracy contest, Eva Blankenberger of Hopkinsville High School.
Blankenberger’s essay focused on where America had been at the creation of the Constitution compared to where the U.S. is today and that the country had been founded on the principles of being one whole, equally, while today the country is divided.
“The men who wrote the Constitution wanted America to be united as one to work together and to achieve greatness,” she said as she read her essay.
“Currently, the citizens of America battle both mentally and physically with obvious and ulterior motives. The two party system, the inclusion of new cultural preferences and all citizens, despite their ideologies and differences, are what America should return to. This is where America should go.”
Brame then presented the winner of the Patriot Pen essay, Molly Cansler, from Christian County Middle School.
In her essay, Cansler questioned what it means to her to be American outside of the usual things people say, such as brave, proud and free. She shared that she believed that being American is about being patriotic and showing thankfulness for those who have served the country and fought for American freedoms.
“If people fought for my freedom, then isn’t my responsibility to keep it and show my thankfulness through my actions and not just on the holidays,” Cansler said.
“Thankfulness is also another big piece of being American. Yes, I appreciate and thank veterans for all their sacrifices, but I should also show I am thankful through my actions and the way I address people.
“Knowing that we live in the land of the free, we should be welcoming to others that may be coming for the same things our ancestors fought for.”
For the Voice of the Democracy contest, Carly Chaudoin earned second place while Rachel Baker took home third. For the Patriot Pen essay contest, Brandon Reinhart took second place while Taylor Nail earned third place.
Local vets from various branches of the military also gathered in the UHA gym Thursday morning and were greeted with smiles and songs from the academy’s elementary school children.
Each grade of students, first through fifth, honored, thanked and celebrated the community’s veterans by singing them songs, reading them patriotic poems and gifting them hand-crafted poppies.
The local vets and students were also able to listen to a key-note speaker who spoke on the importance of military members and veterans’ sacrifices to serve the country in order to preserve every American’s freedoms.
UHA introduced Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Kelli Pendleton, who first asked the students how many of them had parents that are currently serving or had served in the military. Roughly half of the students raised their hands.
Pendleton then asked how many of them had other family members who have served or knew of anyone who had served. Almost all of the students raised their hands.
“We live in a great community full of amazing veterans and our military,” Pendleton said as the students held their hands high.
Pendleton then shared with the children the history of Veterans Day and its transition from originally being Armistice Day to eventually becoming Veterans Day to celebrate and honor all veterans who have served in any conflict.
Pendleton then took the opportunity to directly thank the veterans in attendance for their service and their sacrifices.
“We have a lot of veterans with us today, so to our veterans: Thank you, thank you, we cannot thank you enough, you and all those who have worn the uniform,” she said.
“We want you to know from the bottom of our hearts that we appreciate all of you, regardless of which branch you served or which era or conflict.”
Pendleton also encouraged every student to thank a veteran or active duty soldier every time they see one, not just on Veterans Day.
“Not just today, but every day, because we are blessed and you walk among America’s greatest and you walk among heroes,” Pendleton said to the students.
The Christian County Public Schools board voted unanimously to give students and teachers a longer Thanksgiving break.
In a short meeting over Zoom, the board decided to allow students and staff to have the Monday and Tuesday leading up to Thanksgiving off.
“Often in the past, these two days have been low attendance days because people would leave and go out of town anyway,” Director of Pupil Personnel Melanie Barrett said.
The extra two non-education days for CCPS students will not require additional student attendance days to be added to the 2021-2022 school calendar. In the event of inclement weather, CCPS has one available ‘snowday’ and, if required, can utilize non-traditional instruction (NTI) days.
“I think this is a great idea,” school board chairman Tom Bell said. “We have families and students and administrators and classified and nonclassified employees who have been working very hard. And this holiday will show gratitude and be a week of thanks. They will be able to relax and then come back and do great things in the Christian County Public School system.”
Students and staff were already scheduled to have off Wednesday, Nov. 25 through Friday, Nov. 26. Now the break will be also include Nov. 22-23.
One of the suspects charged with engaging in organized crime for his alleged involvement in the “Face Shot Gang,” also known as “FSG,” had his motion for the reduction of his bond taken under advisement Wednesday morning in Christian Circuit Judge John Atkins’ court.
Jacquan Redd, who recently turned 18 years old after being arrested for engaging in organized crime, appeared in Atkins’ court via Zoom while at the Christian County Jail along with his defense attorney Michael Thompson, who appeared in person to argue the bond motion.
Thompson requested that Redd’s bond be lowered to 10% of $20,000, in other words, $2,000 in cash, based on his young age as well as some of his codefendants in the case having already received lowered bonds. His bond is currently set at $50,000 in cash.
Thompson also requested that he be allowed to be released on ankle monitor with strict conditions.
Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Boling argued against reducing Redd’s bond and shared that some of his codefendants’ bonds are set at $20,000 in cash, not at 10%.
“Several of the codefendants are on $20,000 cash and the only ones that were reduced and released were done by pretrial officers outside of Christian County and those were inadvertently reduced,” Boling said.
Boling continued to argue that while he has not had an opportunity to access Redd’s juvenile criminal record, he believed that he had been previously charged with a gun-related offense.
Thompson also interjected that Redd’s charges are based on his older brother, Jacquez Redd, 21, being the alleged leader of “FSG.”
“One of the allegations that came out previously before it got to this court is that his older brother is the leader of this gang and that’s the kind of environment he’s grown up in,” Thompson said. “That’s why we’re asking the court to give him a bond, put him on an ankle monitor and let him prove that he can move beyond his family’s influence.”
Boling rebutted that Redd has had chances to prove that, but has failed to do so.
“He’s had that opportunity,” he said. “He’s been through (the Department of Juvenile Justice). He’s failed to do it repeatedly.”
However, Boling requested that if the judge felt that reducing the bond was appropriate, to only reduce the bond to $20,000 in full cash and no lower.
Ultimately, Atkins chose to take the bond motion under advisement for one week as he wanted to allow Boling to access Redd’s juvenile criminal history and provide it to the court as well as Thompson, before the judge gives his decision.
Jacquan Redd is one of several young men charged with engaging in organized crime for their alleged involvement in the “Face Shot Gang.”
According to New Era archives, Isaiah Henderson, 20, Jayden Weaver, 18, Antoniyon Cayce, 19, Emonie Evans, 18 and Jacquez Redd, 21, were all also arrested for their alleged involvement in the local gang.
One of the suspects accused of being involved in the murder of Calvin Taylor, 70, on Oct. 12, 2020, at a home on North Kentucky Avenue received his final sentence from Christian Circuit Judge Andrew Self Wednesday afternoon.
Anthony Manning, 25, who was originally charged with complicity to murder and complicity to first-degree robbery, entered an Alford plea deal in early September to his allegedly involvement in the crime.
An Alford plea means that Anthony Manning is not admitting his guilt, but does acknowledge that if the case were to go to trial that there may be enough evidence to convict him. An Alford plea is treated like a guilty plea in court.
Anthony Manning’s plea deal amended his charges down to lesser offenses and required him to testify truthfully in the trial of his mother, Larayna Manning, 48, who is accused as the main perpetrator in the murder and robbery.
His plea deal amended his complicity charges to facilitation to complicity to murder and facilitation to complicity to first-degree robbery.
The deal also carried a recommended sentence by the commonwealth of five total years in prison. The commonwealth is also opposed to Anthony Manning receiving probation or shock probation in the case.
Wednesday afternoon, Anthony Manning appeared in Self’s court via Zoom while his defense attorney Shannon Powers appeared in person to argue that he be granted probation.
Powers shared with the court that Manning has already served 376 days in custody, making him parole eligible for the charges that he pleaded to.
Powers continued to explain that if Anthony Manning were to be granted probation, he would reside with his grandfather and would seek employment under his grandfather and would also seek work as a welder.
With that in mind, Powers requested that the judge grant him probation.
However, before Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Boling presented his stance on the request of probation, Self gave Manning a chance to speak on his own behalf.
Manning shared with the court that he has struggled with the guilt of his involvement in the case and apologized for his actions.
“First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the court,” he said. “I’ve thought about so many things that I wanted to say today and I’m lost for words, because I shouldn’t even be here today before you, Your Honor. I deal with the guilt of not knowing if there’s something that I could’ve done to change the course of my actions that led me here today and I’m just sorry.”
Boling then reiterated that the commonwealth is opposed to him receiving probation due to the case involving homicide.
“While his involvement was limited, his involvement still played an integral part in the ultimate crime that was committed of murder and robbery based on the transportation of his mother,” Boling said. “I empathize with his situation and scenario as well as his grandfather’s — I’ve had numerous conversations with his grandfather — but, I believe the commonwealth still has to oppose probation.”
After hearing both arguments, Self ultimately chose to sentence Manning to five years in prison based on the nature of the crime he pleaded to have played a part in.
However, Self emphasized to Manning that he is likely already eligible for parole and would likely be granted release after a short time.
“I do believe that Manning will be released in the very near future on parole,” Self said. “That’s not a certainty and I understand that and if he is not then the court would consider a motion for shock probation at the appropriate time, but I am not going to grant probation today.”
Larayna Manning’s trial is set to begin on Tuesday, Dec. 7 and is expected to last until Dec. 10.
Larayna Manning is charged with murder and first-degree robbery. She is also charged in two other separate cases with first-degree trafficking in cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, fraudulent use of a credit card under $10,000 and theft of receipt of stolen credit or debit car.
According to archives, Larayna was driven to Taylor’s home by her son, Anthony and had allegedly intended to obtain drugs at the home.
Larayna allegedly entered the home while Anthony stayed in the vehicle. While Anthony was waiting inside, he heard gunshots and entered the home to find Taylor shot and Larayna inside a bathroom.
Larayna allegedly asked Anthony if Taylor was dead and if they should call the police.
Archives state that Anthony allegedly told her not to call the police.
Taylor was later found by HPD officers with gunshot wounds to his head and abdomen and his mouth and wrists had been duct-taped, indicating there may have been a robbery.
Drugs, cash and a safe were reportedly missing from the home, according to the archives.
Also according to archives, another vehicle had also arrived at Taylor’s home around the same time the Mannings arrived.
It is not clear if Larayna had fired any shots.
In other court news, Self denied a bond reduction motion for Robert Jackson, 36, who is accused of reckless homicide for allegedly causing the death of two individuals in a vehicle collision that occurred in December 2019.
Jackson’s defense attorney Alison Mohon submitted the motion on his behalf roughly two weeks ago.
However, Mohon acknowledged that her bond motion had only been filed the day before Jackson was to appear for a regular pretrial conference hearing, which resulted in the commonwealth not having ample time to file a response to the motion.
Due to that, Jackson’s bond hearing was moved to Wednesday in which Christian County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Bolen was able to argue against the motion.
Mohon reiterated her arguments from the previous court appearance.
Mohon argued that Jackson had also received serious injuries from the collision and is still dealing with those injuries two years later and argued that while the court previously ordered that he be allowed all of his medications in jail, he is only getting them sporadically.
She continued to argue, though, that he is not a danger to the community and if he were allowed to be released, he would be able to get his medications consistently, which she said would also allow him to appropriate work on his case.
Wednesday Mohon also shared that Jackson is scheduled for surgery this month.
Bolen argued against reducing his bond based on his criminal history, which allegedly includes several marijuana and cocaine possession or trafficking charges as well as a DUI and convictions of driving on a suspended driver’s license.
Self sided with Bolen’s arguments and denied the bond motion based on the judge’s belief that Jackson would be a danger to the community.
“The court makes a specific finding that Mr. Jackson is a danger to others and we’ll leave the bond as is,” Self said.
However, Self did explain to Mohon that he would likely allow Jackson to be furloughed from custody to be transported to his surgery and that the court would revisit that issue closer to the date of the surgery.
Jackson is currently charged with two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.
According to New Era archives, Jackson was served a warrant for his arrest on charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment on Sept. 19, this year.
Jackson is accused of crossing the centerline of Princeton Road and colliding head-on with a vehicle driven by Misty Quarles, 32 on Dec. 23, 2019.
The collision reportedly caused Quarles’ vehicle to exit a bridge and land in a creek bed. Misty Quarles and Alexia Trump, 11, who was a passenger in the vehicle died from their injuries sustained in the wreck.
Two other passengers in the vehicle, Marcus Quarles, 34, and a juvenile who was referenced in the indictment as “G.Q.,” were seriously injured in the collision and were flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, but were able to survive.