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Library will purchase new drop-off box following successful fundraiser
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The Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library hosted its “Drop-In Dinner” event in Downtown Hopkinsville Saturday with positive success, allowing the library to nearly reach its goal and will ultimately be able to purchase a new book drop box.

Prior to the official beginning of the progressive-style dinner at 4 p.m., participants had to check in at the Hopkinsville Brewing Company between 12 and 3:30 p.m. for the “Epilogue,” where each person would receive an armband, a commemorative sili-pint cup and an itinerary.

The Drop-in Dinner then officially began at 4 p.m. Saturday with three separate groups starting at either Downtown Hopkinsville’s the Mixer, the Main Street Tavern or the Local for what the event dubbed as “Chapter 1.”

After spending roughly 30 minutes at the first stop, a guide, or “narrator” as the library dubbed them, would lead the group to their next stop at one of the three respective restaurants for “Chapter 2.”

Following “Chapter 2,” the groups headed to the last of three restaurants for “Chapter 3.”

Then, to top off the event for the day, each group would all meet at the Public Library for the “Epilogue,” which was hosted by the Corner Coffee House.

Each stop on the event included menus with drink pairings that highlighted each restaurant’s popular selections. Then at the “Epilogue,” the Library was decorated for the event and included a live music performance, a photo booth as well as coffee and dessert.

The event was hosted as a fundraiser to help the Library purchase a new book drop-off box after their most recent drop-off box had been broken beyond repair.

HCCPL’s Executive Director DeeAnna Sova shared that the Library’s goal was to sell 130 tickets to the event to help fund the purchase of the new box. The event ultimately sold 126 tickets, which Sova shared she was pleased with.

“Our goal was 130, so we’re not upset at all that we did not sell four — we are very happy with our turnout,” Sova said.

She added that with the 126 tickets sold as well as a recent generous donation of $3,000 from the Friends of the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library, the Library will be able to make the purchase of a new drop-off box.

Sova estimated that from the ticket sales alone, the library made a roughly $4,200 profit to go towards the fundraiser. So, in total, the library raised around $7,200 for the new drop-off box, which Sova said costs anywhere between $7,000-$7,500.

Sova shared that since the library has raised enough funds to cover the purchase of the new box, it hopes to receive it and get it up and running for the community by some time in January.

Sova added that the event received a generous amount of positive feedback being that it was a progressive-style dinner, which had not yet been done in Downtown Hopkinsville.

“In general, everyone seemed to have a fantastic time.” Sova said, before adding that the event was mutually beneficial between the Library and the downtown restaurants that were featured in the event. “The event also gave us another reason to serve us an opportunity for us to give back and support some of our downtown restaurants the same way they support us.”

The library director also shared that she received several comments that the participants enjoyed the event because it was different than any other event in downtown Hoptown so far.

“It was just a different approach to a fundraising dinner, which was our goal — we wanted something different and, at the end of the day, we wanted people inside of our library, just to show that we are very proud of what we have here,” Sova said.

Rotary grant to help CCPS program
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A Christian County Public Schools workshop that helps to teach students important life skills got a nice boost recently from the Hopkinsville Rotary Club.

The club has awarded a $4,500 grant to CCPS in order to help assist the “Adulting 101 — Skills That Pay the Bills” workshop series, which is a part of the district’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program.

The workshops teach competencies that assist scholars in transitioning to life after high school. The workshop topics include: FAFSA, scholarships, the Rotary Scholars Program, money management, credit, budgeting, how social media can help or hurt in finding employment, how to change a tire, how to jump a dead car battery, how to file an EZ tax return, professionalism, how to tie a tie, Interviewing skills, why soft/social skills matter and will conclude with a career panel representing a multitude of occupations.

Various Hopkinsville Rotary Club members will serve as the professional experts in facilitating the workshops. The money donated to the program will be used to purchase interview appropriate clothing for the WIOA In-School Youth Program scholars.

“The Rotary Club of Hopkinsville is thrilled to partner with the CCPS WIOA Program by taking part in the “Adulting101: Skills That Pay the Bills” and to be able to award $4,500 to help these students transition into the next chapter of their lives,” Hopkinsville Rotary President Cody Noffsinger said in a press release. “Rotary believes in service above self leadership and it is an honor for our club to be able to share that philosophy with our community’s future leaders.”

The CCPS WIOA program is an in-school youth education and workforce development program that currently includes seniors from all three high schools and is funded through the West Kentucky Workforce Board.

“The money from the Rotary Club of Hopkinsville will make a deep impact for years to come with this elite group of seniors,” Workforce Program Specialist Kelly Gates said in a press release. “The needed funding will be put to excellent use, but the time and mentorship from Rotary Club Members is invaluable. I have no doubt that they will see a return on their investment in the future.”

The Rotary Club of Hopkinsville will begin this grant collaboration immediately with the first workshop happening on December 1, 2021.

“As we all work to build the Hopkinsville Rotary Foundation the goal is to continue to have many more opportunities to partner with our local youth,” Noffsinger said.

To learn more about the Rotary Club of Hopkinsville and how you can donate to the Rotary Foundation please visit HopkinsvilleRotary.com.

Defense to consider plea offers in FUMC child abuse cases prior to trial
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The four suspects accused in the First United Methodist Church child abuse case appeared in court Monday morning as their defense attorneys continue to prepare for the upcoming trial in February.

Abby Leach, 33, Allison Simpson, 25, Rev. Paige Williams, 62, and Nina Morgan, 53, are all accused of being involved in a criminal abuse case that allegedly occurred at the FUMC Daycare.

All four, along with their respective defense attorneys, appeared in Judge John Atkins’ court Monday, with some appearing in person and some appearing via Zoom.

Butler County Commonwealth’s Attorney Blake Chambers, who is the most recent special prosecutor assigned to the case, appeared via Zoom and advised the court that after taking up the case in August, he had not had a chance to meet with many of the defense attorneys in the case.

The defense attorneys in the case also shared that none of their clients had accepted a plea offer in the case yet, but may still do so prior to the trial in February.

With that in mind, Chambers requested that the case be continued to another pretrial conference date in January as each party prepares for the trial and continues to negotiate possible resolutions.

“I have not had a chance to speak with many of the defense counsel in this case,” Chambers said to Atkins.

“I would ask if we could potentially put this on for a pretrial in January. I don’t know if you’ve got any days that are open in case we need a substantive hearing or to enter a plea. I still think a resolution is possible in some of these cases.”

Chambers continued to share that he had not been able to meet and speak with the defense attorneys in this case due to a large number of trials he has been a part of in recent months. He added that he plans on meeting with them in the near future to attempt to resolve the cases.

Atkins ultimately agreed with the request and set a pretrial conference hearing for Jan. 27. Atkins added that the date will also be reserved for any possible motions either party would like to file prior to the trial date. However, the judge emphasized that no motions would be heard by the court unless filed in a timely manner.

“We’ll only hear anything that’s filed on adequate and proper notice — at least a week,” Atkins said. “Or, if there are guilty pleas contemplated, the court would appreciate being notified of that, because I’ll have to arrange to have a probation and parole officer here.”

According to New Era archives, on April 28 Leach and Williams were both arraigned on new superseding indictments.

Previously, the pair were charged with a single count of complicity to first-degree criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12.

Under the new indictments, both are now charged with eight counts of complicity to first-degree criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12.

Simpson is charged with 29 counts of first-degree criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12 and one count of second-degree criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12.

According to the indictment, 11 of the 30 charges are allegedly related to the same child while the other charges are for seven other children who were under Simpson’s care at the daycare.

All counts allege that Simpson “abused (the children) who are under the age of 12, thereby placing (the children) in a situation that may cause serious physical injury, causing torture, cruel confinement or cruel punishment.”

Morgan is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12. Those charges allegedly occurred Jan. 5 and Jan. 16, 2019.

Williams, who was the senior pastor at the church, and Leach, who was the former day care director, are both charged with eight counts of complicity to first-degree criminal abuse of a child under the age of 12.

According to court documents, Williams and Leach committed complicity to criminal abuse by “intentionally breaching their legal duty to protect (eight) minor children all less than 13 months old, by failing to prevent Allison Simpson from intentionally abusing these children.”

Trigg tourism bounces back in 2021
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After a loss last year of almost $41,000, the Cadiz-Trigg County Tourist and Convention Commission has bounced back in 2021, experiencing a net income of around $131,000 as of the end of June.

“This was good,” noted Debbie Fuller, a partner with Calhoun and Co., the certified public accounting firm that conducted the audit for the local tourism agency.

Fuller spoke to the commission during its regular meeting.

She noted that slight increases in revenue and a decrease in some expenses contributed to the improvements. She said, for example, that television advertising was down in 2021 as was advertising out of town in places such as Paducah and Evansville, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, events were down quite a bit, and that was a big reason expenses were down, according to Fuller. She also noted that the abatement to Harper House, a local restaurant, was down.

The commission had total revenues of $637,000 as of June 30, with $506,000 incurred in expenses.

Fuller said 73% of that revenue came from the restaurant tax, with another 25% from transient room taxes. Around 1% was due to matching funds, interest income and receipts.

The majority of the commission’s expenses, 36%, was due to advertising, while another 22% represented what the agency pays to the Trigg County Parks and Recreation Department. Salary and benefits were 21% of expenses, 5% went to the Harper House tax abatement and 3% to maintenance.

The remaining 13% fell into different areas, according to Fuller.

She said her firm found that the commission’s financial statements were presented fairly.

“That’s what you want so that’s a clean opinion on the financial statements,” Fuller noted.

She said Calhoun and Co. did have one internal control finding, with some of the invoices in cash disbursements not signed off as being approved; if it isn’t signed, then it can’t be assumed that the invoice was approved, Fuller explained. She noted that, in the future, a board member will approve the invoices and sign the checks in order to address the need for a segregation of duties.

Fuller said she would also like for a board member to review the commission’s bank statements, initial and date the invoices, noting that gives proof that the board member has seen the invoices.

Yet another suggestion from the auditing firm is for the commission to adopt a capitalization policy, meaning that the agency will keep up with its purchases on a balance sheet.

Commission Executive Director Bill Stevens said he was interested in the policy which, among other things, could help the agency keep abreast of its plans and expenses related to the possible purchase of a vehicle.

Fuller also suggested that the commission include its Christmas bonuses on payroll.

“That’s how that should be handled,” she said.

In other business:

  • Stevens said the commission is “still averaging pretty good on the mail out information,” with more than 900 pieces of information about the local community sent in October and to date this month.
  • The commission approved minutes from its September meeting, along with financial reports for September and October.
  • According to the commission’s financial reports, the agency had total liabilities and equity of $443,378.46 as of Sept. 30 and total liabilities and equity of $466,728.14 as of Oct. 31.
  • The director noted that upcoming activities in the community include the Mingle and Jingle open house on Saturday, Shop Small Saturday encouraging people to shop local on Nov. 27 and a Fine Arts and Crafts Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Lake Barkley State Resort Park convention center.

Additionally, Dec. 4 will feature “Magical Characters on Main Street” from 4 to 5 p.m., with youth invited to meet the likes of Olaf from “Frozen” or various Disney princesses. The annual “Festival of Trees” will take place at the Janice Mason Art Museum, and the Cadiz Christmas Parade is at 6 p.m.

Stevens said the commission gave organizers a thousand Halloween eggs to hand out during the community’s recent Halloween Safe Night.

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