The Hopkinsville City Council met Tuesday night for a regular meeting in which the council presented several awards and recognitions to Hopkinsville Firefighters and Hopkinsville Department of Parks and Recreation staff before entering into official council business.
The Hopkinsville Fire Department was the first to be recognized Tuesday night as three of its employees were recently promoted and one of the department’s captains recently retired.
Hopkinsville Fire Chief Steve Futrell took the podium to share with the council and the public that two firefighters, Kyle Graves and Payton Rogers, had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
Futrell shared that Rogers was hired on as a firefighter in 2018 and in the same year earned the Chief’s Excellent Service Award. Rogers also earned the Chief Deputy’s Merit Award and was voted as the Firefighter of the Year by the department in 2019. Rogers also currently serves as the department’s public information officer.
Futrell continued to share that Graves was hired on in 2014 and is currently an instructor, driver and operator, is a member of several teams within the department and serves as the treasurer for the Fire Department Association.
Following Futrell’s recognition of the two, Hopkinsville Mayor Wendell Lynch presented the two men with awards and congratulated them on their promotions.
Futrell then recognized Firefighter Andrew Watts as he was recently promoted to Fire Captain.
Futrell stated that Watts began with HFD in 2006 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2017.
Watts also presented an award from Lynch and was recognized and congratulated by the council.
Before Futrell moved on to share with the council about Fire Captain Bill Nightingale’s recent retirement, the chief wanted to present the council with two men who had passed a milestone within the department.
“We actually had a milestone recently in the fire department with a couple of employees and the mayor and myself thought that we should really acknowledge that,” Futrell said.
Futrell called Battalion Chief Michael Henderson and Engineer Anthony Harris to come forward before the council to share that both men had recently achieved 25 years with the fire department.
“I have worked with both of these gentlemen my entire career because they started before me and they hit their 25 years recently,” Futrell said of the two men.
Lynch then read award certificates for the two men and thanked them for their continued years of service to Hopkinsville.
Futrell continued on as he recognized Nightingale in his recent retirement from the department.
Futrell shared that Nightingale started at the department in 2001 before receiving a medal of valor in 2010 when he and two other firefighters saved one of the department’s fallen firefighters. In 2014, Nightingale was promoted to Lieutenant and then promoted to Captain in 2018.
“Please know that your city and its citizens were well protected under (Nightingale’s) service,” Futrell said of Nightingale. “In his career, he has been unwavering in his dedication to the city and the men and women of the Hopkinsville Fire Department.”
Futrell then spoke to Nightingale’s family as he thanked them for his service to the department.
“Be proud of Bill and know that he has brought honor to your family by his selfless nature and heroic acts,” Futrell said. “Bill has ever been more than just a firefighter, he’s our friend and our brother and always will be.”
Nightingale received a standing ovation from the crowd for his service before Lynch presented him with an award and thanked him for his time at HFD.
The council and the mayor then presented awards to Hopkinsville Parks and Recreation for two awards the department recently earned at the Kentucky Recreation and Parks Society state conference.
Lynch presented Parks and Rec Superintendent Tab Brockman with the KRPS Department of the Year award for his department as well as the KRPS Outstanding Facility Award for the Planters Bank-Jennie Stuart Health Sportsplex Hopkinsville.
Lynch commended the Parks and Rec department for its service to the people through the COVID-19 pandemic and earning the top awards amidst the pandemic’s hardships.
“That did not dampen your resolve and you all hung in there and continued to do what you had to do to serve your clients and we are so proud of you,” Lynch said. “And, this year, as we are trying to come out of COVID, to walk away with the best hardware is really amazing.”
Brockman took the opportunity to say that the awards are for the city and its partnerships and teamwork rather than being for the department itself.
“It’s a community award, because we are not able to do what we do without the support of everyone else in Public Works, our friends at the fire and police department, without the Sheriff’s department, street department — we all come together to make events happen,” Brockman said. “So, it’s an award for the city.”
In other council business, the council voted on the second reading of an ordinance detailing the refinancing of two city bonds that would essentially result in over $1 million in savings over several years.
Hopkinsville Chief Finance Officer Robert Martin and Baird Public Finance Director Mark Rawlings both explained to the Committee of the Whole in October that the city has two bonds that are now available to be refinanced at lower interest rates.
Martin continued to explain during that meeting, that 10 years ago, the city had two separate bonds that were essentially combined into one bond, but the two had separate amortization schedules and became known as Series 2011A and 2011B Bonds.
Martin also explained at that time that 2011A contains two leases and financed construction of the Tie Breaker Family Aquatic Center park, purchase and renovations to the Public Works building and construction of Gander Memorial Park for Fort Campbell soldiers as well as financed the original renovations to the Old First City Bank Building. The 2011A bond is set to mature by 2036.
While 2011B was originally issued to finance construction of the Municipal building. The 2011B bond is set to mature by 2037.
“Just to let you know how much is left on these bonds, on the 2011A bond, the portion that is for the water park, public works building and Gander park, there is a principal balance of $1,345,000 left,” Martin said at the committee meeting. “Of that, approximately 70% is for the water park.
“The First City Bank bond portion has $795,000 principal remaining ... The other bond, 2011B, we still have a principal balance left on that of $6,665,000.”
Rawlings then explained that the savings from refinancing those bonds were estimated to be $120,000 or roughly $8,500 per year for the Series 2011A Bonds as well as a reduction in the interest rate of the bond from 3.4% down to 1.42%.
The savings for the Series 2011B Bonds were estimated to be approximately $1 million or $62,500 per year and an estimated reduction of its interest rate from 3.4% to 1.78%.
Rawlings explained that the interest rate decreases are estimated on the current market and the city is looking to sell those bonds in the near future to secure the refinancings.
“We’re looking at a bond sale in the first week of December, right after coming out of Thanksgiving,” Rawlings said. “Hopefully, we’ll lock in a very low interest rate at that point and from there, they will replace these bonds and the city will then make the payment on the new bonds.”
During Tuesday’s council meeting, the committee voted unanimously to accept the second reading of the refinancing ordinance, forwarding it to a second reading.
The council also voted to approve the second reading of a telecommunications ordinance and franchise agreement that ultimately allows the city to enter a 10-year franchise agreement with OpenFiber Kentucky Company, LLC.
The members of Genesis Express Inc., believe they can provide better services and some new programs to meet the needs of younger students as well as folks in the community who are unemployed.
The Cadiz nonprofit has already begun construction on a new facility just down the street from its existing building and is in the midst of a campaign to raise funds for the facility.
“We’re getting this building to expand on the programs that we already have in place plus provide other programs and services that the new facility will allow us to handle,” noted George Radford, president of Genesis Express.
Radford said his organization will continue to offer its after-school tutoring and its summer reading program but will also have classes that teach computer and vocational skills, along with safety classes and other offerings.
There are plans to invite speakers in to give presentations to the students, Radford said.
He noted that the new classes are targeted to young people who are unemployed, with the goal of introducing them to employability skills, i.e., getting to work on time, working to promote a safe environment and understanding the benefits of being employed.
Radford said these young people typically don’t consider things like the taxes being taken out of their paychecks, they don’t participate in 401K programs, and they don’t pay attention to their insurance benefits.
“We want them to understand the value of a job,” he noted of the importance of the job skills courses Genesis Express is offering.
Radford said the classes will start in the spring, even if the new facility isn’t finished.
He noted that Genesis Express will move all of its services into the facility once it is built, although the nonprofit will continue to use its existing facility for the cooking that helps raise funds for the group; Genesis Express supports its various programs with its catering and barbecue sales, according to Radford.
He said the new facility will be an approximately 11,950 square foot building that will house classrooms, a commercial kitchen, office space and space for storage.
The facility itself is being completed as Phase I and will be finished by late spring or early summer of next year if all goes well.
Radford said the foundation has already been started, the plumbing is in, and the project is waiting on wood materials he said hopefully will be in within another month.
Radford noted that availability of funds will determine the start of Phase II, a gymnasium.
He said the cost of construction for the new facility is more than $1 million, and Radford noted that his nonprofit would like to raise as much of that cost as possible so its members won’t have to borrow a large amount of money that will have to be paid back.
The group has already launched a fundraiser, although Radford said there is no set goal for how much money to raise.
“We want people to contribute how much they would like to,” he noted.
Genesis Express leased its current building on Jefferson Street from the City of Cadiz in 1989 for a period of 99 years. The group remodeled the building, which Radford said previously was a small engine repair shop.
Genesis Express provides assistance through its educational programs, via contributions to the sick and needy and by supporting the programs of Trigg County Public Schools.
It awards scholarships, including four given to students in the Class of 2021, and supports the school system’s athletic programs.
Radford said he believes it’s important that people understand the new facility will be a community center open to everyone.
It will be an inter-generational facility, and Radford said the members of Genesis Express want everyone to feel comfortable visiting the facility, using its computers, bringing students to be tutored, using the catering services or participating in other activities.
Individuals interested in supporting the new construction may do so by sending their donations to P.O. Box 907, Cadiz Ky., 42211, by visiting the Genesis Express Facebook page or the group’s website at genesisexpressinc.org.
Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or email@example.com.
FRANKFORT (AP) — After declining for seven weeks in a row, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Kentucky appear to be hitting a plateau, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
The state reported roughly 3,034 new coronavirus cases in the past three days.
Though the total of new cases last week was higher than the previous two weeks, Beshear said there is not yet "a reason to think that there is another surge" coming.
“Folks, I don’t think we have to be alarmed but we have to be knowledgeable. And we have to be clear on the fact that COVID is still here,” Beshear said at a virtual news briefing. “But, the great news is that we have so many different tools to beat it.”
He urged parents and caregivers to speak to their children's pediatricians about COVID-19 vaccinations, as Kentucky's youngsters made up 25% to 30% of new COVID-19 cases. The pediatric vaccine, Beshear added, is safe and effective.
“The numbers are just as good as they were for adults: 90.7% effective," he said. “And, remember, that’s with a smaller amount the kids get that's separately packaged and separately provided."
In the first week the COVID-19 vaccine was available for those ages 5-11, some 15,163 children received their first dose, and that number is expected to double, he added.
The Democratic governor also announced that the state is looking into opening up eligibility for booster shots. California, Colorado and New Mexico have opened up booster shots to all adults despite federal recommendations that state's limiting doses to those considered most at risk.
In Kentucky, current guidance recommends that people 65 and older should get a booster. People living in long-term group settings, those with underlying health conditions and those exposed to other people through work are also eligible. Boosters are also recommended to recipients of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months after vaccination.
Over 425,000 Kentuckians have received a booster shot, Beshear said.
According to state data, 58% of the total state population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, below the national average.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Christian County Public Schools announced Tuesday that it will be looking into partnering with WildHealth clinic to administer COVID-19 vaccines to ages 5 and up.
Earlier this school year, Christian County Public Schools successfully teamed up with with WildHealth to get students ages 12 and up vaccinated.
The school system said in a press release that more information will be coming soon, but also wanted to let the public know that starting today, the Christian County Health Department will be offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.
“Christian County Public Schools wants to ensure our community is aware of the latest COVID-19 vaccine information,” the press release stated.
CCHD will be accepting appointments and walk-ins for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11 every Wednesday from 7:45 a.m. to noon and from 1-4:15 p.m. The health department encourages individuals to make an appointment at www.christiancountyhd.com to avoid possible long wait times.
CCHD will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines to anyone ages 12 and up on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:45 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. CCHD will not be accepting walk-ins or appointments for anyone under 12 years of age on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
COVID-19 vaccines can also be found at local pharmacies and doctor offices.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines, please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/your-vaccination.html