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News-Herald Year in Review

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Year of change comes to a close

This year has been one for the records.
Owen County, still struggling with a weak economy, has seen its sports teams shine as never before and become a source of immense pride for nearly everyone.
Owen countains faced new challenges and although the winds of change have blown through the community,  the majority preferred to honor traditional and stay the course.
In the past year, we have seen county divide over issues but still willing to come together in the hour of need or for the betterment of the community.
We saw local governments change and look for new ways to do the people’s business.
We saw institutions such as the Owen County Public Library and the Owen County Historical Society grow and change.
We saw private groups look for new ways to bring business and tourism to the community.
We saw beloved landmarks close their doors and new enterprises open for business.
 As we close the books on 2011, the News-Herald salutes all those who stood up and tried to make a difference in our community.
The News-Herald looks back at 2011:

Jan. 5, 2011
New middle school opens

As the Owen County School District’s winter break came to an end, Maurice Bowling Middle School students and teachers were gearing up for Jan. 3, the first day in a new facility.
Owen County Schools Superintendent David Raleigh said despite a snowy December, workers were able to assist in making the move possible.
MBMS now ranks as one of the nicest facilities Raleigh has been in, he said.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” Raleigh said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Jan. 12, 2011
First snow of the year
As winter-weather warnings were being forecast for Owen County Jan. 10, the Owen County road crew began preparing for the first significant snowfall of 2011.
On Jan. 11, a winter weather advisory was issued for Owen County. As forecasted, the snow began the next morning and continued through the early hours of Jan 12.
Snow accumulations were reported as much as four inches in Owen County.

Jan. 19, 2011
County honors school board
Following a proclamation made by Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith, all citizens are urged to honor local school board members throughout the month of January.
On Jan. 11, the Owen County Fiscal Court held its first regular meeting of the year, where Keith signed a proclamation honoring the members of the Owen County Board of Education during the 2011 observance of School Board Member Recognition Month.
“Terry Patterson, Brett McDonald, Brian Young, Stuart Bowling and Dr. Larry Johnson contribute greatly to the reputation of our school district by virtue of their service on the Owen County School Board of Education and these decision-makers are responsible for maintaining strong, effective budgetary oversight, high standards for employment and a safe, well-managed set of school facilities,” the proclamation said.

Jan. 26, 2011
Wet-dry petition begins to circulate
A petition for a wet/dry vote in Owen County recently began circulating, which Owen County Clerk Joan Kincaid said could lead to a costly special election.
The petition asks if Owen countians would be in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Owen County.
To get the petition on the ballot, 901 Owen County registered voters will have to sign the petition.
The amount of signatures needed represents 25 percent of the number of votes cast in the last general election.
Kincaid said 3,604 Owen countians voted in the 2010 general election.

Feb. 2, 2011
Court considers new tax
With an eye toward the future of Owen County tourism, the Owen County Fiscal Court began to consider an ordinance for a transient room tax.
The tax was first discussed in 2010 when several alumni of the Owen County Visioneers — formerly known as Leadership Owen County — attended a fiscal court workshop to discuss the benefits of a transient room tax.
The proposal would mean a 3-percent tax would be charged to anyone renting a place to sleep in Owen County.

Feb. 9, 2011
Tax comes into question
Several local business owners attended the Feb. 1 Owenton City Council meeting seeking more information on a net-profit tax established under former Owenton Mayor David “Milkweed” Wotier.
Although some business owners attending the meeting said they were not aware of the tax, Owenton Mayor Doug West said it has been in effect for several years.
According to the city ordinance, the tax is a 1-percent levy on net profit from business conducted in the city by a resident or a nonresidential business entity.
Owenton City Clerk Laura Aldridge said the tax was not being enforced and auditors suggested the council begin enforcing the ordinance or get rid of it.

Feb. 16, 2011
Gratz bridge replaced
After carrying passengers from Owen County to Henry County and back for 80 years, the Gratz bridge was blasted Feb. 15, 2011, leaving only a memory and some worry behind.
The iconic Gratz bridge on KY 22, with its distinctive appearance, was a landmark in the community since it opened in 1931. Officials with the Kentucky Department of Transportation said the “Warren through truss” construction of the bridge was based on a 1848 design.
Given the age of the old bridge, a replacement project was added to the Kentucky State Highway Road Plan in 2000.
One section of railing from the old bridge will be used as part of a historical monument documenting the history of Gratz and the bridge.
The monument will be built on a grass median at the end of Main Street in Gratz.

Feb. 23
Families unite to fight CHD

Along with hundreds of others, Terry Mitchell and her family turned out to help raise awareness of the impact CHD can have and to show their support for parents and children who face the pain and trauma of the condition during the sixth-annual Walk for Awareness of Congenital Heart Defects in Owenton.
As close to 400 people mingled inside the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, kids laughed and played while the adults talked and visited some of the vendors who agreed to take part.
“It’s so good to see all these kids running around playing together — the ones who have been sick,” Katie Columbia, one of the primary organizers of the event, said. “That really touches you when you see all these kids just having fun.”

Feb. 23, 2011
Osborne, Gayheart honored as region’s best

The Eighth Region announced its year-end awards and the Lady Rebels were well represented.
Junior Rianna Gayheart was named Eighth Region Player of the Year.
Owen County High School Girls Basketball Head Coach Bob Osborne was named Eighth Region Coach of the Year.
Osborne helped guide the Lady Rebels to a 20-5 mark in the regular season. Along the way, the coach picked up his 100th career victory.
Osborne becomes the first Owen County girls’ coach to be named Coach of the Year since Delmas Castle won the award in 2003.

March 2, 2011
Lady Rebels win fourth district title
The Owen County Lady Rebels continued to make a habit of cutting down other people’s nets.
The Lady Rebels came home with the nets from Henry County as they again captured the 31st District Championship. It is the fourth-straight time they have celebrated a championship. The streak began in their own building in 2008 when they knocked off Carroll County. They then went to Carrollton the next year and defeated the Lady Panthers on their home court for the title. Last year, it was the Lady Rebels bringing home nets from Gallatin County as they again knocked off the Lady Panthers.
In 2011, the opponent was different but the outcome was the same — more nets.

March 9, 2011
Evans named city attorney
After two months without a city attorney, the Owenton City Council recently voted to appoint Mitzy Evans to the vacant position.
Owenton Mayor Doug West chose to not reappoint long-time city attorney Mark Cobb in January and recommended Evans to the council.
No motion to appoint Evans was made during the council’s January meeting.
The March 1 meeting was led by Mayor Pro tem Robert Walker. West was unable to attend the meeting due to the death of his grandson in a traffic accident.

March 16, 2011
Court passes transient tax
The Owen County Fiscal Court held a second reading on an ordinance and put a transient tax in place.
The passing of the ordinance meat a 3-percent tax will be charged for anyone renting a place to sleep in Owen County.
According to the ordinance, the tax would include motor courts, motels, hotels, inns or similar accommodations. Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said the ordinance would also include campgrounds.
A separate ordinance establishing a tourism and convention commission will also receive its second reading.

March 16, 2011
Spot found for farmers’ market
The Owen County Farmers’ Market found a new home this spring.
The Owen County Farm Bureau received an $82,419 grant for construction of a permanent structure for the market.
When it reopened May 6, the market was housed under a pavilion located behind Farm Bureau at 430 Roland Ave.
The farmers’ market, which began in 2003, was located on the Owen Country Courthouse lawn for six of its seven years.

March 23, 2011
Owen population slightly increases
While the populations of nearby counties continue to climb, the 2010 U.S. Census results show only a slight population increase for Owen County.
According to 2010 census data, Owen County has a total population of 10,841 ­— a 2.79 percent increase — up only 294 from 2000.
Carroll, Grant, Gallatin, Franklin and Scott counties each had a higher population increase than Owen County.

March 30, 2011
Accident leaves cattle dead
About 15 cattle died and 75 were rescued in a double-decker tractor-trailer accident on U.S. 127 North in Franklin County near the Peaks Mill Road intersection March 23.
The driver, David Evans, 48, of Burnside, sustained minor injuries but refused medical treatment, said Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton.
“He had some minor scrapes and bruises,” Melton said.
In the one-vehicle accident about 8:30 p.m., Evans was southbound, “coming from the Owen County stock yards and the trailer was loaded with 88 to 92 cattle,” Melton said.

April 6, 2011
Group raises money for Relay

The Memory Makers Homemakers Club hosted its seventh “Crop for the Cure” at the Owen County Extension Building.
This was an all-day scrapbooking event where all proceeds raised were donated to Relay for Life. The event this year raised more than $2,000.
Classes were offered on how to make exploding scrap boxes and paper bag scrapbooks. Each scrapper left with a door prize, a baggy of die cuts to use on their scrapbook pages, and a spring shopping bag.

April 13. 2011
Wild winds whip through area

Although the county was pelted with high winds and plenty of rain in April, no significant injuries or major property damage were reported.
Owen County Director of Emergency Management Rick Morgan said his department had only been contacted about a few trees being down near New Horizons Medical Center and the roof of a barn being lifted off on Harris Ridge Road.
The roof of Donald Perkins’ barn flew off due to the high winds that moved across most of the state. Some of Perkins’ possessions in the barn were also damaged.
The Owen County Sheriff ‘s Department and the Kentucky State Police also had no reports of significant damage.

April 20, 2011
Board balks at some changes

An Owen County Elementary School media-specialist position will stay intact following Owen County Board of Education meeting.
The board discussed budget considerations for the 2012 fiscal year and voted to keep the media-specialist position at the elementary school, despite a recommendation from Owen County Superintendent David Raleigh to eliminate the position.
A group of district leaders, which included all the principals, worked on a list of reductions for the 2012 budget.

April 27, 2011
Judo team continues to shine

The Owen County Judo Team hosted the 2011 Rebel Judo Invitational in April. 
Approximately 161 competitors from 23 teams gathered at Owen County High School. 
In the overall team competition, Owen County took first place with 43 points.

May 4, 2011
1,270 names on petition

A wet-dry petition that had been making the rounds in Owen County since January was officially filed at the Owen County Clerk’s Office.
The petition, which included at least 200 more signatures than needed, was signed by “Citizens for Change and Growth.”
A cover sheet to the petition read: “Based on KRS 242.020, we the undersigned, as citizens and registered voters of Owen County, due (sic) hereby petition the Owen County judge-executive for approval to hold a special local option election to either approve or disapprove the sale of alcoholic beverages within the boundaries of Owen County.”

May 11, 2011
Owen countians aid flood victims

A truckload of help left Owen County the morning of May 6.
In the wake of historic flooding and devastating storms that crossed over the southern United States, volunteers from Owen County offered a helping hand and organized a truckload of relief for Alabama residents affected by a series of tornadoes across the state.
Kitty Cammack, one of the key organizers of the donation drive, said this year’s efforts has roots in 2005 and Hurricane Katrina.
Cammack said she started the relief drive in 2005 to help storm victims in Mississippi and helped secure the services of truck driver Danny Cook, who volunteered to deliver the supplies donated in Owen County.

May 18
Dry forces begin organizing

Beech Grove Baptist Church Pastor Steve Delaney acknowledged keeping Owen County dry will be an uphill battle.
In talking to local officials, Delaney was told the ratio for people talking to magistrates in favor of going wet is 10-1.
But as he spoke as part of a meeting of Citizens For A Dry Owen County, Delaney said his side could prevail.
“It’s going to be difficult but this is a winnable fight,” Delaney said. “It’s not something that just a few people can do. We have to be united, dig a little deeper and get our message out with solid facts.”

May 25, 2011
County puts final touches on budget

Fuel prices fluctuating and pricey utility bills were just two of the issues the Owen County Fiscal Court faced while planning for the 2011-12 budget.
The first reading of the budget was held during the May 10 fiscal court meeting.
The budget has been sent to the Kentucky Department of Local Government, which approved it. A second reading of the budget ordinance is expected to take place June 14.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said this year’s budget was tougher to balance than the 2010-11 budget, due to a decline in revenue.
With all expenditures combined, the 2011-12 budget comes to a total of $4,849,092.06.

June 1, 2011
Relay for Life raises $70,000

Celebrating the 13th year in Owen County, hundreds gathered at Itron Field May 27 and throughout the early hours of May 28 for a highly-successful Relay for Life.
About 1,300 people came out for the event and as the sun came up, the event’s chairperson, Jenni Duncan, said about $70,000 had been raised.
A record of around 1,300 luminaries were sold and about 125 people were still camped out at the event Saturday morning for breakfast.
Duncan said the early-morning activities were a success at this year’s event.

June 1, 2011
Hoop wins championship

It seemed like it was never going to happen. Instead, the final chapter of Danielle Hoop’s illustrious high school career had a very happy ending.
In the last race she would ever run in high school, Hoop won the state championship in the 800-meter run.
She won it in thrilling fashion as she edged out Ann Eason from Sayre School. The race was so close that officials had to get together to determine that Hoop won just .005 seconds.

June 8, 2011
Seniors say goodbye

Hundreds filled the gymnasium at Owen County High School June 4 to watch 99 students receive one last round of applause as the graduating class of 2011.
The 2011 class president Gray Grisham opened the ceremony and welcomed the guests.
Brittany DeCandia delivered the devotional.
Following an introduction by Danielle Hoop, the class valedictorians Krista Power and Morgan Forsee took their fellow classmates on a walk down memory lane with a list of 10 lessons learned during their time at OCHS.

June 15, 2011
Monterey residents plan for new community center

Doreen McElroy wants a bench outside the new Monterey Community Center so people in downtown Monterey will have a place to sit down with neighbors and shoot the breeze.
Her idea was one of several presented when more than a dozen concerned Monterey residents gathered to discuss plans for the new center.
Some of the ideas include an open-mike night, after-school programs, workshops on health, workout sessions, movie nights, craft displays, a pool table and video games.

June 22, 2011
School board looks to renovate middle school

Plans moved ahead for the renovation of the old Maurice Bowling Middle School, with third- and fourth-grade students expected to move in by the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.
The Owen County School Board held its regular monthly meeting Monday and after reviewing bids for the renovation project chose, Ross Tarrant — the new middle school’s architect — as architects for the project.
The board also voted to move the renovation project from a “priority two” to a “priority one” on its facility plan.
Owen County School District Superintendent David Raleigh said two major items that are expected to be renovated are the front office area and flooring.

June 29, 2011
Museum shows off history

Dozens of local citizens had the opportunity to take a glimpse into Owen County’s past during the first Owen County History Appreciation and Dedication Day Saturday.
Owen County Historical Society President Jeannie Williams-Baker said 99 people attended the event and each toured the museum.
The historical society recently constructed a pavilion, which was dedicated in memory of Scott Hardin during the event.
“Scott would really appreciate this,” his widow Joyce Hardin said.

July 6:
Former Owen resident killed in Calif.

An encounter at a Rialto, Calif., restaurant resulted in the death of a former Owen County man, Lafe Humble, according to a California newspaper, the Daily Bulletin.
Relatives in Owen County said Humble, 46, had been living in southern California for about three months and had moved there in hopes of finding a job.
The Daily Bulletin quoted a policeman, Sgt. Gary Robertson, who said Humble became intoxicated at the El Toro Grill on June 17.
Humble’s life came to an end shortly afterward in a field in San Bernardino.
Authorities said Humble trusted an employee of the restaurant, Lori Anne Whipple, 33, of Fontana, Calif. to drive him home. They were followed by Gerald Nance, 39, of Rialto, Calif.
According to the Daily Bulletin, police said Whipple and Nance robbed Humble, beat him over the head and then set his 2001 Dodge pickup on fire with his body still inside.
According to a police news release, officers arrested Nance on suspicion of murder June 24.

July 13, 2011
Horse show and fair take spotlight

As the annual Owen County 4-H Fair & Horse Show got into full swing July 11, another Miss Owen County was crowned.
Madison Gamble, the 16-year-old daughter of Kelley and Teena Gamble, received the crown over 10 other contestants.
Gamble was also named Miss Photogenic.
Brittany Clark was the third runner-up, Danielle Hoop was second runner-up and Christina Johnson was first runner-up.
Christina Ueltschi was named Miss Congeniality.

July 13, 2011
First-ever Fan Fair held

 Also in that edition, the first-ever Owen County Fan Fair was held.
The Owen County Visioneers, who organized the event,  deemed the first Owen County Fan Fair a “huge” success.
The event took place July 6-10 at Owen County’s industrial park. Its goal was to introduce those attending the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway to the many things Owen County has to offer.
Visitors who attended Fan Fair came from 24 different states and Canada. States ranged from Maine to Kansas, from Texas to California, as well as Florida to Wisconsin.

July 20, 2011
Annual awards presented

Year after year, an unsuspecting citizen of Owen County arrives at the Owen County fairgrounds pavilion during fair week for a special reason. Some think they’re there to see a friend win an award or to watch a family member in one of the pageants.
This year, the Owen County Hard Rock K-9 Search and Rescue Team and the Grand Paws Search Dog Team arrived thinking they were there to do a demonstration with their search dogs. But instead, they were there to receive one of the most prestigious awards given in Owen County — the Owen Countian of the Year award.
“They had called one of us in advance,” Lannis Garnett, a member of the Hard Rock team said. “They wanted to get the whole team out there, but they didn’t want to tell all of us what was going on. They don’t usually tell people what’s going on, but they knew we had to get all of the dogs there too.”

July 27, 2011
Votes decide to stay dry

The voters of Owen County rejected a proposal that would have expanded alcohol sales.
The final tally was 1,522 votes cast for expanded alcohol sales and 1,792 voting no, a difference of 270 votes.
Owen County Clerk Joan Kincaid said she expected a 53-percent turnout early July 26. When all the results were official, only 44 percent of registered voters cast their ballots.
Steve Delaney, one of the leaders of Citizens for a Dry Owen County, said he is pleased with the margin of victory.
“I wish it had been more of course,” Delaney said. “But I think everyone should be happy with this result,”
Delaney said
“Personally, I give all the credit to God and the people who worked so hard to get out our message,” Delaney said. “All of the committees we had worked very hard to get the information out to the people and we couldn’t have done it without all their hard work.”
Delaney said the turning point in the anti-alcohol campaign may have been the issue of local taxation.
“There were probably a lot of people on the fence who had their minds changed when they realized their was no way to tax alcohol sales yet,” Delaney said.
Owen County Second District Magistrate Casey Ellis, who was in support of going wet, said he knew the election would be close.
“The problem with Owen County is that there aren’t enough avenues for revenue,” Ellis said. “I made an educated decision based on what I thought was best for our economy. As an elected official, I didn’t have the option of making an emotional decision. I did what I felt was best for the county.”

Aug. 3, 2011
Yard sale returns to Owen
Each August, thousands of dedicated bargain hunters in search of a treasure make their way through the strip of U.S. Route 127 that winds through Owen County.
Most Owen countians are no stranger to the 127 Yard Sale, including Greg Estes, who found the treasure of a lifetime right in his hometown during last year’s sale.
Despite its two flat tires and what appeared to be broken pedals, Estes purchased what he said looked like “an expensive sports bike” for $5 at a Roland Avenue sale.
It turns out, the pedals weren’t broken, but instead were custom built and cost about $500.
Estes soon learned that the pedals weren’t the only thing expensive about the bike.
The bike had originally belonged to former Tour de France champion Floyd Landis and was custom built for Landis by Cyco-Path Bikes in Temecula, Calif. The bike was estimated to be worth from $3,000-$6,000.

Aug. 10, 2011
Saveway closes doors
After Saveway Supermarket owner Malone Bourne began announcing the news he would soon close Owenton’s oldest grocery store, the question on all of his customer’s minds seemed to be, “where will we buy our meat?”
Bourne began telling his customers that the store would likely be closed by Labor Day. Signs on the front windows of Saveway announced 20-percent discount on nearly everything in the store.
But with some persuasion from loyal customers and employees, Bourne has decided to keep the store going, but with some major changes.
“Things have been pretty tough for about two years now,” Bourne said. “And with my age and everything I just needed to slow down.”
To slow down, Bourne said Saveway Supermarket will become a meat and deli speciality store.
The store closed for good after a few months of operating as a meat and deli speciality store.

Aug. 17, 2011
Board sets tax rate

For the first time since the 2005-2006 school year, the Owen County Board of Education opted to set its tax rates at the compensating level.
The decision sparked little debate during the board’s August meeting.
Owen County School Board Vice Chairman Brian Young made a motion to set this year’s rates at the compensating level, with a second by Stuart Bowling. Board member Brett McDonald also voted yes, chairman Terry Patterson voted no, and Dr. Larry Johnson was absent.

Aug. 24, 2011
Bank robbers convicted

A federal jury convicted two men of robbing the Gratz branch of the First Farmers Bank in 2010.
 According to an indictment filed in U.S. district court, Bryan Randell Kelly, 24, of Worthville and Edward E. Cook of Frankfort stole approximately $12,693 from the bank at 95 Main St. in Gratz on March 27, 2010. The two were arrested April 2011 following an FBI and Kentucky State Police investigation. Both men were charged with aggravated bank robbery and using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey of the eastern district of Kentucky, the pair, who are half brothers, entered the bank wearing disguises and brandished a firearm at the bank tellers.

Aug. 31, 2011
Test results on the rise

Owen County High School received its ACT standardized test results and saw its highest scores since 2008, when it became a requirement for 11th-graders to take it.
The students’ average composite score was slightly below the state’s average. The state’s average is 18.8, while OCHS scored 18.6.
The local district’s average on reading scores was 19.1, slightly better than the state’s 19, and Owen County tied with the state average in science at 19.
Math scores fell below the state average of 18.5, at 18.2. Owen County’s English scores of 17.4 also fell below the state average, 18.

Sept. 7, 2011  
Owen County boy appears on Kentucky Afield with his hero

Despite being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in February, 6-year-old Brax Ward doesn’t let his condition stop him — just like his role model, Tim Farmer, who is the host of the television show “Kentucky Afield.”
An avid fisherman, Brax watches every episode of Kentucky Afield and began telling his parents that he could identify with Farmer because they both have handicaps.
Since being in a motorcycle accident in 1984, Farmer has not had use of his right arm. Farmer has regained the capacity to do many of the things he loves, such as fishing — he uses his mouth to tie fishing line. He also shoots a bow and arrow with his teeth and shoots a rifle cross-shouldered.
The unlikely friendship led to Brax’s appearance on an episode of the show in September.
Brax is a kindergartner at Owen County Primary School.

Sept. 14, 2011
Family Dollar robbed

The Owenton Police Department sought information from the public after an Owenton business was robbed at gunpoint Sept. 11.
At approximately 8:50 p.m. Sunday, a man wearing a camouflage mask and other camouflage clothing entered the Family Dollar Store at 226 S. Main St., Owenton Police Chief Terry Gentry said.
The suspect pulled what appeared to be a shotgun from under a pillowcase. The man demanded that the employees open the store’s safe.
The subject took more than $500, but less than $1,000, and fled the scene.
Gentry said the robbery only lasted a few minutes.
Store employees called 911 at 8:52 p.m. and Owenton Police Officer Gary Alcorn arrived within a minute and a half. Officer Steve Miller and Gentry also arrived soon afterward.
Gentry said the subject waited until the store was getting ready to close and the last customer had exited the building before going in.

Sept. 21, 2011
Reader helps find missing man

Linda Smith, owner of an Owenton consignment shop, had not heard from her son, Kelly P. Herald III, 32, since July 1.
After a story about the missing man was published in the News-Herald Sept. 7, a customer offered to help, Smith said. “He got on the Internet and did some searching.”
The customer, who wished to remain anonymous, found Herald through a jail website.
“I was just so happy,” Smith said. “I was bouncing off the walls and I immediately started calling everyone I knew to tell them that he’s OK. I just felt so energized and I stayed up really late working. I feel like a different person.”
Herald, was arrested July 1, the day Smith last heard from him. He is incarcerated in a detention center in Vanderburgh County, Ind., on a check fraud charge, according to the detention center’s website.

Sept. 28, 2011
Owen County storm ready

After months of preparation, Owen County was recognized by the National Weather Service’s StormReady Program.
The StormReady program began in 1999 in Tulsa, Okla., and has helped to arm communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before and during a weather-related event.
Owenton Fire Chief David Lilly said to become StormReady, certain criteria are required throughout the United States. An evaluation is done to see if the community in question meets the specific criteria.
“We’ve been working with the city and county officials trying to get the various items that are required,” Lilly said. “We have the sirens in the city and the “One Call Now” system. We also have storm spotter classes that Wilmington, Ohio, puts out and exercises on weather events. Any time we have a weather event, we can have spotters out who will communicate back with us, letting us know the different things they find out, and we can report back to Wilmington.”

Oct. 5, 2011
Library holds ground breaking

With the symbolic tossing of dirt, the Owen County Public Library took another step toward its new home.
Officials from across the state and several representatives from Kentucky congressional delegation were on hand for the ceremony Sept. 28, which formally marked the start of construction of the new facility on KY 22, near the Hi Y-Inn Motel.
“No community is complete without a vibrant public library, which provides small-town residents with access to unique and direct cultural experiences generally found nowhere else in the community,” Tom Fern, state director for rural development, said.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said getting the new library built is a sign the future is bright in the county and people are looking to the future.
With the expanded facilities and parking, the new library will be a landmark for decades to come, Fern said.

Oct. 12, 2011
Minor bed bugs outbreak

Beginning Sept. 22, several bed bugs were found in Owen County schools, but Owen County Schools Superintendent David Raleigh said there was no need for panic.
Owen County Elementary School was the first to send a letter home with students after two bed bugs were found in the school. On Oct. 3, Raleigh said three were found in one classroom around the same desk at Owen County High School, and one was found in the office of the Owen County Primary School.
Raleigh said none were found at Maurice Bowling Middle School.
“The first thing schools do is determine whether or not it’s really a bed bug,” Raleigh said. “Sometimes it could be a beetle. If it is a bed bug, the child cannot return until they come back with a clean bill of health from the health department.”

Oct. 19, 2011
Boothe named homecoming queen

Homecoming is about crowns.
Before the game, Whitney Boothe was crowned homecoming queen.
When the clock ran out on the contest, the Rebels were crowned district champs.
Owen County improved to 8-0 Oct. 14 with a convincing 33-6 win over Carroll County High School.
The win also propelled the Rebels to 3-0 in district play clinching their first district championship since 1981. The win also assured the Rebels a home game in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
“Our first goal was to win the district and we did it,” Owen County High School Head Football Coach Adam Fowler said after the game.

Oct. 26, 2011
Democrats visit Owen County

The Kentucky Democratic Party’s “Tested, Trusted, Tough” bus tour rolled into Owenton Oct. 19. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Kentucky Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, agriculture commissioner candidate Bob Farmer and auditor candidate Adam Edelen each took the floor at the Owen County Courthouse in hopes of receiving Owen County votes. A group of “peaceful protesters,” all from Owen County, stood outside of the courthouse with signs in protest of mountain top removal. Some protesters carried signs in support of Beshear’s education decisions, but slammed his environmental decisions.

Nov. 2, 2011
County updates worker rules

County employees now have an updated administrative code to follow.
The Owen County Fiscal Court held a second reading on the updated administrative code during its Oct. 25 meeting.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said there were no major changes to the code, but it now more closely follows state guidelines.
Under the changes, new disciplinary procedures have been implemented, but Keith said they are recommended and do not have to be followed. The procedure gives employees a verbal and written warning; suspension with or without pay; and dismissal.
The changes also give county employees the same holidays as state employees. And job classifications that were recently put together by the fiscal court have been implemented into the administrative code.

Nov. 9, 2011
City moves for annexation

The Owenton City Council recently passed a motion to move forward with annexing three stretches of highway, for what Owenton Mayor Doug West called “future economic development.”
The plan would annex Hwy. 22 East for 1.9 miles to the new Maurice Bowling Middle School; 127 South to the “Welcome to Owenton” sign; and 127 North to Old New Liberty Road.
West said nothing but the roads would be annexed — from sidewalk to sidewalk.
Craig Bohen, with the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, said a city can annex any land that is contiguous to the city’s existing borders. Annexing only roads is called “corridor annexations.”
Bohen said that if a road is annexed by the city and there is an accident, city police would respond to the accident.

Nov. 16, 2011
Assault leads to arrest

An Owenton man was charged with first-degree assault after allegedly cutting a man with a pocket knife Nov. 6.
According to a search warrant obtained from the Owen County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Daryl Andre Thomas, 52, was arrested after dispatch reported that a person had been stabbed and was at New Horizons Medical Center.
Owen County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Goodrich and Owenton Police Officer Rufus Shearer responded to the call.
The victim, Justin Aylor, told law enforcement that Thomas had stabbed him at Rachel Riddle’s residence at 113 East Perry Street.
Riddle told law enforcement that Thomas tried to stab her with a knife and during the confrontation, Aylor was allegedly stabbed while trying to protect Riddle on the sidewalk in front of her residence.

Nov. 23, 2011
Chamber announces award winners at annual banquet

Following a keynote address by Dr. James Henning at the 11th annual Owen County Chamber of Commerce Dinner Nov. 21, awards were given to outstanding business person of the year, outstanding business of the year and the latest addition to the Owen County Retired Teacher’s Association Wall of Fame.
Awards were given out by Owen County Chamber of Commerce Board Director Dawn Davis.
The winner of this year’s outstanding business person of the year award went to Holly and Craig Bowling, owners of seven Halloween Express stores between Lexington and Cincinnati.
Holly Bowling has been in the Halloween industry for over 21 years and was part of starting Retail Solutions, a subsidiary of Halloween Express, which has grown to over 60 owners and 180 stores.
The two have been married for seven years and have three children.
Holly Bowling is also part of the Owen County Visioneers Committee and helped orchestrate Owen County Days, which was held this past summer during the NASCAR race in Sparta.
Holly Bowling is also a board member of Beka’s Toppers.
“I’m honored, speechless,” Holly Bowling said. “This totally caught me off guard. Everyone has welcomed me into this community and I’m very blessed. I hope I can continue to make Owen County proud.”
Outstanding Business Of the Year went to Minch Hardware.
The business was started in 1945 by Price and Marie Minch. Their children, Verna Stewart and Gary Minch are now the owners.
“In times when small-town businesses have been harder and harder to maintain, this business has kept their eyes open to diversify and offer new products to meet local and not-so-local needs,” Davis said.
Stewart said the award left her speechless.

Nov. 30, 2011
Court may close part of road

A portion of Old Sparta Road could soon be closed indefinitely to traffic after the Owen County Fiscal Court voted to begin the process and hold a public hearing.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said the portion of Old Sparta Road begins when driving down the hill into Sparta. Two double-wide trailers sit on a caving-in hillside, Keith said.
There are no residents in the section being discussed.
“We would be closing it to thru traffic,” Keith said. “The area has become a center for dumping and law enforcement has informed us that it’s an area heavy in drug usage and drinking. They’ve found a lot of drug paraphernalia in the area. The neighbors in the area are very concerned.”
Keith said the area had been used as an illegal dump but was cleaned up, but dumping just recently started back.

Dec. 7, 2011
Arrests made in burglaries

Two Owen County men were arrested by Owen County sheriff’s deputies following separate alleged burglaries.
Bradford L. Wilhoite, 30, of Owenton, allegedly broke into the home of Ricky and Judy Williams on Cull Road.
The alleged incident took place Nov. 21.
“(Williams) had a bunch of jewelry and a shotgun taken,” Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond said. “We were able to recover some of the stuff.”
Wilhoite was arrested Nov. 30 and charged with first-degree burglary, receiving stolen property over $500 and receiving stolen property firearm.
Christopher S. Wilhoite was also arrested for a burglary charge.
According to Hammond, Christopher Wilhoite allegedly broke into two different homes, the first on Slatin Road on Oct. 25.
According to the arrest citation, Christopher Wilhoite allegedly removed a 32” Emerson high definition television from the residence on Slatin Road.
Hammond said the second burglary allegedly took place three or four days later at Hwy. 607 and 330, where Christopher Wilhoite allegedly stole jewelry.

Dec. 14, 2011
Traffic stop leads to indictment

A routine traffic stop for one headlight led to the indictment of an Owen County man after a sheriff’s deputy found methamphetamine in the man’s vehicle.
Ricky D. Helton, 34, was arrested Nov. 3 and charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, operating a motor vehicle while license revoked or suspended and one headlight.
Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond said he often assigns his deputies to different areas for traffic stops.
Owen County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Goodrich was patrolling when he stopped Helton for driving with one headlight.
“He was driving on a suspended license,” Hammond said. “My deputy had him step out of the car and asked if he could search the vehicle. The guy gave him permission and when my deputy started searching he found some meth.”

Dec. 21, 2011
Shelter population concerns some county officials

The Owen County Fiscal Court is looking for options to reduce the amount of dogs at the Owen County Friends of Animals Shelter after each magistrate recently visited the shelter and found it in what some feel is an overcrowded state.
The shelter currently has about 20 dogs, with some in crates in the shelter’s office and bathroom, but Owen County Friends of Animals Director Hilari Gentry said the dogs are not being crated inhumanely.
After each magistrate visited the shelter, the court’s agenda for the Dec. 13 meeting was amended to include a discussion on options to decrease the amount of dogs at the shelter.