In Jan. 1 Issue
One thing that can be said of 2008 is it is over, another thing is that it won’t soon be forgotten.
Nationally it was a year of financial disaster, with the housing bubble bursting, mortgage companies going bust and banks breaking as it happened.
As this year is closing there is yet another war blossoming in the Middle East, as the first of America’s wars in that region,, Afghanistan, is heating up due to a resurgence of the Taliban’s terror attacks in that country.
Years from now historians will sort out which of the news stories it was that changed the world but safe money is betting that one of them will be the election of this country’s first president of African descent.
Locally there isn’t any sure bet on the biggest long-term news story, unless it is the on-going repair to the Wolf Creek Dam.
That activity has brought a great deal of change to Lake Cumberland and promises to continue to effect the economy for at least four more years.
With that in mind here is a short summation of some of this past year’s stories.
In January of this year, Gov. Steve Beshear called Kentucky's budgets situation a "crisis" and called on all departments to look for ways to cut three percent from their budgets.
Also, the Corps of Engineers pushed back a decision to raise the level of Lake Cumberland to 690 ft. above sea level to February as grouting work continued on leaky Wolf Creek Dam.
At the monthly meeting of county leaders Judge-Executive Mickey Garner asked the fiscal court to take the power to oversee operations away from the 911 Dispatch Board, saying that "Dispatch needs to be under the fiscal court."
Also, Richard M. Smith, of Jabez, plead guilty to murder in connection with a shooting that occurred more than four years that left Brandy Oakes dead.
In the monthly hospital meeting, the Russell County Hospital Board of Directors accepted a $150,000 offer by the city of Jamestown to purchase the Monin building for the relocation of city hall due to the forthcoming construction of the new Judicial Center.
In court news, Judge Cletus Miracle of Clay County was appointed to hear the cases of locals Leon Grider, Melinda Wilson and James S. Faller II by the Administrative Office of the Courts after Judge Vernon Miniard recused himself in the highly publicized cases.
February opened with a real fish story, as wildlife officials reported a 14-pound Walleye was captured and released below Wolf Creek Dam.
Two local teens, Devin Wilson and Cheyenne Popplewell, went to Nashville for a shot at the television show, "Can you Duet."
The local Ellis Dairy Dee became Mammy Frog's and has bringing the best legs to the table ever since.
Richard smith was sentenced to 22 years in the penitentiary for the murder of Brandy Oaks in 2003. He was given credit for time served while awaiting trial.
Tornadoes in Tennessee sent debris as far north as property owned by a local radio station owner near Columbia.
Bradley Asberry, 21, of Russell Springs was killed in a motorcycle wreck in Eli.
The news that everyone remembers from February though is the case of the flying truck, and the fallen Doughboy.
Danny R. Wilson, 49, of Somerset was cited for driving under the influence after the 1995 Ford Ranger pickup truck he was driving used the stairs as a ramp and destroyed the statue which had been standing in the center of the square since 1937.
By the next week the city and the American Legion had announced that they would have the statue back on his pedestal, though at the time it wasn't know how much of the cost of the repairs would be bourn by the driver's insurance and how much of it would be from local people digging deep in their pockets.
The battles began that same month over how the 9-1-1 dispatch center would be run and who would be in charge.
Also that month county officials began soliciting for donations to install additional emergency sirens around the county. A number of such sirens were being purchased by the state because of concerns over Wolf Creek Dam, and the county had the chance to buy others and have them installed more cheaply than they would have normally.
The Russell County Project Development Board met and discussed property appraisals for land on which the board wants to build the new Judicial Center early in the month.
The city of Russell Springs placed an $8,000 sign near the Cumberland Parkway on U.S. 127 to welcome visitors as they travel north into the city, a move Russell Springs Mayor Hollis DeHart called "long overdue."
In court news, a Special Grand Jury found no grounds to indict law enforcement officers on criminal charges, according to a report released by Circuit Judge Vernon Miniard.
Russell Springs Mayor Hollis DeHart and local resident Lillard Pettyjohn got into a heated, verbal exchange at the monthly commission meeting over Pettyjohn's questioning of Police Chief Joseph M. Irvin.
The Russell County Fiscal Court approved the application for a $2 million grant from the state for a new expansion project at BRUSS North America at their monthly meeting.
In sports news, Coach Willie Feldhaus' Laker basketball team ended their season in the second round of the region tournament at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green with a 57-48 loss to Bowling Green.
In April it was showers, baby showers, as about 25 local high school students were pregnant, a national trend that was hitting home in Russell County.
It was something of a pregnant pause as the offers came out for the property where the new Russell County Judicial Center is to be built. Many of the property owners including the city were not pleased with the offers. There were counter offers.
The first commercial marina on the lake in Russell County went away, and became the first new marina on the lake in many years. Alligator I, which had been sold a little over a year before became Cave Springs Marina was no longer where the Popplewell family had located it not long after the lake formed. New owner Ed Slusser relocated it to the Jabez community because of lower water levels in the lake.
As that move was finalizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was having trouble keeping the lake at the lowered level they were shooting for. The Corps had lowered the lake to take pressure off of Wolf Creek Dam as work began last year to repair leaks. A very wet spring was making it for the Corps to keep the level low.
Later in the summer and up until recently having too much water was a problem the community could only wish for.
As Tax season was in full swing the stimulus package, $300 to $600 from the IRS, was about to start rolling into people's pockets. There were varied answers on how local people planned on spending that windfall. The $168 billion plan was to be eclipsed by later programs to attempt a rescue of the floundering economy.
There would be no windfall, let alone raises, for workers at the county jail though. Jailer Darrell McQueary was less than pleased with the fiscal court's decision to take no action on his request to give his staff a raise, the first in over 8 years.
Raises and jobs were a joined issue at the school district. An unfunded mandate from the state for pay raises was named as part of the cause for plans to cut staff at local schools. The board also approved a 2-year vacation for the high school's soccer program.
As the month was coming to a close it wasn't your imagination, the earth did move. A 5.2-magnitude earthquake hit the New Madrid Fault and was felt all the way here in the county last April.
Grouting work on Wolf Creek Dam was halted for a time in May due to ecological problems as wastewater was discharged into the Cumberland River without a permit.
A controversial, but silent, special-called meeting of the Russell Springs City Commission saw city commissioners fail to second Mayor Hollis DeHart’s motions to cut their salaries in half and only pay for them to receive a single coverage health plan.
In Jamestown, the Jamestown City Council met in a second special session in less than a week and finally accepted a $225,000 offer by the county’s Project Development Board for the City Hall building and property. The land was needed for the building of the forthcoming Judicial Center.
In business news, Fruit of the Loom expanded their recycling program, according to the plant’s former manager, Dale Halliwell.
One of the more odd moments of 2008 occurred in May when a Florida big rig operator drove hundreds of feet down Caney Creek after an electronic GPS pointed him in the wrong direction. It took local law enforcement and others hours to remove the semi from the creek bed.
After months of anticipation, 18 advanced warning emergency sirens were installed throughout the county and below Wolf Creek Dam, according to Emergency Management Director H.M. Bottom.
On Lake Cumberland, local marina operators were reportedly pleased over the Memorial Day visitor turnout as “perfect” weather shown down on Lake Cumberland and the tourists poured in from the north.
Location and design for the Russell County Judicial Center were agreed to as the property owners took offers and the architects got the okay on preliminary designs in the first weeks of June.
It was another free fishing derby for the kids at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery, and this one was the biggest yet according to organizers.
Eddie Moore took over at Lake Cumberland State Resort Park after Larry Totten moved up to work in the parks’ service headquarters in Frankfort.
Mae Hoover could never be replaced though as she lost her battle with cancer in June and was laid to rest.
Later in the month those plans for the judicial center were approved by state officials, but the idea of a new jail died again.
The fiscal court had commissioned a study on building a new jail, but failed to act on its report. This was not the first or last time the construction of a new jail was proposed, and it was not the first or last time it would be a non-starter with the members of the fiscal court.
Meanwhile at the dam, as work progressed there were inspections of a different kind. Back from their home in Idaho Gene and Sandy Ralston sent their side-scan sonar and remote controlled submersible to the bottom of the lake in search of bodies. The couple had found the body of a drowning victim the previous year and this time were looking to help police with two other cases, but they had no luck.
They didn’t need fancy equipment to find wildlife below the dam. A bear was sighted by volunteer workers in the campground behind the hatchery.
The City of Russell Springs rejected a request to allow ATV use at the city park and the City of Jamestown purchased two ATVs to use on city streets.
The Industrial Authority broke ground on a “spec-building” at the French Valley Industrial Park and the city of Jamestown began construction inside the new city hall building. Construction was drawing to a close on the bridge on Ky. 80 over Russell Creek inside Adair County.
Completion of that project meant no more long detours on even smaller roads for those who skipped the parkway for their trip to Columbia.
A $341 million contract was awarded to Treviicos Corp. and Soletanche Bachy as a joint venture for the major repair work on seepage at Wolf Creek Dam. Six months later the major work has yet to begin.
Jamestown Police and Russell County Sheriff’s deputies took Jamestown citizen Mary JoAnn Haynes into custody at her Jamestown home after she reportedly pointed a gun at an officer following a domestic disturbance. Police used a Taser on Haynes in order to subdue her and take her into custody.
At Wolf Creek Dam, a “hard to interpret” reading of a gauge nearly caused an emergency drawdown of Lake Cumberland. Emergency directors of counties downstream were alerted to the reading and precautionary measures were taken.
The Independence Day holiday weekend brought in a lot of tourists but the high gas prices appeared to affect the numbers somewhat. The annual Jamestown Lakefest proved to be another success as the 3-day event was highlighted by a fireworks show and a free concert by country music group Confederate Railroad.
In news that had been brewing for some time, the ambulance service and 911 was brought under the same umbrella as county and city leaders approved the Interlocal Emergency-911 agreement.
The Russell County Relay For Life raised more than $60,000 for the American Cancer Society in their annual overnight event that brought out hundreds to participate. At the Russell County Hospital, an outside consultant was hired to conduct an independent review of the operation of the facility.
Christopher Robertson, 45, was killed in an ATV accident in Russell County while Jordan Redmon, 16, drowned while swimming in the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River in Tennessee.
In sports news, the Russell County 14-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team won the District 5 Babe Ruth Tournament at Laker Field as well as the East Ky. State tournament in Lexington.
As August began so did school and the filing deadline came and went for local officials interested in being elected to the new council in Russell Springs as well as other offices.
Vendors were worried that the turnout for the 127-Yardsale would be light and it turned out their concerns were well founded. There was however a bumper crop of collisions locally during the event.
Just as people from across the country were not willing to travel hundreds of miles to look at “another man’s treasure,” Kentuckians were not willing to go far either and the state’s parks reported more people were taking “stay-cations,” because of the high cost of gasoline.
Jamestown Elementary student Dorsey Franklin was a finalist in the Weather Channel’s contest for young weather people. In the end the 7-year-old won the national title.
Progress was proceeding apace for readying the new town hall in Jamestown and the new stop lights were going up at French Valley Road and U.S. 127. The “Doughboy” statue had been approved and deliver was anticipated as other work was bring considered at the memorial.
Freak accidents involving boat trailers injured two in the county. One man was struck by a trailer that broke free from a truck that was traveling south on Jamestown’s Boat Dock Road while a teen was struck by a boat and trailer being backed down Lily Creek Boat Ramp.
In September, three deaths occurred on Lake Cumberland as Kevin Sellers died as the result of a boat crash during the opening moments of the annual Poker Run. Sellers and a passenger, Craig Stumpf, were reportedly going 130 mph at the time of the crash. The Poker Run was subsequently canceled due to the incident.
William Jackson, 44, was killed when his boat collided with Cemetery Island and Gina Lawless drowned while swimming near the Pleasant Hill Boat Ramp in separate incidents.
Caleb Farris, 5, was burnt in Russell Springs after being doused with a flaming liquid on his chest and face while playing outside with some youngsters. The state police investigated the incident and Farris is now recovering.
In school news, Kenny Pickett was named assistant superintendent and Scottie Weston took over Pickett’s former job as principal of the Russell County Middle School as the school board announced leadership changes.
On the square in Jamestown, the new “Doughboy” was placed atop the pedestal in Monument Square by members of the American Legion and Jamestown city employees. It was the first time since February’s truck collision that a monument had stood in the town’s square.
October saw some of the Republican candidates facing competition in the coming election visit the Russell County Courthouse to appeal for votes. Rep. Ed Whitfield and Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke to a small crowd in front of the courthouse as Election Day loomed.
In other news, the Jamestown City Council held their final meeting in the old City Hall building. The council heard about the forthcoming “Doughboy” rededication ceremony from American Legion Post 133 member Dan Woodruff.
In sports news, the Russell County Middle School football team, headed by Coach Barry Bolin, ended their season 13-0 and conference champions.
The Lady Laker volleyball team captured the district title under the direction of Sarah Roy while Robin Rixon’s Lady Laker golf team won the regional title and headed to state tournament play. Sophomore Tyla Bailey of Russell Springs was crowned the 2008 Russell County High School Homecoming Queen. Her escort was Tra Taylor of Jamestown.
Jamestown native Cody Wilson, a 25-year-old student at Western Kentucky University, was found dead in his Bowling Green apartment. Foul play was not suspected.
Local teenager Luke Burton, a Laker football player, was killed after the truck he was driving left the roadway and struck a tree in Russell Springs. He was taken immediately to the UK Hospital by air ambulance but later died due to the injuries he suffered in the wreck.
In election news, all six incumbent Jamestown council members were re-elected but changes took hold in Russell Springs as four new members were elected to the new Russell Springs City Council. Ricky Barnes, David C. Blakey, Lisa Mann and Eric Selby will join Timmy Hudson and Ray Barrett on the six-person council. Incumbent Harry Kimbler was re-elected to the county school board as well.
Although John McCain won Russell County, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois was elected the 44th president of the United States after defeating Arizona Sen. John McCain nationwide. Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell was re-elected to the U.S. Senate after defeating Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford.
The new “Doughboy” monument was dedicated at a community service in Jamestown as more than 350 onlookers gathered around the town’s square on a chilly Veteran’s Day.
As the final month of the year began, a rash of gas station break-ins and vehicle thefts in Russell and Casey counties had law enforcement officials on the lookout for two male subjects.
On a lighter note, Avery Lawson of Russell Springs celebrated his 100th birthday with a party at the Russell County Fairgrounds with family and friends. The 32nd annual Russell Springs Christmas parade was held on Main St. in Russell Springs with more than 60 entries involved.
In school news, Russell County High School was mentioned on a list of the best public high schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Demolition started on several buildings in downtown Jamestown for construction of the new $13 million Judicial Center that will start next year.
The 100-year-old wooden grandstand at Veteran’s Fairgrounds in Russell Springs began slowly coming down as the structure was deemed too unsafe for further occupancy.
On the roadway, Rebecca Hall gave birth to a son, Ethan, after being in a wreck near the entrance to the Cumberland Parkway. Both mother and baby, as well as the other parties, involved were not injured. Two Russell County men, Bentley O’Dell and Roger Blair, were injured in a wreck on Hales Hwy., and O’Dell was flown to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment.