The Adair County School Board decided Thursday night to return to its mask optional plan for students and staff beginning Monday, Oct. 25. Board members cited decreasing Covid-19 numbers in the district, region and at the state levels. The virtual option for students will begin Nov. 1, and parents wishing to put their children in the virtual program, or take them out, are encouraged to register on the district web site, www.adair.kyschools.us.
Will you get your booster shot when it becomes available for your age group?
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.
The Food and Drug Administration’s decisions mark a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month. But before more people roll up their sleeves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel today before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when.
The latest moves would expand by tens of millions the number of Americans eligible for boosters and formally allow “mixing and matching” of shots — making it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination.
Specifically, the FDA authorized a third Moderna shot for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions — six months after their last shot. One big change: Moderna’s booster will be half the dose that’s used for the first two shots, based on company data showing that was plenty to rev up immunity again.
For J&J’s single-shot vaccine, the FDA said all U.S. recipients, no matter their age, could get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination.
The FDA rulings differ because the vaccines are made differently, with different dosing schedules — and the J&J vaccine has consistently shown a lower level of effectiveness than either of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
As for mixing and matching, the FDA said it’s OK to use any brand for the booster regardless of which vaccination people got first. The interchangeability of the shots is expected to speed the booster campaign, particularly in nursing homes and other institutional settings where residents have received different shots over time.
FDA officials said they wanted to make the booster guidance as flexible as possible, given that many people don’t remember which brand of vaccine they received.
“Being able to interchange these vaccines is a good thing — it’s like what we do with flu vaccines,” FDA’s Dr. Peter Marks told reporters Wednesday evening. “Most people don’t know what brand of flu vaccine they received.”
Still, he added that many people will decide to get a booster from the same company as their initial vaccination.
The agency’s mix-and-match decision was based on preliminary results from a government study of different booster combinations that showed an extra dose of any type revs up levels of virus-fighting antibodies. That study also showed recipients of the single-dose J&J vaccination had a far bigger response if they got a full-strength Moderna booster or a Pfizer booster rather than a second J&J shot. The study didn’t test the half-dose Moderna booster.
Health authorities stress that the priority still is getting first shots to about 65 million eligible Americans who remain unvaccinated. But the booster campaign is meant to shore up protection against the virus amid signs that vaccine effectiveness is waning against mild infections, even though all three brands continue to protect against hospitalization and death.
The Moderna booster decision essentially matches FDA’s ruling that high-risk groups are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, which is made with the same technology.
Experts continue to debate the rationale of the booster campaign. Some warn that the U.S. government hasn’t clearly articulated the goals of boosters given that the shots continue to head off the worst effects of COVID-19, and wonder if the aim is to tamp down on virus spread by curbing, at least temporarily, milder infections.
The vast majority of the nearly 190 million Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have received the Pfizer or Moderna options, while about 15 million have received the J&J vaccine.
BOWLING GREEN — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, have announced a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft of firearms from Sportsman’s Gun & Indoor Range, a federal firearms licensee.
On October 12, 2021, at approximately 10:25 p.m., an unknown number of suspects burglarized Sportsman’s Gun & Indoor Range, located at 4276 N. Jackson Hwy, in Glasgow. The burglars forced their way inside through a front entrance door. Once inside, they stole 30 firearms. It’s believed the burglars left the business in a vehicle pictured in this press release.
ATF is offering a reward of up to $2,500 which will be matched by the NSSF for a total possible reward of up to $5,000. The reward is part of a larger national cooperative initiative between the NSSF and ATF in which NSSF matches ATF’s reward in cases involving in the theft of firearms from federally licensed firearms retailers.
Anyone with information about this crime should contact ATF at 1-888-ATF-TIPS or the ATF Bowling Green Field Office at (270) 393-4755. Information can also be sent to ATFTips@atf.gov, through ATF’s website at www.atf.gov/contact/atftips.
Tips can be submitted anonymously using the Reportit® app, available from both Google Play and the Apple App store, or by visiting www.reportit.com. All tips will be kept confidential.
State Senator Max Wise will be holding a Town Hall meeting in Adair County on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 8:30 p.m. CST at the Jim Blair Recreation Center, 901 Hudson Street, Columbia.
Senator Wise will be discussing the upcoming 2022 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
Adair County High School officials have announced the kickoff for tonight’s home game with Metcalfe County has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. because of inclement weather expected for the local area.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 7 issue of the Community Voice. To make sure you get the latest local news and sports, call 270-384-9454.
The Columbia City Council gave final approval to increase garbage pickup for residential customers from $15 to $18 a month during Monday night’s regular monthly meeting.
The council covered several items on the agenda but covered the most items, as usual, during mayor’s com- ments.
One of those extra topics was the approval of funding for the Adair County Ambulance Service to purchase a CRT device. Mayor Pam Hoots brought up the request, which was discussed in a previous meeting, but nobody at Monday’s meeting could recall exactly how much was being requested.
The council unanimously approved funding the project. The fiscal court approved more than $14,700 in ARPA funds last month for a device. EMS has asked the city and county to each supply one through American Res- cue Plan Act funding. A CRT device is used with patients suffering from heart failure.
Council Says No to Painting Water Tower
The council did not vote on one agenda item but came to a consensus that they were not interested in paying to paint a water tower welcoming people to the city. Dr. Ronald Rogers said he believes the project cost of more than $5,000 is too high. He said he would be willing to pay for the paint if the utility district would pay for the labor.
Robert Flowers commented that the city needs to take care of essential services first then use additional funds for projects that enhance the city. He did not believe the water tower painting fell into the scope of their priorities. Others agreed and no action was taken.
Several Appointments are Approved
During “mayor’s comments” on the agenda, the council voted to appoint Jennifer Yadon Perkins to the plan- ning and zoning board, replacing Sue Stivers. Bob Benningfield was reappointed to the housing board. Mary Ann Phelps was appointed to a committee that will make recommendations for the use of ARPA funding. That committee now includes Leon Lewis, Joe Willis, and Phelps.
Mayor Hoots asked Robert Flowers and Sharon Payne to serve on the ARPA funding committee with her and said they should have a report for the November meeting.
Grant Funding Sought for Body Cameras
Mayor Hoots also reported that the city is applying for a grant that would fund seven body cameras for the police department. The grant would cover 100 percent of the costs, she said. She added that she hopes to close on the purchase of property on Hudson Street next week. A grant for the purchase of the former Majestic Yachts property is expected to be released Oct. 11, she added.
Flowers asked the mayor to provide the council with a list of all the grants for which the city has applied and indicate the city’s financial responsibility should the grants be approved. Hoots said she would provide the information and added that the city did not receive a grant they requested to use for the former Foust property to develop it as a park.
The council voted to accept a low bid from Brockman Construction for $2,500 to tear down the remnants of a building on the property. Hand hewn wooden beams will be preserved, Hoots said.
Airport Board Gets Additional Funding
Rogers asked to revisit a request from the airport board to increase the city’s contribution from $9,000 to $12,000 and Rogers made a motion for the increase. The motion was approved.
Flowers asked if the city could consider opening a recycling center as it considers developing a transfer station on property the city owns on Reeves Road in the county. Hoots said they were looking into it, but it would be on a small scale.
In action taken during the meeting, the council approved a requested zone change for 610 Fairground St. from residential to commercial. The property will be used for storage units.
All council members were present for the meeting.
By Sharon Burton
Timothy Wray of Columbia is being charged with three felonies after being arrested for his alleged part in a case involving a stolen vehicle which was later found burned and destroyed beyond repair on Cape Road in Columbia.
The investigation started when a 1986 Porsche was reported stolen on Sept. 15. After an investigation, officers acted on a tip and went to a Cape Road residence and found the vehicle hidden under a brush pile.
While there, officers also received information about a second vehicle which had been stolen in the Melson Ridge Community being found in Monticello. Charges are pending on that case.
Wray, 22, is being charged with tampering with physical evidence, receiving stolen property under $10,000, and criminal mischief, first degree. All three charges are felonies.
Officer Justin Cross was the investigating officer at the scene, and he was assisted by officers Joey Keith and Josh Durbin.
Oba Thompson and Cindy Smith, both of Columbia, have been charged with promoting contraband after a recent incident at the Adair County Regional Jail.
On Oct. 13, Columbia Police Department officers were called to the jail after staff observed a male subject attempt to conceal items under his jail mat. After a search Thompson, who had been brought in for a bond revocation, was found to be in possession of nine grams of suspected methamphetamine.
Thompson, 32, has been charged with promoting contraband, first degree; and possession of methamphetamine, second offense.
Also on Oct. 13, officers served an active warrant on a female that allegedly brought hygiene items to an inmate Oct. 3, and the items were discovered to include things like THC dabs and oils.
Smith, 47, has been charged with one count of promoting contraband, first degree.
Kentucky Health News
Monday’s coronavirus numbers in Kentucky are all good: Cases are down, the positive-test rate is down, hospital numbers dropped again, the infection and death averages continue to inch their way down.
The state reported 722 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, the fewest daily number since July 25. That lowered the seven-day average to 2,086, the lowest since Aug. 8.
The percentage of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days continued to drop. On Monday, it was 8.26%, the lowest since July 27.
Hospital numbers also continue to drop. Kentucky hospitals reported 1,399 Covid-19 patients, down 115 from Friday; 418 of them in intensive care patients, down 48; and 266 Covid-19 patients on mechanical ventilation, down 44.
Eight of the state’s 10 hospital regions are using 80% or more of their intensive-care beds, with Northern Kentucky still at 100% capacity. The daily report list the counties in each region.
Kentucky’s seven-day infection rate fell to ninth among states, according to The New York Times’ analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The Times reports a 39% drop in new Kentucky cases over the last two weeks, the biggest drop among the top 15 states.
The state reports that its seven-day rate of daily new cases dropped again, to 39.2 daily cases per 100,000 residents. The state has 58 counties at or above that level and four of them with rates more than double the state rate: Whitley, 87.5; Perry, 82.1; Mercer, 82.1; and Pendleton, 81.3.
According to the state’s daily report, two of the state’s 120 counties have rates in the yellow zone, between 1 and 10 cases per 100,000, considered a moderate transmission level: Morgan, at 7.5, and Elliott, at 7.6. Seventeen counties are in orange, between 10 to 25 cases per 100,000, considered substantial transmission. All others are in red, with more than 25 cases per 100,000.
The state has added 97 Covid-19 deaths to its list since Friday, for a pandemic toll of 9,150. In the last seven days, it has averaged just under 35 deaths a day; in the last 14 days, the average is just under 41 per day.
One man and two juveniles were injured in a single vehicle accident Saturday just outside of Columbia.
Adair County Sheriff’s Deputy Tracy McCarol was dispatched to a single vehicle accident, approximately four miles east of Columba on Hwy. 80.
The preliminary investigation shows the driver of the car, Kenneth Montgomery, 19, of Jamestown, lost control of his 2007 Ford passenger car. He was driving west when the vehicle dropped off the shoulder of the highway. In an attempt to recover the car, he overcorrected. The vehicle rolled over several times.
Montgomery, along with passengers Alex Gaskins and Justin Cox, both 17; was transported to T.J. Health Columbia by Adair County EMS.
The Adair County Sheriff’s Office is continuing the investigation.
James Haselwood of Columbia was arrested Monday after leading law enforcement on a pursuit around town.
Officers from the Columbia Police Department attempted to initiate a traffic stop on Haselwood as he rode his motorcycle on Wright Drive. Haselwood would not stop and made his way through multiple side streets, including driving in and out of traffic on Jamestown Street.
Haselwood, 38, eventually wrecked his motorcycle on Knifley Road and Hwy. 551. He was treated by Adair County EMS and taken into custody. He is facing multiple charges including fleeing and evading, both felonies; wanton endangerment, first degree; possession of drug paraphernalia, and numerous traffic violations.
Officer Josh Durbin was assisted in the pursuit by Sgt. Evan Burton, Adair County Sheriff’s Deputy Tracy McCarol, and the Adair County EMS.
There are just over two hours to go until the 2021 Downtown Days begins on the public square in Columbia. The main stage, below, is nearing completion. It will be the site for several events this weekend.
Make sure you stop by the Adair County Community Voice booth at Downtown Days Saturday for your chance to spin for prizes and win a gift basket from Happy Cow Cafe. Downton Days is set for Friday and Saturday around the public square in Columbia.
The annual Downtown Days Celebration will begin tonight at 4:30 p.m. when vendor booths open around the public square in Columbia. Below is the schedule for the two-day event.
Bowling Green – A federal grand jury in Louisville, returned an indictment on October 5, 2021, charging a Columbia, KY man with distributing greater than 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine.
According to court documents, on September 10, 2021, Trey Williams, 25, of Columbia, KY, sold approximately six pounds of crystal methamphetamine to another person. The sale price was $23,300.00. Following the sale, FBI and local law enforcement conducted surveillance at the apartments where the drug deal took place. Law enforcement was able to locate Williams and arrested him.
Williams is charged with Distribution of a Controlled Substance. He is scheduled for arraignment on October 27, 2021 before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. Williams is currently in federal custody. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The FBI, Kentucky State Police, and the Bowling Green/Warren County Drug Task Force are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Yurchisin II of the U.S. Attorney’s Bowling Green Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
BOIL WATER ADVISORY
Date Issued: 10/4/2021
Time Issued: 11:00 A.M.
A BOIL WATER ADVISORY is in effect for consumers of Columbia Adair Utilities District for customers from 1915 Highway 55 South to 2850 Highway 55 South, Marvin Jones Road, Morrison Road and State Park Road.
The advisory has been issued due to main line leak.
Following such an event, the potential exists for bacteriological contamination of the water supply therefore this Boil Water Advisory has been issued as a precautionary measure.
Until further notice, boil all water used for drinking and cooking, bringing the water to a rolling boil for three minutes before using.
This advisory will remain in effect until the situation has been corrected and test results have shown the water to be of an acceptable quality.
For more information concerning the Boil Water Advisory, contact Lennon Stone at Columbia Adair Utilities District, 270-384-2181.
Lauren Howard of Olmstead, Ky., was arrested in Columbia Thursday on numerous charges after city police officers were called to the FiveStar on Hudson Street.
Upon arrival officers made contact with Howard and determined she was under the influence. K9 officer Cally was called and alerted on one of the bags in Howard’s possession. A search of the bag found drug paraphernalia,. Narcan and suspected methamphetamine.
Howard, 33, was arrested and charged with public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia, and trafficking in a controlled substance, methamphetamine.
Officer Trevor Foster was the arresting officer, and was assisted by officer Josh Durbin.
Catching up with Keysha Tucker may be a little difficult to do these days. She’s very busy getting things ready for the annual Giles Society Arts and Crafts Festival slated for Saturday in Knifley.
There are vendors to contact, entertainment to secure for performance, and all the mandatory T’s to cross, and I’s to dot. With just two days to go, Tucker has a lot to do at the Spout Springs Road location.
Tucker, the society’s president, said events have been slowed since the pandemic hit, but she is eager to get the show under way. She said gates for this year’s event would open at 9 a.m. CST.
“I am so nervous, and I get this way every year,” Tucker said. “Everyone tells me to calm down because when it is all over and we’re cleaning up, it always turns out well.”
Established in 1996, the Giles Society was created to preserve the literacy legacy of Janice Holt and Henry Giles, and is listed on the National Register of Historic places.
Each year some of the best crafts men and women in the state show their handmade talents at the gathering, as well as musical performers, and authors promoting their books. Tucker said she is working to secure a gospel group to entertain the crowd.
Admission to the festival is free; however, there is a $10 charge for craft show booths.
Much like last year, Tucker said they would be taking steps to be safe at the festival. She said patrons would be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing on the grounds. The pandemic has had a palatable impact on the group, so she is hoping a good crowd will be on hand Saturday.
“Last year, we had one of best years ever for the festival,” Tucker said. “This year, we won’t have the car and motorcycle show, so it will be what it will be.”
A successful Saturday will help a good cause. The funds will help the society provide everyday essentials at the location like maintenance on the facility, mowing, insurance, and general upkeep.
Financial donations will be accepted, as will donated crafts. Donations can be sent to 380 Spout Springs Rd., Knifley, 42753. Tucker can be reached at 270-789-1713.
By Scott Wilson
This story first appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of the Community Voice. To get the best local news and sports, call 270-384-9454 for a subscription.
In an effort to reach a workable compromise, the Adair County school board voted unanimously in a special called meeting Saturday night to keep the current mask mandate in place while the county is in the red critical stage.
If the county comes out of the red zone, then the board will meet to formulate a plan to prepare the district to go back to allowing parents to decide if their children wear masks to school.
“We’re going to stay with parent choice, but as long as our county is in the red, according to our district health department, then we would keep the mask mandate in effect,” said board member David Karnes, who made the motion.
“As soon as the county comes out of the red, the mask mandate would come out of effect. Our board meets every month so we can revisit that every month. That’s probably the best motion I can come up with.”
Prior to making their decision, board members listened to numerous community members speak on the issue. A total of 18 citizens spoke at the public meeting with eight advocating for the mask mandate.
Rosa Vittatoe urged the board to keep the mandate.
“I have been a nurse for 40 years and I have never seen anything like this virus,” she said. “This is real, and we leave work every day crying. Masks work, vaccinations work. It is not about our rights as a parent, or as a person, or the government or school board taking that away from us. It is about loving one another.”
Heather Spoon expressed her opinion against masks but actually suggested a com- promise to the board for consideration.
“Last year when our county was on lockdown, those people we considered our most vulnerable last year are going to Walmart, church, concerts, interacting with a lot of people,” she said. “For our community to think Covid cases can solely be traced back to Adair County schools is far fetched. I would like to offer the compromise of no masks over the nose.”
Board members Troy Grider, Destiny Greer, Dana King, Karnes and Terry Harvey all had an opportunity to speak before a motion was made. School Superintendent Dr. Pam Stephens watched the meeting online.
“I am excited to see parents here, excited to see teachers here and excited to see these children here,” Grider said. “I call for unity because to me that is the most important thing. What scares me more than Covid is the division in our community, division in our families, and the division in our schools. It is masks or no masks, vaccine or no vaccine.”
King explained to everyone in attendance that if the county goes out of the red on a Monday, that doesn’t mean the mandate would end Tuesday and kids can come to school without masks. She said the school district would need time to get ready for the required changes.
“We’re not going to stay in the red forever, so sometime or another, you’re going to be able to see that face mask come off your child,” Karnes said. “There is an ending to this.”
Last Thursday in the board’s regularly scheduled September meeting, the position of a new full-time agriculture teacher was approved. Teaching duties will be split between the middle and high schools.
Adair County Clerk Lisa Greer announced the times and locations Tuesday for the 2021 Special Election slated Nov. 2 for the 51st District, including Adair and Taylor counties. It is for the unexpired term for State Rep. John “Bam” Carney.
Early in-person voting for all precincts will be available Oct. 28-30 at the Courthouse Annex at 424 Public Square in Columbia. Voting will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. All times are Central Standard Time.
The candidates are Sarge Pollock on the Republican ticket, Eddie Rogers is running for the Democrats, and Timothy Shafer is the Independent candidate.
On Nov. 2, voting will be open at five different precinct locations, including Trinity United Methodist Church (2252 Campbellsville Rd.), Breeding Area Volunteer Fire Department (290 Fire Department Rd., Breeding), Knifley Area Volunteer Fire Department (6130 Elkhorn Rd., Knifley), Jim Blair Center (901 Hudson St.), and the Adair County Courthouse Annex (424 Public Square).
Absentee ballots must be requested by Oct. 19.
For more information or to request an absentee ballot, call Greer at 270-384-2801 or contact her by email at email@example.com.
Jeremy Ferrell of Columbia was arrested on several charges Friday morning, including for promotion of contraband.
Officers from the Columbia Police Department responded to a residence on Royal Oaks, just outside the city limits early Friday morning. Upon arrival, officers found Ferrell trying to hide behind the trailer’s underpinning.
Ferrell, while talking with officers, gave them two different names as well as two different social security numbers. He was also determined to be intoxicated and was placed into custody. While being booked, he was found to be concealing loose prescription medication.
Ferrell, 36, has been charged with giving officers false identifying information, public intoxication, and was additionally charged with promoting contraband, first degree.
Trevor Foster was the arresting officer and was assisted by officer Justin Cross.
FRANKFORT – Last week saw the third-highest number of new cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky since the start of the pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said during a press briefing at the State Capitol on Monday.
As part of that, he pointed out that during the period Saturday through Monday, there were 88 new COVID-related deaths, which brings the total to 8,339 Kentuckians lost during the pandemic.
The number of new cases during that three-day period was 8,571, raising the number of cases to 658,231, since the first one was reported in March 2020. Keep in mind that some of the labs do not report on the weekends, so the numbers over the next couple of days could be quite a bit higher.
The positivity rate on Monday was 12.18%, which is down from Friday’s 12.88%.
The daily hospital census released on Monday showed 2,254 Kentuckians were hospitalized, which was 28 more than Friday. Of them, 654 were in hospital intensive care units, up three from Friday, while 452 were on a ventilator. That was down from the 463 on Friday, which was the highest number during the pandemic.
“While we hope this a trend and/or a plateau, we cannot sustain a plateau at this level, with the number of people who are in the hospital. It’s simply too many cases,” he said. “On any given day, we’ve only got between 90 and 120 total open adult ICU beds in the state. And that’s with many outpatient and elective procedures canceled to allow more space in the hospital to be converted to ICU units. This cannot become business as usual.”
He also noted that when you look at the date of a test that confirmed someone had the virus, August had the most cases during the entire pandemic, with over 104,000 cases. However, there was another piece of bad news, according to the Governor.
“Saturday was our worst day thus far, for the number of hospitals reporting critical staffing shortages. We were up to 77% of all of our hospitals, with 74 of 96 reporting it. As of Monday, we are down a little, with 63 reporting it, but that is still over 2/3 of our hospitals reporting that shortage.”
He also said Kentucky administered more than 5,000 monoclonal antibody treatment courses last week, but the state will only receive 4,960 courses this week due to a national shortage. They will be allocated to 79 sites around Kentucky based on backorder requests, current inventory and previous week utilization.
His next update is expected to be on Thursday.
In an effort to try and reach a workable compromise for everyone, the Adair County School Board voted unanimously in a special called meeting Saturday night at Central Office to keep the current mask mandate in place while the county is in the red critical stage.
If the county comes out of the red zone, then the board will meet to formulate a plan to prepare the district to go back to mask optional.
“We’re going to stay with parent choice, but as long as our county is in the red, according to our district health department, then we would keep the mask mandate in effect,” said board member David Karnes, who made the motion. “As soon as the county comes out of the red, the mask mandate would come out of effect. Our board meets every month so we can revisit that every month. That’s probably the best motion I can come up with.”
A total of 18 citizens spoke at the public meeting with eight advocating for the mask mandate.
The Adair County Board of Education is holding a special called meeting on Saturday at 6 p.m. and including an opportunity for public comment on the agenda.
The board discussed a mask mandate from the Kentucky Department of Education that is no longer in effect during a meeting Thursday night and is expected to continue the discussion at the Saturday meeting. In a notice concerning the public meeting, it states that they hope the board will reach a consensus that will move the district forward for the 2021/22 school year.
At Thursday’s meeting, two members of the board voted to continue with a mask mandate but the motion failed 3-2. The mandate remains in effect as the board discusses its options. Superintendent Pam Stephens said if the board votes to change policy it will not take effect until students return following fall break on Monday, Oct. 11.
The meeting will be held at the boardroom on the school campus at 1204 Greensburg St.
As of today at 8 a.m., according to the Kentucky School Board Association, a total f 165 of the state’s 171 public school districts have announced they will require masks after the mandate ends (shown in blue). Six districts have announced masks will be optional.
The school district’s mask mandate was discussed Thursday night after the legislature stopped the mandate put into effect by the Kentucky Board of Education. Board members are not in agreement on whether masks should be mandated or optional, however, and the discussion is expected to return next week.
Board member Dana King made a motion to leave the mandate in place, with Destiny Greer seconding the motion. Board chairman Troy Grider and members Terry Harvey and David Karnes voted no. Karnes attended the meeting via Zoom.
With the vote failing to pass, the board agreed to meet next week to further discuss and evaluate the district’s policy.
Five people spoke during public comments concerning masks, with four voicing opposition and one voicing support for a mandate.
More information will be available in next week’s edition of the Adair County Community Voice.
Kentucky Health News
Kentucky reported 4,030 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average of cases to 4,136. That’s 239 higher than the average stood Monday, when it was depressed by a low Labor Day figure. Of the new cases, 28.6% were in people 18 and under.
The state, which uses a different methodology, reports a seven-day case rate of 84.56 per 100,000 residents, returning to the level seen a week ago. Counties with rates more than double that rate are Whitley, 200.5; Perry, 191.3; Monroe, 185.1; Knox, 175.7; Leslie, 175.0; Rockcastle, 173.7; Powell, 173.4; and Harlan, 171.4.
However, the share of Kentuckians testing positive for the virus in the past seven days has dropped for six consecutive days, to 13.45 percent, but Gov. Andy Beshear has said that could be due to more testing.
Hospital numbers ticked up again Tuesday, with 2,514 Covid-19 patients, up 68 from Monday; 666 patients in intensive care, up 20; and 428 on mechanical ventilation, up 17. The Covid-19 patient count was second only to the 2,541 reported Friday.
The northeast and easternmost hospital-readiness regions continue to be the only two of the state’s 10 regions to be using less than 81.6% of their intensive-care beds.
One of the best ways to stay out of the hospital if you get Covid-19 is to see if you qualify for monoclonal antibody treatments, which must be given soon after infection as a way to help prevent severe symptoms from developing in those who are considered high risk.
Today the federal government announced a shortage of the antibodies, due to extraordinary demand, and said it will require state governments to supervise the distribution of the treatments instead of health care providers ordering them directly, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
Yesterday, Health Commissioner Steven Stack urged Kentuckians to get vaccinated, noting that the antibodies are synthetic, laboratory-created antibodies that give the body a temporary immune boost, but do not teach the body to create its own antibodies as a vaccination does.
“Monoclonal antibodies are an important tool, but we have another alternative, vaccinations. Vaccines prime your immune system to create natural antibodies that your own body will produce to create a natural immune response that then can protect you for at least eight months or more,” said Stack. “It’s a lot easier to get vaccinated than to get monoclonal antibodies.”
During the seven days ending Tuesday, 3,642 treatment courses of monoclonal antibodies were used in Kentucky and the state’s hospitals have 9,363 monoclonal antibody treatment courses on hand, the release said.
Kentucky offers such treatments in 139 locations. Senate Bill 2, recently passed in the special session, directs the state to create more monoclonal-antibody treatment centers.
The state reported 24 more Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing Kentucky’s pandemic death toll to 8,095.
As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 99 of Kentucky’s 171 school districts have said they will continue to require masks. Around three-fourths of Kentucky’s public school students attend a district that will require universal masking,” Olivia Krauth reports for the Louisville Courier Journal.
Paula Johnson, of Glasgow, was arrested Monday after a traffic stop for a registration violation.
Adair County Sheriff’s Deputy Kenny Perkins initiated a traffic stop with Johnson on Snake Creek Road, about eight miles east of Columbia. Sheriff’s deputies had increased patrol in the area due to complaints of increased drug activity.
During the stop, Johnson was suspected to be in possession of controlled substances. A search produced methamphetamine.
Johnson, 36, was lodged in the Adair County Regional Jail on trafficking in a controlled substance, first degree, methamphetamine; expired registration, and trafficking in a controlled substance, first degree, drug unspecified.
The Adair County Sheriff’s Office is continuing the investigation.
Schyler Kjelson, of Columbia, is facing multiple charges after an incident Saturday at a local restaurant.
Around midnight, officers of the Columbia Police Department responded to a local business on a call of a possible counterfeit $100 bill. Workers identified the party who used the fake bill as Kjelson and he was located at a residence on Parkway Manor Lane.
The male party admitted using the counterfeit bill and was taken into custody.
Kjelson has been charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument, second degree, a Class D felony; and he was also served multiple outstanding warrants.
Officer Trevor Foster was the arresting officer.
Local sewer rates are expected to increase by more than 61 percent and water bills by almost one-fourth due to requirements by the Public Service Commission
The Columbia-Adair Utilities District board discussed their options and decided they were few before passing resolutions to increase rates during a special called meeting last week.
The board enlisted Holly Nicholas, funding specialist with Kentucky Engineering Group, to compile information for a rate filing that PSC is requiring. She reported the projected rates to the board and explained how those rates were determined.
Nicholas said rates must be determined using calculations set by PSC. She started with the 2020 annual report but made adjustments to revenue affected by Covid-19.
The main difference in the PSC calculations and how the district normal- ly sets rates is that PSC requires a list of deprecia- tion expense.
“They want you to base your rate on operating expense, your debt, and depreciation expense,” Nicholas said. “That’s really different than what we do when we do a Rural Development project. When we do a rate study for Rural Development, they do not allow you to put depreciation into those calculations.”
The district’s annual depreciation in water operations is $1.4 million. For sewer, it’s about $500,000.
Even if the district were able to eliminate the depreciation factor in the rate, sewer bills would still need to increase around 8 percent.
Nicholas said she believed it would be “unconscionable, really, to put that kind of rate increase on your custom- ers all at once.”
She talked with sev- eral professionals in the industry, including an employee at PSC, to see if the district could phase in the rates to cover the depreciation.
“The answer came back from staff at PSC that they have allowed that before,” she said.
Nicholas recommended they ask to phase in the sewer rate increase over a six-year period and the water rate increase over a three- year period.
Nicholas noted that there have been changes to the three-member board that oversees PSC. Two vacancies have occurred in recent months and one position remains vacant.
“I have no idea how the new commissioners are going to look at the depreciation issue.”
The district has bypassed PSC’s scrutiny by adjusting rates as it financed new projects, which eliminates a com- prehensive PSC review.
In a ruling dated Sept. 4, 2020, the PCS wrote that the “Adair District has managed to avoid Commission review of its financial records and operational structure for more than 35 years.”
It’s that ruling that requires the district to file a rate adjustment application and the deadline of one year is now here.
Stone: craziest things I’ve ever heard of
Lenny Stone, CAUD manager, was vocal during the meeting and during an interview with his opposition to the PSC requirement.
“I guess our customers are going to have to bear those rates if they don’t allow us to change them,” Stone told the board. “In my opinion, this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard of…Our customers don’t need to be doing this.”
Stone said he and board member David Jones met with former Kentucky Rural Development Director Hilda Legg, an Adair County native, and met with Sen. Max Wise and County Judge Executive Gale Cowan.
“As of right now, there is nothing we can do,” he said. “I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s fair…It wasn’t six months ago that these same customers were begging for help to pay their bills because of the pandemic. These same customers are going to be looking at a 60 percent rate increase possibly.”
Stone said the forced rate increase has nothing to do with the board’s debt, but is actually the opposite.
“This has to do with the amount of infrastructure we have. It feels like to me that we are being punished because we have done a really good job to get water out to all of our customers,” Stone said. “This is water lines, sewer lines, tanks, meters, pump stations – everything that makes this system work.”
First year increases
The projected rate increase for water ser- vices totals a 23.84 per- cent increase. Nicholas factored the increase over a three-year period, with a first-year increase of 5.34 percent.
On sewer, 8.19 per- cent would be required for operating costs, with a total increase of 61.57 percent.
She included all of the operating cost increase in the first year as well as a portion of the depreciation factor, with a first- year increase of 17.09 percent. An additional 8.9 percent would be added each year during the following five years.
The board voted to pass two resolutions outlining the first year increases, with members voting by roll call. Chairman Wid Harris and members David Jones and Junior Brown commented that they did not agree with the PSC requirement, but voted yes. Richard Grant made no comments before making the motion and voting yes. Joe Pyles did not attend the meeting.
“I feel like as a board member that PSC has put me in a position that I really have no choice,” Jones said. “I don’t agree with what they are ask- ingustodobutIalso understand that if I vote against it, I will probably be removed by PSC and (a replacement) would be hand-picked by PSC. I don’t think that is good for our district and our consumers.”
Jones asked that a let- ter be attached with the resolutions to request that PSC lower the rate requirement. Harris and Brown agreed with Jones.