In 2020, we looked forward to the new year, hoping it would be much better.
And, in many ways, he was.
In January, the first vaccines to fight the coronavirus arrived and by December, more than 55% of Daviess Countians were vaccinated.
The businesses have reopened at full capacity. Festivals and public events have returned.
But 45% of us chose not to get the vaccine, and COVID has not gone away.
A new delta variant hit this year, and the virus started teaching us the Greek alphabet, as other variants appeared.
The war in Afghanistan finally ended and we welcomed over 150 refugees to the community.
Owensboro has declared itself the “bluegrass capital of the world”.
Sheriff Keith Cain retired after 23 years, and Executive Judge Al Mattingly has said he will not stand for re-election in 2022, after serving 12 years.
The Christmas parade has been canceled, but a new group has announced that they will be holding a parade on December 18.
Ellis Park has announced plans to create an off-road betting shop in the Towne Square Mall area.
The City, County and Regional Health Hospital of Owensboro have announced plans to create a $ 600,000 indoor sports facility inside the Owensboro Convention Center.
Almost every business in the city was hiring after a nationwide labor shortage hit Owensboro.
Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport and Owensboro Health both received new leadership.
But what do you think were the Top 10 stories of 2021?
Please rank your Top 10 in order, with # 1 being your first choice.
Only ballots that list 10 stories will be counted.
Voting will continue until December 23.
The final list of the 10 best stories will be published in the Messenger-Inquirer on January 1.
1. ADAMS MURDER CASE – Michael Adams pleaded guilty to the 2018 murder of his ex-girlfriend, Erica Owen. As part of the plea deal, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole, avoiding a possible death penalty.
2. ARRIVAL OF AFGHAN REFUGEES – The first Afghan refugee arrived in Daviess County in mid-October and now more than 150 have been settled in the county.
3. AIRPORT TURBULENCE – Airport manager Robert Barnett Jr. was fired in February after being accused of impersonating an officer (a felony) in an incident in which sheriff’s deputies were been called to his home to investigate a disturbance. In January, Ted Lolley resigned from the airport board after posting a derogatory comment about Vice President Kamala Harris on Facebook.
4. ALORICA LEAVES DOWNTOWN, CONTINUES ITS OPERATION – During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alorica was one of several companies that allowed employees to start working from home. Instead of workers returning to the renovated downtown offices, the company said they would continue to work from home. The Alorica building at 234 Frederica Street is available for rent.
5. BLUEGRASS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD – The city was officially named the “Bluegrass Capital of the World” after more than a year of efforts by the city and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum. Mayor Tom Watson officially signed the proclamation in November, definitively tying Owensboro and bluegrass music together.
6. CAIN IS RETIRED –Keith Cain, who served as Daviess County Sheriff for 23 years, has announced his retirement before his term expires. Barry Smith was sworn in as the new sheriff on December 1.
7. CHRISTMAS PARADE CANCELED, THEN RETURN – It looked like there would be no Christmas parade in Owensboro after the private committee that organized the event for years announced it would be canceled for the second year in a row. But another group calling themselves the People’s Christmas Parade said they would work to keep the parade going.
8. CONTINUATION OF THE CONFEDERATE STATUE – Daviess Tax Court and the Kentucky United Daughters of the Confederacy claim ownership of a 121-year-old Confederate statue on the courthouse lawn. The finance court voted to remove the statue. However, in order to have a say in the statue’s destination, the Daughters of Confederation sued the county for property.
9. CORBAN HENRY MURDER CASE – Corban Henry was 15 when he was killed in August 2020. His family have made efforts to keep the incident in the public eye by speaking out and organizing rallies for Corban, who is said to have been in second grade this year at Owensboro High School. In May, an arrest was made and Jaikorian J. Johnson, a minor who was to be tried as an adult, was charged with murder.
10. COVID-19 PICTURE WITH DELTA VARIANT – The emergence of the Delta variant has led to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and has put Owensboro Regional Health Hospital up to patient capacity.
11. ELECTION CHANGES – Daviess County has changed its electoral plans, moving to polling centers instead of constituencies. The plan, which was approved for the state, calls for 12 to 18 voting centers, depending on the election.
12. ELLIS PARK GAME INSTALLATION – Ellis Park has received approval for a “non-contiguous” racing license from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission which will allow the track to expand its gaming operations to Owensboro. Ellis Entertainment has announced plans to build a 60,000 square foot site in the Towne Square Mall area that will feature historic racing machines, concurrent betting and dining options.
13. EVENTS BEGIN TO RETURN – After seeing many public events canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, local residents were treated to a number of festivals and events, including the Independence Day fireworks and the Labor Day, an air show, the hydrofair and the ROMP.
14. HIDTA DESIGNATION – Daviess County has been designated as a HIDTA region, meaning law enforcement in the region will have access to federal funding, equipment, intelligence, training, and coordination with federal agencies to target drug trafficking.
15. HOMELESSNESS CAMP CLOSED – The city teamed up with U.S. Army Reserves and the Food Group in October to clean up a longtime homeless camp near English Park.
16. INSTALLATION OF INDOOR SPORTS – The city, county and Owensboro Health have teamed up to donate $ 600,000 to the Owensboro Convention Center to help create a venue for indoor sports.
17. LABOR SHORTAGE – Restaurants, retailers and local school systems face labor shortages. Restaurants have had to close dining rooms in favor of drive-thru only, and retail stores have reduced their hours of operation. School systems were offering incentive pay to their teachers who worked during the pandemic.
18. MATTINGLY WILL NOT REQUEST A RE-ELECTION –Al Mattingly, who has served as Daviess County executive judge since 2010, announced in July that he would not be running for a fourth term.
19. NEW HOSPITAL CEO – In April, Owensboro Health announced that Mark Marsh would become the new president and CEO of the healthcare system. Marsh was hired to replace CEO Greg Strahan, who retired after five years in the role.
20. MURDER-SUICIDE IN OHIO COUNTY – Two men and a woman were found shot dead outside a residence in the 5700 block of Kentucky 62 West in Ohio County in May. A fourth body was found in a barn in what investigators called a murder-suicide.
21. DEBATE ON THE EXTERIOR LOOP – A vocal group of Daviess County residents opposed a state study that would examine potential new roads known as the ‘Outer Loop’. A preliminary state report showed the loop was 29 to 35 miles, starting along US 60 West and extending to various points on US 60 East. However, the state ultimately said the outer loop project was not feasible.
22. OWENSBORO FUTUR SCIENCE AND HISTORY MUSEUM – In September, city officials said they were negotiating with Weyland Ventures of Louisville on a project that could transform the upper floors of the Owensboro Science and History Museum, 122 E. Second St., into a charming hotel.
23. OWENSBORO PUBLIC SCHOOLS AT 150 YEARS – Owensboro Public Schools are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year, making it one of the three oldest independent school districts.
24. PUBLIC LIFE FOUNDATION / PRIITCHARD COMMITTEE PROJECT – The Public Life Foundation of Owensboro donated $ 500,000 to the Prichard Committee to help them with their early childhood policy and practice work for young students across the state, starting in the region of ‘Owensboro and Daviess County.
25. VACCINES ARE COMING – In January, the first doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were administered to the public to help fight the pandemic.