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A look back at the news and events of 2008

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By The Staff

JANUARY

On Jan. 1 U.S. Representative Geoff Davis presented a check for $294,000 to the Henry County Fiscal Court. The federal appropriations money was earmarked for the development of Henry County Commerce Park near Campbellsburg. County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said the dollars would be spent on infrastructure. “The funding would go toward...engineering and lay out, and then toward getting things site-ready,” he said. Brent also said this was the first federal appropriation Henry County had been successful in obtaining in a long time. The 60-acre park was purchased with recaptured Community Development Block Grant funds.

Landmark Communications, Inc. announced its intention to sell its properties, including the Henry County Local. The company, based in Roanoke, Va., reported it had hired JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers to “assist us in exploring strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of Landmark’s businesses,” according to a memo employees received. The decision to explore divestment of properties was made by Landmark CEO and Board Chairman Frank Batten, Jr. and agreed to without dissension by the board. He described it as “an emotionally difficult decision for everybody, including me, and especially for my father , who’s worked in the company for more than 50 years.”

The first Eminence City Council meeting of 2007 was standing-room only as supporters of reopening the public swimming pool jammed into City Hall.  The council unanimously passed a resolution to “make every reasonable effort” to reopen the pool by June 2008. Councilman Danny Meadows made the motion to approve the resolution. The council also created a pool commission which included council member Richard Thomas along with Manda Gingrich and Janice Vanlandingham.

Just after 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 a clerk at the Campbellsburg Cowboy’s store reported being robbed at knifepoint. After demanding money, the robber fled down Interstate-71 in a white vehicle. Two men from out of state were arrested in Gallatin County for speeding and driving under the influence.  Further investigation led investigator Trooper Tim Vinal to charge the duo with the robbery as well.

Sulphur resident Chelsey McGlothin was named fourth runner-up in the Miss Kentucky 2008 pageant. McGlothin was a senior at the University of Kentucky. “I’ve done this one (pageant) before. There’s only one step and you’re in the Miss USA pageant,” she said. McGlothin said she plans to become a special education teacher.

Alysha Harris, formerly of Campbellsburg, took the crown as Miss Kentucky 2008. Harris is the niece of Guy and Lisa Prewitt, owners of Prewitt’s Funeral Home.

The Henry County Local was named best mid-sized weekly newspaper in Kentucky by the Kentucky Press Association. Sports Editor Tommie Kendall took home two first place awards, as did former reporter/photographer Kathryn Jacewicz and General Manager Jonna Spelbring Priester. The team also amassed many second and third place awards.

FEBRUARY

A blaze at a Campbellsburg residence left a family of 12 without a home and sent two firefighters to the hospital with minor injuries. The fire started in the basement and spread as the family slept. No one was severely injured, but one family member suffered minor burns and injuries. The two firefighters were treated and released.

Campbellsburg approved four sewer projects including a utilities bore underneath Interstate-71 to foster future development. Also approved were installation of two gravity lines, forced main at the Henry County Industrial Park, and sewer lines connecting the Henry County Commerce Park to the Campbellsburg sewer system.

Henry County was hit by severe thunderstorms and then snow within the space of one week. On Feb. 5, 24 tornadoes touched down in Kentucky with winds in Henry County flattening barns and blowing debris onto roads. The wind peeled back the roof of Drennon Christian Church causing more than $17,000 in damages. Emergency Management Director Bruce Owens said damage was relatively minor and limited to a narrow strip that included Pendleton, New Castle and Drennon Springs. The following week snow, sleet and freezing rain combined to make roads treacherous enough to close Henry County schools.

Kentucky State Police troopers found several ounces of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and $4,043 in cash on 71-year old Leroy Gamble of Smithfield after being called to the Pendleton Pilot Travel Center. Witnesses had reported seeing Gamble waving a gun in the parking lot which led to the discovery and his arrest.

Eminence Head Start received $4,200 in grant money to upgrade the program’s facilities. They purchased math, science and literacy books as well as skill building items such as puppets and art supplies.

David Cull of Campbellsburg entered a not-guilty plea on a charge of reckless homicide after allegedly sitting on and suffocating his two-month old grandson, Xavien Cull. Investigators said it was believed Cull passed out from prescriptions pills, then sat on and suffocated the infant, who was lying on an armchair in the family’s living room.

Employees at Hussey Fabricated Products voted to join the United Steel Workers Union. An attempt at unionization two years prior was defeated by only one vote. It was reported that Hussey management has revoked cell phone and smoking privileges following the vote. Sam Elliott, state organizing coordinator for the union, said that was a violation of federal labor laws.

MARCH

The former Sulphur High School burned to the ground on Sunday, March 2. “It was pretty much fully involved when they got there,” Campbellsburg Fire Chief David Noe said. “There was heavy fire and smoke showing. It was too dangerous to send anyone in.”  All that remained was the brick facade.  Officials said an advanced state of decay likely fueled the blaze. The school had been closed since the 1960s. At least 20 firefighters battled the blaze for three hours. Arson was suspected.

A 55-year old mentally handicapped Eminence man, Warren Stone, was arrested for murder in the beating death of his 78-year old mother, Marilyn “Lynn” Burchett. Police said he confessed to the crime. “There was an argument and he killed her,” Eminence Police Chief Carey Duncan said.

The Little Kentucky River Conservancy District awarded environmental grants to Henry County Middle School and Eminence High School science departments. The money was used to test water quality in Henry County’s portions of the river and give students hands-on instructional opportunities.

More than a foot of snow landed on Henry County in under 35 hours during the second week of March. Road crews worked 11-hour shifts, operating seven trucks and two backhoes to clear the four-foot drifts. “The roads were terrible,” County Road Supervisor Glenn Baxter said. “We probably used 100 tons of materials on the road.”  Emergency workers responded to 52 non-injury accidents and eight injury accidents during the storm. Another 80 motorists became stranded and required assistance.

Former Farmers Deposit Bank president, William Covington, was ordered to repay more than $13 million to his former employer. He pled guilty in Oct. 2007, admitting he defrauded the bank in May 2002. He also was sentenced to three years’ jail time.

Henry County Clerk Juanita Lashley said paper ballots would replace voting booths after the May primaries. The idea is to simplify the voting procedure and allow poll workers to tally votes instantly. Democratic party election commissioner, Price Batts said the updates are needed to comply with changing federal election guidelines.

Eminence Mayor Jim Pettit announced the pool commission, formed in January, would be dissolved as of the April meeting. At least a dozen residents were present to protest the city’s award of $237,000 to a contractor for the contentious project. Resident Helen Moore said she was not necessarily against reopening the pool. “When it was $22,000, I was for it. But, $237,000? No. This town can’t afford it,” she said.

APRIL

Eminence High School seniors wrapped up community projects, a requisite for graduation. Senior Sydney Armstrong recruited step dancers from Kentucky State University and orchestrated a silent auction and food concessions to raise money for juvenile diabetes research. Craig Meadow’s fund-raising concert was to benefit the Eminence city pool fund. Henry County High School also participated in senior projects. Senior Matt Doane organized a voter registration program for his peers. “It’s an attempt to make the senior year more rigorous and career-oriented,” HCPS Assistant Superintendent Kricket McClure said.

In the continuing saga of the Eminence swimming pool, council members voted to not enter into a contract with Our Backyard Leisure Specialties for pool repairs. At issue was the ever-growing price tag for renovations. Resident Donnie Young said he was not against the pool project. “What I’m against is the city using these (city) funds of $150,000,” he said. “We’ve got to look at the economy now and what’s been going on.” Council member Drane Stephens told the large crowd the council was not deciding whether or not the city would have a pool, but what to do with the pool contract.

A groundbreaking ceremony at the new Henry County Park symbolized the beginning of construction on a unique playground dedicated to Michael Brent, a young man who suffered a spinal cord injury due to an accident and subsequently passed away. Brent had an idea to provide Henry County with a handicapped accessible playground for the county’s children. Friends of Michael charity chairwoman, Cindy Norton said where there was a piece of equipment for an able-bodied child there would be one for a handicapped child. She said she had spoken frequently about the playground with Brent. “But we never dreamed we wouldn’t be able to do it together,” she said.

New Castle Police Chief John Porter was accused of making harassing cell phone calls to a former babysitter. A criminal complaint was filed on April 3 by Christina McLaughlin stating Porter sent at least 12 text messages to her phone within a 24-hour period “after being told repeatedly by the affiant not to contact her.” The complaint said the messages were “annoying and alarming,” and served “no legitimate purpose.”

MAY

Educators from the Ukraine learned a few things about American education by touring Campbellsburg Elementary and Henry County Middle and High schools.  The visitors spoke no English, but showed students where they were from by pointing it out on a globe. Superintendent Tim Abrams said they were amazed by how many books the schools had, and enjoyed a school lunch of pizza and corn. “They have trouble getting any quantity of books,” he said. “It made me thankful for the country we live in and where we are.”

Two arrests were made in a case of home invasion that happened near Smithfield on May 2. Kentucky State Police arrested Johnny Lee Gibson of Henryville, Ind. and Robert Gordon Bryant of Eminence. According to KSP “it was reported that two unknown subjects wearing ski masks entered the residence through an unsecured rear door of the house and held three victims at gunpoint.” They made one victim cash two checks and stole other items.

The wife of David Cull, indicted earlier in the year in the suffocation death of his two-month old grandson, learned she also would face charges. Donna Cull was indicted for reckless homicide and tampering with physical evidence in the Feb. 14 death of Xavian Cull. The indictment came one month after David Cull was indicted on the same charges.

Henry County HIgh School Spanish students went on the trip of a lifetime - to Spain for spring break. It was the farthest any of the students had travelled. They were impressed by how environmentally conscious Spaniards were. “They’re so much more concerned about conserving the water and energy than we are,” sophomore Billy Kelley said. “Things were posted in the bathrooms, reuse your towels so you can conserve energy.” The students also said they learned more Spanish while visiting the language’s place of origin and enjoyed the variety of food. “They had a cafeteria dedicated to ham,” sophomore Chase Copley said.

JUNE

Union Church Road received overdue repairs to keep it from sliding away. County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said there was a shelf of top soil underneath the road. “When you’re building a road, you want to be on either rock or clay dirt,” he said. Brent said 500 feet of the road had fallen about two feet. Though not a heavily travelled road, Union Church Road is part of a school bus route making its safety imperative.

A Pendleton man lost his life and another was injured when a propane tank exploded at the C.A. Garner Veneer plant in Smithfield. Michael Guse, 50 and Rick DeBurger, both plant managers, were unloading a propane tank from a pick-up truck when they noticed a leak. Static electricity from Guse’s shirt ignited the tank. Guse was transported to University of Louisville Hospital where he later died.

A lightning strike set an Eminence home on fire while the family was away on vacation. Heavy rain, hail and vivid lightning began in the early morning hours of Monday, June 16. A neighbor reported hearing a loud boom just before noticing smoke coming from the second floor of Obie and Beth Newton’s home. Scene commander Shane Curry said the home sustained heavy damage - starting in the roof then spreading through the attic.

Both Henry County Public Schools and Eminence Independent Schools were forced to raise school lunch prices. HCPS Superintendent Tim Abrams recommended an increase of ten cents on breakfast, lunch and ala carte items. He said the increase would offset only half of the increase the district expected from suppliers. Eminence Superintendent Donald Aldridge said some part of increased food costs would have to be passed on to students, noting costs would increase by 13.5 percent by July 1. “We hated to do it, but food prices have gone up,” Aldridge said.

Henry County High School got a new principal for the upcoming school year. New high school principal Jim Masters came to the district via Frankfort where he worked for the Department of Education. His previous position was to help low performing schools improve their academic indices. Noting the high school is undergoing  enormous changes, Masters said he hopes to build on the successes of outgoing principal Graham Wied.”I wanted to be somewhere I knew I could make a difference,” he said. Wied retired at the end of the 2007-08 school year.

The threat of severe weather forced an early end to the Henry County Relay for Life, but not before more than $80,000 was raised. The event was cut short just before the hallmark luminary ceremony as a weather system with strong winds and heavy rains appeared on the horizon. The storms generated multiple tornado watches and warnings throughout the Kentuckiana region.

On June 26, Steven Jeffries, of Eminence, died in a late night accident. The accident occurred after Henry County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Perry attempted to stop Jeffries vehicle. Jeffries fled from Perry, and lost control of his vehicle in the 1200 block of Kentucky 146 while attempting to negotiate a left-hand curve at a high rate of speed.

At its monthly board meeting, the Eminence Board of Education welcomed four new elementary school teachers. The four new teachers represented nearly one-quarter of the school’s teaching staff.

July

After a verbal argument turned deadly, New Castle resident Robert S. Elston, 54, was charged with the murder of Joseph D. Burch. According to a Kentucky State Police press release, the two men, who were said to be acquaintances, were arguing at the Osage Court apartment complex. The case was sent to the Henry County Grand Jury on July 14. The grand jury indicted Elston for second degree murder.

Eminence resident Leroy “Huck-A-Buck” Wright retired from the Ohio Valley Aluminum Company after 37 years with the business. Wright, who never missed a day of work on purpose, was presented with a plaque from OVACO. Management said Wright was among the hardest workers they ever had.

A fundraiser was held for 8-year-old Tyanna Smith, who was diagnosed with Germinoma cancer earlier this year. Peggy Smith said her daughter’s initial symptom was a headache that wouldn’t go away. by May, the second grader was diagnosed with the cancer, and doctors reported she had a grapefruit sized tumor in her brain. Because of its location, the tumor was deemd inoperable. But the family kept faith that all would be well.

At the July meeting of the Eminence City Council, a resident questioned the city about ‘money jars’ that had been placed throughout the city to raise money for the Eminence Swimming Pool. Eminence Police Chief Carey Duncan said he questioned Doug Gingrich about the jars, who could not provide exact numbers about how much was raised. Following the meeting, Making Waves issued a press release stating that the money had been turned over by money order or direct deposit. The group also declared that the move was “just a ploy.”

Concerned Citizens for Henry County Government declared their intent to appeal a decision by the Henry County Circuit Court in March relating to the county’s mandatory garbage ordinance. The group said that they felt the franchise fee established by the ordinance was too high, and that they had no issue with the concept of mandatory garbage itself.

Former Henry County High School Assistant Principal Zach Woods was named the new principal at Henry County Middle School, replacing Kevin Swank. Swank left his position as principal to accept a position at the district level.

A record crowd turned out for the 9th annual Harvest Showcase at the Henry County Fairgrounds. Thousands turned out for the event, which featured Louisville resident, and University of Louisville student Patrick Henry Hughes, who earlier this year was featured on ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover.

A fiery accident killed four Nashville residents, ages 18-20. The four were believed to be returning from a trip to Kings Island when their car crossed the median and struck a north-bound semi tractor trailer. The vehicles came to rest in the median and caught fire. Henry County Coroner Jimmy Pollard later identified the victims as Jackson Scott Harris, 19, Caitlin R. Currey, 18, Caitlin Christine Lee, 20, and Ryan Keith Williams, 19, all of Nashville

The contractor who initially had been awarded the contract to repair the Eminence swimming pool sued the city for breach of contract. Our Back Yard Leisure Specialties, of Smithville, Tenn., was awarded the contract in March, and owner Roger Bowman claimed that the city’s acceptance of the bid constituted a binding contract. Eminence City Attorney Bill Brammell said mere acceptance of the bid was not binding in this case because Bowman did not “accurately reflect the scope of the work in the contract documents.” In its response, Making Waves alleged fiscal mismanagement by the city, but targeted already budgeted items and a long standing incentive program for city employees, and not the city’s pool fund.

The Campbellsburg City Council adjust its annexation plans, deciding to focus solely on property north of Interstate 71, and leave out property on the city’s south eastern edge.

August

Less than a day after the city council authorized it, the Eminence swimming pool was filled in with dirt and rock, effectively ending the debate to reopen the aging facility. In a special called meeting, Eminence Mayor Jim Petitt said there was a limited window of opportunity to complete the work. The county donated several hundred tons of dirt, while Eminence obtained rock from Liter’s Quarry. Employees from the county road department did the majority of the transporting.

According to NCLB results released in August, Henry County Public Schools failed to make “adequate” progress in the 2007-2008 school year, while Eminence Independent Schools met all of its goals. This marked the fourth year in a row that HCPS did not meet the federal guidelines for adequate yearly progress, placing the district in the third tier of No Child Left Behind consequences. The district fell short on two of its 13 goals — both involving students with disabilities.

In another school related note, HCPS Superintendent Tim Abrams said that Henry County High School would be ready to open on the first day of school, though much work still needed to be done.

In a reflection of a national trend, Henry County Property Valuation Administrator Jason Scriber said that between July 2007 and June 2008 there were 74 home foreclosures. The average yearly number is 46. Between January and June of this year, Scriber said there already were 42 foreclosures. Local realtors reported that foreclosure sales were a large part of their business as well.

On August 22, vandals struck the Eminence swimming pool, leaving a grafiti message for the city’s mayor. With a message of “Jim “Hitler” Peitt you and your gestipo must go,” Eminence Mayor Jim Petitt said he believed the message also was targeted at the city council.

On August 21, a fire struck the Simpson Masonic Lodge in New Castle.

The Campbellsburg City Council made official its intent to annex property north of the city by passing a declaration to annex. The move was later made null when the council decided to hold off on annexation until they were sure enough property owners were on board with the idea. If annexation were placed on a ballot and failed to pass, it would be five years before the city could attempt to annex the same property again.

Campbellsburg Police Chief Paul McDonald resigned his position, saying that family issues led to his resignation. McDonald accepted a position with a fourth class city in eastern Jefferson County that would allow him to work closer to home.

On Aug. 30, the Eminence Auto Parts/NAPA store was destroyed in a fire. Authorities would arrest Michael Wells, son of the store’s owner and an employee at the store, on charges related to the blaze. Wells was found at a hotel in LaGrange, where he was reportedly arrested without incident.

September

According to a report released in September, juniors in both local districts had ACT scores were below the state average. Eminence had a composite score of 18.2, while Henry County had a composite score of 17.4, while the state composite was 18.3. 2008 marked the first year that all Kentucky juniors were required to take the test.

The remnants of Hurricane Ike swept through the region, downing trees and power lines. More than 240,000 LG&E and Kentucky Utilities customers were left without power as a result of a massive wind storm.

The release of annual Commonwealth Accountability Testing System scores showed that most schools in Henry County were progressing toward the state goal of 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Eminence Independent Schools posted an overall adjusted accountability index of 86.4, while Henry County posted an index of 76.5. EIS’ combined index score of 85.4 was above its goal of 83.7 for the biennium. HCPS’ biennium score of 76.4 fell short of its goal of 83.7. Both districts met their novice reduction goals.

Campbellsburg’s annexation and sewer project hit a snag in September when at least one property owner expressed concern that the city was putting the cart before the horse by attempting to annex before a utility bore under I-71 is completed. That bore would pave the way for future sewer access to homes and businesses on the north side of the interstate. A representative from Carrollton Utilities was on hand and said that the system had a number of problems that needed to be resolved before CU would formally take over the system.

Long serving member of the Henry County Fiscal Court Wayne Gunnell resigned his position in September, after accepting a position with the Kentucky Department of Revenue. Gunnell, who said he’d been trying to get a position in state government for several months, was a member of the court for 27 years. Gunnell said the new job came at a time when he felt he could contribute to state government/

In an attempt at “being a good neighbor,” the Henry County Fiscal Court approved a fence installation policy agreement between the county and property owners who have property adjoining the new county park. The agreement would split the cost of a woven wire fence with property owners who request a fence be installed.

October

For the first time in its history, Henry County Public Schools approved a $20 million budget. Superintendent Tim Abrams said the primary factor for the budget was an increase in the beginning ballance — $530,000 rolled over from the 2007-08 budget that typically would be placed in escrow. “We rolled money over for furnishings or whatever we need to have,” Abrams said, “to spend on the high school.”

October represented the height of election season, with eight Campbellsburg residents and 13 Eminence residents running for the six open council seats in each of their respective cities. Seven New Castle residents and five Pleasureville residents ran for four open commission seats in their respective cities, while Smithfield had just four candidates for its four-person commission.

Henry County emergency response crews tested their mettle during a mock disaster drill at Safety Kleen’s Smithfield facility. The drill was deemed a success, despite initial concerns that the response time was taking too long. Don Renn, with Kentucky Emergency Management praised the crews, who made contact with their first victims just 26 minutes after arriving on the scene, which he classified as “rocking.”

Henry County Clerk Juanita Lashley held a demonstration of a paper ballot voting machine that would be in use during the general election in November. The machines, which helps maintain a paper trail, were purchased for each of Henry County’s 20 precincts with funding from the 2002 Help America Vote Act.

The annual Drennon Days Festival was not held, though the ride that accompanies it still took place. This year, the ride was held to benefit a local man, Doug Shaw, who was seriously injured in a farming accident in August.

Based on a complaint filed by Making Waves members Doug Gingrich and Richard Thomas, the state Auditor of Public Accounts began investigating Eminencec and the city’s swimming pool repair fund. The auditor’s office asked the city to provide a complete accounting of the fund, and included the original complaint. That complaint claimed that the city had $617 collected from a school quarter drive and donation jars “that it will not return to the school children and citizens,” that $2,400 from a pool fundraiser concert was not returned and that “the city presently has $10,000 in the pool repair account and refuses to offer explanations to the public.” The city responded to each point, dismissing the claims. Making Waves chairwoman Manda Gingrich said the city lied in its response in which it said the $617 was solely from a school fundraiser and was returned to the school.

Carrollton Utilities Bill Osborn told the Campbellsburg City Council that several items needed to be completed before CU would take over the system. Specifically, Osborn said that a pump station would need to be replaced completely to be able to handle the flow it receives, and two others needed new controls. He also said that the system had a problem with rain water infiltration, and that until those problems were fixed, CU would not approve the transfer of ownership.

More than a century after his death, Joseph Hawkins Fitzgerald — a founding member of Drennon Springs Baptist Church — was honored with amilitary headstone in Indiana. Fitzgerald served in the Indian Wars under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, and fought at the Battle of Ft. Recovery in Ohio and the Battle of Fallen Timbers. He was discharged in 1795, and died in 1854.

The dismal economic outlook nationally was reflected locally as more residents found themselves asking for information about home heating assistance. Tri-County Community Action Agency Director Bryan Raisor said the economic downturn, as well as a rise in the cost of heating fuels, had his phone ringing off the hook. He said that in 2007, the agency spent $55,000 helping 345 clients.

The Henry County Fiscal Court awarded its mandatory garbage franchise to Rumpke after a vote that almost didn’t happen. The vote almost stalled for lack of a second on the motion to even open the bids after the court learned that competitor Industrial Disposal did not have their bid prepared in time. Once the sole bid was read, it was accepted, on a 3-2 vote.

November

A hotly contested race for Eminence City Council ended in a tie, that later was broken by a coin toss. Candidate Elizabeth “LeeAnn” Armstrong and incumbent Treva Browning tied for sixth place among all candidates in the race, that was finally decided by a coin toss. Armstrong won the toss, which Browning felt was a demeaning way to end the race. She conceded, however, that Armstrong had good intentions.

The Eminence tie was the local trump to the race for President of the United States, which ended with a landslide victory for Democrat Barack Obama. Obama, who lost the race in Henry County and Kentucky, became the 44th President of the United States, and the nation’s first black president.

Craig Meadows, the 2008 Eminence graduate who raised $2,400 for the Eminence Pool project donated the money from that project to the Eminence Education Foundation. The money was left in limbo after the city’s plans to repair the pool were sent back to the drawing board. The $2,315.75 is what Meadows hopes will be the start of the Craig Meadows Outstanding Service Scholarship, to be given in $500 increments to students who demonstrate exemplary service to the school and community.

Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustments member Adam West was appointed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to fill the fiscal court seat vacated in October by Wayne Gunnell.

In an operation covering five counties, the Kentucky State Police, Post 5, arrested nearly 70 area residents on drug charges. Among the 68 people sought for alleged drug trafficking offenses, nine were from Henry County. Known as Operation Round-Up, the sting netted 49 arrests in a single day.

In an effort to build team spirit and unity, Eminence Speaker hosted its own version of the popular show the Amazing Race. The contest pitted several teams of employees against each other to complete odd tasks throughout the city. The winning team received $50 checks for each team member.

Henry County Public Schools was named in a lawsuit against former teacher Scott Stumbo. The suit, filed in Shelby County Circuit Court, also named the Shelby and Trimble County school districts. In the suit, Elizabeth Reynolds charges Stumbo with “intentional and outrageous” conduct that caused her to suffer “severe emotional distress.”

Despite the bleak economic outlook, the Henry County Fiscal Court voted, 5-1, to give county employees their annual cost of living raise. The four percent raises, which amount to 35-50 cents per hour depending on each employee’s hourly rate, were approved after a lengthy discussion led by Magistrate Nick Hawkins. Hawkins also recommended eliminating merit-based raises, for at least one year, and that the magistrates forgo their annual cost of living increase — which also was set for four percent. Noone would second Hawkins’ motion, which died. Eventually, Magistrate Jerry Beasley made the motion that would approve the four-percent increase and eliminate merit raises, without discussing the magistrates’ increases.

December

One month after initiating its investigation into the Eminence swimming pool fund, the state Auditor of Public Accounts closed its investigation and declared there was “nothing to examine further.” The auditor’s office said that the city provided a full accounting of the funds, and that Making Waves was unable to account for who donated how much via donation jars throughout the city.

A fast moving fire, fueled in part by strong winds, leveled a Drennon Road home in less than an hour. The fire was so intense and so hot that crews could not complete their work until the home’s basement cooled off enough to approach — more than four days after the fire occurred.

Communities throughout the county were swept up with the Christmas spirits as four of the five cities held holiday celebrations. Campbellsburg kicked off the festivities with Light Up Campbellsburg, followed by Light Up Eminence, and Christmas celebrations in New Castle and Smithfield.

New Castle Main Street manager Jeff Thoke informed the New Castle City Commission that the city’s Locker project was close to completion. He told the council that 21 items needed to finish the project had been completed, and that volunteers completed railings, a handicap accessible ramp and more.

An early winter snow storm hit the region — to varying degrees — causing the first snow closure of school for the 2008-2009 school year. The southeastern portion of Henry County was hit hardest, at first. Snow began falling heavily around 9 a.m., and Henry County Public Schools Superintendent Tim Abrams said his decision to cancel school was well justified.

The Henry County Grand Jury indicted Eminence resident Michael Wells on charges related to the Aug. 30 fire that destroyed the Eminence Auto Parts/NAPA store owned by his father. Wells was indicted for second degree arson, two counts of terroristic threatening, one count of disorderly conduct and an unrelated charge of attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud, false statement or forgery. Just days after his indictment, Wells was found dead. While officials would not speculate on a cause of death, they did say that foul play was not suspected.

In a first for his administration, Henry County Sheriff conducted a sheriff’s sale. Up for grabs were 10 thoroughbred horses left at Moserwood Farms for more than a year. The 10 horses, which could be worth thousands, sold for a total of $6,900 — an amount that didn’t cover what the sheriff’s department was out for just one month of boarding the animals.

Eminence High School once again earned a bronze medal in the U.S. News & World report annual ranking of the nation’s best high schools.