JUNE 5, 2020

The Murray State University Board of Regents will meet in quarterly session today via ZOOM. Among items on a busy agenda will be the 20-21 University Budget, the election of Board of Regents officers and reaffirmation of the treasurer, as well as setting board meeting dates for the next fiscal year. The meeting will be available for viewing online at and on the Board of Regents website. The meeting begins this morning at 8:30.

The tornado warning sirens in Murray and Hazel and on the Murray State University campus will be tested this morning. The tests are conducted to make sure that the sirens are working properly. Calloway County Emergency Management Director Chesley Thomas said Murray State systems will be tested first, followed by the others. The tornado warning sirens test will begin at around 9 am.

The Purchase District Health Department yesterday announced five new cases of COVID-19, with three in McCracken County and two in Fulton County. McCracken County now has 106 individuals that have tested positive and Fulton County has 9. No new cases were reported yesterday in Calloway County, Marshall County, or Graves County. At yesterday’s statewide COVID-19 update, Governor Andy Beshear reported 295 newly confirmed cases and eight new deaths, raising the total to 458 Kentuckians lost to the virus. The eight victims were aged 71 to 92. At least 3,303 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus with 518 currently hospitalized including 67 in ICU. 262,714 Kentuckians have been tested.

Also at yesterday’s press conference, Governor Andy Beshear responded to a reporter’s question about the statue of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. The Governor said that the statue has no place in the Capitol, which should be welcoming to all Kentuckians, adding that even if there are those who think it’s a part of history, there should be a better place to put it in historical context.

During a video conference yesterday, Special Judge Tim Kaltenbach granted a motion for a continuance in the double-murder case of Shannon Scott. Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust said Scott’s defense counsel was also involved in the Marshall County School shooting case, and combined with COVID, it was going to be difficult to be ready to go to trial. Scott is accused of killing 37-year-old Tera Todd, 77-year-old Evelyn Scott, and her dog at Todd’s home in Murray in February of last year. In addition to murder and tampering with physical evidence charges, Scott is charged with cruelty to animals, burglary, and theft. A pre-trial conference has been scheduled for June 30.

Kathryn Jenkins and Mia Todd of the Murray High School speech team, won national honors over the weekend while competing online in the National Speech and Debate Association Senior Open. Jenkins advanced to the Humorous Interpretation Senior Showcase as one of the top six competitors in her event. A recording of Jenkins’ performance was forwarded to judges to review during rounds on Saturday and ended competition tied for fourth place overall in Humorous Interpretation. Todd advanced to the Mixed Extemporaneous Speaking Senior Showcase as one of the top four competitors in her event. Todd competed in four online preliminary rounds on Saturday and ended the competition in second place overall in Mixed Extemporaneous Speaking. Jenkins and Todd serve as president and vice president of the Murray High Speech Team, respectively.

Murray Elementary School placed fourth in last month’s Odyssey of the Mind Virtual World Finals. MES made-up one of the nine Kentucky teams competing with nearly 900 teams from across the globe. Murray Elementary School chose to create a solution for the problem called “Longshot Solution” which required students to build three vehicles with different propulsion systems that would deliver materials to a central area. The team then had to create a special effect using baking soda with delivered materials. Murray Elementary presented its solution via Zoom, earning a fourth place finish in their problem division out of 67 teams. Odyssey of the Mind is an international creative problem-solving program requiring team members to apply their creativity to solve problems.

Two Murray State University alumnae have recently opened their own mental health private practice facilities in western Kentucky. Lisa Robin Sanford and Lisa Frost are both graduates of the University’s Educational Specialist in clinical mental health counseling program. Sanford’s facility, Sacred Break Throughs, offers a variety of mental health services in the greater Mayfield, Hickory, Paducah, and Benton communities. In her practice, Maple Street Counseling Center LLC, Frost specializes in assisting clients with anxiety, depression, substance use disorders and coping with trauma. She currently works under the clinical supervision of Dr. Justin Brogan.

Bluegrass Water Utility Operating Company has completed the acquisitions of three Kentucky water and wastewater systems previously approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The acquired systems include 339 water customers in the Center Ridge community in New Concord, 69 sewer customers in the Timberland section of the Joann Estates community in Paducah, and 182 sewer customers in the River Bluffs community in Westport. Bluegrass Water serves customers in Bullitt, Calloway, Franklin, Hardin, Madison, Marshall, McCracken, Oldham, Scott and Shelby counties. Under the newly approved acquisition agreement, they will continue to charge the same rates to customers as previous systems owners.

Harrison Fry of South Fulton, Tennessee has been awarded a Local Government Early Career Service Certificate from the International City/County Management Association for his work in Paducah. Fry is a recent graduate of Murray State’s Master of Public Administration program, and received the award for his internship work with the City Manager’s Office within the City of Paducah government over the last year. Fry assisted in coordinating strategic plan efforts for the city, completed substantial policy analysis and research, collaborated with a regional city manager network to identify best practices for operations, and utilized several of the fundamental skills associated with local government administration.

LOS ANGELES—Music mogul Kanye West is donating money to the family of Louisville’s Breonna Taylor, as well as to the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. Taylor was shot by police eight times and killed in March during a no-knock raid on her apartment. Floyd died on Memorial Day while being detained by Minneapolis police, and Arbery was shot dead while jogging in Georgia in February. West is also covering all legal costs for each of the families. The two-million-dollar donation from West comes as massive protests have broken out after video of Floyd’s death in Minnesota last week went viral. The money is also meant for black-owned businesses in crisis.

LEXINGTON—Protests against police violence and racial injustice are continuing in Lexington. Demonstrators gathered yesterday for the seventh straight night of protests following the death of George Floyd and Louisville’s Breonna Taylor. A larger group of protesters marched through downtown chanting, and then stopped on Vine Street outside the transit center to take a knee during a moment of silence in honor of victims of police violence.

LEXINGTON—Kentucky’s cattle industry is feeling the impact of COVID-19. Sales of cattle are down and often being made at a loss. Future markets continue to be volatile, even as the state begins to reopen businesses. Cattle farmers say spring prices per head were down eight to ten dollars per hundred pounds, creating little to no profit margin for them. High demand for beef at grocery stores is being affected by the slowdown at packaging plants because of COVID-19.

LOUISVILLE—Breonna Taylor’s pregnant neighbor is suing the Louisville Metro Police, claiming they “blindly fired” into her apartment while they were raiding Taylor’s on March 13th. Taylor was killed during the raid. Chelsey Napper’s lawsuit says officers indiscriminately fired into her apartment, disregarding human life. A man in Napper’s apartment narrowly avoided being shot by one of the officers’ bullets, according to the suit. A child was also present in Napper’s home at the time of the raid.

OWENSBORO—While the JCPenny store in Murray opened this week, company officials say the Owensboro JCPenney in Towne Square Mall is closing permanently. The company announced the closure yesterday afternoon. The location has been shuttered since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Owensboro’s store is one of more than 150 locations on an initial list of permanent closures released by the company.

FRANKFORT— Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron could be getting a lot of cards in the mail. Singer Demi Lovato has encouraged her fans to send cards to Cameron on what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday today. The former EMT was shot to death in March by Louisville police. Police say it happened after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them during a drug raid on her home.

WASHINGTON DC—Two Democratic senators are voicing their displeasure over an amendment Senator Rand Paul is trying to add to anti-lynching legislation. On the Senate floor yesterday, New Jersey’s Cory Booker and Kamala Harris of California responded in an emotional debate. Paul is pushing to make lynching a federal crime but argued the current bill is too broad and said his amendment would apply criminal charges for strictly that crime and not others. Harris said Paul is trying to weaken a bill that has already passed and noted there’s no reason for the change.

TENNESSEE—The Tennessee Department of Health is confirming 298 additional cases of the coronavirus. TDH says 401 Tennesseans have died since the outbreak started. The positive cases include 16,643 recoveries leaving 8,477 active cases.

TENNESSEE—There’s good news for anyone registered to vote in Tennessee who wants to vote by mail during the coronavirus outbreak. A judge ruled last night, saying the State’s justifications for not expanding voting by mail during the pandemic are not reasonable, necessary and or do not exist. The judge called the state’s interpretation and application of Tennessee’s voting by mail law during the pandemic “an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.” State elections officials had argued that if vote-by-mail was expanded, thousands of voters may be tossed out, saying voters would be confused by ballot instructions.

TENNESSEE—The Tennessee Supreme Court won’t take up the case over school vouchers. The court also denied a stay of injunction yesterday. That means it can’t be implemented pending a decision by the court of appeals. Advocates for the school savings account program had asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to take over the legal battle challenging the constitutionality of using public tax dollars on private school tuition.

TENNESSEE—Protesters in Memphis are getting a lesson on civil disobedience. The Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens and the Memphis chapter of Black Lives Matter held a training session on civil disobedience outside the National Civil Rights Museum last evening. They learned about the risks involved with civil disobedience, including getting arrested.

TENNESSEE—Membership in the Tennessee-based Southern Baptist Convention is declining. An annual report released yesterday by LifeWay Christian Resources says membership in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination fell at a historic rate between 2018 and 2019. SBC says it had 14-and-a-half-million members in 2019, down nearly 288-thousand from the year before.The two-percent drop is the largest single-year drop in over 100 years.