Thursday, January 27, 2011

OMHS earns Clinical Excellence award

By Rich Suwanski, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 12:08 AM CST

HealthGrades named Owensboro Medical Health System a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence for the third straight year on Wednesday, putting the hospital among the top 5 percent in the nation for clinical performance.

The HealthGrades Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence study identified hospitals with the best overall clinical performance across all 26 medical diagnoses and procedures that the organization rates. OMHS is among a group of 268 hospitals receiving the award, and one of only two Kentucky hospitals to receive it. St. Elizabeth's in Edgewood was the other.

OMHS is also ranked No. 1 in Kentucky in three specialty areas, according to HealthGrades. They are joint replacement surgery, such as total knee replacements, critical care, which includes treating patients with diagnoses such as blood infection and respiratory failure, and medical treatment of gastrointestinal issues, such as bowel obstruction.

"It's a great validation for us for all the quality initiatives that we're doing," said Dr. Robert Schell, a general and vascular surgeon and chairman of the OMHS Board of Directors Quality and Safety Committee. "It's really nice when we get an award, but we're not doing this for the awards, but because it's the right thing to do.

"It's important that people can come to a hospital where they realize they're going to get quality care and safe care."

HealthGrades is an independent health care ratings organization that studies patient outcomes in about 40 million hospitalization records from about 5,000 nonfederal hospitals in the United States that participate in the Medicare program. It evaluated hospitals solely on clinical outcomes, risk-adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications from 2007-09. Risk-adjusted means patients with like conditions are compared.

Getting the clinical excellence award for the third year placed OMHS among a group of 16 United States hospitals achieving it. It received the Patient Safety Excellence and the Outstanding Patient Experience awards in the past year.

"We use a team concept idea," Schell said. "Everybody has a role to play in creating a culture for quality and safety. We're all working together for the same objective."

In 2002, OMHS' mortality rates were worse than the national average in expected patient outcomes, and the hospital undertook several quality-improvement initiatives, including improving patient outcomes for joint replacements, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, chronic lung disease and the reduction of incidence of infections, blood clots and pressure ulcers from skin breakdown.

"We still have a number of long-term goals," Schell said. "We want to improve our care of stroke and educate the public about getting people having a stroke to get to the hospital quickly.

"We're also looking at improving medication safety because a lot of people across the country are hurt by medication errors. We're working hard to eliminate them in the hospital, and making sure that patients understand what they're on and the dose when they go home."

Schell said electronic record-keeping, which OMHS is moving toward, can help eliminate some errors.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Moore will test new coffee shop concept

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011 12:08 AM CST

Don Moore is putting a new concept coffee shop called Overflow inside his Chevrolet Cadillac dealership 3232 Villa Point off Kentucky 54.

The coffee shop will serve not only his car-buying customers, but also the public.

And half of the proceeds from the shop's sales will benefit Owensboro's homeless shelters.

Moore and his family came up with the idea at dinner as a way to give back to the community, he said. His son has done the design work for the shop.

"The idea for 'Overflow' is that a person might come into the shop, and we want them to leave 'overflowing,' " Moore said. "We talked about doing something different at our dealership, something fun, but also give back."

Knowing the new building on Kentucky 54 featured a drive-through sparked some creative family dinner conversation.

The talks touched on a company that sells coffee beans with profits going to stop human trafficking. That led Moore and his family to a concept that would differentiate their coffee shop from others.

To start, the shop's proceeds will help local homeless shelters. Moore said he and his wife spend some volunteer time at St. Benedict's Homeless Shelter.

"Hopefully, as time goes on, we can let our customers dictate where the money goes," Moore said.

The shop will have its own entrance and drive-through service.

It will open for the Moore dealership's customers at the end of February. The target for having the drive-through open is early March.

Susan Anderson is taking the lead on the project.

"We want to create an atmosphere for people to get a quality cup of coffee on the way to work or any time," she said. "It's a situation in which we feel blessed, and we want to share that with the community."

The shop will seat 20 inside and have outdoor seating in spring and summer.

The drive-through will be on the left side of the car dealership.

Anderson was interviewing prospective employees this week. "We'll probably hire eight to 10 to begin with," she said. "We're not really sure what level of business we will have at first. Our morning drive-through business probably will be exceptional."

Moore thinks the shop will catch on. "I feel like it's something people will want to get involved in," he said. "And I hope it will break even after giving to the organizations."

Patti's Resale celebrating 40 years in business; glad to be downtown

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011 12:08 AM CST

After Patti Acquisto moved back to Owensboro in 1969 she began offering some of her no-longer-wanted clothes for re-sale at a consignment shop in a small house at Fifth and Triplett streets.

She also shopped at the store, finding bargains at every turn. The woman loves a bargain.

After a few months, she started working there part time.

One day the owner asked if she wanted to buy the store, and she did with her brother providing the stake she needed. That was in January 1971.

And she has turned the venture into a 40-year career.

Today, Patti's Resale is downtown at 105 W. Second St., and Patti Acquisto and her daughter-in-law and co-owner Martha Acquisto are excited about the future of their business.

They are "sitting in the catbird seat in the historic district watching the downtown come alive," Patti Acquisto said.

Two years ago, Patti Acquisto sort of retired from working in the business. She spends only from three to four hours at a time there when her daughter-in-law asks her to fill in.

She goes to the store primarily to shop. But she also does the store's promotions and is chairwoman of the We Are Downtown merchants organization, which she organized soon after the new store's opening.

"I don't miss the work, but I really miss the people," she said.

She said she has completed "a great cycle of service" -- selling a generation their prom dresses, wedding gowns and maternity wear.

"I love to see those moms who have shopped with me come into the store with their babies in their arms," she said.

Martha Acquisto loves the resale business in general. Her mother used to shop at Patti's store. Martha and Patti Acquisto's middle son dated when they were in high school before their marriage.

"I've always been around and appreciated what the business is," Martha Acquisto said.

She has a bachelor's degree in human environmental sciences and has worked in retail with jobs at the GAP, Gymboree and The Limited.

The younger Acquistos moved back to Owensboro 13 years ago, and once their children were older and more independent, Martha Acquisto started working with Patti.

Two years ago, she became co-owner.

"Patti knew she didn't want to do this forever, but she knew she wanted the business to continue," Martha Acquisto said. "Slowly, it transitioned to what it is today."

It took awhile for Martha Acquisto to build a rapport with the regular customers and consignors.

"There is a certain amount of trust involved, and she has a good reputation from having been in business 40 years," Martha Acquisto said. "I want to keep that trust."

When Patti Acquisto started in the resale industry, consignment shops had an image problem, she said.

"The community here had not bought into the concept yet," she said. "I set out to change that. I wanted to let people know that resale shopping was socially acceptable and the fundamentally prudent thing to do. I've been doing that ever since."

While she has experienced industry trends over her career, the basic concept at Patti's Resale has not changed, she said.

The consumer gets half of what the item sells for, if it sells within the time frame listed in the contract. And the business is operated professionally, Patti Acquisto said.

"We pay everybody (consignors) every month with a check that we mail to them," she said. "There is no cost to them for that, and we include a list of what they're being paid for."

Consignors can pick up any items that don't sell.

Donations from Patti's Resale are given to the Baptist Center at Ninth and Lancaster and the Salvation Army.

Multiple stores, locations at first

In the early years, the store used a manual system of sales and inventory -- everything was written down in 12 ledgers.

The inventory was logged, and then much of the same information was written on the merchandise tag.

She also paid her consignors in cash during those first years.

"As the years went by, we got smarter," she said. "We paid by checks and then computers came along to simplify things."

She added a friend to work at the store, and in the first two years of operation, Patti Acquisto often paid her one employee when she couldn't pay herself.

Patti's survived shoplifters, thieves (including some employees), burglaries, robbery at knifepoint, a tornado and growing competition from consignment shops cropping up in the mid-'90s.

Her husband's illness and death marked a particularly difficult time.

After 10 years of business at the former Cornell's Restaurant on New Hartford Road, she bought the downtown store that was built in 1890 and was home to Woolworth's in the '50s and '60s.

The service of longtime employees has helped the Acquistos' business to thrive, the owners said.

For a number of years, Patti Acquisto worked with two sets of clients -- the consignors "who wouldn't be caught dead" buying from the resale racks, and the customers who clamored for bargains.

"As the years went by, consignment and resale became more acceptable, and these two have merged," she said. "They're both buyers."

When Patti's branched into resale furniture, that opened more than one new market for the business.

"People came to buy used furniture to furnish a dorm room of a child going to college or a summer home, and they, too, wouldn't have wanted to be seen looking for used clothes," she said. "But they looked around the store at other things and bought items."

Both Acquistos said NARTS, the Association of Resale Professionals (formerly the National Association of Resale & Thrift Stores), has provided them with a professional network.

Patti Acquisto served one four-year term as president and is the current treasurer.

"Martha and I go to the conferences and teach seminars and give keynote speeches," Patti Acquisto said. "We meet our peers, continue to learn and improve our skills."

Martha Acquisto said Patti's Resale stacks up better than most of the shops she has visited when attending conferences in Atlanta, Palm Beach, Fla., Boston and various other cities in California and Texas.

"People tell us that our store looks like a real store," Martha Acquisto said. "The clothing section is like a big closet to me. I get to look at what comes in

New shoppers joined the faithful during the recession, but most of their customers are repeats, she said.

"Some of our customers come back each week because they know the inventory changes," Martha Acquisto said.

She also enjoys the foot traffic the current location affords as people travel downtown for an event or to another store and decide to check out their store as well.

"I can't imagine being anywhere else," Martha Acquisto said. "I look at what comes in and get to get to decide what I get to highlight."

The store often sells name brands that shoppers can't find in Owensboro, another plus, she said.

Resale, consignment growing

"The industry has certainly come a long way in the 26 years our association has existed," said Adele Meyer, executive director of NARTS. "Historically, the resale industry has been recession-proof. When the economy is down, we thrive."

Now a multibillion dollar industry, resale has been growing by about 5 percent per year, measured by the estimated number of stores opening each year, minus the business closings, she said.

The NARTS 2010 Operating Survey, based on figures the organization's members provided, shows a growth in net sales of 12.7 percent in 2009 from 2008, the strongest sales year in the past five years.

Retail sales overall were down 7.3 percent in 2009 from 2008, according to data NARTS reports from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Meyer attributes some of the growth to an increased awareness of the value of recycling and reusing. Consignors can make money on their used items instead of adding them as waste. And the tax benefits donating to not-for-profit thrift stores also is attracting some customers.

But the potential for finding bargains is still the main reason for the industry's uptick, Meyer said.

Consumers also have made resale shopping a pastime.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299,

Learn more about Patti's Resale at or follow the store on Facebook.

Check out more information about the national resale industry at

Official: Center could bring 1,000 jobs

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:00 AM CST

The proposed $45 million Heartland Crossing shopping center project, which the Owensboro City Commission moved to annex into the city Tuesday, will bring 750 to more than 1,000 jobs to the community, a city official said.

City Commission members unanimously approved a municipal order at City Hall authorizing Mayor Ron Payne to execute an agreement with Heartland Crossing's owners that would allow the 65-acre development to be annexed into the city.

Under the proposed agreement, the city will reimburse the developer for the cost of building facilities dedicated to public use, with the amount of the reimbursement not to exceed the total of property, occupational and net profits tax revenues derived from the property for a period of five years.

The arrangement falls under the standard annexation incentive program the city has used for many years to bring residential and commercial developments into the city.

When Payne asked City Attorney Ed Ray how many jobs the development will create, Ray answered that the developers have said the number of direct jobs would be 750.

An evaluation by the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. found that the total number of jobs created as a result of the project will be slightly more than 1,000, according to Ray.

The project is expected to begin this spring, city officials said.

"This is an exciting development which will create added jobs," Payne said. "We are really pleased to see this community continue to grow."

Heartland Crossing, which is at 2404 and 2412 E. Parrish Ave. next to the U.S. 60 bypass, was announced almost three years ago. Plans call for a 276,700-square-foot main shopping center surrounded by 16 outlots for restaurants, banks, offices and a hotel.

A Menards home improvement store is reportedly among the businesses that will locate in the development.

Also Tuesday, the City Commission heard first reading of an ordinance amending the budget to set aside funds for several maintenance projects and construction of a $275,000 replacement recycling center on West Seventh Street. No objections were raised to the ordinance by commission members. It will be voted on at the Feb. 1 meeting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WKU adding research offices, labs

Centre for Business and Research expanding
By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:00 AM CST

Two full-time faculty members from Western Kentucky University-Owensboro are establishing research offices and labs in the Centre for Business and Research at 1010 Allen St. as part of an expanded partnership between the university and the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

The researchers' work in biology/biotechnology and food science is all about growing companies and growing jobs in Owensboro, WKU President Gary Ransdell and EDC President Nick Brake said Tuesday at a news conference in the Centre.

"Our faculty is challenged to work with communities to solve problems, and those are different for each community," Ransdell said after the announcement. "The economic development leadership here has identified niches and sectors in biotechnology, food services, health care and agriculture manufacturing. We need to make sure WKU-O has the faculty and degree programs to support those."

The EDC is establishing the Centre as a 38,000-square-foot business incubation and research facility. It's modeled in part after Western's 300,000-square-foot innovation center in a former Bowling Green shopping mall.

High-tech, start-up companies devoted to food science, plant biotechnology and life sciences can rent office and/or lab space in Owensboro's center.

"In less than five years, hundreds of employers have gone through that Bowling Green center," Brake said. "The professors and researchers work hand in glove to make that happen."

Owensboro has been competitive in cost for infrastructure factors such as land and electricity, but talent and technology also are driving forces for infrastructure in today's economy, Brake said.

Universities began playing key roles in economic development after federal legislation in 1980 gave them control over their research and intellectual properties such as patents.

"Owensboro was once forced to the sidelines because we didn't have a university in our backyard," Brake said.

Western is now helping to fill that void for Owensboro, he said.

Chandra Emani, an assistant professor of biology, already has an office in the Owensboro center, and Hanna "John" Khouryieh, assistant professor, food processing, will be establishing his office.

Both professors teach at WKU-O.

College and high school students interested in these applied research areas will be able to get hands-on, relevant experience in the labs .

Ransdell told the group of community leaders and educators that a shift is taking place in where economic development is occurring in Kentucky. It's not just occurring in the golden triangle of Lexington, Louisville and northern Kentucky.

"I'm not sure what that geometric shape is coming from Louisville to Bowling Green and Owensboro/western Kentucky," Ransdell said.

WKU-O is helping Owensboro grow the population of baccalaureate degree holders, while also helping to grow the economy, he said.

"It won't do any good to produce more degree-holders if we're not focused on their relevancy," Ransdell said.

WKU-O is focused on health care and biotechnology and food science and also those general courses leading to degrees.

This partnership is part of the Memorandum of Agreement among WKU, Daviess Fiscal Court and the EDC.

Ransdell commended the Owensboro partners for taking a risk to create the first building on the new WKU-O campus. That action has created a model in Kentucky for state universities, he said.

University of Louisville President James Ramsey and other university and community leaders announced Nov. 12, 2010 that U of L also will help in forming and growing health care, food service and agricultural companies that start at The Centre for Business and Research in Owensboro.

U of L will offer its support through Nucleus, the Life Science Innovation Center.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

U.S. Bank building progressing

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Monday, January 17, 2011 12:05 AM CST

With the deadline for completion six weeks away, work is moving at a quick pace on the U.S. Bank Home Mortgage building at Carter and Tamarack roads in the MidAmerica Airpark.

A&K Construction of Paducah is building the 47,900-square-foot, single-story call center for the city of Owensboro, which will lease it to U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, the mortgage servicing arm of the financial institution.

The deadline for the building to be finished is March 1, and an official monitoring its progress said meeting the deadline remains possible.

In early December, Tony Cecil, the city's operations manager, said the exterior wall framing on the structure was 95 percent complete, and 75 percent of the building was enclosed and roofed.

Much more progress has occurred since then. Last week, according to the city's most recent project update report, installation of drywall was proceeding. Exterior weather protection using DuPont Tyvek housewrap was about 85 percent installed. Exterior brick installation had started on the south side of the building but was progressing slowly because of weather.

Meanwhile, above-floor plumbing installation was about 90 percent complete, and the sprinkler system had been roughed in. Installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning ductwork was about 85 percent finished, and interior electrical rough-in had been finished.

Mike Ranney, president of RBS Design, the architectural firm hired by the city to be the construction manager on the project, said the building is now completely enclosed and under roof. Meeting the March 1 completion date remains a good possibility, he said, but even if the building is not completely finished by that date, U.S. Bank can begin installing furniture and equipment at that time.

"They are still shooting for March 1, and it will be close," Ranney said of A&K's efforts to finish the project on time.

When the first phase of the building is finished and the approximately 33,100-square-foot second phase is eventually built on the 13.5-acre site, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage intends to employ 500 or more people at the location by 2014, bank officials have said.

Cruisers Classic Diner opening inside mall

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011 12:10 AM CST

Cruisers Classic Diner is hoping to be open Jan. 21 in Towne Square Mall in the space next to Macy's that previously was home to Route 66 Diner.

The eatery will offer burgers and hand-dipped shakes and classic '50's and '60's-style diner food, as well as a variety of other classic dishes such as catfish, steak, fettuccine and more, said owner David Dukes of Madisonville.

"I'll have an Italian beef sandwich that has been a real good seller for me," Dukes said. "I can make that one in my sleep."

Dukes' parents, Tommy and Patricia Dukes, were in the restaurant business for about 40 years, and the kids grew up in it, he said.

This will be Dukes' fourth restaurant. He sold all three businesses and took about a four-year break to work in law enforcement.

Dukes' sister bought his last Cruisers diner and changed the name to Tommy D'z in remembrance of their father, who died in recent years.

"I didn't think I would get back into it," Dukes said. "My sister was in Owensboro looking at the space, and we were talking about it. She decided it was more than she wanted. I told her I was going to go look at it. ... The next thing I know, I've got it. It happened pretty quick."

The new restaurant will have 2,923 square feet of retail space.

Dukes said he's never had a restaurant in a mall setting, so he's on uncharted ground with that.

"I've spent quite a bit on the building, so I'm hoping this will go well," he said.

The restaurateur is waiting on some new signage and other decorative items, so the opening date is somewhat flexible.

A few more recent changes have taken place at the south Frederica Street shopping mall, but so far no tenant has signed on for the space once occupied by Ruby Tuesdays, said Daymon Ward, the mall's general manager .

"We are still in talks with retailers about the Ruby Tuesday's space, but thus far, the right fit hasn't been found," Ward said. "It is a fantastic retail opportunity for someone; they just have to be the right fit for the mall."

Next door to the soon-to-open Cruisers, The Relax Center already is open for business offering acupressure and reflexology massages.

Yummies snacks, serving "take it to go" food, also is open across from FYE music and movies at the mall's front.

Wright Implement opened in expanded space Thursday between Hibbett Sports and Maurice's. The business went from center court space of 1,489 square feet to 2,490 square feet.

Kay Jewelers will be occupying the space Wright had, which will boost their space from 1,066 square feet to 1,489.

Company buys Ice Makers of Owensboro

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Friday, January 14, 2011 12:03 AM CST

Clark Restaurant Service, Inc./CRS OneSource has bought Ice Makers Inc. of Owensboro.

The purchase will add $800,000 to CRS OneSource's annual beverage sales and equipment leasing programs, said Steve Clark, president of the restaurant service.

Total CRS sales in 2011 are projected to be $73 million.

Ice Makers' owner Chris Steele is joining CRS as the new beverage program specialist, and four of his five employees also have joined the company, Clark and Steele confirmed.

One employee decided to return to his hometown near Chicago, Steele said.

"This is just a great matchup," Clark said. "Chris has built a strong business over the years and has a great reputation."

Steele, who started Ice Makers 24 years ago, said the sale is a wonderful opportunity.

"CRS is a great company to work for," he said. "We'll be able to take my business to the next level and beyond. There is so much support here and so much more product to sell."

Steele started his business selling icemakers from November to February and then added the sales of juices and Coca-Cola to restaurants, bars and convenience stores. His company also leased a lot of icemakers.

Ice Makers' five employees covered western Kentucky from Elizabethtown to Paducah, northern Tennessee and southern Indiana.

"Now I'm looking for 24 years at CRS," Steele said.

CRS has about 160 employees in Owensboro, western Kentucky, Evansville-southern Indiana, Illinois and Louisville.

The expertise Ice Makers has developed with carbonated beverages and juices will enhance CRS's coffee/espresso/tea and juice programs, Clark said.

"Chris will be filling a void for us; we've never had a beverage specialist," Clark said.

CRS sells a lot of coffee, and in most cases, the company provides the equipment for people to brew the coffee. Other beverages also require specialized dispensing equipment.

Steele will monitor that as well as oversee the sales of all beverage products requiring dispensing equipment.

The acquisition positions CRS to offer fountain service, in particular, to its regular customers. It also opens some new doors for CRS, Clark said.

"We've expanded our territory in recent years, but there is always business in your own backyard," Clark said. "We're real excited about this."

Clark's grandfather, Marvin Clark Sr. started Clark Restaurant Service in Owensboro in 1948.

The older Clark was a restaurateur who had to go to the butcher when he needed meats and to other locations for supplies or equipment.

"There was not one place where he could go to get what he needed," Clark said. "Those were days when guys had real vision."

He talked about getting in his panel truck and parking it on Main Street and making calls, Clark said.

"In those days, he called on a cafe, a hotel and made about 15 calls," he said.

The company president has his grandfather's sales ledger that shows he sold $1,800 worth of goods in August 1948.

"He never looked back," Clark said.

CRS OneSource is a member of Unipro Foodservice distributor purchasing group. The company maintains an inventory of more than 8,000 items including dry and frozen groceries, fresh meats, produce, dairy and disposable products, cleaning supplies and equipment.

Work to begin soon on roads for hospital

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:07 AM CST

An 11-month project to widen portions of Pleasant Valley Road and Daniels Lane to three lanes on either side of the new Owensboro Medical Health System hospital is scheduled to begin Jan. 24, construction officials said Wednesday during a meeting with residents.

A quarter-mile section of Pleasant Valley Road, which will include the building of a new bridge over Yellow Creek, will be widened first and is expected to be finished by July 1. It will be closed throughout the construction period. Traffic will be detoured to Daniels Lane and Hayden Road and U.S. 60 East.

The new section of Pleasant Valley Road, starting at a point just south of the CSX tracks near the entrance to Lloyd's Mechanical, will connect to a spur of the U.S. 60 bypass that has been built to provide primary access to the hospital. The new 140-foot, three-span bridge will be built 3 feet higher than the existing bridge to keep it well above the flood plain.

Daniels Lane will be converted to a three-lane road with four-foot sidewalks on both sides from U.S. 60 East to a point about 0.65 miles from U.S. 60 East. Two entrances to the hospital will be built on the widened sections of Daniels Lane.

The new hospital is due for completion in 2013. Construction manager Merrill Bowers of Turner Construction said recently that the hospital is on schedule.

The Daniels Lane project will begin as soon as the Pleasant Valley Road project is finished, and it is expected to be completed in December, said Matt Miller, project manager for Turner Construction. Scott & Murphy Construction of Bowling Green is the contractor for the road projects.

The informational meeting on the road projects was held at St. Pius X Catholic Church and drew only a handful of residents and a few elected officials. A few questions were asked following a brief slide show, but no serious concerns or complaints were offered. Some Daniels Lane residents said they were looking forward to the improvements.

"I believe it will be OK," said Dorothy Johnson of 631 Daniels Lane. "I think it will suit me fine. New sidewalks on both sides of the road will be great."

Widening Daniels Lane to include a center turn lane and building sidewalks on both sides of the road also sounded good to Ann Payne of 613 Daniels Lane. The road now has sidewalks only on the east side.

"I think it's a great thing," she said. "It will be nice to have three lanes."

Scott & Murphy Inc., received a $5 million contract for the road improvements. The paving work in that package will be done by Yager Materials of Owensboro.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Owensboro airport is key to attracting businesses

By Dave Kirk

DAVIESS CO, KY (WFIE) - A top official from Kentucky's Transportation Cabinet says Owensboro's airport will be a key to attracting new businesses to the area.

Deputy commissioner Henry Lackey told Green River Development officials that having an efficient airport with regular flights attracts companies and brings in new jobs.

Lackey says, "Aviation is a major part of any type of industrial economic development improvement. If you don't have a nice infrastructure that includes aviation and a nice facility that's another mark against your county."

Lackey says the longer runway at Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport is a step in the right direction to bring more business opportunities to western Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

M-I readers pick bank's 500-job expansion as top story

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Saturday, January 1, 2011 12:12 AM CST

There was plenty of bad news in 2010, as there is every year.

A 13-year-old girl was killed in a hit-and-run accident, four members of one family died in a fire, the region baked in a drought and heat wave, eight violent deaths were reported in a region that is usually known for its lack of violent crime and "homelessness" became a household word.

But readers of the Messenger-Inquirer chose good news -- U.S. Bank Home Mortgage's announcement that it would add more than 500 jobs here in 2011 -- as the top story of 2010.

Other good news in the top 10 includes Owensboro Medical Health System's starting construction on a $385 million hospital, downtown development and 3G phone service coming to town.

Here's the list.

1. U.S. Bank Home Mortgage adds 500 jobs

In July, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, already Owensboro's largest private employer with more than 1,000 workers, announced it would add more than 500 jobs here.

They will work in a new 81,000-square-foot, $5.4 million building that is being erected by the city at the entrance to MidAmerica Airpark.

The city will lease the building to the company.

2. Hit-and-run death

Thirteen-year-old Madalynn Matlock was struck by a vehicle March 6 while walking on Old Kentucky 54 in Philpot.

She died four days later.

More than two weeks later, an investigation led to the arrest of Jeffrey John Kotarek, 46, who is charged with murder and leaving the scene of an accident.

3. West Parrish Avenue fire

An early morning fire in August at a house on West Parrish Avenue took the lives of Wendy Devine, 35; her two children, Ryan Devine, 2, and Jerry Devine, 3; and her father, Jerry Marsh.

Investigators believe the fire was accidental and originated in a chair in a living room near the back of the house. But the cause could not be determined.

4. Drought

Despite thunderstorms that dropped 3.97 inches of rain in May and 3.66 inches in July, western Kentucky saw little rain from August through October.

By early December, the region was 15 inches below the normal rainfall.

Daviess County had moved into the "extreme" drought category -- the second worst of five levels -- in early November.

Seventy-eight days last summer saw the mercury climb above 90 degrees. Eight of those days were between 100 and 103 degrees.

Millions of dollars' worth of crops burned up in the field.

The state declared the drought over in early December, not because rainfall had caught up. Nothing grows during the winter anyway, state officials said.

5. OMHS breaks ground

In early June, 1,500 people attended Owensboro Medical Health System's official groundbreaking for its new hospital between Daniels Lane and Pleasant Valley Road.

The 150-acre plot will eventually be home to a nine-story, 447-bed facility, costing $385 million.

Construction will create 1,000 to 1,500 jobs over the next three years. And 800 hospital jobs are expected to be added over the next five to 10 years.

6. String of violent deaths

Once an area known for its lack of violent crime, the Owensboro region saw a string of killings in 2010.

In February, five men were charged in the shooting death of Joshua E. Newcomb, 23, who died at his home in Maceo.

Darrell S. Simmons, 59, was charged with murder in an August altercation that led to the death of Richard H. Melton, 48.

Paul Wayne Miller, 45, was indicted on a murder charge in the death of Richard Scott Embry, who was found dead in his home Nov. 12.

Donna Marie Gaines, 49, of Cromwell was charged with murder in November in the death of Gregory Keith Sigler, 52.

Police believe Carl W. Ward, 66, of Hartford killed himself after he shot and killed his estranged wife, Barbara Ward, 66, in October.

Timothy R. Cheatham, 51, of Central City was charged with murder, driving under the influence and driving on a DUI-suspended license in the September death of Cathy Ward, 41, also of Central City.

Michael A. Johnson, 36, was charged with murder July 13 for allegedly shooting Charlotte Brown in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun.

And Michael W. Callahan, 27, was charged with one count of murder-domestic violence in the death of his 5-month-old daughter in August.

7. Downtown development moves forward

City and county officials began making progress in 2010 in their $120 million downtown redevelopment project.

In January, the Malcolm Bryant Corp. was selected to build the signature hotel -- a $20 million, 150-room Hampton Inn & Suites.

That same month, a steering committee was created to oversee the planning, development and construction of a downtown convention center.

By the end of the year, the committee had selected an architect and recommended hiring a private management firm to operate the facility.

And work on the new river wall along the downtown riverfront was nearing completion.

Sites for the hotel and convention center were selected in 2010.

The hotel is scheduled to be built where the old jail was once located on St. Elizabeth Street, and the convention center will be where the main tower of the Executive Inn Rivermont once stood.

8. 3G comes to Owensboro

After years of waiting and frustration, the Owensboro region finally received AT&T's 3G broadband network in December.

The service was praised by economic development officials as a key to regional job growth in an information-dependent economy.

But local customers complained that AT&T offered the service in more than 370 metropolitan areas before it reached Owensboro.

9. Homelessness

In March, local homeless shelters reported they were having to turn away more than 100 people each month.

There was simply no more room, they said.

Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire and Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne appointed a task force in May to study the issue.

Homeless people set up a tent city they called The Last Resort in a backyard on Walnut Street in June.

St. Benedict Joseph Homeless Shelter, which had only been open during the winter months, decided to open year-round.

But shelters are still overflowing this winter.

10. Election 2010

The November election not only shook up the federal government, it also brought significant change locally.

Both the Owensboro City Commission and Daviess Fiscal Court will have three new members this year.

For the first time, all four members of Fiscal Court live in the city. And for the first time, there's a Republican majority on the court.

And state Sen. David Boswell, who had served in various offices in state government for more than 30 years, was defeated by Republican challenger Joe Bowen for the 8th Senate District seat.

Honorable mention

The region's unemployment rate missed the top 10 by one vote. The closing of the General Electric Motors and HON plants, both of which had been strong employers for decades, missed by six votes.

Number of passengers increase at Owensboro airport

Dave Kirk – 14WFIE

OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) - More passengers are choosing to fly out of the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport.

Airport officials say it's been a banner year and they're hoping for even bigger numbers in the new year, if they can land some extra flights.

Ever since the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport started flying to Orlando, their number of passengers has grown. The highest since 1951.
When Bob Whitmer took over as the airport director, he says his main goal was to make sure the airport better served the community.

Whitmer says, "The airport is a public airport. It's here for community service and you know you gotta have something for the residents for the Tri-State for this airport to be functioning and now we have that."
Whitmer says the airport has had it's best year to date reaching record numbers of passengers.

Whitmer says, "The boarding's at the Daviess County Regional Airport are up 60 percent over last year. We expect with in the next few days to be beyond 16,000.

The reason for the growth?

Bob Whitmer says, "Allegiant Airlines is a very attractive low cost carrier. It's direct flights to Orlando. We hope to have direct flights to Las Vegas in the near future."

Travel agent Joy Miller thinks Vegas flights would bring more people into Owensboro to fly than ever.

Miller says, "I've had very many people come in and ask about Vegas. It's going to bring in a lot more to this community I think."

Whitmer says the ball's in Allegiant Air's court when it comes to Vegas flights.

Whitmer says, "We've done everything they've asked us to do."
So what's the hold up?

Miller says, "I'm thinking mainly, it's how many flights they have a day."
Whitmer says they should know some time early next year if the Vegas flights will become a reality. In the meantime, airport leaders are doing everything they can to make the airport more attractive.

Whitmer says, "Our terminal's rather small and it's been an issue as far as our holding area. We've already worked on some designs. There's a gift shop that's opened up that's serving refreshments and food."

Travel agent Joy Miller predicts the cost of a ticket to Vegas nonstop from Owensboro to be just a little more than flying to Orlando. That cost $39 one way.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Owensboro has large share of Tri-State economic success in 2010

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Every year there are positives and negatives effecting the local economy but it's safe to say there were some big swings in 2010.

It's not breaking news that times are tough and there were some obvious downers on the local job front, but there is also some positive news that might leave reasons for optimism in 2011.

As the Evansville Arena blossoms into an architectural wonder downtown, some 670 construction workers are on the payroll.

And when the arena opens late next year, over 500 people should have full time jobs.

In addition, and just under the wire for 2010, the arena got some company when the city picked Woodruff Hospitality to build a new the 220 room Hyatt Place Hotel right next door.

It should be finished in the spring of 2012.

Evansville's Berry Plastics is about to put the wraps on a $150,000 project with 360 new positions created.

It's been a good 15th year for Casino Aztar which was approved for a new license, came out of bankruptcy, and in July started operating 24 hours a day during the week.

The EVSC is moving on up.

New buildings, like the Cedar Hall Community School, has just been completed, and the new North Middle and High School project is on track.

Ivy Tech's Evansville campus had it's largest enrollment on record this fall.

Officials at the Gibson County Toyota plant said due to increased demand, they will soon be hiring workers for 53 new positions.

Across the river, things are also looking up. US Bank has hired 500 new employees and now has 1,600 on the payroll.

First Securities has announced that they are making their corporate headquarters in Owensboro.

Pinkerton Tobacco is keeping 300 jobs in Owensboro.

Century Aluminum in Hawesville plans to hire 100 new employees.

The new potline is expected to be restarted early next year.

Massey Coal says two coal plants are coming to McLean County bringing more than 600 jobs to the area.

Construction of the new Owensboro Medical Health System complex is keeping local eateries cooking.

Business at the Heartland Cafe is up 30-40%.

Our economic diversity has helped the Tri-State weather some economic storms.

"We are not at all dependant on one particular industry," financial expert Tricia Hollander said. "We've got a little bit of the auto industry of course we've got two great universities, we've got Ivy Tech the third university. We've got the hospitals. So that diverse employer base is really a benefit when you go through a real challenging environment."

On the downside, Whirlpool, an Evansville manufacturing icon is gone and so are 1,100 jobs.

Mead Johnson also moved 50 sales and marketing positions to their Illinois headquarters.

For the first time in more than 30 years, Evansville's annual Thunder on the Ohio hydroplane boat races were canceled, because the cost had grown beyond it's budget.

So overall, reviews on 2010 are mixed but movie goers to the new Showplace in Henderson, and next year in Princeton, might give it a big thumbs up.