Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Local schools kick off new program

By Dariush Shafa, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:01 AM CDT
A local education experiment is now officially under way, as students at two local high schools attended their first Community Campus classes Monday morning.

Community Campus is a collaborative effort between local colleges, school districts and private businesses to create an academy-based educational system. Five academies will target specific content areas to give students education in those areas along with practical and applicable experience.

Two of the academies are now active, with the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) academy being based at Apollo High School and run in cooperation with Owensboro Community & Technical College. The Fine Arts academy is based at Owensboro High School and run in cooperation with the RiverPark Center. The other three academies are scheduled to become active in the next two years.

Aaron Yeiser, the community campus STEM instructor at Apollo High School, said students in his Community Campus class show more motivation. Of his 25 students in the Community Campus class, Yeiser said 20 of them are from outside of Apollo, Yeiser said.

“They feel special, that they’re unique. They know they are pushing themselves ahead of others,” Yeiser said. “I’ve always had a mix of some who want to be here, want to learn and have a technical interest, and then some who just got stuck here. With Community Campus, they all want to be here. That alone makes the environment different.”

Carolyn Greer, drama teacher at the Fine Arts academy at OHS, said that sense of belonging has had an impact on her students that she thinks will most positively impact the group work that is necessary with theater and acting classes.

“It’s a good group of kids. They got along instantly. They immediately had something to talk about,” Greer said. “That’s always a really good sign they’ll be open to working together.”

Greer said the academy brings talented students she might not otherwise have had the opportunity to teach.

“It’s new for me to be working with juniors and seniors I haven’t already been with for two years,” Greer said.

Yeiser said he believes this can turn into a revolutionary way of teaching students.

“It has the potential to be a new style of education in our community. Where bigger cities have charter schools and magnet schools, this is a different approach to the same outcome,” Yeiser said.

“The expectation is that it’s going to be something that helps them grow,” Greer said. “This is a chance for the kids to have a different experience.”

Dariush Shafa, 691-7302,


Friday, August 12, 2011

Governor delivers $500,000 for airport

By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Friday, August 12, 2011 1:07 AM CDT
 Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly put the “Golden Triangle” on notice Thursday.

“We’re coming after them,” he told a group of more than 50 community leaders who gathered in the Owenboro-Daviess County Regional Airport terminal at 12:30 p.m. to hear Gov. Steve Beshear announce the final $500,000 for the terminal expansion project.

The “Golden Triangle” -- Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky -- is the state’s richest and most successful area.

Beshear said the $500,000 multi-county coal severance grant he was announcing was the “capstone” to financing the $2.08 million expansion. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority had earlier approved a $1.58 million no-interest loan for the project.

“What’s going to happen at this airport will raise the whole area to the next level,” Beshear said.

The expansion will add 8,500 square feet to the 14,000-square-foot facility. The project includes adding restrooms, expanding the baggage claim area and covering the area where the bags are loaded onto the planes.

Allegiant Air has flights to Orlando, Fla., two days a week and, on Oct. 14, it will begin flights to Las Vegas two days a week.

The jets currently carry 150 passengers and will expand to 166 passengers on July 1.

The airport terminal is bursting at the seams under the current passenger load.

“This project will bring the terminal more in line with industry standards,” Beshear said, “and it will increase the comfort of passengers.”

KentuckySkies, the company that has been making daily flights between Owensboro and Nashville since August 2009, has given notice that it will end its commuter service here on Sept. 30.

Whitmer said the U.S. Department of Transportation should be seeking bids for the essential air service contract any day now.

Bidders will have a couple of weeks to respond and the community will be asked to make recommendations on the airline it wants, he said.

“A couple of very reputable airlines have shown interest in Owensboro,” Whitmer said. “They require a sterile area after passengers go through security. We have that and it’s very attractive to airlines.”

He said the airport is hoping for three flights a day to a major hub city when the new contract is awarded this fall.

That would be in addition to the Allegiant flights.

“You’ve come through for the community again,” Mayor Ron Payne told Beshear. “This governor has been a tremendous asset to this community. He’s spent more time in this community than any governor” since Owensboro native Wendell H. Ford.

Ford, a former chairman of the U.S. Senate’s aviation committee, attended the announcement.

“When my phone rings and I see it’s him, I always pick it up,” Beshear said.

The coal severance dollars come from a pool of money left over when the severance tax dollars are divided among the counties where the coal was mined. Counties can join together to request some of the money for economic development projects without it costing them money already allocated to them.

Ohio County joined with Daviess County to request the airport money.

“I’m proud we could be a little part of this,” Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston told the crowd.

State Sen. Joe Bowen said, “Coal severance dollars are a great asset to this state.”

Beshear said the airport has seen $26 million in state, federal and local dollars for expansion projects since 1993.

His office said the latest expansion will add three full-time and several part-time jobs at the airport.

The airport will repay the loan from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority over the next two years, Whitmer said, at the rate of $750,000 a year. The money will come from the $1 million the airport gets each year from the Federal Aviation Administration for handling more than 10,000 passengers a year.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Frozen yogurt shop to open in October

By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 12:22 AM CDT
The first Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt location will be in Frederica Plaza at 5035 Frederica St., one of its investors announced Monday. That is the retail center between Walmart and the Don Moore Hyundai on South Frederica Street.

A group of Owensboro investors partnered with a Lexington group that includes UK basketball coach John Calipari to bring the popular dessert franchise to Owensboro.

“We also are looking at a second location on (Kentucky) 54,” said Roger Ellis, one of the owners, who lives in Owensboro.

The target date for opening the Frederica Street shop is the first or second week in October, Ellis said. The Kentucky 54 store likely will open in March or April.

Ellis has 34 years of experience in the grocery business — 29 years at Wetzel’s and five at Foodland — as operations supervisor.

He learned about Orange Leaf on his trips to Lexington to visit his two sons and help in their business

“They were talking about it and had been going to it. It has just been phenomenally successful,” Ellis said. “And we got hooked up with the Lexington investment group.”

That group already has four stores in Lexington and one in Richmond, as well as three or four other locations, Ellis said.

Orange Leaf’s website explains that customers get a cup, pick a yogurt and then pile on the toppings.

The uniqueness of the self-serve concept and the idea that frozen yogurt has fewer calories than ice cream and some other desserts are the main reasons the franchise has captured the attention of so many age groups, Ellis said.

It features a long list of yogurt flavors — some rotate seasonally — and another broad selection of toppings.

“You can put what you want on and as much as you want, and you pay by the ounce,” Ellis said.

Visit the company online at www.orangeleafyogurt.com.

Joy Campbell, 691-7299, jcampbell@messenger-inquirer.com

WKU launches new MBA program

By Dariush Shafa Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Sunday, August 7, 2011 12:00 AM CDT
Western Kentucky University’s Owensboro campus will begin offering a new master’s degree in business administration, using a program that sets it apart from others because of how it will be conducted and the students that will be eligible.

Called the Professional MBA program, the new two-year program will be open to those with five to seven years professional or managerial experience, said WKU-O Graduate Adviser and Recruiter Lewatis McNeal. Eligibility will be determined by the WKU admissions department, and the program will meet every other Saturday for two years with a cost of about $4,500 per semester, McNeal said. A learning trip to France for a week will also take place near the end of the course.

McNeal said the program will not replace the distance learning MBA program offered at WKU.

“We’ve always offered the online program and will still offer that, but this is a different track,” McNeal said. “It’s also not a program that compares with Brescia (University)’s or Murray State (University)’s. It’s unique in the sense that you have to have that five to seven years of working experience.”

McNeal said the purpose of making the program exclusive in this way is because of the people to whom it will be open and their past histories in the job force.

“They (new graduates) have not had the opportunity to really get in there and implement or experience what they’ve been learning about,” McNeal said. “You’ve got proven professionals who’ve experienced what they learned about in the classroom. They’ll be able to rely on and bring that experience from the field into the class for problem-solving.”

The classes will consist of about six to eight students and one of the goals is for these students to work with each other and mutually benefit from each others’ strengths, McNeal said.

“They’ll be a group going through together. The idea is to put them together, let them work together and let them do some problem-solving,” McNeal said.

Lastly, the class is also unique because of how it will integrate technology. Students participating in the class will each receive an iPad 2 (theirs to keep), onto which textbooks and materials can be loaded, and the classes will be conducted using a new technology that will seem to eliminate the distance gap between the Owensboro and Bowling Green campuses.

“The telepresence technology (the classroom will use) gives the illusion that the person you’re meeting with, in this case in Bowling Green, is right across from you,” McNeal said.

David Powers, student services coordinator at WKU-O, said the new technology is a significant move on the university’s behalf.

“It’s a good example of the main campus investing in Owensboro by bringing this technology,” Powers said.

McNeal added that this course will help fill a niche Owensboro.

“A market we’ve had and continue to have is offering quality graduate education,” McNeal said. “Now, we’re introducing new technology into that. (The class and its graduates will) enhance and build upon leadership here.”

Dariush Shafa, 691-7302, dshafa@messenger-inquirer.com

To Learn More

For more information about this program or other courses that are available at Western Kentucky University’s Owensboro campus, call 684-9797.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Owensboro Economic Development Blog: Allegiant Air to fly direct from Owensboro to Las ...

Owensboro Economic Development Blog: Allegiant Air to fly direct from Owensboro to Las ...: "Allegiant Air confirmed Thursday that it will add nonstop jet service between Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport and Las Vegas starti..."