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Kayak launch approved for Walker Lake

Webster County Fiscal Court members voted unanimously on Monday to approve a bid of $40,966.88 for the purchase of a kayak launch and dock to be installed at Walker Lake outside of Dixon.

Kerco Inc. of Madisonville submitted the winning bid.

County officials described the dock and kayak launch as a larger version of the dock installed by the city of Madisonville at its Mahr Park facility. The full size of the dock will be 54 feet inches by 27.5 feet and will include two kayak launches and space for boats to be tied off at the dock.

The dock purchase is the first major investment in the former Lake Reel-Em-In Recreational Park since the county purchased the property from the Boggess family earlier this year for $1.5 million.

The 207 parcel of land sets along Highway 132 west of Dixon. At one point in time, that area served the exact purpose that the court hopes to see it fill once again. The approximately 65 acre lake on the property, now known as Walker Lake, was once known as Lake Reel-Em-In, and served as a popular recreational location that offered camping, fishing and swimming.

The facility closed sometime in the 1960s.

“It was once a very popular place and people came from all over the region to spend time there,” said Judge Executive Steve Henry. “The potential is absolutely unlimited. It is certainly something the people of Webster County can have as their own. It already looks like a park.”

The county is still looking into renovations to the lake’s spillway system, which is believed to be nearly 80 years old. County officials have stated that a new spillway must be installed before the lake can be opened to the public. The current plan is for that to happen in late spring or early summer of 2022.

The court also held a brief closed session to discuss pending litigation, but nothing was reported following that meeting.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069


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MCC will use grant to set up diesel mechanics program in Webster County

David Schuermer

Madisonville Community College received a grant for over $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor and will use the funding for start-up costs associated with a new diesel mechanics program to be offered in the fall of 2022.

“When we put together a grant proposal like this, we have to demonstrate need, and everywhere we turned, employers were telling us there was a compelling need for diesel mechanics,” said David Schuermer, director of Grants, Planning and Institutionally Effectiveness at MCC.

The Department of Labor awarded over $29 million in grant money to 23 organizations across the U.S. while partnering with the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority to reach rural communities, according to a news release.

MCC received their grant through the Delta Regional Authority, said Schuermer.

“The Delta Regional Authority serves over 250 counties and eight different states, mostly states contiguous to the Mississippi River,” he said.

The $1.1 million will be used to purchase equipment like engines for training the students, tools, and hydraulic lifts for the state-of-the-art diesel training lab, he said. The money will also pay the salary and benefits for a full-time coordinator for the duration of the grant, which is three years.

“The plan is — once we launch the program — we will build enough enrollment to sustain that position post-grant,” said Schuermer.

The new diesel mechanics program will be housed at the former Dotiki Mine site in Webster County, along with the CDL program, he said.

“Pairing that CDL program with the diesel mechanics [program] at the same site allows the students who will be enrolled in the diesel mechanic program to not only learn how to do that but also to service our diesel-driven tractor-trailers that will be housed out there,” said Schuermer.

MCC partnered with the Webster County Fiscal Court to lease part of the mine site to use as a training center, he said. Webster County obtained over $800,000 in grant money to purchase the mine to use as post-secondary programming.

MCC President Dr. Cynthia Kelley said the new diesel mechanics program will be a great complement to the lineman and CDL programs that will also be housed at the West Kentucky Regional Training Center.

“At MCC, our goal is to partner with our communities and help drive economic growth by training students for careers in high-growth, high-wage fields,” she said. “Thanks to our partners in Webster County, we are able to bring that opportunity to the region, and that’s something to be excited about.”

Schuermer said because of the mine location, the college can establish dual-credit partnerships with high schools in Hopkins, Crittenden, Union and Webster counties. The diesel mechanics program is also open to any adult learner who wants to enroll as well.

“It is not too far a drive from each one of those schools should students choose to enroll as dual credit students,” he said.

MCC has not received the money from the Department of Labor yet. Schuermer said it may take several weeks, but once they do, they will start purchasing equipment and advertising for an instructor.


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Local man arrested on drug charges

Providence Police executed a search warrant last Wednesday afternoon on a residence at Westview Apartments, resulting in the arrest of one man on drug charges.

A release from PPD states that Ronald Conley, 63 of Providence, was arrested after officers located numerous baggies and containers of marijuana, scales, pipes, rolling papers, several grams of methamphetamine, and numerous firearms including a 14.9 inch sawed off 12 gauge shotgun inside the apartment.

Conley was transported to the Webster County Detention Center and charged with possession of meth, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069


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School Board to review new salary schedule

In a brief work session Monday, the Webster County School Board met to review a variety of issues they will vote on at the regular meeting Oct. 25.

A revised salary schedule will be presented for approval, as personnel shortages have forced schools to rearrange teachers’ schedules.

According to Superintendent Rhonda Calloway, substitute teachers have been difficult to find in the post-Covid job market. As a result, full-time faculty have been pushed into extra duty to cover classes during their normal planning periods. This has required teachers to perform their planning after school hours, Calloway said.

The compensation for the extra time will come from existing ESS funds, she added.

The new salary schedule will also include funding for a Crisis Prevention and Intervention instructor, who will train teams at each school. The school system recently sent an employee to the Kentucky Department of Education-mandated training. The new instructor will replace the district’s former CPI head, who left to work in another district.

The board also heard from Greg Bowles, district Assistant Superintendent/Director of Pupil Personnel on a modification to the memorandum of agreement that funds the system’s three family resource centers around the county.

The grant is renewed every two years, but the modification will be an increase of just over $1,300 for the 2021-22 school year to accommodate an increase in students eligible for free and reduced lunch.

The annual allowance from the grant is just under $224,000.

At least half of the students at each school in the district qualify for free and reduced lunch. The range is from 50% at Dixon Elementary to 75% at Providence Elementary. The county has 62% of its students in the program.

Also on the Oct. 24 agenda for approval will be a $1 per hour raise for the district’s school resource officer. The current SRO has worked for the school system for the duration of the contract with the Webster County Sheriff’s Office. The officer is paid by the SO, and the school board reimburses the Sheriff for the salary.

Calloway informed the board students will participate in Safe Schools Week Oct. 17-23.


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