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Highlights of 2023

January

State of the County

The Hancock County Chamber of Commerce held their first meeting of the year on Tuesday morning, January 10th, 2023 at the Lewisport Library – a Chamber Breakfast and State of the County meeting. Judge/Executive Johnny Roberts, Lewisport Mayor Chad Gregory and newly elected Hawesville Mayor Rob McCormick spoke about their plans for 2023.

February

Grand Jury Charges for Bickett

On February 3, 2023, in the presence of the Grand Jury, Michael B. Bickett’s bond was set at $25,000 cash. The Grand Jury charges were: Count One – That on or about December 23, 2022 in Hancock County, Bickett committed the offense of Wanton Endangerment in the First Degree when he wantonly engaged in conduct which created a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to Jacoby Gray. Count Two – That on or about December 23, 2022 in Hancock County, Bickett committed the offense of Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of controlled substance (agg circum.), Second Offense, when he was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol/and or controlled substance.

HCMS/HCHS – GN Field & Track

At the Hancock County Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday evening, February 21st, the plans were approved for the construction of a new artificial turf football field/stadium and new rubberized track at HCMS/HCHS. They are both now completed, and a beautiful addition to the campus.

The entire project was approved at around $2,316,000. The board approved GN Excavating’s low total base bid of $1,297,574, with The Motz Group (track & turf field company) bid at $751,775.

Gary Nugent of GN was the general contractor for both projects, and also offered to make yearly donations of $40K per year, for 10 years, as long as he is able, and was awarded naming rights to both.

Farmer of Year & New Ext. Agent

The 2023 Farm City Dinner was held on Monday evening, February 20th. LP “Bud” Ray was awarded Agriculture Person of the Year, and Angie Swihart was announced as the County’s new Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension Agent.

March

Dog Saves Owner from Fire

On Wednesday, March 1st at around noon, there was a structure fire at 1820 Tick Ridge Road in Hawesville. Tambra Patton’s trailer caught fire and was completely destroyed. Thankfully, her dog’s barking got her attention and she escaped without injury.

Tambra Patton holds Medical Alert Dog that saved her during their mobile home fire in March.

April

RIP Sgt. Glenn

Sgt. Glenn was shot and killed on April 3rd, while attempting to arrest a domestic abuse suspect at Perry County Memorial. She now joins her father, the late Sgt. Bob Glenn. Her funeral at Tell City High School was packed with family, friends and colleagues deeply saddened by her passing. A procession honoring her was held on Monday, July 10th through the streets of Tell City and passed her squad car.

Robbers Caught

Ramon Alvarez (36), of Hardin County, KY, was charged with 4 different bank robberies, one of which was the 2018 armed robbery of the Lewisport branch of Hancock Bank & Trust. Alvarez was one of the 3 suspects in the robbery, and the federal grand jury returned his indictment on April 12th, 2023.

Hancock Bank in Lewisport employee holds her hands up during a robbery in 2018. Last of the robbers caught in April.

Commonwealth GM Supplier of Year

In San Antonio, Texas, in early April 2023, Commonwealth Rolled Products was one of 105 suppliers celebrated at General Motors’ 31st Annual Supplier of the Year Event. CEO Mike Keown was one who went to proudly receive the 2022 Supplier of the Year Award on behalf of Commonwealth. This was their first time to receive the honored recognition. Keown later gave a thoughtful speech at Commonwealth on Tuesday, April 18th, thanking the GM team for the opportunities they’ve provided, and employees for all of their hard work. Recipients are selected by a GM team based on performance in such areas as product purchasing, manufacturing services, customer care and logistics.

Hawesville’s Clean-Up Day

On Saturday, April 22nd, the City of Hawesville held their first Amnesty Clean-up Day. Over 100 volunteers spent the day working hard to clean and beautify the city. Paula Gray, Chair of the Hawesville Beautification Committee, and Co-Chair Rebecca Gaynor helped organize the event. Volunteers gathered outside of the Hawesville VFD for a prayer before a catered lunch from the Galaxy, and Mayor Rob McCormick delivered a heartfelt speech of thanks to the crowd. They separated the city into 5 quadrants, with 4 leaders: Councilman Justin Basham, Mayor McCormick, EMT Jason Bevill (Deputy Director of Hancock County EMA and volunteer firefighter) and Kyle Veach (HC EMA Director). Dumpsters and dump trucks were donated for use, as well as front-end loaders and skid-steerers. Hawesville citizens began placing scrap metal items at the side of the road weeks before the big day, and the city donated all of the metal to the Junior Firefighters, who had been saving toward their training.

May

Robbery at Thompson Tire

Thompson Tire, in Lewisport, was robbed twice on Monday night, May 1st. The suspect stole a significant amount of money from the St. Jude Children’s Hospital board, as well as emptying the business cash register later that same day. Trenton Scott Thorpe (32), was later taken into custody and charged with: 3 counts of Criminal Mischief, 1st Degree (Class D felonies); 2 counts of Burglary, 3rd Degree (Class D felonies); 1 count of Theft By Unlawful Taking (TBUT), or Disposition of Property from Building, between $1,000 and $10,000 (Class D felony); and 1 count of TBUT or Disposition of Property from Building (Class B misdemeanor).

Domtar Upgrades

Domtar announced in May that they would be investing $51M into upgrading equipment at the 50-year-old Hawesville mill, with 400 jobs remaining in Hancock County. The mill partnered with the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority to replace the current pulper at the Hawesville mill with a modernized one. Their goal is to produce innovative fiber-based products that are growing in demand, which will promote stable employment and maintain the Hawesville mill’s standing as a pillar of the community that it has served for over 50 years. This conversion effort to repurpose one of the paper machines will allow Domtar to build a product that can compete in today’s market with plastic bags. By the end of 2025, they expect to be in full swing with the new product.

Primary Election

Tuesday, May 16th was primary election day in the state of Kentucky. Democrat and republican voters made their choices of who they’d be seeing on their general election ballots in November. The 2 democrat candidates challenging incumbent Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear were Geoff Young and Peppy Martin. Beshear won with over 90 percent of the total votes in Kentucky, and Hancock voters showed solidarity with this trend by casting 363 votes for Beshear, a whopping 90.98 percent. Of the 12 republican candidates running for the KY Governor seat, three led in the polls, Ryan Quarles, Kelly Craft and Daniel Cameron. Attorney General Cameron won with almost 50 percent of republican voters in KY choosing him as Beshear’s challenger in the general election. In Hancock, 47.93 percent voted for Cameron, with a total of 313 votes.

Teachers of the Year

The 2 Teacher of the Year Award recipients were recognized at the May Hancock County Board of Education Meeting. They were: Laura Hagedorn, 7th Grade Science Teacher at Hancock County Middle School, and Betty Jane Mitchell, K-1 Teacher at South Hancock Elementary.

2 HC Road Dept. Tractors Burned

In mid-May, Hancock County firefighters arrived quickly and extinguished the 2 HC Road Department John Deere tractors that caught fire in Reynolds Station. Both tractors were fully engulfed in flames when Dukes Fire Department arrived. What started the fire is unknown. Road department crewmen had finished mowing for the day and were at an intersection near Patesville, where they had asked resident Ann Shanklin if they could park the 2012 and 2014 model tractors on her property at the corner of Yeakel and Quisenberry Road. They went back to the shop and then heard the call that they’d caught fire. There was nothing left of them but HC firefighters did a great job with making sure it didn’t spread. Mowing tractors such as these are around $180K a piece (6 and 7,000 series John Deeres). The HC Fiscal Court has since ordered 2 mowing tractors. One was delivered in fall, and the other is projected to arrive in early 2024.

Austin Wheatley added a herd of elk to his farm in May.

June

Filling Rickhouse #1 with Barrels

The first barrel rolled into the first of 2 Green River Distilling rickhouses/warehouses in Lewisport on Wednesday, June 14th , which was a huge milestone for them. At the grand opening celebration, a barrel was signed by Hancock County citizens. After aging, it will be released during another celebration in 5 to 6 years. Construction of their second rickhouse is being completed in 2023 as well. Rickhouse #2 will also hold 58,800 barrels of aging whiskey. The product is being made in Owensboro and aged in Hancock County. A total of 8 rickhouses and one palletized warehouse/barrel-filling area at the old Dal-Tile plant are planned. The Lewisport site has a capacity to age around a half million barrels total. The plans for the large Lewisport campus are for an eventually beautifully manicured site for touring and visiting, including being a stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Stroup Farms invests in Drone

Tanner Stroup (28), co-owner of Stroup Farms in Maceo, has already won two state yield titles, and in 2023 invested in a drone to spray his crops. He switched from spraying the crops with a ground rig, to using a DGI-T40 drone that he purchased from H & R Agri-Power in Owensboro, operated through GPS – a $35K-$40K investment in new equipment to optimize the yield of his corn crops.

Two of the county road department tractors burned in a mysterious fire in June.

July

4th of July

The Fourth of July Independence Day Celebration was held at Vastwood Park on Tuesday, July 4th. The fireworks display over the lake was a huge hit, as always. HC Fiscal Court was the sponsor. Tailgate Band and Caribou both performed. There were free inflatables, an obstacle course, bouncy houses, local food vendors, and a Speed Pitch Competition sponsored by Independence Bank.

First Town Hall in Many Years

Around 30 people attended the Hawesville Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday evening, July 18th, held at the Hawesville Methodist Church. The intention of the meeting was for everyone to be able to ask questions and give their input concerning the new water rates, as well as any other discussion. This was the first time in decades for a meeting of this sort to be held in the city, in an effort to have a more transparent government, and organized by Mayor Rob McCormick.

Ordinances Passed

New ordinances were passed during a Special Meeting on Thursday, July 27th at Hawesville City Hall: Code Enforcement, Water & Sewer Reclassification & Rate Increase, and Nuisance Ordinances. A Code Enforcement Board was soon after established.

Jerry Powers home burned in July. Suspected cause was a lightning strike during a storm that night.

August

2023 HC Fair 

The 2023 Hancock County Fair was another huge hit this year, and the turnout was between 7,700 to 8,000 people over the 3-day event. The volunteer Fair Board members work hard to make improvements each year. The HC Road Dept. placed new gravel around the rides, and woodchips were put on the bank. Junior Firefighters helped pressure wash the buildings. The popular Demo Derby event went well, and the horse shows had a great turnout. The Ranch Sorting event was a hit again on Saturday, with 100 different teams participating. The new Pony Express, pony cart barrel racing event, went really well. There were tons of food vendors. The Go-Kart Racing Event on Friday night was popular, as it is every year. A Sensory Ride Time was arranged for the fair for the first time, by the newly formed support group this year – Hancock County Autism Advocates. It was greatly appreciated by parents and children. Tanner Stroup brought a large trailer full of sweet corn from the Stroup Farm, and parked it by the front gate with a sign that read: FREE. Many enjoyed the free gift and the family said they hope to do it again in 2024.

Zach Pruitt had to deliver his wives Christinas baby on the way to the hospital in August.

September

 First Ever Legacy Farms Award

Brothers Joe & James Hagman were presented with the Legacy Farms Award for their longtime farming family business in Hawesville, at the Annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Dinner on Thursday, September 14th. This was a brand new award in 2023, and created in order to recognize legacy farms in the county – those who’ve been involved in farming for multiple generations and who’ve also been involved in KY Farm Bureau and in the community. It was presented to Joe and James by President of the Hancock County Farm Bureau Board of Directors Justin Obenchain, Board V.P. Joey Powers, and Agency Manager Kyle Culbreth. James and Joe Hagman’s father, Vic Hagman, and uncle, Dan Hagman, were both Presidents of the Bureau Board of Directors in past years. Joe was president for 2 terms as well, and James is the current Board Treasurer.

Conservation of the Year Award

Kinsel D. Swihart, 2022 Conservation of the Year Award winner, was presented with a Master Conservationist Certificate and wooden, engraved plaque awarded to him by the Hancock County Conservation District, Kentucky Soil & Water Commission, KY Association of Conservation Service and KY Association of Conservation District Employees for his outstanding efforts for many years in conservation at his farm in Hancock County.

October

Fiber Internet Roll-Out

The roll-out of fiber high-speed internet in Hancock County began. Kenergy’s partnership with internet service provider Conexon Connect was announced almost 2 years ago, an effort to provide broadband to rural communities. Ervin Cable Company, contracted by Conexon, began installing fiber in early October on Hwy 69 in the southern areas of the county.

Annual Sorghum Fest

The 2023 Independence Bank Sorghum Festival was the best one yet. The free event was held at the Hancock County Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 28th. There was on-site sorghum making demonstrations, a Hancock County Homemakers Quilt Show, tractor show, inflatables, live music & dance, tractor parade, pony pull, craft booths, over 17 food vendors, and a huge amount of donations for the HC Schools Backpack Food Program.

Hornet Band Made Finals

The Hancock County High School Hornet Marching Band performed at Semi-Finals during the day at Warren East High School in Bowling Green on Saturday, October 28th. The students earned 4th Place, and made the cut to perform at Finals that evening! Out of 12 Class 2A bands, only 6 moved on to the Finals held at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium at Western Kentucky University. They finished 5th in the final competition. Congrats Hornet Band Students and Staff!

November

 Beshear Wins Second Term

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and running mate Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman were selected by voters to serve another term in the 2023 General Election on November 7th, against A.G. Daniel Cameron and his running mate for Lt. Gov., State Sen. Robby Mills.

3 HCHS Students Made All-State Chorus

It was announced in November that 3 Hancock County High School Choir students made KMEA Senior High All-State Chorus this year! HCMS/HCHS Choral & Theatre Director Melanie Adkins is retiring after the 2023/2024 school year, and in her 20 years of teaching at HC Schools said there have only been 2 other students to make All-State Chorus. In 2023, three HCHS students auditioned, and all three made KMEA Senior High All-State Chorus! Congratulations to Hayden Emmick (senior), daughter of Dan & P.J. Emmick; Baylee Estes (junior), daughter of Jeremy & Aimee Estes; and Rylann Kessans (sophomore), daughter of Jeff & Laura Kessans.

KDE PBIS State Fidelity Recognition

It was announced at the Hancock County Board of Education meeting on Thursday, November 30th, that HC Schools have done an excellent job of implementing PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Support). Banners were given to each of the principals to hang in the schools. SHES earned the Gold Fidelity Standard, and HCMS, HCHS & NHES all earned the Bronze.

December

Christmas in the Park

The Annual Christmas in the Park event in downtown Lewisport was another huge success this year, on Friday, December 1st. There was a Tree Lighting, cookies, hot cocoa & cider, food & craft vendors, small amusement rides, inflatables, train rides, a scavenger hunt for adults & children, a gingerbread house contest for families & youth, meet ‘n greets with characters, an opportunity for children to send letters to the North Pole, and a visit with Santa & Mrs. Claus.

Christmas Parades

A Small Town Christmas was the theme for the Hancock County parades this year. Hawesville & Lewisport Parades were both on Saturday, December 2nd. There was a good turnout, lots of entries and the weather was good.

Light Up the Square in Downtown Hawesville

On Friday, December 8th, at the Courthouse Square in Downtown Hawesville, the first-time ever event – Light Up the Square was held to showcase the heart of the city and bring the community together in a special way this year. Brucie Pryor had the honor of being Grand Marshal for the Tree Lighting. Ornaments were provided. There were visits with Santa Claus for the children and a gift giveaway, as well as 4 Grand Prize Giveaways donated by Maxwell Brothers Lumber Company.

NHES Playground Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening

North Hancock Elementary School Principal Kelly Moore invited the community and families, as well as generous donors to attend the Ribbon Cutting for the Grand Opening of the new NHES playground on Monday, December 4th. Many local donors contributed, students worked at fundraising to help with the purchase, and the HC Board of Education funded the remainder of the cost.

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