A few years earlier the city of Danville had stuck its toe into the liquor-by-the drink wading pool. In 2010 the city did a cannonball off the diving board into the olympic-size pool of full-blown alcohol sales.
City residents voted 2,508 -1,811 in favor of going wet in a local option election in early March. It was the latest splash to wash over what had been for decades a bone-dry area. Lancaster already had gone wet, while Harrodsburg and a Burgin precinct are moist.
The wet tide was stemmed in Stanford and Liberty, however, with voters in those cities just saying ‘No’ to alcohol sales.
Danville’s decision to go wet was a big story in the area last year, but it certainly wasn’t the only headline maker.
Area dockets were filled with big cases, and perhaps the biggest was the one featuring Dr. Steven Hall, a Harrodsburg physician who was charged with murdering his wife, Isabel Hall, by running her over with a pontoon boat in 2009. After an eight-day trial in August, the jury convicted Hall of second-degree manslaughter, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. An appeal is pending.
Another incident on Herrington Lake also would up in court case. During the Fourth of July weekend, Lauren Alex Otte, 13, suffered severe injuries when the Jet Ski she was riding collided with a 17-foot boat near where she lives. The driver of the boat, Sammy Jason Hackler, 39, of Salvisa, was initially charged with second-degree assault, driving under the influence, and three counts of wanton endangerment, but a Boyle County grand jury only returned an indictment on the DUI charge.
A story that at least indirectly affected everyone in the area all 365 days of 2010 was the economy, and no story about the economy hits home harder than layoffs. Some 70 employees at Philips Lighting, one of Danville’s oldest factories with a history of more than six decades in town, were notified in early November that the plant was closing.
Other stories that made the front pages of paper included the following:
The economy and bad news
Another longtime Danville manufacturer, FKI Logistex, did not close but was downsized. In November of 2009 the plant’s parent company announced that the plant, which had 245 employees at the time, would be closed. But this past October Intelligrated said 100 employees would be kept.
An industry with even longer ties to Danville than FKI and Philips also took a big hit last year. In July, Norfolk Southern announced it was moving its rail crew from Danville to the Burnside area near Somerset. Some 80-90 employees were to be immediately affected.
Another local employer, one involving recreation rather than manufacturing, ended its operations on Jan. 1, 2011. Old Bridge Golf Course in Boyle County reported economic troubles earlier in the year and officially closed its doors on Saturday.
The ripple effect of a bad economy was reflected in two stories. In one, local food banks reported high demand they attributed to rising unemployment and lowering incomes. In the other, the Danville Salvation Army announced it was raising money for a homeless shelter because of the growing numbers of homeless people in the area.
The economy and good news
The bad news of layoffs, plant closings and downsizings was offset by the good news of new or expanding plants.
In November, Alternative Energies Kentucky LLC, a solar energy company, announced it was opening a plant in Danville and would hire about 25 employees in the beginning.
Mine Shields LLC, which builds mine refuge chambers, announced in April it would open build a plant in Lancaster and would hire a minimum of 200 employees.
Caterpillar announced in March it would increase its Danville facilities with a $2.8 million addition and add 18 workers; Hitachi announced in September it would add $48 million in space and equipment on to its Harrodsburg plant and hire 145 more employees; Pioneer Services announced in September it would add 65 workers to make parkas for the military.
Politics and government
In one of the more heated Danville mayoral elections in years, Bernie Hunstad, a political newcomer, defeated longtime city commissioner Jamey Gay in the November general election. Also, three of the four incumbent commissioners were unseated. In the same election, Democratic Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney won re-elected in a slightly tougher-than-expected race with Republican first-time candidate Lynn Harmon.
Meanwhile, Harmon’s husband, state Rep. Mike Harmon, R-Danville, not only won re-election without Democratic opposition in the November election but also announced he would be running for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor with tea party activist Phil Moffet.
Crime and the courts
In one of the biggest drug busts ever in the area, 120 people in Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties, including a Lincoln constable, were rounded up on various drug-related charges in November.
A trailer park in Danville had to be evacuated because of a bomb scare in May; a resident, David Eugene Lynn, 37, was charged. Two teenagers were charged in October in another kind of scare as they allegedly set off chemicals in a Lincoln County school bus loaded with children.
Animals were the victims in a case in Casey County as more than 100 neglected dogs were found at home kennel on Chelf Ridge Road in August. Cheryl Turner, the owner of the kennel, eventually pleaded guilty to one count of second degree animal cruelty.
One of the more high profile trials in the area occurred in Casey Circuit Court in November when Brittany Miller fought charges that she tried to poison her grandfather, Leonard Walls, with antifreeze. She won and was acquitted.
Garrard and Mercer counties broke ground on the construction of a new judicial centers in Lancaster and Harrodsburg, where, among other activities, court cases will be conducted. Both centers will open this year.
From deluge to drought
Storms wreaked havoc during the spring and summer in several area counties.
In May, heavy rains caused flooding in Casey County that devastated several Liberty businesses along U.S. 127. The last of those damaged businesses, Shell Mart, finally reopened in December.