Front Page 7/22/12

Jul 23, 2012

National alcohol prohibition ended seventy-nine years ago, and as of last week, it’s also over for the City of Murray.  With the vote certified, the process of establishing procedures and ordinances begins.  And we’ll take a look at the particulars of that process... 

Another big story for our region reached its conclusion this past week.  The re-trial of a man accused of starting a fatal 1998 fire in a Murray State University dorm room resulted in a not guilty verdict.  We’ll hear from the prosecution, the defense, and a member of the jury about the case.  Then we’ll speak with Christian County’s new school superintendent and find out what Kentucky’s doing to keep students from losing ground over their summer break.

(1.) WALKER TRIAL -- This past week, a 14-year-old fatal arson case at Murray State came to its conclusion.  Jurors found Jerry Wayne Walker, Junior, the man who’s been the primary suspect throughout, not guilty.  Walker, who now lives in Paducah, was originally tried for the crime in 2001, but that trial resulted in a hung jury.  Casey Northcutt has more on this trial with reactions from the prosecution and defense. 

(2.) WALKER JUROR 2-WAY -- Juror Jeff Beck of Marshall County spent 8 days with 11 fellow jurors listening to testimony in the Walker trial. He joins me on the phone to talk about his experiences as a juror. Jeff First of all, is it safe to say that the majority of the deliberation among the jury was over the amount of accelerant did the letters that Jerry Walker Jr. had first denied writing then later admitted to writing play into any of the deliberations. 

(3.) SKIT IN TRIGG -- After a year’s hiatus, SKIT, the Southern Kentucky Independent Theater group opens its production of The Music Man at the newly renovated Trigg County High School Theater. Drew Adams speaks with the show’s director, Portia Ezell about SKIT, the production, and family ties on stage. 

(4.) THE PROCESS OF MURRAY BECOMING “WET” -- This past week voters in the City of Murray and Marshall County voted on alcohol sales in their respective communities. Marshall County residents answered “no,” but voters in Murray said “Yes.” Murray currently allows liquor by the drink sales in restaurants. Those restaurants must garner 70% of their revenue from non-alcoholic products. Voters chose to expand alcohol sales to include package stores, but now, old ordinances must be reviewed and new ones drafted before licenses can be issued and stores opened. Shelly Baskin spoke with Murray’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Coordinator Harla McClure Friday, to find out how long residents will have to wait to buy alcohol in the city. 

(5.) SUMMER LEARNING IN KY -- Summer break is winding down for students, and they’ll soon return to lessons and homework. For many students, transitioning back to school means relearning forgotten material. As Kentucky Public Radio’s Brenna Angel reports, educational experts and state lawmakers hope to reduce that learning loss by keeping kids active throughout the summer. 

(6.) FOSTER CARE FAIR -- Potential Adoptive and foster parents in the region will have access to some welcome resources in the coming weeks. Murray State University and a nationwide child advocacy group host the Connect, Celebrate and Explore: Foster Care and Adoption Fair on July 28th.  The fair is designed to help those assisting children connect and support one another. Drew Adams speaks with Murray State University’s Training Resource Center Director Caroline Crump about children in the area who are in need and the potential parents who may give them a much needed home. 

(7.) POETRY: SEARCHING FOR SMALL THINGS -- Headlines and soundbytes from world leaders is sometimes the only impressions we get of a country, but how often does a politician or president accurately reflect your voice? Commentator Darlene Mazzone shares a page from her diary, about a trip to Nepal, where she discovered that the key to understanding foreign people and places it to seek the poetry in the details of their cultures. 

(8.) NEW CHRISTIAN CO SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT -- Mary Ann Gemmill started her job as Christian County’s new superintendent of schools at the beginning of July. The 40-year education veteran comes to the district after serving most recently as the chief administrative officer for the Collier County School District in Naples, Florida. Gemmill is a Clinton, Tennessee native, and has worked in several school districts across the Midwest and south. She comes to Christian County Schools as Kentucky is implementing a major push for college and career readiness. Angela Hatton recently spoke with Gemmill about the new leader’s transition to Christian County.

(9.) NICKELL ON BARKLEY -- 135 years ago, U.S. Senator, and 35th U.S. Vice President Alben W. Barkley came into the world in a two-storey log cabin in the small Graves County community of Wheel.  McCracken County Public Library marked the occasion at last week’s Evening Upstairs program.  Barkley scholar and Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Shea Nickell spoke about The Veep, as he later became known, and his legacy.  Barkley is still highly regarded in his hometown of Paducah, and that regard was evidenced by the capacity crowd who attended, and who also shared their own experiences and connections to Barkley.  After his presentation, I spoke with Judge Nickell about his connection to the Vice President, and the lessons western Kentucky’s most prominent native son can still teach today.