Hopkins County

Becca Schimmel

A federal prosecutor announced new charges against a senior coal company official for conspiring to falsify the required monitoring of coal dust. The case comes amid a surge in cases of black lung disease and widespread allegations from miners that cheating on dust monitors is common in the mining industry.

Western Kentucky District U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman unsealed a new indictment Wednesday against the former manager of all of the western Kentucky mines belonging to the now-bankrupt Armstrong Energy coal company. Glendal “Buddy” Hardison is charged with conspiring to defraud the United States and the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency in charge of enforcing dust controls in coal mines.


Credit Jessica Dockery, Lead Reporter for the The Madisonville Messenger newspaper

The fight for transgender rights continues at Madisonville-North Hopkins High School. Fifteen to 20 students and community members rallied Saturday on the old courthouse lawn in downtown Madisonville. 

Organizers currently have more than 300 signatures on a petition circulating the school. The petition requests teachers call students by their preferred pronouns and to allow students to use bathrooms for the gender of their choosing.  Currently transgender students are asked to use handicap/unisex restrooms. The Madisonville Messenger’s Lead Reporter Jessica Dockery covered the weekend rally.

“The students did have a lot of support it seemed by folks driving by, honking their horns hollering positive things outside of the windows,” said Dockery.  “I didn’t really see any negative reactions from the community while I was there. “

Dockery says the protestors weren’t just from MNHHS. Students from Hopkins County Central High School and some home-schooled students also attended the Saturday rally.

Dockery said the organizers of the rally are trying to promote awareness.

Ted Eytan/taedc / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

A Madisonville North Hopkins County High School transgender student is working on a petition to allow him to use the bathroom he chooses instead of the handicap one made available for those who identify as transgender.

School officials haven’t yet received the petition, but say they’ll seek legal guidance although they aren’t aware of any laws regulating bathroom use.

Meanwhile State Senator C.B. Embry filed a bill this month requiring students use the restroom corresponding to their anatomical gender.

Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman says the bill comes after a Louisville high school allowed a transgender girl to use the women’s restroom and locker room, which he says is the best option.

“When we force a trans student to use a private restroom, a handicap facility, what that does is it says you are so different that we don’t know how to accommodate you other than to isolate you and force you to use this restroom that’s all yours,” Hartman said.

Embry filed the bill after the Kentucky Family Foundation approached him with a draft of it.

Alliance Corporation

An Alliance coal mine in Hopkins County is set to close in early 2016 as the Elk Creek site runs out of coal. But Madisonville-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation President Gerald Cook says the closure will likely have a minimal impact on the community.

“Some of the other areas they have ramped up and are doing well in their other locations and actually expanding in some of those areas,” he said.

Cook says the announcement was a surprise, but not unusual.

Nearly 370 people work at the Elk Creek mine.

“If those employees are transferred to some of their other operations around here, and there are a lot of operations going on around here now, if they’re transferred into the others well there’s going to be a negligible impact to the community.”

Mine officials would not say if any layoffs are expected.

Grand Jury Clears Madisonville Police in Shooting

Jul 30, 2014

A grand jury has cleared Madisonville police in the shooting death of a 35-year-old man who pulled a weapon last month.

Kentucky State Police said a Hopkins County grand jury heard evidence in the case Tuesday and declined to indict in the death of Douglas M. Seaton of Madisonville.

State police said Seaton was stopped by local police June 21 but fled, with officers pursuing him for about a mile. State police said Seaton got out of his vehicle, brandished a firearm and wouldn't comply with police commands as he approached officers. According to state police, Madisonville police fired shots, hitting Seaton, and he died at the scene.

State police said the two Madisonville officers, who weren't identified, were placed on paid administrative leave, which is agency policy.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Governor Beshear has announced the awarding of a contract that will lead to the next round of highway improvements related to the Interstate-69 project. Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc. won the contract with a bid of just under $12 million.

The new project involves upgrading a 36-mile stretch of the Pennyrile Parkway that runs through Henderson, Hopkins, and Webster counties. The improvements will  include new pavement and lighting, and the widening of overpass bridges.

The project’s targeted completion date is Aug. 1, 2015.

The ultimate goal is to have Interstate-69 in Kentucky run from the Ohio River in Henderson south to the Tennessee border at Fulton. Before that can happen, portions of three parkways have to be upgraded—the Pennyrile, Western Kentucky, and Purchase.

Those three parkways were all once toll roads. One of the challenges of finishing the I-69 project has been the rebuilding of interchanges originally designed to handle motorists stopping at toll plazas, as opposed to merging and exiting from 70 miles per hour interstate traffic.