Lake Cumberland

Immunization Action Coalition

Kentucky is moving faster than originally planned with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, as priority groups move up the list for vaccinations.

But government and health care leaders warn that Kentuckians have to remain vigilant and follow safety guidelines, like masking and social distancing, because of the continuing high number of cases and the heartbreaking deaths.

WKU Public Radio reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Shawn Crabtree, public health director for the Lake Cumberland District Health Department, which covers 10 counties with a population of 200,000 people. Crabtree said it’s important to get vaccinations to older adults as quickly as possible, and to ease the burden on hospitals. 

Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

As COVID-19 continues its dangerous, often deadly, surge across the Bluegrass State, Gov. Andy Beshear and public health officials relentlessly ask Kentuckians to follow basic safety precautions: limit contacts, maintain social distance, and wear a mask.

Most businesses post signs at the door, telling customers that a 'mask mandate' is an effect, but this basic safety measure has erupted into a political battleground.

WKU Public Radio Reporter Rhonda Miller talked with Shawn Crabtree, public health director of the 10-county Lake Cumberland District Health Department about the challenges of the pandemic.

Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial

A Kentucky project to create a memorial to recognize slaves buried in unmarked graves has taken an important step to becoming a reality. Work has begun on the sculpture that will be on the grounds of Somerset Community College.

It’s been nearly three years since a young white man fatally shot nine African-Americans during a Bible study at a Charleston, South Carolina church known as Mother Emanuel.

That massacre spurred a group of Lake Cumberland area residents to launch a project to help create more understanding in their community and state.

They first found out that a section of the Somerset City Cemetery has slaves buried in unmarked graves, and then they heard about other similar sites.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The federal budget passed by both chambers of Congress this week would block a future fee on some southern Kentucky towns that use Lake Cumberland as a water source.

The US Army Corps of Engineers was set to complete a study on allocating water storage capacity.

The Herald-leader reports that the study would have resulted in the charging of a one-time fee to area cities and counties that use Lake Cumberland as a water source. That includes Somerset, Burnside, Monticello, Jamestown, Albany, and McCreary County.

Somerset officials have warned their fee would be around $1 million. Local officials were also worried that they would have to pay fees to help maintain Wolf Creek Dam.

Somerset Community College

A discovery during a sunrise service in the Somerset City Cemetery has led to the creation of a memorial for slaves buried in unmarked graves. 

Charles Leveridge is president of the Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial Association. He said a section of the city cemetery that was thought to be unused is actually an unmarked burial site for area slaves. He said the original plan was to place a marker in that one cemetery, but the group is now focused on a bigger mission.

“The more we researched the issue, the more we found that there were numerous cemeteries throughout Pulaski County, and surrounding counties around Lake Cumberland, that have slaves interred that have no markers,” said Leveridge.

The group now has a design for a memorial sculpture designed by an Atlanta artist that will be located at Somerset Community College. The artist will be a guest at a unity breakfast at the college on Jan. 13, in advance of Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 16. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Pulaski County state senator Chris Girdler wants to change time.

The Somerset republican wants all Kentucky counties bordering Lake Cumberland to be in the Eastern time zone to better accommodate tourism.

The Somerset “Commonwealth Journal” reports Girdler sent a letter to officials in a six county region wanting Clinton, Cumberland and Russell Counties to leave the Central time zone and join Pulaski, McCreary and Wayne counties in moving an hour ahead.

Wayne County made the switch just a few years ago.

Girdler says most of the population around Lake Cumberland is already in the Eastern time zone, as is Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville.

He says having all the counties within the same time zone would improve promotion of Lake Cumberland and the interaction among the counties.

Kentucky Taking Bids On Development at State Park

Nov 28, 2014
Commonwealth of Kentucky

Kentucky is soliciting proposals from companies interested in building and operating a lodging facility at General Burnside Island State Park on Lake Cumberland near Somerset.

Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker told The Commonwealth Journal conditions are right at the park for such a facility.

Burnside Mayor Ron Jones called the idea "a godsend for the community."

Dudley Webb, chair of the board and founder of The Webb Companies, Lexington, and Mike Czerwonka, president of Czerwonka & Associates, Louisville, both say are still interested in General Burnside Island State Park.

The Webb Companies' currently most visible project is CentrePointe in Lexington and his company has developed several marines on Lake Cumberland and one on Dale Hollow Lake. Czerwonka has tie-ins with numerous hotel chains in the South.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Tax revenues and tourist spending were up during the summer at Lake Cumberland thanks to water levels that returned to normal after being down for several years.

Carolyn Mounce, the head of the Somerset-Pulaski Convention & Visitors Bureau, says marina operators were happy this season with the lake traffic.

The southern Kentucky lake's dam underwent major repairs beginning in 2007. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Wolf Creek dam, lowered lake levels by 40 feet to ease pressure on the leaking structure. The repairs have since been completed.

Man's Body Recovered From Lake Cumberland

Aug 11, 2014

Crews have retrieved the body of a man from Lake Cumberland.

Reports are it took search crews nearly two hours on Sunday to find the body of 42 year old George John Fiorini. The Pulaski County coroner's office said Fiorini was diving off a cliff with friends when he went under. His body was found near Burnside.

Authorities said Fiorini had recently moved to Ludlow.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Now that Lake Cumberland’s water level is back to its full summer point for the first time in eight years, the head of the state dock there says the region is in for a great tourist season.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that the recent rain in southern Kentucky has pushed Lake Cumberland’s water level to 723 feet above sea level. The water level at the lake was dropped in 2007 while repair work was done on Wolf Creek Dam.

Lake Cumberland State Dock president Bill Jasper told WKU Public Radio it’s been a challenge fighting off negative public perceptions about the lake over the past eight years. He says this week’s news helps erase those problems.

“We’ve still got one of the biggest waterways east of the Mississippi in terms of volume of water, and people thought we were dry. So, we still get that question at boat shows. So this takes away all that uncertainty.”

The level of Lake Cumberland in southeastern Kentucky will be raised in time for the summer tourism season. 

Water levels were lowered seven years ago to allow repair work on Wolf Creek Dam.  An endangered fish found in headwaters threatened to keep the lake lowered for an eighth year in a row.

Members of Kentucky's congressional delegation sent a  letter sent and had a face-to-face meeting last month with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The lawmakers asked the federal agencies to return the lake to its full capacity.

On Tuesday, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell informed the lawmakers that Lake Cumberland’s level will be restored to the normal pool of 723 feet by mid-May. 

The lawmakers called the announcement is "great news for the thousands of people who rely on the lake for recreation and tourism, and to the local communities, businesses, and individuals whose livelihoods are being impacted because of the lower water levels.”

Lake Cumberland was cleared to rise following an expedited review of how to protect the Duskytail Darter, a 2.5 inch fish on the endangered species list.

Heavy rains have pushed the water level on Lake Cumberland higher than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants it for this summer.

Reservoir Operations Manager Tom Hale told The Commonwealth-Journal  the lake will reach 714 feet above sea level Thursday. That's about nine feet below the tree line and nine feet above the 705-foot target level for this summer.

Some 23,600 cubic feet of water per second were being released through Wolf Creek Dam to lower the lake.

There are no problems at the dam. A 7-year rehabilitation of the mile-long structure was completed in March and the lake level was allowed to rise 20 feet for this summer's vacation season.

The heavy rains created tides along small creeks that washed a lot of debris into the lake.