2019: The Year in Review

Published 2:02 pm Thursday, January 2, 2020

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From January to December, we compiled a list of some of the biggest stories of the year in Jessamine County.


— The Saint Joseph Jessamine RJ Corman Ambulatory Care Center celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gathering of local facility members, residents and Jessamine County officials. Opening in 2009, the center became the first and only full-service 24/7 emergency care facility in the county.

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— Kent Slusher took his place as the 4th District magistrate on the Jessamine County Fiscal Court. Alex Slusher was sworn in as the newest member of the Nicholasville City Commission. Andy Bathe was sworn as a new member of the Wilmore City Council.

— Billie Jo and Brett Setzer donated 651 pounds of non-perishable food items to the Community Service Center of Wilmore and High Bridge in Jessamine County.

— East Jessamine High School presented “Ramona Quimby” with multiple shows for the community.

— Jessamine County Schools offered public previews for residents and students to learn about the various construction projects slated to begin in the spring of 2019 as well as new programs to be offered to JCS students.

— Roberta Warren retired after 34 years as Nicholasville city clerk.

— Walker Montgomery announced a concert at West Jessamine High School to raise funds to purchase Chromebooks for Jessamine County Schools.

— West Jessamine High School put on a production of “Rapunzel.”

— The Wilmore Family Center underwent a variety of renovations, creating three separate rooms, a reception area, multipurpose room as well as ADA compliant restrooms for individuals with physical disabilities.

— West Jessamine High School’s academic team competed at the district tournament for Governor’s Cup, where they won the right to advance to the regional competition in February at Western Hills High School.

— Jessamine County Schools were forced to close because of illness after attendance levels dropped to 80 percent district-wide, and more than 200 students were signed out in one day because of flu-related symptoms.

— Snow, ice and chilly winter weather didn’t deter a group of Asbury University students from joining the crowd of thousands who marched in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Unity Breakfast and subsequent march in Lexington have become a tradition for students from Asbury’s intercultural student groups, who attend the event each year with Asbury President Dr. Sandra C. Gray, Assistant Vice President for Intercultural Affairs the Rev. Esther Jadhav, Intercultural Affairs Coordinator Dr. Maria Brown and other staff and faculty from the university.

— A release from the Jessamine County Health Department revealed that the Kentucky Health Child Fatality Review Annual Report indicated the number of sixth-grade students who had attempted, considered or made plans for suicide has increased since 2014. According to the data released, the number of Kentucky youth who have died by suicide between the ages of 10 to 17 has doubled. Sixth-, 10th- and 12th-graders showed an increase in attempts, making plans or seriously considering suicide in a recent study compared to other years. Eighth-graders were the only group who showed a slight decrease compared to other grades in those three categories. At the national level, suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 10 to 24. In Kentucky, that number is higher with suicide being the second leading cause of death for youth in that age group. In 2015, 32 youth ages 10 to 14 and 388 people ages 15 to 24 died by suicide. The number of Kentucky youth who died by suicide has nearly doubled from 13 in 2014 to 24 in 2015.


— Nicholasville City Commission approved a first reading with a unanimous vote for 11.45 acres of land off Nicholasville Road to be rezoned from A-1 agricultural to B-2 highway business district. The reading came before the board after the Nicholasville Planning Commission had a public hearing on Jan. 28 and made a 7-0 motion to recommend approval for the zone change application for a portion of property located at 4610 Nicholasville Road.

— A Nicholasville man was arrested after shooting a gun at residences while intoxicated. Brian A. Montgomery, 21, of 2330 Mackey Road in Nicholasville, was arrested Feb. 9 for first-degree wanton endangerment. Montgomery was allegedly seen shooting a firearm in the parking lot of 613 N. Main St. in random directions while intoxicated. Montgomery was seen shooting the firearm in the direction of North Main Street and several residences, according to the citation.

— Jessamine County Judge-Executive David West spoke with the Nicholasville City Commission Monday about the fiscal court’s decision to close the YMCA Aquatic Center for the summer because of the high cost of necessary repairs. After a brief discussion, the city council asked West to contact the pool engineers to see if minor repairs could be made to “Band-Aid” the pool and keep it open for one more season while the city and county work together to try and make a plan to hopefully save the center.

— Jessamine County mourned the loss of a prominent figure in the county who served on the Jessamine County Board of Education for 32 years and the namesake of the new diesel mechanics program facility. Eugene S. Peel died Feb. 15. He was 72. Peel was elected to the Jessamine County Board of Education in 1984 and retired from the board in December 2016.

— Judge-Executive David West welcomed more than 100 Jessamine County residents to the inaugural fiscal court open house  to answer questions and discuss department needs with local citizens. One of the hot topics of discussion among residents and visitors was the Jessamine County Detention Center. Chief Deputy Dru Parsons of the Jessamine County Detention Center shared a video depicting the poor conditions of the current facility, as well as its age and inadequate capacity.

— The East Jessamine Middle School was placed on a brief lockdown after a student reported she saw a suspicious adult in the building with what appeared to be a gun. The threat was deemed a false alarm, and the lockdown was lifted shortly after 10 a.m.

— In February, the Nicholasville/Jessamine County Drug Enforcement Unit, along with the DEA, have indicted several suspects for drug trafficking in both Jessamine County Circuit Court and the United States Eastern Kentucky District Court. As of Feb. 20, 16 suspects had been arrested. Drugs seized during these lengthy investigations include, but are not limited to, heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone and others.


— Two Nicholasville residents are charged for child abuse after police found two children alone and crying in an apartment. Quamaine M. Garth, 22, of 3500 Beaver Place Road Apt. 214 in Lexington, and Rachel Lush, 21, of 109 Wichita Drive in Nicholasville, were arrested Feb. 27 and charged with first-degree criminal abuse of a child younger than 12. Officers responded to 109 Wichita Drive in reference to children crying in an apartment. When police were able to make entry into the residence, they found a 1-year-old and 2-year-old home alone. During this time, the father of the children, identified as Garth, showed up at the residence and allegedly told officers he had taken the children’s mother, Lush, to work and didn’t wake the children because they were sleeping at the time.

— After selling roasted in-house coffee beans out of J’s Place in downtown Nicholasville since last August, Drinklings moved back to where it all began in Wilmore. Drinklings Coffee Roastery celebrated its grand opening in downtown Wilmore March 16. Located at 325 E. Main St., the shop shares its location with The Olive Branch, a local artisan and craft boutique.

— After being damaged by a storm last year, a new bridge was built on the AdventureServe Ministries Camp in Wilmore which will help groups spending time along the stream and children walking to and from school.

— After a state study deemed Lake Mingo high hazard, the city council approved a proposal for GRW Engineers Inc. to conduct an analysis to weigh options on dam repairs.

— Wilmore was named among the safest cities in Kentucky based on the most recent FBI crime report statistics.

— After initially hearing a big-dollar figure to fix the Jessamine County Aquatics Center, the Nicholasville City Commission and Jessamine County Fiscal Court reviewed a proposal from a pool management company that would not only open the facility during the summer, but also make it profitable. After overturning its previous decision not to fund the aquatic center in 2019, the fiscal court unanimously voted to reverse its decision.


— The Family Center in downtown Wilmore completed renovations and celebrated its grand reopening April 13.

— The Animal Hospital of Nicholasville celebrated its 20th anniversary.

— West Jessamine High School put on a production of “The Sound of Music,” under the direction of Mary Grogan.

— After being hosted at City-County Park the past three years, it was announced the Jessamine County Fall Festival would move back to its former home downtown surrounding the Jessamine County Courthouse. In recent years, the fall festival had been named Hope Over Jessamine, with proceeds benefitting Revive Lifehouse. This year, proceeds were to benefit the Jessamine County Homeless Shelter.


— Residents at Wesley Village were featured as the May photo in the Kern’s calendar. The photo depicted residents holding boxes of Kern’s derby pies.

— The Jessamine County Fiscal Court passed the first reading of the 2019-20 budget with a unanimous vote.

— Jessamine County celebrated the 22nd annual Taste of Jessamine at the R.J. Corman hangar 2. Proceeds benefited the KY United Methodist Children’s Homes, The Jessamine County Food Pantry and Lord’s Legacy Life Ministries, Inc.

— Vietnam veteran Fred Keeley was the 6,000th veteran honored by Freedom Fest at a Wilmore City Council meeting.

— Hosted by junior Allison McBride and sophomore Chad Carmack, the 15th annual Highbridge Film Festival took place April 27 in Hughes Auditorium featuring 10 undergraduate student films, two graduate student films and one high school film.

— Chris Hawboldt was selected as the new head principal at East Jessamine High School, after serving as EJHS curriculum resource administrator.

— Jeffery Ruggiero, 29, of Nicholasville, was sentenced to 132 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Karen C. Caldwell for conspiracy to distribute heroin and carfentanyl and distribution of carfentanyl resulting in serious physical injury. Beginning in July 2016 and continuing through Jan. 19, 2017, Ruggiero conspired with several other people to distribute heroin and carfentanyl in Garrard, Jessamine and Fayette counties, according to a press release.


— The Nicholasville Fire Department responded to a fire at the Meadowood Apartments on Orchard Drive May 15 where a woman was trapped and had to be pulled to safety from the burning building. Nicholasville Fire Marshall David Johns said the fire was delayed in being reported because a maintenance man, a lady and ex-marine were there and trying to get the victim out and put out the fire by themselves. Johns said they also breached the wall inside because they were having trouble getting to the victim.

— The Jessamine Early Learning Village’s School-based decision-making council voted unanimously to elect Bobbi Hoffner as JELV’s principal for the 2019-20 school year.

— The City of Nicholasville broke ground for its fourth fire station located at 785 E. Brannon Road.

— The Nicholasville City Council approved a first reading for the annexation of the Lone Oak Country Club, which would bring 127 acres off Club Drive into city limits.

— A large crowd gathered at Thomson Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore June 7, one day after the 75th anniversary of D-Day, to honor Alvin H. Perry, now 95 years old, as Consul General of France to the Midwest Guillaume Lacroix presented him with France’s highest military honor, the French Legion of Honor.

— The city of Wilmore sought to save the more than 100-year-old building that was once home to Brumfield Hay and Granary. Focusing on what is considered one of the oldest buildings in the city, the council hosted a public hearing June 3 to seek public opinions about moving forward with a HUD Community Development Block Grant application to stabilize the building that sits at 400 E. Main St.

— The results were in for Jessamine County’s high schools, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, placing West Jessamine at 28th and East Jessamine at 146th among the 382 schools reviewed in Kentucky. West ranked 2,346 nationally. East came in at 9,168.


— Stepworks, a residential addiction treatment facility with a location in Nicholasville, launched an addiction recovery app called Recovering(me). The goal of the app is to address the fact that about 10 percent of the U.S. population struggles with addiction and about 90 percent of those don’t seek treatment, said Stepworks chief operating officer Drew Ingram.

— After 19 years on the Kentucky River, the John Craig tow boat found a new home at High Bridge Park. The fiscal court heard the recommendation to move the ferry to High Bridge after the High Bridge Homecoming Festival Planning Committee met and was very receptive to the idea, as well.

— The circuit courtroom of the Jessamine County Courthouse was filled with sounds and shouts of disapproval as the Nicholasville City Commission unanimously voted in favor of the second reading for the intent to annex Lone Oak Country Club.

— The American Legion’s Ray E. Miller Post No. 63 celebrated its 100th year.

— Registered voters in Jessamine County received a petition in their mailboxes asking them to “Vote YES” in favor of alcohol sales in the unincorporated areas of the county.

— Jessamine County Judge-Executive David K. West and Jessamine County E-911 Director Chris Bowman announced Jessamine County now offers text-to-911 services. Text-to-911 refers to the ability to send text messages to local 911 call centers during an emergency.

— The burden of infrastructure changes with the rising pension costs on the Jessamine County Health Department’s budget forced the Health Department to reassess the way it delivers core public health services or assures these services are being delivered in the community. After an examination of available local health care resources, opportunities were found for women’s health services, including family planning, cancer screenings and prenatal screenings, among others. In order to eliminate duplication of these services, the health department stopped providing women’s health services as of June 1.

— The overcast weather didn’t stop residents from attending a groundbreaking for Nicholasville’s soon-to-be home for two Cincinnatibased restaurants, LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria and Skyline Chili.

— Sydney Poor, who was born and raised in Nicholasville, was crowned Miss Jessamine County Fair, a first for a local in over eight years.

— Kayla A. Bowlin, 29, of 1779 Kissing Ridge Road in Nicholasville, was arrested July 19 for endangering the welfare of a minor. Bowlin is the parent of a 1-year-old and a 7-year-old who allegedly appeared to be under the influence of a narcotics in the woods near her residence. She was suspected to be hallucinating while allegedly seen holding her 1-year-old daughter. Bowlin had left her 7-year-old daughter for an unknown amount of time alone in the residence and admitted to deputies she left both children inside the residence to go into the woods with her friend.


— Days Gone By, an antique and boutique shop located at 308 E. Main Street, officially opened Aug. 1.

— Allen “Doodle” Peel retired as the Jessamine County Sheriff’s chief deputy after 30 years of service to the community.

— The Nicholasville City Commission was met with opposition at a meeting after a concerned citizen spoke concerning a policy and procedure passed in March to ban concealed carry weapons in and on city property.

— A sign installed at the future home of the Nicholasville Police Department showed the promise of a new beginning. The new department will be built on the lot previously purchased for the new city hall, and is set for completion in 2021.

— Jessamine County Schools honored three teachers with the Excellence in Education award making them eligible to receive nomination for the Kentucky Teacher of the Year award — including Nicholasville native Kayla Williams, Jordan Ciolek and Jessica Blair.

— One person was shot and killed in an apartment complex off Beauford Place in Nicholasville shortly after midnight Aug. 22.Jessamine County Coroner Michael Hughes identified the subject as 27-year-old James Crowe. Troopers said Crowe was allegedly armed when police shot him after being confronted by officers inside the home.

— Jessamine County Board of Education held a tax hearing and special meeting in which the board voted unanimously to take the compensating rate of an additional 4 percent, which reduced the rate from 69.3 to 69 cents per $100 of property value. The new rate of 69 cents created a tax savings of $3 for every $100,000 of home value and was expected to increase revenue to Jessamine County Schools by approximately $1.2 million.

— Dr. David R. Riel has been making an impact in the lives of students at Asbury University for the last 11 years and was awarded the Francis White Ewbank Award for those efforts.


— Asbury University’s unique combination of academic excellence and spiritual vitality has made it a premier institution in the state of Kentucky for decades and once again the private Christian university was recognized for its excellence at the regional level with a top-10 ranking. With scores near the top of the rankings in graduation rates, retention rates, student/faculty ratio and more, Asbury was hand-picked as a top university in the annual U.S. News & World Report Best College Rankings.

— The Jessamine County Board of Education recognized its 2019 Jessamine County Athletic Hall of Fame inductees, which included Paul Hamilton, a 1987 graduate of Jessamine County High School, and Jerry Ward, a 1981 graduate of Jessamine County High School. Hamilton


— The Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce and residents gathered for a ribbon cutting welcoming a company which produces cutting-edge technology and makes recovery systems for urban aviation — or what some are calling “the flying car.” “We are a company that produces, engineers and sells recovery systems for aviation so that if there is an in-flight emergency you can deploy a parachute and actually bring down an entire vehicle and save the lives of the people that are on board,” CEO and President of Aviation Safety Resources Larry Williams said.

— Kentucky rolled out a new five-star accountability system for 2019 and Jessamine County Schools graduation rate was once again higher than Kentucky’s average. The new system uses a rating of one to five stars for each school and three separate star ratings, one for each school level (elementary, middle and high) for the district. In this first year of the new system, the Jessamine County School District received a rating of three for each of the three school grade levels.

— With the new station underway in Brannon Crossing, Nicholasville Fire Department was awarded more than $1 million through the SAFER grant to help offset and pay for additional staffing.

— The Jessamine County community joined together for a local girl named Molly Reynolds and her fight with acute lymphocytic leukemia in the inaugural Magical Miles for Molly 3K. Molly was diagnosed with ALL after complaining of extreme fatigue and random bruising this summer.

— Camp Nelson National Monument hosted a special event to mark the one-year anniversary of the park becoming a National Monument. Last November, President Donald Trump’s first national monument designation for Camp Nelson was made after receiving congressional and public input of the parks importance.

— Tara Hall, founder and director of The Family Center, gave birth to her daughter while en route to the hospital.

— East Jessamine High School put on a production of “The Wizard of Oz.”


— Nicholasville Planning and Zoning passed a 6-4 vote denying a proposed development for Lone Oak Country Club.

— Founded in 2007, and officially breaking ground last spring, Lexington Women’s Health is expanding and will offer a new location in Brannon Crossing next year for Jessamine County residents.

— Pam Seales, who has lived in Jessamine County for more than 20 years, took a leap of faith and published her first novel, “Jingle Bell Run,” just in time for the holiday season.

— Beginning Dec. 3, on Giving Tuesday, Andy Bathje, executive director of AdventureServe Ministries, lived in a shack for five days to raise awareness for substandard housing and homelessness.

— Heidi Middleton is reached out to the Jessamine County community in hopes to fill stockings for 170 deserving veterans in Wilmore this holiday season.


— In the weeks leading up to Jessamine County Schools Thanksgiving break, the Jessamine County Future Farmers of America chapter conducted its annual food drive collecting more than 10,000 items for those in need this holiday season.

— The Nicholasville City Commission approved a first reading for the annexation of 122 acres into city limits on Ashgrove Road. The City Commission passed the first reading with a 4 to 1 vote, with City Commissioner Patty Teater voting against the annexation.

— West Jessamine High School presented Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” with an all-female cast.

— The Jessamine County Fiscal Court voted unanimously to move forward with a local company for statue repair work that will save the county close to $30,000 on statue repairs at the courthouse.

— First Southern National Bank announced the hire of Justin Ray, of Nicholasville, who will serve the First Southern team in a Loan and Business Development role.

— Graig Gillispie has been with Family Practice Associates of Lexington for six years but said he is excited to soon be offering services to his home community in Jessamine County. Located at 615 E. Brannon Road Suite 100 and 250, FPA has 20 providers throughout its practice and offers comprehensive primary care services for patients of all ages, including an on-site lab and an online patient portal. The facility is set to open Feb. 3, 2020.

— Rehearsing since October, Arts+ Community Theater unveiled its Christmas performance of “Junie B in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” at West Jessamine High School.