BENTON – The final hours of 2011 are ticking away as a new year is just around the corner. For Marshall County, 2011 was a year of stories that both brought the community together and pushed it apart. Stories of adversity and triumph.
This week, the final week of 2011, the Tribune-Courier looks back on the top 10 stories captured readers’ interests.
10– CFSB Construction
Following the late 2010 groundbreaking, Community Financial Services Bank continued construction on their new Fifth Street facility in Benton. The 96,000 square foot, three story building dominates the city’s skyline and, once completed, will be one of the county’s largest commercial buildings.
9– Marshall County Health Department
Also with a late 2010 groundbreaking, work on the new Marshall County Health Department continued at a rapid pace through 2011. The 24,000 square foot facility will open in the coming weeks.
8– Passing of Frank Nichols
Former Bank of Benton/CFSB president and CEO Frank J. Nichols passed away in June following a year-long battle with esophageal cancer. Nichols is often credited for much of the growth at CFSB and was known for his support of community efforts.
7– Luna Retrial
A retrial date was set for George Luna, the man previously convicted in the 2008 slaying of Debra Hendrickson.
Early work on proceedings got underway this year, including the announcement that the death penalty would not be sought in the event of a second conviction.
6– Children’s Arts Center
After years of planning and fundraising efforts, the Marshall County Arts Commission announced plans for a Children’s Arts Center. The group secured grant monies and a building site, and opened bids in December.
5– Marcella’s Kitchen
Planning and organziation efforts led to the May opening of Marcella’s Kitchen in the Draffenville Lion’s Club Building. Marcella Perkins– the community kitchen’s namesake– worked for months to find a location and secure volunteers.
Area churches immediately began helping by providing transportation with vans and buses. The kitchen continues to serve free meals 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is located on Griggstown Road.
Leaving family and friends behind in June, members of the A Company, 149th Brigade Support Battalion returned to open arms Dec. 21 after their second deployment to Iraq in six years. The 147 soldiers returned as part of the troop draw down.
3– North Marshall Water District
Possibly one of the most debated stories of the year concerned the goings on at the North Marshall Water District. The board was replaced, two long-time employees lost their jobs and criminal charges were filed and later dropped against the superintendent.
In recent months the new board has taken steps to revise its policies and recordkeeping, along with installing a new superintendent.
Fatal wrecks along U.S. Hwy. 68 and injuries along Moors Camp Highway highlighted the dangers of high speed and driving under the influence. Several of the wrecks resulted in criminal charges including manslaughter and murder.
With debris from the 2009 ice storm still clogging creeks and waterways, heavy April rains threatened areas across western Kentucky.
Volunteers and public workers combined efforts to supply sand bags for property protection, while shelters provided warm, dry places to recuperate. Some Calvert City residents were forced to evacuate as portions of the city near the industrial complex became submerged.
Lake crests rose above the former record of 371.56, while river levels at Kentucky Dam were above 340.61 feet. On May 4, Kentucky Lake reached its record crest at 372.5.
In addition to visiting the area, Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency in April. Federal Emergency Management Agency workers, as well as state emergency managmenet personnel were on hand to assist residents and local agencies.