(Editor’s Note: These are Madison County’s top 15 news stories of 2014 as voted by the Richmond Register news staff.)
After 21 years in office, Madison Judge/Executive Kent Clark suffered a crushing defeat at the polls, Nov. 4, losing to Republican Reagan Taylor by 3,289.
While some attributed the outcome to a statewide trend against Democrats, Sheriff Mike Coyle and Jailer Doug Thomas, both Democrats, survived challenges. Also, Democrat John Tudor succeeded Republican Billy Ray Hughes on the fiscal court. With Taylor’s election, however, Republicans retained a 3-2 fiscal court majority.
Hughes was one of two Republican magistrates, along with Greg King, who sought their party’s nomination for judge/executive, but lost to Taylor. King was succeeded by another Republican, Mike Botkin, who won by 370 votes.
The mayors of Richmond and Berea both survived challenges.
Jim Barnes in Richmond won a second term, turning back Commissioner Laura King by 1,095 votes. In Berea, Steve Connelly defeated Paul Reynolds by 235 votes to win a fourth term.
Incumbents who sought re-election to the Richmond City Commission and the Berea City Council, all won.
No. 2 ‛Fairness ordinance’ fails in Berea
A two-year effort to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations went down to defeat, 5-3, in the Berea City Council.
The divisiveness of the issue was apparent during a public forum at which the crowd split down the middle. Proponents of the ordinance, wearing blue T-shirts filled one side of the Russel Acton Folk Center, while opponents in red shirts filled the other.
Proponents said the ordinance would combat any discrimination, no matter how rare, and extend Berea’s historic legacy of setting an example for race and gender equality.
Those who opposed the ordinance called it unnecessary and potentially expensive to both the city and businesses who potentially would have to defend themselves against allegations.
While both council members who voted for the ordinance and sought re-election won new terms, other candidates who ran on “pro-fairness” platforms lost.
No. 3 Murder cases
Christina Marcum, accused in a grisly 2011 murder case in which the body of victim Angela Singleton was dismembered and left in trash bags on a rural roadside, was sentenced to 31 years in prison after a trial that lasted more than a week in late March.
Her co-defendant, Singleton’s husband Jason, pleaded guilty in 2013.
In late August, Matthew Denholm was sentenced to five life terms in prison after pleading guilty in the murders of three people in two separate cases: Charles “Chew” Walker and Sonsaray “Sonsi” Warford in one case and Zackary Flower in the other. Charges against others in the Flower case remain unresolved.
In early October, William Cody Tribble was sentenced to 35 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to bludgeoning his grandmother, JoAnn “Margie” Tribble, to death with a hammer after she refused to give him money because she believed he would use it to buy illegal drugs.
In March, Jeremy D. Rice was indicted on a murder charge in the death of his girlfriend’s brother. Richmond Police said Rice ran over Joshua Childers after he intervened in an altercation between them.
No. 4 Police shooting
In September, Police pursued Jesse Gibbons from Lexington to the Eastern Bypass in Richmond where his car left the road near a wooded area. During a 20-minuted standoff, Madison County Sheriff’s deputies and members of the Lexington Metro Police and Kentucky State Police opened fire, wounding Gibbons multiple times. He later died at a Lexington hospital. A KSP spokesperson, said Gibbons may have pointed a Taser gun he took from a Lexington officer at his pursuers, leading them to believe he was about to fire. Results of a KSP investigation were turned over to Madison Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith in late December. A grand jury would review them in January, he said.
No. 5 Downtown fire
A fire in the 200 block of West Main Street caused approximately $150,000 in damage in July when an external deck behind the MexiHollywood restaurant caught fire. Although the deck was engulfed in flames when they arrived, Richmond firefighters quickly doused them and saved the main structures.
A couple visiting within one of four affected residential apartments was taken to Baptist Health Richmond as a precaution after suffering minor smoke inhalation. Otherwise, no one was injured.
MexiHollywood and a political consulting firm’s offices in an adjacent building suffered smoke and water damage. The restaurant reopened within a month.
No. 6 Water Street project
Beginning in late summer, Richmond’s Irvine Street and then Main Street were closed as they were dug up for a new storm-water drainage project designed to end chronic flooding on Water Street. Digging on Water Street was put off until after the holidays.
No. 7 Schools, athletes win titles
Madison county schools won several titles, including the Madison Central High School Marching Band taking the state title in November.
Madison Southern High School running back Damien Harris was recognized in March as the nations top football player when he was named Gatorade Player of the year.
B. Michael Caudill’s archery team took gold for the third time at the National Archery in the Schools Program’s World Tournament in July. During the same tournament, Madison Central also won its first archery world title.
In November, Central’s Brennan Fields won the state cross country title.
No. 8 Winter weather
Madison County Schools missed more than two weeks of classes as frequent snows, one 8-inches deep, kept buses off the roads in January, February and into March. Cold temperatures also gripped the region. Road salt supplies dwindled and the price of new orders rose.
No. 9 Robbery string
While weather kept many shoppers away, a string of store robberies that started around Thanksgiving 2013 and continued into January had clerks and owners on edge. In late January, two men arrested on other charges were blamed. Authorities attributed nine to Christopher D. Lainhart and six to Anthony L. Ray.
No. 10 Two double fatalities on I-75
Two people died in early February after they were hit by a car on Interstate 75 after a multiple vehicle accident for which Bryan Mangan of South Bend, Ind., accepted responsibility. He pleaded guilty in December to wanton endangerment, driving under the influence and other charges. Meredith Buscher, recently moved to Cincinnati from Richmond, and Jeffrey Campbell of Louisville, originally from Corbin, died. The state recommended that Mangan serve two concurrent five-year sentences.
In December, two people died after a fiery I-75 crash in which a vehicle driven by Melissa Meade of Ohio crossed the median. Christopher Truesdell, who had moved to Richmond from Mason County died soon after the accident. Meade died two days later. Her two children in the car were injured. The older one, a son, initially was listed in critical condition.
No. 11 EKU trends
Eastern Kentucky University broke ground in October to complete its New Science Building after the General Assembly appropriated $66.34 million earlier in the year. The groundbreaking was part of a series of events culminating in the inauguration of Dr. Michael Benson as Eastern’s 12th president. A little more than a month later, five mid-to-upper level university administrators, including three associate vice presidents, lost their jobs in a management shakeup.
Soon after the school year began, EKU reported that enrollment increased by nearly two percent, reversing recent trends. Campus diversity also increased as the number of black students rose 11 percent.
No. 12 Historic cattle market
Cattle farmers benefitted from what one called a “perfect storm” as cattle sold for record prices while feed and fuel prices were down. The average per head price at the Bluegrass Stockyards in late July was almost $1,545, about 31 percent more than a year earlier.
No. 13 Grand Campus property tax
After leasing the privately owned Grand Campus student housing complex in August for a little more than $2.58 million and accepting responsibility for any taxes, Eastern Kentucky University received a property tax exemption from the state revenue department. The Madison County School Board, which stands to lose $100,000, voted to challenge the decision in court.
No. 14 All-day kindergarten
Full-day kindergarten began in August for Madison County Schools at four academies – Kingston, Waco and Shannon Johnson elementaries, as well as the kindergarten-only Madison Kindergarten Academy at Mayfield. Although traffic issues were eventually resolved, there were hours-long delays after school during the first two days at Mayfield. Miscommunication, particularly at Mayfield, resulted in some children placed on the wrong buses or not taken to the right transfer points after school.
No. 15 Anti-Bullying bill
Students of Madison Middle School saw their efforts to have the General Assembly declare October as Anti-Bullying Month succeed as Gov. Steve Beshear came to the school to sign the law. For two sessions, students went to Frankfort to urge passage of the legislation.