2020: Year in Review, January-June

The following is a recap of news stories from January through June 2020. A recap of July through December will be published in the Jan. 1 weekend edition of The Advocate-Messenger.

JANUARY
Jan. 7, 2020
Flu hits Boyle harder than surrounding counties: Virus is ‘widespread’ throughout most of country
“There’s definitely flu in our area,” says Brent Blevins. That’s his unscientific overview of the weekly influenza report from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, which shows the flu with “widespread” reach — not only in Boyle County, but throughout the nation.
Blevins, the director of the Boyle County Health Department, says it’s an important reminder that it’s not too late to get a flu shot. “But the longer you wait, the longer you get into the season before it becomes effective,” he says.
According to the Department of Public Health, there have been 5,988 confirmed cases of the flu in the state since flu season began.
Of those, 83 have been determined to be within Boyle County. That’s compared to 39 in Mercer; 34 in Garrard; 63 in Lincoln; and only eight in Casey.

Jan. 8, 2020
K9 Niki honored by hundreds at memorial service

Danville Police K9 Officer David Lewis salutes Boyle County Casey McCoy and his son as they leave the memorial service in honor of McCoy’s K9 partner, Niki, who was killed on New Year’s Eve day.

Danville Police Captain Casey McCoy said he experienced his worst nightmare on New Year’s Eve day. He lost his partner, best friend and a family member when K9 officer Niki was killed in a two-vehicle crash while they were on duty as McCoy turned onto Commerce Street from the bypass.
“Our sweet Niki … “ McCoy said to a crowd of about 500 who attended a memorial service at Southland Christian Church Monday evening. There is no stronger bond than one between a K9 officer and its handler, he said. “She knew my favorite songs and all of my secrets.”
When they were on duty, Niki was his strongest partner. But when they were home, Niki was a lovable pet and belonged to his 8-year-old son, McCoy said.
The memorial service was as somber and moving as a service could be for a human fallen officer. Hymns played, a slide show of photos of Niki at home and at work was displayed on several large screens, and a small casket draped with the American Flag was on the stage.

• Jan. 15, 2020
Milliron sworn in as new Danville city manager

David Milliron was sworn in as Danville’s City Manager who replaced Ron Scott after he retired at the beginning of the month.
“This is a beautiful community. You should be proud of what you have,” Milliron said. “When you come into Danville, you recognize the history immediately, and that’s something to be excited about.”
Milliron said the retiring Scott has “managed this city faithfully,” and is continuing to help him transition him into his new role. Scott agreed to stay on through the end of January as interim human resources director; the city is working on hiring a replacement for Donna Peek, who also retired.

• Jan. 31, 2020
Boyle Schools close for sickness
Due to widespread illness, all Boyle County schools are closed today and will remain closed on Monday, Feb. 3. Attendance had been declining all week. Thursday’s attendance across the schools was about 90%, said Director of Communications Jacquie Peterson.

FEBRUARY
• Feb. 6, 2020
Milton Moreland named next Centre College president
Milton C. Moreland, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Rhodes College, has been selected to serve as the 21st president of Centre College. A respected scholar of religion and an accomplished archaeologist, Moreland will begin his term on July 1, 2020.
He will succeed John A. Roush, whose 22-year presidency is notable for its breadth of institutional transformation at a time of significant change in American higher education.

• Feb. 8, 2020
Perryville gifted bank building for new city hall
The city of Perryville has accepted an unusual gift — a new city hall building from Monticello Banking Company.
The branch office on U.S. 150 in the downtown area of Perryville closed in the fall. But for about six months, attorneys have been working out the details to gift the building to the city, said Mayor Brian Caldwell during the city council’s regular meeting Thursday night.
He said people may have already heard that a deal was being hashed out, but now it’s official.
“We’re very grateful. It’s about a 3,000-square foot building,” Caldwell said.

• Feb. 13, 2020
Centre taking ‘every precaution’ for students during coronavirus outbreak
Centre College is taking “every precaution” to keep students safe and healthy during the current coronavirus outbreak that’s struck in several countries.
The Novel 2019 Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, was originally detected in Wuhan City, China, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are no Centre College students currently studying in China this semester, said Centre’s Chief Communications Officer Michael Strysick.

• Feb. 18, 2020

Officials express outrage about condition of horses found on leased farm 

Horses that officials say were neglected on a Boyle County farm eat hay after being found in February. (Photo by Robin Hart)

After discovering 14 neglected and malnourished horses on a Boyle County farm on the afternoon of Feb. 14, the local Animal Control Department is looking for people who can foster the animals until a pending court case is sorted out. And the county judge-executive expressed how upset he is by the situation, as well as bought hay for the malnourished animals.
A Mercer County woman was eventually charged with several counts of animal cruelty in the case. A few days later, a second woman arrested after more neglected horses found in Boyle County.
The Danville-Boyle County Humane Society is now caring for 41 malnourished horses indefinitely until a judge decides what to do with the animals, said John Turner, humane society board member.

MARCH
• March 6, 2020
First all-female Boy Scouts troop formed in Danville

Boy Scouts Assistant Scout Master Yvonne Oliver and Scout Master Anna Gomez present the BSA handbook to Maya Wade, as Assistant Scout Master Kelly Milburn, at right, looks on. (Photo submitted)

The first all-female troop of the Boy Scouts of America in Boyle County is forming and has accepted its first member. Having BA open to girls in Danville is “as big as when scouting came to Danville,” said Steve Ellis, committee chair for the new all-female Scout Troop 2.
Cub Scout Pack 119 not only recognized 12-year-old Maya Wade as the first female Arrow of the Light Cub Scout in Boyle County, but also as the first girl to symbolically walk across the pack’s wooden bridge from Cub Scouts to join the newly organized Scout Troop 2.

• March 11, 2020
Danville Schools will end relationship with child development center
The Danville Board of Education will not be the fiscal agent for Wilderness Trace Child Development Center (WTCDC) for the next school year, despite being threatened by legal action from the center.
At Monday night’s special called meeting, the board voted unanimously to end the memorandum of agreement through which Danville Schools has provided teachers and staff, and the center has reimbursed the district for salaries and an administrative fee. The current MOA will end June 30.
The arrangement between Danville Schools and WTCDC has been in place for more than 20 years.

• March 11, 2020
Not if but when: Boyle County taking precautions to limit impact of COVID-19
It’s not a question of if COVID-19 will spread to Boyle County, but when the virus will make its way here, according to Boyle County Health Department Director Brent Blevins.
“I don’t have any knowledge that we have a COVID-19 case in this community right now,” he said. “But I will not be surprised if we end up with a case.”
But that’s not cause for alarm; it just means people should begin taking appropriate precautions now, Blevins said. And everyone should be aware that their local first responders and officials have already done a lot of heavy lifting in developing plans to handle COVID-19 or any other public health problem like it.
Ephraim McDowell Health has implemented new visitor restrictions at its hospitals in Danville, Stanford and Harrodsburg. Only one visitor per patient will be allowed, and visitors ages 80 and older and 12 and younger will not be allowed to visit any patients.

• March 13, 2020
Schools in Boyle County closing as COVID-19 spreads
Danville and Boyle County’s school systems both announced plans to close until mid-April today, as a precaution against the current COVID-19 virus that is spreading across the globe.
Bluegrass Community and Technical College classes will be “moving to online classes for a short period” of March 22-April 4, according to a news release.
Centre College will have “a clear statement of our plans — academically and otherwise — for the remainder of the term.”
Boyle County Schools will be closed for the next four weeks, from March 16 to April 10, according to an announcement released by the school district this afternoon.
Danville Schools will not be in session beginning tomorrow, March 13, and the schools will remain closed until April 13, according to a letter from the district to parents issued this afternoon.
Danville Christian Academy will also be closed from March 16 to April 10, according to Headmaster Jim Ward’s office.

• March 14-15
Boyle officials rush to notify parties of court cancellations
Boyle County court officials were forced to scramble to notify everyone scheduled on next week’s district court docket that court has been canceled due to a Kentucky Supreme Court order.
The Supreme Court issued the order in order to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus; it ordered most court proceeds from March 16 to April 10 to be canceled.
All civil trials, hearings and motions have been postponed until a later date.

• March 25, 2020
Community group sewing surgical masks for healthcare workersAn ever-expanding group of people who want to use their time productively while staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic are making protective masks for local healthcare workers.
A Facebook group named “Masks for our healthcare workers Danville/Boyle County” was formed Friday afternoon and already has well over 300 members who are sharing patterns, fabric and tips on how to sew reusable cloth surgical masks and where to find much needed supplies like elastic, binding and replaceable filters.
The network of sewers and planners want to make and donate at least 500 masks, said one of the group’s organizers, Susan Weston. Even though they don’t sew, Weston and her social media friend, Shannon Scott, saw the need to have communication between people wanting to make the masks and what the healthcare community was asking for, Weston said.

• March 31, 2020
Four Boyle residents test positive for COVID-19 virus

One person is an Ephraim McDowell Health associate and was hospitalized on Saturday. The second victim is recovering at home. The third and fourth victims were identified on Monday but no other information was released according to a news release from EMH and the Boyle County Health Department.

APRIL
• April 8, 2020
‘Green is color of compassion’
As the sun set Monday evening, turning the sky into a brilliant coral and golden palette, Danville City Hall became illuminated in a soft green light.
Mayor Mike Perros said, “We’re starting something tonight I wish we didn’t have to start.” He said Danville would be turning on green flood lights at city hall every evening honoring those who had died of COVID-19 that day, as suggested by Gov. Andy Beshear.
“Green is the color of compassion,” Perros stated.
Earlier in the day, Perros said it was important to light city hall, “Because if nothing else, it’s a reminder that the city is very much aware of the pandemic.”

• April 10, 2020
Lost Experiences: Spring sports, proms, graduation among activities canceled

Blake Salmons’ Boyle County High School baseball jersey and cap hang on the door of his family’s Perryville home. (Photo by Jeff Moreland)

The arrival of COVID-19 forced the cancelation of many school events for area students, including sporting events. Area high school seniors who lost out on portions of their high school experience talked about the impact on their senior years.
“This group of seniors, we’ve been talking about this year since we were 9 or 10 years old, and it’s tough not getting to see it through,” said Boyle County High School basebal player Blake Samons.
School administrators were working to set up alternate options for graduations, including a drive-thru graduation which was held for Danville High School seniors.

MAY
• May 15-16, 2020
McDowell hospitals reopening for non-essential surgeries, procedures
Ephraim McDowell Health is reopening its facilities to care for patients who have postponed nonessential tests and surgeries since March in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Emergency rooms at its three hospitals are also open for patients to use, even if it’s not related to the pandemic.
Daniel McKay, president and CEO of Ephraim McDowell Health, said the hospital began its third phase of reopening on Wednesday, when in-patient surgeries resumed. General in-patients surgeries now being performed include total hip and joint replacements, orthopedic procedures and things like gallbladder removal now being performed again, McKay said.
Two weeks ago, the EMH hospitals in Danville, Harrodsburg and Stanford began out-patient surgeries and procedures such as scopes, GI procedures, tonsillectomies and ear tubes for children, he said.
And the emergency room is not just for testing COVID-19 patients, like some people may have believed, McKay explained.

• May 26, 2020
Girls fight to keep neighborhood pool afloat

Maggie Powell, left, and Campbell Johnson pose with a giant check in the amount of $7,550. The girls raised the money to save the Streamland swimming pool.

Community swimming pools are not open this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but one local pool’s future could be in danger even beyond the viral threat.
Streamland Swim Club operates the swimming pool in the Streamland subdivision. The pool was built in 1965, and although it is not a public pool, anyone can purchase an annual membership. With memberships declining, as well as other costs of operating the pool on the rise, there’s no guarantee that the pool will always be around.
But, help has arrived, and it came in the form of two somewhat unlikely heroines.
Most people may not look at two 13-year-old girls, just heading for their eighth grade year at Boyle County Middle School, as the ones who could save a 55-year-old swimming pool on behalf of an entire community. But that’s exactly what Campbell Johnson and Maggie Powell hope to do.
Both of the girls live in the Streamland subdivision and say they have been going to the pool every summer. They were aware of the email seeking funding for the pool, and they knew the money raised so far wasn’t enough, so they decided to start raising awareness, and money, to help save it themselves. They went door to door with flyers in the neighborhood, and they also started a GoFundMe account online to seek donations.

• May 29-30, 2020
Company receives corrective action order for pipeline explosion
The company responsible for a Lincoln County pipeline that exploded last year, killing one person and injuring several, has been ordered to begin making immediate corrections to the pipeline.
Enbridge, Inc. has received an amended corrective action order in regards to a pipeline that exploded last year. In addition to the personal injury that resulted from the explosion, many homes in the area were also damaged or destroyed.

June
• June 2, 2020
Closing a chapter: Boyle County High School graduates parade through town

It wasn’t a conventional graduation day for 193 members of the Boyle County High School Class of 2020, but it was not a conventional school year either.
Schools were shut down in mid-March across Kentucky in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, cutting short a senior year for these students and eliminating milestone moments like graduation.
The BCHS staff put together a coordinated effort to hold a parade for the students. The parade of cars, trucks, and vans left the school and made its way downtown before turning around and heading back to the school where the night ended with a fireworks display for students and their families.
Along the way, students were met with supporters lined up along sidewalks and in parking lots, cheering and holding up signs in support of the graduates.

• June 5-7, 2020
‘Fix the system’: Approximately 300 people come out for peaceful protest
A peaceful demonstration for people to stand in solidarity against the recent death of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of white police officers was held in downtown Danville Tuesday evening.
An estimated crowd of at least 300 people of all ages and skin colors, many wearing face masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic and carrying homemade signs, gathered on the warm, sunny evening along both sides of Second Street between Second and Walnut streets, which was an African American business district generations ago.

• June 16, 2020
Commission terminates city manager’s contract
The Danville City Commission voted unanimously to terminate City Manager David Milliron’s contract at a special-called meeting June 12. The commission met in executive session for more than two hours, and upon returning to open session, made a motion to terminate Milliron’s contract, effective immediately.
Milliron was hired December 2019 after previously serving in the same capacity for the city of Hogansville in Georgia.

• June 19-21, 2020
Searchers recover body of teen who drowned in Herrington Lake
The body of a 17-year-old Madison County boy who went missing while swimming in Herrington Lake six days ago was found late Tuesday evening. The victim was Emanuel Prewitt, a senior at Madison Central High School in Richmond, who had been swimming with a group of friends on June 10, near Gwinn Island.

Former Boyle County attorney dies

Former Boyle County Attorney Lynne Dean, 46, died on June 16.

Former Boyle County Attorney Lynn Dean, 46, died on Tuesday, June 16. For nine years, Dean was assistant county attorney and was appointed to the office to fulfill the term of Boyle County Attorney Richard Campbell when he retired in March of 2017.

• June 23, 2020
Juneteenth declared in Danville
“Onward and updward!” That was the chant of more than 100 local residents Friday night at Weisiger Park following a proclamation ceremony in which Danville Mayor Mike Perros declared Friday, June 19, as Juneteenth in the city of Danville. Juneteenth is celebrated annually on June 19 to signify the end of slavery. Juneteenth recognizes the day in which Union forces made their way into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to read a federal order that all enslaved individuals in the state of Texas were now free.