Top 2015 Union County News Stories

As we prepare to enter a new year, here is a look back at WMSK’s top Union County stories of 2015.

Winter Storm Thor dumped a foot to 16 inches of snow across Union County, nearly paralyzing the county forcing businesses to close and motorists to stay off the roads due to extremely hazardous driving conditions on roads throughout the county. Judge Executive Jody Jenkins issued a state of emergency for the county, and emergency personnel responded to approximately 18 motorists assists, abandoned vehicles and helped pull vehicles out of ditches.

Another story that drew a lot of attention,  the meeting where Morganfield City Council members were at odds with the newly hired fire chief Brian Gilbert about the fire department not following the city’s response procedures to emergency calls, and his allegations members of the rescue squad were not certified to be providing medical care.

No investigation was ever launched, and Chief Gilbert was eventually terminated from the position as of October 31, 2015, but City officials never stated whether this exchange was one of the reasons he was fired.

Some businesses in Sturgis received some good news after residents in Precincts 3 and 4 voted during a Special Election held in September for the two precincts to go wet. The petition to allow the sale of alcohol in the two precincts was filed by Precinct 3 Councilman Doug Rodgers in order to raise additional revenue for the City of Sturgis.

One of the top story’s of the year was the ongoing investigation into a 1.5 million dollar construction theft ring where the FBI and law enforcement officials traced some of the construction equipment back to purchases made by Union County Judge-Executive Jody Jenkins and Fiscal Court. An out-of-state father and son were arrested in connection to the thefts that spanned several states.

An investigative report by WEHT-TV showed Judge Jenkins and Fiscal Court purchased six pieces of equipment over a six month period from Habermel Equipment for under $20,000 each, well under the face market value, and totaling nearly $100,000 of taxpayer’s money.

To date, the only person to speak to local media about the issue was County Attorney Brucie Moore.

The insurance provider denied the claim. As of this date, the FBI continues to investigate this case, but no one in Union County has been charged or indicted for any wrongdoing.

Another big story that affected residents and businesses of Union County was when the Union County Board of Education voted to levy a .5% (half of one percent) occupational tax for individuals who live and work in Union County and for businesses in Union County in order for the district to make up for an over 1-million dollar budget shortfall. However, a registered committee was formed by some local residents to have the occupational tax recalled and it was placed on the November ballot. The occupational tax failed to pass by over 600 votes leaving Superintendent Patricia Sheffer and board members with some tough decisions for the future.

And after a lot of hard work by Union County First Director of Community Development Garrick Thompson and other community and business leaders, Union County finally achieved certification as a Work Ready Community.

And the top story for 2015 in Union County occurred last week when Morganfield had its first armed bank robbery. Sergeant Geoffrey Deibler told WMSK News a male entered the Fifth Third Bank, armed with a handgun and demanded money from the teller.

As of news time, the suspect is still at large.

So that’s a look back at some of WMSK’s top news stories of 2015.  WMSK News looks forward to continuing our service to the community and bringing you news that matters to you the most.

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