As the New Year approaches, it is important to take time and reflect on what happened in 2015. On a national level, the nation has dealt with plane and train crashes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings and the on-going debate over same-sex marriage.
Locally, there were plenty of stories that involved those in Bell County and neighboring areas. Now it’s time to take a look back at some of the most relevant stories of 2015:
10. Country Club at stake: According to a letter to the editor by Bob Vaughn concerning the country club, the state and federal bank examiners were likely to force foreclosure on approximately 80-plus acres of property including the clubhouse. The club’s directors could not find a place to turn for a rescue, so the Middesboro City Council researched ways to potentially help the club. In the end, the club was able to acquire help from a source other than the council.
9. Mills fired as Bell coach: Bell County school officials confirmed on Dec. 5 that Bell County football coach Wayne Mills had been fired from the position. Mills, who could not be reached for comment by the Daily News, spent five years with the Bobcats and tallied a 47-16 record with the Bobcats. The team failed to pick up a regional championship during Mills’ tenure.
8. Middlesboro bingo halls push for exempt status to new smoking ban, Representatives say player numbers are declining: The smoking ban had been in effect for just over a month and local bingo halls claimed it had caused a drastic decline in the turnout. Council members asked bingo hall representatives to return to future meetings with statistics to validate their claims. Some representatives followed up at future meetings but no statistics were brought to the council and the movement stopped.
7. Smoking ban effective Monday: A city-wide smoking ban took effect in Middlesboro on Aug. 24. The measure entailed no smoking in any public buildings and a smoke-free distance of 25 feet from all entrances to businesses.
6. Recallable nickel passes: At their regular June meeting, the Middlesboro Independent Board of Education passed a resolution which would impose an additional $.05 property tax. The tax was said to be earmarked to benefit the ongoing construction efforts of the district. The packed middle school library contained concerned citizens opposed to the tax. During the weeks and months to come, alternatives to the tax were offered by those in opposition and lengthy discussions took place detailing how the tax would work. In September, the board voted to rescind the recallable nickel tax citing the concerns of the community.
5. Justice Center shooting, Man fatally wounded inside elevator: Erik B. Barnett reportedly took his life inside the Bell County Justice Center in August following a court appearance. KSP reported Barnett was being escorted to the jail via an elevator in the basement of the Justice Center by the court bailiff when an altercation took place. The bailiff was knocked to the ground and his weapon was taken from him by Barnett. Barnett then suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound while on the elevator.
4. Magistrate dies while in custody: Bell County Magistrate Ricky Goodin was arrested on Sept. 10 on a solicitation to commit murder charge. While in custody and just after being indicted on the solicitation and previous drug charges, Goodin was taken to the Pineville Community Hospital after reportedly having a seizure at the detention center. Goodin died while at the emergency room.
3. Bell County Magistrate arrested, charged with solicitation to commit murder: Bell County Magistrate Ricky Goodin was arrested on a solicitation to commit murder charge by Kentucky State Police in September. KSP detectives said they were made aware of threats made by Goodin to arrange for the murder of another person. Goodin was held on a $1 million cash bond.
2. KSP investigating body found in box: In early December, authorities from Wisconsin and Georgia contacted the Kentucky State Police, Post 10 office in Harlan about a homicide that occurred in Wisconsin. Troopers located the victim’s body in a box on Mountain Drive in Bell County. The investigation as to the connection to Bell County is ongoing.
1. Yes wins moist vote: The ‘moist’ vote was the talk of the town for months — with both sides rallying for their position at every opportunity. With a difference of 119 votes, the moist vote was passed. The election had been on ongoing point of contention in the community for generations, with the last effort being formally made in the 1960s when those in favor of the measure to allow alcohol to be sold in Middlesboro tried to get the city classified as ‘wet’ with no option of just going moist. The process to allow the moist vote to take place in 2015 was originally launched via petition in April but due to an error, it was voided and the process was restarted in June. Thanks to the passage of the moist vote, businesses in Middlesboro will be able to serve alcohol in 2016.
Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-302-9091 or on Twitter @ReinaDailyNews