In case you haven’t heard, Paducah, KY is proposing a project that would allow restaurants, bars, or other hospitality venues to sell alcoholic beverages in specified to-go cups to patrons as they walk the streets of downtown Paducah. The project is the Entertainment Destination Center (EDC) and the idea is to draw people to the downtown area.
In 2016, the State of Kentucky passed legislation allowing municipalities to create Entertainment Destination Centers in tourism and convention districts. Paducah has proposed a large selection of downtown to be considered for this new tourist attraction.
The area would cover South 3rd Street around The Freight House Restaurant, pass the Carson Center, by the flood wall, to the Julian Carroll Convention Center. It would go up Broadway to 5th Street. The Lowertown residential area wouldn’t be part of the EDC.
The pandemic has negatively affected the restaurant industry. The city passed ordinances last summer that provided outdoor dining options to restaurants within city limits. Options that closed a couple of downtown streets allowing picnic table seating in designated areas. Some businesses converted, others didn’t.
Shandies, formerly C.C. Cohen, is one of three downtown restaurants that closed due to COVID-19 shuttering of businesses. Confleur and Dusty Dog were the other two that closed on Broadway.
What other U.S. cities allow drinking booze on the streets?
Memphis, Tennessee has the distinction of being exempt from Tennessee’s statewide ban on open containers. It’s a party on Beale Street. The city permits to-go cups to travel from one bar to the next. It’s a great time with all the ‘live’ music and festival celebrations during the summer months.
New Orleans or the ‘Big Easy’ is a free-for-all. Anyone of age can booze it up anywhere in the city. Most will walk up and down Bourbon Street and to various places within the French Quarter.
Fredericksburg, TX is the heart of Texas wine country. They only allow beer and wine to be served in the downtown area. It’s been very successful and brings in lots of tourism dollars.
Other towns that allow drinking in the streets have rules for those that imbibe such as abiding by ‘the last call for alcohol’, only one drink in a 16-ounce plastic cup, or keeping the boozy location to a confined area.
What is Paducah’s proposed plan?
The EDC would operate daily from 6 am to 3 am. This is the time participating businesses are open. The city would design the to-go cups for participating businesses. Right now, Paducah’s downtown area is a mix of restaurants and bars. Most bars serve light appetizers but their main source of income comes from drinks. Bars like Bourbon and Barrel, The Gorilla Bar, The Johnson Bar, and 1857 Hotel.
Drinks must stay within the Destination Center and are to be disposed of within the EDC. You can’t bring outside drinks into the EDC and the cups can’t be refilled.
What’s the process to become an EDC?
The plan was presented at the Paducah City Commissioners meeting held on Tuesday, March 24 by Business Development Specialist Kathryn Byers. An ordinance is expected to be adopted in April outlining the specifics authorizing the city to apply for an EDC through the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The process is publicized with a 30 day comment period. Once this is handled, the city submits the application, probably in late April. The State visits Paducah to check things out in person. After the comment period is over and the plan is approved by the state, the city can start the project. The hope is to have the program going this summer.
Lowes Elementary School in Graves County to permanently close its doors.
Lowes Elementary in Graves County, Kentucky will close its doors this year. It's the decision of the Graves County Board of Education made Thursday evening, March 18 during a long meeting.
The Board voted four to one in favor of closing the school. Kenneth House was the only dissenting vote. With the final decision made, the school will close permanently on June 30, 2021.
At Thursday's meeting, there were people wearing Oppose to Close Lowes t-shirts in a last ditch effort to keep the school open. The Board followed Superintended Matt Madding's recommendation to shut the school down.
More than 200 students attend Lowes Elementary and will have to move to other schools within the district. Students also took to the podium at Thursday's meeting expressing the impact the closure will have on their family and friendships.
Superintendent Madding said any teacher tenured at Lowes will not be out of a job and will have the option to teach at one of the other schools in Graves County.
A letter will go out next week notifying parents of the Board's decision that will include information on which school their child will attend. Each family will receive the letter by U.S. mail (March 22-26) informing them of the recommendations for enrollment during the 2021-2022 school year.
K-6 will remain in elementary schools and 7th grade students will attend Graves County Middle School. Parents will have an opportunity for open enrollment for a different Graves County school.
If you don't receive your letter by March 29, contact Lowes Elementary for your child's information. Eight weeks are left in the school year. There will be an end of school and community event Mary 17 -21.
Lowes Elementary was one of the first schools in the area to enroll in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program. Almost all preschool children at Lowes are enrolled in the program. Preschoolers receive a free book every month until they're five years old. The program is designed to improve literacy and better prepare students for entering kindergarten.
Sharing stories, making suggestions, and expressing emotions at Paducah's Southside meeting
Southside residents and business owners attended their second public meeting, Thursday, March 11 to address concerns and suggest improvements for the once thriving community. The event was held at Soiree’s Events and Catering located on Irvin Cobb Drive in Paducah.
Earlier this month, the city held its strategic planning meeting identifying 12 priority items. Neighborhood Empowerment with specific attention to the Southside is one of 12.
Several speakers stood up to express their thoughts and feelings about the continued decline and lack of interest for Paducah’s Southside. Last week, approximately 100 people were in attendance. Thursday evening’s meeting was as successful with more great ideas proposed and heard.
Paducah Mayor George Bray said the city is looking at a new grant opportunity that's primary goal is to gather information on homes in the area for the purpose of being labeled historical markers. He said the grant was small but helpful and a place to start.
One of the speakers Thursday evening said she purchased a couple of abandoned houses on the Southside. One idea could be for the city to match funds to help renovate many of the dilapidated homes. The mayor said this is one of the ideas that’s ‘percolating’ right now.
Former city employee Tammara Tracy said the city needs to use ‘data to make decisions.’ She used the example of the Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane and the way he turned things around and revolutionized baseball. The speaker said this is how our leaders need to approach the Southside...by thinking outside the box.
One by one, speakers rose to the podium to share a story, make suggestions, or simply express feelings. One of the speakers said he has lived on the Southside much of his life. At one time, his neighborhood was full of homeowners. As the years have passed, neighbors have moved away or passed away and many of the homes were forgotten and left behind.
He said once abandoned, people scavenge the homes for copper pipes, even the duct work. All that’s left is an empty shell. Many of these homes had good bones. He wonders why so many are abandoned and why properties are unclaimed? He called his neighborhood a ‘ghost town’.
Oscar Cross Director Neil Clark said he grew up on the Southside. Growing up, he lived in several homes in various neighborhoods. Now, those homes have been demolished. He’s hoping for better ‘alignment and the potential to share the wealth together.’
Steve Ballard, owner of the Old Bait House on the Beltline said, “As a business owner, I'm committed to helping this side of town, we’re all committed.” He said businesses on the Southside want to help fund improvements. He suggested holding meetings outside of this forum for Southside commercial business owners.
“There are two threads,” said Mayor Bray. “There’s neighborhood development and the business side.” He told business owners that ‘the city will get behind you.’
Pastor Charles Dunbar took to the podium. He said he would like to see an entrepreneurial program developed. Also, low interest loans and grant opportunities. He wants to ‘build people up and transform lives.’ He would like to see training for the youth to get jobs.
Mayor Bray said, “We all love Paducah and we all love community.” As the city begins to pull together information from the last two meetings and start to formulate a plan, they hope to see the Southside transform into a thriving business community where citizens are proud of their neighborhoods and happy to be part of a town called Paducah.
Dealing with the immediate crisis in Murray, KY prompts a trip from the Governor
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear witnessed an aerial view of the water damage from an estimated 5 to 6 1/2 inches of rain that fell Sunday on an already saturated earth. Governor Beshear discussed his 'birds eye' view at the press conference earlier this morning, Tuesday, March 2. He said, "I was able to assess how quickly it (the water) came and how quickly the water receded. The bridges that will need to be replaced. An incredible event happened here."
Beshear said he really appreciated the efforts made by the city of Murray, Calloway County, and emergency management in this time of need. He said, "How we show up in a time of need says a lot. This is one of those times of need. This year has been one of those times in need."
The governor said the flash flooding in Murray doesn't allow the benefit of 'pushing the pause button'. "There's been lots of structural damage but no loss of life," said Beshear. Crews are working to remove debris, clear the roads, and restore power.
On Sunday, Beshear signed a state of emergency order for the city of Murray. The governor said that after Sunday's rain, there were 29 counties and seven cities in need of assistance. He said it may take some time and a good written plan but the hope is to qualify for a national declaration from the president of the U.S. It would be ideal to have federal and state help.
Judge Executive Kenneth Imes was the next to speak. He said that within a two hour window after he signed the executive order, the governor signed off on it. "I appreciate the speed at which you've (the governor) handled this and the resources made available," said Imes.
Mayor Bob Rogers said, "As you drive through town you won't see much debris on the streets, the damage is in the houses, businesses, and apartment buildings. People are sweeping out mud. This happens at a time when businesses have been closed. They're struggling."
MSU President Dr. Bob Jackson said he's grateful for the help and support given by the governor's office. He mentioned the fact that western Kentucky, specifically Murray, is 275 miles from the Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky. Governor Beshear made it a point to say earlier in his comments how important it was for him to come and assess the damage himself. The good people of western Kentucky need to know they aren't forgotten and are important.
Governor Beshear arriving in Murray, KY to assess the damage caused by Sunday's flooding.