RUSSELLVILLE – A special judge has been appointed to oversee the case of a suspect accused in the 2015 death of a Logan County man.
Logan Circuit Judge Tyler Gill recused himself last month from involvement in the case against Carolyn Kinder, 35, of Bowling Green, who is charged with conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree persistent felony offender.
Kinder is accused of involvement in the death of Robert Wetton, 65, who was found unresponsive Aug. 26, 2015, on his Ellis Road property in Logan County.
She was indicted in May by a Logan County grand jury and is currently in the Logan County Detention Center.
Earl K. Johnson, 60, of Lewisburg, has been charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, engaging in organized crime (criminal syndicate), first-degree conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender, according to the Logan County Sheriff’s Department.
Johnson is in custody in Arizona on drug trafficking charges connected to the investigation into Wetton’s death, according to the sheriff’s office.
Gill recused himself from Kinder’s case on the basis that Wetton was the brother of one of the judge’s best friends, according to Logan Circuit Court records.
Judge John Alexander of the 43rd Judicial Circuit, which covers Barren and Metcalfe counties, has been appointed as a special judge.
Alexander has denied a motion from Kinder’s court-appointed public defender, Amie Martinez, to lower her $250,000 cash bond.
“Based on her history, the defendant presents a danger to the community as evidenced by her multiple previous charges as well as the present indictment, which concerns a firearm-related intentional homicide,” Alexander wrote in his June 28 ruling denying a modification of Kinder’s bond.
The judge also noted that, at the time of Wetton’s death, Kinder was free on bond in a Warren County drug trafficking case.
Kinder’s indictment was unsealed after she was arrested May 22.
Court records indicate that authorities believe Wetton was killed for providing statements against Johnson to law enforcement.
According to an online obituary, Wetton was a retired mechanic and native of the African nation of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe. He was a veteran of the Rhodesian army, a member of the Moose Lodge and attended Crossroads Church.
A month before he was found dead, Wetton was arrested, along with his wife, in July 2015 in Arizona after deputies in Yavapai County, Ariz., seized 20 pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop.
According to news reports of the arrest, the Wettons were stopped on a traffic violation, and their suspicious behavior and other factors led a deputy to deploy a drug-detection dog that alerted on the presence of drugs in the vehicle.
A suitcase containing the suspected meth was found in the trunk and drug paraphernalia was found elsewhere in the vehicle.
The Wettons were jailed on charges of transportation of dangerous drugs for sale, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, possession of dangerous drugs and paraphernalia.
Johnson is jailed in Arizona on drug trafficking charges connected to the investigation into Wetton’s death, according to the Logan County Sheriff’s Department.
For Kyla Staple, summertime means frequent visits to Circus Square Park, where she watches her 2-year-old son, Beckett, frolic in the park’s water jets.
But regular visits to the park are worth it for another reason: It’s a regular stop for the Bowling Green Independent School District’s mobile food service van, which passes out fruits and vegetables to families all summer long.
“I like that they have a variety of things to choose from,” Staple said Friday. “I like the healthy options. The carrots … either apples or some kind of fruit. I really like that.”
Through Aug. 2, the district is providing meals to all children without charge. The district provides two vans, which visit local neighborhoods along two separate routes.
It also serves meals at Dishman-McGinnis Elementary School, Parker-Bennett-Curry Elementary School, Bowling Green Junior High School and the Bowling Green Learning Center at 503 Old Morgantown Road.
A complete schedule is available online at www.b-g.k12.ky.us/News/24396#sthash.GmISKCs4.dpbs.
Donna Burch, an instructional assistant at T.C. Cherry Elementary School, helped hand out meals to families at the park Friday.
“All of our students do not have access to quality lunches during the summer, and some actually do not look forward to summer because they know the food will not be there,” she said.
The district’s summer meals program is meant to help continue some of the meal assistance programs it provides students during the school year. In her school, students are sent home with backpack meals twice a week and, starting next school year, students in all schools will receive free breakfast and lunch, Burch said.
Between its food service sites and mobile routes, the district serves about 1,500 meals a day during the summer.
“I just think it’s an important program for the kids, and I’m just lucky to be a part of it,” Burch said.
Likewise, Warren County Public Schools has its own summer meals program. Between Monday and Friday through July 26, students 18 years old and younger can get breakfast and lunch at Jennings Creek Elementary School for free. WCPS’ School Bus Cafe also makes eight stops throughout the county.
Orchestra Kentucky is gearing up for its 20th season.
The season begins at 7:30 p.m. July 27 at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center with “A Night at Woodstock,” a concert in celebration of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary, and will include a total of 10 shows paying tribute to a range of artists and musical aesthetics such as Nat King Cole, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Memphis soul music.
With the season only three weeks away, Orchestra Kentucky Music Director Jeff Reed said he’s excited to celebrate 20 seasons of providing the region with music.
“It’s phenomenal,” he said of the orchestra’s longevity. “Starting a new arts organization is not an easy task. In fact, many people thought we wouldn’t make it past the first few years.”
Orchestra Kentucky has come a long way since its first financially shaky year, becoming the third-largest orchestra in Kentucky – behind the Louisville Orchestra and the Lexington Philharmonic, which serve much larger cities, Reed said.
He attributed Orchestra Kentucky’s success to the community’s support through the years, which stems, Reed said, from the programming.
“I think it’s a testament to our programming philosophy,” he said.
From the beginning, Orchestra Kentucky has been dedicated to performing concerts that showcase better-known pieces from musical theater and the classical canon, or blending classical music with more contemporary fare.
This, Reed said, stands in contrast with many other orchestras that focus mainly on classical music while excluding shows with a broader appeal or a contemporary edge.
“The majority of what they do is classical music that’s not necessarily audience-friendly,” he said.
Reed said he was interested in a show paying tribute to Woodstock because of the range of big-name artists from the 1960s whose material the orchestra can play with Jeans ’n Classics, a touring band from Canada, and the festival’s centrality in the 1960s counterculture.
“It’s become one of the most important events in rock history,” he said.
Tickets for all the concerts of the upcoming season may be purchased at orchestrakentucky.com, where a full schedule of upcoming concerts can be found, or at theskypac.com. Additionally, Reed said Orchestra Kentucky subscriptions are still available.
Reed said he’s particularly excited about “The Music Man and More,” a show scheduled for Aug. 17 that will feature songs from “The Music Man” and other pieces that were popular in 1912, when the musical takes place.
The show will also feature Bronson Murphy, a Bowling Green native who played the title character in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, as a guest performer.
Reed also called attention to the showcase of music by American film composer John Williams, which will close out the season on May 16.
“There’s nothing better than standing on stage conducting the ‘Star Wars’ music,” he said.
Reed said he wanted to pay tribute to Williams for the role he’s played in inspiring countless younger orchestra performers and the popularity of his film scores.
“He’s responsible for some of the greatest music written for orchestra of the 20th century,” he said.
Several regional emergency food and shelter programs will receive a boost this year, thanks to a nearly $88,500 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Almost annually, FEMA provides funds through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program to Community Action of Southern Kentucky, which then distributes the funds to nonprofits, government organizations and any other organization eligible to receive federal funds in the region.
This year, the federal agency selected Allen, Hart, Logan, Simpson and Warren counties for the grant based on population, poverty and employment data.
“Funding like this is important,” said Leslie Talley, CEO of Community Action of Southern Kentucky. “It helps agencies support folks in our community facing a crisis (and) it allows us to help more families in the community and stabilize their situation.”
The program was designed to address hunger and homelessness. While there is not a specific homeless shelter in each county, the funds can help people avoid homelessness.
Specifically, eligible organizations – which have to apply for the grant by July 16 – use the funds to support residents in their respective counties with monthly rent, mortgage and utility bills, as well as food pantries and meal services.
In previous years, Barren River Area Safe Space, Concerned Citizens of Logan County and the Russellville-based Jesus Community Center have used the grant. Any nonprofit offering hunger and homeless services is welcome to apply, Talley said.
A FEMA-chaired national board, with representatives from the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, the Jewish Federations of North America, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide, sets the program’s policies, procedures and guidelines, according to FEMA.
The Trump administration proposed elimination of the program in the 2018 and 2019 presidential budgets, according to FEMA, but the first-of-its-kind program focused on federal assistance to homeless populations avoided the cutting board.
“We’re thankful when funding becomes available because it allows us to help more families in the community,” Talley said.