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Tuesday first day for early in-person voting

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams has said the state will have “19 election days” this year, and the first one is nearly here.

Voters statewide can begin early in-person voting Tuesday under rules put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each county has at least one early voting location that will allow registered voters to cast their ballots each weekday and each Saturday from Tuesday through Nov. 2.

In Warren County, that early voting location is the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center on College Street. Warren County Clerk Lynette Yates said SKyPAC will be open for voting each weekday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and from 8 a.m. until noon on the three Saturdays leading up to the Nov. 3 Election Day.

“We have the clerks and ballot judges ready, and we have enough voting stations to allow us to vote several people at a time and still have social distancing,” Yates said. “I’m pleased with the way it looks and the way it’s set up.”

Yates, who is expecting a voter turnout of 70 to 75 % in this election, is hoping voters take advantage of the early-voting venue as a way of reducing lines Nov. 3.

“We’re hoping to vote 20,000 people early at SKyPAC,” Yates said. “If we do that, we’re in great shape on Election Day.”

Warren County has 86,766 registered voters, according to the State Board of Elections website.

Yates said SKyPAC early voting is open to all Warren County voters, regardless of precinct. She said SKyPAC, along with the courthouse, will have a drop box for voters wanting to drop off absentee ballots.

As in the June primary, registered voters were able to go to the govoteky.com website and request an absentee ballot for the general election. That portal closed Friday, and Yates said the final requested absentee ballots should be mailed this week.

She pointed out that anyone who requested an absentee ballot will not be able to vote in-person either at SKyPAC during the early period or on Election Day.

“You have to vote that ballot,” said Yates, who pointed out that those using absentee ballots can mail them in or put them in the drop boxes available during business hours outside the courthouse and SKyPAC.

“The drop boxes are only out during regular business hours,” she said. “We want to keep those monitored.”

Those wanting to cast their vote in-person on the traditional Election Day will have more choices Nov. 3 than they had in the June 23 primary, when Phil Moore Park was the only polling place.

On Nov. 3, Warren County voters can go to one of six locations to cast their ballots: SKyPAC, Warren Central High School gymnasium, Living Hope Baptist Church gymnasium, Phil Moore Park, Ephram White Park and Buchanon Park.

Those polling locations will be open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Like Warren County, voters in neighboring southcentral Kentucky counties will have the opportunity for early in-person voting beginning Tuesday.

Some of the region’s early-voting venues are:

- Allen County: Allen County Fiscal Courtroom.

- Barren County: Barren County Clerk’s Office.

- Butler County: Butler County Clerk’s Office.

- Logan County: Old National Guard Armory at 190 S. Winter St. in Russellville.

- Simpson County: Simpson County Historic Courthouse.

10 Questions with ... John Bergman

Current job title: Southwestern Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority outreach counselor.

Hometown: Falmouth.

Family: I am single. I am the youngest of five children.

The one thing no one really knows about me is ... I am an adjunct professor for two colleges in Kentucky. I teach history! Recently, I taught a class on the Salem Witch Trails, which is my specialty.

My first job was ... in college as a work study. I worked for the education department at Thomas More College (now Thomas More University)

My dream job is ... what I do now. I literally get to talk about college access all day! I love working for Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and in the field of college access. If there was a change, I would hopefully one day be able to work for Federal Student Aid.

The best advice I have ever received ... is to be confident in yourself. Have high goals and try to obtain them. Don’t let someone else’s views bring you down.

My hero ... has and will always be my sister Cassie. I aspire to be like her! She is one of the most creative, caring and intelligent people I know. I smirk at the fact that I can sometimes beat her in trivia, which rarely happens.

If I could do it all over again, I would ... have studied abroad more while in college. The world has so much to offer! When you grow up and become an adult, the real world takes ahold of you and you aren’t able to do as much.

The part of my job I could do without is ... this current pandemic! I miss being at the schools and working with the students. It might sound nerdy, but I do love talking about colleges. Even when I am on vacation, I visit and tour colleges.

One thing I always carry with me is ... my tennis racquet. I played in college, still play competitively, and I am always up for a good challenge.

The best meal I have ever had was ... this is a hard question because I enjoy food. But if I were to answer this question, let’s go with my mom’s chicken and dumplings! I miss it!

At the top of my bucket list is ... visiting all 50 states is at the top of my bucket list. I have visited over 25 states so far so I can say I am halfway there!

In this Oct. 1, 2020, photo, Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, meets with Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., at the Capitol in Washington. Confirmation hearings begin Monday for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett. If confirmed, the 48-year-old appeals court judge would fill the seat of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)

Report: Kentucky ranks in bottom third of states for eighth-grade math, early childhood education

More Kentucky students are graduating from high school and earning two-year degrees, but the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is raising “grave concern” about too little progress on eighth grade math proficiency and lost ground on fourth grade reading.

That’s one major takeaway from the education reform group’s latest report, which compares Kentucky’s progress relative to other states in 13 key areas. As the latest version of the Prichard Committee’s decade-spanning Top 20 by 2020 report, it tracks indicators across early childhood, K-12 and higher education, quality of life and Kentucky’s digital divide, now magnified by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prichard Committee President and CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey said the latest edition aims to better capture factors outside the classroom that influence student success.

“The committee has always believed that education is the way that we achieve a better quality of life for Kentuckians,” Ramsey said.

New in the report is a look at the percentage of Kentuckians who’ve earned an associate degree or higher, voter turnout and median household income, all metrics that seem to be improving or holding mostly steady in recent years.

Kentucky’s median household income, for example, remains low but has shown modest improvement, jumping from roughly $45,000 in 2015 to about $50,000 in 2018.

“All of these metrics should lend themselves to a higher quality of life for Kentuckians and for our state as a whole,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey noted that there continue to be several areas of major concern, however.

The indicators for early childhood all rank in the bottom third among the states, along with the state’s eighth grade math results, postsecondary enrollment and median household income, Ramsey said.

Kentucky has actually lost ground on fourth grade reading proficiency in recent years, the report said. Just 40 percent were at grade level in fourth grade reading in 2015, and that slipped to 35 percent in 2019.

The percentage for proficiency in eighth grade math hovered around slightly less than 30 percent during that time span. Meanwhile, Kentucky’s four-year high school graduation rate hovers at 90 percent.

Kentucky is also failing its students of color, with Black and Latino students representing the lowest proficiency rates for fourth grade reading and eighth grade math, according to the report.

“We see that we have failed to deliver for African Americans in our state historically and part of the problem is our system’s responses. So we need to ensure as we move forward that, as an example, our accountability model for education outcomes in the state disaggregates the data and shines a light on how we are doing relative to the performance of African American students, relative to their white peers,” Ramsey said.

Going forward, Ramsey said the Prichard Committee will pay close attention to the state board of education’s ongoing conversations about Senate Bill 158, which redefines how achievement gaps are defined.

“We’re watching closely … to ensure that the definition of an achievement gap and the levers in the accountability model actually provide real transparency,” as to how Kentucky is serving different populations of students, Ramsey said.

– The entire report Big Bold Future Report can be viewed online at prichardcommittee.org.