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Kinser facing additional charge after device detonates
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A device allegedly constructed by the Kentucky man who was arrested for manufacturing a destructive device on Jan. 6, accidentally detonated on Wednesday and wounded a Madison woman.

Madison Police responded to a hilltop apartment at 2861 Kennedy Drive Wednesday in reference to a possible explosive device. Upon arrival, officers spoke with the occupant of the apartment and were able to determine that the device had been detonated and the woman had “obvious injuries to the face,” said a release by MPD Chief John Wallace.

The women was transported to the King’s Daughters’ Hospital Emergency Room and later transferred to University Hospital in Louisville.

Meanwhile, officers evacuated the apartment complex as a precaution and, after determining that no other devices were present, the occupants were cleared to return to their homes.

Madison Police detectives determined that the device had been in the apartment for several months and that the occupant had inadvertently detonated the device while attempting to dispose of it.

Madison Police had arrested Cameron Kinser, 32, Crestwood, Kentucky, on two counts of possession, manufacture, transportation or distribution of a destructive device, both Level 5 felonies, on Jan. 6 and he had been lodged in the Jefferson County Jail ever since. However, as a result of MPD’s investigation on Wednesday, detectives determined that Kinser was the alleged manufacturer of the device that detonated injuring the woman and that he had left the device in the apartment, which he apparently frequented.

Kinser now faces an additional charge of manufacturing a destructive device, a Level 2 felony. The higher felony level is due to the injuries sustained in the detonation. While a Level 5 felony is punishable by one to six years in prison, a Level 2 felony carries a sentence of 10 to 30 years in prison and both have up to $10,00o fines each.

The investigation was led by MPD Detective Shawn Scudder, with the assistance of Detectives Kyle Cutshaw, Jeremey Perkins and Ricky Harris. Officers Aaron Watson, Cameron Blankenship and Zack Nicholson assisted at the scene and Indiana State Police Dangerous Device Technician Rick Stockdale is assisting the MPD with the investigation along with Jefferson County Prosecutor David Sutter.

First snow of 2021 causes a few slideoffs
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A band of freezing rain and snow — the first winter storm of 2021 locally — led to several fender-benders and slide-offs Wednesday evening and Thursday morning throughout the Courierarea after the way the precipitation arrived made it difficult for road crews to keep highways clean.

“We had some snowfall, it melted and then refroze and then we got more snow on top so there wasn’t much the road crews could do about it and they do a good job,” said Madison Police Chief John Wallace. “But when you’ve got it snowing a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch per hour it’s hard to keep up.”

Overall, the amount of precipitation received ended up being about 11/2 to 3 inches over the area but it was enough to make for some slippery commuting as main roads were slushy and side roads were covered in snow and ice with visibility limited especially once the sun went down.

Telegraph Hill and Michigan Road Hill were both closed for periods of time due to slick conditions and slide-offs and Hanging Rock Hill was closed for several hours until highway crews could plow and salt that curvy incline connecting downtown Madison to State Road 7. By Thursday afternoon main roadways were clear and dry and most side roads were clear but still wet.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Joshua Taylor said officers and tow truck crews worked several slide-offs in the county — especially on China Hill, South State Road 62 and Deputy Pike— and there was one personal injury accident on Sharon Hill Road near Chelsea.

In Trimble County there was a report of a two-vehicle, head-on crash on US 42 near Pendleton but the people involved apparently refused treatment or transport. US 421 was closed for a time just south of the traffic light in Bedford, Kentucky, due to a jack-knifed tractor-trailer but there were no injuries. Several other slide-offs were reported in Trimble and Carroll counties in Kentucky and Switzerland County in Indiana.

Wallace said while some hills were too slick for some vehicles, the problem was probably less to do with road conditions and more to do with the skill of drivers and condition of their vehicles. Winters have been so mild locally that some drivers may be losing the skills needed to safely drive in such conditions.

“It’s been kind of hit or miss with the snowfall we’ve had the last couple of years and I guess a few people have forgotten the right way to drive on it,” he said.

Lanier's Peck hopes to work with community
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Derek Peck, the new manager for Madison’s Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, has moved around several times in his career from Mississippi in the deep south to the redwood forests of coastal California — with even a stop at Hoover Dam in between — but after spending the past month at Lanier and in historic Madison, he has hopes of staying around for a long time.

“I love being able to focus on everything to do with this home and its mission. It’s a gorgeous home in a gorgeous town,” Peck, who was named site manager last December, said. “Most importantly, (the Lanier Mansion) is a story of the Lanier generosity, and the opportunity to see the home, and how the family lived. Those are great reasons to come visit.”

James Franklin Doughty Lanier, a banker and railroad man, provided interest-free financial support for the state of Indiana during the Civil War by lending $400,000 to arm and equip troops and $640,000 to pay the interest on the state debt. His Francis Costigan-designed Greek Revival mansion overlooks the Ohio River on Vaughn Drive in downtown Madison.

“Because of his generosity, the state preserved the home as a memorial,” Peck noted.

Peck said everything about the Lanier Mansion and Madison meshes well with his passions and background.

“This blends all of my previous experiences,” he noted.

For seven years, Peck worked for the Battle of Franklin Trust — historic sites in Tennessee which preserve and interpret the stories of the people impacted by the Civil War. With that, Peck not only developed a strong interest in the battles that took place, but also the time period and the architecture.

Peck called the Lanier Mansion “one of the best Greek Revival architecture homes I have seen. It magnanimous. What’s interesting is that most Greek Revival homes are southern plantations” and included quarters for slaves. But Lanier was anti-slave, Peck said, relating that Lanier had actually been given slaves, but set them free.

Peck said while the Lanier is the crown jewel along Madison’s riverfront, the majestic home is made even more spectacular by the ongoing historic preservation throughout the city of Madison’s 130-block downtown National Historic Landmark District.

“I’m amazed at how preserved this town is. Living in different parts of the country, I have seen a lot of historic districts. I’ve not seen a town like this that has such an expansive historic district,” he said.

Peck said he eventually has hopes of living in one of Madison’s historic homes and work closely with the community.

“What’s good for the Lanier Home is good for Madison and what’s good for Madison is good for the Lanier Home. It’s extremely important to be part of the community,” he said.

But that’s been tough to do so far with tourism and sites like Lanier closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Peck is looking forward to days ahead that will bring people back to Madison to learn about the Lanier Mansion and all the rest of the community and make “memories they will take with them the rest of their lives,” he said.

Jefferson back in the ‘orange’ on COVID spread
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Jefferson County has moved back into the “Orange” COVID-19 advisory category after having spent the last few weeks in the “Red” advisory. The notification was given on Wednesday at noon by the Indiana Department of Health and means the county is actually seeing less new cases of the coronavirus than in recent weeks.

“While this is good news for Jefferson County, we must remain vigilant as we continue through the winter months,” Jefferson County Health Department Administrator Tammy Monroe said in a press release

“Orange” advisory means the county is still seeing moderate to high community spread of the virus and is well above the “Yellow” and “Blue” advisories the county remained in throughout the summer and most of the fall.

Now that Jefferson County has stayed in the “Orange” advisory for two consecutive weeks, the county may follow “Orange” regulations.

“Orange” advisory regulations provide that social gatherings of any kind be limited to 50 people, along with all general requirements of mask wearing, social distancing and hand sanitizing/washing. Vulnerable populations should remain isolated and all business capacity must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines with curbside pickup preferred. In addition, all businesses are required to place clearly visible signage at their public and employee entrances notifying that face coverings are required. Businesses should only admit those who wear face coverings properly — meaning over the nose and mouth — and practice social distancing.

Community recreational sports leagues and tournaments may continue with participants, required personnel, and parents/guardians and their minor children only. However, sports leagues may also choose to institute stricter regulations. As far as schools are concerned, K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities may continue but attendance is limited to 25% capacity — schools may also choose to institute stricter regulations — and all students and attendees must be social distanced and wear face coverings.

Jefferson County had 21 new cases of COVID-19 in the most recent reporting, increasing the overall number to 2,720. So far 13,914 residents have been tested and the county’s seven-day positivity percentage is currently 13.6% and the unique positivity rating is 18.4%. A total of 38 deaths have been attributed to the virus pandemic locally.

In Switzerland County, there were seven new cases of COVID-19, increasing the overall number to 691. So far, 3,605 residents have been tested and the seven-day positivity is currently 15.9% and the unique positivity rating is 26.8%. A total of five deaths have been attributed to the virus pandemic in Switzerland County.

Overall the state reported 46 new deaths and 2,647 new positive cases. So far there have been 622,625 positive cases overall and 9,549 deaths in Indiana.

At last report, about 3,098 local residents have received at least the first of two doses of the COVID vaccine and appointments for the vaccination are being taken by the Jefferson County Health Department for February but limited to residents age 70 and older, first responders and health care employees. Appointments must be scheduled by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.

In Switzerland County, 483 residents have received at least the first of two doses of the vaccine.

In Kentucky, 2,947 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Jan. 28, according to the Kentucky Department of Health. Carroll County has reported 801 cases of COVID-19, and Trimble County has reported 520 cases of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Three Rivers District Health Department in Owenton, Kentucky, was recently able to provide COVID vaccine to more than 500 school personnel in Carroll, Gallatin and Pendleton counties.