July 12, 2020

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum Opens in Owensboro, Kentucky

OWENSBORO, KY. — This flourishing city of more than 59,000 residents has occupied the high ground on a big bend of the Ohio River so long that its history includes being the winter encampment for the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Owensboro’s famous sons include Johnny Depp, who was born here in 1963. Among its notable achievements is surviving the loss of 6,000 General Electric manufacturing jobs at the end of the 20th century, …

Amid Global Pivot, Ghost Dancing in American Coal Fields

SOMERSET, KY — There are reasons to feel empathy for the ghost dancers in America’s coal fields. Like the Plains tribes of the late 19th century, the men and women that supply the nation’s steadily eroding demand for coal raise closed fists of anguish, dance in circles, and call on false prophets for help. An industrial culture is dying. Unyielding, era-altering market and technology trends are running coal’s usefulness for supplying electricity to the ground. …

Gabrielle Gray’s Last ROMP

OWENSBORO, KY. — Around noon on the last Saturday of Gabrielle Gray’s long run as the founder and director of ROMP, this Ohio River City’s signature bluegrass music festival, a moment of pure love and remembrance unfolded unexpectedly. Standing alone on the festival stage with her fiddle, Phoebe Hunt, one of the singularly great young artists that ROMP has featured in the last several years, prepared to open her set as a solo. A striking …

Owensboro Will Build International Bluegrass Music Center

In the week that America expressed its disdain for Indiana’s spiteful political fanaticism, and its new “religious freedom” statute that would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians, comes a much more responsible story of what’s possible in public policy. On April 1, Kentucky Democratic Governor Steve Beshear teamed up with Owensboro Republican Mayor Ron Payne to advance the economic and artistic interests of the mid-size Ohio River city. The two found a …

U.S. Ports Modernize While Water Supply and Quality Deteriorate

SAVANNAH, Ga. — There’s not much about water infrastructure that gets America’s lawmakers excited these days unless it’s a big coastal port. The New York/New Jersey port, with a big assist from the federal government, is spending $1.3 billion to lift the 84-year-old Bayonne Bridge high enough to allow a new generation of super-sized cargo vessels to pass underneath. Charleston, S.C., with state and federal support, is spending $2 billion to deepen the harbor and …

Panama Canal Expansion Will Have Big Effect on Energy, Water, and Grain in U.S. and China

PANAMA CITY, Panama – It was an elaborate, even theatrical display of national pride and elite engineering. On January 19, Panama’s four-quarter,  red and blue star flag gleamed in bright morning sunlight as a 2,300-ton steel gate slid into place inside a colossal new lock of the Panama Canal. It was the first of eight mammoth gates, ranging in height from seven to nine stories, to be installed in the three concrete locking chambers near …

Gabrielle Gray Shifts Over to Weave A New Story in American Bluegrass Music

OWENSBORO, KY — There was a big change today in American bluegrass music here in this Ohio River city, which over the last decade has established itself as a global center of the quintessential American music born in western Kentucky. The board of trustees of the International Bluegrass Music Museum announced that Gabrielle M. Gray,  the museum’s chief executive, ends her exceptional 12-year tenure as the museum’s capable and creative leader and steps down as …

Olmsted Locks and Dam, Despite $Billions in Overruns, Keeps Rolling Along

OLMSTED, Ill. –- Engineers constructing the mammoth Olmsted Locks and Dam spent the summer of 2014 lowering colossal concrete blocks in place on the bottom of the Ohio River. Submerging each piece, which form the base of a half-mile long dam that is largely underwater, is an exacting convergence of digital measurements, floating cranes, groaning towboats, and divers working in murky waters that takes over two weeks to complete. Like everything else about the two …

Louisville and Carmel in New York Times Articles That Confirm First Principle of U.S. Economic Development

CARMEL, Ind. – James Brainard, the 60-year-old mayor of Carmel, Indiana, is not the kind of public official who deplores change. He’s just the opposite, in fact. In 1994, this prosperous suburb just north of Indianapolis held a planning workshop, inviting its 31,000 residents to consider ideas to redevelop Carmel’s crossroads downtown, parts of which date to the city’s founding in 1830. The next year Mr. Brainard, a moderate Republican, was elected to the first …

ROMP Bluegrass Festival Honors The Masters and Advances Compelling New Artists

OWENSBORO, KY — Bill Monroe, a virtuoso mandolin player and the father of bluegrass music, was born in 1911 and raised on a ridgetop near Rosine, Kentucky about 40 miles south of the bluff on the Ohio River where Owensboro is located. With every passing year the connection between Monroe, his birthplace, and this river city gets closer. That’s never more true than during the last weekend in June when Owensboro hosts ROMP, the River …