The Top 12 Stories of 2017

1. Deputies shot

Knox County Sheriff’s Deputies Keith Liford and Claude Hudson were shot on June 12 while serving a warrant for John Bays on Highway 225. After making a forced entry into the home, deputies found Bays hiding under a bed. Bays then began firing on the deputies hitting Liford twice and Hudson once. Deputies returned fire and killed Bays. Hudson was uninjured thanks to his vest and badge which stopped the bullet. Liford was shot twice, once in the hip and the second which went through his arm and entered and exited through his chest. He underwent surgery and recovered at the University of Tennessee Medical Center before returning home on June 14.

2. Standoff at Hobbs Hollow Rd.

An 11-hour standoff at Stephen Trace finally came to end on January 28. David Ray Wilson, 50, of Lexington, fled the Bimble Shell Station the day prior after eyewitnesses reported he waved a gun in the store. When Barbourville Police arrived, they reported Wilson approached in a threatening manner. He then ran from officers into a wooded area, causing several schools to go into lockdown. Officers later found Wilson in a Stephen Trace home that was under construction. Barbourville Police secured the area and the 11-hour standoff began. Kentucky State Police’s Special Response Team tried to end the standoff peacefully before shooting tear gas through the windows and breaching the home. Wilson was found in the attic and taken into custody at 6:45 a.m.

3. KCHS baseball goes to state

After claiming the 13th Regional Championship in June 2017, the Knox Central High School baseball team advanced to KHSAA State Baseball Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. The Panthers played well, losing to Marion County 15-10.

4. Middleton found alive

On February 15, Douglass “Bub” Middleton was reported missing from his Artemus home. Authorities issued a Golden Alert and began a long search for the missing 23-year-old. Middleton was found 17 days later on Noeville Hollow property by Herald Mays and Herald Mays, Jr. Middleton suffered multiple injuries and severe frostbite, which led to the amputation of both legs. On May 2, James Davis was arrested and charged with kidnapping Middleton. Davis is scheduled for a pretrial conference on January 5 at 1 p.m.

5.  Groundbreaking for new jail

Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site for the new Knox County Detention Center on September 20. The detention center is expected to take 18-20 months to complete and will hold 291 permanent beds with the option for setting up 46 temporary beds as needed. The new detention center will be located next to the nursing home on HWY 225.

6. Courthouse steps up security

Per the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Knox County Courthouse stepped up its security measures in 2017 with the full effect taking place on January 9. Visitors can now only enter the courthouse through the front doors where they must pass through a guarded, security checkpoint with metal detectors. The security changes received a lot of criticism from Knox Countians, especially those with mobility issues.

7. Baker murder case ends

Following three years and one mistrial, Patrick Baker was found guilty on November 3 for the murder of Donald Mills in 2014. Circuit Judge David Williams agreed with the jury’s sentencing recommendation of five years for reckless homicide, 12 years for first-degree robbery, one year for tampering with physical evidence and one year for impersonating a peace officer. Baker will serve 19 years consecutively in prison and will be eligible for parole in 12.

8. Union men win championship

Union College Men’s Basketball brought home the team’s first ever NAIA National Championship on March 15. In all, the team won five games over the span of seven days in Point Lookout, Missouri. They were escorted home and received a warm welcome by Union College faculty, staff, students and the community.

9. Kmart closes, Grace Health leases building

After Corbin Kmart closed in April of 2017 and people speculated what would go into the building, Grace Health announced on December 18 a 35-year lease of the building, converting the space into medical facilities. Services in the building, which is expected to open in approximately one year, include family and internal medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, case management, a full-service pharmacy (with a 340B discount program), laboratory and x-ray services as well as outreach and health education.

10. XEROX employees laid off

Approximately 60 Knox Countians lost their jobs April 2017 after Conduent Incorporated, formerly XEROX Federal Solutions, announced all employee positions would be permanently eliminated at the Barbourville location. Conduent stated employment options were still available and a separation package was offered to eligible employees.

11. Shenandoah performs at DBF

American country music group and Grammy Award winning Shenandoah took the Concert Stage October 6 at the 70th Annual Daniel Boone Festival in downtown Barbourville. The group performed country songs, drawing in a large crowd Friday night from 9:30-11 p.m.

12. Christmas parade date moved

In an attempt to increase attendance at the annual I Believe in Santa Claus Parade, event organizers made the decision to move the parade from Thanksgiving weekend to the first weekend in December in 2017. The results proved the move worked, as parade attendance was up not only for citizens watching the parade but for float participation as well. Event organizers stated they will keep the parade in December and hope to see it continue to grow.

(Photos by Allen Carmack, Tasha Stewart, UC Sports and Samantha Mills)