Welcome to Owensboro and western Kentucky. Our area is warm and hospitable and eager to welcome newcomers. Owensboro is large enough to provide excellent schools, fine doctors and medical facilities, a variety of churches and convenient shopping, yet small enough to offer a small town atmosphere of friendliness and personal service.
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Arts & Cultural Attractions
Business and Industry
Owensboro is the industrial and cultural hub of western Kentucky. Located along the southern banks of the Ohio River, Owensboro is the third largest city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Owensboro is located 32 miles southeast of Evansville, Indiana; 123 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee; 109 miles southwest of Louisville, Kentucky; 203 miles southeast of St. Louis, Missouri; and 205 miles southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Owensboro is known as a city of festivals. Each year, the world famous international Bar-B-Q Festival and the Summer Festival draw thousands of spectators and participants from across the country and around the world.
Owensboro enjoys the luxury of a diverse economic base. As an example, more than 47,000 people earn their living in Daviess County, but the county's 10 largest private companies are responsible for less than 15 percent of the total employment.
What's ahead? The work of state and local officials to provide a new link to the north is paying off as work has begun on a new four-lane bridge from Owensboro across the Ohio River into southern Indiana. The new span will cost more than $100 million and be a direct route to the I-64 in Indiana, which provides a link from St. Louis to Louisville.
In addition, the MidAmerica Airpark was officially opened for business in August of 1995. It is a 450-acre industrial park adjacent to the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport. Five companies are currently located in the airpark.
Owensboro-Daviess County also has 145 acres available for industrial development in the Pleasant Valley Industrial Park.
In 1780, the first white settlers came, via the Ohio River, to what is now Daviess County. Early settlers included Joseph Blackford and William Smeathers. Smeathers came in 1798 and built his cabin on a site near the river, which is now St. Elizabeth Street in Owensboro. From this dwelling constructed by Smeathers, the first settlement began. The city was originally called "Yellow Banks" in reference to the color of the soil along the banks of the Ohio River and was selected as the county seat when the county was formed in 1815.
Daviess County, the 58th county to be formed in Kentucky, was named in honor of Colonel Joseph Hamilton Daveiss, a distinguished lawyer and soldier. In 1817, the city's name was changed to Owensborough (later changed to Owensboro) in honor of Colonel Abraham Owen.
Between moderately cold winters and warm, humid summers, Owensboro-Daviess County experiences a wide temperature fluctuation. The annual mean temperature is 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit, with extremes of 107 degrees in 1936 and 1944 and a low of minus 21 degrees in 1951. In the winter, the average temperature is 39.6 degrees, and in the summer 76.9 degrees is the estimated average. Temperatures are generally highest in July and lowest in January. The average annual rainfall for Daviess County is 44.27 inches.
Daily newspaper service is provided by the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. Seventeen radio stations serve the Owensboro-Daviess County area. The Owensboro market is served by four major television networks, WEHT, WTVW, WFIE, and WEVV. Adelphia Communications provides cable service and telegraph service is provided by Western Union. Owensboro currently has two U.S. Post Offices, plus several branch offices throughout the city. Owensboro Municipal Utilities provides a fiber optic network to link local businesses to the Internet.
Daviess County ranks first in Kentucky counties in total crop production. Daviess County leads the state in soybean production and ranks second in corn. The county is also a major source of tobacco.
More than 84 percent of all land area in Daviess County is devoted to agricultural uses, and more than 62 percent is considered to be prime cropland.
The Owensboro-Daviess County area is the industrial hub of western Kentucky, listing major manufacturers and processors in aluminum, steel, distilling, mining and natural gas transmission. Locally produced commodities include automotive components, meat products, smokeless tobacco, office furniture, wire drawing, spaghetti sauce, small electric motors, whiskey, high grade steel, chemicals, large steel vessels, grain processing, soybeans, oil refinery, paper, plastic extensions and casement windows.
Local scheduled air service and charter service are available at the Owensboro Daviess County Regional Airport. The airport has two concrete runways (5,000 and 6,500 feet), and the longer runway has a full instrument landing system that provides all-weather capabilities. Plans are underway to extend this runway to 8,000 feet. Passenger service, airfreight, flight instruction, aircraft maintenance, hangars, and fuel are provided by full service fixed based operators. Scheduled airline service is provided by Northwest Airlink (a regional carrier for Northwest Airlines), which has daily flights to its major hubs in Memphis, Tennessee and Detroit, Michigan.
Owensboro-Daviess County is surrounded by an excellent highway system. The Audubon Parkway, William Natcher Parkway, US Highways 231 and 431 all provide direct access to the area. Construction of a new bridge over the Ohio River from eastern Daviess County to US 231 in southern Indiana is under way. The new route will provide a direct link to I-64 beginning in 2001.
Four of the 31 common carrier trucking companies serving Owensboro maintain local terminals. CSX Transportation provides Owensboro with mainline rail service and piggyback facilities. The Owensboro Riverport Authority provides barge, rail and storage facilities. The city of Owensboro operates a city-wide bus service. Taxi, rental car and luxury limousine services are also available.
The city of Owensboro operates under a city manager form of government. An elected mayor and four elected city commissioners appoint the city manager. Daviess County is represented by an elected judge-executive and three elected county commissioners. Those four comprise the Daviess County Fiscal Court.
There are more than 150 Protestant churches, 18 Catholic churches and one Jewish temple in Owensboro-Daviess County.
Two public school systems, Owensboro and Daviess County, plus the Owensboro Catholic School system, comprise the K-12 education system in the community. Heritage Christian and Good Shepherd operate Christian schools providing education from preschool to middle school and preschool to high school respectively. The Triplett School offers private education for kindergarten through high school.
Adult education programming is available at the Longfellow Education Center.
Owensboro is home to two four-year liberal arts colleges--Brescia University and Kentucky Wesleyan College. Each has an enrollment of approximately 800 students. The region is home to the Owensboro Community College, one of 13 community colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). More than 2,300 students attend the community college.
The two locations of Owensboro Technical College, located in Owensboro, are also a part of KCTCS.
Western Kentucky University offers extensive undergraduate and graduate programs at its Owensboro campus. Owensboro Community College offers associate degree programs in several fields and numerous business and industry training options. Some are available via telecommunications. Brescia University offers the Master of Science in Management degree to provide early and mid-career professionals with enhanced skills and abilities to meet the increasing needs of local employers.
The Owensboro Junior College of Business, a 37 year veteran of the community, provides training to approximately 300 students, as well as corporations throughout Western Kentucky.
The area has excellent public recreation facilities sponsored and maintained by the Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department, the Daviess County Parks and Recreation Department and Ben Hawes State Park. Facilities include numerous parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, golf courses, a disc golf course, tennis courts, softball and baseball diamonds, basketball courts, nature trails, an ice arena and a new 2.5 mile greenway for biking and walking. There are two softball complexes, a soccer complex, a youth football field and sand volleyball courts. At least four playgrounds are designed for the physically disabled. The Owensboro Sportscenter is a 5,500-seat air-conditioned auditorium/arena.
Some of the area's private recreation facilities include three country clubs with golf courses, five swimming pools, 12 indoor movie theaters, three bowling facilities, a large YMCA, the HealthPark and indoor and outdoor tennis courts.
Owensboro hosts several festivals annually. Each May, cooking teams from around the area compete in the two-day International Bar-B-Q Festival. The annual event features cooking, square dancing, musical performances, arts and crafts and many other events. The city is home to other festivals and celebrations, including the annual Summer Festival during the Fourth of July week. Owensboro is also known for its bluegrass music tradition. The International Bluegrass Music Museum and the headquarters for the International Bluegrass Music Association are both in Owensboro. Jam sessions, a winter concert series and The Bluegrass Blast in September are among the bluegrass activities.
The Daviess County Public Library provides services to the entire county population from a single facility located in Owensboro. The library provides a wide array of services, including materials in all formats for all age groups; reference and information services; Kentucky history and genealogy research services; interlibrary loan; programming for children and adults; homebound delivery service; public access internet; dial-in access to the on-line catalog; fax and photocopy services; and outreach services to schools, daycare and headstart centers, and other community agencies. In 1999, more than 275,000 people visited the library, and over 420,000 items were checked out.
The Owensboro Area Museum of Science and History and the Wendell Ford Government Education Center is one of the finest facilities of its kind in the region. The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art has just completed a $1.6 million expansion. It features an Atrium Sculpture Court, a restored Civil War-era mansion, and the Kentucky Spirit galleries. Also included is a priceless collection of German stained-glass windows.
The Owensboro Symphony Orchestra has an annual concert schedule and completed its 33rd year during the 1999-2000 season. The symphony performs with some of the best musical talent in the world and annually conducts a Christmas Pops concert. Theater fans are encouraged to participate in the productions of the Theatre Workshop of Owensboro. The Owensboro Dance Theatre also performs. In recent years, Music at Maple Mount, a summer institute for young musicians, has enjoyed a growing audience. Each June, students from around the world participate in music workshops and perform at various locations in the community.
The curtain is always rising on a new event in Owensboro's new performing arts and civic center. RiverPark Center includes a 1,500 seat multi-purpose auditorium, an experimental theatre that seats up to 300, lobbies and support facilities, a riverfront plaza, an open-air courtyard, meeting-reception rooms and the International Bluegrass Museum. Each year, RiverPark Center hosts over 150 performance events and over 900 civic events. RiverPark Center is home to several local performing arts organizations including the following: International Bluegrass Music Association, Owensboro Community College Oak Island Theatre, Owensboro Concert Association, The Owensboro Symphony, Owensboro Dance Theatre and Theatre Workshop of Owensboro.
In addition, RiverPark Center presents a professional Broadway series, an Arts Teach Kids series, Kidstuff series, as well as several special events including the Taste of Owensboro.
RiverPark Center provides an ideal setting, the know-how and creativity for all occasions. From business meetings to wedding receptions, its lighting and design experts can make any event a theatrical happening. Enhanced by its riverfront setting, computerized ticketing services, versatile spaces, high visibility, and most importantly, cost-efficiency, RiverPark Center is the perfect place to stage an event.
Owensboro Mercy Health System (OMHS) is committed to providing health education, prevention, early intervention and wellness programs in addition to high-quality, cost-effective inpatient and outpatient services. At all locations, OMHS offers state-of-the-art technology with a medical staff of 130+ physicians representing a wide range of specialties. This not-for-profit regional health care provider, serves 13 counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana. The main hospital, located at 811 East Parrish Avenue, is licensed for 469 beds. The mission of OMHS is to heal the sick and to improve the health of our community.
The HealthPark, which opened in October 1998, is the most recent facility established to assist with the second part of the mission statement-to improve the health of our community. Located at 1006 Ford Avenue, the HealthPark includes a health and fitness center, a diagnostic center, a health resource center, outpatient therapy services, a chapel and physician offices. Another facility owned and operated by OMHS is the Convenient Care Center at 608 Frederica Street. Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Convenient Care Center offers high-quality minor emergency services.
RiverValley Behavioral Health provides mental health, substance abuse and mental retardation/developmental disability services in a seven-county area. It opened a new office in Owensboro in 1998 in the Cigar Factory Complex. The remodeled lower level of the complex contains the agency's offices for outpatient therapy, case management, DUI education, prevention center/library and administrative services. RiverValley also provides residential programs as well as inpatient treatment for children ages 5-18 at RiverValley Behavioral Health Hospital.