The VIPP Report: Your next Miss Kentucky and Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen for 2020 will be….

Miss Kentucky 2020

Two young ladies crowned in Louisville will represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the next year

Miss MAOTeen 2020

(Louisville, KY) On Saturday, June 8th at the Brown Theatre in Louisville Miss Kentucky and Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen announced who would represent Kentucky in the Miss America and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competitions.

Miss Kentucky 2019

Lexington native Alex Francke was crowned Miss Kentucky Saturday night in Louisville.  She will represent the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the Miss America competition. The official dates will be announced by the Miss America officials in the coming days.

Landry Feldmeier was crowned Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen. She will present Kentucky at the 2019 MAOTeen Competition in Orlando, Florida on July 23, 24, 25 & 27th at the Linda Chapin Theatre in the Orange County Convention Center.

 

MissKentuckyTeenPageantThe Miss Kentucky and Miss Kentucky’s Outstanding Teen programs empower young women across Kentucky through pageantry.  The participants develop leadership skills and confidence as they work to achieve their biggest goals in life.  The Miss Kentucky Scholarship Organization continues to develop role models for communities not only in Kentucky, but the world.

Dr. Ashley D. Anderson, Executive Director for the competition and President of the Miss Kentucky board says “We had an outstanding week from the “Kickoff to the Crown” where the community met the participants during an event at Fourth Street Live, to the crowning of the two ladies who will represent Kentucky for the next year.  Our judges had a very difficult task, but they chose two great young women that Kentucky will be proud of.  We have no doubt that on the national stage these two will make us proud.”

The Miss Kentucky Scholarship Organization is a celebration of the talent, scholastic achievement and commitment to service of Kentucky’s finest young women. This Organization is so much more than a crown…it is changing Kentucky, one young woman at a time!

To set up an interview, please call Sherlene Shanklin, at sshanklin@vippcommunications.com.

For additional information on the pageant please visit www.misskentucky.org.

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VIPP Special Report: How 10-year-old Seven Bridges death is now bringing awareness to so many who don’t understand the consequences that bullying brings

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The heartbreak a community is feeling because a child dies a tragic death because he was suffering in silence

Special Report by Sherlene Shanklin, WHAS11 Television, ABC Affiliate in Louisville, KY (Original story posted: January 22, 2019/Updated: January 23, 2019)

Shanklin, an assignment editor with more than 25 years in the broadcast field for the station took the mother’s call in September 2018 while heading into work.  In a rare and raw account which is hardly done she reflects on when she took both calls about Seven Bridges.   

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The story of Seven Bridges is making headlines not only in Louisville but nationwide after the 10-year-old committed suicide on Saturday for alleged bullying. I have to use alleged because this will likely be determined in the court of law.

I spoke to the mother Tami Charles Saturday evening after returning from out of town. I had received numerous texts wanting to know what happened to Charles’ son. I had no idea because I was traveling and could not be distracted due to extremely heavy rain.

When I got back to Louisville, I reached out to her because I knew the backstory. I didn’t expect for her to answer my text message for weeks but later that evening she responded. We texted a couple of times and then my phone rang it was Charles. She told me what happened all we could do was cry together over the phone. I got off wondering, “What else could I have done?” “What can I do now?” “Why didn’t someone say something?”

50739415_1000508566810691_3647677009657593856_nTo hear the hurt but strength of a mother on the same day she lost her child made my heart drop into my stomach. What do you say? It’s not about getting the story. I didn’t move into this community. I grew up in this community. I know the names, the faces, the unsung heroes, and the sacrifices many do day in and day out and never get a day of media coverage. I chose to stay to help and support those who needed a voice but all I could do was listen to this mother.  What could I say to comfort a grieving mother who knew something was going on but couldn’t stop it?

I walked and cried and cried and walked, all night until my family had to ask if there was anything they could do. They know I keep my work close to the vest and private and I never include them to keep my journalistic integrity. Frankly, if I told them some things, they could not erase the image from their minds. Some stories develop while others do not, but I still assist and work for an answer with as many as I can even on my off days.

My main job is to get the story out of people. Whether they are yelling at me because of their situation, their frustration and/or confusion on how to express what they are thinking and/or feeling. My task is to translate their thoughts and get to the core of the situation.

A mentor taught me a long time ago that you need to listen to the details they are in there just listen. Then, ask follow up questions to make sure I’m understanding them correctly. If I can’t understand the story, I can’t get our team to understand the importance.

With this burden on my heart and mind, I did reach out to the reporter that helped with the story in September 2018. We talked about it. We agreed not to talk to Charles about doing an interview. There was no rush since we were the only ones who did the initial story on Seven. When she along with her husband were ready they would let us know.

Then when Charles mentioned that insurance would not pay for her son’s funeral we decided that we needed to do something. That’s when we asked them to do the interview.

Reporter Heather Fountaine and I also said we wanted her to talk to anyone who could help her get the needed funds to bury her only child. Actually, her miracle child because Charles thought she was not able to have children, but she was blessed to have Seven.

Because Seven’s death was a suicide we did not think she would get a lot of coverage. Fountaine and I had to move faster than any of us wanted too, but thinking we spoke to the family during the trying time we needed to see it through and worked all weekend on our days off.

Let me take you back to September 2018 when the mother was trying to help her child when no one else thought it was anything until the untimely death of Seven on Saturday, January 19, 2019.

Charles reached out to me in September and explained to me what her child was going through and as a mother she needed to find a way to help her son. They loved the school but felt like the process might have been broken when it came to the notification process.

What the mother didn’t know that I was having a bad day, running late for work and was literally stuck in traffic at 2:30 p.m. in the middle of the day. But when I saw Charles’ name on my caller ID I knew I needed to answer. She said she was having a problem and wanted to get the word out. I explained to her that I was in traffic and as soon as I got to work I would begin looking into it. As soon as we hung up, I went to work. I called my newsroom and asked them to pull the video, so we could review it as soon as I walked in and asked others to listen as well, so we could make a decision. (Our evening meetings are at 3:00 pm, so if i wanted them to try and get all of the elements before the end of business we didn’t have much time or I would have to hold the story for consideration the next day.)

In Charles’ video, which has 38,000 views and more than 1,100 shares. She expressed sincere concern for her child’s well-being. Charles alleged her son was choked and verbally abused racially and no action was taken nor was she told of the incident even though her child was elementary school age. She used the words bullied. She also said several times that they loved the school, but it needed to change its procedure of alerting parents when situations like this occur. I went into the meeting and explained the situation and that the mother wanted to address the procedure and the time frame in which a parent is notified so that the child does not continue to go through a situation alone but with a support team.

The Kentucky Dept of Education defines “bullying” as any unwanted verbal, physical, or social behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated: 1. That occurs on school premises, on school-sponsored transportation, or at a school-sponsored event; or 2. That disrupts the education process.

This incident met the criteria. We sat down with Charles and her 10-year-old son Seven Bridges. The reporter was very sensitive to the situation but asked the hard questions and the mother and child answered freely.

When the team came back to the station, they were so surprised of the maturity of the fifth grader and his level of forgiveness.

In our September 2018 interview Bridges said, “I know that I can get it out of my mind, and tomorrow is like a better day, so I can still make friends with him.”

Charles also in that interview said she would like to see the school’s administration held accountable and more racial sensitivity training within the school system.

The school system said in September 2018 that the incident was under official investigation.

Presently, the district is opening a full investigation. The parents of Seven Bridges say they will file a lawsuit.

Now, the grieving parents have to find a way to bury their child. Again, they have insurance but when a person commits suicide it is not covered under the policy.  So, they have started a Go Fund Me page entitled: Rest in Paradise Seven Bridges if you would like to donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/rest-in-paradise-seven-bridges.

The community is rallying around the family be using the words “Seven Strong” – this is to bring awareness of bullying of any kind so that no other family has to go through this traumatic situation because unfortunately Seven was suffering in silence.

There’s a phrase that’s commonly used: “If I can just save one person, then I did my job.”

I will never use that phrase again because the one person I thought I helped I could not save but I hope my efforts and Seven’s memory will not go in vain.

If you know someone who may not be able to talk to you. Have them talk to someone. Give them this number 800-273-8255. Let’s not let anyone suffer in silence.

If you have a story idea, send it to me at The411@whas11.com.

Sherlene Shanklin, an multi-Emmy nominated, two-time 2018 Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Winner for Sports Writing & For Best Use of Social Media and multiple AP Awards currently works for WHAS11 Television. She created a segment The411 and is a regular contributor to whas11.com.  You can hear her on Thursdays at 11:30 am on WLOU/104.7FM as well as WHAS11 Noon Show at 12:50 pm, Fridays at 4:25 pm and Saturday mornings on Good Morning Kentuckiana at 6:25 am and 9:25 am.  You can also read her stories on this site The VIPP Report.  Sherlene’s podcast Giving You The Vibe, (GUTV) will begin in the first quarter of 2019.  

The VIPP Report: Kroger Shooting Suspect Charged with Federal Hate Crimes and Firearm Offenses

Official news release from the United States Department of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Gregory A. Bush, 51, was indicted today by a federal grand jury on hate crime and firearm charges arising out of the racially motivated murder of two African-American patrons at a Kroger grocery store, and the attempted murder of a third, on Oct. 24 in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. The indictment was announced by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman, and FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge James Robert Brown, Jr.

Today’s indictment charges Bush with hate crimes for shooting and killing two victims because of their race and color; and for shooting at a third man because of his race and color. The indictment also charges Bush for using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to those crimes of violence. The indictment alleges that Bush committed the offenses after substantial planning and premeditation, that he killed more than one person in a single criminal episode, and that he knowingly created a grave risk of death to others on the scene.

The maximum penalty for the charges in the indictment is life imprisonment or the death penalty.  The Justice Department will determine at a later date whether, in this particular case, it will seek the death penalty.

“The crimes alleged in this indictment are horrific,” Acting Attorney General Whitaker said. “We cannot and will not tolerate violence motivated by racism. We will bring the full force of the law against these and any other alleged hate crimes against fellow Americans of any race. And so I want to thank the FBI, Trial Attorney Christopher Perras, and Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Gregory for all of their hard work that has made this indictment possible. Today we take one step closer to justice for the victims and their families and one step closer to helping this community try to heal.”

“There is no place for hate-fueled violence in our community or Commonwealth,” stated U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “Federal, state, and local law enforcement stand united to ensure that Kentuckians can shop, worship, or attend school without the specter of fear.”

“The tragic events of October 24, 2018, are a grim reminder of why the FBI prioritizes investigations of civil rights violations among the top of its criminal programs,” said FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge James Robert Brown, Jr. “Today’s indictment should be a reminder to those who are motivated by hate and are intent on committing violence; your hateful ideology will not have the last word. The FBI, and the Department of Justice, will be there, and you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure justice for the victims, their families and the Louisville community throughout the investigation and prosecution of this alleged, hate-filled and violent crime,” stated Stuart Lowrey, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Louisville Division. “Today, and every day, ATF’s ongoing priority is to reduce violent crime and secure the safety of our communities.”

An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

This case has been investigated by the FBI Louisville Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Louisville Field Division, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christopher J. Perras of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and Assistant United States Attorney Amanda Gregory of the Western District of Kentucky.

 

If you have a story idea, send it to The VIPP Report, thevippreport at vippcommunications dot com.  Follow us on Twitter @thevippreport for real-time news.  

Victims in the Oct 24, 2018 shooting at Kroger in Jeffersontown, KY. Pictured below: Vickie Jones (on the left with her nephew) and in the second picture Maurice Stallard.