From Jan. 1 to April 30 of this year, nearly $7 million was spent lobbying Kentucky's lawmakers, according to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. In its monthly report, "Ethics Reporter," KLEC reports more than $6.1 million was spent as compensation to 630 lobbyists during the first four months of 2011. Reports filed by employers and legislative agents are compiled at the Legislative Ethics Commission’s website at: http://klec.ky.gov/reports/employersagents.htm.
After 13 years, another life cycle of the periodical cicada, classified by entomologists as Brood XIX, sing their shrill tunes in western Kentucky. According to Douglas Johnson, University of Kentucky extension professor of entomology, this brood of cicadas emerged in Hopkins County around May 16 and will continue through June. Johnson is a resident of Princeton. The insects feed on sap in the roots of trees for 13 years during the nymph stage, and then come out of the ground, shed their shells and become adults. After breeding, they die.
If you've had trouble mowing your lawn this rainy spring, you can relate to what Northern Kentucky's grape growers have been going through in tending their vineyards. Something that can harm a grape yield is fungus, which thrives on moisture. The wetter it is, the more growers feel compelled to spray their vines with fungicides to keep away problems like black rot and mildews.
Jean Miller celebrated Memorial Day at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville in honor of her husband and brother-in-law, who are both buried there. She and friend Dottie VanWinkle, both of Lexington, braved the early afternoon heat to be part of the annual memorial service that included stories from veterans and music by the West Jessamine High School Band.
After completing his first city budget, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has warned Metro Council and non-profit groups about painful cuts to come. The mayor addressed city lawmakers last week, outlining how his administration filled a $22.5 million shortfall using a number of stopgaps. But in the future, the city faces tough choices as Metro Government expenses outpace revenue and present officials with tough choices on the horizon.
A stolen work of art will be on display at the Speed Art Museum this month before the U.S. government returns it to Italy. The Speed purchased the three-panel painting, or triptych, of the Virgin Mary and child in 1973 for $38,000. Recently, however, it was discovered that the art had been stolen from an Italian villa in 1971. The Speed obtained the work through an art dealer, and court records show the museum cooperated with U.S. and Italian officials to verify and relinquish the art. But before the art is returned, it’ll be the centerpiece of an exhibit that showcases its theft and sale.
Days after filibustering on the U.S. Senate floor against an extension of the USA Patriot Act last week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., reflected on a busy week. “I was worn out,” Paul said Friday. Paul filibustered for two days last week, one of which was spent silently, sitting at his desk on the Senate floor.
Two Vietnam veterans are helping a third who’s been living in his garage since his home burned down six years ago. Dennis Quisenberry was an Air Force mechanic from 1966 to 1969, including 16 months in Vietnam. His house on Cardwell Lane burned down in 2005, and he’s been living in his garage since. For the last eight months, Larry Arnett, deputy commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources, and Carlos Pugh, former state commander of the VFW, have been trying to help Quisenberry. Arnett was a helicopter pilot and Pugh was a combat engineer – both served in Vietnam.
In the age of high-definition, we’re used to the media offering us an almost literal window to the world. But what about our window to the past? What did things look like, say, 70 years ago? Newsreels and iconic photos – such as the Times Square V-J Day kiss and the Iwo Jima flag raising – lack a certain quality of “being there” because there’s no color.
Lexington has recorded its second case this month of a missing ambulance. Lexington police said in a news release that it received a report at 6:52 a.m. Sunday that a Rural Metro Ambulance had been stolen from its parking lot on Versailles Road.
After nearly 20 years of planning, the state is transforming the two-lane Ky. 16 that runs through much of Kenton County into a wider, more direct route that officials say will improve safety for thousands of daily commuters and trigger major development. The reconstruction is Ky. 16's first since its 1935 opening.
The Louisville Orchestra is due in court again tomorrow for a bankruptcy hearing. Under the ensemble’s Chapter 11 filing, orchestra management has to submit a plan for reorganizing operations. Officials have declined to comment on the content or status of the plan, but the management had previously sought to reduce the number of full-time musicians.
The newest player in the conflict over the Ohio River Bridges Project is gaining support. Kentuckians for Progress began earlier this year to stop the conservation group River Fields from blocking the construction of a bridge in eastern Jefferson County. The group, like several others, wants the east end bridge and a downtown bridge built. Other groups want only an eastern span or a staggered construction that begins with the east end bridge.
Officials with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will hold a public meeting this week in western Kentucky to talk about the growing problem with Asian Carp in some of the state’s lakes, rivers and tributaries.
State Fisheries Director Ron Brooks says two species of the Asian Carp have infiltrated areas of the state from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and are out-competing natives species for food.
Tom Watson birdied the first hole in a sudden death playoff to win the 72nd Senior PGA Championship at Louisville’s Valhalla Golf Club. The 61 year old American (pictured) was tied with Steve Eger at ten under par at the end of today’s fourth round. Eger missed a long birdie putt on the first playoff hole, setting the stage for Watson to sink a shorter birdie putt for the title. Kiyoshi Murota finished third at nine under par. Hale Irwin was fourth at eight under par.
Public schools throughout the nation are spending more money per student as education funding slightly increases, according to the most recent census data, which reviews public education funding for 2008-09. But locally, school officials say state funding has dropped over the years, forcing them to make cuts and enforce higher local taxes to offset the funding slice. State funds make up a bulk of the districts’ budgets.
Saturday marked the 34th anniversary of the fire that raged through Northern Kentucky's Beverly Hills Super Club, killing 165 people. Though unhappy that people still cannot have legal access to the site to pay their respects, especially those directly affected by that fateful night, Dave Brock is fighting a much larger battle: exposing what he believes is the truth of what really happened May 28, 1977. Brock had been a busboy at the club for five years, and was working the night it burned down. To this day, he and a handful of others contend the fire was arson.
Summer heat and humidity settle into the region through at least Thursday. The National Weather Service is calling for a high near 90 today, and temperatures should climb into the mid-90s for Monday’s Memorial Day celebrations, said Myron Padgett, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio. “It’s above normal, but we’re not quite setting records,” Padgett said.
Last week, Kentucky Utilities asked the state Public Service Commission for a rate hike that will increase customers’ bills by 12.2 percent over the next four years. KU says it needs the additional revenue to pay for the $2.5-billion in improvements to its coal-fired generating plants like the E.W. Brown facility near Burgin — improvements mandated by the EPA. KU has already taken steps to significantly reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide coming from the massive smokestacks at Brown. And the electric company turned to a neighbor six miles down Burgin Road, Mercer Stone, to help solve its emissions troubles with limestone taken from the ground at Mercer Stone’s facility.
The possibility of giving KY 38 a new route was one of the top options aired at a meeting about the slide-ravaged highway. State Rep. Rick Nelson told about 70 people present at the meeting that his preferred option was to give the highway a new route.
Copper thefts in neighboring counties have recently caused several phone outages for people in Harlan County. The areas of the county that report being affected are the Tri-Cities and Evarts. “Last week we had a long distance phone outage after someone stole fiber optic cable in Perry County,” said Chris Campbell, account executive at Windstream Communications. “We went out and restored it, only to have the thieves come back at night and steal cable from the same section again.” He estimates that 4,000 customers in Harlan County were affected by last week’s outage. Company officials confirm another outage the week before that, also caused by thefts in Perry County.
Tourism interests in Lake Cumberland country are hoping for increased visitation as they head into the fifth summer season with a planned lower water level at the giant reservoir. Visitor numbers dropped significantly after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quickly lowered the lake level in January 2007 as part of the process of fixing leaks at Wolf Creek Dam, which impounds the 101-mile-long lake.
Homeowners, renters and business owners in six additional Kentucky counties are now eligible for federal assistance to help recover from the effects of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck the Commonwealth from April 22 to May 20. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated Ballard, Daviess, Henderson, Lawrence, McLean and Pike counties. These counties join 55 other Kentucky counties where residents who suffered damages should register with FEMA to start the federal disaster aid process.
Faye Coakley doesn’t normally surf the Internet, but the Mortons Gap woman has been on the Web nonstop this past week searching for updates on her missing relatives. Floyd and Martha Huff and Cherry Huff, Coakley’s uncle and two aunts, all reside in Joplin, Mo. An EF5 tornado laid much of the city bare after it ripped through Joplin last Sunday evening. All three Huffs, who are in their early 80s, are still unaccounted for. The lack of news is fraying Coakley’s nerves.
Kentucky is home to Fort Knox and Fort Campbell, but military families that don't live close to those installations may not be getting all the support they need. Lexington Vice Mayor Linda Gorton knows what it's like to have a child deployed overseas. Her son served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Army Reserves. "It translates into a lot of stress. And I personally think when the community can rally around and support those folks, it makes for a healthier community."
Two central Kentuckians are lending a helping hand with tornado relief work in Joplin, Missouri. Craig Infanger and his wife Janis got the call from the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross around 4:30 Thursday afternoon. By 8 am Friday, they were bound for Joplin. The Infangers have volunteered for the Red Cross with other disaster relief work, including Hurricane Katrina, and they were eager to help victims of the devastating tornado.
Columbia Gas of Kentucky customers will pay 7 percent less for natural gas in the next three months because the state Public Service Commission has approved the utility's quarterly gas-cost-adjustment proposal, which will be effective through September. Customers who are supplied by Columbia Gas and have been for the past 12 months will pay $5.4551 per thousand cubic feet, down from $5.8813.
A Shelbyville business is considering doubling the size of its plant, and state economic development officials announced an incentive package for the company on Thursday. Creative Packaging Company, located at 1700 Isaac Shelby Drive, is considering doubling its 100,000 square-foot plant, and the potential expansion could create 25 new jobs over a 10-year period. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority Board in Frankfort granted preliminary approval for $500,000 in state tax incentives for the project, which calls for adding the new jobs at an average hourly rate of $10.88 to $12.51 per hour, averaging $14 per hour after employee benefits are included.
Gov. Steve Beshear's campaign says the list of Republicans backing the Kentucky Democrat's re-election bid this fall is growing. But the man Beshear faces this fall says there are many reasons why some Republicans would be donating to a sitting governor's re-election campaign. On the day before Kentucky Republicans held their post-primary unity rally at GOP headquarters in Frankfort, Gov. Beshear's campaign released the names of 70 Republicans backing his re-election bid. Among the names was former lieutenant governor Steve Pence.
In a decision that drew both groans and applause, Danville City Commission voted to hire longtime mayor John W.D. Bowling as interim city manager Thursday night. Bowling, who served three terms as Danville mayor, will be paid $6,000 a month beginning June 1 when the employment contract goes into effect. Bridgette Milby, acting interim city manager since shortly after Paul Stansbury was suspended, will return to her position as head of codes enforcement.