Becca Schimmel

Becca Schimmel is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in psychology and she will be graduating in December. She was born in South Carolina but grew up in Lexington, Ky. She is a UK basketball fan. She enjoys swimming, coffee, reading and drinking more coffee. Becca has served as copy editor for the Murray State News and has interned with the Paducah Sun.

MHSA

Lawmakers and union leaders are raising concerns about the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s practices amid an increase in coal fatalities.  


Another breakdown at an aging lock and dam has halted river traffic on the Ohio in western Kentucky. It’s the second such interruption in less than a year for a stretch of river that carries some 90 million tons of cargo annually.

“A lot of commerce does go through that section and delays cost the industry money,” Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District public affairs officer Carol Labashosky said. “That’s a very, very important, crucial spot on the Ohio River.”

The impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is reigniting talk about national infrastructure needs. Parts of southern Kentucky recently saw flooding after Harvey moved inland. Kentuckians are facing billions of dollars in water infrastructure needs, and uncertainty on a federal infrastructure spending plan.

 

President Trump has mentioned the need for a one-trillion-dollar national infrastructure investment, but no details have come out. Most of the projects on Kentucky’s infrastructure wish list deal with highways and roads, not water.


MSHA

A rash of fatal coal mining accidents in the Ohio Valley region pushed the nation’s total number of mining deaths to a level not seen since 2015, sparking concern among safety advocates.

Already this year 12 miners have died on the job in the U.S., compared to eight fatalities in all of 2016. 


Approximately 2,000 people gathered at Western Kentucky University’s football stadium to view the total solar eclipse, with the much-anticipated  event bringing in school students from around the region.

Keith Brown, principal at Western Elementary in Ohio County, said he was looking forward to viewing the totality and having his students there to see it as well. 


A Bowling Green clinic that evaluates potential organ transplant patients will not be impacted by the decision to put Jewish Hospital in Louisville up for sale.

The Bowling Green Jewish Hospital Trager Transplant Center outreach clinic opened in June. Jewish Hospital is the second largest organ transplants locations in the state, and is being sold by its parent company--KentuckyOne Health. David Lewis is the director of transplant services at Jewish Hospital.

  Senator Rand Paul has been traveling around the state to speak with local business leaders about joining health associations. The Bowling Green Republican said Monday that’s the best option for businesses and individuals if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

The first of two public hearings seeking input on Governor Bevin’s Medicaid waiver was held Friday in Somerset.

Governor Bevin wants to overhaul the Medicaid program, in hopes of moving more people to private insurance coverage. Bevin said Kentucky can’t afford to pay for everyone that gained coverage when Medicaid was expanded.

 

The new plan calls for Medicaid recipients to pay premiums of up to $15 a month. Beneficiaries would be required to work or volunteer for 20 hours a week in order to keep their benefits. Those requirements don’t apply to everyone.

The first of two public hearings seeking input on Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s Medicaid waiver is Friday in Somerset.

Bob Jagendorf/Flickr


Becca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

From the outside Summit Aviation, in the small town of Somerset, Kentucky, looks like any other nondescript, white warehouse. But inside workers craft parts for drones, weapons casings, wing stabilizers and other high-flying products.


A new report finds doctors in Kentucky diagnosed more cases of opioid addiction for people with private insurance than any other state in 2016.

 

The report is by Amino, a health-care transparency company that aims to estimate the costs of care. The Courier-Journal reports 23 of every 1,000 Kentuckians were diagnosed with an opioid use disorder in 2016. Nationally, 1.4 million privately insured patients were diagnosed with opioid use disorder--that’s six times more than in 2012.

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

When President Trump picked the Ohio Valley as the setting to promote his infrastructure plan, he also drew attention to an overlooked part of the nation’s transportation system: inland waterways.

Agriculture, energy, and manufacturing interests all depend heavily on the Ohio’s aging navigation system.  


Ohio Valley ReSource

With a speech planned for Cincinnati’s Ohio River waterfront, President Donald Trump has chosen a fitting venue to talk about infrastructure improvements.

The Ohio Valley is home to aging highways, bridges, and dams, poor drinking water systems, and weak internet service for many rural residents.

Kentucky is coal country, and is heavily reliant on the dirty fossil fuel for power. A study underway at Western Kentucky University is examining the effectiveness of a water-based clean coal solution.

The coal is treated with the solution at Big Rivers power plant in Ohio County, Kentucky. WKU partnered with Big Rivers and the state’s Cabinet for Economic Development to determine if the solution reduces carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen emissions.

Researchers at WKU are taking an enzyme from a mushroom and growing it in water. That solution is then sprayed on coal as it falls down a chute. The coal then sits for a few days before it’s burned.


A new report shows Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana are among seven states with twice the national rate of Hepatitis C cases.

The Centers for Disease Control reported new cases of Hep C have increased nationwide by nearly 300 percent from 2010 to 2015. Hepatitis C is still associated with more deaths than 60 other diseases.

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the state had the highest rate of new acute Hepatitis C infections from 2008 to 2015, with more than 1,000 cases. The CDC report said intravenous drug use is the primary risk factor for new infections.

A new study gave Kentucky poor marks for the safety of its drinking water.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says the commonwealth has the tenth-highest number of offenses per capita

Violations ranged from high levels of arsenic and nitrates to failure to test or properly report contamination levels. The Courier Journal reported no other state in the nation had a larger percent of its population getting its water from utilities with at least one violation. The study was based on safe drinking water act violations, and the number of customers served by those utilities.

Indiana was twenty-second in total water quality offenses per capita, while Tennessee ranked twenty-third.

Retired miners will not lose their health benefits, as had been feared, thanks to last-minute action from Congress. However, Congress did not act on the miners’ faltering pension benefits fund, which supports some 43,000 retired miners in the Ohio Valley region.

Alexandra Kanik - Ohio Valley ReSource

The chemical weapons used in last week’s attack in Syria are the same type stored and scheduled for destruction in Madison County, Kentucky.

The sarin that’s stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot near Richmond will be destroyed starting in 2020. The job will be completed in three years, barring any delays. Craig Williams, with The Kentucky Environmental Foundation Chemical Weapons Working Group, said while the chemical weapons used in Syria didn’t come from the Bluegrass Army Depot, they’re the same as those scheduled to be destroyed.

“Somewhat depressing to know that Syrian people have been affected by these materials. Particularly since Syria recently signed onto the treaty banning such use,” Williams said.

A bipartisan group of legislators has asked President Donald Trump to make more money available for black lung health clinics as they face an increase in cases of the disease among coal miners.  

More than 20 clinics would benefit from the $3.3 million increase lawmakers are requesting. The clinics provide miners with health screenings, medical care, and assistance in securing black lung benefits.

The lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president and the White House budget director that the level of funding for clinics has been frozen for the past five years.  

The removal of a dam along the Green River in Edmonson County began Tuesday, and will continue over the next few weeks.

Once the dam is removed, the affected part of the Green River will become a recreational area, with parking and access ramps for canoes and kayaks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is funding the project, but will transfer ownership of 18 nearby acres of land to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Lee Andrews, with The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the Green River contains some of the top biodiversity within the Ohio River system.

 

“So being able to restore this much river in a national park is unique,” Andrews said.  

Attorney General Andy Beshear is speaking out against Kentucky’s new right-to-work law.