A year ago, Turfway Park had plenty of reasons to be optimistic about its future despite years of steady decline in purse sizes and wagering at its fall meet. Twelve months later, though, the optimism seems misplaced. Legislators refused to allow slots at racetracks, and last week Turfway announced the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions – its premier fall racing event – would be cut from the fall schedule despite a continued financial sponsorship from WinStar Farms.
Amazon.com is poised to make a huge expansion in Hebron that could almost double its work force. The company is planning to hire hundreds of full-time employees and thousands of seasonal workers at its fulfillment center near Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport over the next few months. Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore said Amazon has indicated it plans to hire as many as 900 full-time, permanent employees and up to 5,000 seasonal workers to meet holiday needs.
Two Northern Kentucky counties have decided to stop giving funds to a major mental health service provider. The Boone County Fiscal Court voted unanimously Tuesday night to cease funding for NorthKey Community Care for the 2013 Fiscal Year that begins on July 1. NorthKey has 18 locations throughout Boone, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Owen and Pendleton Counties, including an inpatient hospital for children. It provides mental health, substance abuse and intellectual disability services. Earlier, Kenton Fiscal Court also pulled its NorthKey funding.
David England, a horse trainer from Union, has stopped training horses at Turfway Park because the purses are too small.
Credit Patrick Reddy/The Kentucky Enquirer
Last week’s defeat of an expanded gambling amendment in the Kentucky Senate has some who rely on Turfway Park's business concerned. The Senate on Thursday voted 21-16 against putting the amendment before the voters in November. Turfway Park President Robert N. Elliston has said repeatedly that the inability to compete with nearby casinos and racetracks in neighboring states that allow gaming is slowly killing Northern Kentucky’s racetrack. Some horsemen and business owners fear the ripple effect if Turfway fails.
Artist rendering of proposed Ark Encounter theme park. / Provided
The Ark Encounter themed attraction planned for Grant County will be built in phases over several years rather than as a single project. Mark Looy, co-founder of Answers in Genesis, the biblical apologetics ministry that built the Creation Museum in Hebron, said the decision will reduce the initial construction period and funding requirements for the Noah’s Ark-themed park that was initially scheduled for completion in 2014. On Wednesday, the Ark Encounter group also announced the purchase of the final piece of land needed to develop the park.
United Parcel Service has notified Kentucky state officials it will lay off more than 400 workers at its Supply Chain Solutions warehouse in Hebron by April 1. UPS, which has operated the logistics operation in Hebron for more than a decade, is not closing the entire operation. The job cuts are prompted by the facility’s largest customer, Zulily, a Seattle-based ecommerce provider of baby items and clothing, deciding to bring its distribution operation in house. The company had been relying on the UPS facility to manage inventory and fill orders.
The Church of Scientology spent an estimated $6.5 million renovating the former Florence Baptist Church.
The controversial church has scheduled a grand opening event on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the church, 283 Main St., in a building previously occupied by the Florence Baptist Church. Nick Banks, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, said the Florence site was chosen for a number of reasons.
Steve Brooks (right), owner of Brooks Meats, and Stefan Neumann, a German master sausage maker who works for Brooks, talk in the cool down room of Brooks' processing facility where fresh cheese and regular metts are cooling down.
Credit Patrick Reddy/Kentucky Enquirer
Steve Brooks had big plans when he purchased a small meat processing facility in Walton in 1985. “We started with just a little building with a 14-acre slaughterhouse near the interstate and we slaughtered our own meat.” Brooks said. Since that time, many of those early dreams have been realized and Brooks Meats has become a well-recognized name in the industry, both for its own brand and as a wholesaler and distributor.
A complaint filed by a Hebron man against the Northern Kentucky Tea Party in November of last year will be addressed at a Kentucky Registry of Election Finance board meeting in Frankfort on Wednesday. In his complaint, Jonathan Brown asserts advertisements purchased by the Northern Kentucky Tea Party prior to the November 2010 General Election amounted to an endorsement of candidates. “I believe the actions of (the Northern Kentucky Tea Party) violate KRS 121.025,” Brown stated in the complaint. “This blatant attempt to avoid the campaign finance laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky cannot go unchallenged and requires action by the registry. Failure to take appropriate action will result in further violations of Kentucky campaign finance laws in future elections.”
At an age when many children are still mastering the art of walking, Matthew Dedden was riding a horse. Dedden, 13, has been riding since he was 2 and those years in the saddle paid off last month when he became the National Cutting Horse Association Junior World Champion. "That was my goal at the beginning of the year and it took a lot of work, but I got there," Matthew said. He is believed to be the first NCHA world champion at any level from Kentucky.
Gov. Steve Beshear was in Florence on Wednesday for the re-dedication of Mall Road. The $13 million renovation project was paid for with state funds and Beshear joined Florence Mayor Diane Whalen and other state and local dignitaries for the ribbon-cutting ceremony that signaled the completion of the 17-month project.
State Sen. David Williams, R-Burkesville, made Northern Kentucky one of the first stops on his statewide bus tour, which kicked off in Louisville Monday morning. State Sen. David Williams, R-Burkesville, made Northern Kentucky one of the first stops on his statewide bus tour, which kicked off in Louisville Monday morning.
Trainer William Hall walks a horse after a morning workout in his barn at Turfway Park, Florence.
Credit Patrick Reddy / Kentucky Enquirer
Turfway Park begins its Fall Meet today with reasons to be optimistic about its future. Turfway bucked a national trend with its 2011 Winter/Spring meet which experienced a 6.3 percent increase to on-track handle and a 3.3 percent bump in all-sources wagering. Instant Racing, a slot-machine-style wagering machine based on pari-mutuel wagering, was introduced in the state for the first time at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 2. Turfway Park will wait until outstanding court challenges are resolved before installing the new machines, but they would provide a new revenue source for the racetrack.
A national survey measuring horse racing bettors' satisfactions with their tracks puts all Kentucky thoroughbred tracks in the top 20 nationally with Keeneland and Churchill Downs capturing the top two spots. Ellis Park was seventh and Turfway Park was eighth.
Cities throughout Northern Kentucky have struggled in recent years to provide essential services in a struggling economy and council meetings often turn into contentious debates about budget issues. The city of Florence, however, has managed to maintain service levels, complete several capital improvement projects and maintain reserves of more than $20 million. So what sets the Boone County city apart?