In December, billionaire Warren Buffet made his first move into solar power, buying one of the world's largest solar farms, which is in California. Market watchers wondered if this was a sign that solar was coming of age, that it was no longer a "feel good" nod to environmental correctness but a sensible investment. Still, California isn't Kentucky and Buffet is hardly an average ratepayer. So, we looked at how solar was faring in the Commonwealth.
Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday announced that the Kentucky Housing Corporation, the state housing finance agency, is offering the lowest rates in its 40-year history. “With rates this low and down payment and closing costs assistance, Kentuckians who thought they would not be able to own a home now have an opportunity,” Beshear said in a press release from his office.
Dennis Reynolds' new house isn't just a place to live. It's an experiment. The 1,000-square-foot modular home is one of two prototype structures built during the past year in a project to develop highly energy-efficient, relatively low-cost houses that may be built at southern Kentucky factories that ordinarily produce houseboats. Those factories have been hit hard by the recession. Several have closed, and employment is down significantly from before the economic downturn.
The Kmart stores in Winchester and Hazard and a Sears hard-lines store in Middlesboro are among those that will be closed, according to a list released Thursday by the struggling Sears Holdings Co., which controls the two retail chains. The announcement includes 79 of the planned 100 to 120 stores that will be shuttered on the heels of a disappointing holiday season. The list, which is not complete, identifies 38 Kmart and 41 Sears stores. In addition to the Winchester store, Kmart operates Central Kentucky stores on Nicholasville Road in Lexington and in Georgetown, Versailles and Frankfort. Sears has a store in Fayette Mall in Lexington. Those stores were not on Thursday's list of closings.
For 76 years, parents and grandparents have purchased paper savings bonds as Christmas, birthday and graduation gifts for children and grandchildren. Schools and organizations purchased bonds to present as prizes for contests. Patriotic Americans bought Defense Savings Bonds — informally, "War Bonds" — during the World War II. Savings bonds became a means for families to invest and help their country. Messages about buying savings bonds and stamps appeared in television programs such as "Father Knows Best" and "Lassie." Later, they became a popular item on the Henderson Lions Club annual TV auction.
For some area residents, the end of the calendar year means making sure income tax deductions are in line. Otherwise, they won’t benefit fully from charitable contributions and other qualifying deductions until 2013. Krystal Williams, manager of Accounting and Tax Professionals in Elizabethtown, said business gets hectic in December with people trying to get in last-minute deductions. Many regular clients make such arrangements near the end of the calendar year, especially deductions for money given to charity, she said.
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Walking through the mall during the holidays makes you long for noise-canceling headphones. But the soundtrack of our everyday lives is far from quiet with ringing cell phones, pinging email notifications, and a workday that, for many of us, never ends. Quiet is no longer experienced after dinner or on the weekends. For many people, quiet is a rarity, even a luxury item.
As 2011 winds down, many charities are hoping an eleventh hour push for donations will keep their services up and running through new next. On average, charities receive about 41 percent of their donations during the last few weeks of the year. Erin Gold, Vice President of Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, told WKYT that donations made to her organization are turned into cash, which helps put the jobless back to work.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the day after Christmas don’t have a patent on holiday shopping activity. Shoppers were out the day after the day after Christmas Tuesday, even in the cold rain. Debbie Dix of Lexington says she was out with a return and was looking for ski stuff for a youth outing. Dix feels her family had a little more to spend this year, compared to 2010.
Although we’re entering the heart of winter, officials with one of Kentucky’s best known utilities are thinking about a summertime storm. Louisville Gas and Electric has been given public service commission approval to set up a separate account to deal with costs tied to a wind storm last August. State Public Service Commission spokesman, Andrew Melnykovych says L-G and E says it storm damage costs for 2011 exceeds 14 million, nearly triple the annual amount budgeted.
United Parcel Service says its worldwide holiday season package volume is expected to be up about six percent over last year, and the company expects a record number of parcels to be processed at the UPS Worldport sorting hub in Louisville. UPS relies on an army of part-time workers to handle the holiday rush. The massive Worldport facility was braced to sort some three million pieces on Thursday.
FRANKFORT — Unemployment rates fell in 114 Kentucky counties between November 2010 and November 2011, while six county rates increased, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. Woodford County recorded the lowest jobless rate at 6.3 percent. It was followed by Ohio County, 6.6 percent; Fayette County, 6.7 percent; Caldwell and Daviess counties, 7 percent each; Oldham and Warren counties, 7.1 percent each; and Calloway, Franklin, Hopkins and Madison counties, 7.2 percent each.
At The Mail Center on Madison Avenue, Mark Weber pours foam peanuts into a box of Christmas gifts. Weber is the only one working this Saturday. He’s also the owner. There’s a steady stream of customers, but Weber can handle it. He says years ago the shop was more frenetic.
It’s pretty much crunch time for those mailing holiday greetings and the delivery men and women who move parcels from spot to spot. The overall volume of mail is down slightly in Lexington. Postal officials in Lexington project overall mail volume will be down almost two percent, as compared to last year. Post office spokeswoman Susan Wright says seasons greetings delivered via the internet continue to eat into the traditional holiday mailings.
The President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky says the automaker could introduce 20 new products between now and the end of 20-13. A great deal of the new technology centers on safety. Toyota executive Wil James told Lexington Rotarians the Japanese automaker spends one million dollars per hour on research and development. And much of the money is spent on safety improvements. For example, James says they may be able to reduce drowsy driving accidents by installing eye monitors in the dashboards of some Toyota vehicles.
FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate fell to 9.4 percent in November from 9.6 percent in October, according to the Office of Employment and Training. The preliminary November jobless rate was .8 percentage point below the 10.2 percent rate recorded for the state in November 2010. The state’s November 2011 rate is the lowest since the January 2009 rate of 9.2 percent.
Some people enjoy dragging boxes of Christmas decorations down from the attic or up from the basement to transform their homes into winter wonderlands. For others, not so much. And for them, there are a number of decorators in town willing to do the job. "This type of work has really increased the last 15 years," said Best of Flowers owner Mary Jo Johnson, whose company decorates 10 to 20 homes each holiday season. "Every year, it gets a little stronger."
Tree farmers and retailers have reported robust sales of Christmas trees this season, with sales of natural trees increasing over the past couple of years. n most years since 2004, sales of natural trees outstripped artificial Christmas tree sales by a ratio of greater than 3-to-1, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.
Kroger may be building a gas station to its location in front of the Chinoe Village Shopping Center, but some area residents view the addition as anything but a convenience. The 10-pump gas station would sit just behind the Chinoe Pub. Kroger estimates that it could see a 2 to 5 percent increase in the roughly 13,500 customers that visit the location every week. Assistant Real Estate Manager for Kroger Todd Metzmeier says gas has become an integral part of the grocery's business, where customers earn 10 cents off the purchase of gas for every hundred dollars they spend in the store.
The Louisville-based parent of such companies as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell paid no net corporate income taxes to states over the past three years, even as it generated more than a billion dollars in profits for shareholders, according to a new report. Yum Brands is one of 68 companies nationwide that paid no state corporate income tax in at least one of the past three years, according to "Corporate Tax Dodging in the Fifty States, 2008-2010" a report released Wednesday by economic justice advocacy groups.
Toyota announced Monday plans to export U.S.-built Camry sedans to its distributor in South Korea. The Camry has been the top selling car in America for 13 of the past 14 years and a best-selling car worldwide. This is the first time the U.S.-assembled Camry will be exported outside of North America, Toyota said. The vehicles are scheduled to arrive in South Korea beginning in January.
Gov. Steve Beshear Monday joined community leaders and officials from Westlake Chemical Corp. to announce the company will invest $40 million in its Calvert City plant, supporting the retention of 380 Kentucky jobs.
Gov. Steve Beshear Friday announced Innovative Manufacturing Services Inc. will expand its Glasgow facility, creating 25 new jobs. The company, which makes industrial controls and conveyors for a variety of industries, will invest approximately $710,000 as a result of the expansion.
While the rest of the economy flounders, Kentucky's farm economy is growing by leaps and bounds. Farm cash receipts in 2011 will top $5 billion for the first time ever, University of Kentucky agriculture economists said. Their annual forecast, released Thursday at the Kentucky Farm Bureau's annual convention, predicted combined crop and livestock receipts of about $5.2 billion to $5.4 billion, up by as much as $1 billion from last year's record $4.4 billion.
It’s not a question of if whether changes will come to Lexington’s Rupp Arena, but it’s a question of when. Rupp, which is the basketball home of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, was discussed today by state lawmakers. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray told them his city may ask the state to help finance a Rupp Arena project. “What we’re doing is examining our financial options now and that will be part of the financing options that are considered..what would be the sources…how would we encourage funding and support..from private sector and the public sector,” said Gray.
Area sellers of live and live-cut Christmas trees say they are selling fewer than in the past. Opinions differ regarding why that change is occurring. John Effinger, owner and manager of Frank Otte Nursery on Ring Road in Elizabethtown, thinks allergies are to blame. His grandchildren’s allergies are why he and his wife had to buy an artificial tree after bringing live-cut trees into their home every year as they raised their own children. “I think the environment is too clean today,” he said.
December’s the month when Lexington officials scrutinize city revenues with a sharp pencil. It’s marks the halfway point in the fiscal year. Lexington Finance Commissioner Jane Driskoll says their review of revenues will help them if budget adjustments are needed in 20-12. “We can see where we are to date and can make projections for the end of the year, so six months into it is a good touchstone and a good place to pause and determine if we need to make any changes for the rest of the year,” said Driskoll.
Shopping for the holidays is moving right along , and Kentuckians are again being urged to buy local. Such purchases are good for the local economy and the environment. December has been designated by the state as ‘Give a Gift in Kentucky Month.” Many of those gifts are bought at the Kentucky Artisan Center, just off I-75 near Berea. Since its opening eight years ago, center executive director Victoria Faoro says the diversity of gifts has grown.