An independent review ordered by the Public Service Commission has found Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric’s customer service falling short of what is expected. The report was released today. The review found that satisfaction with the utility’s customer service has steadily declined since 2008, and that call centers around the state aren’t meeting internal goals for answering calls quickly.
An estimated 17.4 percent of people in Kentucky were living in poverty in 2010, and 17.5 percent had no health insurance, according to preliminary U.S. Census data released Tuesday. Nationally, 15.1 percent of people were in poverty and 16.3 percent lacked health insurance during 2010. Changes in the state's poverty rate and health insurance coverage rate from the previous year were not statistically significant, said Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. For a family of four, the poverty line is an annual income of $22,314 or less for a family of four.
Humana is adding 200 customer service jobs to the Medicare sector of its downtown Louisville headquarters. Despite the company’s 2010 cuts of nearly 1,500 positions certain sectors have seen growth, said John Brown, vice president of Humana’s Medicare service operations.
Calhoun and Perdue Grain are partnering to reopen the old Peavey elevator in Hopkins County in time for the fall harvest season. This development will cut costs for many farmers, who were faced with trucking grain to elevators in Henderson and Hopkinsville. Alan Lutz, co-owner of Calhoun, said work is continuing this week to prepare the facility to begin accepting corn on Thursday.
The new zipline at the Evarts Trailhead in Baileys Creek, named Black Mountain Thunder, is set to open Thursday. Members of the Harlan County Outdoor Recreation Board Authority describe the opening as a “soft opening.” “We start off soft to get some money rolling in. We will have a grand opening in October,” said board member Ken Crider. Visitors will be taken on a twelve-lines-long zipline tour that takes them along the mountainside and across the valley. A tour for a group of 10 is expected to take about two hours.
The man who wants to reopen the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park says he’s close to securing nearly $29 million in private funding for the effort, but time is running out for state and local governments to finalize their commitment. Kentucky Kingdom was shut down early last year after its previous operator, Six Flags, declared bankruptcy.
The first million-dollar horse has been sold at Keeneland’s 68th Annual September Yearling Auction. Mandy Pope of Whisper Hill Farm bought a filly by Unbridled’s Song for $1 million. The auction attracts international crowds to bid on and purchase yearlings, who are at their peak sale price in September. The 13-day auction has more than 4,300 horses cataloged this year, but that number is less than previous years, said spokeswoman Julia Balog. Demand dialed down in 2008 because of the economy and breeders focused on more desirable horses, she said.
Third District Congressman John Yarmuth has called the White House to discuss the Sherman Minton Bridge closure. “We have no idea at this point the extent of the repairs that would be needed or even if the bridge can be repaired,” says Yarmuth. “There’s a chance this is going to require a significant expenditure of money and that could require congressional action.” Yarmuth says the bridge’s effect on the local economy is too large to ignore. He’s talked with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as well.
The Better Business Bureau is reminding University of Kentucky students, especially those new to the area, to stay vigilant when it comes to offers that sound too good to be true. Tech savvy college students may think they're immune to scams, but Heather Clary, a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky says the young, as well as the elderly, can be taken for a ride.
Georgia Clemons is only 5 feet tall, but she cuts quite a figure: pastel suit, black high heels, hair coiffed and a twist of pearls around her neck. But she is standing behind the front counter of Georgia's Service Center, a circa 1963 filling station and auto repair shop at the corner of Lexington's Nicholasville Road and Malabu Drive. She owns the place, and she runs it seven days a week.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, earthen and cement levies across America came under scrutiny to insure the structures could sustain catastrophic natural disasters. Cities across the nation, including Maysville, are now facing a certification process by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to inspect and correct deficiencies of levees in accordance with 100 year flood guidelines.
Beginning Monday, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky will resume plant tours that lead visitors from the birth of three models to viewing the finished product in the visitors center. The free tours will be offered at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. weekdays, and reservations are recommended. TMMK suspended tours last December as the plant began to transition to building the next- generation Toyota Camry, said TMMK spokesman Rick Hesterberg.
The Benham Power Board has paid off its large debt to Kentucky Utilities. Mayor John Dodd announced the payment at the Benham City Council meeting on Thursday. The large debt, that at one point had the city considering turning over its electric distribution system to KU, was paid with the help of a $100,000 grant from the Richard and Leslie Gilliam Foundation.
A baseball complex, amusement park, giant recreational vehicle facility and restaurants have all been among the ideas conceived or considered for parts of 965 acres along Interstate 65 near Franklin. Bowling Green entrepreneur David Garvin pieced together the property six years ago and hoped to develop Garvin World, based on a concept that featured all things recreational vehicles. Then the economy faltered and three of the major companies interested in the project filed for bankruptcy.
Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday that the state has fully paid a $28.2 million bill from the federal government for interest on funds borrowed for unemployment insurance. The payment preserves a critical federal tax credit for Kentucky businesses, prevents the loss of some $30 million in federal administrative funds, and avoids a costly special session for legislators.
The grand opening of the Black Mountain Thunder Zipline attraction at the Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Park didn’t take place on Labor Day weekend as anticipated. Harlan County Outdoor Recreation Board Chairperson Kim Collier said the liability insurance necessary for opening “was taking longer than anticipated.”
Magnum Hunter Productions Inc., a Texas-based oil and natural gas company, has signed a five-year deal to lease a building from Harlan County government. The firm will move its pipe yard and regional headquarters to Coldiron and with them 50 to 60 new jobs, according to Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop.
ACS plans to hire 700 more employees in Lexington and London as it ramps up to temporarily field calls for companies enrolling workers in health care plans. But the plans that will be announced Thursday include hiring 200 permanent workers as ACS, which specializes in providing services to other businesses, is bolstering its call center operations for retail electronics companies.
The latest beige book from the Federal Reserve shows mixed results for the area. Louisville is in the Eighth District, which is centered in St. Louis. Overall, the district saw modest economic growth in July and August, but activity varied from sector to sector. Manufacturing, services and auto sales were up compared to the previous year. But residential real estate activity and non-auto retail sales dropped.
Toyota no longer plans to import any Camrys from Japan for sale in the United States, ending a diminishing practice that had dwindled to just a few thousand last year. The announcement from the automaker came in conjunction with the launch of the latest generation of the sedan in Japan on Monday. The vehicle launched last month in the United States, where it is far and away more popular and has been the top-selling car for 13 of the past 14 years.
Community leaders and company officials from ZF Steering Systems LLC Wednesday celebrated the completion of its $95.8 million expansion in Northern Kentucky. The project entailed the construction of two new buildings totaling 175,000 square feet on its existing site and is creating 374 new full-time jobs over the next two years.
Community leaders and officials from Denyo Manufacturing Corp. in Danville announced Wednesday that the company has chosen to invest nearly $6.9 million in its Boyle County plant to modernize its plant. Denyo Manufacturing manufactures, assembles and sells industrial electric generators. The new investment will entail the construction of an additional facility to house a new, technologically advanced coating process. The new process will help to minimize errors, hazardous waste, air emissions, energy costs and flammable materials and increase the quality of products and productivity, according to a press release from the governor's office. The project is expected to be completed by March 2012.
Ellis Park took a hit at the betting window at its just-concluded 2011 live racing meet and saw a significant drop in the number of horses per race, the racetrack reported Tuesday. Nonetheless, owner Ron Geary said he will ask for live racing dates in 2012. He says he also plans to make application in October to install Instant Racing machines at Ellis to generate more revenue and help it compete with racetracks in some neighboring states that have full track-side casinos. If approved, the slot machine-like devices would likely be installed this winter, according to Geary.
About 50 people gathered at a middle school in West Louisville Tuesday night to tell the state’s Public Service Commission what they think about proposed utility rate increases. Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities have both proposed rate increases to help the companies recover the costs for new pollution-reducing technology that will soon be required by the federal government. If the PSC approves the increase, it’ll be staggered over four years. LG&E’s typical ratepayer (who uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours per month) will see their bill increase by about two dollars next year, and eventually by 2016 the bill will be about $16.00 higher. Most of those testifying to commissioners were against the rate increase. Reverend Milton Seymore of the Justice Resource Center says he thinks LG&E should have to absorb the costs without help from ratepayers.
One of the Kentucky Public Service Commission’s public meetings on proposed utility rate increases is scheduled for tonight in Louisville. Commissioners will give an educational presentation about the request, then take testimony from the public.Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities have requested that the PSC allow them to raise utility rates to pay for environmental upgrades to their power plants. LG&E estimates total electric bills will rise by about 19 percent by 2016 for their customers, and KU customers will see bills increase by about 12 percent.
When the first in the latest generation of Toyota's best-selling Camry sedans rolled off the lines in Georgetown last month, it was a sight that plant president Wil James hadn't expected to see. He had been at Georgetown more than five years earlier when planning began for the redesigned Camry, but the rising executive who had spent two decades in Georgetown was soon to be tapped to lead other Toyota sites, first in California and then in Indiana. "I went out there with the thought that one day I would be able to work my way back home," James recalled.
When calculating inflation, economists look at the cost of products in thousands of locations across the United States. In Lexington, though, the easiest way to see how prices are going might be to look at the famous Burger Shake sign on East New Circle Road. As prices of everything from corn to clothing have soared this summer, the iconic local fast-food sign saw a change, too: The cost of a burger went from 84 cents to 99 cents this summer. "All of our costs started going up like crazy," co-founder Joe Isaac said. "We couldn't hold the line anymore.
Linda Green has watched Corvettes roll off the lines in Bowling Green for three decades. Thursday morning, Green sat among fellow employees as she helped celebrate the General Motors assembly plant’s 30th anniversary in Bowling Green. Plant employees and community leaders gathered to commemorate the factory that has churned out Corvettes since 1981 and has become an economic powerhouse for Bowling Green.