Formerly illegal fireworks are making up more than half of all sales this year, fireworks stand owners say. Will O’Neil, owner of Tennessee Ted’s for the past seven years, is specifically advertising the roman candles, firecrackers and bottle rockets that became legal in Kentucky about three weeks ago. While customers are pleased about the change in the law, some fire officials aren't. “From a personal standpoint, I’m not in favor of making the fireworks laws more lax because of the exorbitant number of fires and injuries across the state that we experience,” Frankfort Fire Chief Wallace Possich said.
The future of a landmark Lexington hotel remains uncertain after it was sold for $9 million at a master commissioner's sale Monday. Crowne Plaza Lexington — The Campbell House, at 1375 South Broadway, was in default on its $21 million mortgage. The property was purchased by the mortgage holder, JPMC 2006-CIBC14 South Broadway REO, LLC. Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine had awarded a judgment against the hotel's owners, Thoroughbred Campbell House LLC, on April 28 and ordered the property sold. She also appointed Chris Bryan, vice president of Hospitality Receiver LLC, to take over management of the hotel. Bryan hired Prism Hotels & Resorts, a hotel receivership and management company based in Dallas, to run the property on a day-to-day basis.
A Georgetown-built vehicle has been named the most American-built car by the website Cars.com. For the third year in a row, the Toyota Camry built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky and at the Subaru of Indiana Automotive plant in Lafayette, Ind., was named No. 1 as determined by the Cars.com formula for “most American car.”
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?
Despite record-low interest rates and a surplus of available homes for sale, the housing market in Scott County and the region has yet to see a sign of relief from sluggish sales. According to the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors, 606 sales were reported in the region in May, compared with 839 in May 2010. There were 53 sales in Scott, down from 62 a year earlier. For the first five months of the year, 191 homes have been sold in the county, down from 241 for the same period in 2010.
When the Kentucky Speedway was built in 1998, officials predicted it would dramatically change Gallatin County and have a huge economic impact on the state. A wave of development was expected to sweep through the area surrounding the speedway, transforming its rolling green hills. That never happened, chiefly because the speedway never received the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for which it was built. That race will finally come on July 9 - and some are again predicting a tidal wave of economic activity, especially in Gallatin County.
Kentucky State Fair Board President Harold Workman says he’s still hopeful that Kentucky Kingdom amusement park can be reopened in 2012. Workman told a panel of state lawmakers recently that the board and Louisville Metro Government are close to finalizing an agreement to re-open Kentucky Kingdom next year. He says it will take a total investment of about $50 to bring the park back to life.
Employees at Gannett newspapers are taking to Facebook and Twitter to post their comments about today’s nationwide round of layoffs. The newspaper giant is cutting 700 employees nationwide, including at least 36 in Louisville. Among those laid off are several editors and staff writers in the Neighborhoods and Velocity sections. No official announcement has been made about what will happen to those sections, and Courier-Journal publisher Arnold Garson is unavailable for comment.
Several employees at the Louisville Courier-Journal are being laid off as part of a nationwide two percent staff reduction by parent company Gannett. In the largest round of layoffs since 2009, Gannett will cut 700 employees from newspapers across the country. The Gannett Blog is reporting confirmation that 36 Courier-Journal employees have been laid off. You can track the numbers here.
Many University of Kentucky staff members are facing a "use it or lose it" scenario with accrued vacation days that expire at the end of the month. The UK Human Resources Department is encouraging those people who won't be taking the time off to consider donating their hours to shared leave pools. Spokesperson Donna Cornet says at any given time, employees need to be away from the workplace for an extended period of time.
The Georgetown Scott County Tourism office typically gets calls in June about the Cincinnati Bengals’ training camp at Georgetown College. This year, callers have one question. “We have already gotten calls from people asking about camp and the status,” said John Simpson, director of the tourism commission. “I can’t answer their questions. Right now, we can just tell them the tentative dates.” As more days pass with the NFL lockout still in place, it is becoming more difficult to stay positive. Simpson says he has already heard some nervousness from local business owners that the NFL team and its fans may not travel to Georgetown this summer.
Carmichael’s Bookstore, one of the leading independent booksellers in Louisville, has recently begun selling e-books through their website through a partnership with Google and the American Booksellers Association. More than 250 booksellers nationwide are using the system, which allows independent bookstores to make money from e-books, a market previously reserved for giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Toyota Motor Corp. officials announced Thursday that vehicle production at all North American plants will have rebounded to 100 percent by September. The announcement is good news for the company's plants in San Antonio, Texas, which builds the Tundra and Tacoma pickups, and Ontario, Canada, home to the RAV4 and Lexus RX350. For Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, one of 11 plants running at 100 percent production, the announcement has no direct impact. TMMK resumed full production of the Camry, Avalon and Venza on June 6.
Several local organizations are included in more than 3,000 entities in Kentucky which have not filed necessary information with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS posted a 101 page list of Kentucky organizations on its website, including Maysville Younger Women's Club, Mason County Little League, Lions International in Maysville, and the Maysville Mason County Humane Society. MMCHS is not The Humane Society of Buffalo Trace; HSBT is not on the revoked list.
The American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville has partnered with the Dollywood Foundation to print books that will be distributed to children under five across the country. The foundation’s Imagination Library program sends a free book each month to promote reading before entering school. The program will now be able to offer their books with a Braille overlay for children or parents who are blind.
For the first time in more than two years, Kentucky's unemployment rate fell below 10 percent. The measure dropped to 9.8 percent in May from 10 percent in April. However, a different measure of the state's employment continued to show weakness: The state lost 6,000 non-farm jobs during the month. The state's unemployment rate of 9.8 percent matched the rate in February 2009, the most recent time Kentucky's rate was below 10 percent. The state continued to lag behind the national rate, which was 9.1 percent in May, up from 9 percent in April.
The Red Cross says a restructuring of its blood services division won’t have much of a local impact. The agency announced this week that 400 to 500 jobs will be cut nationwide under the plan. It says a drop in monetary donations and rising costs forced the restructuring. “Locally the impact of the restructuring has been minimal. Three positions in the River Valley Region were affected by restructuring,” said Katy Maloy,spokeswoman for the Red Cross River Valley Blood Services Region, which includes the Louisville area and parts of Indiana and Illinois.
Two Finchville residents are up on federal charges of embezzling nearly half a million dollars in employee benefits from a company they owned in Shelbyville. Officials from the Office of the United States Attorney say that William Kiser, 73, and Mary Sue Kiser, 70, owners of the now-closed Irotas Manufacturing Company in Shelbyville, were indicted Thursday in federal court for conspiring to defraud the United States and embezzling from an employee benefit fund.
Time Warner Cable has agreed to buy New Wave Communication operations in western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee. The 260 million dollar deal will transfer more than 70,000 customers to Time Warner. Company spokesman Alex Dudley says the only difference customers will notice at first will be sign changes. Dudley says service upgrades could come later, though he says Time Warner is happy with the current quality of the network. Dudley couldn’t comment on future employment shifts. He says none are planned for the short term. Dudley says the deal will close later this year.
On July 1, the state gas tax will increase 1.9 cents from 19.5 to 21.4 cents per gallon. The gas tax is tied to the average wholesale price of gasoline, which increased according to a survey in April, said Greg Harkenrider, acting deputy executive director for the Governor’s Office for Policy Research. Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Transportation Cabinet, said the gas tax increase will generate about $57 million in additional revenue. The money will go into the state road fund that pays for road construction and repairs. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.
When it comes to finding a job, teens have it rough right now. As workers ages 16 to 19 fill out applications, they will likely find less “help wanted” signs and more competition for available jobs. A decade ago, it was fairly common for teens to be employed at their first job or a summer employment position. According to an employment study released by Northeastern University, during the summer of 2000, 45 of every 100 teens held a job in the country.
The state Public Service Commission this week approved an expansion of Duke Energy Kentucky's energy-efficiency programs. The commission approved Duke's plan to continue 11 existing programs as well as add a new one called Residential Smart Saver in cooperation with the Kentucky Housing Corp., according to a PSC news release. The program will offer incentives of as much as $250 to cover part of the cost of items like air sealing, attic insulation, duct sealing, and tuneups for air conditioning and heat pumps. The incentives also will be available for the installation of high-efficiency heat pumps or air conditioners in homes.
Jennmar of West Kentucky Inc. is expanding its existing plant in Earlington by an additional 16,000 square feet, and will eventually add 20 to 30 new employees to the work force in Hopkins County. The $1.13 million expansion was announced Thursday. This will be the third expansion of Jennmar’s facility since it started manufacturing roof bolts for underground coal mining industry in 2007.
Requests for emergency food baskets in Fayette County have fallen slightly over the past year. God's Pantry director Marian Guinn says the per month requests have gone, on average, from about 1660 to 1600. Still, the number of people seeking help from the region’s best known food bank has nearly doubled since 2007. So, a plea is going out for volunteers to establish new food drives.
It was six o'clock. Like the rest of the staff of Bee Happy's, Tim Slone was waiting for folks to mosey into their new downtown Jackson restaurant on Main Street, to get a taste of their food, as well as to partake in the eatery's grand opening last Friday evening. It didn't take long for customers to pour in a few minutes later, and the sounds of servers talking to them about their orders mingled with occasional outbursts of laughter as well as the cries of “What would you like this evening?” and, “Can I get you a refill?”
On Monday, things went back to normal at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky. TMMK production has returned to 100 percent, up from 30 percent production levels the plant experienced from mid-April up to last week. The Georgetown production line was hurt by parts shortages caused by the continuing impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The largest Toyota plant in North America stopped the line for two non-production days each week in an effort to conserve parts supplies.
WEBstaurant Store Inc. has chosen Madisonville as its second location to operate a distribution center. WEBstaurant will hire 25 employees this summer, who will start to work within the next few weeks. Employment will eventually increase to 100, according to the company’s president, Dave Groff. The announcement was made during a news conference at the Madisonville/Hopkins County Economic Development Corp. on Thursday morning.
Trauth Dairy’s Newport plant will cease production by the end of August, ending more than 90 years of making dairy products in Newport. The plant will remain a distribution and administration center for the dairy company, Trauth’s owner, Dallas-based Dean Foods announced Thursday. The company said 80 people will lose their jobs at the plant by the time production ceases on Aug. 26.
Plans for the long-stalled Centre-Point project are the focus of a meeting this afternoon in Lexington. The downtown site’s original buildings were razed back in 2008 over the protests of several preservation groups. Hayward Wilkirson, who led the opposition, is now a board member for Progress Lexington. Wilkirson says the new plans resemble the original vision of preservationists.
Massey Energy is no more. A vote today by shareholders approved the coal company’s acquisition by Alpha Natural Resources. The $7.1 billion merger means Alpha now controls the second-largest coal reserves in the country. The company will also control more reserves of metallurgical coal, which is in demand overseas to make steel. The new Alpha Natural Resources will operate more than 180 coal mines and processing plants throughout Appalachia and Wyoming.