April 16 is the last day that individuals in 21 Kentucky counties can apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) for weather-related jobless benefits. Officials from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on March 16 that individuals in the affected counties who have lost work or whose businesses were damaged due to severe weather that occurred Feb. 29 – March 3, may be eligible for DUA.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is giving $100,000 to help begin the process of rebuilding the city of West Liberty and Morgan County following the devastating March 2 tornadoes. The combined ARC funding includes $50,000 from the ARC 2012 Distressed County funds and $50,000 from the ARC co-chair’s account. The funds will be used to hire an architect to develop a conceptual plan for the professional rebuilding of the city of West Liberty and Morgan County.
A Coast Guard hearing on the collapse of the Eggner's Ferry Bridge over Kentucky Lake begins April 16 in Paducah. The hearing will set the stage for a comprehensive Coast Guard report. The fact finding hearing will last up to seven days and include testimony from parties in interest, which will likely include the Commonwealth and Foss Maritime, which owns and operates the ship that collided with the bridge. The ship’s pilot is another likely witness.
More than two acres of land at the northern part of Lexington’s Legacy Trail near Spindletop Hall and Iron Works Pike is the site of this year’s Reforest the Bluegrass. Organizers announced details of the community tree planting event Wednesday. City arborist technician John Saylor says planting the trees will reduce overall maintenance along the trail and prevent pollution from getting into the nearby Cane Run Creek.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews are performing maintenance work on the remaining spans of Eggners Ferry Bridge. A construction project will soon begin to replace the 322-foot span knocked out by a cargo vessel on Jan. 26. State spokesman Keith Todd said a date has not been set for the start of construction. Engineers are finalizing plans required for fabrication of steel for the new span. Hall Contracting plans to run a crew of about 40 around the clock to meet the May 27 deadline.
In an effort to make roadways safer, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety has joined the “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. “We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop most people from continuing to do it,” KOHS Director Bill Bell said in a statement.
Elizabethtown resident Nute Haire regularly plays the lottery and scratch-offs, but he said this week requires a bit more strategy. With an estimated jackpot of $540 million, Haire had plans to purchase Mega Millions lottery tickets at multiple locations in Hardin County and maybe even in Louisville, he said Thursday at Neighborhood Market in Elizabethtown. “They say you can’t win if you don’t play,” Haire said.
Gov. Steve Beshear Thursday announced that the Federal Highway Administration has approved $9 million in emergency relief funding for the repair and reopening of the Eggners Ferry Bridge, which carries U.S. 68 and KY 80 across Kentucky Lake. “We appreciate the support of our partners at FHWA to help us in getting the bridge repaired and averting a potential disaster for our tourism industry in the Western Kentucky Lakes Region,” Beshear said in a statement released by his office.
Gov. Steve Beshear Wednesday announced a $30,000 donation from the government of Taiwan to help communities recover from recent tornado and storms in numerous Kentucky counties. The gift will be donated to the Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or KyVOAD to assist in its disaster relief efforts in Kentucky.
The warmer than usual March weather is prompting a fast start to Kentucky’s camping season. Kentucky Department of Parks spokesman Gil Lawson says many of the 31 campgrounds across the Commonwealth are open for business. “Typically on most years we open on April first but, with this warm weather we’ve had lots of demand for camping so most of our campgrounds have opened up early in March to allow people to camp,” said Lawson.
Kentucky will sign an agreement to share and receive prescription drug dispensing data with at least 20 other states, which will help the state monitor prescription drug abuse, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday. The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) program has joined the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Prescription Monitoring Program InterConnect (PMP InterConnect), which facilitates the transfer of information to authorized users in other states.
Because field observations have determined that four Kentucky counties suffered the most extensive damage from the Feb. 29 and March 2 tornadoes, the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Waste Management is offering additional grant dollars for cleanup activities. “As with the first round of grant dollars, county leaders will be able to use this funding for the collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste generated by tornado damage,” EEC Secretary Len Peters said in a press release.
Changes being made by the Federal Communications Commission mean an end to a program that subsidizes the cost of telephone service for low-income consumers. “Although the Link-Up program will end April 2, 2012, the Lifeline program, which helps pay the cost of monthly phone bills for eligible consumers, will continue,” Kentucky Public Service Commission Chairman David Armstrong said. “We encourage eligible Kentuckians to continue to avail themselves of that program.”
Nearly 90 percent of the corn in this country is genetically-modified. And as using genetically-modified—or GM—corn becomes increasingly popular in everyday foods, more people are becoming concerned about potential ill effects on human health and the environment. Besides being used in food, that corn is also finding its way into Kentucky’s signature spirit: bourbon.
Kentucky may seem like an unlikely breeding ground for human traffickers, but the problem is growing nationally and one area college is hoping a conference will shine a light on the issue. Jury selection began Thursday in the trial of Anthony and Kathy Hart, a Madison County couple accused of trafficking their young daughters in Richmond, KY.
The governor and first lady were joined by other state officials in Frankfort yesterday to present the Kentucky Association of Food Banks (KAFB) $60,084 from the Phase II Tobacco Settlement Trust to aid the Farms to Food Banks project. “In these tough economic times, it gives me great pleasure to present these funds for a project that will help both our farm families and Kentuckians in need,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release.
The owner of Kentucky Speedway occupied a front- row seat and watched as a computer model simulated traffic on the day of the Quaker State 400. The model reflected the speedway’s newly expanded parking as well as the state’s widening of a nearby interstate exit ramp and state highway. The longest traffic delay on Interstate 71 was 14 minutes. Wednesday’s demonstration fueled Bruton Smith’s conviction that ongoing efforts by the speedway and the state will fix the bugs that manifested last July when the track hosted its inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
The fifth annual Bluegrass Local Food Summit begins Thursday, March 22nd, and promises a wide array of events centered on the theme “Eating From Our Own Soil.” Each day of the summit will focus on a different topic – with Thursday highlighting the role of local government in creating programs to support local food systems, Friday spotlighting community partners, and Saturday emphasizing building community skills through school gardens and youth gatherings.
Keeneland and Maker’s Mark unveiled the 16th entry in their signature charitable bottle series this morning. The bottle will feature a likeness of UK football great Tim Couch, who said he’s humbled to have been chosen. "So many people before me -- Coach Cal, Coach Hall, Coach Brooks -- have been featured. I'm honored, I really am. It's for a great cause and that's the best thing about it.
Seven additional counties are now eligible for reimbursements to county and local governments to assist in storm recovery, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday. The newly approved counties are Ballard, Johnson, Kenton, LaRue, Pendleton, Trimble, and Wolfe. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has now approved 14 counties to receive Public Assistance (PA), which provides reimbursements to county and local governments to repair public infrastructure or to remove storm debris.
Kentucky lawmakers are planning to help home and business owners in tornado-stricken areas. Earlier this month, tornadoes ripped through Northern and Eastern Kentucky, causing millions of dollars in damage. But lawmakers are working on legislation to give storm victims refunds on sales tax for building materials. The plan addresses a concern that people won’t rebuild destroyed towns.
Gov. Steve Beshear visited the temporary new home of West Liberty Elementary school and other temporary government service offices during a return visit to West Liberty and Salyersville Monday. Following the deadly storms and tornadoes on March 2, Beshear instructed all state government agencies and cabinets to assist in coordinating the restoration of government services in West Liberty, according to a state press release.
As is often the case with government reform efforts, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted ethics laws in response to an embarrassing scandal. “BOPTROT” was a federal investigation of the Kentucky legislature in the 1990s, so-named because it involved a powerful legislative committee, Business Organizations and Professions, and horse racing. It exposed 15 state lawmakers who sold their votes, some for as little as $100.
Following BOPTROT, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted laws restricting interactions between legislators and lobbyists. The reforms also required financial disclosure by legislators and detailed disclosure by lobbyists of their spending, whom they represent and how they are compensated.
Warmer weather means an increase in grab and go thefts from vehicles, according to the Madisonville Police Department. “Ninety percent of them are just crimes of opportunity,” said Police Chief Wade Williams. “They’re seeing the doors unlocked and randomly get the stuff out. If they find one that is locked, they just move on to the next one.” The thefts come in spurts, but Williams has noticed when the weather is nicer, things start to disappear from vehicles.
Survivors of the Feb. 29 and March 2 tornadoes, straight line winds and flooding and storms in Kentucky should be on the alert for scam artists who may approach you in person, by telephone or via the Internet. Be alert when your doorbell rings. People going door-to-door to damaged homes or telephoning disaster survivors and claiming to be building contractors could be frauds. If visitors or callers solicit personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers, or for money, they are not legitimate.
Employees in the unclaimed property division of the Kentucky Treasurer’s Office are working to locate the rightful owners of more than $26 million dollars in unclaimed property in the counties hardest hit by the violent storms of March 2. The Treasurer’s Office approached Lexis Nexis, an information technology services company, for assistance and the company generously agreed to donate enhanced software to speed up the process of locating and verifying the owners of over 99,000 claims in the federally designated disaster counties.
Part of the roof at a Knox County factory collapsed after heavy rain early Thursday night, injuring a number of people, authorities said. Initial reports indicated some people were trapped in the building. But WYMT-TV at Hazard reported that three people were injured and that all had been removed from the wreckage. Kentucky State Police at Hazard confirmed the incident. The collapse occurred about 8:30 p.m. at Tru Seal Technologies Inc., a firm that makes insulating glass sealant.
The investigation into an early morning fire in downtown Nicholasville continues. An official with the Nicholasville fire department says most of the damage was restricted to a commercial building along main street. The fire caused the shut down of main street. Officials anticipate main could be closed off for some time today.
Multiple agencies are responding to a fire in downtown Nicholasville this morning. Richmond State Police say main street is closed as crews battle the fire near Maple street. Commercial structures downtown are impacted by the fire. Officials estimate main street could be closed for several hours today.