So far, so good. That's the feeling of Mason County Judge-Executive James L. "Buddy" Gallenstein about the mild weather seen in the region coming into 2012. Gallenstein said on Monday the county has realized a savings of about $100,000 compared to the same time last year. "The mild weather thus far has been a blessing. No salt or cinders have been used so far," said Gallenstein.
The crisis phase of the Low Income Heating Assistance Program begins tomorrow. This is the second and final phase of LIHEAP. Residents must be in danger of having their utilities cut off in order to receive assistance. The city began scheduling early appointments for assistance last week and those will continue tomorrow at government centers.
The owners of one of the few remaining independent tobacco warehouses operating in the state have moved on from one historical site in Danville to another building used by another former tobacco auction mainstay during the fall selling season. Growers have come from as far away as Indiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana, and owner Jerry Rankin said about 2 million pounds of tobacco have been sold at the two warehouses.
The possibility of using highway tolls to pay for a Brent Spence Bridge replacement is once again being raised. Thursday, Kentucky and Indiana transportation officials announced a plan to jointly build and pay for a massive road project in Louisville that includes two new bridges across the Ohio River. Revenue from tolls is expected to generate up to $1.3 billion of the $2.6 billion price tag; the rest will come from state and federal funding. “We believe the toll revenue bonds and the committed traditional funding together will see both of these bridges through to completion,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said Thursday.
A financing mechanism has been decided for the Ohio River Bridges Project, putting the project on track to start construction next year. Both Indiana and Kentucky have agreed to oversee and pay for half of the $2.6 billion project. Kentucky will be responsible for building a new I-65 bridge, and improving the existing Kennedy Bridge and Spaghetti Junction. Indiana will oversee and pay for the East End portion of the project.
Congress is directing an additional four million dollars to researching a disease that is killing bats all over the southeast, including many in Kentucky. White-nose Syndrome is a fungus that has infected and killed more than a million bats since it was discovered five years ago. Nina Fascione is the executive director of Bat Conservation International. She says extra funds for fighting the mysterious disease will definitely be useful.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner-elect James Comer is planning to support legislation to allow industrial hemp farming. The bill has been pre-filed in the General Assembly to legalize the controversial practice. Comer supports the measure and says he will make it part of his legislative package once he takes office next week. But a federal waiver would still be required before hemp farming could begin.
Goodwill Industries of Kentucky has placed a record number of people into jobs this past year. The 2,500 jobs represent a 36 percent increase over last year and that’s the highest number of job placements in Goodwill’s history, said vice president David Cobb. But, the organization’s growth didn’t happen overnight, he said.
The city of Harlan is getting ready to advertise for bids to install a hydroelectric turbine at the city’s sewer plant. The project would be the first of its kind in the state. Harlan Mayor Danny Howard said that the plan is for the turbine to be put at the plant’s water outlet where the treated water runs back into the river. The electricity generated by the turbine would then be transferred into the power grid, for which city officials expect to receive a payback from Kentucky Utilities. “Initial estimates indicated that the turbine would generate $7,000 a year worth of electricity, but that was before the rate increase. It should be more than that. They won’t actually pay us, instead this would come in form of a credit on our KU bill,” said Howard.
Next week, KET will begin a partnership with public radio stations in Kentucky to air KET series and programs. This partnership will launch initially with WEKU and WKMS. WEKU, based in Richmond, reaches nearly all of Eastern Kentucky and the Bluegrass/Central Kentucky region. WKMS, based in Murray, reaches Western Kentucky and the Four Rivers Region.
Fort Knox officials are in the process of reducing the post’s workforce in a manner officials hope will remove redundancies without leading to significant job loss. The directive to reduce staffing is part of a planned civilian workforce reduction of around 8,700 positions throughout the U.S. Army by Sept. 30, 2012, that, at Fort Knox, primarily is expected to affect U.S. Army Accessions Command and Garrison Command. Garrison Command has been tasked with trimming its 715 civilian positions to 582, which would result in the elimination of more than 130 positions, according to the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office.
Average retail gasoline prices in Kentucky have risen 19.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.28 per gallon on Sunday. On average, national gas prices have increased 8 cents per gallon in the last week, according to the gasoline price website KentuckyGasPrices.com. In Kentucky, prices on Sunday were 27.5 cents per gallon higher than they were the same day in 2010 and 11.2 cents higher than a month ago.
By Trent Knuckles, Corbin/Whitley News-Journal & Mark White, Corbin/Whitley News-Journal
A vote that would allow packaged alcohol sales in Corbin will likely take place Feb. 21. Citizens for Economic Progress filed the petition on Dec. 12 at the Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz's Office. Schwartz said Tuesday morning that 544 signatures were certified from the Whitley County side of Corbin, and that Knox County certified 148 signatures.
A Kentucky woman who has accused a Mercer County school teacher of putting her autistic son into a bag as punishment plans to address the school board next month. Sandra Baker was called to the Mercer County Intermediate School a couple weeks ago after her 9-year-old autistic son was misbehaving. She said she found him in a bag meant for therapeutic purposes, but the staff was instead using the bag as punishment. This week, Baker said her son has been unusually quiet since the incident.
By Janet Patton, Lexington Herald Leader & Jack Brammer, Lexington Herald-Leader
Kentuckians overwhelmingly support putting a casino-gambling constitutional amendment on the November ballot, where it probably would pass, according to a new survey conducted for racetracks and horse-racing interests. According to numbers released Tuesday, 87 percent of Kentuckians want to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling. Only 10 percent of those surveyed said they opposed a vote.
Kentucky's forests could face as much danger from humans as any of the insects that invade them if funding isn't maintained in the Farm Bill, according to one Kentucky tree farmer. Charles D. Williams of Munfordville is helping with a grassroots campaign to raise awareness of Kentucky's nearly half-million acres of forests. The devastation could come if humans fail to maintain needed funding. So Williams - who owns nearly 1,000 acres of woodland - and others are writing letters to newspapers around the country and lobbying Congress about the need for forest protection. An attorney by trade, Williams also has lobbied the state for stronger laws against timber trespassing.
Fewer people died on Kentucky highways this year than through the same time period in 2010. As of Wednesday, the Kentucky State Police recorded 701 fatalities in 2011, compared to 750 through the same date in 2010. There were 771 in 2009, 797 in 2008 and 845 in 2007. "Kentucky over the last several years has experienced fewer deaths on our highways than in previous years, and 2011 is no different," Kentucky State Police spokesman David Jude said.
Brenda Hall had a home for her and the four grandchildren to spend Christmas in because of help from the nonprofit group that provides civil legal aid to residents across the region. “It’s been a godsend,” the 56-year-old said of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass. “It would have been really hard to move right before Christmas.” The group went to court last week to stop the eviction of Hall and the grandchildren she raises. The landlord claimed she violated her lease because her grandson, who is an honor student, didn’t get along with a neighbor’s child.
Once again, Kentucky is leading the pack in one annual ranking. However, the ranking is an ignominious one as, for the fifth straight year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has named Kentucky the best state in the nation to be an animal abuser. The rankings are compiled following a study of laws around the nation designed to protect animals and punish convicted animal abusers.
It’s been a pretty wet year in many communities across Kentucky and records are falling. It appears repeated weather patterns are partly responsible for feet of rain falling throughout 2011. Some records for precipitation over 2011 have already been set. Just as a couple of examples, the wettest years on record have occurred in Louisville and in Baxter near Harlan in eastern Kentucky. Jackson Meteorologist Shawn Harley says several east Kentucky communities are experiencing top five rainfall amounts.
Thousands of Kentuckians will be taking to the roadways sometime this weekend to celebrate the holiday. Kentucky State Police spokesman Lt. David Jude says law enforcement will be out in full force starting Friday evening around 6.
A contractor has filed a mechanic’s lien on the Hopkins County Judicial Center because the company states it has not received a final payment for laying limestone. Evans Limestone Co. of Bedford, Ind., recently filed a lien against the Hopkins County Public Properties Corp. in Hopkins Circuit Court. The company is asking for payment of $38,394 for work it says was completed in April.
The bad taste and odor evident in the city’s tap water late last week pose no health concern, Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service officials said Tuesday.The water utility is addressing an issue with algae in Royal Spring, the city’s primary source of water. On Monday, Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service officials took the spring offline until the problem is corrected, General Manager Billy Jenkins told water board members at the body’s monthly meeting Tuesday.
A struggling economy, increased demand for services, and funding cuts are creating the perfect winter storm for the local Salvation Army. With just three days to go, the charity's annual red kettle campaign is running 20% behind."The kettle campaign has never been this far behind", said Major Debra Ashcraft.
'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the town, drivers were happy for gas was going down. But then just days away from the visit by St. Nick, stations spiked it 40 cents and made everyone sick. Central Kentucky drivers took to Twitter, Facebook and old-fashioned word of mouth to offer up some choice holiday greetings for service stations after the price of gas skyrocketed Wednesday. "It sucks," said Richmond's David Keene, who warned his real feelings weren't fit to print in a family newspaper.
Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleader and Northern Kentucky teacher Sarah Jones, who gained national attention by suing a gossip website that claimed she was promiscuous, is now the subject of two investigations. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has been asked to assign a special prosecutor to a criminal case. And the board that certifies teachers in Kentucky is also investigating Jones. She resigned Nov. 30 from Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood. Unknown is what the 26-year-old Jones has been accused of doing.
Motorists traveling on Interstate 65 and Scottsville Road might have noticed large steel pylons sticking out of the ground near the existing overpass.The steel is part of the foundation of an expanded bridge that will ultimately be a single-point urban interchange. "Right now, they are working on the north side of the bridge," said Keirsten Jaggers, spokeswoman at the Department of Highways in Bowling Green. "They will put all the big steel piers in the ground ... then they will go ahead and build up the ramps that will be closer to the interstate than they are. There is a lot of earthwork for those ramps needed."
The "layaway angel" has been in Central Kentucky. Kelsey Smith says she's the latest beneficiary of this Christmas' biggest gift trend — an anonymous layaway payoff — that has spread like a charitable wildfire among Kmarts and some Wal-Marts. For Smith and her family, the generosity could not have come at a better time. Her year-old daughter, Addison, was in the hospital earlier this year with pneumonia, and Smith, who works in a dental office, said she and fiancé James Chapman have been struggling to pay medical bills.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland says illegal prescription drug sale and use in Franklin County has become “incredible.” Five were indicted Wednesday for trafficking in controlled prescription drugs, which has become commonplace with about 35 charged with the same offense in the last six months. Cleveland said initially he was inclined to go easy on the prescription pill trafficking charges to get the files off his hands, “but the more you look at it, the angrier you become.”
The federal government has cited three Kentucky coal mines for major safety violations. Since the deadly explosion last year at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, MSHA has been conducting monthly impact inspections. The agency targets mines with spotty safety records, in an effort to catch operators unaware and correct violations. This was the D&C Mining Corporation’s seventh surprise inspection on its mine in Harlan County, and inspectors found serious problems.