Tuesday, February 15, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...2-16-'11
- The Kentucky Division of Water has lifted a consumer advisory for 1,300 customers in Whitesburg in Letcher County. The advisory was put into place Saturday when a diesel fuel leak was discovered at an oil storage site located one-half mile upstream from the plant. Samples taken immediately after the spill revealed unacceptable amounts of diesel fuel. The spill was contained by Monday. Water plant operations were shut down as a precaution and bottled water was made available to residents and businesses. Laboratory results indicate nondetectable amounts of diesel fuel in the treated water on two consecutive days of analyzed water samples. Whitesburg Water Works will continue to monitor the water intakes and maintain the activated carbon units to effectively treat the source water. The source of the leak has been identified at the Childers Oil Bulk Facility, where a remote underground pipeline associated with an above-ground storage tank leaked due to equipment malfunction.
- Don Reed, a Magoffin County man convicted of murder in 2007, was in court Tuesday seeking a new trial after being found guilty of killing Brandy Rowe. Police say she was shot multiple times and her body was dumped in a creek. Reed claims he has new evidence that shows someone else did it. Dozens of others testified in favor of Reed. The judge will take 60 days to decide whether Reed should have a new trial.
- A Perry County Grand Jury handed down the indictment against Michael and Alisha Akers of Hazard. The indictment charges the couple stole $12,500 from the WYMT Mountain Classic Scholarship Fund while Alisha Akers was an employee of WYMT-TV in 2010. The two are charged with theft by unlawful taking over $10,000. If convicted, the couple faces five to ten years in prison. Bond is set at $20,000 cash. They're scheduled to appear in court on March 24th.
- Latrina Rogers, of Sacramento, California, is lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center after police say she misused computer information to cash checks from Core Trans trucking company in Somerset in the amount of $8,000. Detectives say Rogers is part of a nationwide crime ring which has been cashing cheks from numerous trucking companies across the United States. Rogers claims she only ended up with $1,200, and that someone else ended up with the rest of the money. Detectives say they've identified 7 out of 10 possible suspects in the case and they expect one of them to be extradited to Pulaski County.
- Under a bill that cleared the Kentucky House by a vote of 61-35 Tuesday, advertising could be placed on the sides of school buses. The bill would prohibit political advertising or ads for tobacco or alcohol products. Democratic Representative Terry Mills of Lebanon says his bill is a creative way to help cash-strapped school districts generate more money.
- Gwendela Hurst, 24, of Williamsburg, died in a Whitley County single vehicle crash on Monday. Police say she was traveling west on Wolf Creek Road when she lost control, went off the road and slammed into several trees, flipping the car. Coroner Andy Croley pronounced Hunt dead at the scene, while passenger in the car was flown to UT Medical Center.
- Environmental groups are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to limit the emission of greenhouse gases from power plants and oil refineries. Regulators invited comment from those groups Tuesday during a meeting in Atlanta. Seandra Rawls of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said she hoped the rules would prompt the closure of older coal-fired power plants in the Southeast. Other activists said they oppose cap-and-trade systems, which they said would create pockets of pollution. President Barack Obama's administration turned to regulation as a way of curbing emissions blamed for global warming after legislation failed last year in Congress.
- Under a bill sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, whistle-blowers would be encouraged to report government fraud. The measure was approved by the House on Monday by a vote of 98-0. Stumbo says the federal government and 28 other states already have similar measures in place. The proposal, dubbed the False Claims Act, is aimed at encouraging whistle-blowers by giving them up to 30 percent of damages won in lawsuits against companies found to have defrauded the state. Stumbo says the federal government and the participating states have brought in about $25 billion over the last 25 years. The Senate is pushing a proposal that would encourage whistle-blowers to report fraud within the Medicaid program. Stumbo said he's hopeful the General Assembly decides to extend the whistle-blower incentives to all government programs and agencies.
- Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett confirmed Tuesday that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, will be in Kentucky Thursday morning to meet with up to 50 mining executives who have a history of digging deep to help bankroll politicians friendly to the mining industry. Barbour would be the first potential presidential candidate pondering a run next year to reach out to Kentucky's coal operators. Because Kentucky holds its primary in May, party nominations are all but determined before voters go to the polls. Financially, however, coal operators in the state could have a say in the primary race.
- Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels have announced $22 million in funding to turn a rusty, unused Ohio River bridge into a pedestrian walkway and bicycle path linking Louisville and Jeffersonville, Indiana. The agreement to refurbish the Big Four Bridge calls for Kentucky to put up $12 million to replace the deck while Indiana and the city of Jeffersonville put up $8 million and $2 million respectively to build a ramp to the bridge. The Big Four Bridge could reopen to pedestrians and cyclists in early 2013. The historic bridge, which was built for railroad traffic in 1895, was closed and its approaches removed in 1969.
- Four dozen job openings at a General Electric plant in western Kentucky has drawn more than 2,000 applicants. State workforce development spokesman Stan Hill says more than 2,200 people applied for the 48 jobs at the Madisonville GE plant. He says most applicants lived locally, but about 700 came from other areas, including central and eastern Kentucky. The jobs have a starting pay of $18.25 per hour, with progressive raises over two years that can push pay to $26 per hour. Testing will be administered at Madisonville Community College. The plant in Madisonville manufactures parts for military and commercial jet engines and employs about 600 people.
- Faced with growing complaints from students, proprietary colleges have been under review by lawmakers in recent months. Under a bill that cleared the House Education Committee Tuesday, for-profit colleges would face heightened regulation. The proposal, sponsored by Democratic Representative Reginald Meeks of Louisville, calls for giving the Council on Postsecondary Education oversight of such colleges that offer associate degrees or higher. They now are overseen by the State Board for Proprietary Education. Faced with growing complaints from students, proprietary colleges have been under review by lawmakers in recent months. All of the state's public universities operate under the umbrella of the Council on Postsecondary Education. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
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