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Economic Diversification Awards to help expand and diversify the economy in the coalfields of southern and eastern Kentucky

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) applauds the Appalachian Regional Commission's (ARC) approval of approximately $8 million in Economic Diversification Awards to help expand and diversify the economy in the coalfields of southern and eastern Kentucky.

The projects are expected to create or retain approximately 300 jobs and spur private investments. It's part of additional investments through the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative of nearly $26 million to create jobs and improve workforce development across five Appalachian states that have been hardest hit by the downturn of the coal industry.

"When times get tough, the ARC continues to stand in the gap for southern and eastern Kentucky and these investments show the agency's trusted partnership in reviving and rebuilding our region," said Congressman Rogers. "Our best days are ahead of us and these projects will specifically improve our addiction recovery efforts, workforce development, digital innovation tourism opportunities and job creation."

The 28 awards for Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia are projected to create or retain more than 2,500 jobs and train more than 7,300 workers and students.

“These investments capitalize on the growing momentum for a diverse economy in Appalachia,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl. “They are strategic, collaborative and impactful plans to make Kentucky and the entire Appalachian Region more competitive in technology, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, broadband, health and a variety of other sectors.”

Kentucky's awards include:

*  $3.5 million ARC grant for Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Prestonsburg, Kentucky for the Eastern Kentucky Coal County Transformation Project, which will launch a workforce development program focused on building the digital economy across a 16-county region through the Big Sandy, Hazard, and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges. The project is expected to serve 300 trainees and improve operations of 30 existing businesses in the first two years of the award.

*  $1.5 million ARC grant to Hazard Community and Technical College to build an Intergenerational Training Center on the Lees College Campus in Jackson, Kentucky, which will train nearly 300 dislocated workers and credential 228 students over the life of the award.

*  $1.25 million ARC grant to the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation in London, Kentucky for the Kentucky Highlands Employment and Financial Training Program, which will support local entrepreneurs at both the start-up and expansion stages through a loan fund in 21 counties across the region The project is expected to create or retain 200 jobs.

*  $1 million ARC grant to Fahe - Federation of Appalachian housing enterprises - in Berea, Kentucky for the UPLIFT Appalachia Recovery Project, which will be used to finance three community addiction recovery facilities located in Louisa, Somerset and Jackson. The award will serve more than 5,000 patients and create or retain 63 jobs.

*  $500,000 ARC grant to the City of Whitesburg, Kentucky for the Whitesburg Daniel Boone Hotel Stabilization Project, which will restore and preserve the historic Daniel Boone Hotel, representing the City's rise after the arrival of railroads and the county's first coal mines. The project will create 23 jobs and is expected to attract approximately 10,000 new visitors every year. 

 

 

Health care coverage for more than 16,000 retired United Mine Workers at issue...

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017 -- A pair of Senate bills were introduced to fund health-care benefits for retired coal miners and their widows, Curtis Tate reports for McClatchy Newspapers.

Ten senators from Indiana, Missouri North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia "reintroduced the Miners Protection Act, which the Senate Finance Committee approved last year but which did not make it to the Senate floor." At the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a similar bill, with language blaming President Obama for coal's decline.

"Health care coverage for more than 16,000 retired United Mine Workers of America beneficiaries was set to expire at the end of December, but Congress extended it for four months in a bigger bill to fund the entire government through April," Tate writes.

The Miners Protection Act would: "Amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to transfer funds in excess of the amounts needed to meet existing obligations under the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) fund to the UMWA 1974 Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency;" and "Make certain retirees who lose health care benefits following the bankruptcy or insolvency of his or her employer eligible for the 1993 Benefit Plan. The assets of Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) created following the Patriot Coal bankruptcy would be transferred to the 1993 Benefit Plan to reduce transfers from the AML fund."

McConnell's bill would make permanent the extension of health benefits for retired miners and their dependents that was included in last year's government funding bill. It also "calls on Congress to work with the Trump Administration to repeal onerous regulations that have contributed to the downfall of the coal industry and to support economic growth efforts in coal country," a McConnell press release says. "Sen. McConnell’s bill also calls on the Government Accountability Office to periodically audit the health-care benefits plan and report to Congress its findings to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely."

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 1/18/2017 11:58:00 AM

Journalist leads discussion about how to determine if online news is real or fake

Date: 01-11-2017 --The ability to share news with one click has made it easier to stay informed yet even easier to be duped.

Nearly 50 people showed up Monday night to learn how to discern if the news they read is real, fake or biased.

Jennifer Brown, former editor and opinion editor at the Kentucky New Era, led the hour-long open discussion hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Hopkinsville Community College.

She started out by differentiating between fake news and biased news. Fake news is simply conjuring up a bogus story. Biased news is obvious when personal beliefs influence reporting.

“There’s no news media that is pure and devoid of any philosophical leanings or bias — that’s just not possible,” she said. “If the bias or the political gain is the only reason for existence, then that’s the problem.”

Brown continued with a PowerPoint spelling out the seven elements that make a story newsworthy: prominence, impact, proximity, human interest, conflict, timeliness and bizarreness.

Brown went on to highlight a few fake news stories that went viral online last year.

“Pizzagate,” for instance, suggested Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex ring inside a District of Columbia pizza parlor. The fake story went so far that a North Carolina man traveled to D.C. and fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant, hoping to free the captive children. No one was hurt, but it could have been deadly.

Brown asked, “What’s at stake when cooked-up stories spread unchecked?” In the case of Pizzagate, public safety may be one thing.

“It erodes public trust, it seems, and diminishes the impact and value of real news reporting,” Brown said.

Her additional slides offered ways for readers to determine if an article is truthful, such as looking for the reporter’s byline and contact information.

“Credible news organizations should make their reporters accessible,” she said. “If a reporter won’t take a call from you or an email, you should be suspicious.”

Other tips included searching for more stories by the same reporter, checking the names and titles of people named in the article, searching for other stories on the same topic, and interacting with news media in your community when the opportunity arises.

She also shared a list of fact-checking sites, including PolitiFact.com (run by the Tampa Bay Times), FactCheck.org, OpenSecrets.org, Snopes.com and The Washington Post Fact Checker blog.

Before opening the floor, Brown once again highlighted that not all news is fake and that there is still a lot of honest reporting being done. However, she said in the coming years, people will try to discredit news they don’t like, even when it is true.

“I think the news media is about to go through a rough patch where many politicians are going to just try to discount them by saying, ‘That’s fake,’ when in fact they mean, ‘I don’t agree with you. I wish you had focused on something else.’”

The floor was opened for the audience to further discuss the epidemic of fake news.

Faye Hendricks, wife of Mayor Carter Hendricks, asked why aren’t credible news organizations or companies going after fake news sites that blatantly commit libel or slander.

“Why isn’t the pizza company or restaurant going after these people?” she said. “They’re doing it to make money, so hit them in their pocketbook. Will it make a difference or is it too hard to track down?”

Brown guessed it’s often too hard to track down or too expensive for independent people to go after. Most news organizations belong to a larger organization that will help with lawsuits, but the average person may not be able to afford it.

Candace Batchelder, Hopkinsville, said it seems some people choose to believe fake news when it fits their views.

“To me, the fake ones stand out,” she said. “It’s so unbelievable that I wonder why are people believing this stuff —I think there’s something underlying it, and I think it is misogyny.”

Some people in the discussion toyed with the idea that fake news is becoming more widespread because of corruption — where people are paid to create fake news as part of a strategy — and because of money and the advertising dollars associated with clicks on websites.

Jan Culwell, Cadiz, said people are more on guard to fake news today, but it’s harder to dispel dubious news once it’s widely accepted.

“I’m thinking of the videotape that someone altered of Planned Parenthood,” she said, “even though it’s been proven false, and the person that altered the tape has been indicted and convicted.”

Following a question from the audience, Brown said she believes fake news does play a role in political polarization. To combat this issue, she offered the idea of news literacy classes that would teach students how to consume news and information in a way that they become more informed and engaged citizens.

However, Brown worried that “we’ve gone so far over the ledge of polarization that we couldn’t agree on a news literacy project.”

Toward the end of the discussion, Hendricks made a point that readers must make an effort to stop spreading fake news.

“I think we have a responsibility not to share news that we’re not sure is 100 percent true,” she said.

To end, Brown thanked everyone for coming and mingled with the audience, many of whom were glad the League initiated the discussion.

“Jennifer is very knowledgeable with the news,” said Hopkinsville native Tom Marshall. “I think doing this (event) is good. We don’t have enough level-heads trying to bring people together.”

By Zirconia Alleyne
Kentucky New Era

 

 

 

Guns In America and Shooting Back

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

I'm an advocate of the right to bear arms. I own several nice pistols and a shotgun. I wouldn't mind adding a couple of more to my collection. I have never shot anybody or aimed a gun at a person. I hope and pray I never feel in such danger that I might feel the urgency to do so. Aiming a gun at someone means the possibility of taking that person's life. I would never want to be in that situation. However, I know I could do it if someone was intruding my home or threatening my family.

There are two major reasons why people want guns and they are the right for protection and to hunt animals. Some people like collecting them and some like to shoot at targets.

We try to imagine a society like America free of firearms. Some believe this might be utopia for our country. We then come back to the issue of people who enjoy hunting deer, elk, rabbits, bear, ducks, etc. The sport of hunting and the griping fear of being vulnerable to evil people will forever keep guns flowing in America. Of course, let's not forget the Second Amendment that is not going away.

Sadly, we are all vulnerable to being shot. This reality has existed since the founding of our country. Almost anybody at any time in this nation since the beginning could access a firearm and shoot somebody. We heard about outlaws and gunfights in the Wild West back in the 1800s. Welcome to the Wild West that now covers every inch of America and unfortunately our world.

We don't expect to be sitting at a coffee shop sipping a latte and lose our life to an evil person who walks down the street randomly shooting, like those poor people did in Paris. Nor do we anticipate going to hear some music at a concert and be gunned down which also happened in Paris. We don't dream of walking through an airport to pick up our baggage and then be randomly gunned down by an insane person. Nor do we ever dream of sending our children to a school to be shot by someone who got access to a gun. We didn't used to expect such incidents but now we look around us. We check to see where the exit doors are at malls and theatres.

We look twice around us at restaurants and public events. We know that even in our houses of worship that unlocked doors means anybody might walk in and begin eliminating lives.

Terrorism has successfully taken away our relaxed way of living and traveling in America and most of the world. This is why every effort must be made to eliminate such groups as ISIS and any hate group that encourages such violence.

We must also realize that while wackos might only be one in a million that it only takes one to kill five people like happened in Ft. Lauderdale International airport last week.

Don't live in fear. Don't die of a heart attack stressing out because that's what terrorists want. Yet, always be alert, wary and legally carry a gun and shoot back if you get the chance.


Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books. He is read in all fifty states. Visit www.glennmollette.com
Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette
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Record expungement right for Kentucky

Bowling Green Daily News

Date: 01-09-2017 - Just because someone has been incarcerated for a low-level crime doesn’t mean he or she is a bad person.

A lot of people who who have been convicted of non-violent and low-level felonies deserve a second shot at being a productive member of society.

In years past, people who have been convicted of these crimes had a stigma attached to them, resulting in low self-esteem and crippling their ability to find good jobs.

That’s really unfortunate, because even after they’ve paid the price by serving time for their crimes and been released from jail or prison, they were still technically being punished by not being able to get the jobs they were seeking. 

Thankfully, a new law, HB 40, went into effect July 15, that allows these types of offenders to have their records expunged.

The law really seems to be paying off in not only getting offenders’ records expunged but in helping those who are trying to turn things around and get a job to support them and their families. 

The number of requests to expunge criminal records in the state from July 15 to Dec. 28, 2015, nearly doubled during the same time frame this year. From July 15 through Dec. 27, the Administrative Office of the Courts received requests for 6,127 criminal record reports for expungement. That’s compared to 3,265 requests for the same period a year ago. Those requests include ones for misdemeanor expungements as well as felony expungements.

This is really amazing and is a further example of how many low-level offenders really want to get back into the workforce and make a difference in their lives.

The expungement law was a much needed one from some employers who were facing workforce shortage issues.

Currently, there are more than 55,000 open jobs within a 50-mile radius of Bowling Green.

Many of these jobs now have the potential to be filled because of this expungement law. 

This expungement law really does offer people a second chance at life. There is an old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right. The old way of doing things applied to the law prior to HB 40, but the new law corrects a wrong by allowing those who have committed low-level crimes a second shot at not only life, but a career that could last them a lifetime.

There’s a lot to be said for that.