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Date: 12-04-2014;

BBB warns online shoppers to beware of phishing scams using retailers’ names...

Kentucky Press News Service

Lexington – The Better Business Bureau serving Central and Eastern Kentucky is warning online holiday shoppers to watch out for phishing scams that are hitting area email boxes disguised as emails from popular retailers. The links contained in the emails have the potential to cause viruses to be installed on the user’s computer.

BBB has received several calls this week from Kentucky residents who report getting the bogus emails using the Costco name. Online technology news sources also report other stores’ names being used in the emails, like Home Depot, Walmart and Target.

“With Cyber Monday just past, and many people ordering holiday gifts from Internet sites, it would be easy for someone to believe that an email appearing to be from a retailer is the real deal,” Jack Frank, BBB president and CEO said. “The con artists know this and are taking advantage of that by trying to either steal information, or installing a virus on their computer.”

BBB advises consumers who receive a suspicious email that appears to be from a legitimate retailer to place their cursor over the link in the email, without clicking on it. A box will appear showing the true source of the link. Consumers that have reported the scam to the BBB stated that when they click on the link, it takes them to a completely different website.

Monday, November 24, 2014;

AG Conway Urges FTC to Update Telemarketing Sales Rules to Protect Consumers...

NoCall.ky.com

Attorney General Jack Conway today urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to update the Telemarketing Sales Rule to reflect the realities of today’s marketplace and give consumers more protections against unscrupulous telemarketers.

In a letter sent to the FTC, Attorney General Conway and 37 other attorneys general asked the agency to update the Telemarketing Sales Rule to further protect consumers from the continued prevalence of telemarketing fraud and abuse.

The attorneys general support the existing Telemarketing Sales Rule but contend that the following are areas of concern:

• An increase in the number of fraud complaints from consumers who are contacted by telephone;

• The pervasiveness of general media solicitations and advertisements that have resulted in the growth of inbound telemarketing;

• The use of certain payment methods that allow retrieval of funds with little meaningful scrutiny of the recipient’s identity; and

• Telemarketers’ use of consumers’ debit and credit card account information obtained prior to telemarketing sales calls.

Telemarketing and its abuses occur when consumers are engaged in phone calls with businesses in the privacy of their homes or on their personal cellular telephones. State attorneys general are on the forefront in fielding consumer complaints, investigating, and taking legal actions against those who prey on victims using telemarketing and negative option scams. According to recent statistics by the FTC, more than 3.7 million telemarketing complaints were filed with the agency in 2013. Telemarketing complaints also rank among the top five complaint categories received from citizens in many states.

“Last year, my Office of Consumer Protection received nearly 1,300 complaints about unwanted calls,” Attorney General Conway said.  “As always, I encourage Kentuckians to sign up for Kentucky’s No Call List, which helps deter unwanted and fraudulent calls and text messages, by visiting nocall.ky.gov.  Consumers who are registered on the No Call List and receive an unwanted call can also file a complaint on the website."

In addition to Kentucky, the states and territories that signed today’s letter include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

November 22, 2014;

Alpha Natural Resources Announces 60 Layoffs in W.Va. and Ky.; No more layoffs projected by company...

BRISTOL, Va. (WSAZ) -- Alpha Natural Resources has announced layoffs at two West Virginia mines and one Kentucky mine.

Spokesperson Steve Hawkins tells WSAZ the mines impacted are the Ruby Energy Mine in Mingo County, Sidney Coal's Taylor Fork Mine in Pike County, and the Rock Spring Development in Wayne County.

Alpha is shutting down a section of the Ruby Energy Mine, and reducing the workforce by 22 miners. Hawkins tells WSAZ this also affects the Delbarton Prep Plant, where one layoffs was announced. This will leave 150 workers at the mine, and 30 at the prep plant.

At the Taylor Fork Mine, Hawkins tells WSAZ 12 workers are being terminated Friday and the mine is being idled. He says 36 workers will stay on for an undetermined amount of time to clear out equipment and close the mine.

Part of the Rock Spring Development will be shut down and the workforce is being reduced by 25 people. There will still be 350 workers at the complex.

According to Alpha, those 60 jobs are terminated, effective Friday. Anyone who would be offered other positions in the company have already received those offers.
Hawkins tells WSAZ these are all thermal coal mines. He says, "The market for thermal coal in central Appalachia has been shrinking," and there is an oversupply of thermal coal in marketplace as well as unsold coal.

Hawkins says at this time, the company is not projecting any further closures.

Date: 11-25-2014

Eastern Kentucky advocates want legislature to set up separate fund for region's development...



MANCHESTER — An organization attempting to increase employment in Eastern Kentucky hopes legislators will set up a separate fund to aid development in the region.

Board members of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, voted Monday to back legislation in 2015 to create the Kentucky Appalachian Regional Development fund.

The legislation SOAR is proposing would create a structure for a regional development fund, including how to take and evaluate applications.

As proposed, SOAR would take applications for grants or loans from the fund and recommend whether to approve them. Final approval would come from the state Department for Local Government.

Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers started SOAR last year to gather ideas on how to diversify the economy of Eastern Kentucky, which has been battered by coal layoffs, and to come up with a plan and funding to put the ideas to work.

Under the proposal aired Monday, money from the fund could be used to support a wide range of projects, though applications would be judged in part by how they supported SOAR's objectives.

Jean Hale, who is on the organization's executive board, said the goal would be to build an endowment large enough to support development projects with the interest and investment growth, without dipping into the main pot of money.

But in the early years SOAR would have to use at least some of the fund to support projects, said Hale, president and chief executive officer of Community Trust Bancorp, which is based in Pikeville.

There have been earlier proposals for a permanent endowment to finance development in the region, funded with a set-aside from the state coal-severance tax.

The draft language in the bill presented Monday did not designate a set-aside from coal-severance money.

Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community and Economic Development, said tying some coal-severance money to the initiative would be a good way to support the hard work of diversifying Eastern Kentucky's economy.

If the legislature approves the idea proposed by SOAR, the organization also could receive contributions from other sources such as companies and foundations for use with the development fund or separately.

One potential source of money to get the fund started would be $4 million the legislature already set aside from single-county coal-severance tax collections.

The money was designated for development projects in Eastern Kentucky, but hasn't yet been spent.

On other fronts Monday, committee members agreed on priorities for ideas to pursue in 2015 from among the hundreds of development ideas submitted by Eastern Kentucky residents.

The broad goals are to build the capacity to recruit, retain and expand businesses; support entrepreneurs in a number of fields; prepare residents for jobs in the global economy; and be a vehicle for investments that provide an economic return.

The committee signed off on some priorities within those areas, such as trying to boost the number of computer-coding classes.

Rogers and Beshear said the committee has made good progress on identifying ways to boost the economy, but cautioned there won't be a quick turnaround.

"Twenty years from now we'll still be working on these kinds of things," Beshear said.

Rogers said he is researching the idea of legislation to create federal tax credits to help businesses create jobs.

SOAR executive director Jared Arnett announced the organization will host a summit Feb. 16 in Pikeville.

By Bill Estep
Lexington Herald-Leader

 

Date: 11-20-2014;

Lawrence power substation fire allowed to burn; outages avoided...

photo by Lawrence County Emergency Services dept.

 

A fire at a power substation forced the closing of U.S. 23 to traffic near Louisa for a couple of hours Thursday, but the Lawrence County emergency management director said the road has reopened.

"For the most part it's burned out already," said Michael Woods, the emergency management director, at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. "There's still a little bit of residual burning."
 

The fire was reported at midnight at Kentucky Power's Baker substation about five miles north of Louisa, Woods said. It was allowed to burn through the night.

No one was hurt. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Oil from a reactor flowed into and was contained in a ditch line, Woods said. A subcontractor is on the scene to begin clean up, Woods said.

Ky. Power spokwesperson Allison Barker said there was no contamination to the water system.

U.S. 23 was closed to traffic until about 2 a.m. Thursday, Woods said.

There were no power outages associated with the fire.

"They were able to switch their grid around, so it didn't affect anybody as far as I know," Woods said.

Woods said the cleanup and mitigation of the oil might take a couple of days.

Kentucky Power is an operating unit of American Electric Power and provides electricity to about 172,000 customers in all or part of 20 Eastern Kentucky counties.

Lazer editor Mark Grayson contributed to this story...

By Greg Kocher

Lexington Herald-Leader