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Lawmakers took the Division of Water to task Thursday over a Virginia wastewater treatment plant spilling sewage into Kentucky’s waterways for several months. They say the neighbor’s passage of pollution into eastern Kentucky is unacceptable.
Rep. Jim Stewart, R-Flat Lick, asked Peter Goodmann, director of Division of Water, Energy and Environment Cabinet what had been done to resolve the spilled sewage during the Interim Joint Committee On Natural Resources and Environment Thursday at the Capitol Annex.
The Kentucky Division of Water was only notified in May that a Buchanan County Public Service Authority wastewater facility in Virginia had been discharging untreated wastewater directly into the Levisa Fork since early March.
The Kentucky DOW and the Kentucky Department for Public Health issued an advisory for swimmers in the Levisa Fork of Fishtrap Lake in Pike County from the Virginia state line at river mile 126.4 to river mile 114.8 — the headwaters of Fishtrap Lake — after finding high levels of E. coli in the river on June 12.
“Did we settle it with a fine or a handshake? What did we do?” Stewart asked. “I just know when the coal mines have a silt pond that breaks or something they put a levy on them. So I just assume we levy a fine on them (when) they dump that raw sewage on us.”
The advisory was lifted two weeks later, but according to Minority Floor Leader Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, the incident is indicative of neighboring Virginia’s poor practices along its shared border with Kentucky.
“There’s a moniker that some people refer to it as ‘Trashtrap’ because so much garbage comes in from Virginia into Kentucky,” Jones said. “It basically ruins Fishtrap Lake for any purpose of recreation or tourism development. It’s inexcusable that we have this type of sewage situation — whether it’s contaminated the lake with E. coli or other bacteria is irrelevant — because the public perception is that the lake is being contaminated and it’s unsafe to swim.”
Jones asked Goodmann when was the last time he had visited Fishtrap Lake in Pikeville and invited him to call his office and arrange a visit.
“It’s disgraceful that this problem went on as long as it did where raw sewage was coming into Pike County,” Jones said. “It’s not the only problem we’ve had.”
Jones said the owner of the marina on the lake was quoted in a local paper for losing business. People are reportedly afraid to swim in the water.
“My question is why has the Division of Water not taken some action to address this trash problem with Fishtrap,” Jones said. “The last time I was on the lake, it’s been a few years, there was so much trash in it you had to worry about taking your boat on it.”
Goodmann agreed he would arrange the visit, talk to his counterpart in Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to devise a strategy.
“In the 15 years I’ve been here, we’ve not been able to get anything done. Part of that is the Corps’ fault,” Jones said. “The Corps has taken the approach that the lake serves a flood-control purpose and not really a recreational or tourism purpose. It’s really appalling for someone to come in and see the condition of that lake.”
By Brad Bowman
The State Journal
June 29, 2015
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 29, 2015) – “Today, as a result of a lawsuit filed by my office and 22 other states, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the EPA acted unreasonably when it failed to consider costs in developing a new regulation that would have required existing power plants to retrofit their systems at great expense to Kentucky ratepayers and businesses. These regulations would have raised utility rates and cost Kentucky jobs.
As Attorney General, I have consistently fought for the people of Kentucky against this EPA in its never-ending attempt to overreach and overregulate. I appreciate the Supreme Court’s consideration and affirmation of our position, and I’ll continue fighting against EPA rulemaking that harms Kentucky coal production and electricity rates."
Kentucky Attorney General
Comparing Internet download speeds worldwide, Kentucky ranks just below Iraq and just above the lowest nation, Kuwait, at 34 megabytes per second. Proving the case and need for broadband expansion as soon as possible throughout the state.
Steve Rucker, deputy secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet, shared some hard-to-digest broadband statistics with the new House Special Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology on Tuesday.
Rucker gave an update to legislators on the broadband initiative bringing broadband Internet access to some of the more rural areas of the state.
As sobering as it may seem to be sandwiched between Iraq and Kuwait, Kentucky doesn’t fare any better with other states. According to a Washington Post study, Rucker said the commonwealth ranks 47th nationally in download speeds.
“On top of that, 23 percent of our population does not have access to broadband as compared to 1.5 percent of our urban population,” Rucker said.
“In eastern Kentucky those numbers only get worse. Thirty percent of eastern Kentucky households who do not have broadband at the rates established by the FCC.”
Moreover, Rucker said 450,000 Kentucky household don’t have broadband access with 42,000 of them in eastern Kentucky.
Worldwide costs for broadband average $1.59 megabytes per second, but the average in the U.S. is $3.51 mbps.
By Brad Bowman
The State Journal
FRANKFORT, KY (June 25, 2015) – Tuesday, Rep. Harris attended the inaugural meeting of the House Special Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology. This first meeting focused on KentuckyWired, Kentucky’s broadband initiative to connect all 120 counties to high-speed Internet via fiber optic cable. Work on this project begins next month with Eastern Kentucky as the first phase of construction. This is one initiative to grow out of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative.
“Being part of the global economy in the 21st century means that our schools, businesses and homes must have consistent and reliable Internet access. Like an interstate highway, KentuckyWired will bring our communities closer together and connect us with the wider world,” Rep. Harris said.
The committee is charged with exploring the ways technology impacts our economy, education, and communications. They will also make recommendations to the General Assembly for ways to improve and better integrate access across Kentucky.
“When I arrived in Frankfort, I was surprised there was no committee that specifically focused on technology issues given it plays an increasing role in our everyday lives. I’m honored to serve on this committee and offer a perspective from Eastern Kentucky,” Rep. Harris said.
During the meeting, members of the Finance and Administration cabinet updated members on the plans and progress of the $350 million project. They said Kentucky currently ranks 47th in broadband access nationally and only 23% of rural Kentuckians have access to the Internet.
“Eastern Kentucky has a high cost for broadband compared to other parts of the state,” Rep. Harris said. “Our commitment to turning that reality on its head and making sure we can compete and increase connectivity is critical to our economic future.”
Once completed, data suggests broadband access across the Commonwealth will be available at higher speeds and lower cost to consumers. Local providers will be able to pay for access to the network and focus on growing their customer base.
“I look forward to completion of Phase I in Eastern Kentucky by 2016 and the day when all our children, families, and small businesses can afford reliable Internet access,” Rep. Harris said.
For more information on KentuckyWired, visit KentuckyWired.ky.gov. A map of the proposed transmission lines and nodes is attached.
JUNE 22, 2015
Louisa. KY -- Vice President, Steve Montgomery presided over Thursday's Rotary meeting and after the invocation, Pledge of Allegiance and Four-Way Test were said, the meeting began.
Montgomery announced that Cindy Legg will be the new District Rotary Governor in District 6740. Also new local officers will be installed next week.
Other announcements included anniversaries for John and Joyce Burton who have been married 47 years. Steve Lycan and his wife also celebrated their 14th anniversary.
One of the biggest fundraisers for the Louisa Rotary Club is their annual radio auction. Joyce Burton heads up the event and spoke about the plans at Thursday's meeting.
Businesses and individuals donate merchandise, money, or make other contributions. The items are auctioned off as folks call in and bid on each one. Whoever has the highest bid wins the item.
The auction will be held August 4th, 5th, and 6th, and will be heard live on WZAQ 92.3 'The Bridge,' Louisa's radio station. Three lines will be available for bidders to phone in their bids. Rotary members will man the phones as they become 'radio auctioneers.'
Burton said a lot has changed since the the auction was started in 1973. "We kept notes on a yellow legal pad and we only made $350 profit."
She said typically, a business will keep the item they are auctioning off in the store so people can come in to look at it. "It also gets people into their store."
Corporate sponsorships are available for a donation of $100, although most larger businesses give more. Burton explained that the money received from the auction goes right back into the community through many different projects by the Rotary club.
Rotary members were given cards which they will take to business and offices for the auction item. Burton called on all Rotary members to participate, as volunteers will be needed to answer the phones and relieve shifts.
Be sure to tune in to the Louisa Rotary Auction, you could win something great!