The area's leading online source for local news!
Louisa-Lawrence Co., Ky

In God We Trust - Established 2008

Menu

Date: 11-07-2014;

State's business climate ranks in nation's top 10, and rising...

Kentucky Press News Service

Kentucky is receiving more national recognition for improving its business climate, the Governor's Office reported yesterday.

Site Selection magazine has placed Kentucky eighth in the Nation for business climateth in the country in its 2014 Top State Business Climate ranking. The annual survey ranked Kentucky ninth last year and 11th in 2012.

“Kentucky’s economy continues to grow,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “We’re proud to offer companies a pro-business environment, including an educated workforce, strong infrastructure and progressive incentives. This ranking reflects our dedication toward creating more jobs and supporting our Kentucky families.”

Half of the overall Business Climate Ranking is based on a survey of corporate site selectors who are asked to rank states based on their recent experience of locating facilities. The other 50 percent is based on an index of seven criteria: performance in Site Selection’s annual Competitiveness ranking; total New Plant Database compliant facilities in 2013; total new facilities in 2013 per capita; total 2014 new projects year to date; total 2014 projects year to date per capita; state tax burdens on mature firms and on new firms according to the Tax Foundation and KPMG Location Matters analysis.

Kentucky scored particularly strong in project activity categories, including a top five finish in new facilities per capita and top 10 in competitiveness and taxes for new firms.

“Kentucky moves up a spot this year in our annual ranking of state business climates, meaning it is increasingly attractive to capital investors seeking a new location for their operations,” says Site Selection Editor-In-Chief Mark Arend. “States that are trending up in this ranking, like Kentucky, are the states that will attract new and more focused scrutiny that will likely result in new plants and expansions.”

This is the latest in a series of strong rankings for Kentucky’s economic growth. Earlier this year, Site Selection placed Kentucky fourth in its annual Governor’s Cup rankings for new and expanded industry per capita. The State Entrepreneurship Index, another annual survey, ranked the Commonwealth fourth for its ability to create businesses – a 45 place jump from a year ago.

“This ranking is further proof that Kentucky’s economy is growing and that the nation’s top site selectors are taking notice,” said Larry Hayes, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “We take pride in partnering with business of all shapes and sizes to help them succeed.”

Site Selection magazine, published by Conway Data Inc., delivers expansion planning information to 48,000 executives of fast-growing firms across the globe.

The article and rankings can be viewed in their entirety at www.siteselection.com.

 


Kentucky lieutenant governor bound for White House;

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is appointing Kentucky's lieutenant governor as his liaison to state and local governments.

 

Gov. Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jerry AbramsonLt. Gov. Jerry Abramson has experience at both levels. Abramson is known as Louisville's "Mayor for Life" after serving 21 years — the longest tenure in the city's history.

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear chose Abramson as his running mate when running for re-election in 2011. Beshear will have to appoint a replacement with Abramson's move to the White House.

One of Abramson's duties will be to help coordinate with states on the upcoming second open enrollment under Obama's health care law. Abramson brings unique experience as chair of Kentucky's health care initiative. Kentucky was an Obamacare success story, with more than 400,000 people signing up under the state's health insurance exchange.

October 30, 2014;

Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out: ‘I’m proud to be gay’

Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.

 

At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me. READ MORE

U.S. 23 last winter

District 12 snow and ice last year cost taxpayers $6.3 million;

State highway workers ready to ‘kick ice’ this winter...

Highway District 12 (October 30, 2014) – When it snows this winter in Johnson County, the pavement might turn green.

Seriously. It is nothing to worry about, according to Sara George, Information Officer for Highway District 12. “We are trying a new material called Clear Lane that is a combination of rock salt and dehydrated calcium chloride, which is supposed to work better at lower temperatures. We are told it turns the pavement green. Should be interesting, that’s for sure. We want to assure everyone there is nothing wrong. This is not a hazardous substance, just colorful.”

In addition to 1,000 tons of Clear Lane for Johnson County, Highway District 12’s materials keep arriving daily in preparation for the coming winter weather.

The district’s snowfighters are set to “kick some ice,” George said. “We are ready for whatever the weather brings: rain, snow, sleet, ice, freezing temperatures, or any combination of adverse conditions. We are prepared to work as long and often as necessary to ensure that state-maintained roads in our seven counties are as safe as we can make them.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spent just over $75 million on snow and ice work last winter. District 12’s cost was $6,362,248., about 8 percent of the state total. A breakdown of the expenditures looks like this: Labor -- $1,980,613.00, Materials -- $2,718,237.00, Contract Equipment -- $802,434.00, State Equipment -- $854,981.00. Miscellaneous -- $5,983.00.

Statewide, the Cabinet used 440,355 tons of rock salt, 1,926,803 gallons of salt brine, and 1,545,466 gallons of liquid calcium chloride. District 12 used 37,657 tons of salt, 146,925 gallons of liquid calcium chloride, 1,121 bags of calcium pellets, and 40,549 gallons of salt brine.

As of Friday, October 31, District 12’s materials inventory included 22,500 tons of salt, 80,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride, and 1484 bags of chloride pellets. The District manufactures its own salt brine as needed. Brine is used to pre-treat dry roads prior to an expected snow event. The brine solution prevents snow from bonding with asphalt and makes the plowing and removal process faster and easier.

Heavy equipment operators completed mandatory annual training October 13. Each operator must have a valid CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) and must submit to random drug testing. The Cabinet has a “zero tolerance” policy on drug and alcohol abuse.

Stamina is an important part of the job, too. Darold Slone, Engineering Branch Manager for Lawrence, Johnson, Martin, and Floyd counties, explained that crews work 16-hour shifts during major weather events. “It messes up your internal clock,” he pointed out. “You have to stay awake and alert for 16 hours, go home and sleep for eight, and then get back on the road again for another 16. It doesn’t matter if it’s Sunday and you miss church – nobody else is going to get to church if we don’t get the road plowed – or if it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. That’s just the way it is. Even though most people don’t know who we are or what we give up to make the roads safe, like time with our families, it is very satisfying to know that what you do actually makes a difference in people’s lives. In fact, we know there would be more lives lost on our roads if we did not do what we do.”

There are 10 maintenance garages in the seven counties in District 12 – Lawrence, Johnson, Martin, Floyd, Knott, Pike, and Letcher – three in Pike County, two in Floyd County, and one each in the other five counties. A district-wide Equipment Garage in Pikeville serves all 10 garages with mechanics, welders, and heavy equipment technicians who work the same hours as the snowplow drivers. “That would be 24 hours a day for as long as each weather event lasts,” George explained. The Equipment Garage stocks everything from batteries, light bulbs, and windshield wipers to truck tires and backup plow blades.

“Our people are trained in every aspect of emergency weather response,” George said. “The men and women driving the plows are on the front line, for sure, but each driver has an entire team of people who have his back – dispatchers, radio operators, mechanics, inventory specialists, people who monitor radar, and those of us who keep citizens informed as each storm runs its course.”

Roads are worked according to a priority system that is based on traffic counts and importance of the road as a critical route for emergency vehicles to get to medical facilities. County maps which show the Cabinet’s “A,” “B,” and “C” routes are available on its website at http://transportation.ky.gov/Maintenance/Pages/Snow-and-Ice-Priority-Maps.aspx .

The goal for clearing Priority “A” Routes is a two-hour turnaround from the time of crew mobilization.

Priority “B” Routes should be salted completely during a routine winter storm within four hours of crew mobilization, and only after all Priority “A” routes have been addressed.

Priority “C” Routes are worked only after both “A” and “B” routes are worked and within eight hours after crew mobilization.

George said that the District maintains a Facebook page, KYTC District 12, which features road condition updates during major weather events. The page also offers reminders about road safety and winter driving tips.

“Crashes that occur on wet or slick roads are usually the result of failure to maintain control, excessive speed, or following other vehicles too closely,” George said. “We encourage everyone to buckle up, slow down, and make sure you are well rested and alert every time you venture out, especially if you are driving in less than ideal weather conditions.”

Additional safety tips for motorists during the snow and ice season:

· Make sure your vehicle is sufficiently winterized – check the battery, antifreeze level, heater, defroster, wiper, and windshield washer.

· Dress for the weather in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.

· Try to keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent fuel line freezing and to prepare for possibly lengthy delays on the roadway.

· Make sure a friend or relative is aware of your travel route. Carry a mobile phone.

· Make sure your vehicle has an emergency care kit. The kit should include jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, an ice scraper, blankets, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and traction material such as cat litter or sand.

· Give a wide berth to snow removal equipment. Do not tailgate or try to pass a snowplow.

· Check the forecast and call 5-1-1 before you leave or check the 5-1-1 website (http:/511/ky.gov). If conditions are dangerous, avoid travel unless necessary.

 

Sara George

Information Officer

Highway District 12

Coordinator, Pike County Highway Safety Team

109 Loraine Street

Pikeville, Kentucky 41501

606-433-7791 – office

606-207-3950 – mobile

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 


Coal companies and miners keep leaving Appalachia to follow oil boom to Wyoming, Montana...

Coal companies are heading west where mining is cheaper, and with many Appalachian coal mines cutting jobs or shutting down, some workers in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia are packing up and trekking their families thousands of miles to follow the coal boom to Wyoming and Montana, Tim Loh reports for Bloomberg. (Loh photo: Peabody Energy Corp.'s North Antelope Rochelle mine in Wyoming)

"With the U.S. coal industry in its worst decline in decades, companies including Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy Corp., the biggest producer, are pivoting toward pockets of future profit," Loh writes. "No prospect is bigger than the Powder River Basin, a high, mineral-rich plain of yellow grass and sagebrush stretching from central Wyoming to southern Montana. Coal output in the Powder River Basin increased 2.6 percent in the first half from a year earlier while total U.S. production inched upward a mere 0.75 percent. Mines there are vast open holes that cost less than half to operate than those in West Virginia where workers head underground to extract the fuel." 

"Peabody’s North Antelope Rochelle mine in Wyoming is the country’s biggest, with five pits that span 100 square miles," Loh writes. The company sold 123.3 million tons of Western U.S. coal in the first three quarters of the year, an increase of 4.6 percent from 2013, with most of the coal coming from the Powder River Basin.

Jobs are plentiful in areas like Campbell County, Wyoming, even if housing is not, Loh writes. Campbell County has an unemployment rate of 3 percent, well below the national average of 5.9 percent, with the region's mines supplying 41 percent of the country's coal. Gina Michael, visitor services manager with the Campbell County Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Loh, “We have more jobs than people and more people than housing.”   

And it doesn't appear that the boom will end any time soon, Loh writes.

"In Wyoming, it cost Alpha an average of $11.06 a ton to mine 17.4 million tons of coal in the first half of the year." Meanwhile, "the company spent an average of $63.86 a ton to extract Appalachian coal." (Read more)

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 10/23/2014