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Friday, July 11, 2014;

Broadband initiative to solidify East Kentucky’s place in the new global economy...

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced today that two requests for proposals (RFP) are being issued this month on a public-private partnership (P3) project to build critically-needed high-speed broadband Internet access to the farthest reaches of the Commonwealth.Increasing broadband access in eastern Kentucky is a primary focus of the project.

An RFP was released today by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in conjunction with the Center for Rural Development seeking private partners to build, operate and maintain a statewide open-access, high-speed broadband network. A complementary RFP seeking equity partners for the project will be released next week. The Commonwealth may establish one contract using either the equity or concessionaire model.

The Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway will help Kentucky make tremendous strides toward being a leader both in terms of speed and presence of high-speed Internet connectivity, Gov. Beshear said.“Infrastructure such as roads, sewers, water lines and classrooms are critical to our quality of life and economic vitality,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today, we also have to invest in another kind of infrastructure – the kind that will break down geographic and financial barriers to education and economic development.”

“This ‘Super I-Way’ will pave a high-tech future for eastern Kentucky,” said Rep. Rogers. “It will launch our rural region into the global playing field, creating new job opportunities, innovative access to healthcare, enhanced educational opportunities, and much more. We are eager to move forward with this project to help grow eastern Kentucky’s economy.”

The initial phase of the project is expected to take two years to build and will include more than 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure, often referred to as the “middle mile.”

Currently, Kentucky ranks 46th in high-speed broadband Internet availability. Nearly a quarter of the Commonwealth’s population – 23 percent – has no access to broadband.

“Today, only about half of Kentucky’s households use broadband Internet service, and nearly one-quarter can’t access broadband at all,” Gov. Beshear said. “We’re going to fix that with an ambitious plan to extend broadband access, initially focusing on eastern Kentucky.”

The push for reliable, accessible high-speed broadband is one recommendation that emerged from “SOAR,” the “Shaping Our Appalachian Region” initiative that seeks to move Kentucky’s Appalachian region forward.

“Much like previous generations’ efforts to build sewer and water systems, the electric grid and paved highways, this broadband initiative will solidify Kentucky’s place in the new global economy,” Rep. Rogers said. “Our investment in it will pay dividends in the years ahead.”

The RFP is available online at http://finance.ky.gov/services/eprocurement/pages/default.aspx.  

Click on the Vendor Self Service link and choose public access.For more information about SOAR, visit http://governor.ky.gov/soar/ and follow SOAR activities on Facebook @ShapingOurAppalachianRegion and on Twitter @SOAR_EKY. To contact the SOAR office, call 606-444-5127 or 606-437-5127.

July 10, 2014;

One Stop Portal Receives Praise and Award;

 

The Kentucky Business One Stop Portal, the Commonwealth’s online, unified point of entry for business owners and their delegates, received the 2014 Best IT Collaboration Among Organizations Award at the Kentucky Digital Government Summit. The Award is given to an individual or organization that has demonstrated special, coordinated efforts on technological projects, data sharing, and other governing initiatives.

The Kentucky Business One Stop Portal, www.onestop.ky.gov, was established by the General Assembly in 2010. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s chief business official, is working to improve and expand the Portal in collaboration with the Finance and Administration Cabinet, the Cabinet for Economic Development and the Commonwealth Office of Technology.

By integrating registration, filing and other processes, the Portal removes the need for businesses to navigate numerous agencies to open and operate in the Commonwealth. This consolidation of functions reduces confusion, redundancy and inconsistencies, and it has already resulted in time savings of up to 75 percent for processing business registrations.

“The One Stop Portal exemplifies what government should be about – multiple agencies working together to improve efficiency and effectiveness,” said Grimes. “I am proud that the Kentucky Digital Government Summit recognized the great work our team is doing, and I appreciate our partner agencies’ cooperation as we continue to expand the One-Stop Portal and ensure Kentucky is truly open for business.”

Presenting the award, the Kentucky Digital Government Summit noted that the Portal “agencies have achieved unprecedented collaboration through consolidation of demographic data,” and their “partnership creates a ‘business friendly face’ for the Commonwealth and is a model for Governor Beshear’s goal of ‘Putting Kentucky First.’”

In addition to streamlining registration and filing processes, the Portal provides useful tools and information for planning and operating a business in Kentucky. The “Plan My Business” section includes research support, mentoring information, and a wizard and template to help create a business plan. There is also information about taxes, insurance, and annual reporting requirements on the Portal.

 

China may build an undersea train to America

 

BY ISHAAN THAROOR

China is planning to build a train line that would, in theory, connect Beijing to the United States.

According to a report inthe Beijing Times, citing an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country's northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska.

China to America underground trai"Right now we're already in discussions. Russia has already been thinking about this for many years," says Wang Mengshu, the engineer cited in the article. The proposed "China-Russia-Canada-America" line would be some 8,000 miles long, 1,800 miles longer than the Trans-Siberian railroad. The tunnel that the Chinese would help bore beneath the icy seas would be four times the length of what traverses the English Channel.

That's reason enough to be skeptical of the project, of which there are few details beyond what was attributed to the one official cited by the state-run Beijing Times.

Meanwhile, a report in the state-run China Daily insists the country does have the technology and means to complete a construction project of this scale, including another tunnel that would link the Chinese province of Fujian with nearby Taiwan.

In the past half decade or so, China has embarked on an astonishing rail construction spree, laying down tens of thousands of miles tracks and launching myriad high-speed lines. It has signaled its intent to build a "New Silk Road" -- a heavy-duty freight network through Central Asia that would connect with Europe via rail rather than the old caravans that once bridged West and East. A map that appeared on Xinhua's news site outlines the route below, alongside a parallel vision for a "maritime Silk Road."

SilkRoad - map

Screengrab from Xinhuanet.com

 

While some of its neighbors watch China's rise warily, the main plank of Beijing's soft power pitch has always been its stated desire to improve economic ties and trade with virtually everyone.

"China’s wisdom for building an open world economy and open international relations is being drawn on more and more each day," trumpets the Xinhua report that accompanies the map above, according to the Diplomat.

To that end, Beijing has assiduously resurrected the narrative of the ancient Silk Road as well as given prime billing to the tales of China's famed Ming dynasty treasure fleets, which sailed all across the Indian Ocean. Seen in such grand historic perspective, a tunnel to Alaska doesn't seem too far-fetched.

Thursday, July 3, 2014;

ProPublica: Journalism in the Public Interest

 

A Disappearing Planet

by Anna Flagg, Special to ProPublica

 

Today's extinction rates rival those during the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

CLICK on turtle for story...

 

May 8, 2014

EKU RN-BSN program now 100% online

 

by Jerry Wallace

RICHMOND, Ky. -- As more and more employers require registered nurses to continue their education, Eastern Kentucky University is preparing to meet the needs of working nurses by offering its widely known, fully accredited RN-BSN program 100 percent online in Fall 2014.

EKU has offered quality nursing programs on its main campus for generations and has served as a catalyst for positive change through distance education by providing classes across central and eastern Kentucky.

As a pioneer in the use of interactive television as a medium to expand educational opportunities, Eastern’s Department of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing played a significant role in enhancing the quality of health care in rural Kentucky.

In Spring 2013, the University began offering numerous online degrees in nursing, including the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree as well as MSN and post MSN certificate options in Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration and Family Nurse Practitioner, and Public Health. More than 250 students are now enrolled in those programs. Program Coordinator Dr. Beverly Hart attributes the success in large part to the faculty’s hands-on approach to online learning and their commitment to students’ engagement and achievement

“The faculty set high expectations, serve as role models, and provide needed support throughout the program,” said EKU Nursing student Bridget Roberts.

Hart said that the Online RN-BSN program will offer the progressive, stimulating curricular opportunities students expect from EKU Nursing programs in a format that is convenient to adult learners. Students can choose from a full-time option that allows them to graduate in as little as one year or a part-time option that will take just under two years to complete. They will receive credit for prior learning and have the convenience of completing their clinical projects in their own community.

A one-day optional orientation session will take place on the Richmond campus Aug. 15. Students will have the opportunity to meet their instructors and advisers, get to know each other and participate in a workshop to build their computer skills in preparation for Fall courses.

EKU Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. They also incorporate the standards of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, including evidence-based practice and professional nursing communication and collaboration.

Applications are due July 15. Classes begin Aug. 19. For more information, visit go.eku.edu/EKU-RN-BSN or call 859-622-8560.

Consistently recognized as having some of the nation’s best online degree programs, Eastern Kentucky University strives to make quality education accessible to everyone. EKU is an accredited, brick-and-mortar institution celebrating more than 100 years of student success. EKU Online offers more than 25 undergraduate and graduate degree options in a variety of fields, representing Arts & Sciences, Education, Justice & Safety and Health Sciences.