Kentucky Press News ServiceGov. Steve Beshear joined Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers today to announce an ambitious state and federal investment to extend critically-needed high-speed broadband Internet access to the furthest reaches of the Commonwealth. The underserved eastern Kentucky region will be the first priority area for the project, which will be supported by $60 million in state bonds and $40 million in federal and private sources.“Access to high-speed and high-quality Internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity in the 21st century economy. Businesses and schools demand it,” said Beshear. “Our communities that lack reliable high-speed access will lag behind in economic development, distance learning and advanced health technologies, and that’s unacceptable.”“The new ‘Super I-way’ will level the playing field,” said Rogers. “It takes away our historic barriers to better jobs, the difficult terrain and isolation. All of a sudden, the world is flat and the famed superior work ethic of our people will be able to compete with the world from home.”Currently, Kentucky ranks 46th in high-speed broadband Internet availability. Nearly a quarter of the Commonwealth’s population -- 23 percent -- have no access to broadband. The Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway will offer affordable and accessible high-speed broadband to reduce the barriers of geography for businesses and citizens.The Commonwealth will partner with the Center for Rural Development for the first phase of the project in eastern Kentucky, leveraging various federal funds and private investment to attain access throughout the region. The Center has initiated a feasibility study that will be complete in the next several weeks outlining the costs and plans of meeting eastern Kentucky’s broadband needs.“I want to thank Gov. Beshear and Congressman Rogers for their leadership in giving the people of Eastern Kentucky a reason to hope and to have a brighter future,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “Projects like this are crucial, because high-speed internet is an absolute must for our region to succeed in economic development, education, healthcare and elsewhere.”“Bringing high-speed internet to Eastern Kentucky will, in essence, flatten the mountains and put our region on a level playing field with the rest of the state," said Senate President Robert Stivers. "This access is a critical step in strengthening our region, as we set out to do in the SOAR conference.”Internet access isn’t high-speed broadband
Most households in the state have access to an Internet Service Provider (ISP), but that’s not the same as high-speed broadband. Broadband is considered “always on”, and is capable of carrying much larger amounts of information to a larger group of users.As the federal definition of broadband changes, and minimum speed increases (often in megabits per second, or MBS), Kentucky falls further behind because the service available to citizens does not meet these minimum qualifications.Today, only about half of the state’s households use broadband service, and nearly one-quarter can’t access broadband at all. “That’s not acceptable,” said Beshear. “We cannot get companies to even consider locating in an area that doesn’t have broadband. This is just one reason high-speed broadband Internet is important for the entire economy of Kentucky, not just urban areas.”Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway to expand fiber infrastructure
The initial phase of the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway project, estimated to cost approximately $100 million, could take up two to three years to build nearly 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure, which is often referred to as the “middle” mile.The project will incorporate the current and best available technology at a speed of up to 100 gigabits per second. Where available, existing fiber will be used.“This world-class Internet infrastructure will bring high-speed Internet, or broadband, closer to communities throughout the state,” said Lori H. Flanery, secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet. “It opens up possibilities for Kentuckians to connect with the world at the highest speeds available, allowing them to truly participate in today’s global environment.”Since 2010, the Kentucky Office of Broadband Outreach and Development in the Finance and Administration Cabinet has focused on identifying and mapping areas across the state that are unserved or underserved by affordable broadband service. Using that information and working with public partners, such as the Council on Postsecondary Education, along with private providers, the Finance and Administration Cabinet provided guidance to the governor about the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway project.The initiative will be a partnership of government at all levels and the private sector. The private-public partnership – often referred to as a P3 – allows the state to leverage resources to fill service gaps.“This investment by the Commonwealth will pay dividends for years to come,” Beshear said. “Much like previous generations’ efforts to build our sewer and water systems, the electric grid and paved highways, this initiative will solidify Kentucky’s place in the new global economy.”A number of obstacles have prevented the full expansion of high-speed broadband into every home and business. Those issues include:· Sparse population: It’s a numbers game. When there’s not enough population to allow the service provider to get a return on investment, expansion doesn’t take place.· Affordability: Kentucky has a significant number of people who are at or near the poverty threshold. Broadband typically costs $20 or more per month, making it a luxury many Kentuckians assume they can’t afford. · Attitude: Many people have access and can afford high-speed broadband, but choose not to subscribe because they think they don’t need it.Initial Steps UnderwayThe Finance and Administration Cabinet is receiving responses to a request for proposal from consultants who are interested in working on the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway project. The consultant will validate cost estimates and provide guidance on the most efficient and effective way to proceed with the project.The project is slated to begin in eastern Kentucky, closely aligning the state’s efforts with the Center for Rural Development and the “S.O.A.R.: Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative in created by Beshear, Rogers and other local and state leaders in that region.Beshear and Rogers organized the SOAR Summit to gather ideas and recommendations about how to move Kentucky’s Appalachian region forward. The SOAR Summit, held in Pikeville on Dec. 9, attracted more than 1,700 Kentuckians. Its report, released last week, is available online at http://www.governor.ky.gov/SOAR and through state libraries.Since the summit, Gov. Beshear has helped announce the recent federal designation of a Promise Zone in eastern Kentucky, the four-laning of the Mountain Parkway, a $2.6 million business loan pool for the region and USDA StrikeForce designation for rural area investments in eastern Kentucky.
The Administrative Office of the Courts introduced eFiling to Kentucky state courts this week by accepting the first electronic case filings at its test site in the office of Franklin County Circuit Court Clerk Sally Jump in Frankfort. The first case was filed Monday, Dec. 16, with a total of six cases filed as of today.“This week’s electronic filings were the critical first step in providing eFiling to the legal community,” Chief Justice of Kentucky John D. Minton Jr. said. “Moving from a paper-based environment to one that is primarily electronic will transform the way Kentucky courts do business. The cost savings to the court system will be substantial and the state’s entire legal system will become more efficient when we process court cases electronically.”Franklin County is a proof-of-concept site, which means that limited functions are being tested before the full eFiling program is rolled out in the pilot phase. The site will initially process only civil cases filed in Circuit Court. The Franklin County Office of Circuit Court Clerk is located in the new Franklin County Judicial Center at 222 St. Clair St. in Frankfort.The AOC trained more than 10 attorneys from Franklin County to take part in this early testing.“This launch begins a two-year process that should see eFiling in all 120 counties by the end of 2015,” AOC Director Laurie K. Dudgeon said. “I’m looking forward to Kentucky catching up with the federal courts and the other state courts that have been providing this valuable service for years.”The proof-of-concept stage will prepare the AOC to set up pilot sites in a dozen or more Kentucky counties in 2014. The AOC will test all eFiling functions in the pilot counties for several months before beginning to implement the system statewide.eFiling is part of the Judicial Branch’s comprehensive, multiyear eCourt program. The goal is to update Kentucky’s aging court technology to meet the demands on the court system and enable the courts to stay current with the mainstream of law and commerce.The eCourt program will also upgrade the court system’s technology infrastructure (hardware and software), replace its case management systems for the trial and appellate courts, and acquire a document management system that will electronically store and index court documents.The Judicial Branch cleared a major hurdle on its eCourt program in March 2013 when it received legislative approval to issue bonds to fund a new case management system. Resolving the funding issue jump-started the eFiling process and made it possible to begin the proof-of-concept testing in Franklin County by the end of 2013.This week’s eFiling milestone followed quickly on the heels of another major court technology rollout. In March 2013, the AOC launched CourtNet 2.0, which replaced the outdated CourtNet application and provides real-time, online access to Kentucky court case information. CourtNet 2.0 was initially offered to members of the Kentucky Bar Association and will be made available to other groups in the coming months. For more about CourtNet 2.0, see the KBA’s Bench & Bar, May 2013, pages 54-55.Kentucky Judicial Branch
The AOC is the operations arm of the state court system. The AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The chief justice of Kentucky is the administrative head of the court system and is responsible for its operation.
Contact Information: Leigh Anne Hiatt, APR Public Information Officer502-573-2350, x50031Cell firstname.lastname@example.org
East Ky. snow may not pack as big a punch
For up to the minute conditions and forecasts go to The Lazer's Weather Channel Feature Here
Groundhog Day 2014: Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow, 6 more weeks of winter BY JASON SAMENOW February 2 at 7:25 am (Getty images) (Getty images) At 7:25 a.m. Sunday, a raw, cloudy and damp morning, Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pa. The appearance of Phil’s shadow means winter will extend well into March according to folklore. Had Phil not seen his shadow, it would have meant spring is around the corner. Phil’s prediction may depress residents in the eastern U.S., weary from repeated outbreaks of arctic air.A winter storm that will begin as rain but change over to snow will hit Kentucky this evening and continue into Monday morning.
The National Weather Service office in Paducah has issued a winter storm warning from noon today to 3 a.m. Monday. Accumulations of 1 to 2 inches will be common in Western Kentucky, the weather service said, but some areas could see amounts of 3 to 4 inches.
At times, snow may mix with rain or change to sleet or freezing rain. The combination of snow, sleet and falling temperatures will create very hazardous travel conditions tonight.
Meanwhile, a winter storm warning remains in effect from 4 p.m. today to 7 a.m. Monday for Central Kentucky. Snowfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches are possible with even larger amounts in isolated areas, the weather service said. Snow should end by late Monday morning.
Road conditions will be hazardous in Central Kentucky, the weather service said.
In Eastern Kentucky, the weather service office in Jackson has issued a winter storm warning from 5 p.m. today until 10 a.m. Monday. Snowfall amounts of 6 to 9 inches are expected.Roads will be slick and snow covered and the weather service predicted it will have a significant impact on travel Monday morning.
The weather service office in Wilmington, Ohio, predicted 3 to 6 inches of snow for Northern and Northeast Kentucky. A winter storm warning remains in effect from 4 p.m. today to 10 a.m. Monday. And road conditions in the region will be slick and hazardous, the weather service said.
Kentucky Press News Service
Page 2 of 85