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Date: 10-28-2015

New website creates online access to Commercial Driver License documents

Kentucky Press News Service

FRANKFORT – Commercial vehicle drivers now can go online to verify that their certifications for a commercial driver license (CDL) are up to date.

It’s all thanks to a new website, launched by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Division of Driver Licensing.

BUS DRIVERS TEST - School bus drivers in Ky. are required to have a CDL license along with the thousands of commercial drivers.“With our new website, drivers can access records 24 hours a day,” Rodney Kuhl, Commissioner of the cabinet’s Department of Vehicle Regulation, said in a news release. “We realize most CDL drivers don’t work on a 9-to-5 schedule. The website will allow them access when the time is right for them.”

Kentucky requires multiple documents in order to be issued and hold a CDL. They include a self-certification form identifying the type of driving the operator expects to engage in once a license is in hand. In addition, CDL holders must have a valid medical certification card on file at all times. A commercial application must also include a 10-year driver history, listing all states in which the driver had a license.

The information must be forwarded to the Division of Driver Licensing and posted prior to a driver applying for a license at a circuit court clerk’s office.

The website, which is for informational purposes only, will allow drivers to ensure everything has been received and on file, keeping them current on all requirements.

Checking a driver’s status on the website requires the driver’s name, Kentucky license number and date of birth. User instructions can be found on the website.

The new website is but the latest in a series of innovations undertaken by the cabinet during Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration to enhance customer service, convenience and public transparency:

Date: 10-23-2015

  The Kentucky State Police Telecommunications Academy Class No. 7 graduated on October 22, 2015. The class included (left to right): Megan Patrick (KSP Post 14-Ashland), Ryan Benton (KSP Post 8-Morehead), Kris Cox (KSP Post 8-Morehead), Kimberly Crase (KSP Post 8-Morehead), Merissa Breedlove (KSP Post 1-Mayfield), Katelyn Roy (KSP Post 6-Dry Ridge), Tammy Crady (KSP Post 12-Frankfort) and Chris Cornett (KSP Post 12-Frankfort).

Kentucky Press News Service

Eight Kentucky State Police telecommunicators from throughout the commonwealth were recognized Friday at graduation ceremonies for the seventh class of the agency’s in-house Telecommunications Academy.

“Across the state, KSP telecommunicators provide a lifeline to both citizens in need and officers in the field,” says KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer. “They serve as an unseen, but vital link in keeping law enforcement officers and the public safe at all times of the day or night.”

Representing five agency posts, the group began its studies on September 14, 2015 at the KSP Training Academy in Frankfort. The course provided 236 hours of instruction during a six-week period. The curriculum included subjects such as legal liability, limits of telecommunicator authority, the telecommunicator’s role in public safety, interpersonal communications, customer service, interaction with the news media, stress, ethics and confidentiality, responder safety, basic fire dispatch, state emergency operations plans, criminal justice information systems, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, first aid training, emergency medical dispatch and special needs callers.

The final week of the academy included training on computer-aided dispatch and other databases. To complete the course, the telecommunicators were required to successfully process scripted calls for service and demonstrate proficiency in obtaining pertinent information, dispatching responders, providing emergency medical dispatch if needed and correctly documenting information from the call for service.

The graduates of the seventh KSP Telecommunications Academy included:

Merissa Breedlove, Post 1, Mayfield
Katelyn Roy, Post 6, Dry Ridge
Ryan Benton, Post 8, Morehead
Kris Cox, Post 8, Morehead
Kimberly Crase, Post 8, Morehead
Chris Cornett, Post 12, Frankfort
Tammy Crady, Post 12, Frankfort
Megan Patrick, Post 14, Ashland

Chris Cornett of Post 12-Frankfort was the class valedictorian with an overall grade point average of 96 percent.

According to Jason Long, Law Enforcement Training Instructor at the Kentucky State Police Academy, working in today’s emergency services communications center requires a number of qualities and characteristics that are absolutely imperative. These characteristics include the ability to handle very stressful, challenging conditions, maintaining a flexible work schedules, practicing empathy in dealing with others and having the ability to learn and adapt, especially in areas of technology.

His advice to those who may be considering the field as a career? “You need to think hard about whether you are willing to make the sacrifices you have to make. You have to spend time away from your family. You have to work weekends and holidays. With all the continuing training required, there is a big investment of time and you need to be sure you can make the commitment.”

“To be honest, it’s not a job for everyone,” he says. “It is stressful and challenging and some people simply can’t deal with the types of calls and deadly incidents that we have to handle.”

Date: 08-06-2015

Federal dollars to make high-speed Internet available to thousands in Kentucky...

Kentucky Press News Service

High-speed Internet access will become available to 62,000 more Kentucky residents thanks to funds from the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC fund called Connect America will pay $21 million a year to Windstream Communictions to make broadband available in locations where it would otherwise be too expensive to extend service. Monthly fees should run about what people in other parts of the U.S. pay for the service, an FCC spokesman said.

About a third of rural Americans lack access to high-speed Internet, the FCC said in a news release. In all, Windstream is receiving almost $175 million in annual, ongoing support from the Connect America fund to provide broadband service to 800,000 rural residents of 17 states, including Kentucky.

Date: 09-11-2015

UK professor is part of team that discovers what's thought to be new human ancestor...

Andrew Deane, PhD, Associate Professor, Dept. Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky in his lab on the UK campus.

By Justin Madden
Lexington Herald-Leader

A University of Kentucky professor was part of the team that discovered what is thought to be a new species of human ancestor.

Andrew Deane, UK paleoanthropologist and associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, served as a member of the Rising Star Expedition, a group of international scientists who described more than 1,500 fossils exhumed from a cavern in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site outside Johannesburg, South Africa, according to the university.

Lee Berger, research professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, led the expeditions that recovered the fossils called Homo naledi.

Deane was one of 30 experts invited by Berger to help examine the fossils for six months. Deane focused on the hand and the foot.

"It's really remarkable and really a big privilege to be involved in something this unique, not only because the find itself is so overwhelming, its scope and the amount of material and representation that we have, but also because this is a fairly unique species," Deane said. "We're not yet clear 100 percent on where this thing fits in the human family tree. There are certainly a lot of questions that remain unanswered that we're still working on, but it certainly adds another member to our family."

The hand and foot of the Homo naledi resemble those of modern-day humans. But they are also primitive, Deane said. The fingers and toes are much longer and curved, but the rest of the hand and foot appear to mirror those of modern humans. The wrists appear to be stable and suited for making tools.

The skull, shoulders and chest of the Homo naledi also appear to have characteristics both primitive and modern, Deane said.

"The significance of this find, in a addition to the volume of material, is that it adds yet more evidence to suggest that human evolution is a much more diverse thing than what we previously thought," Deane said.

Date: 06-26-2015

By Grace Schneider
The Courier-Journal

The University of Louisville has signed a joint development agreement with a South Carolina company to create a coal-like product made from fallen timber and biomass.

In an announcement Thursday, U of L officials said that deal involves Greenville, S.C.-based Integro Earth Fuels Inc., the developer of a product made from wood waste that can be burned with or in place of coal by heat and power generators.

Work on developing the densified wood, called NuCoal, and piloting production facilities will be performed at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research, part of the university’s Speed School of Engineering.

“Conn Center’s expertise is crucial in making this technology work at any scale,” said Conn director Mahendra Sunkara.

“The use of this product as a substitute for coal can help extend the life of Kentucky’s coal-fired power plants while significantly reducing pollutant and carbon emissions,” Sunkara said.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities has agreed to provide a $256,890 grant over two years to the Conn Center through its Consortium for Advanced Wood to Energy Solutions — a joint venture between the endowment and the U.S. Forest Service.

U of L officials said that Conn Center would invest about $135,000. Researchers Jagannadh Satyavolu and Thad Druffel will lead the research and develop pilot models of production facilities, officials said in a release.

Integro agreed to provide funding to the research center for a series of test projects. That includes $80,000 worth of equipment to support research and development of the process called “torrefaction,” which roasts wood and biomass to strip out moisture and volatile compounds to create a bio-coal product.

“We are looking at markets for NuCoal plants in Kentucky and other parts of the U.S., Europe and South America,” Integro founder Walt Dickinson said in the announcement. “This partnership is critical to making that happen.”

Forestry endowment President and CEO Carlton Owen called the partnership “foundational to our commitment to keep forests as forests, keep them healthy and add family-wage jobs in rural forest-rich communities.”

Conn Center, which focuses on innovation in advanced materials, including catalysts, recently had two startup businesses spun from its labs. NuCoal is envisioned to create another, potentially more visible Kentucky-based company.

“This one is a really big deal,” businessman Hank Conn, whose donations have funded and will sustain the center created in 2009, said in an email.

“Not only is the market potential for NuCoal huge, expected to be $200 billion by 2040, but the product also helps address the problem of forest fires in the U.S. by removing dying or dead trees and turning them into this coal-like product, one that is carbon-neutral and significantly reduces air pollutants,” Conn said.