UPS officials say it could be good news for the company’s Louisville Worldport hub if UPS wins a contract with the United States Postal Service next year.The USPS has had a contract with FedEx to transport certain mail since 2000, but officials announced earlier this year that USPS intends on opening the contract up for bidding. The contract is worth nearly $1 billion annually.Both UPS and FedEx officials have announced they plan to place bids when the USPS releases its request for proposals, which could be as early as next month, said UPS spokesman Norman Black.The contract may be split between multiple companies, but if UPS is awarded a contract employment in Louisville will increase, said Black.“I can’t speculate on numbers, but there’s no question if we got a lot of this work that Louisville and Worldport would be the main hub for sorting and handling this mail," he said.Because Louisville’s Worldport operations are mainly at night, the U.S. postal service’s daily operations would compliment the space, Black said.“We’re confident that in a competitive bidding situation with our network now and with the logistics capabilities that we bring to the table that we can provide the most efficient network and support to the postal service," he said.UPS currently has a contract with the postal service worth around $100 million annually to serve various government agencies.
The latest numbers show Kentucky's unemployment rate staying flat from May to June.The Office of Employment and Training says the jobs rate remained at 8.2 percent, which matches the national jobless figure.This ends a long trend of monthly declines in the unemployment rate. The rate was 8.8 at the beginning of this year, and 9.6 in June of last year.In a statement, an Office of Employment and Training official says the numbers indicate a slight growth in the job market, adding that the number of jobs created rose more than the number of people who entered the workforce.
More candidates have filed this week for the Jefferson County Board of Education elections including some high-profiled names.Three of the seven board seats are up for grabs this fall including Joe Hardesty's District 4, Steve Imhoff's District 2 and Larry Hujo's District 7. Most recently former Humana chairman David Jones has announced he plans to run for District 2, which covers the Highlands and Crescent Hill among other neighborhoods.Two have already filed for that seat including Melissa Rueff and attorney David Kaplan who has held positions in the Attorney General’s office and the Kentucky legislature.Three candidates have filed for Jefferson County Board of Education's District 7 seat to replace retiring board member Larry Hujo. District 7 includes Jeffersontown, Fern Creek, Fisherville and most of southeast Jefferson County.Chris Brady is the latest to file for the seat and he has also received an endorsement from Hujo, according to a release sent by Brady's campaign. Brady told WFPL he opposes charter schools and supports the board's recent approval of changes to the student assignment plan, although three board members were in opposition. Chris Fell is also running for District 7. Fell is one of several parents involved in the pending suit before the Kentucky Supreme Court challenging the JCPS student assignment plan.Former JCPS principal and current Jeffersonville principal James Sexton has also filed for the seat.
In Kentucky's Fourth District congressional race, Democratic candidate Bill Adkins is demanding Republican Thomas Massie renounce a super PAC over its executive director pleading guilty to driving under the influence.Earlier this week, The Courier-Journal reported that Liberty For All leader Preston Bates faced DUI charges from an incident in July 2011. The police report said Bates crashed his car into a fence, told officers he was an "anarchist" and had a blood alcohol level of 0.121 percent, which is above the .08 percent legal limit.Bates's attorney entered a guilty plea for the 23-year-old on Wednesday. He will pay a fine and have his driver's license suspended for 30 days.In the crowded GOP primary, Bates led the Texas-based super PAC, which put in over $500,000 to support Massie over his opponents.In a statement, Adkins says Massie needs to tell the group to get out of Kentucky and argues their positions are "un-American" due to Bates' comments."I call upon Tom Massie to disavow the Ron Paul/Texas Liberty For All SuperPAC Tell them to leave Kentucky and stay out of this race for Congress," he says. "Liberty for All and its leaders are far out of touch with the values of Kentuckians in the Fourth District. Their executive director is a confirmed anarchist. Anarchists do not believe in any authority, anarchists have no respect for government and anarchists often use violent means to achieve their goals. Their positions are un-American."The Massie campaign has said the matter is a personal one and declined to comment.Bates could not be reached for this story, but Liberty For All founder John Ramsey released the following statement:"Preston made a mistake and has taken full responsibility for his actions. I believe now, as I did when I hired him, that Preston is dedicated to our organization’s efforts to advance the economic and personal freedoms that have made our country the greatest nation on earth.One might say, after all, that the greatest benefit of a society built on freedom is the ability to learn from the things we wish we’d done differently."
Information for this story also came from the Associated PressIndiana officials have issued a water shortage warning for all 92 counties in the Hoosier state, asking local governments, businesses and residents to voluntary conserve as much water as possible.Facilties that draw more than 100,000 gallons of water each day are being asked to curb consumption by 10 to 15 percent.Indiana Department of Homeland Security Executive Director Joe Wainscott says while there have been a few scattered thunderstorms this week around the state, it will take months to recover from the drought, and voluntary conservation will help in the long run."That’s really one of the reasons we’re talking about it now. We don’t want to put ourselves in the position where we have to issue a lot of mandatory, very strict regulations regarding the use of water."Wainscott says ome local municipalities in central Indiana have placed restrictions on lawn watering and other usage, but no statewide restrictions are being considered at this point.The drought continues to take its toll on farmers. Fourteen Indiana counties have been added to an agricultural disaster area. In Kentucky, more than two-dozen counties remain under a water shortage watch. Farmers in the western half of the state have been especially hard hit by the drought. ___
The University of Louisville has signed a new one-year contract with former Fund for the Arts CEO Allan Cowen. Cowen is exploring partnerships between the university and the arts community. Cowen signed on with the University in January for a six-month, $50,000 contract to help the university determine, among other things, whether the university would exercise its option to buy the downtown land previously slated for the Museum Plaza development.University spokesman Mark Hebert says the new contract was offered to give the university more time to fully explore possible partnerships between the arts and culture community and the university, including a presence downtown. Cowen will also raise money for new initiatives that arise from these collaborations.He will be paid $150,000 from private funds for one year of work. The university is not announcing any formal plans or initiatives related to Cowen’s work at this time.Cowen left the Fund for the Arts last year after a controversy over his gruff demeanor in dealing with several arts organizations.
Update 5:35 pm: Power is still out for about 1,400 LG&E customers in Louisville. Most of these are in the 40206, 40207 and 40299 zip codes.Update 5:09 pm: Power is out for about 4,000 LG&E customers in Louisville. The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Jefferson and Oldham Counties in Kentucky and Harrison, Floyd and Clark Counties in Indiana. The potential exists for heavy rains, dangerous lightning, high winds and damaging hail. Please take cover for your protection.
A relatively new economic think tank in Kentucky has released a report that pushes back on calls to cut the state's pension benefits.The report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says the idea that public pensioners are well-compensated compared to their private sector counterparts is a myth.“If you fairly compare what public workers receive at this point in Kentucky, compared to the private sector in total compensated, wages and benefits, you find that they are actually somewhat under-compensated," says KCEP director Jason Bailey.Kentucky's own public employee pension system is flailing. Lawmakers from both legislative chambers have formed a task force to look at fixes for Kentucky’s two worst pension plans: the plan for state workers and the plan for county workers.The KCEP report encourages the panel to avoid cutting benefits or turning to a 401k-style plan.“If you put a dollar into a 401k, you’re gonna get a lower benefit and less secure retirement for the workers than the same dollar put into a traditional defined benefit pension," says Bailey.
Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency will be in Louisville tomorrow to discuss a former toxic Superfund site.New environmental issues have arisen at the Lees Lane Landfill in West Louisville.The landfill was closed in 1975. After 400 drums of hazardous materials were found on the site near the Ohio River several years later, Lees Lane was classified as a toxic Superfund site, and cleanup began.The site was removed from the Superfund list in 1996, but problems still plague the area. There are concerns about methane built up in the landfill, groundwater and air contamination...and frequent trespassing.Now, the EPA wants to commission another study on the environmental hazards at Lees Lane. They’ll present background on the site and a plan for going forward at the meeting.The meeting is Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Farnsley Middle School.
Citing concerns with outdated and contradictory regulations, Governor Steve Beshear announced Wednesday the creation of a task force to study of Kentucky's alcoholic beverage control laws."Many groups, including licensees, state regulators, law enforcement and private citizen shave called for statutory reform of our alcoholic beverage laws. They agree that Kentucky’s current laws do not adequately account for a 21st Century economy and standard of law," Beshear said in a news release. "A task force that includes members from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and professions is best suited to identify the problems, debate policy and make recommendations for improvements."The state has over 13,000 licenses issued to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for alcoholic beverages, with more than 70 different license types to regulate those operations.Specifically, the task force will conduct a focused study and review of the laws with an emphasis on the following:· The number and types of alcohol licenses issued by the state and what activities each license should authorize.· The effectiveness of local option election laws in achieving their goals and representing the interests of the various voting localities.· The enhancement of public safety and compliance with regulatory requirements.The 20-member task force will consist of government officials and representatives from each of the following organizations: Mothers against Drunk Driving; Kentucky Association of Counties; Kentucky League of Cities; the Liquor Retail Coalition; the Restaurant Association; Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Inc.; the Distillers’ Association; the Vineyard Society; Beer Wholesalers’ Association; Malt Beverage Council; and a representative from a licensed microbrewery.The task force will be led by Public Protection Cabinet Secretary Bob Vance and will hold three statewide forums to get feedback from the public.Beshear has asked that the panel submit a report with recommendations by January.
A new report from by the Sierra Club estimates how much sulfur dioxide is emitted from nine Kentucky power plants and it finds that all nine of them—including the Mill Creek and Cane Run power plants in Louisville—are violating the national air quality standards.Sulfur dioxide has been linked to health issues like pulmonary inflammation, asthma, emphysema and other lung conditions.But the data in the Sierra Club’s report is collected differently from how the local Air Pollution Control District measures sulfur dioxide. Here are three things to know when reading the report, or perusing Metro Government’s air monitoring data:The EPA set the 1 hour sulfur dioxide standard at 75 parts per billion in August, 2010. That means since then, air monitoring has to show that there’s less than 75 units of sulfur dioxide in every billion parts of air measured. The standard relies on an hourly average.The Air Pollution Control District uses air monitoring to keep track of the pollution, while the Sierra Club used air modeling. Air monitoring takes a snapshot of the air at any given moment, while modeling relies on lots of different known and estimated factors (like weather, the height of smokestacks, etc.) to make a fairly educated prediction about how much pollution is present at any given moment. Both are accepted methods—the EPA has approved the city’s use of monitoring, and has also endorsed modeling.The Sierra Club’s data shows egregious air pollution violations. At Cane Run, it models sulfur dioxide emissions at 27 times the allowable amount. At Mill Creek, it estimates levels about six times too high. But the actual monitoring data from the city tells a different story. It shows that in 2012, there have been only 13 exceedences for sulfur dioxide, all at the Watson Lane Elementary monitor, which is only about a mile away from Mill Creek. The highest daily maximum recorded there is about three times higher than the air quality standard.So there’s differing data, and whatever you look at, sulfur dioxide is definitely a concern in Jefferson County. But I think the takeaway from this study and the city’s data is that the EPA could revisit the sulfur dioxide air quality standard in 2015 (or even sooner if there's a compelling reason to). If it does, and if it makes it more stringent, Louisville will have to find a way to come into compliance (the area is technically listed as in attainment for sulfur dioxide, despite several exceedences).This should be easier over the next few years. Coal-fired power plants are the main source of sulfur dioxide, and the Cane Run Power Plant is scheduled to be retired by 2016 and replaced by natural gas. And at Mill Creek, Louisville Gas & Electric is in the process of installing new pollution controls which will reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide the plant emits. There’s also the Gallagher plant in southern Indiana, which has been blowing pollution into Louisville for fifty years. Half of the plant was retired earlier this year, which should also help reduce Louisville’s air pollution.
Supporters of instant racing in Kentucky are once again trying to take their case to the state supreme court. Instant racing games allow players to wager on previously-run horse races using slot-machine like-devices. The Franklin Circuit Court previously ruled that the games are legal, but an appeals court sent the decision back, saying the anti-gambling Family Foundation should've been allowed to gather evidence in the case. Now horse industry officials are appealing that decision in hopes of taking the case to the state supreme court.“It certainly does make us suspicious that they really don’t want to answer our question," says Martin Cothran with the Family Foundation. The foundation contends instant racing is too similar to slot machine gambling, and not the type of pari-mutuel betting that’s allowed under Kentucky law.Supporters of instant racing previously tried to skip the appeals court by directly petitioning the Supreme Court, but were denied. Cothran says he believes the Supreme Court will have a similar ruling with this petition.
This weekend's Jane Austen Festival in Louisville will feature a one-woman play about Fanny Kemble, a legendary English actress and author who wrote in the style of Jane Austen.“Shame the Devil: an Audience with Fanny Kemble, written by Anne Ludlum, is based on Kemble’s own journals. Kemble never met Jane Austen—she was only six when the novelist died. But Austenites celebrating the Regency Era this weekend will hear a deep kinship between the two women.“Both Jane Austen and Fanny Kemble were writers all of their lives, and they were both perceptive observers of people and society and culture,” says director Kathi E.B. Ellis. “In that respect, although they never met, their writing and their view of the world and the way they recount the world has a lot of similarities.” “She’s so precise about who she sees and what she thinks about them, so much in the way that Jane Austen, when you read her novels, her heroines always have very pithy, sometimes humorous, sometimes acerbic opinions about everybody she comes in contact with,” she adds. The play stars Megan Burnett, who plays the actress and the many people in her life—English and American, man and woman, free and slave, as well as the many characters Kemble plays in the one-woman staged readings of Shakespeare's plays she toured with after she officially retired from theater.“It is a tour de force for the person playing the role,” says director Kathi Ellis. "There are some wonderful passages of Shakespeare in the piece."Kemble toured the United States with her father, Charles Kemble, for two years, performing all over the Eastern seaboard. On her tour, she fell in love with and married Pierce Butler, a young man from Philadelphia whose family owned plantation lands in the Sea Islands of Georgia.She’s best known for the journals she published of her time living on the plantation, in which she condemned slavery. Her writings, as an outspoken, influential outsider, helped fuel the abolitionist movement.“It’s really interesting both to read her journal and hear her refer to how she handled those three months, trying to make a difference on a plantation and in some small ways succeeding, but one person against a system that’s entrenched is not necessarily going to make a difference,” says Ellis.The Jane Austen Festival runs Saturday and Sunday at Locust Grove. The event also features a Regency Era fashion show, bare-knuckle boxing demonstrations and a children’s tea.
Three new studies have added more scientific evidence to support ill health effects from mountaintop removal coal mining.Over the past few years, several studies have presented evidence supporting links between health problems—like cancer and birth defects—that are more prevalent in communities with mountaintop removal mines. But these new studies attempt to pinpoint specific pollutants that could be causing those health problems.Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette had a nice overview of the studies—which have all been presented at conferences but not yet published in peer reviewed journals.In the latest paper, USGS researchers gathered samples of particular matter deposited in communities near mountaintop removal operations and compared the chemical composition to similar material collected in other Southern West Virginia locations. They found higher levels of certain elements that indicate the dust is coming from the overburden, or the rock removed to get at the coal at nearby mining operations."It's not too surprising, since they blow up rocks to get at the coal," said USGS research geologist Allan Kolker, who delivered a paper on the results at a conference last month in Montreal.Another paper by researchers at West Virginia University finds that air particulate matter from mountaintop removal communities was larger than in other communities, and was a size that was more likely to be deposited in human lungs. And for the other study, WVU scientists exposed lab rats to mountaintop removal dust, and found that the rats’ blood vessels constricted and reduced blood flow.These studies could be significant, and address some of the major criticisms from industry directed at previous studies. On his blog, Ward sums it up like this:While the studies to date are incredibly compelling, and reason for serious public health concerns, these latest (and still unpublished) papers are just beginning to dig into questions that might, with even more research, get to the issue of causation. We’ve discussed here before my own concerns about how activists overplay the findings of these papers. The coal industry, of course, wants to pretend the papers don’t exist, fund research aimed at trying to discredit them (see here, here and here), or raise outlandish claims that if there is any problem, it’s all because we’re a bunk of inbred hicks.