The landscape for Kentucky's two most prominent college football programs could hardly contrast more this Saturday.The Louisville Cardinals -- ranked No. 12 by the AP and No. 10 in the USA Today poll -- will attempt to go 9-0 for the season. The Cardinals play the Temple Owls at noon Saturday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Temple is 3-4, with a 2-2 record in the Big East.Meanwhile, the Kentucky Wildcats will attempt to win their second game of the season. The Wildcats -- 1-8, 0-6 in the SEC -- face the Vanderbilt Commodores (4-4, 2-3 in the SEC) at noon at Commonwealth Stadium.The Indiana Hoosiers (3-5, 1-3 in the Big 10) play at home at 3:42 p.m. Saturday against the 4-4 Iowa Hawkeyes.On Thursday night, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (6-3, 3-2 in the Sun Belt) lost at home to rival Middle Tennessee State, 34-29.
If David Jones Jr. wins a seat next week on the Jefferson County Public Schools board, attorney Ted Gordon will file a lawsuit seeking to prevent the former Humana chairman from taking office, a spokeswoman for Gordon announced on Thursday.The suit would claim that Jones has conflicts of interest that make his ineligible to serve on the school board. Last month, Jones responded to the conflicts of interest charge, saying, "“It’s a ridiculous charge. I mean the school board didn’t vote on these things so I’m confident that I will be able to serve."The suit would be filed on behalf of Thomas D. Armistead, who lives in District 2, where Jones is seeking office, the lawsuit said.Read the potential lawsuit below:
Update 7:30 p.m.: Authorities have still not suppressed the fire, said Jody Duncan, a MetroSafe spokeswoman. Once the fire is suppressed, authorities will investigate the scene to decide whether to lift the shelter-in-place and evacuation orders.Meanwhile, Duncan provided updated information on the condition of the three workers hospitalized in the fire. One is in "extremely" critical condition, one is "seriously" critical and the other is listed as critical, Duncan said.The workers were wearing respirators when the fire began, which may have helped keep their injuries from being even worse, she noted.Update 6:30 p.m.: P&L Railway has released a statement saying the company will "cooperate fully with an investigation" into the derailment and fire. Further, the company is opening an outreach center for displaced residents who are "seeking reimbursement for lodging, food, lost work days and travel expenses."The full statement from P&L:Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured workers and their families. Paducah & Louisville is prepared to support them in any way possible.We also are prepared to support those who live in the area and have been directly impacted by helping to secure lodging and attending to other immediate needs. To that end, Paducah & Louisville Railway will open at 8 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, an outreach center at VFW Post 1181, 6518 Blevins Gap Road (off Dixie Highway) for displaced residents seeking reimbursement for lodging, food, lost work days and travel expenses. Photo identification and receipts are necessary. For more information, call 731-225-6808. The outreach center will remain open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily until further notice. Paducah & Louisville continues to work with first responders and to cooperate fully with an investigation into both Monday’s derailment and today’s flash fire. We deeply appreciate the work of all agencies. Our actions since the derailment include cleanup of materials that were lost in the derailment, and air monitoring to ensure safe air quality. The flash fire today occurred during recovery operations that included lifting and removing the derailed cars. We will re-assess the recovery efforts today and work with first responders to determine the next steps. More information will be provided as available.4:50 p.m.: A shelter for people displaced by the evacuation order has been established at Stuart Middle School, 4601 Valley Station Road, MetroSafe said. A temporary shelter for displaced animals has been set up at Metro Animal Services' Manslick Road location.Another shelter is being set up at Muldraugh Elementary School, 202 Wendell Street, Muldraugh, Ky., according to the Louisville Chapter of the American Red Cross.Update 3:20 p.m.: Authorities are now evacuating people within 1.2 miles of the derailment site, MetroSafe said.The evacuation and shelter-in-place order are precautionary, said Jody Duncan, MetroSafe spokeswoman. Also, one of the injured workers is in critical condition, Duncan said. Of the two other injured workers, one is in fair condition and one is in stable condition.Update 2:40 p.m.: A shelter-in-place has been issued for a five-mile radius of the derailment site -- near the intersection of Dixie Highway and Katherine Station Road in southwestern Jefferson County, MetroSafe said.People are advised to close all windows and doors, bring pets inside and turn off heating and air conditioning systems.Three contract workers were injured and transported -- likely to University Hospital -- in a fire at the site Wednesday, said Jody Duncan, a MetroSafe spokeswoman. Two others who were near the fire declined to go to a hospital, she said.The workers were using equipment which appears to have ignited residual butadiene at the site, Duncan said. Thousands of gallons of the explosive chemical spilled after the derailment.Earlier: At least two contract workers will be transported to a hospital Wednesday after a fire near the wreckage site of the train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County, said a spokeswoman for Louisville-Jefferson County EMA/MetroSafe.The fire did not happen in the wrecked cars that contain dangerous materials, said Jody Duncan, the MetroSafe spokeswoman. It's unclear whether the workers were injured, and unknown how serious any injuries may be.It's also unclear if the incident will affect plans to stabilize two cars containing hydrogen fluoride.Earlier: A new shelter-in-place warning and Level-3 Hazmat situation will likely be ordered Wednesday near the site of a train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County as a precaution, because contractor are planning to stabilize two cars containing the dangerous chemical hydrogen fluoride.The shelter-in-place warning may cover as many as five miles, said Doug Hamilton, the executive director of Louisville-Jefferson County EMA/MetroSafe.Two cars in the wreckage from the Monday morning derailment contain hydrogen fluoride, Hamilton said. Authorities believe that the hydrogen fluoride did not leak.But contractors aren't certain how the wrecked cars will hold up when they're stabilized -- leading to the precautionary emergency measures, Hamilton said."We do not know where the damage may be," he said of the cars.Of hydrogen fluoride, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said:Breathing hydrogen fluoride can burn lung tissue and cause swelling and fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary edema). Skin contact with hydrogen fluoride may cause severe burns that develop after several hours and form skin ulcers.The evacuation of homes near the derailment is still in place. The workers will move the two cars containing hydrogen fluoride from a ravine and place them upright, Hamilton said. Off-loading the hydrogen chemical should not pose the same risks as moving the cars. About 75 people are at the derailment site working on the clean-up; R.J. Corman Railroad Group is the contractor.An emergency response bus from Louisville Metro Emergency Medical Services will also be at the site for what Hamilton called "an abundance of caution."Louisville area hospitals will be notified that the work is being done, so they can prepare for potential patients suffering hydrogen fluoride exposure, Hamilton said.
Crews are still working to mitigate the damage from thousands of gallons of a flammable chemical that spilled early Monday after a train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County.The accident released an entire car of butadiene, a flammable chemical that can cause eye, throat and lung irritation. The butadiene was being transported as a liquid, but once the car ruptured and the chemical came into contact with the air, most of it became a gas. Department of Environmental Protection On-Scene Coordinator Keith Sims says most of the gas dispersed quickly in a rural area. DEP Commissioner Bruce Scott says air monitoring downwind of the release at various intervals hasn't detected any butadiene so far.But some of the chemical may have spilled in liquid form. Sims says the spill is contained to the site of the derailment, but it may be necessary to excavate soil to remediate the area.(Read: Five Things to Know About Butadiene.)A car carrying styrene monomer also ruptured in the train derailment, which happened near Dixie Highway and Katherine Station Road. But the styrene monomer did not leak, and crews were able to remove 12,000 gallons of the chemical.Meanwhile, the Federal Railroad Administration investigators were in Louisville on Tuesday trying to determine how the derailment happened, agency spokesman Mike England said.The FRA will issue a report on the accident, he said. On average, those reports take six months to complete -- but it could be much sooner or much later.Tom Garrett, president of the Paducah-based P&L Railway, said preliminary investigation results have eliminated a human cause of the derailment -- leaving equipment or rail malfunctions as possible causes.P&L has a goal of Friday to finish the clean-up, but the length of time will depend on how many of of the cars involved in the wreckage must be "off-loaded," Garrett saidAlso, about 400 feet of the track must be replaced, Garrett said.The derailed rain consisted of six engines and 57 cars -- 48 of which were loaded, Garrett said.The train carried an engineer and a conductor, neither of whom were injured. The train was heading from Paducah to P&L's Louisville yard, Garrett said.P&L Railway inspected the section of track where the crash happened as recently as Saturday and found no problems, Garrett said.
Louisville Gas & Electric and its sister company, Kentucky Utilities, are sending 100 more employees, contractors and mutual assistance-partners north to help in the recovery from the superstorm Sandy, which has led to mass power outages in the eastern United States, the companies said.LG&E and KU had already sent 300 people to help its parent company company PPL Corp. restore power. Those crews are stationed north of Allentown, Pa. They've also sent 75 people to help Kentucky Utilities and Old Dominion Power deal with expected snow accumulation in southeastern Kentucky and western Virginia.
WFPL will air from noon to 2p.m. Tuesday an NPR News call-in special hosted by Neal Conan on the evolving issues surrounding Sandy, the superstorm that has caused massive flooding and other issues in a widespread portion of the eastern United States.Listen at 89.3 FM WFPL or stream online here.
A mandatory evacuation is still in place for dozens of residents near where a P&L train derailed Monday morning near Dixie Highway in southwestern Jefferson County, said Jody Duncan, spokeswoman for MetroSafe.A portion of Dixie Highway remains closed, though the shelter-in-place warning and voluntary evacuations were lifted Monday night, Duncan said.The leak of the chemical butadiene (Read: Five Thing to Know About Butadiene) has been stopped but not mitigated, Duncan said. It's unclear when the mandatory evacuation and Dixie road closure will be lifted.WFPL will have more on the train derailment as information becomes available.
Wind may knock down loose tree limbs or blow over lawn furniture -- but that will likely be the worst of the effects felt in the Louisville area from a major storm pummeling the northeast United States, according to the National Weather Service in Louisville.A wind advisory is in effect until 8 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.Until then, Louisville and nearby areas will endure sustained winds between 20 and 30 miles per hour, with gusts as strong as 45 miles per hour, said Ryan Sharp, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Louisville.Drivers of high-profile vehicles -- such as tractor-trailers -- may struggle in those sorts of crosswinds, Sharp said.The worst of the wind will be during the day on Tuesday, Sharp said. The Louisville area may get rain from Sandy, but the greatest possibility is in the eastern portion of Kentucky, where snow may even be possible, Sharp said.Meanwhile, Louisville International Airport flights to and from cities including New York City, Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and the Washington, D.C., area have been canceled, said Trish Burke, spokeswoman for the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. People can check the status of Louisville International Airport flights here.
Update: 5:40 p.m.Evacuations and the shelter-in-place warning are still in effect late Monday afternoon after the morning train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County, said Jody Duncan, the MetroSafe spokeswoman. A shelter is being set up at the Nichols Fire Station No. 3 at 130 Meicel Lane in Bullitt County, about nine miles west of Shepherdsville.Anyone who wants use the shelter space is asked to call the Red Cross at 561-3642.Crews were still attempting to contain the leak; the evacuation and shelter-in-place warning may last into Tuesday morning, Duncan said.Update: 4:25 pmCrews are still working to stop the butadiene leak caused by a train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County. In an email, Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection On-Scene coordinator Kevin Strohmeier wrote:“Butadiene is sort of like propane in that it is a liquid only at low temperatures and/or higher pressure. If there is anything left in the car it will be transferred to another car. If there is a large leak and it comes out as a liquid, there might be some soil contamination that will have to be dug up or modified to allow volatilization. At this point, we don’t know what the situation is with tank contents.”Hazmat crews are on the scene. But even after they're done containing the leak and righting the railroad cars, there's still work to be done. MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says federal environmental officials and private contractors hired by the railroad will work to mitigate the site after the leak is contained.“It depends on how bad it is out there, actually,” she said. “Are they going to dig up areas of the ground where it fell, and are they going to replace the rail and the railroad ties and stuff like that. So it just depends, and they’re going to find out afterward what all they have to do.”Update: 12:45 p.m.The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has issued detours with Dixie Highway expected to be closed in southwestern Jefferson County into Tuesday morning because of a train derailment near the Jefferson County line.Motorists traveling southbound on Dixie Highway are being advised to instead take Ky. 841 east to southbound Interstate 65, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said. Motorists traveling northbound on Dixie are advised to take the Joe Prather Highway (Ky. 313) in Hardin County to northbound I-65.Update: 11:10 a.m.EMA/MetroSafe is now saying the evacuation and road closures will likely last 24 hours after the incident.Update: 10:55 a.m.The evacuations and road closures caused by a train derailment and chemical leak in southwestern Jefferson County will likely last for at least 14 hours.The train was carrying lots of different chemicals, but so far the only one that appears to be leaking is butadiene. Some residents living near Abbot Beach Road in Jefferson County and Katherine Station Road in Bullitt County have been evacuated, and there’s a shelter-in-place warning for those within a two mile radius of the spill.MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says the road closure and evacuation will continue at least 14 hours, because that’s how long it will take to clean up the leak. But the area could be affected for longer.Update: 10:30 a.m.Here are five things you should know about butadiene.Update: 9:50 a.m.The shelter-in-place warning from the train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County has been expanded to 2 miles, EMA/MetroSafe said.No further evacuations have been ordered.Update: 9:30 a.m.The flammable chemical butadiene is leaking Monday morning after a train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County near Dixie Highway, said Jody Duncan, a spokeswoman for EMA/MetroSafe.The evacuation on Abbotts Beach Road is affecting about 20 homes, Duncan said. The shelter-in-place warning remains in effect for a mile-radius of the train derailment.No injuries were reported in the derailment or aftermath, though a hunter was reportedly near the scene when the derailment happened, Duncan said.Bullitt County authorities have evacuated parts of Katherine Station Road, Duncan said.About 20 homes have been affected by the train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County, said Jody Duncan, spokeswoman for EMA/MetroSafe.Barge traffic was also halted after the train derailment, Duncan said.WFPL will bring you more as information becomes available.Earlier:The derailment of a train carrying chemicals on Dixie Highway near the Jefferson County line early Monday has caused authorities to evacuate homes on Abbott Beach Road, MetroSafe/EMA said. Bullitt County officials are also evacuating residents on Katherine Station Road. Nearby residents have been warned to shelter in place.A Level 3 HazMat incident--the highest possible designation--has been declared. MetroSafe spokeswoman Jody Duncan says crews are working to check for leaks to see if any chemicals were spilled. The train was carrying chemicals including:hydrogen fluorideshydrochloric acidsodium hydroxidebutadienestyrene monomermethyl isobutyl ketonecalcium carbideThe derailment happened at about 6 a.m. and no injuries were immediately reported, MetroSafe/EMA said.Authorities are warning people within a mile radius of the derailment to stay indoors until further notice, and a civilian no-fly zone has been instituted for a five-mile radius from the accident. Johnson says she's not sure where the train was headed, but it was going south from Louisville. The train was operated by P&L Railroad.WFPL will bring you more as information becomes available.
It's been 100 years since author Edgar Rice Burroughs created Tarzan, and the University of Louisville is planning a party to celebrate.Why? U of L's Special Collections Department is home to the world's largest institutional collection of Tarzan material, the university said.The Tarzan party will be at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Chao Auditorium in the Ekstrom Library.The party will include appearances by John R. Burroughs -- the author's grandson --Burroughs scholar Scott Tracy Griffin, "Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan" novelist Robin Maxwell and others, the university said. The party will also include vintage posters, film stills and presentations.Organizers are also planning to serve cake.WFPL's Rick Howlett will be there for a feature to run later.
Each week, members of the WFPL news team will spotlight interesting stories we've read over the past week for your weekend reading pleasure:Gabe Bullard: I finally got around to reading "Wrestling with Moses" by Anthony Flint about Jane Jacobs' emergence as a leading thinker in urban planning. Her book "Death and Life of Great American Cities" came out in the early sixties, around the time "Silent Spring," "The Feminine Mystique" and "Unsafe at Any Speed" were all published, marking a new type of activism. But Louisville had its own star of urbanism in Grady Clay, a former Courier-Journal writer (he also did commentary on WFPL for a while). His piece Metropolis Regained came out a few years before "Death and Life" and is credited with coining the phrase "New Urbanism." Read "Wrestling with Moses" here. And for more, here's Jacob's on WNYC discussing her book.Erin Keane: The New York Times piece "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Protagonist" by David Rooney is a preview of Samuel D. Hunter’s new play “The Whale” (Playwrights Horizons) and it’s also a feature on the playwright, who just won a Whiting Award. Hunter’s an exciting young playwright I’m quite interested in – his play “A Bright New Boise” played at The Bard’s Town Theatre this summer and it was a knock-out, and he has a knack for writing complex characters estranged from mainstream society. “The Whale” is the kind of play that could show up in an upcoming Actors Theatre or Theatre  season, too. This is just a nice, tight profile – it tackles religion, the Midwest, and how Hunter is moving up to a new tier of off-Broadway house with his new production. The article also quotes director Davis McCallum, Hunter’s frequent director. McCallum directed Molly Smith Metzler’s “Elemeno Pea” at Actors Theatre’s 2011 Humana Festival (and note in the photo of “The Whale” actress Cassie Beck, one of the leads in “Elemeno Pea”), and I’m interested in keeping up with his work because he obviously works with a lot of interesting younger playwrights and their new work. Read "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Protagonist" here.Laura Ellis: From "The Island Where People Forget to Die" by Dan Buettner:“People stay up late here,” Leriadis said. “We wake up late and always take naps. I don’t even open my office until 11 a.m. because no one comes before then.” He took a sip of his wine. “Have you noticed that no one wears a watch here? No clock is working correctly. When you invite someone to lunch, they might come at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. We simply don’t care about the clock here.”I can get into this, Plus, the story has a slide show of very cute pictures of centenarians. Read "The Island Where People Forget to Die" here.Rick Howlett: I’m working on a radio story about the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first Tarzan book. There’s a party this weekend at the University of Louisville, which houses the world’s largest institutional collection of Tarzan materials. The anniversary celebration has been well underway around Tarzana, California, where Burroughs built a ranch. This story -- "Celebrating 100 Years of Tarzan" by Dana Bartholomew -- appeared in August in the Daily News of Los Angeles. Read "Celebrating 100 Years of Tarzan here.Erica Peterson: This interactive feature by Sierra Magazine (published by the Sierra Club) looks at communities in West Virginia, Michigan and Nevada that are affected by either the extraction, burning, or disposal of coal or coal byproducts. The Sierra Club’s stance on coal is well-known (the organization has poured lots of money into its “Beyond Coal” campaign, working to shut down coal-fired power plants), but I thought the pictures and quotes in this story were worth reading. The Sierra staff made an effort to find people who haven’t been in the spotlight over these issues, and they let them tell their stories in their own words. Check out the interactive feature here.Joseph Lord: With years of high unemployment, politicians -- including President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney -- have touted programs that re-train laid-off workers with new skills. But do those programs actually work? That's the question posed in "Rare Agreement: Obama, Romney, Ryan All Endorse Retraining for Jobless -- But Are They Right?" Read "Rare Agreement" here.
The first ever Republican state Senate president will end his 12-year reign by taking a circuit court judgeship back home. David Williams will resign his leadership position and Senate seat next week to start a judgeship that he was appointed to by his chief rival, Gov. Steve Beshear.It ends Williams' nearly 30-year legislative career, which included more than a decade as his chamber's leader. Williams leaves his party with a "super majority" in a Senate that's part of a divided state government. Williams, of Burkesville, was nominated on Thursday by the Judicial Nominating Commission, alongside Angela M. Capps and Stephen Douglas Hurt. Capps is the Clinton County public defender and Hurt is a senior judge who retired in 2009 from a district judgeship, a state news release said.Williams has been the Republican leader in the Kentucky State Senate since 1999, and a state senate president since 2000. Last year, Beshear and his running mate, former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, beat by 20 percentage points Williams and his running mate, then-state agriculture commissioner Richie Farmer.(Read a timeline of Williams' career here.)But Williams' departure appears to have been in the works well before he took Beshear's appointment. After announcing his acceptance, Williams said his goal all along was to run for the same judgeship in 2014 -- a pre-arrangement plan he made with the previous judge, the late Eddie Lovelace. Williams declined to define his legislative tenure, one filled with education reforms but also fights with multiple governors. Williams also helped turn state government into a two party system after decades of Democratic Party dominance. “We had 12 years with no scandal, no financial scandal what so ever here, we ran an honest Senate, there was never any question about any undue influence," he says. “Do I have regrets, I do have regrets that we didn’t accomplish some things I that I would have liked to, but if I had stayed here 20 more years I’m sure I’d still have regrets."Williams move is the third by a Republican state senator into a another post offered by Beshear. But the senator says he's unsure his departure will allow Beshear an easier road for his legislative agenda, including expanded gambling.He also avoided taking shots at Beshear or any other rivals, saying he hopes to make any amends necessary before transitioning to the judicial bench.As for his pension, Williams says since he will not have a break in service and because he plans to serve as judge for a long time, he will not benefit from a criticized pension loophole that would have made his move boost his legislative pension.Williams says he plays to run for re-election to his new position in 2014 and likely multiple terms after that. He also declined to say who his successor as Senate president would be. The Republican caucus will pick a temporary fifth member of leadership on Thursday. Full leadership elections will occur in January, when the legislature reconvenes. “It will be none of my business at that point, because the next day I will be sworn in and vacate the office and I don’t think would be appropriate for me to try and be involved in those selections,” Williams said.And in the end, Williams says he's happy to be returning home to fulfill a long-held dream of his and to live up to his father's hopes for his future.
An excerpt from Fred Noe's new book, Beam, Straight Up.Starting OutI started on the bottling line. Clermont plant. Night shift. Relief supervisor. In other words, they didn’t put my picture on the bottle right away. It wasn’t glamorous, and I was on my feet a lot. I remember wondering after my first night what Hank and the boys were up to, where they were. A couple of weeks earlier, I had been partying in Nashville, living the life; now I was in a hot and noisy room watching bottles whirl around on an assembly line. Four pm to 1 am. Sometimes 4 pm to 4 am. Half hour for lunch or whatever it is you eat at 10 at night.Luke, this is your destinyI need to be clear on one thing here: nobody, not Booker or my cousins, nobody forced me to come work for the business. Despite the legacy, despite the generations of Beams working there, no one pressured me, or even encouraged me for that matter, to go make whiskey. Booker in particular was very impartial on the subject. He wanted me to make up my own mind, be my own man.“The distillery’s not for everyone,” he told me when I came back from the road. We were sitting at the kitchen table, waiting on breakfast from Mom.“I know that.”“Last time. You sure you want to do this?”“Yes, sir.”“Why?”I admit, since I had returned home, I had been asking myself that question a lot. And I came up with an honest answer: “Because I think this is supposed to be what I do. This is what I know.”Booker looked hard at me. “You know, this isn’t a party. No Hank Williams, Jr. It’s work. Hard work.”“Yes, sir.”He kind of chewed on his bottom lip, mulled things over. Booker was big into mulling. “All right,” he said. “We’re going to do it right then. You going to learn it from the ground up.”That was the reason he started me in the bottling house (where we filled bottles with liquor). It was the only part of the business he didn’t know. Booker had never worked there, so he had never been able to teach me much about it. It was a gap in my education, as he put it, so that’s where my bourbon career officially started.I can’t say I loved it at first. It wasn’t the most interesting job. Plus, the other workers there were wary of me; polite but distant. I found out later they thought I was a spy. Jim Beam’s great-grandson, checking up on them, ready to report back. But after a while, they saw that I was one of them, just another guy making a living. No special treatment. Bring my lunch bucket, just like them. Pretty soon, once they realized I wasn’t tape-recording their conversations or taking notes and running back to Booker, they relaxed.I remember the night they officially accepted me into the fold. I was on the bottling line overseeing a run of margarita mix (while we only make bourbon at the distillery, we sometimes bottle other products there before we ship them out) when one of the older guys, a mechanic, told me there was a problem with one of the palletizing machines and I needed to check it out right away. I had nothing to do with the maintenance of the palletizing machines, and I told him that.“Just go on now, go down there and check it out. Something needs your attention. Get your a-- back here when you’re done.”So I went over to one of machines off in the corner, and sure enough, there was the thing that needed my attention: a cold, tall margarita, waiting for me. I picked up that glass, turned around, and toasted my coworkers, then threw that thing back fast. From that moment on, I was just one of the boys.I ended up liking the work. It was important, and it was straightforward. I liked the fact that we were some of the last people to see our bourbons before they were shipped off to points around the world.Every so often, I got to do something that made a difference. After I moved over to the labeling room, I soon learned that we needed a system to track which cases were going where. So I came up with a code that we would put on each label before we put it on a bottle. Eventually it became known as the “F. Noe Code” and we used it for years, until computers came along. I was proud of that code. Made me think I had an impact.We had some interesting situations pop up in the labeling room, things that kept us scrambling. During that time we were expanding overseas, shipping our product to Australia, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and Russia. We had to come up with different labels for the different countries, and in some cases we weren’t sure what we were putting on the label. No one spoke Japanese in the shipping department in Clermont, so we had to call over to Tokyo and ask our local sales contact how to spell “bourbon.” In South Africa, we learned that we couldn’t use the word “proof” on our labels; apparently it was a derogatory term down there.Another interesting situation: We used massive containers to ship our products. We sent them overseas to Russia or the Far East full and they would come back empty on ships. Well, supposedly empty. More than once, workers unloading the containers in Europe found people, whole families hiding in them, stowaways, trying to sneak into the West free of charge. Like I said, interesting situations.So the work could be more challenging than it sounds, and I ended up liking it all right. I suppose I also liked the routine. After years of excess, years of partying, years of no real direction (case in point: I took seven years to graduate college), I finally found my footing at the distillery, felt earth beneath my feet. Like I said, it wasn’t glamorous work, but it was honest work and it helped me grow up.I mostly liked the people I worked with. They were solid people who had worked at the plant for years and years. Many of their fathers had worked there, and even some of their grandfathers. The Beams, I realized, weren’t the only family with bourbon-making roots. Bourbon and Beam had supported generations of Kentuckians for years and years. It was in a lot of families’ blood.Sometimes, after work, we would meet at the bottom of the hill in the parking lot (the Clermont plant is built on a hill) and we would relax and have us a few. No crazy stuff, just sipping and smoking. Someone might be playing guitar, someone might be singing. We’d sit there on the bumpers of our cars or in the back of our trucks and watch the night fade, see the sun come up over the hills, the light hitting the rack houses, turning them pink, then a little orange. I remember staring up at the rack house, wondering what time the ghosts got up, wondering what they thought of me—the prodigal—now.We drank our share of whiskey, but we didn’t overdo it. We were professionals; it was all about quality, not so much quantity. (Although, to be sure, there were a few who were into both, but they didn’t last too long; they tended to weed themselves out.) We were selective of what we drank, knew where the best whiskey was stored, which rack houses, which barrels.Sometimes we sipped on new whiskey, bourbon that hadn’t been aged yet. White Dog, clear as water, but dangerously seductive too. Drink too much of that and the next morning you would wake up with an earthquake between your ears. Bust Head, Booker called it. “You got the Bust Head,” he would say.Some of the workers, the old-timers especially, had something called a “mule.” It was a distillery secret, no outsiders knew about it. It was basically a plastic tube that you could hide down the front of your overalls. You would pull it out in the rack houses if no one was around, knock out the bung of a barrel (the plug), and slip it on in and have yourself a nightcap, or an afternoon pick-me-up, or a fat-free breakfast.There was a trick to knowing which barrels to sip from. Since the barrels were aged for years and years, they naturally picked up their share of dust as they sat quietly, undisturbed in the shadows. But every so often you would come across a barrel with no dust on one side, and that’s the one you put your mule in. The reason they didn’t have any dust on them was because the men (many of whom had, shall we say, prominent stomachs) would lean against the barrel while sipping on it. Their guts kind of shined the barrel up. Those barrels were called the sweet barrels. The shinier the barrel, the sweeter the whiskey. I always thought we should come out with a special bourbon, call it “Shiny Barrel.” I know it would sell well in Kentucky. People who knew their whiskey would know what it was all about and line up to buy it for sure.[Insert Text Break Here]I worked at the distillery for 28 years, moving around the place, serving in a number of capacities. As Booker wanted, I was learning the family business from the ground up, all aspects. Bottling, labeling, the distillery, the fermenting room, the dump room. My knowledge of the business grew inch by inch, day by day. Looking back on it, I was like a bourbon myself, aging slowly, gaining flavor in the relative quiet of the Clermont plant.Age and experience are important things in the bourbon industry. You can’t learn everything in one day, or one week, or even a year, especially in a business as old as ours. It takes time to absorb all the different facets and it takes patience to learn the nuances. There is a rhythm to making whiskey, it’s a slow, easy, and methodical process. This isn’t Silicon Valley where things change every day. This isn’t Wall Street with the big ups and downs. This is Bullit County, Clermont, Kentucky; things may change here, but when they do, they change slow.I was content enough. By then I had met up with a girl who would later become my wife. I had met her driving “the loop” in Bardstown. The loop was a Saturday or summer evening ritual, and you’ve probably seen it in movies about small towns. Bunch of people pile up in a car and drive around. We started out at Burger Queen (that’s not a typo; in Bardstown, we had a Burger Queen; not sure why) and ended up about a mile away at the McDonald’s. Then we’d drive back again. It usually turned into a parade of cars, people honking their horns, the radios up high, seeing what’s going on. Teenagers did it, people in their twenties did it. Bardstown is a little isolated; there aren’t many other towns really close by, Louisville is close to an hour away and Lexington even further, so our entertainment options were limited. It was either drive the loop, or sit on someone’s front porch and watch people drive the loop.Well, I met Sandy driving the loop, and we started hanging out and then going to ballgames, and later, the local night spot, Boots and Bourbon, and one thing led to another and pretty soon we were married and pretty soon, man, I was a father.It was all good. Sandy was a Bardstown girl, so she had a basic understanding of the bourbon business, knew what it meant to be a Beam, so there was no major education needed. She knew that bourbon, whiskey making, was going to be my life and she was fine with that. She understood she wasn’t marrying a doctor or a lawyer. I tell you, having a spouse who is on board with your career, someone who gets it, that’s a big help. And Sandy got it from the start and she’s been there the whole time.So I was all settled down and everything, Hank Williams, Jr. and that life, gone forever, the transgressions of my youth a memory. The days blended together, one after another, and my life kind of flattened out, no real highs and no real lows. I was happy enough. I had everything a man could want: a good wife; a son, Freddie (Frederick Booker Noe IV; we like to number our kids); a good job working with good people. Family nearby. Sandy and I were living in the Small House, next to Booker and my mom. I told myself that was enoughBut I knew it wasn’t, knew something was missing. Down deep, I felt an itch to do something different, an itch to see the world. I didn’t leave Bardstown or Kentucky very often, it was pretty much my whole world, so that itch was understandable and over time it grew.Booker was gone a lot, traveling, seeing new things, meeting new people, while he promoted the product. It was the 1990s and the Small Batch Bourbons, particularly Knob Creek, were on fire, demand high. When he came back, we would sit around the kitchen table, maybe sample a few batches of Booker’s the distillery had sent over, and he would tell stories about Australia, Japan, France. Places I could only dream about. That itch would get stronger after talking to Booker, but I ignored it, told myself to be happy with how things had turned out.Things changed one day, though, when Booker came home from some faraway place tired. Being the ambassador for one of the world’s most recognizable brands, being the face of a growing and global company, being here and being there, constantly entertaining people, key customers, retailers, salespeople, media, was finally taking a toll. He was pushing 70 by then, and the front porch was calling.“I’m done,” he said. We were sitting out back, staring at the smokehouse, waiting on supper. When Booker was in town, we still tried to eat together. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”I just sat there and let him blow off steam. He had complained about life on the road before, so I didn’t think much of this latest tirade about airports and too-small seats on airplanes. He had recently spent time in Japan and had to push two beds together to sleep, which he thought an outrage.“You can’t quit,” I said.“It’s not quitting. They got a word for what I’m doing and it’s called retiring. And that’s what I’m doing. I am retiring. Ball players do it. Hell, even racehorses do it.”I wasn’t taking him seriously. “You can’t do that.”“I can do whatever I damn well please. I’m not getting on any more airplanes. That last trip almost killed me. Waiting in line at the airport for an hour and then they lost my suitcase. Besides, I ain’t feeling too well. Gettin’ swimmy headed. My legs and my feet are swelling up all the time. No, I’m done, all right, I’m done. Besides, they don’t want to hear from an old man anymore anyway. They want someone younger. A different perspective. I’ve told all my stories and I’m getting tired of hearing myself talk.” He went quiet, started in on a good mulling. Then he softly said something.“What?” I hadn’t heard him.“I said it’s your turn.”“What do you mean?”“What do you think I mean? This is your time. Changing of the guard. I already talked to people about it. They’ve been watching you for a while and the reports have all been pretty good. You put your time in here, so they’re going give you a shot.”“A shot?”“Yeah, a shot. Speaking of which, I’m getting a little thirsty.” He pushed himself out of his chair and went into the house.I watched him walk away. Time to scratch that itch, I thought.