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December 5, 2017

ICE and CBP Release End of Fiscal Year 2017 Statistics

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its end-of-year immigration enforcement numbers, the results of a year-long return to enforcing the law, upholding the integrity of our lawful immigration system, and keeping America safe.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported 310,531 apprehensions nationwide, 303,916 of which were along the Southwest border, underscoring the need for a physical barrier at the border. Additionally, in FY 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted 143,470 arrests and 226,119 removals.

While 2017 marked a successful year in border security efforts, reducing illegal cross-border migration, increasing interior enforcement, and dismantling transnational criminal enterprises, multiple challenges still remain in providing immigration officials with the tools needed to keep criminals off the streets, eliminate the pull factors for illegal immigration, and remove aliens who have violated our immigration laws from the country. The previously announced Trump Administration’s immigration priorities would address these challenges by enhancing border security, implementing a merit-based immigration system, and closing loopholes that encourage illegal immigration.

“We have clearly seen the successful results of the President’s commitment to supporting the frontline officers and agents of DHS as they enforce the law and secure our borders,” said Acting Secretary Elaine Duke. “We have an obligation to uphold the integrity of our immigration system, but we must do more to step up and close loopholes to protect the American worker, our economy, and our communities.”

“We have seen historic low numbers this year - an almost 30 percent decline in apprehensions in FY17, but we are very concerned about the later month increases of unaccompanied minors and minors with a family member,” said Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello. “We are also concerned about the significant uptick in the smuggling of opioids and other hard narcotics, including heroin and cocaine, which generally increase when illegal border crossings spike. The men and women of CBP, working along our borders and at the ports of entry protecting our great nation, are doing outstanding work. For us to truly have an operationally secure border, we must close loopholes in our laws that help fund the cartels.”

“These results are proof of what the men and women of ICE can accomplish when they are empowered to fulfill their mission,” said Thomas Homan, ICE Deputy Director. “We need to maintain this momentum by matching the dedication and drive of our personnel with the resources they need to perform at even higher levels. We need to confront and address misguided policies and loopholes that only serve as a pull factor for illegal immigration. We must continue to target violent gangs like MS-13, and prevent them from rebuilding what we have begun to dismantle. Finally, we need to find a solution to the dangerous sanctuary city policies and the politicians who needlessly risk innocent lives to protect criminals who are illegally present in the United States.”

Customs and Border Protection

In FY17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded the lowest level of illegal cross-border migration on record, as measured by apprehensions along the border and inadmissible encounters at the U.S. ports of entry. However, in May CBP began to see a month-over-month increase in apprehensions and inadmissible cases along the Southwest border, most notably from children, either as part of a family unit or unaccompanied by their parent or legal guardian.
In addition to the 310,531 apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol agents there were 216,370 inadmissible cases by CBP officers in FY17, representing a 23.7 percent decline over the previous year. Illegal migration along the Southwest border declined sharply from January 21 to April, which was the lowest month of border enforcement activity on record.

By the end of the year, family-unit apprehensions and inadmissible cases reached 104,997 along the Southwest border. Another 48,681 unaccompanied children were apprehended or determined to be inadmissible.

CBP continues to be concerned about steady increase in the flow of unaccompanied children and family units from Central America, as transnational criminal organizations continue to exploit legal and policy loopholes to help illegal aliens gain entry and facilitate their release into the interior of the country.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement


The most significant changes in immigration enforcement strategy can be found in the interior of the United States. The executive orders issued by President Trump in January 2017 strongly emphasized the role of interior enforcement in protecting national security and public safety, and upholding the rule of law. By making clear that no category of removable aliens would be exempt from enforcement, the directives also expanded enforcement priorities for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Overall, in FY 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted 143,470 arrests and 226,119 removals. Notably, from the start of the Trump Administration on January 20, 2017 through the end of the fiscal year, ERO made 110,568 arrests compared to 77,806 in FY2016 - an increase of 40 percent. During the same timeframe, removals that resulted from an ICE arrest increased by 37 percent, nearly offsetting the historically low number of border apprehensions, a population that typically constitutes a significant portion of ICE removals. Total ICE removal numbers for FY17 (226,119) reflect a slight decline (6%) from FY2016 (240,255), largely attributed to the decline in border apprehensions.

ICE continued to prioritize its resources to enhance public safety and border security, which is demonstrated by the data, which reflects that 92 percent (101,722) of aliens ICE administratively arrested between January 20, 2017 and the end of FY2017, were removable aliens who had a criminal conviction or a pending criminal charge, were an ICE fugitive, or were an illegal re-entrant.

The executive orders also prioritized efforts to dismantle transnational gangs, with a specific focus on MS-13, one of the most violent gangs in the United States. In FY2017, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 796 MS-13 gang members and associates, compared to 434 in FY2016 – an 83 percent increase. Overall, HSI made 4,818 criminal arrests related to gang activity and 892 administrative arrests as a result of gang investigations. Additionally, ERO administratively arrested 5,225 gang members and associates.

Overall in FY17, HSI conducted 32,958 total criminal arrests and seized $524 million in illicit currency and assets over the course of investigations into human smuggling and trafficking, cybercrime, transnational gang activity, narcotics enforcement, human smuggling and other types of cross-border criminal activity.


HERE IS THE TEXT OF JUDGE KAREN CALDWELL'S RULING IN PUCKETT CASE

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Date: 11-01-2017

Eight rounded up from Ky. and other states seeking sex with 16 year-old males...

Eight men have been arrested after they came to Danville to meet a juvenile to have sex and instead met deputies with the Boyle County Sheriff’s Department.

Paul F. Hilpp, 28, of Lebanon; Joseph A. Brown, 49, of Danville; Michael S. Cruse, 46, of Columbus, Mississippi; Justin P. Jones, 40, of Stanford; Dequan L. Brown, 23, of Lebanon; Hubert D. Carter, 52, of Ennis, Texas; Shawn A. Williams, 39, of Springfield; and Mark A. Shelton, 33, of Stanford were all arrested in the sting.

The men have been charged with first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor (illegal sex act, victim under 18 years old); and prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure sex from a minor.

Sheriff Derek Robbins said deputies in his office set up the sting because they were contacted by parents who were concerned about an app, the name of which Robbins said he didn’t want to release, as it is an ongoing investigation.

“They were asking, ‘How do you know who your kid’s talking to?’” Robbins said. “(Deputies) just picked the ball up and ran with it because they heard the concerns.”

Deputies created a profile of a juvenile on the app and people began contacting them.

“We created the profile and almost immediately people began contacting us,” he said. “They were adults and didn’t hide the fact that they were adults … Even through all of the conversations it was made clear that the (profile) was a juvenile.”

The men arranged meets with deputies through the app, expecting to meet a juvenile.

According to arrest citations obtained from the Boyle County District Clerk’s Office, the arrests were made at various businesses and a residence in Danville:

• Hilpp was arrested at 11:37 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the Bunny Davis Center. The citation states he was anticipating meeting a 16-year-old male, whom he planned to pick up in his “red 1999 Chevy truck to drive to a discreet location.” Hilpp has been released on a $15,000 bond.

• Joseph Brown was arrested at 4:21 p.m. on Oct. 25 at a residence on Rolling Hills. The citation states he was anticipating meeting a 16-year-old. Once deputies arrived, Brown attempted to run toward the residence. He was taken down, but continued to resist. Brown also kicked out the windows and tried to escape out of an opened door in a cruiser. He faces additional charges of resisting arrest and third-degree attempted escape. Brown remains lodged in the Boyle County Detention Center.

• Cruse was arrested at 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 28 outside Danville Cinemas 8. According to the citation, he was anticipating meeting a 16-year-old male to “engage in sexual contact.” He has bonded out of jail.

• Jones was also arrested at 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 28 outside Danville Cinemas 8. The citation states that he believed he was meeting with a 16-year-old male, to “engage in sexual contact/intercourse.” He remains lodged in the Boyle County Detention Center.

• Dequan Brown was arrested at 6:50 p.m. on Oct. 28 outside Danville Cinemas 8. The citation states that he believed he was meeting with a 16-year-old, to “engage in oral and anal sex.” He remains lodged in the Boyle County Detention Center.

• Carter was arrested at 7:45 p.m. on Oct. 28 at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Danville. The citation sates that he believed he was meeting a 16-year-old, and “drove over an hour to purchase a motel room to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor.” He remains lodged in the Boyle County Detention Center.

• Williams was arrested Oct. 30 at Walmart. The citation states that he believed he was meeting a 16-year-old male. Williams is a registered sex offender, previously charged with two counts of child molestation in Indiana, according to the Kentucky Sex Offender Registry. The citation states that his previous conviction was for crimes against an 11-year-old boy, and that Williams said he is HIV-positive. He remains lodged in the Boyle County Detention Center.

• Shelton was arrested on Oct. 31 in the parking lot at Check Advance. According to the citation, he believed he was meeting a 16-year-old male, and was going to “perform oral sex on the 16-year-old at Millennium Park.”

“You try to think of the worse crimes committed in a small town — crimes against children are about as bad as it gets, in my book,” Robbins said.

He said there were individuals who advised the deputy to get off the app when he stated he was a juvenile.

“We had several people that said, ‘I can’t talk to you. It’s not safe to be on here doing this, you’re a juvenile.’ And they blocked us, which is what we want,” Robbins said.

He said that proved that some people were using the sites to find adult companionship.

He said it’s important for parents to pay attention to what their children are doing on their phones’ apps. 

“There are so many avenues for a predator to take advantage of kids. I would encourage parents to know what apps and sites their children are on,” Robbins said. “I would encourage kids: It may seem fun, but you’ve got to use some common sense and be careful. There’s predators that will take advantage of you.

“We’ve been contacted by a ton more people than we’ve charged,” he added. “… More people are going to get caught up in this. The investigation’s not over.”

Robbins said his agency was “fortunate” to have deputies able to do these kinds of investigations.

“A lot of small agencies don’t have the ability to conduct some these investigations. We’re fortunate we’ve got a group of experienced guys. They’re proactive in going out and looking for predators and drug dealers,” he said. “If we had more manpower, there’s no telling what we could do.”

Robbins believes some of the men were caught here because they felt “comfortable” coming to a small town like Danville.

“I’ve talked to the authorities (in Mississippi) and (Cruse) has been on their radar for a long time,” Robbins said. “I think he felt comfortable coming up here, to a small town.”

He said there was a man so determined to meet the “juvenile” and so believing it was an untapped market that he drove past the deputies’ cars to wait.

Robbins said they plan to continue with the investigation and had a word of warning for those looking for juveniles on dating apps.

“Now, these people that are trolling these sites, around here you may be talking to us,” Robbins said. “I’d be careful who I troll on the internet — it could be us.”

By Kendra Peek
The Advocate-Messenger

 

Date: 09-26-2017

College basketball scandal: What we know about University of Louisville's apparent involvement

The University of Louisville appears to be caught up in a major FBI investigation revealed Tuesday that has rocked the college basketball world. Here are some key points:

What do we know?

SCANDAL IN LOUISVILLESCANDAL IN LOUISVILLE

In a stunning criminal complaint, at least 10 people, including four assistant men’s college basketball coaches and apparel company senior executives, are facing federal bribery, fraud and other corruption charges related to paying the families of NCAA recruits to attend specific schools.

The criminal complaints were unsealed Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Who are the coaches and the apparel company officials?

The people named across the three separate complaints are Chuck Person, an assistant coach at Auburn; Lamont Evans, an assistant at Oklahoma State; Emanuel Richardson, an assistant at Arizona; and Tony Bland, an assistant at the University of Southern California.

It also names James Gatto, who is only identified as the head of global sports marketing with a sports company. Gatto works for Adidas, according to his professional profile pages.

According to the FBI complaints made public, the four coaches involved are Auburn assistant Chuck Person, Southern California assistant Tony Bland, Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson and Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans. USA TODAY Sports

Why are people saying the University of Louisville is involved?

According to the complaint, “University-6” is a public research university in Kentucky. The federal charges say it has approximately 22,640 students and more than 7,000 faculty and staff members. It is “one of the state’s largest universities” with approximately 21 varsity sports teams in NCAA Division I competition.

According to the University of Louisville’s website, it has a student headcount of 22,640. The University of Kentucky, which is the only other public research university in the state, has an enrollment of roughly 29,000 students, according to its website.

Who is Player-10?

The U.S. attorney’s complaint says “Player-10” on or about June 3 committed to University-6.

On June 2, the Courier-Journal reported that McDonald's All-American Brian Bowen was enrolling at U of L. Bowen later tweeted his commitment on June 3.

According to the complaint, “Player-10” came to “University-6” in return for Gatto, his company and others working to funnel $100,000 to the family of “Player-10” and to sign with Gatto’s company once “Player-10” made it to the NBA.

Who is Player-11?

A second basketball player, identified only as "Player-11" was described as a 2019 recruit for "University-6." His family was to receive monthly payments.

Are any U of L coaches indicted?

The U.S. attorney’s criminal complaint doesn’t name any U of L personnel directly. It does, however, note that “others known and unknown, including basketball coaches employed by University-6” participated in the scheme to defraud, by telephone, email, and wire transfers of funds.

It highlights two coaches from “University-6,” identified only as "Coach-1” and “Coach-2.”

The charges say “Coach-1” is on an FBI video recording inside of a Las Vegas hotel room.

According to the complaint, that person, who is identified as an assistant coach, agreed that University-6 was already on probation with the NCAA. It goes on to say that the assistant coach also agreed that they needed to be particularly careful with how they passed money to "Player-11."

"Coach-1" said, "we gotta be very low key.” According to the complaint, "Coach-1" also describes another University-6 coach as so influential “that all (Coach-2 has to do) is pick up the phone and call somebody, (and say) these are my guys, they're taking care of us."


By Phillip M. Bailey
The Courier-Journal

 

AUGUST 28, 2017

WASHINGTON — As Hurricane Harvey approaches the United States, the Governor of Texas has issued a State of Disaster declaration for 30 counties in Texas, and the Governor of Louisiana has declared a State of Emergency. In light of Hurricane Harvey, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) highest priorities are to promote life-saving and life-sustaining activities, the safe evacuation of people who are leaving the impacted area, the maintenance of public order, the prevention of the loss of property to the extent possible, and the speedy recovery of the region. Anyone in the path of this storm should follow instructions from their local officials and heed any warnings as this dangerous storm approaches.

The Department's law enforcement components will be at the ready to help anyone in need of assistance. In evacuation or response, we are committed to making sure that we can assist local authorities quickly, safely, and efficiently. Routine non-criminal immigration enforcement operations will not be conducted at evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks. The laws will not be suspended, and we will be vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.

ICE and CBP also seek to provide for the safety and security of those in our custody and to protect them from bodily harm in the event of a hurricane or a major destructive storm. As such, ICE detainees from the Port Isabel Detention Center are being temporarily transferred to various other detention facilities outside the projected path and destruction of the hurricane. In the event of transfers, the detainee's attorney of record is notified, the Online Detainer Locator is updated, and the transfer is temporary in nature.

Translations will be available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

 

 

Naked but not ashamed... 

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY

 

*  Congregation at White Tail Chapel, Virginia attend church while in the nude 

*  Pastor Allen Parker says the idea is to 'equalise' everybody in front of God 

*  Church leader claims Jesus was naked at Bible's most important moments

*  Chapel even hosts naked weddings, with families encouraged to strip off

 

Date: 06-15-2017

NCAA drops bomb on UofL basketball: vacation of unspecified wins from 2010 to 2014, plus probation and suspension

The NCAA infractions committee dropped heavy penalties on the University of Louisville basketball program on Thursday, including the vacation of an unspecified number of wins from 2010 to 2014, which may include its national championship victory in 2013.

UofL interim President Greg Postel swiftly responded with a statement indicating the university intends to appeal, calling the sanctions “excessive.” Those comments were echoed at a news conference by Coach Rick Pitino and AD Tom Jurich.

“The entire UofL community is saddened by what took place. It never should have happened, and that is why the school acted to severely penalize itself in 2016,” Postel stated. “Today, however, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions went beyond what we consider to be fair and reasonable. We intend to appeal all aspects of the penalties.”

The penalties stem from the scandal involving UofL’s former director of basketball operations Andre McGeee, who hired strippers for players and recruits. Those penalties include:

“A vacation of basketball records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible from December 2010 and July 2014. The university will provide a written report containing the games impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release.”

Head Coach Rick Pitino is suspended from the first five ACC games of the 2017-18 season.

The program received four years of probation from June 15, 2017, through June 14, 2021.

McGee is banned from being employed within the NCAA for 10 years.
There will be a reduction in men’s basketball scholarships by two during the 2016-17 year (which already was self-imposed by the university), plus an additional reduction of scholarships by four over the four-year probation period.

According to Chuck Smrt — the NCAA compliance expert hired by UofL to lead their own investigation and response — the number of regular season games in which an ineligible player participated and would have to be vacated was 108, in addition to 15 postseason games. Smrt added that this would include the 2013 championship game, and when asked if UofL would have to take down that championship banner, he indicated that “all trophies of victory would need to be returned” to the NCAA.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon responding the the NCAA penalties, both athletics director Tom Jurich and Pitino said they were deeply disappointed with the NCAA, with Pitino saying that the “over-the-top excessive” penalties had caused him to lose his respect for and trust in the organization. Both said there was no way Pitino could have known about what was happening at the players’ dorm, adding that “we did not deserve any of this at all” and “we’re going to fight this.”

The penalties do not include any future postseason bans for the program, as UofL self-imposed its own postseason ban in the 2015-2016 season.

In his statement, Postel indicated he was disappointed that McGee — “who long ago left the university” — has yet to cooperate with investigating officials. In contrast, he said UofL did cooperate, wanted to uncover what happened, and has been open and transparent throughout the process.

“The NCAA knew how seriously the university treated this matter from the beginning. Once we had the facts and recognized what took place, we did the right thing by taking responsibility and imposing severe penalties on ourselves,” Postel said. “We believe the penalties imposed today are unfair to the UofL community and our current and former student-athletes, many of whom have already paid a heavy price for actions that did not involve them. This ruling is also unfair to Coach Pitino, who we believe could not have known about the illicit activities.”

Attorney Scott Tompsett released the following statement of behalf of Pitino:

“The finding against Coach Pitino is one of the weakest I’ve ever seen against a head coach.

“The original allegation was that Coach Pitino failed to monitor by not actively looking for and evaluating red flags. But throughout the entire investigation and the nearly twelve-hour hearing before the Committee on Infractions, not once did either the enforcement staff or the Committee ever identify a single red flag. And today’s decision does not mention the phrase “red flag” a single time.

“Instead, the decision hinges on a vaguely-worded rationale about creating an environment in which the violations eventually occurred, alleged delegating of monitoring to assistant coaches and Coach Pitino’s failure to train Mr. McGee.

“But the decision does not identify a single specific thing that Coach Pitino should have done, that he wasn’t already doing, that would have either prevented or detected the illicit activities. The secret and deliberately hidden illicit activities certainly did not occur because Coach Pitino did not properly train Mr. McGee.

“Today’s decision breaks with established head coach control precedent and imposes a standard of strict liability.

“Coach Pitino intends to exercise his right to appeal the finding and the penalty.”

By Joe Sonka
Insider Louisville

 

Decades will be needed to fully assess fracking's impact on drinking water, Geological Survey says

U.S. Geological Survey researchers have concluded that unconventional oil and gas production, largely through horizontal hydraulic fracturing, has not been a significant source of benzene or methane contamination in drinking-water wells in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, but "Decades or longer may be needed to fully assess the effects of unconventional oil and gas production on the quality of groundwater used for drinking water in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas," study leader Peter McMahon said in a press release.

USGS graphicUSGS graphic


The researchers examined the shale formations of Eagle Ford (Texas), Fayetteville (Ark.), and Haynesville (La.), "which are some of the largest sources of natural gas in the country and have trillions of cubic feet of gas," the release said.

The study is the first to systematically examine these shale production areas for the presence of benzene and methane in drinking-water wells in relation to groundwater age, USGS said. The study was published May 31 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Written by L Spencer Posted at 6/01/2017 02:40:00 PM

 

Without Significant Reforms, Pension Programs Could Fail to Meet Commitments to Retirees in Coming Years

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 22, 2017) - The PFM Group today presented an alarming report to the Public Pension Oversight Board detailing the factors that made Kentucky’s pension systems the worst funded systems in the United States. The report revealed that the systems have had a combined $6.9 billion negative cash flow since 2005 as benefits paid to retirees plus program expenses greatly exceeded appropriated funding. According to the report, if this negative cash flow is not corrected, the ability to make payments to current and future retirees is at risk.

“PFM’s analysis is the most comprehensive and detailed look at the many factors that contributed to the massive unfunded pension liabilities crippling our state,” stated John Chilton, Kentucky’s State Budget Director. “It is important that we fully examine the facts of how the state got into this mess so we can establish guideposts to take the necessary steps to address the pension crisis facing the Commonwealth.”

The report highlighted the need to meet the actuarially required contributions (“ARC”) going forward. Reverting to past practices of underfunding the ARC would put Kentucky’s largest pension programs (KERS Non-Hazardous and the Teacher’s Retirement System) in jeopardy of collapsing. Combined, those systems have nearly 225,000 active and retired members.

According to the report, if the past patterns of underfunding the required contribution were followed, KERS-NH would become insolvent by FY 2022. The Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS) could become insolvent in twenty-seven years if the ARC is not fully funded and the necessary investment returns are not met.

In the early 2000s, both the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) and the Kentucky Teacher Retirement Systems (TRS) were nearly fully funded. Currently, both systems face staggering unfunded liabilities. The PFM report revealed the factors over the past decade that led to the cumulative combined growth in the state’s unfunded pension liabilities:

The largest contributing cause was “negative amortization” caused by using a “level percentage of payroll” funding method and inaccurate assumptions about payroll growth. This “actuarial back-loading” accounted for 25 percent of the growth in the retirement systems’ unfunded liabilities.
Underperforming investments relative to assumed rates-of-return and market benchmarks were responsible for 23 percent of the growth in unfunded liabilities.

Changes to actuarial assumptions intended to align with revised expectations contributed to 22 percent of the current recognized unfunded liabilities.
Failing to fund the ARC caused 15 percent of the growth in unfunded liabilities.
Nine percent of the growth is attributable to granting, but not paying for, retiree cost of living adjustments (“COLAS”).

While these factors contributed to each individual system’s unfunded liability growth, the individual factors had different impacts on each system. Actuarial back-loading was responsible for 32 percent of TRS’s unfunded liability growth while failing to fully fund the ARC created 28 percent of the problem for KERS-NH.

PFM’s analysis makes clear that the current trajectory is unsustainable and growing more costly every year. The retirement systems have placed significant strains on the state’s general fund with pension contributions increasing at five times the rate of revenue growth. This has led to severe constraints on investments in other general fund supported priorities like K-12 education, public health and public safety.

The report further revealed:

Absent reforms and fully funding the ARC going forward, negative cash flows at KERS-NH and TRS are projected to continue unabated for the next 10 years.
Moving from a “level percent of payroll” to a “level dollar” amortization methodology would add hundreds of millions of dollars to the system’s required annual contribution in the near-term, but decrease the system’s unfunded liabilities more rapidly.

$2.9 billion of TRS’s growth in unfunded liability was a result of underperforming investments, equal to 29 percent of the growth in that system’s unfunded liabilities.

In addition to its pension liabilities, Kentucky has nearly $6 billion of unfunded OPEB (“other post-employment benefits”) obligations, primarily associated with retiree health care.

“Without fixing our state’s pension programs and putting into place a more competitive tax code to grow Kentucky’s economy,” Chilton said, “there simply will not be enough money to adequately invest in our children’s education or provide services for our state’s most vulnerable citizens. It’s that simple.”

The Commonwealth of Kentucky contracted with the PFM Group Consulting, PRM Consulting Group and Stites & Harbison PLLC to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s public pension systems. Earlier this year, the Bevin administration released an interim report on transparency and governance. A third report with detailed recommendations for reforming the pension systems is forthcoming.

A copy of the report can be found at the Office of the State Budget Director’s website: www.osbd.ky.gov.

 

President Trump 2017President Trump 2017

The New York Times reported Tuesday evening that President Trump asked former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn during a February meeting. This is according to a memo written by Comey after the meeting, which took place a day after Flynn resigned. From the Times:

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”
The White House denied Comey’s account. “While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” a statement quoted by the Times says. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Correction May 16, 6:16 PM: This post previously stated that President Trump instructed FBI director James Comey to end the investigation of Michael Flynn. President Trump asked Comey to.

By Osita Nwanevu

Slate editorial assistant.

 

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2017

Lissa Harris, the editor, publisher and sole full-time employee of the Watershed Post, an online news source in the Catskills of New York, announced recently that too much competition from social media has forced her to stop reporting regular community news. She said she will keep the website running, continue to accept long-term display advertising and occasionally post local content when she has the time, but that it will no longer be a business, rather "a labor of love." According to Columbia Journalism Review, the Post has 50,000 monthly readers, half within the region and half from outside.

Lissa HarrisLissa HarrisHarris wrote in a column March 12: "We have a great local audience that is hungry for news. But I feel the writing is on the wall for digital display advertising, our main revenue stream for supporting online news. I see more and more small businesses taking money they would once have spent with local news outlets, and spending it on digital ads—not on local websites, but on promoted Facebook posts and Google keyword advertising."

She writes, "As a business person, I can’t argue with that. It works. The titans of the web have huge and increasing reach, even in our rural communities. They have sophisticated tools for targeting likely customers by geography and demographics. They have products that a business owner can buy for $5 with a few clicks of a mouse, products that require no human time investment on the other end for design or sales or customer support. What they don’t have is reporters."

"Facebook is a powerful marketing tool," she writes. "It’s a powerful community information tool—something we saw first-hand during the Irene floods in 2011, when social media played a vital role in keeping people informed in a crisis. But Facebook is not going to cover a government meeting, or dig into data buried in paper records, or call an official to check up on a fishy-sounding rumor, or ask pesky questions about matters of controversy. For that, you need reporters—and they need to be independent, they need to be paid."

"I have been telling fellow reporters for years that we’re not competing with each other, we’re competing with social media," she writes. "I wish that weren’t true. I wish I had lost this fight to my fellow local news publishers. There would have been a certain curmudgeonly nobility to a contest between print weeklies and digital media, with the old guard emerging victorious over us geeky upstarts. But the rest of the local news media landscape is struggling as well. Several local weeklies have folded since we started the Watershed Post in 2010, and others are alive but fragile. Layoffs and cutbacks have claimed decades’ worth of newsroom experience at our regional dailies."

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 5/12/2017 10:10:00 AM

 


Dr. Mark Karnes likens the work he does to a well-known Christian proverb: "Teach a man to fish, and you've fed him for a lifetime."

Both as a Christian and an OB/GYN, he hopes to achieve a lasting impact in Ethiopian healthcare by treating at-risk women and instructing other medical professionals there.

The 1967 Heath High School graduate grew up "right on the McCracken and Ballard County line," eventually moving to Cameroon for five years as a medical missionary after his internship. Karnes said he again "felt called" to Africa with his wife, Allison, after 25 years of practicing in Michigan.

The couple returned to Paducah in April for a funeral and to visit with family. While in town, he spoke with The Sun about his medical career overseas.

Since 2010 Mark has been on-call "24 hours a day, seven days a week" at the 140-bed Soddo Christian Hospital in the Wolaitta region of southern Ethiopia.

"Christ first healed people, then taught them," Mark said. "Part of our work is (also) training African doctors in the field of surgery, so they'll be able to carry on.

"It's one thing to do a caesarean section myself to save the life of a mother and child, but to teach (another) how to do the same operation is a great thing."

Initially he was one of two OB/GYNs for a population of roughly 2.5 million. Three others have arrived to the region since then.

"When (my wife and I) first went to Ethiopia, 94 percent of women delivered at home without a healthcare professional," he said. "I'd say that number is probably 60 percent now."

Despite progress, both Mark and Allison said issues remain.

While the Ethiopian government has encouraged more medical schools and training, Mark said many native physicians graduate only to work abroad.

Cases of uterine prolapse and molar pregnancies -- where an undeveloped fetus causes harm to the mother -- also threaten the well-being of his patients.

"We've lost patients simply from lack of blood," he said. "In the states I never lost a patient or a mother from that, but in Ethiopia it's a different world."

Allison credited the Ethiopian government for a "substantial difference," saying the Wolaitta region has expanded to a university of about 15,000 students and a medical school.

"I give them a tremendous amount of credit, because they really want to improve the system there," Allison said. "You're seeing healthcare in the country (also) really begin to improve."

She's brought her own cause to the region as director of WRAPS -- Washable, Reusable, Affordable Pads -- a nonprofit providing clean sanitary pads and access to education for Ethiopian schoolgirls. Her organization addresses hygiene, menstruation, staying in school and overcoming disadvantages.

"(Mark and I) both have a passion for changing the lives of women in Ethiopia," Allison said. "I see injustices there done to women -- forced marriage, rape -- and it's a horrific system for rural schoolgirls.

"The government is striving hard to change that, but in the rural areas it's still far behind."

Allison added the country's road system in rural areas has improved greatly -- aiding the work they do.

"I used to have (patients) walk three hours to the road, then take a taxi for hours to get to me," Mark said. "I think it's gotten better."

Visit soddo.org to see about potential ways to get involved. Mark and Allison Karnes also host a blog at soddospecialdelivery.org.

By MASON BLANFORD
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Paducah Sun



Lazer Follow-up story:

Groups working in attempt to counter nationalist groups set to rally in Pikeville

...called Hollywood Nazis, Sunshine said, due to their predilection to large, showy events to gain attention. ...called Hollywood Nazis, Sunshine said, due to their predilection to large, showy events to gain attention.

By Julia Roberts
Appalachian News-Express

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth hosted a webinar Thursday night that featured information about the Traditionalist Workers Party, which has been described as a Hate group and is holding a rally in Pikeville this month.

Spencer Sunshine, an associate fellow with Political Research Associates, a Boston-based think tank, gave some information about the group and its leader, Matthew Heimbach.

The rally is being held by the Nationalist Front, an umbrella group of which the TWP is part. 

Sunshine said Heimbach is the point person for this event. It has two leaders. The other is Jeff S. Choep, the leader of the Nationalist Socialist Movement, the biggest neo-Nazi party in the U.S., he said. 

They are sometimes called Hollywood Nazis, Sunshine said, due to their predilection to large, showy events to gain attention. 

Other groups will also be attending, Sunshine said, including the League of the South, a neo-Confederate group that wants to break the Southern states from the U.S. and revive the Confederacy, and the neo-Nazi university-based student group called the American Vanguard. 

Sunshine said Heimbach and the TWP are using the current political climate to further their cause.

“This is happening to communities all over,” Sunshine said. “With Trump’s campaign, white nationalists felt like they could come into the mainstream. They have kind of come out of the shadows. I think it’s true to some extent that the politics are, at least to some parts of society, fairly normalized. Regardless, they are using this climate to engage in much more aggressive recruiting campaigns and have open public events. In the past, they have often been shy about exposing themselves in public and doing big public things.”

He said TWP is changing its tactics in order to appear less militant.

“They are trying to take advantage of Trump to mainstream a bit,” Sunshine said. “In the past, they have been quite well-known for showing up with big swastika flags. This will probably be the first public event since they have rebranded themselves. They have removed the swastikas from their flags. What he is doing is part of a bigger trend that has altered the cultural and aesthetic look of the facist movement in the U.S. In the old days, it was an old guy wearing a suit and tie, or a Klansman or a Nazi skinhead. Now, they have a different look, a different feel. It’s the same old ideas, but it’s dressed up differently. Heimbach has been really part of this change.”

Sunshine said Heimbach is no stranger to violence.

“A year ago he was caught on camera punching a white woman at a Trump rally in Louisville,” Sunshine said. “His group has been tied to a lot of violence. In June 2016, they sponsored a rally in Sacramento. There was a big meelee,” Sunshine said. “About 400 people showed up to confront them. Ten people were stabbed, nine of them were anti-facists who were confronting them. Afterwards it came out that several of the people who working under Heimbach’s label had brought guns. One of them was loaded. At Pikeville they have called on people to bring weapons where they legally can.”

Sunshine said he doesn’t believe the TWP rally will attract a lot of supporters.

“I think there will be 50 to 100. I think 200 would be a really big gathering,” Sunshine said. “I think a lot of people are looking at Pikeville. This is going to be a test of how big, since there are three major white supremacist groups involved, this is going to be a test of how big it can appear in public under Trump.”

He said it is difficult to gauge what Heimbach hopes to accomplish in Pikeville.

“He has done some very provocative stuff,” Sunshine said. “He is good at playing the media.

He tends not to fight back. They want to build a base in Pikeville, and if you want that, you don’t want confrontation. I think what they want is a locally popular, non-confrontational event. But they like publicity. They don’t seem to have local organizers. To what extent it’s organizing, and what extent it’s publicity is a tough call.”

 

 


PIKEVILLE, KENTUCKY MAN OUT ON BOND AFTER SIMPLE SPEEDING INFRACTION LEADS TO WILD POLICE CHASE IN MARTIN COUNTY, DAMAGING DEPUTY'S CRUISER; ALL BECAUSE DRIVER WAS AFRAID THAT IF HE WENT TO JAIL. "HIS GIRLFRIEND WOULD LEAVE HIM"

TUESDAY EVENING INCIDENT INVOLVING PIKE COUNTY NATIVE WHO ALREADY HAD NUMEROUS PAST FELONY AND MISDEMEANOR ARRESTS IN SEVERAL EASTERN KENTUCKY COUNTIES IN PAST FEW YEARS

David J. HarmonDavid J. Harmon

APRIL 14, 2014 - written by WADE QUEEN


What started out as simple traffic stop by a state police officer for speeding infraction by a driver, instead turned into a high speed pursuit that left a Martin County sheriff's deputy with a damaged cruiser vehicle after the car pursuit late Tuesday afternoon, and a Pike County man facing a dozen criminal charges and traffic citations.

The bizarre incident happened on Tuesday, April 11, at about 4 p.m. near the Debord area of Martin County, just south of Inez.

The hot pursuit began when Kentucky State Police trooper Mike Goble tried to pull over a driver for speeding. Instead, the driver sped on away.

The gnarly chase went on for about six minutes and 6 miles.

Martin County Deputy Billy Patrick joined in the after it went by his home.

Deputy Patrick said the driver, identified as David J. Harmon, 27, of Pikeville, said after he was finally caught when Patrick's police cruiser and Harmon's vehicle collided, stated to officers he didn't want to go to jail because if he did, his girlfriend would leave him.

"It upsets me,” Patrick said. “He endangered so many people, myself and the trooper too, just because he was afraid his girlfriend would leave him. It's nonsense."

Patrick said he knew a school bus was in the area so that’s why he tried to get in front of Harmon’s vehicle.

After he was taken into custody, David J. Harmon was hit with a total of 12 charges: • SPEEDING 18 MPH OVER LIMIT, • RECKLESS DRIVING, • FLEEING OR EVADING POLICE, 1ST DEGREE (MOTOR VEHICLE), • CRIMINAL MISCHIEF, 1ST DEGREE, • WANTON ENDANGERMENT-1ST DEGREE-POLICE OFFICER, • DRIVING WITHOUT LICENSE/NEGLIGENCE IN ACCIDENT, • IMPROPERLY ON LEFT SIDE OF ROAD, • DISREGARDING STOP SIGN, • FAILURE TO PRODUCE INSURANCE CARD, • DRIVING DUI SUSPENDED LICENSE - 1ST OFFENSE (AGGRAVATED CIRCUMSTANCE), • CONTEMPT OF COURT LIBEL/SLANDER RESISTANCE TO ORDER, • FAILURE TO APPEAR.

David J. Harmon posted bond at the Big Sandy Detention Regional Center on Wednesday afternoon and was released.

This is not the first time David J. Harmon has had a major run-in with law enforcement, as he has a checkered criminal past, having been arrested multiple times, on multiple felony and multiple misdemeanor charges, as well as multiple traffic violations, in multiple eastern Kentucky counties in the last several years.

 

Officials: RCC Big Shoal still being watched

 

Pike County officials are keeping close tabs on a project in which the county invested $400,000, only to have the project move to Floyd County.

Pike County announced the RCC Big Shoal project in 2014, reporting the plant would use natural gas to create products such as diesel fuel and lubricants. The Pike County Fiscal Court, headed by then-Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford, touted the project as an economic boon to the county, which would, when in operation, provide 30 people with jobs that paid $34.16 per hour, plus benefits.

However, plans for the plant changed, and it will now be built near MarkWest Energy Partners’ natural gas processing complex in Langley.

Officials at RCC Big Shoal spoke recently with Pike officials, including Pike Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Bartley, who said he will be monitoring the situation carefully, with an eye toward ensuring the company does not act illegally in its move of the project.

At Tuesday’s Pike County Fiscal Court, Dist. 1 Magistrate Jeff Anderson asked if there was any news regarding RCC Big Shoal. Assistant County Attorney John Doug Hays said he had met with Floyd Judge-Executive Ben Hale.

“He is neither optimistic nor pessimistic,” Hays said of Hale. “He informed me … that AEP had procured a grant for $100,000 going toward that project. As I understand it, they are in the final stages of engineering. They have a lease option on the site near the MarkWest plant in Floyd County.”

Pike Deputy Judge-Executive Brian Morris said the county has not recently met with RCC Big Shoal officials.

“They were supposed to have been here two weeks ago, but one of the owners’ father broke his hip,” Morris said. “I asked for records, I haven’t received anything.”

Anderson said he has growing concerns about the project.

“I hope they haven’t taken the money and just wasted it,” Anderson said. “It raises suspicions to me if they don’t want to tell us how they spent our money. When you ask them how they spent the taxpayers’ dollars, and they don’t come through, that’s a problem.”

Hays said he believes the county should be optimistic about RCC Big Shoal, while keeping in mind that the county is not without recourse.

“If we are going to recoup our money, plus interest, this project must go,” Hays said. “We have a note for $400,000 plus 25 percent interest. It’s an unsecured note. We have a corporation that, if it doesn’t put this business in over at MarkWest, our chances of recovery are slim to none.”

Both Morris and Hays said Bartley is keeping a very close eye on the situation.

“As far as litigation, Rick Bartley is all over this,”Morris said. “I don’t think this court will have to do anything. I think he is all over this, if they don’t come through with some of their promises.”

“We have waited this long,” Hays said. “My advice would be to encourage these fellows. There is a reason Rick Bartley, the commonwealth’s attorney, was there (at a telephone conference with RCC Big Shoal officials). He has been following this very closely. There are some legal ramifications of what happened here.”

Anderson said he will also keep on top of the situation.

“If they provide us documentation, I will quit asking questions,” Anderson said. “If they don’t, I’ll continue to ask questions. I think that’s a fair shake to everybody.”

By Julia Roberts
Appalachian News-Express

Grimes LouNaturalization copyGrimes LouNaturalization copy
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 6, 2017) – Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes welcomed and congratulated new United States citizens at a naturalization ceremony on Thursday at the national headquarters of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Grimes recognized 97 new citizens from 39 different countries who took the oath of citizenship to become Americans officially. She spoke to the new citizens and their families about the importance of voter participation, civic engagement, and being committed to their communities.

"On this special occasion, we're celebrating at the Sons of the American Revolution – a conflict which resulted in America's independence and the building of a country which has become a melting pot of people like each of you," Grimes said. "All of us are here because of the people who led the Revolution, and today we affirm the ideal that America is a place for everyone."

Grimes encouraged the new citizens to use one of their newly attained rights as citizens by registering to vote via Kentucky’s online registration portal at GoVoteKY.com. The portal is easy to navigate and it takes just a few short minutes to complete the registration process, Grimes said.

Grimes imparted upon the new citizens the importance of participating in elections and asked them to go to the polls in every cycle.

"I'm counting on you to lead us on a course change when it comes to voting. Each of you must take part in the process. America's future cannot be built on apathy," said Grimes.

 

 

 

*Editor’s Note: Additional video footage featuring Public Health’s early childhood education obesity prevention program is available here.

FRANKFORT, KY (March 28, 2017) – As part of National Nutrition Month, First Lady Glenna Bevin is praising the efforts of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), to address the prevalence of childhood obesity in its earliest stages, establishing a foundation of healthy habits to last a lifetime.

The DPH Obesity Prevention Program focuses on efforts to increase quality and access to healthy foods and beverages, place limits on screen time, promote physical activity and breastfeeding in early care and education centers.

“As a mom of nine, I know how important it is to establish these healthy habits early on,” said Mrs. Bevin. “Building a foundation based on healthy eating and physical activity is a challenge, so it is encouraging to see so many children being exposed to a healthy lifestyle in many of state’s early childcare education centers. This is an innovative approach and example of effective health policy.”

Here is an overview of several DPH program offerings:

• More than 14,450 children across the state have been impacted by the Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative. Through this intensive training (beginning its third cohort in 2016), child care centers adopt new policies and implement classroom changes that promote 5-2-1-0 healthy behaviors for all children.
• Nearly 422,000 students are participating in Farm to School throughout Kentucky. This program brings fresh produce from Kentucky farmers to schools and provides opportunities for students to learn about nutrition, agriculture, and the importance of supporting the local food system.
• More than 1,000 schools serving nearly 550,000 students across the state have joined the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, creating healthier school environments for children to thrive.
• There are nearly 300 statewide groups and coalitions representing all 120 counties that are working to improve the health of Kentuckians.
• Kentucky has 52 bike/pedestrian plans. By working with communities to adopt a plan, we are addressing the walkability of places by ensuring that they are eligible for funding opportunities to make them safer and more inviting places to be physically active.
• There are 92 organizations, agencies, and businesses that have pledged their support for Step It Up, Kentucky! This collective endorsement demonstrates that walkability and active transportation are a priority for Kentucky.
• Of Kentucky’s 174 farmers markets –including 14 Fresh Stop Markets – 55 accept SNAP, 90 accept WIC, and 88 accept Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program benefits. Over 25 markets participate in the Double Dollars program, and many others are piloting Veggie Rx, Summer Meal Service Program, and partnerships with Food Banks.
• Better Bites healthy menu labeling program is currently operated in all 17 Kentucky State Park Resorts, three state-operated worksite cafeterias, four public swimming pools, and several after-school programs throughout Lexington and Owensboro.

“By providing extensive training, encouraging family engagement and promoting consistent policies, we will increase the number of Kentucky’s youngest children who receive care in a healthy, supportive center,” said CHFS Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson. “Reaching children before age 5 is critical to establishing lifelong healthy eating and exercise habits, which helps prevent someone from becoming overweight later on in life.”

The DPH program also focuses on policies and programs designed to improve the health of Kentucky communities. When specifically addressing early care and education stakeholders, the program highlights;

- Nearly one in three children in Kentucky enter kindergarten overweight or obese;
- Healthy habits established in early childhood build the foundation for lifelong health; and
- School readiness in Kentucky includes being healthy and physically prepared to grow, learn and succeed.

“Public health is actively engaged in numerous programs targeted at preventing obesity in children from early childhood education training and curriculum to school-based programming to encouraging community pedestrian plans,” said Elaine Russell, coordinator for Kentucky Obesity Prevention Program. “As part of National Nutrition Month, we hope more Kentuckians will take a moment to learn about how partners across the state are shifting the environment to improve food choices and opportunities for physical activity.”

DPH recently reported a drop in childhood obesity rates among 2-4 year old children participating in Kentucky WIC (Women, Infants and Children). Numbers showed a drop of nearly 5 percentage points since 2010, which put rates for this age group below the national average.

The latest WIC obesity prevalence numbers released in 2016 show the percentage of obese children participating in the WIC program has fallen from 18.2 percent in 2010 to 13.3 percent in 2014. The rate decline was observed in low-income children between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, according to WIC (Women, Infants and Children) data.

“When it comes to childhood obesity, prevention is the key to reversing the trends and that is clearly reflected in our current childhood obesity numbers,” said Dr. Connie White, senior deputy commissioner for DPH. “Our program has worked diligently to promote obesity prevention in early childhood centers around the state, emphasizing the importance of reaching children before they reach elementary school. We are inspired by the changes we are seeing and encourage other communities and organizations across the state to invest in obesity prevention and healthy lifestyle initiatives.”

National Nutrition Month runs throughout March and points to the success of various initiatives undertaken by DPH aimed at preventing young children from becoming overweight or obese.

“We are encouraged to see that childhood obesity numbers are starting to go down, meaning fewer children are at risk for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are both associated with obesity,” concluded Sec. Glisson.

DPH Obesity Prevention

The DPH Obesity Prevention Program leads the Partnership for a Fit Kentucky (PFK), a team of leaders, administrators, advocates, health professionals, and community members who care about the health and future of Kentucky citizens. This dynamic public/private partnership supports health policy, environmental, and system changes that promote healthy eating and active lifestyles. Follow PFK on Facebook and Twitter.

2017 National Nutrition Month

"Put Your Best Fork Forward" is the theme for National Nutrition 2017 which serves as a reminder that each one of us holds the tool to make healthier food choices. Making small changes during National Nutrition Month® and over time, helps improve health now and into the future. As nutrition experts, Academy members can help guide the public on gradually shifting toward healthier eating styles by promoting NNM activities and messages during March.

Be sure to visit the Academy's National Nutrition Month® website during the upcoming months for new and updated resources to help make the NNM 2017 celebration an infinite success!

Additional information about obesity prevention strategies can be found at the Association of Public Health Nutritionists website. The Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) is a 501(c)(3)non-profit membership organization that provides state and national leadership on food and nutrition policy, programs, and services.

 

‘The Obama Administration launched energy attack after energy attack on Kentucky and America’s middle class, threatening critical jobs and making coal more costly to mine and to use…Coal communities face enough challenges without Washington piling on more with these unreasonable attacks. Fortunately, we now have a president who will work with us to provide much-needed relief.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Energy Independence Executive Order that President Trump plans to sign today:

“Throughout my career in the Senate, I’ve worked hard to defend coal communities and the jobs that they, and so many across the country, depend upon. These men and women have dedicated their lives to providing an affordable and reliable power source for our homes, businesses, and communities. They deserve our respect and our support. The same is true of America’s middle class more broadly. Middle-class families had a hard enough time the last eight years without Washington making things worse. I think they deserve respect and support, not fewer jobs and unaffordable energy bills.

“Unfortunately, the previous administration didn’t see things the same way. Instead, the Obama Administration launched energy attack after energy attack on Kentucky and America’s middle class, threatening critical jobs and making coal more costly to mine and to use. Indeed, a couple years ago, then-President Obama finalized a massive, regressive energy regulatory scheme that claimed to be about helping the climate but actually would have done little to truly impact global emissions. What it would have done is punish coal families, ship middle-class jobs overseas, and hurt the economy. It was also likely illegal.

“So, I sent a letter counseling governors to wait for the courts to rule on the legality of the regulation before submitting a compliance plan. It was not a popular move at the time. Turns out, it was the right one. I’m glad that nearly half of our nation’s governors agreed with my advice to take a ‘wait and see’ approach before needlessly putting their states in economic jeopardy. I’m proud to report that we will notch an important victory in this struggle later today. I commend President Trump for the decision to sign the Energy Independence Executive Order and send several anti-middle class regulations back to the drawing board.

“From the outset, I warned that regulations like these would hurt coal workers and America’s middle class. One report predicted that more than 40 states could have seen double-digit electricity rate hikes as a result of the CPP energy regulatory plan. And we all know that low- and fixed-income families would have suffered the most. And for what? This regulation would hardly have moved the needle on the climate anyway. Talk about bad policy. It’s important to remember how we got here.

“President Obama came into office with huge majorities in both houses of Congress. He could’ve done virtually anything he wanted and certainly tried. He pushed through one left-wing policy after the other. He even tried to push through a regressive, anti-middle class energy regulatory plan — one so extreme that he couldn't even get his own Democrat-controlled Congress to go along with it. Undeterred, he went around Congress and imposed a similarly regressive energy scheme anyway.

“It was evident that the Obama Administration had overstepped its authority. That’s why I sent the letter I mentioned earlier to the nation’s governors urging them not to comply with the CPP's demands, but to instead take a ‘wait and see’ approach before putting their states into economic jeopardy. Because of the legal uncertainty of President Obama’s plan, 27 states joined the fight in federal court. In February 2016, the Supreme Court issued an unprecedented nationwide halt on this regulation.

“Despite the Court’s order, the damage of President Obama’s ‘War on Coal’ has already negatively impacted middle-class families across the country and coal communities in Kentucky. When plants shut down and miners lose their jobs, the entire community feels the pain. With less tax revenue, local governments are unable to pay teachers and first responders. These hardships often lead to the rise of crime and drug abuse that trouble these communities.

“Moreover, the Obama Administration’s massive regulatory burdens were imposed during a period when production and supply of natural gas had been high and its costs relatively low — a devastating one-two punch to families already struggling to make it. To make matters worse, President Obama didn’t stop at the CPP; he also sought to impose similar limitations on any new plants in an attempt to prevent them from being built. It’s an equally concerning regulation, and one that would have further devastated coal communities. I’m glad President Trump will include it in his executive order today.

“Coal communities face enough challenges without Washington piling on more with these unreasonable attacks. Fortunately, we now have a president who will work with us to provide much-needed relief. Today’s executive order is good news for coal communities, it’s a victory for middle class families, and it’s another important step away from the overregulation of the Obama years.

“We all want clean air and clean water. But that’s not what President Obama’s energy regulatory policies were actually about. It was an ideological vanity project. It wouldn’t have even solved the problem it purported to address.

“Fortunately, the EPA will now have the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and get this right with balanced and serious policies. The EPA should work with stakeholders across the country to develop sensible policies that balance the economic needs of our communities with the realities of the environment. This way, we can protect America’s middle class, America’s miners, and America’s natural resources — all at once.”

 

Event will be held on April 8 at the Boyd County Fairgrounds

John Marra Gardening Expert WSAZ John Marra Gardening Expert WSAZ Get ready for the spring and summer gardening season by attending the Boyd County Master Gardeners “Can You Dig It” gardening seminar.

Gardening expert John Marra (WSAZ), Kim Jenkins, Sweet Bay Landscape, Scott Freidof, Biologist, Ky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and Ken Imel, Imel’s Greenhouse will be the presenters.

Classes will include bees and pollinators, planting four seasons of color, care of annuals and perennials, basic landscape design and pruning.

County Extension staff and Master Gardeners will also be on hand to answer your questions about vegetable planting times, care of fruit trees and composting. Vendor booths will include Imels Greenhouse, Ashland Milling, Hanna’s Southern States of Grayson, the Boyd County Bee Keepers and the Master Gardeners.

The event will be held on April 8th at the Boyd County Fairground’s Franks Building, The event will run from 10 am to 3 pm. There will be door prizes and lunch will be provided. Cost per ticket is $10.00 per person in advance and $15.00 at the door. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Boyd County Extension Office in Catlettsburg. The number is 606-739-5184.


By Lori Bowling
Boyd Co Extension Agent

 

'We're # 1:

'Wallethub' report shows Ky. at top in dependency on federal aid 

With the tax deadline drawing near, the personal-finance website WalletHub followed up on its 2017 Tax Rates by State report with an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States to determine how much those with the lowest tax rates lean on Uncle Sam compared with those paying the highest.

In order to identify which states most and least depend on federal support, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states across three key metrics: return on taxes paid to the federal government; federal funding as a share of state revenue; and share of federal jobs. Kentucky was ranked first on the list, followed by Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama and West Virgina.

Federal Dependency of Kentucky (1=Most Dependent, 25=Avg.):

— 5th – Return on Taxes Paid to the Federal Government
— 5th – Federal Funding as a Share of State Revenue
— 22nd – Share of Federal Jobs

The extent to which the average American’s tax burden varies based on his or her state of residence represents a significant point of differentiation among state economies. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

 

What if, for example, a particular state can afford not to tax its residents at high rates because it receives disproportionately more funding from the federal government than states with apparently oppressive tax codes? That would change the narrative significantly, revealing federal dependence where bold, efficient stewardship was once thought to preside.

The idea of the American freeloader burst into the public consciousness when #47percent started trending on Twitter in 2012. And while the notion is senselessly insulting to millions of hardworking Americans, it is true that some states receive a far higher return on their federal income-tax contributions than others.

Just how pronounced is this disparity? And to what extent does it alter our perception of state and local tax rates around the country? WalletHub sought to answer those questions by comparing the 50 states in terms of three key metrics. Read on for our findings, expert commentary and a detailed methodology.

For the full report, click here.

From WalletHub Communications

 

 

$200,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant to assist 54 Kentucky counties water and wastewater training

Kentucky Press News Service

FRANKFORT – The Appalachian Regional Commission approved a grant for $200,000 to provide technical assistance and training in water and wastewater utility finance, management, and operations to rural utility services located throughout Kentucky’s 54 Appalachian counties.

The training includes water treatment and distribution system, asset management, rate analysis, Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) loan portfolio servicing and cost of service.

“I am pleased to hear the ARC approved this grant for a much-needed overhaul of water and wastewater management in Eastern Kentucky,” Senate President Robert Stivers said in a news release. “This grant is yet another critical step in ensuring our current infrastructure needs are addressed in the Appalachian regional counties.”

ARC funding will be further utilized to employ a full-time consultant to provide technical assistance and training to drinking water and wastewater operations throughout the entire contract period. It is anticipated that 80 public water utilities and 100 wastewater utilities will receive on-site technical assistance and training during the project period. In addition, 82 KIA water and wastewater borrowers will be served and improved through direct consultation and training as well.

The ARC program provides assistance for residential infrastructure, water supply and wastewater treatment projects to assist in alleviating environmental issues and public health concerns while improving the quality of life for local residents.

Appalachian regional counties in Kentucky include: Adair, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Casey, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Green, Greenup, Harlan, Hart, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Menifee, Metcalfe, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Pulaski, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Wayne, Whitley, and Wolfe.

 

UPDATED: 3-5-17

KENTUCKY POWER STORM UPDATE

Friday, March 3, 2017 – 10:30 am

 About 50 broken poles are widespread across eastern Kentucky as the result of a wind storm Wednesday. About 200 outside crews are assisting Kentucky Power with repairs.About 50 broken poles are widespread across eastern Kentucky as the result of a wind storm Wednesday. About 200 outside crews are assisting Kentucky Power with repairs.

Kentucky Power Storm Update

Friday, March 3, 2017 – 10:30 a.m.

 

Summary

Service has been restored to about 96 percent of Kentucky Power customers who lost service Wednesday after storms with wind gusts up to 68 miles moved through eastern Kentucky. Assessors during restoration efforts found about 70 poles that were broken or damaged, as well as numerous downed power lines. Transmission structures also were damaged. At its peak, nearly 31,000 customers lost electric service.

Storm Response Efforts

Some 750 employees, contractors and mutual assistance workers from western Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee are working on restoration efforts. Many of the remaining outages are in hard-to-reach areas, some requiring bulldozers to build access roads. As service is restored, workers will be moved from Ashland and Hazard service areas to assist in the greater Pikeville region, where most of the remaining outages are located. Most customers served by the Ashland and Hazard service districts should have service by 10 p.m. Friday. Customers served by Pikeville Service District, including Floyd and Pike counties, should have service by midnight Saturday. Some isolated outages could extend beyond the projected restoration times. As of 9 p.m. Friday, customer outages remained in these counties:

  • Boyd, 7
  • Breathitt, 13
  • Floyd, 136
  • Knott, 19
  • Lawrence, 9
  • Leslie, Fewer than 5
  • Martin, 45
  • Perry, 5
  • Pike, 863


A snapshot view of current outages affecting five customers or more is available anytime at https://kentuckypower.com/outages.The outage map is updated every 15 minutes. Restoration information is added when known. Click "View Outage Map" to access the map on a computer, cell phone, or tablet. Customers can report outages online, on their mobile device or to our Customer Solutions Center at 1-800-572-1113.

For More Information

This update provides a broad overview of the company’s restoration efforts. Customers can get specific information about the outages affecting their accounts via text message and/or email by subscribing to Kentucky Power outage alerts. To sign up, please visit www.kentuckypower.com/alerts. Information also is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KentuckyPower.

 

Date: 02-13-2017

'Finding real facts in an alternative fact world' 

Kentucky Press News Service

LEXINGTON — The Bluegrass Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will host a free public forum Feb. 23 titled, “Finding real facts in an alternative fact world." 

A panel of local, regional and national professionals will examine the role of the news media and provide a better public understanding of how it works. The group also hopes to facilitate an ongoing conversation about the importance of a free press in a democracy. The event will be 6:30-8 p.m. in Room A of Central Library, 140 E. Main Street, Lexington.

Panelists include Ryan Craig, owner of The Todd County Standard, a weekly newspaper in Western Kentucky, and president of the Kentucky Press Association; Tom Eblen, columnist and former managing editor of The Lexington Herald-Leader; Campbell Robertson, national correspondent for The New York Times; Kathy Stone, assistant news director at television station WLEX-18; and Jim Waters, newspaper columnist and president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a free-market think tank.

Moderating will be Ginny Whitehouse, Ph.D., a journalism professor at Eastern Kentucky University specializing in media literacy, ethics and law.

 

 

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnellDonald Trump and Mitch McConnell

‘The legislation we passed today will help stop this disastrous rule and bring relief to coal miners and their families’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised Senate passage today of his measure to overturn the “stream buffer rule,” an anti-coal regulation that President Obama filed just before leaving office.

Senator McConnell was joined by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and 28 of their colleagues in filing the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) in the Senate. The House of Representatives passed the companion resolution yesterday. Now, the resolution goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.

“The Obama Administration’s Stream Buffer rule was an attack against coal miners and their families. In my home state of Kentucky, the Stream Buffer Rule would have threatened coal jobs and caused major damage to communities,” Senator McConnell said. “The legislation we passed today will help stop this disastrous rule and bring relief to coal miners and their families. I am heartened to know so many of my colleagues recognized the problems that face coal country, and I am glad that they joined with me to begin addressing them. Now with a friend of coal in the White House, the legislation will soon be signed into law. I am grateful for President Trump’s support, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to protect coal families and communities.”

Providing relief from this regulation — and the many others that have targeted coal workers -- is just one priority for which Senator McConnell has long fought, and was one of the priorities he identified in a letter to President Trump earlier this year.

Today on the Senate floor, Senator McConnell delivered the following remarks regarding the CRA resolution:

“This Republican-led Congress is committed to fulfilling our promises to the American people. That work continues now as we consider legislation to push back against harmful regulations from the Obama Administration.

“On its way out the door, the Obama Administration forced nearly 40 major — and very costly — regulations on the American people. Fortunately, we now have the opportunity to work with the new president to begin bringing relief from these burdensome regulations.

“Last night, the House sent us two resolutions under the Congressional Review Act — one of the best tools at our disposal to undo these heavy-handed regulations.

“This afternoon the Senate will have the opportunity to pass the first of these resolutions — a measure to overturn the Stream Buffer Rule.

“The resolution before us now is identical to the one I introduced earlier this week, and it aims to put a stop to the former administration’s blatant attack on coal miners.

“In my home state of Kentucky and others across the nation, the Stream Buffer Rule will cause major damage to communities and threaten coal jobs.

“One study actually estimated that this regulation would put as many as one-third of coal-related jobs at risk.

“That’s why the Kentucky Coal Association called it “a regulation in search of a problem.”

“They joined with the United Mine Workers of American and Attorneys General of 14 states on both sides of the aisle urging Congress to act.

“We should heed their call now and begin bringing relief to coal country.

“Today’s vote on this resolution represents a good step in that direction.

“Once our work is complete on this legislation, we’ll turn to another House-passed resolution that will protect American companies from being at a disadvantage when doing business overseas.

“Although the Securities and Exchange Commission may have had good intentions, the Resource Extraction Rule costs American public companies up to nearly $600 million annually and gives foreign owned business in Russia and China an advantage over American workers.

“We all want to increase transparency, but we should not raise costs on American businesses only to benefit their international competition.

“Let’s send the SEC back to the drawing board to promote transparency without the high costs or negative impacts on American businesses.

“These CRA resolutions keep the interests of American families and workers at heart. Today, we’ll continue to chip away at the regulation legacy of the Obama Administration with more CRA resolutions in the coming days as well.

“Let’s pass these two resolutions without delay so we can send them to the President’s desk and continue giving the power back to the people.”

AMERICANS NEED HELP FAST

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

The new medical insurance premium for my wife and I will be just a few dollars shy of $2,000 per month for 2017. This amounts to a total of $24,000 for the year. Should either of us have a serious illness or medical procedure then our out of pocket expense will be $11,000. Therefore we could potentially be out $35,000 in medical expenses in one year. I hope we aren't but the potential is always there. Of course, that would be better than a $100,000 medical expense or being shoved into bankruptcy because of medical bills. It is easy in today's world to rack up several hundred thousand dollars in medical expenses.

President Trump appears to be moving fast on his promises. I hope he acts fast on affordable health care because it's killing me.

I continue to hear from people who have achieved Social Security disability status. They were declared disabled by a doctor and were eventually legally approved. This not only means a nice monthly check from Social Security but it means medical care provided by the American taxpayers. Sadly, there are lots of reports of people who have obtained crooked attorneys with connections to crooked doctors who know a crooked Judge who help them get approved for disabled Social Security. I'm for anybody that is truly disabled to have this help from the American taxpayers. It's bad for America when people lie and fake an illness to get a disability check. Unfortunately when the government is writing checks multitudes line up to get their share whether they deserve it or not.

If I live a few more years I can apply for a full Social Security check and I will have Medicare. We will only have to pay for my wife's medical insurance for a little while and thus life will go on. The point is that most of us are feeling the pain of health insurance costs. Mr. President we need help fast.

Hospitals and doctors have been gouging the government and insurance companies for a long time. For years the government and insurance companies have paid it but things are changing some. Insurance companies are no longer paying for everything or paying the full price they are being charged. One doctor recently told me that he has to bill the insurance company about three times more than he would normally charge a patient to just receive close to the amount he needs for a procedure.

While our new government leadership is supposedly working on a plan to fix medical care they need to fix the rising cost of a college education. Too many college graduates are racking up $60,000 to over $100,000 in debt with horrendous interest rates being charged by some lending institutions. Colleges know they have a gravy train. Thousands of students across the country who meet the conditions can receive $5,815 in government money paid directly to their college of choice. Colleges then tack on thousands of dollars more that families or the students often have to borrow. Colleges in turn build bigger buildings and incur more debt that in turn requires more and more tuition from struggling students and families.

Many federally funded colleges pay big salaries. One college President in Kentucky made about $400,000 a year at a tiny private Christian college. That's not that huge as some Presidents today are making close to a million dollars a year. What is interesting is that his Board of Trustees promised him this same salary package upon his retirement for the rest of his life plus medical insurance, an apartment, a car and even his cell phone. Where does this money come from? The money comes from federal grants that we the taxpayers pay and from struggling students who rack up big debts so that a retired college President can receive almost $400,000 a year and additional perks for the rest of his life. Sadly, a lot of academic institutions are crumbling across this country. There are numerous cases of campuses closing and being sold to bigger institutions or closing altogether.

Average Americans can't handle what we are being handed in medical and college costs. We need help fast.

Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states. Visit www.glennmollette.com
Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette

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