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Bellarmine Basketball Headed To First NCAA Elite 8

For the first time ever, the Bellarmine University Men’s Basketball team is headed to the elite 8 of the NCAA Division II championship.

The Knights defeated Ferris State Tuesday night in the Midwest regional final to advance. Knights Hall was sold out with a crowd of 2,400.

The team fell short of making the elite 8 in 2009. They lost in the regional final in a controversial ending when a tying 3 point shot was waved off and changed to a 2 pointer.

The Knights finished the regular season ranked 2nd in the nation among Division II schools. They will play in the Elite 8 on Wednesday, March 23 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally Praises Louisville

Ford CEO Alan Mulally spoke highly of Louisville Tuesday night at the KFC Yum Center.  Mulally was the keynote speaker at the Greater Louisville Inc. annual meeting.

Ford is in the middle of a $600 million retooling of the Louisville Assembly Plant. Mulally hailed the new model of the Ford Escape, which will be built at the plant, as revolutionary.

“This is going be absolutely not only the best quality, fuel efficient, safe and smart designed vehicle but the very best value that we can bring to all of our customers around the world;” Mulally says,” and right here is a center of excellence in Louisville, Kentucky.”

Several versions of the Escape–including hybrid models–will be produced from the same platform in plants around the world. Mulally also praised Louisville for competing on a global level.

“Well I think the most important thing is having a point of view that you are competing with the best in the world and you want to win and you want to be competitive the commitment that Louisville has made to creating a business environment where we can compete with the rest of the world is the most important thing.”

Louisville is also home to Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant.

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Ohio River Holding Three Feet Above Flood Stage

Despite additional rainfall, the Ohio River is holding at about 26 feet, three feet above flood stage.

Metro Sewer District Director Bud Schardein says he expects the river to stay there for the next three or four days, even though slightly more rain is in the forecast for Tuesday.

“Were still in a holding patter, we are operating 14 flood pumping plants. They’re doing their job, they’re pumping this rainwater that is hitting the city into the river; and there are no reports of flooding behind the walls or the levee.”

Schardein says River Road will remain closed in some places for a few more days and urges residents to continue using alternate routes.

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Commuter Rail Plan Awaits Mayors’ Input

One of the people behind a possible rail link between Louisville and Lexington says the plans hinge on meetings with the mayors of both cities. Frankfort Industrial Recruiter Ralph Tharp hopes to meet with mayors Greg Fischer and Jim Gray soon.

Previous reports have indicated that existing CSX and RJ Corman railroads would be upgraded to accommodate passenger trains that would stop in Shelbyville and Frankfort. The new rail service could begin as early as October of 2012.

Tharp declined to comment on the details of the plans, but expects to meet with the mayors in the next two weeks.

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Metro Police Adding Patrols in Old Louisville

The 4th division of the Louisville Metro Police Department is increasing its patrols in the Old Louisville neighborhood to fight growing crime problems. Officers will be on bicycles or ATVs to make themselves more visible and more accessible to the community.

“We’ve had a lot of thefts from autos in the past 45 days” says Lieutenant Kit Steimle, ” and 90 percent of them have been students from the University so we are trying to connect to them with the crime prevention tips along with the Old Louisville neighborhood association and the University.”

Lieutenant Steimle says there will be an emphasis on the education aspect of the initiative, aimed at UofL students living in the neighborhood. 6th District Councilman David James has directed some of his discretionary funds to the LMPD to pay officers overtime to patrol the neighborhood.

“The officers are going to be focusing on crime control and catching the suspects that are responsible for this,” says Major Kim Kraeszig, “but they’re also going to be educating and just reminding people on crime prevention.”

The initiative will begin on Monday, March 14, and continue for the next fourteen days. Major Kraeszig said she will monitor the program and implement any successes in the future.

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Live Music Ordinance Approved for Old Louisville

The Louisville Metro Council has approved an ordinance to allow live music in venues in the western edge of Old Louisville near of 7th and Oak streets.

Councilman David James hopes the ordinance will energize the neighborhood and its local eateries.

“It’s just a part of revitalizing Old Louisville” says James, “and making it more business and user friendly to the people that live here.”

The ordinance still needs Mayor Greg Fischer’s approval.

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Kentucky Conservation Committee To Hold Annual Meeting Saturday

The Kentucky Conservation Committee will host its annual meeting Saturday at the University of Louisville.  The meeting includes educational programs on conservation issues and a panel discussion with Kentucky lawmakers.

Committee President Vicki Holmburg says she hopes to reach out to anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to be part of sustainability efforts in Kentucky. “Ultimately, we hope to educate the public first of all,” she says “education is the primary focus of this meeting and to provide a forum for citizens to speak openly to legislators about their desires and concerns.”

The organization will also present a Person of the Year Award to outgoing Finance Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller. “He has worked quite a lot on weatherization” says Holmburg “and he has had a lot of input on other types of sustainability for the commonwealth and we believe that he has been a good role model and a progressive person in those regards.”

The event will also include a tour of U of L’s sustainability projects.

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Ohio River Reaches Flood Stage

The Ohio River has officially reached minor flood stage.

At about 11 PM Wednesday night the river surpassed the official flood stage of 23 feet, and was running Thursday morning  at about 24.7 feet, almost two feet above flood stage.

The river is expected to exceed 28 feet this weekend, but the National Weather Service says they are still trying to get a handle on the amount of rain that fell upstream.

Mike Callahan with the National Weather Service says he was surprised by the amount of rain that fell in Louisville Wednesday afternoon, which is the main cause for the current flooding.

“When you get heavy rain locally, you’ll get a fast rise and a quick crest but it won’t be prolonged,” Callahan says “when you get the heavy rain upstream especially if it crosses most of the basin then you’ll get a prolonged rise but it’ll go higher.”

MSD Director Bud Schardein says standard flood procedures are working properly today. “We close off all the underground pipes that drain to the river so that water can’t back into the city” he says, “we close streets as the water rises at elevation, and we turn flood pumping plants on to pump whatever rainfall in the city falls, over the floodwall and into the river.”

9 of 16 floodwater pumping stations have been activated and it is estimated that 3 or 4 more pumping stations will be activated over the weekend. Some sections of River Road have been closed due to the flooding.

The National Weather Service says they are still analyzing data from the rain upstream to determine the full effects.

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Metro United Way Raises $27.5 Million

The Metro United Way has topped last year’s fund raising effort with its latest campaign.  The organization raised $27.5 million, a $400,000 increase over last year’s total.

The organization did not set a public goal for this year’s campaign.  CEO Joe Tolan said the idea was to help people understand that even with the enormous success of the fund drive, there is always more need. With the economic downturn, more families have been on the edge and continue to struggle.

“So we asked folks, if you have the capacity to do more, would you consider giving a hundred and ten percent give a ten percent increase to what you gave before,” Tolan says,”and we had more than 9,000 individuals and more than 400 companies step up and say: ‘Yes! I will;’ and that’s where the increase comes from.”

The campaign ended Wednesday.