MSHA Targets 43 Former Massey Mines in Huge Inspection Blitz

The Mine Safety and Health Administration targeted 43 mines formerly owned by Massey Energy for surprise inspections this week, as NPR’s Howard Berkes reports. The mines, in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, are all now owned by Alpha Natural Resources.

Berkes reports that the inspection blitz was prompted by a recent incident at an Alpha mine in Wyoming County, WV.

A source familiar with the inspections says they were focused on conveyor belts used to transport coal underground. The source is not authorized to discuss the inspections publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Continue reading “MSHA Targets 43 Former Massey Mines in Huge Inspection Blitz”

Fischer Visits White House With Local Business Owners

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is joining a group of small business owners at The White House to discuss policies affecting economic growth for local companies.

The White House Business Council has partnered with Business Forward, a non-profit dedicated to bringing business leaders into the policy-making process, are co-hosting the briefing on Friday.

“We are looking forward to an interactive dialogue about what’s working for our small businesses and how the private sector and government can collaborate more effectively to create greater opportunity, innovation and job creation,” Fischer said in a news release. “Participating side by side with dozens of local business leaders will ensure that Louisville is on the radar at the highest level, and that they get to be heard.”

Continue reading “Fischer Visits White House With Local Business Owners”

Yates Praises Funding for Southwest Regional Library

Louisville Metro Councilman David Yates, D-25, is praising Mayor Greg Fischer for making the Southwest Regional Library a top priority in the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year spending plan.

City funding for the 40,000 square foot project is $9.5 million with another $3.5 million coming from the non-profit Louisville Library Foundation. Fischer is issuing a 20-year bond to pay for the new facility, which will be located in the Valley Station neighborhood.

From Yates’s office:

“This is a great day for the district and everyone in Southwest Jefferson County. We will long remember the day when the new branch opens its doors on Dixie Highway and changes the lives of children and adults in our area. I applaud the Mayor and the Board of the Library Foundation for raising the funds needed. The mayor has been a strong partner in helping get this done.

(SNIP)

I know since 2007, the Metro Council has made building new libraries a priority for our entire city. We have seen new branches at Newburg and Fairdale. There is a newly renovated Shawnee Library. As we move forward with the Southwest Regional Branch, I stand committed to ensure future library projects are built. It is an investment we cannot afford to miss out on.”

Eggners Ferry Bridge to Reopen Ahead of Schedule

Officials say western Kentucky’s Eggners Ferry Bridge will reopen Friday, two-and-a-half days ahead of schedule.

The bridge, which carries US 68 and KY 80 traffic across Kentucky Lake, has been closed since it was struck by a cargo ship on January 26.

Crews have been conducting emergency repairs on the 80 year old span. The incident forced some motorists to take a long detour around the closure.

UK President Capilouto Begins Blogging for Huffington Post

by Josh James, Kentucky Public Radio

University of Kentucky students may notice a familiar face among the blogger profile photos on the Huffington Post. UK president Eli Capilouto has agreed to blog for the highly-trafficked news site about issues involving higher education. University spokesperson Jay Blanton says the site was interested in featuring new perspectives on how universities can adapt to tight budgets.

“Certainly one of the issues that is being asked of higher education across is the country is what are you doing to be more affordable, what are you doing to be more efficient, what are you doing to be more innovative in a time of real economic uncertainty?” Blanton said. Continue reading “UK President Capilouto Begins Blogging for Huffington Post”

Arts Funding Cut $50,000 in Mayor’s Budget

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s proposed budget includes a reduction in overall funding for arts and cultural organizations. The city budget allocates half a million dollars to 32 arts, cultural assets and parks agencies, down more than $50,000 from the last fiscal year.

The Louisville Ballet took an 80 percent cut in funding from the city. Last year, the organization received $29,000. The organization asked for the same amount this year. Fischer recommended the Ballet receive $5,800. Continue reading “Arts Funding Cut $50,000 in Mayor’s Budget”

EPA Will Hold Community Meeting With Black Leaf Neighbors

The Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to hold a community meeting after soil testing revealed contamination near 50 homes in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood.

The Environmental Protection Agency found signs of contamination—like heavy metals and pesticides—in every yard it tested near the former Black Leaf Chemical site in Park Hill. After letters were sent to homeowners, community activists complained that many questions were left unanswered.

The EPA has agreed to hold a community meeting with affected residents in the next 30 days, after encouragement from District 6 Councilman David James. The agency still hasn’t said what it intends to do about the contamination, which is high enough in nine of the properties that the soil may have to be removed and replaced.

Fischer Unveils Budget Plan With No Layoffs or Drastic Cuts

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has presented the Metro Council with his budget plan for the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year.

The spending plan does not raise taxes and balances the budget without Metro employee layoffs or furloughs, and gives non-union city workers a 2 percent raise. Fischer was able to leverage private sectors dollars to help fund a $1 million summer jobs program for at-risk youth and $800,000 to purchase land connecting the Louisville Loop to Jefferson Memorial Forest.

Two-thirds of taxpayer dollars go to public safety departments and Fischer touts three police recruit classes in the budget. But one of those closes was held over from the current fiscal year.

The mayor also makes investments in key areas, such as a bond for the Southwest Regional Library, which the city will pay $9.5 million and the Library Foundation will raise $3.5 million.

“Some people don’t have access to online job listings that the rest of us simply take for granted. Some students don’t have the tools they need at home to complete their schoolwork,” Fischer told city lawmakers. “So the library is the great equalizer that makes sure everybody has a chance.”

Continue reading “Fischer Unveils Budget Plan With No Layoffs or Drastic Cuts”

Unemployment Drops in Most of Kentucky

The unemployment rate has dropped in Louisville, and in most of Kentucky.

The most recent numbers from the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training show unemployment at 8.1 percent in Jefferson County, meaning about 30 thousand residents are without jobs.

That’s an improvement over last month and last year. The numbers are not seasonally-adjusted, and can’t accurately be compared to the 8.3 percent state unemployment rate or the 8.1 percent national unemployment rate.

Overall, 110 counties in Kentucky saw unemployment drop last month. The lowest rate was 5.1 percent in Woodford County, though Fayette, Oldham, Shelby and Hancock counties all have rates of six percent or less. The highest unemployment rate, 20.5 percent, was in Fulton County.

EPA Hears Testimony on New Carbon Pollution Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the midst of day-long hearings in Washington, D.C. and Chicago on proposed new standards from carbon pollution from power plants.

The speaking lists for both hearings were already near full before they began. The slots were first come, first served, and environmental groups snagged many of them. Representatives from the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as local environmental groups are scheduled to speak at both events. But the industries are represented too, with speakers from the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Mining Association and various trade groups.

The EPA’s proposed rule would only apply to new power plants, and would limit these plants to 1,000 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour.

Under the rule, coal-fired power plants can still be built. But because of the new limits on carbon dioxide, any company interested in building a coal-fired power plant would be required to install advanced carbon control technologies, like carbon capture and sequestration. Continue reading “EPA Hears Testimony on New Carbon Pollution Rule”