Here and Now

Obama’s Vision for Military, Relations with Pakistan, Bullitt County Sewage Spill, Richard Cordray’s Presidential Appointment: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, President Obama today spelled out his vision of the military in the years ahead, driven by the push to cut Pentagon spending by at least $450 billion dollars over the next decade. Obama will likely draw fire for spelling out that the U.S. military will not be expected to carry out two sustained ground wars at one time, as past military strategies have laid out. Washington Post military reporter Greg Jaffe will tell us more.

1:12pm: Pakistan relations may seem at their lowest ebb, but regional expert Adil Najam says they are likely to get much worse over this year. The immediate causes? Both countries are in the midst of political seasons, there is the planned U.S. withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan, and the weakness of the world economy, which has had a severe impact on Pakistan. But Najam says the deeper reason behind the worsening relationship is the fact that both sides have been dishonest to each other for many years. He joins us to explain why he thinks both parties need to start making more realistic promises to each other.

1:35pm: A sewage spill in Bullitt County has left a creek polluted and neighbors upset. They say this isn’t the first time, and the state can’t do enough about it. WFPL’s Erica Peterson has more about the spill, and the limitations of the state’s older treatment plants.

1:40pm: President Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has drawn criticism from Republicans. They say the Senate was actually in pro-forma session yesterday, not in recess. On the campaign trail today, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Obama overstepped his authority by not getting approval from the Senate, saying “You are not above the law, Mr. President.” Ed O’Keefe, who writes The Federal Eye blog for the Washington Post, joins us to talk about the controversy and Cordray’s plans for the Bureau.

Local News

More Than Two Dozen Zappos Workers Taken To Hospitals

Officials in Bullitt County are trying to determine what made more than 50 workers at the Zappos warehouse fall ill this morning with flu-like symptoms and nausea.

Twenty-six were taken to area hospitals. An EMS official tells the Courier-Journal that no one is critically ill.

The warehouse is still open and operating.

Authorities are investigating whether the illnesses are foodborne and orginated in the warehouse cafeteria.

Local News

Bullitt County Health Department Approves Smoking Ban Appeal

The Bullitt County Board of Health is not giving up its struggle to enact a county-wide smoking ban and has decided to appeal a court decision restricting its power to create and enforce new regulations.

Bullitt County Circuit Court Judge Rodney Burress ruled earlier this month that the health department could not choose where people smoke and wrote in his decision any regulations must be introduced by the Cabinet for Family and Health Services.

But the county health department isn’t concerned with smoker’s health, said Executive Director Swannie Jett. The main concern is the health of those around smokers, he said. The health department heard public comment from both sides before making its decision to appeal in a closed-door session Monday night, he said.

“There was a child that spoke too. And she said this (ban) is good to protect the kids and we ought to be concerned about their future and Bullitt County and about future generations,” Jett said.

A local group opposed to a ban, called Bullitt County Choice, spoke in opposition. The group filed suit against the board of health alongside several Bullitt County cities. It has requested the health department pay $25,000 for legal fees and damages, he said.

Jett said despite the opposition the board voted 4-2 in favor of an appeal, which is expected to be filed in the next few days.

Local News

Bullitt County Smoking Ban Rejected

A Bullitt County judge says the county health department’s proposed smoking ban is unlawful, implying the department’s decision to enact the ban was Orwellian.

Judge Rodney Burress writes in his ruling if the health department can decide who smokes where, it could also decide what time individuals could go to bed.

“They said that the powers that the board of health are given was not in fact for them to be big brothers and to regulate people eating candy, or to regulate people eating fried food,” said Swannie Jett, Bullitt County Health Department’s executive director.

But Jett argues the department is not concerned with people who smoke.

“We are looking at regulating a person’s habit that could be considered a public nuisance-affecting another person’s health. So it’s not based on an individual choice, it’s based on that individual choice affecting somebody else’s,’ he said.

Burress’ ruling implies the health department is stepping on the toes of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which would need to introduce any new regulations.

The ruling comes after several Bullitt County cities filed a lawsuit in opposition to the new regulations, which ban smoking in restaurants, bars and certain areas of sporting arenas.

Burress was unavailable for comment. The health department will meet in two weeks to decide its next action, said Jett.

Click here to see a copy of the ruling.

Local News

Bullitt Fiscal Court to Decide on Shepherdsville Development

The Bullitt County Fiscal Court is deciding on Tuesday whether to allow a developer to build a two-million square-foot project that could bring several jobs to the area. But a local church continues to argue that the development doesn’t fit in the neighborhood.

Last week the Shepherdsville City Council denied the option for Red Rock Developments to annex land near the Bardstown Junction Baptist Church in Shepherdsville. This would have allowed the developer to bypass the county’s fiscal court, which gave the developer and the church time last August to work out an agreement before it makes a decision. No agreement has been made and now the county’s fiscal court must decide whether the developer can move forward with the project.

“Regrettably the developers just wouldn’t provide enough money for the church to find other property and build a new church,” said church attorney Bruce Simpson.

The church made an offer of $5 million before the original proposal went before the fiscal court in August. It was denied. The church made another offer of around $3 million this past month, said Simpson. That was also denied.

But Red Rock Developments Senior Vice President John Barker previously told WFPL the amount the church requested was much too high for its space. And he said the concessions they offered the church were fair and included donating 1.5 acres to the church for free, building the church out of the flood plane it currently sits in and connecting it to adequate sewage.

The two-million square feet of business space could create several thousand jobs, said Barker. But the church continues to argue that building in the property will deteriorate the neighborhood over time, said Simpson.

“It was just too risky, too incompatible to have all of that industrial activity and (we) concluded that it would be best simply to move, but unfortunately not enough money was provided in order for that to happen,” said Simpson.

On Tuesday, the fiscal court could chose to accept or reject the project. If the court doesn’t act, the project can proceed 90 days after passing the joint planning commission, which it did in June, said Simpson.

The county attorney’s office would not comment on the case.

Local News

Bullitt County Waits For Smoking Ban Response

Bullitt County is waiting to hearing whether smoking will be banned in restaurants, bars and other public places. A county judge is expected to make a decision before Sept. 19, when the ban is scheduled to take effect.

The Bullitt County Health Department passed a smoking ban that puts restrictions on where people may smoke, citing health reasons for the ban. But the county government says it can’t do that.

“They said the board of health is not a legislative body so therefore they cannot adopt new regulation unless there’s a law in the books,” said Swannie Jett, executive director of the Bullitt County Health Department.

Bullitt County officials and several city governments say it’s not in the health department’s jurisdiction to pass the regulation without writing it into law, and the county government says that’s something it can’t do.

“The board of health’s response is that according to a KRS statute (212.230) they have been given the legal right due to general assembly which passed it down to the cabinet of health and human services,” said Jett.

Bullitt County Circuit Judge Rodney Burress is now deciding whether the board of health has the right to passing the regulation.

In January the health department conducted a survey that shows 60 percent strongly favor a smoking ban.

The regulations include banning smoking in bars, restaurants and 20 feet from service lines or seating in sports arenas. It also bans e-cigarettes that release water vapor instead of smoke.

Bullitt County’s counsel would not respond until after a decision is made.

Local News

Bullitt County Church Unhappy With Development

A Bullitt County church was able to delay a vote on Tuesday to approve a large development project in its neighborhood.

Members from Bardstown Junction Baptist Church filled the Bullitt County Courthouse, which approved a resolution to postpone a vote on whether to allow Red Rock Developments to develop a two-million square foot project nearby.

The developer passed the Bullitt County Joint Planning Commission in June but Pastor Mark Harrison said his church never got notice of the decision. The Bullitt County Joint Commission is responsible for sending notices to residents regarding any changes in development to their area, but the church had the wrong address registered with the county.

“We had nine days when we realized that it was coming to fiscal court for a final decision about the rezoning issue. And that was the time we had,” said Harrison.

In those nine days the church hired Lexington Attorney Bruce Simpson and put together a case, he said.

Red Rock Developments tried to negotiate with the church offering what it considered a generous package, said John Barker, Jr., senior vice president of Red Rock Developments. It included donating 1.5 acres to the church for free, building the church out of the flood plane it currently sits in and connection to adequate sewage. Barker said the package he offered was at least a $276,000 value.

Barker said development could create between 2,000 to 6,000 jobs depending on what businesses used the space. But the church wasn’t satisfied with the offers it received.

“They said the most we’ll give you is $500,000. Five-hundred thousand (dollars) wouldn’t allow the church to do anything, obviously. And they haven’t offered anything more than that,” said Simpson.

The church countered with a $5 million offer, which Simpson said it needed to relocate.

The Bullitt County Fiscal Court will take up a vote on Sept. 6.The church plans to continue negotiations with Red Rock Developments over the next month.

State of Affairs

Finding Out about Our Neighbors: Bullitt & Spencer Counties

Friday, June 19, 2009
Finding Out about Our Neighbors: Bullitt & Spencer Counties
When you look at a map of Kentucky, there they are, right next to Jefferson County. As a matter of fact, a lot of people who work in Louisville, live in Bullitt or Spencer County. So, can you name the county seats for each? Do you know about any of the issues important to the residents of Bullitt or Spencer County? Wet/dry votes, merged government, meth problems, economic development, issues we often think of as being unique to Louisville are being discussed in our surrounding counties as well. We thought it’s high time we found out more about our neighbors, so on Friday we’ll start with Bullitt and Spencer Counties. Join us with your questions and comments.

Map Courtesy of Digital Map Store

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Local News

Shepherdsville Sewer Extension To Encourage Growth

Governor Steve Beshear Thursday announced the expansion of the Shepherdsville sewer system.

Three million federal stimulus dollars will be used to extend the sewer system from Shepherdsville to the Jim Beam Distillery, where a new visitors’ center is being built.

Beshear says the expansion is not only for the benefit of the distillery. It should also facilitate new construction in rural Bullitt County.

“They will be able to recruit and locate various commercial users and industrial users all along that route,” he says. “And it’s just been impossible until now to do that because they didn’t have adequate sewer service.”

Beshear says it isn’t clear how many jobs will be created while the line is built. He expects construction to begin soon.

State of Affairs

The History of Bullitt County

Friday, January 9, 2009
The History of Bullitt County
Formed in 1797 from parts of Jefferson and Nelson Counties, Bullitt County got its name from Alexander Scott Bullitt, a political leader In the early days of Kentucky’s statehood. Like many places in our region, the county’s timeline is marred with tragedies – the Civil War, a deadly train wreck in 1917, the 1937 flood that covered much of the land, including Shepherdsville, the county seat. Tune in this Friday when we’ll learn more about the rich and colorful history of Bullitt County, Kentucky.

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