Borrowing attitudes are posing a challenge for community banks in Kentucky and across the nation. 

Community bankers recently provided input at town hall meetings hosted by state regulators in 27 states, including Kentucky. 

Charles Vice, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions, says borrowers are still hesitant to take the risks they were willing to take prior to the recession.

"People are still paying down debt and saving more, and because of that, it doesn't give our banks the lending opportunities that they had in the past," Vice told WKU Public Radio.

Other challenges include the regulatory climate and competition from non-bank sources.

"What banks are telling us is that marketplace lending or peer-to-peer lending is creating a lot of competition for them," added Vice.  "Many banks had stories of neighbors funding loans for other neighbors to buy cars and homes."

The Community Banking in the 21st Century report was released at the third annual Community Banking Research and Policy Conference, hosted Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. 

Vice notes that while community banks control less than 20 percent of total banking assets right now, they make more than 50 percent of the loans to small business and they issue 70 percent of the loans for agricultural production. 

He adds community banks are important especially to small and rural towns where access is limited to large national banks.

One of the best vegetable gardens in Owensboro is growing in one of the most unlikely places. The two and a half acre garden has been turning out bushels full of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn and cucumbers inside the walls of the Daviess County Detention Center.

Joe Corcoran visited the jail and reports the tons of vegetables are helping the inmates in more ways than one.

Orchestra Kentucky

Orchestra Kentucky Music Director Jeffrey Reed has been named one of this year’s 12 University of Louisville Alumni Fellows.  

Reed co-founded Orchestra Kentucky in Bowling Green in 2000. He was recognized by the University of Louisville especially for growing audiences by combining classical and popular music unified by a theme.  

“We started with a traditional all classical program and found that although the public supported it, the numbers were very modest," said Reed. "And I kind of morphed into the present approach.”

That present approach has included concerts featuring the music of  Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers and Paul Williams.

“We’ve presented an Elvis concert. Of course, Elvis used orchestra in his recording, so it was a perfect concert for that," Reed said. "We just had Kenny Rogers here and Paul Williams, the Oscar winning songwriter. We have Michael W. Smith coming, the Christian artist. So we present many headliners with the orchestra, as well.” 

In honor of being chosen a University of Louisville Alumni Fellow, Reed will present a lecture to music students and receive his award at a banquet at the university.

The orchestra’s Oct. 16 concert is a Sci Fi Spectacular, with music from 2001: A Space Odyssey,  Star Wars, E.T. and Star Trek.

Kentucky Dept. of Veterans Affairs

The new Radcliff Veterans Center is under construction and hiring staff in preparation for the opening estimated for mid-2016. 

The center’s administrator Israel Ray said the skilled nursing facility will provide top quality care for those who have served their country.           

"It will be unlike any long-term care facility in the state of Kentucky, in terms of the services and the layout that is set up for those veterans who will reside at the Radcliff Veterans Center," said Ray. "It will on a beautiful park-like naturistic setting.” 

The center is on 194 acres donated by Fort Knox.  A total of 120 veterans will live in the campus-like community.  Ray said the staff and the design of the center will create a quality, home-like community for those who have served their country.                                          

“No one will have to share. In the typical model there’s a piece of fabric or a cubical curtain, if you will, that separates two individuals in a semi-private room," said  Ray. "That will not be the case for the Radcliff Veterans Center. Every veteran will have their own private suite.”

The center is currently hiring  eight administrative staff, mostly as department heads. More hiring will follow, to staff up to a total of about 200 employees.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are 16,000 veterans in Hardin County. That’s in addition to 56,000 veterans in Jefferson County and 7,000 in Bullitt County.  

Nine semifinalists for the 2016 Kentucky Teacher of the Year Award have been named.

The Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland Inc. made the announcement Monday.

Elementary school semifinalists are Joshua DeWar of Engelhard Elementary in Jefferson County, Sarah Lockard of A.C. Glasscock Elementary in Marion County and Michele McCloughan of Bowling Green Independent's T.C. Cherry Elementary.

Middle school semifinalists are Karen Mallonee of College View Middle in Daviess County, Rick Rafferty of Fort Thomas Independent's Highlands Middle and Carmen Thompson of Elkhorn Middle in Franklin County.

High school semifinalists are Lee E. Campbell of Knox County Central, Ashley Lamb-Sinclair of North Oldham County and Tracy Lambert of Lexington Lafayette.

T.J. Samson Community Hospital

T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow is working to acquire and operate Westlake Regional Hospital and its clinics in Adair County. 

Westlake’s parent company is currently in Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings, having filed for protection in 2013.

In a news release, T.J. Samson CEO Bud Wethington said he is excited about future prospects for Westlake Regional Hospital.

"Westlake has been an important part of the healthcare infrastructure of Columbia and Adair County for 35 years," noted Wethington.  "We see great opportunities to collaborate with the physicians and employees to grow the health care services and continue its efforts to advance the health status across the region."

The planned acquisition is contingent upon several factors, including approval from creditors and healthcare regulators.

The Kentucky School Boards Association has adopted a resolution that would keep the school start date a local decision. 

Two state lawmakers plan to file a bill in the 2016 General Assembly that would move the start of the school year to  late August. 

Spokesman Brad Hughes says the KSBA believes a one-size-fits-all school calendar won’t work.

"The things that affect a calendar differ from a small district in one part of the state to a large district in another part of the state," Hughes told WKU Public Radio.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, one of the sponsors of the bill, says it would allow a waiver for districts that have a lot of snow days. 

Thayer argues a later start date would save on energy costs since temperatures are typically highest in August and result in more recreational spending.

"There are no high school kids to work at our state parks, marinas, swimming pools,amusement parks and there's no one to attend either because they're all back in school," claims Thayer.

The School Boards Association plans to send the resolution to all state lawmakers ahead of next session.

International Bluegrass Music Museum

Owensboro Community & Technical College and Brescia University are planning to join forces to offer degrees in bluegrass music.

The college is working to create an associate degree program that officials hope to have up and running by spring 2017.

The idea is that students could study two years at the college and then transfer to Brescia to earn a bachelor of fine arts degree in bluegrass.

The schools hope to take advantage of the resources at the International Bluegrass Music Center, a $15.4 million project also slated to open in 2017. The center will be the new home of the International Bluegrass Music Museum and also include a concert hall, restaurant, teaching rooms and a library.

Versailles might be the next central Kentucky city to consider an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity

The Versailles City Council on Tuesday will hear from a member of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Human Rights Commission who will encourage the city to adopt the ordinance.

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott says he will ask the city's administrative and legal committee, chaired by council member Carl Ellis, to draft the ordinance.

On June 1, Midway became the eighth city in the state to adopt an anti-bias ordinance. Other cities that have passed similar laws are Lexington, Louisville, Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Morehead and Vicco in Perry County.

Kelley Beekeeping

The increasing popularity of beekeeping is leading to a business expansion in Grayson County. Kelley Beekeeping in Clarkson is investing $7.5 million and adding 50 new jobs to its current workforce of 90.

The 91-year-old company manufactures beekeeping products such as structures for hives,  protective clothing and honey extraction equipment. 

General Manager Sam Ruckriegel said there’s an increasing demand from a variety of customers. 

"It is something you see more and more people getting into," said Ruckriegel.  "We see it going into the retail market. We see what we call homesteading.  A lot of people are getting into being self-sustaining, bees being part of that, the natural sugars that they generate, and the honey."

Kelley Beekeeping has a global market that includes North and South America and the Philippines.  Ruckriegel said the increasing demand for beekeeping products may be due to a growing  awareness of the declining bee population.

There’s been a lot about the bees here lately, what we call colony collapse disorder. People are noticing that the bees are dying off and wanting to regenerate and bring them back," he said.  "One thing we don’t realize is that if we lose the bees, we lose a lot of our food supply, in the area of produce.”

He said bees are necessary to pollinate much of the produce we consume.  

Kelley Beekeeping is adding a new 80,000-square-foot building at its Clarkson headquarters. The additional 50 employees are expected to be hired over the next five years.