A committee of Kentucky and Indiana officials has approved toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project after years of research and debate.
The bi-state tolling body unanimously approved toll rates Wednesday of one to twelve dollars, depending on vehicle size and mode of crossing.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock says despite some strong opposition to tolling, they’re necessary to pay for the new End East and downtown bridges and reworking of Spaghetti Junction.
“This is where we wound up after months and months of intense studies so we’re comfortable that it’s certainly not going to be palatable to everyone but it’s an environment in which we can be successful," said Hancock.
Two regional business owners addressed the tolling body Wednesday. Both requested the states consider a discount for large trucks that will bear the highest costs.
But Hancock says the set rates are comparable to national averages.
Al Wallace, Dennis Young, and Mark Skipper are in Ft. Knox Wednesday, being recognized for their heroism at the Pentagon. The firefighters were assigned to the Fort Myer Fire Department in Arlington, VA on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Fort Knox Army post is observing the twelfth anniversary of 9-11 by honoring some of the firefighters who responded to the Pentagon on the morning of the attacks.
One of those being honored is Al Wallace, who says he thinks about 9-11 every day.
Wallace was assigned to the Ft. Myer Fire Department in Arlington, Virginia, on Sept. 11, 2001. He remembers getting a call from his chief alerting him about what had already happened in New York City.
Within minutes, Wallace and his comrades found themselves on the front lines at the Pentagon.
"Right there, up against the building--it was very difficult,” Wallace told WKU Public Radio Wednesday. “It was difficult to breathe, and we were already hypoxic from running. The smoke was coming out of the building along with the heat and the fire. And the more we worked, the more we got hurt."
Wallace was reunited Wednesday with two of his former fire department colleagues, and the fire truck they drove to the Pentagon on 9-11.
The truck--known as Foam 161--was damaged by the fire and destined for demolition. But last year Ft. Knox acquired the truck for its permanent collection at the George Patton Museum and Center for Leadership.
A legislative subcommittee is expected to weigh in on the state's new science education standards on Wednesday.
The Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Annex to either approve or reject the standards that have proven especially controversial in Kentucky.
Robert Bevins, president of Kentuckians for Science Education, said rejection of the new standards would be a horrible embarrassment for the state. Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation, said the standards should not be approved because they neglect basic science knowledge in favor of some of the hottest new theories.
The standards, developed through a consortium of states with input from educators and scientists across the nation, were adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education in June.
A traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is now on public display in Spencer County, Indiana.
The Wall That Heals contains the names of every U.S. military member killed in the Vietnam War. It can be seen at the Grandview Ball Field through Sept. 15.
Bringing the replica memorial to southern Indiana was the idea of Vietnam veteran and Spencer County resident Frank Richey, who told WKU Public Radio that he hopes those who haven't been able to see the Vietnam Memorial in Washington will come see The Wall That Heals.
"Not everybody gets the chance to go to Washington, D.C., and see the real wall. And a lot of kids don't get a chance to go. This way, I'm bringing the wall to the people in my community of Spencer County," Richey said.
Governor Beshear says most of Kentucky’s uninsured residents would qualify for discounts on health insurance purchased on the state’s new health exchange. Speaking Tuesday in Frankfort, said at least 80 percent of the commonwealth’s uninsured would get some kind of financial assistance to help them get insurance coverage.
The new health exchange was put into motion following the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act. It serves as an online marketplace where consumers can choose state-approved insurance plans and compare coverage and costs.
Enrollment in the Kentucky exchange begins October 1.
Government officials have said an estimated 332,000 uninsured Kentuckians would be eligible to receive coverage through the new exchange. The Courier-Journal reports Beshear said Tuesday that a family of four earning $70,000 a year could buy a health plan for a little over $400 a month.
After delaying action on toll rates for the Ohio River Bridges Project last week, the bi-state committee in charge of setting rates will meet Wednesday to finish the job.
It was a surprise to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock last week, when Indiana officials said they weren’t ready to approve tolls.
Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said the delay shouldn’t be considered opposition to the suggested tolls rates, ranging from one to twelve dollars. He said it was just a matter of getting paperwork together.
Hancock was concerned though, and said Kentucky needs to set toll rates to find investors for its portion of the project’s cost.
“As interest rates go up obviously over a 35 year term of a financing deal that amounts to serious money, whether that’s millions I’m quite sure probably is," said Hancock.
Speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday morning, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell announced he will not support the President's call for a U.S. military strike on Syria.
The Louisville Republican said President Obama has not put forth a "credible strategy" regarding Syria. McConnell added that he doesn't think a "limited strike would resolve the civil war in Syria or remove Assad from power."
The Senate Minority Leader said while the chemical weapons attacks in Syria were horrible they did not pose a direct security threat to the U.S. or its allies.
Up until Tuesday, the leading Senate Republican had not committed to a position on the President's call for force against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. His fellow Kentucky Republican, Rand Paul of Bowling Green, has been an outspoken opponent of U.S. intervention.
McConnell expressed concern during his Senate floor speech about the possible unintended consequence of chemical weapons falling into the hands of Islamic extremists should the U.S. conduct the type of limited surgical military strike being proposed.
Kentucky's 2nd District Congressman, Brett Guthrie, has announced he will oppose the President's call for a U.S. military strike in Syria.
Here's what the Bowling Green Republican said in a news release about how he came to his decision:
"I appreciate Administration officials briefing the House on this very important situation. However, none of the information shared with me today has convinced me that military action is necessary or appropriate to further our national security interests in Syria and the surrounding region.
“There is no doubt that the Middle East is ripe with conflict and that the chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people on August 21 was horrific. But I do not believe that a bombing campaign against the Assad regime would be appropriate, and may even further enflame regional tensions. As the last remaining superpower, the United States should act as a role model for these troubled nations and look for further diplomatic solutions.
State Auditor Adam Edelen has alerted law enforcement authorizes to a fraudulent letter that has been sent to retirees in Kentucky.
The letter claims the auditor's office has discovered that some 26,000 people were overpaid and that a field agent would contact them for repayment. Edelen said that isn't true, and he's concerned it could be part of a scam.
Edelen said no collections are being sought. He said it's unclear how many retirees have received the letter.