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Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

A Kentucky Transportation Cabinet employee has died while plowing highways in Christian County, according to KYTC spokesman Keith Todd.

Todd identified the employee as Christopher Adams. Adams started his shift around midnight Saturday. Todd reports Adams had called his supervisor around 5:50 a.m. Saturday to report his plow had slid off KY 115.

Adams was found slumped over his seat and unresponsive by his supervisor.

Following a response from area paramedics, Adams was pronounced dead by the county coroner. Adams had worked for the cabinet for 16 years.

Lance Dennee / WKMS

The AP is reporting that I-75 in eastern Kentucky has been reopened Saturday afternoon following the winter storm that hit the state Friday.

Some motorists were stranded on the interstate for hours. An official tells the AP there were no injuries related to the traffic standstill.

Update at 10:00 a.m.:

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet office in Elizabethtown issued the following update on road conditions throughout the region Saturday:

With snow and ice teams working around the clock since late Thursday night, most primary routes in District 4 have improved greatly since accumulating precipitation ended and moved east. I-65, Western Kentucky Parkway and Bluegrass Parkway are all open but traffic continues moving at a slower than normal pace.

U.S. highways such as 31-W, 31-E, 60, 62 and 150 are still covered in many places, particularly in our eastern counties where snow accumulation totals are between 12 and 15 inches.

Secondary roads which include many state routes are still mostly covered.  These will be a major focus for snow and ice teams today.  Crews will continue to plow roads and treat where possible.  Sunshine will be very favorable to improving road conditions.  Crews will work into the evening, but with temperatures forecast generally close to zero around the region, chemical treatments will be ineffective.  After plowing is complete today, treatment will resume on Sunday.

Kevin Willis

4:12 p.m.:  The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says major problem areas in the state include Hart and Rockcastle counties:

With nightfall quickly approaching, snow and ice crews will remain on the job for the rest of evening and into Saturday.

Today’s heavy snow storm dumped over 14 inches of snow in some parts of the state causing many delays, service disruption, impassable roadways and overturned semis along the interstates.  

The most problematic areas for traffic included I-65 near Hart County; I-75 in Rockcastle County and spots of U.S. 23 in Lawrence County.  Extra resources have been dedicated to clear these priority routes.

4:01 p.m.:  Truck driver Mike Edmonds has been stuck at a Kentucky truck stop all day as the snow piles up around him.

Edmonds told the Associated Press that the parking lot is so slick that vehicles spin out when trying to get back on Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County. And even if they leave the truck stop, they're stuck in traffic due to numerous wrecks in both directions.

Edmonds says he doesn't expect to get back on the road until Saturday. He's hauling a load of carpet to Michigan.

Rockcastle County has received a foot of snow, with higher accumulations possible.

Asked how he's spent his day, Edmonds replied: "Talking with the other drivers about how screwed up the weather is."

WFPL News

When Gov. Matt Bevin offers his first state budget proposal on Tuesday, it’s unclear how much money — if any — will be set aside for the Kentucky Arts Council, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Rumors have swirled on social media and in arts social circles during the past couple days concerning the future of the state agency.

Arts Council board member Wilma Brown of Frankfort sent an email to friends and supporters on Thursday, saying Bevin would seek to eliminate funding for the agency and asking recipients to contact their state representatives in protest.

“It is not clear whether an alternative agency will be formed or whether the arts will be folded into another agency,” Brown wrote. “In either case, oversight of the arts will become political with changes in personnel and programs with each election.”

Requests for information from Bevin’s office went unanswered. Lori Meadows, the Arts Council’s executive director, directed inquiries to the governor’s office.

Flickr/Creative Commons/401(K) 2012

The Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at the University of Louisville has been awarded a multimillion-dollar federal grant to bring health care to rural and medically underserved Kentuckians.

The $2.55 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be used to create the Kentucky Rural & Underserved Geriatric Interprofessional Program.

The three-year initiative will partner with organizations from six rural counties in Kentucky: Hart, Metcalfe, Barren, Bullitt, Henry and Shelby.

Dr. Anna Faul, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Health & Optimal Aging at U of L, said the program is designed to help primary care practices in rural areas deliver care to older adults with chronic conditions.

“You really need an integrated approach where you can work with all of these professionals, and they can come around the table and create care plans that can be effective and also empowering for the older adult,” she said.

Tennessee Valley Authority

On Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced his administration would seek an extension to comply with upcoming federal carbon dioxide regulations from power plans.

On the face of it, this isn’t surprising. Without an extension, the deadline to decide how Kentucky will reduce emissions is fast-approaching. It makes sense that the state would seek as much time as possible.

But piecing together the statement released by Bevin’s office and a brief interview I did with the Energy and Environment Cabinet raises more questions. While state regulators plan to ask the Environmental Protection Agency for two more years to consider their options, they seem opposed to every option that actually involves reducing the state’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The Clean Power Plan is calling for steep cuts in emissions from power plants. To do this, states have two options: Create a state plan or follow the federal plan.

There’s a third option Kentucky regulators are hoping for, which is that the judicial system overturns the regulation, and the EPA is forced to go back to the drawing board and spend years reformulating the regulations.

Kevin Willis

A winter storm warning goes into effect Thursday night for much of Kentucky as the state deals with a second round of snowfall this week.  However, this storm system is much stronger. 

Meteorologist Ron Steve with the National Weather Service in Louisville says more than a foot of snow is expected in some places.

"There's going to be a pretty good swath basically paralleling the Western Kentucky and Bluegrass Parkways from Hopkinsville, up through Elizabethtown towards Lexington that could get ten to 14 inches and even some locally higher amounts than that," Steve predicted. 

Bowling Green can expect between five and nine inches of snow.  Four to eight inches is predicted in Somerset.  Owensboro should get between four and six inches of snowfall, and Elizabethtown should prepare for between ten and 14 inches. 

Forecasters say there will be some sleet and freezing rain, as well as ice accumulations of up to a quarter inch. 

Travel is expected to become very dangerous.  In addition to the snowfall, wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour will reduce visibility.

Lance Dennee / WKMS

Kentucky is preparing for the impending winter storm.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for our listening area starting Thursday evening at 6 p.m. central time, and continuing through Saturday morning.

See the National Weather Service forecast for our region.

The wintry mix will begin late this evening with snow, sleet, and freezing rain.

Up to a quarter-of-an-inch of ice could form on roads and create dangerous driving conditions.

The mix will change completely to snow on Friday and the snow is expected to continue until Saturday morning.

Areas north of the Cumberland Parkway could get nine or more inches of snow.

South of the Cumberland Parkway near the Kentucky and Tennessee border will get four to six inches of snow.

“Over the next 48 hours, a major winter storm is expected to impact many regions of Kentucky— potentially causing ice-related damage, service interruption and impassable roadways,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “Our agencies are monitoring the conditions and coordinating communications with local officials and emergency personnel in preparation. Safety is our first priority; so it is very important to restrict travel to a minimum.”

Gusty winds of up to 25 miles-per-hour means there will be blowing and drifting snow, with poor visibility for driving.

The strong wind could also cause power outages in some areas.

Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt issued a report Thursday on the state’s educational successes and challenges. In The State of K-12 Public Education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky report, he praised the 88% graduation rate and the 66% of students who are graduating college and career ready.

"Six years ago, we were in the 30s, so we've almost doubled.  In doing that, we're finding those kids are doing better in postsecondary," Pruitt told WKU Public Radio.  "Their GPAs are higher, their tendency to come back for a second year is higher."

Commissioner Pruitt said some changes will be made to state education standards based on public comments. Calculus and cursive writing will be added to math and English standards.

Pruitt added that closing the achievement gap remains one of Kentucky’s biggest challenges and he also noted that per-student spending trails the national average.

Tennessee Valley Authority

Kentucky regulators are seeking an extension for the state to comply with upcoming federal carbon dioxide regulations. But in order to do that, the state will have to show progress toward completing a state plan–a move that Governor Matt Bevin has been against in the past.

Bevin announced the move on Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan last year.  It sets carbon dioxide reduction goals for individual states and gives state regulators two options: to craft their own plans to meet the goals or follow a federal blanket plan.

Kentucky is tasked with reducing carbon dioxide nearly 31 percent from 2012 levels by 2030. The regulations target carbon dioxide from power plants, and coal-fired plants are heavy emitters. Because Kentucky still relies heavily on coal-fired power, most Kentucky politicians have panned the new rules.

LRC Public Information

A senate committee on Thursday passed a bill that would allow the state to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood in Kentucky.

State Sen. Max Wise, a Republican from Campbellsville, said until the U.S. has a pro-life president, states have to restrict funds to Planned Parenthood in order to restrict abortions.

“We’ve got a large number of constituents that want to see something done with Planned Parenthood,” Wise said.

Planned Parenthood in Kentucky do not provide abortions, but can refer women to abortion providers.

The bill would restrict Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding, federal grants that go to family planning and reproductive health programs.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

An increased number of Kentuckians are affected by heroin abuse, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released this week.

The poll asked adult Kentucky residents about the influence of drug misuse on their family members and friends.

It found 13 percent of Kentucky adults have a family member or friend who’s experienced issues because of using heroin. In 2013, only 9 percent of respondents answered yes to the same question.

The poll was produced by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

In 2012, state lawmakers passed legislation to address so-called pill mills. Last year, state officials said the “pill-mill bill” had been effective in reducing prescription drug abuse.

WFPL News

Less than a week before Gov. Matt Bevin gives his formal state budget proposal, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers, Bevin’s ally, gave an ominous prediction.

“I think this budget that will be introduced and proposed by the executive branch will be one of the most austere budgets that I’ve seen in my 20 years in the General Assembly,” Stivers said Wednesday on the Senate floor.

Bevin, a Republican, suggested just as much when he was campaigning, saying that the state would have to undergo “belt-tightening across the board” during a debate on KET.

At issue are mounting obligations in the state pension systems and Medicaid program. The Kentucky Teacher Retirement Systems has requested about $1 billion in additional contributions from the state to meet its obligations to retirees. Meanwhile, the state will have to start paying an increased share of a Medicaid program that was expanded and now covers an additional 400,000 Kentuckians. That’s expected to cost $250 million in 2017.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo took a slightly more optimistic position, saying that the state is predicted to rake in more revenue over the next two years.

Thursday's Weather Closings

Jan 21, 2016
Kevin Willis

WKU campuses in Bowling Green, Owensboro and Glasgow will open Thursday on schedule. Campuses in Elizabethtown and Fort Knox will open at 10:30 a.m. ET.

You're advised to use your best judgment when traveling and be cautious of potential black ice on roads and sidewalks.

Campbellsville University will be on a snow schedule Thursday. Staff are asked to report at 9:00 a.m. ET.

Lindsey Wilson is operating on a delayed schedule Thursday.

LRC Public Information

The Kentucky Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours prior to the procedure.

The bill now moves on to the House, which has refused to take it up in the past, although support has been growing in the chamber.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said it’s important for women to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor prior to an abortion.

“The essence of it is you can have better understanding, watch body language and the personal effects when you have that type of personal interaction,” Stivers said. “I think it brings more to light what the implications of the decision are.”

Kentucky already has an “informed consent” law on the books, but currently abortion-seekers can receive the information over the phone.

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