One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay more than $27 million in fines and spend another $200 million in a settlement with the federal government. Alpha Natural Resources was fined for violating water pollution limits in Kentucky and four other Appalachian states.
The settlement is for more than 6,000 violations between 2006 and last year. Some of the violations were at mines owned by other companies—like Massey Energy—that Alpha purchased. The EPA says the company’s Appalachian mines discharged large amounts of heavy metals directly into streams.
Alpha Senior Vice President Gene Kitts says the company has implemented advanced technology to control pollution at some of its coal mines.
"We feel the settlement is fair. We have systems already going into place," he said.
Kitts says the settlement payout won’t affect ongoing operations, or cause the company to close any mines or lay off any workers.
This is the largest penalty the EPA has ever levied under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act. After the settlement was announced, environmental groups sent out a statement criticizing the agency for letting the pollution happen in the first place.
When Jan Allan Zarr takes the reins of the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center later this month, it will be a homecoming.
Zarr has been hired as the new executive director of SKyPAC, a facility he helped open. He’s been away for a year, but he told WKU Public Radio it won’t take long to get up to speed.
"The staff knows me, I know the staff," he said. "That takes off a lot of pressure and time. Normally, you come into a situation and you spend the next six months of the staff getting to know you, you getting to know the staff and how everybody works."
Zarr currently directs the Topeka Performing Arts Center in Kansas. His first day on the job in Bowling Green is March 24.
SKyPAC, now in its third season, has seen a drop off in attendance, but Zarr says that’s normal.
“You’re going to see that," replied Zarr. "We started above the bar there and outpaced ourselves starting out. What you’re seeing now is Skypac coming in where it should be.”
Two more sunken sports cars were pulled from the sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green on Wednesday. Officials at the museum estimated that it might take weeks to pull the next cars from the hole, but on Wednesday, crews were able to extract a white, 1992 model, the one-millionth Corvette to roll off the assembly line. Later in the afternoon, they recovered the 1984 PPG Pace Car.
Five of the eight cars that fell into the hole February 12th have now been recovered and will be on display at the museum through early August.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says salt supplies statewide are reaching critically low levels.
A nationwide salt shortage and perpetual snowfall has diminished supply.
The state has used more than 410,000 tons of salt this season, compared with 160,000 tons at this point last year. More salt is on order, yet officials are unsure when it will get delivered.
“With the regional demand in this part of the country, there just is no salt to find anywhere," explained Transportation Spokesman Chris Jessie. "We’re on the waiting list, and we’ve been ordering salt all along, it’s just the supply has stopped.”
Some counties are in worst shape than others, so to level supplies, salt has been shifted among highway districts, and the state’s emergency reserve has also been tapped.
Currently, the state has less than 70,000 tons of salt on hand. Historically, this amount has been more than enough for the winter, but the transportation cabinet wants to make sure every county has enough salt to handle another snow and ice event.
Four schools at the Fort Knox military post in central Kentucky will be shut down as the post loses its lone combat brigade as part of military base realignment.
The four schools -- Kingsolver Elementary, Mudge Elementary, Pierce Elementary and Walker Intermediate account for 877 students.
The shutdown will take place at the end of the current school year. Fort Knox's lone combat unit, the 3rd Combat Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, is being deactivated.
Department of Defense spokeswoman Cindy Gibson says it is unclear if schools at other posts will be shut down as the military tries to shrink to about 450,000 active-duty soldiers over the next five years.
The Defense Department spends about $375 million annually to operate its schools.
Kentucky's first official 2015 gubernatorial slate features former Louisville and Lexington council members.
Louisville businessman Hal Heiner has chosen Kentucky GOP Finance Chair K.C. Crosby as his running mate.
Heiner ran an unsuccessful race for Louisville mayor in 2010. Crosby, who sat on Lexington’s council from 2007 to 2012 , was also unsuccessful in her bid for state treasurer three years ago.
Heiner launched his campaign Tuesday at Star Manufacturing in Lexington. He believes the state’s economic model is outdated.
“We continue to exist on this old platform and we’re just not competitive," said Heiner. "I feel it in the business I’m in and I see what’s going on with cranes in states all around, bringing those jobs and very seldom does those jobs land here in Kentucky.”
Heiner told a group of supporters on the factory floor “today begins a 20 month journey.”
Kentucky voters will select their next governor in November of 2015.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says the state will hire outside attorneys to appeal a judge's decision granting legal recognition to same-sex couples married in other states and countries.
Beshear's announcement on Tuesday came moments after Attorney General Jack Conway said he would not ask a higher court to review the decision. Both are Democrats.
WKU Associate History Professor Dr. Patricia Minter called Gov. Beshear's decision "odd"
“The governor may feel that he’s compelled to defend this in some way in order to get a definitive answer. That’s one possibility," said Dr. Minter. "Of course there are all kinds of political explanations that are possible as well. But, it is unlikely that outside counsel is going to prevail in this case."