Rob Canning

Rob Canning is a native of Murray, KY, a junior at Murray State University and a news writing intern at WKMS. He majors in TV Production and splits most of his time between class and serving as team captain of the Murray State Rowing Club. Rob's goal is to become a screenwriter, film director or producer and looks to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie for inspiration. He appreciates good music, mainly favoring British rock n' roll, and approves of anything with Jack White's name on it. When not studying, rowing or writing, Rob enjoys spending his free time with a book or guitar.

David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons

Fort Campbell is closer to breaking ground on an alternative energy project that will build the largest solar array in the state. 

Last week, project coordinators received the green light to break ground in two weeks’ time which will see installation of 5,814 solar modules on 25 acres generating over 2,466 megawatt-hours of electricity annually.  

Ft. Campbell Resource Efficiency Manager Dewayne Smith says the base’s electric utility, Pennyrile Rural Electric Co-op, is fronting the capital costs which will be paid back through the energy savings.  The array will generate a 5 megawatts capacity, alleviating some of the base’s 31 megawatt average monthly demand.

It's also part of a initiative under the American Renewable Energy Act requiring 25 percent of government installations’ power to be produced by renewables by 2025.  For Fort Campbell, those renewables include the solar array as well as a 20 megawatt biomass-burning plant.

iStockPhoto

A business research magazine has released its annual list of the Best and Worst states as favored by business executives, ranking Tennessee at number 4.  

“Chief Executive” surveyed over 500 leading CEOs across the country making measuring in three categories: tax and regulation, workforce quality, and living environment. That last category includes education, cost of living, affordable housing and crime rates. 

Texas took the top spot, followed by Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee, which was in the number 3 spot last year. 

CEOs say they picked the Volunteer state for its low taxes and Right-to-Work status calling it a hotbed for automotive manufacturers. 

Kentucky ranked in at 28 with CEOs noting a high-value living environment, but concern about tax and strong regulatory policies. 

Illinois maintained its rank amongst the worst states at number 48.  

See a full-listing of Chief Executive rankings here

Ft. Campbell

A two-state coalition of local governments and chambers of commerce is planning to lobby against looming personnel cuts at Fort Campbell.

The sprawling military base on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line is facing a potential reduction of half its 32,000 payroll as part of sequestration in the Department of Defense’s budget. The Fort Campbell cuts were one of the possible scenarios outlined in a June 2014 Army report.

The reduction would also have a strong negative economic impact on surrounding communities.  

In January, Hopkinsville's city council sent a letter urging Congress to block the possible reduction at the base.

The joint partnership includes the governments of Montgomery and Christian County, Clarksville and Hopkinsville city governments, the Hopkinsville Chamber of Commerce and the privately-funded Aspire Clarksville Foundation. The group has hired Cassidy & Associates to maximize Fort Campbell's exposure in Washington ahead of the DoD's decision.

TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority experienced record-breaking power demand Thursday morning. At 6 a.m. central time, demand was at 32, 109 megawatts, the highest the utility has experienced for the month of February in 82 years.

The all-time power demand record is 33,482 megawatts set in the summer of 2007.

TVA is still asking consumers to conserve power where possible through noon tomorrow as temperatures are expected to remain in single digits tonight.

TVA sells electricity to Kentucky utilities powering more than 204,000 households in 28 western and central Kentucky counties.

Sunday at midnight is the deadline for Kentuckians to sign up through Kentucky’s health care exchange, in order to get coverage for 2015. The Governor’s office reports more than 150,000 people have signed up for health care coverage since the current enrollment period began November 15.

Those without a plan after February 15 could face a tax penalty when filing this year that could exceed the annual cost of insurance.

More than 521,000 Kentuckians signed up for coverage during kynect’s first enrollment period.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has awarded a $128.3 million contract for a new bridge over Lake Barkley to Denver-based PCL Civil Construction.

The new Lake Barkley Bridge will carry US 68/KY 80 over Lake Barkley joining Trigg and Marshall counties and serve as the eastern entrance to LBL. 

“Replacement of the bridges over Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley has been a priority of my administration, and it’s a great pleasure to see the awarding of the culminating contract,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “The importance of these bridges to the tourism industry of Western Kentucky cannot be overstated.”

The new bridge will place the 83-year-old Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge and is part of the larger Lakes Bridge Project.  

The current bridge has only two lanes, each 10 feet wide with no shoulders.  The new bridge will feature a unique basket-handle tied arch design with four travel lanes, each 11 feet wide, plus 4-foot shoulders and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle path.

kcjea.org

Two former Ohio county officials are alleging illegal activity by Judge Executive David Johnston.

Former county magistrates Brandon Thomas and Michael McKenny have filed a complaint with Kentucky’s Attorney General saying Johnston violated county project procurement laws and misused emergency funds on private property.

Thomas ran unsuccessfully against Johnston for county’s top post and then filed the complaint after his loss, but he says the accusations are not just sour grapes.

“Sure, I wish I had won the election but does not mean that I wouldn’t have followed through with this? Absolutely not. I still feel it was wrong. It was wrong then, it was wrong now, and it’s going to continue to be wrong until someone looks into this," Thomas replies.

Thomas says he had appealed to the county attorney and fellow magistrates on multiple occasions, but failed to raise much concern. A spokesman for Attorney General Jack Conway says the complaint is under review. Calls to Johnston and the county attorney were not returned Wednesday.

Credit Cynthia Goldsmith / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As the number of measles cases across the nation grows, a vaccination exemption for Kentucky students could allow for cases to emerge in the Commonwealth.

The highly contagious viral disease is especially susceptible to children resulting in rashes and pink eye and could lead to more serious illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea.

A recent outbreak is believed to have started at a Disneyland theme park in southern California, but now 13 other states are reporting cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 102 measles cases have been reported in 14 states, more than half of those were in California. No cases have yet been reported in Kentucky or Tennessee.

Kentucky Director of Health Planning Dr. Kraig Humbaugh says the majority of the people that contract the virus each year in the U.S. are unvaccinated. Every state requires children entering public or private schools and day cares to receive a vaccination before entering. However, 48 states have clauses for exemption.

Patriot Coal will idle two large coal mines in Western Kentucky, beginning today. As many as 650 workers could be affected.

Patriot warned layoffs could be coming earlier this month, when it issued WARN notices to employees at its Highland and Dodge Hill mines. 

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is looking to restructure its presence nationwide by merging some of its smaller chapters, which could mean the closure of some offices in Kentucky.  

A recent memo from Red Cross leadership indicates that the non-profit humanitarian organization providing emergency assistance, disaster relief and health education will be undergoing a transformation to create a stronger and more cost-efficient Red Cross by 2017. The plan includes consolidating smaller chapters into larger ones to cover a greater geographic area.

But Regional Communications Director Amber Youngblood says decisions on specific closures within Kentucky haven't been finalized.

"For any and all chapters, many discussions have been had with local community partners, and board members and division leadership to best see what we can allocate and what can do best moving forward," Youngblood said. "Right now the plans are underway but there has been no final organizational decision that has been reached at this time for the chapters across the state in Kentucky."

Kentucky has 13 Red Cross chapters, including locations in Bardstown, Bowling Green, Fort Campbell, Glasgow, and Madisonville.

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