Leaders of the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System are again asking state lawmakers to shore up the underfunded pension plan when the legislature convenes in January. KTRS has just 51 percent of the money it’s expected to need for future payouts.
"It's not a risk, it's an absolute certainty," cautioned KTRS General Counsel Beau Barnes. "If we don't start getting some additional funding for the pension fund, the funding level is going to start declining and it's going to get much harder to fix."
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports state lawmakers are being asked to consider issuing 30-year bonds worth $1.9 billion and $3.3 billion.
Lawmakers rejected a similar proposal from KTRS in the last legislative session, arguing the state couldn’t afford the additional debt service.
Soldiers from Task Force Attack, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, conduct a hot refuel on an AH-64D Apache helicopter before it goes back out on mission Jan 14, 2014, at Jalalabad Airfield.
The Department of Defense will deactivate the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Campbell, according to a statement released by three members of Kentucky's congressional delegation. It’s a move that will drop the Fort Campbell soldier population by nearly 2,500 to 26,500 by the end of 2015, according to various media reports.
The move did not come as a complete surprise. In March, the Army announced it would be losing three combat brigades.
Still, three Kentucky Republican lawmakers expressed dismay with the move. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with Congressman Ed Whitfield released a statement saying they were “deeply disappointed by the Obama administration’s decision." They called it “bad news for our nation’s security and for the local Fort Campbell community.”
Owensboro City Commissioners are throwing their support behind a plan to build a new processing plant at the city’s riverport.
At a meeting Tuesday night, commissioners praised the plan that would be financed by $25 million of city issued bonds. The Messenger-Inquirer reports an ordinance authorizing the bonds will likely come up for a final vote next month.
Under the plan, a new milling facility would be built in partnership with Solvay Chemicals. While the city would issue the bonds used to pay for the project, the Riverport Authority would be responsible for repaying the cost of the bonds over ten years.
The estimated economic impact of the new processing facility is between $45 million and $65 million.
Only Oklahoma ranks lower than Kentucky when it comes to how the state’s court system serves its low-income and disabled population. On a 100-point scale, Kentucky comes in at 33.4 percent. Indiana is just three places higher at 36.2 percent.
Scott Crocker is executive director for Kentucky Legal Aid. He says federal and state funding for his organization is down “real significantly” over the last 4-5 years.
“We are able to provide some level of services to most people who call in and meet our eligibility criteria,” said Crocker. “But, a lot of people need an attorney to go to court with them and sometimes we’re able to do that, but a lot of times we only have the resources to provide counsel and advice.”
He says Kentucky Legal Aid expects to give some form of legal advice to 12,000 people in south-central and western Kentucky this year. All of the cases involve civil law.
The city of Elizabethtown will be responsible for testing and any abatement necessary at the historic church that’s set to become part of the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame.
The News-Enterprise reports the City Council voted unanimously Monday to enter into a contract with the board of the Hall of Fame for a fee simple title. The former home of First Presbyterian Church has been vacant since 2011 when a non-profit organization moved out.
Organizers say they’re close to having the $1.15 million in place to start construction. A groundbreaking ceremony could take place as early as July.
Mammoth Cave National Park is planning an increase in the amount of fees visitors would pay for cave tours, camping, and picnic shelters.
Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead announced the proposed fee increases Friday afternoon. Under the plan, the cost of most cave tours would increase by $1-$2 dollars, with camping fees climbing to $5 from the current rate of $2.
The cost of reservable picnic shelters would jump $25.
Those interested in commenting on the proposed changes can do so until December 5.
Craighead says the proposed fee increases would result in an additional $350,000 a year that the park would reinvest in projects.
“Our highest priority right now is to complete the renovations of the Mammoth Cave Hotel. The fees are also used to pay for the cave guides who do the tours, and for a variety of operational costs, like cleaning the campground," the Barren County native said.
Eighty percent of the fees collected at Mammoth Cave are used to pay for facilities and services at the park, with the other 20 percent used support projects at national parks that don’t charge entrance fees.
Much of Kentucky is preparing for a very cold weekend and a frigid start to next week. Forecasters predict temperatures on Tuesday could struggle to reach 30 degrees.
Dr. Greg Goodrich with the Kentucky Climate Center at WKU says a prolonged stretch of sub-freezing weather in Kentucky is unusual for November. He says a super typhoon in the Bering Sea last week has caused the mercury to plummet here.
“What that did is it dislodged the polar vortex and caused a piece of it to slide southward across Canada and into the United States,” said Goodrich . “And so the leading edge of that cold air crossed our area on Wednesday and looks like we’re going to get another reinforcing wave of that cold air here over the weekend to make it even colder early next week.”
Goodrich says these temperatures are more commonly seen during the winter months in Kentucky.
A first-of-its-kind collaboration in Kentucky is aimed at detecting lung cancer earlier and increasing survivorship rates.
The $7 million effort announced Wednesday in Frankfort is being funded through a grant made by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.
The effort is called the Kentucky LEADS Collaborative, and is a joint effort between the Universities of Louisville and Kentucky, and the Lung Cancer Alliance. Lung cancer takes an especially heavy toll in the commonwealth, as the state leads the nation in the number of lung cancer cases.
The collaboration will bring together health experts tasked with creating new ways to detect lung cancer at earlier stages in order to increase survivorship. Another goal is to improve the quality of life of lung cancer patients and their caregivers.