9:26 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Owensboro Leaders Approve Entertainment District


The Owensboro City Commission has voted to create a downtown entertainment district. 

The Messenger-Inquirer reports the ordinance that passed Tuesday protects millions of dollars worth of investments in the downtown area, including the convention center, from being affected by a wet-dry election.  The ordinance is allowed under a new state law that protects certain projects in precincts that have been voted dry.

Opponents argue the measure will encourage the sale of more alcohol.

Kentucky Bourbon
12:45 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Bourbon Pioneer Elmer T. Lee Passes Away at Age 93

Elmer T. Lee
Credit Buffalo Trace

The man who introduced the world's first single barrel bourbon has died at the age of 93. Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee passed away Tuesday morning following a brief illness.

Lee's connection to Kentucky's signature spirit began in 1949, when he started working in the engineering department of the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort. In 1966, Lee was promoted to plant superintendent, and three years after that he became plant manager.

Lee's most lasting contribution to the world of bourbon came in 1984 when he introduced the first-ever single barrel bourbon, called Blanton's. Taking a cue from the scotch industry that gained popularity in the U.S. through single-malt varieties, Lee honed the technique of identifying and cultivating the best bourbon that could be produced in his distillery's warehouses. He took into account where the barrels were located in the warehouse, how often they were rotated, and how long the whiskey aged in the barrels.

In 1986, Buffalo Trace honored Lee by naming a line of single barrel bourbons Elmer T. Lee.

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4:08 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Bowling Green Citizens Ask Attorney General for Gas Price Probe

A Bowling Green man is asking Kentucky's top law enforcement officer to investigate why gas prices in the city are always 20 to 40 cents higher than in surrounding communities. 

Edward Caston, a retired businessman, says he's not against businesses making a profit, but he thinks Bowling Green residents are being treated unfairly.  Caston has gathered more than 25,000 signatures on a petition and believes that's enough to warrant the attorney general's attention.

"I'm gonna ask him if he wants ten thousand or 20,000 names.  We'll just take our time and get the names," says Caston.  "We want an investigation.  "We want to know why and how they can get away with this for so many years."

Economists contend that price variations are are not necessarily indicative of price-gouging or price fixing.  

Caston plans to deliver the petition to Attorney General Jack Conway's office on Wednesday. 

The AG's office investigated gas prices statewide in 2008 and concluded that Marathon Petroleum has a monopoly on the wholesale gasoline market in Kentucky, which has led to higher prices.  The study did not look specifically at Bowling Green. 

The attorney general forwarded the investigation to the Federal Trade Commission, which took no action.  The FTC was recently asked again to look at the findings.

10:11 am
Fri July 12, 2013

General Dynamics Adding 1,300 New Jobs in London and Winchester, Kentucky

An international information technology company is adding 1,300 new jobs at its facilities in London and Winchester, Kentucky.

The new General Dynamics positions will provide technical assistance for the implementation of the federal government’s Health Insurance Marketplace. The General Dynamics site in London will employ up to 1,000 people, with the Winchester facility taking on 300 new workers.

The company already employs 400 people at a site in Corbin.

The new positions are for customer service representatives who will work in call centers at the facilities.

General Dynamics is holding job fairs for prospective applicants July 20 and 27 at the Somerset Community College Laurel Campus in London from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Job fairs will be held in Winchester July 15 and 16 at Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus in Clark County.

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1:40 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

KY Chamber Praises Decision to Give Businesses More Time to Adjust Under Health Care Law

The Obama administration is giving businesses a break under the Affordable Care Act.  The federal health care law requires companies with 50 or more workers to provide full-time employees insurance coverage or pay fines.  

The employer mandate was supposed to take effect January first, but in a decision announced Tuesday, implementation is being delayed one year to 2015. 

"We feel like this is the number one issue for businesses right now.  There's a lot of uncertainty that comes with the law,"   says Ashli Watts with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.  "There's tens of thousands of pages of regulations to sift through."

Watts adds that making sense of the law is especially difficult for smaller companies.

"For larger businesses, they have HR people, attorneys, CPAs that can help them navigate through this.  Mom and pop businesses may not have those resources," explains Watts.

Businesses have complained the employer mandate is too complicated.  For example, the law created a new definition of full-time workers, those putting in 30 hours or more.  

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says businesses they've heard from are most concerned with what the federal health care law means to their bottom line.

11:17 am
Thu June 27, 2013

The Woman Behind Teresa's Restaurant in Bowling Green is Calling It a Career

Waitresses at Teresa's wear these shirts because they are constantly asked, "Are you Teresa?"
Credit Joe Corcoran

Friday marks the end of an era in Bowling Green as the woman behind Teresa's Restaurant calls it a career.

Teresa Blair-Reno has been in the restaurant business for three-quarters of her life, and has spent the last 16 years as the self-proclaimed "queen bee" at Teresa's.

After decades of hundred-hour work weeks and personal sacrifice she realized she didn't have the same passion for the business.

"I lost a son a few years ago, and just had an awakening that it was time for me to enjoy my family. I just think it's time--time for me to take time for Teresa, and do what I need to do."

Still, Blair-Reno admits she's going to miss the staff and customers who have been like parents and siblings to her.

"I love the people who walk in the door. They've watched me grow up and have helped me grow up. I've been waiting tables since I was 13. And I get pretty emotional because they've helped me raise my family."

"I get pretty emotional because this community has been like a family to me."

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6:05 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Court Orders Kentucky Mine Operator to Abandon Lawsuit

A Kentucky coal company must withdraw a lawsuit it filed against a former worker who complained he was discriminated against, an administrative court in Washington has ruled.

Armstrong Coal filed a lawsuit in Muhlenberg County in August against Reuben Shemwell, who was fired from the company's Parkway Mine in 2011.

Shemwell had already taken his own legal action against the company by filing a federal discrimination complaint, arguing that he was let go for complaining about safety hazards. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has said Armstrong Coal's suit violated the section of a federal law designed to protect miners who file discrimination complaints.

The company accused Shemwell of wrongfully using civil proceedings, and said Shemwell was terminated for using his phone too much on the job.

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1:46 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

USDA Grant to Help Small Businesses Grow in Southeastern Kentucky

An economic development organization based in Pulaski County is receiving federal grant money to help aspiring small business owners get a leg up.

The nearly $71,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will go to The Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation in Somerset. The U.S.D.A's Doug O'Brien told WKU Public Radio the grant will provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs in southern and southeastern Kentucky.

"Many times a small business can be just one person, or a couple of people who really see an opportunity in that part of the country. But maybe they haven't been through the rigors of the small business cycle of budgeting, or how to deal with their workforce needs," said O'Brien.

The Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation serves the counties of Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Garrard, Green, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lincoln, McCreary, Metcalfe, Monroe, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Wayne, and Whitley.

8:20 am
Sun June 9, 2013

Big Rivers Customers in Owensboro, Henderson, Brandenburg Have Chance to Sound Off on Rate Increase

Members of the public who would be impacted by a potential rate increase by Big Rivers Electric Corporation have opportunities to speak out this week. The Kentucky Public Service Commission is holding meetings in Owensboro and Henderson, and a chance for Brandenburg residents to link via video conferencing.

The Henderson-based Big Rivers wants approval for a rate adjustment that will raise $74.5 million dollars in increased revenue. The possible 20 percent increase would account for an extra $24 per month for the average customer. Industrial customers would see nearly 17 percent rate increases.

The utility says most of that new revenue is needed to offset the loss of the Century Aluminum smelter in Hawesville, which will cease to be a Big Rivers client in mid-August. Big Rivers provides power to a region extending from Meade County through Owensboro and Henderson and into Paducah in far western Kentucky.

The Public Service Commission will hold two meetings this Thursday for public comments on the proposed rate hike. The first is at South Middle School in Henderson at 1 p.m., and the second will be at the Owensboro Community and Technical College that evening at 5:30.

Big Rivers customers in the Brandenburg area can watch the Owensboro meeting via a video-conference at Meade County High School starting at 6:30 p.m. eastern.

2:06 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Union President, 13 Others Arrested at Henderson Rally

The Henderson Gleaner reports that United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts was one of 14 people arrested at Tuesday's rally in Henderson featuring current and former coal miners.

The group was arrested after staging a sit-down in the middle of the intersection at First and Main Streets following the 90 minute rally at the Henderson County courthouse.

The Gleaner estimates a crowd of around 2,000 showed up for the rally against recent actions by Patriot Coal Corp. Patriot announced it was cutting pension payments to thousands of retirees, something upheld last week by a federal bankruptcy judge.

Miners and their supporters accuse Patriot's parents companies, Peabody Energy Corp., and Arch Coal, of spinning off Patriot and shifting the pension packages of former workers to the new company, knowing it would eventually go bust.

Peabody and Arch deny those charges.