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Kentucky Tobacco Company in Dispute With Feds

Mar 17, 2014

A Kentucky-based tobacco company is involved in a $3 million tax dispute with the federal government and is asking a judge to stop the potential seizure of its equipment to settle the bill.

U. S. District Judge Joseph McKinley, Jr. has scheduled a hearing for March 25th in Bowling Green on a request by Tantus Tobacco of Russell Springs for a temporary injunction against the U. S. Treasury Department. The dispute centers on whether Tantus properly set sale prices for its products from September 2009 through November 2011 and paid the proper amount of excise taxes on the sales.

The Treasury Department has threatened to file liens against equipment used by Tantus to settle the debt.

Tantus makes Berley Red, Sport, Main Street and GSmoke brand cigarettes.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

In an era of flat screen TV displays and high-resolution digital printing, the simple chalkboard is making a bit of a comeback. Not in classrooms, but in restaurants.

“I wanted something that looks more ‘custom’, if you will.  I love the way those chalkboard painted signs looked and it just fit our atmosphere,” said Keith Coffman, owner of Lost River Pizza Co. in Bowling Green. “We’re really a rustic, kind of laid-back atmosphere here and they tied in real well with it.” 

Lost River Pizza features several pieces of  artwork by Bob Gregory.

“I’ll tell him what we need and he’ll run with it and he’ll usually draw or sketch something and then e-mail it over to me for me to approve, and then he goes to town and does it,” said Coffman.  

The Obama administration's push to put income inequality atop the domestic political agenda has another battlefront.

According to The New York Times, the president "this week will seek to force American businesses to pay more overtime to millions of workers, the latest move by his administration to confront corporations that have had soaring profits even as wages have stagnated."

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is continuing his push for the local option sales tax, which would let communities vote on temporary sales tax increases to fund projects.

The Democratic mayor is facing opposition to the plan, but not from where you might expect. Much of the criticism of the effort comes from the political left.

In a 15-minute pitch in Frankfort, Fischer extolled the civic virtues of a sales tax that he says would be used to fund local projects chosen by committee and placed on a ballot before voters.

“We need additional capital sources," the mayor told his audience. "In the case of Louisville, 11 years ago four percent of our general fund was for pensions. Today it’s 15 percent. So it’s like a business, we’ve had an 11 percent increase in our expenses, but we haven’t been able to raise our prices; that is, we haven’t had a tax increase.”

But fellow Louisvillian and fellow Democrat Rep. Jim Wayne cited a study that showed the local option means lower income residents would pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than wealthier residents.

WKU Hosts Inaugural IdeaFestival Bowling Green

Feb 28, 2014
Abbey Oldham / WKU Public Radio

The first-ever IdeaFestival Bowling Green featured ideas about inventing your own job, innovative underwear designs, and the future of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Modeled after the IdeaFestival in Louisville that began in 2006, IdeaFestival Bowling Green was held Friday on the campus of WKU.

WKU Public Radio photojournalist Abbey Oldham took photos from the inaugural event that capture some of the images on display Friday.

Kevin Willis

The producers of Maker's Mark bourbon have announced a distillery expansion to keep pace with growing demand for the Kentucky whiskey.

The $67 million expansion announced Thursday comes about a year after the brand caused a stir. In early 2013, the whiskey known for its bottles sealed in red wax announced it was cutting the amount of alcohol in each bottle to stretch supplies. After backlash from customers, Maker's Mark quickly scrapped the idea and restored the alcohol volume to its typical level.

The expansion was in the works long before the flap and it comes amid growing sales at Maker's.

The brand shipped more than 1 million cases in 2011 and it forecasts shipments to reach 2 million cases later this decade.

National Corvette Museum

Eight cars that fell into a sinkhole at Bowling Green’s National Corvette Museum last Wednesday will be getting a little tender loving care. 

The prized sports cars were damaged when a 40 foot wide by 25 foot deep sinkhole opened up beneath the Skydome portion of the museum. 

Long-time Warren County Representative and former House Speaker Jody Richards says the cars will be sent off for refurbishing.

“General Motors is going to transport those to Detroit and they’re going to restore all eight of the Corvettes," the Bowling Green Democrat said. "They are very special corvettes and they want to restore them and they will eventually be back on display in the National Corvette Museum”         

Richards isn’t sure if the repaired cars will be back in Bowling Green in time for the Corvette Museum's 20th anniversary in August.  That's also when a new motorsports park will open in Warren County.

Abbey Oldham

A well-known Bowling Green restaurant is moving from its historic downtown location after being purchased by a new owner.

Mariah’s 1818 restaurant is headed to the Hitcents Park Plaza, in a different part of the city’s downtown. The restaurant was purchased by the MR Group Monday, and will be one of five restaurants opening in the plaza.

Bowling Green natives have taken to Mariah’s Facebook page to share their feelings on the move. Although there are some who support the change, many are sharing feelings of disappointment, saying that the Mariah’s Moore House location is what creates the beloved atmosphere of the restaurant, and that the new location simply won’t be the same.

Some accused the purchasing group of not understanding the historical significance of Mariah’s Restaurant and its location and what it means to the community.

Mariah’s responded on their Facebook page, saying the new location will provide more space and necessary updates which will better serve the community.

Mariah’s will be opened in the current location through March 31 and will open its new doors in April.

Kentucky’s coal industry shed more than 2,300 jobs last year, according to the latest numbers from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Most of those losses were in eastern Kentucky .

The final quarterly coal report from the Energy and Environment cabinet wraps up a dismal year for the industry. And for Eastern Kentucky, this marks the 10th straight quarter of declining coal employment.

Since 2007, Eastern Kentucky has lost more than 6,000 coal jobs, just under half. Coal production has dropped even more drastically. At the same time, production and employment have grown modestly in the western portion of the commonwealth.

A number of factors are behind the decline, including pollution controls that allow plants to burn higher sulfur coal, like that mined in western Kentucky and Illinois.

Commission Approves Agreements on Hancock County Smelter

Jan 31, 2014

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has approved agreements that Century Aluminum of Kentucky says are necessary to keep operating a western Kentucky smelter.  

The agreements allow the smelter to be supplied power purchased on the open market by Kenergy Corp. rather than power generated by Big Rivers Electric Corp.

The PSC said in its order Thursday that the agreements are substantially the same as those it approved in August for the Century smelter in Hawesville.

The Hawesville smelter has about 700 employees and the Sebree smelter about 500.

Big Rivers has a pending rate increase request to compensate for revenue it will lose when it is no longer producing power sold to the Sebree smelter. In October, Big Rivers was granted a rate adjustment to compensate for lost revenue from the Hawesville smelter.

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