Economy

Mary Meehan

Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

According to the Madison County jail task force, roughly 80 percent of the people incarcerated there are jailed on charges that somehow relate to addiction. County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor wants to try a different approach.


Creative Commons

Braidy Industries released the names of its shareholders over the weekend. The aluminum company is planning a state-subsidized $1.3 billion facility in Greenup County.

 

The move came after the Courier Journal requested a list of investors and shareholders. That request was partially denied. The list the paper received showed only two previously known owners, with the rest of the names blacked out.

Thinkstock

A group of former and current public workers is suing three hedge funds for selling risky investments and overstating returns to the agency that manages Kentucky’s struggling pension fund.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks damages from hedge funds KKR Prisma, Blackstone and PAAMCO.

The workers allege the funds sold “unsuitable ‘black box’ investments” in 2011 with massive fees to the Kentucky Retirement Systems, according to a summary of the 124-page lawsuit filed Wednesday in Franklin County Circuit Court.

Becca Schimmel

A financial technology company says Kentucky is home to three of the top 25 best places in the

U.S. to work in manufacturing. The list created by the company “Smart Asset” ranks the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area as the fifth-best place in the country for manufacturing jobs.

Owensboro was ranked 17th, and the Louisville metro area was 19th. The report says a little more than 17 percent of jobs in the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox region fall into the manufacturing category. That area has seen a 7 percent increase in manufacturing job growth over a one-year period.

Mimi Pickering, WMMT

One evening this past November, angry customers and public officials filled a high school auditorium in Hazard, Kentucky, and took turns pleading with three members of the state’s public service commission.

Angie Hatton, a state legislator representing Letcher and Pike counties, presented the situation in historical terms. “This community that for two centuries has been powering our nation, we’re now struggling to keep our own lights on.”


Office of Sen. Brown

Retired union coal miners are joining teamsters, iron workers and other union retirees in an effort to shore up their ailing pension plans, and they hope the ticking clock on a government spending bill will help.

Some Democrats want to see protections for retirement benefits included in the omnibus spending bill, which Congress must pass in order to prevent a government shutdown. That could set up a year-end showdown over the spending bill, with major implications for retirees in the Ohio Valley region.


Benny Becker

The sound of power tools blends with teenage chatter as students clamber around, under, and over a trailer bed that they’re busy turning into a home. They’re part of a project called “Building It Forward,” which has vocational classes building tiny houses as a way of gaining practical skills and new confidence.

Just a few feet from the garage door at the back of the room, there’s a vertical rock face. It’s all coal from the ground up at least ten feet. Coal here can be a reminder of the past — of the time when this land that the school sits on was blasted flat by miners; of times when coal jobs were plentiful here in eastern Kentucky.


LBJ Library/public domain

Law professor Philip Alston is a United Nations expert on extreme poverty. In his position as a U.N. Special Rapporteur  he reports on places where pervasive poverty and human rights issues intersect, places such as Haiti, south Asia and central Africa. His latest work, however, is taking him to parts of the U.S., including the Ohio Valley.

“The United States has been very keen for me and others to investigate human rights issues in other countries, which I have done,” Alston said. “Now, it's the turn to look at what's going on in the U.S. There are pretty extreme levels of poverty in the United States given the wealth of the country. And that does have significant human rights implications.”

MSHA

The U.S. Senate voted along party lines Wednesday, 52 to 46, to narrowly confirm President Trump’s  nominee to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA. The country’s top mine safety position has been vacant since January as coal mining fatalities have risen to a two-year high. Trump’s choice to fill the post is facing opposition from congressional Democrats and safety advocates. 


Becca Schimmel

A southern Kentucky judge said the cost of incarceration is changing the way Kentucky deals with drug offenders.

Warren Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson said he’s seen a shift in how Kentucky’s legislators view incarceration for drug crimes. He said legislators are increasingly talking to him and other judges about alternatives to jail. He said the cost of keeping people behind bars has a lot to do with that shifting mindset.

WKU Public Radio

The head of the company that is planning to build a $1.3 billion aluminum plant in eastern Kentucky claims the state’s new right-to-work law will help it undercut competitors.

Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard said one of the company’s advantages is that it won’t require workers to join a union — unlike some other competitors in the aluminum business.

“We don’t have any work rules, we don’t have anybody telling us how to run the shop,”  Bouchard said at an event in Louisville Thursday. “We can do what is best for our company, our employees, our shareholders and our community and we know how to do it.”

Striking Migrant Farm Workers Win Settlement

Nov 8, 2017
Elizabeth Sanders

After about three weeks on strike, a group of migrant workers employed at a tobacco farm in Gerrard County, Kentucky have reached a settlement with the farm’s owner.

The workers came from Mexico under the H2A visa program, which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for temporary or seasonal farm work. The Department of Labor program also sets a minimum wage for the workers and requires the employer to provide for costs associated with the work, such as work supplies and travel to and from the farm.

Mary Meehan

When a Madison County jail task force examined overcrowding in their jails, they found that about 80 percent of the inmates were there on drug related charges. This led the county to look at how a public-private partnerships could help fund a new substance abuse treatment center

Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said the county’s jail is overcrowded and building a new one would cost about $50 million. He said a new jail would need to have 800 beds and it would probably be full or overcrowded in about ten years. Taylor said he didn’t want to use taxpayer dollars to build a new jail without looking at what they could do to reduce recidivism.


Rhonda J Miller

A group of education officials representing districts across the country will be touring a Warren County elementary school Friday to get a close-up look at an energy-saving material used in construction. They’re visiting to learn more about the construction of net zero schools, or schools that produce enough energy on site to cover their needs.

Jennings Creek Elementary will be a net zero ready school, meaning it’s built in a way that allows it to eliminate the cost of energy. The school is one of a many in Kentucky using insulated concrete forms, or ICF, to reduce energy costs. Warren County is home to the nation’s first net zero school--Richardsville Elementary, which opened in 2010.

Lisa Autry

For some Kentuckians, Wal-Mart is now offering a game changer when it comes to grocery shopping. 

The company launched its online grocery sales and pickup service at its two Bowling Green stores on Wednesday.

Consumers can select their items online, drive to the store, and have personal shoppers load their groceries without ever leaving their vehicle.  

Andrew Myers is the assistant manager of e-commerce at Wal-Mart's Morgantown Road location.  He says the pickup service is a sign of the times as more shoppers seek convenience.

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