Noah's Ark could get some help from Kentucky taxpayers.
A state tourism board gave preliminary approval on Tuesday for up to $18 million in tax rebates for a proposed full-sized replica of Noah's Ark as described in the book of Genesis. An independent consultant will now study the feasibility of the project and make a recommendation for the board to consider.
If approved, organizers could receive up to 25 percent of the $73 million anticipated cost of the project. Organizers would receive the money over 10 years only after the ark is built and open to the public.
Organizers say they have enough money to begin building the Ark, which will be 510 feet long and 85 feet high. The ark is scheduled to open by the summer of 2016.
An electrical engineering firm is set to inspect the 112 lights atop the Glover H. Cary Bridge in downtown Owensboro. That means drivers should expect delays all of next week, beginning Monday.
The Messenger-Inquirer reports the lights on the top of the bridge haven’t been turned back on since the bridge was closed for re-painting in the spring of 2013. The bridge re-opened in November, but the lights remain off, pending inspection to make sure they meet current National Electrical Code standards.
The traffic lanes on the bridge are illuminated by street lamps.
State Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat from Louisville, plans to introduce a bill in January to abolish the death penalty.
It’s legislation Neal has brought to Frankfort before. He tells the Messenger-Inquirer objections to the death penalty come from many different angles – including religious and constitutional concerns. But he approaches it on a cost basis, arguing life in prison costs Kentucky less money and achieves the same objective of removing the offender from society.
A legislative committee on judicial issues is set to meet Friday in Paducah, and is expected to discuss the death penalty.
Reporter Jim McNair talks to Kevin Willis about his investigation into the use of hedge funds by Kentucky Retirement Systems.
Kentucky's underperforming retirement system for state employees keeps secret details of its so-called "alternative investments," and critics are calling for more transparency so the risks and potential pratfalls can be fully assessed.
In its latest story, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting looks at the secrecy behind where the Kentucky Retirement Systems makes its alternative investments—and the concerns it raises.
Kentucky is restoring cuts to a program that helps low-income parents work by providing them with affordable daycare for their children.
The childcare assistance program has been closed to new applicants since April 2013 because of a budget shortfall. Eligibility guidelines were also dropped, which cut several thousand kids from the program and closed some daycare centers.
Terry Brooks with Kentucky Youth Advocates told WKU Public Radio the cuts were counter-intuitive.
"The folks who felt the pinch were hard-working Kentuckians in low-income jobs, and the reason they were able to take those jobs was becauseof these child care supports which allowed them to put their children in high-quality daycare centers and have some government support," explained Brooks.
Starting August 4th, new applications will be accepted and eligibility will increased from 100 percent of the federal poverty level to 140 percent.
Brooks said restoring the cuts will be good for the economy.
The Kentucky Department of Parks is poised to allow private corporations to develop at, or even operate aspects of, state parks, and expansion of previous efforts permitting commercial activity.
Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker suggested to a state legislative committee Thursday that General Burnside State Park, a 400-acre park 10 miles south of Somerset, could serve "as a potential pilot" for the effort.
Walker briefed the committee on the park system's fiscal outlook amid efforts to control growing operating costs—which have prompted some lawmakers to consider privatization efforts on their own—and offered a broad outline of the department's plans.
"I'm not sure I'm a big fan of the term 'privatization,'" Walker said. "What we're looking at is public-private partnership."
Walker said that the department is in the process of drafting a request for proposals from private companies to build and operate commercial facilities, including a new lodge. The requests could potentially include permitting a company to take over Burnside Island's 18-hole golf course and to perform maintenance duties, Walker said.
Tomorrow marks the start of the Southern Legislative Conference’s annual meeting in Little Rock, Ark. and Kentucky will be front and center.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers is expected to be nominated chair-elect, setting the stage for the Manchester Republican to be nominated as chairman of the SLC in July 2015.
The following summer, in July 2016, representatives from the Southern Legislative Conference’s 15 states will meet in Lexington. That event is expected to bring 1,200 guests and generate $2 million in economic impact.
This year's conference continues through Wednesday in Little Rock.
Another judge has ruled against Indiana’s two-year-old right-to-work law.
Lake County Judge George Paras ruled this week the law forcing unions to provide services for workers who don’t pay dues, is against the constitution. The Evansville Courier & Press reports that led Indiana’s attorney general to request a stay of that ruling until the State Supreme Court takes up another judge’s ruling at a September 4th hearing.
The right-to-work legislation was passed in 2012 by a Republican-dominated legislature.
A 92 acre site at the Owensboro Riverport has been sold for $2.6 million after seven years on the market. Castlen Welding and Manufacturing purchased the one-time site of Green River Steel and the sale is expected to be finalized in 60 days.
Riverport Authority Chairman Rod Kuegel said officials were mostly trying to make sure they didn't make a bad deal when selling the property.
Is it 'Socialism' or giving the people what they want? Hear the debate over Somerset's retail gasoline experiment
Late Wednesday morning Bob Thomas was pontificating about the state of the local economy and congress as he was filling up his green Toyota pickup truck at the city owned fuel station. The facility is bare-bones with no snacks, no sodas and no lottery tickets. It’s not on a main thoroughfare, but set back a bit from Highway 27.
It has been open less than a week, but has generated plenty of controversy and nationwide attention. It’s believed Somerset is the first municipality to sell gasoline directly to customers.
“It should have been this way years ago: fair,” said Thomas. “You get me? If the people at the refinery is making money on the gas and the city is going to make a little money. I don’t mind you making you a living whenever you come to work for me and pay you a fair wage. But I don’t want to send you to the Bahamas on a 30 day vacation, though.”
It was complaints similar to Thomas’ that led Somerset’s City Council to broach the topic of selling its own gasoline. The city had already been selling compressed natural gas for two years. In fact, much of the infrastructure the city needed to begin selling gasoline was already in place to service Somerset’s fleet vehicles.