Candidates for governor propose privatizing parks
LOUISVILLE (AP) — How will Kentucky’s next governor help pay for a $14 billion shortfall in public school teacher pensions and adding an extra 400,000 people to Medicaid? By cutting loose a portion of the state’s 49 state parks.
Kentucky’s two major nominees for governor said Tuesday the state should consider privatizing at least some of its public park system as a way to save money to deal with upcoming budget issues.
“We are not our best advocate for becoming the tourist destination we could be,” Republican nominee Matt Bevin said at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting in Louisville. “You know how many people drive through here on the way to somewhere else who don’t stop here? Too many. Frankly, our state parks are a little sad, some of them. That’s an area where frankly I think privatization could go a long way toward enhancing them, making them more of a destination that people would want to return to.”
Kentucky has 49 state parks and spends about $83 million a year maintaining them, according to the most recently approved budget. They include resorts with restaurants and hotels and recreational parks with camp sites and picnic shelters.
“I’ve been to a lot of our state parks and the rooms are in real dilapidated condition right now. They’re suffering from neglect,” Democratic nominee Jack Conway said. “That’s something I want to take a look at if I’m elected.”
Bevin and Conway answered questions for about an hour on the final day of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, touching on health care, education and taxes. And they continued to snipe at each other, with Bevin taking shots at Conway’s degree from Duke University, the hated rival of the University of Kentucky’s basketball team. Conway responded by saying “at least I tell the truth about where I went to college,” a reference to Bevin including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on his LinkedIn profile even though he attended a business education program there and did not earn a degree.
MSHA announces results of June impact inspections
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has announced that federal inspectors issued 139 citations, three orders and one safeguard during special impact inspections in June at 10 coal mines and five metal and nonmetal mines.
MSHA conducted impact inspections at mines in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Monthly impact inspections began in force in April 2010 at mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. MSHA inspectors have conducted 966 impact inspections and issued 14,561 citations, 1,250 orders and 57 safeguards since these inspections began.
“Recent impact inspections have resulted in fewer citations and orders,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “While this is a sign of improved industry compliance with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, there are still mines that require these specially targeted inspections.”
Victims of SE Wisconsin plane crash ID’ed as Ky. men
BRISTOL, Wis. (AP) — Authorities have identified the two Kentucky men found dead in a plane crash in southeast Wisconsin over the weekend.
The Kenosha County sheriff’s office says 69-year-old William Lester Lanman of Louisville, Kentucky, was the pilot. Lanman was a U.S. Army veteran and a longtime pilot.
The passenger was 43-year-old James Dan Arnold of Crestwood, Kentucky. Authorities say Arnold was a friend of Lanman and was studying to be a pilot.
The men were flying to the Experimental Aircraft Association convention in Oshkosh, about 125 miles to the north, when the small, homebuilt plane crashed in a field. The wreckage was found Sunday.
Federal aviation officials are investigating.
Rupp Arena to receive $15 million in technology upgrades
LEXINGTON (AP) — Rupp Arena will become more tech savvy over the next year.
Lexington Center Corp.’s board of directors on Monday unanimously approved $15 million in technology upgrades including a center-hung video, audio and scoreboard by the 2016-17 Kentucky men’s basketball season. High-definition screens in 16×9 aspect ratio will replace the four LED corner screens currently in use between Wildcats games in December.
Fans meanwhile will become more connected with better wireless internet, while the roof will get “major” structural improvements in an effort to lure more concerts and events. Rupp’s sports lighting will also be replaced along with its lobby video display, and the adjacent Hyatt Regency Hotel will get new exterior outdoor signs.
The LCC will fund the 12-month project through bond sales beginning early next year.
GE plant fire probe finds problems with sprinklers, hydrants
LOUISVILLE (AP) — An outdated sprinkler system, alarms that didn’t activate properly and inoperable fire hydrants contributed to the intensity of an April fire at General Electric’s Appliance Park that destroyed a giant warehouse.
The Courier-Journal reports an investigation by Louisville Metro’s Arson squad says the company had been warned of the problems more than a year ago by an insurer. Among other things, that warning said the building’s 1950s-era sprinklers would not be able to handle a fire stoked by the heat of burning plastic parts.
GE is disputing the arson squad’s report, saying it contains factual errors. GE also says there was nothing that could have been done to save the building.
Neighbors and a clean-up contractor have sued GE over the blaze.
Owner of dogs that attacked woman says kennels were secure
STANFORD (AP) — The owner of seven Presa Canario dogs that attacked a Lincoln County woman Monday says he believes someone let the dogs out of their kennels.
Chris Pope was arrested Tuesday at a Danville residence and taken to the Lincoln County jail, where he is charged with harboring vicious animals and animal cruelty.
The dogs had been seized from Pope in April and were only returned last week after he agreed to pay fines to settle various charges.
Speaking from jail, Pope told WLEX-TV his dogs are not vicious and would not attack someone without reason. He also said the Lincoln County sheriff had inspected and approved the dogs’ kennels.
But Sheriff Curt Folger disagreed, saying “from the appearance of the kennels he did not take my advice.”
Wet vote wins: Alcohol sales vote passes in Marshall Co.
BENTON (AP) — Marshall County voters have chosen by a slim margin to allow alcohol sales for the first time since 1938.
Multiple media outlets report that about 50.8 percent of 12,660 voters were in favor of alcohol sales during the Tuesday special election, a 202-vote difference.
According to Randy Newcomb, executive director of the Marshall County Tourist Commission, opposing votes prevailed by about 695 when the county last voted on the measure in 2012.
About 500 fewer voters cast ballots in this election, compared to the 2012 one.
Newcomb says a recent study showed the current demand for alcohol in Marshall County would have a $3.9 million annual impact.
Keith Travis, chairman of the dry group Say No Now, had said the social effects of selling alcohol would far outweigh potential economic benefits.