A federal grand jury has indicted former Agriculture Secretary Richie Farmer for allegedly misusing property and funds during his eight years at the helm of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. A grand jury charged Farmer, 43, with four counts of misappropriating property and one count of soliciting property to influence agriculture department business. Each charge has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment follows a string of ethical and legal troubles for the former University of Kentucky basketball standout and one-time Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
Governor Steve Beshear says he's still considering whether to call a special legislative session for later this year. A few issues remain unresolved from the last regular session, mainly redistricting and further tax reform. And Governor Beshear has been pushing for tax reform to pay for the state's education system.
By Robyn L. Minor and The Daily News Bowling Green
Following recent expansions at Ford in Louisville and the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly Plant, an announcement of Toyota’s expansion further augments the automotive industry’s place in providing Kentuckians with jobs. Toyota’s $360 million expansion to build the Lexus ES 350 will mean 750 jobs for the Georgetown plant but will have ripple effects in the automotive supply industry that could touch southcentral Kentucky. Toyota will spend an additional $171 million to refurbish other parts of the plant.
For the first time, a Lexus vehicle will be produced in the United States and it will be made at the Georgetown Toyota plant. The formal announcement came this morning from officials in New York and Scott County. Governor Beshear says it means 750 new Kentucky jobs at Toyota. “We realize the care and the pride that you take in that vehicle and that it requires the utmost in a skilled workforce, not to mention top quality components. Your confidence in the quality of Kentucky’s workers, especially our team here in Georgetown is appreciated and well placed,” said Beshear.
Her personality, the times and her background gave Mary Todd Lincoln a place in history and made her one of the more controversial first ladies to occupy the White House. The Lexington native is the subject of a documentary airing Monday on C-Span. Producer Mark Farkas says his documentary fills gaps left by Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film “Lincoln.” Reporter Stu Johnson spoke with Farkas.
Thousands of people converge on Pike County this weekend for the 37th annual Hillbilly Days Festival. It will feature crafts, food, and games plus a good dose of Appalachian heritage in downtown Pikeville. Some 300 vendors have set up for the event. Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Jared Arnette says it’s a time to show their pride and products.
When conducting a background check on a person buying a gun, Kentucky’s Attorney General says they’re still limited by the information available in the system. And, with many mental health care providers already under a financial strain, Jack Conway says inputting all that data can be a hardship. “Not only do those agencies have to provide mental health services, they have to interface with the data bases and law enforcement and provide the information and make sure it gets captured, make certain it’s available to people that need to access the information. So, we’re in the process of looking, making certain that all of our information is getting into the system,” said Conway.
By Molly Burchett and Institute for Rural Jouralism and Community Issues
Credit Map provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation
Senator Max Baucus, who as Senate Finance Committee chair helped write the health-care reform law, has become the highest-ranking Democrat to publicly voice concerns about its implementation, saying he thinks it’s headed for a collision with itself. “I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” the Montanan told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a budget hearing.
Kentucky Space, a nonprofit focused on space research and education, has announced plans for a program to assist businesses with similar goals. Called Space Tango, the program will see investments in as many as six companies from across the country. Among the resources offered are technical and ground operations centers at the Morehead State University Space Science Center and the University of Kentucky Space Systems Laboratory. Kentucky Space also offers the ability to work with various NASA sites.
An attorney for former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said Wednesday that a federal grand jury in Lexington has subpoenaed former employees of the department to appear before it on Friday. Frankfort attorney J. Guthrie True said Farmer, who has been accused of more than 40 ethics violations while in office, has not been called to appear before the grand jury. True declined to identify any of the witnesses subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury.
Toyota is planning an ambitious new project for its flagship Georgetown plant that might see it producing a new vehicle and adding 750 jobs. The news came Wednesday when the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority gave preliminary approval to $146.5 million in tax incentives for the project, which is shrouded in mystery. Katie Smith of the state's Cabinet for Economic Development told the KEDFA board that the project is a vehicle model that is new to the plant, which would produce 50,000 of them annually beginning in fall 2015. She declined to name the vehicle model.
Governor Steve Beshear is criticizing the secret recording of a campaign meeting of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell that was leaked. Two members of Progress Kentucky, Shawn Reilly and Curt Morrison, have been implicated by a Jefferson County Democratic official as being behind who secretly recorded the McConnell meeting. Kentucky Democratic leaders have been largely silent on the situation since the news broke last week. But after being asked Wednesday about the recording, Beshear said he found the whole situation—both the secret taping and McConnell's remarks — to be awful.
Hundreds of Kentucky young people could get a feel for jobs well established in their communities. It’s the first ‘Career Craze’ event offered by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. 32 hands on camps will be held at 16 K-C-T-C-S colleges across the state. Chancellor Jay Box says participants will be introduced to ‘potential careers.’ “It’s an opportunity to expose young students to careers in business and industry and entirely focusing on the five major sectors of employment here in Kentucky,” said Box.
Kentuckians concerned with agriculture, business and education spoke out in favor of the latest federal immigration proposal during a phone conference organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy. The immigration proposal is being considered in the U.S. Senate, thanks to a compromise by a group of eight senators from both political parties. The plan would create a 13-year path to citizens, expand work visas and attempts to tighten border security.
Heavy rains shut down some roads in Southeast Kentucky earlier today. National Weather Service Meteorologist Sean Harley says some communities received as much as three inches of rain overnight. He says waters are expected to recede, easing the threat of more flooding today. “Not in the near term. We do expect some heavy rain again later in the week, so we will have to watch that real close,” said Harley.
There’s still no consensus among Lexington leaders over changing traffic flow in downtown. Another study into converting some one-way streets to two-way travel is in progress. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says it remains an issue up for debate. “There’s still lots of answers that we need and I don’t want people in the public to think ‘this is a done deal because I don’t believe it is,” said Gorton