Despite record-low interest rates and a surplus of available homes for sale, the housing market in Scott County and the region has yet to see a sign of relief from sluggish sales. According to the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors, 606 sales were reported in the region in May, compared with 839 in May 2010. There were 53 sales in Scott, down from 62 a year earlier. For the first five months of the year, 191 homes have been sold in the county, down from 241 for the same period in 2010.
When the Kentucky Speedway was built in 1998, officials predicted it would dramatically change Gallatin County and have a huge economic impact on the state. A wave of development was expected to sweep through the area surrounding the speedway, transforming its rolling green hills. That never happened, chiefly because the speedway never received the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race for which it was built. That race will finally come on July 9 - and some are again predicting a tidal wave of economic activity, especially in Gallatin County.
Kentucky State Fair Board President Harold Workman says he’s still hopeful that Kentucky Kingdom amusement park can be reopened in 2012. Workman told a panel of state lawmakers recently that the board and Louisville Metro Government are close to finalizing an agreement to re-open Kentucky Kingdom next year. He says it will take a total investment of about $50 to bring the park back to life.
Employees at Gannett newspapers are taking to Facebook and Twitter to post their comments about today’s nationwide round of layoffs. The newspaper giant is cutting 700 employees nationwide, including at least 36 in Louisville. Among those laid off are several editors and staff writers in the Neighborhoods and Velocity sections. No official announcement has been made about what will happen to those sections, and Courier-Journal publisher Arnold Garson is unavailable for comment.
Several employees at the Louisville Courier-Journal are being laid off as part of a nationwide two percent staff reduction by parent company Gannett. In the largest round of layoffs since 2009, Gannett will cut 700 employees from newspapers across the country. The Gannett Blog is reporting confirmation that 36 Courier-Journal employees have been laid off. You can track the numbers here.
Many University of Kentucky staff members are facing a "use it or lose it" scenario with accrued vacation days that expire at the end of the month. The UK Human Resources Department is encouraging those people who won't be taking the time off to consider donating their hours to shared leave pools. Spokesperson Donna Cornet says at any given time, employees need to be away from the workplace for an extended period of time.
The Georgetown Scott County Tourism office typically gets calls in June about the Cincinnati Bengals’ training camp at Georgetown College. This year, callers have one question. “We have already gotten calls from people asking about camp and the status,” said John Simpson, director of the tourism commission. “I can’t answer their questions. Right now, we can just tell them the tentative dates.” As more days pass with the NFL lockout still in place, it is becoming more difficult to stay positive. Simpson says he has already heard some nervousness from local business owners that the NFL team and its fans may not travel to Georgetown this summer.
Carmichael’s Bookstore, one of the leading independent booksellers in Louisville, has recently begun selling e-books through their website through a partnership with Google and the American Booksellers Association. More than 250 booksellers nationwide are using the system, which allows independent bookstores to make money from e-books, a market previously reserved for giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Toyota Motor Corp. officials announced Thursday that vehicle production at all North American plants will have rebounded to 100 percent by September. The announcement is good news for the company's plants in San Antonio, Texas, which builds the Tundra and Tacoma pickups, and Ontario, Canada, home to the RAV4 and Lexus RX350. For Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, one of 11 plants running at 100 percent production, the announcement has no direct impact. TMMK resumed full production of the Camry, Avalon and Venza on June 6.
Several local organizations are included in more than 3,000 entities in Kentucky which have not filed necessary information with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS posted a 101 page list of Kentucky organizations on its website, including Maysville Younger Women's Club, Mason County Little League, Lions International in Maysville, and the Maysville Mason County Humane Society. MMCHS is not The Humane Society of Buffalo Trace; HSBT is not on the revoked list.
The American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville has partnered with the Dollywood Foundation to print books that will be distributed to children under five across the country. The foundation’s Imagination Library program sends a free book each month to promote reading before entering school. The program will now be able to offer their books with a Braille overlay for children or parents who are blind.
For the first time in more than two years, Kentucky's unemployment rate fell below 10 percent. The measure dropped to 9.8 percent in May from 10 percent in April. However, a different measure of the state's employment continued to show weakness: The state lost 6,000 non-farm jobs during the month. The state's unemployment rate of 9.8 percent matched the rate in February 2009, the most recent time Kentucky's rate was below 10 percent. The state continued to lag behind the national rate, which was 9.1 percent in May, up from 9 percent in April.
The Red Cross says a restructuring of its blood services division won’t have much of a local impact. The agency announced this week that 400 to 500 jobs will be cut nationwide under the plan. It says a drop in monetary donations and rising costs forced the restructuring. “Locally the impact of the restructuring has been minimal. Three positions in the River Valley Region were affected by restructuring,” said Katy Maloy,spokeswoman for the Red Cross River Valley Blood Services Region, which includes the Louisville area and parts of Indiana and Illinois.
Two Finchville residents are up on federal charges of embezzling nearly half a million dollars in employee benefits from a company they owned in Shelbyville. Officials from the Office of the United States Attorney say that William Kiser, 73, and Mary Sue Kiser, 70, owners of the now-closed Irotas Manufacturing Company in Shelbyville, were indicted Thursday in federal court for conspiring to defraud the United States and embezzling from an employee benefit fund.
Time Warner Cable has agreed to buy New Wave Communication operations in western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee. The 260 million dollar deal will transfer more than 70,000 customers to Time Warner. Company spokesman Alex Dudley says the only difference customers will notice at first will be sign changes. Dudley says service upgrades could come later, though he says Time Warner is happy with the current quality of the network. Dudley couldn’t comment on future employment shifts. He says none are planned for the short term. Dudley says the deal will close later this year.
On July 1, the state gas tax will increase 1.9 cents from 19.5 to 21.4 cents per gallon. The gas tax is tied to the average wholesale price of gasoline, which increased according to a survey in April, said Greg Harkenrider, acting deputy executive director for the Governor’s Office for Policy Research. Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Transportation Cabinet, said the gas tax increase will generate about $57 million in additional revenue. The money will go into the state road fund that pays for road construction and repairs. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.