Thursday March 27, 2014

Kentucky's mine inspectors would be required to spend less time examining coal mining operations under language inserted in the state Senate's budget proposal. Mine-safety advocates say fewer inspections would raise the risks for miners every time they venture underground. State law currently requires six inspections annually for each mine by state regulators. That number would be pared to two required annual inspections under the Senate's budget plan.
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Kentucky drivers could find out this week if they will pay more at the pump this summer. House Democrats have approved a 1.5 cents-per-gallon increase. It would give the state an extra $107 million during the next two years to build new roads and fix the broken ones. But Senate Republican leaders rejected the gas tax increase Tuesday, arguing Kentuckians do not want to pay more taxes for any reason.
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A two-year $4.5 billion road plan being debated in the Kentucky General Assembly includes almost $64 million for Letcher County, with much of that going to the U.S. 119 relocation in the Cumberland River area. Another $8 million would be used to ease traffic congestion in and out of KY 805 in Jenkins. In addition to the four projects already mentioned, the rest of Letcher County’s road money would be spent on bridge replacement projects scheduled for completion by the end of 2016.
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A Kentucky House panel cleared a measure Wednesday aimed at stemming the tide of heroin abuse in the state. The bill would provide a three-pronged approach to the problem, combining treatment funding, harsher penalties for trafficking and education in communities. The bill also allows first responders, including police officers and emergency medical technicians, to prescribe and use the heroin antidote.
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While the 2013-14 winter season continues to be one of southeastern Kentucky’s most severe in recent years, the region has been downright fortunate when compared to the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States, where snowfall totals have more than doubled those here.  In fact, aside from students in most mountain counties missing nearly a month of school because of poor road conditions, the winter weather conditions that were still being suffered by residents of Letcher and surrounding counties Tuesday night could have been much tougher.
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People in the Kay Jay community in Knox County are taking steps to restore the community center and their voting precinct. The building was damaged by a flood three years ago. Yesterday, they presented a petition to the Knox County Fiscal Court with 194 signatures on it asking to restore the building. They asked the Knox County Fiscal Court to spend $1,500 to restore electricity at the building.