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Gov. Beshear provides Team Kentucky update

In News, State by OC Monitor Staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on expansions by two Kentucky distilleries, economic development awards, efforts to bring parity in gas prices to the Louisville metro area and to protect Kentuckians from price-gouging related to the baby formula shortage, Western Kentucky tornado recovery and COVID-19. Public health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack also briefed Kentuckians about recent cases of hepatitis in children.

Bourbon Industry Expanding to Meet Demand

Gov. Beshear recalled two announcements this week by Kentucky distilleries that are expanding operations in the commonwealth.

The Governor and Heaven Hill broke ground Monday on a new distillery in Bardstown in Nelson County. The $135 million investment marks a return to Bardstown for the company, which lost its distillery, seven storage warehouses and nearly 100,000 barrels of Bourbon in a fire in 1996. Click here to read the release.

Tuesday, Gov. Beshear joined leaders of Four Roses Distillery to announce that the company will invest more than $23 million to construct 17 new warehouses totally more than 776,00 square feet in Coxs Creek in Bullitt County. This investment will support continued growth of the Lawrenceburg-based distillery and comes in response to increased demand for the company’s bourbon throughout the United States. Click here to read the release.

Accolades Continue for Kentucky’s Economic Momentum

Gov. Beshear discussed the recent announcement by industry publication Area Development, which awarded Kentucky a Gold Shovel award and named Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation’s investment in the BlueOvalSK Battery Park in Hardin County one of its Manufacturing Projects of the Year. The honors from Area Development come in response to recent economic momentum in the commonwealth as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the pandemic. Click here to read the full release.

Central Kentucky Railroad Modernization Project

Gov. Beshear announced the award of a $7.4 million federal grant for a railroad modernization project that will improve rail safety and efficiency while yielding environmental and traffic-mitigation benefits. The grant from the Federal Railroad Administration is to R.J. Corman Railroad Co.’s Bluegrass Multimodal Freight Improvement Project.

The project will include construction of a rail-to-truck transload facility in Frankfort, rehabilitation of track on the mainline between Frankfort and Lexington and improvements to the company’s main yard and transload facility in Lexington. Learn more about the project here.

Financial Relief for Kentucky Families

Today, the Governor sent a letter to top administrators at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formally requesting that they grant a waiver to Jefferson County and the portions of Bullitt and Oldham counties in which reformulated gasoline is mandated.

Federal regulations require that a reformulated gasoline be sold in many urban areas, like Louisville, in an effort to cut down on pollution. This reformulated blend can cost as much as 25 cents per gallon more than conventional gasoline.

If approved, the waiver would be in effect for up to 20 days and would allow for the sale of conventional gasoline in the area.

“The people who live and work in the Louisville area do not deserve to shoulder this extra burden during what is already a trying time when it comes to filling up,” Gov. Beshear said. “This is the right thing to do for our families, and it’s how we will ensure they will continue not just to survive but to thrive.”

Gov. Beshear also declared a state of emergency regarding the shortage of baby formula in the commonwealth. The Governor’s executive order activates state price-gouging laws, which aim to protect families from predatory pricing as they seek to purchase baby formula, which is currently in high demand.

Kentuckians should report baby formula price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General. At this time, the attorney general has not reported any claims of price gouging to the Governor or requested that the price gouging laws be activated, but other states have reported claims and are taking steps to address them. Under current law, the state of emergency and price gouging laws can last for 30-days; however, local county and city officials can request an extension.

For more information on these actions, see the complete press release.

More than $16.3 million in additional SAFE Funds for Tornado Recovery

Gov. Beshear announced a sixth round of awards from the West Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies fund. The more than $16.3 million in assistance announced today will go to two eligible Western Kentucky counties and one utility to help with the costs of restoration and recovery from the devastating December 2021 tornadoes.

“This weekend will mark six months since tornadoes wreaked havoc on some of our Western Kentucky communities. Steady progress is being made to rebuild and restore what was taken from our people and their hometowns, but the work continues.” Gov. Beshear said. “The SAFE fund awards announced today will help further that progress by helping to cover expenses and services ineligible for FEMA aid and relieve some of the fiscal strain these communities have endured.”

Today’s funding awards include:

  • $1.2 million to the city of Dawson Springs for land survey costs;
  • $15 million to Mayfield Electric & Water Systems for strained fiscal liquidity; and
  • More than $61,000 for strained fiscal liquidity and nearly $115,000 for wet debris removal to Muhlenberg County.

The Governor recommended the appropriation for the SAFE fund, and the 2022 General Assembly supported the aid through Senate Bill 150. The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management continues to receive additional applications for SAFE funding, which are being carefully reviewed to ensure the funds are used to their maximum benefit.

Gov. Beshear also noted that he will be in Mayfield Friday to mark the 6-month anniversary of the tornadoes that struck portions of Western Kentucky on Dec. 10-11, 2021. He provided an update on the recovery efforts in the region. Read more about those efforts here.

Health Updates: COVID-19; Pediatric Hepatitis

Gov. Beshear began his COVID update remarking on the tragic milestone reached this week of more than 16,000 Kentuckians lost to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Governor noted that cases are rising once again, with 9,760 cases announced from May 30 through June 5. The positivity rate continues its upward trend, reaching 12.41% the on June 5. Overall hospitalizations in Kentucky, as well as the number of patients in the ICU and on a ventilator, have increased, but not proportionally with case numbers.

Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health Dr. Steven Stack discussed efforts by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working with state health departments, to identify children with hepatitis of unknown cause. So far, there are six cases in Kentucky, with children ranging from 8-months to 4-years old. Dr. Stack said there is no relation to the COVID-19 vaccines and no link to other common causes of viral hepatitis.

Team Kentucky All-Star

The Governor named Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman this week’s Team Kentucky All-star and wished the Lieutenant Governor a happy birthday, which she celebrates today.