FRANKFORT, Ky. — Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on Kentucky National Guard members returning home; economic development progress; executive orders regarding medical cannabis; disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky; wildfires; public health; and shopping local this Christmas season. He also named both the Bourbon County High School Marching Band and journalist Deborah Yetter this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.
Kentucky National Guard
The Governor shared the good news that 208 Kentucky National Guard members will be returning home from their deployment in Kosovo. These soldiers – part of the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry – are from Barbourville, Middlesboro and Ravenna. They mobilized in Dec. 2021 and have been serving as part of a NATO-led peacekeeping force.
“We are very glad to have them back with us in Kentucky. It is going to be an extra special thanksgiving for you and your families,” Gov. Beshear said. “To each and every one of you: Welcome home and thank you for your service.”
Economic Development Update
Gov. Beshear highlighted four economic development projects expected to create 435 jobs and that represent $632 million in investment.
Last month, the Governor joined UPS Supply Chain Solutions Inc., the largest employer in Metro Louisville, to announce that the company would be increasing its footprint in the commonwealth with $334 million in investments to establish two new locations in Jefferson and Bullitt counties. The facilities will boost the supply chain within the healthcare sector and create 435 high-wage jobs for Kentuckians.
UPS highlighted progress on a $220 million project to create a two-bay hangar at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. The project, announced in 2018, is expected to be completed by next year. The hangar will be able to house the largest UPS aircraft and will serve as a location for maintenance and service checks.
UPS company leaders also announced a $78 million Global Aviation Training Center expansion in Louisville, which includes four full-motion flight simulators that will be used for pilot training, office space and classrooms. The project, expected to be completed in 2023, will further the company’s training efforts.
Yesterday, Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Jeff Noel joined British Airways and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to help announce a new direct flight from Northern Kentucky to London Heathrow, with flights set to begin next June. Flights of British Airways’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft will run five times per week during the summer and four times each week during the winter months.
Medical Cannabis, Delta 8 Executive Orders
In an effort to reduce Kentuckians’ reliance on addictive opioids and to provide them relief from pain, the Governor recapped his announcement on Tuesday that will allow Kentuckians with certain severe medical conditions and who meet specific requirements to be able to possess and use small amounts of legally purchased medical cannabis to treat their medical conditions starting Jan. 1, 2023.
In an executive order, Gov. Beshear outlined conditions that Kentuckians with at least one of 21 medical conditions, which include cancer, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscular dystrophy or a terminal illness, must meet to access medical cannabis beginning January 1, 2023.
The Governor talked about the veteran from Northern Kentucky, Jared Bonvell, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and who described his daily struggle after being prescribed 13 medications that weren’t effective and that left him contemplating suicide. Click here to watch a clip of Mr. Bonvell’s remarks during Tuesday’s news conference.
The Governor also said that the state will regulate the sale of Delta 8. Delta 8 contains THC, but at a lower level than marijuana. It is not a controlled substance in Kentucky nor under federal law, and a court has ruled that it is legal in Kentucky.
Eastern Kentucky Flood Update
Gov. Beshear provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s stabilization and rebuilding efforts following July’s historic floods. More than $88.1 million in grants have been approved under the Federal Emergency Management Agency Individuals and Households Program for 8,460 households. Over $55.8 million has been approved under the U.S. Small Business Administration. Disaster Recovery Centers and Multi-Agency Resource Centers are open until Nov. 22. Visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources for locations and times or follow Kentucky Emergency Management on social media.
The Governor said that Kentucky State Parks are now housing 216 people, down eight from last week and down from the 360 people sheltered on Sept. 1. Currently, 660 individuals are being housed in travel trailers. There are 320 travel trailers on site in 10 different locations.
To date, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $12.2 million from more than 41,000 donors. Gov. Beshear highlighted and thanked HCA Healthcare for their donation of $100,000 to the fund. To contribute, click here. For other information regarding flooding in Eastern Kentucky, visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources.
Gov. Beshear announced that Kentucky Emergency Management received two letters approving 13 Perry County properties for FEMA’s property acquisition program. This is a voluntary program, the purpose of which is to prevent the loss of life and property from future floods. The project will protect the community from the direct impact of severe storm events and provide a long-term solution to existing and future hazardous conditions.
EKSAFE and WKSAFE Fund Awards
Today, Gov. Beshear announced another $11,746,999 in awards from the Eastern Kentucky SAFE Fund to communities and public entities to support recovery efforts in counties impacted by the late July floods. Payments going out this week include:
- $3.2 million to the Knott County Board of Education to ease the district’s strained fiscal liquidity;
- $906,203 to the Knott County Fiscal Court to cover the required match of FEMA projects and to an employee floodplain planner;
- $226,160 to the Knott County Water and Sewer District for its required FEMA project match;
- Over $6.2 million to the Letcher County Board of Education to ease the district’s strained fiscal liquidity; and
- Over $1.1 million to the Letcher County Fiscal Court for required FEMA project match of $31,531 to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District to obtain engineering and surveying services.
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management has issued almost $14.9 million in payments from the nearly $213 million appropriated for the Eastern Kentucky SAFE Fund.
Gov. Beshear also announced more awards from the Western Kentucky SAFE Fund, including:
- $550,000 to the City of Bowling Green to restore its greenspace; and
- $65,000 to the Princeton Water and Wastewater System for the restoration of underground service lines.
The Governor said that recent rainfall provided enough moisture to help extinguish or control all wildfires from last week. The Division of Forestry installed fire safety breaks to prevent the fires from growing again. As of this morning, Kentucky has had 369 fires, with 29,155 acres burned during the fire season, which began Oct. 1.
Gov. Beshear thanked those working to put out the fires, including the five state forestry agencies from Virginia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas that sent crews to assist. He also thanked the volunteer firefighters from Daniel Boone National Forest and conservation officers from the Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources. He asked Kentuckians to refrain from any outdoor burning during this time, as debris burning, campfires and sparks from farm equipment can cause a fire, especially in dry conditions.
The Governor also updated Kentuckians on influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), COVID-19 and monkeypox in the commonwealth. He recommended that Kentuckians stay up to date with their vaccines and boosters, wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick.
Gov. Beshear said influenza is spreading widely in Kentucky at this time. One influenza death has been reported for Kentucky’s current 2022-2023 influenza season. Most influenza detections in the commonwealth have been identified as Type A. The flu vaccine has been updated this year and is expected to perform well against this circulating strain.
RSV, a common respiratory virus that causes mild cold-like symptoms, has recently increased in the United States, and outbreaks of the virus have occurred in Kentucky daycares and preschools. People of any age can become infected with RSV, and most recover within one to two weeks. RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.
A total of 80 cases of monkeypox have been reported in Kentucky from 18 different counties. This now includes a case in the 16-to-20-year age group. More than 6,400 doses of the monkeypox vaccine have been administered in Kentucky. The current vaccine eligibility criteria are listed on the Kentucky Department for Public Health website.
Gov. Beshear encouraged Kentuckians to shop local as the Christmas season approaches. For gift ideas, visit kentuckytourism.com/holidays.
“Our Main Streets are filled with local businesses that make our communities unique, providing gift options you can’t find anywhere else,” Gov. Beshear said. “By supporting small businesses, more dollars remain in our local economies, and when our communities thrive, we create more opportunities for everyone.”
Team Kentucky All-Stars
The Governor named the Bourbon County High School Marching Band and their band director, Michael Stone, this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. The Bourbon County Marching Band was selected to perform in the 2022 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“We couldn’t be more proud or more honored to have the Marching Colonels represent Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “Be sure to tune into the parade on Thanksgiving Day so you can cheer on our very own Bourbon County Marching Colonels!”
Gov. Beshear also named Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Yetter this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star. Yetter, who focused on reporting abuse, neglect and children’s welfare in Kentucky, announced that she had completed her final day on the job at the Courier-Journal after 40 years in the industry. In April, Yetter was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame for her work and loyalty to the people of the Commonwealth.
“Through her 40 years of work and her tireless efforts to keep our people informed, Debby truly made progress to achieve a better Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “She has made an immeasurable impact – not just in journalism, but on the people of this commonwealth.”