President Trump unloaded on Detroit's big two American automakers on Friday with complaints and exhortations about how they must begin producing ventilators for the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump first complained about what he suggested was a breakdown in negotiations with General Motors CEO Mary Barra and then said both GM and Ford must devote some of their production capacity to medical equipment immediately.

Amazon has closed a warehouse in Shepherdsville, Ky., until April 1, after several workers there tested positive for the coronavirus — the first prolonged closure of a facility confirmed by the company.

Workers in at least 10 other warehouses across the country have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting shorter temporary closures for sanitation and cleaning.

Office of Governor Andy Beshear

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that all non-life sustaining businesses in Kentucky will close to in-person traffic on Thursday. He said an executive order enforcing the closure will go into effect at 8 p.m that day.

Details specifying what businesses are life-sustaining will be released tomorrow, but Beshear said grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and gas stations are among those that will remain open.

The order is one of many that have temporarily shuttered some Kentucky businesses. Beshear ordered non-essential retail stores to close their doors to in-person business on March 23. An earlier order closed “public-facing” businesses like gyms and hair salons. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out, delivery or curbside service but dining rooms remain closed.


Some businesses in Kentucky are coming to the aid of the medical community as it works to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

The coronavirus has led to shortages of face masks, latex gloves, hand sanitizer, hydrogen peroxide, medical grade thermometers, and other products. 

Ashli Watts, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, says many manufacturers use those products in their daily operations, so they’re being asked to donate supplies.

Hickory & Oak

Gov. Andy Beshear has announced that all bars and restaurants in Kentucky will close to in-person traffic starting 5:00 Monday evening in response to coronavirus.

Beshear also announced the first death due to the disease in Kentucky–a 66 year-old man from Bourbon County, who Beshear said had “numerous” other health factors.

Beshear said that the death should underscore why Kentuckians should try to help stop the spread of the disease.


Lisa Autry

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear helped break ground today for a new manufacturing plant in Warren County. 

Crown Cork and Seal USA produces metal beverage cans and will begin operating in spring 2021 at the Kentucky Transpark.  This will be its first plant in the Bluegrass State, and its 240th worldwide. 

Joined by company leaders and local elected officials, Beshear said the company will offer 126 technical, high paying jobs, with an average hourly wage of $31.

A national restaurant chain with several locations in our region has filed for bankruptcy and closed 38 of its gastropubs.

However, Bar Louie locations in Owensboro and Lexington, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana will remain open.

Michael Frierdich and his wife launched the Bar Louie franchise in Evansville 10 years ago. Frierdich said he had recent discussions with corporate headquarters in Texas.

“I have heard of no franchise stores closing at this time. It’s just corporate stores that were nonperforming, and most of them were in malls where the traffic’s down and the sales are down," said Frierdich. "It’ll have no impact on our operation in Evansville. We just signed a new franchise agreement for 10 additional years.”

Kentucky Leads The Country In 2020 Coal Retirements

Jan 21, 2020
Erica Peterson

Two of the largest coal-fired power plant retirements in the U.S. in 2020 are happening in Kentucky.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Paradise Unit 3 near Drakesboro is scheduled to shutter this December while Owensboro’s Elmer Smith Generating Station will cease operations in June.

These older, more inefficient power plants are the latest to be priced out of the market, and are now trudging toward the elephant graveyard of legacy coal-fired plants in the Ohio Valley.

Together, power generation from the two plants represents more than a quarter of the total coal-fired capacity set to retire this year, based on an analysis using U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

Rhonda J. Miller

A federal program to keep older adults in the workforce is struggling to find more businesses in the Owensboro region willing to hire these elders after they upgrade their skills.

In the first of a two-part series, WKU Public Radio looks at efforts to expand the the regional Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), and how one 74-year-old who particpated in the program is thriving in her new job.

Dee Padgett has been in her job as office manager at United Way of the Coalfield in Madisonville since September. 

Appalachian Regional Commission Facebook

A new report shows Appalachian counties in Kentucky saw a decline in employment growth at the same time other states in Appalachia saw an increase. The region overall is shifting toward more job diversity, but still lags behind the rest of the country.

The report from the Appalachian Regional Commission looked at 15 different industry sectors from 2002 to 2017. It found that employment across those industries in Appalachia grew by just under 5 percent, but is still behind the country as a whole.


The largest employment shares in Appalachian parts of Kentucky are state and local government, health and social services, and retail. 

Rhonda J. Miller

In south central Kentucky, the regional workforce development board is helping to fill the shortage of truck drivers through a federal program that pays for training. Two men say the effort put them on a new road in life, thanks to those involved in the program who encouraged them at every turn.

At Franklin Express in Simpson County, Kentucky, James Boatright recently backed up a truck called a “yard dog.” His training for a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL, was paid for through the federal Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act. Boatright said he quickly got hired as a local driver. 

"Our company is contracted by Berry Plastics to move their product to the warehouses safely," said Boatright. "I may have to move several trailers in a day, so basically, the farthest I go is across town. There’s another warehouse on down the street some.”

Autoworkers From Closed Plants Fight New GM Contract

Oct 22, 2019
Lisa Autry

If they can close our plant, they can close yours, too.

That's the message from workers at three shuttered General Motors factories that didn't get new products under the tentative contract agreement reached last week between GM and the United Auto Workers, who have been on strike against the company across the U.S. for over six weeks now.

About 2,000 employees who once worked at GM transmission plants near Baltimore and Detroit and a small-car assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, will repeat that message this week as 49,000 union members vote on the new four-year deal.

Approval could end the walkout that has crippled GM's production and cost the company an estimated $2 billion.

GM Workers to Stay On Picket Line Until Vote on New Contract

Oct 18, 2019
Lisa Autry

Striking General Motors workers will stay on the picket lines for at least another week until they vote on a tentative contract with the company.

Factory-level officials from the United Auto Workers union voted to recommend the agreement to members at a daylong meeting in Detroit Thursday. But they also voted not to return to factories unless members approve the deal.

About 49,000 workers have been on strike for more than a month, paralyzing GM's U.S. factories and costing the company an estimated $2 billion.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET Monday

Talks between General Motors and union officials representing tens of thousands of striking autoworkers restarted Monday in hopes of driving both sides to an agreement on issues including workers' wages, health care and profit-sharing.

After several hours, union officials representing nearly 50,000 workers acknowledge negotiations remain in neutral.

Beam Suntory Building New Craft Distillery in Kentucky

Jul 25, 2019
Jim Beam

The company behind the world's top-selling bourbon, Jim Beam, is pouring tens of millions of dollars into a new Kentucky distillery to boost production of craft whiskeys.

Beam Suntory executives broke ground Thursday for the production facility at their flagship bourbon distilling operation in Clermont. It's part of a $60 million investment that includes raising Beam's profile by upgrading the "visitors' experience" at Clermont as bourbon tourism grows.

The company is looking to build on the momentum for its super-premium craft brands, which have experienced double-digit yearly growth. The bulk of sales are in the U.S.