Kentucky

The Missing Voters: The Ohio Valley Has Some Of The Nation’s Lowest Voter Turnout. What Could Change

Nov 2, 2020
Devine Carama

This fall, Lexington, Kentucky, activist and artist Devine Carama launched a different kind of road trip across his home state. He visited a dozen cities and towns, from Pikeville, in the state’s Appalachian east, to Paducah, near where the Ohio River joins the Mississippi. He carried a sign that said “I’ll walk 400 miles if you promise to vote.”

He wants to bring attention to what he says is the most important election of our lifetimes and to open up conversations about why people do or don’t vote. 

 

“That was another kind of, you know, motivational piece to this,” he said. “How can we inspire people to not just register, but actually go out and vote?”

 

 


Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

In the last weeks of October, parts of the Ohio Valley saw coronavirus records broken almost every day. In the Ohio Valley, Kentucky and Ohio set new records for hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and Kentuckyreported the most positive cases in a single week since the pandemic began — 9,335. West Virginia, which has been insulated from the worst of the pandemic also saw a surge in cases.

The Governors of Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky have pleaded with people to stop the spread of the virus, wear masks and social distance. During press briefings, all the governors repeatedly warned that more cases could lead to more restrictions. 

“We just can't do it twice — or we certainly don't want to do it twice,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Tuesday when asked about another shut down. DeWine said that if counties and cities don’t do their part to fight the spread then, “We will be shut down because the spread will be so bad.”


Flickr/Creative Commons/Michael Tefft

It wasn’t too long ago that Michael Farmer, a pastor in Charleston, West Virginia, received an email asking him a question that was already on his mind: “As a Black Southern Baptist pastor in West Virginia, what is my role in telling our stories?”

The email was from Ashton Marra, the managing digital editor of a news organization called 100 Days in Appalachia. Marra was inviting Farmer to be a part of a new project, the Appalachian Advisors Network. 

“The Advisors Network is really three parts,” Marra said, “And the first part is a database of creators.” This way, Marra said, rather than national or international news outlets sending a journalist from New York City or Los Angeles to cover rural Appalachia, those same outlets could hire a freelance journalist rooted in those same communities, who could tell a more nuanced story. 


Colin Jackson

Around 100-150 south central Kentucky residents met in Bowling Green's Circus Square Park Sunday evening to voice their concerns about discrimination, policing and city government. Meanwhile, a handful of city leaders listened on a nearby panel.

The discussion and a candlelight vigil that took place afterward are the latest events in Bowling Green to stem from a recent wave of activism that started with the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.


Becca Schimmel

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton managed to stay relatively out of the spotlight until the final year of Republican Governor Matt Bevin's administration.

In January, eyes turned toward her once Bevin filed to run for reelection without her on his ticket, and without explanation for several months.

In an interview with WKU Public Radio, Hampton discussed that moment and several other lessons from her time in office.


Ryan Quarles' Facebook

Kentucky's Republican Commissioner of Agriculture has largely flown under the radar while addressing many pressing issues facing the state's farms. He's banking his track record will carry him to a second term in office following the Nov. 5 election

Recently, the ninth-generation Kentucky farmer has led effort to alleviate the effects of a trade war that has farmers caught in the middle, as well as the legalization of hemp.


Courtesy of Robert Conway

On November 5, Kentuckians will head to the polls to elect constitutional positions like Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State.

Eigth-generation Kentucky farmer Robert Conway is running for Agriculture Commissioner

Focal points for the Scott County Democrat include saving the state's family farms, and encouraging more young people to pick up the trade.


Courtesy of Casey Haynes

Around 40% of Kentucky state inmates released in 2016 went back to jail within a couple years of getting out.

Most of those individuals went back to jail for breaking their terms of release rather than through committing a new crime.

Bowling Green business owner Casey Haynes could have been in that number. Instead, he recieved a break from the court. Now, he's making the most of that chance.

Haynes comes from Mississippi and describes himself as always having a strong parental figure in his mother.

He said he got into trouble after originally going to trade school for business management.

"I didn't do too well as far as working in that field. I ended up drifting off and doing some other things I wasn't interested in, and that led to being around...the wrong crowd of people," Haynes said.


Kevin Willis

When someone goes to jail, it's often difficult for them to move on from the criminal justice system.

At the Barren County Detention Center, a group is promising to help inmates break the cycle and succeed once they return to society.

In the second of our four-part series on reentry in our region, we meet four individuals in that jail who are preparing to move on.


Prison overcrowding has increasingly become part of the national conversation. Meanwhile, states are trying to do more to keep ex-offenders from going back to jail after completing their sentences.

Recidivism has several negative consequences, including state spending on housing inmates and the fact that potential members of the workforce are unavailable.

This is the first story in a four-part series of reports about efforts to combat the trend in our region.


West Virginia Governor’s Office

Coal companies controlled by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice have agreed to a settlement covering millions of dollars in overdue property taxes in four eastern Kentucky counties: Harlan, Knott, Magoffin, and Pike.

Checks totaling $1.2 million from Justice entities began rolling in last week, county officials said. According to state officials, the checks cover half the delinquent debt owed. Counties will receive the remaining amount in payments over the next six months.


Creative Commons

Forecasters expect remnants of Tropical Depression Cindy to drench parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia Friday afternoon and evening, bringing heavy rainfall, possible flash flooding and higher river and lake levels through the weekend.

The severe weather was arriving on the anniversary of torrential rains and flooding that left 23 people dead in West Virginia last year.

National Weather Service officials in the three states said rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches were possible, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches. Flash flood watches were in effect in much of Kentucky and West Virginia. Friday began with overcast skies across the region and some light rain.

Report: Obesity Often Keeps Kentuckians From Serving in Military

Oct 7, 2014
U.S. Army

A new report shows that many young adults in Kentucky are ineligible for military service due to obesity.

Retired Army Major Gen. Allen Youngman presented the report, "Retreat is not an option for Kentucky," during the Southern Obesity Summit Monday in Louisville.

Youngman says being overweight is the leading medical disqualifier for military service in Kentucky.

Combined with factors like lack of education and having a criminal background, Kentucky’s disqualification rate is 73 percent, three points higher than the national average.

"They don't have to be in perfect shape when they come in but to pass a certain point it's been demonstrated over and over again that it would be doing them a disservice and a disservice to the military to  put them into uniform and expect them to meet the standards," said Youngman.

Obesity doesn't just affect potential recruits.  Youngman says there was a 61 percent increase in obesity among active duty members between 2002 and 2011.

ACT

ACT test scores for high school graduates in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana all saw improvement this year.

The company that administers the test is calling the gains in Kentucky and Tennessee particularly promising.

Every high school graduate in Kentucky and Tennessee and nine other states takes the ACT as part of statewide assessment.  This year, both Tennessee and Kentucky saw a 0.3 percent gain in composite score as compared to 2013.

The composite score in Kentucky was 19.9, while Tennessee students scored a 19.8. 

Meantime, Indiana’s average composite score was 21.7, but only 40 percent of Indiana students took the test.

Kentucky Revenue Receipts Suggest Slow Growth

Aug 11, 2014
Thinkstock

New data released by the state’s budget office suggest that Kentucky’s General Fund isn’t growing fast enough, and could lead to another budget shortfall.

July receipts show that Kentucky brought in about $706 million in July, a 2.2 increase over last year.

But Jason Bailey, director for the nonpartisan Kentucky Center for Economic Progress, says that the sluggish growth won’t be enough to meet official revenue projections.

“Two-point-two percent growth for July, which is better than zero, but still lower than what we need for the year which is about 3.6 percent to avoid another budget shortfall,” said Bailey.

The data show that while income and sale tax receipts grew by single digits, returns on corporate and property taxes were down 64 and 45 percent, respectively.

Gov. Steve Beshear recently plugged a $90.9 million shortfall in the previous year’s budget that was chiefly caused by a sharp decline in individual income tax receipts.

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