KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO FUND SOUTH CENTRAL KENTUCKY FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT CENTER

FunZilla is a state-of-the-art entertainment center to be located in Glasgow, Kentucky.

“FunZilla is committed to doing business well, as well as doing good with our business.”

— Charles Massie

GLASGOW, KY, USA, December 1, 2016 /EINPresswire.com/ — Glasgow, KY – A Kickstarter campaign has officially been launched for ‘FunZilla’, a state-of-the-art indoor Family Entertainment Center to be located in South Central Kentucky. The Kickstarter campaign aims to garner widespread support and financial backing to finance the acquisition of land and construction of the center. Projected opening of FunZilla will be in July, 2017.
Located just outside the city of Glasgow, Kentucky and only 8 miles from Interstate I-65, FunZilla will be housed within a 30,000 square foot building, situated on 3 acres of open land. FunZilla will be an entertainment center that offers a feature-packed, easy to reach party environment for groups of many sizes. The Company’s future plans include an ever expanding menu of party options, attractions and family enticements. FunZilla will feature a unique layout which will allow parents to join in the fun with their children, or simply enjoy watching them romp from a lounge with a set of viewing windows.
Inspired from the realization that a family-friendly, climate-controlled entertainment center didn’t exist in the immediate area, founder Charles Massie set out to provide a cost-effective solution that would appeal to all age groups and function as a leader in the community. “FunZilla provides numerable activities and events for everyone to find interest in. We call it the “Disneyland Effect”. Said Massie. “Most importantly, this also provides strong reasons for you to return regularly to the center for casual fun, special events and concerts. This will not be a “been there done that” experience.”
Some of the key features that will make FunZilla a major play destination for South Central Kentucky include; a gorgeous themed attractions incorporating interactive technology, an 18-hole miniature golf course, a video driving range, video batting cages, a rock climbing wall, and an amusement arcade packed with the latest games.
“FunZilla is committed to doing business well, as well as doing good with our business. We will follow ethical, sustainable, and transparent practices to make sure that we have the best social and environmental impact possible,” says Massie.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. ‘Backers’ who support a project on Kickstarter get an inside look at the creative process, and help that project come to life. All ‘Backers’ of the FunZilla Kickstarter campaign who pledge $25 or more will receive free admission to FunZilla for a family of four, plus a special gift from the Company. Additional rewards are available at higher pledge levels.
The Kickstarter campaign is officially open until January 1, 2017. For more information about the Kickstarter campaign, visit: http://kck.st/2fiv7D2

Charles Massie
FunZilla Family Entertainment Center
615-306-9481
email us here

SOURCE LINK

Legalize marijuana for the state’s sake

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Editorial Board

In 1996 California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Since then 28 more states have approved the drug for medical use, with another eight, including California, allowing adults to use the drug recreationally. Unfortunately, Kentucky has been slow to adapt, despite the many benefits legalizing the drug would provide.

Back in the day, Kentucky used to thrive growing tobacco. That same land, rich for growing tobacco, is ideal for growing marijuana, which can also be used to produce hemp, a versatile product which can be manufactured into paper, textiles, clothing, food, plastic, and a multitude of other products. 

Marijuana would also be useful as a medical alternative for many in the state who are dependent on prescription drugs. 

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the highest cancer rates of any state in the country, largely due to our large dependence on the coal and mining industries, which has left countless hard-working Kentuckians with lung cancer. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has said that marijuana kills cancer cells along with alleviating the nausea and other symptoms associated with chemotherapy, which poses a much more effective alternative to prescription drugs. 

With so much of our state crippled by a dying coal industry, legalizing marijuana would be an enormous jobs creator for people looking to farm the crop and others looking to get into the business side of the industry with dispensaries. 

While stigmas still exist surrounding the drug, the issue of marijuana legalization is slowly becoming more of a bipartisan issue that draws support from both Democrats and Republicans, including Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who has said in the past that he plans to sign a medical marijuana bill into law during his time in office.

 

It has become a trend in the mainstream media to avoid one of the most pressing issues, not …

States that have approved the drug for recreational use, such as Colorado, tax the drug, and use the money in a variety of ways, from helping the homeless, to improving infrastructure and education. In 2016 alone, Colorado is expected to bring in over $1 billion in tax revenue from marijuana. 

If a similar system of policy was applied in the Bluegrass, money could be used for better education throughout the state, a hot-button issue under Bevin’s administration due to his proposed, but unsuccessful, cuts to higher education. Revenue could also go towards helping revitalize eastern Ky. along with infrastructure, homeless, and veterans, following in the footsteps of Colorado’s successful endeavor with the green. 

According to a 2012 poll by Kentucky Health Issues, 78 percent of Kentuckians support the legalization of medical marijuana. It’s time for our lawmaker’s throughout the state to come together and enact a policy to reflect the will of the people. The longer we wait, the more potential tax revenue we miss out on that could go to benefitting Kentuckians in need. It’s time to

“Make Kentucky Green Again!”

Email opinions@kykernel.com

CONTINUE READING…

Bowling Green WWII veteran receives France’s highest honor

  • Simone Payne

     

    Bowling Green WWII veteran receives France's highest honor

    World War II veteran Samuel H. Robertson did a small victory lap around the Warren County Courthouse lawn Saturday after being honored with the National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor France bestows upon those who have achieved remarkable deeds for the country.

    The 95-year-old earned the honor for his service as part of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, which led to his participation in the liberation of France during the Normandy landings on D-Day. Robertson was one of three survivors in his glider that crashed, according to a letter from the consulate general of France in Chicago read by Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, during the ceremony.

    Robertson entered service in March 1943 at the age of 22 and from November 1943 to November of 1945, participated in campaigns in Normandy, Ardennes and Central Europe, among others. He was an installer and repairman of telephone systems and took part in Operation Overlord, the first United States combat that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during WWII.

    Robertson has been honored with other distinguished awards including the Distinguished Unit Badge, the Meritorious Unit Award, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five bronze stars, the Airborne Glider Badge, the Good Conduct Medal, the WWII Victory Medal and the Purple Heart.

    During the ceremony, Lee Robertson, who also served in WWII, said a few words about his older brother and his accomplishments. He mentioned that his brother never got a chance to be a kid. At just 9 years old, Samuel became the man of the house after his father could no longer work. 

    “Small in stature, big in fight, that’s always been him. I’m proud of you brother,” Lee Robertson said. 

    First Lt. Dean Riggs of the 101st Airborne said a few words to honor Robertson for his service. He mentioned that he’s thankful for extraordinary men like Robertson who were willing and able to volunteer their service when this nation called for it.

    Robertson was filled with tears as he listened to the letter being read recounting his experiences during WWII. He was filled with joy and as he ran in a circle during his victory lap, he yelled how thankful he was to still be alive. 

    “There were a whole lot of people that were there at the same time that didn’t make it,” Robertson said. “I was lucky.”

    Robertson’s children and grandchildren were present during the ceremony. His daughter Rebecca Warren said her brother contacted the French government about nine months ago and research began to verify her father’s participation in service with France. They found out that he was receiving the award less than a month ago. 

    “It’s just amazing. Of course our opinion of our father has always been high. He’s always been a wonderful example for us,” Warren said. “The morals that he was taught as a child went forward in his service to our country and all of Europe during WWII. … It’s amazing to us for him because it’s always something that he has held within himself, the honor of being able to participate.”

    — Follow faith/general assignments reporter Simone C. Payne on Twitter @_SimonePayne or visit bgdailynews.com.

    CONTINUE READING…

  • Kentucky Marijuana Legalization Not In Pre-Filed Bills For 2017

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    Across America, Election Day showed strong support for marijuana legalization, but can Kentucky expect the same in 2017?

    While Kentucky had some promise in 2016 that legalizing marijuana was in the works, they did not join the eight states that voted for either recreational or medical marijuana on November 8.

    According to Marijuana Policy Project, marijuana was legalized for recreational use in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. In addition, Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, and Montana all voted for medical marijuana.

    Currently, 28 states in America have legalized medical marijuana, but will Kentucky catch up anytime soon?

    The excitement with Kentucky marijuana laws started in December, 2015, when state senator Perry Clark introduced the idea after many previous attempts.

    Dated March 6, the bill Perry Clark introduced was called the Cannabis Freedom Act in Kentucky.

     

    Following this, updates about Kentucky marijuana laws hit a milestone on July 5. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, meetings were being held “behind closed doors” about a proposed medical marijuana law.

    At the time, Kentucky senator John Schickel, said they needed to hold the meetings about marijuana legalization to “vet” the issue, according to WFPL.

    On July 11, WKMS reported that Kentucky’s medical marijuana laws got a boost of support by the prestigious health organization in the state, the Kentucky Nurses Association. About legalizing marijuana in Kentucky, a representative for the nurse’s association stated, “providing legal access to medical cannabis is imperative.”

    Although it was talked about in meetings at the Kentucky Senate, according to their notes posted in July, August, and October, the marijuana legalization issue appeared to be stalled.

    In late September, WFPL concluded their article about the marijuana legalization attempts in Kentucky with “the bill was assigned to a committee but never received a hearing.”

    They also quoted Kentucky state senator Jimmy Higdon, stating that the lawmakers were confused about how the bill would be implemented. Senator Higdon said he would mainly be interested in allowing medical marijuana “to be prescribed in end-of-life situations.”

    Does the lack of new updates mean that the bill has completely dried up, and Kentucky will not be seeing more medical marijuana laws to vote on in the next election?

    Sadly, the pre-filed 2017 Kentucky House Bills that are available online do not reflect any updates about marijuana as of November 25.

    Despite this, there could be updates in the near future because the Cannabis Freedom Act that was discussed in 2016 was actually filed in early December, 2015. This means Kentucky still has some time to see if marijuana legalization might be a big part of elections in the state in 2017.

     

    On the other hand, Kentucky could get a lot of new laws about controlled substances in 2017, but they are not marijuana-related. For example, pre-filed bill BR 201 states it will “create the offense of aggravated fentanyl trafficking” in the state of Kentucky law books.

    Adding to this, pre-filed bill BR 210 that sits before the Kentucky state senate in 2017 states its purpose is “to make trafficking in any amount of fentanyl or carfentanil subject to elevated penalties.”

    New proposed bills in the state of Kentucky are also targeting the medical community. For example, pre-filed bill BR 202 states the following.

    “[A] practitioner shall not issue a prescription for a narcotic drug for more than seven days unless specific circumstances exist.”

    Of course, Kentucky might not have time to vote on marijuana legalization because Donald Trump may not be building his cabinet with marijuana supporters.

    For example, CNN reported on November 25 that Donald Trump is appointing a marijuana legalization opponent, Senator Jeff Sessions, as his Attorney General.

    About marijuana, Jeff Sessions was quoted as stating the following at a senate hearing in April, 2016.

    “Good people don’t smoke marijuana. We need grown ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger.”

    CONTINUE READING…

    Senator Reginald L. Thomas 2017 Legislative Session Questionnaire

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    Dear Friend,

    When the Kentucky General Assembly convenes on January 3, 2017, legislators will be making decisions about public policy that affects you and your family. As your State Senator, I value your opinion and want your input on some issues that may be addressed in the 2017 Session. Please take a few minutes to answer these questions and share your concerns. To help me prepare for the upcoming session, I would like to have your responses by Tuesday, December 27, 2016.

    To answer the questionnaire by e-mail, click “reply.”  To select your answers, place an “X” next to your choice. To submit your answers, click “send.” (You may also mail or fax the completed questionnaire to the addresses located at the bottom of this questionnaire.)

    Thank you.

    1. During the 2016 Regular Session, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation to allow Kentuckians convicted of low-level non-violent felonies to ask the court to permanently expunge their records five years after they have completed their sentence or probation. The filing fee for an application to have records expunged was set at $500. Do you support legislation to reduce the filing fee for felony expungement from $500 to $200?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    2. Do you support creating a Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights through a constitutional amendment? The projections for crime victims would include the right to be notified of court hearings, the punishment, and the release date for the perpetrator.

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    3. Do you support bringing Kentucky drivers’ licenses and other identity cards into compliance with the federal REAL ID initiative? Without compliant IDs or an alternative ID, such as a passport or military ID, Kentuckians will have future trouble flying on commercial airlines or may face other restrictions after a federally mandated deadline passes.?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    4. Should a person be found guilty of unlawful storage of a firearm when he or she recklessly stores a firearm in a manner that allows a minor to have access to a firearm that is not secured by a trigger lock, and the minor, without legal justification, accesses the firearm?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    5. Kentucky does not require voters to show photo ID. Identification can be proven by personal acquaintance with a poll worker, a social security card, or credit card.  All voters sign the precinct list of voters. Should Kentuckians also be required to show photo ID to vote?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    6. Do you support re-establishing a program for kinship care to provide a more permanent placement with a qualified relative for a child who would otherwise be placed in foster care due to abuse, neglect, or death of both parents?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    7. Currently nurse practitioners are allowed to prescribe controlled substances but physician assistants are not. Do you support allowing physician assistants to prescribe controlled substances?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    8. Should killing a police officer be a hate crime?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    9. Currently, the State Medical Examiner is keeping records of all arrest-related deaths voluntarily but the office is not required to do so. Do you support requiring record keeping on all arrest-related deaths?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    10. Breastfeeding has many benefits to infants and families, including providing the ideal nutrients needed by infants. Should the General Assembly require employers to provide time and space for mothers to express their milk?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    11. Do you support establishing an independent panel of medical experts to review claims of medical malpractice before a lawsuit can be brought in circuit court?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    12. Do you favor requiring doctors to show a woman an ultrasound image of her fetus and explain how it is developing before performing an abortion?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    13. Should students be required to use the restroom and other facilities, such as locker rooms and shower rooms, based on their “biological sex”?

           Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    14. Should students be permitted to use the restroom and other facilities, such as locker rooms and shower rooms, based on the gender with which they identify?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    15. There has been research showing that marijuana has positive medical benefits for patients dealing with illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Do you support legislation that would make marijuana a Schedule II drug thus legal for doctors to prescribe?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    16. As other states legalize and realize the benefits of taxation and licensure, should Kentucky consider legalizing marijuana as a source of income?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    17. Do you support raising the state minimum wage

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    18. Do you support participation in a public school interscholastic extracurricular activity by a home school student?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    19. Despite many changes in our revenue needs and the fundamentals of our economy, our current tax system has been mostly unchanged since the 1950s. Would you support reforms to modernize our tax code if it also generated additional revenue?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    20. If tax modernization requires a change in the state’s sales or income taxes, would you support expanding the base to include services (such as dry cleaning and physician fees) rather than increasing sales or income tax rates?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    21. Should the General Assembly enact legislation amending the Kentucky Constitution to allow local governments to impose a local option sales tax?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    22. To improve access to the polls by members of our military, do you favor allowing military voters to return their completed ballots via e-mail?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    23. Do you support a statewide smoking ban in public places?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    24. Do you support drug screening or testing for public assistance applicants and/or recipients?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    25. Would you support legislation that would set a cap on the amount you could receive for non-economic damages (pain and suffering) for injuries incurred due to the negligence of a healthcare provider?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    26. Do you favor allowing the people of Kentucky to vote on a constitutional amendment concerning expanded gaming in Kentucky?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    27. Do you support legislation that would permit public money to be used for public charter schools that would be granted special permits to operate outside usual state regulations?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    28. Do you support legislation that would permit public money to be used for private and parochial charter schools?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    29. Kentucky government entities, including schools, are required to pay a “prevailing wage” for major construction projects. This usually equates to workers being paid at or near union-level wages. Opponents say it just increases costs; supporters say it guarantees both union and non-union workers a living wage. Should the General Assembly abolish the prevailing wage law?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    30. Once a majority of a group of workers votes to join a labor union, all are granted union wages and benefits.  Under “Right to Work” legislation, all members of the group continue to receive union benefits and wages, but none are required to pay dues or an agency fee for their fair representation by the union.  Should the General Assembly address “Right to Work” legislation during the upcoming legislative session?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    31. Many Kentuckians get into a debt trap by misusing payday lending services.  Do you support capping the interest rates these lenders can charge and imposing penalties for violating the caps?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    32. Do you support legislation that bans talking on a cell phone while driving?

    Yes ______              No ______              Unsure ______

    34. What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing the Commonwealth?

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    35. How should the Kentucky General Assembly address this issue?   ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Thank you for taking your time to complete this questionnaire. Please feel free to share a copy with other constituents in the 13th senatorial district who would like to share their thoughts. I am always grateful for input from the citizens I serve in Frankfort. If you are not already receiving my legislative updates, please share your e-mail address below so we can stay in touch.

    Best Wishes, Reggie

    Name: _____________________________________________________________________

    Email: _____________________________________________________________________ 

    To submit your answers:

    Fax:      (502) 564-9536

    Mail:    255 Capitol Annex Building

    702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601

    E-mail: reginald.thomas@lrc.ky.gov

    In the photo above, I am shown receiving the Citizen of the Year Award from the Kentucky Nurses Association (KNA) for my consistent effort to make it a requirement that all elementary and secondary public schools in Kentucky have a school nurse. I was especially honored to accept the award because this was the first time in several years that KNA has given the award. I appreciate the honor and thank all the nurses across Kentucky for the work that they do.

    *****

    In Depressed Rural Kentucky, Worries Mount Over Medicaid Cutbacks

     

    November 19, 20166:00 AM ET

    Phil Galewitz

     

    For Freida Lockaby, an unemployed 56-year-old woman who lives with her dog in an aging mobile home in Manchester, Ky., one of America’s poorest places, the Affordable Care Act was life altering.

    The law allowed Kentucky to expand Medicaid in 2014 and made Lockaby – along with 440,000 other low-income state residents – newly eligible for free health care under the state-federal insurance program. Enrollment gave Lockaby her first insurance in 11 years.

    “It’s been a godsend to me,” said the former Ohio school custodian who moved to Kentucky a decade ago.

    Lockaby finally got treated for a thyroid disorder that had left her so exhausted she’d almost taken root in her living room chair. Cataract surgery let her see clearly again. A carpal tunnel operation on her left hand eased her pain and helped her sleep better. Daily medications brought her high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol level under control.

    But Lockaby is worried her good fortune could soon end. Her future access to health care now hinges on a controversial proposal to revamp the program that her state’s Republican governor has submitted to the Obama administration.

    Next year will likely bring more uncertainty when a Trump administration and a GOP-controlled Congress promise to consider Obamacare’s repeal, including a potential reduction in the associated Medicaid expansion in 31 states and the District of Columbia that has led to health coverage for an estimated 10 million people.

    What Happens If Kentucky Dismantles Its Health Insurance Exchange?

    Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who was elected in 2015, has argued his state can’t afford Medicaid in its current form. Obamacare permitted states to use federal funds to broaden Medicaid eligibility to all adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, now $11,880 for individuals. Kentucky’s enrollment has doubled since late 2013 and today almost a third of its residents are in the program. The Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in Kentucky has led to one of the sharpest drops in any state’s uninsured rate, to 7.5 percent in 2015 from 20 percent two years earlier.

    Kentucky’s achievement owed much to the success of its state-run exchange, Kynect, in promoting new coverage options under the health law. Kynect was launched under Bevin’s Democratic predecessor, Steve Beshear, and dismantled by Bevin this year.

    Bevin has threatened to roll back the expansion if the Obama administration doesn’t allow him to make major changes, such as requiring Kentucky’s beneficiaries to pay monthly premiums of $1 to $37.50 and require nondisabled recipients to work or do community service for free dental and vision care.

    Budget pressures are set to rise next year in the 31 states and the District of Columbia where Medicaid was expanded as the federal government reduces its share of those costs. States will pick up 5 percent next year and that will rise gradually to 10 percent by 2020. Under the health law, the federal government paid the full cost of the Medicaid expansion population for 2014-2016.

    In a state as cash-strapped as Kentucky, the increased expenses ahead for Medicaid will be significant in Bevin’s view — $1.2 billion from 2017 to 2021, according to the waiver request he’s made to the Obama administration to change how Medicaid works in his state.

    Trump’s unexpected victory may help Bevin’s chances of winning approval. Before the election, many analysts expected federal officials to reject the governor’s plan by the end of the year on the grounds that it would roll back gains in expected coverage.

    A Trump administration could decide the matter differently, said Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voice for Health, an advocacy group that opposes most waiver changes because they could reduce access to care.

    “I think it’s much more likely that a waiver could be approved under the Trump administration,” she said. “On the other hand, I wonder if the waiver will be a moot point under a Trump administration, assuming that major pieces of the [Affordable Care Act] are repealed.”

    Lockaby is watching with alarm: “I am worried to death about it.”

    Life already is hard in her part of Kentucky’s coal country, where once-dependable mining jobs are mostly gone.

    In Clay County where Lockaby lives, 38 percent of the population live in poverty. A fifth of the residents are disabled. Life expectancy is eight years below the nation’s average.

    Clay’s location places it inside an area familiar to public health specialists as the South’s diabetes and stroke belt. It’s also in the so-called “Coronary Valley” encompassing the 10-state Ohio/Mississippi valley region.

    About 60 percent of Clay County’s 21,000 residents are covered by Medicaid, up from about a third before the expansion. The counties uninsured rate for nonelderly adults has fallen from 29 percent to 10 percent.

    Still, the increase in insurance coverage hasn’t made Clay’s people healthier yet. Local health officials here say achieving that will take a decade or more. Instead, they cite progress in smaller steps: more cancer screenings, more visits to mental health professionals and more prescriptions getting filled. Harder lifestyle changes that are still ahead — such as eating better, quitting smoking and regular exercise — will take more than a couple years to happen, said Aaron Yelowitz, associate professor of economics at the University of Kentucky.

    One hopeful spot is the Grace Community Health Center in downtown Manchester, where patient visits are up more than 20 percent since 2014. Those without insurance pay on a sliding scale, which can mean a visit costs $50 or more.

    That was too much for Ramiro Salazar, 47, who lives with his wife and two children on a $733 monthly income. With Medicaid, he sees a doctor for his foot and ankle pain, meets regularly with a psychologist for anxiety and gets medications — all free to him. Medicaid even covers his transportation costs to doctors, vital because a specialist can be 40 miles away.

    Salazar is worried about Bevin’s plans, especially the additional costs. “I probably couldn’t afford it as I’m unemployed,” he said. “It would hurt me pretty bad.”

    Any development that could take away health coverage from people with mental health issues worries Joan Nantz, a psychologist who works part time at Grace and whose appointment calendar is booked three weeks out because of patient demand. More than 90 percent of her clients are on Medicaid.

    “If something happens to this program, I can’t begin to think what impact it would have on society,” she said. Without counseling, people with mental health issues will resort to illegal drugs and be more likely to commit crimes and domestic violence, Nantz said.

    Just five primary care doctors in Manchester treat adults in Clay and surrounding counties. Manchester Memorial Hospital has tried to recruit more without success.

    “We had a painful primary care shortage here five years ago and now it’s worse,” said Dr. Jeffrey Newswanger, an emergency room physician and chief medical officer at the hospital. “Just because they have a Medicaid card doesn’t mean they have doctors.”

    The emergency room is busier than ever seeing patients for primary care needs, he said.

    Newswanger sees both sides to the debate over Medicaid. The hospital gained because more patients are now covered by insurance, and the ER’s uninsured rate dropped to 2 percent from 10 percent in 2013.

    “Eliminating the expansion altogether would be painful for the hospital and a disaster for the community,” he said.

    But, Newswanger also appreciates some of Bevin’s proposals.

    “No one values something that they get for free,” he said, and incentives are needed to make people seek care in doctors’ offices instead of expensive ERs.

    Christie Green, public health director of the Cumberland Valley District Health Department that covers Clay County, said making the poor pay more or scrapping Medicaid’s expansion would be a setback to improving people’s health.

    Last year, Green helped Manchester build a three-mile trail along a park and install a swinging bridge across a small creek. Both additions were intended to promote physical fitness in a place where more than a third smoke — both far above national averages.

    Progress is slow. The path is used regularly. But drug addicts congregate daily by the bridge and it rarely gets traffic.

    “There is a lot to overcome here,” Green said.

    This story was produced through collaboration between NPR and Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization. You can follow Phil Galewitz on Twitter: @philgalewitz.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Beshear asks Kentuckians who witness election irregularities or possible election law violations to call the hotline

    As absentee votes are cast and voters prepare to head to the polls, Attorney General Andy Beshear is urging Kentuckians to report any voting abnormalities to his office’s Election Fraud Hotline.

    Beshear asks Kentuckians who witness election irregularities or possible election law violations to call the hotline at 800-328-VOTE or 800-328-8683.

    The hotline is open during normal business hours and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.

    “Each voter has the right to cast his or her ballot free of interference and intimidation, and my office is here to protect that right,” Beshear said. “Each and every report made will be promptly investigated to ensure a fair and honest election in Kentucky.”

    Louisville Police Have Quietly Built A Massive Online Monitoring Operation

    By: Jacob Ryan, WFPL News

    Louisville Metro Police

    The Louisville Metro Police Department has spent nearly $140,000 in recent years on social media monitoring software that can track and compile data on a vast number of internet users.

    Since 2014, the department has expanded the potential of this database, which can catalog up to 9.5 million social media postings and a limitless supply of individual profiles, according to a WFPL News investigation.

    The department’s ability to surveil social media users comes with little oversight and no guiding policy, according to documents obtained through the Kentucky Open Records Act.

    Department officials have declined multiple interview requests over the past two weeks. It remains unclear how LMPD uses this system, who they track and what becomes of their data.

    To date, the department has provided virtually no detail about their relationship with SnapTrends, an Austin, Texas-based company that offers “location-based social insights” that provide a “the full story of every social conversation,” according to its website.

    Police departments across the country spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to monitor local social media channels. The public agencies have said that monitoring Twitter and Facebook is now standard practice for law enforcement in the Internet Age.

    But the mass surveillance of social media users raises concerns among privacy experts and civil liberty advocates.

    “It undermines people’s speech and their associations when the entirety of their social media data is being analyzed by law enforcement,” said Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington, D.C.-based research group focused on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues.

    In paying for the social media tracking service, LMPD also utilized an exemption in the city’s purchasing policy that allows an agency to forgo a typical competitive bidding process.

    No Policy, No Public Discussion

    The police department’s purchase of social media monitoring software in March 2014 came just days after a group of some 200 young people caused several acts of vandalism and violence downtown, starting at Waterfront Park.

    A gas station was ransacked. Cars sitting at traffic lights were pummeled, and robberies were reported. Police said they received some 30 calls for assistance in the downtown area that night, which resulted in 17 police reports and at least 10 assaults, said Chief Steve Conrad in a briefing days later. Conrad called it “truly mob-like behavior.”

    Mayor Greg Fischer quickly ordered the installation of $230,000 worth of high-definition cameras in and around Waterfront Park. Police racked up more than $1 million in overtime pay in the six weeks that followed, according to a report from The Courier-Journal. And via a state-of-the-art crime information center in downtown Louisville, police began monitoring cameras across the city.

    Just over a week later, department officials made their first order for a subscription to SnapTrends. The service is employed by police departments, school districts and foreign governments.

    Louisville police’s first SnapTrends purchase in 2014 gave seven users the ability to monitor and store more than three million postings. Since then, the department has continued to expand on the subscription service.

    In all, LMPD has paid nearly $140,000 for the program.

    The most recent agreement allows 19 users to mine 9.5 million social media postings and create a limitless database of user profiles.

    Metro Hall

    Metro Hall

    Conrad, the police chief, has publicly praised the push for other tech tools: more cameras, the opening of the crime information center and, more recently, the adoption of a gunshot detection system. But the proliferation of LMPD’s social media surveillance effort has flown under the radar.

    There has been scant public discussion of the effort and no briefing to the Metro Council.

    The department has issued no public report on the surveillance program, and LMPD’s transparency website provides no information about its use of SnapTrends.

    Through a spokesman, the LMPD major in charge of the program declined an interview to discuss the department’s use of the software.

    The police department also declined a records request seeking all archived social media postings from March 2014 to August 2016, as well as records of correspondence with SnapTrends. The department cited an exemption in Kentucky’s open records law that allows records to be withheld if their disclosure would expose a vulnerability in preventing or protecting against a terrorist act.

    WFPL News has appealed that decision to the state’s attorney general.

    Other Kentucky Agencies Monitoring Social Media

    Statewide, police use of social media monitoring is a mixed bag.

    In Lexington, the state’s second largest city, police use WeLink, a platform that bills itself as a digital-risk management tool. Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said the agency uses the software to “monitor public social media posts for information that could involve threats to public safety.”

    Bowling Green police officials previously considered purchasing software from LifeRaft, a Canada-based company. Officer Ronnie Ward, a police spokesman, said the agency  “looked at it,” but “so far, haven’t been able to outweigh the cost with the benefit of it.”

    “We just can’t justify it right now,” Ward said.

    Police in Paducah and Frankfort reported that they didn’t use social media surveillance software. Kentucky State Police did not return a request for comment.

    Exemption Allowed LMPD Secrecy in Purchase of Monitoring Software

    In Louisville, the LMPD made four payments to SnapTrends each ranging from $19,500 to $53,000, according to invoices obtained by WFPL News.

    Louisville Metro government purchasing policy requires a contract for all purchases regardless of amount, according to an August 2016 internal audit of the city’s procurement policy. Purchases exceeding $20,000 are to be made using a Professional Service Contract, the audit states, which must be reviewed by the Metro Council.

    Three LMPD payments to SnapTrends exceed that threshold, records show. Yet in response to an open records request, the police department said “no records exist” of a contract detailing the agreement.

    An invoice from SnapTrends to LMPD for $53,000.

    A SnapTrends invoice to LMPD for $53,000.

    Erica Allen, an administrator in the city’s office of management and budget, said the police department’s purchase is considered “a subscription” and thus exempt from such requirements.

    City purchasing policy provides an exemption to “memberships, dues and purchase of periodicals in either paper or electronic format.” Exemptions exist when competitive bidding is not feasible or practical, the policy states.

    Metro Councilman David James, chair of the council’s public safety committee and a former police officer, said that policy is vague.

    “I don’t think we were thinking in terms of a subscription costing over $20,000,” he said. “Technology has gone beyond what our public policy is that we wrote, and so we need to go back and look at it and change it to adjust to 2016.”

    The section of Metro purchasing policy dealing with exemptions.

    The section of Metro purchasing policy dealing with exemptions.

    Widespread Scrutiny of Social Media Monitoring

    The surveillance of social media by law enforcement is under scrutiny across the country.

    Some companies assisting law enforcement with conducting mass online surveillance are under fire for misusing social media data to help law enforcement track certain communities.

    For instance, Geofeedia, a Chicago-based company, had its access to certain social media user data severed earlier this month by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, after the ACLU reported it marketed its service as a way to monitor activists.

    SnapTrends had its access cut by Twitter for similar reasons, according to a report from The Daily Dot.

    A report from Bloomberg details SnapTrends use in the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh, where the company provided Twitter data to a law enforcement agency classified by Human Rights Watch as a “death squad.”

    The company did not respond to a request for comment.

    Chris Burbank, director of law enforcement engagement for the Center for Policing Equity and a former police chief in Salt Lake City, said police are likely conducting social media surveillance regardless of whether they’ve purchased a subscription with a software company like SnapTrends.

    “I only see it getting more significant,” he said.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable, said Scott, national security counsel and director of the domestic surveillance project for the Electronic Privacy Information Center. He said individuals can push back against efforts to monitor their online lives, or at least help ensure such programs are justified.

    “With any of these large-scale surveillance activities, social media monitoring including, it’s important transparency, oversight and accountability are implemented, and there are mechanisms in place that ensure there is not a disparate impact with the use of social media monitoring,” he said.

    With no policy guiding the the Louisville police department’s surveillance of social media, it’s unclear just how they do it. No regulations dictate who they monitor, what they monitor or why.

    And the department has provided no details on what justifies a profile or post being collected, how long the information is stored and who has access to the data.

    The lack of oversight is “troubling” to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

    Widespread monitoring of social media by police can lead to the collection and storage of “innocent people’s personal data,” and how that data may be used is reason for concern, said Amber Duke, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Kentucky.

    “Social media is, among other things, a driver for political conversation and activism,” she said. “Constitutionally protected speech shouldn’t make one a target for surveillance.”

    Metro Councilman David James

    Metro Councilman David James

    James, the councilman, said he supports the police effort to keep watch on social media users.

    “Public safety is the No. 1 responsibility of government, and this is just another tool in the toolbox,” he said.

    James also said he doesn’t believe LMPD needs a policy to guide its surveillance effort.

    “Why do you want to put more restrictions on the police than are on the general public? The general public can do the same thing,” he said. “They’re just looking at stuff that’s already out there.”

    Walter Lamar, a former FBI agent and one-time senior adviser to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s office of law enforcement and security, said it’s difficult to argue against the need for a surveillance tool that can help law enforcement prevent crime or save a life.

    “They’re just patrolling in a different venue, looking for criminal activity, looking for activity that might pose a threat or danger to the community,” said Lamar.

    Burbank, of the Center for Policing Equity, said keeping the public out of such efforts can erode public trust in law enforcement.

    “They have to write policy,” he said. “You can’t have a tool this strong and this powerful and this potentially invasive without some sort of policy.”

    This story was reported by our affiliated newsroom, 89.3 WFPL News.

    CONTINUE READING…

    Kentucky’s Republican governor released 13 pages of emails Friday about a disputed road project after the state legislature’s top Democrat sued him for the information just ahead of the November election.

    FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s Republican governor released 13 pages of emails Friday about a disputed road project after the state legislature’s top Democrat sued him for the information just ahead of the November election.

    The legal skirmish highlighted the tension surrounding Kentucky’s elections for the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats. Republicans need to pick up four seats to win a majority for the first time since 1920.

    Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo has accused Gov. Matt Bevin of delaying a road project in Jessamine County to punish that county’s Democratic state representative for refusing to switch parties and become a Republican. Bevin has denied this, saying the project was flawed and should have never been awarded by former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

    Stumbo appointed a committee to investigate, and the inquiry has become a re-election campaign issue for Democratic House members. Stumbo asked Bevin’s office for copies of all correspondence between the governor’s office and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet about the project. Bevin released some emails last week, but said 13 pages were “exempt from disclosure” under the law because they were preliminary notes and drafts covered by attorney-client privilege.

    Stumbo sued Friday morning, asking a judge to force Bevin to turn over the documents.

    Bevin released the emails Friday afternoon. They mostly contain discussions among Bevin’s top aides about how to respond to a reporter’s questions about the project, including strategies on how to discredit claims by Democratic state Rep. Russ Meyer that Bevin delayed the project to punish him for not switching parties.

    “It’s tough but necessary given the false and slanderous things he’s saying. Should we point out expressly that he has no credibility?” Steve Pitt, Bevin’s chief attorney, wrote in an email to other aides on Aug. 30.

    Stumbo spokesman Brian Wilkerson said they haven’t seen the emails yet, adding they “would still need assurance, from the court, that the emails are all of the records.”

    Bevin’s attorney Chad Meredith said Stumbo should have first asked the governor to reconsider his decision about the emails or appealed to the attorney general’s office. He said filing a lawsuit wastes taxpayer money and clogs the court system.

    Bevin said he delayed the road project because the state did not own the land it needed to build the road. He blamed his Democratic predecessor for awarding the contract without first acquiring the land. But Meyer said Bevin delayed construction to punish him for refusing to switch parties shortly after Bevin took office. As evidence, he pointed to a voicemail Bevin left him in December in which the governor says Meyer’s decision to remain a Democrat would impact him and his district.

    Bevin said the voicemail was not a threat. And last week, he released emails that appeared to show Meyer was aware of the project’s problems in October, a month before Bevin was elected.

    CONTINUE READING…

    From Growing Tobacco to Growing Hemp

    Jane Harrod, a farmer in Kentucky, talks about transitioning to a different crop after the U.S. soured on cigarettes.

    Image result for kentucky hemp

    Bourree Lam

     

    Since the 1960s, the number of Americans who smoke has decreased significantly; in 1965, more than 40 percent of adults reported smoking, compared to around 17 percent in 2014. During that same period, tobacco production has dropped precipitously as well.

    Still, in 2012, the U.S. produced some 800 million pounds of tobacco, and Kentucky—the state with the second-largest tobacco harvest in the U.S. (North Carolina’s comes in first)—is responsible for almost a quarter of that output. Yet even in Kentucky, tobacco farming has waned, forcing many farmers to look into other crops.

    Jane Harrod runs a small farm in Kentucky. Her family used to grow tobacco, but she’s since switched over to growing hemp, a somewhat controversial plant—what with the federal ban on marijuana and medical marijuana still being illegal in Kentucky—that the state is currently testing out with pilot programs. For The Atlantic’s ongoing series of interviews with American workers, I talked to Harrod about her family farm, the recession, and why she decided to shift production to hemp. The interview that follows has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

     

    We could probably be called hippies at the time. We weren’t big spenders; we grew our own food and raised our two daughters there in Owen County. There were a lot of young people that had moved into the area, because the farmland was cheap. We had an intentional-community situation where we had like-minded people set up a feed co-op and do tobacco together with other crops.

    CONTINUE READING…