Kentucky Reaches Settlement in Radioactive Waste Dumping

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Kentucky officials have reached a $168,000 settlement with one of the companies accused of being involved in the dumping of radioactive waste in a landfill.

| April 14, 2017, at 4:26 p.m.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials said Friday they reached a $168,000 settlement with one of the companies accused of being involved in dumping radioactive waste in an Appalachian landfill.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said it reached the settlement with Fairmont Brine Processing, which operates a wastewater treatment facility in West Virginia.

Kentucky officials accused Fairmont Brine of arranging to dispose of radioactive waste in an Estill County landfill in eastern Kentucky. The company had appealed its more than $1 million civil penalty order issued by the state cabinet late last year.

The state said Fairmont Brine contracted with a Kentucky company called Advanced TENORM Services to pick up, transport, treat and dispose of the waste. Some of it ended up in Blue Ridge Landfill in Estill County, the state said.

Fairmont Brine denied all liability but agreed to pay the $168,000 civil penalty over a 30-month period, the state said.

“All settlement proceeds will be directed to the Estill County Public Health Department,” cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson said in a release. “The funds will be used for radiation-related public health issues in Estill County, particularly radon education and detection.”

Fairmont Brine was one of several companies targeted with civil penalty orders related to disposal of out-of-state radioactive material in Kentucky.

Fairmont Brine cooperated with Kentucky authorities, the cabinet said.

The company maintained it did not intend to violate Kentucky laws. When it contracted with Advanced TENORM Services to dispose its waste, Fairmont Brine relied on the other company’s claims that the waste would be safely and legally deposited in Kentucky, the cabinet said.

Monitoring and testing of areas at Blue Ridge Landfill have shown no evidence the disposal caused radiation or radioactive contamination above federal and state safety limits, the cabinet said.

When the state announced the penalties in 2016, it was also seeking fines from Advanced TENORM. The company is appealing the penalty order against it, the state said.

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AppHarvest’s 2 million square-foot greenhouse will rank among the world’s largest,

02-23-2017

AppHarvest to locate high-tech greenhouse in Pikeville, creating 140 jobs on reclaimed mine site

Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT – Agricultural startup AppHarvest plans to build a $50 million high-tech greenhouse, creating 140 full-time jobs in Pikeville at a former surface coal mine repurposed for new industry, Gov. Matt Bevin announced Thursday.
“AppHarvest’s project will bring exciting, high-tech job opportunities to Eastern Kentucky,” Bevin said in a statement. “Our administration is dedicated to increasing economic opportunity across Kentucky, and this project presents a fantastic opportunity to help our Appalachian region continue its rejuvenation. We intend to make Kentucky the engineering and manufacturing center of excellence in America, and job growth in Eastern Kentucky will be a key part of our success.”
Targeted for a 60-acre site, AppHarvest’s 2 million square-foot greenhouse will rank among the world’s largest, a state news release said. There, the company plans to grow fresh vegetables year round for consumption in the U.S. Northeast, Southeast and Midwest. The operation will grow a variety of produce with a focus on cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. The high-tech facility will feature computerized monitoring and cutting-edge hydroponic, above-ground growing systems.
AppHarvest Founder and CEO Jonathan Webb cited Pikeville’s proximity to retail markets, quality of the regional workforce and opportunities created as the coal industry transitions as reasons for locating in Eastern Kentucky.
“The spirit of the region is unmatched and we want to work alongside those hardworking men and women,” Webb said. “Appalachia, let’s grow veggies, let’s do work!”
Building near its markets will significantly reduce shipping costs, Webb said, and also lower costs for consumers. As a gateway between the Midwest and South, Kentucky’s boarders lie within a day’s drive of 65 percent of the U.S. population and income. That continues to make the commonwealth a major draw for logistics-intensive companies.
Webb has supported U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives’ efforts with private financing and development of some of the largest solar projects in the Southeast. He recently founded AppHarvest to provide a local, more logistically feasible option in response to US produce imports from Mexico tripling over the past decade.
AppHarvest employees will be trained in agronomy and agricultural science. Positions include management, human resources, logistics and picker/crop worker. Webb said he expects greenhouse construction to begin in June.
The company’s greenhouse environment will provide dramatic yield increases versus traditional field and low-tech greenhouse operations and allow it to adjust to customers’ needs and demands, as well as provide a longer shelf life for produce.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said AppHarvest’s project stands to benefit the state on multiple fronts.
“Agriculture is economic development, and this facility would bring much-needed investment and jobs to Eastern Kentucky,” Quarles said. “This project would capitalize on increasing demand for U.S.-grown produce, technical innovation, the opportunity to recapture market share from beyond our borders, and an available workforce. This is an exciting opportunity that could change the economic trajectory of the entire region for decades to come.”
Sen. Ray Jones, of Pikeville, said Eastern Kentucky has a workforce ready for new opportunities and that AppHarvest will be a great fit.
“Eastern Kentucky is continually seeking ways to diversify and attract much-needed jobs to our region,” he said. “Many of our people lost their jobs because of the decline in the coal industry. Our region stands ready with a willing and skilled workforce to meet this company’s needs. We are pleased that AppHarvest is locating in our region and look forward to their success, along with the economic boost they will bring to Eastern Kentucky.”
Rep. John Blanton, of Salyersville, said the project will assist with efforts to diversify the local economy.
“I am thrilled to welcome AppHarvest to Pikeville,” Blanton said. “Eastern Kentucky is home to a dedicated and reliable workforce, and the creation of 140 jobs is a much-needed boost to our local economy. We continue to work diligently in diversifying our economy, and AppHarvest is a welcome addition to our business community. I thank them for their investment in Pike County and look forward to their continued success.”
Pikeville Mayor James Carter said the community has worked endlessly to make opportunities like this possible.

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Appharvest on TWITTER:

https://twitter.com/appharvest?lang=en

Can an Appalachian ‘Silicon Holler’ rise in coal’s shadow?

PIKEVILLE, KY, June 8 | By Valerie Volcovici

Portraits of local heroes are stenciled onto the walls of an old Coca-Cola bottling plant in Pikeville, Kentucky: 10 images that seem to be watching over apprentices hunched over keyboards in what has become the office of businessman Charles “Rusty” Justice’s digital startup.

Those pathbreakers include John Goodlett, a NASA engineer who worked on the Mars Viking landers and Catherine Langley, the first Kentucky woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. All hailed from the coal producing counties of eastern Kentucky, now grappling with the industry’s decline.

Justice hopes they will inspire the apprentices, nine of whom are former coal workers, as they re-train at Bit Source, the software and web development company he co-owns.

“Coal miners are high-tech workers – they just get dirty,” says Justice, listing the tech skills that miners used daily: computers, robotics and 3D satellite imaging.

As market forces and federal regulations squeeze east Kentucky’s coal industry, people are searching for new lines of work.

“The middle skill economy is going to really explode in the next few years,” says Jack Conway, the state’s attorney general, a Democrat who is running for governor in November. “The jobs will be in logistics, infrastructure, health services and IT, and I want those jobs here.”

Kentucky hopes to lay the foundation for that kind of economy in August, when construction begins on the fiber backbone of a planned $250 million high-speed Internet network for the whole state, starting in the rural east.

Kentucky ranks 46th among U.S. states in high-speed Internet access, with nearly a quarter of rural areas lacking any access.

It will take at least a decade for high-speed Internet to have a real impact, says Robert LaRose, a professor in telecommunications at Michigan State University.

“Broadband access is only the beginning,” LaRose said. “The workforce has to be retrained, and overall levels of educational attainment need to be raised, including both school children and mid-life career changers.”

‘SILICON HOLLER’

In December, Kentucky signed a deal with Australia’s Macquarie Capital to build out the 3,000-mile (4,800-km) open access network with $50 million in state bonds and federal grants.

“We’re going to build the system and we’re going to make it available,” Governor Steven Beshear said in December. “But it’s up to our businesses, our communities and our educational institutions to take advantage of this opportunity.”

That point was underscored by Richard Lowenberg, a broadband planner who runs the 1st-Mile Institute’s New Mexico Broadband for All initiative.

“Building out needed broadband infrastructure to all alone will not assure improved quality of life as an outcome,” Lowenberg said. “That is dependent on how we use and what we do with our new high-bandwidth networks.”

Republican Congressman Hal Rogers, who has represented eastern Kentucky for 34 years, says broadband will create a “Super I-Way” of information technology jobs, like data management and call centers. He envisions the rise of what he calls “Silicon Holler,” a technology corridor in the small villages clustered between Appalachia’s rolling hills.

There was a hint of that potential this month when customer care and electronic billing company EOS announced plans to invest nearly $4 million in a 20,000 square foot (1,900 square meter) call center in Somerset, promising to create 150 jobs.

Jeff Whitehead, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) in Hazard, a workforce training program serving 23 coalfield counties, says laid-off coal workers are “hungry” for IT and tele-working jobs.

Whitehead said EKCEP received more than 900 applicants when Bit Source asked him to recruit its first 10 trainees last year. EKCEP pays for Bit Source’s 22-week traineeships through its Hiring Our Miners Everyday (HOME) program, which gets $11.3 million from the Labor Department. Around 2,300 laid-off coal workers are enrolled.

The EKCEP is trying to create a local IT culture by working with community colleges to provide online courses that can be completed in months instead of a four-year degree, and intensive coding camps. EKCEP has found opportunities for workers outside the region, such as at Toyota’s manufacturing plant outside of Lexington in Kentucky’s more prosperous Bluegrass region. But many workers would rather remain in Appalachia.

Access to broadband, however, does not always translate into better education, Michigan State’s LaRose warned, and greater exposure outside the local community sometimes makes people “less satisfied with where they live.”

“When that’s all done, will the new knowledge workers stay around and/or is rural Kentucky a place that will attract tele-workers?”

Jack Duff, who manages a tele-works training hub in Hazard that has placed laid-off coal workers in jobs from customer service to billing, thinks it will.

“Our coal industry is going down,” Duff said. “One thing I’ve learned – and I am a old decrepit buzzard – is you’ve got to keep moving forward. Our people have to adapt.” (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Frances Kerry and Grant McCool)

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Kentucky awards contract to improve Internet

Adam Beam, Associated Press 7:31 a.m. EST December 24, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. – An Australian-based investment firm will build and manage a 3,000-mile network of fiber optic cables across Kentucky that state officials say will improve broadband access and cellphone service in some of the country’s most impoverished areas.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers said Tuesday they believe it to be the first contract of its kind in the country. While officials estimate the project will cost between $250 million and $350 million, taxpayers are slated to pitch in about $40 million while the rest will come from private sources. Kentucky will own the network, but the Macquarie Group and its partners have a contract to build it and operate it for 30 years.

“In today’s economy, high-speed broadband is as essential to a community as water or electricity,” Beshear said.

While most Kentucky households have access to the Internet, only about half of them use broadband service with its high-speed Internet connection. Kentucky ranks 46th in the country in broadband availability, with most of the void in rural eastern Kentucky where the mountainous terrain and sparse population have made it unattractive to Internet service providers.

“The cable levels those mountains,” Rogers said. “Our goal is to ensure people will not have to leave home for good-paying jobs.”

Eastern Kentucky, along with its Appalachian brethren in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, has long been the cultural center of the nation’s coal industry. But it has also been the face of the country’s poverty problem. Several eastern Kentucky counties rank among the poorest in the nation, according to U.S. Census data.

Kentucky’s political leaders have long looked at technology as the answer to the region’s economic problems. But Tuesday’s announcement appears to be the first major effort to build a network capable of sustaining high tech companies in the region.

“This is a beacon of hope,” Rogers said. “The cable levels those mountains. Our goal is to ensure people will not have to leave home for good-paying jobs. ”

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

The project will be built in two phases, with the first concentrating on eastern Kentucky and scheduled to be completed in the spring 2016. Phase two will encompass central and western Kentucky and should be completed by fall 2016.

At first, the network will primarily benefit state offices, public schools and universities. But the state plans to lease the network to private companies, making money for the state. In Tuesday’s news conference, Beshear seemed to be making a sales pitch, saying the network would allow businesses to compete globally and health care entities to collaborate and share patient information.

“But only if they use it,” Beshear said. “We’re going to build the system and we’re going to make it available. But it’s up to our businesses, our communities and our educational institutions to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Four companies bid on the broadband project, but the state only considered two of them. The Macquarie Group is the project’s lead developer and is responsible for the project’s long-term financing. Other companies are also involved, including the Bowlin Group, a fiber-line contractor based in Walton. It’s executives include Jack “Goose” Givens, the former University of Kentucky basketball star who led the team to the NCAA championship in 1978.

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What’s the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?

 

 

There are many tough places in this country: the ghost cities of Detroit, Camden and Gary, the sunbaked misery of inland California and the isolated reservations where Native American communities were left to struggle. But in its persistent poverty, Eastern Kentucky — land of storybook hills and drawls ­ — just might be the hardest place to live in the United States. Statistically speaking.

The team at The Upshot, a Times news and data-analysis venture, compiled six basic metrics to give a picture of the quality and longevity of life in each county of the nation: educational attainment, household income, jobless rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity rate. Weighting each equally, six counties in eastern Kentucky’s coal country (Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Magoffin) rank among the bottom 10.

Clay County, in dead last, might as well be in a different country. The median household income there is barely above the poverty line, at $22,296, and is just over half the nationwide median. Only 7.4 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. The unemployment rate is 12.7 percent. The disability rate is nearly as high, at 11.7 percent. (Nationwide, that figure is 1.3 percent.) Life expectancy is six years shorter than average. Perhaps related, nearly half of Clay County is obese.

It’s coal country, but perhaps in name only. In the first quarter of this year, just 54 people were employed in coal mining in Clay County, a precipitous drop from its coal-production peak in 1980. That year, about 2.5 million tons of coal were taken out of the ground in Clay; this year, the county has produced a fraction of that — just over 38,000 tons. Former mines have been reclaimed, and that land has been repurposed in scattershot ways: a golf course, shopping centers, a medium-security federal prison. But nothing has truly come to replace the industry on which Clay County once depended.

The public debate about the haves and the have-nots tends to focus on the 1 percent, especially on the astonishing, breakaway wealth in cities like New York, San Francisco and Washington and the great disparities contained therein. But what has happened in the smudge of the country between New Orleans and Pittsburgh — the Deep South and Appalachia — is in many ways as remarkable as what has happened in affluent cities. In some places, decades of growth have failed to raise incomes, and of late, poverty has become more concentrated not in urban areas but in rural ones.

Despite this, rural poverty is largely shunted aside in the conversation about inequality, much in the way rural areas have been left behind by broader shifts in the economy. The sheer intractability of rural poverty raises uncomfortable questions about how to fix it, or to what extent it is even fixable.

The desperation in coal country is hard to square with the beauty of the place — the densely flocked hills peppered with tiny towns. It’s magical. But it is also poor, even if economic growth and the federal safety-net programs have drastically improved what that poverty looks like.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his “war on poverty” from a doorstep in the tiny Kentucky town of Inez, and since then, Washington has directed trillions of dollars to such communities in the form of cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and tax incentives for development. (In some places, these transfer payments make up half of all income.) Still, after adjusting for inflation, median income was higher in Clay County in 1979 than it is now, even though the American economy has more than doubled in size.

There have been periodic attempts to flood persistently poor counties with federal dollars in an effort to jolt them into higher growth rates. The Obama administration this year named southeastern Kentucky a “promise zone,” putting it at the top of the list for federal grants. It’s an old idea: Draw in businesses, create jobs, help finance infrastructure, turn the cycle virtuous.

On the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, Kentucky’s libertarian senator, Rand Paul, has proposed a more supply-side-oriented strategy: Let certain counties eliminate capital-gains taxes and institute a special federal income tax of 5 percent in those areas. “I’m just letting you keep more of your own money,” Paul said to a small crowd in a college auditorium in eastern Kentucky last winter. “The difference between this and a government grant is I don’t choose who gets it.” On either side of the aisle, the underlying assumption is the same: Places like Clay County just need a kick-start. But what if that isn’t true?

In many cases, a primary problem in poor rural areas is the very fact that they’re rural — remote, miles from major highways and plagued by substandard infrastructure. Think about the advantages of urban areas, described by thinkers going back to Jane Jacobs and beyond. Density means more workers to choose from, more potential customers, more spillover knowledge from nearby companies. As such, cities punch above their weight, economically speaking. The 10 largest metro regions produced more than a third of the country’s entire economic output as of 2012.

The converse is true for rural areas. Take eastern Kentucky, grappling with the decline of coal — and perhaps looking at an even bleaker future for the industry, given recent carbon-reduction efforts by the E.P.A. Those rolling hills might be picturesque. But those country roads make it hard to ship goods in and out, in turn making it more expensive to build a warehouse or a factory.

“One of the challenges that faces eastern Kentucky is the remoteness of the area,” said James P. Ziliak, the director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky. “It’s difficult to get to a lot of places. The communities are small, and they’re spread apart, so you lose that synergy that you want to spark development a lot of times.” Even with additional government subsidies, would businesses really want to move there? “It’s this chicken-and-egg problem,” Ziliak said. “My view is that firms will never locate into a community with an unskilled labor force, unless the only labor they need is unskilled. And there has been a historic lack of investment in human capital in these areas.”

The queasy answer that economists come to is that it would be better to help the people than the place — in some cases, helping people leave the place. Generally, the wealthier and better educated the family, the more mobile they are. It takes resources to pack up all your things, sign a new lease, pay for gas or a flight and go. That might help explain why more Americans aren’t flocking from places with high unemployment rates to places with low ones, even if those places are surprisingly close together. College graduates, for instance, are several times as responsive to differences in labor demand as those who completed only high school, according to a study in The Journal of Human Resources.

But government policy based less on place and more on people might help ameliorate that trend. “Let’s say I was a hardworking person who lost my job in Harlan, Ky. — the ideal place, really, to go is Williston, N.D.,” Senator Paul said. “People need to be mobile to go there. Some government programs prevent mobility or discourage mobility.” And none encourage it: There are scant federal resources to help the unemployed or the poor in rural areas move to a job or even just a better neighborhood. (Imagine Senator Mitch McConnell running for re-election on the campaign slogan: “I’ll get you out of this moribund area and up to the wilderness of North Dakota!”)

Of course, thousands of families in places like Kentucky, South Dakota and West Virginia manage to cobble together enough resources to make the move themselves; the share of Americans living in rural areas has slowly drifted down. In Clay County, the population has declined for the last decade. And the overall population in rural areas declined for the first time from 2010 to 2012, according to the Census Bureau.

Jeff Whitehead runs the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, which helps retrain laid-off coal miners and find them new jobs. “There’s just very limited opportunity for the people who were working in the region,” he said, adding that he helped 220 families move out of the area in recent years, despite many workers’ understandable resistance. “That’s a really hard pill to swallow. People are really connected to place here. For a lot of people, it’s the last thing they’re doing. They’re holding off until they have no other choice.”

But the number and proportion of people living in poverty in places like eastern Kentucky persists, despite all the trillions of dollars spent to improve the state of the poor in the United States and promote development. Ziliak thinks that efforts focused on human capital — meaning education initiatives, from prekindergarten all the way through college — might be the best use of any new money. But, of course, that also might mean more people moving away.

Annie Lowrey was, until recently, an economics reporter for The Times. Alan Flippen contributed reporting.

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NASHVILLE, TN: Civil War: The Untold Story

The Untold Story is a visually stunning and absorbing new 5-hour documentary series that breaks new ground by examining the war through the lens of the Western Theater – battles in the strategic lands between the Appalachians and Mississippi River. Narrated by Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey) the series premieres nationally on public television stations beginning in April 2014 (check local listings).

Rather than revisit the oft-told stories of the battles of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg in the eastern states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, this gripping and comprehensive new series instead tells the stories of Shiloh, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, Atlanta, and other battles in lands then known as “the West.” Many historians believe that the Western Theater was where the war was won and lost. In addition to the epic battles, Civil War: The Untold Story provides new insights into the relatively unknown roles African Americans played in the conflict, from enslaved to emancipated to soldier.

civil war 2

Filmed in a sweeping cinematic style, Civil War: The Untold Story painstakingly recreates the battles of the Western Theater in a thoroughly authentic manner. Many scenes were filmed on the very grounds where these epic battles were fought, which add to the sheer magnitude of history felt throughout the films. The series also uses state-of-the-art 2D and 3D graphics, fascinating archival imagery, and incisive expert commentary by Civil War historians and scholars.

Timed to coincide with the 150-year anniversary of the pivotal ‘Campaign for Atlanta,’ the series also chronicles the presidential campaign of 1864 in which Abraham Lincoln was nearly defeated. In many ways, Civil War: The Untold Story can be considered a prequel to Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Within the story of the Western Theater, the series highlights the causes of war, the home front, the politics of war, and the impact of war on Southern civilians and women. The authenticity of uniforms, voiceovers and scenery, makes it seemingly impossible to distinguish this modern adaptation from the actual war so many years ago.

Civil War: The Untold Story is produced for public television by Great Divide Pictures, which, in addition to numerous cable television documentaries, has created more than 25 films shown in National Parks Visitor Centers around the country. The series is sponsored by Nashville Public Television and will be distributed to public television stations nationally by American Public Television (APT).

“The film is not just about who we were then. It’s about who we are now,” said producer Chris Wheeler. “In a nation arguably as divided today as we were 150 years ago, Civil War: The Untold Story is a compelling, relevant program that we believe will strike a powerful chord with Americans today.”

Interspersed are compelling on-camera interviews with some of America’s top Civil War historians  including Allen Guelzo, Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College; Peter Carmichael, Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College; Amy Murrell Taylor, Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky; and Stacy Allen, the Chief Historian at Shiloh National Military Park.

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Episode 1: Bloody Shiloh
With the 1860 election of anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln, thirteen states from the South secede and form the Confederate States of America. Union military leaders, along with Lincoln himself, realize that ending the rebellion rests on controlling the Mississippi River. In February 1862, Union forces, led by an obscure general named Ulysses S. Grant, establish a foothold in southern Tennessee near a simple log structure known as Shiloh Church. On April 6, 1862, a Confederate force of over 40-thousand, led by General Albert Sidney Johnston, launch a surprise attack on Grant. The fighting in the hellish terrain surrounding Shiloh is some of the most brutal of the entire war. By day’s end, victory is in sight for the attacking Confederates. But Johnston has been struck in the leg by a bullet, and bleeds to death in 20 minutes. The death of Johnston is a harbinger of a great change that will soon sweep over ‘Bloody Shiloh.’

Episode 2: A Beacon of Hope
In the disaster at Shiloh, Union General Ulysses S. Grant sees victory. On the night of April 6, 1862, Grant’s beleaguered army along the Tennessee River is reinforced. The next morning, Grant’s counterattack leads to victory. The defeated Confederate force of 40-thousand retreats south to Corinth, Mississippi. At Shiloh, the Confederates lose arguably their best opportunity to change the outcome of the war. The shocking combined casualties of 24-thousand men is more than in all the wars fought to that date in the United States. Many of the nearly 4 million slaves across the South see the war as an opportunity to seize their own destiny. Thousands of escaping slaves, dubbed contrabands, seek refuge with Union forces advancing into the South. At Corinth, Mississippi, the Union army sets up a contraband camp. The former slaves begin building a community that includes a school, hospital, and church. As thousands of slaves flee northward, the question asked all over America is this: are they still slaves or are they now free. In a cottage overlooking Washington DC, Abraham Lincoln begins drafting a proclamation whose message will boldly answer that question.

Episode 3: River of Death
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation does not only free slaves in the rebelling states. It changes the war from one of reunification, to one of ending slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation also gives African Americans freedom to fight. By war’s end, some 200,000 will enlist. In truth, Lincoln’s proclamation is an empty promise without the power of the United States Army to enforce it. In 1863, Ulysses S. Grant begins a campaign to take Vicksburg, Mississippi, a Confederate citadel overlooking a strategic section of the lower Mississippi River. In May, Grant begins laying siege to the city of 4500. Mary Loughborough is one of the many terrified civilians who have dug caves into the hillsides for protection. Clutching her 2-year old daughter, Mary “endeavored by constant prayer to prepare myself for the sudden death I was almost certain awaited me.” On July 4, 1863, the day after Pickett’s disastrous charge at Gettysburg, the Confederates surrender Vicksburg to Grant. With the Mississippi River now under Union control, the campaign moves eastward to Chattanooga, Tennessee, a rail center that Lincoln considers to be as important as the Confederate capital of Richmond. Eight miles south, along the Chickamauga – a creek the Cherokee call the river of death – Union and Confederate forces clash in what will become the biggest battle of the Western Theater.

Episode 4: Death Knell of the Confederacy
September 19, 1863. The first day of the Battle of Chickamauga ends in a bloody draw. On the next day, the battle is determined by one of the biggest blunders of the Civil War. Miscommunication, confusion, and fatigue with Union General William Rosecrans and his generals have left a gap in the Union line more than a quarter mile wide. James Longstreet?s force of 11,000 from the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, pour through the gap and split the Union army in two. Rosecrans and his beaten army escape to Chattanooga. Chickamauga’s combined casualties of 34,000 are only topped by the carnage at Gettysburg. In October, Rosecrans is replaced by U.S. Grant, who immediately plans an offensive. In November 1863, Grant routes the Confederate stronghold just outside Chattanooga. As they escape southward into Georgia, a Confederate officer calls the devastating defeat: the death knell of the Confederacy.
Episode 5: With Malice Toward None
In the spring of 1864, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s force of 100-thousand men marches from Chattanooga toward Atlanta, Georgia, the industrial hub of the Deep South. Twenty miles north of Atlanta, Sherman’s army is soundly defeated at Kennesaw Mountain. Sherman’s defeat combined with Grant’s stalemate in Virginia, enrages a Northern electorate already weary of war. The presidential election is in November, and Abraham Lincoln’s chances for a second term are dwindling by the day. The Democrats nominate George McClellan. The party’s platform calls for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy in which slaveholders will be allowed to keep their property. If McClellan is elected, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation will almost certainly be struck down. Though victorious at Kennesaw Mountain, the outnumbered Confederate Army falls back to a defensive position at Atlanta. After six weeks of bloody conflicts around Atlanta, Sherman wires Washington: “Atlanta is ours and fairly won.” For the first time in the war, many in the North now believe victory can be achieved. Eight weeks later, the president defeats McClellan in a landslide. After the election, Sherman begins his March to the Sea. The largely unopposed march across Georgia to Savannah is a psychological blow to the Confederacy, and a stunning conclusion to the Western Theater.

To view video clips, images and additional information on Civil War: The Untold Story, follow the series on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarTheUntoldStory .

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State ag commissioner updates Boyle chamber on hemp production

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 8:17 am

State ag commissioner updates Boyle chamber on hemp production

By VICTORIA ALDRICH

valdrich@amnews.com

Of all the plants that humans have cultivated throughout history, few are as versatile as hemp. Its fibers easily convert into rope, clothing and furniture material, insulation, plastics, paper and mulch. Its seeds are perfect for birdseed, hemp milk, protein powder and fish bait. Hemp oil is a cheap, nonallergenic base for paints and cosmetics. The leaves taste great in a warm loaf of bread or a salad.

One day, your Kentucky-made car may sport a hemp-based dashboard, state Commissioner of Agriculture James R. Comer told Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday at the year’s first AT&T Public Policy luncheon.

“We successfully passed legislation to allow hemp to be grown in Kentucky this year,” Comer said, through a provision in the newly passed federal Farm Bill. “We are going to have six pilot projects at six universities.”

Since taking office in 2012, Comer has gained attention for drastic measures taken to reduce waste of funds, including monitoring employee vehicle usage through GPS systems. He also increased public accountability by publishing his office’s entire expenditure report. A critical goal this year is stimulating agricultural production and research, factors he describes as key to stimulating Kentucky’s struggling east side.

Few projects are as ambitious as a hemp cultivation program legalized at six state universities through the Farm Bill.

Each university will cultivate a specific variety, Comer explained, and focus on creating a specific finished product.

The University of Kentucky will grow an Asian cultivar to study industrial hemp production and also biomedical canniboid research.

The University of Louisville will study bioremediation techniques, and Kentucky State University will grow state heirloom seeds for industrial use in conjunction with the Homegrown by Heroes veterans program.

Murray State University will grow European cultivars for fiber studies.

Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University both will grow Canadian seeds for industrial and renewable energy projects.

“They will work with private-sector farmers to study production aspects and the types of products they can produce,” Comer said. “We farmers want to know what is the cost of production per acre, what is the yield per acre, what is the best time to plant, so we are very excited,” Comer said. “I perceive the hemp being grown on marginal land, on land that is currently being underutilized. You can grow it on land with a greater slope or on land where you wouldn’t grow other things.”

“Boyle County, from a historical perspective, was ground-zero for industrial production for hemp, and we’d like to be at that spot again. Can you give us a hand?” chamber member Mike Perros asked. 

“What grows best in western Kentucky may not grow best in Boyle County so we have at least two good years of research that has to be done,” Comer said. “We’re making progress, and it’s not at the level some people would like, but a year ago it was illegal to grow it.”

Few agricultural endeavors generate as much controversy in the United States as hemp production, an established industry throughout the world.

Liberal and conservative backers agree on its endless industrial potential, ease of growth and lack of hallucinogenic content. Critics dislike its low THC levels compared to its notorious cousin, marijuana, and how easy it is to confuse both plants during air surveillance, the most common way police discover illegal cultivation.

“We can pretty much grow it anywhere we want to. The language of the Farm Bill requires it to be administered through a university pilot project,” Comer said.

“This was illegal a few months ago so we’ve made a giant step, but we are going to have to go through a lot of bureaucracy. We found out customs and border patrol hadn’t read the Farm Bill so we had a container of seeds that was turned around and is headed back to China. As I understand it, we have very few seeds in Kentucky.”

Securing companies to process and sell finished goods is critical to jump starting research.

Comer said one company, Caudill Seed, will process seed-based products at plants in Louisville, Morehead and Winchester. Industrial hemp grown in western Kentucky will be purchased by a company in western Minnesota to make plywood and other items for the construction industry. 

“Anything that you can make from a tree, you can just about use from hemp. That’s why it’s more sustainable,” Comer said.

Production in eastern Kentucky will focus on creating renewable energy options and possibly automotive manufacturing, Comer added.

“In Germany, Mercedes and BMWs are manufactured using dashboards and other products from the hemp fibers. If you can replace plastic with hemp, that’s taking a giant step toward being sustainable and that’s great for the farmers.”

The project also complements another initiative the state has launched to replace eastern Kentucky’s dead coal industry. Locally produced crops and finished goods will feature a new symbol, Appalachia Proud: Mountains of Potential, similar to the Kentucky Proud program.

“The University of Pikeville is going to produce ginseng,” Comer said.

“You look at the landscape out there and it is obviously mountains and rough terrain. What can you grow or produce in that region? Ginseng grows in the woods, and all that is harvested in Kentucky ends up in Japan or Asia to be processed. We want to develop a processing industry in Kentucky. That’s a unique, outside-the-box partnership between the university and outside industry.”

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