- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 8, 2014
GOP candidate Heiner gave his campaign $4 million

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Republican governor hopeful Hal Heiner has $3.9 million in cash to spend on an election more than a year away.

But nearly all of that money came from Heiner himself, which set off an early war of words Monday with his presumptive Republican rival James Comer, the state’s agriculture commissioner.

Heiner’s campaign announced Monday that the Louisville businessman donated $4 million to his own campaign to go along with the $192,000 it has raised from donors since the campaign launched in March.

A spokesman for Heiner said the donation signifies Heiner is a political outsider who won’t be dependent on the traditional political powerbrokers to fund his campaign. Spokesman Joe Burgan said Heiner “believes that the future of Kentucky is worth investing in.”

But Comer accused Heiner of trying to buy the election.

“I’d rather have a lot of support than a lot of money,” Comer said. “It looks like the only person invested in Hal Heiner is Hal Heiner.”

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Eastern Kentucky getting $1 million grant

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A national community service organization is investing $1 million in eastern Kentucky to help the region recover from the downturn in the coal industry.

The money from the Corporation for National and Community Service will hire 52 full-time workers to recruit volunteers for 16 nonprofit groups on issues including education and poverty.

It is one of the first initiatives of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region - or SOAR - a program established by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers to help eastern Kentucky. Beshear and Rogers also announced Monday $312,000 in technical assistance from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Eastern Kentucky has lost more than 7,000 coal mining jobs since Jan. 1, 2012. The 54-county region has an average household income of less than $30,000 and an average unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent, according to a report from the Rural Policy Research Institute.

The $1 million grant will pay 52 full-time workers a “living stipend” of $12,000. After one year, they will be eligible for a college scholarship of $5,600. The workers will be based in 11 counties, but they will provide services for all of the 54 counties identified as eastern Kentucky by SOAR.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said they plan to hire the 52 workers within 60 days. Some will be recent graduates of area colleges. Others will come from outside eastern Kentucky. She said they will write grant proposals and recruit volunteers - even teach people how to build home gardens for “food security.”

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Jack Daniel opens Alabama barrel making facility

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The maker of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey on Monday celebrated the opening of a new cooperage in Alabama to supply its distillery with the American white oak barrels that are toasted and charred to give the spirit its distinctive flavor and color.

The facility located in Trinity, Alabama, is about 60 miles southwest of the Jack Daniel distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Within the next few weeks, the cooperage is expected to make about 700 barrels per day out of wood from nearby stave mills owned by the company, and is projected to employ more than 200 workers when it reaches full capacity.

“The American whiskey category is booming with exports of Tennessee Whiskey and bourbon eclipsing $1 billion for the first time last year,” Jack Daniel’s Managing Director John Hayes said in a release. “We want to be able to satisfy the world’s thirst for our premium Tennessee whiskey, and having this state-of-the-art cooperage will help us meet that demand.”

Under a Tennessee law enacted last year, distillers must age their sprits in unused American white oak barrels if they want to label their product Tennessee whiskey. Some smaller distillers led by Diageo-owned George Dickel this year made an unsuccessful attempt to get state lawmakers to repeal the law championed by Jack Daniel’s, which is owned by global rival Brown-Forman Corp. of Louisville, Kentucky.

Opponents of the labeling law said they worried about a potential American white oak shortage that could be caused by wet weather conditions or demand from pallet makers, and argued that the law should allow the use of rejuvenated barrels.

But advocates argued that London-based Diageo’s motivation was to try undercut Jack Daniel’s global growth while its own flagship brand, Johnnie Walker scotch, stagnates. Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett led the faction of distillers urging lawmakers to uphold the current law to protect the category against low-quality knockoffs.

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Abramson: No interest in KCTCS top job

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson says he won’t pursue the presidency of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

Abramson on Monday told the Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/TZtXkQhttp://bit.ly/TZtXkQ ) the job isn’t one that he’s interested in right now. The former Louisville mayor has 18 months left on his term and says he hasn’t made a decision about what will come once he leaves office.

KCTCS is searching for a successor to Michael McCall, who announced last year that he will retire Jan. 15, 2015, after 16 years of leading the system that oversees Kentucky’s community and technical colleges.

Abramson said last August that he would not run for governor in 2015.

The 14-member KCTCS Board of Regents hopes to review finalists Sept. 18 and 19 and announce McCall’s successor in October.

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