A measure to combat the spread of invasive Asian carp in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley was included in the government funding bill that passed the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
The provision directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to focus its efforts on controlling the carp population and provides $11 million for the agency to spend, Sen. Mitch McConnell said.
“We are one step closer to sending federal resources to combat the spread of Asian carp in western Kentucky. The invasion of these carp is severely affecting tourism, the Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake communities, and the multi-billion dollar fishing industry in Kentucky. Not only are these fish a danger for the local economy, but they are also a safety hazard for anglers and boaters,” McConnell said.
The funds represent a $600,000 increase from the enacted amount of the previous year. McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said that previous years’ funding has gone primarily toward keeping the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, rather than controlling the population in states like Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Kentucky will receive “a portion” of the $11 million, Steurer added.
“This is a great step forward,” Lyon County Judge-Executive Wade White said. “Now (there are) going to be a lot of eyes watching this from the senator’s office, and I fully expect more (funding) than has ever been coming (to Kentucky) to come here.”
The bill goes next to a committee that will reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions of the legislation.
McConnell thanked White and Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal for their leadership.
Neal did not respond immediately to requests for comment Wednesday.
The senator also acknowledged the work of U.S. Rep. James Comer, who visited Lyon County to conduct a field briefing on the issue last week. An estimated 380 people attended the event on July 27 at the Lyon County Convention Center, where fishery and tourism officials presented testimony on the toll the invasive species is taking on regional waterways.
Tourism brings $1.2 billion to Kentucky every year. The Asian carp are negatively affecting that industry by out-competing native fish that are popular with fishermen and by creating hazardous conditions for recreational boaters.
Legal cannabis must be option for pain sufferers, panelists say
HENDERSON — Advocates for medicinal marijuana said Tuesday the time is now to push for statewide legalization.
They said research is clear that cannabis helps those suffering from a variety of painful conditions, yet, the word marijuana is still taboo for many in society.
Jaime Montalvo deals daily with multiple sclerosis. After being diagnosed, the Louisville man discovered that cannabis improved his quality of life far more than anything else he’d tried.
He didn’t like the black market, so he cultivated at his home. He was arrested and received five years of probation.
“I lost custody of my son for six months, not for cultivation, but for testing positive,” Montalvo said. “So that’s what’s motivated me for the last six years or so, to change the laws and give people safe access to cannabis.”
Montalvo is a cannabis educator and director of KY4MM (Kentuckians for Medicinal Marijuana). He and others who took part in a panel discussion at Henderson Community College were preaching to the choir; most of the 50 or so in attendance seemed sympathetic to legalization.
The challenge, speakers said, is convincing state legislators.
Lawmakers in Kentucky and Indiana have legalized hemp oil, also known as CBD oil. But speakers said the positive impact of that is very small compared to what legal medicinal marijuana could do.
“You’re just really scratching the surface” with CBD oil, said Ashly Taylor, a Lexington native who is now a cannabis industry entrepreneur living in Colorado. “We’re looking to get legalization so we can help more people.”
Taylor, who used to work in the pharmaceutical industry, explained at Tuesday’s forum what a legalized marijuana industry would look like.
She said in a regulated market, all cannabis grown comes from state-licensed, taxpaying cultivation facilities, monitored from seed to sale.
All plants are tagged and entered into a state regulated tracking system.
They are processed at a state-licensed product manufacturing facility, with OSHA guidelines enforced and a staffed human resources department.
The product would pass testing from a state-licensed facility before being distributed for legal consumption.
“All of the things you see with other big industry, you’re going to see here,” Taylor said.
Legal medicinal marijuana “is not that new of a thing,” Taylor noted. It’s been legalized or decriminalized in a long list of countries, from Canada to Australia and many European countries.
It is legal in 30 states, and Taylor cited a shift in public opinion on the subject: 64 percent favorability according to one Gallup poll. She said those who support legalization show varied political bent.
Sympathy for legalization has reached local elected officials in Henderson. The City Commission recently passed a resolution stating support for medicinal marijuana.
Henderson City Commissioner Brad Staton said he and his colleagues were moved by testimony from many city residents, including a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who spoke about suicidal thoughts and depression.
“I didn’t think there was any way we would even take a vote much less pass it,” Staton said. “But we said we have people in the state of Kentucky who are suffering, and we can do something about it.”
Forum speakers said cannabis helps with appetite and sleep, in addition to pain relief. They said the addiction potency is comparable to sugar.
A pharmacist in the audience asked the panelists about studies showing negative effects of long-time marijuana usage, and concerns about children’s usage.
Panelists said marijuana already is pervasive in the culture. Montalvo cited a study showing that in Kentucky, about 40 percent of teens have used marijuana.
“We need to decrease that,” he said. “In my opinion the way to decrease it is regulate the product and keep it out of the hands of children. Right now everybody is prohibited, but it’s still everywhere.”
Taylor said Kentucky authorities in 2016 seized and destroyed more than 560,000 plants, placing the state in the nation’s top five.
Kentucky that year spent $56.8 million for marijuana eradication.
“If we can take the money we save and do something better with it, it seems like a win-win to me,” Taylor said.
Grace Henderson would agree. The Henderson resident, an organizer of Tuesday’s forum, suffers from a list of chronic conditions, such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Chron’s disease.
She’s on a list of medications which she said interact and cause other health problems.
Medical cannabis, she said, needs to be a option for people like her who, at times, struggle to simply get out of bed.
“We need a safe, viable alternative that does not kill people,” Henderson said. “And this is it.”
Remains of Kentucky soldier returned from the Korean War
by Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT — Gov. Matt Bevin Wednesday recognized the sacrifice of a Kentucky soldier who died in the Korean War, but whose remains have just been positively identified and are in the process of being returned to his family in Bowling Green, according to an announcement from the governor’s office.
Pvt. First Class Joe Stanton Elmore, 20, died on Dec. 2, 1950 in Changjim County, Hamgyeong Province, North Korea. A member of Company A, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, PFC Elmore was one of approximately 2,500 U.S. and 700 Republic of Korea soldiers assigned to the 31st Regimental Combat Team, also known as Task Force MacLean and later as Task Force Faith. PFC Elmore was reported missing on Dec. 2, 1950, following an engagement that occurred in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir.
The return home of PFC Elmore’s remains is the culmination of a 23-year-long effort to identify remains first repatriated by the People’s Republic of Korea in 1995. The identification of repatriated remains often requires years, if not decades, of detailed examination and meticulous forensic analysis.
Service arrangements for the soldier are not yet complete. Bevin will order flags lowered to half-staff in honor of Elmore on the date of his interment, and encourages individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in the tribute, the news release said.