News Around the State

AK Steel to close mostly idled plant in eastern Kentucky

ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) — AK Steel is closing an eastern Kentucky plant that was mostly idled more than three years ago.

The company said in a statement that it will close the Ashland Works plant by the end of 2019. The statement said the company continued to operate a single line with 230 employees after idling most of the plant, but has decided to increase its operating efficiency and lower its costs by completing the shutdown.

Ashland Mayor Steve Gilmore told news outlets that although the move was expected, officials were hoping the plant would stay open. He said officials will try to help any workers who don’t relocate and they are hopeful that another industry might move into the facility and offer jobs.

Kentucky company says its hemp plants have zero THC

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky company says it has developed hemp plants that don’t contain any THC, which is marijuana’s main psychoactive component.

The Courier Journal reports the Monday announcement by GenCanna Global was hailed by the company and University of Kentucky researchers as a breakthrough in the global hemp industry. State growers and processors have struggled to keep trace amounts of THC out of natural variations in the plants that produce CBD oil and other products.

The federal 2018 Farm Bill signed into law in December removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. But it didn’t change the legal THC standard, requiring the state agricultural department to destroy “hot hemp” plants.

GenCanna plans to patent this plant material.

Kentucky’s industrial hemp initiative posted record sales of $50 million last year.

Radiologist testifies on Sen. Paul’s condition after attack

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen Rand Paul is in a Kentucky courtroom for the second day of trial in his lawsuit against the neighbor who tackled him outside his home, breaking several of his ribs.

A radiologist who helped Paul on and off an examination table after the 2017 attack testified Tuesday that Paul was walking with a “grandmother shuffle.”

Radiologist Sean Willgruber says Paul needed three or four times longer to get on the table than patients routinely do. He testified that “it wouldn’t be unheard of” for people who had suffered broken ribs to deal with continued pain.

Paul is seeking up to $500,000 in compensatory damages and up to $1 million in punitive damages against Rene Boucher.

Boucher tackled Paul while the lawmaker was doing yardwork at his Kentucky home.

Electric cooperative rates increase in 12 Kentucky counties

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Public Service Commission has granted a rate increase to an electric cooperative in central Kentucky.

A statement from the commission says the rate hike for Inter-County Energy Cooperative Corp. customers took effect Jan. 25. Typical residential customers will see their bills increase by 8.3 percent or about $8.99 per month. The rate hike includes a $6.23 increase in the monthly customer charge.

The amount approved by the commission was slightly smaller than the cooperative requested. The commission agreed that additional revenue was needed maintain the utility’s financial health, but didn’t allow what it termed excessive retirement and health benefits.

The change means an annual revenue increase of about $3 million, yielding total annual revenue of about $46.3 million.

Inter-County Energy has about 26,245 customers in 12 central Kentucky counties.