KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear delivered his weekly Team Kentucky update on Thursday. During the conference, Beshear discussed a variety of topics, including the following:

Here are the highlights from the January 26 Team Kentucky update.

Economic development

Governor Beshear highlighted five economic development projects that are expected to create nearly 320 jobs and represent more than $360 million in new investment.

Governor Beshear announced an expansion in Ghent for North American Stainless, the largest fully integrated stainless steel producer in the United States. The company plans to expand its presence in the commonwealth with an addition to its 4.4 million square-foot facility in Carroll County, creating 70 full-time jobs with a $244 million investment.

Beshear also announced growth in the state’s electric vehicle industry, as LioChem e-Materials will locate a new facility in Simpson County with a $104.4 million investment, creating 141 jobs for local Kentuckians to support electric vehicle battery production.

Beshear also announced leaders at Carter Lumber Co. will expand its presence in Bowling Green with an $8.1 million investment creating 86 jobs. The governor also highlighted continued momentum of the state’s manufacturing industry, as Precision Sonar & Outdoors, a producer of GPS and sonar mounting systems, announced an expansion of operations in Benton with a nearly $2.2 million investment creating 12 full-time jobs for the local community.

Among those projects was also a new investment from Kentucky’s bourbon industry as startup Henderson Distilling Co. will establish a new distillery in Henderson County. The new distillery is expected to create 12 full-time jobs with a $5 million investment.

Beshear also announced the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority had its first meeting of the year, and that the board approved state tax incentives for projects bringing over half a billion dollars in new investments and nearly 600 Kentucky jobs.

Master Senior Officer Teresa Hollon

The governor presented a Kentucky Colonel commission to Master Senior Officer Teresa Hollon from the Georgetown Police Department for exemplary service to her community. According to a release from the governor’s office, Officer Hollon served her country for seven years with the Kentucky National Guard and as an Estill County EMT for five years. She is retiring after 20 years of services with the GPD.

“Officer Hollon has served our commonwealth for 44 years through various roles,” said Governor Beshear. “She is an exceptional leader and caring member of the Georgetown community.”

Eastern Kentucky flood 6 months later

Six months after the historic floods that took the lives of 44 eastern Kentuckians, the governor provided an update on efforts to stabilize and rebuild the areas impacted.

According to a release from the governor’s office, 235 families are housed in travel trailers, and Kentucky State Parks now house 25 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on September 1.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet inspected 1,100 state- and county-owned bridges and found approximately 100 were found to need repair. The governor now says 33 of those 100 bridges have been replaced and 13 others have been repaired.

“The day the floods hit, I made a promise that we would be there until every structure and life is rebuilt,” said Beshear. “But we aren’t just committed to building back Eastern Kentucky, we’re going to build back stronger to ensure the future for these communities and the families who live there is brighter than ever before.”

Beshear also announced over $4.6 million in awards from the Eastern Kentucky SAFE Fund. A list of awards can be found in the list below:

  • $414,674 for three projects in Fleming Neon
  • Over $1.1 million to the Knott County Fiscal Court to fund a FEMA match
  • Over $390,000 to Letcher County Water and Sewer District to fund a FEMA match
  • $25,548 to Magoffin County Water District for FEMA project match
  • $300,000 to Mountain Water District to help with strained fiscal liquidity
  • Just under $159,570 to the city of Whitesburg for three projects.

The governor announced a second location for high-ground homes five miles from downtown Hazard as part of his commitment to help rebuild after the floods.

Mental health

The governor reports that in the six months since Kentucky took part in the national changeover of the mental health crisis line to 988, counselors have responded to an average of 2,420 calls per month. The governor also says there has been a 14% decrease in abandoned calls since activating the new phone number, and 92% of the call centers across the state have answer rates of less than 20 seconds.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 988.

Jefferson Juvenile Detention Center reopening

Governor Beshear says the Jefferson Juvenile Detention Center will reopen next week and begin accepting male juveniles who have been ordered to secure detention.

The detention center was temporarily closed in November after Department of Juvenile Justice facilities management performed a test fire alarm which raised questions about the system’s functionality. Since then, the governor says DJJ has been making improvements to the facility, including upgrades to the doors, locks and fire alarm system.

Only male juveniles younger than 14 or who have been charged with lower-level offenses (class D felony or lower) will be housed at the Jefferson Juvenile Detention Center.

Team Kentucky All-Stars

Governor Beshear named Ethan Almighty, a dog that travels the commonwealth to advocate for other shelter animals, and his family as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. The governor thanked the Kentucky Humane Society for their efforts to save Ethan’s life and protect other animals like him.

“Ethan’s journey has been nothing short of amazing,” said Beshear. “Left at the Kentucky Humane Society in horrible condition, Ethan recovered with the help of some pretty incredible Kentuckians. Now, Ethan travels far and wide to teach us the importance of caring for our animals.”

On Monday, the governor joined the Kentucky Humane Society to declare January as Ethan Almighty Shelter Animal Awareness Month in Kentucky.