KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on a variety of topics on Thursday, including:

First Lady Britainy Beshear kicked off the December 1 Team Kentucky update to announce new locations where Kentuckians can drop off new, unwrapped gifts as part of the Eastern Kentucky Christmas Toy Drive benefiting children affected by July’s historic floods. A full list of drop-off sites can be found online.

First Lady Beshear also reminded photographers that December 2 is the deadline to submit their work to be featured in the Spring 2023 Team Kentucky Gallery exhibit. To learn more about the exhibit, click here.

Here’s what was discussed during Governor Andy Beshear’s December 1 Team Kentucky update:

Economic development

Governor Beshear highlighted two economic development projects that are expected to create 100 jobs and represent more than $600 million in new investment.

Last week, Beshear announced the largest distilled spirits-related investment on record in Kentucky. Sazerac Co. will invest $600 million to construct nearly 20 barrel warehouses and expand Robinson Stave and Cumberland Cooperage in London, creating up to 50 full-time jobs and supporting the company’s growth.

On Wednesday, the governor joined local leaders and executives from LDG Multifamily to cut the ribbon on the company’s new location in the Madrid Building in Louisville. According to a release from the governor’s office, leaders from the affordable-housing developer have invested $10.75 million to purchase and renovate the new headquarters and create 50 jobs for Kentucky residents.

Gas prices

Governor Beshear highlighted the average price for gas in Kentucky at $3.179 per gallon, 29 cents lower than the national average according to the American Automobile Association. The governor noted a list of his actions to provide Kentuckians relief from high gas prices, which can be found here.

Eastern Kentucky floods

According to a release from the governor’s office, more than $89.5 million in grants have been approved under the Federal Emergency Management Agency Individuals and Households Program and over $56.4 million has been approved under the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The governor said Kentucky State Parks now house 154 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on September 1. Currently, 675 individuals are being housed in travel trailers and 75 individuals have been transitioned out.

The Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $12.4 million from more than 41,000 donors. Governor Beshear thanked the Arby’s Inspire Foundation for its donation of $23,516 and the Kentucky Distillers Association for its additional donation of $85,352 to the fund.

Water supply restoration project

The Division of Abandoned Mine Lands will use $10.6 million of the first year’s grant from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to restore water infrastructure for over 3,600 residences in Breathitt, Knott and Letcher counties which suffered heavy damage in the eastern Kentucky flooding.

The award will help 961 residences in Breathitt County using $1.7 million of the funds. Nearly 2,500 customers in Knott County will see around $4 million worth of work, including reconnecting and replacing transmission and service lines and other damaged equipment. According to the governor, 176 residences in Letcher County in the Millstone area will see $4.9 million worth of work, including the installation of water service lines and meters, construction of a 100 gallon-per-minute pump station and a 100,000 gallon elevated water storage tank.

High-speed internet

Beshear announced the application window is open for the next round of grant funding to support the state’s expansion of high-speed internet access to more families across Kentucky. This round includes more than $206 million. Governor Beshear said the distribution fund supports his Better Internet Initiative which is committed to expanding high-speed internet access to areas of the commonwealth with unserved populations or those with download speeds of 10 megabits per second or less.

Funding for prospective child care providers

Governor Beshear announced more than $6.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act has been made available to support child care services in Kentucky, including funds to incentivize Kentuckians to open licensed child care facilities that will support and retain the state’s workforce and will help parents and guardians connect with qualified accessible help.

The governor added that the one-time start-up funds for family child care homes have doubled in amount to $5,000 in an effort to incentivize more new providers.

Health updates

Governor Beshear said the spread of influenza is increasing in Kentucky. Six influenza deaths have been reported for Kentucky’s current 2022-2023 influenza season. The flu vaccine has been updated this year and is expected to perform well against the circulating strain.

RSV, has also recently creased in the United States and outbreaks of the virus have occurred in Kentucky daycares and preschools. People of any age can become infected with RSV, and most recover within one to two weeks. RSV can be serious especially for infants and older adults. The Kentucky Department for Public Health will continue to monitor trends from available data.

Governor Beshear said the most recent COVID-19 data continues to be encouraging. Fewer Kentuckians are hospitalized for COVID-19 than seen at nearly any point during the past two years and more counties are showing as “green” on the COVID-19 community levels map.

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