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Co-op services bill to become law

Guest Opinion: Respreading the American chestnut

Lincoln Bicentennial begins

Co-op Postcard: Home makeover, Kentucky edition


Co-op services bill to become law

Co-op services bill to become law
by Paul Wesslund

Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed a bill in April allowing electric cooperatives in Kentucky to continue offering services in addition to electricity. With the signature, the bill will become law this July.

Final approval of House Bill 568 marks the end of four intense months for electric co-ops in Kentucky, after a far-reaching ruling in November by the state Supreme Court. That decision said that state law did not permit electric co-ops to offer any service other than electricity.

That high-court ruling would have affected several thousand Kentuckians who receive services from electric co-op subsidiary businesses, such as propane gas and high-speed broadband Internet connections.

The change in the law will allow such businesses to continue, but under rules that strengthen the separation between the co-op electric utility businesses and their nonelectric subsidiaries. The stronger rules were added to the original bill as a result of some business people who were concerned that the co-ops would use the electric utility business to subsidize the nonelectric ventures.

Rep. Rob Wilkey of Scottsville introduced HB 568, which specified that the primary purpose of electric cooperatives in Kentucky is to provide electricity, and that they can also have a secondary purpose of engaging in any other legal activity through an affiliate subject to statutory requirements.

The most extensive public discussion of the legislation first came in a March 9 hearing before the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee. Dan Brewer, president and CEO of Blue Grass Energy Cooperative based in Nicholasville, in his testimony listed several nonelectric services provided by Kentucky electric co-ops, including economic development and billing services for trash collection and water supply.

Brewer said without the change in the law, “Cooperatives will be forced to discontinue efforts at improving communities.” For additional background and commentary on the Supreme Court ruling and the legislation, go to www.kaec.org/HB568.htm.

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Guest Opinion: Respreading the American chestnut

Guest Opinion: Respreading the American chestnut
By Marshal Case and Rex Mann

The American chestnut once accounted for nearly 25 percent of all hardwood trees in its native eastern forests. Known as The King of the Forest and the Redwood of the East, this species often grew to more than 100 feet tall and 30 feet around with rot-resistant wood and nuts that sustained both wildlife and families.

But that was before an Asian-imported blight decimated forests from Maine to Georgia and west to the Ohio River Valley. Some 4 billion trees on 9 million acres were destroyed in less than half a century. Some consider the destruction of the American chestnut one of the greatest ecological disasters of the 20th century.

Today, The American Chestnut Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1983 committed to restoring the American chestnut, is working to produce a chestnut with the physical characteristics of the American chestnut and the genes for blight-resistance in the Chinese chestnut. One of the few trees to survive the blight—a tree nearly 4 feet in diameter—is in Adair County and its seeds are used in TACF’s national breeding program.

As part of the restoration, the American chestnut, one of the fastest growing hardwoods, is being planted on some of the 1.2 million acres of Kentucky landscape that have been damaged from decades of coal mining. These plantings are part of the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), which promotes the reforestation of these coal-mined lands using high-value, native hardwood trees, including the American chestnut.

Recently, TACF and ARRI formed a partnership that will allow TACF to use ARRI’s reclamation sites for establishing experimental plots. Reforesting reclaimed mining land with the American chestnut will benefit landowners by providing them with a tree crop that can be periodically harvested. Also benefiting will be the many species of wildlife, including the largest elk herd east of the Rocky Mountains.

Along with Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, a long-time member of TACF, we are pleased to be partners in ARRI, and hope that the American chestnut will take its place in its native Eastern forests once again.

For more information, visit www.acf.org.

Marshal Case is president and CEO of The American Chestnut Foundation, based in Bennington, Vermont. Rex Mann is president of the Kentucky Chapter of TACF and staff officer for timber, wildlife, and fire in the supervisor’s office for Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest.

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Lincoln Bicentennial begins

Lincoln Bicentennial begins
On June 3, the parents of Abraham Lincoln will tie the knot once again at the same spot where they first married two centuries ago.

Lincoln Homestead State Park will play host to the nuptials of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, kicking off the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial in Kentucky. The marriage marks the beginning of the three-year celebration ending with the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth in 1809.

The day begins at 9 a.m. Eastern time with the opening of The American Experience, which will include colonial characters and demonstrations by a wagoneer, a flintknapper, a shoemaker, and a spinner, as well as period music.

At 1 p.m., an outdoor performance titled Dearly Beloved: The Vows of a Lincoln Legacy will debut, telling the story of the union between two people whose son would become one of the world’s great leaders. All events are free, though there will be fees for parking and the reception after the wedding. Reservations for the reception are encouraged.

For more information, visit www.lincolnhanks.net, call the Springfield/Washington County Chamber of Commerce at (859) 336-0052, ext. 3, or Lincoln Homestead State Park at (859) 336-7461.

Lincoln Homestead Park is located five miles north of Springfield on KY 438.

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Co-op Postcard: Home makeover, Kentucky edition

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