State

By wmadministrator

Total enrollment in Kentucky’s public and independent postsecondary education institutions reached a record high of 254,560 students this fall, based on a preliminary enrollment report released by the Council on Postsecondary Education. The estimated headcount is an increase of 12,970 students, more than a 5 percent increase over last year and a 40 percent increase over 10 years.

Kentucky’s state government has put hundreds of surplus vehicles on the auction block in an effort to boost the bottom line. The auctions have included everything from mowers and bush hogs to motor graders and trucks. “We have to find innovative ways to move this state forward,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Thinking outside the box and creating opportunities like this, where we can generate much-needed revenue for the state while also improving the environment are the kinds of initiatives we need right now to continue making progress while being fiscally prudent in the face of a tough economy.”

Murray State University’s Hancock Biological Station and the University of Kentucky have been awarded a $3 million cyberinfrastructure grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding will allow for state-of-the-art environmental sensors to be placed in Kentucky Lake to understand and visualize ecological processes. Data will be used in the development of graphic and 3-D visualization applications. New types of sensors will be developed by researchers from UK and UofL, some of which also will be deployed in Eastern Kentucky streams by Eastern Kentucky University.

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate fell to 10.9 percent in September 2009 from a revised 11.2 percent in August 2009, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET). September 2009’s jobless rate is 4 percentage points higher than the 6.9 percent rate recorded in September 2008. “Kentucky’s economy continued to struggle under the weight of the recession, suffering the biggest monthly employment decline and the largest number of year-over-year job losses on record dating back to January 1990. The drop in the unemployment rate reflects individuals who have faced long-term unemployment becoming discouraged and dropping out of the labor force,” said Dr. Justine Detzel, OET chief labor market analyst. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, employment in Kentucky has decreased by 113,800 positions.

VIPdesk, a Virginia company that specializes in outsourcing virtual customer service solutions for companies, will begin hiring more than 100 people in Kentucky next month to serve as home-based customer service representatives. The representatives will handle incoming calls from debit cardholders who have questions about their accounts. The jobs will pay $8 to $9 per hour.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has approved a settlement granting Columbia Gas of Kentucky Inc. an annual revenue increase of $6.125 million. The increase is $5.43 million less than the amount sought by the utility. Under the settlement, the only change for residential customers will be a $3.05 increase in the monthly customer charge, from $9.30 to $12.35. The gas delivery charge will remain at $1.87 per 1,000 cubic feet (mcf). The rate change affects only Columbia’s base rate; the commodity cost of the gas itself, which is adjusted frequently to reflect market prices, is determined separately and is passed through to consumers on a dollar-for-dollar basis by Columbia.
Columbia is headquartered in Lexington and serves about 138,000 customers in Fayette and 32 other counties in Central and Eastern Kentucky.

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