Commentary on life in Kentucky

By wmadministrator

Last summer, all Kathy Allen’s guests wanted to know about was the condition of Lake Cumberland. This tourist season, it rarely crosses their minds.

“Last year people wanted to know if they could walk across the lake,” said Allen, co-owner of Golden Pond Resort in Monticello. “This year, I’ve only had one person ask about the condition of the lake. I don’t think the lake level will be a factor this year at all.”

That’s a contrast from the region’s 2007 tourist season when repairs on the Wolf Creek Dam required a 40-foot water level drawdown that left creeks shallow and resort owners scrambling to refute media reports that the lake had all but disappeared.

Resort operators got a boost from a Kentucky Department of Tourism media blitz in target markets in Indiana, Cincinnati and Cleveland. And while U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews repaired, extended or created 52 public access boat ramps around the lake, tourism representatives hit the road assuring visitors to boat and tourism trade shows that Lake Cumberland was still plenty full.
At the season’s end, the drawdown’s negative economic impact never did reach the projected 50 percent mark.

According to Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, Lake Cumberland’s visitation figures fell just 10 percent — to 3.9 million in 2007 from 4.4 million in 2006. And resort owners also say they closed the books on a better than expected season. According to Debbie Schumann, special events and human resources coordinator for the State Dock Marina in Jamestown, reservations were down about 25 percent.

“It’s been a non-event,” said State Dock Marina President Bill Jasper. “In fact, there were some unexpected benefits. If you walk the dock and talk to people, they say they like things the way they are. They like the beach, and they like the fact that the lake is cleaner.”

That’s not to say that the 2007 tourism season won’t be without its challenge. Spiking gasoline prices already are already jangling the nerves of tourism industry players everywhere. But with it’s well established backyard tourism base, Tourism Liaison Van Back says Lake Cumberland could actually benefit from high fuel costs.

“People plan for vacations,” Back said. “The difference will be that gas prices might convince them to vacation closer to home. So we could actually see more visitors come from Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati. In fact, we could even get visitors from new markets like Knoxville.” — Patrice Bucciarelli

That’s Not Pork, It’s Equine
The recently passed federal farm bill includes a 10-year tax break estimated to total $126 million for racehorse buyers. The mechanism is that those who buy Thoroughbreds will be able to depreciate them over three years rather than 10, as is now the case. The change takes place beginning in 2009.

Another element in the new farm bill makes horse farms eligible for disaster relief that cattlemen and other agriculture operations may receive when Mother Nature visits misadventure on them. That’s fair, and it advances recognition that raising horses is agriculture – and a vitally important component of the agribusiness in Kentucky.

Not everyone sees it that way, though. The change in the racehorse depreciation schedule has become a whipping boy for those who don’t understand. Taxpayers for Common Sense singled out the equine earmark in the farm bill for criticism as an example of waste.

“We don’t think that people who own racehorses need tax breaks for the same  reasons we don’t think millionaires need tax breaks,” an analyst with Taxpayers for Common Sense told a reporter for the Herald-Leader newspaper in Lexington.
The truth is that most “people who own racehorses” are not millionaires.

The reality, as a cover story in The Lane Report this past September reported, is that many “owners” participate in syndicates and hold fractional interests in the legions of racehorses that did not bring seven figures in the sales ring. Kentucky’s equine industry supports thousands of hardworking people who train, transport, groom, exercise and care for our trademark Thoroughbreds and who provide tack, feed, supplements, trailers and a myriad of specialty equipment.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator and the minority leader, has been singled out for blame by Taxpayers for Common Sense as a porkmeister in connection with the racehorse depreciation tax break. That’s not pork, it’s equine. We say thanks, Mitch, for efforts aimed a maintaining the commonwealth’s Thoroughbred industry as the best in the world.

Hospice of the Bluegrass Is ‘Top Business for Women’
Hospice of the Bluegrass took the “Top Business for Women” award at the annual Women’s Business & Leadership Conference held May 6 in Lexington. The conference is presented by the Women Leading Kentucky organization, a non-profit network of professional women and men committed to helping women learn and lead. The Lane Report, Kentucky’s business news source for 23 years, sponsors the award that spotlights commonwealth companies whose policies and practices help recruit, retain and advance qualified women in the workplace.Working for Hospice of the Bluegrass is something individuals typically evolve into at mid-career. Clinic-based employees agree it is more a calling than a conscious career choice. HOB employees are afforded flexible scheduling and in certain positions job-share is available. Continuing education opportunities are available and biennially salary surveys keep compensation competitive. Reflecting Hospice of the Bluegrass’ commitment to the advancement of women, its senior management team is comprised of 11 women and one man, while the total employee rolls consist of 477 women and 49 men.

The other finalists nominated this year were Fayette Heating & Air Conditioning, Lexington Clinic and the Lexington Division of Police. Past winners were Messer Construction 2007, Georgetown Community Hospital 2005 and Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance 2004.

Roll the Presses
Publishing Executive magazine ranks Shepherdsville-based Publisher’s Press as the sixth largest magazine printer in North America. Its 24 webbed and one sheetfed presses generated $224 million in magazine printing revenue last fiscal year. Owned and operated by brothers Nicholas X. Simon and Michael J. Simon, the fifth generation of their family in the business, Publisher’s Press prints The Lane Report and more than 1,400 other titles.

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