Grant money could fund Amtrak route between Louisville and Indianapolis Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

New federal grant money could be used to fund rail travel from Louisville to Indianapolis.

The Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) submitted the $500,000 planning grant application on Monday.

Louisville currently has no Amtrak train options. The Kentucky Cardinal was the last Amtrak train to run through Louisville to Chicago – with a stop in Indianapolis – nearly 20 years ago.

Greg Burress is with KIPDA. He said this former route was also ineffective.

We had this back in the past, but it took almost like 10 hours, I think, to get to Chicago and just something that was just not car competitive or an option for people who wanted to have,” he said.

Amtrak does offer a bus service that allows travelers to go between Louisville, Indianapolis and Chicago. However, Burress said this option is still not effective as a plane or a car.

“This will be another viable option that people could have; the idea is to definitely make it car competitive,” he said.

READ MORE: Why are there not more passenger rail systems in Indiana? Advocacy groups, experts weigh in

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Burress said the future of this project will depend on a review of the potential route.

“It is going to be looking at things similar to track upgrade, signalization, those type of things that will play a part in whether this is a viable option for Louisville,” he said.

He said this application is also the very beginning of this development, and more deliberations are needed before moving forward.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is submitting a similar planning grant request – for expanded Amtrak travel between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Amtrak currently offers a line that runs from Indianapolis to Chicago, but only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and starts in New York.

Indiana’s Hoosier State Line also used to offer service from Indianapolis to Chicago but ceased operations in 2019.

Amtrak also released its “Amtrak Connects US” plan in 2021 – which is supportive of a route that would include four round trips daily from Louisville to Chicago. Cincinnati would also be offered as a connection along the route from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Amtrak said Louisville is the fourth largest metropolitan area without Amtrak service, and that by adding Louisville and Cincinnati to these routes, it would increase train services to more than 14 million people.

Burress is hopeful that the organization will get an answer about the planning grant by the summer.

Violet is our daily news reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.
Copyright 2023 IPB News.

Medical cannabis bill poised to pass Kentucky Legislature Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

Steve West delivers speech in Senate chamber.
Republican Sen. Steve West discusses SB 47, the medical cannabis bill, in the state Senate.(Legislative Research Commission / Legislative Research Commission)

Kentuckians with certain serious medical conditions would be able to get a prescription for cannabis under a bill poised to pass out of the legislature on the last day of this year’s lawmaking session.

Senate Bill 47 advanced out of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee on Thursday afternoon and now only needs to pass the full House of Representatives before heading to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk.

The bill would implement one of the most limited medical cannabis policies in the nation, only allowing doctors to prescribe to people with conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, epilepsy, chronic nausea and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It also allows the nascent Cannabis Research Center at the University of Kentucky to recommend other conditions that would benefit from cannabis.

The bill would forbid people from smoking cannabis.

Rep. Jason Nemes, a Republican from Louisville and supporter of the bill, said cannabis should only be for people with serious medical conditions.

“If you get caught smoking it and you will go to jail, as you ought to,” Nemes said. “This is not a ‘wink wink, nod nod’ medical program…I’m against recreational, so if you smoke this you’re violating the law.”

Advocates have pushed for the legislature to pass a medical cannabis bill for years, and while the proposal got support in the House, it repeatedly stumbled in the more-conservative Senate.

But the Republican-led legislature had more of a reason to address cannabis this year, after Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order late last year allowing people to possess cannabis legally purchased in other states, as long as they had a doctor’s note.

With Beshear running for reelection this year, the pressure was on for Republicans to take, or at least share, ownership of the cannabis issue, which is overwhelmingly popular in Kentucky.

Still, not everyone is on board. Senate President Robert Stivers, the leading Republican foe of medical pot, from Manchester, still opposed the bill despite a 26-11 vote in his chamber earlier this month.

Rep. Kim Moser, a Republican from Taylor Mill, said lawmakers shouldn’t be charged with approving regulations and setting up government bureaucracy for cannabis.

“Let’s get this right. I appreciate there’s significant lead time to make sure some of these things get ironed out. I’m just uncomfortable passing a bill out that needs so much work,” she said.

The bill won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2025.

Sen. Steve West, a Republican from Paris, said that will give policymakers enough time to study the issue more.

“You’ll get another bite at the apple to take a look at everything that’s flowing through the regulatory process. And we’ll get another chance to make technical changes moving forward,” West said.

Rep. Keturah Herron, a Democrat from Louisville, said she hoped lawmakers would come up with provisions requiring racial minorities, women and local businesses to be involved in the licensure process.

“One thing that I am a little concerned about or would want to work further on is when these licenses are given out to folks is to make sure that we are doing some heavy regulations on that these are going to Kentucky folks and Kentucky businesses,” she said.

Longtime cannabis advocate Eric Crawford, who uses a wheelchair, said cannabis has helped him avoid using pain killers.

“It’s not a party, it’s not fun to have to rely on drugs. It makes you feel weak. But to find something that works for you and then they tell you you’re a criminal for using it? That’s not cutting it,” he said.

This story will be updated.

Trial date set for 2 teens accused of murder of 16-year-old at JCPS bus stop in 2021 Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

Two teenage defendants charged over the killing of Tyree Smith are scheduled to go to trial in 2024.


The last day of the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

The 2023 Kentucky General Assembly has it's final day today


Top takeaways from Louisville’s Gun Violence Reduction Summit Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

Citywide Violence Reduction Summit
The Citywide Violence Reduction Summit took place over two days at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.(Roberto Roldan / LPM)

Organizers say the two-day Citywide Violence Reduction Summit was the first time so many local grassroots groups focused on advocacy, intervention and support services for victims all gathered in one place. More than 300 people attended the event at the Muhammad Ali Center. They discussed potential partnerships, and the organizations provided feedback on ways Louisville Metro Government could better support anti-violence initiatives.

Paul Callanan, head of the city’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, said the feedback will form the basis for a report that will include a set of recommendations for elected officials and organizations that fund gun violence reduction efforts.

“You’re probably going to see the convergence of a community-led plan and a city-led plan,” Callanan said. “It’s not just the government’s responsibility to do violence prevention. There’s a lot of folks in this room that can do that, too.”

Groups that participated in the summit included No More Red Dots, Men Against Gun Violence and Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters Kentucky. Representatives from city departments, such as Parks and Recreation and the Louisville Metro Police Department, also took part.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from attendees who spoke to LPM News on Wednesday, the final day of the summit.

More collaboration

Callanan said the most common recommendation he heard was that organizations need more opportunities to collaborate. He said anti-gun violence groups too often work in silos, unaware of potential partners.

“It’s not going to be a fix overnight,” Callanan said, referring to Louisville’s gun violence crisis. “I know people want solutions … The reality is there’s hundreds of people everyday doing work to reduce violence. The idea is how do we strengthen that.”

The summit was the first step in building partnerships, he said.

It brought together groups focused on the early stages of intervention, like the YMCA and city offices providing programming for at-risk youth. Groups working with young people already involved in gangs or violent crime were able to network with organizations providing job training, housing services and adult education opportunities.

Cathy Burkey helped organize the summit through her work with the Louisville Alliance for Sustainable Gun Violence Reduction. She’s also the director of ecosystem development for Interfaith Paths to Peace.

She said the hope is that residents, not just organizations, can be involved in future meetings.

“We’d like to organize at a neighborhood level, where neighborhoods are deciding what they want in their community and everyone comes to assist at the pace and the place that they choose,” she said.

Filling gaps in services

Participants mapped out the “gun violence reduction ecosystem” from advocacy and intervention to prison reentry programs on the first day of the summit. They listed out all of the nonprofits, grassroots groups and government agencies involved in anti-violence efforts locally.

The exercise showed where there may be gaps in services, Callanan said.

“There are very few organizations working with girls involved in violence,” he said. “How you approach a girl involved in gangs or gun violence is very different than how you approach a boy or a young man.”

There’s also a shortage of groups focused on the needs of people who experience secondary exposure to gun violence, Callanan said.

“We’ve had multiple shootings on certain blocks in our community,” he said. “How are we getting out to not the direct victims of that, but the people who live on that block who are subjected to that trauma all the time?”

Rose Smith runs the ACE Project, which offers grief counseling and support groups for family members who have lost a loved one to gun violence. Smith created the ACE Project based on her own experiences. Her son, Cory Crowe Sr., was murdered in west Louisville in 2014.

Smith said when that tragedy struck her family, there weren’t many resources similar to what her organization now provides.

“I wanted to be able to offer those services that I didn’t have but I believe I needed,” she said. “I often say my son was fatally injured, I was critically wounded.”

Since 2014, Smith said she’s seen more groups providing mental health services to families impacted by gun violence. But she said there are still other unmet needs.

“I’ve seen different family members who cannot go to work,” she said. “The trauma that comes behind these incidents is unspeakable. We need other resources where, if they’re not able to go to work, they can get their LG&E [bill] paid, their rent paid.”

Spreading resources across the community

A recurring theme was the need to direct more funding toward Black-led organizations and grassroots groups working in neighborhoods most affected by gun violence.

Tarsha Semakula, owner of Buttafly Communications, said she had helped many of the groups in the room with program development and fundraising. She told attendees there should be more Louisville nonprofit agencies that are “Black-led and Black-run.”

“The focus should be to put as many Black-led agencies into this community to act as a tool for change,” she said.

Some attendees praised the summit organizers for highlighting smaller organizations that don’t always get recognition, like Bosses Not Bangers, a nonprofit that promotes youth entrepreneurship, and Life Coach Each One Teach One, which provides reentry services and support for people who have been incarcerated.

Shameka Parrish-Wright, a long-time community organizer and head of the group VOCAL-KY, said she hopes city officials and funders left the summit with a better understanding of all the local groups working to reduce violence.

“Some of these groups who have been doing meaningful work for a really long time need the possibility of getting some funding,” she said.

Parrish-Wright said she thinks residents in impacted communities would benefit from better-funded direct services providers who look like them.

EV-related company plans $500 million facility in Hopkinsville, Kentucky Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

sign for electric vehicle parking
Sign for electric vehicle parking.(Michael Marais / Unsplash)

The company manufactures synthetic materials used in the design of batteries for electric vehicles.

“We are excited to announce this next chapter for Microvast, as we intend to build the world’s first mass production facility for our cutting-edge polyaramid separator technology,” said Yang Wu, Microvast’s founder, chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a press release.

Hopkinsville Mayor James Knight said the investment will have a positive economic impact on the city and surrounding region.

“Their Commerce Park II facility will serve as a flagship facility providing critical battery separators for the quickly growing EV battery market. We are thrilled that they’ve chosen to invest in our community thereby creating hundreds of outstanding jobs,” Knight said in the release.

It’s the latest in a series of EV-related companies that have opted to do business in Kentucky. Just last year, Ford Motor Co. and SK announced a manufacturing investment that will bring thousands of jobs to Hardin County.

In total, the state has seen over $10 billion in EV-related investments. That’s more than 9,700 full-time jobs announced since June 2020.

The planet’s leading body on climate science says humanity must cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2035 in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

In the U.S., around 27% of all emissions come from the transportation sector, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Fort Campbell community leaders react to fatal helicopter crash in Kentucky Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

Communities around Fort Campbell react after nine soldiers died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Kentucky.


Beshear: Electric vehicle battery tech plant to bring 500+ jobs to one Kentucky town Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

An investment in electric vehicle battery technology production will bring more than 500 jobs to Hopkinsville, according to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear


‘The Walking Dead’ star to open Southern food restaurant in Louisville. Here’s where Thursday, Mar 30 2023 

The author of "The Walking Dead" graphic novels, as well as a star and crew member on its TV adaptation, are opening a restaurant in Louisville.


Accident involving two Ft. Campbell Black Hawk helicopters claims lives of nine people Thursday, Mar 30 2023 


Nine service members from Ft. Campbell have died in a crash involving two Army Black Hawk helicopters in western Kentucky. The crash happened in Trigg County around 10 p.m. Wednesday.

In a news conference at Ft. Campbell Thursday morning, the deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division said the Blackhawk helicopters perform medical evacuations and were on a routine training mission.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called it a tough and tragic day. He said the state would do everything it could to support the families of those killed.

“We are blessed to live in the freest country on planet Earth, but we must remember that freedom relies on those willing to serve, some of which pay the ultimate price,” Beshear said.

Those on board the helicopters didn’t issue calls for help before the crash and weather conditions were favorable in the area when the accident occurred.

Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne deputy commander, said Thursday that the helicopters were “flying a multi-ship formation, two ships, under night vision goggles at night.”

The military choppers went down in a large field near a residential area and there were no injuries on the ground.

Ft. Campbell hasn’t released the identities of the crash victims.

The helicopters had flight recorders, which Army officials hope will provide some answers. A team from Ft. Rucker, Alabama, that specializes in aircraft safety and investigations was headed to the scene.

Two Tennessee National Guard pilots died in February when the Black Hawk helicopters they were in crashed in Alabama during a training exercise.

This story will be updated.

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