Latest Post, Louisville, Save Our Land!

Owner of Old Louisville Pesticide Plant Prepares to Sell


Black Leaf property owner gives Courier-Journal exclusive look inside a property that triggered the state’s biggest ever urban environmental cleanup.

 

Image result for BLACK LEAF PROPERTY LOUISVILLE KY

Image result for BLACK LEAF PROPERTY LOUISVILLE KY

By JAMES BRUGGERS, The Courier-Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Metal roofing has collapsed.

Trees are growing tall inside buildings. Walls are heavily tagged with graffiti.

And trespassers have set up makeshift camping or lounge areas among the arsenic and long-banned pesticides, having hauled in several couches in recent months – one of them with two small toy dolls left on the cushions.

It’s now about seven years into what Kentucky officials have called their largest urban environmental cleanup, and property owner Tony Young, on a rare tour of what he calls the Louisville Industrial Park, says: “I need to speak my piece. If I don’t do it now, I won’t have any chance.”

The 29-acre property, known by regulators as the Black Leaf site for a tobacco-based pesticide once made there, is scheduled for a foreclosure sale on Friday.

After long-banned pesticides like DDT and other dangerous chemicals or heavy metals were found in the soil, Young said he became unable to pay the $20,000 monthly mortgage he owed to First Capital Bank of Kentucky. He also owes the city nearly $1 million in back property taxes and the Metropolitan Sewer District $200,000 for several years of unpaid drainage fees. But as Young this week faces the loss of the property he’s owned since 1999, he is taking steps to recover financially while he promotes his plan to develop affordable housing for western Louisville.

Young last week sued his bank, a bank holding company, and ExxonMobil, claiming in a U.S. District Court filing that businesses have entered into “a secret deal” that cut him out and could cost him more than $20 million. He said he believes a new business cooperating with the bank and ExxonMobil intend to buy the property in a process that will wipe away the liabilities for the new owner and will allow ExxonMobil’s plan to proceed.

But that plan, he contends, would require a lesser degree of cleanup than his, which would need to meet more stringent standards for residential development.

“I am going to get my money back, one way or the other,” Young told the Courier-Journal. But if the ExxonMobil plan wins the day, “it screws all the community” by leaving chemicals behind and not meeting demand for affordable housing, he added.

Still, his plan does not appear to be going anywhere.

Exxon plan favored

The state of Kentucky instead is casting its provisional blessing on an alternative proposal backed by the giant oil company, Occidental Chemical Corp., and Grief Inc. to get the property ready for recycling it into future industrial or commercial businesses, with the less extensive cleanup that would require. Each of those companies inherited liability for past pollution, state officials have said.

City officials see the foreclosure sale as potentially removing a logjam by getting the property into the hands of a business with the financial ability to bring economic development to the blighted property – and to remove a festering eyesore and safety hazard just two miles from downtown in one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.

Park Hill, where the property is located, is one of the crime-riddled communities Louisville Metro Police are focusing extra enforcement efforts in this year, along with Victory Park, Russell, Smoketown, Shawnee, Russell and Shelby Park

Theresa Zawacki, a senior policy adviser for Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development arm, said it is hard to predict the outcome of the foreclosure sale. But she said she expects more than one bidder on the property, now that businesses with liability for the pollution are ready to begin remediation. Friday’s sale is “another step in that process,” she said.

It’s large and directly served by rail, and suitable for industrial purposes, she said. “When things like this come up, there is typically a lot of interest,” she added.

Already, the state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency teamed up to remove contaminated soil from dozens of homes near the industrial site.

But the Courier-Journal in 2016 reported that Kentucky Division of Waste Management officials had said they could not under state law force a full cleanup to residential standards inside the property. This week, a spokesman for the waste management division, John Mura, said state officials have accepted the technical portions of the ExxonMobil plan “with the caveat that Exxon must be able to demonstrate property access and the ability to place an environmental covenant on the property if necessary.

“To date, Exxon has not demonstrated that ability.”

He said state officials hope the Young lawsuit “does not further delay the restart of remedial work that could begin soon after the property access and ownership issues are resolved.”

Security concerns

Exxon has played a key role in working with the state on a remediation plan.

“ExxonMobil seeks access to the property to meet its environmental and regulatory obligations,” said Todd Spitler, company spokesman. “We continue to work under the direction of (Kentucky regulators) to develop and implement a remedy for this site that is protective of human health and the environment.”

A First Capital Bank of Kentucky representative did not return a request for comment.

Some of the chemicals found on the property have been measured at hundreds to thousands of times higher than state officials consider safe.

Young granted the Courier-Journal its first tour of the property on Monday, where he sought to make a case for his position. He portrayed himself as a man looking out for a neighborhood troubled by drugs and violence. He said he feels his bank, Exxon and state officials turned against him. “I’ve tried my best. I’ve cooperated with the state,” he said.

The Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental group, also supports cleanup to residential standards, said its director, attorney Tom FitzGerald.

That would best help to “redress a burden that the neighbors have borne for entirely too long, and to provide for the broadest range of future uses,” he said. Leaving polluted soils in place shifts costs to the next generation, he said, adding “it may be legal, but it does not make it just or moral.”

Metro Councilman David James, who represents the area, had also been pressing for a cleanup that would do what Young was seeking – allow for residential development.

James said Tuesday he has not yet heard from the state environmental agency on Black Leaf cleanup requirements and is frustrated that a problem discovered in 2010 remains unsolved.

“I would like to have had it resolved five years ago,” he said.

James also said he was concerned to hear that trespassers or squatters may have set up camps by bringing in couches. He said he did not see any of that several months ago on a visit to the property. “It makes it difficult for police because they don’t have access to it,” said James, a former police officer. “It’s private.”

He also said he may need to “find out why Mr. Young is not doing more to prevent people from coming onto the property he owns – like hiring private security.”

For his part, Young said the property is too large to keep everyone out.

James also said he was not aware of any discussions between Young and the city to bring low-income housing to the property. “At this point, Mr. Young has financial interests in the property and is looking for a way to cover his interests,” James said.

Young said he had been working with the nonprofit Housing Partnership Inc., on the low-income housing plan. The partnership has ties to the city – Mayor Greg Fischer is a board member – and several years ago looked into whether a several-hundred unit affordable housing plan was economically feasible prior to the discovery of the contaminated soils.

That kind of contamination “stops development in their tracks,” said Mike Hynes, president of the partnership.

Last year Hynes reiterated his partnership’s interest in the property for low-income housing if the environmental problems could be worked out. But Hynes said: “The property has to be safe for people to live there.”

Details lacking

Young said his cleanup plan, which he said has been rejected, would have piled a lot of contaminated soils in berms, where it would be permanently entombed.

But he also offered no details on its costs.

When the Courier-Journal on Monday requested details on the two cleanup plans from the state, Mura told the Courier-Journal to submit a request for documents under the Kentucky Open Records law because the matter was now in litigation.

The state, however, is not part of that litigation, and the Courier-Journal is still waiting for a response to the records.

For his part, Young tells a story of how what he thought would be a good, $1.9 million investment has turned into a nightmare that’s cost him dearly. He said he had the property checked out by environmental consultants – a bank requirement – before purchasing it, and they found none of the problems that state officials later discovered.

“I tried to do something good here,” he said. “I am still trying to do something good.”

CONTINUE READING…

Latest Post, Louisville

Jails in Kentucky are overflowing with inmates, but you may not realize many of the inmates are there for profit


 

    • Posted: Feb 09, 2015 3:12 PM CST Updated: Feb 09, 2015 6:00 PM CST

By Emily Mieure

Connect

The Kentucky Department of Corrections started sending state inmates to local jails in the early 1980s — the Bullitt County Jail is just one of them.

Metro corrections is the largest jail in Kentucky with 1,793 beds.

Metro corrections is the largest jail in Kentucky with 1,793 beds.

Metro Corrections doesn’t house state inmates because they don’t even have enough room for local inmates.

Louisville Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton says if he had the room, he would gladly house state inmates like other counties.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Most local jails in Kentucky are overflowing with inmates, but you may not realize many of the inmates are there for profit.

The Kentucky prison population is big and many prisoners are passed around the commonwealth. There are 12 prisons operated by the Kentucky Department of Corrections across the state and many of them are at capacity — if not above it.

When asked what could be improved with regards to the prison population, Nelson County Jailer Dorcas Figg said flat out: “Well, if we had more beds.”

Figg has been working with jails for over 40 years and she said she doesn’t foresee the overcrowding problem changing.

“Because it’s not a money making business,” she said.

So instead of being in state facilities, about a third of the commonwealth’s 12,000 prisoners are sleeping in county jails.

Some wonder if that’s dangerous, but local jailers insist it’s a good thing.

“It helps the counties out a whole lot,” Figg said.

She says the Kentucky Department of Corrections started sending state inmates to local jails in the early 1980s. Since then, the conditions at county facilities have improved.

“Sometimes they couldn’t even hardly survive back then,” said Figg. “Then once the state took it over, that was a great thing because you had standards you had to meet. Back then, you didn’t have standards,” she added.

Figg’s 102-bed jail is mostly full of local inmates, but she says housing state inmates helps the budget because The Kentucky Department of Corrections pays county jails at least $31.34 per state prisoner per day. A small percentage of that goes into a jail fund.

Sometimes the state will send a prisoner to a certain county for convenience.

“I get letters from state inmates wanting to come here to make them closer to home,” Figg explained. “If I had the beds, I would take any state I could because that’s beds that are being paid for — but we don’t have the beds.”

Not having enough beds is a problem across the commonwealth, and Bullitt County Jailer Martha Knox says it’s a constant balancing act.

“It’s very frustrating,” Knox said.

While her 304-bed jail is usually at or above capacity, she has an entire wing dedicated to only housing state prisoners. Trying to keep the right amount of local and state inmates is a daily struggle, but she says making room for the state prisoners is worth the money.

“It doesn’t pay everything but it is a big incentive,” said Knox.

That money adds up because a state prisoner can stay in a local jail for up to five years.

While this seems to work well in most counties, none of it applies to Jefferson County.

Metro Corrections doesn’t house state inmates because they don’t even have enough room for local inmates.

“We take whoever the police brings us,” Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said. “We’re 24/7, 365. Police bring them, we’re going to take them.”

“As far as I know, we’ve never been a class C or D facility and by that I mean we don’t house state inmates here in Jefferson County,” Bolton explained. “We just don’t have the capacity to do it.”

Metro corrections is the largest jail in Kentucky with 1,793 beds. Last year, it housed an average of 1,850 inmates — so where do the extras go?

“They end up going on the floor in a temporary bed and then we get them in a bed in the order they’re brought to us when a bed is freed up,” Bolton said.

He says over the years, they’ve found ways to tackle the overcrowding issue.

“We have seen the population trend down in 2014 to about a ten-year low so that’s fairly significant progress I think,” said Bolton.

He gives partial credit to House Bill 463, which reduced penalties for some drug crimes. But he said Jefferson County’s Home Incarceration Program has also contributed to the decline in the population. At any given time, there are about 700 inmates on home incarceration — 600 of them are monitored through GPS.

“I think that is another element of technology that we’ve brought to the local arena here,” Bolton noted. “I think the judges and prosecutors appreciate that that technology is now here and I think they’re making very prudent decisions with respect to public safety.”

While some think it’s dangerous to keep certain inmates on home incarceration, Bolton says it’s a program he stands behind.

“We need to protect the public and lock people up we’re afraid of, not people that we’re mad at.”

Bolton says if he had the room, he would gladly house state inmates like other counties.

“Corrections does an incredible job moving people throughout the state based upon beds that are free in other jurisdictions,” he said.

Bolton said the population at Metro Corrections peaked near 1,650 in December, which he said he hadn’t seen in over six years.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky Derby, Latest Post, Louisville

10 things to know for the 140th Kentucky Derby


 

 

 

By BETH HARRIS Associated Press

LOUISVILLE — The garland of red roses. The solid gold trophy. An estimated payday of $1.24 million.

All those spoils await the winner of the 140th Kentucky Derby to be run on May 3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. A full field of 20 3-year-olds is expected for the 1 1/4-mile race, and most of them will be running the distance for the first time.

Packing the stands and the infield will be upward of 150,000 people, many of whom come for the party atmosphere, the wagering and to possibly see a live horse or two. They’ll dress to the nines in fancy suits and dresses topped off by a mix of elegant, huge and outrageous hats. New this year to the track is a $12 million high-definition video board that measures 171-foot wide by 90-foot tall and will show the day’s races and other entertainment.

Here are 10 things to know about the Derby:

1. NUMBERS GAME: Trainer Todd Pletcher has four probable starters in pursuit of his second Derby victory. They are: Arkansas Derby winner Danza; Risen Star winner Intense Holiday; Spiral Stakes winner We Miss Artie; and Vinceremos, who was 14th in the Blue Grass. Mike Maker could saddle three horses: Vicar’s in Trouble, General a Rod and Harry’s Holiday. Bob Baffert, a three-time Derby winner, could start two: Rebel Stakes winner Hoppertunity and Sunland Derby winner Chitu.

2. DRAW DAY: The field of 20 horses is announced on Wednesday. That’s when the draw is held to determine spots in the starting gate. Some trainers want to avoid the No. 1 post because their horse starts next to the rail and could get pinched going into the first turn. Others don’t like the No. 20 post because their horse is on the far outside and has to quickly make its way over toward the rail to save ground going into the first turn. Last year’s winner, Orb, broke from the No. 15 post. The odds are set on draw day, too.

3. CALIFORNIA CHROME: California Chrome is expected to be the favorite based on the dominating form he’s shown on the West Coast. The colt has won his last four races by a combined 24 1/4 lengths, including the Santa Anita Derby. He beat Hopportunity and Candy Boy in that race, two rivals he’s likely to face again in Louisville. He’s trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, who won the Derby in 2002.

4. POINTS SYSTEM: For the second straight year, the field of 20 starters is being determined by points. Churchill Downs instituted a tiered system that awards a sliding scale of points to the top four finishers in 34 designated races. The top 20 point earners at the end of the series will earn a spot in the Derby starting gate if more than 20 horses enter. The field has been limited to 20 horses since 1975. At least that many have entered every year since 2004, and 13 of the last 15 years.

5. BUCKING HISTORY: Hoppertunity didn’t race as a 2-year-old, setting him up for a chance to break one of the Derby’s oldest jinxes: no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without racing at 2. “I had him entered in a race at 2 and scratched him because I had another one there,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He was ready to run, so that should count.”

6. ALSO ELIGIBLES: Besides the 20 horses which make the Derby, four more can also be entered. They would have until the morning of May 2 to get into the race if any horses are scratched by then.

7. TIEBREAKER: Five horses are tied for the 20th and last spot on the points leaderboard with 20 each. Harry’s Holiday would be the last horse to get in because he has highest earnings in non-restricted stakes races, which is the tiebreaker. The other horses with 20 points are Commanding Curve, Pablo Del Monte, Bayern and Social Inclusion.

8. OLDEST TRAINER: Art Sherman has the best horse of his career with California Chrome. At 77, he could become the oldest trainer to win, breaking the record of Charlie Whittingham, who was 76 when he won in 1989 with Sunday Silence. Sherman has done it all in the business. He was a jockey for 21 years, a racing official and then became a trainer in 1980. He has won over 2,100 races.

9. NEW ANNOUNCER: Larry Collmus is the new race caller at Churchill Downs. He has announced the Derby the last three years on the NBC telecast, but this will be the first year that his voice is heard by fans at the track and TV viewers. He also announces races at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

10. TRIPLE CROWN: A horse has just one shot to win the Triple Crown because the Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes is restricted to 3-year-olds. Only 11 horses have swept the series and none since Affirmed in 1978. The feat begins with a victory in the Derby, followed by wins in the other races over a five-week span. Fifty horses have finished one win shy of the Triple, including I’ll Have Another in 2012.

– See more at: http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com/sports/x1535579856/10-things-to-know-for-the-140th-Kentucky-Derby#sthash.Qsut9vrc.dpuf

Kentucky Derby, Latest Post, Louisville

My Hometown: Louisville, KY | Ordinary Times


My Hometown: Louisville, KY | Ordinary Times.

My Hometown: Louisville, KY

It’s Derby Week here in Louisville and while some readers may be tired of my love affair with this city I also thought this might be an opportunity to start a loose-format series about the places we all come from. So if you are a regular writer or a potential guest blogger, I hope you will follow my lead…

I started to do a big write up about our history and culture and what it means to live in Louisville but I kept realizing I was just saying the same things that everyone else says about our city. The reason for that (I hope) is not because I don’t have an original thing to say but because we all pretty much agree on the reasons why Louisville is awesome. The folks at Brooklyn Derby did the hard work of putting it all together in this quick video.