Gov. Beshear gives Team Kentucky Update

In his State of the Commonwealth Address, Gov. Beshear said Kentucky is strong and the future...
In his State of the Commonwealth Address, Gov. Beshear said Kentucky is strong and the future is bright, with 2023 presenting the opportunity to turn two years of historic progress into decades of lasting prosperity.(WKYT)
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 1:55 PM CST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KFVS) - Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear gave a Team Kentucky Update today, on Thursday, January 5.

In the update, he let Kentuckians know about the toll-free Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project; his State of the Commonwealth Address; his new role as the states’ co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission; inclement weather; recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky; and public health. The Governor also named Mike Berry, who is retiring as Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star.

Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project

Gov. Beshear joined President Joe Biden, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and other national, state and local leaders in Covington, Ky., to highlight one of the largest federal infrastructure funding awards in history. Last week, the Governor announced that the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project secured more than $1.6B in federal grants. This will allow a companion bridge to the west of the Brent Spence Bridge to be built without tolls.

The project is said to be critical to sales, supply chains and tourism and will create thousands of construction jobs during the building phase.

“This isn’t just the fulfillment of my administration’s promise. It’s also the beginning of an even brighter future for the families of this region, for the tens of thousands of travelers who pass through this area every day and for the many businesses that rely on this key commercial link,” Gov. Beshear said. “This project has been talked about for years and we are the folks who are working together in a non-partisan way to actually get it done.”

State of the Commonwealth

In his State of the Commonwealth Address, Gov. Beshear said Kentucky is strong and the future is bright, with 2023 presenting the opportunity to turn two years of historic progress into decades of lasting prosperity.

Throughout his address, the Governor recognized challenges from the pandemic, natural disasters and rebuilding communities, as well as the enormous success Kentucky has seen, including the best two-year period for economic development and job creation, record-high budget surpluses and the longest period of the lowest unemployment rate in state history.

The Governor also unveiled his 2023 legislative proposals. He said he is working with his state representative, Derrick Graham of Frankfort, to file bills this session that will further support economic growth and lift up Kentuckians for generations to come.

Gov. Beshear Named States’ Co-Chair of Appalachian Regional Commission

The Governor has been elected by his fellow Appalachian governors to serve as the states’ co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission for 2023. In this role, Gov. Beshear will work alongside federal co-chair Gayle Manchin to lead the commission in bolstering economic and community growth across the 13 states of the region. Kentucky will also host ARC’s annual conference in the fall of 2023.

Recent Weather Update

Gov. Beshear said Kentucky Emergency Management continues to work across the commonwealth on response and coordination efforts regarding the arctic storm and recent heavy rainfall that has led to localized flooding. Four Kentuckians lost their lives as a result of arctic weather, and that number could change.

Ohio County declared a state of emergency due to weather events this week. This was a county level declaration, and the state of emergency issued by the Governor regarding the arctic front is still in effect, which allows the state to respond as needed.

All survivors sheltering in travel trailers through the Commonwealth Sheltering Program have moved back into their units. Water distribution efforts continue as rain has impacted the counties working to recover from the arctic storm.

Eastern Kentucky Flood Update

Gov. Beshear provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s stabilization and rebuilding efforts. Currently, 262 families are housed in travel trailers. The Governor said Kentucky State Parks are now housing 53 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on September 1.

If flood victims need help, they should call FEMA directly or visit a Multi-Agency Resource Center. Visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources for more information. FEMA is still approving claims and actively working to help flood victims.

Waterway debris removal is nearly complete. Just under 1,100 state- and county-owned bridges have been inspected by the Transportation Cabinet. Approximately 100 were found to need replacement or major repair. To date, 25 of those bridges have been replaced and 13 others have been repaired.

To date, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $13M from more than 41,000 donors.

Public Health Update

Gov. Beshear also updated Kentuckians on influenza, RSV and COVID-19. Eight children have died from the disease, making this the deadliest flu season for Kentucky children.

RSV activity appears to be declining in the state. People of any age can become infected with RSV, and most recover within one to two weeks. RSV can be serious, however, especially for infants and older adults.

The Governor said the most recent COVID-19 data shows that the virus is increasing nationwide. The CDC estimates that the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant is now causing an increasing proportion of cases in the United States. This variant is not expected to cause more severe disease than other omicron subvariants. He encouraged those who are eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

Team Kentucky All-Star

Gov. Beshear named Mike Berry, the Secretary of the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Star. The Governor said Secretary Berry has helped Kentucky’s tourism industry rebound from the pandemic. Under his leadership, the commonwealth invested more than $88M in the tourism industry and nearly $1.7M toward the recovery of the arts industry.

“We are sad to see him go, but we congratulate him on this new chapter. And today, I am proud to recognize him for his dedicated service and his many accomplishments,” Gov. Beshear said. “Thank you, Secretary Berry. We appreciate your commitment to Team Kentucky and wish you the best.”

Taking over the helm at the Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet will be Lindy Casebier. Casebier has been the deputy secretary for the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet after many years as a public school educator, administrator, legislator and nonprofit director. He also previously served in senior roles within the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet for 18 years.

“The experience that Lindy brings with him means he will hit the ground running and work hard to support our important tourism and arts sectors as well as our employees,” Gov. Beshear said.