Sunday December 4, 2016

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The State Board of Elections on Tuesday, Nov. 22,  certified vote totals from the Nov. 8 general election and issued certificates of election to candidates who received the highest number of votes, completing the official administration process of the statewide election. Detailed official results are available at GoVoteKY.com.

Approximately 1.95 million Kentuckians, 59% percent of registered voters, cast ballots in the general election, said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s chief election official.

“Our election administrators – more than 15,000 across Kentucky, including the State Board of Elections, county boards of elections, county clerks, and precinct election officers – are the backbone of this process, and again, they led a successful election,” said Grimes. “I am deeply grateful for their hard work and dedication to ensuring our elections run efficiently and fairly.”

Grimes announced that the Meeting of Presidential Electors will be held on Dec. 19 at 11:30 a.m. at the Supreme Court Room in Frankfort. The electors cast the official votes of Kentucky for President and Vice President of the United States.

The Kentucky Election Integrity Task Force also met Tuesday to review the administration of the election. The members, which include U.S. Attorney’s offices, the FBI, the Kentucky Attorney General’s office, and Kentucky State Police, said the high-profile election was largely free from issue or problems. Law enforcement officials are currently reviewing election complaints they have received to determine which may merit further investigation. Grimes chairs the task force, which she brought together for the first time in 2012.

Pursuant to Kentucky law, the Office of the Attorney General will randomly select six counties in which it will conduct a post-election audit. The drawing was scheduled for last Tuesday.

The State Board of Elections led a post-election meeting of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Advisory Committee to assess current voting processes and discuss possible improvements. Kentucky is one of the few states in the nation which conducts regular meetings in accordance with the federal voting law passed in 2002.

“I have been a committed advocate for making sure every Kentuckian – especially those with disabilities – are able to cast their ballots independently and in private,” said Grimes. “Voting is a cherished right, and I’m proud to help preserve it for all citizens.”

Grimes continues to push for legislation that would make it easier for persons who qualify by age, disability, and illness to vote absentee in-person. The proposal enjoys the support of disability advocates and has the recommendation of the HAVA Advisory Committee.

Hunters who illegally transport deer or elk carcasses into Kentucky from states infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) risk prosecution.

Hunters must not bring whole deer or elk carcasses from infected states to taxidermists or processing operations in Kentucky.

CWD is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and other cervids native to North America. Currently, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.

Chronic wasting disease has been detected in 24 states, including Ohio, Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The disease has also been found in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Kentucky, which does not have the disease in its animals, prohibits the importation of whole carcasses or high-risk cervid parts such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymphoid tissue from deer or elk killed in CWD–infected states and provinces.

Hunters may bring back deboned meat, hindquarters, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products. To help prevent the entry of CWD into the state, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources discourages hunters from bringing back high-risk parts of deer or elk taken in any state, regardless of CWD status.

Several proactive steps have been taken by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and captive cervid owners to prevent the introduction of the disease into the state.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife monitors wild deer and elk herds while the Kentucky Department of Agriculture monitors the captive herds. Since 2002, Kentucky has tested more than 26,000 deer and elk for the presence of the disease. All results have been negative.

Regulations enacted to reduce the likelihood of CWD in Kentucky have included a ban on importation of live cervids from CWD-positive states, mandatory CWD monitoring of captive herds and prohibiting the importation of high-risk carcass parts from CWD-positive states into Kentucky.

This disease can persist in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil or vegetation or through contact with infected cervid parts. The movement of live animals, either through the captive deer trade or natural migration, is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.

Today, Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order reorganizing the former seven-person Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission, which resulted in a five-member board with all new members, was upheld by the Franklin Circuit Court. This decision further supports that the Governor has the legal authority to reorganize executive boards.

“Today’s court order is welcome news, as Kentuckians were really beginning to feel the pain of not being able to move forward with their workers’ comp claims,” said Communications Director Amanda Stamper. “This order will allow the newly formed Workers’ Compensation Nominating Committee to proceed to meet and make its nominations so Gov. Bevin may begin appointing administrative law judges to fill positions that have been vacant for far too long.”

In June, the Governor’s Office determined that greater efficiency and improved administration would be achieved by streamlining and condensing the organizational structure of the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission.

The Kentucky Arts Council, with the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, launched the 2016 “Give a Gift Made in Kentucky” campaign today. The campaign, which features a variety of work by Kentucky-based artists, will run through Dec. 31.

Artists in Kentucky Arts Council’s Kentucky Crafted, Architectural Artists and Performing Artists directories as well as Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship recipients will feature their studios, galleries and shops for holiday open houses and other events showcasing their work. In addition, the Give a Gift Web pages will feature holiday events from the arts council’s Kentucky Arts Partnership organizations. These events will run through the entire “Give a Gift” campaign, and are located throughout the state.

The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, where visitors can purchase fine Kentucky-made products from more than 700 Kentucky artisans year-round, has a busy schedule of artist demonstrations, book signings, musical performances and more throughout the holiday season.

Shoppers interested in purchasing Kentucky-made items can visit more than 20 businesses designated as Kentucky Crafted Retailers. These businesses carry items from Kentucky artists, including those in the arts council’s Kentucky Crafted program, Architectural Artists Directory and Performing Arts Directory. Many retailers have special events, promotions and discounts throughout the holiday season.

For more information on “Give a Gift,” contact Tom Musgrave, arts council communications director, at 502-892-3122 or tomr.musgrave@ky.gov; or Gwen Heffner, artisan center information specialist, at 859-985-5448, ext. 230 or gwen.heffner@ky.gov.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council is celebrating 50 years of service in 2016.

Angel’s Envy™, the super-premium Kentucky Straight bourbon whiskey of uncompromising character and quality, will officially open its new distillery and visitor center to the public for guided tours beginning Saturday, November 19. Online reservations, which are required, are now being accepted at www.angelsenvy.com. Admission is $15 per person and includes a tasting.

Located at 500 E. Main Street at Jackson, (the former Vermont American and Baer Fabrics Building), the new state-of-the-art facility is the first full-production whiskey distillery in downtown Louisville. Having completed a $27 million renovation since breaking ground in 2013, the brand home center houses the Angel’s Envy distillery operations (including everything from milling of grains to blending and bottling on site), as well as a visitor center and gift shop. From the exterior walls to the vaulted ceilings and arched windows, their architects worked diligently to preserve every possible feature of the original building. Their breathtaking, one-of-a-kind 35-foot-tall column still, pot still and doubler were sourced locally from Vendome Coppery & Brass Works—just four blocks away.

The small batch artisan bourbon is the culmination of the late Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson’s storied career. Each of the brand’s three current expressions (flagship Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey finished in Port Wine Barrels, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength and Angel’s Envy Rye finished in hand-selected Caribbean rum casks), exhibit his passion for experimenting outside of conventional norms by producing unique whiskey steeped in tradition, but finished with a twist.

“Opening the Angel’s Envy distillery and visitor’s center in downtown Louisville was a dream Dad (Lincoln Henderson) and I had,” said Wes Henderson, Co-founder/Chief Innovation Officer, Louisville Distilling Company. “He would be so proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. My sons and I proudly carry on his legacy. The distillery is a must-see experience.”

“We are delighted that Angel’s Envy chose downtown Louisville for its new distillery and visitor center,” said Louisville Mayor, Greg Fischer. “It is evident that Angel’s Envy is not only committed to quality craftsmanship, but also the greater Louisville community.”

The Angel’s Envy distillery and visitor center is open for tours every Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and every Sunday, from 1:00 – 5:00pm. Tours will not be available on Tuesdays.

For more information, please visit us at www.angelsenvy.com or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/AngelsEnvyBourbon and twitter https://twitter.com/Angels_Envy (@angels_envy).

Mayor Greg Fischer, TreesLouisville and the Community Foundation of Louisville announced today that an anonymous donor has contributed $1 million for tree planting throughout the city, and the community is launching an effort to match that donation.

“That’s an ambitious goal, but we know that trees are very important for our environment, our economy and civic pride, and if all citizens participate, we can get it done,” Mayor Fischer said.

Susan Barry, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, said her agency will accept donations to match the $1 million. TreesLouisville will manage the outreach and focus of the initiative.

“Now is the time for all of us to get fired up about planting and caring for trees,” said TreesLouisville Executive Director Cindi Sullivan, “We need trees if we want to have a healthy place to live, learn, work and play. So the question is: have you planted a tree today?”

While the city will continue planting trees on public land through city agencies such as Brightside, the Division of Community Forestry and Metro Parks, the Mayor stressed that the city also needs more trees on private land.

And to reach the city’s goal of a 45 percent tree canopy, he urged residents and businesses to plant trees in their yards and community greenspaces. (Louisville’s tree canopy is currently about 37 percent.)

“I’m asking residents and businesses to recommit themselves in growing our tree canopy by contributing their funds to this effort to buy trees, or their time to plant and maintain them,” the Mayor said. “I am grateful to the private and corporate citizens who have started this effort, and ask the community to match the contribution and more.”

Adding trees has many benefits for a community. Economically, the shade trees provide can lower energy costs and, because they are aesthetically pleasing, trees increase property values and attract business to the neighborhood. Environmentally, trees provide better air quality, a reduction in our city’s heat island effect and a habitat for wildlife. Trees also put more pride into neighborhoods and promote the beauty of city streets.

Local advertising agency Red7e has provided creative services for this initiative.

To donate to the tree planting initiative, please visit https://treeslouisville.org/

Mayor Greg Fischer announced today that His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama will return to Louisville in April 2017. And to spotlight the significance of the visit, the 22nd annual Festival of Faiths will move to April 19-24 and culminate with talks by the Dalai Lama.

The Mayor, joined by 2017 Festival chairman Owsley Brown III, made the announcement during a press conference today at the George Garvin Brown Garden, 415 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.

The title of the 2017 Festival is “Compassion: Shining like the Sun.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama will deliver talks on universal human values and nonviolence at the Yum! Center on Sunday, April 23, and at a large youth event on Monday, April 24.

The visit is being planned by several local organizations involved in the city’s compassion initiatives, including the Mayor’s office, the Center for Interfaith Relations, Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion, and the newly formed International Center for Compassionate Cities.

Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Fischer has helped champion a city-wide campaign for compassion, including his Give a Day week of service, Compassionate Louisville and the Compassionate Schools Project. He has been a longtime supporter of Louisville’s signature interfaith event, the Festival of Faiths, and worked with the Festival’s Brown, as well as Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Donna Hargens, to launch the Compassionate Schools Project here in 2015.

The Festival of Faiths is a nationally acclaimed interfaith event of music, poetry, film, art and dialogue with internationally renowned spiritual leaders, thinkers and practitioners. It is designed as a platform for holding conversations on meaning in a time of multiple crises of meaning; and respecting the essential union between thinking globally and acting locally.

Theologian Richard Rohr calls the Festival “the Sundance of the Sacred,” and the Huffington Post included it among America’s top 7 spiritual travel destinations. www.FestivalofFaiths.org

Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion, a Tibetan Buddhist dharma center, hosted His Holiness in Louisville in 2013.  Under the Dalai Lama’s advice and guidance, DGCEC’s Compassion Education Center provides presentations, workshops, retreats and classes that inspire everyday people to grow loving-kindness and deep compassion in the movement from understanding to personal engagement.  Programming is based in universal human values using inclusive, non-religious and inter-religious language. www.DrepungGomangUSA.org

The International Center for Compassionate Cities (IC3) will launch with the 2017 visit.   The IC3 will serve the ever-growing global community of cities that have signed the Charter for Compassion by providing tools to measure compassion, resources to help implement compassion-based city programing and a space to share stories. Overall, the center will serve to amplify compassion in cities around the world.

The site of today’s press conference announcing the 2017 visit was steps away from Merton Square, the historic site of Thomas Merton’s 1958 epiphany in downtown Louisville. He wrote of that event: “[I]n Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut [now Muhammad Ali Blvd.] … I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs. … There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

Merton was a Trappist monk who is world renowned as a Christian writer, social critic and interfaith pioneer. In 1968 Merton met with the young Dalai Lama and forged an important kinship that continues to “shine like the sun.” Merton wrote that he felt “a real spiritual bond” with His Holiness. The image of the two at this 1968 meeting hangs over the door at the Center for Interfaith Relations.

Even today the Dalai Lama often speaks about Merton as THE Christian monk who broadened his understanding of the profound commonalities between traditions. His Holiness commented in a New York Times opinion piece in 2010: “The focus on compassion that Merton and I observed in our two religions strikes me as a strong unifying thread among all the major faiths. And these days we need to highlight what unifies us.”

More details about themes and programming, as well as ticketing, for the April event will be released in January 2017, and news and updates will be posted on the www.FestivalofFaiths.org and www.DalaiLamaLouisville.org  websites.

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