Prior to becoming Kentucky’s first republican governor in 32 years, Ernie Fletcher was an Air Force fighter pilot, family doctor, engineer, lay minister, state legislator, and U.S. congressman. He become Kentucky’s 60th governor in 2003. His term lasts until 2007; state law allows him to run for a second term.
Fletcher is originally from Montgomery County; he spent much of his life in Fayette County. Fletcher entered public life when he was elected to the Kentucky state legislature from the 78th district. In 1998 he was elected to the U.S. Congress. He left his seat in congress when he was elected governor.
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Related news topic: [2004 Regular Session]
Bid Rigging Charges Revised
Posted: 12-Feb-2009 7:15AM CST
Indictments against former Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert and highway contractor Leonard Lawson have been revised. The indictments stem from payments Lawson allegedly made to Nighbert and Dept. of Highways District 7 Chief Engineer Jim Rummage in order to receive confidential information regarding open highway construction bids.
More information: Louisville Courier-Journal: Highway bid-rig charges revised; Rejected indictment has been rephrased (Feb. 12, 2009) , Associated Press: 2 charges dismissed in bid-rigging case (Feb. 11, 2009 , Associated Press: New indictment issued in bid-rigging case (Feb. 11, 2009)
Marcie Matthews Appointed State Highway Engineer
Posted: 5-Feb-2006 2:30AM CST
Gov. Ernie Fletcher recently appointed Marcie Matthews as the Transportation Cabinet’s State Highway Engineer: Press Release: Governor Ernie Fletcher Appoints New State Highway Engineer (Jan. 26, 2006)
Governor Fletcher Hand Delivers Checks for Berea Bypass
Posted: 5-Feb-2006 2:25AM CST
In a recent photo opportunity, Gov. Fletcher delivered checks to pays for the design and construction of a new bypass in Berea: Richmond Register: Berea road projects get $3.4 million from state (Nov. 22, 2005)
Fletcher May Suspend State’s Gas Tax
Posted: 3-Oct-2005 12:26AM CDT
Gov. Ernie Fletcher is considering suspending the state’s gas tax. Such a move would result in a huge loss of income to the state’s road fund.
More information: WAVE 3: Governor Fletcher Considers Suspending Gas Tax (Sept. 30, 2005)
US 25E Becomes Daniel Boone-Cumberland Gap Wilderness Trail
Posted: 10-Sep-2005 9:43PM CDT
Topics: [Bell County] [Daniel Boone Parkway/Hal Rogers Parkway] [Governor Ernie Fletcher] [Knox County] [Laurel County] [Governor Paul E. Patton] [US 25]
Gov. Fletcher recently signed documents naming US 25E from Corbin to Middlesboro the Daniel Boone-Cumberland Gap Wilderness Trail. Controversy arose in 2003 when outgoing Gov. Paul Patton (a Democrat) renamed the Daniel Boone Parkway in honor of sitting U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers (a Republican).
More information: WKYT: Daniel Boone to get back on the road (Aug. 8, 2005) , Associated Press: Daniel Boone's name to go on Highway U.S. 25E (Aug. 9, 2005) , Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office: Governor Ernie Fletcher signs Executive Order naming southeastern Kentucky road after Daniel Boone (Aug. 9, 2005)
Smiley Out; Bland In
Posted: 10-Sep-2005 9:36PM CDT
Kentucky’s oft-derided “Mr. Smiley” license plate is being replaced with a much blander plate featuring the “Unbridled Spirit” motto: Hopkinsville Kentucky New Era: Goodbye smiley face...; Fletcher frowns on state's happy plates (June 30, 2005) , (Covington) Kentucky Post: New state motto hitting stride (July 5, 2005) , WAVE 3: Unpopular License Plates Phased Out Early (July 26, 2005) , Ashland Daily-Independent: Governor unveils new 'Unbridled Spirit' plate (July 19, 2005) , Courier-Journal: 'Unbridled Spirit' plates are unveiled; 'Smiley' licenses ride into sunset (July 20, 2005) , Cincinnati Enquirer: Smiley plate exiled early; Governor cites tag's incorrect 'panache' (July 20, 2005) , Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Governor Ernie Fletcher Unveils New Unbridled Spirit License Plate; Sun Sets On “Smiley Face” Plate (July 19, 2005) , Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office: Governor Ernie Fletcher unveils new Unbridled Spirit license plate (July 19, 2005)
Transportation Cabinet Hiring Inquiry
Posted: 1-Jul-2005 3:44AM CDT
On May 20, the state Personnel Board voted to conduct an investigation into hiring practices at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Lexington Herald-Leader: Personnel Board votes to investigate (May 21, 2005)
Gov. Fletcher has denied having a personal role in hiring: Louisville Courier-Journal: Fletcher denies role in hirings (May 21, 2005)
More on Alleged Violations of Hiring Practices
Posted: 20-May-2005 1:14AM CDT
Several news reports this week shed more light on the alleged violations of the state’s hiring merit system in the Transportation Cabinet under Gov. Fletcher. Douglas W. Doerting, assistant director of personnel in the cabinet, alleged in a formal complaint that the hiring decisions were made using an “illegal political patronage” system.
On Tuesday a search warrant was served on the Governor’s office.
A letter from the Federal Highway Administration detailing how the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet had failed to meet its Affirmative Action goals has also surfaced. It was reported that he U.S. government might freeze $600 million in Kentucky road projects because the Transportation Cabinet hired almost no minorities in 2004: of 317 merit employees hired during that time 97% were white; however, later reports claimed there was no immediate threat of the freezing of road funds.
A complete record of the Courier-Journal’s coverage of the hiring investigation can be found here: Courier-Journal: Merit System Investigation
More on State Vehicle Study
Posted: 20-May-2005 1:14AM CDT
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has released a press release concerning the Governor’s state-owned vehicle inspection initiative: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Comprehensive State Vehicle Study Begins (May 16, 2005)
State Government Vehicle Inspections to Take Place This Week
Posted: 16-May-2005 4:05AM CDT
State government vehicles will be inspected at various places across the state this week. This is part of Governor Ernie Fletcher’s comprehensive state vehicle study
Transportation Cabinet Hiring Practices Probed
Posted: 16-May-2005 12:04AM CDT
The state is investigating allegations that hiring in the Transportation Cabinet has been based on political affiliations instead of qualifications: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer: State road department hiring probed (May 15, 2005)
Ground Broken on Next Phase of KY 80 Widening
Posted: 30-Apr-2005 5:55AM CDT
Ground was broken Wednesday on the next phase of the Western Kentucky KY 80 widening project. Gov. Ernie Fletcher and other officials broke ground for a section of the highway between the KY 121 Bypass in Mayfield and KY 1124: Murray Ledger & Times: Ground broken for Mayfield end of Ky. 80 road project (April 28, 2005)
US 119 Pine Mountain Celebration Planned for April 22
Posted: 4-Apr-2005 1:23AM CDT
Local, state, and federal officials will gather in Letcher County on April 22 to celebrate improvements to US 119’s crossing of Pine Mountain. The improvements include the widening of shoulders and the addition of passing lanes on the climb up the mountain.
The day’s events will include exhibits at the Pine Mountain Grill and a 11:00am ceremony at the new overlook on US 119.
“Unbridled Spirit” Welcomes Visitors
Posted: 1-Apr-2005 5:42AM CST
According to a press release from Gov. Fletcher’s communications office, new welcome signs such as these are being installed near the state’s entries points. Eleven large signs will be installed along the state’s interstates and approximately 60 smaller signs will be installed along secondary roads. The large signs cost $40,000 to produce.
Photograph courtesy Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
“Future I-66 Corridor”
Posted: 1-Apr-2005 5:19AM CST
Topics: [Barren County] [Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway] [Governor Ernie Fletcher] [Interstate 66]
On Wednesday, March 23, 2005, Gov. Ernie Fletcher unveiled signs to mark the proposed corridor of I-66 through Southern Kentucky at events in Glasgow and Columbia. As of Friday, March 25, 2005 at least two of these signs had been installed along the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway: one along the parkway’s eastbound lanes at its western terminus and one along the westbound lanes at exit 11.
Transportation Cabinet Secretary Resigns to Take New Post
Posted: 1-Apr-2005 3:51AM CST
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Maxwell Clay Bailey resigned Monday to become head of the Kentucky Department of Emergency Management. The retired Air Force general was appointed as head of the transportation cabinet by Gov. Ernie Fletcher in December 2003.
Bailey will be replaced by Bill Nighbert on an interim basis.
Opinions: For and Against Highway Bonds
Posted: 21-Feb-2005 4:43PM CST
The Courier-Journal has printed several letters both for and against the governor’s plan to sell $500 million in bonds to finance highway projects: Courier-Journal: Funding for highway construction and maintenance (Feb. 21, 2005)
Governor Releases Road Funds Early
Posted: 7-Feb-2005 2:14AM CST
In January, Gov. Fletcher announced the early release of $33 million in state road maintenance funds to city and county road agencies: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Governor Fletcher announces early release of $33 million in County Road Aid and Municipal Road Aid funds; Money given out early to help local governments hit by snow storms, flooding (Jan. 26, 2005)
Former CSX Official Appointed as Transportation Cabinet Chief of Staff
Posted: 19-Jan-2005 2:49AM CST
Gov. Ernie Fletcher recently appointed former CSX Louisville Vice President Jim Adams as Chief of Staff at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Governor appoints Louisville businessman to new position in Transportation (Jan. 10, 2005) , Business First of Louisville: Former CSX official joins Transportation Cabinet (Jan. 11, 2005)
More Snow and Ice Information
Posted: 24-Dec-2004 1:47AM CST
Topics: Topic listing supressed. [33 topics related to this item]
Wrecks caused backups on I-71 and I-24 and summary of snow response statewide: Associated Press: Winter storm coats parts of Kentucky with snow, ice (Dec. 23, 2004) , Associated Press: Winter Storm Coats Much Of Kentucky With Snow, Ice (Dec. 23, 2004)
Summary of snow response in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati: (Covington) Kentucky Post: Kentucky and Ohio counties declare weather emergencies (Dec. 23, 2004) , Cincinnati Enquirer: Now, time to dig out (Dec. 23, 2004)
Snow response in the Glasgow area: Glasgow Daily Times: Winter storm hits Kentucky (Dec. 23, 2004)
Motorists became stranded on part of the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway near Hopkinsville: (Hopkinsville) Kentucky New Era: Storm paralyzes region (Dec. 23, 2004)
Gov. Fletcher has declared a state of emergency in the following counties and cities: McLean, Hancock, Livingston, Hopkins, City of Providence, City of Owensboro, City of Falmouth, City of Butler, Todd, Daviess, Crittenden, Carlisle, Shelby, Muhlenberg, Pendleton, Bullitt and Grayson: WAVE 3: Governor Ernie Fletcher's Office Declares State of Emergency (Dec. 23, 2004)
I-64 in Indiana remains closed between Evansville and the Illinois state line. The National Guard has been rescuing stranded motorists along the interstate: Associated Press: Guardsmen Rescuing Travelers Stranded On Southern Indiana Highway (Dec. 23, 2004) , Associated Press: Stranded travelers recall cold night on snowbound highway (Dec. 23, 2004) , Associated Press: Snow Storm Snarls Much Of Southern, Central Indiana (Dec. 23, 2004) , Evansville Courier & Press: Indiana National Guardsmen rescue stranded motorists from Interstate 64 (Dec. 23, 2004)
Information regarding conditions on Kentucky’s highway can be obtained by calling 1-800-RDREPORT, by calling 511 from an in-state telephone, or by visiting ww.511.ky.gov .
Maps of roads that will be cleared by the state government can be found at: www.kytc.state.ky.us/maintenance/Snow_Ice.htm .
Beverage Did Not Report Job with Contractor
Posted: 22-Dec-2004 9:06PM CST
Governor Fletcher’s new pick for State Highway Engineer, Sam Beverage, failed to report a month-long job for a contractor on a state job application: Cincinnati Enquirer: State official didn't list job with contractor (Dec. 21, 2004) , Associated Press: Fletcher appointee in Highway Dept. didn't list contractor job (Dec. 21, 2004) , Courier-Journal: Official didn't list job with contractor (Dec. 21, 2004)
“Cleaning up State Government”
Posted: 22-Dec-2004 9:05PM CST
The Union County Advocate printed this editorial written by Transportation Cabinet Secretary Maxwell Clay Bailey: Union County Advocate: Cleaning Up State Government (Dec. 15, 2004)
Beverage Replaces Yowell as State Highway Engineer
Posted: 11-Dec-2004 12:21AM CST
Topics: [Bell County] [Cumberland Gap] [Governor Ernie Fletcher] [Kentucky Transportation Cabinet] [Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project] [US 25]
Today, Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed Sam Beverage, PE as State Highway Engineer. The State Highway Engineer works with the Commissioner of Highways to administer the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the more than 27,000 miles of state maintained roads in Kentucky. Beverage has previously served the transportation cabinet as Chief District Engineer for District 6, District 10, and District 11. Earlier this year, Gov. Fletcher appointed Beverage as Chief District Engineer for both Districts 10 and 11. Beverage also previously served as Commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Highways.
Beverage will replace J.M. “Mac” Yowell. Since becoming State Highway Engineer in 1992, Yowell has served under three governors: Jones, Patton, and Fletcher. At twelve years, he was the longest serving state highway engineer in the nation. Yowell will continue to serve the cabinet in the capacity of an executive advisor.
Among the transportation cabinet’s accomplishments during Yowell’s tenure was the completion of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel. Yowell was a driving force behind the completion of that project.
Chief Highway Engineers Appointed in Nine Districts
Posted: 30-Jun-2004 1:07AM CDT
Topics: Topic listing supressed. [73 topics related to this item]
Gov. Fletcher and Transportation Secretary Bailey have appointed chief highway engineers for nine of the Division of Highways' twelve districts.
More information: WKYT: Gov. Fletcher Hires New Highway Engineers (June 29, 2004) , Associated Press: Fletcher appoints top highway engineers (June 30, 2004) , Hardin County News-Enterprise: Highway engineer appointed in E'town (June 30, 2004) , Maysville Ledger-Independent: New KTC Engineer Sees District as Unique (July 2, 2004)
Mike Goins Appointed as Transportation Cabinet Public Affairs Director
Posted: 30-Jun-2004 12:07AM CDT
Mike Goins has been appointed to the position of Executive Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Transportation Cabinet. Goins, a native of Cumberland, has previously worked for the Ashland Alliance and in television news for WSAZ-TV in Huntington, WV and WYMT-TV in Hazard.
New Chief Engineer Appointed to Louisville Highway District
Posted: 23-Jun-2004 7:56AM CDT
Topics: [Bullitt County] [Governor Ernie Fletcher] [Franklin County] [Henry County] [Jefferson County] [Kentucky Transportation Cabinet] [Oldham County] [Shelby County] [Spencer County] [Trimble County]
Gov. Fletcher and Transportation Secretary Bailey have appointed Barry Sanders to serve as chief district engineer for the Transportation Cabinet’s District 5 which is based in Louisville.
More information: KYTC: Governor Ernie Fletcher and Transportation Secretary Clay Bailey Appoint Chief District Engineer for Highway District 5 in Louisville (June 1, 2004) , Business First: State Names Head of Louisville-area Transportation Operation (June 1, 2004)
Summary of Transportation Related Bills Passed During the 2004 Regular Session
Posted: 1-Jun-2004 6:01AM CDT
Topics: [2004 Regular Session] [Bath County] [Boone County] [Boyd County] [Campbell County] [Carter County] [Clark County] [Daviess County] [Governor Ernie Fletcher] [Fayette County] [Hardin County] [Hopkins County] [Kenton County] [KY 112] [KY 1357] [KY 54] [KY 70] [KY 80] [Madison County] [Montgomery County] [Muhlenberg County] [Pike County] [Rowan County] [US 421] [US 460]
The 60-day regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly ended on April 13. Thirteen bills relating to transportation were passed into law during the 2004 regular session. Click “read full text” below for summaries of each bill.
Gov. Fletcher Tours U.S. 119 Pine Mountain
Posted: 24-May-2004 5:38PM CDT
Gov. Fletcher recently visited the spot improvement project along US 119 over Pine Mountain: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 12: Governor tours Pine Mountain road project (May 14, 2004)
Former Television News Executive Will Head Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Public Affairs; Information about Adopt-a-Highway and New Building
Posted: 29-Mar-2004 12:17AM CST
“Governor Ernie Fletcher has appointed a former television news executive, Doug Hogan, as Executive Director of the Office of Public Affairs in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.”
Other recent Transportation Cabinet news releases include information about the Adopt-a-Highway Program and information about the dedication of the new transportation building .
Political Will Lacking to Fund to Transportation Projects
Posted: 11-Mar-2004 2:06AM CST
Gov. Ernie Fletcher says that there is no political will for increase in the gasoline tax that would fund upcoming transportation projects. Kentucky’s gasoline tax stands at 16.4-cents and is the lowest amount 10 neighboring and nearby states. The current tax rate is expected to generate revenue far short of what would be required to complete projects currently listed in the six year highway plan.
When asked about the situation, State Representative Rob Wilkey (D-Scottsville), chairman of the House budget subcommittee on transportation, said that there is only a one-in-seven chance of any particular project being funded.
More information: Associated Press: Highway Engineers Are Told 'Political Will' Is Lacking (Mar. 2, 2004) , Bowling Green Daily News: Road delays loom as gas tax increase unlikely to happen (Mar. 2, 2004)
Transportation Leader Hopes Tax Reforms Will Raise Money for Road Projects
Posted: 29-Feb-2004 9:41AM CST
Speaking to the House Transportation Committee, Deputy Secretary Dick Murgatroyd said this week that the transportation cabinet needs more revenue in order to fund all of the projects in the current six year plan. Funding options which have been discussed include a 1333% increased in the cigarette tax (from 3 cents to 40 cents) or an increase in the state gasoline tax. Of ten bordering and nearby states, Kentucky has the lowest gasoline tax at 16.4-cents per gallon.
At a bill signing ceremony on Wednesday, Gov. Fletcher refused to comment on proposed tax plans.
More information: Kentucky Post: Road money sought in tax overhaul (Feb. 26, 2005)
Lexington-area Civil Engineer Named State Highway Commissioner
Posted: 26-Feb-2004 11:50PM CST
The vice-president of the Lexington branch of the multi-state engineering firm Wilber Smith Associates has been named State Highway Commissioner. Marc D. Williams will head the transportation cabinet’s Division of Highways. Williams is a native of Texas and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Texas A&M University. He has been responsible for a number projects across Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.
Records show that Wilber Smith Associates was awarded nearly $1 million in state contracts last year. Williams donated $1,250 to the Fletcher gubernatorial campaign.
Under the Patton administration, the State Highway Commissioner Post was held by the then-Transportation Cabinet Secretary James C. Codell III.
More information: Lexington Herald-Leader: Lexington civil engineer named highways chief (Feb. 26, 2004) , Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer: Civil engineer named highway commissioner (Feb. 26, 2004) , Courier-Journal: Lexington engineer named chief of highways (Feb. 26, 2004)
Update (Mar. 10, 2004): Official press release: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: Governor Ernie Fletcher Appoints Marc Williams Commissioner Of Highways (Feb. 25, 2004)
Frankfort Office Space Comes with a High Price
Posted: 3-Feb-2004 1:45AM CST
Topics: [Governor Ernie Fletcher] [Franklin County] [Commonwealth of Kentucky] [Kentucky Transportation Cabinet]
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported about the high price of office space in the state.s capital in a couple of weekend articles. It seems that many land deals are to the benefit of real estate investor Rodney Ratliff who is a major contributor to political campaigns; the state spends $2 million in rent each year on properties owned by Ratliff's company. Additionally, the state spent $1.2 million to buy three lots owned by Ratliff for the new transportation cabinet office building. The land was appraised by Franklin County at $92,000.
In other office space related news, Gov. Fletcher's budget proposes spending $46 million to renovate the office building which was formerly home to the transportation cabinet: leaving the building empty for years to come while hundreds of state workers are in rented office space.
More information: Lexington Herald-Leader: Most Frankfort land deals seem to help one man (Feb. 1, 2004) , Associated Press: Fletcher's budget includes $46 million for state office building renovation (Feb. 1, 2004)
Update (Feb. 3, 2004): More information: Lexington Herald-Leader: 7 floors of luxury for the low price of $113 million (Feb. 1, 2004) , Lexington Herald-Leader: Plans have state spending millions on rent (Feb. 1, 2004)
Update (Feb. 7, 2004): More information: Lexington Herald-Leader: Lawmakers suggest cheaper renovations (Feb. 5, 2004)
Gov. Fletcher Says Revised Tax Code Could Help Road Projects
Posted: 30-Jan-2004 10:04PM CST
Topics: [Governor Ernie Fletcher]
Gov. Fletcher told 300 attendees of a transportation conference in Frankfort that he believes a revised state tax code would help fund road projects. He also said that road construction in Kentucky should focus on economic development.
Update (Feb. 7, 2004): More information: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: 26th Annual Kentucky Transportation Conference is a Huge Success (Feb. 4, 2004)
Fletcher Promises to Remove Tolls from Natcher and Audubon Parkways
Posted: 26-Jan-2004 2:37AM CST
Topics: [Audubon Parkway] [Butler County] [Daviess County] [Governor Ernie Fletcher] [Henderson County] [William H. Natcher Parkway] [Ohio County] [Warren County]
In a recent speech to the Owensboro Chamber Commerce, Gov. Ernie Fletcher reiterated a campaign process to remove tolls from the Natcher and Audubon Parkways.
Retired Air Force General Maxwell Clay Bailey Appointed New Transportation Cabinet Secretary
Posted: 6-Jan-2004 6:47AM CST
Newly elected Governor Ernie Fletcher has appointed retired Air Force General Maxwell Clay Bailey as the new secretary of the Transportation Cabinet. Bailey, who currently lives in Paris, is a 1965 graduate of Paintsville High School and a 1969 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.
More information: Herald-Leader: Transportation head announced (Dec. 4, 2003) , Courier-Journal: Ex-general likely to lead state road operations (Dec. 4, 2003) , Courier-Journal: General will lead Transportation Cabinet (Dec. 5, 2003)
Governor-Elect Fletcher Names Fred Mudge Transportation Cabinet Transitional Chair
Posted: 12-Nov-2003 3:49PM CST
Governor-Elect Ernie Fletcher, who will become Kentucky's first republican governor in 32 years, has named former Transportation Cabinet secretary Fred Mudge to head the transportation cabinet transition. Mudge was Gov. Patton's first transportation secretary.
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