2000s | Kentucky Timeline
May 9, 2000, a fire destroyed a seven-story aging warehouse at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Anderson County. It contained more than 17,000 wooden barrels of whiskey. Burning whiskey flowed from the warehouse, setting the woods on fire and causing limestone deposits to explode. Firefighters saved Lawrenceburg's water treatment plant from destruction. However, an estimated 20% of the whiskey flowed into the Kentucky River, causing a temporary shutdown of the water treatment plant. Officials ordered water usage restrictions. Businesses and schools were closed because of the water shortage. The alcohol spill also depleted the oxygen in the river, killing an estimated 228,000 fish along a 66-mile stretch. The EPA and the Coast Guard's Gulf Strike Team aerated the river using equipment mounted on barges. The company paid $256,000 to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to restore the river's fish population.
July 22, 2000, Mack Metcalf (42) of Kentucky and his wife Virginia Metcalf Merida (46) won $34.1 million in the Powerball Lottery. They split their winnings 60/40. Mack, former forklift driver for Johnson Controls, bought a Mount Vernon-like estate in southern Kentucky, stocking it with horses and vintage cars. He died in 2003 at age 45. Virginia, who had worked as a corrugator for Indy Honeycomb, bought a Mercedes-Benz and a modern mansion overlooking the Ohio River. She surrounded herself with stray cats and was found dead in 2005. May they rest in peace.
October 11, 2000, coal sludge from T. Massey Coal Company’s lifeless 72-acre, 2.2-billion-gallon waste lagoon, in Inez, suffered a crack, releasing 250 million gallons of slurry. The water supply for over 27,000 residents was contaminated and all aquatic life in Coldwater Fork and Wolf Creek died. Martin County’s torrent of sludge was more than 20 times the volume of the Exxon Valdez’s crude oil spill in Alaska. It was twice that of its biggest forerunner among coal-mining spills, 28 years ago in Buffalo Creek, W.Va, which killed 125 people and swallowed 500 homes. Gov. Paul E. Patton declared a ten-county emergency.
September 11, 2001, Edward Thomas Earhart was the only military casualty from Kentucky to die in the terrorist attacks on the United States. Petty Officer First Class Earhart was an aerographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy.
March 2, 2002, Kentucky Senate President David Williams vows to fight against slots in racetracks. He claims that he will make an all-out assault on expanded gambling, which he does for the next ten years.
April 3, 2002, the Geological Society of America, in Lexington, announced that Daniel Phelps found a 300 million year-old track in Perry County. It was the first find of its type in the region and the second find in Kentucky. It was a significant and rare print says the President of the Paleontological Society.
August 20, 2003, former Pulaski Deputy Sheriff Jeff Morris pleads guilty to participating in the successful plot to kill Pulaski County, Sheriff Sam Catron. Sheriff Catron was Jeff’s former boss and political rival. Three individuals went to prison for planning the Sheriff’s murder.
April 2, 2004, Governor Ernie Fletcher, a native heritage person, signed House Bill 167 into law. It ensures that the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission (KNAHC) is a permanent part of the Governor's cabinet to promote awareness of Indigenous influences within Kentucky's historical and cultural experiences.
July 9, 2004, Governor Fletcher talks about the negative images often associated with Kentucky. Therefore the state announced a $15 Million-a-year image makeover. The state hopes to have a slogan by the end of August. Suggested slogans so far include: “Kentucky; Unbridled” or “Kentucky; and you’re off.”
June 27, 2005, in McCreary County, KY v. ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Ten Commandments could not be displayed in court buildings or on government property. The court claimed it violated the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from endorsing or supporting one religion above others. A Ten Commandments display at the McCreary County courthouse in Whitley City and at the Pulaski County courthouses instigated the national ruling. Scalia, who was joined in his dissent by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Kennedy and Thomas, said the court’s majority opinion ought to be voided “because the court has not had the courage (or the foolhardiness) to apply the neutrality principle consistently.”
April 3, 2006, Churchill Downs CEO, Tom Meeker, threatens to move Louisville's headquarters out of state. He was addressing a luncheon meeting and was frustrated at Kentucky legislatures attitude about extended gambling.
August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191, a passenger flight from Lexington to Atlanta, crashed on takeoff at Bluegrass Airport. The plane was assigned to use the runway 22 (7002 feet long), the cockpit crew mistakenly used runway 26. (3500 feet long)
January 22, 2007, the United States Army Corps of Engineers began lowering the water level in Lake Cumberland, fearing a possible breach in Wolf Creek Dam. Water seepage had eroded the limestone under the dam, creating the potential for a breach. A flood would cause damages into the billions of dollars downstream. The drop in water harmed tourism, as marinas and municipalities scrambled to adjust their facilities for the lower water level. The caverns beneath the structure complicated plans for repairs, but a $594 million project to construct a new wall inside the dam was completed by early 2013. Since Spring of 2014, Lake Cumberland water and tourism levels have begun to return to normal.
May 24, 2007, Cardiologist Dr. James W. Holsinger, Jr. was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as the new U.S. Surgeon General. Holsinger’s nomination became controversial and was never voted on by the Senate. According to his critics, this due to his critics, anti-gay bias in his work in the United Methodist Church, where he voted to expel a lesbian pastor and for a 1991 report where he characterized gay sex as unnatural and unhealthy. Dr. Holsinger served as secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for Kentucky and was chancellor of the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center for nine years. He graduated from biblical studies from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore.
August 7, 2007, Louisville’s 101°F broke the 99°F set in 1930. The last time Louisville had triple digits outside was July 30, 1999. In 2007, 39 deaths from, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky, were from the heat. Paducah had 28 straight days of 90 °F plus temperatures, a record that was broken in 2010.
August 4, 2009, record-breaking rains fell in Jefferson County. Officially at the Louisville airport, 4.53 inches of rain fell, which broke the old record for the highest rainfall in a single day, set in August 1879. Rainfall amounts up to 6 inches fell between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. EDT, especially in central Louisville and rainfall rates up to an astounding 8.80 inches per hour were reported! Interstates 65 and 264 were closed. Churchill Downs flooded severely. It prompted the evacuation of more than 40 horses from three barns in the track’s stable area as floodwaters rose two-to-three feet in those structures. Twenty-two horses were moved to the nearby Trackside training center, while others were housed temporarily in empty stalls in other barns in the stable area. The Derby Museum reported $4 million in damages and shut down for a year for repairs.
September 8, 2009, Dakota L. Meyer, from Columbia, took heroic action during the Battle of Ganjgal in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, and for this, he later received the Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH). In a daring attempt to disrupt an enemy attack and locate a team of trapped Marines, he entered an area known to be inhabited by insurgents and eventually found the four missing servicemen dead. With Afghan soldiers' help, he moved the bodies to a safer location. During his search, Meyer personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers. Meyer is the second youngest living CMOH recipient and the first living Marine in 38 years to be so honored.
January 14, 2013, the Fairness Coalition joined the Appalachian town of Vicco, Kentucky as they approved the state's first lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) anti-discrimination Fairness ordinance in a decade. The measure, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based upon a person's actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, received support from three of the city's four-member commission and Mayor Johnny Cummings.
February 24, 2015, a bill to deregulate telephone service, that AT&T pushed, finally passes the Kentucky house. The house was the biggest hurdle for the bill. The bill will enable AT&T and other large providers to drop essential services in rural areas.
On June 8, 2016, five Covington teens, 15 to 17, allegedly known as the Fine$e Gang, were arrested for: engaging in organized crime, three counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree burglary, five counts of third-degree burglary, three counts of theft of an automobile, trafficking in marijuana, trafficking in controlled substances, gun trafficking, receiving stolen property under $1,000, theft by unlawful taking over $1,000, thefts of firearms, assault and disorderly conduct.
May 7, 2016, hundreds gathered at the southern end of the Roebling Suspension Bridge for what was hoped to become an annual tradition in Covington: the Running of the Goats. The inaugural Running of the Goats had the people running after the goats instead of running with them.
November 8, 2016, Republicans takeover the Kentucky House of Representatives after nearly a century of Democratic control.
July 14, 2017, Kentucky attorney Eric Conn was sentenced in absentia to 12 years in prison. He escaped while awaiting sentencing for his role in a massive Social Security fraud case. The flamboyant attorney cut off his electronic monitor and remained at large for months until his capture in Central America late in the year.
November 5, 2017, House Speaker Jeff Hoover resigns his leadership position after acknowledging he settled sexual harassment claims from one of his staffers. Hoover denies sexually harassing the staff member, but said he sent inappropriate text messages that were consensual.
December 17, 2018, Gov. Matt Bevin called a special session of the General Assembly to address pension reform. He announced the session just hours before it started on Monday afternoon. In minutes, teachers called for a rally in Frankfort at the start of the session on Monday night. Educators from across the state drove hours to make the last-minute session in Frankfort.
March 6, 2020, Kentucky saw its first confirmed case of the virus, in the city of Lexington. The individual had been placed in isolation in an unidentified medical facility. On the same day, a state of emergency was declared.
March 12, 2020, Governor Andy Beshear recommended that all school superintendents consider ceasing in-person classes for an extended period of time beginning Monday, March 16, to help control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in communities across Kentucky.