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2000s | Kentucky Timeline

2000 - Wild Turkey Fire

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. 

2007 - QE II Attends Derby 133 / 61st Governor Steve Beshear / Kentuckian Nominated for Surgeon General

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 5, 2007, Queen Elizabeth visit Kentucky for the sixth time to attend the 133rd Kentucky Derby.

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.

2009 - Dakota Meyer / Record Breaking Rains

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.


2016 - Goats on the Run

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.

2021 - Covid Continues, EKY Floods and Elections
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