Gatten Appointed Director of Division of Mine Safety

Donald M. Gatten has been appointed Director of the Kentucky Division of Mine Safety in the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources (DNR).


Gatten, who has more than 30 years of mine and tunnel safety experience, was most recently president of Technical Training & Consulting, Inc., which provides consulting, training and technical assistance in underground environments primarily to various federal government entities.

“Donnie has served the mining profession in a safety capacity most of his professional career,” said John Small, DNR commissioner. “He has an extensive background in mine rescue and stands ready to serve the miners of the Commonwealth.”

Gatten, a fourth-generation coal miner, previously served as an inspector/instructor at the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals until 2005 and as training director at Alliance Resources, LLC until 2012. He has also taught at the American Heart Association, at Ivy Tech, Vincennes University, Madisonville Community College, and Henderson Community College.

He is a graduate of Ivy Tech, where he earned a degree in electronics technology. A native of Union County, Kentucky, Gatten lives in Sturgis, KY.



Recovery Effort Halted Following Mining Death in Muhlenberg County

Paradise mine site of accident

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2019) – Search and recovery efforts have been called off for a 62-year-old welder/iron worker who was presumed dead from an explosion July 31 at a Muhlenberg County mine. Richard L. Knapp, West Frankfort, IL, had suffered critical injuries at the Kenamerican Resources, Inc. Paradise Mine in Bremen, Ky.

Kenamerica company employees, along with mine safety officials from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s (EEC) Department for Natural Resources, and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) worked last week to clear the 380-foot mine elevator shaft of explosive methane gases in order to access the shaft and recover Mr. Knapp’s body. Those gasses dissipated enough Saturday morning to allow the repeated lowering of a camera, which caught no sight of the worker at the water-filled bottom.

Mine owners made the decision to halt further recovery attempts so as to not put in jeopardy any rescue workers who would have had to be lowered down the elevator shaft in a further search for Mr. Knapp’s body.

“We were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic accident at the Paradise Mine in Muhlenberg County,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “Our dedicated coal miners and mine workers do so much every day to keep our communities running strong. As Kentuckians, we want to offer our prayers and support to Mr. Knapp’s family, friends and co-workers during this very difficult time.”

Knapp, an employee of Fricke Management & Contracting, Murphysboro, IL, was constructing a form which would be used to fill a mine shaft with concrete, part of an effort to seal and close the idled mine. The second of two methane gas explosions in the shaft caused Knapp to fall into the opening.

Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely extended his deepest sympathies to the Knapp family.

“While we had 25 mine safety personnel from across the state at the site, regrettably it became too unsafe to continue the recovery efforts,” Secretary Snavely. “But we have already begun looking into the cause of this accident and will make every attempt to use what we learn going forward to keep miners and mine workers as safe as possible.”


National Drought Forum to be Held in September

Kentucky Division of Water, Western Kentucky University, and National Weather Service to co-host event at WKU’s Knicely Conference Center

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 5, 2019) – Scientists and policymakers from across the nation, including those from the Kentucky Division of Water, will gather at Western Kentucky University’s Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green September 17-19, 2019 to address topics and issues associated with drought.

The biennial U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) forum will address administrative issues, incorporate the latest scientific advances in drought monitoring, and solicit recommendations from users on how the USDM can improve its drought-monitoring functions.

NOAA’s National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) & National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) are partnering with the Kentucky Climate Center in WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology and the Kentucky Division of Water to host the forum.

“Drought is a recurrent feature of our climate here in Kentucky,” said state climatologist Dr. Stuart Foster, who serves as director of the Kentucky Climate Center. “While most people living in Kentucky have never been directly impacted by a tornado or flood, drought has impacted people and communities all across the state.”

Kentucky’s most extreme drought occurred in 1930, but severe droughts have impacted Kentucky in recent decades, including the droughts of 1999-2000, 2007 and 2012.

Chip Zimmer, environmental scientist with the Kentucky Division of Water, noted that while droughts typically are looked at as slowly developing, long-term events, the Ohio Valley is more prone to short, intense droughts that can develop and/or end very quickly. “I think this event will provide an opportunity for USDM authors and contributors to focus on these types of droughts and improve their depiction on the USDM,” he said.

David Miskus, meteorologist, USDM author, and drought point of contact for the Climate Prediction Center, NOAA  said having the USDM Forum in Kentucky is an excellent opportunity for the USDM authors and contributors to understand the unique moisture and drought conditions specific to the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys. “Past forums have taken place in the west, plains, mid-Atlantic and southeast, and from these meetings we have discovered useful information that was specific to these regions that were eventually incorporated into the production of the USDM.”

Dr. Fred Siewers, chair of WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology, said the university is pleased to host the event. “The U.S. Drought Monitor Forum will provide an excellent learning and professional development opportunity for our students,” he said.

The USDM has been the official drought monitor for the United States since 1999. It replaced the Palmer Drought Index, which, along with other drought indices, feed into the production of the USDM every week.


Mining Accident in Muhlenberg County

EEC on site at Paradise Mine

FRANKFORT, Ky. (August 1, 2019) – Officials from the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet (EEC), including Secretary Charles Snavely and Department for Natural Resources Commissioner John Small are on site at Paradise Mine in Central City, Kentucky where an accident occurred involving a 62-year-old welder/iron worker.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. July 31, Richard L. Knapp, an employee of Fricke Management & Contracting, Murphysboro, IL, was constructing a form which would be used to fill a mine shaft with concrete, part of an effort to seal and close the mine. A methane gas explosion in the shaft caused Knapp to fall. Recovery efforts are underway.

EEC mine personnel from across the state, as well as representatives from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and owner Kenamerican Resources, Inc. are on site to assist with the recovery operation. All operations at the mine were shut down Wednesday evening and remain closed.

“On behalf of the Cabinet, I want to extend my heartfelt prayers to the Knapp family as all parties work as swiftly as possible in the recovery effort,” Secretary Snavely said.


Applications for Illegal Dump and Litter Abatement Grants Sought by Division of Waste Management

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 31, 2019) – The Energy and Environment Cabinet’s (EEC) Division of Waste Management (DWM) is calling for grant applications for two of its signature programs, illegal dump cleanup and the cleanup of litter along public roads.

The Illegal Open Dump Grant has funded the cleanup of 2,171 dump sites since 2006, and the Litter Abatement Grant. Since 2003, state and local governments have cleaned more than 2.8 million miles of roadways with help from these grants.

“These two grant programs have proven to be very popular, providing resources for cities and counties across the state to clean up unsightly roadside litter and illegal open dumps,” said EEC Secretary Charles Snavely. “Both have been invaluable in maintaining the natural beauty of Kentucky’s landscape.”

Cleanup of Illegal Dumps

Counties that are in compliance with their five-year solid waste management plans can now apply for funds to clean up illegal open dumps.

Grant funding comes from the Kentucky Pride Fund which is underwritten by a $1.75 per ton fee on municipal solid waste disposed of in Kentucky’s contained landfills. In the event that sufficient funds are not available to award every request, grant awards may be prioritized on several factors, including: location of the dump relative to sensitive receptors or protected areas, the relative hazard posed by the contents of the dumps and the size of the dump.

Applications must be received by Lisa Evans at the Division of Waste Management no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.  The complete, signed original application and any supporting documentation must be submitted in order for the application to be complete.

Each grant requires a 25 percent local match. Grant application packets are being sent by email to county judge-executives and solid waste coordinators. For more information, contact Lisa Evans by calling 502-782-6355 or emailing

Litter Abatement

Grant requests for litter cleanup will be accepted from counties in compliance with their five-year solid waste management plans and from incorporated cities which, by solid waste ordinance or other means, provide municipal solid waste collection service.

The Litter Abatement Grant Program is supported by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Road Fund and Highway Construction Contingency Fund.

Grant requests must be received by Lisa Evans at the Division of Waste Management no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The signed original agreement and any supporting documentation must be submitted in order for the request to be complete.

Grant request packets are being sent by email to county judge-executives, mayors and solid waste coordinators.

For more information, contact Lisa Evans at 502-782-6355 or email


Waste Management Introduction and Compliance Workshop

Do you have questions about waste management regulations? Want to know what to expect when an inspector visits your facility? The Division of Compliance Assistance, in partnership with the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, will host a workshop to help regulated facilities understand and comply with waste regulations. The workshop will be held at the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s office in Frankfort on August 22, 2019.

This introductory-level, one-day workshop will cover current waste regulations, including the Generator Improvement Rule, solid waste disposal methods, and how to conduct hazardous waste determinations. The full agenda is available online here. The workshop will be beneficial for environmental or facility managers, small business owners, consultants, representatives of medical or healthcare facilities and anyone who deals with hazardous waste.

General admission is $40 and KY EXCEL members can register for $20. To register, please visit Registration closes August 20. If you have question about this event, please contact Derek Bozzell at 502-782-6324 or at


Calling All Lake Lovers! Monitoring Program in Need of Volunteers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 19, 2019) – Are you an avid fisherman? A lake resident? A weekender who loves being on the water? You could be part of a growing number of citizens dedicated to improving the Commonwealth’s 440,000 acres of lake waters through the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.

Offered through a partnership between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Watershed Watch in Kentucky, this program gives residents the opportunity to join other citizen scientists across the state who have made a commitment to monitor and report the condition of their chosen lake on a regular basis, now through October.

Eric Russell, who lives near Kentucky Lake in Marshall County, said the time required to be involved in the lake monitoring program is minimal compared to the sense of contribution he feels. “I went to MSU and studied Biology and GIS years ago, but ended up following a different career path,” Russell said. “I live near the lake and want to be a part of helping to monitor our natural resources.”

The program helps citizen scientists expand water resource monitoring, address data gaps and improve the characterization of water quality in the lakes of Kentucky. Collection, observation and reporting procedures are designed to be inexpensive, quick and easy to perform, and provide hands-on experience for volunteers. On-site training, materials and monitoring equipment are provided free of charge.

Volunteers conduct Secchi Depth monitoring, using a circular disk to measure water transparency as it relates to sunlight penetration. These measurements can provide valuable information for detecting trends in lake water quality. Volunteers also document the lake condition, visual appearance, and current weather, and take photographs whenever possible.

John Webb, manager of the watershed management branch, created the program and has been active for years with volunteers. “The program allows the division to involve the public in helping achieve our mission of protecting the water resources of the commonwealth,” he said. “We are able to gain greater insights into conditions across the state, and can work collectively with local communities to respond to and manage observed impacts.”

Gary Rocca, of Cadiz, is a volunteer on Lake Barkley. “Water quality is near and dear to me, and it’s important to test and be in front of the curve to identify issues and create a baseline for long-term activity,” he said. “Clean water is important and we cannot lose control.”

If you are interested in becoming involved in the Lakes Monitoring Program, visit and contact at 502-782-6893.

testing secchi depth
Volunteers from the Paintsville Utilities Water Treatment Plant learn to conduct Secchi Depth monitoring. They plan to monitor eight locations on Paintsville Lake, providing data for the program as well as source water protection for the drinking water supply.