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Belle of Louisville to get AC

LOUISVILLE— The Belle of Louisville steamboat is an Ohio River symbol of southern charm.

But its lack of air-conditioning during the often stifling Kentucky summers isn't so charming—and it's about to change.

A $350,000 air conditioning system is being installed that city leaders said might be the key to keeping the city-owned steamboat financially afloat, The Courier-Journal reports.

Belle of Louisville officials said the new air-conditioning system will lead to taxpayer savings because it will increase charters and ridership on the steamboat. News of a more comfortable Belle has already brought in business.

David Thomas, an organizer for the National Conference of State Legislators, said he wasn't ready to repeat the experience he had when his group chartered the Belle in July 2006 and "the cheese was melting on our plates."

But because of the new air conditioning, Thomas said his group has booked the Belle for a dockside event in late July.

The Belle will make its maiden voyage with air conditioning during a public Easter cruise April 4. The regular public cruise schedule will resume around Memorial Day.