It’s time for our weekly chat featuring weekend arts and cultural events with Rich Copley and Harriett Hendren of the Lexington Herald-Leader. With October almost here, they’re focusing on fall festivals and events.

Rich Copley & Harriett Hendren cover arts and culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader and Lexgo dot com. 

You can also find listings of arts and cultural activities at the events calendar link at WEKU dot FM.

Lexington police are developing informational material for the public about proper response to “stops” by law enforcement officers.  It will be included in a pamphlet that will soon be released.

The brochure is expected to include information on how to act when stopped in a car, on the street, or if an officer comes to a residence. 

Eastern Kentucky School Scores Test Gains

Sep 29, 2016

A high school in far Eastern Kentucky tops the list of high schools making gains in student test scores.  Phelps High School scored 17 points higher than other schools in a just-released statewide testing report.

Phelps Principal Mike Hamilton says it’s not a “magic potion” but “buckling down” that led to higher test scores.  He says setting aside a half hour daily for targeted instruction has been helpful. 

Ex-State Official Gets 70 Months For Bribery Scheme

Sep 29, 2016

Former Personnel Cabinet secretary Tim Longmeyer has been sentenced to 70 months in prison for federal bribery charges. He will also have to pay $203,500 in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell said Thursday that Longmeyer had damaged public trust in the government and hoped the sentence would deter future bad actors.

“We live in a time and a country where the public is cynical about its government,” Caldwell said before issuing the sentence.

Student Test Scores Show Progress

Sep 29, 2016

Just-released testing data from the Kentucky Department of Education show gains in a number of areas.  The state’s chief education administrator admits progress doesn’t eliminate the need for future improvement.

High school graduation rates, along with college/career readiness continue to go up.  State officials say the number of schools and districts performing at the highest levels are up from last year. 

Judge Rules Bevin Can’t Overhaul U of L Board

Sep 28, 2016

A judge has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin cannot unilaterally reorganize a public university’s board of trustees and dismiss all of its members, calling it an “unprecedented assertion of executive power.”

In June, Bevin issued an executive order abolishing the University of Louisville’s board of trustees, citing dysfunction on the board. He later created a new board and appointed all new members. Attorney General Andy Beshear sued Bevin over the move.

Ky. Youth Smoking Rate Hits Historic Low

Sep 28, 2016

Smoking among Kentucky youth is at a historic low.  It’s noted in data from the 2015 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The figures show just under 17 percent of Kentucky high school students smoke, down from just over 26 percent a decade ago. 

Homeland Security Grants Going to 74 Ky. Counties

Sep 28, 2016

The state Office of Homeland Security will administer federal grants totaling nearly $3 million in 74 Kentucky counties. The money will be used for communications and first responder equipment plus infrastructure protection

Zika Case in Lexington Prompts Increased Spraying

Sep 27, 2016

While Lexington health officials remain unconcerned about local transmission of the virus this fall, the city’s first confirmed Zika case has prompted additional Health Department mosquito spraying in one area of town.

The Lexington case involves a person who contracted the Zika virus in another country.  Environmental Health specialist Luke Mathias says a special spraying in the 40502 zip code was done where the infected person has been known to stay.  He says the aim is to reduce the chance of a mosquito biting the person and spreading the virus.

Lexington council members will be asked to set aside money for infrastructure improvements that could bring new jobs.  Budget committee members discussed the details of the program Tuesday.  Funds could be used for road, sewer, sidewalk, streetscape, and public transportation improvements. 

Planning Commissioner Derek Paulsen says such improvements could encourage economic development.  “I think it’s one of those things we don’t want to make it just a downtown issue,” said Paulsen.

Modifying College Drinking Through Online Program

Sep 27, 2016

A national organization promoting responsible drinking is testing a web-based alcohol consumption tool for college-aged groups.  It was one topic for discussion at the state’s first Campus Safety Summit last week in Richmond.

The Failsafe on-line program is designed to help student leaders shape group behavior around alcohol consumption.  The website tool is being piloted at ten schools across the U.S. this fall. 

Greater numbers of citizens than usual are anticipated to take interest in this fall’s U.S. presidential debates.  A Central Kentucky political scientist isn’t sure how much the face-offs will affect voter decisions.

One of the people who helped shape public radio as we know it has written a new book about its origins. This week, we'll meet National Public Radio's first employee, Jack Mitchell.

The U.S. Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., hears arguments Tuesday Sept. 27, in the case West Virginia v. EPA, challenging the federal Clean Power Plan. That’s the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s attempt to address climate change by limiting CO2 emissions from power plants. 

The challengers include 27 state attorneys general. One in particular, West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey, has positioned himself as the champion of fossil fuel interests fighting government regulation.

Focus On Business: Graham Rowles on KERI

Sep 26, 2016

Americans of the baby boom generation, the so-called “silver tsunami,” born between 1946 and `64, are now turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 per day and are entering what experts on aging refer to as The Third Age.” Today, Tom Martin discusses the implications with Graham Rowles (ROLLS), a professor in the Graduate Center for Gerontology in the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health and director of the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative.​

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Observed

Sep 26, 2016

Monday marks the final week of this year’s ‘Turn the Town Teal’ ovarian cancer awareness month.  The teal green ribbons are positioned in downtown Lexington as well as on the University of Kentucky campus and certain businesses. 

We have a couple of calls from the comment line to share this week.  First up, Lee from Lexington.  It’s in reaction to our news story from last week, Concealed Carry Debated at First EKU Campus Safety Summit.

Eastern Kentucky University officials are seeing improving graduation rates at the Richmond school.  The aim remains to hit the 50 percent mark.

Radcliff Veterans Home Gearing Up for Opening

Sep 25, 2016

The new Radcliff Veterans Center is staffing up in preparation for admitting residents in the next few months.The long-term care center already has a waiting list of veterans who would like to move into the facility.

Various positions regarding ‘concealed weapons’ have been discussed at Eastern Kentucky University Friday, during the first Campus Safety Summit.

Gov. Bevin Names New Lexington Chief Prosecutor

Sep 22, 2016

A veteran prosecutor in the Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office will take over for retiring Ray Larson.  Governor Bevin appointed Lou Anna Red Corn to the chief prosecutor position Thursday.

Stu Johnson

Richmond police continue their investigation into an overnight downtown disturbance which resulted in alerts to Eastern Kentucky University students and staff.  Authorities believe ‘fired shots’ came after an altercation at a downtown bar.

Kentucky’s highest court says the state’s Republican governor cannot cut the budgets of public colleges and universities without the approval of the state legislature.

The 5-2 ruling by the state Supreme Court reverses a lower court ruling that said Gov. Matt Bevin had the authority to order public colleges and universities not to spend all of the money the state legislature gave them.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear appealed, arguing Bevin’s order was illegal. A majority of the court agreed on Thursday, saying Bevin does not have that authority.

Ten Counties Participate in Chemical Disaster Drill

Sep 21, 2016

Officials at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Wednesday, staged a simulated chemical accident.  It was part of the annual exercise which involved emergency response officials in ten Kentucky Counties.

The yearly exercise takes on added significance as preparations continue for neutralization of chemical agents stored at the Madison County army installation.  While disposal of nerve agent is not scheduled to start until 2020, work to destroy mustard agent is set to start next year. 

Bevin Joins Lawsuit Challenging New Overtime Pay Rule

Sep 21, 2016

Gov. Bevin has added Kentucky to a multi-state lawsuit against the federal government over a new rule that makes more people eligible to receive overtime pay.

Starting in December, the new policy will require employers to pay overtime to people who make up to $47,476 a year ($913 per week). Currently employers only have to pay overtime to people who make up to $23,660 a year.

Bevin opposes the rule, saying it would increase employment costs for the state and private employers.

Leaders Discuss Snow Plan During Hot September

Sep 21, 2016

The thermometer may still be reaching into the upper 80’s this week, but Lexington city officials are talking snow at city hall.  A council committee took a look at the city’s snow plan Tuesday.

Stu Johnson

A ribbon cutting ceremony at a Lexington park to recognize a road widening project and park improvement included praise for two women who played a big role in the green space arena.  Several speakers remarked on their behind-the-scenes influence.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

A credit card ‘skimmer’ has been removed from a Richmond service station.  It was discovered earlier this month during a routine inspection by workers with the State Department of Agriculture.

The discovery of the credit card skimmer potentially saved customers thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges which could have been made with data stolen through the use of this device.  

Attorney General Loretta Lynch Visits Kentucky Amid Heroin Surge

Sep 20, 2016

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch warned high school students about the dangers of heroin and opioid abuse at an assembly in Richmond on Tuesday.

The visit was part of an Obama administration initiative to educate people about heroin and prescription painkiller abuse.

Lynch is the nation’s top law enforcement official, but she said the heroin and opioid problem isn’t just a law enforcement crisis, it’s a moral one.

Early Start for Flu Shots in Lexington

Sep 20, 2016

With Fayette County’s first confirmed flu case of the season in the books, the Lexington Health Department is offering flu shots ahead of the typical schedule.  

Health Department Spokesman Kevin Hall says vaccines will be administered between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. this Wednesday.  He says this isn’t a time of year most people think about getting a flu shot.  “It’s almost 90 degrees outside here the last few days, so it’s not something you think of.  Flu is a fall and winter illness,” said Hall.  “But, it’s definitely here and it’s not too early to get a flu shot.”