New statewide, end-of-course, assessment exams begin this coming school year for Kentucky high school students. The tests were authorized in education reforms approved by Kentucky lawmakers in 2009. The statewide tests measure student achievement in graduation-required courses of English, Algebra, Biology and U.S. History.
The coal industry and politicians have done a good job labeling Kentucky as a coal state. But not all coal is equal. Not chemically, not geologically and not financially. As Kentucky Public Radio's Erica Peterson reports, some types of coal are much more valuable than others.
Lexington's urban county council members are getting down to the wire in a passing a budget for the next fiscal year. Plans for spending cuts within the division of police remain a concern. Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin has twice reported to council members in recent weeks on how the division is handling a proposed 7 percent reduction in funding. Police plan to cut community service units nearly in half; those affected include the DARE program, mounted patrol, and the Community Law Enforcement Action Response unit, also known as CLEAR.
The 2011 Great American Brass Band Festival has marched through Danville, and once again organizers are pleased with the event. Niki Kinkade, director of the brass band festival, said, “It was a perfect festival, and we’re looking forward to it next year.” The crowd was better than it has been in the last several years, according to Kinkade, giving some credit to “fantastic” weather. Even the short rain shower Saturday afternoon helped to cool things off and didn’t dampen the event.
One governor was assassinated more than a century ago, and his killer remains a mystery even today. Another governor died soon after being sworn in. A third tried to impose a sales tax and instead caused riots. Theses stories of Kentucky’s governors as well as artifacts from their terms are now on display at the Toyota Kentucky Hall of Governors at Frankfort's Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Among the artifacts are pocket watches, walking canes, a wedding ring and the bloody undershirt worn by Gov. William Goebel when he was assassinated.
One day late last week, a teenage girl and a young woman were adrift on a boating tube at the opening of one of the busiest channels on Barren River Lake. The craft that had been towing them was a mile away. “This is one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen in 16 years,” said Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Sgt. Brett Zalla. He then turned his patrol boat and asked the young women to board and point out the boat that had been towing them. Once he caught up to the boat’s driver, he explained that the girls were floating and helpless if a boat had coming zipping around the corner. A boater might not have seen them drifting on top of the water.
The plans laid out for transportation improvements in the Lexington area will be reviewed this month by federal officials. A evening meeting will give citizens a chance to weigh in on transportation issues. Proposals in two central Kentucky counties will be reviewed by federal transportation officials. Max Conyers, who’s with Lexington’s planning department, says the examination includes a look at pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit traffic in Fayette and Jessamine counties. Conyers says officials will also gather input from residents.
Returning from a week-long visit to the Middle East, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., met with leaders from the region and believes there’s a mix of optimism and anxiety across different countries. The congressman was joined by four other Democratic colleagues during the overseas trip and made stops in Jordan, Israel and the West Bank to hear from leaders and citizens who are seeking peace. The group sat down with Egypt’s foreign minister and the Palestinian prime minister to discuss U.S. involvement in the region.
Among the numerous proposals from the White House to fight childhood obesity is one to make school lunches more nutritious. But even if districts are willing to serve healthy food, they’re not always able. Jefferson County Public Schools can spend about one dollar for each student lunch. The district has started sourcing local foods, but can’t put natural, healthy and local food on the menu every day, because one serving of one item may take up more than 80 cents of that dollar.
Mine rescue teams from eight states will put their skills to the test at a contest in Maysville, Kentucky this week. The Mine Safety and Health Administration is sponsoring the 4th annual Southeast Region / Central Kentucky Mine Rescue Contest. The two-day event will feature a variety of scenarios, including a mine fire, explosion, or roof collapse.
During a seven-day period beginning June 1, Hardin County Detention Center booked eight people charged with alcohol intoxication in public. Now, state law no longer allows arrests on the charge, except in limited circumstances. Under House Bill 463, which went into effect June 8, police no longer can make arrests for certain misdemeanor crimes, including alcohol intoxication in public, Sgt. Tim Cleary of the Elizabethtown Police Department said. Instead, officers are to cite misdemeanor offenders.
Despite being told he probably would never walk again, Karen Minton took Franklin the Pug into her home and is using a new veterinary treatment to get him back on his feet. Last August, while chasing his owner, Franklin was hit by three cars. The owner was a college student who didn’t have the money to care for the injured pug, Minton said. Franklin still has medical problems, but these days he gets around in a specialized wheelchair. The next step is an experimental treatment that uses stem cells from Franklin’s body. It will cost around $1,800. Veterinarian Cathy White of Finchville Animal Hospital in Shelby County has had success on other animals at her clinic with the technique.
A new law took effect Wednesday, to deter the growing problem of metal theft in Kentucky. House Bill 242 directs recycling centers and scrap yards to require signed proof of ownership or authorization to sell any metals that have been smelted, burned or melted. According to Attorney General Jack Conway, metal thefts costs businesses nationally around $1 billion each year, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. It can also affect public safety by compromising communications or emergency response capabilities, such as 911 service.
In his last community center job in Lexington, Jonathan Boyd was stabbed with a pocketknife trying to break up a fight involving about 50 people. He wasn’t seriously injured, but the experience scared him away from community centers for more than a decade – until South Frankfort beckoned. “I was trying to separate two groups, and I was one of two lucky individuals to get stabbed,” said Jonathan, who was assistant director of Lexington’s Kenwick Community Center at the time.
If the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors votes to disbar Stan Chesley on Tuesday in Lexington, it would be a professional death sentence for Cincinnati's most famous lawyer - known as the "Master of Disaster." The same trial commissioner who recommended disbarment also wants Chesley to return $7.6 million of the $20 million he was paid in fees from a Boone County settlement for people sickened by the diet drug fen-phen. Since Kentucky has a reciprocal agreement with Ohio, Chesley could lose his law license in Ohio if he is disbarred in Kentucky.
One of Northern Kentucky's top lobbyists is joining forces with one of the region's top law firms. Marc Wilson's Commonwealth Capitol Group will merge with Cincinnati-based Taft Stettinius & Hollister, they announced Friday. "It's exciting, and I think it'll be a good partnership," said Wilson, 43, of Florence. Wilson will contract with Taft's Focused Capitol Solutions, an affiliate that provides government relations services to the law firm's clients.
Complaints about for-profit colleges in Kentucky continue to raise eyebrows in Frankfort. But, the schools also have many legislative defenders. Currently there are 141 for-profit colleges in Kentucky, which are seeing significant growth. National enrollment in proprietary colleges is nearing two million students, compared to a half-million in 1998. The schools cater mostly to students seeking employment skills.
Raising student achievement through new teaching methods is one of Kentucky's ongoing goals. It’s been on the minds of education activists with the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Sarah Buhayar is the program manager of the Measures of Effective Teaching, which sponsored by the Gates Foundation. Buhayar, who's been working with the Prichard Committee, says much of their research focuses on student evaluation of teachers.
The number of people crossing state lines to buy prescription pain killers has policy makers looking for ways to crack down on drug trafficking and pill mills. There is currently no national network to monitor the flow of prescription drugs. But as Kentucky Public Radio’s Brenna Angel reports, that will soon change, and states will have options.
For the 42nd time, a Christian rock festival will be held in a field near the central Kentucky community of Wilmore. Over the decades, much has changed at Ichthus and for fans who gather for music, lectures, workshops and fellowship. The first sounds of music will fill the air Wednesday. One of the nation's best known worship bands, ‘Hillsong United’ will help open the festival. Then on Saturday, the festival's final day, Ichthus Chief Executive Officer, Mark Vermillion says the focus will again be on community.
By Josh Kegley, Lexington Herald-Leader and Jennifer Hewlett, Lexington Herald-Leader
A murder charge comes in two forms in Kentucky: intentional and wanton. Intentional murder means a death was purposely caused. In a case of wanton murder, the defendant demonstrated "extreme indifference to human life." Regardless, prosecutors must either prove intent to kill or indifference to life, and legal experts think that could be one of the highest hurdles in the trial of Glenn Doneghy, who is charged with murder in the hit-and-run death of Lexington police officer Bryan J. Durman. Two rulings last week by Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael seemed to deal major blows to the prosecution.
The last members of Fort Knox’s U.S. Army Armor School stood steadily at attention through light rain Friday at Fort Knox’s Brooks Field. They took the parade field for a ceremony marking the end of the school’s 71-year history at Fort Knox. The ceremony, which drew a hearty crowd, also symbolized completion of the transition of the last remaining elements of the school to its new home at Fort Benning, Ga.
The sun was shining and the skies were clear Saturday morning for Danville's 22nd annual Great American Brass Band Festival parade. The warm, dry weather was a nice change of pace from previous parades, said Danville resident Linda Knight.
Thirty years after he proposed legalizing marijuana in Kentucky, it continues as the issue often associated with gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith. But Galbraith is slightly resentful that he’s been saddled as a one-trick pony. “I can give a speech talking about 10 different planks in my platform and I know that when the story comes out the next day the first thing that gets mentioned is marijuana,” he says.
Some school officials are disappointed that a statewide distinguished program will be cut after next academic year. The Kentucky Department of Education voted last week to repeal the state regulation that paves the way for the Commonwealth Diploma program. For the past decade, high school students across the state have taken college-level courses in an attempt to earn the diploma. Now, state officials are cutting that program because it has become irrelevant to many students’ college careers, said Lisa Gross, KDE spokeswoman.
Tom Shelton is Fayette County's new school superintendent. The Fayette County Board of Education voted unanimously Friday night to name Shelton, now the Daviess County superintendent, to lead the Fayette County system and its almost 37,000 students. Shelton's contract will be for three years and 10 months at an annual salary of $240,000. That's a little less than outgoing Superintendent Stu Silberman's pay. He's getting about $244,000 this year.
It’s been another stellar month for state revenue receipts in Kentucky. And Gov. Steve Beshear says that means no furloughs for state workers next fiscal year. General Fund receipts in May were $750 million, a whopping 18 percent increase over May 2010 receipts.
The state Public Service Commission this week approved an expansion of Duke Energy Kentucky's energy-efficiency programs. The commission approved Duke's plan to continue 11 existing programs as well as add a new one called Residential Smart Saver in cooperation with the Kentucky Housing Corp., according to a PSC news release. The program will offer incentives of as much as $250 to cover part of the cost of items like air sealing, attic insulation, duct sealing, and tuneups for air conditioning and heat pumps. The incentives also will be available for the installation of high-efficiency heat pumps or air conditioners in homes.
FRANKFORT — Based on a strong General Fund tax revenue trend for fiscal year 2011, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday afternoon that it appears no furloughs for state employees will be necessary in 2012. “I am pleased to see that revenues continue to improve beyond budgeted expectations," Beshear said in a press release from his office. "It appears that we will end the current fiscal year with unexpected funds, though the amount, of course, won’t be known until we close the books after June 30.
Frankfort - For the 13th consecutive month, Kentucky's General Fund tax receipts grew in May. The state budget director Friday reported that May’s receipts grew 17.8 percent compared to May of last year, an increase of $113.6 million. Total revenues for the month were $750.3 million, compared to $636.7 million during May 2010. Receipts have now grown 6.7 percent for the first 11 months of fiscal year 2011.