About 50 people attended a Whitley County UNITE Coalition forum Monday evening to discuss the impact of Kentucky's new 150-page penal code reform act, and whether the pros of the new law outweigh the cons of it. Proponents say the reform is Kentucky getting "smart" on crime, while critics say it is the state getting "softer" on crime sacrificing public safety to save money. The consensus of the group, if there was one, is that eventually the new law will probably help Kentucky's recidivism rate among criminals namely drug offenders, but that the crime rate might get worse under the new reforms before it gets better.
After cool temperatures and near-record rainfall in April, Kentuckians must now deal with scant rainfall and near-record heat. Health officials across the Commonwealth are warning of the potential risks of heat stroke and exhaustion. Madison County Health Department spokeswoman Christie Green says the elderly, especially those seniors with chronic diseases, are vulnerable.
It will be a double dose of Breathitt County native Chad Warrix Saturday night at Renfro Valley Entertainment Center, which is located near Mount Vernon off I-75 in Rockcastle County. One of the founding members of the duo “Halfway to Hazard” will not only be on hand for the unveiling of the new exhibit bearing his name at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame at 5:30 p.m. - Warrix will also be at the museum's site to meet with his fans from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Then he'll join the country group “Lonestar” to perform during the “Concerts 4 A Cause” event, which begins at Renfro Valley at 7 p.m.
Five months after Lexington Mayor Jim Gray called for a review of the Fayette County Detention Center it appears there will be not one, but two groups looking for ways to make improvements. Sheriff Kathy Witt recently presented her findings on conditions at the jail, and Lexington Deputy Police Chief David Boggs delivered his report Tuesday. Boggs says the jail needs less micro-managing and more leadership. "Really the resounding theme came back that that needed to be an increased emphasis on communication so the employees in the organization felt heard."
With topics ranging from parental involvement to school testing to teacher accountability, Jessamine County School superintendent Lu Young met with the Fayette County community Tuesday. The 51-year-old is a finalist to replace Stu Silberman, who is retiring from FCPS. At last night's public forum, Young recognized that moving from Jessamine County to a larger district would be a challenge.
In an interview with conservative talk radio host Bill Bennett Tuesday, Kentucky Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams endorsed the controversial steps taken by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as necessary measures given the state’s labor union laws. During the discussion, Williams was asked which governors he admired most and named Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. The question turned to the recent actions taken by Walker, who was embroiled in a fight with labor unions earlier this year after a vote successfully curtailed public employee bargaining rights as a way to balance the Wisconsin state budget.
Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann says his 2010 decision to donate to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s campaign for the U.S. Senate was driven by frustration and fear. Olbermann was suspended from MSNBC for donating to Conway and Arizona representatives Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva.
FRANKFORT – The state will receive a $4.27 million National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will create about 317 temporary jobs for eligible dislocated workers to assist with clean-up and recovery efforts as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck Kentucky in April. “This money will help Kentucky communities rebuild after suffering extensive damage this spring,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a press release from his office. “The temporary jobs it will create will not only benefit current jobseekers but will provide much-needed assistance in those hard-hit areas.”
Senate Bill 110, which would allow optometrists to perform some uncomplicated medical procedures currently reserved for ophthalmologists, officially becomes law on Wednesday. The new law will allow optometrists to perform a variety of simple procedures, like removing non-malignant skin tags from eyelids or clearing lenses implanted by ophthalmologists in cataract surgeries. It would not, however, allow optometrists to perform LASIK surgery, which is used to correct poor vision. This is one of many laws that went into affect Wednesday.
FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded four brownfield grants to Kentucky totaling $800,000 to fund the assessment and cleanup of properties with environmental problems. Brownfields are properties that are abandoned or underutilized due to real or perceived environmental contamination. They can include old factories, former gas stations, mine-scarred lands and abandoned dry cleaning establishments.
Funeral arrangements have been set for former Kenton County Police Sergeant Brett Benton, who was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday while working for a contractor. Visitation will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at First Church in Richmond. Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the church with burial at Richmond Cemetery immediately following. Benton, 37, was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle near Alingar District, Langham Province.
Afternoon temperatures in Lexington could tie the record of 95 degrees Wednesday, prompting the National Weather Service in Louisville to warn of heat exhaustion, stroke or other health problems. The weather service expects afternoon highs of 94 degrees Wednesday, but forecasts generally have a margin of error of one to two degrees, according to the weather service. "If we hit 95, we'll tie the record," hydrologist Mike Callahan said.
Jail employees in Clay County strip-searched a Fayette County woman without justification and made racial slurs after she was arrested at a public pool with a biracial child, the woman has charged in a federal lawsuit. One female guard subjected Jennifer C. Philpot to a rough, painful body cavity search even though there was no cause to suspect she was hiding contraband, the lawsuit said.
Elizabethtown city officials are in the process of tweaking an ordinance regulating purchases made by junk, secondhand and scrap metal dealers through the Leads Online database, which can be accessed by the Elizabethtown Police Department as a tool to locate stolen items. Under the ordinance, dealers would be required to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle in which the registered item was transported, in addition to photo identification, the address of the seller, the date the property was received and an accurate description of the item.
Today marks the day that a new state law drastically rewriting Kentucky’s criminal code goes into effect. Local prosecutors and law enforcement believe that new law likely will worsen the drug problems in Harlan County. “The way it looks like the law is going to be implemented, it will make the drug epidemic worse,” said Commonwealth Attorney Henry Johnson. “They are taking away all the tools we have to fight the drug problem.”
Eastern Kentucky University employees are getting their first pay raise in three years. The hike is included in the 2011-12 budget approved Tuesday by the EKU Board of Regents. The salary increase will not be less than 500 dollars for any full-time employee. The budget of more than 233 million dollars is an increase of 6-point-9 percent over the previous year. It includes a 5 percent tuition increase for undergraduates and graduate students, with certain exceptions. The general increase had been approved earlier. The Board approved resident tuition rates for non-resident military veterans and a $60-per-credit hour rate for EKU Now! students.
Kentucky lawmakers want to know more about aviation needs, including aircraft owned and operated by the state. The Department of Aviation has 35 employees and an annual budget of around $10 million. The department oversees three fixed-wing aircraft and one helicopter. Two other planes under the department's control were sold at auction last month.
Requests for emergency food baskets in Fayette County have fallen slightly over the past year. God's Pantry director Marian Guinn says the per month requests have gone, on average, from about 1660 to 1600. Still, the number of people seeking help from the region’s best known food bank has nearly doubled since 2007. So, a plea is going out for volunteers to establish new food drives.
It’s getting down to decision time as Lexington leaders write a new budget. Some spending decisions could come as soon as Thursday. Members were told today (Tuesday) that city revenues are higher than predicted. However, Council member Doug Martin worries about projections for the new fiscal year which begins in July.
According to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal production in eastern Kentucky declined in 2010, even though the industry saw a slight boost in western Kentucky. The variance in production is partially due to the different mining conditions found in the two regions. In eastern Kentucky, coal production declined by nearly 10 percent from 2009. But during the same time period, production increased by more than 13 percent in the western part of the state.
A group of wealthy Americans are marking the ten-year anniversary of the tax cuts signed into law by former President George W. Bush by calling for an end to the reductions for people making over $1 million. The group Patriotic Millionaires sent a video message to members of Congress Tuesday asking lawmakers to raise their taxes in order to help reduce the deficit. But Republican leaders have said any discussion about tax increases are a non-starter and Democratic support for the break has been solid.
Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park became only the fourth park in the Kentucky State Resort Park system to be a StormReady supporter. In addition to the state designation, the park and resort at Buckhorn Lake is only the fourth state park in the entire United States to get that designation by the National Weather Service. Officials of Buckhorn Lake, the Kentucky Department of Parks and the National Weather Service Office in Jackson were on hand at the park's Conference Center on Friday to make the presentation and present the plaque.
It was six o'clock. Like the rest of the staff of Bee Happy's, Tim Slone was waiting for folks to mosey into their new downtown Jackson restaurant on Main Street, to get a taste of their food, as well as to partake in the eatery's grand opening last Friday evening. It didn't take long for customers to pour in a few minutes later, and the sounds of servers talking to them about their orders mingled with occasional outbursts of laughter as well as the cries of “What would you like this evening?” and, “Can I get you a refill?”
Ladies and gentlemen, do not start your engines. There’s no need to drive out of state to buy fireworks to light up the summer sky. Starting Wednesday, you’ll be able to buy them legally in Kentucky. Roman candles, firecrackers and bottle rockets can be sold and used here, legalized by a bill passed during the last legislative session. Personal use of the larger versions of these fireworks, such as those used at public fireworks shows, will still not be allowed.
Muriel Summers breaks into tears when she talks about Ms. Rose. She was her teacher when Summers was 10 years old and, to this day, she remembers the smell of her perfume, the sound of her voice, the feel of her touch. “I am a teacher today because of her,” Summers said. “I wanted to make every child feel the way she made me feel.” Now, Summers, the principal of A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., has turned a once-failing school into one of the most popular schools in the state. She did it using a leadership formula that local school districts are implementing. It’s a formula that focuses less on grades and test scores, and more on encouraging children to become good citizens and leaders.
Still fairly new to his job, Simpson County Jailer Eric Vaughn, who took office Jan. 3, hopes to learn from his veteran counterparts across the state at the 29th annual Jail Improvement Conference that the Kentucky Jailers’ Association is holding this week at Bowling Green's Sloan Convention Center. “I’m learning a lot from veteran jailers,” Vaughn said during a break between classes. He looks forward to talking to other jailers about practices and ideas that could help his facility run more efficiently. Barren County Jailer Matt Mutter, elected last year, agrees that the conference is a great place for networking with other, more experienced jailers.
Reminding voters he cut his own salary and over a $1 billion in spending to balance the state’s budget, Democratic Governor Stever Beshear has unveiled a second television advertisement in his re-election bid against Republican state Senate President David Williams. Entitled “Leading by example”, the 30-second commercial began airing statewide Monday, and highlights cost-cutting measures the governor has advocated during the national recession.
Surveyors found 342 deficiencies in nursing homes they inspected in Kentucky recently. The data, obtained through an Open Records request by the statewide advocacy group Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform covers the first three months of 2011 and is the latest information on the quality of nursing home care at this time, according to a press release from the group.
After calling Kentucky home for 71 years, the transition of armor functions from Fort Knox to Fort Benning, Ga., will pass another milestone this week when units with the U.S. Army Armor School case their colors at Brooks Field. The colors casing and departure ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday and is open to the public. The Armor School’s primary training units — the 194th Armored Brigade and the 316th Cavalry Brigade — will roll up their flags and case them in a green sheath, a rite of passage for the Army, said Col. Michael Wadsworth, deputy commandant of the Armor School.