The crowd at Outlaw Field Airport erupted with cheers the second that Staff Sgt. Charles “Chaz” Allen’s plane touched the ground. Allen, a member of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky., was not able to come home from Afghanistan with the rest of his unit in April. Instead he was undergoing surgery and rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after stepping on an improvised explosive device in January that destroyed part of both of his legs and broke his right elbow.
What started out as a routine press conference to announce the formation of a city commission on youth and public safety, shifted into more of a town hall style public meeting Wednesday in Mayor Jim Gray’s office headquarters. First District Councilman Chris Ford says a recent uptick in violent crimes in urban areas has prompted the need for a comprehensive and community-wide approach.
The Daviess County school superintendent who wants to be Fayette County's top educator views himself as someone who can enhance a vision for education. Robert Shelton, one of three finalists vying for the superintendent’s position in Lexington sees retiring superintendent Stu Silbeman as a visionary. Silberman also hailed from Daviess County...something Shelton recognizes, but doesn’t thnk it gives him an unfair advantage.
Deputy Chief Justice Mary Noble of Lexington has become the first woman to preside over oral arguments in the Kentucky Supreme Court. The issue before the Supreme Court was ineffective assistance of counsel in a criminal case. It's a fairly routine issue of appeal, but the proceedings were unique because, for the first time, a woman was sitting in the chief justice's chair.
Lexington's retired public safety workers can expect to receive more pension money each month to offset an increase in the cost of living. More than 900 retirees in the Lexington Police and Fire Retirement Fund will see a 2.6% cost of living adjustment.
Despite predictions that this summer would be milder than usual, Louisville has been experiencing temperatures reaching the mid 90s. The Climate Prediction Center made the original forecast, and the center still holds that the heat will plateau as the summer goes on. Ryan Sharp from the National Weather Service says Louisville residents should be thankful for this year’s wet spring.
Among the many new laws taking effect today is one whose purpose is to deter the growing problem of metal theft in Kentucky. House Bill 242 unanimously passed both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly during the 2011 legislative session and was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear on March 16.
Some tough budget decisions are expected today when Lexington’s Urban County Council convenes. One of the items up for debate is the future of police escorts for Lexington area funerals. The future of police escorts for funeral processions could be decided Thursday at Lexington’s city hall. Hoping to cut costs, Mayor Jim Gray wants to eliminate the service. However, former Urban County Council member Jim Combs, who helped launch the service in 1980, says the escorts protect the processions.
Western Kentucky University is hosting an international conference dedicated to the study of a familiar local landscape. Southcentral Kentucky, home to plentiful caves and sinkholes, is a part of a karst landscape, making it an appropriate spot for this conference. Karst landscapes - landscapes created by water in a carbonate rock setting, such as limestone or gypsum - include features such as sinkholes, springs and caves. Eighty conference participants represent 16 nations.
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.