Refugee families from the Congo and Syria will arrive in Central Kentucky in January under a new resettlement program.

Catholic Charities in Lexington is now a part of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops Refugee Resettlement Program.  Fifty-one refugees, or 10 to 15 families, expected in the first year begin arriving in January.  Federal dollars go to cover lodging, transportation, and food costs for three months.

Most state fire crews pulled out of southeastern Kentucky Wednesday leaving local departments to manage the mop up.

Not all the fires in Appalachian Kentucky are out, but Division of Forestry Spokesman Mark Weidewitsch said the remaining few are greatly pared down. More than 1,000 firefighters and forestry and National Guard units have been on the job since Nov. 3.

Bluegrass citizens heading to Eastern Kentucky this Thanksgiving weekend may find travel different than last year.  Construction teams and local residents near Salyersville are celebrating the completion of a two-mile stretch of the Mountain Parkway Expansion.

Project Manager Marshall Carrier said it’s an eye-catcher.  “When you get into the Gifford Road area,” he said, “the world opens up and it really looks like a whole other part of the world for the people that are accustomed to coming through that particular corridor."

NOTE: Updated to include responses from the Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as well as one from the state's Attorney General's office.

An Estill County citizens group is taking legal action against three state entities.  The organization wants more information on the state’s response to the illegal dumping of low-level radioactive waste in the county landfill.

Lexington police are conducting ongoing and frequent investigations of car break-ins. A significant number of the crimes this year have occurred in residential neighborhoods.   The holiday season, law officers say, only tends to increase opportunities for this crime.

Lexington police officer Bige Towery says, in addition to residential areas, an equal threat can be found in shopping center parking lots, “The opportunity is there many times during the holidays because you have an abundance of cars in one location.”

Crews battling wildfires in southeastern Kentucky are seeing progress but travel in smoky areas remains a concern.

Kentucky Division of Forestry Spokesman Mark Weidewitsch calls the current firefighting strategy as in the “mop up stage.”  With weekend rains and a little more forecast for midweek, Weidewitsch hopes state personnel can be relieved and only local crews will be needed to fight fires by Thanksgiving. 


Trumped: Coal’s Collapse, Economic Anxiety Motivated Ohio Valley Voters

Nov 21, 2016
Photo: Robert McGraw/WOUB

The electoral map of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia is a sea of red with a few islands of blue. Of the 263 counties in the three states only nine went for Hillary Clinton, most of them around the region’s cities.

The Ohio Valley ReSource looked to voters and voting data to learn more about what motivated Donald Trump’s supporters and what they hope he will do as president. 

“More than Obama did!” Judy Collier said from a grocery story parking lot in Whitesburg, Kentucky. “We need jobs.” 

Focus On Business: Ron Gilkerson on GRW Consulting Firm

Nov 21, 2016

Today, Tom Martin talks with Ron Gilkerson who just retired after 25 years as president with G-R-W, the engineering, architectural, and geospatial consulting firm based in Lexington since 1964.

Police Body Cam Rollout Progressing in Lexington

Nov 21, 2016

Lexington’s Public Safety Commissioner says the rollout of police body cameras continues in the city.  Ronnie Bastin also says citizens should expect new initiatives to address concerns about youth violence.

The former police chief says close to half of officers in line to receive body cams, are now using them.  Bastin says Lexington reviewed the wearable technology thoroughly before making the purchase.

Lexington Crews Assisting with Street Tree Pruning

Nov 21, 2016
Stu Johnson

Lexington officials are ramping up efforts to tackle issues with street trees.  Additional city staff are helping to whittle down a backlog of concerns.

Low-hanging street tree limbs can hinder travel or block motorists’ views, hinder mail delivery, and inconvenience pedestrians. 

Homeowners are required to keep the trees properly pruned, but city crews are also following up and addressing ongoing problems with limbs. 

Environmental Services Director Susan Plueger says another issue is sidewalk upheaval from tree roots. 

Here’s a message from Paul left this week on the Listener Comment Line, “I like your website and the stories of the day. I particularly like reading about people voting for the coal industry. I know that’s controversial but it’s an important story.”


Eastern Kentucky University student-athlete Tyler Swafford had a tough day on the football field Saturday.  But as WEKU’S John Hingsbergen reports, the 21-year-old received some very good news later that day. 

Tyler Swafford has been notified that he will receive one of this year’s 12 George Mitchell scholarships. The Brentwood Tennessee native, was among more than 300 who applied for the honor that provides a year of post-graduate study at institutions of higher learning in Ireland. 

Grant Helps Lexington Homeless With Rent

Nov 19, 2016
Stu Johnson

Lexington area realtors are joining city officials in helping homeless persons move into permanent housing.  A national grant of $15,000 is making it possible.

The grant from the National Association of Realtors’ was awarded to the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors for deposits and first month’s rent for up to 15 households.

Crews Battling Fires, Wind in Southeastern Ky

Nov 18, 2016

High temperatures and winds are complicating efforts at fighting ongoing wildfires across Kentucky but a weekend forecast of rain could provide some relief.

Kentucky Emergency Management’s Buddy Rogers said Friday that 54 fires are actively burning on 28,000 acres. More than half of those are on federal forest land. 

Southeastern Kentucky residents should keep an ear tuned for any alerts.  Rogers said people should “closely monitor their local media, weather alert radios, certainly their smart phones.” 

It’s time for our weekly chat featuring weekend arts and cultural events with Rich Copley and Harriett Hendren of the Lexington Herald-Leader.  They start this week of a mention of a production by Lexington’s Studio Players.    

Stu Johnson

Eastern Kentucky University student athlete Tyler Swafford’s got a whirlwind schedule this Saturday. He’s making a trip to the nation’s capital for a scholarship interview before trotting out onto the field in Richmond to lead his team.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback is vying for a Mitchell Scholarship. His interview is set for 8:30 a.m. in Washington. He’s one of 20 finalists in the national competitive scholarship program sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance. If awarded one of the 12 scholarships, he'll spend a year studying in Ireland.

Walkway Repair to Close Richmond's Lancaster Avenue

Nov 17, 2016
Stu Johnson

Work to restore a pedestrian walkway on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus is expected to be visible this weekend with the closure of a portion of Richmond's Lancaster Ave. on Sunday from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.

A commercial truck with a raised hydraulic lift slammed into the overhead walkway in September, causing a partial collapse.

EKU Vice President for Facilities Paul Gannoe said two structural beams will be put into place then the repairs will stall. "We have some materials ordered," he said. "We’re fabricating some materials."

After just two months of operation, Lexington’s newest senior center is serving a growing number of baby boomers. 

Aging and Disability Services director Kristy Stambaugh told the Urban County Council Tuesday that folks 60 to 69 years old made up about 28 percent of total visitors a year ago.  Now, she said, 38 percent are within that baby boomer age range.

Stambaugh said the center’s 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday schedule will likely expand next spring to include a few evenings a week.

Lexington Considering Private Road Signage

Nov 16, 2016
Stu Johnson

Lexington city officials took the first step to identifying private streets Tuesday, a change that requires developers to post signs indicating the end of public maintenance.

Planning Director Jim Duncan told a council committee that making sure private streets are built to the same standards as public streets is an ongoing emphasis. 

Kentucky Proud Holidays on Eastern Standard

Nov 16, 2016
Grant Willoughby

With the holiday season in full swing, this week's Eastern Standard will be devoted to Kentucky Proud-specific holidays. The mantra of "buy local" is something many hear often these days, and as it turns out Kentucky has a lot of great local brands to offer. Not surprisingly, there is quite a bit more made in the commonwealth other than bourbon and beer cheese!

Guests on this week's show include:

Some students in Fayette County high schools will be going through metal detectors later this month.  The school administration announced new safety policies Tuesday.

Over the past 12 days, three Lexington area students were caught bringing guns to Tates Creek High School.  Earlier this week, another student brought a BB gun to Bryan Station Middle School. 

Stu Johnson

Removing radioactive materials illegally dumped in the Estill County Landfill is the best option, but state health officials told a crowd Monday that it will be a challenge.

  Tony Hatton, deputy commissioner of the Environmental Protection Cabinet, said the preferred option is to remove the material, but added it would likely be an extensive process involving large volumes of waste. 

During a 90-minute public forum at Estill County High School, state public health and environmental officials assured over 100 in the audience that the threat to public is health is low.

Stu Johnson

State officials Monday night sought to allay fears about health risks associated with the illegal dumping of radioactive waste at an Estill County landfill.  Their presentation included a description of just-announced penalties for responsible companies.

Well over a hundred people gathered in the Estill County High School auditorium not far from the landfill where fracking waste now resides buried under cover.

Wild fires continue to rage in Southeastern, Kentucky representing a 664 percent increase in November fires over 2015. Five hundred people are still fighting the flames.

So far this month, 130 wild fires have burned almost 15,000 acres in the 16 counties. State Division of Forestry Spokesman Mark Weidewitsch said at this point last year, 17 fires consumed 200 acres.  

Only one structure has been lost, Weidewitsch said. Local volunteer fire departments work to preserve structures, he said, allowing state firefighters to focus on wild fires.

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

A recent breakdown at an Ohio River dam served as a wake-up call about the aging infrastructure that keeps river commerce flowing. The Ohio is one of the country’s busiest working rivers and some navigation controls are approaching the century mark. I went to see these ailing structures and a new multi-billion dollar project in the works.  

Critical Stretch of River

From the Listener Comment Line, a call from Dan in Lexington about the fact that we chose to, once again, preempt Performance Today on Wednesday evening, the day after the Election.  

Ky Drought Could Stress Water Supplies

Nov 14, 2016

Officials in some Kentucky communities may need to keep a close eye on their local water supply levels in the weeks ahead.  A Level One drought declaration was issued late last week for 117 counties in the state.  

State Climatologist Stuart Foster says the driest conditions have been found in Eastern and Southern Kentucky,  “There is some early indication some of the smaller water supply systems that traditionally are a little more vulnerable to drought, that they need to be aware of the situation and developing a plan of action to take if necessary.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture sponsored what they called a Beginning Farmer Summit Friday in Louisville.  

Madison County Extension Agent in Agriculture Brandon Sears says about half of the people with an interest in farming are new to Agriculture.  He says the other half often see farming passed down from generation to generation.

The timeline for disposal of mustard blister agent stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot appears likely to change.  Mustard and nerve munitions have been buried in bunkers at the Madison County army installation since World War II.  The change in scheduling could mean demilitarization of nerve agent first.

Ky Veterans Center to Open in Early 2017

Nov 11, 2016

Beginning in early 2017, more than 100 Kentucky veterans will likely be living in a new home.  Study continues about where to build a fifth veterans center in Kentucky.

There are Veterans centers currently operating in Wilmore, Hazard, and Hanson.  Work continues on a new facility in Radcliff with plans to welcome veterans by the end of February.