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LRC.GOV

Kentucky Lawmakers attended a mandatory sexual harassment prevention session today (Wed), a day after the House speaker announced he wouldn’t resign his seat amid a harassment scandal.

Rep. Joni Jenkins, a Democrat from Louisville, said lawmakers took the training session more seriously than in previous years. 

“Maybe less laughter in the room.” 

Senate Leaders Focusing on Pension Reforms

Jan 3, 2018
Stu Johnson

Much of the attention on day one of the Kentucky General Assembly focused on the House, and the status of Speaker Jeff Hoover.   

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Senate was gearing up for a proposed overhaul of the state’s pension systems. 

A sexual harassment investigation in the House had members there debating decisions about leadership.  In the Senate, a military band opened the session with music.

Stu Johnson

The 2018 general assembly opened with a rallying cry from teachers, concerned about proposed pension changes. Prominent federal and state politicians spoke at the capitol rotunda Tuesday.

The Stand Up for Education rally found Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth and Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes urging attendees to vote, register to vote, and file to run for the legislature.  

 

Analysis Shows Toxic Sites In Flood Zone

Jan 2, 2018
Wikipedia Commons User Markzvo

The Ohio Valley has long been home to some of the dirtiest industries in the nation. Coal, plastics, and chemical plants and their waste sites dot our river valleys. Even those no longer operational leave their legacy in the soil and water.

Distler Farm sits just on the outskirts of Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Its pastoral name is misleading. During the 1970s it served as a landfill for liquid waste, including medical and agricultural refuse.

BGKY.org

The Los Angeles-based company American Cinema International is increasing its production in Kentucky.

The first project filmed mostly in Hart County was a Hallmark movie called “An Uncommon Grace.” It aired in February 2017.

The second project launches a three-part mini-series called “Runaway Romance.”

It was filmed in Glasgow, Horse Cave, Cave City and Munfordville and will air on January 7 on UP -TV, a small network for family-oriented movies.

With 2018 here, now comes a common tradition... New Year’s resolutions. Murray State Psychology Professor Dr. Michael Bordieri says as creatures of habit, developing change is one of the hardest things for humans to do. That’s why a majority to fail at keeping their resolutions. He says people tend to focus more on outcomes rather than daily process.

Bordieri says setting smaller goals can make it easier to stick with a resolution for the entire year.

Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource

Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

 

Nicole Erwin/ Ohio Valley ReSource

A locks and dam project 30 years in the making on the Ohio River is in the final phase of completion and ahead of schedule. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Olmsted Locks and Dam division chief Mike Braden says completion is projected for Oct. 1, 2018 -- four years ahead of an earlier assessment. Braden says the completion of the Olmsted project will have a national impact.

“Right there where Olmsted is being constructed is the busiest in terms of commodities in the entire country so we call it the hub of the Inland Waterway transportation system,” he said. 

Rail Extension Helps Business Expand at Riverport

Jan 2, 2018

The Owensboro Riverport is moving forward with a rail expansion in the new year that will add space for automobile frame manufacturer Metalsa as it steps up production. 

“The one-point-five-million-dollar rail loop project at the Owensboro Riverport is getting the majority of funding from a federal grant to improve air quality.

That’s because Mexico-based Metalsa Structural Products is investing nearly $37 million  in an expansion that will add 113 jobs at its Owensboro plant.

kentucky.com

Two Lexington lawmakers are seeking modification of an extensive criminal justice reform law enacted in 2011. 

The changes sought by Representatives Stan Lee and Robert Benvenuti address some of the arrest powers of police. Their bill would eliminate citations for certain misdemeanor offenders. 

Kentucky.com

Lawmakers return to Frankfort this week for the 2018 General Assembly and are slated to make changes to the state’s pension systems, craft a new two-year budget and consider a variety of other legislation.

This will be the first time in Kentucky history that a budget will be written by a Republican-led legislature and governor. 
 

On WHAS Radio’s Terry Meiners Show, Bevin said major cuts are likely across state government. 

Three Flu Related Deaths Reported in Lexington

Dec 29, 2017
kentucky.com

Lexington has experienced three flu related deaths so far during the current influenza season.  Two of the deaths occurred Thursday.

Fayette County Health Department Communications Officer Kevin Hall says in all three cases the elderly patients had underlying health conditions. “This doesn’t mean that the people died from the flu.  It’s almost better to think of it as they had the flu at the time of their death, and the flu complicates the other underlying conditions that they have,” said Hall.

 

Victim Advocate: Test DNA Of All Felony Suspects

Dec 29, 2017
Kentucky.com

Now that Kentucky has nearly eliminated a backlog of untested rape kits, focus is shifting toward expanding the state’s DNA data base.

More than 400 DNA profiles have been entered into a national database and more than 170 have been linked to convicted felons.

Gretchen Hunt heads the Office of Victims Advocacy in the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.

She thinks the state would have better success in prosecuting the cases if law enforcement took DNA samples from suspects at the time of their arrest.

Military Missions

The Lexington based Military Missions organization continues its effort to reach service men and women worldwide.  More than 400 packages were shipped from Lexington in December.

wkms.org

Come 2018, more than a million utility customers across Kentucky are expected to see lower rates for electricity, natural gas, and water service.  It’s a result of the just passed federal tax reform legislation.

A financial technology company says Kentucky is home to three of the top 25 best places in the 
U.S. to work in manufacturing.

The list created by the company “Smart Asset” ranks the Elizabethtown-Fort Knox area as the fifth-best place in the country for manufacturing jobs. Owensboro was ranked 17th, and the Louisville metro area was 19th. 

 

courts.ky.gov

Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Janet Stumbo retires the end of this week after 26 years of service to the state’s two appellate courts. The Floyd County native says the makeup of those courts changed significantly over the last two decades.

KU, LG&E Crews Heading to Puerto Rico

Dec 27, 2017
publicpower.com

Some 30 LG&E and Kentucky Utilities workers will leave next week for Puerto Rico to help with massive power restoration efforts.  

Nearly two dozen pieces of heavy equipment should be placed on barges by the end of this week.  Chris Whelan is a spokeswoman for the utility company. “So, we’re sending over our electric line technicians, safety personnel, and crews that actually restore the electric service,” said Whelan.  “They will be doing work in a certain region of Puerto Rico and should be there for several months.”

 

New Judge-Executive For Estill County

Dec 27, 2017
Estill Development Alliance

 

Gov. Matt Bevin has named Kevin Williams, of Irvine, as Judge-Executive of Estill County. Williams replaces Wallace Taylor, who resigned in early November.

Taylor cited health issues when announcing his resignation. He had served as Judge-Executive for 15 years and was known as a colorful public figure.  According to the Estill Tribune, Taylor once signed a declaration about breast cancer awareness wearing a pink bathrobe.

AmericanMachinest.com

An aluminum company planning a state-subsidized $1.3 billion dollar facility in Greenup County has released a partial list of its shareholders. Braidy Industries had been keeping those identities a secret. 

Kentucky Taking Steps to Curb Overdose Deaths

Dec 27, 2017
Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

A new report shows the impact of drug deaths on Kentucky’s overall health.

The commonwealth has the second-highest rate of drug deaths in the nation, according to a recent report published by United Healthcare Foundation.

Only West Virginia was worse.

Dr. Julie Daftari is Chief Medical Office for United Healthcare in Kentucky.

She says new prescribing limits on certain controlled substances and greater access to Naloxone should help lower Kentucky’s drug deaths.

Gummy Bears: A Highly Unscientific Taste Test

Dec 27, 2017
Laura Ellis/WFPL

 

Fun fact about the WFPL newsroom: it is fully-stocked with lots of candy. Mini-chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, Jolly Ranchers — the list goes on and the candy bowl is constantly being refilled.

Then last week, a gigantic bag of gummy bears appeared, which led to a question from our digital editor, Jonese Franklin: “Do gummy bears really come in different flavors, or do we just think they taste different because they are different colors?”

The newsroom was split on the answer, so we conducted a highly unscientific experiment — a blind taste test.

kentucky.com

The University of Kentucky is addressing hazing and alcohol abuse among student organizations.  The UK Board of Trustees got a briefing during their December meeting.

Lexington Activates Homelessness Weather Plan

Dec 26, 2017
weku file photo

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government is activating its plan to help the homeless stay safe as temperatures drop.   It becomes effective when the temperature falls below 32 degrees and includes expanded shelter services and free transportation to get out of the cold. 

Laura Carr is development director with the Lexington Rescue Mission.  “Really just trying to make sure that people know that there is shelter available to them.  There’s no shortage of shelter beds in Lexington,” said Carr.  “There’s no reason for anyone to be sleeping outside if they don’t want to.”

Think twice before giving pets bones to chew on during holiday meals. Licensed Veterinary Technician Racheal Shultz of the Murray Animal Hospital says to avoid giving pets any part of the meal. She says the biggest problem she encounters during the holidays is pets suffering from digestive problems after their owner slipped them food from the table.

Shultz says to stay away from pork products because they are hard on dogs’ and cats’ systems.

Kentucky.com

Louisville-based LGBTQ advocacy group The Fairness Campaign is gearing up for an election year and working towards an ‘anti-discrimination’ law. Chairman Chris Hartman says a measure to include LGBTQ protections in the Kentucky Civil Rights Act failed to gain traction in Frankfort in 2017. He says until that passes, the group will work to bar potential bills that include discriminatory language. 

Stress Management Blog

While the holidays are often accompanied with feelings of joy and happiness, one in five people feel an 'extreme' level of stress. That's according to Murray State University psychology professor Dr. Michael Bordieri. He says that stress largely comes from social expectations that the holidays be perfect. A stress-free holiday, he says, can include letting go of this idea.

publicnewsservice.org

The chair of Kentucky’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee envisions the fast approaching general assembly session as an opportunity to change in the state’s tobacco product policies. Additional taxes on cigarettes is one possibility.

Nonviolence For A New Year

Dec 26, 2017
Nonviolent Cities Project

As Americans look toward the New Year, there’s a universal hope for peace in a world so often troubled by conflict and war. But members of a group called Nonviolent Owensboro are working to create a little more of that peace, beginning in their own community.

“Nonviolent Owensboro was founded a year ago by Mary Danhauer a family nurse practitioner at the Green River District Health Department.

She says Nonviolent Owensboro works to create peace on three levels. The first is within each individual.

When Will Jeff Hoover Officially Step Down? Soon

Dec 26, 2017
@KyHoover

Hoover announced he was stepping down from his role as speaker last month after admitting he exchanged sexually-charged text messages with a staffer. 

On WHAS radio’s Terry Meiners show, Bevin said it’s “highly unlikely” that Hoover would try to keep his leadership position when the General Assembly goes back into session. 

“I don’t know why he would do that. He’s already stated that it’s his intent to stand down. You can’t officially resign until the House is in session, which will happen when they come back in again.” 

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