Josh James, Kentucky Public Radio

Government officials in Kentucky are facing mounting pressure to consider a moratorium on the state's death penalty. An American Bar Association report calling for a halt to executions now has the backing of the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 

The Lexington firefighters' union has lost a court battle with the Urban County Government over changes to the health care plan for city employees. The Lexington firefighters' union had requested an injunction that would have prohibited the local government from instituting the new policy, which the union claimed violated collective bargaining agreements. City workers have expressed frustration with rate increases in the city's health plans for 2012. But Mayor Jim Gray says it's important that the city move ahead with some tough choices. 

A city-appointed task force is looking to resurrect the Charles Young Community Center on Lexington's east end. The group is recommending that the city retain ownership of the building but partner with local organizations to provide activities and programs.

A long-running dispute over the trademark red wax seal atop Maker's Mark Kentucky-brewed bourbon could be decided by a panel of three federal judges. 

Lexingtonians will have two chances this week to comment on a proposal to create a 46-acre Rupp Arena Arts & Entertainment District downtown. Former UK faculty member and master planner for the Rupp Arena project Gary Bates is set to discuss his ideas and take comments from the public at a meeting at 6 PM Wednesday night at the Lexington Children's Theatre. Bates will also attend a Q&A session with downtown merchants and property owners Thursday at 1:30 PM at Buster's.

- The Postal Service's Processing and Distribution Center in Lexington is among 252 centers targeted for closure as the USPS looks to consolidate its facilities. But the public will get a chance to have their say about the proposal at a meeting tonight.

On December 13th, Governor Steve Beshear will become only the second governor in Kentucky history to be sworn into a second consecutive term. Governor Beshear has appointed eight committee co-chairs to oversee the state's 59th inaugural celebration.

Today marks the beginning of Global Entrepreneurship Week - and this year Lexington is taking part. Nearly 24-thousand organizations will host more than 37-thousand events around the world this week to help aspiring entrepreneurs. One local business eager to tout the resources available in Lexington is an online game design company called Frogdice. 

Since the mid-1970s, Lexington police officers have been allowed to use their cruisers during off-duty hours, but that could be about to change. A new cost-cutting plan by the city would limit the personal use of cruisers. The Fraternal Order of Police was notified of the changes on Friday. FOP president Mike Sweeney says, if the plan goes through, the first thing citizens will notice is a decreased police presence around town. At a time when the police department is already understaffed, Sweeney says that could present a safety risk.

Josh James / Kentucky Public Radio

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes coasted to victory in the Tuesday night's election for Secretary of State. The Lexington lawyer took home more votes than any other Democrat on Tuesday's ballot. In her first bid for public office, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the daughter of former Kentucky Democratic Party chair Jerry Lundergan, won 61 percent of the vote. Grimes, who has said she would support automatic restoration of voting rights for felons and opposes a photo ID requirement at the polls, sounded a familiar note in her acceptance speech.

Lexingtonians can celebrate America Recycles Day by taking part in a number of events in town.
A free paper shred this Saturday, November 12th at the old landfill pad on Old Frankfort Pike from 9 AM to 2 PM is the main event. Cheryl Taylor with the city's Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works said it does more than help the environment.

Josh James

The renovated Lyric Theatre is now officially Lexington's first city-owned building to earn LEED Gold certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To achieve Gold certification, Lyric architects installed a roof that reduces stormwater runoff and absorbs pollutants, a rainwater collection system, and large windows that make more use of natural light. First District Councilman Chris Ford said the Lyric sets a high bar.

A proposed update of Woodford County's comprehensive plan is causing some controversy among residents who feel the changes could strip the area of agricultural protections. Required by law to be updated every five years, the Woodford County comprehensive plan lays out community transportation and land-use priorities for lawmakers to consult when making decisions about development. This year's update removes protections for what's called the "agricultural-equine preserve district" north of Versailles. Brian Trougott is the chairman of the committee that suggested the changes.

Lexington officials announced Tuesday that the federal government has rewarded the city's domestic violence prevention efforts by renewing a $400-thousand dollar grant. Yhe money comes as part of the Violence Against Women Act. Despite a relatively consistent number of domestic violence calls in recent years, the number of arrests in those cases has jumped 70 percent since 2007 in Lexington. Police and community advocates credit federal grants that allowed them to overhaul their training, place a new emphasis on apprehending offenders, and maintain two victim advocates that respond within 24 hours of a call. Police Chief Ronnie Bastin. 

Kids might be suiting up for trick-or-treating tonight, but Lexington firefighters are already thinking about Christmas. The Fire Department's annual toy drive is already underway. 2011 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Lexington Fire Department's toy drive and organizers are hoping they can meet the increased need. Last year, the department handed out toys to around 3000 children. Lexington firefighter John Durr says that number could be much higher this time around. 

No Change in Natural Gas Costs this Winter

Oct 31, 2011

With wholesale natural gas prices changing little over the last year, Kentucky customers will be paying about the same for comparable quantities of gas this winter, the Kentucky Public Service Commission announced Monday.  “Natural gas prices have remained fairly constant since late 2009, in contrast to the large fluctuations in prior years,” PSC Chairman David Armstrong said in a press release. “Increasing gas supplies should provide a measure of price stability in the coming years as well.”

Kids might be suiting up for trick-or-treating tonight, but Lexington firefighters are already thinking about Christmas. The Fire Department's annual toy drive is already underway.  2011 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Lexington Fire Department's toy drive and organizers are hoping they can meet the increased need. Last year, the department handed out toys to around 3000 children. Lexington firefighter John Durr says that number could be much higher this time around.

Josh James / Kentucky Public Radio

It's back to the drawing board for the developer looking to fill Lexington's vacant CentrePointe block. Dudley Webb has taken Chicago architect Jeanne Gang off the project. Back in July, many Lexingtonians hailed Jeanne Gang's futuristic designs for CentrePointe as a step forward for the city, with a few, like Robert Maras, calling it "the greatest thing, I think, that's ever happened to Lexington." 

This Sunday, more than a thousand zombies are expected to fill the streets as the 10th anniversary Thriller Parade dances through downtown. The recreation of Michael Jackson's classic video has become more elaborate every year. Though Thriller may have turned 25 a few years back, for many fans in Lexington, the dance never gets old.

When it comes to sending students abroad, Kentucky lags behind neighboring states. But one group of international educators is working to change that. Kentucky colleges and universities sent just under 3000 students to study abroad during the 2008-2009 school year. Meanwhile, Ohio graduated students with international education experience at a rate five times that. 

Student protesters are lobbying University of Kentucky officials to improving or shuttering the school's two coal boilers. The activists see opportunity in the new administration's push to upgrade campus facilities. 

 University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto is moving forward with plans to renovate and build new facilities on campus. A framework for the multi-year project already exists.  UK trustees were surprised Tuesday by the pace of progress. The plan presented by President Capilouto proposes, among other things, the construction of a $30-million dollar residence hall to open in 2013, a plan to solicit ideas from private developers, and the installation of up to 9000 new residence hall beds.

UK Trustee Calls For More Transparency

Oct 24, 2011

A new addition to the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees is calling for greater transparency from the school's administration. Irina Voro is accusing UK officials of stonewalling her request for data. 

Josh James / Kentucky Public Radio

The Fayette County Health Department's "Free Flu Friday" is in full swing at the department's Public Health North Campus. The staff has seen a steady run of visitors since 9:30 this morning.  Visitors lining up for their free flu shots sign in and then walk through a roped off areas before they reach the tables where the shots are administered, some by University of Kentucky nursing students.

A recent rash of violent crime in Lexington has police doubling their efforts address the problem. A string of shootings that began October 5th has left one dead and nine wounded. With ten shooting incidents reported in the last nine days, police are looking for any common threads that could link the crimes, some of which have been connected with the growing illegal prescription drug trade. Lexington Police Commander Kelly Edwards says the police are taking the uptick seriously. 

A Lexington poet is among the five finalists for a National Book Award. Nikky Finney's Head Off & Split has been recognized as one of the five most notable books of poetry for 2011 by the National Book Awards committee. The collection's name comes from a common phrase Finney heard as child at the fish markets in South Carolina.

With President Obama's $447 billion dollar jobs bill failing to clear a supermajority hurdle yesterday, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell says the country avoided another catastrophic stimulus bill. But a handful of McConnell's constituents decided to take their dissatisfaction to his Lexington office.

Urban County Council members sparred over the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund Tuesday. The issue could come to a public referendum. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as envisioned by the committee tasked with exploring it, would need around four million dollars of dedicated funding every year. The committee determined the best way to pay for the fund would be a 1-percent raise in the insurance premium tax, or an increase of about $30 dollars a year for the average household. Councilman Chris Ford said the need for more affordable housing is very real.

Lexington-Fayette County Health Department officials expect to give up to 2000 flu shots Friday. The special one-day event serves a dual purpose: vaccinating citizens against the flu and training health department workers for emergencies. Kevin Hall with the Health Department says the clinics helped the city handle the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

Josh James

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has announced the formation of a task force to study ways the city can handle its ballooning Police and Fire Pension Fund deficit. Failure to address the problem, he says, could result in significant cutbacks in services. The total liability of Lexington's Police and Fire Pension Fund, an estimated $536 million dollars, is currently twice the size of the city's General Fund budget. It's a situation that's led many cities across the country to consider bankruptcy. Mayor Jim Gray says he's determined not to see that happen in Lexington and that's why a task force is necessary.