Josh James, Kentucky Public Radio

150 years on, vestiges of the Civil War in the Bluegrass continue to fascinate. Hoping to paint a more detailed picture of how the conflict shaped the state, the Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism has launched a new program to link historic sites around the Commonwealth.

It's close to noon and a handful of young demonstrators are assembled on Main Street. That number will swell to 30 or 40 by rush hour. Like their counterparts across the country, the Occupy Lexington Kentucky protesters see a direct connection between Wall Street and their own fortunes. "I have a four-year college degree and I work at a coffee shop," says Greg Capillo, an activist who claims hard economic times have put his hopes for a career, and those of several fellow protesters, on hold. 

Following a retreat and campus tour last weekend, the University of Kentucky trustees are urging UK president Eli Capilouto to adopt a plan that could dramatically alter the university's campus. A campus-wide brainstorming session launched by President Capilouto has quickly narrowed its focus to one of improving the undergraduate experience, with an emphasis on overhauling outdated facilities. "Yes, we've got some 19th century facilities to work on and we're going to get it done," Capilouto says. 

Despite a stalled economic recovery and shaky consumer spending, one Lexington company is expanding its global headquarters. Their products may be meant to put you to sleep, but the CEO of Tempur-Pedic says his company is doing anything but lying down. 

Environmental Protection Agency region four administrator Gwen Fleming says, despite tense negotiations in the past, cooperation between her agency and state government on issues such as surface mining and emission standards is still possible. 

A law symposium being held in Lexington is focusing on funding cuts to the justice system. The American Bar Association is calling the situation a "crisis." Underfunded, overburdened, and misunderstood - that's how American Bar Association president Bill Robinson has described the modern justice system in the U.S. He says funding cuts are pushing courts to the breaking point.

A Lexington attorney has become the fourth attorney disbarred due to his involvement in a class-action lawsuit brought against the diet drug fen-phen.David Helmers had his law license revoked today after the Kentucky Supreme Court cited serious ethical violations in his conduct. He's also been ordered to pay $40,000 to cover the cost of the disciplinary proceedings against him.

The Family Foundation, a conservative group that opposes expanded gambling, is asking Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate Instant Racing machines now online at Kentucky Downs. 

This Saturday Lexington will take part, for the first time, in a global rally called Moving Planet. The day of action is meant to spotlight issues surrounding climate change. Moving Planet is an outgrowth of, an environmental campaign launched by author Bill McKibben. The international rally brings together more than 165 countries and a host of grassroots organizations. This year, Lexington will join those groups, thanks to architect and organizer Clive Pohl.

A gay rights group in Berea is launching a new advertising campaign Monday to highlight pro-Fairness statements made by members of the city council.  Bereans for Fairness took the quotes from an October 2010 candidate survey published in The Berea Citizen. The group contends six of the eight council members support an anti-discrimination law that has stalled in the body over the summer.

U.S. News & World Report recently released its university rankings for the year; next year they're set to rate the quality of teacher preparation programs. Kentucky was among the first states contacted as part of the review, done in partnership with the National Council on Teacher Quality, but officials at UK and the state's other public universities declined to take part, citing concerns about the survey's methodology. 

A decision to allow Friends of Coal to sponsor the University of Kentucky-University of Louisville football game this Saturday isn't sitting well with some environmental groups. Friends of Coal, a campaign run by the Kentucky Coal Association, has paid 85-thousand dollars to put their name on three athletic events this year -- the Cats-Cards this Saturday being the first. The group will also hand out scholarship money to the UK minding department during halftime. 

KY Schools Prominent in Magazine Rankings

Sep 14, 2011

In an annual ranking of colleges and universities by US News and World Report, Kentucky schools were more prevalent.  Among the best in the south are Murray, Morehead State, Western and Eastern Kentucky Universities.  Nationally, US News & World Report placed the University of Kentucky at 124th. It's a slight improvement over last year's numbers.

The opening of Cardinal Hill's new building was an emotional one for former patient, Judy Hale Everett. "Now with the addition of this new wing, the circle is complete. A top-notch facility to match the top-notch staff," she said. Since her first visit in 1976 after a motorcycle accident, Everett has watched Cardinal Hill grow from a facility caring for only a handful of patients in cramped rooms to the complete rehabilitation center it is today. The expansion brings more private rooms, larger therapy gyms, and a new aquatic center. Hale says her first tour left her impressed. 

Two announcements from Transylvania University this week show the school putting more emphasis on diversity. The university is broadening its religious studies program and welcoming its first director of campus diversity. Following a ten-year theological project funded by a Lily Endowment grant, Transylvania president Owen Williams says it's time for the university to embrace new model of campus ministry - one that both reaffirms its ties to Disciples of Christ while shifting toward more interfaith dialogue. Williams says the move is a reaction both to changing demographics and changing attitudes.

The Better Business Bureau is reminding University of Kentucky students, especially those new to the area, to stay vigilant when it comes to offers that sound too good to be true.  Tech savvy college students may think they're immune to scams, but Heather Clary, a spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau of Central and Eastern Kentucky says the young, as well as the elderly, can be taken for a ride.

The Kentucky Chinese American Association will present its annual Moon Festival tomorrow in Lexington.  The celebration, also called the Mid-Autumn Festival, dates back over 3000 years and remains one of the most important holidays on the Chinese calendar. Kentucky Chinese American Association president Wei Luo compares the holiday to Thanksgiving.

The University of Kentucky is celebrating the inaugural semester of its new "Core" studies program, which all undergraduate students must complete as part of their degree programs. A performance by UK opera students marked the beginning of the ceremony, which celebrated the start of UK Core, which will replace the aging University Studies Program, adopted in the mid-80s. 

Josh James / Kentucky Public Radio

An area elementary school is being honored for its efforts to go green. Rosa Park Elementary was rewarded with a visit from Mayor Jim Gray and Congressman Ben Chandler. When students and staff at Rosa Parks Elementary decided to make their school greener, they set what they thought was a realistic goal - a ten percent reduction in overall energy use, saving the school around 15 to 20 thousand dollars. But a year later Principal Leslie Thomas took a look at the numbers. 

Kids attending newly built Wellington Elementary will soon be enjoying a new, state-of-the-art playground, courtesy of the Pepsi Refresh Project, which accepts grant ideas online and then awards up to 50-thousand dollars to those receiving the most votes.

Kentucky state police will be out in force Labor Day weekend as part of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. The campaign is part of a national push to keep drunk drivers off the road during one of the busier travel weekends of the year. Last year in Kentucky, a total of 4,762 collisions were caused by drivers under the influence - 167 were fatal. It's a grim number, but Lt. David Jude with the Kentucky State Police says there are some positive trends to report as well. 

Every election year Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan voter education organization, conducts what's called the Political Courage Test, asking candidates to go on the record on hot button issues. But fewer candidates are choosing to take the test. 

Gov. Steve Beshear Monday announced a major small business initiative that will provide Kentucky’s small businesses with access to nearly $155 million in new loans to help with job creation across the state.  The Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative involves three new small business programs implemented by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to facilitate increased private lending to Kentucky’s small businesses. The programs include: the Kentucky Capital Access Program; the Kentucky Collateral Support Program and the Kentucky Loan Participation Program.

Every election year Project Vote Smart, a non-partisan voter education organization, conducts what's called the Political Courage Test, asking candidates to go on the record on hot button issues. But fewer candidates are choosing to take the test.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is warning parents about a new tactic employed by a sexual predator online in Kentucky. Sexual predators who take advantage of the anonymity of the internet sometimes do so by posing as young boys in order to lure underage females. But Ernest Baker, a Nicholasville man now serving a sentence of 288 months in federal prison, posed as a young girl first, then a young boy, effectively creating an extra layer of disguise. United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Kerry Harvey.

State Learns Through ITunes

Aug 24, 2011
Hannah Reel / Frankfort State Journal

Students, parents, teachers and community members can now access free Kentucky-specific educational materials through iTunes. During Wednesday’s launch at Woodford County High School, state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday called the resource “mass customization of learning,” comparing it to his own Yahoo News page and Twitter feed. “It’s no longer a cookie-cutter education,” he said. “Students can customize their learning lists like they do their music playlists.” The iTunes U project is a partnership among the Kentucky Department of Education, the University of Kentucky and KET.

The revamped 2012 Camry made its debut at Toyota's Georgetown plant Tuesday. Company executives hope the new design, its first in five years, will jumpstart sales after a series of setbacks in recent years. Georgetown Toyota plant president Wil James unveiled the latest version of Toyota's top sedan to a large gathering of employees. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky chairman Steve St. Angelo was also hand to generate enthusiasm for the redesign, which he hopes will send a clear signal to the industry.

Disparities in income, race, and social status are often reflected in health statistics. The Lexington Health Department is hoping to spotlight those issues during a summit in September.

Josh James

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is traveling the state while congress is in recess.  In his speech to the Rotary Club, Paul again sounded the call for smaller government, lower taxes, and the repeal of President Obama's health care reform law. As for the 12-member super-committee formed as part of the deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling, the senator said he's confident it will find the necessary 1.2 trillion dollars in cuts, but expressed skepticism that the deal will have much effect. Asked what he's been hearing from constituents, Paul said economic frustrations continue to top the list.

When one thinks of Japan and Kentucky, Toyota is often the first partnership that comes to mind. But a local festival aims to show that the connections run much deeper.  In a few days, Jacobson Park will be transformed into a celebration of Japanese culture. Visitors will be sampling authentic Japanese cuisine, trying on kimonos, and shopping for Japanese goods at a flea market. David Carpenter, Japan/America Society of Kentucky president, says the annual gathering is also a reminder of how connected our two cultures have become.