Kevin Wheatley, State Journal



Sun July 15, 2012
State Capitol

State Board to Further Investigate Richie Farmer

The Personnel Board will formally investigate alleged personnel abuses at the Department of Agriculture under Richie Farmer – many of which were uncovered in the blistering audit released earlier this year. The board voted unanimously Friday to open an investigation into personnel matters found in Auditor Adam Edelen’s report on the department during Farmer’s second and final term as commissioner, which ended in 2011.


Sun June 10, 2012

State Lawmaker Retires From Teaching

After teaching high schoolers the ins and outs of government, history and economics for 27 years, state Rep. Derrick Graham has retired from Frankfort High School. Leaving his alma mater was a difficult decision, but Graham, 52, says he’ll be able to focus more on his increasing legislative duties as well as visit family who’ve moved away.


Fri May 18, 2012
The Commonwealth

Retirement System Assets Decline

The Kentucky Retirement Systems’ net assets have fallen $680 million in this fiscal year’s first nine months as investment income and contributions failed to cover rising retirement benefits and other expenses. Total assets in the KRS pension and insurance funds dropped from $14.8 billion July 1 to $14.1 billion as of March 31, KRS trustees learned at a board meeting Thursday. KRS collected more than $860 million in contributions and more than $44 million in investment income during those nine months, but paid benefits in that period totaled more than $1.5 billion with about $33 million in additional expenses, according to unaudited KRS financial statements.


Sun May 13, 2012
All Politics are Local

Personnel Board to Examine Richie Farmer's Actions

The Personnel Board will consider on Monday whether Richie Farmer broke the state merit law at the Department of Agriculture when he was its commissioner. It’s the first time the board will take action on the scathing audit by State Auditor Adam Edelen, but the Personnel Board has recently investigated hiring practices at the department.


Thu March 15, 2012
The Commonwealth

Agency Warns Against Legalizing Hemp

Legalizing industrial hemp would create enforcement and perception problems for Kentucky, the head of a federal drug enforcement agency says. Ed Shemelya, a former Kentucky State Police commander and head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, testified Wednesday against legislative proposals that would make marijuana’s botanical cousin available for harvest.


Thu March 8, 2012
The Commonwealth

Hemp Could Make a Comeback

Industrial hemp could make a comeback as one of Kentucky’s top cash crops if lawmakers legalize the harvest of marijuana’s botanical cousin, legislators have told a House committee. The Agricultural and Small Business Committee on Wednesday heard from key sponsors of two pieces of legislation –House bills 272 and 286 – that would make hemp a legal crop if the federal government lifts restrictions on it. The bills didn’t come to a vote, but Rep. Tom McKee, a Cynthiana Democrat and the committee’s chairman, said the discussion would continue so both sides of the argument could be heard.


Thu February 16, 2012
All Politics are Local

Legislators Want to Limit Constable Duties

A “compromise” bill that would allow local governments to limit duties of constables by ordinance has passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The legislation, Senate Bill 30, which originally sought a constitutional amendment to abolish the office, would give fiscal courts and merged governments more authority over the roles of constables. Local governments could not abolish the office outright, though, and must leave at least one duty for the elected peace officers.


Fri February 10, 2012
All Politics are Local

Placement Agent Bill Clears House Panel

A bill that would make placement agents –financial middlemen who help locate investors for investment funds – register as lobbyists has unanimously cleared a House panel. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting an informal inquiry on the use of placement agents in investments by the Kentucky Retirement Systems.


Fri January 27, 2012
State Capitol

Republicans Challenge House with Lawsuit

Rep. Jeff Hoover

A Frankfort legislator says he expects the House’s redistricting map will be declared unconstitutional while another says the process itself needs to be revised. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover and others filed a lawsuit challenging the House’s redistricting map in Franklin Circuit Court Thursday. The suit seeks an injunction to delay implementing the redistricting plan and postponing Tuesday’s election filing deadline until the matter is resolved. It says the Democratic House’s map of new legislative districts is unconstitutional because it divides too many counties, places some counties in noncontiguous districts and puts some Republicans in districts with higher populations than their Democratic counterparts.


Sun January 15, 2012
State Capitol

Board Evaluates Department of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture broke state law and regulations when it hired two non-merit employees into merit positions, according to a report by the Personnel Board. The report found the department’s selection process “totally arbitrary” and ordered the agency by a 6-0 vote to attend training on how to advertise for future openings.

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Wed December 14, 2011
State Capitol

Beshear Pushes Gaming on Day One

Gov. Steve Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear wave to the crowd as they are announced before the Inaugural Celebration Tuesday night at the Convention Center.
Tricia Spaulding Frankfort State Journal

State representatives Derrick Graham and Carl Rollins believe there’s support for a constitutional amendment on expanded gaming, but Sen. Julian Carroll says any proposal must be vetted before there’s a vote. That’s in response to Gov. Steve Beshear’s inaugural address, in which he called on leaders to “find the political courage and the will to lay the foundation” for the future before saying he’ll again push for a constitutional amendment on expanded gambling. Beshear shared broad plans for his second term during his 20-minute inaugural address Tuesday, mentioning job creation, education, gambling and restructuring the state’s tax code when the recession ends.


Fri December 9, 2011
The Commonwealth

Medical Board Cracks Down on Doctors

Months after sharp criticism from lawmakers over how it tracks prescription drugs, the Kentucky Medical Licensure Board says it has taken steps to improve the system and crack down on over-prescribing doctors. But there’s lots of work ahead, chiefly getting more doctors familiar with the system and making it easier for physicians to spot so-called doctor shoppers, officials and lawmakers say. Officials with the licensure board testified before the legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee Thursday.


Fri December 2, 2011
Kentucky Arts and Culture

Painting to Resume on Historic Frankfort Bridge

An Ohio contractor has been awarded a $1.3 million contract to finish painting downtown Frankfort's Singing Bridge, according to the state Transportation Cabinet. The bridge, which dates back to the 1890s, crosses the Kentucky River. The bridge has a metal mesh floor which causes tires on vehicles to make a sing-song noise - hence the name Singing Bridge.

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Fri December 2, 2011
State Capitol

Painting Resumes on Historic Bridge

An Ohio contractor has been awarded a $1.3 million contract to finish painting downtown Frankfort's Singing Bridge, according to the state Transportation Cabinet. The bridge, which dates back to the 1890s, crosses the Kentucky River. The bridge has a metal mesh floor which causes tires on vehicles to make a sing-song noise - hence the name Singing Bridge.


Thu December 1, 2011
The Commonwealth

Child Support Checks Bounce After Bank Error

More than 700 child support checks worth about $94,000 bounced Friday after a banking error by JPMorgan Chase, the state’s new depository, according to state and bank officials. Nancy Norris, vice president of media relations at JPMorgan Chase, said the checks drew insufficient funds after a human error. The problem could’ve been worse, but the bank caught the error early, she said.

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Thu December 1, 2011
The Commonwealth

PETA Criticizes Kentucky for Elephant Rides

A proposal to allow elephant rides at circuses and fairs in certain cities has drawn criticism from a national animal rights group. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources a 19-page letter Wednesday, citing public safety as a chief concern.

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Wed November 30, 2011
State Capitol

Two Percent Spending Cuts for State Agencies

Most state agencies will cut spending by an additional 2 percent as part of Gov. Steve Beshear’s plan to cover a $190 million hole in the current budget. The plan doesn’t include employee furloughs, but programs may opt to lay off workers, state Budget Director Mary Lassiter told the joint Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday. “Every agency will have to evaluate its capacity to deal with these additional cuts,” Lassiter said.

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Mon November 28, 2011
Kentucky Arts and Culture

KY Folk Culture Not Just Fiddle Players and Farmers

Kentucky folk culture is more than tobacco farmers and fiddle players to Bob Gates. It’s the Puerto Rican barber in Louisville who cuts designs in the hair of young patrons. It’s the skilled group of Rolley-Hole marble players in Monroe County who’ve won numerous national tournaments in the offbeat sport. It’s also the demolition derby driver in Bellepoint who rises early on warm summer mornings to prepare his clunker for the Franklin County Fair’s annual battle royal. Bob Gates, director of the state’s folklife program, sees folk culture as the fabric that makes up our everyday lives and, collectively, Kentucky’s heritage.

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Fri November 18, 2011
Business and the Economy

Occupy Wall Street March Hits Two Months

Ruby Layson, right, and Dawn Hale stand by the road and hold up signs on the Singing Bridge.
Tricia Spaulding Frankfort State Journal

Some honked in support. Others waved. A few simply drove across Frankfort's Singing Bridge as about 15 demonstrators held signs in support of Occupy Wall Street and the 99 percent movement.


Sun November 13, 2011
Kentucky Arts and Culture

KY Military History Museum Reopens with a Bang

Spectators mill around the front lawn before the grand reopening of The Kentucky History Military Museum at the State Arsenal Friday afternoon.
Tricia Spaulding Frankfort State Journal

There’s a Soviet anti-aircraft gun from Operation Desert Storm, a large bell from the USS Kentucky and a Purple Heart awarded to Chadwick Burns, a Frankfort native who was the first Kentucky soldier to die during the Korean War. After about four years behind locked doors, a renovated Kentucky Military History Museum at the State Arsenal opened to the public Friday.

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Thu November 3, 2011
The Commonwealth

Outdoor Show Hunts for Great Stories

Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer records an introduction for the television show during a recording session at the studio at the Salato Wildlife Education Center.
Hannah Reel/The State-Journal

“Kentucky Afield” has been on television for more than half a century, becoming one of the longest-running programs in TV history. In that time, the program has evolved from a small, in-studio operation that started in 1953 and dealt mostly with statewide hunting and fishing reports to a show where people see firsthand what – and, in some cases, who – Kentucky’s outdoors can offer.


Mon October 24, 2011

Frankfort Brothers Bond Through Go-Kart Racing

Jason Dunn, 26, right, and his younger brother, Brandon, 21, have been racing go-karts professionally since the early `90s.
Tricia Spaulding Frankfort State Journal

A couple of Frankfort brothers have been racing go-karts around the south and Midwest since 1993. The Dunns have won numerous races behind the wheel of a go-kart – which has an engine similar to a lawnmower with five horsepower but can reach speeds of more than 100 mph – throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and other states. The brothers have missed Christmas or Thanksgiving almost every year to compete on the track.


Fri October 7, 2011
The Commonwealth

State Workers Recognized

After decades of injustice, 75 hearing-impaired black students finally got their high school diplomas – thanks to Sharon White of the state Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in Frankfort.
White was one of several state employees honored at the third-annual Governor’s Ambassador Awards ceremony, established in 2008 to recognize the service of state workers.


Tue August 16, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Hands Tied Over Franklin Co. Humane Society

Though officials say they’re concerned about the turmoil surrounding the Franklin County Humane Society, the city and county have few choices to deal with it. Commissioner Bill May explained their situation, saying the commission should use caution when treading the troubled waters of the humane society because the city has no real authority over it and other outside agencies.


Mon August 15, 2011
Statehouse News

Governor's Son Dies in Car Crash


 Bradley Carroll, son of state senator and former Gov. Julian Carroll, died after his Ford Explorer struck an embankment and caught fire on Leestown Road Sunday, authorities say. Carroll, 47, was pronounced dead at Frankfort Regional Medical Center, where he was taken after the wreck. The crash happened around 12:15 p.m. Sunday when Carroll's 2001 SUV went out of control on Leestown Road and struck the Versailles Road overpass embankment head on, Sheriff Pat Melton told The State Journal

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