Property owners in Lexington would be more accountable under a proposal going before a city council committee Tuesday . If approved, owners could be cited for poorly maintained yards, unsafe conditions and illegal activities on their property. Part of the debate over the proposed ‘chronic nuisance’ ordinance is who it might govern.
Even in a sluggish economy, people still put some money aside for travel. Some 400 people who work in tourism-related industries are in Lexington for the annual meeting of the Kentucky Travel Industry Association. Kay Berggren (BER-gren) is the group’s president. “We consider travel one of the things that is our…something that we all work for….so that we can get away….we can take our vacation and we can go visit. That’s one of the first things that will come back when people….when the economy starts to get a little bit better,” said Berggren.
Lexington’s mayor and the president of the city’s firefighters union say their new contract won’t reduce serviced offered by the department. The three year agreement was officially signed today by Mayor Jim Gray and union president Chris Bartley. The agreement, overwhelming ratified by firefighters, saves four point seven million dollars over three years, but, Mayor Gray says Lexington’s firefighters won’t allow a reduction in services.
For the first time in this year’s race for Kentucky governor, the three candidates appeared together in a debate. The hour long political event at Eastern Kentucky University featured, as predicted, produced accusations, assertions, and rebuttals. Within the brand-spanking-new, E-K-U Center for the Arts, Governor Steve Beshear, Republican David Williams, and Independent Gatewood Galbraith each stood at a podium beneath three oversized American flags.
The three candidates for Kentucky governor have different reasons for seeking the state’s highest office. Steve Besheaer, David Williams and Gatewood Galbraith stated their views in a statewide debate last night at Eastern Kentucky University. It was the first time this fall all three candidates were together for a debate.
More and more bikers are likely to make their way across Kentucky’s landscape in the years ahead. It’s an issue which is foremost on the minds of the state’s Bike and Bikeway Commission. The group’s annual meeting is coming up later this fall in Lexington. State transportation engineering branch manager, Lynn Soporowski says each new stretch of pavement receives cycling attention.
Kentucky, along with all other states in the U.S., will participate in a national emergency alert system test a month from now. The presidentially directed emergency alert system drill is set for the afternoon of November ninth. Buddy Rogers, with Kentucky Emergency Management, says the call will go out to broadcasters all across the commonwealth.
Perhaps the most important policy statement made by a legislative body is the budget it passes. And, members of Lexington’s Urban County Council appear eager to be more involved when a city budget is written. It’s been a recurring idea at city hall. When she campaigned for vice mayor, Linda Gorton promised more collaboration between the mayor’s office and the council when a city budget is written.
The changing colors of leaves don’t just signal the onset of fall. They’re mark the beginning of flu season in Kentucky. State health officials are urging everyone over six months of age to get vaccinated this fall. State epidemiologist Kraig Humbaugh says there is no reported case of flu yet in Kentucky. That is likely to change in the coming weeks. The H1-N1 flu pandemic a couple of years ago resulted in thousands of deaths worldwide. Humbaugh says H1-N1 is expected back this year, but flu shots offer protection against the virus.
Laws governing livestock within city limits will undergo a review by Lexington officials. The review is the result of reports that a horse has taken up residence in a Lexington neighborhood. Council member Julian Beard says it’s just not an appropriate location for a large animal. “The excrement that is generated by some of these animals is huge. I imagine the neighbors that are adjacent to, maybe even a little further than adjacent to, are getting a pretty good whiff of it,” said Beard.
All kinds of tenants can found in buildings owned by the city of Lexington. Some, of course, house city agencies. Others are occupied by non-profits that offer social services. And, there are some used by private businesses. Now, some council members may see those properties as a source of new revenue.
As the Bluegrass Airport makes plans for the future, they’re not thinking about construction. Instead, they see themselves as possibly enhancing their training program. Partly in preparation for the World Equestrian Games, the Lexington airport underwent a 66 million dollar improvement program. It included the construction of a new general aviation runway and a renovated airport terminal. As they write up new plans for the airport, executive director Eric Frankl says further expansion is not in the cards.
Lexington city officials are seeing higher revenues than they expected. Still, the city’s mayor advises don’t read too much into those figures. Revenue in the first two months of this fiscal year are one-point-three million dollars higher than expected. City Revenue Director Bill Omara says Lexington businesses seem to be making more money and, as a result, are paying more taxes.
Kentucky has administered its last student achievement core content tests and the results are out today. Also out are the results of tests mandated by the nearly-defunct ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act. In Fayette County, the results were once again, a mixed bag. The overall score for the Lexington school district improved overall, increasing to a grade of 94….Lexington’s highest index ever. It represents a one percent improvement over last year’s tests. Rather than claim victory, Fayette County School Superintendent Tom Shelton is still processing the data. “We had schools that had gains. We had schools that had losses.We’re gonna’ have to do a pretty comprehensive look to see what’s working and what’s not,” said Shelton.
The Family Foundation of Kentucky is asking the Attorney General to step in and stop the operation of instant racing video machines at a southwest Kentucky racetrack Kentucky Downs in Franklin began operating instant racing video machines earlier this month. They allow gamblers to bet on previously run, anonymous horse races. The question of their legality is still before the state court of appeals. But, Family Foundation Executive Director Kent Ostrander says it’s time for the attorney general to 'roll up his sleeves and enforce Kentucky law'.
Human trafficking is an activity in Kentucky which authorities admit is another under-reported crime. The issue was recently discussed before a corrections panel in Frankfort. Aundria Burkhart is a detective with the Lexington police department. She says there was a case out of Memphis which had a tie to the central Kentucky area.
Lexington leaders have given the go ahead for a wellness and health clinic for employees, their families, and retirees. City Council members heard words of support from the risk management director for Chattanooga, Tennessee. Madeline Green says a wellness center, an on-site pharmacy, and a fitness facility have reduced her city’s health care related costs by five million dollars a year. The plan calls for Lexington city workers to have access to a wellness clinic early next year. Marathon Health representative David Demers cautions against expecting savings to be immediate.
The voting rights of Kentucky’s homeless citizens and convicted felons were key points of contention during last night’s election forum on Kentucky Educational Television. KET hosted candidates in the race for secretary of state, who supervises the Commonwealth’s elections. As WEKU’S Stu Johnson reports, they differed over the rules that govern voters.
With gang activity seen in communities across the Commonwealth, a western Kentucky prosecutor says it requires their full attention. Prosecutors across Kentucky could benefit from a statewide data base that tracks the members of criminal gangs. Police are already at work, expanding their existing criminal information network to include such gangs. Christian County Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynn Pryor says the expanded system would only monitor confirmed gang members.
The practice of veterinary medicine is changing all the time. It’s more than just new technology in the animal operating room. The Fayette County School System features a ‘one of a kind’ full service vet clinic on its new agri-science campus. The clinic opened Friday. Students can get an up close look at various procedures. On site vet, Dr. Jim Martin says not all students will end up at an animal clinic in the years ahead.
A national tile company is completing a move from the Sunshine State to the Bluegrass State. Florida Tile will expand its corporate headquarters, which are in Lexington. 25 new hires will handing information technology, marketing and financial services. It’s expected to grow to 50 over the next several years. Florida Tile also has a factory and distribution center in Lawrenceburg that employs over 100 workers. These days, marketing director Sean Cilona says they’re making large porcelain tiles for commercial businesses.
Lexington officials are looking at a variety of ways to reduce health care related costs. Plans for a new health and wellness center for city workers, their families, and retirees were spelled out Thursday. It would be a voluntary and no co-pays would be required. Health consultant, David Dermers says the service would not take business away from doctors.
Prosecutors maintain methamphetamine production in Kentucky is up and deserves further legislative attention. Last year, the legislature refused to enact restrictions on the sale of a prime ingredient. Chris Cohron, who’s president of the Kentucky Commonwealth’s Attorneys Association, reports the number of meth labs is up 20 percent this year. And, the Warren County prosecutor says that figure only reflects four-fifth of Kentucky’s counties.
Although it’s early, it appears reforms made to Kentucky’s penal code is cutting prison populations. Members of the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act Task Force got a report Wednesday. Laurie Dudgeon directs the Administrative Office of the Courts. "Of the 40 thousand approximate defendants our pre-trial officers interviewed in jail, we have a release rate of those folks, an increase of two percent. So two percent more of those folks have been released than in the previous time period,” said Dudgeon.
The longest running contemporary Christian music festival in the United States will keep on running in 2012 . Despite financial challenges, Ichthus organizers have committed to another festival. Attendance at Ichthus dropped dramatically when the Christian Rock festival moved from April to June several years ago. Once unique in the nation, Ichthus also faces competition from numerous Christian rock festivals. This summer, the bleak financial picture prompted the concert’s organizers to put its property near Wilmore on sale. Nevertheless, with some belt-tightening, Ichthus CEO Mark Vermillion says they can host another festival.
The incumbent with a well known political lineage, an outspoken Lexington government official, and a Libertarian with computer skills are vying to be Kentucky’s next treasurer. The three made their positions known last night on Kentucky Educational Television. One of the responsibilities of the state treasurer is to return unclaimed property to taxpayers. The office has long published lists on-line of such misplaced funds and property. But GOP candidate K.C. Crosby claims returning those assets to the rightful owners still takes too long.
With election just under two months away, the man with the most experience ‘running for governor’ sees himself moving into second place. Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith is making his fifth attempt at the state’s highest office. Although never a true contender in the past, the independent candidate thinks this year is different. Galbraith’s confident of moving ahead of Republican David Williams. Williams and incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear are establishment candidate, so , Galbraith hopes to win support from voters who still want to ‘kick out the political establishment.’
Work to widen a major artery in southwest Lexington is proceeding, but slower than commuters, construction workers and government officials had hoped. Crews have worked since the first of the year on the Clays Mill Road project. The relocation of utility lines occupied the first few months of 2011. After that, Lexington project manager Keith Lovan says wet weather slowed progress. Now, Lovan says they’re working to catch up.
‘Dreary’ might sum up last week’s weather in most Kentucky communities. However, the ongoing drizzle didn’t necessarily put a damper on the upcoming fall fire season. Kentucky’s forest land can dry up rapidly, particularly when fallen leaves are added into the mix. The two to, in some cases, four inches of rain which fell on parts of the Daniel Boone National Forest eased fire threats for now. But, Assistant Fire Management Officer E-J Bunzendahl says a couple of weeks of dry weather can renew the risk of fire. Although poorly extinguished campfires account for about ten percent of wildfires, Bunzendahl says the rate’s higher in the Red River Gorge.
There were prayers offered on September 11th, 2001. And, there will be prayers on September 11th, 2011. Some religious leaders in central Kentucky have offered their thoughts on the shape of those 9-11 prayers. People of various faiths will pray this weekend, ten years after the worst terrorist attack on U-S soil. Those prayers will come from within Kentucky’s Muslim community.