Stu Johnson, WEKU

Reporter/Producer - Lexington

Ways to Connect

A poor review by Men's Health magazine has prompted a response by a member of Lexington's urban county council.  The publication recently rated Lexington the nation’s most sedentary city.  Council member Jay McChord suggests he, along with Lexington's mayor , the president of the University of Kentucky, and the Fayette County Schools Superintendent  travel to Pennsylvania to meet with magazine representatives.

The fourth of July weekend is barely history and there’s already interest among some Lexington council members to change the city’s fireworks policy. Several Lexington area residents complained to city hall about fireworks activity in their neighborhoods.  The new state law opened the nighttime skies to flying fireworks. Plus, the newly legal fireworks on the ground were quite a bit louder than usual.  Council member Kevin Stinnett says he heard the blasts and got an earful from constituents.

Stu Johnson

A new era begins this week at the University of Kentucky.  President Lee Todd, who served as UK president for a decade, has cleaned out his office and went into retirement.

Lee Todd brought his engineering background to the office of president at UK.  Throughout his tenure Todd urged college researchers to branch out into the private sector and involve themselves in start-up firms.  Todd also argued a key ingredient to such economic growth is graduating students with more proficiency in math and science.  Todd says progress depends on training better math and science teachers who have with better classroom skills.

Lexington’s mayor has asked members of the urban county council to change their recently approved budget.  The request came today (Friday) in a series of line-item vetoes.

Mayor Jim Gray vetoed three items in the new budget.  Gray said no to the 400 thousand dollars the council wants to borrow for two new disc golf courses, lacrosse fields, improvements at the Charles Young community center, and a remodel of the Berry Hill pool.   Another veto eliminates the jobs of seven people who work in government communications.  And Gray's final veto  reduced funding for outside agencies that provide services to the city by ten percent.

Lexington's Mayor has vetoed three items in the budget approved by the Urban County Council. Mayor Jim Gray's veto cut $400,000 in spending on disc golf, lacrosse, and other capital projects.  Gray also vetoed the funding restored by the council for outside agencies that provide services to the city.  The third veto, assuming it's not over-ridden by the council, means seven employees in government communications would lose their jobs.

For years, the outgoing president at the University of Kentucky has urged faculty to launch "start-up" businesses.  Lee Todd believes those efforts are paying off. Todd says ‘seed money’ along with commercialization centers where new businesses are nurtured helped set the stage for start ups.  Then, he says an angel network of investors has helped fund such firms.   As a result, Todd says recent rankings put U-K first in creating start ups among similar schools.

The upcoming Fourth of July weekend is expected to be a little louder and flashier than usual across Kentucky.  The number of fireworks stands across the commonwealth is way up over last year.

State Fire Marshall Bill Swope says 420 people received permits to sell fireworks last year.  This summer, that figure has ballooned to 776 permits.  Swope says the vast majority of those permits are for seasonal sales through July seventh.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says he will line item veto certain parts of the budget passed recently by the Urban County Council.  The mayor met around the table with council members Wednesday morning.

A Lexington animal and food safety firm hopes to increase its workforce by more than a third over the next several years.

Governor Beshear says it’s difficult to reach any general observations or conclusions about a murder carried out by a former state lawmaker.  Steve Nunn plead guilty Tuesday to the shooting death of his former fiancée Amanda Ross in September of 2009.

Not all of the timber in eastern Kentucky is good enough quality to be marketed commercially.  But the lower quality wood is not going to waste. A Lexington based company is one of only 17 groups nationally selected for ‘wood to energy’ project funding.

Pesticide use in vegetable and fruit farming has been a common practice for decades.   Likewise, medical research over the years, has resulted in safer ways to kill pests and disease.  Still, health concerns persist.

Some nine months after Kentucky played host to a major international horse competition, comes a final report on its economic impact on the commonwealth.  Now all eyes are looking forward for new opportunities.

Officials with the Fayette County Health Department are warning area restaurants about a recent inspection scam.

     Henry Clay might be considered Lexington’s most famous politician.  While the statesman and orator made his mark in Washington in the 19th century, his legacy is still discussed today.

Unless delinquent property taxes are paid soon, Fayette County will sell that debt to a third party.  If those third party purchasers cannot collect those back taxes debt from property owners, then they may face foreclosure.   Property taxes were due the end of December and a tax sale takes place July 22nd. County Clerk Land Records Manager Linda Potter says landowners face a higher bill if they wait until their tax bill gets into the hands of a third party buyer.

The number of foreign born students studying English at Eastern Kentucky University has grown steadily over the past decade.  The program is nearly back to pre-nine-eleven levels

Miners Rescued

Jun 21, 2011

Three southeast Kentucky miners trapped 600 feet below the entrance to a Bell County coal mine have been rescued.  They were brought to the surface last night by mine rescue teams.  Parnell Witherspoon, Doug Warren, and Russell Asher became trapped shortly before seven a.m. Monday when water from a nearby box cut flooded the mine entrance.  The three men were able to stay out of the water on a higher elevation point.  They were taken to Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital for evaluation and to be reunited with their

It appears Lexington officials are willing to give the state less-restrictive fireworks law a try this summer.  The new legislation allows for the sale of firecrackers and flying fireworks, which were previously illegal.  In Louisville, officials are considering a local proposal which is more restrictive than state law.

Natural disasters are a way of life for Sherry Buresh (burr-ESH).  The Director of the Christian Appalachian Project’s Disaster Relief program and hundreds of volunteers have had a very busy 2011. Sherry Buresh founded the disaster relief program in 2003 to assist victims of flash flooding in eastern Kentucky.  Since then, they’ve offered assistance as far away as New York and in most of the 13 Appalachian states.

Thousands of people are in Wilmore for a weekend of worship, teaching, and music of many styles, all in God’s name.  It’s the 42nd annual Ichthus Christian music festival. At an early morning worship service on the hillside near the Deep End stage, was 17 year old Chelsea Hallomen who made the trip from Louisville.

After a day of negotiation, members of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council funded several city services eliminated in a budget proposed by Mayor Jim Gray.  For instance, full funding was restored for 26 independent agencies that rely on the city for support.  Council member George Meyers made the motion.

The plans laid out for transportation improvements in the Lexington area will be reviewed this month by federal officials.   A evening meeting will give citizens a chance to weigh in on transportation issues. Proposals in two central Kentucky counties will be reviewed by federal transportation officials.  Max Conyers, who’s with Lexington’s planning department, says the examination includes a look at pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit traffic in Fayette and Jessamine counties.  Conyers says officials will also gather input from residents.

Raising student achievement through new teaching methods is one of Kentucky's ongoing goals.  It’s been on the minds of education activists with the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Sarah Buhayar is the program manager of the Measures of Effective Teaching, which sponsored by the Gates Foundation.  Buhayar, who's been working with the Prichard Committee, says much of their research focuses on student evaluation of teachers.

For the 42nd time, a Christian rock festival will be held in a field near the central Kentucky community of Wilmore.  Over the decades, much has changed at Ichthus and for fans who gather for music, lectures, workshops and fellowship.  The first sounds of music will fill the air Wednesday.  One of the nation's best known worship bands, ‘Hillsong United’ will help open the festival.  Then on Saturday, the festival's final day, Ichthus Chief Executive Officer, Mark Vermillion says the focus will again be on community.

Many people might consider fireworks to be as much a part of the American fabric as apple pie, particularly during this time of year.  In Kentucky, it’s likely you’ll be seeing more flashes and hearing more bangs.  A new law opens the door to many fireworks previously deemed illegal in the commonwealth.

New academic standards for Kentucky students could put additional demands for teachers and administrators.  As a result, some educators say student scores could drop.  But, Elaine Farris, who's the third candidate in the search for Fayette County’s next school superintendent, doesn’t see it that way.

The Daviess County school superintendent who wants to be Fayette County's top educator views himself as someone who can enhance a vision for education.  Robert Shelton, one of three finalists vying for the superintendent’s position in Lexington sees retiring superintendent Stu Silbeman as a visionary.  Silberman also hailed from Daviess County...something Shelton recognizes, but doesn’t thnk it gives him an unfair advantage.

Some tough budget decisions are expected today when Lexington’s Urban County Council convenes.  One of the items up for debate is the future of police escorts for Lexington area funerals. The future of police escorts for funeral processions could be decided Thursday at Lexington’s city hall.  Hoping to cut costs, Mayor Jim Gray wants to eliminate the service.  However, former Urban County Council member Jim Combs, who helped launch the service in 1980, says the escorts protect the processions.

Requests for emergency food baskets in Fayette County  have fallen slightly over the past year.  God's Pantry director Marian Guinn says the per month requests have gone, on average, from about 1660 to 1600.   Still, the number of people seeking help from the region’s best known food bank has nearly doubled since 2007.  So, a plea is going out for volunteers to establish new food drives.