Stu Johnson, WEKU

Reporter/Producer - Lexington

Ways to Connect

     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.

It’s getting down to decision time as Lexington leaders write a new budget.  Some spending decisions could come as soon as Thursday. Members were told today (Tuesday) that city revenues are higher than predicted.  However, Council member Doug Martin worries about projections for the new fiscal year which begins in July.

Many say the un-official start to summer is Memorial Day.  If you agree with that premise, then it’s already been a pretty hot summer.  A weather specialist at the University of Kentucky says it’s hard to say what comes next.  Many Kentuckians may already be thinking about fall, dreaming about cooler temperatures.   Summer doesn’t officially arrive until June 21st, but a great deal of hot humid weather has already come to many Kentucky communities.


Starting tonight, construction of a new kind of interchange could slow evening traffic flow in Lexington.  Work began last week on what’s called a “double cross over diamond interchange” along Harrodsburg Road.


Kentucky’s best known education advocacy group is examining new academic standards and what they may mean for both students and teachers.  The annual spring meeting is taking place at a central Kentucky state park.

Trail maintenance is an ongoing need in natural areas all across Kentucky.  In response,  Saturday has been designated National Trails Day.  Volunteers in eastern Kentucky will work on a couple of trail projects. Workers will gather near the Cumberland Falls area to re-route a quarter mile portion of trail along Bark Camp Creek in Whitley County.  Steve Barber is executive director of the Sheltowee Trace Association.

It’s the beginning of June but the thermometer seems to be reading like a day in mid July.  High heat and humidity this early in the summer can make it uncomfortable.  But, Bourbon County Extension Agent, Glenn Mackie says many farmers welcome this weather.  “The heat is good for our crop people because we’ve been cool and wet.  It’s dried the soil out where we can get in and finish our planting.  We’ve finished up corn pretty much.  Planting soybeans and making hay.  This is good weather to make hay in,” said Mackie.

Enforcement of new regulations included in Madison County’s smoking ban begins next week.  The local Clean Indoor Air Regulations now officially cover Hookahs and electric cigarettes. The Clean Indoor Air policy currently prohibits smoking in public places in Madison County.  The smoking ban broadens Monday to include hookahs and electronic cigarettes and eliminates the exemption for retail tobacco stores.  Christie Green with the Madison County Health Department says six inspectors will be monitoring the community.

The Fayette County School Board has narrowed its search for a new superintendent to three individuals.  The decision was made Tuesday night following a two hour closed door session.  Names of the three finalists are expected to be announced today after they agree to interview for the position.  The three were chosen from among 14 applicants coming from ten states including Kentucky.

The current Speaker of the US House along with three other former Speakers are scheduled to appear as part of the first Henry Clay week event in Lexington.   The annual Student Congress, which attracts rising college seniors from across the country will also be held in June. Speaker of the House John Boehner, former speaker and current democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi plus former speakers Dennis Hastert and Jim Wright will all participate in a moderated conversation June 24th.

Tuition at state owned colleges will go up at least four percent this fall, and university presidents say further increases are likely.  It can give heartburn to students, parents and university presidents.  Students and parents must pay the additional costs, but, administrators must also contain costs.

High gasoline prices, high food prices and concern over the environment have Kentuckians more interested in home gardens.  More people want to buy, grow and eat locally.  It’s all in the name of sustainability.


The University of Kentucky’s new Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is better prepared now to tackle the next ‘surprise’ disease in animal agriculture.  A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday at the renovated lab in Lexington.

High gasoline prices, high food prices and concern over the environment have Kentuckians more interested in home gardens.  More people want to buy, grow and eat locally.  It’s all in the name of sustainability.

Lexington city officials are expected to take up new noise related regulations later this summer.  The report comes in the form of a draft ordinance developed by a special task force.