There’s interest in a total overhaul of the Lexington’s historic downtown courthouse. Last week, the city indefinitely closed the building, which sits at the corner of Main and Upper Streets, to the public. Lexington General Services Commissioner Sally Hamilton says the 114 year old building has lead, asbestos and structural problems. “We know we have got a lot of lead in there, but we would like to have something in concrete that tells us exactly where the majority of that lead is and some of the recommendations on how to abate that,” said Hamilton.
“Expansive” is the term Kentucky’s President of the State Council on Postsecondary Education offers to describe research at Kentucky’s Universities. Bob King and the other members of the council will learn more about research efforts at the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville during a meeting Friday. “In the long run, the payoff of having research success on our campuses can translate into economic prosperity in terms of creating more jobs for Kentuckians down the road,” said King.
Lexington’s effort to redo much of its sanitary and storm water sewer systems brings with it the cost of hiring consultants. The most recent engineering contract presented to Lexington’s council was for a half-million dollars. Council member Ed Lane says it deserves close scrutiny. “This should be the highest due diligence of our council is to make sure that our process is protecting our taxpayers and ratepayers and make sure we’re getting a fair return on our investment,” said Lane. Mayor Jim Gray agrees….saying city officials are closely tracking expenses.
An international law firm is expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the Lexington community. Bingham McCutchen announced Wednesday plans to open a shared services center next spring. Company officials say the center will eventually house about 250 employees, who will be relocating from Bingham offices or hired from the Lexington area. The move is tied to pending state and local economic development incentives.
Work continues on a multi-million dollar disposal facility designed to eliminate chemical munitions stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot. Under the current Army timeline, actual destruction of nerve and mustard gas agents is set to start in 2020. As technology improves, Chemical Weapons Working Group Director Craig Williams says ‘neutralization’ will remain their preferred method of disposal.
Thousands of Lexington city employees will be making decisions about their health insurance plans in the coming weeks. The new plans and rate structure is expected to save the city and workers money. Urban County Council members were briefed on insurance matters Tuesday. Benji Marrs is Senior Vice President with Benefit Insurance Marketing. “So, for next year, employees, we anticipate, 50 percent of them will have a lower payroll deduction that what they have today. And for some employees, there’s 28 percent of the population participating on an H-S-A and for those non tobacco users, they will experience anyway from a rate reduction to a one or two dollar increase per pay period,” said Marrs.
Governor Beshear is in India for a seven day economic development visit. This is the governor’s third trip to India. Last year, he announced 250 new jobs in Elizabethtown for the India based packaging company, Flex Films. The firm is investing 180 million dollars in the Commonwealth. Almost 30 percent of all capital investment and more than 22 percent of all jobs announced in 2011 were the result of foreign owned enterprises.
Another opportunity to gauge the strength of Kentucky’s Equine industry takes place over the next two weeks at Keeneland. The Keeneland Yearling Sale is regarded by many leaders in the thoroughbred industry as a ‘barometer’ on their business Keeneland spokeswoman Julie Balog says one year olds from Kentucky, Indiana, New York, and Pennyslvania are auctioned off this week and next
At some point in their lives, the World Health Organization says more than a third of people report some kind of mental disorder. The care and treatment of a mental illness includes the use of ever improving medications and intense counseling. Some counselors believe ‘spirituality’ can impact mental health.
Patti A. Clay Hospital, which has been a part of the Richmond community since 1892, is entering a new era. Hospital CEO Todd Jones says the Madison County Healthcare facility is changing its name and joining a regional network.
The first weekend during the fall months is set aside for some digging around a historic site. It’s tabbed ‘Archaeology Days’ at White Hall in Madison County. White Hall was the home to Cassius Marcellus Clay, a major general in the Union Army, an ambassador to Russia, and a friend to Abe Lincoln. The archaeological digs there are coordinated by Jon Endonino with Eastern Kentucky University.
A cracked runway is not something a pilot wants to see when landing at a Kentucky airport. But, rough runways have aviation officials here worried. Winn Turney, who’s commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Aviation, says maintenance funds have been short. “We have a lot of runways that are cracking and stuff like that.Most of the time, with the funds we have, we doing we call crack and seal repair.We’ve had some runways where if you went down the center line of it, actually a nose wheel of an aircraft could almost fall into one of them.We’ve taken care of that particular area,” said Turney.
There’s still plenty of work to do on the ten –year, five-billion dollar chemical weapon clean-up at the Bluegrass Army Depot. Still, leaders in the public and private sectors are already wondering ‘What’s next?’ A long term economic study could provide an answer. It’ could be a dozen years before the last of the chemical munitions stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot is neutralized. Then, as many as two thousand of people who worked on the clean-up will need new jobs. With some planning, David Dutlinger, who’s with the Bluegrass Area Development District, thinks they can find a new mission, but there needs to be a game plan.
Kentucky delegates at the Democratic National Convention may differ a little ideologically with their party but they're still proud to be Democrats. Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Charlotte. The Massachusetts and Oregon delegations are seated directly in front of Kentucky's delegation. For the most part the groups couldn't be more different on economic issues, but Daniel Logsdon - the chairman of Kentucky’s Democratic Party - says that's okay.
As Kentuckians prepare to enter the fall season, there are a number of medical matters to contemplate. Whooping Cough and West Nile Virus cases have gotten a great deal of attention in Kentucky and many other states. Now, a third disease, influenza is being put on Kentuckians radar screen. Lois Davis is the Public Health Nursing Manager in Fayette County. “We have had a few confirmed cases already in eastern Kentucky. That may or may not indicate that it could be an earlier than usual flu season. It may peak earlier. You never know that. It could just be a few random cases,” said Davis.
Public golf in Lexington is on an uptick. In recent years, the Urban County Government had been subsidizing the five golf courses by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then last spring the green fees were reduced substantially and a golfer loyalty program implemented. Director of Golf Mike Fields says it has resulted in a turnaround. “I think it allowed us to get our rates in line with what the market demand was. We were out pricing ourselves, we didn’t have any programs in place to create any loyalty for our customers to keep returning to us,” said Fields.
For the first time, Eastern Kentucky University and Purdue meet this Saturday on the football field. In other opening games recently, the Colonels have caused a few anxious moments for their opponents. EKU has fallen short in two of the last three years to teams, which were on paper, stronger. In 2009, Eastern lost to Indiana in Bloomington. Last year, in a real nail biter, the Colonels fell to Kansas State by three points. Eastern Coach Dean Hood says it’s important for his players to stay grounded
As Hurricane Isaac spins into southern states, emergency officials to the north are making preparations. Buddy Rogers, who’s with Kentucky Emergency Management, says they’re not expecting high winds or heavy rains. “We don’t foresee Kentucky being impacted by this hurricane. Hopefully, it’s gonna’ bring much needed rain to the far western part of the state. But, we don’t see any type of hazardous risk developing in Kentucky,” said Rogers.
A new wellness and healthcare clinic for Lexington’s city workers is saving substantial money. The Samuel Brown Center, which is just off Leestown Road, opened last January. The clinic is managed by Marathon Health. In the first half of 20-12, company Vice President David Demers says there’s been more than one million dollars in savings.
News that Lexmark will lay-off hundreds of local workers has city leaders worried about their finances. The Lexington-based firm will reduce it’s workforce by 350 full-timers and 200 contract employees. According to one city official, such a job loss could result in a million dollar loss in revenues. Mayor Jim Gray says ‘our hearts go out to this folks who have been hit with this bad news, losing their jobs.’ Gray adds there can be no complacency when it comes to job creation.
Kentucky lawmakers will consider a medical marijuana bill in 2013. The legislation has been pre-filed by Louisville Senator Perry Clark. It would allow patients with a doctor’s recommendation to use medical marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS, cancer, and other serious medical conditions. The measure also establishes a network of state regulated dispensaries where patients could purchase medical marijuana.
A second chance for thousands of Kentucky businesses to make required filings with the Secretary of State’s office is about up. Entities authorized to transact business in Kentucky were required to file annual reports and pay a 15 dollar fee no later than July second of this year. Those businesses which missed the July deadline were notified they were no longer in good standing with the state. Officials with the Secretary of State’s Office say they now have until September tenth to remedy the delinquency before being administratively dissolved or having their certificates of authority revoked.
Increasingly, college students are being asked to search ‘outside the box’ for solutions in both the business and social world. A new course of study at Eastern Kentucky University is designed to help them in that search. Beginning this semester, students at EKU can pursue a ‘minor’ in ‘Applied Creative Thinking’. Some 19 students are taking a class tied to the new minor. Rusty Carpenter, who directs the program, says businesses leaders are constantly on the look-out for people who can solve problems.
A reunion offers a time for reflection. Over the weekend, Americans who played basketball during the 1972 Olympics had that opportunity. They came to central Kentucky on the 40th anniversary of their controversial loss to a team from the Soviet Union. The Americans also reflected on the changes they’ve seen in the sport since they played the game. From its very beginnings, basketball has seen a lot of change, especially in its style. Mike Bantom, who came to the 1972 Olympic squad from Philadelphia, says in some ways it’s improved.
A weekend public forum on homelessness in Lexington included comments from a number of people living on the streets. It was called an ‘open space’ dialogue. Lafayette Hodges, who’s homeless, believes there’s interest in soliciting a broad range of ideas. “They’re asking the people that are actually living the homeless life, what they need to do about it. There’s a lot of great ideas that came out of that. They did it before they decided what to do about homelessness is ask the people,” said Hodges.
A new tactic to reduce litter is under exploration in Lexington. Currently, people who trash city streets may face criminal charges. But, council member Peggy Henson, who serves on the ‘Keep Lexington Beautiful’ Commission, says a new state law allows the city to levy civil penalties. “What we have found through our research is that if a person is charged with littering, most of the time it is thrown out in court, not always, depending upon the amount of litter,” said Henson.
A recent controversy over a Missouri Senate candidate’s comments on rape has not diminished U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s outlook for November. McConnell is hoping to become majority leader next year. Depending on who wins the presidency, he needs either three of four GOP Senate victories this fall to do so. He recently asked Republican Congressman Todd Akin to drop out of his race to give Republicans a better chance in Missouri, but Akin declined. McConnell says even with Missouri in question, the GOP may still have a shot at the majority.
A major outbreak of West Nile virus, so far, has skipped the Commonwealth. Texas, meanwhile, has been impacted significantly. Since August, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture reports four cases of West Nile virus in horses and one confirmed case in a resident of Henry County. West Nile is spread by mosquitoes. So far, Martin Evans, who’s a professor of Infectious Diseases at UK, says Kentucky has been lucky.
It’s the start of a brand new college career this week for many students at Berea College. It’s also the first semester for the school’s president. Lyle Roelofs begins this fall term as the ninth president of the private college. He takes over for Larry Shinn who retired after leading the school for 18 years. For several years, enrollment at Berea College has been steady at about 16-hundred students, with about three quarters of them coming from Appalachia. Over the next decade, Roelofs would like to see those enrollment numbers grow by at least ten percent.
Repair work is scheduled to begin today on twin interstate 75 bridges at the Laurel-Whitley County line. During a scheduled examination in early August, a crack in one of the load bearing steel beams on each bridge was found. Both bridges were subsequently reduced to one lane of service. State transportation officials feared the work to fix the bridges might not begin until after the busy Labor Day weekend.