Stu Johnson, WEKU

Reporter/Producer - Lexington

Ways to Connect

The Kentucky Derby victory by  ‘Orb’ represents yet another feather in the Commonwealth’s horse breeding hat.  The central Kentucky Thoroughbred, which ran down several horses in the stretch at Churchill Downs, is expected to compete in the Preakness on May 18th.  Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Director David Switzer says Bluegrass bred horses are on quite a run.  “The past 22 triple crown races have been won by a Kentucky bred.  It was 21 going into Saturday and Orb being a Kentucky bred made it 22.  We are hoping for 23 and 24 with this horse coming up yet,” said Switzer.

Even locally-grown and organic produce impact the environment.  Researchers at the University of Kentucky are working up a method for measuring those impacts.  U-K Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist Lee Meyer says they want to fully understand farming’s impact on the quality of air, soil and water quality.

Creative Commons

For the first time, a Lexus vehicle will be produced in the United States and it will be made at the Georgetown Toyota plant.  The formal announcement came this morning from officials in New York and Scott County.  Governor Beshear says it means 750 new Kentucky jobs at Toyota.  “We realize the care and the pride that you take in that vehicle and that it requires the utmost in a skilled workforce, not to mention top quality components.  Your confidence in the quality of Kentucky’s workers, especially our team here in Georgetown is appreciated and well placed,” said Beshear.

Her personality, the times and her background gave Mary Todd Lincoln a place in history and made her one of the more controversial first ladies to occupy the White House.  The Lexington native is the subject of a documentary airing Monday on C-Span.  Producer Mark Farkas says his documentary fills gaps left by Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film “Lincoln.”  Reporter Stu Johnson spoke with Farkas.

Charles Compton / WEKU News

Eastern Kentucky University’s next president sees fundraising as a key priority.    Dr. Michael Benson, who’s currently president of Southern Utah University, says private contributions may be the best way to advance a science building under construction at Eastern.

Creative Commons

One of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings comes to life the next couple of days in a Versailles church.  It’s a play called ‘The Living Lord’s Supper.’  Director Linda Roscoe says actors depicting Jesus and his disciples take a turn in front of the table.  “They drop pose and they step out of the painting.  So, many of them get up from the table, come around to the front of the table and then they tell how they came to know Christ and their relationship with him and some of the other disciples sitting at the table,” said Roscoe.

Creative Commons

Typical Spring like temperatures are arriving late in the bluegrass.  That could impact the timeline for allergy sufferers this year.  Beth Miller, Chair of UK’s Division of Allergy-Immunology, says last year’s early warmth followed by a freeze cut short the tree pollen season.  She says a late start for warmer temperatures could mean a longer life for tree pollen.  “If we want a good pollen season as far as high pollen counts, better to have a late start with a continued warm trend than have a cold spell in the middle of the spring,” said Miller.

Digging Ashland

Mar 15, 2013

Archaeologists like Kim McBride of the University of Kentucky really dig Ashland, Henry Clay’s estate in Lexington.  McBride has participated in a number of archaeological projects off Richmond Road, dating back to 1989.  She led a group Friday as part of the 30th Annual Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference.  “This is an area with a lot of springs and of course this was kind of an open savannah before Ashland was founded, but we have Native American artifacts probably from all the culture history periods.  I don’t know if we have any paleo artifacts here,” said McBride.

Creative Commons

The naming of a new Pope this week brings with it questions about how he will lead the Catholic Church.  Bishop Ronald Gainer, head of the Diocese of Lexington, doesn’t look for any change in doctrinal teachings. He says issues like the ordination of women, allowing priests to marry, or contraception are not up for debate.

Creative Commons

The state is offering a new program to educate and train skilled minority and female workers for careers in construction.  ‘Bridges to Opportunities’ is a training program aimed at filling a need for women and minority workers in the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges project.  Governor Beshear notes the Ohio River Bridges will be finished in a few years.  He adds ‘those who complete our program will be armed with the skills for a lifetime career.’ 

Along with pressing issues like State pensions, tax reform, or Medicaid managed care, come some lighter matters at the capital.  The Kentucky Senate is considering a bill to declare Clark County as the birthplace of ‘beer cheese.’  Clark County Senator R.J. Palmer testified to the economics of beer cheese in her community.  “We had six thousand people in Winchester Kentucky for a beer cheese festival.     Six thousand people on Main Street in Winchester. We’ve got time to do these things while we’re here,” said Palmer.

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of severe weather which took the lives of many Kentuckians and caused millions of dollars in structural damage.  The March second, 2012 tornadoes caused vast devastation with the bulk of the damage in communities like West Liberty, Salyersville, East Bernstadt, and Piner.  Statewide, 25 people were killed and more than 45 hundred homes impacted.  671 of those houses were destroyed.

In any given week, three to five burn patients could be treated at the University of Kentucky Hospital.  About half of the injuries in young children are typically ‘scald burns.  A ‘scald burn’ can happen in just a matter of seconds.  University of Kentucky Burn Unit Director Leslie Wong says many children are injured after pulling a hot liquid down off a counter.

A plan to cut Eastern Kentucky University’s budget by ten percent carries with it some expected employee layoffs.   The explanation about the budget alteration came in an email from Eastern President Doug Whitlock to faculty and staff.   Whitlock says about 75 percent of the Richmond school’s budget covers employee salaries and benefits.  In meeting the directive of the board to make a ten percent cut, the Eastern President says forced layoffs are possible.

A new ‘green’ Capital Education Center is now open.  The former heating and cooling facility had been dormant until its renovation into a visitors’ destination.  Governor Beshear says more than 60 thousand students, teachers, and other guests visit the Capital Campus each year.  He says ‘the building will serve as an outstanding resource to promote energy efficiency, sustainability, and more.’  The building is insulated wit recycled denim and features a viewing platform on the roof wit solar panels, a wind turbine, and a rooftop garden.

RICH COPLEY — Lexington Herald-Leader

 A play about a man and his goat hits the stage in Lexington this weekend.  There’s music, then basketball, and then music again in Rupp Arena.  Plus, raising money for the Living Arts and Science Center is on the agenda.  Rich Copley, a cultural arts reporter for the Lexington Herald Leader, speaks this week with Weku’s Stu Johnson.  He says the Balagula Theatre will feature Edward Albee’s ‘The Goat, or Who is Sylvia.’

The sounds of hammers and saws could ring out a little louder in the bluegrass in 2013.  So says Chris Bollinger, Director for the Center of Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky.   Bollinger looks for more residential construction over the next 12 months.  “And I think we’re going to begin to see new construction.  Housing starts are beginning to climb in Lexington as they are in Louisville and Cincinnati as well.  And I think we’ll begin to see that new construction going in 2013.  It will probably be 2014 before we really see the housing starts index for Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati return to their historic trends,” said Bollinger.

Two Magoffin County officials are being honored for their response to a tornado event in southeast Kentucky almost a year ago.  County Judge Executive Charles Hardin and Emergency Management Director Mike Wilson are recipients of the StormReady Community Hero Award.  Wilson alerted Hardin of the impending tornado heading toward Salyersville.  Jackson National Weather Service meteorologist Shawn Harley says the county judge made door to door visits along highway 460.

A much anticipated report on homelessness in Lexington is due out Tuesday.   The report, which was composed by members of a Mayor’s Commission, will include strategies meant to reduce the number of homeless people.  Commission Co-Chair Steve Kay says they hope to find funding, increase the number of affordable residences, and improve services available to people who could lose their homes.

Within a few weeks, the Kentucky General Assembly could modify the new ‘Pill Mill’ law.  It was intended to help crack down on improperly run pain clinics, but some health care professionals complain it’s too cumbersome.  Dave Hopkins, who oversees the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, agrees one of the law’s provisions is probably not necessary.

Roundball Update

Jan 28, 2013

The aim for the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels will be to bounce back this week.  E-K-U lost its first home game of the season Saturday to league leading Belmont 85 to 74.  This Thursday Eastern travels to UT-Martin.  The University of Kentucky Wildcats got a five point win over L-S-U Saturday.  This Tuesday night UK takes on the SEC leader Mississippi in Oxford.   University of Louisville dropped its third straight game, losing to Georgetown 53-51 over the weekend.  U of L hosts Pittsburg tonight.

Low wage earning Kentuckians are again being urged to file for federal earned income tax credits.  The plea came today/Friday from Governor Beshear in Lexington and Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson in Louisville.  West Liberty resident Zach Engle got married, bought a home, and then lost his job a year ago.  He was a tax credit beneficiary turned financial coach.  “My wife and I just recently celebrated our one year anniversary.  I have a job that I enjoy going to every day and I jumped at the opportunity given to me by my wonderful supervisor to become a vita volunteer tax preparer, giving me a chance to truly pay it forward,” said Engle.

For the first time since 2007, the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels have beaten Murray State in Murray.  E-K-U went into the Ohio Valley Conference contest as a heavy underdog, but jumped out to an early lead.  Eastern scored 24 straight points in the first half and held a 14 point lead at half.  Murray mounted a furious comeback to trim the lead to five late in the game, but E-K-U pulled back out and won 77 to 65.

Even with the fiscal cliff looming, newly elected central Kentucky Congressman Andy Barr opposes any tax increase.  Barr was the opening speaker today in Lexington at the annual Kentucky Chamber’s Legislative Preview.  The Republican believes increasing taxes on wealthier Americans will hurt the economy.