Lexington city leaders come back after a summer break with a taxing issue on their minds. Besides setting property tax rates, council members will seek funds for street lights. Those funds now come from an increased tax on utilities. Now, Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says they might reverse that tax increase and increase the city’s streetlight tax.
Every community with water supplies contaminated by pre 1982 mining operations will soon have access to city-water. Since 1986, the state’s Division of Abandoned Mine Lands has funded new water utilities in 24 of Kentucky’s coalfield counties. Within just a few years, Division Assistant Director Mark Meade says all eligible areas should have water works.
A public hearing format new to many in Lexington is being held to consider issues related to homelessness. It’s called ‘Open Space’ and involves constructive group discussion on a public issue. The ‘Open Space’ program is scheduled from nine a.m. until 4:30 Saturday August 25th at Calvary Baptist Church. The meeting is sponsored by the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness. Under the ‘Open Space’ format, the agenda is not set in advance. The Commission’s meeting will be centered on the question, ‘What should our community think about, know about, and do in order to best address the opportunities and challenges presented by homelessness?’
This time of year can be a peak period for mosquitoes. But, environmental health officials in Lexington are not seeing big problems so far. Aside from the nuisance of itchy bites, mosquitoes can carry serious diseases. When the West Nile virus came on the scene several years ago, Luke Mathias with the Fayette County Health Department says his office received a flood of calls. He says now the calls register about 25 a month.
Mike Haydon, Governor Beshear’s chief of staff passed away over the weekend. In a statement, the governor said ‘Jane and I are shocked and devastated by the sudden death of my chief of staff and good friend, Mike Hayden.’ The Lexington Herald reports Hayden suffered a heart attack. The 62 year old Hayden spent more than 30 years in public service at both the state and local level.
Work begins next week on a long term road widening project along interstate 64 in Shelby County. The project covers about five miles from the Welcome Center to a half mile east of Kentucky 55. The interstate will be widened to three lanes in each direction. In addition to the roadway expansion, the project includes reconstruction of the interchange at Kentucky 55. Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction on I-64 during the majority of the construction.
Lexington is looking to boost the size of its police force. Applications are now being accepted for a police academy. class.Lexington’s police department is authorized for 555 officers. 23 police recruits are being sworn in Friday, but the new count will still be significantly shy of authorized strength. So, applications are being accepted now for a new police academy to begin in February or March.
Recent rains in the Lexington area have caused green growth in neighborhoods. That has increased the disposal of grass clippings and other yard waste. Workers in the city’s Division of Waste Management have noticed an increase in household waste and yard waste in plastic bags in the city’s plastic Lenny cart containers. The use of plastic bags and other non compostable items interfere with the composting process. All household waste should be placed in the Herbie container.
The peak viewing period for the annual Perseid meteor shower occurs this weekend. But, it’s not the only time meteors make their mark over Kentucky. Eastern Kentucky University physics professor, Marco Ciocca says that most of the time there is some material falling from the sky.. “On any given day there is all kind of stuff falling from the sky. It falls all the time. We see very few, because the majority burn before we can see anything and especially if they fall during the day. I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head, but it’s not zero,” said Ciocca.
Pony and rider are both scrutinized in a national competition this week at the Kentucky Horse Park. The six day US Pony Finals has attracted some 500 ponies of all breeds. In addition to judging ponies on confirmation, handling, and jumping, U-S Equestrian Federation’s Helen Murray says riders are also graded. “So where as in the hunter championship, it was the pony that was being judged, on Sunday in the Pony medal championship, the riders and the kids’ equitation and their riding ability is what’s judged,” said Murray.
When citizens complain to the city about poorly maintained properties, they go to Lexington’s code enforcement office. Code violations can include cases of peeling paint, cracked bricks, and unsafe sidewalks. The process for handling those complaints is under review at city. Council member Steve Kay, who co-chairs the committee looking into the issue, says enforcing current regulations is a concern.
More than 400 ideas on ways to improve Lexington have been submitted by its residents. The suggestions, which are being gathered this month, are part of a competition sponsored by the Bloomberg Foundation. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says these ideas must now be categorized. “Shrink all the suggestions into themes and we’re seeing themes emerge that relate to education, quality of life,” said Gray.
The eighth president of Eastern Kentucky University died over the weekend. Doctor Hanly Funderburk passed away in his native state of Alabama. Funderbunk is remembered for improving access to higher education, library services, and technology. He served 14 years at the helm of Eastern Kentucky University. E-K-U President Doug Whitlock considered Funderburk a mentor, who helped the Richmond-based university grow, despite tight finances.
Water quality continues to trouble several streams in Fayette and Scott counties. The state is taking public comment through early September. Portions of seven streams in two central Kentucky counties flow into the Cane Run Watershed. And, Eric Liebenauer with the State Division of Water, says people should avoid all seven. “All of them are impaired for what’s called primary contact recreation, which is basically full body immersion. In layman’s terms, we think of that as swimming,” said Liebenauer.
A new laboratory complex at the University of Kentucky is expected to earn a high grade for ‘energy efficiency.’ The Center for Applied Energy Research facility hopes to earn a ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’ gold certification. U-K sustainability coordinator Shane Tedder says it’s a multi-stop process. “It’s gonna’ have a tighter building envelope with a more efficient heating, ventilation, and air condition system. It’s gonna’ have on-site recovery of storm water. It’s gonna’ have plumbing features that are more water efficient,” said Tedder.
A more tamper resistant driver’s license will start popping up in wallets across Kentucky. The new dual side laminated card includes a digital watermark, hologram, and very fine print. State Driver’s Licensing Director Bill Heise says the installation of new cameras and computer equipment will prompt a one-day interruption in the processing of driver’s licenses. “We will maximize that time in providing training and swapping out equipment. And then, they will be available to open up to the public the following morning,” said Heise.
August is here and it may be time for a flu shot. Public health officials say it’s not too early for protection against influenza. Two workers at a Lexington pharmacy this week erected a ‘Get your flu shot here’ sign in the parking lot. Getting a flu shot once meant an early-autumn trip to a doctor’s office or a pharmacy. But ,State Epidemiologist Craig Humbaugh says the earlier, the better. “It’s really never too early to get an annual flu shot, so we recommend that, as soon as flu shots are available and people are able to get em, this is a great time for folks to start getting their annual flu vaccination,” said Humbaugh.
Although concerns linger about the economy, Kentucky’s automotive industry appears to be flying above the fray. Mandy Lambert with the state’s economic development cabinet says the more than 400 businesses which comprise the automotive sector were hurt in the recession. But, she says a rebound continues at the assembly plants and parts factories. “With all of our major auto assembly plants, they’re all in the process of making major investments in their plants, which not only creates jobs at those plants, but also overflows to the supplier network,” said Lambert.
In ten weeks, political observers will focus their gaze on Danville. Centre College hosts a second vice presidential debate…its first was 12 years ago. Last night on Kentucky Educational Television, Lucas Weton ,who’s president of the Centre College Republicans, says they learned a lot from that first debate. “This is the second time going around at Danville with the debate. So, I think some things will go smoother, some things we’re seen before. But, of course, this is gonna be in the post nine-eleven era,” said Weton. Centre College Democrats President David Miller believes his college town provides just the right setting for the historic event.
It’s ironic how pills designed to heal can be pills that kill. Prescription drug abuse kills more of Kentucky’s teenagers than auto accidents. Efforts to reduce those fatalities are underway within law enforcement, the medical community, and the victims of abuse. 57 year old Kathy Bell of Lexington has been treated for prescription drug abuse for four years at the University of Kentucky. Her addiction began by free basing cocaine in her western Kentucky hometown. Later, Bell was prescribed medication for pain. Over the next 20 years, she abused both cocaine and pills. Her physical health came to depend on her abuse of prescription drugs. “If I went to bed at night and did not have a pill for the next morning, I couldn’t function. Non-functional. I would get diarrhea and I just couldn’t function,” said Bell.
Repair work on dams along the Kentucky River should fix leaks and ensure stability, but there should be no significant increase in the region’s supply of water. David Hamilton with the Kentucky River Authority says dams three and nine have been rebuilt with plans to rework dams eight and ten later on. “Those plans don’t call for raising of the dams at this point. They are designed so in the future they would have the stability to accommodate a raise. At this point, there is no raise incorporated into those designs,” said Hamilton.
One week from today , courthouses across the commonwealth will be closed. The closures are part of a cost saving measure. The Kentucky Judicial Branch shuts down on August sixth for the first of three furlough days this year. Leigh Ann Hiatt with the state Administrative Office of the Courts says the furloughs are part of the state’s budget reduction plan. “No judicial center or courthouse in Kentucky will be open that day. It also means, just in general, you can’t get a new driver’s license or one renewed,” said Hiatt.
Pertussis, more commonly known as ‘whooping cough,’ continues to show up at doctors’ offices across Kentucky. It could be a record setting year in the Commonwealth…Five years ago, in 2007, State epidemiologist Craig Humbaugh says there were fewer than 50 whooping cough cases in Kentucky. Just over six months into 2012, Humbaugh says the number of cases exceeds 170
40 years after one of the most controversial sporting contests in Olympic history, members of the 1972 U-S-A basketball team will re-unite in central Kentucky. The Olympic gold went to the Soviet basketball team in 1972. Some 40 years later, the outcome of the game is still disputed in the United States. At its finish, as the U-S team celebrated what it thought was a victory, the game clock was turned back and there was time for one more play.
Work to refurbish two locks on the Kentucky River could increase recreational traffic along the waterway and provide an economic boost to riverfront communities. Work this summer focuses on locks three and four, and rehabilitation is scheduled for 2013 on locks one and two. David Hamilton is an engineer with the Kentucky River Authority. “Once that is complete, that will open up river traffic from the Ohio River you could navigate all the way up to lock and dam number five,” said Hamilton.
To meet growing demand, a second school for students interested in Chinese language and culture will be established in Lexington. Beginning in mid-August, three hours of class will be held each Saturday at Beaumont Middle School. The classes are designed for children and adults…both Chinese and American-born. Wei Luo is president of the Kentucky Chinese American Association. “One reason is cultural interest. Another reason is some people will travel to China and also they want to do some business in China. They really want to know Chinese,” said Luo.
Two social media town hall meetings are on tap in Lexington today. The conversations with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray will occur on Facebook and Twitter. There are two opportunities to engage in the dialogue. The first begins at 11:30 this morning and runs until 1:30. The second chance to take part in the virtual conversation comes at 6:30.
A former Kentucky school administrator has entered a guilty plea for his role in a vote buying scheme. The plea came from former Breathitt County Schools Superintendent Arch Turner. The charges against Turner were the result of a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office and the FBI. The 66 year old Turner pled guilty in federal court to conspiracy to buy votes and admitted that during the spring of 2010 he provided money to individuals to buy votes for candidates.
Teachers from across the state are at Eastern Kentucky University this week to learn new teaching methods for at-risk kids. One of the participants is Brad Winkler, the Director of the Bellevue Education Center. It’s an alternative learning center in Richmond. The center is funded through the state, and Brad is here to find out what’s new in the field of alternative education.
A highway making the trip from Jessamine County to interstate 75 a shorter, straighter route could bolster economic development in the Nicholasville area. The transportation proposal under review would link Jessamine County to Madison County at Interstate 75. Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce Director, Amy Cloud says little residential and commercial development is currently found east of Nicholasville.