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.
Kentucky’s export business appears to be moving along at a good pace. The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce show the state’s merchandise exports grew nearly eight percent in the first half of 2012. The ten point seven billion dollars in exports breaks the previous record of almost ten billion dollars set in the first half of 2011.
Leisure and recreational businesses in Rockcastle County hope to capitalize on a new state adventure tourism program. The aim is to promote tourism businesses near trailheads in communities like Livingston. Already, Rockcastle County Judge Executive Buzz Carloftis says they offer outdoor activities, such as an airboat, canoes, and tubing. He says horse and bike trails also weave their way along the Rockcastle River.. “As this takes hold, and we hope, trust, and pray that it does. If it takes hold, there will be more businesses in operation. Before you know it, you’ve got a thriving community again, based on tourism,” said Carloftis
They’ve heard from citizens across the state, so now members of a tax reform panel must make recommendations. The sixth and final public hearing by the Governor’s Task Force on Tax Reform was held Tuesday in Lexington. Lexington council member George Meyers predicts state lawmakers will make tax changes this time.
Fire crackers and flying fireworks would be banned in Lexington under a proposal discussed today at city hall. Members of the Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to restore the city’s fireworks ordinance of 20-10. A year later, the state legislature approved the expansion of fireworks, but allowed cities to adopt tighter restrictions. Council member Tom Blues says a flood of citizens complaints have come this summer. “It only takes one person to disturb and disrupt and annoy to the point of distraction almost an entire neighborhood,” said Blues.
Identity theft can be a close as a click away. More identities are being stolen via the internet and not necessary in a dumpster. Brandon Potter is a financial advisor with Wells Fargo. Before providing personal information via the internet, Potter advises, to make a phone call first. “Whenever you get any type of email that tells you to verify your information, even if it’s coming from your financial firm, attorney’s office, accountant’s office, or have you not. Make sure you definitely give a call before you do any type of verifying over the internet,” said Potter.
Kentucky has experienced a variety of weather conditions this summer. Far western Kentucky remains in the grip of summer long drought. But, after an early summer dry-spell, rain has returned to much of central and eastern Kentucky. State Climatologist Stuart Foster says his hometown of Bowling Green is living up to its name. “You can go from there where now it’s really no visual indication of drought to the traveler passing through and you can travel about a hundred miles to the west and to from what appears to be no drought to a very extreme drought situation and that’s pretty unusual,” said Foster.
Summer allows music students time to practice their craft. They can found in numerous camps, including a recent week long workshop at Eastern Kentucky University. As Stu Johnson reports, this long standing camp focused on the guitar.
Funds for road resurfacing are now divided up in Lexington according to the greatest need. But that formula doesn’t work well for Council member Tom Blues. His council district will get 117-thousand dollars, but Blues argues the need is nearly a million dollars in road work. “I’ve got 117 thousand dollars for one of the largest geographic districts in the city. I can virtually nothing with that money,” said Blues. Kevin Wente is with the Environmental Quality and Public Works Department. He says the new formula emphasizes neighborhoods with the biggest problems.
A new smart-phone app offered by the Kentucky Historical Society allows tourists access to the history behind roadside markers. The aim is the weave a historical story. Sally Warfield, who’s a Digital Media Specialist with the Kentucky Historical Society, says the new app connects communities by demonstrating their shared history. “You can connect that story then to a larger story in the Commonwealth, because all of a sudden that historical marker is a pin that’s on the state of Kentucky on this map. And you can click on that and you can click on one a couple of counties over,” said Warfield.
Livestock, like small goats and pigs, remain prohibited in urban Lexington’s backyards. A council committee this week rejected an exemption for those animals. Council Member Steve Kay sponsored the proposal.“I think we gave it a good shot. We may bring it back at some later time. But, I think for the moment, it’s off the table,” said Kay. Critics of an exemption for goats and pigs worry about waste, noise and enforcement. Council member Doug Martin believes the vast majority of Lexington’s residents don’t want pigs or goats living in their neighborhoods.
College students in much of Kentucky move into dorms later this week. Many will be greeted by the sounds of construction. Residence halls are under construction at the University of Kentucky, Berea College and Eastern Kentucky University. And those new buildings will be some of “greenest” ever built in the Commonwealth.
Property taxes in Fayette County will remain unchanged. The city council stuck with tradition and voted Tuesday to keep the rates at their current level. Given Lexington’s fiscal troubles, outgoing council member Doug Martin was disappointed with the action. “I think it is irresponsible to leave these rates alone, knowing what we know about the financial storm that is headed for this city,” said Martin. Martin has repeatedly expressed concerns about the ever growing cost of police and fire fighter pensions. Council member Kevin Stinnett argued a tax increase would be hasty.