Tom Eblen, Lexington Herald-Leader

It hardly seems possible that 2012, the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s 220th year, has come to an end. As with most years, there was good news and bad news, joy and sorrow, beginnings and endings. What will we remember most? Wildcat basketball fans will remember 2012 as the eighth year of nirvana for Kentucky’s secular religion. The University of Kentucky men’s team beat Kansas 67-59 to win its eighth NCAA crown and the first since 1998.

Americans heard something on the U.S. Senate floor last Wednesday that they haven't heard for nearly three years: a coal-state senator and longtime supporter of the coal industry speak eloquent truth to power. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's 16-minute speech was remarkable for its wisdom and candor. It echoed a similar address in 2009 by another West Virginia Democrat and longtime coal-industry champion, the late Sen. Robert Byrd. They both sounded like old friends trying to warn an alcoholic that his behavior had become unacceptably destructive, both to himself and to others.

Obama Declares Disaster for Kentucky

Mar 7, 2012
The Herald-Leader

President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for Kentucky on Tuesday night, triggering the release of federal funds to help people recover from the storms in the state last week. The president's action makes federal funding available to businesses and residents in Johnson, Kenton, Laurel, Lawrence, Menifee, Morgan, and Pendleton counties. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. Earlier Tuesday, residents and business owners re-entered the devastated Morgan County seat for the first time since Friday's deadly tornadoes.

Pablo Alcala/Lexington Herald-Leader

You could say a lot of things about Gatewood Galbraith, except that he was "just another politician." Galbraith, who died Wednesday at age 64, was a Kentucky original. Everyone knew him as Gatewood — as with Elvis, the last name eventually became superfluous. In fact, I'll bet if you showed most adult Kentuckians a tall, lanky silhouette of a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat, they would know immediately who it was.

The sun shines bright on our Kentucky homes, and Alternative Energies Kentucky LLC thinks that could become a great business opportunity. Last year, Alternative Energies became Kentucky's only manufacturer of photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity to power homes and businesses.

Tom Eblen / Lexington Herald-Leader

Every house has a story, but few have one as glorious and notorious as The Grange — from its opulent architecture to the dungeon in the cellar. The home, north of Paris, was built starting in 1800 by a man known as a slave trader. The elaborate, ornate home had a secret - a basement dungeon, left over from his slave trader activities.

Tom Eblen / Lexington Herald-Leader

It is an idea so crazy, it just might work. Griffin VanMeter, Kent Carmichael and Whit Hiler are 30-something marketing guys. They also are native Kentuckians who are proud of their state and think everyone else should be proud of it, too. A year ago, they had this idea: Let's produce a television commercial promoting the "brand" of Kentucky and get it on the Super Bowl telecast. Their goal is to raise $3.5 million in 60 days in order to buy the commercial time. With $3.5 million worth of public momentum, the three marketers said, they think Kentucky producers, directors, writers and actors would rush to help them make one awesome Kentucky commercial. Are you listening, George Clooney, Jerry Bruckheimer and Ashley Judd?

Georgia Clemons is only 5 feet tall, but she cuts quite a figure: pastel suit, black high heels, hair coiffed and a twist of pearls around her neck. But she is standing behind the front counter of Georgia's Service Center, a circa 1963 filling station and auto repair shop at the corner of Lexington's Nicholasville Road and Malabu Drive. She owns the place, and she runs it seven days a week.

Tom Eblen / Lexington Herald-Leader

Descendants of Gen. John Hunt Morgan's men and other Civil War buffs will gather Saturday outside the Lexington History Museum to mark the 100th anniversary of Morgan's heroic statue being placed there. But it will be nothing like the spectacle that occurred at what was then the Fayette County Courthouse on Oct. 18, 1911. That day, 10,000 people packed the square, and hundreds more filled the windows and roofs of nearby buildings to honor the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy."

Lee T. Todd Jr. steps down next week after a decade as president of the University of Kentucky — a decade of big ambitions, tough challenges, notable accomplishments, a few controversies and much left unfinished.
The Hopkins County native had been a UK engineering professor, then he spent 17 years as a technology entrepreneur. After selling a couple of companies he had started, Todd returned in July 2001 to become UK's 11th president.