Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader



Mon December 12, 2011
The Commonwealth

State Reviews Citation of Danville Nursing Home

The Kentucky Attorney General's office is reviewing a state citation stemming from the way officials at a Danville nursing home responded to allegations that a former male nurse's aide tried to suffocate one resident and, weeks later, lay in bed with and kissed another.


Wed November 16, 2011

Lexington Ice-Skating Rink Opens Saturday

A new ice-skating rink in Lexington's Triangle Park is set to open Saturday, said Steve Grossman, president of the Triangle Foundation. Benches and a skate rental area will be connected to the rink. Pastries, hot drinks and other items will be sold from a tent until an outdoor café is completed. Small tables and chairs will be available throughout the park. The rink can accommodate about 200 ice skaters at a time and skating will be $10 for 90 minutes.

Read more


Mon November 14, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Students Take Part in Occupy Lexington

University of Kentucky students Alexander Southard, left, and Cheyenne Hohman, who regularly demonstrate with the Occupy Lexington group at Main Street and Esplanade, were there on Friday.
Pablo Alcala Lexington Herald-Leader

At dusk on Main Street on Friday night, 11 participants in the protests called Occupy Lexington gathered beside a tent outside Lexington's Chase Bank to discuss strategy for their 24-hours-a-day demonstration against major banks and corporations. At least six in the group had to consider class schedules before they could commit to taking a shift at the protest site. College students from the University of Kentucky and Bluegrass Community and Technical College are taking a large role in the demonstrations in Lexington, which is among at least 100 U.S. cities where demonstrations have sprung up in the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in September in New York City's Financial District.


Sun November 13, 2011
The Commonwealth

KY Pain-Pill Clinics Call for Tougher Regulations

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon used to think Eastern Kentucky was the only part of the state that had a problem with cash-only clinics where doctors churned out prescriptions for drug abusers. Then a pain clinic opened last year in his hometown of Lebanon. Neighbors began complaining about vans full of people waiting in the parking lot, but as police prepared to investigate, the clinic closed abruptly, local officials said. Many pain clinics are legitimate and meet the treatment needs of people suffering a range of conditions. But there has been a resurgence during the past couple of years of suspected "pill mills" that help feed the state's epidemic of prescription-drug abuse, and the facilities are not just in Eastern Kentucky, where the problem was once most prominent, police say.

Read more


Sun November 6, 2011
Statehouse News

Improving Foster Care Services for Older KY Teens

It's not unusual for foster children in Kentucky to end up homeless once they turn 18. In the 2012 General Assembly, some former foster children and leaders of private child caring agencies are going to push for improved laws and regulations for young adults in the program who are between the ages of 18 and 21.

Read more


Thu October 27, 2011

State Investigators Detail Brain-Injured Man's Death

Staff at a Falmouth personal care home did not check on a brain-injured man for nearly three hours on the day he disappeared, according to documents from a state investigation. The man was found dead more than four weeks later. In addition, the investigation by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Office of Inspector General into Larry Joe Lee's August disappearance revealed that Falmouth Nursing Home had no policy to ensure that residents had continuous supervision. And investigators determined "the facility failed to establish effective policies to ensure continuous supervision of residents."

Read more


Tue October 25, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

$1 million Awarded in Nursing Home Injury Case

A Fayette Circuit Court jury ruled Monday that Lexington's Cambridge Place Nursing Home should pay more than $1 million in damages to a resident who fell and was found severely injured in an equipment storage room.

Read more


Mon October 17, 2011
Kentucky Arts and Culture

Letcher Co. to Honor Native Giant

Letcher County native Martin Van Buren Bates and his wife, Anna, were known as the "Love Giants" after they married in 1871. His was reported to be as tall as 7-foot-11, and some accounts said she was 8-foot-1.
Patty May Brashear & Nancy Wright Bays Collection

Martin Van Buren Bates was 7 feet, 11 inches tall and weighed more than 500 pounds by some accounts. Now, 92 years after his death, his Letcher County birthplace wants to honor him in a way that befits his stature in county history and his nickname, the Kentucky River Giant. Bates served a noteworthy stint in the Civil War as a Confederate captain before marrying a woman taller than he was. Because of their size, they became international celebrities in the 1800s, traveling as part of a circus.


Fri October 14, 2011
Statehouse News

Ex-Administrator of Personal Care Home Sentenced

The former administrator of a Letcher County personal care home that was recently shut down by the state pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a charge that he took thousands of dollars from residents. James F. "Chum" Tackett, who also was a former mayor of Jenkins, agreed to a sentence of two years and two days in prison. He also agreed to repay $113,547 that he admitted taking from residents, according to court documents.


Fri September 23, 2011
Business and the Economy

Census Data Shows Kentucky Economy Looking Bleak

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday painted a bleak picture of Kentucky's economic health. Household income is down. Poverty is up. Low-paying jobs are replacing higher-paying jobs. Use of food stamps and publicly funded health care is up. Median household income fell in Kentucky in 2010 from the previous year by $778 and the share of the state's households that earn annual incomes between $10,000 and $25,000 is increasing, according to the data.


Thu September 22, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Former Mayor Mired in Odd Legal Battle

Before he had a stroke in late 2008, Jim Brown was the mayor of Cynthiana and a hands-on businessman who compiled personal and business assets of approximately $115 million, including an ambulance service, a nursing home, a restaurant and a hotel. Now, Brown's well-being and financial affairs are at the mercy of a judge, who this summer ordered him taken from the home he shared with his wife following an employee's allegations that the former mayor was being mistreated, according to court documents.

Read more


Wed September 14, 2011
Business and the Economy

One in Six Kentuckians in Poverty

An estimated 17.4 percent of people in Kentucky were living in poverty in 2010, and 17.5 percent had no health insurance, according to preliminary U.S. Census data released Tuesday. Nationally, 15.1 percent of people were in poverty and 16.3 percent lacked health insurance during 2010. Changes in the state's poverty rate and health insurance coverage rate from the previous year were not statistically significant, said Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. For a family of four, the poverty line is an annual income of $22,314 or less for a family of four.

Read more


Mon September 12, 2011
Faith and Values

Lexington Remembers 9/11

Wayne and Sonya Keith said they brought their children Grason, 5, and Arissa, 7, so they would know how important police officers and firefighters are to their communities.
Matt Goines Lexington Herald-Leader

"Painful truths are hard to tell." Those words were spoken by forensic anthropologist Emily Craig as she explained, to those gathered at Cheapside Park for a memorial service Sunday on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks, her post-9/11 work in New York.


Fri September 9, 2011
Statehouse News

Beshear Asked to Take Action on Care Homes

After the death of a personal care home resident who was brain-injured and a state ward, a leading advocate is calling on Gov. Steve Beshear to take emergency action to address the lack of staffing requirements for long-term care facilities. Bernie Vonderheide, founder of Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform, said he is asking Beshear to call an emergency session of the General Assembly or to issue an emergency executive order to establish minimum staff-to-resident ratios for all long-term care homes, including personal care homes and nursing homes.


Thu September 8, 2011

Winchester Home on Federal Watch List

A Winchester nursing home has been placed on the federal government's list of troubled facilities in the United States, joining nursing homes in Lexington and Pikeville on the roster. Fountain Circle Health and Rehabilitation in Winchester has been on the list more than two months, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Read more


Sun September 4, 2011
Kentucky Arts and Culture

Book Shows Side of Frankfort's Crawfish Bottom

In writing his book about Crawfish Bottom, Douglas Boyd drew on oral history interviews conducted by James E. Wallace in 1991.
David Perry Lexington Herald Leader

Crawfish Bottom, a neighborhood set on 50 swampy acres along the Kentucky River in north Frankfort, was destroyed between 1958 and 1984 as part of urban renewal. Though many African-Americans lived there, it was an integrated community in a time of segregation. Often called "Craw" or the "Bottom," it was labeled for decades by outsiders as crime-ridden, a place marked by prostitution, gambling and bootlegging, according to Douglas Boyd, author of a new book called Crawfish Bottom: Recovering a Lost Kentucky Community.


Fri August 26, 2011
Statehouse News

Over 600 KY Refugees Could Lose Benefits

Each year, hundreds of refugees come to Kentucky with the approval of the federal government to escape persecution in their home countries. Although they're here legally, up to 605 elderly and disabled refugees in the state stand to lose their Supplemental Security Income benefits if Congress doesn't act by Sept. 30, according to local advocates.


Mon August 22, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Lexington Libyans Hopeful of Gadaffi Fall

For Libyans living in Lexington, it’s not another August day but more like the 4th of July.  With rebel victory over dictator Moammar Gaddafi seemingly at hand, emotions are running high. A Libyan expatriate in Lexington has no words to describe his feelings amid rebel gains in his homeland.  Ibrahim El Bakoush has been waiting for the Gadhafi regime to fall for decades.

Read more


Sun August 14, 2011
Statehouse News

KY Kids Routinely Face Criminal Charges

On at least four occasions last year, 5-year-old children in Kentucky faced charges for alleged criminal mischief, harassment, abuse of a teacher and criminal trespassing. In all, 2,117 criminal charges have been filed against children 10 and younger in Kentucky since 2006. It's a number that shocked a key state lawmaker, who now plans to hold legislative hearings on the issue. "It merits our attention,'' said state Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.


Tue August 2, 2011
Statehouse News

Jail Denies Medical Treatment, Inmate Dies

Nineteen hours before he was found with no pulse in a cell at the Fayette County Detention Center in June, Anthony Dwayne Davis requested to go to the jail's medical unit and was denied, jail records show. The Herald-Leader has obtained the information under the Kentucky Open Records Law as police continue to investigate Davis' death. A nurse and a mental health specialist evaluated Davis at 1:41 a.m. June 25, and the mental health specialist told a correction's officer that Davis, 26, was probably "manipulating the system," according to the records.


Mon July 25, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

2008 Jail Beating Sparks Trials, Lawsuit

A 2008 beating of a Floyd County jail inmate that court documents say involved him being "brutally and savagely tortured" by as many as 10 inmates over three days is now the focus of several criminal trials set for early next year and a pending civil trial in federal court.

Read more


Wed July 20, 2011
Statehouse News

Lawsuit Claims Negligence at Jail

An inmate at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center died last year after his diabetes was left untreated, and jail employees watched him lie unresponsive for an hour before calling an ambulance, a federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges. The estate of James Sours filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Pikeville against the regional jail in Johnson County, which was the target of a grand jury investigation last year; another inmate died in 2009.


Tue July 19, 2011
Statehouse News

Nursing Home Under Investigation

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Monday that it filed a civil complaint alleging that an Erlanger nursing home provided "worthless" services that resulted in the deaths of five residents and injuries to others. This is the first suit filed in Kentucky in which the government alleges that a nursing home defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by submitting bills for reimbursement while providing systemically poor resident care. The nursing home owner denies the allegations.


Thu July 14, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Berea Reacts to Discrimination

Damon Dunson and Melanie Stamper of Berea woke last week to find someone had painted racial slurs on their vehicles. "You just wouldn't imagine the emotions that run through you," she said
Mark Cornelison Lexington Herald-Leader

When Damon Dunson and Melanie Stamper of Berea woke up one morning last week, they said they couldn't believe that someone had used spray paint and markers to write racial slurs on their vehicles. "I was angry, but at the same time I knew whoever did it was ignorant," said Dunson, who is black. "They spelled the n-word three different ways," said Stamper, his girlfriend, who is white. The message left on Stamper's Jeep, she said, told her to get out of the neighborhood.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Woman Fights Place on Child Abuse Registry

A former Lexington foster mother is taking her fight to be taken off the state's registry of people who have abused or neglected children to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Joyce Givens was a foster mother until a 15-year-old girl in her care failed to take medicine to maintain a transplanted kidney in 2008, prompting social workers to place Givens on the child abuse and neglect registry. She was never charged with a crime, and the girl later testified that she lied to Givens and others about taking the medicine.

Read more


Mon July 11, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Ghost Hunting Reduces Stigma

Ron and Lori Coffey, at Machpelah Cemetery in Mount Sterling, are members of Gateway Paranormal Society. The group looks for reasons before they look for ghosts.
Brooke Didanato Lexington Herald-Leader

Their conventional occupations as a retired school teacher, emergency room clerk and firefighter don't hint that in their spare time, Ron and Lori Coffey and Howard Hamilton investigate reports of ghost sightings. The trio are members of the Mount Sterling-based Gateway Paranormal Society, one of numerous teams statewide that investigate paranormal activity in private homes, historical sites and cemeteries. The groups say that as the pastime has become more popular, the stigma is beginning to end. Known as ghost hunters, they consider the searches not just a hobby but services to provide help to people.

Read more


Wed June 29, 2011
All Politics are Local

Nunn's Plea Relieves Family and Friends

Friends and family of Amanda Ross expressed relief Tuesday that in pleading guilty to Ross's murder, former lawmaker Steve Nunn had taken responsibility for his actions and spared everyone a long and painful trial. "I hope this will bring some peace to Amanda's mother and family," said Terry McBrayer, a Frankfort lobbyist and a friend of the Ross family. "At best, the trial would have been long and sordid. This might be the first day to start healing."

Read more


Tue June 21, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Knox Flood Kills One, Wrecks Homes

Flash flooding in Knox County Monday destroyed 12 homes and caused major damage to another 17. Fourteen received minor damage after 4 inches of rain fell in a brief period. One man died in the deluge. Meanwhile, three miners were trapped in an underground Bell County coal mine after runoff from rainwater flooded part of the mine. The miners were rescued Monday night.


Mon May 23, 2011
Eastern and Central Kentucky

Advocates Want End to School paddling

James Wallace said he and his wife, Tammy, gave permission for the Belfry Middle School principal to paddle their 12-year-old son in November for spitting on another child in a fight.