The state of Kentucky is the recipient of $3.7 million to support community service projects. The AmeriCorps funding goes to 12 programs, many serving southeast Kentucky. Operation Unite Education Director Debbie Trusty says a $543,000 grant allows 44 AmeriCorps workers to meet one on one with school children and provide math tutoring and drug prevention education. "The program gives them activities to be able to be involved in where they can take a stand in their school and be a leader and practice drug resistance skills with a group of like-minded students," said Trusty.
This will be the fifth year that flying fireworks can be sold in many parts of the Commonwealth. The Kentucky General Assembly enacted the change in 2011. Prior to that, many Kentuckians traveled to Tennessee to get more powerful fireworks. State Fire Marshal Bill Swope says the number of vendors selling in Kentucky hasn't changed much. "I think it has remained rather consistent in terms of if we were to measure it against the number of vendors that are registering to sell,” said Swope. “That number has remained relatively consistent."
Children and adults alike will be schooled this weekend in Lexington on a variety of safety issues. Officials with the inaugural Summer Safety Fair aim to provide positive interaction between police and children.
The Lexington Council is endorsing a needle exchange program. The initiative is a part of a new state law aimed at lowering diseases related to heroin use, including Hepatitis and HIV. Fayette County Health Commissioner Rice Leach brought the plan before city leaders Tuesday. He says participants must bring in a needle to receive a clean one. "If you bring in one, you only get one” said Leach.
Kentucky's quality rating system for child care facilities is undergoing some changes. State Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse-Haynes says the STARS for KIDS NOW program is being updated to help the state be more efficient and confirm that childcare facilities are providing the best care. "This will help to ensure that we, as taxpayers, are getting a quality product out of it, and parents are getting a quality product with the overall goal making sure our kids are able to start school," said Tayse-Haynes
Six youth detention facilities across Kentucky have been found to meet all compliance standards for the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. All 27 State Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and two contracted residential sites will have undergone audits by the end of next summer.
An added 40 thousand dollars is increasing the number of Kentucky's low income children who receive summer meals. Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear made the announcement Tuesday.
The funding goes to the Kentucky Association of Food Banks. The Summer Food Service Program helps ensure children receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. 20 thousand dollars in state money is being matched with another 20 thousand in a private grant from 'Share Our Strength.'
Formation is underway of a task force that will oversee implementation of the state's new heroin law. The co-chair of the task force says he witnessed heroin's rise in popularity in his community just over five years ago.
There's an ongoing demand for law enforcement dispatchers across Kentucky. Last week, the Public Safety Dispatch Academy at Eastern Kentucky University graduated its 100thclass. Training Supervisor Mike Keyser says upon receiving their degrees, the 20 new graduates began taking emergency calls right away. "One of the graduates had to work that evening at four o’clock,” said Keyser. “Whenever they graduated they went to work, either that day or if they had the good fortune to have a couple of days off, I guarantee you they were working by Monday morning."
A central Kentucky community hospital is playing host this week to a federal panel studying ways to increase life expectancy in rural areas. The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services met Thursday at Marcum and Wallace Memorial Hospital in Irvine. Hospital CEO Susie Starling says the panel is reviewing day to day experiences. "It's providing them with real life situations and perspectives that they may not have gotten without coming into the communities and talking with the people who are actually living it every day," said Starling.
Kentucky is one of five states chosen to investigate ways to reduce smoking among people with behavioral health issues. In June, a group from Kentucky will participate in the Policy Academy in Maryland. Mary Begley is state Commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities. "I believe that the goal is to just unite the leadership at the state level to come together, to pull our resources, our knowledge so that we're all moving in the same direction," said Begley.
Fayette County Health officials are continuing to wrestle with higher than usual gastrointestinal illnesses in both children and adults. The upcoming swimming pool season will bring with it another opportunity for the sickness to spread.
Communities all across the country are participating this week in the national PrepareAthon. It's a campaign to raise awareness about emergency preparedness for issues including severe weather and chemical spills. John Bobel is with Lexington's Division of Emergency Management. He says two nearby interstates and heavily traveled rail routes always present the risk of a hazardous event. "Most days nothing happens, but we need to be aware if something does happen to a tanker carrying hazardous materials, that there is going to be a response," said Bobel.
Medical research participants in eastern Kentucky Wednesday had the chance to quiz investigators about their findings. The first Appalachia Research Day event was held in Hazard. Debra Moser works in UK's College of Nursing focusing on heart health issues. "You know we report our research at professional meetings and we publish but if we don't really present back to the people who participated in the research,” said Moser. “It seems like we haven't closed the loop."
Many Kentuckians may be seeking to lend financial assistance to the earthquake ravaged area in Nepal. One option is through contributions to the American Red Cross. Bluegrass Chapter Director Terry Burkhart says there are online and traditional mailing options for donors. "We would say whatever is most convenient for the donor; if it's easier to just go online and make the donation that's great," said Burkhart. "If you'd rather be more comfortable providing the check through our office, that works too. Either works just fine."
This year's winner of the Kentucky Smoke-free Advocate of the Year Award says candidates running for governor need to hear from citizens regarding a statewide smoking ban. Allison Adams, director of the Buffalo Trace District Health Department, was recognized Thursday during a Lexington conference. "It's really nice that Allison Adams talks to the governor candidate and says 'what do you feel about smoke free?' but I'm just one vote," said Adams.
From left to right, Becky Cox, Marion Cox, Dr. John Slevin
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News
A Georgetown man is benefiting from a portable infusion pump that delivers a drug to treat his Parkinson's disease symptoms. The device is designed for patients who have seen little success with traditional, oral methods. 70 year old Marion Cox participated in a University of Kentucky clinical trial. Cox says the drug delivery method has made a big impact on his life. "I've referred to it as a new lease on life, where I came from versus were I am," said Cox. "It's hard for me to believe and it was in my skin."
The official opening of a new outpatient center in Lexington also marks a rebirth of a portion of the former Turfland Mall. The 85-thousand-square-foot University of Kentucky HealthCare at Turfland sits on the one-time site of a Dillard's store.
Chief of Ambulatory Services Dr. Marcus Randall says family and community medicine takes up a big part of the center, "So that's a large chunk of the space. Not only do they have their clinic space here, but they also have their academic offices here. Their teaching location is here.”
Picking up litter in central Kentucky's downtown communities will be widespread this Wednesday. The effort is connected to the 45th Earth Day Commemoration.
The main street clean sweep program is being coordinated by Bluegrass Greensource, which serves 19 central Kentucky counties. Director Amy Sohner says the trash pickup blitz will take place in many towns this week from 11 am to 1pm. "And the idea is to go in mass, 15 communities, 15 cities in central Kentucky, picking up litter all at the same time to celebrate Earth Day," said Sohner.
Rain is continuing to fall in many parts of Kentucky. Buddy Rogers, with Kentucky Emergency Management, says so far, no formal requests for assistance have come from county governments. He says residents are dealing with the third wettest spring on record. "The ground is wet and has remained wet all spring and until we get a good solid week of sunshine, I think our water tables are gonna stay high and the ground is gonna be saturated," said Rogers.
Breast cancer survivors from across Kentucky met at Keeneland Wednesday. They participated in Pink Day, an annual event held in conjunction with First Lady Jane Beshear's Horses and Hope Program. Kentucky Cancer Program Director Debra Armstrong says for some breast cancer survivors, it's their first day at the track.
"The race tracks have developed a bit of a following of women, who are now coming in from all across the state and have found that this is a very exciting event and they feel a part of it," said Armstrong.