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.
Former Eastern Kentucky University President H. Hanly Funderburk Jr. died Friday night in his home state of Alabama. He was 81. Funderburk was the eighth president of EKU, serving from 1985 until 1998. Following his retirement, he moved to Montgomery, Ala., where he stayed until his death following a long illness, his family said.
A search continued Thursday for an Estill County jail escapee, and Eastern Kentucky University urged its students and staffers to take precautions while the man remains free. Daniel Patterson, who escaped Wednesday from a deputy jailer, is the estranged husband of an EKU employee, according to authorities. Police said Patterson should be considered dangerous.
Police arrested Crystal R. Little, 29, shortly after a bank robbery in Lexington on Saturday morning and charged her in connection with that robbery and three others dating to 2010. Little, charged with two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of second- degree robbery, was being held in the Fayette County jail.
Richmond resident Joe Castillo has taken his light-projector sand art to the semifinals of the hit NBC television show America's Got Talent in the quest for the grand prize of $1 million. "I am honored, I'm humbled but I'm very happy," Castillo said during Wednesday night's live episode, when he was named one of 16 semifinalists, based on TV viewers' votes. Calling Castillo an "amazing talent," judge Howard Stern said, "You really are a guy with a heart. ... America got it right."
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.
The double-crossover diamond at Harrodsburg and New Circle roads in Lexington might not be flawless, but state highway officials involved in the road project consider it a sparkling success. It's considered so successful that two more — on Ky. 536 at Interstate 75, and on Ky. 338 at I-75 in Boone County — are planned. Authorities also are considering more double-crossover diamonds in Lexington. The Harrodsburg Road crossover is the sixth of its kind in the country.
The Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District project will be led by a subcommittee of the Lexington Center board of directors, which will try to parlay an initial $3.2 million into an urban-renewal project that could cost $300 million.
A rally for passage of a local anti-discrimination fairness law is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of Richmond City Hall, 239 West Main Street. Cheri Chenault and Destiny Keith, a lesbian couple who were ejected from E.C. Million Park earlier this month after sharing a kiss there, will attend the rally, according to a news release from the Fairness Coalition.
Disability claims in Lexington’s police and fire divisions are under review at city hall. A Council committee this week discussed the high rate of retirements due to disabilities. Council member Kevin Stinnett says tougher requirements may be needed. “Look at keeping them in their same job now, but have them perform a physical fitness test. If they can pass that, then they can stay on, even though a doctor may say they could be disabled. I mean we have guys working now that haven’t filed for disability, that probably could get it. That’s my point. So they’re already doing the jobs anyway. So, let’s see that standard as well,” said Stinnett.
At age 84, the man who has helped teach every graduate of the University of Kentucky's College of Dentistry since it was founded in 1962 — all 3,227 of them — is set to retire at the end of the month. Mink would have retired last month except for the chance to take part in one of his pet projects at UK: the mobile dental clinic that provides free dental care in rural parts of the state. Mink was instrumental in efforts to start the clinic in the 1990s, and for at least the past 20 summers he has gone with other staffers and students to Eastern Kentucky and set up the 40-foot-long clinic to treat children and teens.
A state advocacy group renewed its call Wednesday for a Richmond fairness ordinance after a lesbian couple and their photographer contended they were kicked out of a park there. "This young couple's plight is a perfect elucidation of the need for a local fairness ordinance in Richmond," Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said in a news release.
An expansion in Lexington’s fleet of vehicles powered by natural gas could come sooner than later. Natural gas supplies are currently high, and as a result, the price tag is low. So, council member Bill Farmer says it might be a good time for a switch from gasoline. “I think the opportunity to use natural gas to power potentially our bus system, the school buses our sanitation vehicles, any of our fleet vehicles including personal vehicles. It’s an opportunity we can look forward to,” said Farmer.
A question about collective bargaining led to a sometimes emotional discussion at Lexington city hall Tuesday. Urban County Council member Doug Martin asked if recent action by the council could pave the way for workers in the Division of Waste Management to collectively bargain. “If in the process of gaining more understanding about this ordinance and what this involves, the council wishes to take some action, then that’s gonna be up to the council at that time,” said Martin. Law Commissioner Janet Graham told members the ordinance does not call for collective bargaining for waste management workers. She says it does allow for what’s termed ‘meeting and conferring’ with the administration.
A ‘telephone town hall’ opportunity comes to Lexington residents this evening. It’s being billed as kind of a ‘party line in cyberspace.’ Citizens can join in the conversation by signing up at the telephone town hall web site before one p.m. today. During the call, lines will be open for questions and suggestions. The telephone town hall tonight launches the city’s search for the best ideas for Lexington. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says it’s all part of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayor Challenge.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has named 31 people to his Commission on Homelessness. There were some 116 individuals who had volunteered to be part of the commission. In naming the membership, Mayor Gray said, “ A safe and caring community where basic human needs are met is essential to building a great American city.” The mayor says the size of the group reflects the community response on the issue. The commission members include homeless, advocates for the homeless, neighbors, faith community members, business leaders, and council members.
Lexington city leaders could get another look at a ‘noise ordinance’ proposal this fall. Members of the Urban County Council’s Planning Committee reviewed the task force report earlier this year and opted not to pass it on to the full council. The proposal called for the establishment of a ‘noise board’ to help mediate sound issues. Council member Tom Blues brought the report before the council. “We need to have a better mechanism for dealing with noise issues within our community…one that’s fair to everybody…so we do intend to bring it back,” said Blues.
Drought conditions across many sections of Kentucky are prompting some local officials to consider ways to save water. Voluntary restrictions are in place in Richmond. City officials hope residents opt not to water lawns or wash cars this weekend. Richmond Utilities General Manager, Scott Althauser says the level of the Kentucky River continues to drop.
Lexington police are working to reduce crashes on area roadways by cracking down on unlicensed and suspended drivers. Officer Alvin Cook says a safety checkpoint will be set up along Liberty road at Star Shoot Parkway Thursday night. “The problem of unlicensed and suspended drivers is a very bad one here in Fayette County..last year in 2011 we had 684 crashes involving drivers who were either unlicensed or were driving on a suspended drivers’ license…these collisions resulted in 276 injuries…so we’re trying to reduce our collisions and injury rates,” said Cook.
Seasonal maintenance on a highly traveled interstate bridge could slow traffic Tuesday. State Transportation Department Spokesman Ryan Watts says they’ll repair pot holes on two lanes of Interstate-75 on the Clay Ferry bridge. “Well construction crews will close down two southbound lanes at the Clays Ferry bridge…at the Fayette Madison county line..and we’re closing the bridge for bridge deck repairs,” said Watts.
The Kentucky landscape is very picturesque but it also can sustain its inhabitants in ways few realize. In that vein, The Waveland State Historic Site in Lexington hosts an edible plant tour this Friday afternoon. The tour of the grounds will be led by Chris Prope. Prope took WEKU’s Stu Johnson on a walk around Waveland earlier this week
Enforcement of Lexington’s new scrap metal ordinance is underway. It officially began Saturday. The new law passed earlier this spring created regulations for buying, selling, and processing scrap metals. The aim is to curb the rise in metal thefts. A 30 day grace period for scrap metal dealers ended June 15th.
A portion of a one-time controversial road project in Lexington is near completion. Work to expand Clays Mill Road from two to three lanes should be wrapped up by month’s end. Keith Lovan with Lexington’s engineering department says the finished road will have two lanes of travel with a turn lane in the middle. “Travel lanes in each direction with the center lane to allow left turners to get out of the main line of the traffic…people that want to turn left can move into the center lane and turn into driveways and that way it doesn’t stop the traffic,” said Lovan.
Lexington city officials are expected to approve a 290 million dollar budget next week. Final modifications were made Tuesday at city hall. In the past, previous mayors and councils have not always seen eye to eye about spending priorities. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says he and the council worked well together. He doesn’t anticipate any vetoes. “This year the work with the council between the administration and the council was very effective work and I feel going forward that the budget that the council is adopting is a budget that the administration, once we review, will be good with it,” said Gray.
A man with years of experience on Lexington’s Urban County Council predicts their vote on a new city budget should be less stressful. A year ago, the council approved worker layoffs and fee increases. This year, council member Bill Farmer says that’s not the case. “We really took our medicine last year and got rid of empty positions, got rid of a few positions with people in them..raised some of the fees and things around health care and the government and its employees and re-organized government a little bit,” said Farmer.
Lexington police are seeing an increase in heroin abuse. Michele Young heads the department’s special investigations unit, which includes narcotics enforcement. She says heroin reappeared consistently last fall. Prior to that, Young says they saw only one heroin-related offense within a seven month period. The police lieutenant says a crackdown on prescription drug abuse could have some users shifting to heroin. “Once the pills started officially now going up in price..obviously to get that same high..they’re gonna switch to heroin which is much cheaper,” said Young.
The future of a facility that serves Lexington’s homeless residents could be decided Friday at city hall. The city’s Board of Adjustments could revoke a permit for the Community Inn. Some neighbors worry it poses a threat to children who live near the overnight shelter. Rick Foster stays at the Community Inn. “A pedaphile or anyone who would be a sexual predator could be anywhere, anytime. I’m sure there are plenty of them that live in homes. It’s not just the homeless community…I really felt it’s injustice to the church itself….they definitely are a church,” said Foster.
University of Kentucky police are investigating after a group of juveniles apparently stole 11 golf carts and took them on a joyride that culminated in a demolition derby. University spokesman Carl Nathe said all of the golf carts had been recovered Tuesday morning, but most were damaged from being wrecked.
By Greg Kocher, Lexington Herald-Leader & Amanda Hancock, Lexington Herald-Leader
Lexington police said Thursday they would investigate the disappearance of a controversial billboard message that denounced homosexuality and abortion. The message on a billboard appeared last week and cited Bible passages beneath the statements "Homosexuality is an abomination" and "Abortion is murder." The vinyl sign, which listed a phone number for Bluegrass Church of Christ in Scott County, was missing Thursday, leaving a blank billboard. Police contacted the church and took a theft report, spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.