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.
University of Kentucky administrator Frank Butler will be project manager for the Rupp Arena, Arts and Entertainment District, leading the effort into phase two, which will develop a detailed design and a financing plan. In a statement Thursday announcing the appointment, UK President Eli Capilouto said it was important for the university and city to work together to make the entertainment district a reality.
A call for volunteers to examine homelessness issues in Lexington has produced a great deal of interest. 114 people have offered to service on the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness. Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, says ‘It’s encouraging to have so many interested in serving on the Commission. ‘ She adds, “ It will also mean we will be adjusting the appointment schedule. This is a complex issue. We need experienced citizens around the problem solving table, working to find the best solutions for everyone.”
For the 18th consecutive year, Eastern Kentucky University is playing host this weekend to Special Olympics Kentucky State Summer Games. More than 12 hundred special Olympic athletes are expected for the event which runs through Sunday. Festivities get underway this morning with the annual lightning of the Flame of Hope at the state of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg.
It appears this Memorial Day weekend will be a hot and summerlike period, just in time for the start of the public swimming season. Four Lexington area aquatic centers will open Friday, a day earlier than originally planned. The city decided to close Constitution and Berry Hill pools. Woodland pool co-manager Nick Barjuca expects some pool migration this summer. “I think every other pool is gonna get a little bit busier because those two pools closed,” said Barjuca.
School nurse Michelle Marra slowly discusses with Takirah Sleet, 7, everything left on her blue lunch tray to calculate just how much she has eaten. The process is necessary to determine how much insulin Takirah will need to get safely through the rest of the day.The effort is part health lesson as Marra helps Takirah learn about carbs and calculating the insulin correctly, part check-up to see how the first grader is feeling that day, and part office visit as Takirah gets her injection.
If you're driving along the farmland of southern Fayette County, you'll find an atypical sight: construction equipment. Bulldozers and the like have become commonplace along Tates Creek Road in the southern part of Lexington since last month, when Marathon Petroleum began to replace miles of oil pipeline. The pipeline carries crude oil from Owensboro to Marathon's refinery at Catlettsburg in Boyd County.
Driving instructors with the Fayette County Attorney’s office hope to have access to a second practice track by June. County Attorney Larry Roberts says a newly paved area is planned next to a driving pad they currently share with Lexington’s police and sanitation departments. Roberts says the program emphasizes defensive driving.
The fate of a homeless shelter could be decided by the Lexington Board of Adjustments during a revocation hearing Friday at city hall. Local inspectors claim the Community Inn has not met conditions as set out when it was allowed to open. The facility, which is situated on Winchester Road, is managed by the Catholic Church. Council member Chris Ford says coping with homelessness is a complicated issue.
The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center has received $6.25 million to fund research of myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disorder that can be caused by radiation or chemotherapy treatments. The Edward P. Evans Foundation is giving a $5 million grant. The remaining $1.25 million is a gift from an anonymous donor.
It wasn’t clear what caused a color mix-up in Lexington’s Triangle Park fountain Wednesday, but the bright red water generated plenty of discussion throughout the day. The water was supposed to be dyed pink to promote the free showing of the film Pretty in Pink at the park at dusk Friday, part of Downtown Lexington Corp.’s new Fountain Films on Friday series. It was also a nod to the film’s sponsor, Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
After six years of budget cuts, the city agency that provides social services for Lexington may see an increase. A seven percent increase is proposed in the current budget plan. Still, Social Services Commissioner Beth Mills says demand for services have also gone up. In short, she says fewer people could actually receive assistance.
The budget strain caused by the unfunded liability of Lexington’s police and fire pension program remains a problem without an easy fix. Outgoing Urban County Council member Doug Martin offered a pension presentation complete with many figures at Tuesday’s work session. ‘I think this is the most serious problem facing city government right now,” said Martin.