The University of Kentucky is about to embark on a big, new experiment, hiring a private developer to replace and manage all of its on-campus student housing. Lots of questions about the plan remain unanswered as UK negotiates with Education Realty Trust of Memphis, Tenn., ironing out details of the expected massive project. But just down the road at the University of Louisville, and at other campuses across the nation, smaller versions of the same experiment have already played out.
Three Lexington parking garages in need of repairs could end up under the ownership of the Lexington-Fayette County Parking Authority if a new proposal is approved by the Urban County Council. The proposal, which will go before the council next week, argues that handing over control of the Annex garage on West Main Street, the Victorian Square garage on West Short Street, and the Transit Center garage on East Vine Street to the Parking Authority would ease the burden on taxpayers.
A Lexington task force delivered its final recommendations today for a redesigned Rupp Arena and a new downtown convention center. Much of the design proposal for the Rupp Arena, Arts and Entertainment District has already been unveiled to the public in recent weeks. It features the same footprint to house University of Kentucky basketball games, but with a sleeker exterior and better fan experience. Luther Deaton, head of Central Bank, chaired the task force’s finance committee. He says there now needs to be a closer examination of funding options.
Though it may not have generated the political heat that accompanied state congressional redistricting, the redrawing of Urban County Council districts will also leave many in Lexington with new representation. Every ten years, council districts are redrawn to reflect shifts in population. This year's changes will affect about 33-thousand residents.
Candidates for Lexington's Urban County Council had until four o'clock this afternoon to file to run in the November election and, as Josh James reports, a number of familiar faces have chosen to let that deadline expire.
Proposed interior of a renovated Rupp Arena. Courtesy Space Group.
After nearly a year of discussion, analysis, site visits and public forums, a committee appointed to make recommendations about the future of Lexington's Rupp Arena will have its final meeting Tuesday. The Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District task force will receive a summary report from lead designer Gary Bates of the architecture firm Space Group.
The home of the Big Blue was converted into a sea of red on Sunday as hundreds of Cincinnati Reds fans gathered at the Civic Center for the Lexington stop of the club's annual Winter Caravan. The event featured three time Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips, former Reds great Lee May, and up and coming catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Jessica Santangelo of Richmond has donated 482 ounces of milk so far to the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank. She is holding her daughter, Anabella Santangelo.
Credit Lexington Herald-Leader illustration
When the freezer of Jessica Santangelo's refrigerator started to fill up with her expressed breast milk, she decided to buy a standalone freezer. Then that freezer started to fill up. Santangelo's 7-month-old daughter has started eating solid foods, so she doesn't drink as much milk as she once did. But come Thursday, it will become a lot easier for Santangelo and other women to share their milk with other mothers and babies. Mother Nurture, a Lexington baby boutique and breast-feeding resource center, is opening Milk Depot, a drop-off location for donated breast milk.
Wednesday was a bad day to show up impaired at a Johnson County pain clinic. As state and federal authorities searched the clinic in an investigation of potential improper drug prescribing, police arrested 29 people who had come to the office, according to a news release from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office. Charges against the people included public intoxication and driving under the influence. A number of people also were arrested on outstanding warrants. The raid was the second in less than a year at the Care More Pain Management clinic.
City leaders have reached an agreement with the union that represents the majority of corrections officers at the Fayette County jail. The old contract expired nearly a year and a half ago. Geoff Reed, Senior Advisor for Policy and Government Relations, said the government is pleased with the compromises in the deal.
The days of a coyote den that’s roaming a Lexington neighborhood could be numbered. Animal Care and Control Chief Nathan Bowling says the coyotes have been reported in southeast Lexington’s Tuscanee neighborhood. Lexington Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason says the plan is to set traps and relocate them in an un-populated area.
Proposed changes in Rupp Arena include an eight-sided video scoreboard over the basketball court. Upper-arena seats would have chair backs.
Credit Rendering provided by NBBJ Architects
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray unveiled a conceptual drawing Tuesday that showed the inside of a renovated Rupp Arena with an eight-sided scoreboard over the center of the basketball floor and a reconfigured lower level with more seats. Gray said during his annual State of the Merged Government speech in Lexington Center that the lower arena seating capacity would increase by 800 to 1,000 seats. The upper level would be rebuilt with all chair-back seats. Premium seating would be added. Other features would be enlarged concourses, additional restrooms and a lobby entrance off Triangle Park.
The Kentucky senate’s new legislative boundaries have some Lexington-Fayette Urban Council members talking about a lawsuit. The recent action moved veteran Lexington Senator Kathy Stein out of the bluegrass and into a district in northern Kentucky. Western Kentucky lawmaker Dorsey Ridley now represents Stein’s old district. Lexington Vice Mayor Linda Gorton voiced her opposition Tuesday at city hall. “I think it’s fairly dis-respectful…to Fayette countians,” said Gorton.
Improving the well-being of Kentucky's children was the theme of a regional conference in Lexington on Monday. Policymakers, stakeholders, and representatives from numerous child advocacy groups shared their ideas at the Step Up For Kids event. Attendees heard presentations on everything from early childhood and alternative education, monitoring managed care, as well as curbing incarcerations for youth misbehaviors like skipping school and running away from home.
As it stands now, destruction of aging chemical munitions stored at the Bluegrass Army Depot is scheduled to begin in 2017. But, the timeline could still change. The storing and disposal of chemical agents has been debated in central Kentucky for decades. The deadline for ridding the Bluegrass Army Depot of nerve and mustard agents has been pushed back more than once. Jeff Brubaker, manager of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Plant project, says cost increases for the disposal program were noted in late 2010 and that prompted a six month review.
Hoping to increase competition among taxis, some council members hope to expand the number of Lexington's cab companies. The council’s public safety committee sifted through changes called for in a taxi cab ordinance. One of the biggest would lower the minimum number of taxis per company from 25 to ten. Currently, only a few companies dominate the Lexington market. Greg Kujawski of Mr. Taxi says such a change would hurt service. His company keeps about 50 cabs on the street.
For most counties in Kentucky, local jails are managed by an elected jailer. But across the country, management of a county detention center by the sheriff's department is the norm. Neither is the case for the city of Lexington, where a discussion is underway to possibly change the current structure of a hired jail director.
Elaine Henderson of Garrard County, has been farming crickets for approximately 30 years. She and her late husband opened Henderson Cricket Farm in Florida, but moved their operation to Kentucky five years ago.
Credit Mackenzie Reiss
The farms surrounding Elaine Henderson's little plot on a hillside in Garrard County raise cattle, sheep, goats, chickens and horses, but Henderson has a decidedly smaller herd — of crickets. Each week, Henderson Cricket Farm ships tens of thousands of live crickets to pet stores, bait shops, individuals and the Louisville Zoo. "I'm selling all I can grow," Elaine Henderson said. "I've turned customers away."
Police recruit Benjamin Riggs walks to the head of the room to greet the mayor, police chief, and high-ranking staff.
27 new Lexington police recruits began training Tuesday, but it will be another eleven months before they hit the streets on their own. One by one, the new recruits file past the mayor, police chief, and high-ranking staff. The process began with nearly 800 applicants. Now only 27 remain. Police Chief Ronnie Bastin says the recruits - men, women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans - represent a cross-section of the Lexington population.
In with the new electronic gadgets? Then it's time to move out the old.And here's a way for Lexington residents to keep old electronics — such as computers, television sets, holiday lights and other items — out of the landfill, according to a news release from the city. Structurally intact electronics, and holiday lights, can be recycled through the city's E-Cycle program at its center, 1306 Versailles Road, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays; and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The destruction of chemical weapons was completed in 2011 in Anniston, Ala., and Umatilla, Ore. Meanwhile, construction continues on a pilot plant in Madison County that will begin to destroy a stockpile of chemical weapons in about five years. Construction of the plant at Blue Grass Army Depot south of Richmond is 45 percent complete. The plant won't be finished until 2016, and destruction of the 523 tons of weapons won't be finished until 2021, according to current schedules.A major milestone in the plant's construction came in October when workers finished installing the vessels that will neutralize the chemical agents and explosive components inside the World War II-era rockets and projectiles.
Most of the men living on a campus of three aging homes off Versailles Road have mental illness or developmental disabilities. "I get the ones that nobody else wants," said owner Ralph Messner. He says he runs a good home and often works more than 65 hours a week to meet the needs of the residents. But Kentucky officials have been investigating allegations of poor living conditions and have expressed a concern about the lack of government oversight at the homes for at least the second time since 1996.
The dispute over a playhouse built for a three-year-old with cerebral palsy in Lexington made national headlines earlier this month. Now, one Kentucky lawmaker is using the case to argue for a possible expansion of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Cooper Veloudis's parents say the $5000 playhouse they built in their backyard is part of their son's therapy.
This rendering shows a conceptual view of Rupp Arena from the outside. The project involving Rupp and the surrounding area would take 10 to 20 years.
Credit Courtesy of Spacegroup
A committee appointed to reimagine Rupp Arena and a new downtown arts and entertainment district voted unanimously Saturday to renovate Rupp, approving a design that would strip the arena's industrial siding and replace it with a glass and translucent covering. When architectural consultant Gary Bates asked the planning committee for its reaction to the design, chairwoman and former Lexington Mayor Pam Miller responded, "We're bowled over." Bates walked the committee through the master plan during a conference call Saturday morning.
While protesters in other parts of the country have been asked to move along, ‘Occupy Lexington’ remains in position on a short stretch of sidewalk just off Main Street. Members of the protest movement expect to be there throughout the holidays and well into 20-12.
Embattled Lexington Fire Chief Robert Hendricks is no longer seeking a disability pension from the city after calling off a re-hearing set for Wednesday with the Police and Fire Pension Board. "On the rehearing for Robert Hendricks, that has been cancelled. It has been withdrawn," Administrative Specialist Susan Combs told board members.
Students, friends, UK staff, and relatives of students waited in line in front of Blanding Tower on Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, during student move-in at the Blanding-Kirwan dorm complex at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
Credit David Perry / Lexington Herald-Leader
The University of Kentucky is negotiating with a Memphis-based real estate company to take over its student housing by slowly rebuilding, then managing, all of UK's dorms. Education Realty Trust could spend as much as $500 million during the next several years to tear down and rebuild most of UK's existing housing, with 6,000 beds, and build facilities with an additional 3,000 beds. The private company then would control and manage all residential areas of campus.
Firefighters were trying to determine the cause for an overnight fire that destroyed the New Opportunity School for Women. Berea Fire Battalion Chief Shawn Sandlin said the school was nearly a total loss. Sandlin said firefighters have not determined a cause, but surveillance video from a nearby church shows something that has caught the attention of fire officials.
Every year Commerce Lexington, an organization that advocates for Lexington business, releases a new public policy statement. The group's 2012 agenda includes calls for new development incentives and tax credits.