The first bit of dirt has been turned on the University of Kentucky’s first new residence hall since 2005. As Josh James reports, the hall is considered Phase I of a project that could become the largest public/private partnership of its kind at a major university. Only months after its proposal, UK’s New Central Residence Hall – a 600 bed, $30 million dollar investment that university officials hope will be the first step in a plan to revitalize the core of campus – is set to begin construction.
A proposal floating around Lexington city hall could save some downtown businesses the cost of providing parking spots for their customers. Current law requires most downtown businesses to provide some off- street parking. Such parking can cost businesses several hundred dollars a month. But, by creating what’s called a ‘Pedestrian Oriented Business District, city officials could waive that parking requirement. Planning Department Director Chris King says the waiver could be issued in parts of the city upgraded for pedestrians.
A proposal to establish an ‘affordable housing’ trust fund in Lexington is being met with scrutiny right out of the box. A proposed increase in auto and home insurance surcharges is contained in an affordable housing task force report. The proposal calls for increasing the city’s surcharge from five to five and a half percent. It would amount to a 15 dollar a year insurance premium increase for the average taxpayer. Urban County Council member Peggy Henson says the increase would generate almost two million dollars annually and offer housing opportunities for about 200 people.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray presented his $289 million dollar budget for fiscal year 2013 Tuesday afternoon. The plan includes no broad-based tax increases, but relies on a projected three percent growth in employee withholdings over the next year. The mayor’s speech focused largely on two themes: shared sacrifice and creating what he called “a great American city.”
Officials at the Kentucky Horse Park are betting that they can help school children develop a love of reading. As Alan Lytle reports, a recently launched literacy project helps bring some of the things they read about in books to life. It was 1938 all over again for nearly a thousand area first graders. The students were at the Kentucky Horse Park on Tuesday to take part in a re-enactment of the famous Match Race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. The event was part of the horse park’s literacy program.
At first blush, a 289-million dollar budget proposed by Lexington’s mayor is receiving favorable comments. Now the urban county council begins its detailed look at the spending plan. Mayor Jim Gray’s budget proposal is five percent larger than this year’s spending plan. It includes no broad based tax increases, but does call for an increase in the franchise fee to pay for streetlights. It also includes a pay raise for city workers.
The developers of the 21c Museum Hotel have announced plans to open a fourth hotel in Lexington. Pending city government approval, 21cMuseum Hotels plans to restore the Fayette National Bank Building and an adjacent structure in downtown Lexington. 21c President Craig Greenberg says there are lots of exciting things going on in Lexington.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray delivers his budget address this afternoon at city hall Any sizeable increases in spending are not likely. Like all Kentucky communities, Lexington has been working to dig out of the effects of recessionary times. Ken Troske (TRAH-skey) is director of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research. He’s been advising mayor Gray on economic conditions. “We expect revenue growth next year to sort of return to trend…return to the growth we’d seen in the past prior to entering the recession,” said Troske.
Downtown Lexington will be the site of an anti-hate candlelight vigil Tuesday evening. The event is being sponsored by the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice. Organizer, Richard Mitchell says the vigil is not a reaction to any specific recent event but rather something that is needed for the larger community. “You know is sort of the idea that if the rest of us remain silent it sort of gives permission for this to continue,” said Mitchell.
When a raucous celebration followed the University of Kentucky's NCAA championship Monday night, people around the world were using technology to listen to Lexington police scanner traffic. Simultaneously, many commented on Twitter about what they heard, including reports of fires being set, revelers confronting police, a shooting, a dispatcher "with the voice of a goddess" and two men who were naked in public.
Kids and families eager for some fun in the sun this summer will have a large new playground at Masterson Station Park to visit. Elementary school kids bussed in to help Lexington Mayor Jim Gray officially open the new Masterson playground wasted no time trying out all the new equipment. Jett Pennington’s favorite? "So far, it's that thing," he says, pointing to an upright circular piece of equipment, "it's the spinny thing, that spins around and you have to hold on and it goes upside down."
The first Friday in April marks the start of the Keeneland Spring meet in Lexington, and for the past 16 years it’s also served as a kickoff for a charitable effort involving the racetrack, Makers Mark bourbon and the University of Kentucky. The distiller produces a limited number of collectible bottles, featuring noted local sports personalities, and donates the sale proceeds to a number of UK-related programs.
Thousands of UK fans will be packed into Rupp Arena this afternoon for a celebration of the men’s basketball teaming winning the NCAA title. Think of it as a mini version of Big Blue Madness. More than 20,000 people got free tickets to the Kentucky celebration at Rupp Arena this afternoon, including Richie Donworth.“My wife is an insane UK fan so I’m surprising her with these for later.”
A Louisville man's foot was amputated after he was wounded in a shooting incident early Tuesday at South Limestone and Virginia Avenue in Lexington, police said. The victim's name was not immediately available, and police were looking for the person who shot him. Lt. J.J. Lombardi said the incident occurred about 2:15 a.m. near the area where celebrations were going on after the University of Kentucky's NCAA national championship victory over Kansas.
Perfect timing. A day after winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, a larger-than-life bronze wildcat sculpture was installed at the University of Kentucky campus. “It takes into some attributes that were considered important by the university and the alumni, specifically sort of a grace and cunningness, and an intelligence in its appearance, but also that they wanted it sort of in motion,” says artist Matthew Palmer.
Extra police officers are already out on the street ahead of Monday night's post-game festivities. During a press conference Monday afternoon to detail plans for traffic and crowd control, Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin said several hundred officers were out Saturday night following the University of Kentucky's win over Louisville in the Final Four matchup and he anticipated the same for the title game Monday night against Kansas.
Lexington police on Monday will outline plans to prevent post-game fan revelry from getting out of hand following the NCAA championship game. No-parking zones and tow-away zones will be increased in some areas around campus, and more streets might be closed to traffic. Similar efforts, police say, kept things from becoming more than a "civil disturbance" after Saturday's University of Kentucky victory in the national semifinals.
By Linda B. Blackford, Lexington Herald-Leader, Jack Brammer, Lexington Herald-Leader, Josh Kegley, Lexington Herald-Leader & Mary Meehan, Lexington Herald-Leader
Jubilation over the University of Kentucky's win over the University of Louisville quickly turned into scenes of couch-burning mayhem in key celebratory areas around campus. Lexington's State Street, which had become the epicenter of couch burning in recent weeks, was quickly filled with thousands of people, smoke and flying beer bottles. Police in riot gear with fire extinguishers and batons dodged bottles from the growing crowd and tried to stop a raft of couch fires.
At a time when the shirt sales are big business, one Lexington t-shirt maker is operating under fire after turning down an offer to print shirts for the city’s summer Gay Pride festival. The controversy has drawn in city leaders, the University of Kentucky, and Fayette County Public Schools. Since the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization or GLSO filed a discrimination complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission, Hands On Originals has seen a backlash – including a boycott page on Facebook with more 13-hundred members and a protest set for Friday morning in Triangle Park.
Decay and vandalism have finally taken their toll on a 200-year-old yellow poplar in Woodland Park. The city hired Big Beaver Tree Service to cut it down this week. Owner Ian Hoffman estimates the poplar was about 90-100 feet tall. “At the base you can look right at it and see the base is rotted out. And that’s where they set the fire too,” says Hoffman.
At gasoline stations in Richmond and Louisville, a gallon of gasoline exceeds four-dollars. And, for the rest of the Commonwealth, Gas-Buddy-dot-com says prices are trending upwards Triple-A of the Bluegras says the statewide average for gas prices stands at three dollar 90 cents. Spokesman Christopher Oakford says we saw similar price hikes last spring, when a civil war erupted in Libya….but then he says prices dropped last summer.
"This is CentrePointe’s time," architect Rick Ekhoff told the Courthouse Area Design Review Board Wednesday as he provided updates of the proposed downtown Lexington skyscraper. CentrePointe was first launched by the Webb Companies several years ago but financing fell through and the project never developed strong public support. Ekhoff says the hotel, retail, and residential concept is now poised for success.
Police said Tuesday that they have arrested a man on two counts of murder and other felony charges stemming from the disappearance and apparent deaths of two people who were reported missing in June 2010. Daniel R. Keene, 26, of Richmond was booked into the Madison County jail late Monday night by Richmond police. He is charged in the deaths of Sonsaray "Sonsi" Warford and Charles DeMarcus "Chew" Walker, Richmond police Maj. Bob Mott said.
A group that supports the creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund is rallying tonight in Lexington. The organization hopes to sway city leaders to get behind the idea. BUILD, or Building a United Interfaith Lexington Through Direct Action, a group comprised of 17 area congregations, has been pushing for an Affordable Housing Trust Fund for years now. The trust funds are dedicated sources of revenue meant to help low and moderate income citizens attain affordable housing. Pastor Adam Jones is with BUILD.
By Mary Meehan, Lexington Herald-Leader & Josh Kegley, Lexington Herald-Leader
The blackened remains of several sofas littered sidewalks in the area of University and State streets, and Lexington police cruisers sat near every intersection for several blocks as fans celebrated UK's Sunday win. But aside from a few furniture fatalities, downtown streets were mostly filled with blue-clad fans honking, whooping and hollering, apparently saving their full fanaticism for the after-party Saturday, when — they are convinced — Kentucky will beat Louisville.
Tax money collected by Lexington is coming in right on target. Still, local officials hope the improving economy will also improve city revenues. Lexington Revenue Department Director Bill Omara says they’re not as optimistic as they were a few months ago. “We had hoped that the acceleration of recovery would be more pronounced..and through the holiday season we were very hopeful that that would continue..it seems to have slacked off a little bit or mitigated some,” said Omara.
Before the home of the UK mens’ basketball team can get a complete makeover, city leaders need to figure how to pay for the project. Brent Rice, chairman of the Rupp Arena task force, discussed possibilities Friday morning at a Commerce Lexington event. “I’m gonna stick my neck how here, but I really think this project is doable,” Rice told the crowd.
This Saturday representatives from Keep Lexington Beautiful will be keeping an eye out for litter, illegal signs, and graffiti as they tour the city. It’s part of their annual Community Appearance Index process. Once a year, Keep Lexington Beautiful members get in cars with city employees, Bluegrass PRIDE staff, and community volunteers to rank the city’s cleanliness. Patricia Knight, KLB chair, says there’s a system.
Police officers in Lexington are using an online tool to keep track of crime trends across the city, and the information is also available to the public. RAIDS Online is a free service that pinpoints where crimes occurred on a map. Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts says users can narrow the search to a specific type of crime or to a specific neighborhood.
Steve Crook lives less than a block from The Community Inn, an overnight homeless shelter at 824 Winchester Road, and he said the shelter has created continuous problems for neighbors and nearby businesses. "The number one issue is folks get there hours before the place opens. They can't get inside, so they loiter on the sidewalks. They go to the bathroom in the street. Children can't go outside and play," said Crook.