United Airlines pilots stood at the front entrance of Blue Grass Airport Monday, but not to greet travelers or give directions. The pilots were distributing leaflets criticizing United management for giving employees the short shrift and compromising safety by outsourcing jobs. United Airlines pilots are taking their complaints and concerns out of the board room and straight to the passengers.
Historic Calumet Farm has sold for $36 million to $40 million to a new trust, the Calumet Investment Group, which will lease it to Thoroughbred horseman Brad Kelley, whose Optimizer is running in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. The farm, one of the most storied in Thoroughbred racing and breeding history with eight Kentucky Derby winners and two Triple Crown winners, is located on Lexington's Versailles Road between New Circle Road and Keeneland.
The Urban County Council continued debating the merits of the city’s subsidizing of public golf courses Tuesday. City support for the sport has become a hot button issue this budget cycle. The council took another swing at golf funding Tuesday, with council member Jay McChord, a vocal proponent of examining the issue, again pushing for numbers. McChord brought up the topic the previous week, questioning why the city is experiencing brown outs at fire stations while spending $1.2 million dollars to keep its five golf courses open. General Services Commissioner Sally Hamilton gave a report this week showing progress toward lowering that number.
One of the organizers of last weekend’s Bluegrass Food Blast, which featured several mobile food vendors taking over a downtown parking lot, says the event demonstrated what would happen if the city relaxed restrictions on the food carts. Amanda Tibbetts, with the Bluegrass Food Truck Association, told members of a task force working on an ordinance for so-called itinerant merchants in Lexington, that support for the mobile businesses is growing.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Lexington fire department's employment practices, city officials confirmed Monday. "The city was made aware of the investigation in early April. Federal officials have our full cooperation and we welcome their investigation," city spokeswoman Susan Straub said in a written statement. Diversity in the ranks of Lexington's firefighters has been a topic of public concern for several years. Only five black men and four white women have been among the 119 graduates of the fire recruit academy over the previous six years.
Vendors eager to bring the mobile food truck trend to Lexington are taking over one downtown parking lot this weekend to show off their menus and gather support for their businesses. But a number of regulatory roadblocks need to be cleared before the trucks become a common sight downtown. It’s nearing lunch hour and business is starting to pick up at the Bluegrass Food Blast as passersby and employees at nearby businesses wander toward the trucks. Carol Ludwick, who made the drive from her house, is just finishing up her chicken wings.
The future face of urban parks could give a slightly different meaning to the phrase ‘green space. More of that “space” could be privately financed. Parks in cities like Lexington are publicly supported and maintained. But another p-word, private, could be used to describe parks of the future. Such a space now exists in Louisville, with its ‘Parklands of Floyd’s Fork’ project. The aim is to develop and link four parks with land mostly bought with private funds.
Underneath the heart of downtown Lexington flows the Town Branch Creek. It’s been buried for more than 100 years, but now community leaders are talking about bringing the water back to the surface as part of the creation of a Rupp Arena, Arts, and Entertainment District. If you look at a map of downtown Lexington, you’ll notice that the streets aren’t situated along the cardinal directions of north, east, south, and west. Traffic on Main Street, for example, runs northwest.
The fourth annual Disability Expo and Resource Fair filled Heritage Hall downtown Thursday. This year’s event featured a new campaign meant to keep citizens – both disabled and non-disabled – aware of where they should park around town. The Celebration of disAbility, that’s with a lower case "d" and an upper case "a," is intended to empower handicapped citizens by offering information and demonstrations on everything from transportation to how to vote.
Chef Jeremy Ashby of Azur Restaurant led a cooking demonstration Wednesday for students at the Lexington Family Care Center, showing them how to prepare broccoli mac-n-cheese, carrots, almond-crusted chicken tenders, and cornbread. Ashby's class was part of series of talks in the Plant to Plate program, an educational project at the center that's taken the classroom to the garden and kitchen. For the past several weeks students have learned to grow their own vegetables and how to shop for healthy food on a budget.
Lexington’s contribution to its public golf courses is under review at city hall. There appears to be more interest in putting a ceiling on its financial assistance. Council member Jay McChord has been front and center on the issue. McChord believes Lexington subsidizes its five public golf courses too heavily. The courses collect greens fees, but, last year McChord says they also received one-point-two million dollars from the city. He proposes the council put a limit on those subsidies.
If your medicine cabinet is filling up with old, unused, or outdated medications, you will have a chance to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way this Saturday. Lexington’s third annual MedToss allows Fayette County citizens to drop off their unwanted pill bottles to one of four locations: the Division of Police Roll Call Facility, Kentucky American Water, Dunbar High School, and WalMart in Hamburg. Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin says safely tossing old meds does more than help the environment.
A residence hall for first year University of Kentucky Fine Arts students now bears the name of UK’s 9th President. At a ceremony on Tuesday, the former North Hall, a 144-bed complex, which opened in 2005, was re-christened Roselle Hall in honor of David P. Roselle, who held the post from July 1987 through December 1989.
In a post-Earth Day address Monday, former President Bill Clinton encouraged Fayette County students to follow through on their efforts to ensure that people and nature exist in harmony. In an address to 5,000 to 6,000 students, teachers, parents and politicians at Rupp Arena, the 42nd U.S. president praised the efforts of the Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council, a coalition of students that promotes environmental awareness. The students encourage others to conserve energy and try to live in a way that doesn't deplete resources.
A fire Thursday burned unchecked for several minutes, destroying a family's kitchen, because the nearest fire engine had temporarily been taken out of service. The delayed response was the second incident in two days that drew attention to the practice of brownouts, periods when Lexington takes fire engines out of service for hours or days to save money. On Wednesday night, a 65-year-old man having severe chest pains stopped at a fire station in South Lexington for help, only to find that no one was there, fire officials have said.
The debate over how to best compensate city workers in Lexington continues. The urban county council wants to re-work the system. An attempt was made several years,owever, that effort failed and Lexington’s about to try again. Glenda George, who’s with the Law Department, says they’ve identified another consultant. “We’ve reached a point where we should hire to assist us in evaluating our current evaluation system..and to make recommendations about what we should do..going forward,” said George.
A member of Lexington’s Urban County Council wants to alter the way the city financially supports its public golf courses. Jay McChord is proposing a resolution to specify the amount of support for the five courses. “Set a subsidy level..is it a hundred thousand is it three hundred thousand..is it seven hundred thousand…but this council needs to give policy direction..that is what they asked for,” said McChord.
As more of Lexington’s population grows older and enters retirement, city leaders are looking for ways to better serve the elderly. The senior citizens center on Nicholasville Road needs a new roof and more room overall to serve meals and host activities. A task force is being organized to explore new programming options for older adults, all of which require a bigger facility.
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.