The cost of health care threatens to break the finances of cities like Lexington. Last year, providing coverage for city worker cost 11-million dollars more than predicted. Other cities are in better shape, but, the executive director at the Kentucky League of Cities says it’s still a struggle. Jon Steiner says increasing health care costs makes it hard to write a budget.
A man who built a 25 year career at the Lexington jail is back in a leadership position there. Ray Sabbatine was announced Thursday as the interim director of Community Corrections. He will take over for retiring director Ron Bishop on July 25.
Robert George, whose body has been in the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital morgue for more than three months, finally will be laid to rest, possibly on Thursday, in Burnside Cemetery in Pulaski County. It's not likely that any of George's relatives, including his children — four sons and a daughter — will be there when his coffin is lowered into the ground, George's son, Robbie George of Texas, said Wednesday. "He's done a lot of very bad things, and the family is not so forgiving," the son said.
When Damon Dunson and Melanie Stamper of Berea woke up one morning last week, they said they couldn't believe that someone had used spray paint and markers to write racial slurs on their vehicles. "I was angry, but at the same time I knew whoever did it was ignorant," said Dunson, who is black. "They spelled the n-word three different ways," said Stamper, his girlfriend, who is white. The message left on Stamper's Jeep, she said, told her to get out of the neighborhood.
Embattled Lexington Fire Chief Robert Hendricks will have to wait a while longer to learn whether he will receive a disability pension from the city. On Wednesday, the Lexington Police and Fire pension board said it needed clarification regarding discrepancies between the two medical evaluation reports presented to the panel. By law, Hendricks is required to be evaluated by two physicians before the board can vote to approve or deny his application.
People are fired up about where and when their neighbors chose to set off fireworks, saying it’s been a month-long barrage of big blasts hitting too close to home at all hours of the night. “I went weeks without sleep,” says Heather Kash, who took her complaint to the Frankfort City Commission during Monday’s work session.
Whitley County Sheriff's deputies discovered three one-step methamphetamine labs early Tuesday evening while answering a complaint about suspicious activity inside a vacant Woodbine house. The caller told police that the home had been boarded up and was suspected to be a drug house, a sheriff's spokesman said. But when police entered the residence, a male escaped through a window. A closer examination of the empty residence turned up two females inside, who were passed out.
Once again Kentucky mine safety officials are asking what could have been done to prevent a death on the job. 26 year old Ryan Thatcher of Salyersville died Monday while working at a Martin County mine. His was the third coal-related death this year. Kentucky Mine Safety and Licensing executive director Johnny Green says tools, technology and regulations are in place to prevent deaths and accidents in the mines. Green traces some problems to miners themselves and those people who supervise them.
A once-loved tradition where community news and events appeared weekly in the local newspaper is being kept alive, at least on a part-time basis. Up until about 20 years ago, nearly every small community in Casey County had a resident who collected local news and sent it each week to The Casey County News. Clarice Floyd was one of about 20 correspondents who did this, but as the years progressed, the correspondents faded away. Floyd, a spry and lively 92, is the last correspondent who still periodically gathers the news of her friends and neighbors in the Mt. Olive community. She became a correspondent in the late 1950s.
Lexington resident Carmen Davis has dreams of running a small business. She and a friend have been researching the possibility of opening a taxi cab company. Davis' efforts came to a screeching halt when she saw Fayette County's current taxi requirements. "I believe I started looking at the ordinance in early June and it was kind of overwhelming because to buy 25 vehicles at one time is a huge investment for a small business owner."
The Kentucky Public Service Commission is sending out another warning in light of a recent uptick in attempted copper thefts from electric substations. Spokesman Andrew Melnykovych says thieves have been targeting utilities because of the perceived chance to make a big score.
Another group is coming forward to voice its concerns about Lexington's latest round of fireworks. Some wildlife advocates say this year's Fourth of July did more than frighten dogs and cats. Nora Ward has rescued eastern cottontail rabbits for the Kentucky Wildlife Center for three years now. In the past, the fireworks had little effect on her animals, but she says this year, with the larger and louder fireworks allowed by state law, things changed. In an emotional plea to the Urban County Council, Ward said the noise was too much.
It's one of the most basic services a government can provide: keeping the street lights on. But it isn't as easy as flipping a switch. Fluctuations in electric bills aren't just a problem for private homes and businesses. When Kentucky Utilities raises its rates, the government has to deal with higher bills too. The Urban Services fund, which, among other things, provides money for Lexington's street lights is running low. And Councilman Kevin Stinnett says a simple tax increase may not solve the problem.
After several contentious meetings on the subject, the Urban County Council voted Tuesday night to establish procedures for reviewing contract agreements reached through collective bargaining. For years the council has debated just what its role should be in agreements reached through collective bargaining. Traditionally, approval of the contracts fell to the mayor's office. But with unfunded pension liabilities mounting, some members of the council see it as their responsibility to review and ultimately agree to the contracts.
Journalist James Fallows is in Louisville today to speak at the Kentucky Chamber’s annual meeting. Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a former editor of U.S. News and World Report, and delivered a speech based on a recent article on the future of coal.
A team of state officials will soon meet with Kentucky Speedway representatives to discuss next year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Race. Gridlock Saturday meant thousands of ticket holders didn’t see the race. Governor Steve Beshear says his team will get together in the next few days. “I think everyone anticipated that we would have some problems. Obviously nobody anticipated that the parking situation would end up creating the problem that it did,” said Beshear
Officials are investigating another mining fatality in Kentucky. Twenty-six year old Ryan Thatcher of Salyersville died Monday while working at a mine near Inez in Martin County. According to the Energy and Environment Cabinet there were no apparent witnesses to the accident.
With heat indices expected to be in the triple digits again today, the city of Lexington is opening two cooling centers across town to help folks beat the heat. The Dunbar Community Center on Upper Street will be open until 8 p.m. The Lexington Senior Center on the corner of Alumni and Nicholasville Road will stay open until 6 p.m. Lextran is offering free rides for senior citizens to and from the cooling centers. For more information on the free rides, call Lextran at (859) 253-4636.
Lexington might not have experienced the 100-degrees-plus temperatures that swept the Midwest and Southern United States on Monday, but it felt like it. Lexington's heat index exceeded expectations and hit 112 degrees Monday, prompting the National Weather Service in Louisville to issue a heat advisory until 8 p.m. in Central Kentucky. Hot and humid weather was expected to continue into Tuesday, although scattered showers and thunderstorms could help cool things down late Tuesday afternoon, meteorologist Mike Crow said.
FRANKFORT – Kentucky mining investigators worked overnight to determine the cause of Kentucky’s latest mining fatality. Ryan K. Thatcher, 26, of Salyersville died Monday when he suffered head injuries while working at the Voyager No. 7 mine near Inez in Martin County. The mine is owned by Martin County Coal Corp.
Health insurance costs have caused headaches for employers, both private and public. Now, they're giving a big headache to city officials in Lexington. The city has failed to collect enough money from its workers for health care. As a result, Lexington has lost tens of millions of dollars. The news comes at a bad time. Leaders at Lexington City Hall have just balanced their budget for next year. Now they must find their way out of a ten million dollar hole that they are digging this year.
A former Lexington foster mother is taking her fight to be taken off the state's registry of people who have abused or neglected children to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Joyce Givens was a foster mother until a 15-year-old girl in her care failed to take medicine to maintain a transplanted kidney in 2008, prompting social workers to place Givens on the child abuse and neglect registry. She was never charged with a crime, and the girl later testified that she lied to Givens and others about taking the medicine.
Their conventional occupations as a retired school teacher, emergency room clerk and firefighter don't hint that in their spare time, Ron and Lori Coffey and Howard Hamilton investigate reports of ghost sightings. The trio are members of the Mount Sterling-based Gateway Paranormal Society, one of numerous teams statewide that investigate paranormal activity in private homes, historical sites and cemeteries. The groups say that as the pastime has become more popular, the stigma is beginning to end. Known as ghost hunters, they consider the searches not just a hobby but services to provide help to people.
A series of at least 30 car crashes in a short period closed Interstate 75 in Lexington on Friday afternoon. The northbound and southbound lanes were closed and heavily congested between mile markers 110 and 116, officials said. Police and fire officials warned motorists to stay away from the area, which is between exit 110, at U.S. 60/Winchester Road, and exit 115, at Newtown Pike/Ky. 922. That stretch of I-75 is likely to be congested well past rush hour, police said.
Members of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council have decided to let stand three budget vetoes by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. Mayor Gray made three line item vetoes to the council approved budget. Only one veto was challenged by the council Thursday night. Members were asked to over-ride the mayor’s action and restore funding for more than 20 outside agencies.
A battle is brewing over how much authority Lexington's Urban County Council should have over contract agreements reached through collective bargaining. Council members tussled for hours Thursday night over a resolution put forward by Councilman Ed Lane that would clarify the procedure for approving collective bargaining agreements. Lane and his supporters argued the resolution is needed because the police and fire pension system is unsustainable and the council deserves more input.
All three of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray's historic line-item vetoes of the Urban County Council-approved budget will remain in effect. The council put up resistance to only one set of cuts. In what Councilman Jay McChord called a "heartfelt" decision, the body voted 11-4 to keep Mayor Gray's 10-percent across-the-board cut to the government's partner agencies intact, shaving close to 315-thousand dollars off the budget. Councilman Doug Martin, who voted against overriding the mayor's veto, said slashing the budgets of organizations like the Salvation Army and Hope Center in the midst of difficult economic times was painful.
Two new specialty license plates have been approved by the Transportation Cabinet. One tag supports the Alzheimer’s Association, while the second carries the slogan “In God We Trust” with a backdrop of the American flag. Kentucky already has a regular plate with the “In God We Trust” slogan”. But MaryAnn Gramig, who’s president of the ROCK Cares Foundation which sponsors the new plate, says it bolsters a spiritual message.
By Josh Kegley, Lexington Herald-Leader & Beverly Fortune, Lexington Herald-Leader
After receiving numerous complaints that Lexington sounded like a war zone during the Fourth of July weekend, at least one Urban County Council member wants stricter local restrictions on fireworks. There were 553 general noise complaints to Lexington's 911 call center Friday through Tuesday, said David Lucas, director of the Division of Enhanced 911. That's up from 308 complaints during the holiday weekend last year — before bottle rockets, mortars and firecrackers could be purchased legally in the state.
Tonight’s (Thursday) the night Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council members may attempt to override budget vetoes issued by Mayor Jim Gray. The mayor line item vetoed three areas of the council approved budget, including funds for disc golf facilities and a half-dozen jobs in the city's communications office. The mayor also imposed a ten percent funding cut on some 26 outside agencies that provide city services. David Barberie (BAR-ber-ee) with the city’s law department, Tuesday explained to council members their options.