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.
A sign marking a Fleming County historic landmark has been replaced after a long absence. A historic marker sign at the Goddard Covered Bridge was installed Friday, July 1, in replacement of one stolen several years ago. The sign is located on Kentucky 32 where the covered bridge crosses Sand Lick Creek. The Goddard Bridge is one of three standing covered bridges in Fleming County and one of only 13 in Kentucky, which at one time was host to more than 400 covered bridges.
If the walls of the soon-to-be toppled Farmers Tobacco Warehouse No. 1 in Danville could talk, their stories would fill volumes. Owner Jerry Rankin has heard most of them over the years. “This has just been a special place,” Rankin said. Rankin confirmed Tuesday that a deal with Centre College is being finalized that will sell the landmark that has stood on the corner of Russell and Hope streets since 1927. He declined to discuss the specifics of the sale until it is finalized, only saying Centre paid a fair price for the property. Demolition is set to begin early next week.
Law enforcement officers attended more Fourth of July gatherings this weekend than in the past, but they weren’t there to celebrate. Fireworks complaints more than doubled this year, say Frankfort Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. “We were swamped,” said Frankfort Police Maj. Fred Deaton.
An attorney for Glenn Doneghy, who was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of Lexington police officer Bryan J. Durman on June 30, has filed a motion for a new trial. Attorney Sally Wasielewski, in the motion filed this week, says that jurors in the trial were allowed to walk freely around downtown Lexington during a June 30 lunch break — after deliberations had begun — when they should have been kept in a group and accompanied by a court bailiff. Wasielewski says this was a violation of Kentucky law.
A poor review by Men's Health magazine has prompted a response by a member of Lexington's urban county council. The publication recently rated Lexington the nation’s most sedentary city. Council member Jay McChord suggests he, along with Lexington's mayor , the president of the University of Kentucky, and the Fayette County Schools Superintendent travel to Pennsylvania to meet with magazine representatives.
Two people suffered significant injuries from explosive devices during the Independence Day weekend, according to Nelson County EMS Director Joe Prewitt. Zack Bagwell, 25, Boston, was transported to University Hospital Sunday afternoon after losing at least one finger in an explosion near the Beech Fork River in the Boston area. The Boston Fire Department and EMS met Bagwell at Rust Funeral Home.
Three men from the same family died after they were swept away by the rain-swollen current during a Fourth of July outing on the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River. Rescuers on Tuesday recovered the body of Tim Blevins about half a mile below a dam on the river, near Hyden. On Monday, Blevins' brother, Larry Blevins, 36, and Kendall Estep, 30, their brother-in-law, had been pronounced dead.
Reinstate emergency pull-over lanes. Reduce the speed limit. Ban trucks. Reroute traffic away from the bridge altogether. Less than two weeks after a stranded motorist was knocked to his death off the Brent Spence Bridge, the accident has revived a years-long debate about ways to make driving the span safer - now.
The fourth of July weekend is barely history and there’s already interest among some Lexington council members to change the city’s fireworks policy. Several Lexington area residents complained to city hall about fireworks activity in their neighborhoods. The new state law opened the nighttime skies to flying fireworks. Plus, the newly legal fireworks on the ground were quite a bit louder than usual. Council member Kevin Stinnett says he heard the blasts and got an earful from constituents.
A Bellepoint man who told sheriff’s deputies he made $2,000 a week selling out-of-state prescription painkillers has been sentenced to eight years in prison. John Shramm, 38, sold 30mg Percocet pills to a confidential witness Feb. 24 and March 6, court records show. He was immediately taken into custody.
Lexington police say an officer was bitten Saturday after chasing down a man who had been pulled over for reckless driving. Glenn Curtis Whittenburg, 40, of Lexington was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief, fleeing and evading police, resisting arrest, reckless driving and no operators license, according to police records. Lexington police Lt. Chris Van Brackel said the incident began with a traffic stop for reckless driving, and then Whittenburg "jumped out of the car and fled on foot." When the officer caught up with Whittenburg, Whittenburg bit him.