Several parties are investigating an alleged act of discrimination in Hazard, Kentucky. The two men, who also have developmental disabilities, say they were told to leave the public pool in the Hazard Pavilion because they were a couple. Others, however, say the two were making public displays of affection, which aren’t allowed at all in the pavilion.
After a day of negotiation, members of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council funded several city services eliminated in a budget proposed by Mayor Jim Gray. For instance, full funding was restored for 26 independent agencies that rely on the city for support. Council member George Meyers made the motion.
Officials say a police task force focused on curbing graffiti in Lexington is a success. Community leaders gathered at Woodland Park Monday afternoon to announce the arrests of several people on vandalism charges."Within the first three weeks of the task force, with all the task force members working very hard, we identified most of the graffiti in the city of Lexington to six people," says police officer Ricky Lynn. The task force documented more than $32,000 in damage to city and private property. Some of the offenders are doing community service and painting over the graffiti.
The administrator of the estate of murder victim Umi Southworth has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, claiming Lexington police acted in "a reckless, wanton and egregious manner" by failing to realize Southworth was still alive for several hours while they conducted a homicide investigation. After officials realized she was alive, she was taken to University of Kentucky Hospital, where she died the next day. Her husband, Don Southworth, was charged with her murder earlier this month.
A group of officers who enforce man's law called on a higher power Monday might to help with Eastern Kentucky's devastating drug problem. Several Christian police officers led a prayer meeting in Hazard, seeking God's help and urging Christians in the crowd to witness to their neighbors and co-workers in an effort to turn the tide of drug abuse one soul at a time. "I pray that the healing starts tonight," Joe Engle, deputy police chief in Hazard, said during a sermon punctuated by "amens" from the crowd.
The Kentucky Equality Federation says it is planning a public protest because two gay men with intellectual and developmental disabilities were kicked out of a recreational center run by the city of Hazard on Friday. The federation, which advocates for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, says the two were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. The city's attorney, however, said the facility does not discriminate, and "there is a dispute as to the facts of what transpired."
For a few weeks, the fingers of Chris Spicer and many of who work with YouthBuild of Jackson were crossed for good luck. The organization had applied for a federal grant through the U. S. Department of Labor which would continue to fund them for three years. However the odds were stacked against them, as they were one of approximately 880 applicants nationwide. But the good luck wishes and federal funding did come true for YouthBuild last Friday, when they were told they would receive the $700,000 grant for the first two years, then a “follow up” grant for the third year.
The United States Supreme Court has declined to consider a case that would have changed the fees coal companies pay for their exported coal. Right now, coal companies pay what’s called an “Abandoned Mine Land” fee on each ton of coal. A decade ago, Consol Energy and other companies, including subsidiaries of Massey Energy and Arch Coal, filed a lawsuit against the government, claiming that they shouldn’t have to pay the fee for coal that’s being exported from the United States.
On Tuesday night, the Berea City Council will hold the second and final public hearing on an ordinance that would protect gay and transgender individuals from discrimination. After the forum, the council will decide whether or not they will take a vote on the ordinance. The Fairness Campaign has been working for months to see the measure passed. Chris Hartman is the group’s president.
Lexington's urban county council members are getting down to the wire in a passing a budget for the next fiscal year. Plans for spending cuts within the division of police remain a concern. Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin has twice reported to council members in recent weeks on how the division is handling a proposed 7 percent reduction in funding. Police plan to cut community service units nearly in half; those affected include the DARE program, mounted patrol, and the Community Law Enforcement Action Response unit, also known as CLEAR.
The plans laid out for transportation improvements in the Lexington area will be reviewed this month by federal officials. A evening meeting will give citizens a chance to weigh in on transportation issues. Proposals in two central Kentucky counties will be reviewed by federal transportation officials. Max Conyers, who’s with Lexington’s planning department, says the examination includes a look at pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit traffic in Fayette and Jessamine counties. Conyers says officials will also gather input from residents.
Mine rescue teams from eight states will put their skills to the test at a contest in Maysville, Kentucky this week. The Mine Safety and Health Administration is sponsoring the 4th annual Southeast Region / Central Kentucky Mine Rescue Contest. The two-day event will feature a variety of scenarios, including a mine fire, explosion, or roof collapse.
In his last community center job in Lexington, Jonathan Boyd was stabbed with a pocketknife trying to break up a fight involving about 50 people. He wasn’t seriously injured, but the experience scared him away from community centers for more than a decade – until South Frankfort beckoned. “I was trying to separate two groups, and I was one of two lucky individuals to get stabbed,” said Jonathan, who was assistant director of Lexington’s Kenwick Community Center at the time.
Complaints about for-profit colleges in Kentucky continue to raise eyebrows in Frankfort. But, the schools also have many legislative defenders. Currently there are 141 for-profit colleges in Kentucky, which are seeing significant growth. National enrollment in proprietary colleges is nearing two million students, compared to a half-million in 1998. The schools cater mostly to students seeking employment skills.
Raising student achievement through new teaching methods is one of Kentucky's ongoing goals. It’s been on the minds of education activists with the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Sarah Buhayar is the program manager of the Measures of Effective Teaching, which sponsored by the Gates Foundation. Buhayar, who's been working with the Prichard Committee, says much of their research focuses on student evaluation of teachers.
For the 42nd time, a Christian rock festival will be held in a field near the central Kentucky community of Wilmore. Over the decades, much has changed at Ichthus and for fans who gather for music, lectures, workshops and fellowship. The first sounds of music will fill the air Wednesday. One of the nation's best known worship bands, ‘Hillsong United’ will help open the festival. Then on Saturday, the festival's final day, Ichthus Chief Executive Officer, Mark Vermillion says the focus will again be on community.
By Josh Kegley, Lexington Herald-Leader & Jennifer Hewlett, Lexington Herald-Leader
A murder charge comes in two forms in Kentucky: intentional and wanton. Intentional murder means a death was purposely caused. In a case of wanton murder, the defendant demonstrated "extreme indifference to human life." Regardless, prosecutors must either prove intent to kill or indifference to life, and legal experts think that could be one of the highest hurdles in the trial of Glenn Doneghy, who is charged with murder in the hit-and-run death of Lexington police officer Bryan J. Durman. Two rulings last week by Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael seemed to deal major blows to the prosecution.
While the past few days have been hot and humid the Lake Cumberland area has had a wet spring overall, causing the lake level to rise over 720 feet above sea level, 40-plus feet more than what the Corps of Engineers would like while work continues on Wolf Creek Dam. The Corps is currently drawing the level down about a foot a day.
By Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader
A judge has ordered that a receiver take over a troubled personal care home in Letcher County that has been the subject of numerous state citations and federal and state criminal charges. Letcher Circuit Court Judge Samuel Wright granted a temporary restraining order Thursday and appointed a receiver to oversee the finances and day-to-day operations of the troubled Jenkins home that is licensed to care for 44 residents. Wright issued the restraining order and appointed the receiver at the request of Attorney General Jack Conway's office.
The congregations of 18 churches in the state are considering whether to take a stand to have ministers refuse to sign marriage licenses as a protest of Kentucky's refusal to allow same-sex marriage. Two Louisville churches already have said their ministers will stop signing marriage licenses. Both churches will continue to perform religious marriage ceremonies for straight and gay couples. Other churches are said to be considering joining the protest. Those churches are in Lexington, Berea, London and Richmond.
Children born in 2010 will cost Kentucky families between $130,000 and $150,000 to raise. That's well below the national average. The USDA publishes a report on child-rearing costs each year. This year, costs went up two percent from 2009. On average families in the lowest income group spend $206,000 dollars on a child in before they graduate high school. But that number drops in rural regions. Terry Brooks is Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. Brooks says for everyone housing takes up nearly a third of expenses.
New academic standards for Kentucky students could put additional demands for teachers and administrators. As a result, some educators say student scores could drop. But, Elaine Farris, who's the third candidate in the search for Fayette County’s next school superintendent, doesn’t see it that way.
The Lancaster City Council may have a third option when considering how to solve pending water plant capacity issues. Representatives from Lexington-based Kentucky American Water came to the council’s work session this week to express preliminary interest in purchasing the city’s water and sewer plants. John-Mark Hack, KAW director of government affairs, said the company will not know if it wants to make an offer on the plants until it conducts a thorough study of each, mostly through examining city documents.
Fort Knox will see millions of dollars in construction projects as the post continues to grow thanks to the Army's realignment process. Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley told a chamber of commerce audience that many of the improvements to date have been made in Elizabethtown. But he said he believes more development needs to take place closer to post, particularly in Radcliff. Freakley said the lack of high-end restaurants, shopping and specialty stores has caused soldiers to leave the area and travel to Louisville.
What started out as a routine press conference to announce the formation of a city commission on youth and public safety, shifted into more of a town hall style public meeting Wednesday in Mayor Jim Gray’s office headquarters. First District Councilman Chris Ford says a recent uptick in violent crimes in urban areas has prompted the need for a comprehensive and community-wide approach.
Lexington's retired public safety workers can expect to receive more pension money each month to offset an increase in the cost of living. More than 900 retirees in the Lexington Police and Fire Retirement Fund will see a 2.6% cost of living adjustment.
Some tough budget decisions are expected today when Lexington’s Urban County Council convenes. One of the items up for debate is the future of police escorts for Lexington area funerals. The future of police escorts for funeral processions could be decided Thursday at Lexington’s city hall. Hoping to cut costs, Mayor Jim Gray wants to eliminate the service. However, former Urban County Council member Jim Combs, who helped launch the service in 1980, says the escorts protect the processions.
About 50 people attended a Whitley County UNITE Coalition forum Monday evening to discuss the impact of Kentucky's new 150-page penal code reform act, and whether the pros of the new law outweigh the cons of it. Proponents say the reform is Kentucky getting "smart" on crime, while critics say it is the state getting "softer" on crime sacrificing public safety to save money. The consensus of the group, if there was one, is that eventually the new law will probably help Kentucky's recidivism rate among criminals namely drug offenders, but that the crime rate might get worse under the new reforms before it gets better.
Five months after Lexington Mayor Jim Gray called for a review of the Fayette County Detention Center it appears there will be not one, but two groups looking for ways to make improvements. Sheriff Kathy Witt recently presented her findings on conditions at the jail, and Lexington Deputy Police Chief David Boggs delivered his report Tuesday. Boggs says the jail needs less micro-managing and more leadership. "Really the resounding theme came back that that needed to be an increased emphasis on communication so the employees in the organization felt heard."
Jail employees in Clay County strip-searched a Fayette County woman without justification and made racial slurs after she was arrested at a public pool with a biracial child, the woman has charged in a federal lawsuit. One female guard subjected Jennifer C. Philpot to a rough, painful body cavity search even though there was no cause to suspect she was hiding contraband, the lawsuit said.