Questions about code enforcement procedures and staffing dominated discussions this week at city hall. The man who directs officers charged with keeping homes and businesses safe and sound appeared before a council committee. Early in the meeting, Council member Diane Lawless set the tone by reminding city officials of continuing problems around the University of Kentucky, where too many residences are poorly maintained and yards are filled with trash.
More than 150 residents of Lexington’s Pimlico Apartments must find new homes. A multi-million dollar renovation at the public housing complex will force their relocation. But, finding a place won’t be easy… Residents have a couple options. While work is done repairing the Pimlico complex’s structure problems…they could rent from private landlord…paying for the move with a federal voucher. But, resident Jessica Spivey says landlords who accept federal vouchers are hard to find. “We have not been given any help as far as builders or renters or landlords that accept section 8. It was here’s the voucher. You are on your own. That’s where we need help,” said Spivey.
Dark smoke from a massive fire in Lawrenceburg Friday afternoon could be seen from Frankfort to Lexington. The smoke was coming from a large glass debris pile that caught fire in an industrial park where Dlubak Glass is located. At least eight fire departments flocked to the scene to battle the blaze including departments from Woodford, Mercer, Anderson, Franklin and Jessamine counties and Lexington, Versailles and Lawrenceburg.
By Valarie Honeycutt Spears & Lexington Herald-Leader
Fire broke out Friday at the Dlubak Glass Co. in Lawrenceburg. The Lexington and Versailles fire departments were sending firefighters to help.
Credit Lexington Herald-Leader file photo
UPDATED: Fire broke out Friday at the Dlubak Glass Co. in Lawrenceburg. The Lexington and Versailles fire departments were sending firefighters to help. Amanda Hillard, a secretary at the company, said a large pile of shredded vinyl material was engulfed in flames in an industrial park on Industry Drive, just of U.S. 127. Hillard said all nine employees were out safely.
Factory and office workers in Lexington could see new lunch time items available in coming months. But, it might mean a trip outside. While the debate in Lexington rages over food trucks, those vendors might find less resistance at workplaces. Worried about competition, the owners of many brick-and-mortar restaurants want to limit a food truck’s access to public spaces…keeping them from doing business on public streets. However, with a small change to the Lexington’s zoning restrictions, Planning Director Chris King says businesses without indoor dining facilities for their employees could open their gates to food trucks.
In about a month, more details are expected on who should design the renovation of Lexington’s Rupp Arena. The overall project to refurbish the sports arena along with the Lexington Convention Center carries an estimated price tag of close to 300-million dollars. Frank Butler is project manager for the Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District. “We’re really now starting to ramp this up. I would anticipate sometime probably towards the end of May beginning of June, we will have selected our architects and our construction manager and we’ll be in full blown moving the project ahead,” said Butler.
Lexington leaders have narrowly voted to beef up the city’s rainy day fund. With the city’s financial outlook improving Council member Jennifer Mossotti wants to set aside two-point-seven million additional dollars in an economic contingency fund.
“But, my concern is that revenues are gonna be flat this year and if we have some kind of disaster or a need that we need to use this economic contingency fund for, we would have that ability to do so,” said Mossotti.
There’s still no consensus among Lexington leaders over changing traffic flow in downtown. Another study into converting some one-way streets to two-way travel is in progress. Vice Mayor Linda Gorton says it remains an issue up for debate. “There’s still lots of answers that we need and I don’t want people in the public to think ‘this is a done deal because I don’t believe it is,” said Gorton
543 and 539 West Third St in Lexington, Ky. Thursday March 14, 2013
Credit Ron Garrison/Lexington Herald-Leader
The owner of a two-story home on Lexington's West Third Street died in January 2008 without heirs to assume responsibility for the property. The house remained empty for years, and Faith Harders, who lived next door, watched with concern as the house deteriorated. "My greatest fear was a homeless person would break in, start a fire to keep warm and burn the house down," Harders said of the house at 543 West Third. That happened a few years earlier to a vacant house across the street, she said. Harders called LexCall 311 to notify the city's code enforcement office about the house. That's how the city learns about most run-down and abandoned property.
Private dollars will fund more study into Lexington’s Town Branch Commons Project. The feasibility study’s part of a proposal that resurrects Town Branch Creek and creates a waterfront attraction in downtown Lexington. Downtown Development Authority President Jeff Fugate says they’ll soon make their ideas public. “Don’t have a hard feasibility date. What I will say is coming in later in the spring and through the summer we will have public presentations of the project, opportunities for the public to engage with the designers and the planners,” said Fugate.
April tenth of 20-12 is a day Lexington Animal Care and Control Officer Ashley Browning won’t forget. Browning was trying to restrain a vicious dog when she suffered significant injuries. “My equipment, I couldn’t get the dog off me so, he did attack me, had me down. The owner showed up and got the dog off and basically after that I had to endure all the issues with a dog bite, get taken to the hospital, the stitches and all that kind of thing,” said Browning.
FRANKFORT - Attorney General Jack Conway and his Office of Special Prosecutions Wednesday announced the indictment of the former director of the Training Resource Center of the College of Justice and Safety at Eastern Kentucky University on tax fraud charges.
Lexington’s Mayor calls it a ‘conservative budget’. Jim Gray also says the proposal, that would spend nearly 300-million dollars, signifies ‘good business.’ The Mayor’s budget proposal reflects a two-point-seven percent increase in spending. A major difference in this budget plan over previous years is limited borrowing. Mayor Gray says it’s no longer burdened with major ticket items. “We are on solid ground today because of the reforms we have made in the last two and a half years; pension reform, health insurance reform, collective bargaining,” said Gray.
After a two-hour, closed-door meeting, regents at Eastern Kentucky University today named a new president. Dr. Michael Benson will leave the top job at Southern Utah University and take over at EKU. Board of Regents Chairman Craig Turner is “delighted” with Benson’s selection.
“I think his even-keeled demeanor, as we put it, will be accepted very easily here on campus, and we think he’s got the leadership qualities that we’re looking for,” said Turner.
Arrive early. Leave later. Drive carefully. That's the advice Keeneland and Lexington police have for racing patrons as they prepare to navigate the reconstruction of U.S. 60 on the way to the track. Keeneland's spring meet starts Friday and continues through April 26.
Unlike last year, a proposed increase in the franchise fee levied by local government in Lexington on utilities is not on the table. The cost of those fees, which are paid by water, natural gas and electric companies, are often passed onto consumers. The fees should remain unchanged, but city attorney David Barberie says it’s not set in concrete.
Hoping to enhance Lexington’s economy, Mayor Jim Gray wants to set up a new, two-million dollar development fund. The money would finance start-up companies and expansions by existing firms. It would also fund the recruitment of businesses operating outside Lexington. Gray says many competing cities already have such a fund. “Competitor cities of ours have, for a long time, utilized responsible economic development models for growth,” said Gray.
University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari topped other Bluegrass leaders to grab a firm victory as the Lexington area's most influential person. The top five in the recent poll by the Herald-Leader is rounded out by high-profile men familiar to Central Kentuckians: Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, Jessamine County railroad executive R.J. Corman, Alltech founder Pearse Lyons and UK President Eli Capilouto. The list of the 14 people who have the most influence on Lexington and Central Kentucky was determined in a poll of readers of the Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com.
Archaeologists like Kim McBride of the University of Kentucky really dig Ashland, Henry Clay’s estate in Lexington. McBride has participated in a number of archaeological projects off Richmond Road, dating back to 1989. She led a group Friday as part of the 30th Annual Kentucky Heritage Council Archaeology Conference. “This is an area with a lot of springs and of course this was kind of an open savannah before Ashland was founded, but we have Native American artifacts probably from all the culture history periods. I don’t know if we have any paleo artifacts here,” said McBride.
While support is evident for a fund that finances low-income housing, Lexington’s council remains stuck over funding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The council is hung up over a proposed one percent increase in Lexington’s tax on insurance premiums. Among the city officials withholding support is Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. As part of the effort Gray’s willing to fund a city office that coordinates services for homeless people. However, he won’t support a tax increase until its details are ironed out.
The sounds of hammers and saws could ring out a little louder in the bluegrass in 2013. So says Chris Bollinger, Director for the Center of Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky. Bollinger looks for more residential construction over the next 12 months. “And I think we’re going to begin to see new construction. Housing starts are beginning to climb in Lexington as they are in Louisville and Cincinnati as well. And I think we’ll begin to see that new construction going in 2013. It will probably be 2014 before we really see the housing starts index for Lexington, Louisville, and Cincinnati return to their historic trends,” said Bollinger.
Changes are likely along a winding roadway in Jessamine County that connects Harrodsburg and Nicholasville roads. The Kentucky Transportation Department is beginning a review of just over three miles of Brannon Road. Department spokes woman Natasha Lacy says it’s still early in the process.
The Lexington-Fayette Health Department is making it easier to check the cleanliness and food safety practices at restaurants. Inspection scores are now available on the internet. The scores given some 15 hundred eating establishments by inspectors are now posted on the health department web site. But, Health Department Spokesman Kevin Hall says an eatery’s overall score is not the only number to look for.
Lexington is in the market for a new senior citizens center. The project’s been on the city’s wish list for years. The search for a site has begun. Lexington’s current Senior Citizens Center sits at the corner of Nicholasville road and Alumni Drive. It’s an active spot during most days. But, after three decades of wear and tear, city officials say modernizing it is not feasible. And, if Lexington builds a new center, Social Services Commissioner Beth Mills says it should be built to last.
After months of review and investigation, a final report from the mayor’s commission on homelessness was delivered to city hall Tuesday. 20 years ago, as a Lexington council member, Debra Hensley helped write a report which made similar recommendations. This time, Hensley, who also co-chaired this commission, has reason for optimism. “Having chaired a similar report in the 90’s which produced a report with many of today’s findings, like most of the other members I believe that this report holds the most promise of getting real results, if it is acted upon,” said Hensley