Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

KPR Reporter

Brenna Angel is a reporter/producer and a newscaster at WUKY Radio, in Lexington, KY.  WUKY is one of seven public radio stations in the Kentucky Public Radio partnership.

State officials say a bipartisan measure passed by the General Assembly this spring is making an impact on the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.  The legislation known as House Bill 1 established tougher regulations of clinics that prescribe controlled substances such as Oxycontin and other pain killers. Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that entrepreneurs are already taking notice.

KU, LG&E Seek Rate Increase

Jun 8, 2012

Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas and Electric will request a rate increase later this month from the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The company is proposing an increase of about seven percent for both electric and gas base rates. If it’s approved, it will raise the typical residential customer’s bill by about $10.65 per month beginning next year.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the number of babies born in the U.S. going through opiate withdrawal has tripled over the past ten years. It follows a trend of skyrocketing prescription drug abuse.

The head of Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport is predicting that US Airways will eventually acquire the struggling American Airlines, and he’s not looking forward to that merger. American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in November. Eric Frankl, executive director at Blue Grass Airport, says a deal between American and US Airways may have a negative impact on central Kentucky travelers.

As the University of Kentucky deals with a 6.4 % budget cut for the upcoming fiscal year, a steering committee is looking at different models for developing a spending plan. Like many colleges and universities, UK has an incremental budgeting model.  The current fiscal plan is used as a base, with the budget adjusted up or down from year to year. That model depends on stable funding, which hasn’t been the case for Kentucky.

It may not be the most stunning trophy in the sports world, but the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team isn’t shy about showing off its national championship trophy. Over the past month the wood and gold-plated trophy has been kissed by the players, sat in the Cincinnati Reds dugout, and this week a Lexington baker even made a cake that looks like the trophy. It's made stops across the state from Ashland to Paducah.

(Photo by Shannon Brinkman courtesy USEF)

$250,000 in prize money, a Rolex watch, and pride aren't the only things at stake during the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event underway at the Kentucky Horse Park this weekend.  Equestrians will also be trying to earn a spot on their country’s Olympic team. Thousands of spectators are at the horse park to take in some world-class dressage, cross-country, and show jumping at Rolex Kentucky.

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.

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.

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.

Thousands of Lexington middle schoolers are putting their sneakers to work over the next six weeks as they participate in World Fit, a fitness program started by Olympians to reduce childhood obesity.  This year 11 of Fayette County Public Schools' 12 middle schools are taking part.

More than two acres of land at the northern part of Lexington’s Legacy Trail near Spindletop Hall and Iron Works Pike is the site of this year’s Reforest the Bluegrass. Organizers announced details of the community tree planting event Wednesday. City arborist technician John Saylor says planting the trees will reduce overall maintenance along the trail and prevent pollution from getting into the nearby Cane Run Creek.

Thousands of UK fans will be packed into Rupp Arena this afternoon for a celebration of the men’s basketball teaming winning the NCAA title. Think of it as a mini version of Big Blue Madness. More than 20,000 people got free tickets to the Kentucky celebration at Rupp Arena this afternoon, including Richie Donworth.“My wife is an insane UK fan so I’m surprising her with these for later.”

Brenna Angel, WUKY

Perfect timing. A day after winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, a larger-than-life bronze wildcat sculpture was installed at the University of Kentucky campus. “It takes into some attributes that were considered important by the university and the alumni, specifically sort of a grace and cunningness, and an intelligence in its appearance, but also that they wanted it sort of in motion,” says artist Matthew Palmer.

Decay and vandalism have finally taken their toll on a 200-year-old yellow poplar in Woodland Park. The city hired Big Beaver Tree Service to cut it down this week. Owner Ian Hoffman estimates the poplar was about 90-100 feet tall. “At the base you can look right at it and see the base is rotted out. And that’s where they set the fire too,” says Hoffman.

"This is CentrePointe’s time," architect Rick Ekhoff told the Courthouse Area Design Review Board Wednesday as he provided updates of the proposed downtown Lexington skyscraper. CentrePointe was first launched by the Webb Companies several years ago but financing fell through and the project never developed strong public support. Ekhoff says the hotel, retail, and residential concept is now poised for success.

A Lexington company has agreed to pay nearly $700,000 to the U.S. government to settle civil allegations of Medicare fraud.The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky announced the settlement Tuesday with Hospice of the Bluegrass. From January 2002 to December 2008, Hospice submitted Medicare reimbursement claims for services performed on patients who did not qualify for Medicare.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer presented his Lexington counterpart with a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon today as part of a friendly wager on who will win the Final Four matchup between U of L and UK. Fischer says Lexington Mayor Jim Gray needs to brace himself for a loss in New Orleans. “I think later this week you all need to be focused on starting to medicate yourself because there’s going to be a huge disappointment in Catland come Saturday.”

Before the home of the UK mens’ basketball team can get a complete makeover, city leaders need to figure how to pay for the project. Brent Rice, chairman of the Rupp Arena task force, discussed possibilities Friday morning at a Commerce Lexington event. “I’m gonna stick my neck how here, but I really think this project is doable,” Rice told the crowd.

Police officers in Lexington are using an online tool to keep track of crime trends across the city, and the information is also available to the public. RAIDS Online is a free service that pinpoints where crimes occurred on a map. Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts says users can narrow the search to a specific type of crime or to a specific neighborhood.

Photo by Kentucky Protection & Advocacy

A state agency that serves as a watchdog for people with disabilities says the Commonwealth is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing people with mental illnesses in personal care homes. A personal care home is a long-term care facility for residents who do not need intensive care but do require more than just room and board. There are more than 6,000 personal care home beds in Kentucky. A report issued this week by Kentucky Protection and Advocacy found that people in these facilities are not given opportunities to interact with others or be part of the community.

The executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park is anticipating one of the “best years ever” for the sprawling tourist attraction, despite significant financial hurdles. This week the park returned to its regular operating hours for the spring and summer.  Ryan Yates and his family were visiting Friday from Collierville, Tennessee. “It’s neat to see the different breeds that we don’t typically see in our part of the country.”

The barber shop near the corner of Euclid and Woodland Avenues in Lexington is like most barber shops, offering men’s haircuts, beard trimming, straight razor shaves. But the atmosphere owner Ryan Lykins has created is a lot like a sports bar. Lykins and his wife Cassandra own Kentucky Wildcuts Barber Shop, a business they opened about three years ago.“We thought about naming it just Wildcuts. And we thought well if we can put the Kentucky in front, they won’t think it’s just crazy haircuts; they’ll know it’s a play off the university.”

Kentucky lawmakers are at odds about the effectiveness of anti-bullying legislation that took effect in 2008. A proposal meant to strengthen the law failed in a state legislative committee Tuesday. Lawmakers in the House Education Committee heard testimony from friends and family members of bullying victims. Despite the bullying law, they say children are still tormented and harassed at school.

They may be a few years away from graduation, but Kentucky 8th and 10th graders are already thinking about life after high school.  Sophomores made their way to the library at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester Monday. This week thousands of students across the state are sitting down with community volunteers to talk about career aspirations, and what it will take to meet those goals. The program is called Operation Preparation.

A local mega-church’s plan to fill in most of a pond along Richmond Road got the approval of the Lexington Planning Commission Thursday, despite a recommendation from the city’s planning department to postpone that part of the project.vSouthland Christian Church is building a new campus at the site of the former Lexington Mall. 

It’s been 12 months since embattled Lexington fire chief Robert Hendricks has reported for duty, but he still wants a job with the city. Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, says the chief filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Robert Hendricks has claimed that he’s covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s a federal law. Under that law, the city would be required to determine whether there’s an appropriate position for him.”

City officials have reached a contract agreement with Greater Cincinnati Water Works to provide billing and collection services for Lexington's sewer, landfill, and water quality fees. Those fees are currently tacked on to monthly water bills, but Kentucky American Water decided last fall to end its long-standing billing contract with the city. That means that  about 115,000 accounts will start receiving a separate bill for the Lexington fees beginning in September.

A state employee with 30 years of public safety experience has been named the new director of Lexington’s Division of Community Corrections. The selection of Rodney Ballard was announced Tuesday morning. He currently serves as a Deputy Commissioner in the Kentucky Department of Corrections and previously worked at a jail in northern Kentucky and for state police.

UK Healthcare

Doctors in Lexington have successfully implanted an artificial heart, marking the first time the procedure was performed in Kentucky. The SynCardia Freedom Driver beats a steady rhythm that’s keeping 20-year-old Zack Poe alive. It powers the Total Artificial Heart doctors implanted in February. “The device is a polyurethane device. It has two pumps, each driven by its own drive line, and it has four mechanical valves," says Dr. Mark Plunkett, chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Kentucky.