A healthy year for coal companies is an economic boon for many Kentucky counties. Higher than expected mining permit and acreage fees this year means nearly three dozen counties will share more than 612-thousand dollars in state refunds. Breathitt County gets almost 47-thousand. Judge Executive Jason Richardson already has plans for the money.
The small, central Kentucky town of Berea has long had a reputation as a progressive community. Berea College was among the first southern schools to open its doors to women and African Americans. But as WEKU’S Ron Smith reports, recent intolerance raises questions about the town’s commitment to its ideals.
An interracial couple in Berea says they’re overwhelmed by community support since they were victimized by a hate crime two weeks ago. Melanie Stamper, who is white, and her African-American boyfriend, Damon Dunson, awoke to find their vehicles spray painted with racial slurs. Stamper says she’s been surprised by the response.
A national survey measuring horse racing bettors' satisfactions with their tracks puts all Kentucky thoroughbred tracks in the top 20 nationally with Keeneland and Churchill Downs capturing the top two spots. Ellis Park was seventh and Turfway Park was eighth.
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.
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.
The inaugural season at Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for the Arts is packed with popular performers and entertainment. The lineup of about dozen acts was released Friday. Among the performers are public radio’s Garrison Keiller, country icon Willie Nelson and soul music queen Aretha Franklin. Center executive director Debra Hoskins is pleased with the way things have fallen into place, especially since she was hired only five months ago.
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.
Visually impaired Kentuckians face obvious obstacles. Adding to the potential problems is access to technology and transportation. Cora McNabb of the state Office for the Blind says they’re likely to re-appear on the next needs assessment.
Fewer dollars for law enforcement means fewer drunk driving arrests in Madison County. In 2006, when Richmond police were working with a $70,000 federal grant, officers made 409 DUI arrests. The tally so far this fiscal year, with only $29,000 available, is 169 arrests. Major Bob Mott says it’s a simple matter of economics. “When you have a 70 officer base and you lose 15 officers, that’s a significant amount, and obviously when you lose a significant of folks trying to enforce and look for DUI’s, it’s going to have a toll on your numbers, and that’s what we’re seeing”, said Mott.
The authors of a new study are calling for major changes in hospital residency programs. An article published in the latest online journal Nature and Science of Sleep says resident fatigue, overwork and lack of supervision lead to serious, preventable medical errors. One recommendation is that all medical residents should work no more than 16 hours without sleep. The recommendations are not new but critics say they haven’t been implemented. But change is not easy, according Dr. Kevin Kavanaugh of Somerset. The longtime proponent of healthcare reform says any changes must be made carefully.
You’re familiar with the term D-U-I, which means driving under the influence. On water, the violation is known as B-U-I, or boating under the influence. Captain Mike Fields of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife says an effort next weekend stresses safety on the state’s waterways.
Many Americans Thursday left their car keys, and their cars, at home and took advantage of public transportation. It’s national “Dump the Pump Day.” Its purpose is to show commuters there are alternatives to driving and high gas prices. Melissa Gross with Richmond Transit says ridership on the four year-old bus system continues to pick up.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky questions a proposed hospital merger announced this week. The partnership involves University of Louisville Hospital, Jewish Hospital and Lexington’s Saint Joseph Health System. Catholic Health Initiatives is giving $320 million to support the new network. A Health Initiative spokesman says the system will not provide reproductive health services that are inconsistent with the church’s ethical and religious directives.
Off-campus problems involving college students are well documented; rowdy parties, excessive noise and illegal parking. The head of an organization that works to improve relations between universities and their host communities contends their relationships are improving. Kim Griffo of the International Town and Gown Association says it’s in the interest of all parties to talk-out their differences.
After cool temperatures and near-record rainfall in April, Kentuckians must now deal with scant rainfall and near-record heat. Health officials across the Commonwealth are warning of the potential risks of heat stroke and exhaustion. Madison County Health Department spokeswoman Christie Green says the elderly, especially those seniors with chronic diseases, are vulnerable.
Eastern Kentucky University employees are getting their first pay raise in three years. The hike is included in the 2011-12 budget approved Tuesday by the EKU Board of Regents. The salary increase will not be less than 500 dollars for any full-time employee. The budget of more than 233 million dollars is an increase of 6-point-9 percent over the previous year. It includes a 5 percent tuition increase for undergraduates and graduate students, with certain exceptions. The general increase had been approved earlier. The Board approved resident tuition rates for non-resident military veterans and a $60-per-credit hour rate for EKU Now! students.
Even if Kentuckians stay close to home this summer, they’ll still need to eat. For those travellers on “stay-cation,” Bowling Green author Gary West advises them not to judge restaurants by their cover.“You go into a lot of these places for the nostalgia, for the ambience, just for the atmosphere. I mean, you might go by some of them and they might have an old, rusty sign out front, but that parking lot would be absolutely packed with people,” says West.
Looking ways to save energy and money, the City of Berea has joined in an Energy Cost Savings Plan. The project is a collaboration of Berea city government, the Kentucky Environmental Foundation and Sustainable Berea. Mayor Steve Connelly says rising gasoline prices justify a change.