Long lines are likely at Eastern Kentucky University tomorrow evening during a visit by America’s First Lady. Michelle Obama addresses some 600 Eastern Kentucky University graduates, families and friends. "You’ll not be able to bring bottled water, an umbrella, items like pocket knives as those items will have to be disposed of as you’re coming into the building,” said EKU spokesman Marc Whitt.
Kentucky businesses, both large and small, are running out of time to prepare for new federal health care regulations. In just over seven months, the so called ‘pay or play’ provision kicks in. Starting next year, employers with more than 50 workers are required to provide health insurance coverage or risk penalties. Kentucky health care lawyer Vicki Yates Brown says such a policy may not result in immediate employee reductions. But, she says it could impact future hiring.
By early summer, an increased number of food trucks could be noticeable in downtown Lexington. But, their impact on the food scene remains uncertain. After much wrangling, a panel created by the city last week made recommendations. For the first time, they would allow food trucks in some metered parking spots during dayight. After ten p-m until three in the morning, the vendors could set up shop in any downtown, public metered area. There are other restrictions. The food trucks couldn’t operate within 100 feet of a residential area, and could occupy not more than half of the available metered spots.
The Kentucky Derby victory by ‘Orb’ represents yet another feather in the Commonwealth’s horse breeding hat. The central Kentucky Thoroughbred, which ran down several horses in the stretch at Churchill Downs, is expected to compete in the Preakness on May 18th. Kentucky Thoroughbred Association Director David Switzer says Bluegrass bred horses are on quite a run. “The past 22 triple crown races have been won by a Kentucky bred. It was 21 going into Saturday and Orb being a Kentucky bred made it 22. We are hoping for 23 and 24 with this horse coming up yet,” said Switzer.
Even locally-grown and organic produce impact the environment. Researchers at the University of Kentucky are working up a method for measuring those impacts. U-K Sustainable Agriculture Extension Specialist Lee Meyer says they want to fully understand farming’s impact on the quality of air, soil and water quality.
For the first time, a Lexus vehicle will be produced in the United States and it will be made at the Georgetown Toyota plant. The formal announcement came this morning from officials in New York and Scott County. Governor Beshear says it means 750 new Kentucky jobs at Toyota. “We realize the care and the pride that you take in that vehicle and that it requires the utmost in a skilled workforce, not to mention top quality components. Your confidence in the quality of Kentucky’s workers, especially our team here in Georgetown is appreciated and well placed,” said Beshear.
Her personality, the times and her background gave Mary Todd Lincoln a place in history and made her one of the more controversial first ladies to occupy the White House. The Lexington native is the subject of a documentary airing Monday on C-Span. Producer Mark Farkas says his documentary fills gaps left by Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster film “Lincoln.” Reporter Stu Johnson spoke with Farkas.
After selecting new president, regents watch video introducing Dr. Michael Benson to EKU.
Eastern Kentucky University’s next president sees fundraising as a key priority. Dr. Michael Benson, who’s currently president of Southern Utah University, says private contributions may be the best way to advance a science building under construction at Eastern.
One of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings comes to life the next couple of days in a Versailles church. It’s a play called ‘The Living Lord’s Supper.’ Director Linda Roscoe says actors depicting Jesus and his disciples take a turn in front of the table. “They drop pose and they step out of the painting. So, many of them get up from the table, come around to the front of the table and then they tell how they came to know Christ and their relationship with him and some of the other disciples sitting at the table,” said Roscoe.
Typical Spring like temperatures are arriving late in the bluegrass. That could impact the timeline for allergy sufferers this year. Beth Miller, Chair of UK’s Division of Allergy-Immunology, says last year’s early warmth followed by a freeze cut short the tree pollen season. She says a late start for warmer temperatures could mean a longer life for tree pollen. “If we want a good pollen season as far as high pollen counts, better to have a late start with a continued warm trend than have a cold spell in the middle of the spring,” said Miller.
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.
The naming of a new Pope this week brings with it questions about how he will lead the Catholic Church. Bishop Ronald Gainer, head of the Diocese of Lexington, doesn’t look for any change in doctrinal teachings. He says issues like the ordination of women, allowing priests to marry, or contraception are not up for debate.
The state is offering a new program to educate and train skilled minority and female workers for careers in construction. ‘Bridges to Opportunities’ is a training program aimed at filling a need for women and minority workers in the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges project. Governor Beshear notes the Ohio River Bridges will be finished in a few years. He adds ‘those who complete our program will be armed with the skills for a lifetime career.’
Along with pressing issues like State pensions, tax reform, or Medicaid managed care, come some lighter matters at the capital. The Kentucky Senate is considering a bill to declare Clark County as the birthplace of ‘beer cheese.’ Clark County Senator R.J. Palmer testified to the economics of beer cheese in her community. “We had six thousand people in Winchester Kentucky for a beer cheese festival. Six thousand people on Main Street in Winchester. We’ve got time to do these things while we’re here,” said Palmer.
Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of severe weather which took the lives of many Kentuckians and caused millions of dollars in structural damage. The March second, 2012 tornadoes caused vast devastation with the bulk of the damage in communities like West Liberty, Salyersville, East Bernstadt, and Piner. Statewide, 25 people were killed and more than 45 hundred homes impacted. 671 of those houses were destroyed.
In any given week, three to five burn patients could be treated at the University of Kentucky Hospital. About half of the injuries in young children are typically ‘scald burns. A ‘scald burn’ can happen in just a matter of seconds. University of Kentucky Burn Unit Director Leslie Wong says many children are injured after pulling a hot liquid down off a counter.
A plan to cut Eastern Kentucky University’s budget by ten percent carries with it some expected employee layoffs. The explanation about the budget alteration came in an email from Eastern President Doug Whitlock to faculty and staff. Whitlock says about 75 percent of the Richmond school’s budget covers employee salaries and benefits. In meeting the directive of the board to make a ten percent cut, the Eastern President says forced layoffs are possible.
A new ‘green’ Capital Education Center is now open. The former heating and cooling facility had been dormant until its renovation into a visitors’ destination. Governor Beshear says more than 60 thousand students, teachers, and other guests visit the Capital Campus each year. He says ‘the building will serve as an outstanding resource to promote energy efficiency, sustainability, and more.’ The building is insulated wit recycled denim and features a viewing platform on the roof wit solar panels, a wind turbine, and a rooftop garden.
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.
Two Magoffin County officials are being honored for their response to a tornado event in southeast Kentucky almost a year ago. County Judge Executive Charles Hardin and Emergency Management Director Mike Wilson are recipients of the StormReady Community Hero Award. Wilson alerted Hardin of the impending tornado heading toward Salyersville. Jackson National Weather Service meteorologist Shawn Harley says the county judge made door to door visits along highway 460.
A much anticipated report on homelessness in Lexington is due out Tuesday. The report, which was composed by members of a Mayor’s Commission, will include strategies meant to reduce the number of homeless people. Commission Co-Chair Steve Kay says they hope to find funding, increase the number of affordable residences, and improve services available to people who could lose their homes.
Within a few weeks, the Kentucky General Assembly could modify the new ‘Pill Mill’ law. It was intended to help crack down on improperly run pain clinics, but some health care professionals complain it’s too cumbersome. Dave Hopkins, who oversees the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, agrees one of the law’s provisions is probably not necessary.
The aim for the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels will be to bounce back this week. E-K-U lost its first home game of the season Saturday to league leading Belmont 85 to 74. This Thursday Eastern travels to UT-Martin. The University of Kentucky Wildcats got a five point win over L-S-U Saturday. This Tuesday night UK takes on the SEC leader Mississippi in Oxford. University of Louisville dropped its third straight game, losing to Georgetown 53-51 over the weekend. U of L hosts Pittsburg tonight.
Low wage earning Kentuckians are again being urged to file for federal earned income tax credits. The plea came today/Friday from Governor Beshear in Lexington and Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson in Louisville. West Liberty resident Zach Engle got married, bought a home, and then lost his job a year ago. He was a tax credit beneficiary turned financial coach. “My wife and I just recently celebrated our one year anniversary. I have a job that I enjoy going to every day and I jumped at the opportunity given to me by my wonderful supervisor to become a vita volunteer tax preparer, giving me a chance to truly pay it forward,” said Engle.