Enforcement of Lexington’s new scrap metal ordinance is underway. It officially began Saturday. The new law passed earlier this spring created regulations for buying, selling, and processing scrap metals. The aim is to curb the rise in metal thefts. A 30 day grace period for scrap metal dealers ended June 15th.
A portion of a one-time controversial road project in Lexington is near completion. Work to expand Clays Mill Road from two to three lanes should be wrapped up by month’s end. Keith Lovan with Lexington’s engineering department says the finished road will have two lanes of travel with a turn lane in the middle. “Travel lanes in each direction with the center lane to allow left turners to get out of the main line of the traffic…people that want to turn left can move into the center lane and turn into driveways and that way it doesn’t stop the traffic,” said Lovan.
The newly named dean of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering says his profession continues to broaden its scope. John Walz comes to UK from Virginia Polytechnic and State University where he headed chemical engineering. Walz takes over this fall for Tom Lester who is stepping down from the position he’s held since 1990. John Walz says chemical engineers used to be relegated to refineries and chemical plants. He says engineers reach into a lot of areas today.
For the 43rd time, Christian rock music will fill the air near Wilmore Kentucky this week. For decades the Ichthus (ICK-thoos) festival was staged just blocks from downtown Wilmore. Over the last decade, thousands have come to a hillside a few miles outside town. There is always a theme for the four day run of music, teaching, camping, and worshiping. Ichthus Chief Executive, Mark Vermillion says this year’s theme is ‘Live Love.’
Financial challenges for the country’s longest running Christian music festival haven’t slowed preparation for the summertime event. The 43rd Ichthus festival will be bustling outside Wilmore this time next week. But, there were concerns soon after last year’s festival that debt problems could silence the music. Ichthus C-E-O Mark Vermillion says a ‘quick fix’ is not expected. “We really believe it’s gonna be a couple of year process to get out of some of the debt..that we’ve had over the past couple of years…and we really don’t know fully how ticket sales are gonna line up,” said Vermillion.
A just released document called ‘A Community Guide to Reducing Obesity’ details local projects in 17 areas of the Commonwealth. Kentucky Obesity Prevention Program Coordinator, Elaine Russell says officials hope the guide will ‘jumpstart’ efforts in other communities. She says, in one central Kentucky town, a path was mowed for a walking trail, becoming what she calls a ‘traveling trail.’
Motorists across Kentucky are keen to the fact that when it comes to predicting gasoline prices, it is far from an exact science. It’s not unusual to find pump prices in one town 20 to 30 cents lower than in a community less than a half hour away. Petroleum Anaylst Patrick DeHaan with Gas Buddy dot com says sometimes several stations are owned by one retailer. “Sometimes we find these wild swings where some communities have raised their price to follow the leader and in areas where there is no leader prices might not necessarily rise that much,” said DeHaan.
State officials are reminding citizens across the commonwealth to be vigilant in efforts to reduce elder abuse. The main message is to immediately report suspected abuse or neglect. Recent research indicates as few as one in 24 cases of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are reported. Steven Fisher, manager of the Adult Safety Branch says it is ‘largely a hidden problem.’ The state received more than 61 thousand reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people 60 and above in fiscal year 2011. Signs of neglect include obvious malnutrition, hoarding, and bedsores. Friday marks the seventh annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The decline in the number of dairy farms continues in Kentucky. A decade ago, State Dairy Marketing Specialist Eunice Schlappi says the Commonwealth had about two thousand dairy farms. Schlappi says that number is down to about 850 today. “Much of that is due to the fluctuation of milk prices..the higher cost of inputs…and also the next generation not wanting to stay on the farm because of the hours involved..the returns,” said Schlappi.
As Kentucky American Water expands its business, there should be little impact on customers in Lexington. But, by serving new communities, company president Cheryl Norton thinks they can better hold prices steady. “It’s unlikely that they would go down..what we would hope to do is stabilize the rates..because we continue to invest 20 to 25 million dollars each year in renewing the infrastructure that’s already in the ground..so there’s a continual investment which drives additional rates,” said Norton.
A meeting this afternoon at Eastern Kentucky University will include an update on Chemical Weapons Destruction at the Bluegrass Army Depot. Work continues on the chemical agent destruction pilot plant on the depot grounds in Madison County. The meeting of the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens Advisory Commission and Chemical Destruction Community Advisory Board gets underway at 1:30 in E-K-U’s Perkins Building.
Lexington city officials are expected to approve a 290 million dollar budget next week. Final modifications were made Tuesday at city hall. In the past, previous mayors and councils have not always seen eye to eye about spending priorities. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray says he and the council worked well together. He doesn’t anticipate any vetoes. “This year the work with the council between the administration and the council was very effective work and I feel going forward that the budget that the council is adopting is a budget that the administration, once we review, will be good with it,” said Gray.
The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents has approved a 235 million dollar budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The operating budget amount is about one percent higher than a year ago. State appropriations for Eastern decreased six point four percent. The budget does not include an across the board salary increase for faculty and staff. It incorporates a five percent tuition increase for undergraduates in Kentucky.
A man with years of experience on Lexington’s Urban County Council predicts their vote on a new city budget should be less stressful. A year ago, the council approved worker layoffs and fee increases. This year, council member Bill Farmer says that’s not the case. “We really took our medicine last year and got rid of empty positions, got rid of a few positions with people in them..raised some of the fees and things around health care and the government and its employees and re-organized government a little bit,” said Farmer.
The Kentucky Horse Council has finished the first phase of a horse show facility listing data base. The database, available through the Kentucky Horse Council, lists both public and private facilities which are available for public rental. K-H-C Competition Committee chair, Margie Loeser says, “We hope this encourages more local, grassroots horse shows, as well as facilitates the on-going success of established sanctioned shows.”
Lexington police are seeing an increase in heroin abuse. Michele Young heads the department’s special investigations unit, which includes narcotics enforcement. She says heroin reappeared consistently last fall. Prior to that, Young says they saw only one heroin-related offense within a seven month period. The police lieutenant says a crackdown on prescription drug abuse could have some users shifting to heroin. “Once the pills started officially now going up in price..obviously to get that same high..they’re gonna switch to heroin which is much cheaper,” said Young.
The singing and picking starts well before the first band hits the stage. Almost four decades ago, coordinator Roy ‘Miller’ Cornett’s grandparents got the festival going. Cornett admits, though, much of the entertainment can be found off-stage. “To be completely honest, the best music out here at the Festival of the Bluegrass is not on the main stage…the best music that takes place out here is what happens in the campground and the people that are sitting around their campfire playing until four o clock in the morning,” said Cornett.
Lexington’s mayor is convinced a waterfront could someday greet downtown visitors. Jim Gray was among a group of community leaders just back from a Commerce Lexington trip to San Antonio. “A lot of people came back from San Antonio thinking , ‘hey’, this town branch idea, is viable,” said Gray. The San Antonio River Walk is known for its entertainment, restaurants, and shops. Gray says Lexington’s town branch creek offers such an opportunity to enhance the quality of life locally.
The future of a facility that serves Lexington’s homeless residents could be decided Friday at city hall. The city’s Board of Adjustments could revoke a permit for the Community Inn. Some neighbors worry it poses a threat to children who live near the overnight shelter. Rick Foster stays at the Community Inn. “A pedaphile or anyone who would be a sexual predator could be anywhere, anytime. I’m sure there are plenty of them that live in homes. It’s not just the homeless community…I really felt it’s injustice to the church itself….they definitely are a church,” said Foster.
A piece of land on the far end of Eastern Kentucky University’s Richmond campus may become a new home for native plants and animals. It’s becoming an outdoor classroom for EKU students….It’s a beaten down grassy path which winds behind EKU’s law enforcement complex and onto the Taylor Fork Ecological Project site. Just inside the large gate, the landscape changes. The land is clear with room for a picnic table. A sign outlines an interpretive trail, and there’s a boot scrubber. David Brown is a Biology Sciences professor at Eastern. “A lot of natural areas have something that so that when you enter it, you scrape your feet and if you’re carrying seeds or burrs or whatever, you leave them behind,” said Brown.
Getting more milk out of dairy cows might mean lengthening their productive lives. But, a dairy specialist at the University of Kentucky says more attention today centers on ‘longevity.’ Jeffrey Bewley says a cow typically lives about five or six years and, if healthy, produces three calves. “We’re shifting more toward research focused on improving longevity, improving the well being of the animal, improving the health of the animal, reproductive performance. So, there’s a lot more work in those areas than there is on just increasing milk production,” said Bewley.
Efforts to attract private donations for public projects continue to build steam. The Endowed Kentucky Program and Commission were established in 20-10 by the general assembly. The aim is to increase philanthropic activity across the Commonwealth. For example, Department for Local Government Commissioner Tony Wilder says they’re seeking inheritance for projects…such as parks, education and the arts.
The Lexington Herald reports this morning layoff notices are going out to some University of Kentucky employees. UK spokesman Jay Blanton says administrators are gathering information from individual departments. He’s not speculating on how many people will face layoffs. In an e-mail to UK employees, President Eli Capilouto said the school has been cut 50 million dollars in state funding since 2007.
Kentucky’s new commissioner for the State Department of Travel and Tourism is charged with expanding tourism by while landing new attractions. Mike Mangeot returns to a position in state tourism. About ten years ago, the 45 year old economic development specialist served as deputy commissioner of the Department of Travel. He wants to assess current conditions before making any firm suggestions, but, Mangeot sees opportunity across Kentucky.
A Lexington state representative with a history of tax reform interest says the current panel studying the issue is quite different in its makeup. Bill Farmer was one of four guests on K-E-T’S Kentucky Tonight Monday. The veteran lawmaker says tax professionals are not a key part of the process.. “When they set up this commission, they specifically left out all practicing attorneys all practicing accountants..so they could have people outside the industries that are most affected by the tax laws..and I think what he wanted was a truly citizen based group of stakeholders who are at a level where they can articulate the needs of the specific constituencies that they represent,” said Farmer.
Two key components to a healthy lifestyle can be found in what we eat and how we exercise. The “eating” part of that formula is an issue at least three times a day. Vegetarian cooking has long been regarded as a step in the right direction. In some cultures, such culinary thinking goes back thousands of years. Suhasina Bhapkar and her assistant work under a mirror as they prepare a meal at the Fayette County Extension office… “A little, that’s a potato..add some mustard seed….it’s called peppery..in hindi..it’s called durkah,” said Bhapkar.
It’s ‘Adopt a Highway Summer Scrub Week across Kentucky. This week, volunteers are working to pick up litter and other garbage along miles of roadway. Natasha Lacy with the state transportation department says the need is much greater than the number of volunteers currently. “The need is always there..we focus on about 26 thousand miles of state primary…state secondary supplementary and rural secondary roads. And we certainly have more portions of highway that we can give volunteers groups to adopt for the litter pick up,” said Lacy.
More than a hundred people have volunteered to join a brand new commission on homelessness in Lexington. Members of the Mayor’s Commission are expected to be named this month. Laura Connell with the Lexington Rescue Mission hopes homeless people will have a significant voice on the commission.
Kentucky now has a law which clarifies the types of nuclear based technologies allowed in the commonwealth. The legislation was signed into law Thursday by Governor Beshear. It permits nuclear related industries to exist in Kentucky as long as electricity generated is not the primary aim. The house bill allows industry development for nuclear assisted coal or gas conversion where electricity is not the primary output. It also clears the way for re-enrichment of depleted nuclear tails, recycling or reprocessing of spent nuclear fuels and the processing of metals contaminated with radioactive materials.
A call for volunteers to examine homelessness issues in Lexington has produced a great deal of interest. 114 people have offered to service on the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness. Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, says ‘It’s encouraging to have so many interested in serving on the Commission. ‘ She adds, “ It will also mean we will be adjusting the appointment schedule. This is a complex issue. We need experienced citizens around the problem solving table, working to find the best solutions for everyone.”