Stu Johnson

Reporter

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.

Ways to Connect

Al Cross

Longtime Kentucky political observer Al Cross gives a slight edge to Gov.Matt Bevin in Tuesday’s contest against Attorney General Andy Beshear. 

kentucky.com

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said she will recommend additional funding to address ongoing concerns at the Fayette County jail. 

Gorton updated council members this week on her fact-finding examination at the detention center. Gorton said she had made unannounced visits to the jail and had talked with staff.

“We have had difficulties for a long time out there, so what we’ve done in the past hasn’t worked.  So, we need to think creatively about other ways to fix these problems,” said Gorton.

Teams of nurses in Kentucky are providing the hepatitis A vaccine to jails, homeless shelters, and treatment centers in an effort to reach the people most at risk of becoming infected with the disease.

According to the Kentucky Department of Public Health, the teams have provided about 2,100 doses of the vaccine since April.

Lexington Police have recovered a large chunk of change, in fact, $1,452 in quarters.

Police say five people allegedly broke into coin operated air pumps the past several months to steal quarters. This past weekend, a police officer patrolling the Elkhorn Drive area observed a man taking money from the air machine at a Speedway gas station.

Creative Commons

Lexington police are now using specialized, on-site computer technology for analyzing bullet shell casings. Officers used to have to journey to Louisville to capture digital images of ballistic evidence to try and match with shell casings from other violent crimes. 

Stuart Lowrey is Special Agent in Charge of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Division in Louisville. He says the computers are making a big impact. 

Work continues tonight to demolish the old Newtown Pike Bridge which crosses New Circle Road in Lexington. It’s part of an overall $42.8 million roadway improvement project. State Transportation Department Spokeswoman Natasha Lacy says it would be best to avoid the Newtown Road area near New Circle tonight.  “Demolition work and lane closures will begin at 7:00 p.m. and there will be additional changes at 9:00 p.m. That includes the inner loop will close at 9:00. A left lane closure will start at 7:00 p.m. That will begin tonight,.”  said Lacy.

Stu Johnson

Students will have a safer passage from their dorms to their classes as Translyvania University has updated the pedestrian crossing on North Broadway.

University spokesperson Megan Moloney said that many of Transy’s 1,000 students cross the busy Lexington thoroughfare several times a day.

The new set up adds a flashing beacon of neon lights to catch the attention of both pedestrians and drivers.

“What we’ve found is that is not only safer for pedestrians on campus but also in getting the attention of drivers coming up on it," she said.

Wendy Barnett

Eastern Kentucky University celebrated National Farmers Market Week Thursday with three local groups joining together to offer fresh produce to the Richmond community.  The weekly summertime market at Eastern has grown just like the fruits and vegetables on display.

Bluegrass music sets the stage as shoppers make their way through the marketplace for National Farmers Market Week .

Stu Johnson

 

An early morning explosion at a Lexington UPS maintenance facility Wednesday sent eight people to the hospital and caused substantial damage to the building.  Authorities are working to pin down the cause of the blast.

With the Kentucky Derby less than two weeks away and the summer travel season approaching, state tourism officials are in full advertising mode right now.

 Now is the time to roll out the bluegrass carpet to visitors from far and near. Kentucky Travel and Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum  admits the Derby attracts visitors through tradition. But Branscum says the term “Kentucky Derby’ can benefit attractions three hours away from Louisville. And the state focus is on out of state visitors.

Eastern Kentucky University’s Board of Regent adopted a two-year, $25 million savings plan Friday.  It includes reducing Eastern’s workforce by about 140 jobs. Some of those jobs are currently vacant but 96 others will be cut. EKU President Michael Benson said the board faced a difficult task.

Stu Johnson

Kentucky lawmakers return to Frankfort later this morning to act on remaining bills including a possible vote on a two year spending plan.  Legislators from the House and Senate have been trying to reach consensus on the biennial budget.

When this discussion between House and Senate conferees began over a week ago there were some significant differences.  The House plan included calls for a 50 cent cigarette tax and a 25 cent levy on prescription opioids at the distribution level.  The senate backed plan didn’t include any tax increases.  

WMKY

A work group studying Kentucky’s prison system predicts additional incarceration costs totaling more than a half billion dollars over the next decade, if further legislative remedies aren’t pursued. 

The group projected that the inmate population increase 19 percent over those ten years.

The information compiled by the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council’s Justice Reinvestment Work Group puts the inmate growth at 4,400 in the next decade, if no substantial changes are made. 

LFUCG

With financial spending uncertainty ahead, the Lexington city council is considering setting aside more money in a contingency account.  One of the primary unknowns is how much the local government will need to spend following anticipated state pension reforms.

Finance and Administration Commissioner Bill O’Mara got council budget committee approval Tuesday for a $10 million budget stabilization reserve. 

Stu Johnson

Residents of Lexington and Fayette County will soon have a new option for cable television, Internet and even telephone service.

Mayor Jim Gray announced Tuesday that the community will soon be one of the nation’s only “Gigabit Cities.”    


wkms.org

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover has reached a confidential settlement over sexual harassment allegations made by a woman who works on his staff.

That's according to a report from the Louisville Courier Journal. The report claims the agreement was made last week after the leader of the House received a demand letter from the woman’s lawyer over allegations dating back to 2016. 

In keeping with tradition, the spring meet at Keeneland opens this weekend with the running of the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes. Seven three-year-olds are in the field for the Kentucky Derby prep race.

Kentucky.com

The state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control is implementing monthly alcohol serving classes across the state aimed at creating a consistent training schedule as the number of wet counties grows.

The Server Training in Alcohol Regulations or STAR classes are for ABC licensees and their employees.  Classes are intended for people who serve or sell alcoholic beverages.  They'll be held monthly at state park venues.  Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner Christine Trout said the training is not state mandated.

Ag.Ky.Gov

A controversial bill affecting the operation of the state attorney general's office won approval in the Kentucky House today and is expected to get a favorable reception as it moves to a vote in the Senate.

In addition to requiring the attorney general to explain why outside counsel is needed, the bill sets a cap at $20 million dollars that an attorney can recover in any given case. 

Providence Representative Jim Gooch said that can mean more dollars for taxpayers in large civil cases, “The more you have to pay one of these attorneys, the less money you’re going to get.”


Kentucky.com

The Kentucky House overwhelmingly approved anti-gang legislation today which that  to go after gang recruiters.  The measure, backed by a 91-3 vote would make gang recruitment a felony crime.  During floor debate the cost for additional prosecution and incarceration was estimated at $38 million. 

Lexington Representative Robert Benvenuti said cost of caring for hundreds of shooting victims runs hundreds of millions of dollars.

“What kind of a price tag should we put on the young men and women who are being slaughtered in our streets,” he said.

Whitneywesterfield.com

A Kentucky Senate panel voted Thursday for a bill supporting an effort to gather statistics on how minorities are treated in schools, juvenile courts and other institutions.

 

Officer.com

The Kentucky House Judiciary Committee has overwhelmingly approved legislation focused on reducing gang-related violence in the state.  

The bill makes recruitment of gang members a felony and defines a gang for criminal purposes as three or more people.  Current law sets the standard at five or more.  Louisville Assistant Police Chief Kim Kraeszig said last year 40 percent of a record number of homicides were under 26.  “Last year we had over 400 shootings.  We are losing so many lives in our community,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”

 

Legislation to remove the state entirely from regulating telecommunications firms like AT&T, Windstream, and Cincinnati Bell is moving to the full Kentucky Senate. 

The Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee Tuesday approved the deregulation bill.  

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