Saturday, November 07, 2009


Kentucky Officials Say Coal Is Ky.'s Future

For a long time in Kentucky there has been major thought given to economic development, but many residents remain unsure if foreign investments are the answers to the state's prosperity or economic future. There are at least some who believe in large-scale out of state, or sometimes out of country, industries and then there are those who believe small businesses are the answers to Kentucky's future growth. Some officials say coal should not only be a boost in Kentucky but should also provide clean energy for the world. Some who attended the coal forum at the University of Kentucky this weekend say clean coal technology will help the state go green, while helping the nation. State Representative Rocky Adkins says Kentucky has an unbelievable opportunity to be the national and international leader in the energy field.


Ky. Colleges Seek Funding

On Friday, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education unanimously signed off on sending a request to Governor Steve Beshear for a proposed collective 4.6% budget increase in state funding next year for Kentucky's public colleges and universities. The request includes a $25 million wish list for academic programs. Seventy million dollars in federal stimulus funding was used this year to avoid cuts in the universities' state funding, but the federal stimulus funding goes away in fiscal year 2012, leaving leaders of eight public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System hoping the state can at least keep its current $1 billion-a-year committment to higher education.


Ky. Retirement System Reports Lesser Shortfall

Kentucky legislators passed a bill in the summer of 2008 which put the state on a twenty year timeline to get state pension systems back to full funding. A recently released report shows the multi-million dollar shortfall facing the state employee pension plan is about $1.1 billion less than retirement experts forecast, meaning a smaller amount of money for retired public employees' pension and health care would be required from the General Fund the next two years. But, the 2010 legislature will be asked to increase the General Fund contribution to the retirement plans by at least $74 million in the next two year budget.


Kentucky Focuses On Prison Food

While testifying before the Interim Judiciary Committee Friday, Northpoint Training Center Corrections Officer Matt Hughes told committee members the August 21st. riot was prompted by inmates who were upset over inadequate food being served. Hughes said, "The food was slop." State Corrections officials say, as early as this week, they will issue a report based on a Kentucky State Police investigation. State Representative Brent Yonts has filed a bill that would cancel a $12 million annual contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services. Yonts says problems with food exist at state prisons all over Kentucky.


Ky. Legislator Urges Domestic Violence Protection

About 11,000 domestic violence orders are issued in Kentucky each year. In an effort to protect domestic violence victims, House Speaker Greg Stumbo filed the Amanda Bill and is hoping to change state law when the General Assembly session begins in January. Stumbo told a legislative panel Friday that, if Kentucky had a law on the books to allow judges to order electronic monitoring devices for the most dangerous offenders, 29 year old Amanda Ross would have had a better chance to protect herself before being gunned down in the early morning hours of September 11th. While there's no guaranteed protection from domestic violence, Stumbo says monitoring devices would alert potential victims of imminent danger by sending a signal when offenders are near.


Letcher County Killer Denied Parole

Earlier this week, the Kentucky Parole Board denied parole for confessed notorius Letcher County murderer, 51 year old Donald Terry Bartley. Bartley of Evarts (Harlan County) was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the August 1985 murder of 23 year old Tammy Dee Acker and robbery and attempted murder of her father, 79 year old Roscoe J. Acker of Fleming Neon. Bartley pleaded guilty in 1987 and testified he and death row inmates Roger Epperson and Benny Lee Hodge fatally stabbed Tammy Acker after robbing Dr. Roscoe Acker's bedside safe of $1.9 million.


W. Va. Continues To Celebrate Second Energy Star Holiday

West Virginians still have time to take advantage of the state's second Energy Star sales tax holiday while fixing up their homes or maybe preparing to leave a big, energy saving product under the Christmas tree or to help with that Thanksgiving turkey. Participants have until Monday, November 30th. to purchase certain qualified products without being subjected to sales and use taxes on items if they're valued at $5,000 or less, have earned the Energy Star label and are intended for noncommercial home or personal use. The holiday legislation was introduced by Governor Joe Manchin in 2008, and the idea was supported by the West Virginia Legislature. Funding came when Attorney General Darrell McGraw's Office successfully litigated against two credit card companies on behalf of West Virginia consumers.


Work Release Escapee Captured

A Mount Olive inmate who escaped on October 26th. from a minimum security work release camp was captured by State Police in Boone County and Boone County Sheriff's deputies. Acting upon information from family members and the discovery of a stolen van, authorities tracked down Kenneth Hager in a wooded area in Gordon, where Hager said he had been staying in the mountains. Police are continuing to search for William Cline, who escaped with Hager.


Sentence Reduced For W. Va. Abductor

Retired U.S. Marine Captain Michael Brown of McKavett, Texas, was convicted of felony attempt to commit kidnapping and misdemeanor petit larceny after being indicted in January 2006 on more serious charges of kidnapping and grand larceny. Brown entered Kennedy pleas to charges that, while portraying himself as a police officer, he abducted 19 year old Lui Jin, a Cabell-Midland High School student, from the Milton Flea Market on October 2, 2005. The girl escaped from his vehicle when he stopped at a manufactured homes business in Quincy, West Virginia. Brown was sentenced to three years probation, two to be served on home confinement, and he agreed to pay restitution and court costs after being accused of stealing collector coins from Jin's father. Home confinement does not exist in Brown's hometown.


W. Va. Annual Medical Conference Set

The annual conference for the largest medical meeting in the state of West Virginia is scheduled to return to Huntington this coming Friday, November 13th. and run through Sunday, November 15th., while being hosted by the Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia at the Pullman Plaza Hotel. More than 1,300 people are expected to attend as medical professionals, business leaders, students and the public come together to hear renowned and local speakers educate physicians and health care professionals on 27 different medical topics. Troy Brown, former wide receiver for the New England Patriots, will be this year's sports celebrity speaker. Speakers will also include Dr. David Doman, Doctor of the Year in Washington, D.C., along with other well known doctors who will cover subjects from exercise to depression, thyroid disorders and Hepatitis, among other things.


W. Va. Police Departments Receive Awards

In recognition of their participation in a nationwide Community Traffic Safety Program, five West Virginia Police Departments, Ceredo, Huntington, Point Pleasant and State Police posts in Huntington and Ripley, were presented AAA's Platinum Community Traffic Safety Awards Friday. Gold Awards, the second highest recognition, were presented to Barboursville, Hurricane and Milton Police Departments, along with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department. Silver Awards were received by New Haven and Sisterville Police Departments, along with Cabell and Mineral counties Sheriff's Departments, while Kenova and Ravenswood Police Departments were given Bronze Awards.


W. Va. Turnpike Revenue Helps With Repairs

A 60% rate increase on the West Virginia Turnpike, which went into effect August 1st., has boosted collections by more than 30%. Figures released this week indicate the turnpike collected $19 million from July to September, up from revenues of $14.6 million during the same period in 2008. Engineers had projected the increase would bring in about $19 million more a year which would help with maintenance projects. A few projects began right after the toll increase and are scheduled to wrap up for the winter. Crews have made progress on a four-mile stretch in Beckley, which includes raising the median wall and ditches to coincide with a several inch overlay, preparing that project for major repaving next spring. Toll money is slated for four significant jobs, including 28 lane miles, to also begin next spring. Engineers estimate it will take 10 years to get the 88-mile toll road where it needs to be. State law would currenly allow the tolls to be removed in 2019.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Pike County Offers Tourism Beauty

Pike County Judge Executive Wayne Rutherford says local parks are important in the area, and recently, the Hatfield-McCoy Park in McCarr opened. The park has a loading and unloading area for canoes and kayaks to access the Tug Fork River, an outdoor theater, two shelters with charcoal grills, a walking track, a basketball court and a large playground. Rutherford says Pike County has much to offer in adventure tourism, and, in the near future, people will have access to ATV trails in three states with several trail heads located in Pike County. He says water tourism projects are being considered for the area which will, in due time, draw thousands of visitors to the beautiful mountains of eastern Kentucky.


Foreign Metallurgical Coal Sales Increase

Big coal producers say, while the bulk of U.S. coal goes to electric power plants, and massive piles of unused coal outside of U.S. plants grow, the rising demand for metallurgical coal, an ingredient in steelmaking, is a foreign phenomenon. Officials say booming Asian economies are hungry for energy. Alpha Natural Resources, the top U.S. producer of metallurgical coal, is planning to up production one million tons next year, while orders are coming in from Eastern and Western Europe. As U.S. mines continue to idle and producers don't expect things to improve before next year and maybe closer to 2011, there is a recovery in world steel output. A half-dozen U.S. producers reported stronger than expected third-quarter profits based on sales in China, where steel plants are operating at more than 90% capacity.


Former Kentucky Representative Indicted

Former state Representative Steve Nunn has been indicted in Hart County on six counts of wanton endangerment. Investigators say, on September 11th., officers found Nunn sitting against the headstone of his parents in a cemetery about 130 miles southwest of the scene where his former fiancee, 29 year old Amanda Ross, was gunned down earlier that morning outside her Lexington home. The indictment alleges Nunn fired a gun near six police officers.


Ky. Governor Vows Support For Coal...While Proclaiming Coal Appreciation Month

Earlier this week, Governor Steve Beshear pledged his support to the coalfields, while praising miners for the hard work they do and reassuring them he is definitely on their side. He says delays in the permit process are hurting the coal industry. In an effort to help, 15 mine inspectors and 19 permit reviewers are being hired. The new mine inspectors will also serve as a part of the state's rescue teams, allowing smaller mines to remain open. Beshear says coal is a valuable energy source to the nation, and the Kentucky government will be investing funds into several coal energy projects. The aim is to help decrease the nation's dependency on foreign oil. Beshear signed a proclamation declaring November as Coal Appreciation Month.


Kentucky Secures Child Care Funding

More than 42,000 Kentucky children are under state subsidized child-care. Governor Steve Beshear says, without child-care providers, many parents couldn't work, seek employment or receive education or training. To pay for training and other resources for child-care providers, Kentucky will receive $4 million in federal stimulus funds. Two million dollars will be used to pay for training that emphasizes education and development for infants and toddlers, while some will be used for distance-learning opportunities which make training more accessible to providers. In addition, the money will support a partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky on the "Never Shake a Baby" initiative, purchase child booster seats, to be distributed by the Department of Public Health; and promote Stars for Kids.


Bill Could Turn Jail Abuse Into Felony

People in authority shouldn't be allowed to misuse that authority, whether it be a teacher or a member of the law enforcement. If Kentucky lawmakers pass legislation filed by state Senator Julie Denton when the Kentucky General Assembly meets in January, the next time a jailer or deputy jailer is accused of sexual misconduct with an inmate, they could be facing a felony charge. Records indicate there have been several examples of jailers or deputy jailers in Kentucky who have allegedly been involved in sexual misconduct with inmates or staff, but currently, those charges are misdemeanors. Denton, along with several lawmakers and officials, says it's wrong for someone to use their power to take advantage of those who have no recourse. If the legislation passes, this type of conduct would be considered first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, but it could not be used retroactively.


Pike County Holds Summit Hearing On Climate Change

Is it reality or is it just speculation ? In hopes of educating business leaders about the controversial issue surrounding climate change, Thursday afternoon, the Pike County Chamber of Commerce hosted a summit meeting in Pikeville. Canadian scientist Tom Harris spoke to hundreds who gathered to discuss the issue. Harris, who works with more than 40 other scientists, says climate change is hard to prove or disprove, listing it as the most complex scientific problem faced. He says, although we continue to learn and realize more on the subject all the time, it leaves us in an era of negative discovery that we don't fully understand. Harris says CO2 has gone up in the last 10 years and is continuing to go up, but temperatures have stabilized, while slightly the theory of global warming doesn't match the facts. He says it's not right for lawmakers to attack the coal industry on a political theory, while crippling the area coal and natural gas industries unfairly.


Former Wyoming County Bus Driver Convicted

Former Wyoming County school bus driver, 46 year old Robert Junior Thomas, will face 10 to 20 years in prison after being convicted earlier this week of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian. Prosecutors say he sexually abused a 16 year old female who was a student in the summer school program for which Thomas worked.


Resolution Honors West Virginia Miners

Mingo County Young Democrats President Justin Marcum says, "Coal miners are the backbone of West Virginia and America." Now, those miners will be honored as a resolution will name December 6th. as National Miners' Day. The date was chosen because it's the date of the great coal mining tragedy at Monongah, West Virginia, the worst mining disaster in U.S. history. On the morning of December 6, 1907, around 10:28 A.M., a series of explosions and fire spread through two connected underground Fairmont Coal Co. mines, No. 6 and No. 8, shaking the earth as far as eight miles away, shattering pavement and buildings, hurling people and horses to the ground, knocking streetcars off their rails and officially killing 361 miners. Marcum initially drafted the resolution in March while attending the West Virginia Young Democrats convention in Wheeling, and the resolution was introduced by Congressman Nick Rahall on November 4, 2009. Miners will now be recognized for their service, dedication and contributions to this country.


W. Va. Budget Shapes Up Well

Although West Virginia revenue figures indicate a $16 million shortfall which is expected to widen to around $100 million by June 30th., Governor Joe Manchin says he does not yet plan to lay off public workers, cut programs or raise taxes. Earlier this week, revenue officials announced the administration has a "cushion" of $168 million in revenues left from the two previous years. They say that surplus, with the state's emergency reserves, which exceed $537 million, and a bulk of federal stimulus funding left, the state can avoid harsh steps.


Drop In W. Va. Natural Gas Bills Short-Lived

For West Virginia natural gas customers who see their bills drop by 25% to 40% from last year, the relief will be short-lived. The state Public Service Commission says, on November 1st., prices charged by the state's major providers for their cost to buy natural gas dropped. But, Mountaineer Gas and Dominion Hope are seeking permission to increase base rates to cover wages, equipment and other costs. PSC officials say customers would still see significant savings from last year's average monthly bill of $215.


Legislation Could Change Coal Severance Allocations In West Virginia

West Virginia collected $379 million in coal severance taxes last budget year while local governments and coal producing counties received roughly $36 million of that money. In the upcoming legislative session, Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone Co.) and Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin (D-Mingo Co.) will back a plan to give coal producing counties a substantially larger share of the coal severance tax revenue. The bill, if approved, would require the state to allocate at least an additional 5% of every $1 million on top of the 9% the counties already receive. The Senators are pushing for more money to go to the top coal producing counties. However, the legislation could face strong opposition from state officials since the state keeps and spends about 91% of the revenue. Last year, the legislation made it through the Senate but failed in the House.


Public Comment Period For "Stream Buffer Zone Rule" Set

A preliminary public comment period on the "Stream Buffer Zone Rule" will push back any proposed changes until, at least. early 2011. The Obama administration is re-examining a last-minute Bush-era surface mining regulation which rewrote rules adopted in 1983 by the Reagan administration Under the 1983 rules, mines were barred from dumping waste within 100 feet of streams unless operations could show it would not harm water quality or quantity. Revised requirements allowed buffer requirements to be skirted, if compliance was determined impossible, therefore giving a " green light" to dump mountaintop fill if it was the cheapest and most convenient option. In 1999, a federal court determined the rule did not apply to valley fills, prompting government regulators and coal lobbyists to begin an attempt to eliminate the rule.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Magoffin Couple Pleads Guilty

Sixty-four year old Gladys Allen and her grandson, 18 year old Jarred Allen, pleaded guilty Thursday in Magoffin Circuit Court to charges involved in a September case which caused a mistrial for Gladys' son, Chester Allen. Authorities say, during a sodomy trial for Chester Allen, Gladys Allen attempted to retaliate against Commonwealth's Attorney Graham Martin by threatening physical harm. Jarred Allen pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted jury tampering, intimidating jurors as they left the courthouse. A 12 month sentence is recommended for each when they're sentenced December 3rd.


Jobless Unemployment Benefits Extended

The national jobless rate is 9.8%. As the U.S. jobless rate grows, people are being hard-hit as they continue to attempt to find work, even though the economy is showing slight signs of beginning to emerge from the recession. Thursday, a measure to extend unemployment benefits cleared the House in a vote of 403-12. One day earlier, it won unanimous support in the Senate. The bill extends benefits for those who have exhausted their federal aid or will do so by the end of the year. An additional 14 weeks will help almost two million people who have been out of work nearly a year or more. States where the unemployment rate is 8.5% or more will get an additional six weeks.


Coal Forum Held At U.K. Campus

Thursday morning, Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and former Governor Paul Patton joined about 275 people in a state forum held on the University of Kentucky campus. While speaking, Rutherford told the crowd that, if Pike County were a state, it would be the 10th. largest coal producer in the country. Patton verbally attacked critics of coal's pollution and mining practices, saying driving automobiles is a much dirtier way to use fossil fuels than burning coal for electricity. He says the biggest enemies of coal come from other states that want to compete with Kentucky for new industries. Experts, coal company executives and government leaders gathered for a day-long coal forum. The forum's featured speakers discussed the past, present and future impacts of coal on the state's economy and environment. Speakers discussed coal's role from its early history, its first commercial mine in Muhlenberg County in 1920, its more recent activities and its controversial history. One speaker showed slides of massive scars caused by mining, while saying that's what some people see. But, he then showed slides of reclaimed mines that coal supporters boost.


Expanded Gambling Gets Push In Kentucky

Following Tuesday's approval of casinos in four Ohio cities, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is pushing for video lottery terminals at horse racing tracks. He says Kentucky can't afford to wait while Ohio reaps thousands of new jobs and millions in tax dollars. Beshear says Kentucky residents deserve to keep those dollars at home...and, it's time for the state to act. Thursday, Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) pre-filed a constitutional amendment that would allow up to seven video slots facilities in Kentucky, and, if approved, it would appear on the November 2010 ballot, allowing voter approval. Horse industry leaders view his plan as hostile. They say it would not guarantee racetracks to get expanded gambling.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Former Phelps Volleyball Assistant Coach Charged With Sodomy

Former Phelps High School assistant volleyball coach, 38 year old Michael Ray Charles, appeared in court in Lexington Wednesday (today) after being charged with sodomy. Pike County school officials say, in July, he accompanied the volleyball team to a camp at the University of Kentucky, and Lexington investigators say, while there, he spent a night in a U.K. dorm room with four teenage girls, while engaging in inappropriate contact with a 15 year old girl. Charles has pleaded not guilty.


Swine Flu Deaths Continue To Rise In Ky.

Swine flu deaths continue to rise in Kentucky. Two Jefferson County women, one 42 and one 54 years of age, with underlyng health conditions, died this week from complications related to the H1N1 virus. The Northern Kentucky Health Department confirmed Wednesday a Kenton County woman in her 60s, also with underlying health conditions, died this week, bringing the state's total to 18.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Coal Run Goes Wet...Elkhorn Remains Dry

It's plain that Tuesday's wet/dry election in Coal Run put an end to Pikeville being the only city in Pike County to allow alcohol sales. North of Pikeville, residents in Coal Run approved, by a vote of 218-137, to allow restaurants to serve alcohol by the drink in conjunction with a meal purchase, while 70% of their revenue would come from food sales. On the other side of Pikeville, residents in Elkhorn City decided they'd remain dry. A measure to allow alcohol sales within city limits was voted down in a vote of 357-163.


Perry County Mother Convicted On Drug Charge

It seems a Perry County mother, 69 year old Della Hurt of Bonnyman, will join her three sons, Michael, Robin and Timothy, who are already serving jail time. It only took a few minutes Tuesday for a Perry County jury to convict her on a charge of trafficking in OxyContin.


Mine Safety Adds New Jobs

To clear backlogs of mine inspections, Governor Steve Beshear has announced the state will hire 15 new mine-safety inspectors and 19 mine permit application reviewers. Safety inspectors, who double as rescue team members, will be paid from coal severance tax made available by an understanding between the state and Floyd and Martin counties. The state will asses a permit application fee to raise $800,000, which will be matched by federal funding, to pay for permit reviewers.


Case Of Laurel Co. Mother Headed To Grand Jury

A Laurel County mother is headed to the grand jury after being accused of abusing her 23 month old son to the point that he died as the result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen. Twenty-one year old Amanda Johnson took her son, Stephen Troy, to St. Joseph Hospital in London where he died one hour later. During a hearing Tuesday, a KSP detective testified Johnson's boyfriend and the father, Michael Troy, told him he had witnessed Johnson throwing the boy onto a couch and punching him in the back while she was angry. Stephen Troy had bruises on his back and fractures to his left leg. Amanda Johnson has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and criminal abuse.


Knox County Man Charged With Attempted Murder

Fifty-one year old Gregory Moore of Gray (Knox Co.) was charged with attempted murder and domestic violence after police say he attacked his girlfriend, 50 year old Mildred Hayden, slashing her throat during a domestic disturbance around 9:30 A.M. Sunday morning. Hayden was flown to University of Kentucky Hospital, but has returned home after being treated.


Former Harlan Co. Deputy Sentenced

Police say a former deputy feared he would be disclosed as a high paid drug runner if a former Harlan County sheriff were re-elected so he plotted his murder. Former Harlan County Sheriff's Deputy, 41 year old Roger Hall, has been sentenced after entering an Alford plea in September in connection to his involvement in the 2002 slaying of former Harlan County Sheriff Paul L. Browning Jr. Hall was sentenced to five years on each count of 2 counts of facilitation to murder and 4 counts of second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, to be run consecutively for a total of 30 years. He will be eligible for parole after 6 years. Investigators say Browning was shot in the head and burned inside his truck which was found in Balkan of Bell County.

Monday, November 02, 2009


Wet/Dry Elections In Elkhorn City And Coal Run Village

Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford signed an order in August to allow citizens of Elkhorn City to vote on whether to allow or reject alcohol sales. The original petition for the vote was nullified when it fell short of the required 128 signatures but only acquired 102 that were accepted. A supplemental petition was filed and enough signatures were obtained to have the petition certified. For the first time in more than 50 years, voters will be going to the polls to vote on the issue. While some say it's the answer the city needs to improve the economy, others say it will devastate their small community, if approved. Nearby communities in Virginia have been wet for years.

On the northern side of Pikeville, residents in Coal Run Village will head to the polls to decide whether restaurants with 50 or more seats can sell alcohol in their area. Four years ago, a wet/dry vote was defeated...84 to 68. Some say they want to stop losing business to nearby Pikeville, but those opposing the sales say alcohol could cause more car wrecks on U.S. 23. Some see its possible passage as a huge impact on businesses, while increasing tax dollars and boosting the economy. However, there are others who say the area economy is fine and doesn't need any alcoholic boosting.


Gillispie Appologizes During Sentencing

Billy Gillispie's record from his rocky two-year tenure in which the Wildcats went 40-27 was not exactly what the former U.K. men's basketball coach was referring to when he appologized to the residents of Kentucky, along with his family and friends Moday morning during his sentencing in Anderson County District Court. Gillispie was there to plead guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after being arrested in Lawrenceburg on August 27th. He was given the maximum penalty for a first-time offense in Anderson County, which included a fine of a little more than $1,000, A 30-day suspension of his license, to which he was given credit for time his license has already been suspended, and he was ordered to complete an Alcohol Drivers' Education Program. Hearing the sentence, Gillispie commented, "I made a mistake and admitted my mistake today to Judge (Linda) Armstrong. I accept the penalty she has imposed."

Sunday, November 01, 2009


KSP Conduct Meth Bust In Lily

When Kentucky State Police with the London post went to a home on Old State Road in Lily of Laurel County Saturday afternoon, they found an active meth lab, resulting in seven arrests and two children, ages 2 and 11 years, being placed with the Laurel County Department of Families and Children. Those arrested are :

42 year old Earl E. Yaden of Lily
44 year old Tina J. Nantz of Lily
22 year old Kenneth W. Taylor of London
22 year old Jeremy Jones of Lily
21 year old Brittany K. Yaden of East Bernstadt
21 year old Dion K. Mayne of Lily
25 year old David Jones of Lily


Ky. Has Nation's Longest HIV/AIDS Waiting List

Since 1982, 5015 AIDS cases have been reported to Kentucky state health officials, and, with the recession deepened, the Kentucky AIDS Drug Assistance Program currently has more than 1,277 people enrolled, with nearly 100 being on a waiting list since June. The program helps provide free or low cost life-saving drugs. But, with federal funding being dropped from about $4.8 million in 2005 to $4.5 million this year and state funding of about $250,000 a year ended in 2007, officials are unsure how long these people will remain on the nation's longest waiting list. With drugs costing approximately $10,000 a year per person, officials say delays can be lethal. State lawmakers admit they have overlooked the program, and it deserves state money again, but they're not sure where the funds could come from. State health officials say, to squeeze more help from the dollars available, the state is switching to generic drugs when possible and steering applicants into other programs for which they may qualify.


State Owes Ky. Teachers' Retirement System Millions

Over the past six years, the state has been writing IOUs to the teachers' pension fund while, each year since fiscal 2005, redirecting millions of dollars from the teachers' pension fund to the retirees' medical insurance fund. The amount borrowed in the first year was $29 million, but, with rising health care costs, the amount borrowed last fiscal year soared to $139 million and $134 million this year, while legislators promised to repay the money at a 7.5% interest rate. Now, the pension fund has less than 68% of the assets needed to pay benefits to nearly 134,000 current and retired teachers. Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System officials are pushing a plan that suggests the state pay off its $521 million debt and find a sustainable way in the future to pay for retired teachers' health insurance.

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