Wednesday, April 20, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-21-'11
- Part of Highway 881 in the Brushy community of Pike County collapsed this past weekend, creating an emergency situation. Highway officials say there is no lane at all, not even a path there now. The road started falling apart last Friday. Highway officials say the embankment was so unstable, a drilling rig that was brought in to help make repairs overturned and fell down the hill. The weekend rain caused the rest of the pavement and everything underneath it to give way. Highway department officials say it will take weeks to make repairs and re-open the road. First, they must stabilize the ground above the highway. They must also replace and stabilize the embankment under the road, and they must get permission from property owners above the slide to do some of the work. There is also an abandoned mine engineers must work around to prevent other problems. Alternate routes are across Ford Mountain and Wolf Mountain, with one lane and no guardrails.
- Kentucky State Police say a tree fell onto U.S. 421 and struck the windshield of a vehicle shortly after 6:00 P.M. Tuesday in the Bledsoe community of Harlan County, killing 44 year old Debra Brock and injuring the driver, Elmer Napier, who was airlifted to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee.
- Officials with the University of Kentucky issued a safety warning Wednesday night after two assaults occurred Monday in the basement of the W. T. Young Library. UK Police say in each case, the alleged victim told them a man crawled under the desk and punctured their feet with a sharp object. The man is described as a white male standing approximately 5'8" to 6'0" with short hair. He was wearing a hat and bright orange shorts or shoes. The victims last saw him walking toward the vending machines in the library's basement.
- Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams released a financial report Wednesday that shows he has raised more than $1.2 million for his GOP primary race, including $446,000 in the past three months, providing him with enough cash on hand to mount a statewide television advertising campaign ahead of the May 17th primary election. The report showed the Williams campaign still has $670,000 in the bank after expenses that included a limited advertising campaign on radio and cable television. Williams faces Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett in the May 17th GOP primary.
- In a move to help the cash-strapped state government, Governor Steve Beshear put up two well-maintained airplanes for sale Wednesday. The planes, a 1975 twin-engine Piper Navajo and a 1967 single-engine Cessna Skyhawk, will be offered for sale on eBay, an online auction site. The Navajo, purchased by the state as surplus property in 1997, had been used by the Kentucky State Police. The Cessna, previously operated by Somerset Community College, was acquired through surplus in 1998. Beshear says the state will save more than $63,000 a year in costs to maintain and insure the two aircraft. The state generated $4.3 million last year by selling surplus real estate and $3.3 million by selling surplus personal property. After the sale, the state will still have five planes and eight helicopters, primarily used for law enforcement.
- Attorney General Jack Conway announced Wednesday that Kentucky, as required under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the major tobacco manufacturers and 52 states and territories, received its annual payment of nearly $100 million in tobacco settlement money this week. Conway says the money Kentucky receives each year from the MSA provides funding for many invaluable programs from agriculture to education. Kentucky's share of the settlement is approximately $3.45 billion over the first 25 years. Payments are determined according to a formula that is calculated, in part, by the number of cigarettes sold by companies that have agreed to join the settlement. This year's payment totals $99.8 million.
- State Auditor Crit Luallen released a critical review Wednesday of the Kentucky State Board for Proprietary Education, the board that oversees more than 120 for-profit colleges in Kentucky, calling its oversight inadequate. Luallen called for the Board to increase monitoring of the colleges to protect the financial investments of some 19,000 students a year who are paying for educational training and services. The board, which was created by the General Assembly in 1976, is funded by fees paid by proprietary schools. Luallen charged that board members, some of whom work for propriety colleges, lack a clear understanding of their role and lack historical knowledge of some lingering issues. She proposed a stronger orientation program for new members. Proprietary colleges have been under fire at federal and state levels after students complained they picked up substantial debt attending the schools but didn't get the educations or the jobs promised in slick TV ads. In an ongoing investigation, Attorney General Jack Conway has subpoenaed records from six for-profit colleges seeking information about student loan default rates, recruitment practices and job placements. The Kentucky Office of Occupations and Professions said in response to the audit that new procedures will be implemented to improve oversight and that a corrective action plan is in the works.
- The National Weather Service in Louisville reports that at least four tornadoes touched down in Central Kentucky early Wednesday during a storm that hammered several states. Crews were investigating damage in several Kentucky counties, confirming one tornado in Oldham County and another in Simpson County. All confirmed tornadoes were classified EF-0 and EF-1, the least destructive on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Two tornadoes touched down in Clark County about 12:30 A.M. An EF-1 tornado, with winds reaching 80 to 90 mph, started in the Sunset Trailer Park north of Jeffersonville, where 90 mph winds damaged more than 20 trailers. In Franklin County, an EF-0 tornado with 70 mph winds damaged trees and pulled shingles from roofs about 1:30 A.M. The tornado traveled about four miles, touching down about a mile southwest of Frankfort and lifting off several miles east of the city. A stronger tornado caused significant damage in Scott County. An EF-1 tornado, which was on the same path as the Frankfort tornado, leveled buildings on a horse farm on Leesburg Road. The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management says, among the damage reports, were a trio of overturned semi-trucks along Interstate 75 in Boone County, two homes in Calloway County were damaged by fallen trees and a roof blew off a house in Oldham County.
- The board of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium announced Wednesday that it will join the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners for an international summit when the racing industry comes together sometime this summer to ponder eliminating race-day medication, including common anti-bleeder drugs. Various industry groups are weighing in both for and against a proposed five-year phase-out of all race-day medication. Wednesday, the Keeneland board adopted a resolution supporting measures to work with other thoroughbred organizations to adopt a pragmatic approach for the phasing in of uniform medication rules, testing rules and penalties that will result in thoroughbred racing being conducted in a medication-free environment, both nationally and internationally. After it was revealed that 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown ran legally on steroids, industry groups vowed to ban the drugs from U.S. racing, and within a year most jurisdictions had done so.
- Kentucky State Police say remains found in western Kentucky were those of a man reported missing more than a year ago. Turkey hunters discovered the body on Saturday in southern McCracken County and it was examined at the state medical examiner's office in Madisonville on Tuesday. The KSP says the remains were those of 46-year-old Roger S. Norton of Marshall County. Norton disappeared in February 2010. Positive identification came through comparison with dental records.
- Ohio Governor John Kasich (KAY'-sik) and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear say they're creating a task force to determine how the states might help the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, where business has decreased in recent years. Ohio's Republican governor met Tuesday in Cincinnati with his Democratic counterpart from Kentucky. It was their first in-depth meeting since Kasich took office in January. The pair say their priorities include determining how to fund a $2.5 billion replacement for a nearly 50-year-old Ohio River bridge that links Cincinnati and Covington, Ky. They're considering public-private partnerships and aren't ruling out tolls. They also want their states to share information from prescription drug monitoring programs to help fight prescription drug trafficking. They say a pilot information-sharing program will start this summer.
- The Lyric Theatre has named Los Angeles theatrical entrepreneur Yetta Young as executive director. Young is a performer, producer and director who has presented shows such as "The Pocketbook Monologues," a production of "The Vagina Monologues" with a cast of all African-Americans. Lyric board chair Freda Meriwether said Young "embodies ...experience, energy, enthusiasm and a vision of what all the Lyric can mean to Lexington." The Lyric Theatre served black residents of Lexington before the civil rights movement, when other theaters were segregated. It was a hot spot from 1948 to 1963, then languished for decades before being renovated.
- The Louisville Zoo is planning to celebrate Earth Day with a tree planting, a wetlands restoration effort and a discounted admission for visitors. A statement from the zoo says the Bingham Fellows' Do Something Green campaign will announce an initiative during the event Saturday encouraging residents across the state to be more environmentally conscious. Afterward, volunteers will be invited to help remove invasive plant growth and restore the zoo's wetland as part of the initiative. In addition, the zoo will charge a discounted $2 general admission for the day.
- A former western Kentucky preacher convicted of raping a young girl has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of taking the girl across state lines to engage in sex. The U.S. Attorney's office in Louisville says Jody Dewain Lusk pleaded guilty to the charge as part of a plea agreement that includes a 10-year sentence. Lusk is already serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in Logan County to six counts of second-degree rape and second-degree sodomy. He was accused of taking a 13-year-old girl to a campground in Illinois to have sex in 2009. He says the relationship wasn't sexual at first but the devil "attacks your weaknesses." Lusk is scheduled to be formally sentenced July 21st in Bowling Green.
- The University of Kentucky is showcasing some items it owns that tell the story of the Civil War in Kentucky. An exhibit opens Thursday called "Our Only Hope Was Kentucky," a phrase taken from a letter a general wrote to his wife during the war. Items taken from the rare book, manuscript, photograph and oral history collections at UK tell stories of soldiers, women and divided families. The exhibit also looks at the publishing industry and the development of photographic processes in Kentucky. The exhibit is part of the nation's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
- Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners spoke to hundreds of students in Bell County about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. Nearly 300 students attended the prevention and awareness program at Bell County High School with Attorney General Conway, Operation UNITE, a task force created by 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers to combat drug abuse in Eastern Kentucky, and Mike Donta, an Ashland, Ky. parent who lost a son to prescription drug addiction. Non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, according to Office of National Drug Control Policy. In Kentucky, prescription drug overdose deaths have more than doubled from 403 in 2000 to nearly 980 in 2009. Today, there are more overdose deaths in the Commonwealth than traffic fatalities. The problem is particularly acute in Eastern Kentucky.
- The Music Department of Big Sandy Community and Technical College wishes to invite the entire eastern Kentucky community to their first ever Appalachian Old-Fashioned Gospel Hymnal Sing-A-Long, held on Thursday, April 28th, in the BSCTC Pike Building, first floor, Gearheart Auditorium, at 7:00 P.M., with doors opening at 6:30 P.M.
- Annual unemployment rates were lower in 76 Kentucky counties in 2010 than in 2009, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. In addition, 38 Kentucky counties had a higher annual unemployment in 2010 than in 2009 while Bourbon, Hickman, McCreary, Morgan, Pulaski and Taylor counties each had the same rate for both years. In 2010, 90 Kentucky counties had an annual jobless rate at or above 10 percent compared to 98 counties that recorded double-digit rates in 2009.
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