A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport sets record, serves nearly 1.5 million passengers during 2019

A record number of passengers traveled through Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport in 2019. As the primary air transportation provider for Central Kentucky, Blue Grass Airport saw 1,465,049 total passengers — enplanements of 735,564 and deplanements of 729,485. This is a 7.6 percent total passenger increase over 2018 and is the eighth consecutive year the airport has seen a record number of travelers. The...

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital to close by Sept. 30, costing 1,000 jobs in Ashland area

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in the Ashland suburb of Russell will close by Sept. 30, says the Bon Secours Health System, which operates it. The 214-bed hospital opened in 1953, when Ashland and Russell were booming with steel, railroad and petrochemcial industries. Now, the hospital cannot “effectively operate in an environment that has multiple acute care facilities competing for the same...

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Leaky Bucket update shows state still struggling to slow spending

Kentucky continues to struggle to slow state spending in key areas that are diverting funds from investments in education, according to a new report from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. The Leaky Bucket: 10 Years Later, released Tuesday, is an update of the Chamber’s original report that identified corrections, Medicaid and public employee benefits as major budget leaks that were consuming tax...

Transylvania University selects Brien Lewis as 27th president; Toronto native begins duties on July 1

Brien Lewis has been selected to serve as the 27th president of Transylvania University. Board of Trustees Chairman William T. Young Jr. announced Tuesday that Lewis, the current president of Catawba College, will start on July 1. “I am delighted that Brien Lewis will serve as Transylvania’s next president. His selection comes with the unanimous approval of both the Presidential Search Committee...

Advocates to rally at state capitol this week for policies benefitting children and families

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Advocates for children will gather in Frankfort this week to push for policies that benefit children and families. On Thursday, hundreds are expected to rally to urge legislators to consider boosting child-care assistance and enact a state-level refundable Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families, among other reforms. Whitley County High School senior...

Kentucky Board of Education takes next steps in search for new education commissioner

At a special meeting Jan. 17, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) appointed board members Cody Pauley Johnson, Sharon Porter Robinson and Lee Todd to a team that will evaluate proposals from executive search firms vying to help the board find Kentucky’s next education commissioner. The board voted to create an RFP Evaluation Team. The team will view the proposals, which are being accepted until...

Beshear says criminal justice reform needed as prison costs, number of incarcerated continue to rise

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Gov. Andy Beshear says criminal justice reform is needed since prison costs and the number of those incarcerated is increasing, while at the same time the prison infrastructure is crumbling. During a Friday afternoon press conference at the Capitol, Beshear said, “Criminal justice reform isn’t just the right thing to do, but we must do it based on our current reality...

Kentucky Distillers’ Association names 2020 Board of Directors, Jessica Pendergrass named chairwoman

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has announced that Jessica Pendergrass, General Counsel for Heaven Hill Brands, has been named Chairwoman of the historic group’s Board of Directors for 2020. With more than 12 years of corporate attorney and commercial negotiation experience, Pendergrass joined Heaven Hill as the company’s first in-house Corporate Counsel in 2018. In addition to legal and...

Kentucky lawmakers considering bill demanding state’s public agencies cooperate with ICE

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill to require local police and other public agencies to actively participate in enforcing federal immigration law. Co-sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll from Paducah and ten other lawmakers – all Republicans – the bill is slated to be read tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Jessica Klein, policy associate...

Rural Blog: Eastern Kentucky miners block Quest Energy coal train near Kimper over back pay

Coal miners in far Eastern Kentucky are blocking a coal train from leaving a Quest Energy mine near Kimper; they say it’s because they haven’t been paid in weeks, and that they don’t plan to go back to work until they get their back pay. “Miners said they worked from Dec. 16 until now without getting paid for that work. They came home last Thursday after a 17-hour shift, expecting...

Sports wagering bill set to be considered by Kentucky House committee Wednesday

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A sports wagering bill will have its first consideration by a legislative committee this week. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, is scheduled to be heard by the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee Wednesday morning. Under the measure, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would be the state body that oversees sports...

Rapid confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominees reshaping judicial branch

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Over the past few years, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 185 of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, the majority of whom have a conservative track record. Along with two Supreme Court justices, senators have confirmed 50 circuit court and 133 district court judges. Supreme Court, court of appeals and district court judges are nominated by the president...

Governor Andy Beshear releases public records on state’s investment in Braidy Industries

By Mark Maynard Kentucky Today Gov. Andy Beshear last week released documents related to Kentucky’s investment in Braidy Industries. The documents include a letter of intent regarding Kentucky’s $15 million investment, stock purchase agreement, voting agreement and investors’ rights agreement. The documents reveal the names of those invested in Braidy Industries. Gov. Andy Beshear released documents...

Kentucky public libraries break E-rate record with more than $2.1 million in funding commitments

Kentucky public libraries set a new record for funding commitments from education rate (E-rate), a federal program that provides discounts on Internet, telecommunications, and networking equipment for schools and public libraries. For the July 2019–June 2020 funding year, Kentucky public libraries have a record commitment of $2,195,532 in E-rate funding to be disbursed as they are invoiced for eligible...

Kentucky lawmakers Scott, Wiederstein pre-file bill aimed at addressing maternal deaths

Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service State legislators have pre-filed a bill aimed at addressing racial bias in health care that contributes to Kentucky women dying during or following childbirth. Co-sponsored by Reps. Attica Scott of Louisville and Rob Wiederstein of Henderson, both Democrats, Bill Request 88 would create local maternal fatality review teams, require implicit bias training for perinatal...

Sen. President Robert Stivers says most in state support bills on sanctuary cities, voter IDs

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Senate President Robert Stivers has responded to criticism of two bills that are considered top priorities in his chamber. Senate Bill 1 would ban so-called “Sanctuary Cities”, by prohibiting local governments and other agencies from adopting procedures that would hinder federal immigration laws; while Senate Bill two would require photo IDs to vote, which some say would...

Sandmann lawyers agree to settlement in defamation lawsuit against CNN, terms not disclosed

By Mark Hansel NKyTribune managing editor Parties for both sides in the lawsuit involving Covington Catholic student Nicholas Sandmann and CNN have confirmed that a settlement was reached Tuesday. The settlement was agreed to at the federal courthouse in Covington but details, including a monetary amount, were not made public. Sandmann (left) and Phillips Sandmann’s attorneys sought $275 million...

Black Lung Trust Fund gets one-year boost from higher excise tax, but experts say more is needed

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Congress has voted to increase the excise tax levied on coal companies that provides cash flow for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. But advocates for miners who need the money say the one-year increase isn’t enough to keep the fund from drying up. The higher excise tax expires December 31. Rebecca Shelton, coordinator of policy and organizing at the...

Investment in high-speed internet is transforming local economies in Eastern Kentucky Counties

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service It’s been five years since a rural phone cooperative in Eastern Kentucky completed the installation of super-fast, fiber-optic cables across two counties, giving every home and business in the region high-speed internet. Today, advocates say that $50 million investment has brought an influx of jobs to the region, mainly in tech support. Keith Gabbard is...

KY Transportation Cabinet expanding REAL ID-compliant card access to Frankfort; it’s open to LEX

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is expanding REAL ID-compliant card access at the Frankfort regional driver licensing office to serve Fayette County residents as the agency continues preparations to open a local regional office in Lexington. Fayette County residents who have an existing driver’s license, permit or identification card may visit the KYTC-run office in Frankfort to apply...