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Sports
7:14 am
Fri August 23, 2013

KHSAA Commissioner Says He Likes Having High School Football Finals at WKU

WKU's Houchens Industries/L.T. Smith Stadium
Credit Kevin Willis

The leader of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association says he’s pleased with the job WKU has done in hosting the state football finals. That might quiet any talk about the finals moving from Bowling Green to Louisville.

WKU has hosted the state high school football finals since 2009, and is under contract to remain host through 2014. Before that, the city of Louisville hosted the events stretching back to 1979.

In a text message to a Courier-Journal sports reporter, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said his group is happy with Bowling Green as the location for the football finals, saying WKU’s L.T. Smith Stadium gives fans and player a more intimate setting than the larger Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. Tackett says WKU “appears to maximize all desired factors.”

The U of L Cardinals’ upcoming move to a new athletic conference means the team won’t be playing at home the first weekend in December, the weekend the high school football finals are traditionally held. Because of that availability, some have speculated the KHSAA might consider moving the high school finals back to Louisville.

Economy
6:24 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Kentucky Reports County Jobless Rates

Kentucky officials say unemployment rates fell in 72 of the state's counties between July 2012 and last month. They say the jobless rate rose in 42 counties and stayed the same in six.

The figures were released by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.

The report says Woodford County had the state's lowest jobless rate at 5.8%. It was followed by Fayette County at 6.4%, Oldham County at 6.5% and Scott County at 6.6%.

Harlan County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 17.2%. Next was Leslie County at 16.9%, followed by Magoffin County 16.8% and Letcher County at 16.3%.

The statewide unemployment rate was 8.5% last month.

Politics
5:55 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Lawmakers To Receive Sexual Harassment Training

Kentucky House lawmakers would have to undergo annual sexual harassment sensitivity training under a resolution approved Thursday after three legislative staffers filed sexual harassment complaints with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The allegations against Democratic state representative John Arnold of Sturgis triggered a public outcry, forcing House Speaker Greg Stumbo to address the matter on the floor Thursday evening. He assured angry colleagues the matter "will be dealt with responsibly" and that Arnold could be expelled from the House if the charges are proven to be true.

Arnold, who represents parts of Union, Daviess and Henderson counties. refused to answer questions about the allegations Wednesday and was absent from the legislature on Thursday.

In the complaints, first reported by Louisville public radio station WFPL-FM, the staffers alleged that Arnold had touched them inappropriately and had made vulgar comments over a period of years.

Education
3:25 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center Officially Opens

Inside the WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center
Credit Joe Corcoran

The new WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center in Bowling Green will double the number of new nursing and physical therapy students graduating and entering the work force.

The first class of 80 nursing students begins classes Monday, Aug. 26.

WKU President Gary Ransdell told an audience at Thursday morning's official opening of the complex that as many as 360 students will be going through a variety of programs.

"This new building will house a bachelor's, master's, and a doctoral degree program in the WKU School of Nursing. And is will allow us to double the number of nursing students we accept every year, and the impact that will have on health care across our entire region is just profound," said Dr. Ransdell.

The first class of 30 students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program began in June and just finished their first semester.

Politics
2:32 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Debate over Health-Care Law Breaks Out at Kentucky Ham Breakfast

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Gov. Steve Beshear squared off in a heated debate about the federal health-care law at the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast.

The Democratic governor said Thursday the Affordable Care Act will work in Kentucky.

Beshear said the law will improve Kentucky's health problems, which include some of the nation's worst rates for cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

McConnell, the Senate's top-ranking Republican, said the law is driving up health insurance premiums and forcing employers to reduce working hours for many employees. McConnell said the law should be repealed.

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Education
2:23 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Kentucky Launches Kindergarten Screening Statewide

Kentucky is implementing a statewide screening system for kindergarteners this year.  Governor Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday made the announcement in Frankfort Thursday.

"As a former teacher, I understand how getting to know a student's needs and abilities early in the school year can make a big difference in helping that child to succeed," said Mrs. Beshear.

Every school district in the state will use the Brigance Kindergarten Screener, a tool used by many states to gauge a child's school readiness.  Courtney Daniel in the Governor's Office of Early Childhood says a student cannot fail the screening.

"The screener is a moment in time snapshot of the child's development," Daniel explained.  "It's not an entrance exam for kindergarten, and it's not going to be used to track or label children."

The screening system was piloted in 109 Kentucky school districts last year.  Data collected from those districts indicate that a majority of children are socially and emotionally ready to enter kindergarten.  However, many students did not achieve at high levels in the areas of cognition, language, and motor skills.

Regional
11:02 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Mammoth Cave Offering Free Tours Sunday

Mammoth Cave National Park
Credit WKU Public Radio

A major tourist draw in our region is offering a chance to see the world's largest cave system for free.

Mammoth Cave National Park will offer free Mammoth Passage cave tours on Sunday, August 25, in recognition of Founders Day, the founding day of the National Park Service.

“On August 25, 1916, Congress passed the Organic Act, which established the National Park Service,” said Superintendent Sarah Craighead. “I hope many of our friends and neighbors will help us celebrate by attending one of these free tours."

The free Mammoth Passage tours will depart from the visitor center at the following times: 8:45, 10:15, 11:15, 12:00, 1:15, 2:15, 3:30, and 4:30. The ¾-mile, 1¼ hours Mammoth Passage tour is limited to 40 people. Participants need to pick up a free ticket in the visitor center before going on the tour.

Regional
10:57 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Kentucky To Remember Fallen Fort Campbell Soldiers Friday

Flags at state office buildings in Kentucky will be lowered to half-staff Friday.  Governor Steve Beshear is making the directive in honor of two Fort Campbell soldiers who died earlier this month in Afghanistan.

 A funeral service for Spc. Keith Grace Jr. is being held tomorrow in Baytown, Texas. He’ll be buried at the National Veterans Cemetery in Houston. 

Staff Sgt. Octavio Herrera will be laid to rest in Boise, Idaho on Friday after he’s remembered by family and friends in Caldwell, Idaho. 

Both soldiers were 26 years old.

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Health
8:04 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Kentucky Medical Marijuana Advocates Once Again Ask Lawmakers for Legalization

Medical marijuana is gaining greater acceptance in parts of the U.S. Supporters have had no success in getting it legalized in Kentucky, however.

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana are once again urging Kentucky lawmakers to increase access to the drug. Advocates say marijuana can help treat pain and provides health benefits to the user—something disputed by critics of legalization.

One of Kentucky’s most vocal and passionate supporters of medical marijuana is Louisville Democratic Senator Perry Clark, who has repeatedly sponsored legislation that would make the drug available through a doctor’s prescription. Speaking to members of a joint legislative Health and Welfare Committee, Clark said marijuana is “forbidden medicine.”

Supporters of medical marijuana say it could be a much better pain-relieving alternative to highly-addictive prescription drugs like oxycodone. But critics, like Lexington Republican Representative Robert Benvenuti, said the medical evidence concerning the benefits of marijuana is still an open issue.

Benvenuti was quoted in the Courier Journal as saying “Until I’m assured where the clinical evidence is, this is not going to have my support.”

Regional
4:30 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Habitat of Endangered Fish Protected in Kentucky

More than 120 miles of river habitat for an endangered fish are now under federal protection in Kentucky and West Virginia.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the protection of the diamond darter's habitat. The "critical habitat" designation includes 95 miles of the Green River in Edmonson, Green and Hart counties in Kentucky. It requires federal agencies to ensure that federally funded or permitted activities will not harm the darter or their habitat.

The diamond darter was protected under the Endangered Species Act last month. The tiny fish was considered extinct until scientists rediscovered it in West Virginia in 1980. Fewer than 125 of them have been seen over the past 30 years.

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