Jonathan Meador

Frankfort Bureau Chief

Jonathan is the Frankfort bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.

Meador worked previously as a staff writer for the Nashville Scene and LEO Weekly. Recently, he co-authored, along with R.G. Dunlop of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against State Rep. John Arnold which led to Arnold’s resignation. His work has been honored with several awards from the Louisville Society of Professional Journalists.

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Regional
4:05 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Berea College Gets $5.5 Million Grant To Aid Poor Students

Berea College
Credit Berea College

Berea College has been awarded a multi-million dollar federal grant to help prepare poverty-stricken students in the state’s Appalachian region for college.

The $5.5 million was announced today Monday by the U.S. Department of Education through its GEAR UP program, which aids poor students by targeting them for college-readiness at a young age.

Dreama Gentry coordinates Berea College’s outreach programs to Appalachian youth.

“A lot of the dollars from GEAR UP goes to the staff that will work directly one-on-one with these students, and then also the experiences-- the tutoring, the college and career awareness events, those type of things," explains Gentry.

Berea’s grant will be active for seven years, and will assist 7,000 students in Eastern Kentucky.

Politics
1:44 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Former Rep. Anne Northup Endorses James Comer for Kentucky Governor

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer and former U.S. Representative Anne Northup, R-Louisville
Credit Jonathan Meador, Kentucky Public Radio

Former Louisville Congresswoman Anne Northup has endorsed Republican state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer in his bid for the governor’s mansion.

Northup joined Comer for a press conference atop Waterfront Park’s Big Four pedestrian bridge Friday morning, commending the 2015 gubernatorial hopeful on his success in helping legalize industrial hemp in the state. She urged Republican voters in Jefferson County and across the state to support his candidacy.

“When Jamie told me that he was thinking about running for governor, I told him that I would be all in,” Northup said. “And that I would be so enthusiastic about him being the governor because I knew what a difference he could make.”

Northup’s endorsement is the campaign’s highest profile since Comer officially launched his bid earlier this month alongside running mate Chris McDaniel, a conservative freshman Republican state senator from Taylor Mill who owns a concrete construction business.

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Health
4:39 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Despite Gains, HIV/AIDS Still Largely Impacting Kentucky's Minority Communities

One of the state’s foremost HIV/AIDS public health officials has told a panel of state lawmakers Wednesday that the state’s health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, Kynect, is helping patients who have the virus.

Despite gains in treating the virus, it still disproportionately affects African-Americans and Hispanics.

According to data from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, African-Americans make up 38 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases despite representing only eight percent of the state population.

Kraig Humbaugh, senior deputy commissioner for the department, told members of the Joint Committee on Health and Welfare that those figures mirror a national trend. His only explanation for the difference lies in the risk factors listed by the data.

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Health
3:51 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Advocates Call for Increased Pediatric Cancer Funding in Kentucky

Kentucky’s leading cancer researchers and parents of children with  the disease say that increased funding in pediatric cancer research would better help them understand and treat it. 

Jamie Bloyd is a mother of a child diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma. She told lawmakers on the Joint Committee for Health and Welfare Wednesday that the state should commit funds to studying the disease in children like her son Paxton.

“Ten million dollars in our budget goes to dental care for inmates, but zero dollars go to pediatric cancer research in Kentucky. And I just think that that’s sickening. I think that our kids deserve better than our inmates do.”

Bloyd says $10 million in state funding “would be a good starting place.”

According to the University of Kentucky’s Pediatric Research Institute, about 150 Kentucky children are diagnosed with cancer each year.

Politics
4:12 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Kentucky Ordered to Pay $160,000 in Redistricting Lawsuit

Credit Kentucky LRC

The state must pay the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky more than $160,000 in attorneys’ fees because the legislature failed to enact new legislative district maps in a timely fashion, the group announced today.

U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman in late July ordered the payment in the joint civil suit filed against the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the State Board of Elections.

The suit, initiated by the ACLU and a group of voters, noted the state failed to enact new maps during the 2013 regular session of the General Assembly, and were using maps created in 2002 as a result of the 2000 census.

The lawsuit claimed that population growth in the state’s urban centers in the ensuing decade effectively diluted those voters’ power at the ballot box. And the state’s actions violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s “one person, one vote” mandate, said William Sharp, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky.

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Military
3:28 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Kentucky National Guard: Changes Have Led to Better Handling of Sexual Assault Cases

Members of the Kentucky National Guard during training
Credit Flickr/Creative Commons

Changes to the Kentucky National Guard’s code of justice have enabled military police to better deal with sexual assault occurring within their ranks.

The reforms were pushed through last year’s General Assembly by Rep. Tanya Pullin, a Democrat who co-chairs the Joint Committee on the Military, Veterans Affairs and Public Protection.

National Guard deputy state judge advocate Col. John Knox Mill told the panel this week that the number of victims’ advocates in his organization has increased to 60, and victims are reporting offenses in greater numbers as a result.

“This increase in cases is not because there have been more sexual assaults, but rather that it reflects a greater awareness and trust by victims in the program and the new criminal code," Mill said.

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Regional
6:03 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Kentucky Veterans Affairs Official Pushing for Female Veterans Coordinator

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs is trying to better connect female veterans with services designed for them
Credit U.S. Army

One of the state’s leading veterans advocates is imploring state lawmakers to create a new position to connect the rising number of female veterans across the state with new services designed for them.

There are about 30,000 female veterans in Kentucky. But Margaret Plattner, a retired Lt. Col. with the National Guard and the deputy commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, says just under 2,000 of them have applied for benefits.

She says  that the number of homeless female veterans in Kentucky, about 250, is growing faster than that of their male counterparts, and they suffer from domestic violence trauma in greater numbers than men.

Plattner implored a panel of lawmakers in Frankfort to create a position  for the state to bridge the gap.

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Education
4:01 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Beshear Names Task Force to Prevent Bullying in Kentucky Schools

Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the creation of a new task force to combat bullying in Kentucky’s schools.

Beshear named the 22-member Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force Thursday in Frankfort. He cited statistics from the Kentucky Department of Education that found over 15,000 reported incidents of bullying in the 2012-2013 school year, as well as research that links bullying with dropout rates and teen suicides.

“When you have these incidents of bullying contributing to teen suicides and attempted suicides, that’s a huge problem," Beshear said. "So we’re going to take a comprehensive look at this, and hopefully come up with some other avenues and some other tools that will give us a comprehensive set of solutions.”

The task force will examine legislative approaches and school practices, and  the link between  cyber-bullying and teen suicide.

The group will provide a written report of its findings to the governor’s office in November 2015.

Politics
2:36 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Former Ky Senate President Says Richie Farmer Affiliation Won't Hurt Comer's Gubernatorial Chances

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate James Comer
Credit Twitter

Will the enduring popularity of former UK basketball star and Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer affect the gubernatorial aspirations of Farmer’s successor, James Comer?

The man who ran for governor on a slate with Farmer says he doesn’t think that the gubernatorial campaign of Farmer’s successor will be affected by backlash over Farmer’s corruption investigation and conviction. 

Former Republican state Senate President David Williams unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2011 with Farmer as his running mate, losing handily to incumbent Democrat Steve Beshear and his running mate, Jerry Abramson.

Williams, now a Circuit Court Judge, made a show of support at the Comer campaign’s kick-off event Tuesday in Tompkinsville.

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Politics
4:03 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Lawyers Ask Judge to Withhold Release of Documents on Sexual Harrassment in State Government

In Frankfort, lawyers for the state are asking a judge not to allow the release of documents that could include information on sexual harassment in Kentucky state government.

Louisville Attorney Thomas Clay represents female state House employees who say in a lawsuit they were sexually harassed  by former  Kentucky lawmaker John Arnold. They also allege they were retaliated against in a separate matter by current  state  Rep. Will Coursey. 

Clay said that in a hearing Wednesday in Franklin Circuit Court, Judge Thomas Wingate heard a motion to dismiss the suit altogether. The state argues that because the Legislative Research Commission, which is named as a defendant, did not employ Arnold, the suit is moot.

Clay believes the documents detail instances of sexual harassment beyond the Arnold case, and says that the state is dragging its feet.

“That argument is frivolous because there’s ample federal authority that says the employer has a duty to protect employees from harassing conduct even from non-employees of that employer," Clay said.

Wingate did not decide on any of the motions, and has yet to schedule the next hearing date.

The women are seeking damages from Arnold and the state for embarrassment, humiliation, mental anguish and retaliation, as well as attorney’s fees.

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