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News Digest: Aug. 7, 2013

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By The Staff

Younger, Kovacs honored for seat-belt enforcement

Two law enforcement officers from Shelby County were among the 140 from 123 agencies statewide honored this week by the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (for their efforts to increase the use of seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles.

Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Younger and Shelbyville Police Maj. Istvan Kovacs were feted at a banquet in Louisville for issuing the most occupant protection citations in the division that includes Shelby County.

 “Despite a wealth of data showing that seat belts and child restraints save lives, each year hundreds of unrestrained motorists lose their lives on Kentucky roadways,” KOHS Director Bill Bell, who presented the awards, said in a release announcing the honors. “These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws.”

There were 746 total highway fatalities in Kentucky in 2012, with 592 killed in motor vehicles, the release said. Sixty-two percent of those killed in motor vehicles were not wearing a seat belt.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts, when worn correctly, are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat occupants by 45 percent – and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans and child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars and by 58 percent and 59 percent, respectively, in light trucks.

Audit finds problems with state EMA

Kentucky Emergency Management, the state agency in charge of responding to the state's weather and other disasters, could be facing a cloud of its own.

State Auditor Adam Edelen said Tuesday that KYEM might have misspent millions of dollars and created a hostile work environment in trying to cover up that spending.

Edelen said in a release form his office that an audit by his agency found as much as $5.6 million in questionable spending for items such as alcohol, door prizes, entertainment and expensive meals. He said his team found situations in which documents had been changed in hopes of hiding the evidence.

"In a state that has its share of horrible natural disasters in recent years, wasting tax dollars intended for emergency response is inexcusable," Edelen said in the release.

KYEM management disputes the auditor's findings, which Edelen said would be turned over to the state attorney general, the state ethics commission and federal officials.

Edelen said some KYEM employees told auditors that they had been threatened for talking with his staff.
Upon learning of the findings of Edelen's office, Gov. Steve Beshear issued this statement:

“Kentucky taxpayers expect every state agency to operate in a transparent and accountable way, providing good stewardship of each taxpayer dollar while delivering needed services. In reviewing the auditor’s report on Emergency Management, it is clear that in some cases, the agency failed to properly account for some of its activities and costs. I’m disappointed by those findings, and agree that the auditor’s recommendations to improve transparency and accountability should be implemented quickly.”
 

Fairness again in Frankfort
The Frankfort City Commission on Monday had the first reading – again – of

the proposed sexual orientation and gender identity antidiscrimination ordinance Monday. The ordinance received a first reading July 22, but City Solicitor Rob Moore suggested it be redone after commissioners asked for several amendments to the proposal at that meeting.

“There were a lot of motions, a lot of seconds, a lot of amended motions, and because of that I just wanted to make sure everything was done exactly according to the statutes,” The State Journal reported that Moore told the commission.

“I know this has been somewhat of a controversial ordinance.”

Mayor Bill May, one of the majority of commissioners who support the ordinance, said the move would “alleviate any concerns that would allow someone to challenge the ordinance” on that basis if it passes.
Two readings are required to pass the ordinance, which bans discrimination on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. The proposal has certain exceptions for groups such as religious organizations and employers with fewer than eight workers.
The second reading is set for Aug. 26. Only minor text corrections were made at Monday’s meeting.

Sharp to address Rotary

Mike Sharp, director of commercial business services with Time Warner Cable Business Class, will speak Tuesday to the Shelbyville Rotary Club. Rotary meets weekly at the Centenary United Methodist Church, located at 5fth and Washington streets in Shelbyville. Meetings are open to the public, but there is a charge for the luncheon.

 

Road projects, closures

Westbound Interstate 64 in Shelby County was scheduled to reopen earlier today after it was closed to traffic while contractors moved concrete lane barricades and rerouted traffic flow as part of the expansion project. Eastbound lanes will undergo a similar change in some future date.

Full road closures:

  • I-64:Lane closures and delays are possible between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., Sunday through Friday, between the Welcome Center east of Simpsonville and a half-mile east of KY 55 because of roadway widening. On Saturdays the hours are 10 p.m.-5 a.m.
  • KY 1848:Shoulder closures and construction delays are possible at the I-64 interchange because of roadway widening. One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction.  The speed limit is reduced to 35 MPH in the work zone.
  • KY 55:  Lane closures and delays between Interstate 64 and Breighton Boulevard because of roadway widening and paving. 
  • KY 1399:Construction delays possible at the intersection with KY because of roadway relocation.

Preschool program start date

Shelby County Public Schools is alerting parents of preschool-aged students that Sept. 3 will be the first day for preschool classes. Officials said many parents have contacted school offices to inquire. All other students start classes on Wednesday.

Brenda King, principal of the Early Childhood Center, said in August, parents would receive a letter from their child’s teacher letting them know location, transportation items and the time of day for Sept. 3.

 

The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this report.