News Digest: June 12, 2013

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By The Staff

KY 55 overpass to be demolished next week

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced Tuesday that there would be traffic delays and detours next week when workers demolish the old KY 55 overpass above Interstate 64 in Shelbyville.

A new overpass has been built as part of the I-64 widening project from the welcome center at Simpsonville to just east of KY 55 (Exit 32).

The eastbound lanes of I-64 will be closed at KY 55 from 7 p.m. Monday until 5 a.m. Tuesday. The westbound lanes will be closed from 7 p.m. on Tuesday until 5 a.m. on Wednesday.

Traffic will be detoured off I-64 using the exit ramps at Exit 32 and return to I-64 via the entrance ramps. Because of the construction, that is complicated more than usual on/off delays. Motorists are advised to expect delays and take alternate routes when possible.

Louisville Paving Company was awarded the contract in 2012 for this project in the amount of $37.5 million. Construction is scheduled to be completed by April 30.

The actual starting date and duration of this work may be adjusted if inclement weather or other unforeseen delays occur. Dial 511 or log on to 511.ky.gov for the latest in traffic and travel information.

Other road projects:

§       I-64:Lane closures and delays are possible between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., Sunday through Friday, between the Welcome Center and a half-mile east of KY 55 because of roadway widening. On Saturdays the hours are 10 p.m.-5 a.m. The eastbound exit to KY 55 South (Exit 32A) is closed due to ramp construction. Motorists can use Exit 32B to access both KY 55 North and South.

§       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. 

§       U.S. 60:  Lane closures and delays possible between KY 53 intersection and the Masonic Home because of roadway milling and resurfacing. No milling will be allowed between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m.

§       KY 1399:Construction delays possible at the intersection with KY because of roadway relocation.


Montell finds $9 million error

State Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) announced Tuesday that he his office has received confirmation that his concern about the terms of a contract with Jackson & Coker Locumtenens, LLC, has been resolved in favor of the state  in the amount of more than $9 million. Montell had questioned the contract amount reportedly to provide psychiatric services at multiple mental health facilities.

"I recognize the importance of having mental health service providers at every facility, I see my job on this committee as a conservator of the public funds and the amount requested in the contract was significantly higher than any requested allocation we had ever seen," Montell said in a release from the House Republican Caucus.

During testimony before the Government Contract Review Committee, Kevin Mudd and Kathy Burk, representing the Department for Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities, advised the original amount requested was based on an overestimate of service needed.  In a printed response, the staff reply identified the reduction as "more realistic estimate of needs based or recent and current staffing needs."

"I am pleased the administration clarified the contract amount and that the reduced amount, based on realistic needs, reflects a reduction of the obligation by more than $9 million,” Montell said. “My frustration is that a mistake of this amount cleared the oversight hurdles in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. A nine-million-dollar mistake is huge.”


Graduation rates rise statewide

Gov. Steve Beshear praised the state’s educators for significantly raising the graduation rate among Kentucky students. The rate moved from 63.7 percent for the class of 2000 to 77.2 percent for the class of 2010 (the latest data available), an increase of 13.5 points and the third-most-improved among all states. During the same time the national graduation rate improved 7.9 percentage points to 74.7 percent, according to a news release from Beshear's office.
The data is reported in a special issue of Education Week (a national publication that focuses on P-12 education) called “Diploma Counts.” The report examines high school graduation and issues related to late-secondary schooling and the transition to postsecondary education and employment. The report can be viewed at www.edweek.org/go/dc13.
The report indicates that in Kentucky, more than 11,000 students in the class of 2013 will fail to earn a diploma. That translates into 64 students dropping out of high school each day – of which nearly 74 percent are white, 61 percent male and 72 percent are without a job.

Beshear asks for hemp intervention

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said he applauded Beshear’s letter to President Barack Obama asking the federal government to identify economic opportunities from the production of industrial hemp.
“I welcome the governor’s partnership in this effort and for bringing this important issue to the President’s attention,” Comer said in a release from his office. “We have to start talking very seriously about job creation in this state, and I think we are going to have to look for new, creative ways to help our farmers and agriculture community.”

Comer said he asked the governor to submit the letter, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul made a similar request. Beshear asked that the U.S. attorney general, agriculture secretary, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Drug Enforcement Administration work together “to identify economic opportunities in the hemp industry that do not negatively impact [Kentucky’s] drug eradication efforts.”

The Kentucky General Assembly in March passed Senate Bill 50, which state Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) sponsored and Comer supported, establishing an administrative framework for industrial hemp production in Kentucky.


State has new personnel site
Shelby Countians who work or seek to work for state government can use a new Web experience that was launched this week by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet. The new site features streamlined content, quick navigation options based on customer needs and advanced search functions. Innovative elements include the automation of select business requests, enhanced online customer support and reporting functionality for HR system users. The address remains the same, Personnel.ky.gov.


State’s tax revenue grows
May's General Fund tax receipts grew 8.3 percent compared to May of last year. That's an increase of nearly $61 million, according to the office of the state budget director. Total revenues for the month were nearly $794 million compared to $733 million during May 2012. Tax receipts have grown 2.7 percent for the first 11 months of fiscal year 2013, state Budget Director Jane Driskell's office said in a news release.
Among major accounts, despite a strong May showing, sales and use tax receipts year to date are down 0.9 percent, and property tax collections increased more than 75 percent in May because of timing issues and have grown 5.6. Cigarette taxes were down 22 percent for the month and 5.2 percent for the year.


SCHS sets special SBDM election
Shelby County High School is calling for a special election for a minority parent representative on its Site-Based Decision-Making Council Minority Parent Rep to serve on the SBDM Council. Nomination forms are available at SCS, and the deadline for nomination is 3 p.m. Thursday. The special election from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. June 18 at SCHS. For more information, call 633-2344.
Other SBDM announcements:

§       East Middle School’s SBDM has called a special meeting for 4 p.m. Thursday. The session will be closed to address personnel matters.

§       Simpsonville Elementary’s SBDM will have a special called meetings at 11 a.m. Thursday in the school’s library. This is to address personnel issues.

§       Collins High School SBDM reopened its nomination process for one parent to serve from July 1 through June 30, 2014, and another to serve from July 1 through June 30, 2015. Voting will take place at 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday at the school. For questions, contact Stivers at Leesa.stivers@shelby.kyschools.us or 502-647-1160.


Multi-Purpose sets election, meeting

Multi-Purpose Community Action Agency will hold a public election next Wednesday for low-income board representatives in Bullitt and Shelby Counties. Voting will be at senior center on Washington Street between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Anyone 18 years of age or older and living within the county is eligible to vote.


The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this report.