News Briefs: Lexington, LFUCG 5.13.1998

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by Todd Piccirilli
Business as(Un)usual
Two major suppliers of community services saw some major changes become a reality recently. Of concern to all Lexington residents is the merger between Kentucky Utilities and the Louisville-based LG & E Energy. The company will go by the name LG & E Energy, but the familiar KU logo and red trucks will remain. This merger means electric service to well over a million Kentuckians, but it should also lead to a decrease in utility rates.

Hopefully, this decrease will offset some of the increase that those of us who subscribe to local cable service must soon face. Customers of the former TCI of Lexington can expect rate increases beginning in June. However, Intermedia, the company which recently completed its acquisition of the local TCI service, says that it can justify the rate hikes with a plan to offer greatly enhanced service. By the end of 1999, the company expects to have a new system completely installed that will offer full digital transmission. This will mean greater picture and sound quality, enough channels to give surfers a sore remote control thumb and blazingly fast Internet access that doesn’t tie up the phone line.

Where Should the Money Go?
Mayor Pam Miller answered that question last Tuesday when she presented her budget plan before the city council. Public safety was obviously a major concern with several million dollars earmarked for the police and fire departments. Many parks will also be seeing improvements or renovations, as the recent study on the city’s parks suggested be done.

The council still must approve the budget after a series of public hearings. However, strong payroll growth and state surplus money have allowed Miller to develop a budget that should make a lot of people happy, a fortunate outcome with elections right around the corner.

Troubled Youth
The recent annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which tracks child well being, has Kentucky ranked in the bottom half of several categories that the foundation uses in its measurements for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The state was worse than the national average in the percent of children in poverty, teen birth rate, low birth-weight babies, high school dropout rate and the number of teens neither working nor attending school. Even more disconcerting is the fact that the state was above the national average in teen arrest rate and the percentage of teen deaths. As a result, Kentucky received a shockingly low 40th ranking out of all the states for overall “child well-being.”

Environmentally Friendly
This column has covered several of the state’s environmental problems and doled out much needed criticism of the 1998 General Assembly’s treatment of environmental legislation. But now we’d like to say congratulations to some local organizations that have demonstrated a conscientious effort to improve the area’s environment

Last week, the Environmental Commission for Lexington-Fayette County honored this year’s recipients of its annual awards. The winners include the Providence Montessori School for visual improvements of its grounds with a butterfly garden, bird feeding stations and several newly planted trees.

Longwood Restoration won for their efforts to locate and salvage materials in demolished or renovated structures, saving many historical items from the landfill. Finally, the Royal Spring Water Supply Protection Committee was selected for its role in organizing a management plan for the Royal Spring aquifer, Georgetown’s primary source for drinking water. The committee is very active in the effort to educate the public about watershed problems and prevent water pollution.

We’re On It
Several questions were raised by a letter to the editor (printed in the April 29-May12, 1998 issue) concerning the recent Race for the Cure, a nationwide series of 5K runs to raise money for breast cancer. The letter expressed what our reader construed to be a violation of participants’ right to privacy because they must sign a drug testing notice.

According to Laurie Morrow, director of Race for the Cure at the national headquarters of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the drug testing policy is standard procedure for two reasons. First, the race is registered with U.S.A. Track and Field. Therefore, if a participant breaks any records during a race, he or she is subject to a drug test for the record to be official. The second reason is simply for insurance purposes.

Morrow said that, to her knowledge, no one has actually been tested. She also stated that this was the first complaint that she has ever received pertaining to the drug testing clause.

(After conferring with legal counsel, Morrow may also submit a letter to the editor addressing the concerns expressed.)

Money raised by the races helps fund both national research efforts and local breast cancer initiatives, including education, screening and treatment.



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