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Local News Politics

Court Hears Appeal in Amish Vehicle Sign Case

A case involving religion and state law is now in the hands of a three judge panel of the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The court heard arguments in the case Thursday.

A group of Amish men is appealing their convictions for failing to display a slow moving vehicle sign on the rear of their buggies. The sign is required for vehicles traveling slower than 25 miles per hour.

The sign is bright red and the Swartzentruber Amish do not believe in extravagant displays of color. Instead, they use reflective tape and lanterns.

Their attorney, the ACLU’s Bill Sharp, says his clients’ religious freedom is protected under the state constitution.

“The government has not established that the slow moving vehicle emblem is more effective at improving roadway safety than the agreed alternative safety devices that my clients use on their buggies.”

Sharp says he expects the court to make a decision within the next few weeks.

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Local News

Kentucky Center Cancels Thunder Over Louisville Event

Officials with the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts have canceled their Thunder Over Louisville event this year.

For the past four years, center patrons have had exclusive access to the western portion of the belvedere, even though it’s not included in the center’s contract with the Derby Festival. This year, the Derby Festival has found a sponsor for a new event on the belvedere, and the center cannot use all of the space.

“We tried to offer them more space. Not as much space as they’ve taken in past years, but more space than was contracted and its part of an effort to ensure public space on the belvedere,” says festival spokesperson Aimee Boyd.

Kentucky Center spokesperson David Holland says the full space is essential to the center’s event, and festival officials told the center less than a week ago that full access would not be granted.

“You know that means it was less than a month before Thunder Over Louisville and since we really didn’t have time to revise any of our marketing materials or really inform the public and since the pricing of the event was really based on having all of that space in the back we really had no choice but to cancel the event for this year,” says Holland.

Holland says patrons who have already purchased tickets will receive a refund.

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Local News Politics

Edge Outreach to Demonstrate New Water Filtration System That Will Be Used in Japan, Haiti

Edge Outreach, an organization that helps provide safe drinking water for people around the world, will introduce its latest water purification technology Tuesday at the Frazier International History Museum.

The demonstration coincides with the museum’s “Water Works” exhibit, which highlights the Louisville Water Company’s history.

Edge Executive Director Mark Hogg says the new technology allows water to be pumped, purified and collected in a storage tank all in one motion. It’s being used in Haiti right now.

“We are constantly working in Haiti. We’ve been working in Haiti for years and that’s helped us be extremely effective in the earthquake. As far as Japan goes we are offering our training in networking, in connections best we can to help anyone that’s headed to Japan.” he says.

To help raise awareness about the importance of clean drinking water, the Frazier Museum will host a free World Water Day event tomorrow Tuesday from 6 to 8 pm.

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Environment Local News

Kentucky House Environment Committee Chair to Visit Louisville LG&E Plant

What was planned as a protest rally Thursday by environmentalists and residents living near the LG&E Cane Run plant has turned into a celebration of sorts.

Sierra Club Representative Thomas Pearce says the demonstrators have been lobbying lawmakers to approve a measure regulating coal ash, which is a toxic byproduct of burning coal.

“Our goal was just to get the legislators to take house bill 237 seriously” says Pearce, “and to support the EPA and it looks like we’re batting a thousand today.”

The group found out Thursday that Kentucky House Environment Committee chair Jim Gooch will visit Louisville this summer to study how coal ash has hurt living conditions near the plant.

“The fact that he has decided to bring his committee down there means that we’ve overcome an insurmountable obstacle,” Pearce says.

Pearce welcomes Gooch’s visit, and he’s pleased with recently-announced EPA regulations on mercury. But, Pearce says he still hopes LG&E will abandon its plans to build a 65 acre coal ash landfill at Cane Run.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Fischer Discusses Plan to Bring Aging Care Jobs to Louisville

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Wednesday unveiled his plans to focus the city’s economic development efforts on the lifelong wellness and aging care industries.

Fischer announced a new center to develop businesses that focus on elderly care in Nucleus, University of Louisville’s life sciences campus.

Mayor’s spokesperson Chris Poynter says the initiative is aimed at bringing jobs to Louisville.

“Early in January, Dharma Construction which builds nursing home facilities relocated their corporate headquarters from California to Louisville. The mayor wants to look at how can we attract more businesses, how can we grow local business, how can we also for example go after conventions and industry trade shows,” he says.

A new think tank funded by Signature Healthcare and Nucleus will also be housed at Nucleus’s headquarters on Market Street downtown.

In addition, Signature Healthcare and Nucleus will each contribute $1.5 million to an investment fund to assist innovation in the wellness and aging care industry.

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Local News

UK Presidential Search Committee Visits Louisville

Representatives from the University of Kentucky will visit  Louisville Tuesday to ask for public input on the search for a new school president.

Current president Lee Todd is retiring this summer. By Wednesday morning, members of the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee will have visited 15 total cities to talk with alumni, faculty and interested parties about what qualities the new president should have.

Board chair Britt Brockman says the information gathered at the meetings will be used during candidate interviews.

“Next week we’ll meet in northern Kentucky and we will actually interview all of the finalists one on one. And about a week following that we’ll sit down in a room and hopefully come out with three to five preferred candidates,” he says.

Brockman says the board members hope to make a decision by May 1st. A search firm is also helping the board. The firm—Greenwood Asher of Florida—is the same agency that found Todd and brought him to UK.

Today’s forum will be at the Kentucky International Convention Center at 4:30 pm.

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Local News

City Officials Monitoring Ohio River

The Ohio River could hit its highest level since 2005 this weekend. The river is expected to crest at 28 feet by Sunday.  That’s five feet above flood stage.

Executive Director of the Metropolitan Sewer District Bud Schardein says he doesn’t anticipate any major problems.

“I think we’re in good shape right now.  Everyone who’s behind the levee and the flood wall is being protected right now.  All the flood pumping plants that are in operation are operating properly and doing their job,” says Schardein “so it’s more now of just watching the river and seeing if there’s going to be a spike in it or it’s going to hit its 28 feet and start dropping.”

Schardein says as a precaution flood walls will be installed at Second Street and Bingham Way on Sunday.  Flood walls are already in place at 10th and 27th streets.

Schardein also urges motorists to stay off River Road and Mellwood Avenue between Zorn Avenue and downtown.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Speed Museum to Review Collection, Sell Some Pieces

Louisville Speed Art Museum officials have launched the first comprehensive review of the Museum’s 14,000 piece collection in 83 years.

It’s part of several initiatives aimed at improving the collection and better engaging visitors.

Other initiatives include expanding the museum and building a new north building with gallery, performance and event spaces as well as a piazza and outdoor art park. Renovations on the first phase which include a new driveway begin in May.

The museum will also continue its programming including the Speed Concert Series and Art Sparks which is an interactive education center.

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Local News

Seven Counties Services to Stop Prescribing Xanax

Seven Counties Services will stop writing new prescriptions for the popular anti-anxiety drug Xanax beginning April 1st.

Doctors and nurse practitioners at the agency will no longer prescribe Xanax for new patients. Patients already on the drug will slowly be moved to other drugs, and after December 31st, no further prescriptions for Xanax will be written for any patient.

Dr. Scott Hedges, senior vice president for medical services at Seven Counties, says he hopes patients will not go elsewhere to get the drug.

“Really our goal is to try to help these individuals get on a path of a healthier lifestyle choice. To get on a path of trying to find alternatives that don’t carry the risk of addiction. They don’t carry the risk of being diverted to misuse in our community, but can still treat their symptoms related to anxiety or panic,” he says.

Hedges says Xanax is the second-most abused prescription medication in Kentucky. He says nearly 2,000 of the agency’s 30,000 patients in Jefferson and surrounding counties are taking Xanax.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

TARC Takes Public Comment on Louisville Loop Service

The Transit Authority of River City is taking public comments on a proposed new bus service that connects various parks to the Louisville Loop.

Two people showed up for an open house on the plan Tuesday afternoon. One of them, John Owen,  said TARC should improve its current services, rather than add more.

“To me the service should attract and appeal to the masses. You know healthy hometown grant aside or not they’re extending the 63 bus to cover this so why could not our regular 43 and 27 route cover this?” he said.

The other half of the audience, Friends of the Louisville Loop member Stewart Burn, said the route will help familiarize people with the loop.

“It’ll be a good first start,” he says.  “You know we’ll see how people use it and primarily I understand that this is meant for people that aren’t exercising, that aren’t biking or aren’t walking to get them interested and show them where the route starts.”

TARC is funding the service with $300,000 from a federal grant, and the money can’t be used on other services. TARC did, however, recently use federal money to improve two existing routes.”

The grant will cover the new route for one year. Service begins in May.

TARC will accept comments online or by phone or mail until March 18th.