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Kentucky and Ohio Sharing Prescription Information

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

What started out as a program to track where patients get their prescription drugs in Kentucky has expanded to Ohio.

This week the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system, or KASPER, launched a data exchange with the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, or OARRS. So far, 12 Kentucky physicians are testing the program.

“The fact that that pilot’s up, running, and we’ve got users sharing data means that we’ve made a huge advance in being able to take this statewide between Ohio and Kentucky and to start bringing other states on board so that we’re all sharing,” says KASPER manager Dave Hopkins.

Now a doctor or pharmacist in Kentucky can check if their patient has been prescribed drugs in Ohio without logging on to a different network. That should make it easier to drug abusers who go to multiple doctors for medication.

Hopkins plans to continue the pilot for about one or two months before expanding it to other KASPER users across the state.

Prescription drug abuse is rampant in parts of Kentucky, and many of the drugs are purchased in other states. Hopkins says a meeting is scheduled for next Thursday to discuss possibilities for a single software interface that could be used nationwide.

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Ohio Police Chief Discusses Appalachian Pill Pipeline on Diane Rehm

Portsmouth, Ohio Chief of Police Charles Horner was among the guests discussing prescription drug abuse on the Diane Rehm show today. You can listen to it here.

Horner says prescription overdose death’s in Ohio’s Scioto County have quadrupled in the last few years. Ohio Governor John Kasich recently met with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to discuss prescription abuse.

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Beshear and Other Governors Working Together to Fight Prescription Abuse

by Dan Conti, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Ohio Governor John Kasich  met today to discuss their states’ efforts to fight prescription drug abuse.

Many of the prescription drugs abused in eastern Kentucky and neighboring regions come from Florida. Kasich says the governors must come together to stop the so-called pill pipeline that brings prescriptions to the area.

“We’re going to work with the Governor of Kentucky, the Governor of West Virginia, I’ve already talked to the Governor of Florida,” he says. “Winning the battle against opiates, which destroys so many of our families, has to be won.”

The meeting comes the week after Beshear and Florida Governor Rick Scott testified on the issue in Congress. Scott began the year with plans to block a system for tracking prescriptions in Florida, but has since reversed his stance. The White House Drug Czar has called on state and federal officials to work harder to stop prescription drug abuse. The federal plan to curb illegal prescriptions focuses on education, law enforcement and prescription tracking systems like the one in Kentucky, and the one proposed in Florida.

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LG&E Crews Sent To Ohio After Storm

More than 100 Louisville Gas and Electric contractors and line workers are in Ohio helping restore power.

The crews were sent to Cincinnati and Dayton Wednesday, where this week’s winter storm was more destructive than it was in Louisville. Spokesperson Brian Phillips says most of LG&E’s crews, however, will remain in Kentucky.

“We have several hundred workers around our service area here—locally and around the 90 counties that we serve in Kentucky,” he says. “So we have more than enough resources here to deal with any type of emergencies that might come up.”

Hundreds of LG&E customers lost power after the storm Wednesday. Phillips says their electricity has been restored.

The workers in Ohio will be paid by the utilities they are working for—Duke Energy and Dayton Power and Light. Both utilities sent crews to Kentucky after the 2009 ice storm.

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U Of L Loses To Akron In Championship Game

The University of Louisville men’s soccer team has taken second place in the NCAA College Cup.

The Cardinals lost 1-0 to the University of Akron Sunday in the championship game. U of L had previously beaten North Carolina in the semi-finals.

This is Akron’s first NCAA championship in any team sport.

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Indian Head Rock Returning To Kentucky

by Gabe Bullard

An eight-ton boulder that was pulled from the Ohio River at Greenup County, Kentucky and taken to Portsmouth, Ohio in 2007 will soon be returned to Kentucky.

Officials say a face carved in Indian Head Rock could make it a Native American artifact. That’s why, after the rock was pulled from the water by an expedition of Ohioans, Kentucky filed a civil suit to have it returned.

The states reached a settlement in the case this week and the boulder will soon be sent to a storage facility in Greenup County.

Kentucky Heritage Council director Mark Dennen says he and his colleagues must now find a location to display the rock to the public.

“It can be outside, it could be indoors,” he says. “It doesn’t need to be in a climate-controlled environment. What we do want to make sure is that we’re protecting it, to a certain extent, from the elements, and, most importantly, we want to make sure it’s protected from vandalism.”

Dennen says educational materials will be produced to accompany the display. Funding for the display has not yet been secured.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

21C Museum Hotel Plans Expanding to Arkansas

A hotel brand that started in Louisville is growing — with a new hotel planned in Arkansas.

Since 21C Museum Hotel opened in 2006 on Louisville’s Main Street, company founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson have decided to expand to other cities. Two hotels are being developed in Austin, Texas, and Cincinnati, Ohio. And Tuesday the founders announced plans to open a 21C Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Arkansas, sometime in 2012.

Although the brand is expanding, Wilson says he sees the Louisville hotel playing a crucial role for all of them.

“The art exhibits that we mount in Louisville will be able to travel to the other sites,” Wilson says, “so Louisville will become a testing ground, a learning facility.”

Wilson says he wants for Louisville’s 21C Museum Hotel to work with all 21C Museum Hotels.

“21C Louisville will, I think, will become a training ground or where we’ll begin to learn who on our staff has leadership qualities,” he says.

The Arkansas hotel is also being funded through heirs of Sam Walton, who founded Wal-Mart. It will be within walking distance of Wal-Mart headquarters and a Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, now under construction.

Wilson says the Bentonville’s plans to open the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the next few years will create economic growth in the city and an opportunity for businesses related to tourism.  That was the idea he and Brown had before they opened Louisville’s 21C Museum Hotel with the belief that art could spur economic activity.

Steve Wilson.

“The Crystal Bridges Museum will trigger economic development, new jobs, new taxes, new restaurants, new hotels,” Wilson says. “It’s going to be a major boon for the state of Arkansas.”

The $150 million Crystal Bridges Museum is financed in large part by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton. Wilson says the budget for of Bentonville’s planned 130-room 21C Museum Hotel is $28 million.

PHOTO: Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown. Courtesy 21C Museum Hotel.

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Local News

Kentucky Track Operators Watch Ohio Voters Approve Casinos

Voters in Ohio yesterday approved casino gambling in four major cities. That has expanded gaming proponents in Kentucky claiming the added competition is just another reason to approve a similar measure in the Commonwealth.

Ohio voters approved casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati. Just across the river from Cincinnati is Turfway Park, whose president, Bob Elliston, says it wasn’t surprising to watch the returns come in on the measure, but it is frustrating to a Kentucky horse track owner.

“Had we taken the step necessary, particularly on the Senate side, this summer, we could be in the business of constructing facilities and employing people now, rather than reacting to another state getting a leg up on us,” says Elliston.

Racetrack operators in Kentucky have said over the last few months it’s impossible to compete with other gaming options in neighboring states like Indiana that allow casinos. They claim their racing product is also affected because states with expanded gambling can infuse their racetrack purses with casino revenue.

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Local News

Indian Head Rock Case Goes to Federal Court

The story began when an Ohio man found the long-submerged Indian Head Rock in the Ohio River, rallied help to lug the 8-ton boulder onto shore, and returned to Portsmouth a hero and citizen historian.  But Kentuckians weren’t celebrating.  The rock is protected under Kentucky law because of its historical significance as a high-water mark for the river and other unique carvings.  Kentucky Attorney General’s office spokesperson Allison Martin says it’s unfortunate events have led to court.

“Parties stole this antiquity, a registered antiquity from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  We tried to negotiate with those parties to get it returned.  They didn’t return it. So they really left us with no choice,” says Martin.

Martin says Conway hopes to win the rock back and possibly display it in Kentucky.  It’s currently sitting in a Portsmouth city warehouse, awaiting its fate.

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Local News

E. coli Reported In Kentucky

An E. coli outbreak that began in Michigan and Ohio now includes one case each in Kentucky, Indiana and New York. The cases are thought to be related to ground beef that was recalled by the Kroger company this month.

The ground beef in question was sold at Kroger stores in Michigan and Ohio, but the recall was expanded to other states as a precaution. The case in Kentucky was reported near the Ohio border.

Kentucky epidemiologist Dr. Kraig Humbaugh says the Kentucky patient had eaten beef, but that’s the only evidence of the infection in the Commonwealth.

“At this point we haven’t had any positive tests in the food itself here in Kentucky,” he says.

So far, 44 E. coli cases have been confirmed, most of them in Michigan and Ohio. There have been no deaths from the illness.