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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Welch Amends Life Jacket Ordinance

After meeting with park officials Louisville Metro Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, has revised an ordinance that would require children to wear personal floatation devices while at any public waterway within the city limits.

Originally, the bill required anyone 12 and under to wear a life jacket while in or around any river, lake or creek accessible to the general public. But critics raised concern about the ordinance’s broadness and cost to residents, who could be subject to a $100 fine.

The amended ordinance only requires a life preserver for children 11 or younger who enter, swim or engage in recreational activities in any navigable waterway.

Welch says she decided to change the language of the ordinance after meeting with Metro Parks, Waterfront Park and 21st Century Park officials. She hopes the revisions will make its passage easier on the council.

“My goal in all of this is not to have anymore childhood drownings in our community. We’ve had so many this summer and we just need to raise the awareness of the parents and the guardians of these children when they’re around these waters that are just so dangerous,” she says.

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Local News Politics

Welch Introduces Life Jacket Ordinance

Citing a number of young people who have drowned in recent months, Louisville Metro Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, has filed an ordinance that would require children to wear a personal floatation device while at any public waterway within the city limits.

The legislation would require anyone under 13 years of age to wear a life jacket while in or around any river, lake or creek accessible to the general public. It carries a $100 fine for each separate offense and could include criminal charges under state law.

Welch says she drafted the ordinance after a lieutenant with Metro Police brought up growing concerns about the recent rash of incidents where children died  in waterways. The councilwoman cited adult negligence as a leading cause of those accidents.

“I’m hopeful that it will get people used to purchasing life preservers and having it for their children. It’s very hazardous and adults get busy doing things that they have to do with their boats and their camps and their fishing gear. And so the only real protection is to have a life preserver on those children,” she says.

The city bill exempts public swimming pools with certified lifeguards.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

City Lawmakers Denounce Hospital Merger

Joining state lawmakers and hundreds of residents, three members of the Louisville Metro Council are criticizing the pending merger between U of L Hospital, Jewish Hospital and a division of Catholic Health Initiatives.

Council members Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, and Marianne Butler, D-15, signed a petition that will appear as a half-page advertisement in the Courier-Journal this weekend, which protests the hospital merger and says it will “stop vital medical procedures” for residents in the area.

The lucrative deal makes the Denver-based Catholic institute a majority owner over University Hospital, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Lexington-based St. Joseph Health System. But critics of the merger are concerned about the future of certain healthcare services such as vasectomies, stem cell research and other medical procedures of which the Catholic Church does not approve.

Welch says the merger endangers women’s reproductive rights because University Hospital serves poorer patients who rely on their healthcare services more than most.

“My main concern is that it won’t be status quo with women’s and men’s reproductive health. I certainly believe people have the  right to decide if they want a tubal ligation or a vasectomy for family planning, ” she says. “And since University Hospital is our most indigent populated hospital, this is really going to cause problems.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

More Council Members Volunteer for Week-Long Furlough

More members of the Louisville Metro Council are answering a call to participate in Mayor Greg Fischer’s week-long furlough program to help fill the city’s budget shortfall.

Last week, Council President Jim King, D-10, asked fellow members and their staffs to join the voluntary program for all Metro employees making less than $70,000 annually. The cost-saving measure is mandatory for non-union employees above that threshold.

Councilman David James, D-6, was the first to step forward publicly, saying the city’s deficit is a chance for elected officials to make sacrifices in order to avoid layoffs and cuts to city services. Since then council members Barbara Shanklin, D-2, Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, Rick Blackwell, D-12, and David Yates, D-25, have said they will participate as well.

However, those council members differ on whether their legislative aides will also take part in the week-long furlough.

The program would save the city $816 per council member if they reimburse Metro Government for the unpaid days.

Thus far, no council Republicans have publicly said they will volunteer for the mayor’s furlough program, but their caucus spokesman has said GOP members support the plan.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Council Members, Dream Team to Unveil New “Welcome to Southwest Louisville” Sign

A handful of Louisville Metro Council members will join the Southwest Dream Team and local business owners to unveil a new “Welcome to Southwest Louisville” banner along Dixie Highway.

On Wednesday, council members Rick Blackwell, D-12, Vicki Aubrey Welch, D-13, Bob Henderson, D-14, and David Yates, D-25,  will present the new sign located at the Michel Tire Company, 10601 Dixie Highwya, which is part of a larger effort to revitalize the area and spur development.

“We want everyone to know community pride is growing in Southwest Louisville,” says Blackwell. “This new sign will welcome those from the Gene Snyder and people south and let them know we are growing and have much to offer.”

In 2009, Dream Team representatives placed their first “Welcome to Southwest Louisville” banner on Jim Vincent’s Body Shop. This new sign will highlight additional attractions in south Louisville neighborhoods such as Mike Lining’s Restaurant, the Jefferson Memorial Forest, the Atlas Machine Company at Riverport and the Southwest Festival.

“The Dream Team is moving forward with its efforts to show all of Metro Louisville that this area is just as vibrant and growing as any other,” says Yates. “This new sign, like the one located at Dixie and the Watterson Expressway highlights some great things about the community.”

Funding for the banner was provided by Blackwell, Welch and Henderson, along with council members Judy Green, D-1, and Mary Woolridge, D-3, whose district represent parts of southwest Louisville.

The new sign will be officially unveiled at noon Wednesday.