- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Historically black college marks accreditation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A small, historically black college founded 135 years ago by former slaves celebrated a milestone Monday - gaining national accreditation that’s expected to spur growth for the tiny campus in Louisville.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth joined students, faculty and administrators in marking the new status for Simmons College of Kentucky, a private school that hopes to double its enrollment next fall with the addition of several new academic programs.

“Simply put, accreditation is value,” said Kevin Cosby, the college’s president. “It is proof that Simmons has met national standards necessary to produce graduates who are prepared to enter into their selected professions.”

Simmons said its accreditation was awarded by The Association of Biblical Higher Education, comprised of almost 200 postsecondary institutions across North America. The school completed an eight-year assessment of its academic and financial standards to achieve the recognition.

School leaders said the newfound status also positions the school to seek federal designation among the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. That designation could pump a minimum of $300,000 annually into Simmons, they said.

The school also landed a large financial award Monday to further the momentum.


Kentucky Senate OKs mental health record exchange

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Mental health records for patients in Kentucky are on their way to meeting federal regulations after a bill passed through the Senate Monday, seeking to bring them up to code.

The measure would allow mental health care providers to participate in an electronic information network in order to meet federal requirements.

The bill’s sponsor is Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, a Republican from Lexington.

Kerr says the bill aims to help people by having mental health care providers practice the same information exchange as practiced by physical health care providers.

The measure passed out of the Senate on a unanimous vote of 35-0. It now moves to the House for consideration.



Kentucky Senate OKs home care worker bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A bill passed by the Kentucky Senate on Monday would exempt home care workers from the state’s seven-day overtime law.

Under current Kentucky law, if an in-home caregiver works for seven consecutive days, the employer must pay time and a half on the seventh day.

Bill sponsor Sen. Julie Denton, a Republican from Louisville, says the rule inhibits scheduling flexibility and can drive up employer costs.

The measure received no opposition in its committee hearing or on the Senate floor.

The bill passed out of the Senate on a 34-1 vote. It now moves to the Kentucky House for consideration.



Ky. prison with Vt. inmates no longer locked down

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A longer-than-usual lockdown ended earlier this month at a Kentucky prison housing inmates from Vermont and officials said there are plans to change how the facility monitors inmates there.

More than 200 inmates at the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville were confined to their cells for a week and allowed out only when escorted by staff after a lockdown initiated Jan. 15 because of a series of assaults. The modified lockdown lasted until Feb. 4, with prisoners allowed to access day rooms for no more than four hours daily.

Most prison lockdowns last about three days, Vermont Defender General Matthew Valerio said in January. The full lockdown process in Kentucky lasted almost three weeks.

Vermont houses prisoners in two facilities out-of-state due to space issues and money woes. About 10 inmates from Vermont were moved to facilities in Arizona or Vermont during the lockdown, said Vermont Department of Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito.

Pallito said Corrections Corporation of America, the private contractor that operates the Kentucky prison, has committed to more staffing and more direct supervision within the units at the facility in coming weeks. Pallito said a security specialist assessed the lockdown for the department, and the department will continue to monitor the situation.

“Any private company is going to be apt to try and cut expenses,” Pallito said of CCA. “It’s our job to monitor that they don’t cut too far.”

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