- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Nov. 4

The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on outsize fears of Ebola:

Except for a bad rap over Galileo, the Roman Catholic church has a pretty good record on science.

It has a centuries-old tradition of founding schools, colleges and advancing education. Just last week, Pope Francis drew widespread attention by reminding the world that the Big Bang theory and evolution do not conflict with church teachings.

Which bring us to the baffling reaction at Louisville’s St. Margaret Mary Catholic parish, where officials recently sought to quarantine from the elementary school a teacher who had returned from a medical missionary trip to Kenya.

The reason? Some parents feared possible contagion of the Ebola virus, The Courier-Journal’s Allison Ross reported Tuesday.

This is despite the fact there have been no Ebola cases in Kenya, which is located on the eastern edge of Africa, thousands of miles from the Ebola outbreaks of western Africa, and despite the fact the teacher meets none of the risk factors for travelers identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nonetheless, St. Margaret Mary officials wanted teacher Susan Sherman, a nurse, to stay away from the school for 21 days on paid leave. They also wanted, upon her return, a doctor’s note stating she is in good health.

Instead, Ms. Sherman resigned her job after efforts to reason with school officials failed and they demurred on the offer from her and her physician husband, who also made the trip, to host an educational forum for the parish about Ebola and their humanitarian work in Kenya.

Ebola undoubtedly is a very scary disease. But fears are best countered with information, education and, yes, science, as the church eventually admitted in the case of Galileo, the Italian astronomer who defied church teachings in the 1600s by concluding the planets orbit the sun.

More than three centuries later, the Vatican in 1992 officially acknowledged it was wrong about Galileo.

The Shermans ought to get some acknowledgment much sooner that St. Margaret Mary badly mishandled this whole episode.




Oct. 28

Kentucky New Era, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on investigating in-house jail loans:

Last week while a jury deliberated on the charges against a former Christian County Jail bookkeeper, Circuit Judge Andrew Self, who presided in the trial, was requesting the appointment of a special grand jury to investigate another potential case from the jail. Self explained his request after the jury returned to the courtroom with a guilty verdict against Darlene Summer. She was convicted on four theft charges stemming from nearly $40,000 that was taken from inmate fee accounts. The jury set her sentence at one and half years in jail.

Separate from the charges against Summers, the trial revealed an in-house loan program for jail employees. Money collected from inmates and their families for commissary items such as snacks and toiletries became, at least in part, a loan fund for jail employees. According to court testimony, loans were made for about 10 years during Livy Leavell’s tenure as jailer. Testifying in Summers’ trial, Leavell, who is now the county sheriff, admitted he was among the jail staff who took out loans from commissary proceeds. Leavell’s loan was for approximately $3,000, money he used for closing costs when he bought a house.

The loan program is no longer offered, and the jail has switched to a third-party vendor to collect money from inmates and their relatives. These corrections do not resolve questions about whether the loan program was legal.

Self’s request for a special grand jury is the first good step in resolving that question. Without further review, the public would be left wondering how the employee loan fund was ever allowed to operate. Even if this was not illegal, it was a lousy idea and an irresponsible practice.

On Tuesday, Atkins confirmed to the New Era that he intends to impanel a special grand jury. First, though, a special prosecutor will need to be appointed by the state attorney general.

These are the right steps to take.




Nov. 1

The Independent, Ashland, Kentucky, on state’s aviation museum:

Morehead State University’s space science program is once again in the spotlight. The Aviation Museum of Kentucky has named MSU the recipient of the 2014 Kentucky Aerospace Achievement Award for outstanding work in preparing students for the aerospace industry.

“Morehead State’s Earth and Space Sciences Department is one of only five higher education institutions in the United States offering a degree in space science,” museum President David Riggins said. “Its research includes nano-satellite technology and development of Cubesats about the size of a loaf of bread. NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and aerospace industries across the country are utilizing this technology.”

“I am delighted for Morehead State University and the Space Science Center faculty, staff and students,” said Dr. Ben Malphrus, chairman Department of Earth and Space Sciences. “The Space Science Center is unique in that all of our major space programs are implemented by teams that include aerospace industry and international partners working closely with our staff and particularly with our students Undergraduate students are intimately involved in the design, fabrication, testing and on-orbit operation of our space assets.”

The latest award for MSU’s science program comes on the heels of the signing of an agreement between Morehead State and Ashland Community and Technical College that will enable students to earn an undergraduate degree in space science by taking the first two years of classes at ACTC and the final two years on the MSU campus. For local students interested in a career in the aerospace industry, the new 2-plus-2 program will significantly reduce the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree.

MSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences has a range of academic programs and courses to prepare students for careers in aerospace, space systems or advanced degrees in the space sciences. Degree programs available include bachelor of science in space science, bachelor of science in physics with concentration in astrophysics and master of science in space systems engineering. The space and science program is well on its way to becoming perhaps the school’s most prestigious program.

While some may think a museum in Kentucky honoring the state’s only university offering undergraduate degrees in space science is a bit self-serving, but the Aviation Museum of Kentucky is a non-profit institution independent of MSU. Because of the quality of the work done by its recipients, the award is well respected in the aerospace industry.



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