- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Beshear plans to appoint another minority to UofL board

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration violated state law with his appointments that left racial minorities underrepresented on the University of Louisville’s governing board, according to an opinion from Attorney General Jack Conway’s office Tuesday.

The opinion set off an immediate chain reaction of responses, which seemingly pointed toward the eventual appointment of a black member to correct the lack of sufficient minority representation on UofL’s board of trustees.

Soon after the opinion surfaced, Beshear’s office announced that UofL Trustee Steve Wilson had submitted his resignation.

Wilson, who is white, said Tuesday he was stepping aside so another minority representative could be appointed to the board.

Beshear signaled his intention to do that by appointing an African-American trustee. He asked a nominating committee to convene as soon as possible to submit three names to him as required by law.

“I will be specifically asking the committee to forward names of qualified African-Americans so that I can appoint such a person to the University of Louisville Board of Trustees,” Beshear said in a statement.

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GOP US Rep. Ed Whitfield will not seek re-election

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Republican U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield says he will not seek a 12th term.

Whitfield made the announcement in a news release Tuesday afternoon. The Hopkinsville Republican has been in Congress for 20 years. His term ends in January 2017.

Whitfield was a Democratic member of the state House of Representatives in the late 1970s before switching to the Republican party to run for Congress in 1994. Whitfield said he is most proud of helping establish a federal health benefit program for the workers of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and creating a national forest at the Land Between The Lakes.

Whitfield is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee on allegations he allowed his wife to lobby his staff on behalf of her employer, The Humane Society. Whitfield has denied the allegations and called them politically motivated.

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Renovation design unveiled for Louisville convention center

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - With events already being booked for the renovated Kentucky International Convention Center even before construction work begins, officials on Tuesday offered a glimpse of what the state-backed project will look like.

Gov. Steve Beshear, Louisville’s mayor and others attended an unveiling of designs for the $180 million project that they hope will boost convention business in Kentucky’s largest city.

But first, the sprawling convention center spanning a couple of downtown city blocks will close for about two years during the renovation. Work is set to begin in August 2016.

The project, financed in part by $56 million in state-backed bonds, will increase exhibit space and renovate meeting rooms within the center’s existing footprint. The rest of the financing will come from bonds backed by revenue from a 1 percent increase in taxes paid by people staying in Louisville hotels. The room tax increase was approved by Louisville Metro Council.

The goal is to attract conventions and trade shows that have outgrown the existing space and to lure new business.

“It’s going to help us send that message around the world that this city has got it going on,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

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Louisville reaches $6M settlement over zoo train derailing

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville has reached a $6 million settlement with five people injured in a 2009 derailing of a small train that carries families around the city’s zoo.

The open-air, small-engine train was carrying 29 passengers and an operator when it went off the rails near the Louisville Zoo’s gorilla exhibit. Several children were on board.

The Jefferson County attorney’s office announced the settlement Tuesday, saying all legal actions related to the June 1, 2009, crash were complete. The city had previously settled with 26 others who sought claims for a total of $662,499.

Four of the plaintiffs involved in this week’s settlement were Chris and Amanda Lankford and their two children. Chris Lankford’s leg was pinned under the train car when it rolled over, and he has had eight surgeries in the six years since. Both children, an infant and a toddler, were hospitalized.

“I think the incident drastically changed our lives,” Amanda Lankford said, shedding tears as she spoke to reporters at her attorney’s office on Tuesday. Since her husband couldn’t walk after the incident, Lankford, who was a stay-at-home mom, said she was forced to leave home and get a job.

“You can’t bring back the time that you missed with your kids, that has been one of the harder things to deal with,” she said.


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