Lifeskills, Inc.

Two behavioral healthcare organizations that serve a combined 18 southern and western counties in Kentucky are merging.

Lifeskills, Inc. and the Pennyroyal Center announced the move Tuesday.

The new combined organization will continue to provide addiction treatment, mental health, and developmental disability services at all 26 service locations it currently operates.

Lifeskills President and CEO Joe Dan Beavers said the merger builds on years of informal partnerships between the two groups.

J. Tyler Franklin

When Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed the pension bill that passed out of the legislature last month, he promised to call lawmakers back to Frankfort to do it all over again in a special legislative session before July 1.

But the timing of the yet-to-be-announced session is complicated, because state universities affected by the measure say they need clarity on whether they will face massive increases in the amount they have to contribute to the pension systems when they start writing their budgets on June 1.

Rhonda J. Miller

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its five-year census on April 11, and for the first time it includes a category for military veterans who are farming. The census shows that Kentucky currently has about 13,000 farmers with miltary service. 

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture recognized the value of this combination in 2013 with the creation of a program called Homegrown By Heroes. It's a marketing initiative to spotlight and support agricultural producers with military experience.


Byron Jorjorian/The Nature Conservancy

A conservation group chose Earth Day, April 22, to announce the purchase of a massive property in Appalachian forest to protect habitat and help wildlife adapt to the challenges of climate change.

The property covers 100,000 acres of forest straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit that made the purchase, said it plans to restore forest health, lease land for sustainable forestry, and provide opportunities for locals to enjoy the wilderness.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is closing a program on campus that promotes Chinese language and culture. 

In an email to faculty and staff on Monday, WKU President Timothy Caboni announced the school is terminating its agreement with the Confucius Institute. 

The institute came to WKU in 2010 and helps place Chinese language teachers in local K-through-12 schools, while also serving as a hub for teacher training and curriculum development.

“Though activities will phase out over the next several weeks, we will continue our dialogue with key partners to work toward a solution that allows WKU to continue our programming,” Dr. Caboni said. “We hope to strengthen, deepen and broaden our relationships with partner institutions in China throughout this process.”

Kentucky Farm Bureau

The new U.S. Department of Agriculture census released April 11 shows the number of young farmers in Kentucky is increasing. 

The USDA Census of Agriculture is done every five years and the newly-released data on crops, acreage and demographics is for the 2017 year. The previous census used as a five-year comparison is based on 2012 data.

David Knopf is regional director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service based in Louisville. He said the census shows a significant increase in the number of young farmers in Kentucky. 


Harvest, Inc.

Meigs County, Ohio, has a complicated history with marijuana.

“Meigs County Gold” has been grown illegally for years. Local legend has it that was the strain of choice for musicians like the Grateful Dead and Willie Nelson when they toured Ohio.

But for Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith, that isn’t a source of pride. Instead it felt like a target on his back.


Lisa Autry

The new head of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education says he expects colleges and universities to re-evaluate their course offerings just as Western Kentucky University has recently done. 

WKU is preparing to eliminate 101 academic programs while transforming and expanding others. 

In an interview on Thursday with WKU Public Radio, CPE President Aaron Thompson said schools are eliminating both people and programs to contend with a decrease in state funding, declining enrollment, and increasing pension obligations.

Ryland Barton

With about a month to go before Kentucky’s primary elections, all three major Democratic candidates for governor appeared together on stage for the first time on Thursday.

During a forum held by Louisville’s Rotary Club, candidates differed only slightly in their stances on a wide range of issues including preserving Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion, shoring up public education and allowing casino gambling to generate revenue for the state’s ailing pension systems.

Ryland Barton

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell said he will introduce a bill raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes, vaping devices and other tobacco products from 18 to 21 across the country.

During a news conference in Louisville Thursday, McConnell said he will introduce the legislation in May.

“By raising the age you could legally purchase to 21, tobacco won’t be in most high schools, presenting fewer opportunities for children to get their hands on vaping devices,” McConnell said.

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