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A city mourns - Hopkinsville man dies in Iraq
Writer: Jennifer P. Brown
9/28/2006 Hopkinsville New Era
A Hopkinsville man who joined the Army after he graduated from Christian County High School in 2004 has died in combat operations in Iraq.
Spc. Windell Jeryd Simmons, 20, suffered fatal injuries Monday in Taji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee, the Army reported. He was the son of Betty Simmons-Mayo of Hopkinsville.
A teacher at Christian County High today remembered Simmons as a serious student.
"I had Jeryd for two years in pre-calculus and (advanced placement) calculus," April Harris said "He could have taken the easy route, but he wanted to prepare himself."
Simmons was quiet in class but more relaxed with his friends, she said. On weekends, he liked to play a video game, Dance, Dance, Revolution, with his friends.
Harris remembered Simmons as modest and clean cut. He knew in high school that he wanted to join the military.
Harris said it broke her heart when she heard this morning that Simmons had died.
In honor of Simmons, Mayor Rich Liebe today issued a directive that all flags should be flown at half-staff until Simmons' burial. Gov. Ernie Fletcher issued the same directive for the state.
Funeral arrangements for Simmons were incomplete today at Gamble Funeral Home.
High school classmate Tad Abukuppeh said Simmons decided in his senior year that he would join the Army.
Simmons was always positive about life, said Abukuppeh, who attends Western Kentucky University.
"No matter what it was, he was always energetic about anything we did together," Abukuppeh said. "He was like the ringleader ... he was the best."
Another friend, Justin Baker, said Simmons was like the leader of their group of friends.
"He was pretty quiet in school but when you got him out of school he was one of the funniest guys you would meet," said Baker, who attends Hopkinsville Community College. "He was the idea man. If we were bored, he would think of something to do."
Simmons was a member of 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
A Force of Change
Writer: E. Thomas Hall
9/28/2006 SkillsUSA Champions
Visiting the world's most turbulent places, Jon Wilson found his life forever altered. But now he's come back home to fulfill his dream--and is still able to be amazed.
Five years ago, in the unsettling days following 9/11, Jon Wilson stood on the grounds of the Pentagon, staring at the charred rubble. The young Army man had driven two high-ranking officers there who would plan the security matrix around America's military headquarters. Officially their chauffeur, Wilson, a black belt in the martial arts, was also their bodyguard. In short, he was security for the securers.
"I was there while the building was still smoldering," he reflects softly. Yet it was not the first life-altering experience, not the first time seeing a mass grave up close, for someone then only in his early 20s.
After six years in the Army, Jon Wilson entered his local community college less than a month after coming home. Veterans find that technical training helps them transition from military life to "the real world," as Wilson calls it. Click here or scroll down to read about a veteran who started at a technical center far from home, only three days out of the Air Force.
How could someone so young have seen so much? It all started with that icon of small-town life, a lemonade stand.
"I was born and raised in a small little town, Somerset, Ky.," he says. "Somerset's a really small town. It's equivalent to Mayberry." Growing up, he spent a lot of time with his friends and younger brother. "We used to come up with all these different schemes -- it sounds kind of shallow now -- but to make money. We'd use this money to buy baseball, basketball and football cards. These schemes entailed setting up little lemonade stands which grew into hotdog stands right there on the side of Main Street.
"Everybody had their role of selling, and I never was, at least at that time, a very good speaker or interpersonal speaker. So, I would be 'security.' I was the security for the money, for the investment, everything. I'm not sure how that started. It was just a natural, protective thing. But that seemed to be my role, and it just grew from there."
At age 15, Wilson (pictured left) started taking classes in tae kwon do, the Korean art of self-defense. His high school didn't have any formal law enforcement program -- "too small," he points out -- but "there were some criminal justice related classes that I took, anything I could find, anything I could suck up. But I knew from what little I did have in high school, that's the direction that I did want to go." He kept up the martial arts training, too, and became a first-degree black belt about the time he graduated in 1997.
"After that, I joined the United States Army under the military police corps," Wilson says. "I talked to the recruiter. I had my mind made up that it was what I wanted to do [and said] 'you're the only branch that can really guarantee me being in a law enforcement position.' I would be a 19-year-old by the end of summer. And of course, no other law enforcement agency does that -- everyone else goes by a 21 [minimum age] standard."
The recruiter had to agree to two conditions before Wilson signed up: first, that he would enter the service as a military police officer, and second, that he got to spend one last small-town summer with his friends. That second condition was a wise move. As summer set on Somerset, those memories would provide a much-needed escape from what he'd see during six years in the service.
"While I was in, I became a paratrooper, and we do that out of Fort Bragg, N.C.," Wilson says. "I was deployed to Kosovo, one of the smaller countries in the former Yugoslavia, in '99." There had been conflict in that region since 1995, "but it erupted in Kosovo in '99, and I was one of the last units to come on the first wave."
When asked what that was like, Wilson responds quickly and firmly. "Life altering. Honestly, it really was. After I came back from that experience specifically, it was incredibly life altering. I looked at things a lot differently and realized that I, and a lot of the people that surrounded me, took life for granted."
All that changed from being so close to the conflict. "There were people that we worked around, and would try to keep each other from, that literally wanted to eliminate each other just for who they were," Wilson says. "And to us, there wasn't much of a physical difference [among them]. These people looked, to me at least, a lot alike. And they lived maybe five miles away from each other, sometimes closer, and they brutally hated each other, and if given the chance, would kill their neighbor." Standing at one of the mass graves, Wilson decided he would never look at life the same away again.
Most Americans had the same realization about two years later, on 9/11. By then, Wilson was back at Fort Bragg.
"From our point of view, it was just confusion at first, and for the rest of the nation, too, because we didn't know what was going on," he remembers the news unfolding. "At first it was 'an accident,' and then we were being attacked. And if we were being attacked, then by whom? And to be honest, I wasn't a very high rank, so they didn't tell me very much anyway.
"I looked at things a lot differently and realized that I, and a lot of people that surrounded me, took life for granted." -- Jon Wilson
"For the first couple of days, we just went into lockdown. So we got put on the outer perimeter of the fort, got very little sleep and were told very little." His unit wasn't assigned to go to the Pentagon, but with his background and experience, he was approached personally about going as a driver. Wilson stayed for seven months.
As chauffeur to the officers charged with securing the site, "whenever they worked, I worked, so there were long hours at the Pentagon and at different meeting sites around Washington, D.C." Looking at Wilson, who's now a third-degree black belt and a certified instructor, it's hard to imagine anyone getting past him.
Wilson's last tour, also for seven months, was in Afghanistan. In July 2003, the Army specialist left the service and went home. Less than a month later, he started classes at Somerset Community College.
"I didn't want to go to a larger university at first. I just wanted to get acclimated back into the real world slowly," Wilson says. He took some classes in allied health with an eye on nursing but switched to criminal justice, "that being my background." He also began working in a staff position relating to safety and security.
Then came SkillsUSA. "My criminal justice instructor [Brandi Coomer] dragged me, not exactly kicking and screaming, but suggested it," he laughs. "At first I was a little hesitant to get involved, because I didn't know what it entailed and what it was. With all my other schoolwork and work work involved, I didn't know if I'd have time for it."
But after investigating SkillsUSA on his own, it sounded interesting. Wilson started competing in his regional championships, both in Job Skill Demonstration and in Criminal Justice. In only his first year as a member, he qualified for the SkillsUSA Championships in 2006. He placed fourth in the national Criminal Justice contest.
"When we first got to nationals, my state director told us it would be beyond imagination, and he totally didn't disappoint. It's amazing," says Wilson, now 28. Particularly memorable was the service event that capped the week. "I worked on a community cleanup project with people from all over the nation -- people under normal circumstances I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet."
So, what's next? More classes at the community college -- "I haven't forgotten where I came from," he says -- and continuing his education at Eastern Kentucky University. "It's really one of the leading law enforcement schools in the nation. I aspire to become a federal law enforcement agent."
He smiles. "I'm just naturally protective." And as these unsettling times roll on, we all could use someone like Jon Wilson on our side.
Briefly: October library programs to discuss'Moby Dick,' Lewis and Clark journey
9/28/2006 Paducah Sun
Journeys on land or by sea will be the topic of two programs in October at the McCracken County Public Library.
Tom Prigge, a West Kentucky Community & Technical College composition instructor and a library employee, will offer a multimedia presentation on Herman Melville's classic whaling adventure, "Moby Dick." The presentation will cover Melville's life, the book's enduring legacy, and ways to approach and appreciate what many consider to be the greatest American novel ever written. The Lunch at Your Library program will be held at noon Oct. 4.
Author James Alexander Thom and his wife, National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial planning council member Dark Rain, will discuss one of the most important journeys in American history in a program titled "The Journals of Lewis and Clark as Story: An Amazing Literary Epic." The presentation, sponsored by Paducah Bank, will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 with a book signing afterward.
All programs are free and open to the public in the upstairs community room.
Clark stumps for Democratic candidates
Writer: Owen Covington
9/26/2006 Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark rallied the Democratic faithful during a visit to Owensboro on Monday, encouraging them to assert Democrats' strength on defense issues and to push for Democratic gains in Congress and the Kentucky legislature this fall.
"It's a war. It's a battle," Clark, a former NATO commander and presidential candidate, said of this year's election season. "And it can't be won by the general. It has to be won by the troops."
Clark joined state Democratic leaders and rallied about 75 Democrats at the party's Frederica Street campaign headquarters to stump for congressional candidate Mike Weaver and state legislative candidate Jim Glenn.
Owensboro was just one stop on Clark's two-day tour of Kentucky that stretched from events in northern Kentucky on Sunday night to a stop Monday in Paducah. Clark was planning to end the trip Monday night in Louisville with a fundraiser for Weaver.
Clark spelled out talking points for Democrats to counter attacks by Republicans who might claim the party is not committed to the defense and safety of the country.
The Bush administration failed to follow through on the search for Osama bin Laden after taking office in January 2001, despite being left a detailed plan to counter bin Laden by outgoing President Clinton's administration, Clark said.
Clark's comments came the day after Clinton levied the same criticisms during an interview on Fox News.
"I don't want to hear any talk from Republicans saying Democrats can't protect America," Clark said. "They can't do it. We can."
The Bush administration's war on terrorism has been improperly fought, Clark said, and has generated more enemies for the country than friends.
"You can't win the war on terror if other countries don't cooperate with you and believe in you," Clark said. "They (the Bush administration) have fumbled the ball again and again and again in that war (in Iraq)."
Clark was overheard after his speech at the headquarters saying that he had not ruled out a second run for the presidency in 2008. He ended his presidential campaign in February 2004 after finishing third in the Virginia and Tennessee primaries.
This is the second time Clark has come to Owensboro to campaign for Weaver, a Radcliff Democrat and former Army colonel who served with Clark.
Weaver, who is challenging Rep. Ron Lewis, a Cecilia Republican, to represent Kentucky's 2nd District, reiterated his military credentials during the rally and asserted that Democrats are strong on defense issues.
"I have a passion for the defense of this country," Weaver said.
Along with Democratic gains in the Congress, Clark said local Democrats need to be campaigning for state offices, including the 13th District race that pits Glenn, an Owensboro city commissioner and professor at Owensboro Community & Technical College, against Republican incumbent Joe Bowen, who was elected in 2004.
Glenn said the driving force for his candidacy is to advocate for middle class and working-class families, who he said are being hurt throughout Kentucky.
Glenn criticized Bowen's votes against raising contributions to the state affordable housing trust fund, a bill requiring gender-based pay equity for state employees and a move during this year's legislative session to allow for the import of prescription drugs.
None of those measures passed the legislature during its session this spring.
Raising the economic levels of Owensboro's families is the best tool for economic development, Glenn said.
"We believe in this community," Glenn said. "We have to bring better-paying jobs back in."
Jerry Lundergan, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, said Glenn's election would help obtain a super-majority with at least 60 seats in the 100-member Kentucky House, which has been controlled by a Democratic majority for years.
Democrats could also wrest control of the state Senate from Republicans by picking up four seats there, Lundergan said.
Clark's tour through Kentucky has helped generate additional support for Democratic candidates and reinvigorate the party for the Nov. 7 election, Lundergan said.
"These (candidates) are really leaders," Lundergan said. "General Clark is helping me reunite and rebuild and re-energize this party."
Dr. Robert Blake honored by United Methodist Church
Writer: MISTY MAYNARD
9/28/2006 Maysville Ledger Independent
Dr. Robert Blake's legacy will likely be one of service and generosity, as he has always sought to use his talents and abilities to assist others.
Come Oct. 3, Blake will join two others selected by the board of directors and staff of Wesley Village in Wilmore, to be honored at "Heroes, Saints & Legends," an event which celebrates "individuals whose vigorous and inspiring lives continue to enrich our church and our world."
The retired physician practiced family medicine in Maysville for almost 40 years, retiring in 1997, and has served in a variety of capacities. He served as president of the American Board of Family Practice and was runner-up for Good Housekeeping magazine's Doctor of the Year award. He was a founder of the Limestone YMCA, district chairman of Boy Scouts of America, and a member of the school board and city commission.
"I've been everything but the dog catcher," Blake said Wednesday morning. "I've been very active."
A standout ballplayer for the Paris High School team, Blake has been installed in the PHS Athletic Hall of Fame. He graduated from the school in 1948.
Blake will give a short three or four minute speech at the event next week, and said he has already planned what he is going to say.
"Basically, it all boils down to, we are our brother's keeper, that all of us were blessed with different abilities and talents," Blake said. "And that each of us has the responsibility to use those abilities and talents that were God-given to assist those who come after us."
Blake said it is important to "pass it on."
Blake intends to share the stories of three people who have touched his life, beginning with his sister, who was 12 years older than him, and who lived at home while her husband served in World War II.
"She was my surrogate mother; she was my mentor; she was my challenger, my adviser, and she was also my teacher," Blake said, noting his sister taught school in Elizaville where he was her pupil for two years.
"She's meant so much to me, and helped instill in me a lot of things that have come about later on in life," Blake said.
A second lady he plans to mention is someone he identified as Mrs. Payne. Payne established a scholarship program in memory of her daughter, who was a school teacher, and Blake said she gave him anywhere from $200 to $400 for eight years as he was an undergraduate student and during medical school.
"Back then, $400 was a lot of money," he said.
However, Payne told Blake not to worry about paying the money back.
"She told me, 'you do not have to pay this back. The only thing I ask of you, is if you're ever in a position to do so, just pass it on,'" Blake said. "I've tried to do that, in many, many ways, and have been successful in some ways."
The third person Blake said he plans to include in his speech will be his first wife, Noma, who died of breast cancer, and who he and his sons started a scholarship in memory of at Maysville Community and Technical College.
Sometime after her death, Blake remarried, and said his wife, Carol, was in St. Joseph's Hospital in Lexington when a nurse asked her if she could speak with Blake. She told him if it were not for the scholarship he had set up, there was no way she could have become a nurse.
Blake said he wants to express appreciation for all those who've touched his life.
"I just want to thank all the people who have been helpful in one way or another in making me the person that I am today," Blake said.
Though Blake is retired now, he is still involved in his church, Trinity United Methodist Church, where he teaches Sunday school and is on the church board. He is a member of the Limestone Chorale, and gives piano lessons. He also volunteers with third graders, helping them with their reading, and enjoys golf, tennis and reading.
Blake said he feels very humbled by being selected as one of the honorees at "Heroes, Saints & Legends."
"This is based on what you have done in your profession, what you have done in your community, and what you have done in your church," he said.
The honor is conferred upon a person who is involved in the United Methodist church.
"I don't know how many Methodists there are in Kentucky," Blake said, "but to be picked one of three, that's a nice honor."
Editorial: Expanding 2+2 programs makes sense
9/22/2006 Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer
It just makes sense.
Someone attends Owensboro Community & Technical College for two years then transfers to one of this community's three higher education institutions that offer baccalaureate degrees and earns a four-year bachelor's degree. The whole learning experience takes place without having to leave Daviess County.
For a community such as ours that does not have a public four-year university but does have a community college and needs to raise its education attainment level, so-called "2+2" programs are invaluable.
We're glad to hear that post-secondary education officials are working to make 2+2 transitions easier by adding new transfer agreements and reciprocal promotions between Kentucky's community colleges and public and private four-year institutions. We hope Owensboro-Daviess County becomes the model in the utilization of 2+2 programs. It is that important.
The ability of students to begin at the community college and finish at either Brescia University, Kentucky Wesleyan College or Western Kentucky University's Owensboro branch campus has existed for years, but only in limited academic areas, and it wasn't done all that easily because some basic courses weren't transferable. That is mostly part of the past. But even today, Western offers courses for only a dozen 2+2 bachelor's degrees in Daviess County.
That's not enough. To really raise the number of Daviess County residents who have a bachelor's degree, the number of degree options available here should, at the least, begin to approach the number available in a city with a public four-year university. It will take the combined efforts of Brescia, Wesleyan and WKU to get that job done.
Western, which shares space with OCTC on the community college's U.S. 231 campus, is being purposeful about enlarging its 2+2 offerings here. Wesleyan's policy is that anyone who leaves OCTC with an associate's degree in arts or science will have met their general education requirements at KWC. Brescia also accepts general education course transfers from OCTC.
The amount of attention being brought to bear on the higher education needs of this community has risen dramatically of late, and we expect that the drumbeat will continue. Without a doubt, 2+2 programs involving OCTC, WKU-Owensboro, Brescia and KWC will be vital to reaching the goal of dramatically increasing the number of people with bachelor's degrees. The encouraging news is, our higher education institutions are saying the right things about how important it will be to cooperate.
Groundbreaking for the William L. Sullivan Technology Center is today
9/28/2006 Henderson Gleaner
Today sees the long-awaited groundbreaking for the William L. Sullivan Technology Center on the Henderson Community College campus.
That event takes place at 1:30 p.m. on the site of the center's future home adjacent to the campus Academic Technical building.
In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Henderson Fine Arts Center on campus.
Speakers include Michael McCall, Kentucky Community and Technical College System president; William L. Sullivan, an HCC founding father for whom the center is named; Patrick Lake, HCC president, and Cass Wilson, chairman of the HCC Board of Directors.
The public is invited.
HCTC to offer Evening Nursing Career Pathway Class
9/20/2006 Hazard Herald
Hazard Community and Technical College is pleased to announce that it will once again offer its registered nursing classes (RN Program) in the evenings beginning in January 2007! This opportunity is designed to open advanced Career Pathway opportunities for many who have day-time jobs but want to change careers or further their educational degree in the field of nursing. Although classes will not begin until January 2007, students should plan now to attend one of four pre-admission conferences scheduled for this fall.
Members of the nursing faculty at HCTC as well as adjunct faculty members will teach classes in the evening program, which will contain the same curriculum as the day-time classes. Students accepted into the Evening Career Pathways Nursing Class will be able to complete their degree in four semesters or just three semesters if you arealready an LPN. LPN's are strongly encouraged to apply.
Those interested in applying for the Evening Career Pathways Nursing Class must attend one of four upcoming pre-admission conferences: Thursday, Sept. 14 at 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct.10 at 5 p.m. All four conferences will be held at the UK Center for Rural Health Bailey-Stumbo building on Morton Boulevard in Hazard, room 214/216.
These conferences are for those interested in the evening class. Even if someone has attended a prior pre-admission conference, he or she should still attend this meeting because it will be geared toward admission into the Evening Career Pathways Nursing Class. Application deadline for this new evening cohort is Nov. 1, 2006.
For more information, contact Janie Richie, RN, MSN, ADN Coordinator at 487-3298 or 487-3552 or 800-246-7521, ext. 73298.
Health Careers Showcase Aimed at High School Students
Writer: Margaret Thomson
9/25/2006 Kentucky Enquirer (Covington)
The annual Health Careers Showcase, sponsored by the North Central Area Health Education Center (NCAHEC), will be held Thursday, September 28, at Thomas More College from 8 a.m. to noon.
More than 25 regional high schools will participate in the event, which is designed to provide information to students interested in pursuing health careers. At least seven colleges and universities will provide interactive information booths for students to learn more about careers in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, massage therapy, medical assisting and other allied health fields.
Participating institutions include the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Gateway Community and Technical College, Thomas More College, Northern Kentucky University, Cincinnati State, Blue Grass Community and Technical College and others.
Gateway will feature its programs in nursing, massage therapy and medical assisting. The NCAHEC is an affiliate organization hosted by Gateway.
For more information, call Evelyn Tackett, center director, at 859-442-1193.
Musical theater in Owensboro, Harlan
Writer: Judith Egerton
9/17/2006 Louisville Courier-Journal
Louisville is not the only place in Kentucky where theater is taken seriously. Two cities at opposite ends of the state, Harlan and Owensboro, are involved in significant productions this week.
* In the Eastern Kentucky mountain community of Harlan, concerned residents joined with playwright Jo Carson and director Jerry Stropnicky to create "Higher Ground," a musical drama that examines the drug-abuse problems of Appalachia.
Featuring original songs and traditional mountain tunes, such as "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" and "We Shall All Be Reunited," the musical looks at the consequences of drug abuse through specific stories collected from local people. The musical, which has a cast of 75 ranging in age from 2 to 80, premiered last year but returns to Cumberland, Ky., this Thursday for a run of nine performances.
All shows will be at the Godbey Appalachian Center on the campus of the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; 3 p.m. next Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and Sept. 30; 3 p.m. Oct. 1; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 and Oct. 7; and 3 p.m. Oct. 8.
Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for children. Contact Theresa Osborne at Theresa.Osborne@kctcs.edu or call (606) 589-3132.
Political News - Part One: Opposing sides make their cases on shrimp deal
Writer: HARRY BERRY
9/21/2006 Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
Economic development and education are always topping most elected official's priority list. They fuel our economic engine through developing the work force and facilitating research for innovative advancements and business growth.
Without a well-prepared work force, economic prosperity will wither and die. On the other hand, a stagnant economic base erodes the foundations of our educational system through inadequate funding, loss of collaborative research opportunities and a decrease of innovative entrepreneurs to draw upon for new ideas.
Part of government's role is to provide educational opportunities and aggressively promote economic development. To that end the Commonwealth of Kentucky is diligently working to create an environment to entice new business.
As part of this growth, the state recently provided Hardin County an opportunity to facilitate a significant portion of a multi-million dollar state sponsored research project. The project involved collaboration of a private enterprise, Magnolia Shrimp, and the commonwealth through partnerships with the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University.
This research effort would have been little cost to county government. The primary benefit to the project for locating in Hardin County was utilizing heat generated from converting methane gas into electricity to warm the water in the demonstration phase of a research effort to grow salt-water shrimp year around in a climate-controlled environment. A key component of the economic viability of this project was using our waste heat to reduce energy costs in the research phase and to provide proof for the concept for heating water during full-scale production.
The only real "cost" to Hardin County was granting a low-cost lease for five of the 1,600 acres of county owned land at the landfill, of which less than 700 acres are anticipated for use in support of landfill operations. Subsequent full-scale production opportunities may have required the use of another 10 acres.
The county's consulting engineers provided Fiscal Court a written statement indicating the use of these acres would not adversely impact current or planned waste disposal activities. These activities include expanding the landfill to more than four times its current capacity, thereby providing a remaining life of more than 50 years.
The project's payoff to Hardin County would have been tremendous. First, we had a rare opportunity to partner with the state for a research and development project here in Hardin County. Imagine the educational opportunities in the field of aquaculture for our local school systems and the Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.
Second, state-sponsored aquaculture research in Hardin County certainly would have provided beneficial long term impacts and diversification opportunities for our local farm community.
Third, economic development growth certainly would have occurred following the success of the demonstration phase. Numerous production facilities would have been needed for growing shrimp. Processing and packaging facilities would have been inevitable to prepare the product for shipping. And, of course, the transportation and all the supporting business associated with shipping would have flourished.
Unfortunately, fiscal court decided to reject the offer to bring to our region state-sponsored research, education and economic development opportunities related to a multi-billion dollar national enterprise.
When afforded a chance to question developers and university experts regarding this project, many fiscal court members choose instead to direct discussions toward other "potential" uses for the five acres of land. For five months, pertinent information was collected and provided them regarding the project. Periodic updates were provided as new information was obtained. However, in the end several magistrates focused on stopping the project instead of making it viable for the county.
You may ask, if the project had little cost to Hardin County, required less than 1 percent of our uncommitted landfill property, would have brought research and educational opportunities to our county, provided a high likelihood for economic development, the opportunity for promoting aquaculture in our region, and possibly increasing diversification and research opportunities for local farmers n why vote against it?
The answer is simple -- for some, politics trumps education and economic development!
It appears some members of fiscal court were instructed by party leaders to block initiatives I promote. Their party leadership feels there is too much progress being made this term toward a more efficient and effective county government. They believe our innovative approaches to providing more productive use of our limited resources is boding too well for me. They fear win/win programs like the salt-water shrimp research project places me in good stead for the November elections -- something they don't want.
What they fail to realize is effective use of our resources, innovative initiatives, educational enhancement, economic development and positive promotion of our county serves us ALL well -- on election day and every other day of the year.
For some, turning each issue into a Republican vs. Democrat battle is more important than moving our community forward in growth and prosperity. Some believe partisan political fighting should come all the way downtown to the local courthouse.
They are the same ones that can't tolerate representation from both political parties in our local government. Some can't stand the current 8-1 odds and will only be happy with a 4-0 count in the next term. To that end some will even vote against education and economic enhancements.
You know, maybe shrimp entrepreneur Forrest Gump was right; life IS like a box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get. For some, they may just bite into a 0-4 chocolate-dipped shrimp.
Harry L. Berry is Hardin County judge-executive.
Return of the Mumps
Writer: Elizabeth Redden
9/28/2006 Inside Higher Education
After the worst mumps outbreak in 20 years disproportionately struck college students last spring, many feared the disease would pose a threat to campuses when students returned this fall. So far in September, a cluster of 33 infected college students in Illinois and another suspected case on a Virginia campus have medical professionals on alert, even though they say it's too early to tell if the new cases are linked with the spring's outbreak or if they herald another record year for infections of students.
In DuPage County, Illinois, two institutions -- Wheaton College and Benedictine University -- have experienced confirmed mumps cases so far this fall: 32 at Wheaton and 1 at Benedictine, David Hass, spokesman for the DuPage County Health Department, said Wednesday. More cases of the highly contagious disease are expected to occur at Benedictine, where the only confirmed case was diagnosed Monday, Hass said. At Wheaton, new cases have arisen throughout the month since the first diagnosis September 4, said Tiffany Self, a spokeswoman. Meanwhile, several states away, the University of Virginia reported a "highly probable" case of mumps after a student visited its health center Friday.
All those affected in Illinois are college students who received the recommended two-course vaccination series protecting against measles, mumps and rubella, Hass said. Experts say a double dose of shots is effective 90-95 percent of the time.
Mumps, commonly associated with swelling of the salivary glands, generally is not considered a serious disease, although it can, in rare circumstances, lead to side effects including meningitis, inflammation of the testicles -- which can lead to infertility -- spontaneous abortion, and permanent deafness. The viral disease has generally been well contained by a vaccination program begun in 1967, but the number of cases mysteriously increased nearly ninefold last spring. Between January 1 and May 2, 2,597 cases were reported in 11 states, mainly in the Midwest, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. In comparison, between 2001 and 2003, fewer than 300 cases were reported each year nationally.
Of those affected by the spring outbreak, 38 percent were in the 18-24 age range, many of whom were in college, where close quarters can accelerate spread of the virus. Hass said it's too early to comment on whether the cases at Wheaton and Benedictine are linked to the spring outbreak, but an expert on infectious diseases said incomplete efficacy of the two-course vaccine series, combined potentially with waning immunity, could leave young adults susceptible to periodic mumps outbreaks.
"We are really defining right now how long the immunity from the mumps vaccine lasts, how durable it is, how good it is," said Leigh Grossman, head of the division of pediatric and infectious diseases at UVa. "I think what we're learning, much like what we've learned with pertussis, measles, and now mumps -- this is a group of kids who never had this disease, were properly vaccinated, and are again susceptible in their late teens/early adult years."
"Whether it's vaccine failures coupled with waning immunity, there's a large group of (susceptible) students that are out there. So at some level we're going to have to accept that these illnesses are not gone and we will see them sporadically in groups that are susceptible and living close together."
In an April briefing, the CDC's director, Julie Gerberding, said waning immunity from the vaccines did not appear to be playing a role in the outbreak, explaining that if waning immunity were the primary problem, older populations would be at greater risk.
"So we are looking into this as one of several possibilities, but I think right now what we know about this vaccine's efficacy, what we know about the under-vaccinated people in this age cohort, and what we know about the sociology of life in some of these community settings, we have ample explanation for why the virus is spreading the way it is," Gerberding said. The CDC did not respond Wednesday to a request for updated information on the topic, but John Dorman, clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University, said he has not heard any concerns about waning immunity of the mumps vaccine.
But if immunity from the vaccine isn't decreasing over time, and the efficacy of the vaccine has remained constant, then why was there an increase in cases this year? It's possible, said Dorman, speaking on behalf of the American College Health Association, that the spring outbreak was caused by a more virulent strain, leading to the increase in infections. But while the vaccine's efficacy rate of 90 to 95 percent is considered pretty high, Dorman suggested the outbreak would focus greater attention on further improving the current vaccine -- right now, the MMR vaccine offers less protection against mumps than it does against measles or rubella, he said.
The three institutions affected by the latest mumps cases require students to be inoculated against mumps, but state laws grant students the opportunity to seek waivers for medical, religious, or philosophical reasons. At UVa, Wood said the university contacted 1,149 students who had turned in incomplete health forms, lacked a second dose of the vaccine, or had turned in waivers to alert them of a possible mumps case on campus and the opportunity to get inoculated at the student health center.
At Benedictine, college officials developed a plan last week in the wake of mumps cases at nearby Wheaton, and, upon having a confirmed case Monday, had reason to use the plan. They contacted every student -- in addition to posting the news online and on fliers, said Mercy Robb, the university's spokeswoman. The affected students at UVa. and Benedictine are home recovering, while those at Wheaton either returned home or were placed in isolation apartments for the duration of the illness -- 24 students there have since returned to class, said Self, Wheaton's spokeswoman.
The college health association stresses that the MMR vaccine is the most effective way to combat the spread of mumps, and urged colleges to consider deferring registration until students provide evidence of two doses in a June letter co-written by the CDC chief and the association's president.
Top teacher, again - Hanson's Libby Gooch cited as having passion for her job
Writer: Lori Harrison
9/28/2006 Madisonville Messenger
HANSON -- Honors keep piling up for Hanson Elementary School teacher Libby Gooch.
Today, she will accept the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies' Teacher of the Year award at a conference in Lexington. In 2005, she was Kentucky History Teacher of the Year.
"I'm very excited," Gooch said. "All these years, I've plodded along, making and creating, trying to make social studies fun for the children. ... I never expected any award for anything. I always just felt like that's what any good teacher does."
Her fifth-grade students don't memorize facts about history. Instead, they complete projects like an archaeological dig and construction of model buildings.
Hanson Principal DeDe Ashby praised Gooch's "creative and innovative ideas."
"It's just an asset for Hanson school to have someone in a content area that serves on the state and national level," Ashby said.
The principal also referred to a letter she wrote to Kentucky Teacher magazine last year about Gooch.
"Social studies is her passion, as she travels to many of the places that she teaches about to her students," Ashby wrote in the letter. "She is able to share firsthand knowledge and life experiences to make learning fun."
Gooch will also be honored Friday during the school's regular morning meeting.
Next week, she'll be on her way to New York City at the invitation of officials from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The institute sponsors the History Teacher of the Year award, along with Preserve America and the Kentucky Historical Society.
"I was one of only two elementary (teachers) in the whole country that won the award," Gooch said. Secondary teachers received the awards in the remaining states.
Now, Gilder Lehrman has decided to award teachers at different levels.
"Next Wednesday through Saturday, I will work with them on setting parameters for selecting future Elementary Teachers of the Year," Gooch said. "I'm really excited about that, that they contacted me and asked me to go to New York City."
First lady Laura Bush is expected to attend the conference.
Gooch has also contributed a lesson plan that is published in Gilder Lehrman's online journal, History Now. The lesson is called, "The Pony Express: The Fastest Delivery of a Message Across America."
It is available at www.historynow.org.
This is Gooch's 23rd year teaching.
"It's just overwhelming to think about ... toward the end of my career, it's all kind of come together," she said.
But Gooch isn't resting on her laurels. Instead, she keeps coming up with new ideas for projects.
"I'm constantly thinking, what can I do better, what can I change ...," she said. "My mind is always just spinning about creating fun things and ways to improve."
UNITE honors outstanding anti-drug efforts at HCTC
9/27/2006 Hazard Herald
Anti-drug efforts by the UNITE organization at the Hazard Campus of Hazard Community & Technical College were honored along with individuals, coalitions and businesses throughout the Fifth Congressional District. The Lees group was honored Friday, Sept. 8, during the first Operation UNITE "A Celebration of Communities in Action" education conference and awards ceremony at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg.
The more than 900 people who participated in the conference also learned of a new state report that shows UNITE's efforts have significantly impacted prescription narcotic use.
"It's been a short few years since we started UNITE. Today's event allows us to honor you for your dedication, commitment, tireless giving of yourself and your resources to make a difference," said Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers. "And you are making a difference!" Rogers cited several examples of UNITE's successes:
* More than 1,500 drug dealers have been arrested.
* More than $6 million worth of drugs has been taken off the streets.
* Drug Courts are operating in 28 UNITE counties.
* More than 300 individuals have been assisted in finding treatment for substance abuse.
* Community coalitions have been created in all 29 counties and on 10 college campuses.
* UNITE Clubs have been created at 35 schools.
Keynote speaker for the awards luncheon was Tom Zawacki, general manager of general administration for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Kentucky.
Zawacki shared a special message about the importance of corporate citizenship and community involvement in the fight against drugs. He cited Toyota's philosophy of teamwork, continuous improvement and other motivations driving the automotive giant to become one of the commonwealth's top corporate citizens.
Saying Toyota wanted to lead by example, Zawacki presented UNITE a $2,500 check to be used for UNITE Club programs throughout the district.
While law enforcement and treatment are critical components of UNITE's overall anti-drug strategy, real long-term change is not possible without reaching out to youth who are struggling with drug abuse - either personally or through a family member, noted Karen Engle, executive director of UNITE.
To put the UNITE effort into perspective, a video was debuted featuring the personal stories of five young people whose lives have been dramatically turned upside down because of drugs.
"Listening to these stories is life-changing," Rogers proclaimed. "I encourage each of you to just talk with our youth. You may be surprised to discover whose lives are being impacted by drugs. They are not seeking sympathy. They want someone to hear them, to understand their issues, and help change the tide of abuse."
Earlier in the day, representatives from KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Report) reporting a trend analysis of controlled substances from 2003 to 2005 that showed the region has experienced a significant decline in the number of prescribed narcotics.
Specifically, the Kentucky River region had a 9.2 percent decrease in prescribed narcotics, while the UNITE region as a whole showed a 4.4 percent decrease.
"Now that's progress, and it's all because of your efforts," Rogers said. "But there is more to be done. We're just starting. The fact of the matter is we need everyone involved."
A family business - Spalding's to celebrate 150 years in Bardstown
Writer: Jillian Ogawa
9/27/2006 Lexington Herald-Leader
BARDSTOWN - At least for Spalding and Sons, age is more than just a number.
For the owners of the the Bardstown clothing store, set to celebrate its 150th anniversary next month, the shop's age makes it the oldest retail store in the state.
The store will host a two-day open house on Oct. 20-21 and give away gift certificates and door prizes. Three generations of Spaldings -- Haydon Spalding, fourth generation; Sallie Walsh, fifth generation; and Spalding's grandchildren, Jacob, 6, and Elise, 2, sixth generation -- will be at the event.
"We are proud of what we accomplished and proud to keep it alive," Walsh said.
The shop has been featured in several other newspapers and publications because of its age. Kentucky Heritage Council's book Going on 200 features photos of the store's beginnings as a general store. Spalding has a copy of an ad published in Bardtown's Kentucky Standard newspaper in 1904 touting the store's approaching 50th anniversary.
Surviving through the Civil War, the Great Depression and two world wars didn't happen without challenges -- and a few stories.
Among the tales passed down through the generations of owners is one from the Civil War, when Union and Confederate soldiers came to the store and often demanded blankets and silks, Spalding said.
Spalding's great-grandfather, W.T. Spalding, the first owner, gave them the items, but he hid his prized white horse in the store's cellar, Spalding said. The horse was never discovered.
Spalding has a ledger book dating from the late 1800s that recorded the credit and bartering at the store. According to the ledger, one customer traded 81/2 pounds of butter for $4.40 to buy items including a corset for 70 cents and red shoe strings for 10 cents.
Like many small-business owners, Spalding and Walsh had to adjust over the years to customers' changing shopping habits. The store has had to compete with large department stores and out-of-town malls. In addition to clothing, they have added gift items such as baby items and jewelry.
"We had to change our direction," he said. "We realized we couldn't be everything to everybody anymore."
The store also benefits from year-round tourism in Bardstown. During the Bourbon Festival this month, Spalding helped customers visiting from as far away as Ireland and Japan.
"Not all small towns get that," he said.
Despite the changes over the years, there are some things that remain constant. Employees still wrap purchases and give prompt customer service, Walsh said.
"This is very nostalgic of the old days," said tourist Barb Rogowski, who visited the store for the first time while attending the Bourbon Festival. "I love it."
Bicentennial observance is Sunday
Writer: SARAH MAGEE
9/28/2006 Madisonville Messenger
The world is cordially invited to attend Hopkins County's 200th birthday party this Sunday afternoon around the stage at Madisonville City Park.
"We're going to light the candles on the huge birthday cake and the choirs and choruses will sing happy birthday," said Leslie Curneal, executive director of the Hopkins County Tourists and Convention Commission.
There will be free cake for all, balloons and a clown bounce for the kids, and lots of entertainment for the whole family -- culminating in a fireworks show at 8 p.m.
The festivities start at 4 p.m. "Bring your lawn chairs and blankets," Curneal advised.
Entertainment will be provided by the Madisonville Community Chorus, Madisonville-North Hopkins and Central high school choruses, Word of Faith Praise Choir, Goodman Trio, the Childress Family, and Aaron Wilburn, a Christian comedian who Curneal said is "very funny."
At approximately 6:30 p.m., mayors from Hopkins County towns will light the candles on the giant birthday cake.
Hopkins County's founding mother and father, Gen. Samuel and Elizabeth Hopkins (portrayed by Tom Clinton and Carol Niswonger), will give out prizes to the children who won the bicentennial poster-making contest.
There will also be a best cake contest. "Bring a homemade cake," Curneal said. "You don't have to register before, but we'd prefer if you did." To register, call Curneal at 821-4171. Cakes not already registered need to be registered by 4:30 Sunday afternoon.
Cakes will be judged on taste or beauty. Prizes will be awarded, including a unique handcrafted bicentennial commemorative plate.
Speaking of commemoration, bicentennial T-shirts will be on sale for $10 at the party. There will be food vendors there as well.
Curneal, along with tourism commissioners, Hannah Myers, Judy Moore, Jackie Jones, Phyllis Browning, Allison Reader, plus event committee members, Tim Thomas, Carolyn Ferrell, and Chris Woodall, planned the celebration.
Hopkins County Fiscal Court provided $11,500 for the event. Curneal said disbursements have included $3,500 for entertainment, $2,500 for advertising, $1,000 for rain insurance, as well as funds for decorations, props, balloons and helium, 5,000 pieces of poster paper to distribute to the schools, awards and prizes, and other incidental costs.
The fireworks display is underwritten by Trover Foundation. "The fireworks should be visible from many other locations besides the park," Curneal said.
"People should come early enough to park," Curneal said.
Officials at the Armory and the Scottish Rite building next to the Armory have given permission for their parking lots to be used.
Column: Berea College's 'Anonymous Angel' was Cargill heiress
Writer: Byron Crawford
9/28/2006 Louisville Courier-Journal
Not until her death a few weeks ago did Berea College learn that Cargill agribusiness heiress Margaret Anne Cargill -- sometimes known as the "Anonymous Angel" -- had been the secret donor of more than $250,000 in gifts to the Eastern Kentucky school last year.
"She really did live a very quiet and simple life, and almost no one knew who she really was or what wealth she had," said Phyllis Hughes, Berea's director of foundations and capital projects. "Part of the story was that she would show up somewhere in an old beaten up van just looking like a regular little old lady who didn't have anything."
After her anonymous gift to the Smithsonian Institution helped create a new museum of American Indian culture, Cargill attended its opening in 2004 without anyone realizing she was there.
Sharing her wealth
She was consistently included on the Forbes list of most wealthy Americans, with a net worth of nearly $2 billion. The 85-year-old resident of La Jolla, Calif., was the granddaughter of William Cargill, founder of the Minneapolis-based agribusiness giant Cargill Inc.
Phyllis Hughes recalled a story that was told at Cargill's funeral service in San Diego by Episcopal Bishop John Chane. When he served at St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego several years ago, Chane said, he had been faced with a budget crisis that threatened several church programs.
Cargill, whom he had never met, showed up unannounced one day, told him she understood that he was having a hard time balancing the budget and that she'd like to help. She handed him a folded check, which he assumed to be a small contribution from a well-meaning person.
"I asked who to say the gift was from, and she said, 'Just say it was an angel,' " the bishop remembered.
When she left, he was astonished to discover she had given him a cashier's check for $50,000.
"She was kind of like your model philanthropist," said Hughes, who was informed of Cargill's identity and invited to her funeral in August.
Berea is said to have been the only college among the select group of recipients of Cargill's gifts. One of her friends, a Berea alumna of the 1950s, is credited with bringing Berea College to Cargill's attention.
Recipients of Cargill grants so far have been the college's programs in traditional Appalachian music and sound archives.
"She just put her money in a few places, but she made sure that it was effective," said Al White, director of Berea's Bluegrass music and country dancer ensembles. "We've needed instruments, but there just really hasn't been funding for it before. We've started a new ensemble with some of this grant money."
Harry Rice, sound archivist for the college, said Cargill's gifts have provided significant advancements in preserving an extensive collection of cultural recordings, both of Appalachian music and spoken lore.
Berea College officials have been assured that it will continue to be supported by her charitable trust, though no future grant figures have been disclosed.
Comair crash survivor has more surgery
9/28/2006 USA TODAY
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- The co-pilot who survived the crash of Comair Flight 5191 underwent surgery on his fractured spine Wednesday and it may be weeks -- if not months -- before he can return home, a hospital official said.
James Polehinke was in serious condition Wednesday night. The co-pilot was the lone survivor of the Aug. 27 crash that killed 49 people.
Andrew Bernard, a trauma surgeon at University of Kentucky Hospital who has treated Polehinke, said the pilot could enter a physical therapy program at another medical facility as early as next week. Polehinke faces several months of rehabilitation.
"It's possible he won't be able to walk again, but only time will tell," Bernard said.
Polehinke's family said this week that his left leg has been amputated. Other surgeries have repaired his broken right leg and foot.
A police officer pulled Polehinke out of the charred wreckage after the regional jet crashed trying to take off from Lexington's Blue Grass Airport.
According to federal investigators, the captain taxied the jet onto a runway that was too short before Polehinke took over the controls and tried to get the jet airborne. The taxiway route had been changed a week before the crash due to construction.
Meanwhile, a crash victim's family sued the airline Tuesday, claiming negligence. The lawsuit filed by the mother of Cecile Moscoe is among a half-dozen filed in federal court against Comair and its parent company, Delta Air Lines.
One lawsuit in state court involving a disagreement among relatives of a crash victim also names the airline as a defendant.
At the airport before dawn Wednesday, about a dozen family members watched as attorneys and experts inspected the runways and taxiways under conditions intended to resemble those when the plane crashed that morning.
David Gleave, an investigator hired by a lawyer representing a family suing Comair, said the inspection showed that runway markings are too small, poorly placed and barely visible in the dark.
Robert Clifford, an attorney representing another family, said pilots wouldn't have been able to see the end of the shorter runway during takeoff, making it more difficult to abort.
He noted though that the data needed to be analyzed.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said the ongoing investigation prevents her from talking about Blue Grass Airport specifically but that the agency constantly reviews the standards at each airport.
Blue Grass Airport initially declined to comment on the inspections, citing a National Transportation Safety Board investigation, but later Wednesday released a statement blasting what it called "so-called experts" who are "hired marketing guns for plaintiffs attorneys."
"Our airport meets or exceeds FAA airport safety and security requirements," the airport said. "Any statement to the contrary is factually incorrect and disingenuous."
COMMENTARY: College son majors in spending
Writer: Merlene Davis
9/28/2006 Lexington Herald-Leader
After about six weeks away at college, my son has caused my mouth to be perpetually open with my head moving from side to side.
The boy is spending money as if his parents' wallets are connected to his debit account like a water pipe.
I assure you as I have assured him, that is not the case.
The boy has bought two pairs of sneakers since Labor Day. Before school began, he bought two other pairs. Walking across a campus does not destroy shoes that quickly. I have never spent as much as he has spent on two pairs of shoes, and I have a good job.
He's bought fast-food meals for himself and at least three friends, if the cost totals are any indication. And still he had nerve enough to ask me to send him another care package, which I usually fill with snacks and goodies.
None of those expenditures, however, includes the withdrawals of $20 every three days or so from ATMs on campus that end up costing $5 extra because the machines belong to another bank.
And now, after all that, we find out he's signed up for a separate phone just for text messaging.
"I've got a job now, Mama," he said.
Yeah. He works about six hours a week at minimum wage.
I got so worked up about the spending sprees I had a tic by the time I informed my husband.
See, my name is on the boy's account, which we set up while he was in high school so he'd understand green money and green leaves rely on different sources for their existence.
So now when I sit down to work on bills and check our bank account, his pops up, too.
Younger parents can probably take that. I'm older, trying to survive until retirement. The idea of a young whippersnapper letting money run through his fingers without trying to stop the flow is quite shocking to me.
Thus, the unclosed mouth and the head shaking.
My daughter didn't spend money like that her first semester a dozen years ago. In fact, I think her account decreased by only $500, and most of that was for books.
I told her I was surprised and very proud of her, a big mistake because the next semester she came home broke.
I gave my son the same lecture I gave her: "This money must last two semesters; there is no money coming after this; starving is not a pretty way to die."
But the boy hasn't taken me seriously.
I called my daughter to find out what I was doing wrong.
"You told him he'd have more money in his pocket if he went to an in-state school," she said, "and he's taking you at your word."
More money is not endless money, I said.
"Then let the boy starve," she said.
I asked my husband why he wasn't upset.
"If the boy's money runs out, it runs out," he said. "I just told him he'd better not sign up for a credit card."
But he'll starve, I said.
"No he won't. We paid for three meals a day. He'll live. I'm not giving him any more money."
That's right! We sent him to college with plenty of clothes, with detergent and soap, and with books and supplies. What else does he need?
So this is a public notice of sorts. If our son manages to end up broke by the end of next month, we're not bailing him out. There is no pipeline from his account to ours.
We have decided it's time for tough love. When his money is gone, we're going to bless him with a broke semester or two until he sees the light.
It'll be a learning experience, and that, after all, is what college is supposed to be about.
My daughter, however, is betting my bark is worse than my bite.
Devoted to Dae'Kuavion - JULIA JOHNSON RECENTLY ADOPTED TWO FOSTER SONS, BUT SHE CAN'T GET A NEPHEW OUT OF FOSTER CARE
Writer: Valarie Honeycutt Spears
9/27/2006 Lexington Herald-Leader
Julia Johnson is a staff assistant at the University of Kentucky public relations office. Her husband is a teacher at Lexington Traditional Magnet Middle School and the pastor of House of God Church in Georgetown. Johnson hails from two well-known Lexington African- American families who number in the hundreds and say their lives are focused on going to church, playing religious music and educating their children.
Generations of relatives have opened their homes to foster children.
Earlier this month, Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services allowed Johnson, 41, to adopt her two foster sons.
So Johnson is stunned that the Cabinet won't let her or any of the rest of the family get their 2-year-old nephew, Dae'Kuavion Perry, out of foster care.
Johnson can't understand why the state won't let her keep the boy temporarily while her brother Tim Mabson works toward securing permanent custody. The state is recommending that Dae'Kuavion be adopted by a non-family member, a prospective adoptive mother who is a therapist at an agency that often does business with the Cabinet. A state adoption from foster care would mean the family might never see the child again, or at best will have limited contact.
"As a foster mother, I had loads of support," said Johnson. "My workers were awesome and on point. But as a biological family member, I have been given nothing."
Officials have either ignored or stalled the family's efforts, Johnson said.
Kentucky's leading child advocates included in a January report allegations that some Cabinet social workers gave custody to adoptive parents because of favors owed or professional ties and because of pressure from the federal government to increase the number of state adoptions. The state office of Inspector General is investigating those allegations, and the Cabinet has formed a task force that will recommend new laws.
David Richart, co-author of the January report and executive director of the National Institute on Children Youth & Families Inc., said Johnson's case is a "clear example of the Cabinet violating its own policies and federal law" that requires children to be placed with family members if at all possible in a program called kinship care.
The case is also indicative of some cases across the state, Richart says, in which Cabinet officials "make a judgment early on," and refuse to deviate from it.
Dae'Kuavion Perry was born in March 2004. His biological mother, Angela Perry, never married his biological father, Tim Mabson, and they did not live together. Though she let Mabson visit with the boy, Mabson said Perry resisted requests to take DNA tests that would legally establish that he was Dae'Kuavion's father.
When the baby was 6 months old, he developed respiratory problems and his mother took him to the hospital. Hospital officials called state social services because the child had unexplained drugs in his system. Perry acknowledged that she had been neglectful by giving the baby, who suffers from asthma and food allergies, expired prescription medication, according to Cabinet documents provided by the family.
Though it's not clear from the documents whether the medication harmed the baby, the Cabinet placed him in foster care. At that point, Johnson said, when she and her brother contacted the Cabinet about taking custody of the baby, social workers would not give them any information because Mabson had not established paternity and was not yet considered the baby's legal father.
The Cabinet documents in the family's possession show that social workers had decided to reunify the baby with Angela Perry. But she died from sickle cell anemia on Dec. 31, 2005.
Within a few weeks, Mabson went to Fayette Family Court to try to get custody of Dae'Kuavion. He was told he and the baby would have to take DNA tests to establish paternity. Social workers also told him -- and Cabinet documents confirm -- that they were leaning toward the baby's foster mother adopting Dae'Kuavion because they felt she was capable of handling his asthma, food allergies and failure to gain weight. The foster mother, also an African-American, is a therapist at one of the Comprehensive Care offices in Central Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Mabson said the Cabinet delayed his ability to get custody by not completing the DNA tests on the baby that showed he was the father until spring of 2006.
Cabinet officials wrote a report saying that Mabson appeared disinterested in the child, in part, because he had not taken off work to meet the foster mother at Dae'Kuavion's doctors' appointments and speech therapy sessions. Social workers said they weren't sure Mabson could cope with the child's medical issues. When the report was filed with Family Court Judge Jo Ann Wise, the goal for Dae'Kuavion was changed from reunification with his parent to adoption.
Mabson said his son has inherited eczema, asthma and other allergies from him, so he knows how to cope with the problems. Mabson said he is now taking off work to attend his son's medical appointments and speech therapy sessions.
"I want my son; I know I can care for him," said Mabson, 28, who in August married a young woman named Katrina Miller, who also says she desperately wants to be a mother to Dae'Kuavion.
Tim and Katrina Mabson have taken parenting classes and are visiting each week with Dae'Kuavion. The Cabinet is requiring Tim Mabson to attend counseling because he was charged with possession of marijuana and a minor assault that Mabson said included domestic violence accusations more than four years ago. The Cabinet has also required that he take drug screens three times each week and all have been clean, according to records provided by Mabson's attorney. Court records show Mabson has had no similar problems since 2002.
"I'm not the same person as I was five years ago," Mabson said. He said he now attends church regularly and plays drums in a church band.
Johnson says that even if the Cabinet was hesitant to immediately recommend that Mabson have custody, there should be no reason to exclude the family members who have stepped up, including herself.
"It just doesn't make sense," said Johnson. "As a foster adoptive parent, I have the right to raise children that are not biologically connected to me -- but I am incapable of raising my own family?"
One evening last week, about 30 family members gathered at the Lexington home of Mabson's grandmother Mary Rawlings to show a reporter that they could provide a support system for Dae'Kuavion, his father and new stepmother. They said they were working class, church-going people with a penchant for education and a deep love for children. One by one, family members told how many foster children they had kept over the years or talked about their current efforts to get Dae'Kuavion out of foster care.
"I've kept children for 55 years. When children needed help, we helped them," said Rawlings, widow of longtime Lexington minister S.T. Rawlings.
Katrina Mabson's mother Michelle Miller came to say that even though she is not biologically related to Dae'Kuavion, that she and her large family would also provide Katrina and Tim Mabson with every form of financial and physical support to help them be good parents.
"Never have I seen such an outpouring of relatives who want to help get this child," said William C. Karutz of Lexington, the attorney that Mabson has hired.
The Cabinet is prohibited by law from revealing details about many of its cases. But on Friday, Cabinet spokeswoman Vikki Franklin gave this written statement about the case of Dae'Kuavion Perry.
"When a child has been in foster care for an extended period of time because the Cabinet has been unable to return the child to the parent or place the child with a relative, the Cabinet's focus is on which placement is in the best interest of the child. In determining the best interest, one of the factors considered is the child's emotional attachment to the caregiver."
One of Dae'Kuavion's aunts, Mary Brown, gave Karutz a log of all the times she had contacted the Cabinet to ask how she could obtain temporary custody. Brown had been a foster parent when she lived in Pennsylvania. But the Cabinet evaluated Brown and Johnson's homes in Lexington and turned them both down earlier this month.
Mabson, Johnson and Karutz, the attorney, fear that there may be a conflict of interest between the Cabinet and the prospective adoptive parent because she is a therapist at a Comprehensive Care treatment center. Social workers frequently refer clients to Comprehensive Care for assessments.
Franklin said the allegation regarding favoritism is "completely unfounded."
The next hurdle the family faces is a termination of parental rights hearing, though no date has been set. Karutz says the Cabinet hasn't given his client enough time to prove that he's a good parent and hasn't given him credit for the efforts he has made.
Karutz said the situation is indicative of other cases he sometimes sees in Fayette Family Court: "Kids are torn away."
Editorial: Learning Community off to good start
9/28/2006 Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer
Nine months ago we were among those applauding when The Learning Community initiative was unveiled. The goal was and still is to identify Owensboro-Daviess County as a city and county that value lifelong learning like no other place in the world. We hailed the effort as essential if this community truly desires to excel in economic prosperity and enhanced quality of life.
Innovation, drive, competitiveness, entrepreneurship -- each thrive on knowledge, and all dry up without it. Knowledge comes from learning.
It is entirely appropriate and shouldn't be surprising that the initiative came from the Citizens Committee on Education, a champion of education and continual learning in this community for more than two decades.
Back in January we were looking forward to seeing how the idea, forwarded by Citizens Committee member and business developer Malcolm Bryant, would take shape. Now that it has begun, we like what we see.
Earlier this week, key elements of The Learning Community effort were rolled out. A "Just Say GO" promotional campaign will encourage people in the community to get involved. With signs on city buses, a radio jingle and a weekly learning "Success Story" that will appear in the Messenger-Inquirer on Mondays, the emphasis on learning will be hard to ignore.
Civics groups will be urged to participate. Individuals will be asked to commit to "the Learning Promise" -- how they will support lifelong learning in their own lives with goals of their own choosing.
Other elements of the initiative are exciting as well: Employers who place high value on learning will be recognized; partnerships will be created to battle illiteracy and to reduce dropout rates at high schools; exchanges for learning initiatives will be created.
As The Learning Community initiative matures and expands, its impact on this community has the potential to create lasting, positive change. We've long believed that the lifting effect of education is the best, possibly only, real answer to some of the longstanding difficulties faced by Owensboro-Daviess County, especially in the areas of economic development, higher-paying jobs and retaining our best and brightest individuals. The Learning Community, if property embraced and supported, is destined to make a difference.
Fletcher: Tolls to end Nov. 22
Writer: CHUCK STINNETT
9/28/2006 Henderson Gleaner
Tolls will come off the Audubon and Natcher/Green River parkways in November, some seven months ahead of schedule, Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced Wednesday.
"These are the last parkway system toll roads in Kentucky," Fletcher noted at a news conference at the Hartford toll plaza on the Natcher Parkway. "For far too long people have said this area is the only place in Kentucky that you have to pay to get in to and pay to get out of.
"We are changing that effective Wednesday, Nov. 22. By removing the tolls we are clearing a path for new jobs and economic opportunities throughout this entire region," he said.
The tolls had been scheduled to be removed by June 30, 2007, the end of the state's current fiscal year.
The 23-mile Audubon Parkway opened in 1970 and connects Henderson and Owensboro. Tolls costs 50 cents for a car, more for large trucks.
The 70-mile Green River Parkway runs from Owensboro to Bowling Green and opened in 1972. Tolls at the three toll booths total $1.50 for cars.
"We are able to take the tolls off early due in large part to the tremendous savings that my administration has created though best management principals and greater efficiencies of government operations," Fletcher said.
"I said my administration would be good stewards of tax dollars. Today's announcement is yet another promise made and promise kept."
Kentucky's toll road system had a total of nine separate toll roads and one toll bridge open to traffic by 1974. These toll roads totaled 676.8 miles and cost approximately $900 million dollars to construct.
They were designed and built to give access to economically undeveloped areas not reachable by the interstate system. Tolls on all other parkways have already been removed, including removal of the Pennyrile Parkway tolls in 1992, 10 years ahead of schedule.
Ford truck plant gains flexibility - Effort may help avoid shutdowns
Writer: Robert Schoenberger
9/28/2006 Louisville Courier-Journal
Ford Motor Co. has been quietly upgrading its Kentucky Truck Plant on Chamberlain Lane in recent months to make it one of its most versatile factories, better able to survive and even prosper during the automaker's cutbacks.
The retooling will enable the plant to build any truck and almost all the sport utility vehicles in Ford's lineup.
Kentucky Truck has been making F-Series Super Duty trucks since 1999 and will continue, including the 2008 version that will be unveiled today at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.
But $65 million worth of new tools and equipment installed for the redesigned truck give Ford the option of shifting F-150 pickups and SUVs such as the Explorers built at the Louisville Assembly Plant on Fern Valley Road to the eastern Jefferson County factory.
"We want to be in a position ... to attract more product to the plant," plant manager Todd Bryant said.
That doesn't mean Kentucky Truck can replace entire Ford plants. Kentucky Truck has been running three shifts per day, except for recent temporary shutdowns, leaving little room to squeeze another product into its lineup.
But if truck sales continue to decline, the ability to take on other products could help Kentucky Truck avoid shutdowns. And as Ford cuts back at other truck plants, the Chamberlain Lane factory could help produce more of a hot-selling vehicle.
As part of its ongoing restructuring, Ford plans to close seven assembly plants in North America by 2012. So far it has announced five.
Ford officials have declined to say when they will announce future plant closures, although no more cuts are planned until after 2008.
Kentucky Truck has long been considered safe from closure because moving Super Duty production to another plant would be extremely difficult and costly. Analysts have said, however, that the plant could lose one of its three production shifts if truck sales continue to fall. That's where the flexibility comes in: It will give the plant the opportunity to stay at full capacity by taking on production of other vehicles.
Union leaders and analysts have said gaining flexibility is the surest way to not be one of the final two closed plants.
Ford now has seven plants producing trucks and SUVs that could be shifted to Kentucky Truck. The company has announced plans to close its St. Paul, Minn., Ranger pickup plant and its Norfolk, Va., F-150 plant by 2008.
Of the five remaining plants, Kentucky Truck and two truck plants in the Detroit area have the flexibility to produce multiple products on the same assembly lines.
Louisville Assembly and the Kansas City Assembly Plant, where Ford makes F-150 pickups, are less flexible.
Given the high profits on Super Duty trucks, which are typically sold to commercial buyers like home builders, Ford would probably avoid moving new products into Kentucky Truck unless pickup sales fell dramatically. And even then, the plant probably would not have enough excess capacity to take on a high-volume product, such as the Explorer.
While large vehicle sales are down, the Explorer remains the most popular SUV in the country with more than 200,000 sales expected this year and next. Union leaders have said that level of production would be enough to keep Louisville Assembly open with two shifts.
Pete Reyes, chief engineer for Ford's Super Duty program, said credit for the changes rests with Kentucky Truck's 5,500 workers. They made suggestions and worked with the company to tackle the project.
"With this whole changeover ... instead of getting pushback, Kentucky Truck Plant said, "Bring it on,' " Reyes said. "Jobs were realigned. Different tasks had to be created, but we got no pushback. ... It was a delight from a product-design perspective to work with them."
Reyes said the main reason Ford added flexible capability at the plant was to improve the trucks' interior.
The 2008 Super Duty interior will be more luxurious and closer in fit and finish to the F-150, a vehicle that has won several award for comfort.
The upgrade meant eliminating many of the pneumatic tools that Ford workers have used for decades and replacing them with electric bolt drivers, said Bryant, the plant manager. The computer-controlled electric tools will be able to tell workers when they haven't applied enough pressure to a bolt and give other work cues, he said.
"It's a significant quality enabler," Bryant said. "It's one of the best if not the best trim shop that Ford has."
The improvements allowing the new flexibility come in Kentucky Truck's trim department where workers install dashboards, seats and other interior components.
In the plant's current trim shop, vehicles emerge from the paint area with doors already attached, forcing workers to squeeze past doors to install parts. In the new trim shop, the doors will be removed after being painted, making it easier to install seats and instrument panels.
A separate line to reinstall the doors had to be added to the plant floor, Bryant said. The change was worth it because workers will be able to install other equipment faster with less physical strain, he said.
Katrina Hardin, a Kentucky Truck worker on the door line, said the new process required a lot of training and testing, but she thinks it will work out well when the new trucks go into production in January.
"You always worked inside the truck before" to install doors, Hardin said. "Now, you work sideways next to the vehicle. It takes getting used to."
Bryant said the new trim shop should help prepare Kentucky Truck for the future, but he said the plant is not completely flexible. It cannot produce cars or car-like crossover vehicles.
To do that, the plant would need another costly upgrade to its body shop.
"We would be challenged to build vehicles from another platform," Bryant said, referring to more car-like products. "It would be very advantageous for us to attract ... more flexibility for our body shop."
Former WHAS-TV news director and general manager Bob Morris Morse, 69, dies
Writer: Joanna Richards
9/27/2006 Louisville Courier-Journal
Bob Morse, a former news director and general manager of WHAS Inc., died this week, according to WHAS officials. He was 69.
"We became the biggest TV newsroom in the state under him," said WHAS-TV anchor Doug Proffitt, hired by Morse in 1987. "He set up a legacy for the station in how it focused on the stories of the day."
Proffitt described Morse as a TV news pioneer.
"He really came into play when the technology expanded and the growth of television newsrooms hit," Proffitt said. "He invested in the first helicopter in the market" for live TV news coverage.
Morse was news director at the station from 1969 to 1972, then left to take a similar post at a TV station in Philadelphia. He returned to WHAS in 1976 as vice president of news and was general manager until 1987. He left the station after the Bingham family sold the company, according to Courier-Journal articles from that time.
As news director, Morse led work on the series "Louisville: An Open City," that investigated vice and corruption. The series "became one of the first undercover investigations in America," Proffitt said.
It also stirred controversy among public officials and police officers.
"He took a lot of heat from everybody in town" for "An Open City," said Ed Shadburne, general manager at WHAS-TV in the early 1970s. That "took a lot of courage on his part," Shadburne said.
Proffitt said Morse also was known for his editorials, which combined his "take-no-prisoners" journalistic style with his instinct for television.
"He came on with ... his bushy eyebrows and he never smiled," Proffitt said. "He took the editorials out on the road. ... He applied them to television" by matching the background to the subject to keep viewers interested.
Steve Steinberg, who lives in Louisville and worked as an executive with Morse in Philadelphia, Louisville and Los Angeles, said Morse's best quality "was leadership. Bob brought out the best in people."
"He could see what would make things work and then put a team together and not interfere with them. He wasn't afraid of people being smarter than him, and he let them do the job he hired them for," Steinberg said
He moved back to Louisville in 1992 to work as a consultant in national electronic media relations for the public-relations firm The Wenz-Neely Co., and McHugh-Hoffman, a Washington company that advises television stations on management, news and programming, according to a Courier-Journal article.
"We've had many discussions in recent years about how things used to be and aren't anymore, like all people our age," Shadburne said. "He was just a great guy."
Math in the making
Writer: MIKE JAMES
9/28/2006 Ashland Daily Independent
Ashland -- Out on the court, Ellah Nze stretched and thwocked a blistering serve across the net to Jorgelina Cravero.
In the bleachers, C.J. Clevenger penciled a tick mark onto a printed diagram. Eyes on the tennis match before him, the eighth-grader similarly noted each serve in the match Wednesday morning at the Ashland Tennis Center.
His job, and that of some 300 other Boyd County Middle School students, was to make a record of first serves made and missed during the course of several matches at the Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital Tennis Classic.
The score was more or less irrelevant, although the pros on the court might have felt different about it.
The students, most of whom don't know much about tennis and had never been at the center before, much less viewed a match between professionals, were combining a first look at the game with a lesson in practical mathematics.
The excursion was arranged by Sharla Freeman, a retired math teacher at the middle school who continues to coach the Boyd County High School tennis team.
As a tennis enthusiast who still loves math, the field trip was a dream come true -- the chance to entice a new generation to the game and to exercise their minds at the same time.
"I want them to know the Ashland Tennis Center is a public facility and open to them. I want them to see players from around the world. And as a math teacher, I want them to see how they can use statistics. Sports are all about statistics," Freeman said.
The numbers the students were tracking are important because in tennis players get two chances to serve the ball. Typically the first serve is more aggressive because a miss doesn't count.
However, a second serve is more conservative because missing it means losing a point. So, in the long run, a player with more successful first serves is more likely to win matches.
Once they'd tallied up the serves, the students calculated the ratio of successful to unsuccessful ones. They could have learned about ratios back in the classroom, but the real-life situation helped cement the concept. "It gives you more of an example," Clevenger said.
The whole exercise is firmly rooted in Kentucky's core content requirements, said algebra teacher Linda McDowell.
Tennis and sports in general are ideal teaching grounds for other math concepts, like geometry and angles, Freeman said.
The exercise didn't go entirely smoothly. The scoring system left some students confused. Also the game tends to move quickly to the uninitiated eye. "The hardest part is figuring out which is the missed serve," said T Logan Maynard. "Some of the rules are confusing."
Ditto, said his classmate Jason Harris, whose only acquaintance with the game before Wednesday was on a video game. "On the Xbox, all you have to do is push "A."
If she gets a chance to repeat the field trip next year, Freeman plans to stage an exhibition game beforehand to acquaint students with the basics so they'll be better prepared for the match.
After lunch the students stayed around to watch hometown favorite Julie Ditty play her match, which she won in three sets.
Number of nonprofits grows
9/28/2006 Kentucky Post (Covington)
There are 9,674 nonprofit organizations in Greater Cincinnati, 22 percent more than in 2000, according to the first compilation ever of such groups that include churches, schools, charities, foundations and a wide variety of other entities.
The report, which profiles the number, location, type, revenues and assets of area nonprofit organizations, was released Tuesday in conjunction with the launching of Northern Kentucky University's Institute for Nonprofit Capacity Building.
The institute will charge nonprofit organizations fees - which have yet to be announced - to hire consultants to give the organization training, research and advice. The institute's goal is to help nonprofits do a better job of serving their clients.
The institute's first step was to release a report on the "State of Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Nonprofit Sector," which was compiled from Internal Revenue Service data on tax-exempt nonprofit groups.
The report is solely data and makes no value judgments of the nonprofits in the 13 counties of NKU's primary market area - Boone, Campbell, Kenton, Grant, Gallatin and Pendleton in Kentucky; Hamilton, Butler, Clermont, Warren and Brown in Ohio; and Dearborn and Ohio in Indiana.
Just compiling and organizing the data took 10 months for NKU sociology professor Joan Ferrante and her students. She said much of the IRS information was incomplete and incorrect and it took a lot of time to update it.
NKU officials said it was the first known attempt to provide broad overview data about the regional nonprofit sector.
"It is important information never before available," said NKU President James Votruba. "We believe that when more good information is available, more good decisions get made."
Miles Wilson, director of NKU's Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement and Nonprofit Development, where the institute is located, said there are several potential uses for the data:
Assessment of nonprofit capacity by organization type within the region.
Mapping of nonprofit resources.
Identification of resource gaps and/or overlaps within the sector.
Profiles of nonprofits by county, ZIP code or city.
The report focuses on the 6,366 agencies designated by the IRS as 501(c)(3) organizations that include religious, educational and charitable groups and represent two-thirds of all nonprofits in the area.
Annual revenue for those organizations totals $8 billion and their combined assets total $19.5 billion.
The group includes 1,166 churches and ministries, but because they aren't required to file detailed reports to the IRS, "we know almost nothing about the outreach services they provide," the report stated.
Of 1,792 fund-raising and fund-distributing agencies, Children's Hospital Corp. has the most assets, $1.2 billion, and the most annual revenue, $113 million. Of the 1,792 organizations, the 50 largest account for 80 percent of all assets and 88 percent of all revenue.
Of 3,408 public charities, Children's Hospital Medical Center has the highest annual revenue, $1 billion, while Catholic Healthcare Partners has the most assets, $2.3 billion. Catholic Healthcare Partners, which is headquartered in Cincinnati, operates more than 100 health care facilities in five states, including three Mercy hospitals in the region, in Anderson Township, Clermont County and Fairfield.
Health care organizations accounted for 32 of the top 50 revenue-generating public charities.
In a county-by-county breakdown of 501(c)(3) organizations, Hamilton County had the most with 3,708 and Gallatin County the fewest with 13.
Tech center dedicated in Butler - Fletcher attends ribbon cutting in former Sumitomo building
Writer: DOUG WATERS
9/28/2006 Bowling Green Daily News
MORGANTOWN - Gov. Ernie Fletcher was on hand Tuesday for Butler County's Area Technology Center ribbon-cutting ceremony.
He also presented Butler officials with ceremonial checks for various community projects: a $2.9 million check for water and sewer projects to Butler County Fiscal Court; a $1.4 million Kentucky Infrastructure Authority check to the Butler County Water System; a $56,955 check for agricultural diversification to the Butler County Agricultural Development Council; and a $538,000 check from the Kentucky General Assembly for the vocational center.
The center is housed in a renovated warehouse that was the former Sumitomo Manufacturing facility off William H. Natcher Parkway, Exit 27, in Morgantown. The center occupies about 12,000 square feet of the 83,000-square-foot complex, which was donated by Sumitomo to the Butler County School Board about two years ago.
The county lost about 800 jobs when Sumitomo, an automotive wiring system supplier, closed in September 2002, according to Butler County Judge-Executive Hugh Evans.
A conference area to hold about 300 people, an alternative program for at-risk kids, and community education and literacy centers round out the rest of the building, according to Butler County Schools Superintendent Larry Woods.
Almost 70 students are currently dual-enrolled at the technology center, receiving college credit in a range of fields, including industrial maintenance, health science and air-conditioning technologies, said Principal Eric Keeling, who spoke before Fletcher, along with Woods and Kentucky Education Cabinet Secretary Laura Owen.
Woods said Butler's center took about five years of planning. Owen said it's one of 55 in the state "from Pikeville to Paducah" established based on community needs.
The Butler County High School Junior ROTC extended its presentation of colors due to Fletcher's 20-minute delay in getting to Morgantown, caused by his taping of a Kentucky promotional video at Mammoth Cave National Park earlier in the day.
"I was actually just crawling out of a cave," Fletcher said, apologizing after a rousing ovation.
Fletcher said much has changed at the warehouse, which was an "empty shell" when he first visited Morgantown to learn about the county's vocational training plans.
He said some people didn't think his administration could spend more money on education while reducing taxes. However, teacher salaries have risen and post-secondary education has been funded a record amount in recent years. Tax cuts were accomplished by consolidating government jobs and departments.
Vocational training is important because students are less likely to start and finish their careers with one company like past generations. The added skills make students "immediately marketable" and able to relocate as necessary to stay employed, he said.
"We want to build you a career; a career is going to give you the job security that you need," Fletcher said.
Some of the center's first wave of students outlined their career paths after Fletcher's speech.
Jodi Southerland, 18, a Butler County High School senior, said she's wanted to pursue nursing school since her freshman year. The technology center has allowed her to take dual-enrollment courses for a nursing assistant certification, which she must earn before she can apply to nursing school at Western Kentucky University.
Jonathan Barks, 17, another Butler County High School senior, is taking dual-enrollment courses in heating and air conditioning. He said his mom and stepdad were among those laid off from the Sumitomo plant.
"When that closed, it killed the county," Barks said.
The technology center will improve the skills of the work force, making the job-deprived county more attractive to industries, he said.
Fletcher, unencumbered of the hiring scandal that loomed for months, said he's proud of what his administration was able to accomplish during the ordeal, in which he was accused of awarding government jobs to political supporters. Staying focused, he said, can remedy "the culture of petty politics that's existed in Frankfort for some time."
In August, a judge dismissed the charges against Fletcher after he agreed to a settlement with Attorney General Gregory Stumbo. Fletcher didn't admit to any criminal wrongdoing personally, but acknowledged that "evidence strongly indicates wrongdoing by his administration with regard to personnel actions with the merit system," according to the judge's five-page dismissal order.
U of L to build $40 million downtown clinical building
9/28/2006 Business First Louisville
The University of Louisville is working with a private developer to build a $40 million building in downtown Louisville where officials hope many of the doctors it employs at its School of Medicine will establish private practices to treat patients.
The 180,000-square-foot building will be located at the northeast corner of Preston and Chestnut streets, on U of L's Health Sciences campus. The land currently is used for parking.
The new building would include outpatient surgery suites, doctors offices, a diagnostic center and dozens of private practices for physicians who serve as U of L faculty members.
Dr. Larry Cook, U of L's executive vice president of health affairs, said the building will be the first of what could be several outpatient care centers U of L will build in Louisville, Southern Indiana and nearby counties. The next likely location will be somewhere in East Louisville, but plans have not been finalized for that project, he said.
School taking new approach
Currently, most of the school's physicians locate private practices in facilities owned by health care providers Norton Healthcare Inc. and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare Inc.
Cook said that "decentralized model" makes it more difficult for the school to recruit faculty from across the country because many other universities provide state-of-the-art facilities where faculty can establish their practices.
He added that U of L's current model also "creates a dilution effect" because high-profile procedures such as conducting the first hand transplant and implanting the first self-contained artificial heart are recognized as achievements by the hospitals where they are performed, instead of by U of L faculty.
"The faculty office building has become sort of ... long overdue in terms of growing the clinical enterprise and using the revenue from the clinical enterprise" to support the university, he said.
Cook stressed that U of L officials do not want to end their partnerships with other local health care providers.
However, officials want to create clinical centers that will be recognized as part of a University of Louisville health system, Cook said. That, he said, also will allow the school to expand its health care services into other parts of the state.
UK holds job fair, workshop to persuade new M.D.s to stay
Writer: Karla Ward
9/27/2006 Lexington Herald-Leader
Doctors don't usually need job fairs.
But the University of Kentucky's medical residents got one yesterday, because Kentucky needs doctors.
"Not one of these people have trouble finding a job," James Ballard, director of the UK's Medical Professions Placement Service, said of the job fair attendees. "We want to try to keep them here."
In 2004, the state needed 600 more primary care physicians, particularly in rural areas, and an additional 400 doctors were nearing retirement age, a study by the UK Center for Rural Health found.
Yesterday evening's job fair at the Radisson Hotel was the tenth held by UK in the last decade and was expected to draw as many as 70 doctors. About 30 medical facilities from Kentucky and one from Ohio were scheduled to recruit there.
Earlier in the day, UK offered a workshop aimed at helping residents learn the business principles needed to run a strong practice.
"We want them to succeed here too," said Ballard, who also serves as associate program administrator for UK's Area Health Education Center and is therefore charged with trying to increase the number of physicians in rural Kentucky.
Dr. Stephanie Eken Sander, who will finish her residency in June, said she attended yesterday's job fair and workshop because she wants to prepare "to practice it (medicine) in the best way I can."
Sander will be certified to practice pediatrics, adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, and Ballard said she's the kind of doctor Kentucky needs to try to keep.
But she isn't sure yet whether she'll stay.
"Medicaid issues in Kentucky and Tennessee don't make it very attractive to practice here," said Sander. "I'm trying to compare different settings from state to state."
The workshop, put on by the Southern Medical Association, focused on topics such as evaluating employment and managed-care contracts, managing finances and running an office.
"Sixty to 70 percent of your mental energy is spent on this," said Dr. Jean Edwards Holt, an ophthalmologist from San Antonio, Texas, who spoke at the event. "The easy part of medicine today is taking care of patients."
Most students don't get an education in the business side of medicine until they're outside the classroom.
"Most just have to learn it by the seat of their pants," Holt said.
Baltimore experiment curbs dropout rate
Writer: Greg Toppo
9/28/2006 USA TODAY
BALTIMORE -- Public School 428 looks out, in all four directions, onto streets of unoccupied, abandoned and burned-out row houses, their window casings charred, their roofs collapsed.
From the outside the school, circa 1961, is nothing but grim brick and steel windows, a city cop patrolling in front. Inside it's another world: The halls are neat and bright, the walls clean, the lockers freshly painted. Freshmen sit in class dressed neatly in yellow polo shirts and black pants.
Their bright shirts aside, these students from neighborhoods all over Baltimore stand out in another way: Living here makes them among the most likely to be taught by poorly prepared teachers, then drop out of high school and face a lifetime of low-wage, subsistence jobs. But on a recent warm September morning, they sit reading, raising hands, concentrating, in utter silence.
The school, better known as Baltimore Talent Development High School, is on the cutting edge of a decade-long experiment to stem the nation's dropout crisis. In a city where an estimated four in 10 students graduate, principal Jeffrey Robinson counts just half a dozen students who have dropped out in the school's first two years.
STAYING IN SCHOOL: Teachers use tough love
This fall, his students, virtually all of whom are black and many of whom are low-income, have shown up nearly 93% of the time.
In a nation where urban high school students are more likely to drop out the older they get, his 11th-graders actually have better attendance than the freshmen.
Dropout rates are alarmingly high in the nation's urban schools. A recent study sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation concluded that half of students in many cities don't graduate on time.
The problem is especially acute in a few cities, such as Baltimore, New York and Detroit, the study found. Detroit's dropout rate is the nation's worst. Baltimore is nearly as bad: only 39% graduate within four years. The city disputes the figure, saying it's closer to 60%. Still, Baltimore schools this fall have the dubious honor of being featured on HBO's gritty crime drama The Wire.
Reformers tout dozens of ideas, all of which have their appeal: schools within schools, charter schools, magnet schools, arts-focused schools, high-tech schools, service-oriented schools, schools that train kids to be teachers, builders, entrepreneurs, hoteliers or chefs, and schools that have extended days, weeks or years.
Talent Development High School is none of these. It isn't particularly high-tech or arts-focused. It has no admissions requirements. Students are admitted by lottery. The school day is no longer than most: Students arrive at 9 a.m. and leave at 3:50 p.m. It doesn't have a football team or marching band. It doesn't even have gym class.
Yet it's working, on a simple, common-sense principle: Find a dynamic principal with high expectations, give him what he needs, and let him hire the teachers he wants. Provide a rigorous curriculum and massive intervention for freshmen who read and do math at elementary school levels. And then get out of the way.
Robinson shrugs when asked about the school's secret formula: "It's just an ordinary school that has expectations."
It also may be the next big thing in public education. One of five "innovation high schools" in Baltimore, Talent Development operates through a cooperative agreement with Johns Hopkins University's Center for Social Organization of Schools. It's the first that Hopkins has helped develop from the ground up, the first to give a principal full control over staffing.
Students need bring no special gifts or talents. They simply check off the school's name on an enrollment form; they're treated preferentially only if they list it as their first choice. About 20% qualify for special-education services because of learning disabilities or other needs, higher than the citywide average of 15%. These days, they face a waiting list -- as do teachers, who apply to transfer here in spite of the uninviting neighborhood.
"A lot of my friends wanted to come here -- and still want to come," says veteran Baltimore math teacher Mary Robinson, who arrived this fall after two years of pestering by the principal, who happens to be her son.
Several teachers say they were attracted by Talent Development's supportive administration and hard-working staff. "I don't think there's a slacker on board," says English teacher Jenni Williams.
They praise the orderly atmosphere, the respectful student body. Many came after years of working in chaotic schools.
Baltimore allows Jeffrey Robinson freedom in hiring, though he has restraints on firing. This is a city school, after all, with a union contract. He still keeps control. Last year, a problematic English teacher lasted only one semester. He couldn't fire her but says he "kind of talked her out of the school."
'Positive peer pressure'
It's tempting to daydream about a place such as Talent Development saving the American urban high school, and when you meet the kids, it's especially tempting. The school receives students from 41 Baltimore middle schools -- one of which, Harlem Park Middle School, shares its vast brick building.
Sophomore Vic Fenner, 16, praises what everyone here calls "positive peer pressure."
"The students are keeping on top of you, make sure you do the best you can," he says.
Vic dropped out in sixth grade and spent 1ﾽ years at a community college program downtown until it lost funding. He ended up here as a freshman. "I was seeing what path I was going on," he says.
Robinson says that as a freshman, Vic drank more most nights than two adults. He often showed up in the morning hung over, his clothes a mess. This year, Vic says, he's more focused, more serious. "My common sense came back," he says with a smile.
Like many students here, he lives with a shifting constellation of family. In his household: his maternal grandmother, an aunt, her three kids, an 18-year-old brother and a 2-month-old sister.
As he sits working a wad of green bubble gum, freshman Aaron Mack, 15, says the school's calm climate is a huge change from his old middle school with its fires in the bathroom and daily food fights. Here, he says, the code is clear: "Do the right thing, you get rewarded."
A few aren't so sure. Fellow freshman Mariya Tarrant is the kind of student this school was made for -- smart but an underachiever at risk of dropping out. She flunked ninth grade last year because of too many missed days.
She doesn't like being a freshman again, so she's hoping to work hard enough to be promoted by the second semester -- a special incentive that Talent Development holds out to struggling students. Research suggests that students who repeat an entire grade are much more likely than others to drop out, so the school provides a chance to catch up quickly.
Mariya shows flashes of brilliance, as when Mary Robinson asks her to play the part of a defense attorney in a classroom mock trial, and she cuts her adversaries down to size. So far this fall, though, her teachers are frustrated. She understands the work but has missed too many school days. Then again, says Jerrell Baker, her history teacher, she walked into class the other day, after three days away, and took just moments to pick up a lesson on outlining. "She caught on very quickly," he says.
A template for change?
The back-to-basics approach is decidedly unglamorous, but it could lead the way to showing what cities can do to improve high-school graduation rates.
One of about 50 schools nationwide trying out Hopkins' model, Talent Development opened in 2004 with 137 freshmen and has added another class each year; it now has 401 students. The original freshmen will graduate in the spring of 2008, and like all Baltimore public school students, they have a gold-plated incentive to graduate: If accepted at Hopkins, about 2ﾽ miles away, they have a free, four-year ride.
The Talent Development model maintains a laserlike focus on ninth grade where many students drop out, says Robert Balfanz, a Hopkins researcher. "The ninth grade is where everything falls off."
Borderline students who got by on B's and C's in middle school find themselves overwhelmed by more challenging courses. "The kids suddenly get a bunch of F's they weren't expecting," he says.
At Talent Development, fewer than one-third of freshmen enter reading at or above grade level. Students get extra help from the start. For some, it can amount to a triple dose of reading or math daily, stretching to nearly three hours. All students attend class with the same group of 75 or so classmates.
The school requires uniforms. All freshmen wear bright yellow polo shirts. Balfanz jokes, "They have to get out of ninth grade to get a better shirt." Sophomores wear black polo shirts, juniors wear blue button-down oxford shirts embroidered with the school's logo.
Each grade consists of two teams of three teachers. Because classes are rarely more than a few doors apart, students get only three minutes to switch. Robinson and his two assistants patrol the halls, walkie-talkies in hand.
The trio, each responsible for a single grade and corridor, constantly rib each other about whose group is best-behaved.
After one class transition, Robinson reports by walkie-talkie that the 11th-grade corridor looks pretty good. But vice principal Tracye Carter chimes in that her freshmen are quieter, her hallway tidier, and she's already back in her office.
Robinson's voice crackles over the radio: "Give me time. I'll win."
It soon becomes apparent that an ever-evolving mix of tough love, vigilance and spur-of-the-moment nurturing drives events at Talent Development. Carter, 36, a Baltimore native, recalls that on the first day, she turned away students who weren't wearing their standard-issue shirts. Yet she quietly buys a few freshmen their supply of shirts if they can't afford them.
Only one in five students lives in a two-parent family. Many kids come to school angry, ill-fed, sleep-deprived, lonely. If they act out, says assistant principal Saeed Hill, he doesn't take it personally. "They're not angry with me."
A 33-year-old Baltimore native who played defensive tackle in high school and still looks like he could take down a running back, Hill met Jeffrey Robinson when the two worked at one of the city's technical high schools. Like many teachers here, he says most kids simply need a place to vent about their lives. He also admits that his job never ends: "Robinson and I talk every night, about 10 o'clock, seven days a week."
Mary Robinson, 62, who has taught in Baltimore for 38 years, took a job here this fall. She's an ordained African Methodist Episcopal preacher, and it shows. Her voice is two notches more powerful than you'd expect from her tiny frame.
"We think that high school children are not children. But you know what? They are," she says.
Yet she makes her high expectations clear in subtle ways: The grille of her classroom radiator is full of dozens of delicate porcelain figurines: a shimmering dolphin, two pink-and-blue lovebirds, an orange cat with a big red bow. It's the sort of thing you'd imagine locked behind glass in your grandmother's dining room, but here it is, laid out inches from students' desks.
The collection is safe, she says. "They look at it, but not one of them would break it."
A crime-ridden area
The school sits in the Harlem Park neighborhood, minutes from Baltimore's tourist-friendly Inner Harbor, famous aquarium and world-class concert halls. But if tourists or concert-goers ever found themselves lost here at noon, much less after sunset, they'd lock their doors and pray out loud for their GPS to get them home.
Crime is ever-present. On a recent afternoon, a pair of neighborhood thugs held up a couple of yellow-shirted freshmen at the bus stop across from the school, stealing the contents of their pockets. Jeffrey Robinson is reluctant to ask parents to come here at night; he holds back-to-school night from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Yet some students take three city buses to get here in the morning. Students who once routinely skipped school don't here. For one, when they don't show up on time, a computer text-messages the cellphones of parents, guardians and students themselves.
Teacher teams meet daily with one weekly meeting devoted to attendance issues: who's not coming to school and why.
The minimum: 90% attendance. That means a student can miss only eight days this quarter -- five if he or she wants to meet the schoolwide goal of 94%. Miss it? You're ineligible for trips to Kings Dominion amusement park and the like.
The school's first year, 2004-2005, students attended a healthy 90.3% of the time. Last year that improved to 91%. They've had 92.8% attendance this fall with the 11th-graders leading the way.
The reward for perfect attendance in August? A party with a box of doughnuts.
"We've found that resonates with the kids because what they're craving is social interaction," says Balfanz, who leaves the choice of rewards up to Robinson.
The school isn't perfect. There's nothing dazzling about the curriculum, and teachers sometimes struggle to keep a lid on classes. A few teachers often seem less than inspiring; many are still learning what a good lesson looks like. But you can't argue with what, so far, seems an amazing retention rate: Of 137 freshmen who entered in 2004, 113 remain as juniors. Most of the 24 who left transferred to other schools; Robinson says the district's database shows only five have quit school altogether -- a 3.6% dropout rate, small even for a comfortable suburban high school.
Citywide, the four-year college-going rate for recent high-school graduates was 44.5%. Another 10.7% said they'll attend two-year colleges. Counselor John Snoddy estimates that, two years from now, 60% of Talent Development's current junior class will attend a four-year college. Another 30% will attend a two-year school.
Jeffrey Robinson, 40, grew up in Maryland's rural Harford County and entered education after seeing how lower-achieving black students in his own high school spent class time "playing Monopoly instead of taking trig."
Now that he runs his own school, he often turns the simplest encounters with kids into opportunities to get their head in life's game, to remind them to keep working and graduate.
As a tangle of freshmen return to class after an assembly one recent afternoon, a boy trips over a classmate's outstretched foot, right in front of Robinson.
"Bitch!" the boy says.
Robinson casually pulls him out of the fray and gives him detention. He has stronger words for the alleged tripper, who blusters and denies everything.
"I just let you in this school," Robinson says. "All I have to do is sign the papers, and you're out."
The kid, his back to the wall, keeps protesting. Robinson points his walkie-talkie at him.
"You got a high school diploma in your pocket?"
The kid looks puzzled. "No."
"(When) you get a high school diploma you can get loud all you want. You can yell all you want."
Panel urges higher-ed overhaul - Sky-high tuition and lack of accountability are targets of a federal commission.
Writer: Stacy A. Teicher
9/28/2006 Christian Science Monitor
When today's babies grow up and head to college around 2025, will they look back at 2006 as a radical turning point in American higher education? That's the hope of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, a prestigious 19-member panel that presented its findings this month after a year of hearings and deliberations. On Tuesday, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who had appointed the group, outlined what she would do to address the keynotes of affordability and accountability in higher education.
The report urges the most comprehensive reform in decades. It calls for reining in tuition, improving access and graduation rates, and doing more to demonstrate the value of higher education. The issues aren't new, but Ms. Spellings, herself the mother of a college student, is asking Congress, state governments, and both public and private universities to work together to start making changes now.
The commission acknowledges that many aspects of US higher ed are the envy of the world, but warned that its shortcomings could hobble competitiveness. Only 31 percent of American college graduates are rated "proficient" at understanding a newspaper article, and the US is 12th among industrialized nations in granting college degrees. "The sector's past attainments have led our nation to unwarranted complacency about its future," the report says.
Historically, major changes have been accompanied by an infusion of new students into colleges - the GI Bill of 1944, for instance, aimed at returning soldiers - but "this is the first time higher education has been asked to [change] without a promise of enormous growth," says William Doyle, assistant professor of higher education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Given the public's consternation over tuition spikes, there's widespread agreement on the need for talk. But agreement breaks down when it comes to defining and solving the problems. Some critics are suspicious that the drumbeat for "accountability" - from the administration that created the testing regimen of No Child Left Behind - will lead to government intrusion and a narrowing of higher education to what can be quantified and compared.
The financial-aid system is one of the biggest targets for change. Holding up a federal financial-aid application during her remarks at the National Press Club in Washington, Spellings noted that it's longer than most people's tax forms. She said she'd work to simplify the process and cut in half the time it takes to apply.
Spellings also endorsed the idea that more need-based aid should be available, but stopped short of promising to act on a recommendation to increase the federal Pell Grant program for low-income students to cover 70 percent of tuition at an average four-year state school. (In 2004-05, average Pell Grants covered 48 percent.)
"There's good evidence that highly qualified low-income students don't attend at the same rate as middle- and upper-income students.... They're simply being priced out," says Professor Doyle. High-income students who earn the lowest scores on standardized tests attend college at the same rate as low-income students who earn top scores, the report says.
Kelly Yates, a senior at Northeastern University in Boston, agrees that the cost and complications hold many people back. "A lot of times they'll tell you at the beginning that you're all set with financial aid, but then two weeks later you'll get a bill ... and you have to spend a couple hours debating," she says. Ms. Yates usually works full time to pay her way, but still estimates that she'll be $60,000 in debt when she graduates. "I know some people on the dean's list every semester who are thinking about leaving because they can't afford it anymore, and I think that's sad."
Shifting the balance from merit aid to need-based aid won't be easy, however. "Virtually all institutions award merit aid ... [and] no single institution is going to be in a position to address that issue without cutting itself out of a large percentage of the market," says University of Denver Chancellor Robert Coombe.
Increases in grants are important, but they have to go hand in hand with keeping costs down, or "all the new money just gets absorbed by the higher prices.... States and colleges both have to work on [constraining tuition]," says Pat Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.
The report suggests caps to keep tuition growth from exceeding the growth in median family income over a five-year period. But that fails to take into account the effect of decreased state funding for colleges, as well as all the factors that influence the cost of providing education, says David Ward, president of the American Council on Education (ACE), which coordinates higher education associations.
Mr. Ward was the one member of the commission who declined to sign the final report. His group agreed with many of the goals, but worried about how solutions would be implemented. ACE and five other associations announced their own initiatives last week - to help low-income students prepare for college; to boost the quality of high schools and reduce the need for remediation in college; and to make information available on the true cost of attending a school and how long it takes students to graduate.
That last point speaks to the "transparency" that the report advocates.
Under the umbrella of accountability, Spellings also wants Congress, states, and institutions to collaborate on a national system of college-student data that would measure how much they learn. About 40 states have such systems, she says, but education consumers should be able to compare data across state lines.
The proposal has raised privacy concerns among some critics. Spellings offered assurances that any such database would not be tied to students' personal information and would protect privacy.
The commission's discussions also sparked concerns earlier this year that it might push for a college-level standardized test akin to testing in K-12 schools. Those fears have largely been quelled, says Ward, but the discussion about what types of measures are appropriate will continue.
"The big picture before us is, we need to demonstrate that the college experience is an intellectually significant one and that we add value," says Constantine Curris, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
One model suggested in the report is the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), which evaluates students' analytic reasoning, written communication, and critical thinking - as freshmen and again as seniors. Students who have tried the test say it's too long, says Debra Stuart, vice chancellor for administration with the state university system in Oklahoma, one of five states that piloted the CLA.
"We learned that it's very important that whatever measures we use have some consequences or credentials for the students, or else we can't motivate them to take it or to take it seriously," Ms. Stuart says. The GRE, which gives students an opportunity for graduate school, might work for these purposes, she adds.
It would be helpful to trace how well students do when they leave the state, but states could share information without a federal database, Stuart says.
Spellings plans to bring together accreditation groups, university representatives, and others in the coming months to discuss how best to move forward on these complex subjects.
Commission Chairman Charles Miller says he's eager to see how the report reverberates. "Whether [colleges and universities] respond and deal with the changes that are necessary, that's still an open question," he says. "Change is hard."
Recommendations for improving higher ed
9/28/2006 Christian Science Monitor
The final report of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education offers wide-ranging findings. Not all commissioners agreed on the specifics for how to achieve the goals, and the national debate is likely to continue for years. Here's a summary of recommendations, provided by the Department of Education:
1. Student academic preparation should be improved and financial aid made available so that more students are able to access and afford a quality higher education.
2. The entire student financial aid system should be simplified, restructured, and provided with incentives to better manage costs and measure performance.
3. A "robust culture of accountability and transparency" should be cultivated throughout the higher education system, aided by new systems of data measurement and a publicly available information database with comparable college information. There should also be a greater focus on student learning and development of a more outcome-focused accreditation system.
4. Colleges and universities should embrace continuous innovation and quality improvement.
5. Federal investments should be targeted to areas critical to America's global competitiveness, such as math, science, and foreign languages.
6. A strategy for lifelong learning should be developed to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of a college education to every American's future.
The full report is online at: http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/reports/pre-pub-report.pdf
Researchers Call for Major Overhaul of Medical Education
Writer: KATHERINE MANGAN
9/28/2006 The Chronicle of Higher Education
Today's medical students are being buried beneath an avalanche of information they can't absorb, while the faculty members who are supposed to be training them are distracted and overcommitted, according to an article in today's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
The article, by medical educators and researchers at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, calls for a fundamental overhaul of medical education and training. It is the first in a series of planned articles that will examine challenges facing medical education.
The authors hope the series will have an impact similar to that of a famous report prepared for the Carnegie Foundation nearly a century ago. That document, the Flexner Report, prompted many medical schools to raise their standards and strengthen their curricula.
While the Flexner Report, published in 1910, decried the profit motive at many turn-of-the-century medical schools, the new series also describes an educational environment in which money gets an unhealthy dose of attention.
"Students hear institutional leaders speaking more about 'throughput,' 'capture of market share,' 'units of service,' and the financial 'bottom line' than about the prevention and relief of suffering," the lead article states. "Students learn from this culture that health care as a business may threaten medicine as a calling."
The article, "American Medical Education 100 Years After the Flexner Report," was written by Molly Cooke, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine; David M. Irby, vice dean for education at the San Francisco medical school; Kenneth M. Ludmerer, a professor of history of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis; and William Sullivan, a senior scholar at the foundation. Dr. Cooke and Mr. Irby are also senior scholars at the Carnegie Foundation.
Their report also states that the curriculum at today's medical schools has failed to adjust to the flood of information that students are expected to master. Medical students are inundated with too much scientific information in their first and second years, which are spent mainly in the classroom, it concludes.
"The analogy that's often used for medical education is that it's like trying to drink water from a fire hose," Mr. Irby said in an interview on Wednesday, "or being thrown into a lake and told to swim to all shores at once. You can't do it."
Given the exponential increase in the amount of medical information available today, a better approach is what some medical schools refer to as an integrated curriculum, the authors argue. At the San Francisco institution's medical school, for instance, rather than studying physiology, pharmacology, anatomy, and microbiology in separate classes, first- and second-year students can study interdisciplinary topics like "Major Organ Systems," "Brain, Mind and Behavior," or "Cancer: Bench to Bedside."
The article's authors also advocate the use of patient-centered teaching, in which students learn about science by studying a patient case, from the onset of symptoms to treatment.
"We want to move the way students learn the underlying sciences closer to the way they'll encounter problems in clinical settings," Dr. Cooke said in an interview.
Once they enter their third and fourth years of medical school, students get to apply their knowledge in hospitals and clinics, where they typically move through four- to six-week rotations in specialties such as psychiatry, emergency medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology.
"Many students describe the third year as a totally miserable year," said Dr. Cooke. "They become vaguely functional in one discipline, and then they have to start all over. This sequential block structure completely defeats the goal of providing students with a feeling of progressive achievement and capability in clinical settings."
Another problem is that faculty members have less time to teach and train medical residents today because they are under pressure to generate more clinical revenue by treating paying patients as efficiently as possible, the report concludes. They are also spending more hours filling out paperwork.
"The challenge is that you have efficiency and productivity demands on the faculty, and the desire on the part of the public for relatively inexpensive and safe care, and that frequently collides with the need for trainees to learn and be supervised," Mr. Irby said.
Medical schools should also do a better job of ensuring that medical trainees have mastered skills before they are given more patient-care responsibilities, the authors argue in the article.
"The educational mission of teaching hospitals is further compromised," they write, "by the absence of performance standards and assessment methods that can clearly establish that learners are ready to advance to the next level of independence and challenge."
But hospitals are making progress, the authors note, by having trainees safely practice their skills on actors posing as patients, or on computer models.
HCTC Board of Directors
9/27/2006 Hazard Herald
Shirley Engle has been sworn in as the staff representative to the Hazard Community & Technical College Board of Director. Circuit Judge Bill Engle, who is a member of the board, conducted the swearing in ceremony in Leslie County. Board of Directors Chair Fred Brashear welcomed Ms. Engle to the new position and said he will appreciate her input. Ms. Engle has been working for the college for the past 30 years.
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