Popular Lexington Greeter Has Died

Mar 27, 2020

A longtime familiar face in the Lexington community has passed away.  James “Smitty” Smith died earlier this week at the age of 89 of natural causes.  Known by most all as Smitty, Smith was a longtime welcoming maître d at Columbia’s Steakhouse on North Limestone. 

Columbia’s General Manager Flo Cowley said Smitty was an upbeat person to the fullest.  “He was just such a great people person.  He was so kind and his hospitality to everybody that walked in.  He made you feel like you were a king or queen,” said Cowley.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has announced the opening of the city’s emergency operations center to help cope with coronavirus activity.  Also, the mayor said the first confirmed case of COVID-19 among city employees came yesterday involving a firefighter.

Tighter restrictions on city parks are being implemented.  Lexington Parks and Recreation Department Director Monica Conrad.

Amid concerns of the coronavirus and efforts to maintain social distancing, on Thursday Daniel Boone National Forest officials announced that some recreational areas will be closed for the foreseeable future. Samantha Morrill talked to Tim Eling, Public Information Officer for the Parks Service.

In addition to the shutdown of multiple recreation areas in the Daniel Boone National Forest, public access and backcountry camping in the Red River Gorge are also temporarily suspended.

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

The House is debating and then voting on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that the Senate passed earlier this week. Watch the floor proceedings live.

courtesy Shannon Burns

Health care workers from around the country have been reporting shortages of face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In Georgetown, Kentucky there’s also a shortage of the masks for medical professionals. Volunteers who sew are stitching hundreds of masks from home every day to help.

Cheri Lawson talked with Shannon Burns, owner of a large sewing center in Georgetown. Burns is coordinating the mask-making effort in her area.

Kentucky Legislature Passes COVID-19 Relief Measure

Mar 26, 2020

Both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly passed what’s been termed COVID-19 relief legislation Thursday evening.  It was the final vote in the state senate before lawmakers adjourned until next Wednesday. 

UMWA Wants More Coronavirus Protections for Coal Miners

Mar 26, 2020
Brittany Patterson

The United Mine Workers of America is asking federal regulators to set uniform, enforceable guidelines to help protect coal miners from contracting COVID-19.

In a letter dated Tuesday, March 24, UMWA President Cecil Roberts wrote to the Mine Safety and Health Administration requesting the agency issue a “safeguard” or “emergency standard” that would require coal mine operators to take actions to protect miners from the coronavirus.

Michael Brumage

As new cases of coronavirus mount in the Ohio Valley, health officials are bracing for an onslaught of patients and what could be unprecedented demand for beds, medical staff and specialized equipment.

Senate Panel Passes Alcohol Direct Shipping Bill

Mar 26, 2020

Multi-faceted legislation dealing with licensing and shipping of alcoholic beverages passed the Kentucky Senate Thursday.  Bill Sponsor Adam Koenig said it’s a producer only measure that establishes a direct shippers’ license.

The Fayette County Health Department is implementing some service changes in response to the current coronavirus pandemic.

In light of social distancing and limited staff availability, the health department is stopping in-person women-infants-and children visits.  Those can now be conducted over the phone.  Public health clinic visits will be limited and available only as same-day appointments. 

Eastern Standard for March 26, 2020

Mar 26, 2020

Coronavirus impacts: musicians who make ends meet with jobs in the hospitality industry. And, a Lexington company that connects KY businesses with government contracts | Al Cross on news media vs social media | Brad Flowers on how to choose the right name for your company or organization

Contact: Tom Martin at or leave voicemail at 859-622-9358

Fayette District Court has released 48 non-felon inmates from the Lexington jail.  Officials say the release of low risk non-violent inmates was done to make it safer for the remaining jail population in light of coroniavirus.

The court says some of the 48 inmates are 60 years old and above and have pre-existing health conditions.  Others had fewer than 45 days left on their court mandated sentences.  The releases began last Friday and continued through Wednesday.  Currently there are about 11 hundred inmates at the Fayette County Detention Center, down from a high of 1,565. 


WEKU is staring a new weekly segment with EKU Interim President David McFaddin who will offer the University's perspective and response to the Coronvirus health crisis.

On this weeks discussion:

Currrent status of EKU

Online classes

Advice to the community

Lexington Homeless Mission Shifting Strategy

Mar 25, 2020

A Lexington organization dedicated to helping the homeless is being forced to adjust its daily services due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Lexington Rescue Mission Resource Coordinator Shanda Oakley says staff members 60 and over have been sent home and there are fewer volunteers.  She noted the remaining workers are picking up the slack, serving clients, cleaning, and writing down paperwork that used to be done by clients.

Kentucky Food Banks Seeing Higher Demand

Mar 25, 2020

The director of Kentucky’s umbrella food assistance organization says food banks across the state are struggling with increased need from many people who have lost wages.  Feed Kentucky’s Tamara  Sandberg said some areas of the Commonwealth are seeing a 50% increase in demand compared to two weeks ago.

Ryland Barton

With Kentucky’s economy slowing to a trickle during the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s already cash-strapped coffers and services are going to take a big hit.

The outbreak presents a massive challenge, both for Kentuckians who rely on state programs and for lawmakers currently trying to finalize a two-year state budget to possibly pass out of the legislature on Thursday.

Kentucky Legislature

A Republican state representative has filed a measure that would allow people and businesses to sue the governor if they feel emergency restrictions are unnecessary, too broad or last too long.

The legislation comes after Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has ordered many businesses across the state to be shut down or closed to in-person traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and the measure’s sponsor, did not immediately respond to questions.

Eastern Kentucky University

WEKU is starting a weekly interview segment with EKU Interim President David McFaddin who will offer the University's perspective and response to the Coronvirus health crisis. 

Office of Governor Andy Beshear

As the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 spreads across the globe, the nation, and through Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear will be addressing the Commonwealth daily at 5:00 p.m. with the latest updates. 

Bookmark this page and watch the live video below.

The Head of the Kentucky Medical Association says the most pressing need when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic is social distancing.

Dr. Brent Wright practices family medicine in Glasgow.  He said testing the entire population for coronavirus is not feasible, which would indicate where infection is focused around the country.

Cheri Lawson

Dr. Nan Littleton, psychologist and, Professor Emeritus at Northern Kentucky University said almost everyone is in what she calls crisis mode right now, in other words, she said, in shock, due to the reality of the coronavirus pandemic.

Littleton said one significant way to help alleviate anxiety is self-care which includes following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as regular handwashing.  “We’ve got to do those things. We’re not used to washing our hands for twenty seconds. We may not be used to using hand sanitizer at the drop of a hat or doing the social distancing but those things are all really important and ways that we take care of ourselves,” said Littleton.

Gardening Helps Some Cope With Coronavirus Stress

Mar 24, 2020

With temperatures expected to warm into the 70’s this week, springtime gardeners will be enjoying the outdoors. A central Kentucky horticulturalist says gardening could also be another way to cope with coronavirus related stress.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission is seeking to determine how much money should be returned to Kentucky American Water Company customers.  The proceeding comes after the utility reduced its costs by refinancing $71 million in corporate debt.

In an order issued Tuesday, the Public Service Commission directed Kentucky American to file within 15 days its proposed mechanism for returning the savings to its ratepayers. The proceeding stems from the water company’s last rate case, concluded in June 2019, in which the PSC granted an increase.

Daniel Cameron

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office is investigating hundreds of complaints from consumers about alleged price gouging as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the state.

The office tallied 860 complaints by Monday afternoon, said Attorney General Daniel Cameron. 

The complaints have flooded into the office since Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on March 6 and issued an order prohibiting price gouging the next day. 

Ryland Barton

A committee of Kentucky lawmakers gathered Monday to start finalizing a two-year state budget, which they predict will be changed significantly due to a drop in tax revenue resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Legislators are still meeting during the coronavirus outbreak even though the State Capitol campus is closed to the general public and despite warnings about group gatherings spreading the disease.

Many Kentucky Restaurants Face Difficult Road Ahead

Mar 23, 2020

Governor Beshear continues to stress the importance of ‘staying apart’ as one key way to help slow the spread of coronavirus.  Many businesses are feeling the hard economic hit including all kinds of eateries.

When asked about the effects of coronavirus on restaurants across Kentucky, the head of the industry’s umbrella organization called it a quote, “massive and terrifying time”.  Kentucky Restaurant Association CEO Stacy Roof. “They’re just trying to do what business they can in a limited capacity, but they don’t know how they’re going to get through this,” said Roof.

Peabody Energy, Inc., via Wikimedia Commons

As states across the Ohio Valley order the closure of non-essential businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, coal mines will remain open. But as with many industries, the global pandemic is straining the coal sector, and some experts say the already struggling industry could face intense challenges in the months ahead as electricity demand flags and international exports stall.

Surge In Kentucky Coronavirus Cases Expected

Mar 23, 2020

University of Kentucky Epidemiologist Kathleen Winter says studies indicate between 40 to 60% of Kentucky’s population is estimated to become infected at some point with coronavirus.

University of Kentucky Healthcare is ramping up its telemedicine program to assist coronavirus patients and their families. 

During an afternoon briefing Monday Dr. Roberto Cardarelli said, since last Wednesday, there have been more than a hundred patients using telecare technology.

“That means that we are keeping patients safe at home.  We’re keeping our community safer by keeping people isolated who might have symptoms, and then we’re getting them tested that have the symptoms that we’re concerned about.”

Lexington Has First Death Attributed To Coronavirus

Mar 23, 2020

Lexington has seen its first death attributed to the coronavirus.  Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton and Fayette Health Commissioner Kraig Humbaugh made the announcement Monday. The deceased individual was over 80 years old and had underlying health conditions. 

Saying this is a sad day for Lexington and especially the family and friends of the victim, Mayor Gorton urged all citizens to make sure elderly neighbors are cared for and protected.  She said, quote, “Let’s do everything we can to slow down this virus.”