Fayette County Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk is being remembered for his upbeat style of leadership in the state’s second largest school district.  The 49 year old Caulk died unexpectedly Friday.  Fayette School Board Chair Stephanie Squires sent a message to school families just before midnight Friday.   Caulk had been on medical leave for several days.

Courtesy Guy Hamilton-Smith

After more than a decade, Kentucky resident Guy Hamilton-Smith voted this year for the first time in the state. Even though he didn’t vote in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, sending his ballot through the mail was still an emotional moment.

“Not being able to vote for many years was like a really big reminder that in very important and meaningful ways, I was not a member of my community,” he said.

Hamilton-Smith was convicted of possessing child pornography in 2007 when he was 22. He hasn’t been under supervision in 10 years.

Fayette County Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk has died unexpectedly.  The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Fayette School Board Chair Stephanie Squires sent a message to school families just before midnight Friday.  The 49 year old Caulk had been on medical leave for several days.  Squires announced the leave last week but provided no details about his medical condition.

Fayette Jail Sees Resurgence Of COVID Cases

21 hours ago

Officials at Lexington’s jail report since mid-November 295 inmates at the detention facility have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Of that number 121 are no longer considered to have active infections and the other 174 inmates who tested positive are isolated.  Currently there are no inmates needing hospital care. 

To reduce the chance of spread, recreation for inmates has been suspended in 12 of the 19 jail’s housing units.  Currently 14 staff members are positive for COVID-19.

Governor Beshear is urging Kentuckians to stay strong in the fight against COVID-19. 

In his report today, the governor said within the next ten days or so, the first injections of the vaccines could be administered in the Commonwealth. 

Beshear reported 3614 new coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths.  More than 400 patients are being treated in hospital intensive care units.  The Governor also announced the COVID-19 positivity rate had fallen slightly to just under 10%.

Mark Cornelison / UK Photo

UK HealthCare received a mock shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine this week as part of a national vaccine distribution exercise.

UK HealthCare pharmacy received shipments on Thursday containing supplies like syringes and alcohol swabs needed to administer Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The shipments did not contain the actual vaccine. 

The vaccine is still waiting on approval by the U.S. Food and Drug administration. That decision is expected on December 10.

Despite recent uncertainty for Kentucky’s agriculture economy, 2020 may wind up as an average year for farmers.

University of Kentucky Ag Economist Will Snell says the combination of weather related supply issues in other parts of the world, some growth in exports, and government payments had an impact. “Instead of a year when farm income would be declining considerably, we’re looking at the farm income actually higher for 2020,” said Snell.

Lexington Mayor Names Next Fire Chief

Dec 4, 2020

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has named Jason Wells to serve as the city’s next fire chief.  The 25-year fire service veteran takes over for Kristin Chilton, Lexington’s first female chief, who is retiring in early January.

Mayor Gorton says Lexington’s fire department is one of the best in the country and Wells will work with firefighters to build on that excellence. 

Kentucky Exceeds 2000 COVID Related Deaths

Dec 3, 2020
Stu Johnson

Kentucky has reached another troubling milestone during the current coronavirus pandemic.  The state has now exceeded 2000 deaths over the past nine months.

Governor Beshear is reviewing whether the new restrictions implemented November 18th have helped rein in growing cases.  The governor said Thursday there are no plans to extend an indoor dining ban beyond December 13th. “Could something crazy happen before then? Potentially, but again, we don’t see any extension right now of the closing of in-person dining,” said Beshear.

During Thursday afternoon’s coronavirus update Governor Andy Beshear announced 3,895 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state total to 190,601.
Governor Beshear also announced a record 34 new deaths, bringing that total to 2,014.
The positivity rate is at 10.07% as of Thursday afternoon.
You can watch a recording of Thursday’s update below.

Kentucky’s Medicaid Department along with programs in nine other states have been chosen to participate in a national learning collaborative. It focuses on developing and expanding capacity for providing housing-related support for those with substance use disorders.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander says many Kentuckians struggling with substance use also deal with homelessness or housing instability.  The secretary says the collaborative provides an opportunity for the Commonwealth to partner with other states to pool knowledge and resources.

Like many things in 2020, December activities in Kentucky’s nursing homes are challenging.  Jenny Cline is the social service director for Good Shepherd Health and Rehabilitation in Pike County.  

Michael Johnathon / WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour

The 2020 Milner Award Recipient and WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour host Michael Johnathon expresses thanks and gratitude for receiving the prestigious recognition for his contributions to the arts community in Kentucky. Watch the video below.

The Story of WoodSongs for the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, Chapter 1 is also available to watch below. The Hall of Fame is now home for the original WoodSongs stage sign, a staple emblem for the program.

Eastern Standard for December 3, 2020

Dec 3, 2020

An update from the co-chairs of the Lexington Commission for Racial Justice and Equality | The rise of Black philanthropy in Lexington | The University Press of Kentucky, under new leadership in a changing media landscape | Series debut: The Ethics and Virtues of a Democratic Society

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

Coronavirus briefings by Governor Beshear continue to include references to somber new records.  The governor reported Wednesday 37 additional COVID deaths, the most over a one day period.  

State Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said local, state, and federal data collection is challenging. “There are so many electronic labs coming in to those systems.  There are so many people operating the state system and local health departments and the state health department.  And the federal government system is having the same challenges,” said Stack.

During Wednesday afternoon’s coronavirus update Governor Andy Beshear announced 3,601 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state total to 186,765.
Governor Beshear also announced a record 37 new deaths, bringing that total to 1,980.
The positivity rate is at 9.62% as of Wednesday afternoon.
You can watch a recording of Wednesday’s update below.

Courtesy Ned Pillersdorf

The convoluted bankruptcy of coal company Blackjewel has hit another turn of events as the company’s former CEO moved to liquidate the company. A federal judge is considering a motion submitted last week to convert the bankruptcy from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7.

That would mean that instead of exiting bankruptcy as a new company with less debt, Blackjewel L.L.C. would effectively cease to exist.

Stu Johnson

Lexington’s city council has given preliminary approval to a resolution asking state lawmakers to grant the local government the ability to furlough employees.  

Council Member Preston Worley stressed it’s not an effort to target city workers. “This is asking for the opportunity, if in the worst case scenario we have to reduce the size of this government by its employees, we have the ability to bring those folks back as soon as possible and do as little economic harm to them as possible,” said Worley.

The International Museum of the Horse is launching a new website dedicated to increasing awareness, education, and access to African American history.  It comes through the Chronicle of African Americans in the horse industry.

The goal of the digital history platform is to uncover, collect, document, and make accessible the history of African Americans in the horse business. 

Stu Johnson

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has detailed plans to carry out several recommendations contained in the Commission for Racial Justice and Equality report.  

The mayor said she remains committed to moving recommendations from paper to tangible actions. “I will say what I said when I appointed the Commission.  I am determined on this that we not lose our moment to make meaningful change,” said Gorton.

The first World Aids Day took place in December of 1988.  Much has transpired regarding the treatment of those HIV positive over the past three decades.

Anthony Smallwood is the community engagement manager for Aids Volunteers of Kentucky, based in Lexington.

Alexandra Kanik / Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear hasn’t stopped pleading with the public to stay home, wear face coverings and do whatever it takes to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the state marked its deadliest day yet in the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Beshear announced a record high 4,151 new cases of COVID-19 and the deaths of 35 people. Hospitalizations have sharply risen as well to 1,777, and coronavirus patients occupy 441 ICU beds, another record.

Douglas Frederick

A Hardin County man who recovered from COVID-19 is urging other survivors to donate plasma to help in research and healing.
Douglas Frederick, 63, of Elizabethtown, spent nearly 30 days in the hospital during October and November.  He doesn't know where or how he contracted the virus, despite taking precautions.

Mary Meehan

Kentucky expects to receive about 115,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in two shipments beginning in December.
The commonwealth recorded more cases of COVID-19 in November than at any other point in the pandemic. Medical experts expect those numbers will climb even higher in the coming weeks due to holiday travel, but it appears fortune has begun to turn in the state’s favor.

During Tuesday afternoon’s coronavirus update Governor Andy Beshear announced a record 4,151 new cases of coronavirus in Kentucky, bringing the state total to 183,168.
Governor Beshear also announced a record 35 new deaths, bringing that total to 1,943.
The positivity rate is at 9.59% as of Tuesday afternoon.
You can watch a recording of Tuesday’s update below.

EKU Falls To Xavier In Overtime

Dec 1, 2020
EKU Sports

The Eastern Kentucky University Colonels nearly pulled off a big upset Monday night against a Xavier team from the Big East Conference. The Colonel’s fell short in overtime.

The EKU men’s team took a two and oh record into Cincinnati last night to take on the Musketeers.   Tre King, who led Eastern with 25 points and 13 rebounds, hit a three pointer at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.  Xavier took a lead in overtime and held on for a 99 to 96 win over EKU. 

Annette Elizabeth Allen/NPR

President-elect Joe Biden is introducing key members of his incoming economic team. The nominees and appointees include former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, and others who worked in earlier Democratic administrations.  The live event is expected to start at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday December 1.

Governor Outlines Strategy For Vaccine Distribution

Nov 30, 2020
Stu Johnson

Governor Beshear says if data presenting the effectiveness of two coronavirus vaccines at more than 90% holds up, it amounts to what he calls a “miracle.”  During his briefing Monday, the governor said the state expects to see the first shipment of 38,000 doses in a couple weeks or so.  Long term care residents and front line caregivers will be the first to get injections.

The Fayette County School Board has granted a temporary medical leave to Superintendent Manny Caulk. 

The statement following a virtual board meeting said the leave was granted so Caulk could focus his full energy on his health status. 

The board has designated Dr. Marlene Helm to serve as Acting Superintendent.   Helm has served in this capacity for the public school district on multiple occasions. 

The 49 year old Caulk underwent surgery in 2015 to remove a malignant tumor from his nasal cavity.

Aaron Payne

Since March, thousands of Kentuckians have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. That has created an even greater need for food in the commonwealth.  

In Kentucky more than 600,000 people face hunger. The pandemic has worsened unemployment and caused even more people to struggle to afford food. 

One form of relief came when the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid farmers for food that didn’t make it to schools and restaurants. Those food boxes were sent to food banks across the country.