Louisville is getting a new professional indoor arena football team. The Kentucky Xtreme will compete in the Continental Indoor Football League, which includes nine teams across the Midwest. The Xtreme will play a ten game season in 2013, with five home games in Freedom Hall. The team will be coached by Louisville native Roy McMillen, who played quarterback at Western Kentucky University. He was also an assistant coach for the Louisville Fire arena football team, which folded in 2008. McMillen says he needs players. Open tryouts will be held next month. "(If) you know anybody that wants to play, anybody who thinks they can play, anybody who’s sitting on the couch who used to play, October 6, come to tryouts," he said. The team’s founder and general manager is Louisville native Victor Cole, who’s an assistant football coach at Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Indiana. Cole says he’s launching the team with funds he saved from his service in the Kentucky Air National Guard. He says the team’s first season operating budget will be a modest $200,000. He’s hoping for an average attendance of 4,000. The Louisville Xtreme's first home game will be February 17.
Jefferson County Public Schools is one of 893 districts that have announced an intent to apply for new federal “Race to the Top” funding.Kentucky applied for the federal government's competitive Race to the Top grants before, and last year the commonwealth received around $17 million after losing the larger grant it applied for.Now hundreds of districts across the country say they’re interested in competing for local funding.Competition for the grants will partly depend on a district’s size and whether they meet qualifications as determined by the U.S. Department of Education.The federal government is taking schools' prior academic records and a district’s transparency into account when awarding the grants.Although the Jefferson County Board of Education announced its intent, board member Linda Duncan said she wasn't aware of the specifics of the grant.Officials with the U.S. Department of Education said some Local Education Agencies--or governing bodies such as school districts--weren't required to get a board's approval to announce interest in applying.Duncan said although JCPS would have to meet several federal requirements under the grants, the amount of money is worth it.“Even though we would probably negotiate on those requirements it would make me much more receptive to them," she said.Applications are due Oct. 30 and awards will be announced in December. The Department of Education could award between 15 to 25 grants.JCPS is one of 138 districts that could vie for up to $30 million.
A Kentucky Republican lawmaker is attempting to end the pension program for legislators.State Representative David Floyd says Kentucky’s part-time lawmakers shouldn't get pensions. But currently they do, and some lawmakers are able to fatten their pensions by taking higher-paying jobs elsewhere in government, then collecting a pension for the higher salary after they retire.Floyd has drafted a bill to end that practice and close the legislative pension system to anyone elected after this year.He's also submitted a bill that would go farther and completely end the pension system and deny current lawmakers their benefits.Various proposals to change or reduce legislative pensions have been sponsored, but none have ever come close to passing.Floyd did not return a request for comment.
The Louisville Free Public Library will reopen its western branch this weekend following a $500,000 remodeling project.The historic location was built in 1908 and was the first free public library in the nation to be fully staffed by African Americans. Included among the renovation projects is the creation of a new reading room for the African American archives, which the library houses.“We’re trying to accomplish several things and one is to make sure that this historic, landmark library lasts another hundred years," says Library Director Craig Buthod. "So we’re making lots of physical repairs and improvements to the building to make sure that it’s water tight, to make sure that it looks right. The physical improvements are significant, but they’re not the only thing.”Other improvements include additional study spaces and new computers. Mayor Greg Fischer Buthod will unveil the updates during a special ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 pm.
The Sierra Club is planning a rally at noon today at the University of Kentucky to protest the ties between the school's athletic department and the coal industry.UK and the coal industry have a fairly close relationship--the men's basketball dorm is called the Wildcat Coal Lodge, after coal industry contributions, and there have been prominent coal advertisements during some athletic events.According to a news release, the Sierra Club and its university and Lexington members want UK to stop accepting money from the coal industry--like it has done from alcohol and tobacco companies."UK does not accept sponsorships from tobacco or alcohol corporations and we are asking them to include coal in their list of harmful industries," said UK student Sam Beavin.The organization also wants the university to replace its aging power plant with renewable energy.Speakers at today's rally include Mary Anne Hitt, the head of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, local physician Dr. John Patterson and UK students. The rally starts at noon.
A proposed ban on putting yard waste in plastic bags has won the support of several Louisville residents. The ban was one common element in the 23 written and four spoken comments Louisville’s Waste Management Board received Tuesday evening.The board is set to vote on Metro Government’s five-year Solid Waste Management plan at a meeting later this month. The plan includes a proposal to ban plastic bags for yard waste by the end of this year, to make it easier to compost. But in the comments, residents said they felt mislead about where the yard waste is actually ending up.For nearly two decades, there’s formally been a ban on putting yard waste in a landfill in Louisville.But there’s a loophole—it can be composted, or “beneficially reused.”And that beneficial reuse is what happens to most of the yard waste put out to the curb in the Urban Services District.Seventy percent of that waste ends up in the landfill anyway, because it’s contaminated in some way by plastic bags or other materials that aren’t technically yard waste. Instead of turning into compost, the material is used as “daily cover,” which covers trash at the landfill.Metro Government pays Waste Management $31 a ton to haul away the yard waste. That’s an expense that’s added up to nearly $1.4 million over the last four fiscal years.Solid Waste Advisory Board Committee member Sarah Lynn Cunningham says diverting the waste to a landfill misleads the public, and Metro Government shouldn’t be paying for what essentially cuts a private company’s operating expenses.“Daily cover is an operating expense,” she said. “The public should not be paying to meet that expense.”Waste Management landfill manager Marie Burnett says the company would prefer to compost all the yard waste, and supports a plastic bag ban.“Because we don’t want the plastic either,” she said. “I want everybody to understand that we do not want the contaminants. It’s not a secret, it’s not a secret that we use it for alternative daily cover, it’s never been a secret.”The board could undertake a plastic bag ban on its own, or try to get it done through the Metro Council, where a similar proposal failed in the past. The board is set to vote on the five-year plan on September 19.
The Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation (CART) has filed a new complaint against the Ohio River Bridges Project in federal court. "The $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project will provide very little benefit, economic, social, environmental, or otherwise, to the vast majority of residents in the Louisville region and has significant negative economic, social and environmental impacts on the community as a whole, and particularly on people living in Louisville’s urban core and west end," says CART in a statement.The filing is the latest in a years-long legal fight against the project. The preservation group River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation first filed suit against the federal government in 2009, alleging the government did not follow due diligence in approving the project. CART joined the suit the following year, and a stay was put on the case while authorities revised the project.The revisions cut several lanes of traffic from the $2.6 billion two-bridge project, and the stay was lifted this summer. The plaintiffs had until Wednesday to amend their complaint, and they have vowed to continue their fight against the project, even as ground was broken last week on a road that is planned to be incorporated into the final project. In the new filing, CART says the project, which will be paid for through bonds and tolls, will not leave enough available money for public transportation solutions. The complaint filed Tuesday also says various state and federal authorities did not properly review alternative plans or the environmental or social effects of the project. In the accompanying statement, CART calls the project "a scheme to privatize the free interstate system and move business and jobs far from Louisville’s urban core."Authorities have long disagreed with the lawsuit's assertions and have continued moving forward on the project as the court battle continues. A request for comment to the bridges authority was not immediately returned.
A home in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood has been chosen as the first for a restoration project aimed at preserving the city’s iconic shotgun houses. Shotguns, characterized by a long, rectangular floor plan, are a common sight in Louisville’s older neighborhoods, but many have fallen into disrepair. Preservation Louisville, Habitat for Humanity and New Directions Housing Corporation are teaming up for a restoration project called Save Our Shotguns. Preservation Louisville Executive Director Marianne Zickuhr says work will begin soon on the project’s first home in the 2700 block of West Main Street. "We had a great opportunity to work with a husband and a wife who have been in the home for over four decades," Zickuhr said. "The wife actually grew up in the house right next door. That was, I think, really touching to us that you had someone who had such a longstanding relationship with the area." "This particular block of Main Street is also one where you’re seeing some positive movement and I think we wanted definitely to make sure that the project we chose would be a place where there was going to help spur more positive movement." Zickuhr says the three agencies will each handle different elements of the restoration, which will also get some federal funding from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Louisville's CenterStage theater company continues its season this week with the regional premiere of the acclaimed rock musical “Next to Normal.” The show explores the impact of mental illness on a suburban family.Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt’s “Next to Normal” opened on Broadway in 2009 and won three Tony Awards, but when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010, it joined the ranks of only a handful of musicals to earn that distinction.The musical has been praised for its unflinching portrayal of the Goodmans, a family that struggles to stay afloat while dealing with mother Diana’s bipolar disorder, as well as its powerful and thought-provoking approach to depicting mental illness.“Pretty much everyone is affected by mental illness, whether directly or indirectly, and I think it’s important to put a human face to what these illnesses are and do,” says artistic director John Leffert, who also directs this production. “We don’t have to pigeonhole them into what our society calls normal.”“It’s not a play about the illness—I want to be clear about that. It’s a play about the family and how the relationships are affected by everything that’s going in on their lives,” Leffert adds. “Next to Normal” opens Thursday at the Jewish Community Center’s Linker Auditorium and runs through September 16.After each performance, CenterStage will accept donations for six local agencies that work with people affected by mental illness, including Brooklawn Child and Family Services and Seven Counties. Next Tuesday’s performance will be a special fundraiser to benefit Bridgehaven, where the artistic staff conducted research while preparing for the show.“Next to Normal” is the second musical in CenterStage’s season, which opened with “Rent” in July. CenterStage will open “Ragtime” in October and “Company” in January, rounding out their season with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Deramcoat” in February and the subversive puppet musical “Avenue Q” in April.Leffert says that although CenterStage is not strictly a musical theater company, in tighter economic times his audience calls for more musicals.“We’ve chosen some shows that might be a bit more cutting-edge, might challenge our audience a little bit,” says Leffert. “We’re finding that our audience wants to see that edgy theater. Sometimes, though our older audience might want to see those classic musicals, but our younger audience doesn’t, really. We try to find a perfect mix.”
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-In., joined a chorus of GOP lawmakers who are highlighting that the gross national debt reached $16 trillion on Tuesday.Several Republican lawmakers have underscored that the debt hit the historic mark as the Democratic National Convention kicks off its re-election pitch for President Barack Obama.Coast says the trillions in debt is no reason to celebrate and will burden each citizen, adding the the fiscal crisis is also a national security issues.From Coat's office:"Today, the United States national debt exceeded $16 trillion for the first time.Although a historic moment for our nation, this is no occasion to celebrate. Instead, this sobering milestone is an indictment of Washington’s failure to address the most pressing challenge facing our country. Our federal government’s unsustainable debt is not just a fiscal crisis; it’s a national security crisis as well. Overwhelming red ink jeopardizes the security of our country and makes us more vulnerable to the foreign countries providing the borrowed money used to subsidize our excessive spending. We must stop the bleeding.Hoosiers and Americans across the country must stand and call on all leaders in Washington to act now. Rather than do nothing and mortgage our children’s future, I will continue to fight to control spending, reform entitlement programs and simplify the tax code to grow the economy, reduce our debt and prevent this great country from becoming the next Greece."
The University of Louisville football team has risen two places in the latest Associated Press national rankings. The Cards are 23rd in this week’s poll, up from 25th going into their season opener against Kentucky. U of L is 24thin the latest USA Today/coaches poll after being unranked last week. Coach Charlie Strong is generally pleased with his team’s play in Sunday’s 32-14 win over UK, but says no one has forgotten last season, when the Cards returned home after a big win in Lexington and were dealt the first of three consecutive losses. "We cannot allow that to happen and we’re at home. So now you have an opponent come in, so you like to think that now we’ve been through that, hoping that we won’t have to go through it again," Strong said. Louisville faces unranked Missouri State next Saturday. Kentucky also returns to action Saturday, hosting Kent State. Indiana is on the road at Massachusetts after opening the season with a win over Indiana State.
Third District Congressman John Yarmuth has help secure $375,000 in federal funds to fight youth substance abuse.The $375,000 in federal funding will be divided up among three different community groups that work to prevent drug abuse among teenagers and young adults in Louisville. The funding is part of a larger $76.7 million investment in the Drug-Free Communities Program, which was established in 1997 to help mobilize local individuals and organizations to prevent youth substance abuse.Tomy Baker Molloy is coordinator for the Seventh Street Corridor PAL Coalition, which will get $125,000 of the grant. She says the funding is a needed investment that will help turn young people away from harm."It’s vital for our organization. We work in the Park Hill, Algonquin and Old Louisville neighborhoods where youth are typically disenfranchised and not so engaged," she says.The Seventh Street coalition works to reduce substance abuse in parts of Old Louisville, Park Hill and several South End neighborhoods. The Portland Now Prevention Partnership and the Louisville Metro Alliance for Youth are also getting grant funds."These organizations provide vital neighborhood-level support in our ongoing efforts to curb substance abuse among young people in Louisville," Yarmuth said in a news release. "From Shawnee to Okolona, from Fairdale to Portland and throughout central Louisville, these federal investments will support prevention initiatives and help build safe, healthy communities."The Drug-Free Communities Program was created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, and has been re-authorized by Congress in 2001 and 2006. Over 2,000 grants have been awarded across the country since 1998.Molloy says those grants has been the bulk of the group's funding over the years adding, their program is unique because it recruits young people to help with the outreach."We really try to focus on proactive events and engagement opportunities for the youth versus preaching the drug free message," she says. "We’d rather keep the youth engaged and keep them active in their communities."
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says he didn’t authorize a major renovation of the Purdue University president’s office and has asked that any work not completed be stopped. Daniels issued a statement about the renovation after the West LaFayette Journal and Courier reported that the university is spending $380,000 to fix up the office and replace outdated computers and video equipment. The paper reports that the project was all but completed last week. Daniels, who will become Purdue’s 12th president in January, says he wasn’t involved in the decision to perform the work and would not have requested that it be done. He says the office work is part of a long-planned larger project to renovate Hovde Hall, which houses the presidential suite and the registrar’s office. Here is Daniels' entire statement: A number of media outlets have published a story about renovations occurring in Hovde Hall, which houses the president’s office at Purdue University. Governor Daniels issued this statement about the work: “It is important to me that friends of Purdue and all citizens of Indiana know the following with regard to the renovation of the Purdue University president’s office: I knew nothing about it and was no part of the decision to perform this work. If I had been asked in advance, I would have requested that the work not be done. The renovation had nothing to do with my becoming president, but was part of a longstanding plan to renovate parts of Hovde Hall after many decades. “I have asked that any work not already complete be canceled. Nothing about my service in business or public life suggests that I would initiate or condone a dollar of excessive or unnecessary spending on my account.”