This post is long overdue, as most of you already know I have left Lexington to move to Washington, DC. Although it was hard to leave my Kentucky home, it’s what’s best for my family and I. I will finally be living with my fiance, and continuing my career as a journalist.
The decision to leave LEX 18 has been one of the most difficult ones I have had to make. Who would have thought a Tennessee girl would have fallen in love with Kentucky? But that’s exactly what happened.
I’ll never forget my first time in Lexington, when I flew here for my interview. I remember our plane coming in for the landing at the Blue Grass Airport — and the first things I saw were Keeneland, white-picket fences, rolling green hills and horses. I knew I was going to like it here.
It started off kind of rocky, the funny looks I got wearing my Tennessee Vols t-shirts. The phone calls from viewers after I mispronounced Versailles (it’s ver-sails in Kentucky, folks), Chinoe (chin-o-way), and Athens (Ay-thens). But it didn’t take long for me to learn the lingo and realize I can’t wear orange here and not expect to get a little (friendly) grief. And it took even less time for Kentuckians to accept me and make me feel at home.
I traveled to the far eastern parts of Kentucky and met some of the nicest people I’ve ever known. I visited Louisville and Cincinnati for stories impacting people in central Kentucky. I covered THE Kentucky Derby three years in a row, and got to witness first hand the most exciting 2 minutes in sports. I was lucky enough to tag along with the Wildcats as they made their way to the National Championship. I covered the mayhem that broke out after they came home, saw the couches burned and the cars torched. I saw communities devastated and families broken after tornadoes ripped through the state. I watched friends, families and strangers come together and help each other out after their lives were turned upside down. I covered high-profile court cases, where families finally got the justice they deserved. I was fortunate to cover happy stories in Kentucky, of real people making a difference in their community.
Even in the darkest of times, my photographer and I were welcomed with open arms. Imagine just learning your loved one had been killed or your home had burned down? Time and time again, Kentuckians graciously opened their doors to me, invited me to sit on their couch and offer me coffee, in the midst of their own grief. They “thank me” after interviews and tell me I’m welcome back anytime. They hug me. But it’s not just me Kentuckians treat this way, it’s everyone. It’s true southern hospitality and genuine kindness. And I will forever be grateful for that.
To my coworkers at LEX-18, I am impressed time and time again with the work that we do. From our award-winning coverage of Derby (have you SEEN the work our crews put into it?!), the day-to-day grind— covering seemingly small stories that make a big impact, to the heart-breaking stories that change lives, I am so proud to be a part of the number one station in Lexington.
Please don’t be strangers…not that it’s possible, as the entire time I’ve lived in Lexington, I’ve never met one of those.
Mothers of children who have been victims of gun violence in Kentucky are having a unique party, an event these women hope will stop the violent cycle. And they’ve enlisted the help of a man who knows about violence all too well.
Logan Avritt and Tonya Lindsey are planning a party, called “the Peace Party.” On Friday night, teenagers will descend to the College for Technical Education. Avritt, a former gang member who now speaks to schools through his program, came up with the idea. Avritt teamed up with Lindsey, the mother of Ezavion Lindsey, a 16-year-old boy who was shot to death in July.
Since his death, Lindsey has made it her mission to live for her son, and Avritt gave her the perfect way to do that. “He was like. ‘You know I’m going to do peace parties and dedicate them to him.’”
They’re joined by other parents of children that were victims of gun violence. Chaz Black was shot to death last year. So was Jaleel Raglin. Steven Reynolds was killed in April. “I don’t think any mother should sit and be in this pain I’m in,” said Lindsay.
They want to stop the cycle, so these peace parties will be a place where kids can be kids, give them a nice clean atmosphere where the mother and father feel confident, and say, “I’ll let my child go to that party.”
The party Friday will start at 8 p.m. and go until 10 p.m. It’s free, but students are asked to donate a canned good if they can. For questions, call (859) 536-1001.
The women say they plan to have these parties once a month at different locations.
A Whitley County firefighter who died from injuries sustained fighting a fire will receive honors with a full procession on the way home to McCreary County Tuesday morning.
Volunteer firefighter Arlie Hill was affectionately known as “Pooh.” He suffered burns over 90 percent of his body when he and another firefighter went into a burning home looking for victims back on Aug. 30. He died due to those injuries on Sunday.
He’s survived by his son, daughter and wife Sharen.
Hill’s body will leave Cincinnati Tuesday morning and there will be a procession back to McCreary County. Supporters are asked to line the route.
The procession will begin at the main fire department headquarters in Cincinnati and leave at 10 a.m. The route will follow I-75 south to Mt. Vernon. It will then proceed down KY-461 to KY-80 to US-27 south Whitley City. The procession will end at the Hickman Strunk Funeral Home.
Memorial services for Hill will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, at McCreary Central High School in Stearns. Family viewing will begin at 9 a.m., with public viewing to follow at 10 a.m. Services will be held at 2 p.m.
30 years ago, on Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove into the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. That anniversary marks a painful one for the friends and families of the 241 marines, soldiers and sailors who died that day.
On Oct. 23 2013, in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, thousands of people gathered to remember those who died.
Kentucky marine, major Robert Jordan, was in Beirut the day those marines, soldiers and sailors were killed.
“I heard the loudest explosion I had heard in my life,” major Jordan said.
Outside, the barracks he typically slept in, were gone.
“I saw a fine grey dust from pulverized concrete that covered everything that was living or dead,” he said.
The dead he would soon realize were everywhere.
“And saw what I thought was a broken tree trunk, and I realized as I saw blood, it was the leg of some young man,” major Jordan remembers.
What was supposed to be a peace-keeping mission, would soon be remembered as the first terrorist attack on Americans.
“These people who did not respect peace took the opportunity to slaughter them as they slept,” major Jordan said.
Each year, the anniversary is all too often glazed over. Something major Jordan has dedicated his life to fixing.
“First duty is to remember, the other duty is to never forget,” he says.
Major Jordan lives in Maryland now where he teaches.
This story is personal to LEX18′s Nikki Burdine, whose father is a colonel in the Marine Corps and was In Beirut during the bombing. It’s where her father was when she was born. Nikki says she is one of the lucky ones because her father was not hurt and she got to grow up with a dad, but 241 other families were not as fortunate.
For more information about the Beirut Veterans of America, visit http://www.beirutveterans.org/
The small town of Falmouth sits quietly on the Licking River, but everyone here remembers when these waters were anything but.
“It was March 1 1997,” said Debbie Dennie.
In Pendleton County, it’s remembered as the “Great Flood of 1997.” Five people were killed and the town was devastated.
Debbie Dennie was at the Falmouth outlook that day when her town was all but swept away.
“It looked like a warzone,” she said.
Five people were killed, lives turned upside down. And they never even saw it coming.
“We weren’t warned. We sat here and the water came onto us,” said judge executive Henry Bertram.
After the water levels went back to normal, FEMA stepped in to provide some much-needed reassurance, in the form of water gauges. There are seven in this area of the Licking River alone, and since 1997, they’ve used them to evacuate people several times.
But now that sense of security could be taken away, due to budget cuts from the federal government.
“For FEMA to look at our community and say we are not worth it any longer, we are going to pull these gauges, it’s not only devastating to us, FEMA doesn’t realize the money they are spending on these gauges is a protective insurance policy,” said Betram.
The judge executive says he is working with local congressmen to keep the gauges in place.
The gauges each cost about $10-$12,000 a year to run and there are seven of them.
Police in Lexington are investigating after a shooting incident between people in two vehicles that that left one person shot.
The incident began at about 1 p.m. at Main Street and Jefferson Street. Police are still sorting out the details, but apparently at least one person in a Dodge Durango and one person in a white Chevy Malibu started shooting at each other as they drove around several streets in and around downtown Lexington.
Eventually, the driver of the Durango ended up driving to the hospital after being shot. The injury does not appear to be serious. Meanwhile, police continue to search for the Malibu.
LEX 18 is tracking this story and will have more details as they become available.
It all started with a tweet from @Dakota_Meyer: “Congress 2016, POTUS 2024!” Meyer posted the news on his Twitter account at 12:01am on October 1st.
“Whenever I tweeted it out I had no idea anyone would even pay attention to it,” says Meyer. But they did, tweet after tweet, his followers showed their support for him. “The reason I tweeted it out is because I want to continue to serve, if thats how people think I should serve, then that’s what I want to do,” Meyer says.
His entire life has been about serving, first in the Marine Corps. Meyer was in Afghanistan for what he calls, the worst day of his life, when he saved the lives of 3-dozen U.S. and Afghan troops after they were ambushed by the Taliban. Experience, he says, will help him in public office. “Nothing will ever happen to me to hurt me more than that or take more from me than that day,” says Meyer, talking about September 8th 2009. “So as far as having to worry about a bad day, for the rest of my life I know I’ve had a bad day and it wont get worse than that. So what do I have to worry about?”
After being awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011, Meyer has worked with veterans to help them land jobs.
“I’ve always wanted to make a difference, that’s what I’ve said ever since I received the medal. I will accept this medal on behalf of the men and women who served and who died and go out everyday to make a difference.”
Now, another type of service could be on the horizon, a revelation that came after the government shut down.
“It’s really so frustrating to me because we can’t make a decision together,” says Meyer. “It’s really so frustrating to me because we can’t make a decision together. We’ve gotten so spread apart.”
Now, he’s focusing on converting his frustrating into passion. “The Marine Corps taught me the ‘whatever it takes’ attitude and to go out and change the word ‘situation’ into ‘opportunity’ and to go out and make a difference,” says Meyer.
As for what party he would align himself with, Meyer says this: “No one asked me when I went to serve as a Marine, if I was going to be a Republican or Democrat, it didn’t matter then. I am going to do what’s right in the best interest for Kentuckians and Americans.”
Meyer says, attributes he has gained from his service will help him in the future. “My love for my country, doing the right thing, having morals to stand firm on what we believe in and what to stand for, doing what’s right. That’s what its about.”
“The Marine Corps taught me that everyday we are presented with situations we have no control over. It’s not about which situation you are presented with, it’s how you deal with it afterwards.”
But is it official? Will we see his name on the ballot in 2016? “I’m not making any commitments right now. If I feel like I’ve got enough support, maybe that’s a road I will take.”
It’s a story with international ties: A former Lexington businessman has been indicted on weapons charges.
Scott Bond, the former owner of Sling Point Firearms, is in hot water. He’s facing an indictment from a federal grand jury for conspiring to falsify documents to sell weapons to someone other than listed in the paper work. “The indictment alleges there was a scheme in Lexington to create essentially “straw-purchases” of fire arms,” says US Attorney Kerry Harvey.
The recipient of those weapons, was allegedly a man by the name of Kwadwo Antwi Darko-Mensah, or “Kojo.” Over the period of a year-and-a-half, Bond allegedly sold some 40 weapons to Kojo; Kojo, along with others, then allegedly took them overseas.
“We know that at least a significant number of these weapons made it to Ghana,” says Harvey.
Regardless of the destination of the weapons, Africa or Lexington, attorneys say Bond broke the law and this wasn’t a one-time thing.
“It is scary stuff. Anytime you have illegal transactions with fire arms its scary stuff,” says Harvey.
So where is Scott Bond now? LEX 18 tried calling him, but he didn’t answer and has yet to return our calls for comment.
Bond has been released on bond. The conditions of his bond show he was allowed to travel to Alabama, and that’s exactly where LEX 18 tracked him down. Bond is working in Mobile County, Alabama as a constable. LEX 18 spoke with another constable at the Mobile County Constable’s Office, who confirmed that Bond is still working there. They say he will remain a constable until he is convicted of a crime.
Bond is no longer affiliated with Sling Point Firearms, as they are under new ownership.
Bond is due back in court for trial in Lexington on October 7th.