Wednesday, December 20, 2000

Kentucky News Briefs

Release of elk in park delayed

        CATALOOCHEE, N.C. — An effort to reintroduce elk into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be postponed for about a month to keep cooped-up animals from being stressed.

        Park administrators had said elk would be put into a holding pen in Haywood County's Cataloochee area Jan. 3, but have decided to delay the project for about a month.

        “Biologically we didn't really want them there that long,” park spokesman Bob Miller said.

        Biologists were concerned that the earlier date would create undue stress for the animals because it would keep them in captivity longer than required, Mr. Miller said.

        Meanwhile, 50 elk were scheduled for release Tuesday in the snow and cold of a Campbell County, Tenn., wildlife area. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency hopes to release 400 elk in the next four years.

        The national park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border is bringing back elk on a smaller scale. The Smokies plan will introduce about 75 elk over the next five years.

        Elk once thrived in the southern Appalachians but fell victim to hunting and vanishing habitat more than 150 years ago.

        National park scientists received permission in October to try the experimental release after nearly 10 years of study.

        The release will help determine whether elk can re-establish themselves in the Smokies. The animals are coming from a disease-free herd in Kentucky.

        In early February, the first shipment of elk will be put in a pen for about two months so they can get accustomed to their new surroundings. They will be released in the spring and before calves are born.

14-screen movie house makes debut this week

        WILDER — A new 14-screen movie theater will open this week off Interstate 275 at exit 77.

        Great Escape 14 will officially open Friday, with showings of first-run feature films.

        However, two movies, South Park and Stuart Little, will be shown at an open house on Thursday.

        Admission is 50 cents for either movie Thursday.

        Stuart Little begins at 7 p.m. and South Park at 9:15 p.m.

        All matinee shows, children and senior tickets are $5; students are $6.50; general adult admission for evening shows is $7.50.

        Seats are arranged on risers to allow all audience members a clear view of the screen.

        The theater has 11 concession terminals offering a free refill on all sizes of soft drinks and popcorn. Computerized box office stations are located inside the theater.

        In addition to movies, Great Escape 14 has a family entertainment center overlooking the lobby with about 75 video games.
       To call Great Escape 14: (859) 442-0000.

Holidays push back pickup of garbage

— Because the Christmas and New Year's holidays fall on Monday this year, garbage will be collected on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.

        City officials ask residents to put garbage at the curb before 6:30 a.m. on the day of collection.

Wholesale prices of cigarettes raised

— Philip Morris Cos. Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings have raised the wholesale price of a pack of cigarettes by 14 cents a pack.

        Philip Morris spokesman Michael Pfeil said the company increased wholesale prices $7 per 1,000 packs, or $1.40 per carton, effective Monday.

        R.J. Reynolds spokeswoman Jan Smith said the company notified wholesale customers Friday that Reynolds would raise the price 14 cents on each premium-brand pack and 7 1/2 cents on private-label cigarettes.

        Neither Mr. Pfeil nor Ms. Smith would say how the increase might affect retail prices.

        “I can't say specifically because retailers put their own price on things,” Ms. Smith said. “We have announced the price increase to our customers.”

Chief federal judge ready to step down

        FRANKFORT — The chief federal judge for eastern Kentucky said Tuesday he will step down on New Year's Eve.

        Henry R. Wilhoit Jr. will be taking “senior status,” an option for federal judges who are at least 65 and have been on the bench for 15 years. Judge Wilhoit said he was mailing his notice to the White House.

        Judge Wilhoit's action will allow President-elect Bush to appoint two federal judges in the Eastern District of Kentucky. Judge William O. Bertelsman of Covington announced several months ago that he will go on senior status Jan. 31, his 65th birthday. Judge Bertelsman reiterated that intention Tuesday.

        Judge Wilhoit, a Republican, was appointed by President Reagan in 1981. Judge Bertelsman was appointed by President Carter in 1979, though he, too, is a Republican.

        Judge Karl S. Forester, who is based in Lexington, will succeed Judge Wilhoit for a seven-year term as chief judge, according to people familiar with the plan. The chief judge bears additional administrative responsibilities. Judge Forester declined comment Tuesday.

        The eastern district has courts in Lexington, Frankfort, Covington, London, Ashland and Pikeville. Some of its judges are required to travel widely. Judge Bertelsman said the new judges are likely to go to London and Pikeville, and other assignments will be changed.

Health care benefits may have to be cut

        FRANKFORT — A $12 million shortfall in Kentucky's Medicaid program could result in reduced health care benefits or a cut in reimbursements to medical providers.

        State officials are still trying to determine the total projected shortfall from the $3 billion Medicaid program, said Cabinet Secretary Crit Luallen. Early estimates range from $12 million to $14 million in 2001, and $50 million to $70 million in 2002.

        The problem arose because officials underestimated the number of new families it would find eligible for Medicaid through an extensive outreach campaign for the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program, said state budget director James Ramsey.

        He said the state had planned for an increase in Medicaid rolls, but it did not anticipate getting a total increase of 24,000 Kentuckians over two years.

        Unanticipated increases in medical costs and prescription drugs also drove the anticipated shortfall, Mr. Ramsey said. Kentucky expected a 3.1 percent increase in general medical costs, but the actual increase was 4.3 percent, he said.

        Officials said recent reimbursement increases to medical providers, such as dentists and optometrists, and the expansion of medical benefits also are contributing to the shortfall.


Report sheds light on 1963 slaying
$190,000 goes into the kettle
Election allegations to be aired
Hamilton in fiscal distress
More kids flying solo on airlines
RADEL: Restaurant owner nourished with more than food
Suspect arrested in 4 gas-station robberies
City considers $50M budget
Small-fry economy
Township appoints manager
Agency for homeless struggles to find a home
Council curbs budget changes
Driver crashes car into window of meat store, then buys salami
2 judgeships to be unfilled for a month
New jail to go downtown
P&G name enters politics
Piper outlines plans
Police seek clues in beating death
Smith youngest in state
Sound barriers get tepid reviews
State slams village finances
State wary of sludge cleanup plan
Taft counts many successes
Trainee center wins funds
Villa Hills mayor forces out city attorney
- Kentucky News Briefs
Tristate A.M. Report