News briefs

Ky. National Guard sends help to Haiti

Frankfort: The Kentucky National Guard has mobilized two combat controllers from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and the commander of the 123rd Contingency Response Group to support humanitarian relief operations in Haiti. Col. Greg Nelson, commander of the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing, said in a news release the combat controllers will assist in the airfield command and control in Haiti. They will fly into Port-au-Prince on Sunday. Col. Warren Hurst, commander of the 123rd Contingency Response Group, will deploy Sunday and will serve as Deputy Director of Mobility Forces for Air Force North, Tyndall Air Force Base, in Florida. Air Force North will coordinate the airlift support for the Haitian relief efforts.

Chandler raises $215,000 in quarter for re-election bid

Lexington: Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler's re-election campaign out-raised his key Republican opponent during the past three months of 2009 by $96,000, his campaign announced Friday. Chandler, of Versailles, said he raised more than $215,000 during the quarter and expects to report having about $1.6 million cash on hand for his re-election campaign at the end of January. "We had another strong quarter of fund raising and nearly doubled the money raised by all of the Republicans," Chandler said in a statement. On Thursday, Republican attorney Andy Barr of Lexington said he raised $118,652 in the fourth quarter of 2009, bringing his total to $304,852 since entering the race last year. Barr and Chandler will file their fourth-quarter fund-raising totals with the Federal Election Commission later this month. Nicholasville Republicans Matt Lockett and Perry Barnes have also said they intend to seek the GOP's nomination for Kentucky's 6th Congressional District.

Horse killed in barn fire

Bourbon County: A horse died and a barn on a Bourbon County farm was destroyed by a fire early Saturday. Bourbon County Fire Chief Lloyd Campbell said a large barn on the RR Equine Stables near Lexington Road was already fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived around 2:30 a.m. Stone Wild, the only horse in the barn, was killed. Campbell said the barn had been built in anticipation of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this fall. He said the barn was a total loss and the fire is under investigation.

Hospital hearing canceled

Nicholasville: A hearing Tuesday in Frankfort to consider competing proposals for acute-care hospitals in Jessamine County has been canceled. No new date has been set to hear applications submitted by St. Joseph Jessamine and The Medical Center of Jessamine County. St. Joseph Jessamine wants to build a $25.3 million, 50-bed hospital that includes surgical services next to the ambulatory care center at the U.S. 27 Bypass and Ky. 169. The Medical Center of Jessamine County wants to build a $32.5 million, 50-bed hospital on the south side of Nicholasville near U.S. 27 and Hoover Pike. Jessamine County is the only county adjacent to Fayette that does not have a hospital. Applicants in the past have been told that state criteria do not allow for an acute-care hospital in Jessamine County.

Stinnett to seek re-election

Lexington: Sixth District Urban County Councilman Kevin Stinnett, 35, will seek re-election to his fourth term on the Urban County Council. Stinnett said in a prepared statement that the city's limited revenue must be spent carefully, focused on basic services such as police and fire protection, sewers and roads. If elected to another term, he said he will work on restructuring government spending to come up with more money for those services. Stinnett has been active in sanitary sewer and storm water issues, securing funding to install sewers in four areas in his district and to address home flooding issues. Stinnett is chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, serves on the Water Resources Oversight Committee and heads the Building Inspection Task Force. A graduate of Centre College, he has a bachelor's degree in economics and Spanish. Stinnett owns the Premier Financial Group and is an investment representative with Lincoln Financial Securities Corp.

Expansion scaled back

Covington: A multimillion-dollar expansion of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center has been scaled back because of the state's budget woes. Convention center officials plan to request $3 million in seed money instead of the full $51 million for the project. "We recognize the fact the state's budget is not in the condition, currently, to accept a new project, especially a $51 million project," Executive Director Gretchen Landrum told the Kentucky Enquirer. The smaller funding request pushes the expansion back at least two years, but Landrum said it will keep the project moving forward until the economy improves. Estimates of the state's revenue shortfall go as high as $1.5 billion for the two-year budget. The $3 million would pay for architectural drawings, engineering studies, soil testing and minor upgrades to the 12-year-old center. In 2005, the convention center began outgrowing its existing 111,000 square feet of usable space. Officials say the region has lost more than $10 million in business. The expansion calls for adding a second ballroom and 22 meeting rooms. Landrum said the expansion would have a $104 million economic impact on the region and generate more than $20 million in state and local taxes over six years.

Credit card use questioned

Louisville: The Courier-Journal has found suspended McMahan Fire Chief Paul Barth used at least $18,000 in Crusade for Children donations to pay off a fire district credit card. McMahan financial records show charges to the card included Barth's personal expenses. Charles Ricketts Jr., Barth's attorney, said Friday his client forgot to repay the account but was ready to do so. Barth has been suspended without pay since Nov. 24. The fire district's board of trustees already has charged him with using the district credit card to make personal purchases totaling at least $35,000. That includes $15,000 for back taxes on a condominium he owns in Florida and more than $10,800 for taxes and registration on 10 of his personal vehicles. In addition, an accountant's report found Barth improperly received 14 extra paychecks totaling about $68,000.

staff, wire reports