Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., on Wildlife agency needing a reformer:
When the former Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources chief admitted to multiple violations of the state government's code of ethics, the troubled agency he once led moved a step farther from a scandal that has done it great harm.
Jonathan Gassett agreed to pay a $7,500 fine after the Executive Branch Ethics Commission found he had inappropriately directed state workers on state time to perform personal chores, given a hunting buddy a leg up on a state contract, and scored some free Kentucky Derby passes from the Kentucky State Police.
The department took another positive step when its governor-appointed nine-member commission adopted some new governance principles in early March. They say commissioners should not use their position to secure special treatment and access to restricted hunting areas, as a state Inspector General found they had done for years.
Those governance principles also spell out a way for commissioners to police and censure themselves.
Unfortunately, the new rules say that only the commission chair or a designated employee can speak to the media on anything brought before the commission.
That sounds like a gag order on the other eight commissioners, each representing a geographic area of the state with constituents to serve. We'd like that anti-free-speech measure reconsidered.
So while some progress has been made, this vital agency has a long way to go before we can join them singing "Kumbaya" around the campfire.
The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky., on law helping school districts with snow days:
Our state was hit hard this winter with brutal temperatures, snow and ice, all of which led to canceled school days.
As of March 11, seven of Kentucky's 173 public school districts had missed at least 30 days of classes. Another 40 districts missed at least 20 days, while 24 districts had missed fewer than 10. Lawrence County, a district near the Kentucky-West Virginia border, had missed more than 30 days.
These districts made the correct decision by canceling school when inclement weather hit.
It was troubling during last week's legislative session that lawmakers were hesitant to suspend the state law requiring school districts to have 170 days of classes, as long as they have 1,062 hours of classroom instruction. Students would have had to cancel spring break and school holidays. Students could have been in school until June 6.
Thankfully, the House and Senate agreed to suspend the state law. The agreement allows districts to lengthen the school day to a maximum of seven hours in order to make up the time, and it allows districts to have class May 20 - primary election day - to get in extra hours.
The agreement went to Gov. Steve Beshear, who signed it into law Monday.
The bill contains an emergency clause, meaning it takes effect immediately.
The legislature and Beshear took appropriate action. Kentucky, like other states in the South, was hit extra hard this year by cold and snowy conditions. The situation isn't something our state deals with on an annual basis. We are glad the legislature and Beshear took this into consideration.
They realized the unusual winter, how school districts and students were affected and didn't want to see them going to school into June because of it.
Kentucky students have short enough summers as it is. Students in Bowling Green/Warren County start back to school the first week of August.
It's good to see our state leaders responding to these needs after the unusually harsh winter.
Again, we commend legislators from both the House and Senate for coming up with this agreement and Beshear for signing into law.
Hopefully, given Kentucky's usual mild winters, it won't be an issue that will have to be addressed again for many years to come.
The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Ky., on hospital emerging with new facility:
A tour in advance of the approaching April 7 grand opening of Hardin Memorial Health's new Cancer Care Center recently was provided to a special group of local individuals.
Patients, family and caregivers who participated as members of a 12-person focus group the hospital drew from to gain insight on what improvements the new facility should offer were the first to see the results of their input. Accompanied by hospital trustees, it was fitting the sneak preview was given to this group.
By all accounts, the new facility will be a far cry from the cramped and unwelcoming current environment cancer patients and hospital staff describe.
Located at 521 Robinbrooke Blvd., the facility will serve as a temporary home for most of HMH's oncology treatment services. The hospital's master facilities plan includes the development of a permanent off-site cancer treatment center. In the meantime, radiation medicine treatment will remain in its current location at the HMH's main campus.
The new center will offer much for patients and health care providers alike. Its 12,000 square-foot footprint provides six times the space and much needed elbow room compared to the current center. Chemotherapy services for up to 75 patients daily will be provided through six bays supporting four heated treatment chairs each for added patient comfort. An on-site pharmacy and clinical rooms also are part of the facility.
Perhaps the most impactful aspect of the new facility for current patients and caregivers is that it will get them out of the hospital's basement - an area referred to by one focus group couple as "the hole."
HMH planners listened and have delivered on the focus group's desire for a warm, cheerful and inviting setting in the facility.
As patients bravely fight individual battles against their diseases, they and their health care providers and caregivers will do so surrounded by uplifting decor in a ground-floor, easily accessible facility.
The new center will represent a tangible improvement in environment, accessibility, service and convenience.