Somerset —The news isn’t good for a large number of Bluegrass Oakwood employees, who are expected to be receiving the proverbial pink slip due to the Commonwealth’s budget crunch. Shannon Ware, executive director of the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, which oversees operations at the Oakwood mental health facility in Somerset, confirmed that as many as 53 employees are being let go, with those notifications having started going out Thursday. “We’re very disappointed and upset about this,” said Ware. “Anything we do, whether cutting jobs or cutting back operations, our number one priority is still to run a safe, excellent facility. It’s going to b tough, but it’s what we will do.” This isn’t Bluegrass Regional’s doing — it’s the state’s. Ware said this is a part of Kentucky’s “overall budget shortcomings” — which probably would have been the case regardless of the controversy over Medicaid funding in Washington that could have ripple affects at places like Oakwood — and that the state was “pretty late in getting all their contracts negotiated,” meaning that the new contract for Oakwood’s budget wasn’t about to be signed until the first week of July. “That’s why it took us a while to figure out what we needed to do to meet the cuts,” said Ware. Oakwood isn’t alone — cuts are being made at similar facilities around the state, Ware said. “The governor has cabinet secretaries looking to trim anywhere and everywhere.” That means personnel won’t be the only area where Oakwood is affected. Ware said cuts will be made in any area of the facility’s operation that can stand it. “Anytime you run a big facility, that’s where the big costs are (in personnel),” said Ware. “You can only trim operations so much.” Yet because Bluegrass Regional has done just that, it’s kept the number of layoffs from being worse. “If a job turns over, if it’s not on the list to be terminated, if it turns over through natural attrition, we’re looking at it to see if it’s one we might not have to refill,” said Ware. “We don’t want to do anymore layoffs than we absolutely have to. Cutting 53 jobs is not great but number is not worse because we’re trying to achieve rest of the savings through attrition.” Currently, Oakwood employees about 1,000 people, said Ware, who treat and care for 150 developmentally disabled clients who live on campus, and others who come to it to receive medical and other services. That personnel number doesn’t even include specialty contractors, many of them having had their deals be frozen or cut. Retirement is also a problem, said Ware — ”The match that Kentucky employers have to pay went up 16 percent,” she said. “That’s huge.” The total cut amounts to about $3 million out of Oakwood’s regular working budget, which has been in the vicinity of $70 million in the past. Ware is quick to assure people that, given Oakwood’s troubled past, this doesn’t mean the facility is in any danger of shutting down. “It’s easy for people to become alarmed because of the history of Oakwood, but this is more a part of the climate of the economy,” she said. “It’s very unfortunate. ... (but) I think we’re tightening our belt now at beginning of the fiscal year. We’re going to go on and do everything we think we have to do so that the budget is stable the rest of the year.”
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Legendary 'Big Daddy' Garlits to visit Cruise
Go, Big Daddy! Go!Or, you can go to Somernites Cruise this weekend in downtown Somerset to see “Big Daddy” yourself — that is, Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, a living legend on the drag racing circuit.Considered by many to be the “father” of the drag racing sport, the 81-year-old 17-time world champion Garlits was the first to set numerous speed marks in the quarter-mile, and is an internationally-known name.
Despite bill, signs are in place to prohibit fishing
Signs and buoys are already in place at Wolf Creek Dam that restrict fishermen’s access within 500 feet above and below the structure.Tom Hale, operations manager for Lake Cumberland, said already existing buoys and signs warning of hazardous waters have been replaced with new signage restricting entrance into prohibited areas. He said enforcement of the restrictions has not begun because the Corps is still in the implementation stage.
Sewell, 103, was well-known Pulaski preacher
Pulaski County and its many churches have lost an old-time preacher man. The Rev. Lloyd “Jerd” Sewell went to rest about 7 o’clock Wednesday night at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Maysville where he has stayed for the past several years. Sewell was 103; he would have been 104 on November 4.
Local relief drive for Oklahoma storm victims underway
If you’ve been watching coverage of the Oklahoma tornado devastation and wondering how you could make a difference, you’ll have your chance in the coming days.
- Fishing restrictions near Wolf Creek Dam halted by Congressional action
- Lake Cumberland all better in time for Memorial Day weekend
- Car collides with truck on Ky. 914
Minor damage reported after local afternoon storms
Pulaski County felt the first wave of strong weather blow through the area Tuesday afternoon, but came out much better for it than those in other parts of the country.
Local schools prepared for the worst when storms strike
News like that out of Oklahoma this week has a way of striking a nerve with the rest of the nation. Particularly, those charged with the care of children — many of which were victims in the Midwestern tornadoes — find themselves paying close attention.Steve Butcher, superintendent of Pulaski County Schools, said on Tuesday that there was a meeting of his district’s principals that very day — only one day after the storms in Moore, Okla., that killed over 90 people — to address such matters.
War ration books remind us of difficult times during WWII
With 24/7 news channels spouting horrendous tales of terror and rampant crime, it’s easy to conclude the world has gone to the dogs; that these are dangerous times.Sadly, horrific events are nothing new. For those old enough to remember World War II, nothing since has matched the impact this global conflict had on the American people.
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