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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

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April 25, 2018

McConnell's bill takes aim at ravages of opioid epidemic on the workforce

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday morning that he's introducing legislation that targets the opioid epidemic and its devastating impact on American workers and businesses.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented legislation to battle the ravages the opioid crisis has had on the workforce in Kentucky and other states. (McConnell office file photo)U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell presented legislation to battle the ravages the opioid crisis has had on the workforce in Kentucky and other states. (McConnell office file photo)

The bill, the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery through Effective Employment and Reentry (CAREER) Act, would encourage businesses and treatment organizations to partner to assist workers in recovery to find and keep jobs.


Specifically, the legislation pushes for expanded transitional housing options for recovering addicts and allows states more flexibility to spend federal workforce and training funds to support those moving from treatment to the workforce, according to a statement from McConnell's office. 

“Our nation’s opioid and substance abuse epidemic continues to plague communities and families in my home state of Kentucky and across the nation,” said McConnell, a Republican from Louisville.

"Stable employment is not just a path to financial security for workers and families. Earning a paycheck from a job is also linked to personal happiness and even physical health. We see firsthand in Kentucky the need for the structure and support that come with a job to help keep people who have battled addiction in their past from falling back into the cycle of drug abuse," he said, adding that "unfortunately, in the very communities where employment could do so much good, the opioid crisis itself is making it harder to attain.”

Employers in Kentucky have told McConnell that substance abuse is a "major hurdle" in maintaining a full workforce. One study estimated that about a quarter of the decline in workforce participation between 1999 and 2015 could be traced "to aspects of the opioid crisis," which translates to about 1 million workers. The Trump administration recently reported that the epidemic cost the economy half a trillion dollars in 2015, McConnell's office said. 

Nearly 70 percent of 22 million Americans age 18 and older who use illicit drugs work full-time and part-time jobs, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration.

In Louisville, the proportion of local workers testing positive for drugs exceeds the national average by 15 percent, with nearly 5 percent of them testing positive, according to data compiled by Quest Diagnostics, one of the world's largest employment drug testing companies.

The problem employers in the region face in finding drug-free workers was the focus of a Courier Journal story last September.

Quest's analysis also showed that drug use among employees in the Louisville region has steadily increased over the past five years. Marijuana was found to be the most prevalent illicit drug detected in Louisville's general workforce, but positive tests for heroin were 150 percent higher than the national average in both 2015 and 2016, the latest year for which data was available.

Workers in the region also showed increase use of amphetamines, cocaine and opiates grew between 2012 and 2016, according to Quest.

Anthony Zipple, chief of the treatment network Centerstone Kentucky, said McConnell's bill is a step in the right direction. It "would enhance the ability of front line providers to effectively deploy resources to tackle this epidemic within our communities,” he said. 


April 24, 2018


It's an issue many shoppers have faced — needing assistance at a Walmart with no store clerks in sight. What Lawrenceburg native Forrest Hunter did next seems to have inspired the masses.

Hunter posted video to Facebook of him asking for help at the Lawrenceburg Walmart by picking up the store's phone and requesting assistance through the intercom.

"Customer needs assistance in sporting goods, please. I'm the customer," he stated, clearly tired of waiting to be helped.

A store associate came over to help Hunter, who needed to buy a hunting license, he told WKYT. Hunter did not get in trouble for taking matters into his own hand, according to WKYT, the Herald-Leader's reporting partner.

Video of Hunter's request for assistance has since been viewed more than 1.6 million times and shared by more than 34,000 people since it was posted Friday.

Walmart has been criticized many times and shoppers have commiserated over customer service issues at the stores. Several people shared their frustration with Walmart customer service in a 2016 Forbes article.

"The biggest problem at my local Walmart is that they don't hire anywhere enough people," one commenter said. "The shelves are empty and the lineups at the tills are monumental. Whole departments are like ghost towns. If you are lucky enough to find a clerk, nine times out of ten he or she will tell you that this is not his or her department and rush away."

Walmart maintains that it's adding new technology to free up employees to serve customers and saving customers' time is a paramount concern.

Another commenter said a big reason for issues at Walmart is too many managers.

“Over the years, they ended up with department managers, zone managers, assistant managers, co-managers and store managers. As my mom used to say, 'too many chiefs and not enough Indians.'"

By Mike Stunson
Lexington Herald-Leader


Local Louisa Walmart Management did not respond for comment about the story. (There have been no recent complaints about service at the local store.)


April 21, 2108


Right on the heels of a pedestrian, Joseph Currie, 28 of Ft. Gay, WVA being struck and killed after his release from The Big Sandy Regional Detention Center in Paintsville, Ky. on January 23rd, 2018, another man has been killed in the same manner.

Jimmy Craft, 52, top of Salyersville was struck and killed by a vehicle not identified by police justless than an hour after being released from the BSRDC. Below, Joseph Curry, 28, of Ft. Gay was killed in much the same manner in January of this year.Jimmy Craft, 52, top of Salyersville was struck and killed by a vehicle not identified by police justless than an hour after being released from the BSRDC. Below, Joseph Curry, 28, of Ft. Gay was killed in much the same manner in January of this year.Jimmy Ray Craft, 53 was hit and killed by a vehicle on US 460 in Johnson County on Friday, April 20th, just a day shy of his 53rd birthday.

BSRDC administrator F.D. "Pete" Fitzpatrick reported the incident just after he received word of the accident.

He said his office had followed procedure and that the district judge John T. Chafin had ordered the release of the victim.



"...This email is being sent to demand that you retract and correct the false information disseminated in the Lazer. Mr. Craft was arrested in Magoffin County on April 19, 2018. He could only be released by Judge Prater or by Pre-Trial officer. I Was not even on call the night he was released.

I do not know where you obtained your false information especially in light of the fact the Jail send information that he was arrested in Magoffin county. However, I do expect an immediate retraction and correction.

Thank you.

Join T. Chafin


(The Lazer accepts this letter from Judge Chafin and apologizes for any misconception of the report. It was not intentional.)


Craft, who was from Salyersville was standing in the westbound lane when the as yet unidentified vehicle struck him, the police report said. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Johnson County Coroner’s Office.

Craft had just been released from the BSRDC earlier that day five hours after his arrest on a “release on recognizance” bond.

He had been arrested for 3 Counts of Illegal Possession of a Legend Drug, Controlled Substance Prescription Not In Original Container and Public Intoxication, Excluding Alcohol.

Craft has been a regular at the BSRDC as there are 15 mugshots of him since 2015.

The accident remains under investigation and there are no charges expected for the driver of the vehicle who was not identified. 

Also, the identity of the person driving the vehicle that struck and killed Currie on Rt. 23 has not been released by Post #9 of the Ky. State Police after repeated inquiries.