Everything Old is New Again – Historic Downtown Courthouse

Work on the $30 million overhaul of the old Fayette County courthouse on Main Street began this summer and is now well underway. Learn the history of this project, what is now taking shape and the city’s role in managing and maintaining this iconic structure in the center of our city.

Our guest panel at the Lexington Forum breakfast:

Foster Ockerman
Foster Ockerman is Lexington native, seventh generation Kentuckian, a local historian, author and practicing attorney. He has represented or served on the boards of numerous nonprofits and foundations including the Courthouse Square Foundation, Inc. and is a founding trustee of the Lexington History Museum, Inc., as well as its current president. Mr. Ockerman has been a leading force in campaigning for saving the old courthouse from decay and potential demolition.

Holly Wiedemann
Holly Wiedemann serves as President and Founder of AU Associates, and partner with Barry Alberts of City Visions as the Developer Agents on behalf of Historic Courthouse, LLLP (the City/Ownership Entity). Ms. Wiedemann is well-suited to manage the re-purposing of the historic courthouse structure. Among over $120 million in AU projects across Kentucky and West Virginia are more than 500 units of mixed income housing and 150,000 square feet of commercial space created in existing structures such as former school buildings.

Jenifer Wuorenmaa
Jenifer is a Senior Administrative Officer in the Office of the Chief Administrator. She assists with the municipal budget, public policy and administrative policy. Jenifer is managing portions of the old courthouse project.

Thursday, September 1, 2016
Hilary J. Boone Center
University of Kentucky Campus
7:15 Coffee and Networking
7:30 Breakfast and Program

Free to Members / Guest Fee $20
Please RSVP using the link below by noon on Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Free parking is available in the lot behind the Hilary J. Boone Center.

Ann Hammond – Elected to 2016-2019 Board of Directors

Ann HammondAnn Hammond
Executive Director
Lexington Public Library

Before attending library school, Ann’s various careers included being an officer in the U.S. Navy, a stay-at-home mom, an agronomy researcher, and a forensic DNA scientist. After earning her Master’s degree in Library Science from the Catholic University of America, Ann worked in medical and academic libraries before discovering the joys and challenges of public libraries. She held leadership positions in libraries in San Diego and Alameda Counties in California before moving to the great state of Kentucky in 2010 to become Executive Director of the Lexington Public Library. Ann and her staff of 246 operate six physical libraries, robust outreach efforts, and an ever-expanding digital presence in support of LPL’s mission to “connect people, inspire ideas, and transform lives.”

Web: www.lexpublib.org
Email: ahammond@lexpublib.org

LinkedIn: AnnHammond


The Vision & Plan for Downtown Lexington – Do We have One?

With the CentrePointe project into an 8th year and counting, and the Urban County Council, after seven years of talking, still undecided on downtown design standards, does anyone have a comprehensive vision of what Lexington’s downtown could become?
The answer is, yes: it comes not from city hall but from the private sector.
Come see for yourself as veteran suburban developer Robert Wagoner presents a concept for downtown based on many years of experience and observation as well as studies of comparable cities with successful urban cores.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Hilary J. Boone Center
University of Kentucky Campus
7:15 Coffee and Networking
7:30 Breakfast and Program

Free to Members / Guest Fee $20

Please RSVP by noon on Tuesday, June 1, 2016


Free parking is available in the lot behind the Hilary J. Boone Center.

**The views and opinions expressed by our guest speaker(s) are their own and do not reflect a policy or position of the Lexington Forum.

A Conversation with Centerpointe Developer, Dudley Webb

The Lexington Forum will host a “Charlie Rose” style interview featuring CentrePointe Developer Dudley Webb. Mr. Webb will be interviewed by former Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Beverly Fortune.

Seating is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis. Please note that RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED! We will not be accepting walk-ins the day of the event so take a moment and reserve your seat now. Your Forum Membership does not guarantee you a seat. You MUST complete the reservation below.

This will also serve at the Forum’s Annual Meeting. Newly elected members of the Board and President Elect will be announced.

Our time is limited. We ask that all attendees arrive early and be in their seats no later than 7:25.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Hilary J. Boone Center
University of Kentucky Campus
7:00 Coffee and Networking
7:30 Breakfast and Program

Free to Members / Guest Fee $20

Please RSVP by noon on Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Free parking is available in the lot behind the Hilary J. Boone Center.

Treasurer Allison Ball and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

One to One with Treasurer Allison Ball and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

By John Gregory | KET


They are two of the youngest statewide elected officials in the country and they have big plans for how they want to improve their offices and life in the commonwealth.

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball and Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles appeared on KET’s One to One to discuss what they’ve learned since they started work in January and their goals for the future.

Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball and Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles – Photo Credit: KET


A Watchdog for the State’s Finances
Although some have questioned the need for a state treasurer, Allison Ball says the importance of the office has been affirmed for her after just three months on the job. She says the treasurer is responsible for timely and accurate payments to the Internal Revenue Service, which if handled incorrectly could result in steep fines for the commonwealth. And she says state retirees and other beneficiaries depend on getting their benefit checks on time. As an example, Ball says she asked staff to work during the January snowstorm when all other government offices were closed so that pension payments to 50,000 retired teachers would still be delivered.

“As I’ve been doing the job, I’ve come to see more and more about how important it is,” says Ball. “You need somebody who’s actually making sure the money is being spent the way it’s supposed to and, as an attorney, I care very deeply about, ‘Is it constitutional [and] is it statutory?’”

Ball says she’s pleased with how well the merit employees in the treasurer’s office have embraced her watchdog philosophy. She relates how one long-time staffer discovered and corrected a printing problem that had occasionally caused duplicate checks to be cut.

In addition to overseeing the state’s checkbook, Ball serves on boards for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, the Kentucky Lottery, and the state investment commission. Given her background as a bankruptcy attorney in Prestonsburg, Ball says she’s also eager to help Kentuckians improve their personal finances. Since the treasurer’s office has no budget for such an effort, Ball wants to partner with private and civic organizations to promote financial literacy training.

Ball’s other goals for her office include pushing for tax reform to help the state’s economy, and advocating for more transparency in government. She supported two Senate bills during the legislative session that would give the public more access to information about how the state pension funds are invested and what retirement benefits legislators receive.

“Good government is transparent government,” Ball says. “If we’re going to make the right decisions when it comes to our money, we need to know what we’re spending it on.”

Ag Commissioner Hits the Ground Running
The immediate demands of the job left Ryan Quarles little time to settle in to his work as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture. He traveled the state to attend various winter livestock and commodity meetings, and his office helped address a bird flu threat to the state’s chicken industry, as well as the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the Bluegrass Stockyards in Lexington.

The Scott County native and former state representative has been able to work with his former legislative colleagues on several agriculture-related bills. He notes water resource management legislation backed by the Kentucky Farm Bureau, as well as bills regarding grain inspections, tax exemptions for agricultural activities, restructuring the state fair board, and regulating zipline attractions.

In addition to his regulatory responsibilities (the agency calibrates weights, measures, and gas pumps around the state), Quarles says he wants to build on the success of the Kentucky Proud food products marketing program and the various educational functions of the department. The commissioner is also eager to promote crop diversity in the commonwealth, ranging from hops to supply local craft beer brewers to hemp for the state’s burgeoning fiber industry.

Hemp used to be a cash crop in Kentucky until it was restricted under anti-marijuana laws. Recent legislation has allowed test plots of hemp to be grown, and Quarles says the fibrous plant can be financially viable once again if federal authorities allow it.

“It’s a crop that connects Kentucky’s past to its future,” Quarles says. “So it’s important for us to continue to research the growing methods and also create a business environment to attract processors here and treat them no different than a manufacturer who wants to come to Kentucky to expand or relocate.”

Going forward the commissioner says he wants to promote more international trade for the state’s farm products and fight what he sees as federal regulatory overreach. Quarles also hopes to launch Kentucky’s first-ever commission on hunger.

“I believe the department of ag is the best facilitator to talk about an issue that affects far too many Kentuckians,” Quarles says. “One in six people go to bed hungry … and I believe the Department of Agriculture, which is focused on food, can have that discussion.”

A New Generation of Political Leadership
At 32 years old, Commissioner Quarles is the youngest statewide elected official currently serving in the United States, while Treasurer Ball, age 34, is the nation’s youngest female statewide official. As such, the two say their generation brings a fresh approach to governing that is less partisan and more open to accountability and transparency.

Ball says she hasn’t had time to follow the presidential campaign so far, but she has applied to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.

Quarles says he’s been disturbed by some of the rhetoric coming from the presidential candidates. Whoever wins in November, Quarles says he hopes the new president will address issues that concern millennials, such as the soaring student loan debts.

One to One airs:

Sundays at 1:00/12:00 pm CT on KET

Mondays at 12:30 am ET on KET

Sundays at 11:30 pm CT on KET

Tuesdays at 7:30/6:30 pm CT on KET2

Candidates in the 6th District Democratic Primary

Candidates in the 6th District Democratic Primary

By John Gregory | 04/12/16 9:39 AM

Candidates running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives in the state’s 6th Congressional district appeared on Monday’s edition of Kentucky Tonight on KET. The program featured Nancy Jo Kemper and Geoff Young.


The 6th Congressional district comprises all or parts of 19 central and eastern Kentucky counties including Anderson, Bath, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Fleming, Franklin, Harrison, Jessamine, Madison, Menifee, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, Scott, Wolfe, and Woodford. The district is currently served by Republican incumbent Andy Barr.

A native of Lexington, Nancy Jo Kemper graduated from Transylvania University and Yale University Divinity School. She has served as a congregational minister and was executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches for 18 years. She says having been a single mother who had to make ends meet every month, she understands the challenges that many in the district face. Kemper wants to focus on issues affecting families, income inequality, minority and women’s rights, and getting America out of “international quagmires.”

“I’m a fresh voice, I have a broad, understanding mind and a caring heart,” Kemper says. “I’ve stood up for civil liberties… and I’ve never met a problem that I couldn’t master quickly.”

Geoff Young moved to Lexington 34 years ago. He has degrees in economics and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Young worked for more than a decade on renewable energy and energy efficiency issues as assistant director of the Kentucky Energy Office. He has previously run for the state House, governor, and Congress. He says his key interests are defense spending and international affairs.

“I am the anti-war candidate,” Young says. “Since 9/11, our country’s foreign policies have gone off the rails. We have used military force first rather than as a last resort and that has to stop.”

Federal Budget and National Debt
Young says the federal budget is “completely out of whack” because of spending on weapons and what he calls unjust wars. He contends America’s defense and intelligence budgets could be cut by 50 percent, which he argues would improve national security, not hurt it. Young also says the U.S. financial system is run like a casino by Wall Street interests when it should be focused on investing in constructive projects.

Kemper says the escalating national debt must be addressed. She says she would do that by increasing incomes for all Americans, which would generate more tax revenues, and by giving the Internal Revenue Service the staffing needed to collect all taxes actually owed.

The Economy and Poverty
To help poor and working-class families, Kemper says she supports job creation through infrastructure projects, tax relief for small businesses and towns, parenting programs, workforce retraining, and educational opportunities.

“To raise a generation out of poverty, we really need to start our education system at the early childhood level, Kemper says. “That’s when their brains are forming and that’s when they need the nutrition… and the educational stimulation that will enable them to continue to learn and grow.”

Young says the state and nation need comprehensive tax reform to ensure that tax laws don’t penalize low- and middle-class individuals. He says he also sees tremendous potential in engaging the state’s entrepreneurs to create a thriving local economy based on sustainable energy.

“Kentucky, including eastern Kentucky could become a center of innovation in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” Young says. “That would also improve the environment and slow down climate disruption.”

Drug Policy
As the district struggles with opioid and prescription drug addiction as well as overdose deaths, the candidates offer very different strategies for dealing with substance abuse.

Young says the war on drugs has failed and that a new policy approach that jails fewer drug users is needed. He also advocates for legalizing marijuana, which he claims can be used to get people off a heroin addiction.

Kemper opposes recreational marijuana but says she does support tightly regulated use of medicinal marijuana. She advocates for addiction treatment and would encourage doctors and patients to find new ways to address chronic pain.

Education Issues
Both candidates agree that the federal government should address disparities in school funding so that children in poor and wealthy communities have the same educational opportunities.

Kemper adds that she believes federal education officials should also protect the civil rights of minority students as well as those with different gender identities and physical or learning disabilities.

Presidential Politics
Kemper says she agrees with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on many issues and values former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pragmatism. She says she will wholeheartedly support whoever gets the Democratic nomination.

Young describes himself as a “Bernie Sanders Democrat.” He contends that Clinton is “war-like” and he criticizes her for pushing to bomb Libya in 2011 when she was secretary of state.

Kentucky Tonight airs weekly on KET:

Mondays at 8:00/7:00 PM CT

Wednesdays at 2:00/1:00 AM CT