When he was running for election last fall, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Sixth District, would answer questions about federal spending with a question.
Was the purpose worth borrowing money from China, he would ask, noting the federal government was borrowing money, much of it from China, to fund its budget.
Federal aid for shelters that provide safety to victims of domestic violence as well as the prosecution of perpetrators was high enough on Barr’s priority for the first-term congressman to vote for the Violence Against Women Act’s reauthorization.
Barr disclosed the vote and received a round of applause Monday as he visited the Hope’s Wings shelter for victims of domestic violence in Richmond.
The congressman visited several spots in Madison County, starting with a town-hall breakfast in Berea, a tour and briefing on operations at the Blue Grass Army Depot and a visit to the Hospice Compassionate Care Center as well as the Hope’s Wings shelter.
Barr said his vote on the Violence Against Women Act came after conversations with the operators of shelters in Kentucky, including Hope’s Wings, and consultations with his staff.
We really need this,” the congressman said he was told about the issue.
He thanked the volunteers and supporters of Hope’s Wings, including several of its board members who were present, saying, “We’ve all got to work on preventing violence and abuse in our society.”
Barbara Bentley, Hope’s Wings board chair, said the community had been very generous in its support of the shelter.
Everything you see here,” she told Barr, pointing to the tables, chairs, couches and appliances in the shelter’s common area, “was donated locally.”
A grant through state government, supported by the Madison Fiscal Court and Richmond City Commission, allowed the shelter to reopen after it had been closed temporarily to residents because of lack of funding, Bentley noted.
Madison County Judge/Executive Kent Clark and Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes both joined Barr for the tour.
Also on hand were state Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, and Rep. Donna Mayfield, R-Winchester.
Carpenter said Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, led the county’s local legislative delegation in securing the grant that will keep the shelter open through June 2014.
Another grant has allowed the Richmond Police Department to hire a retired state trooper, Sgt. Stuart Adams, as a special victims investigator. Among other duties, Adams, who was present at Barr’s visit Monday, serves emergency protective orders. Since he was hired, nearly 90 percent of all orders are being served promptly, Bentley said. Previously, less that 80 percent were being served because officers could could not locate respondents, she said.
Thanks to Adams and others, local agencies also have been able to better coordinate their efforts to protect victims and expedite prosecutions, she said.
The 11 residents currently at the shelter were away on a field trip during Barr’s visit. The 16-bed facility has been using all its bedrooms regularly since it reopened, Bentley said.
Pausing for a brief interview, Barr said he had toured all major operations of the Blue Grass Army Depot on Monday and received an extensive briefing on how they were being affected by the automatic federal funding cuts known as sequestration.
Barr said he told depot officials there was enough flexibility in the sequestration bill to allow the Department of Defense to minimize the impact on base security, especially security of the chemical weapons stockpile. The Army can reprogram funding for both personnel and material to maintain safety and security, he said.
The congressman said his constituents could be assured he was concerned about immediate depot issues, including the project to destroy the chemical weapons, as well as the facility’s long-term viability.
Bill Robinson can be reached at editor@
or at 624-6690.
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EKU wins OVC tourney
The Eastern Kentucky University Colonels are OVC champions and are headed to the Big Dance.
Hot early shooting propelled EKU to a thrilling 79-73 win over defending champion Belmont Saturday in the championship game of the OVC Tournament.
The Colonels receive the OVC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The win gave EKU it's sixth OVC Conference Tournament title.
The Colonels hit four consecutive three pointers to open the game and led by as many as 15 points in the first half.
Corey Walden led all scorers in the game with 29 points, including 10-of-11 free throws. Glenn Cosey finished with 23 points on 5-of-8 shooting on three-pointers and Tarius Johnson added 15 points and five rebounds.
Veteran certification officer fired from EKU
Accusations of cheating on an online test led to the firing of an 18-year Eastern Kentucky University employee Wednesday.
Retha Sandlin, formerly a veteran certification officer in the Burnam House for EKU’s student veterans, said the decision resulted from a misunderstanding on the part of Jaime Roberts, the house’s interim office manager.
Proposed bill takes aim at heroin problem
Proposed legislation before the Kentucky General Assembly aims to combat the state’s growing heroin problem using three strategies – education, treatment and law enforcement aid.
Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, is one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 5. The bill was passed in the Senate earlier this year, 36-1, and is waiting to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee.
New kid at the market
A three-day old black-and-white goat named Ellsa was the star Saturday morning at the new Richmond Downtown Farmers Market.
The Nubian goat mix was brought to the weekly market by Four Sisters Farm. Located off Four Mile Road in Madison County, the farm specializes in goat products.
Hundreds turn out for fishing team’s fundraiser
Madison Central High School’s bass fishing team got a boost Saturday when its first-ever Fishing Tackle Swap turned out to be a huge success.
About 500 buyers showed up to check out what the 38 vendors had to offer. At least 17 of the vendors were from outside Madison County. There were even a few boats for sale.
Pets of the Week from the Madison County Animal Shelter
The Madison County Animal Shelter is located at 1386 Richmond Road in Berea. Shelter hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Animals available for adoption can be seen from noon to close Monday through Saturday.
Feds deny giving OK to selenium standards
When lawmakers wrestled last year with new standards for releasing selenium into streams by coal mines and industry, they were assured by state officials the proposals were based on sound science and approved by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials.
Eastern students practice fire fighting in burning building
Thick barrels of smoke rolled out of the room as nearby observers could feel the fire’s heat on their faces. Furniture and drywall fueled the blaze. Flames licked the top of the door frame and the flat ceiling.
Airport planning mock disaster drill
Madison Airport officials and Eastern Kentucky University are making plans for a mock disaster drill tentatively scheduled for August.
Prior 'bad acts' to be allowed in Marcum murder trial
A Madison Circuit judge ruled Friday that prior “bad acts” of murder defendant Christina Marcum may be admitted during her upcoming trial.
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