Bowling Green Daily News. November 19, 2021.

Editorial: Lawmakers must deliver on child well-being next legislative session

We hope the latest figures from Kentucky Youth Advocates’ Kids Count County Data Book serve as a wake-up call for Warren Countians – especially our local lawmakers headed to Frankfort come January for next year’s legislative session.

In the 2021 edition of the report, which tracks every Kentucky county’s progress on child well-being across 17 key indicators, Warren County took several steps backward, ranking in the bottom half of all Kentucky counties in several areas.

Births by mothers without a high school diploma are up. More children are in foster care and fewer are exiting the system to be reunited with their families. There are also more children in low-income families to boot.

No doubt, Warren County has made some progress, but too many kids are still experiencing childhood poverty.

The report puts the percentage of children living in low-income families – defined as below 200% of the federal poverty line – at 47%.

It’s also worth noting that the report doesn’t begin to examine the outcomes impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, instead covering the period between 2015 and 2019.

That’s why we urge lawmakers to act now and keep Warren County families top of mind when they head to Frankfort in early 2022.

With Kentucky on track for a $1 billion budget surplus, lawmakers have a real opportunity to make meaningful investments to move the needle for children across the state.

Permanent state funding for full-day kindergarten and fully covering districts’ school transportation costs are as good a place to start as any. It’s been a perennial ask for education advocates year after year in Frankfort, but so far lawmakers haven’t delivered.

While they’re at it, they should dispense with unfunded mandates – like the 2019 school safety bill – that cut away at local revenue and placed the burden for funding schools more and more on local taxpayers.

And why not devote more state dollars to school-based family resource and youth services centers that help remove some of the out-of-classroom barriers that inhibit students’ learning?

All of these are recommendations recently endorsed by the General Assembly’s School Funding Task Force, which met over the interim to “ensure the equitable and efficient funding of Kentucky’s common schools.”

With both Democrats and Republicans making up the special committee’s membership, surely these spending priorities can win passage during next year’s legislative session.

Bowling Green and Warren County’s public school districts are fortunate, in a sense, because they have booming property tax bases to rely upon.

But the same can’t be said for Kentucky counties that are watching their populations dwindle, leaving the remaining students behind with fewer resources and opportunities for advancement.

Which is why – if lawmakers don’t work together to take meaningful action in 2022 – they will be actively contributing to the divide between the haves and the have-nots, leaving students to pay the price.

All students, regardless of whether they attend a “good school” or not, should have the opportunities and resources they need to reach their potential. For us, that’s something beyond politics, or at least it should be.

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Ashland Daily Independent. November 19, 2021.

Editorial: Unleash the fun

Thank you, City of Ashland, for the changes at Wendell Banks Southside Park, turning it into a place called Central Bark, a great dog park for our furry friends, and ultimately, our families.

The switch to a dog park came after a small dog park in Central Park proved to be extremely popular among Ashland residents; so popular, in fact, it became too small. A larger replacement was needed.

Some of the important features of this park, at the corner of Ballard and Logan streets in the South Side, in addition to wide-open spaces, include:

• Separate areas for large and small dogs.

• Restrooms for humans.

• Watering stations for dogs and humans.

• Double-lock gates for pets’ safety.

• Obstacle courses.

Plans to add toys for the canines and rehabbing the basketball court and playground (for human use, of course) are in the works.

We applaud the opening of the park for several reasons.

• It’s part of the evolution of the park, allowing the memory of Wendell Banks, for whom the park was named, to carry on and serve the public. Banks was Ashland’s first African American commissioner.

• People love their pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports more than half the households in the United States have pets and 38.4% of those households have dogs. In fact, dogs are the most popular pet in the country. Offering a fun and safe environment for dogs and their owners serves a large swath of the community.

• The park joins a list of attractive attributes the city can offer those considering moving to the area.

• Bringing Central Bark to fruition shows our city government can make a plan and follow through. The park has been in the works for eight months, one of the priorities on the commission’s list of park improvements. It is now a reality.

What next? Grab a leash and go see what the fuss is about.

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Frankort State Journal. November 18, 2021.

Editorial: Order expands COVID boosters to all Kentuckians over 18

On Wednesday Gov. Andy Beshear gave Kentuckians an early holiday gift by signing an executive order allowing anyone over the age of 18 to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

Previously, only Kentuckians age 65 or older, those with a compromised immune system, underlying medical conditions or living or working in long-term care or high-risk settings and essential workers were approved for the coronavirus booster shot.

Wednesday’s executive order expands the list of those who can receive booster doses to all adults in the state, regardless of whether they had the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Those who received their second Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago and those who had their single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago are eligible to receive a booster dose.

“It is incredibly important that people get out there and not only get vaccinated, but also get their booster,” the governor explained.

“There has been too much confusion, and with us either at a plateau or a slight uptick in cases and hospitalizations, now was the time. So, everybody, if you’re over 18, and it’s been six months since your second shot, you need to go out and get your booster.”

Kentucky is the sixth state in the U.S. to expand COVID-19 vaccination boosters to include all adults. Arkansas, California, Colorado, New Mexico and West Virginia have implemented similar eligibility steps.

To date, more than 437,000 Kentuckians have received a booster dose, but Beshear hopes that by expanding eligibility more residents will take advantage of the booster dose before the approaching holiday season when people will be gathering in large groups.

“Because of that, it’s more important than ever that we get people vaccinated and get people their boosters to push their immunity up to the highest levels, because over time that immunity wanes,” the governor added.

This year give your family, friends and yourself the gift of peace of mind. Get your COVID-19 booster dose and help prevent the spread of the virus.

END

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