Sunday, June 30, 2002

Kentucky Digest


New form of radiation safer, more powerful

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — New technology at the University of Kentucky Medical Center is allowing doctors to offer safer, more powerful radiation treatment for cancer patients.

        Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy gives physicians the ability to deliver narrowly targeted doses of radiation, minimizing the exposure of normal organs and tissue while increasing the intensity to the tumor.

        “The key to this is that it maximizes the beneficial aspects of radiation and reduces the potential risks associated with it,” said Dr. Mohammed Mohiuddin, chair of the UK College of Medicine's Department of Radiation Medicine.

        “It gives us the opportunity to cure more tumors in even more areas of the body. Therefore, cure rates also should go up.”

        Kentucky is a national leader in cancer rates and deaths. The medical center is the only institution in the state and one of fewer than a dozen nationwide offering this treatment.

        Traditional radiation therapy involves the delivery of several, separate but identical X-ray beams to a tumor from different angles.

        IMRT replaces the typical uniform beam intensities and enables doctors to control the depth, shape and intensity of these beams to more accurately and aggressively attack a tumor.
       

Judge OKs settlement in sex abuse lawsuit

               LEXINGTON — A 2-year-old lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by the former head of a city-financed organization has ended with a judge's approval of a $2.4 million settlement.

        U.S. District Judge Karl S. Forester said Friday he would approve the agreement between the city of Lexington and 18 men who alleged abuse.

        The lawsuit was filed by nine men on May 3, 2000. It claimed officials knew or should have known that Ron Berry was molesting boys who attended his program. Mr. Berry was the founder and operator of Micro-City Government from the 1970s until he resigned upon conviction of sodomy in March 2000.

        He was sentenced to three years in prison but is free on bond for an appeal before the Kentucky Supreme Court.

        The settlement had grown to include 17 plaintiffs and was to be signed on June 3. An 18th man then came forward, and that threatened to derail the agreement.

        During a half-hour hearing Friday, Robert Treadway, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers, agreed to withdraw his earlier request for class-action status. The city opposed such status because it might have encouraged more litigation. The city's attorney in the case asked the judge to rule out future class-action lawsuits, and Judge Forester said he would. Mr. Treadway then backed down in order to speed the settlement process.
       

Teen indicted as adult in shooting death

               GREENUP — A teenager was indicted by a Greenup County grand jury as an adult in the shooting death of a federal prison employee at his home last year.

        Larry Curtis Clifton, 17, of Flatwoods, could face a death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Monte Montgomery, 40, at his Happy Ridge home.

        Mr. Clifton, who is lodged without bond in an undisclosed juvenile detention center in eastern Kentucky, also was indicted on charges of first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, three counts of theft by unlawful taking, abuse of a corpse and first-degree sodomy.

        Mr. Clifton, who turned 17 this month, will be arraigned at 2 p.m. July 10 before Greenup Circuit Judge Lewis Nichols.

        Wesley H. Meeks, 41, of Flatwoods, was indicted in November on the same charges and also faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

        Mr. Montgomery, a budget analyst at the Federal Correctional Institution at Summit, was shot five times in the head when he walked in on a burglary at his home in October, according to a state police report.
       

Boat ramps to use self-payment system

               BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Boat ramps at Lake Monroe and other reservoirs across the state will not close on Monday after all, officials with the state Department of Natural Resources said.

        The ramps can remain open because the department instead absorbed the impact of state budget cuts by reducing maintenance at the sites. The department, however, plans to impose a self-payment program beginning next Saturday at selected ramps.

        John Goss, department director, said the self-payment approach, which requires boaters to deposit a $5 daily launch fee in locked boxes, could generate enough money to ease a budget crunch for the ramps.

        “But without the cooperation of Hoosier boaters we will face the same problem again,” Mr. Goss said. “Unless the launch fees are paid at the boat ramps, we will surely have to close some of our facilities.”

        State officials said in February that they would be forced to close some of the state's 48 boat ramps as part of a round of spending cuts imposed by Gov. Frank O'Bannon. Closing ramps would save money by reducing staff needed to monitor and maintain the ramps.

        Four boat ramps at Salamonie, Huntington and Mississinewa lakes were closed in the spring and will not reopen.

        The department planned to close additional ramps by the July 1 start of the state's fiscal year, but the department instead looked for other ways to save money, such as reducing maintenance at the ramps.

        Bruce Whiting, assistant property manager at Lake Monroe, said the self-pay program will operate largely on the honor system. Boaters will put their $5 in an envelope, fill out some information and put it in a box. The envelope includes tear-off tags that boaters place on their dashboards.
       

Fletcher pushing for tobacco legislation

               WASHINGTON — Rep. Ernie Fletcher has joined a growing chorus of tobacco-state lawmakers pushing for legislation that would pay leaf growers to stop growing the crop.

        The Lexington Republican introduced a measure in the House early Friday that would help tobacco farmers shift to other crops and pay them for giving up their Agriculture Department quotas, or allotments, that dictate how much leaf they can grow under the federal price-support program.

        Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., introduced a similar bill in the Senate on Friday.

        The buyout would be funded by a fee placed on tobacco companies. Philip Morris USA has supported such a move, but Mr. Fletcher said some other companies are concerned about the cost of paying for a buyout.

        The bills introduced by Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Cleland would keep in place a production and price support system unlike other legislation previously introduced in the House.

        The bills introduced Friday do not give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco. Some of the other bills give FDA that power and give the farmers a buyout as well.
       

Man dies from injuries from apparent beating

               ASHLAND — A Louisa man whose house was set on fire three weeks ago has died from injuries he suffered during an apparent beating last Sundaynight.

        Patrick Calvin Blackburn, 33, died Thursday afternoon in Cabell Huntington Hospital in West Virginia, according to a hospital spokeswoman. He was taken off life support Tuesday night, she said.

        Martin County Sheriff Darriel Young said Mr. Blackburn was found “beaten beyond recognition” in the back of a car that had apparently been pushed down a hill.

        The incident happened at Trace Fork near Tomahawk in rural Martin County. Sheriff Young said he believed the beating was staged to look like an accident.

        “There was no way that he could've gotten those injuries from an accident that wasn't that bad. It just didn't happen that way,” Sheriff Young said.

        The sheriff's office, as well as the Kentucky State Police post in Pikeville, are investigating Mr. Blackburn's death.

        On June 4, someone set fire to Mr. Blackburn's rented trailer in the Red Bud subdivision on Kentucky 1690, said James R. Schmidt, a Kentucky State Police investigator.

        When the fire was discovered, Mr. Blackburn and his wife, Darlene, were reportedly visiting family members near Red Bud after attending the funeral of their newborn daughter in Inez.

       



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