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Round-Up: Sunday February 3

Take a look at what's making news around Covington and around the Commonwealth:

CITIZENS SHOW CONCERN OVER BRENT SPENCE, PENSIONS

The Northern Kentucky legislative caucus held a public forum Saturday morning in Erlanger where the focus of citizens was on the Brent Spence Bridge project and pension reform:

Covington City Commissioner Steve Frank addressed concerns with the Brent Spence Bridge.

“Right now we feel like the turkey in the backyard and everybody’s arguing over how they’re going to cook us,” Frank said.

A representative from the Build our Bridge Now Coalition, Johnna Reeder of Fort Mitchell, asked legislators to figure out how to pay for a new bridge.

“What I’m asking of our state legislators is that we look at all options,” Reeder said, adding tolls isn’t necessarily the only funding option. “We hired you, we elected you. You’re smart people and we need you to find a solution.”

Reeder was joined by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport’s chief executive officer Candace McGraw, who told legislators the airport won’t be able to reach full economic potential if travelers can’t get to it.

Full story: Cincinnati Enquirer/Libby Cunningham

STATE SENATE LEADERS VOW ACTION ON PENSION BILL

After meeting on Friday, Senate Republicans in Frankfort vow swift action on a pension reform bill:

The pension bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate on Tuesday and reviewed in committee the following day. Kentucky lawmakers return to the Capitol next week to resume a 2013 regular session that will last a few more weeks.

"We're ready to act, move quickly on the bill," said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. "We want to get it down to the House early in the session so they've got plenty of time to consider it and hopefully pass it."

Full story: AssocIated Press/Bruce Schreiner

MITCH MCCONNELL GETS JUMPSTART ON RE-ELECTION FUNDRAISING

Kentucky's senior US Senator is in campaign mode, facing a possible primary opponent and a Democratic Party hungry to defeat him next year:

"That's why we're up and running this far in advance. We've had demonstrators in our front yard here already in Louisville this year," says Senator McConnell.

Kentucky's senior U.S. Senator plans to fight to keep his job.

"There's only one race in 2014 that has any national significance. Just one, and it's this one," McConnell says.

He wouldn't comment on Saturday on speculation or reports on the possibility that Kentucky actress Ashley Judd may run against him.

"I'm not gonna start handicapping who might be my opponent. I have no earthly idea. What I do think is that the National Democratic party is gonna make sure I have one," says Senator Mitch McConnell.

Full story: WDRB

COLUMN: SMOKE & MIRRORS WITH HEMP

A terrific, must-read column by Kentucky journalist Ronnie Ellis:

Kentucky is a red state, but maybe it’s becoming a purple state. Given our apparent collective distaste for Obama it’s clearly not because of our political sentiments. But proponents of an even more liberal approach to cannabis have long claimed Kentucky’s real leading cash crop is marijuana.

Why couldn’t Gatewood Galbraith have taken better care of himself and managed to live to see all of this and regale us with his wit and commentary? Galbraith said he smoked marijuana to treat his asthma and he was an early supporter of legalizing hemp.

(It reminds me of one of the impish Galbraith’s best campaign lines: “Thirty years ago, they said: ‘Gatewood, you’re 30 years ahead of your time.’ Well . . . here we are.”)

Bill Clinton is the most popular national Democrat in Kentucky but he insists he never inhaled, which doesn’t sound like it was really worth the trouble or risk or all that much fun either. Clinton reportedly favors cigars.

Full column: Ashland Independent

NORTHERN KENTUCKY SEES SPIKE IN HEPATITIS C RATE

It's not just the flu that the region is battling this year:

The Northern Kentucky health department is fighting back by providing testing and information about the blood-borne disease, with the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeping an eye on the region.

Northern Kentucky’s rate of hepatitis C was three times the state’s in 2011 and about 10 times above that of the United States when compared to the CDC’s 2010 rates. National data is not yet available for 2011.

The Independent Health Department District is taking part in a pilot program, offering free testing for anyone concerned and targeting high-risk groups.

Full story: Cincinnati Enquirer/Terry DeMio

QUICK HEADLINES:

KENTUCKY MAN SOUGHT FOR BREAKING INTO HOMES, KILLING OWNERS' PETS WPSD

INDEPENDENCE MAN ACCUSED OF STEALING DRIVABLE CARS, SELLING FOR SCRAP Cincinnati Enquirer

I-66, I-69 ARE KENTUCKY'S INTERSTATES TO NOWHERE Herald-Leader

LOUISVILLE AMPUTEE RETURNS TO WORK AS PARAMEDIC WAVE

HOLMES BASKETBALL SPECIAL GAME HIGHLIGHTED IN LEXINGTON MEDIA

The undefeated Holmes Bulldogs boys basketball team's victory over Highlands Friday night was marked as a special occasion by the presence of three survivors of the 1988 Carrollton bus crash, including head coach Jason Booher. A documentary film crew was at the game shooting footage for its upcoming release Impact: After the Crash. Lexington TV station WTVQ reported from Covington:

“It's every coaches dream to win as many as you can and be undefeated for the regular season,” Head Coach Jason Booher said. “We're the last team standing in the state that hasn't lost a game yet.”

(snip)

“There are two things I'm passionate about,” Booher said. “One of them is coaching basketball and working with young people. The second thing is making a positive out of the worst drinking driving crash in history.”

See a video report: WTVQ

HOLMES PLAYER FEATURED IN NKYFAN "MIX TAPE" VIDEO

nkyFAN, the local prolific sports site dedicated to high school athletics in Northern Kentucky, has published its first "mix tape" video of the season and selected Holmes sophomore James Bolden as its featured player:

See the video (if player does not appear, click here)

SEE ALSO: A play at the Holmes game is nominated for the Cincinnati Bell Fastest Play of the Game at WLWT

COVINGTON LATIN GRAD TO APPEAR ON JEOPARDY!

Covington Latin School graduate John Anneken (class of 2003) will be a contestant on Jeopardy! for an episode that airs May 1. The photo connected to this article is described at Covington Latin's Facebook page as "Alex Trebek's reaction" to the news.

Compiled by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News