Sunday August 18, 2019
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Mayor Greg Fischer today joined representatives from Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Urban League, community organizations and local youth to kick off Louisville’s participation in National Youth Violence Prevention Week, a week-long initiative to raise violence prevention awareness and strategies for youth, parents, teachers, school personnel and community members to prevent youth violence before it happens.

“We owe it to our youth to do all we can as a community to keep them, their families and our neighborhoods safe, because witnessing violent crime, worrying about violent crime or being part of a violent crime should never be normal for any child,” Mayor Fischer said. “This week shows the important role young people can have, and want to have, in making their communities safer.”

From April 8 to April 12, nearly 100 activities, trainings, art projects and anti-violence campaigns will be held by Louisville schools and other youth-serving organizations throughout the community. This year’s theme is “Be A Superhero: Activate your Superpowers.”

The week is a partnership among Mayor Fischer’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, Jefferson County Public Schools, Cities United, Brown-Forman, Community Foundation of Louisville, Metro United Way, Peace Education, Centerstone, Muhammad Ali Center, Center for Women and Families, Louisville Metro Police and other groups, and part of a national initiative organized by Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), an initiative of Newtown, Connecticut-based group Sandy Hook Promise.

“Our students are taking innovative steps to ensure a positive culture and climate in our schools, not just this week but throughout the year,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools. “From developing campaigns to building strategies to peacefully resolve issues, our school communities are coming together to lead by example. Safety is our highest priority and the efforts underway right now highlight our commitment to protecting students.”

According to SAVE, 60 percent of American children are exposed to violence, crime or abuse in their homes, schools or communities.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week is just one of the efforts coordinated by the Office of Safe and Health Neighborhoods, created by Mayor Fischer in 2013 and charged with helping create a city of safe neighborhoods, where everyone is supported, free of violence, and prepared for lifelong success.

The Mayor said he was “proud of the work the city has done to promote public safety and violence in Louisville.”  

As part of a comprehensive strategy that ranges from prevention, to enforcement to reentry, the city has reduced homicides by 30 percent.

Through the city’s violence interruption programs, 212 gunshot victims have been assisted since its creation. In January of 2019 alone, more than 200 hours were spent engaging patients in the University of Louisville Emergency Room, plus hundreds of hours in the Russell, Portland and Shawnee neighborhoods engaging individuals and families at risk of being impacted by gun violence.

The city’s Pivot to Peace program has reduced injury recidivism among 95 percent of its participants. The Community Response team has connected more than 300 individuals and families to trauma-related services within 48 hours of an incident taking place.  

The Mayor highlighted the success of the Reimage program, a collaboration between the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and KentuckianaWorks. More than 500 young people have enrolled in the program that helps to break the cycle of crime and violence by connecting young people to training, jobs and education.  

Reimage is actively recruiting young people right now for training that can quickly set them on a career path in key fields such as IT, manufacturing, construction and youth development. Those wanting to participate in the Reimage program can find more information here.  

“This will be the second consecutive year that Louisville has participated in this national effort. It’s an opportunity to lift up the powerful work happening locally led by our brilliant youth, and to intentionally engage them as architects to solutions for violence” said Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, Director of Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

Throughout the week, JCPS students will be:

  • Engaging in random acts of kindness;
  • Learning lessons centered around conflict resolution;
  • Holding compliment days where students will say nice things and give praise to peers;
  • Learning about three steps to violence prevention – look for warning signs, act immediately to prevent a violent incident, say something to a trusted adult;
  • Holding awareness walks to encourage students to resolve issues without violence. 

Participants are encouraged to use the social media hashtags #LouYVPW and #NYVPW.

Photo: Kentucky Cabinet For Economic Development

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today joined community leaders, investors and Louisville Metro Government representatives to champion Opportunity Zones as a new tool to help revitalize Louisville neighborhoods. Additionally, the Mayor released the city’s Opportunity Zones Prospectus, a holistic document that showcases Louisville’s assets and will be shared with investors locally and across the country.

“Opportunity Zones are a new avenue for us to attract investment to areas of our city that already have momentum and could see tremendous growth and opportunity with additional capital investment,” said the Mayor. “We want responsible development and projects that benefit our residents by providing investment without displacement, which is why we’re working closely with community stakeholders, state, and federal government partners to ensure we are best positioned to put private dollars to work.”

Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This program encourages long-term investment in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide by providing a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds that are dedicated to investing in Opportunity Zones. In Louisville, 19 census tracts are designated as Opportunity Zones.

Transformation is currently underway in the city’s Opportunity Zones. One of the first Louisville investors to take advantage of the recently enacted Opportunity Zone legislation is The Marian Group through its spin-off and expansion of Blacksmith Iron Works, a fabrication and custom metal solutions business that recently moved into a 20,000 square-foot facility at 3100 Vermont Ave. in the Russell neighborhood. The Blacksmith Iron Works expansion will represent almost $750,000 of total investment in Russell and will include at least 16 employees by 2019.

“We are excited about this expansion for Blacksmith Iron Works and to be moving to Russell,” said Jake Brown, President of Blacksmith Iron Works and a Principal with Louisville-based developer, The Marian Group. “To be one of the first Opportunity Zone investments in Louisville just makes it better.”

Additional community partners that are investing in Opportunity Zones include OneWest, a nonprofit community development organization that recently purchased its first property on 18th Street with plans to redevelop it as a restaurant or retail space, and the Louisville Urban League with its $35 million Track on Ali project.

The team at Louisville Forward, the city’s community and economic development agency, is ready to work with businesses and investors to maximize Louisville’s potential for its Opportunity Zones by providing concierge project management, offering incentives for projects in CDBG-eligible census tracts, and working to accelerate the permitting process.

The city is also working to identify the needs of investors, developers and business owners, and then connect them with each other dependent on resources that will support each project. To be listed in the city’s database, complete the form found at

To assist business owners and investors with identifying Opportunity Zones, the city created an interactive map to show exact addresses and boundaries of Louisville’s designated Opportunity Zones. To search Louisville-specific addresses, visit

The Louisville, Kentucky Metro Government was recognized as the 2018 Green Leadership City, a distinction awarded by the Propane Education & Research Council, a Washington, D.C.-based national non-profit organization. The award recognizes the city for its adoption of clean, propane-powered mowers, among other environmentally-friendly programs that support the city’s highly-regarded sustainability plan.

Mayor Greg Fischer accepted a $5,000 donation from PERC at a celebration event at Sun Valley Park with city officials and Parks & Recreation Department employees, who operate the propane mowers regularly.

“The Green Leadership City Award highlights public agencies demonstrating a commitment to environmentally-friendly and sustainable practices, which the city of Louisville has shown by adding propane mowers to its municipal equipment fleet,” said Jeremy Wishart, director of off-road business development for PERC. “Louisville has set an incredible example for the rest of the region of what a municipality can accomplish when it decides that its environmental impact matters and takes necessary steps to reduce its carbon footprint.”

Earlier this year, Louisville added 11 propane mowers to its Metro Fleet Division, with plans to continue transitioning to propane equipment as the city’s 68 remaining gasoline mowers wear out. Compared to gasoline mowers, using propane reduces greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide (NOx), and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions, which contributes to a healthier local environment.

According to the city, it will also cost approximately 25 percent less to operate a propane mower over the life of the unit because of the lower cost of propane.

“Propane mowers help us improve upon our long-term sustainability goals as a city while also being prudent with the taxpayer’s money,” said Greg Fischer, Louisville mayor. “Anytime we can make operational changes that improve the community’s quality of life while saving on costs is a win-win.”

The propane mowers are used by five departments that manage grass growth on city properties as well as vacant and abandoned private properties, including the Louisville Zoo, the Vacant Lots Division of Codes & Regulations, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and the Metro Facilities Division.

Because of their lower emissions profile, propane mowers allow city crews to continue mowing on Air Quality Alert Days, when mowing with both commercial and residential gasoline equipment is discouraged to avoid adding to ground-level pollution.

To learn more about propane mowers, visit

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has appointed two new members to the Louisville Metro Board of Health.  Both terms run to July 31, 2021.

Heidi Margulis is the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer for Humana. In that capacity she guides the company’s community engagement and corporate social responsibility initiatives and has administrative oversight of the Humana Foundation.  She also serves on the executive committee of the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board and on the Louisville Promise Scholarship Board.  Ms. Margulis has also served on the Advisory Committee on Regulatory Reform and on the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education for two U.S. Health and Human Services Secretaries.

Dr. Susie J. Riley is a dentist in private practice.  She is the owner of Smile Center Professionals, Cosmetic and Family Dentistry. She also serves on the Kentucky Medicaid Advisory Committee, is past president of the Kentucky Dental Society and has served as the dental representative on the Passport Health Plan Partnership Council. Dr. Riley is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves Dental Corp and continues to participate in dental missions to such underserved countries as Haiti, Liberia and Ghana.

Ms. Margulis and Dr. Riley replace Connie Sorrel and Dr. Sherry Babbage.  Mayor Fischer also reappointed Karen Cost, Margaret Handmaker and Kate Probst to the Board of Health.  Their terms will run to July 31, 2021.

The Louisville Metro Board of Health acts as an independent voice to promote and protect equitable physical, mental, and environmental health in the Louisville community through advocacy, education, regulation, and collaboration with public and private entities.

Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Parks Foundation CEO, Brooke Pardue were joined by Councilman Bill Hollander and the local skateboarding community to unveil the Breslin Park Skate Spot, the latest public park to receive added amenities funded by the Louisville Parks Foundation.

The $95,000 skate spot, built and designed by Hunger Skateparks, of Bloomington, IN, is the first of its kind in the region. Unlike larger skate parks, the skate-able art sculpture is designed for all levels, making it appropriate for beginners and experts alike. This completes the first phase of the Foundation’s Breslin Park 2.0 Project, which includes a state-of-the-art shade structure to follow.

“Many people aren’t aware of this, but Breslin Park was home to Louisville’s original skatepark.” Said Pardue, “There is a rich history of skating in this park and I have been overwhelmed with the positive response I have received from generations of street skaters in our community. I’m glad we listened and were able to provide them with something we can all feel good about.”

“This new skate spot, in conjunction with the Louisville Extreme Park, is going to put Louisville on the map for people looking for a quality skate experience.” Said Noah Hulsman, owner of Home Skateshop. “And we are committed to keeping Breslin Park clean and safe for all park users.”

Funding for the project is the result of a partnership between the Louisville Parks Foundation, a non-profit that supports Louisville Parks and Recreation, Home Skateshop, Councilman Bill Hollander, Grind Burgers, Spinelli’s Pizza, Vegan Jerky Company, and individual donors.

Mayor Greg Fischer joined partners from across public and private sectors today to announce the development of Kentucky’s first Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, known as LEAD, to divert opioid addicted people from jails in favor of case management and treatment.

The LEAD program, which was first launched in Seattle in 2011, is an innovative pre-booking, community-based program focused on routing individuals suspected of committing low-level drug-related offenses away from jail and prosecution into treatment.

The Mayor announced the city has been awarded a $400,000 federal grant to fund a pilot project, serving 50 qualifying individuals who come into contact with police in the Portland and Russell neighborhoods over the next 18 months.

“The Opioid crisis remains a vital concern to public safety in this community,” said Mayor Fischer. “But incarceration cannot be the only option for those struggling with addiction. We must find ways to divert people to treatment and stem the tide of drug-related crime. This program is one more option for our community.”

What to know about LEAD

For the past several months, the LEAD planning team has been putting together the framework for the pilot program, which is expected to be fully launched by Oct. 1.

Here’s how the program will work:

  • LMPD officers working in the targeted beats in the Russell and Portland neighborhoods will use discretionary authority at the point of contact to divert eligible candidates into intervention for offenses driven by substance use disorder.
  • The LMPD officer will determine eligibility for the LEAD program based on established offense criteria and criminal history exclusions. Eligible crimes will include felony possession of an opiate and possession of heroin under two grams, as well as low-level property crime stemming from opiate addiction.
  • Instead of taking them to jail, officers will take those volunteering to participate to the Volunteers of America Mid-States triage location on West Broadway to be connected with a case manager.
  • Within 72-hours a potential participant must complete an in-depth assessment before becoming one of the 50 pilot project participants to receive treatment and wrap-around services.
  • Volunteers of America Mid-States will assume responsibility for the case management of the individuals.
  • The Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, housed at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, will conduct the evaluation of the program.

“So often, officers come into contact with members of our community who are committing crime as part of their addiction to opioids and other drugs,” said Col. Michael Sullivan, deputy chief for Louisville Metro Police. “This gives officers a tool to divert people into treatment, rather than taking them to jail, where they may or may not get to address the underlying issue leading them to crime.”

Volunteers of America Mid-States will work with pilot program participants to coordinate services they need to get themselves back to a healthy and productive lifestyle.

“We know that we can change people’s lives when we surround them with professional care and treatment and access to comprehensive support and services,” said Jennifer Hancock, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Mid-States.  “Opioid use and addiction is a public health crisis and LEAD will be successful because it offers a public health solution.”

University of Louisville’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences joins the partnership to help ensure the program is working as it should. Liza Creel, PhD, and Susan Buchino, PhD, both scholars of the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, will conduct the evaluation.

“Our evaluation will aim to measure outcomes in the areas of recidivism, public safety, cost savings, and fidelity to the Seattle LEAD model,” Creel said. “By following an evidence-based intervention that has shown success in other communities and designing it to meet Louisville’s needs, the Louisville LEAD pilot has great potential to positively impact participant lives and our community.”

Members of the planning team working to set up the pilot include:

  • Jamie Allen, Louisville Metro Criminal Justice Commission
  • Debora McGill, Project Coordinator, DFM Consulting
  • Todd Felty, Louisville Metro Police Department
  • Lisa Langford, Jefferson County Attorney’s Office
  • Ebert Haegele, Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney
  • Sarah Moyer, Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness
  • Liza Creel, Commonwealth Institute, University of Louisville
  • Susan Buchino, Commonwealth Institute, University of Louisville
  • Mane Martirosyan, Louisville Metro Department of Corrections
  • Margaret Pennington, REACH of Louisville
  • Dan Goyette, Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender Corporation

Mayor Greg Fischer announced today that The Big Table, a welcoming event aimed at bringing people together to share food and conversation, is returning to Iroquois Park on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 5-7 p.m. Last year, more than 1,300 people participated in the event, and organizers hope to boost that number this year.

The annual event is hosted by The Big Table, with major support from the Global Human Project and the Louisville Metro Office for Globalization. Each participant is asked to bring a dish, fruit, dessert or non-alcoholic drink to share with at least six people. Participants are encouraged to bring a dish that reflects something about them, has a family story or personal significance, along with a recipe card. Tables, chairs, eating utensils and plates will be provided by event sponsors, but in case of an extra-large turnout, organizers encourage participants to bring a blanket and extra utensils.

Jud Hendrix, Executive Director of The Global Human Project and co-creator of the Big Table, said its purpose is to build greater community connections. “We hope the Big Table will spur a variety of other creative events to weave in the fabric of our community,” he said. “It’s simple. We’re inviting Louisville to be who we already are.”

In addition to encouraging conversation and meeting new people, organizers are hoping to break a world record. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest potluck was attended by 3,264 people in India. In order for The Big Table event to be in the Guinness record book, participants must be present from 5:45 – 6:15 p.m., and each participant must bring a dish or refreshment to share.

Mayor Fischer encouraged people to attend.

“This event started last year to welcome immigrants to our community. They are important contributors – filling jobs, starting companies and sharing their culture and heritage. At a time when our nation and world are so often divided, the Big Table gives us the opportunity to come together and celebrate the connections we have as fellow human beings,” the Mayor said. “We are proud to be a city of welcome, inclusion and compassion, and I encourage all Louisvillians to join in this event and break a world record.”

A unique aspect of The Big Table is the intentionality around having conversations. “On the surface, it’s a simple potluck. The intention, however, is much deeper, hoping to create a space for Louisvillians of all beliefs and backgrounds to come together in order to connect, especially in a time when our society holds so many opposing points of view,” said Cathy Berkey, co-creator of the Big Table.

In an effort to foster more intimate conversation and depth of connection, participants will be organized into tables of eight. Table Host volunteers will help seat participants and work to ensure tables are made up of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Table Hosts will also facilitate conversation and storytelling during the event. Approximately 450 Table Host volunteers are needed for this event.

“There is no central stage or entertainment schedule; the magic of the event is in the conversations that happen at the tables,” said Berkey.

In case of inclement weather, organizers will announce a cancellation of the event by 1 p.m. on Sept. 16 on social media and the event registration page.

Registration is strongly encouraged. For more information and event registration, visit