Ronald McDonald House seeks donations for new Louisville location

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kentuckiana is opening a new facility to house families seeking treatment for children with critical illnesses and seeks donations of kitchen, guest room, cleaning supplies and other items.

The charity wants the new location to be stocked and ready to take in families in town getting treatment at local medical facilities as soon as possible. Donations are requested to be made by June 21.

The structure, which is known as the Old Medical School Building, is located at 101 W. Chestnut St., which is adjacent to the Ronald McDonald House facility at 550 S. 1st St. The four-story building opened in 1857 as part of the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

The investment for converting the building, which formerly housed the UofL medical school, into guest rooms for families was announced as $21 million. Ronald McDonald House Charities acquired the building in 2016.

The facility will have 20 rooms, each with a private bathroom. The project includes a renovation of the original building in Phase 2.

Items needed include plastic laundry baskets and bins, trash bags, non-perishable food items, disinfectant and small appliances. To view a complete list, visit the nonprofit’s Amazon wish list. Items can be ordered and shipped directly from Amazon or purchased elsewhere and dropped off at 550 S. First St. Kevin Gibson

Metro to promote small and incremental development with seminar

Louisville Metro Department of Economic Development and Develop Louisville want to help would-be real estate developers get a head start.

A real estate financing seminar will be held June 24 at 1619 Flux Art + Activism, at 1619 W. Main St., to help developers plan and finance a real estate project, from procuring funding sources to navigating the city’s building and zoning requirements.

Develop Louisville will assist developers of small and incremental projects with planning based on flow charts and checklists methods. The discussion will also include identifying a number of funding sources, from historic preservation tax credits to local loans, and how they can be utilized.

The goal for Metro Government is to identify financing gaps and other barriers for small and incremental development, officials said.

The seminar is free and will be held 5:30-7 p.m. A phone-based survey will be taken during the presentation and refreshments will be served. Kevin Gibson

Donation from Walmart to benefit Norton Children’s Hospital unit

Rendering of the Norton Children's Hospital "Just for Kids" Critical Care Center

Rendering of the soon-to-be-upgraded Norton Children’s Hospital “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center | Courtesy Norton Healthcare

Walmart has agreed to donate $3 million to support the Norton Children’s Hospital “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center.

The contribution, which will be given to the Children’s Hospital Foundation, will bring Walmart’s total support of the hospital to nearly $8 million since 2007.

“Walmart has been a leader in supporting Norton Children’s Hospital since 2007,” Lynnie Meyer, Norton Healthcare’s senior vice president and chief development officer, said in a news release. “…Walmart’s support allows us to ensure we have what is necessary to take care of children of all sizes, with all kinds of critical and complex issues, whenever we’re needed.”

The money flows from Walmart’s participation in the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and individual Walmart store campaigns in the area.

Some upgrades to the unit are planned, such as new flooring, doors, windows, lighting and furniture. There also will be a new family waiting area, providing access to laundry facilities, a kitchenette, a quiet space and an active space.

There also are plans to improve privacy by enclosing rooms that now are separated with curtains. —Darla Carter

Louisville symposium explores urban design and health

Dr. Richard Jackson, former director of the National Center for Environmental Health, speaks at a symposium.

Dr. Richard Jackson, a pediatrician and former director of the National Center for Environmental Health, speaks at a symposium in Louisville. | Photo by Darla Carter

A symposium on health and urban design was held in Louisville this week in conjunction with an international group’s annual meeting focused on creating better places for people to live and enjoy life.

The symposium was a kick-off, of sorts, for a gathering of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., whose meeting participants range from architects and engineers to real estate developers.

In the built environment, “everything we look at is the construct of someone’s imagination,” said Dr. Richard J. Jackson, a symposium speaker and former director of the National Center for Environmental Health. “We’ve got to think about changing that thinking,” so that what we build is “about people’s happiness, well-being and health.”

Mayor Greg Fischer used the symposium to tout some of Louisville’s pluses, such as compassion and partnerships, and to highlight some notable Louisville projects: AIR Louisville and the Green Heart project, a study examining whether air quality and human health can be improved by planting trees.

“These are examples of how our city is serving as an urban laboratory,” Fischer said.

Other speakers included Aruni Bhatnagar, who directs the University of Louisville’s Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, which is doing Green Heart with various partners. He explained the project and talked about the interconnections between health and the environment.

Health and disease aren’t just a consequence of biology, he said. “All of us are products of genes and our environment.”

Bhatnagar, a professor of medicine at UofL, also agreed with Jackson that the way that some communities are developed can be a hindrance to health.

The doctor says, “’Your cholesterol is high, your blood pressure is high. You need to exercise,’ but then we create cities where nobody can walk, so we work against our own recommendations,” he said.

Jackson, a pediatrician, talked about America’s obesity problem and children developing conditions like type 2 diabetes, formerly thought of as an adult disease.

“We’ve engineered physical activity out of our children’s lives,” Jackson said. —Darla Carter

RiverLink toll rates to increase July 1

A graphic showing the new RiverLink tolling rates

Courtesy of RiverLink

Toll rates on three bridges between Louisville and Southern Indiana will rise 2.5% on July 1.

Motorists in passenger vehicles who have a prepaid account and a transponder will have to pay $2.10 per crossing, up 5 cents from the current rate, according to a news release from RiverLink. Motorists with a prepaid account but no transponder will have to pay $3.16 per crossing. And those without a prepaid account and without a transponder will have to pay $4.20.

Tolls go up by vehicle size. Large trucks may have to pay up to $12.61 per crossing.

Every weekday, about 100,000 motorists cross the bridges: the Interstate 65 Abraham Lincoln Bridge, the I-65 Kennedy Bridge and the Lewis and Clark Bridge connecting Prospect, Ky. and Utica, Ind.

Tolling, which is all-electronic, started Dec. 30, 2016. Rates will increase by 2.5% annually on July 1 — unless the Consumer Price Index increases more.

RiverLink is the name of the tolling system, and representatives from Kentucky and Indiana transportation agencies oversee the system’s day-to-day operations.

Officials from Kentucky and Indiana have said the $2.3 billion bridges project will reduce traffic congestion, increase public safety and produce an economic impact of nearly $87 billion over 30 years. The states expect the tolling revenue for the Ohio River Bridges project to generate a surplus of more than $3 billion through 2054.

RiverLink said early this year that it had collected $106.3 million in tolls last year. The revenue is split between Indiana and Kentucky. —Boris Ladwig

YMCA of Greater Louisville names executive director for new West End facility

Bruce Jeffery

The YMCA of Greater Louisville named Bruce Wayne Jeffery as executive director for the West End facility. It is expected to open in October.

Jeffery previously was CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Decatur, Ill., where he spent 11 years, and seven as CEO. During his time there, the organization received numerous community awards, according to a news release.

He was instrumental in increasing club membership by more than 70% while securing grants and other funding for renovations and technology innovations, the release stated.

A selection committee of YMCA board members and community leaders selected Jeffery, officials said.

At the new branch, which will be called the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, Jeffery will be responsible for advocating the YMCA mission and promoting the vision of community-integrated health. He also will supervise all staff, work with area neighborhood organizations and guide membership development efforts, among other duties.

“This position is critical in how the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA connects with the community,” said Steve Tarver, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Louisville, in the release. “We took great care in the selection process and spoke to some very qualified candidates. Bruce simply emerged as someone who not only shared our vision of community integrated health but also had the right community and operational experience to bring that vision to life.”

The new YMCA, which be located at 1720 W. Broadway, will serve the Park Hill, Russell and California neighborhoods and other west Louisville communities – adding a half-million dollars of new annual payroll to the area in the process, officials said.

The $28 million facility will feature a state-of-the-art fitness center, 25-meter swimming lap and family pool, gymnasium, classrooms, modern locker rooms, an indoor track and a Kids’ Club that will provide child care while members work out and a Best Buy Teens Tech Center, helping to prepare teens for tech-reliant jobs. Kevin Gibson