Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Establishes Governor's Task Force on Campus Safety

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, January 16, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher visited the Eastern Kentucky University campus today to announce the members of the Governor’s Task Force on College Campus Safety.

The task force is charged with conducting a comprehensive examination and evaluation of campus safety by reviewing the adequacy of safety and security standards at the public and private postsecondary institutions throughout Kentucky.

The task force will be chaired by Gail Minger, whose son, Michael Minger, died in a dormitory fire at Murray State University in 1998. She lobbied for legislation, ultimately passed in her son’s name, that requires Kentucky colleges and universities to document and report campus crimes to campus employees, students and the public.

“The passage of the Michael Minger Act in 2000 began a process of making campuses safer for students, faculty and staff.  This task force will continue that important work,” said Governor Fletcher. “I want to thank Gail for her diligent work in the area of campus safety and for her willingness to chair this group that will address safety issues that are important to students and parents across this Commonwealth.”

The group will focus on the institutions’ compliance with Kentucky laws, regulations and building and fire codes that pertain to residential facilities and classroom buildings. Its purview also will include safety policies and procedures on fire safety, crimes and law enforcement investigations into serious campus crime.

The mission of the task force includes developing recommendations for legislation; developing policies and initiatives for heightened security and safety for the protection of campus residents, facilities, and the environment; and establishing broad systematic initiatives that will enhance safety and security across the commonwealth’s campuses.

The task force plans to conduct open forums at which students and staff can express concerns about security and suggest solutions to perceived problems.

“I approached the Governor’s office a few years ago with great concern about safety issues on campuses across the commonwealth,” Gail Minger said. “I asked Governor Fletcher to consider forming a campus safety task force to address these concerns. I am very pleased that we are here today announcing the formation of the Governor’s College Campus Safety Task Force.  I am honored that Governor Fletcher has appointed me as chair.  I, along with the other members, will work diligently and with great focus to answer the Governor’s charge.  Our sole mission is to improve safety standards and bring about a safer living and learning environment for all college students and their campus communities in Kentucky.”

Gail Minger was awarded the Cleary Campus Safety Advocate Award and the State of Kentucky Citizen Advocacy Award for her contribution toward getting all campus residence halls equipped with automatic sprinklers. She is known nationally for her work and travels extensively speaking on fire safety. She serves on the advisory board of the National Center for Campus Fire Safety and is its parent liaison.

Other task force members:

  • William H. Payne III (vice chair) is a certified security officer with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Louisville. He received a bachelor’s degree in human resource leadership at Sullivan University.  Payne was previously employed by Globe Security as a certified security screener. Payne has an extensive background as a loan officer, having worked for Gateway Mortgage, Centex Home Equity and Greentree Financial in the Louisville area.  He was a member of the TSA Employee Advisory Group from 2005-2006 and served on the TSA Safety Committee in 2003. He was appointed to the Kentucky Heritage Council in 2002.
  • Teresa Barton is the deputy secretary of the Justice Cabinet.  Barton formerly served as executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. Barton was elected as Franklin County’s first female judge-executive in 1998 and served in that position until 2005. In 2003, Barton received the Contributions to Law Enforcement Award from the Kentucky Women’s Law Enforcement Network.  She will serve as the representative from the Justice Cabinet on the task force. 
  • Rodney Raby, who has more than 35 years of experience in fire safety, is the Kentucky state fire marshal.  Before that, he was a safety consultant in hazardous material transportation. He also has served as deputy state fire marshal and senior deputy state fire marshal.  In addition, he has been a field supervisor, branch manager and chief of the hazardous materials section of the Office of State Fire Marshal.
  • Richard Peddicord is the assistant director of the Office of State Fire Marshal and a member of the National Fire Protection Association. Peddicord spent more than 20 years in the electrical industry and 10 years in the life safety industry before joining the state fire marshal staff. Peddicord has been a licensed electrical contractor, is licensed as an electrical inspector and has earned a NICET IV in the life safety industry. His life has been dedicated to learning and sharing his knowledge of the preservation of life and property in all fire-related areas. He participates in programs involving Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Minger Act and Juvenile Fire Starters, among others. 
  • Eric King is a student at Murray State University majoring in organizational communication with a minor in political science.  He was the Student Government Association senator-at-large from 2004-2006 and currently serves as secretary of that organization.  King is employed by the Governor’s Office of Local Development and assists in advancing the Governor’s visits to Western Kentucky.  He assists in contacting constituents regarding Governor’s events and issues.  He was a summer associate in the Office of Homeland Security.  Eric is a motivational speaker who traveled the country with nine other student leaders across the nation speaking to thousands of high school students about voter apathy.  In June 2004 he was the first-place winner in prepared public speaking for the State Public Speaking Contest.  He placed second in the National Competition.  Eric will serve as the student representative on the task force. 
  • Travis D. Manley is the emergency management specialist and Cleary/Minger compliance officer at the University of Kentucky.  He is a member of the National Emergency Number Association, Association of Public Safety Communications Officers, International Association of Crime Analysts, and the Lexington Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association. Before coming to UK, Mr. Manley was a police dispatcher in Mount Sterling.   He received a B.A. in elementary education at Bellarmine College in 1995. In addition, he has over 500 hours of Department of Criminal Justice Training professional classes.
  • Dr. Gary Cox is president of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Morehead State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Kentucky.  He taught at Morehead State University, served as deputy director of the Legislative Research Commission and dean of the School of Public Affairs at Kentucky State University.  He served in various capacities with the Kentucky Council on Higher Education, including executive director from 1987 until the establishment of the Council on Postsecondary Education, where he served as acting president until accepting his current position.  He currently serves on a U.S. Department of Education advisory committee and a national independent college data and policy committee.  He is a long-standing member of the Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital Board of Directors and currently serves as chair. 
  • Rick Benningfield is director of campus safety at Campbellsville University and a Taylor County deputy sheriff. He has attended the Public Safety Academy in Berea on two occasions and now serves as an instructor at the academy.  Benningfield attends classes in Richmond at the Department of Criminal Justice annually.  He has served as president of the Association of Kentucky Independent Colleges and Universities and has been President of Central Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 22 for seven years. 
  • William Ed Sergent was chief of staff in the Legislative Research Commission until his retirement in 1999.  He currently works part-time with the Council on Postsecondary Education in the budget and finance office, where he performs an annual review of the Michael Minger Act. Sergent previously worked for the Governor’s Office for Policy and Management, Kentucky Educational Television, and the Kentucky Department of Education as director of the Division of Finance for Federally Related Programs.  He has been an accounting instructor at Kentucky Business College and held various teaching positions in Fayette County schools.  Sergent received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky. 
  • Joseph Cline is chief of the Morehead State University Police Department.  He previously served as patrolman and detective in the Morehead Police Department.  He received the Morehead Optimist Club Police Officer of the Year Award in 1987 and 1999 and is a past president and chaplain of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35.  Cline is a Kentucky Law Enforcement Council certified police instructor.  In 2004, he graduated from the Criminal Justice Executive Development Program and the FBI National Academy.  He is a graduate of Department of Criminal Justice Training’s police academy and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Columbia Southern University.  
  • Michael Shane LaCount is assistant professor of fire and safety at Eastern Kentucky University, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As assistant professor, LaCount provides instruction of academic classes in the field of fire and safety, fire arson and explosives, industrial safety, human resource management and quality performance. He is an EKU Rescue School committee member and serves on various other committees within the university.  LaCount is an instructor for the OSHA Training Institute and was a member of the Richmond Fire Department.  In 1996 LaCount was an engineer/firefighter for the Cherryville Fire Department in Cherryville, N.C., and later served as fire inspector and firefighter for the Gaston County Fire Marshal and Crowder’s Mountain Fire Rescue in Gastonia, N.C. In 1994, he was awarded Fire Fighter of the Year and in 1996 Officer of the Year by Crowder’s Mountain Fire/Rescue.  He was awarded the 2000 Heroism Award by the Cherryville Fire Department and the 2001 Heroism Award by the Gaston County Fire Association.
  • Wayne Hall is director of public safety at the University of Louisville.  He designed, developed and implemented the drug interdiction task force at the Louisville International Airport.  Hall is first vice president of the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, president of the Kentucky Association of University Law Enforcement Administrators, a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Western District U.S. Attorney Anti-terrorism Task Force, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police.
  • Jon Robert Akers has served as executive director for the Kentucky Center for School Safety since his appointment in December of 2000.  Akers has more than 35 years experience in public education, serving 25 years as a school administrator/principal.  In addition to serving as an associate principal in two schools, Akers served as head principal of both Bryan Station Senior High School in 1984-89 and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in 1989-99 in Lexington.  Prior to his current position, he served as a Kentucky Leadership Academy coach, mentoring 40 principals, and a scholastic auditor for the Kentucky Department of Education.  Akers was named one of Kentucky’s Distinguished Educators in 1996 and was selected as the 1998 High School Principal of the Year by the Kentucky Department of Education.
  • Mike Haney is a 22-year veteran of the Kentucky state fire marshal’s office. He began his career as a field inspector. Haney has performed Life Safety Code inspections throughout the Commonwealth in hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers and college campuses. He is a certified fire safety inspector, certified building code inspector and certified fire investigator. Haney is now serving as chief of general inspection of the Division of Fire Prevention within the Department of Housing, Building and Construction. In that position, Haney manages 25 field inspectors throughout the state. The inspectors perform fire prevention and life safety inspections in facilities such as college campuses, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, apartments and state-owned property.