01/21/2004 1:00AM

Kentucky names interim chief


Jesse Skees, executive director of the office of Inspector General for the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Public Protection Cabinet, will act as interim executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority until a permanent director is found.

The post was vacated when Bernie Hettel resigned as executive director last week. Hettel had been the longtime executive director and chief steward of the Kentucky Racing Commission, the agency that preceded the racing authority.

The search for a permanent director is ongoing.

"We want to move as swiftly as possible, but we also want to find the best person for the state," said Mark York, deputy secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, the agency under which the authority is managed.

The first meeting of the racing authority will likely be in early February, York said.