02/03/2004 1:00AM

New Kentucky race panel to meet


The newly established Kentucky Horse Racing Authority will meet for the first time on Thursday for administrations of the oath of office and preliminary discussions about the authority's role in the state racing industry.

The 16 members of the authority will meet at the Kentucky Horse Park outside of Lexington, the same location previously used by the Kentucky Racing Commission. That body was abolished at the beginning of January by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who subsequently established the new authority under nearly identical statutes as the former commission.

The authority replaced a commission that had been dogged by scandals and criticism under the administration of former Gov. Paul Patton.

Fletcher, a Republican, appointed Jesse Skees, a state bureaucrat, as interim executive director of the authority two weeks ago. The appointment followed the resignation of the commission's longtime executive director, Bernie Hettel.

Fletcher is scheduled to attend the meeting and give brief remarks after the authority members are sworn in, his office said.