Thursday, February 24, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...2-25-'11
- White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske wrapped up a four-day visit to Kentucky with a visit in Pikeville Thursday. Kerlikowske says, during his tour, he found a significant problem with prescription pill abuse. He says he will continue to push for a crackdown on Florida "pill mills" that are supplying painkillers to Kentucky addicts and to press Florida Governor Rick Scott to reconsider his decision to end a prescription-monitoring program. Wednesday, federal agents and local police swept across South Florida, arresting at least 20 people, including five doctors.
- A mistrial has delayed the attempted murder trial for Darren Moore, a Jackson County man who was shot by Kentucky State Police on March 6, 2010 after they were called to his Sand Gap home for an alleged domestic dispute with his wife who had contacted 911 earlier, telling dispatchers that her husband made threats to kill her and any responding law enforcement officers. She advised that her husband was under the influence of alcohol, and he possessed several weapons in the home. Trooper Jesse Armstrong and Jackson County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Berry approached the residence on foot. They say he had a gun on the porch and would not drop it. Moore then threatened the officers by pointing the weapon in their direction. Trooper Armstrong and Deputy Berry both fired their duty weapons at Moore. Moore was struck once in the left arm and left leg. Moore is scheduled to be in court again on March 1st when a new trial date could be set.
- Senate Bill 151, a bill to require the election of members of the Public Service Commission, came before the House Committee on Tourism Development and Energy Thursday, where its House sponsor, Representative Keith Hall, D-Phelps, offered a substitute bill requiring the issue be studied. Because Hall's substitute wasn't ready for consideration, he asked it be passed over. Committee chairwoman, Representative Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, said she would likely call a meeting Monday. Hall said his substitute “would be a study that would be continued to discuss this issue ... during the interim” before the 2012 legislative session. The committee took an hour of testimony on the pros and cons of electing utility regulators. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, says he favors significant changes at the PSC because, as attorney general from 2003-07, he investigated the commission and found problems, but because the issue is complicated and involves a major policy change, he thinks it needs to be studied. Senator Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, sponsored SB 151.
- Police are investigating the death of a person whose body was found inside a burned mobile home in Jackson County. Authorities say Rostie Robinson died Thursday in an early morning fire on Asa Flatts Road. An investigation continues into what started the fire.
- A southern Kentucky teenager has pleaded not guilty to charges that he beat his adopted sister to death and tried to hide her body. Garrett Thomas Dye, who is 17, was charged as an adult in the slaying of 9 year old Amy Dye. The girl was found dead February 4th in a field in Todd County hours after being reported missing. Dye entered the plea during his arraignment Wednesday. He is charged with murder and tampering with evidence and resisting arrest. Dye's attorney, Dennis Ritchie, requested a pretrial hearing on March 23rd. Dye remains at the juvenile detention center in Bowling Green.
- Independent Gatewood Galbraith has differentiated himself from all other Kentucky gubernatorial candidates by taking a strong stand against mountaintop removal mining. Galbraith, who is making his fifth run for governor, said Thursday the practice has caused "unsurpassed environmental damage" in the Appalachian region and should not be allowed. He is the only candidate who has voiced opposition to mountaintop removal. All others have called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ease regulations that are hampering the procedure. Galbraith won an early endorsement from the United Mine Workers of America, a sign that he says shows Kentucky's working class is unhappy with the state's political leadership. He said his opposition to mountaintop removal isn't a condemnation of the coal industry or of coal miners.
- Public defender David Barron, an attorney for several Kentucky death row inmates, wants to stop the state from ever using the recently acquired stock of sodium thiopental, a key lethal injection drug. Barron is asking a judge to rule that the state violated an order halting implementation of any part of Kentucky's execution protocol. Barron said the purchase violated an injunction put into place in September that stopped all executions in the state and prevented Kentucky from taking any steps toward executing an inmate. Despite a national shortage of sodium thiopental, Kentucky bought enough to carry out three lethal injections.
- Kentucky State Police in London say Pulaski County deputies were asked to assist with an emergency call involving a domestic dispute in Wayne County around 4:00 A.M. Thursday morning. When two deputies arrived, they were confronted by 38 year old James M. Lane of Jabez, who was armed with a handgun. Police say four people had barricaded themselves into a room in an attempt to stay away from Lane. After repeated verbal commands to drop the weapon, police say Lane refused to comply and was shot in the torso. Wayne County Coroner Forest Hicks pronounced him dead at the scene.
- The University of Kentucky is planning a May 15th ceremony to mark the opening of the first two patient-care floors and some of the common areas in the new Albert B. Chandler Hospital. The university says the facility will be ready for patients on May 22nd. Areas opening in May include 48 intensive-care beds, 80 acute-care beds, lobby, chapel, surgical waiting room and a 305-seat auditorium. The university says the auditorium will host the Lucille Caudill Little Performing Arts in HealthCare Program. UK executive vice president for health affairs Michael Karpf says the university wants the hospital to be technologically advanced while making people feel at home with Kentucky landscape, art and music. Native Kentucky trees, flowers and other plants will be incorporated in the landscape, and Kentucky art will be showcased in several areas.
- A bill that would require doctors to perform ultrasounds showing pregnant women the images of their fetuses before having abortions was defeated Thursday when it couldn't muster enough support to clear the House Health and Welfare Committee. The legislation easily passed the Senate last month, and such bills have won Senate support in recent years but have stalled in the House.
- Governor Steve Beshear has signed a bill into law that will allow optometrists to perform some uncomplicated medical procedures now reserved for ophthalmologists. Beshear says the measure will give Kentuckians greater access to necessary eye care. The measure allows optometrists to perform simple procedures like removing non-cancerous skin tags from eyelids or clearing lenses implanted by ophthalmologists in cataract surgeries. Beshear intends to meet with the Board of Optometric Examiners to make sure that optometrists undergo extensive training before conducting any surgical procedures.
- Kentucky has one of the nation's fastest-growing prison populations, and, as a result, taxpayer spending on corrections has soared by more than 300 percent since 1989. Legislation aimed at reducing prison costs drew strong support Thursday from a Senate panel that endorsed proposals to strengthen drug treatment and alternative sentencing for some nonviolent criminals to keep them from being locked up. The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to send the measure to the full Senate, which is expected to vote Monday on some of the biggest changes to Kentucky's penal code in decades. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Tom Jensen, R-London, says the measure preserves tough penalties for violent offenders and hard-core drug traffickers.
- The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission is holding a closed hearing on complaints against Judy Green,a local councilwoman accused of using her position to enrich her family through a $35,000 she got for a youth summer jobs program, which she ran, in 2009. An investigation found she hired 12 of her relatives whose earnings accounted for about 10 percent of the grant. More than $28,000 was unaccounted for. Green says she did nothing. Ethics Commission Chairman Jonathan Ricketts says the complaint will be reviewed in a closed session, as required by a local ordinance. But Courier-Journal attorney Jon Fleischaker said state law allows the commission to deliberate privately but requires the hearing of evidence to happen in a public meeting.
- A former employee is suing the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, claiming she was fired for complaining about nepotism in hiring. Lana Reinhart, who worked as a human resources manager at the airport for nearly eight years, says she was fired suddenly. Reinhart claims she was let go after complaining about the authority's hiring practices to her director. She claims managers would hire people they knew for open positions without properly reviewing other job applicants. Reinhart also claims airport executive director Charles "Skip" Miller made comments about her age, which is 62. Airport Board Chairman Phil Lynch denied the allegations and said the airport looks forward to contesting them in court.
- Neighbors say several attempts were made to save two young children from a burning home in Maysville Wednesday afternoon, but none were successful. Lonnie Alexander, who lives across the street from the home that burned, says Ray Bauer tried at least six times to get to the children "but it was just too hot, too black smoke." Maysville Fire Chief Eric Bach says both children were found dead in the kitchen. The children were being cared for by Sabrina Skaggs, who lived at the house with Bauer.
- A committee looking for the next University of Kentucky president has started narrowing the number of potential candidates to lead the state's flagship university. Search committee chairman Jim Stuckert won't give a specific number of candidates who are receiving attention. The search committee met for more than three hours Wednesday in Lexington. Stuckert said the panel has asked for more information on some candidates who drew particular interest. Once that information is back, he said the committee will decide its next steps. Stuckert said he's excited about the quality of the pool of candidates. Lee T. Todd Jr., UK's president for a decade, announced in September he'll step down when his contract expires in June.
- A LaRue County grand jury has indicted three former jailers on allegations of bringing contraband into the jail. Two of the three are accused of exchanging the contraband with female inmates for sex. The indictment comes after a two-year investigation by Kentucky State Police. It accuses 39 year old Travis Strader of bringing prescription painkillers, cell phones, marijuana, alcohol and tobacco into the jail. It also says he gave the items to female inmates in exchange for sexual favors. Sixty-six year old Harold Marcum is accused of giving tobacco to female inmates in exchange for sex. Thirty-one year old Josh Robinson is accused of bringing a cell phone, marijuana, alcohol and tobacco into the jail. All three men will be arraigned March 7th in LaRue Circuit Court.
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