Friday, April 08, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-9-'11
- Friday, the jury in the Clayton Jackson murder trial recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole in the 2004 deaths of the three Sturgill children and 50 years in prison on arson. Jurors convicted Jackson Wednesday of killing 4-year-old Michael, 3-year-old Robert and 18-month-old Jordan Sturgill, but were deadlocked and could not decide if he murdered the parents, Chris and Amanda Sturgill. The children died along with their parents. Police say the couple died after being shot with a bow and arrow. The children died of smoke inhalation when their mobile home was set on fire.
- State Police have released the identity of a woman they say was shot and killed by a neighbor in Hardin County Thursday afternoon. Police say Toni Ballard, 35, was shot by her neighbor, 24 year old Joshua Hines. Police say the shooting may have stemmed from an earlier dispute. Hines is charged with murder and is being held in the Hardin County Detention Center.
- Cody Clark, of Parkers Lake, in McCreary County, who escaped from a work release program in Clay County, was captured April 6th in Batavia, Ohio. He is charged with two counts of burglary, theft of a firearm and resisting arrest. Clark was convicted in September 2009 in connection to a May 2009 home invasion which occurred on Vanover Ridge. Clark was serving a three-year sentence for first-degree robbery. In January, a parole hearing for Clark was deferred for 12 months.
- Jason Anderson, a Whitley County man who was one of eight family members indicted in connection with a 2008 homicide, has pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation to commit murder in connection to the June 2008 death of 34 year old Larry Jones. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors recommend a five-year prison sentence on the facilitation charge and seven years for an unrelated drug charge. Two of Anderson's family members, James Allen Anderson and James W. Anderson, were initially indicted for murder and complicity to commit murder in Jones' death. Jones was found lying in a ditch beside Cane Gap Road.
- The spring meet opened at Keeneland Friday afternoon. New this year is a mobile-friendly website. Keeneland.com on Smart Phones offers a variety of useful information, from a guide to the concession stands to handicapping information and Trakus. Also new is a free Facebook game at www.playkeeneland.com. Players earn points based on their picks. Prizes are awarded daily and at the end of the meet.
- The Obama administration is releasing $311 million to states to help poor families struggling to pay high home energy bills. Officials said Thursday that the latest money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program brings the total to $4.2 billion for the fiscal year ending September 30th. The program is expected to help a record 8.9 million households for the current fiscal year.
- Mine Safety and Health Administration official Dave Chirdon said Friday that U.S. coal mine operators are falling well short of meeting a 5-year-old congressional mandate to equip underground mines by June with high-tech communication and tracking systems for miners. The mandate was imposed after the January 2006 deaths of 12 miners trapped at West Virginia's Sago Mine following an explosion. Rescuers couldn't contact them, nor did they know where to look for them. The National Mining Association surveyed mines in 2009, and found that nearly all had bought the necessary equipment and had installed MSHA-improved interim systems, spokeswoman Carol Raulston said in an email. She also said that limited suppliers have slowed compliance. Chirdon says figures show 64 percent of more than 500 underground coal mines haven't yet fully installed the required equipment. MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere says mines that miss the June 15 deadline face unspecified enforcement action. All 529 underground coal mines across the country have submitted plans for these systems that MSHA has approved.
- Kentucky is seeing a surge in people carrying guns into the Capitol. State police documented 53 instances in which visitors carried guns into the Capitol between January 1st and March 31st, more than twice the number that had been brought in during the previous 18 months. The state legislature was in session during most of that three month period, debating a number of emotional issues, including illegal immigration and mountaintop removal coal mining. Gun rights proponents consider it no big deal that people can stroll through the Capitol armed. But critics believe they should have to leave their weapons at home.
- Kentucky is moving toward a statewide health care system that uses federal Medicaid dollars and puts one or more companies in charge. The initiative began with a request on Thursday for proposals from vendors. The plan would put most of the state's public health care program in the hands of established providers. As many as 550,000 people now on Medicaid may be eligible for managed care services under the new plan. Officials hope by July 1st to have one or more contracts that will coordinate health services better, improve quality and control costs. Proposals are due May 25th.
- Joseph T. Burch, a man who spent more than 40 years at the University of Kentucky serving in various roles, has died. Some of the positions Burch filled before he retired in 2001 include dean of students, deputy general counsel, director of police and campus safety and vice president for university relations. Burch graduated from Holmes High School in Covington and enlisted in the Army in 1956. Upon his return, he enrolled at UK and received his bachelor's degree in economics in 1962 and his law degree in 1966.
- Toyota announced Thursday afternoon that it would idle production for as many as five days at its North American plants, including its largest, in Georgetown, beginning next week because of a lack of Japanese parts after the March 11th earthquake. Plants will operate on a reduced schedule, with production suspended April 15, 18, 21, 22 and 25th. Production will take place on April 21st at Georgetown, which produces the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Venza and Avalon. The shutdowns will affect about 25,000 workers across North America. The company's North American engine and component plants will follow the same schedule.
- The Kentucky Retirement Systems on Thursday fired its executive director and replaced its longtime board chairman. Christopher Tobe, a member of the KRS board of trustees, cited pending inquiries into KRS' business activities by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and State Auditor Crit Luallen. Also, Attorney General Jack Conway ruled this week that KRS violated the Kentucky Open Records Act by refusing to divulge staff salaries to a state retiree who requested them. KRS oversees about $13 billion in assets to provide benefits for state and county government retirees. The KRS board meeting started Thursday by seating a new member, Louisville banker Thomas Elliott, who was appointed by Governor Steve Beshear to replace W. Lewis Reynolds III, an appointee of former Governor Ernie Fletcher. With its new member, the board voted 5-3 to replace Chairman Randy Overstreet, a retired state police officer, with Louisville attorney Jennifer Elliott. Overstreet will keep his board seat. The board later voted 5-4 to fire Robert Michael Burnside, who had been KRS executive director since 2007.
- Teach for America will recruit 30 teachers to eastern Kentucky next school year to try to close the achievement gap between Appalachia and the rest of the state and will add 60 more over the following two years. Teachers will apply for open positions in Floyd, Knox and Martin counties, organizers announced Thursday at a news conference. Executive Director Will Nash said a decision whether to hire Teach for America teachers in Whitley county schools will be next week. The organization will hire an additional 30 teachers for each of the following two years and make efforts to expand its presence in the region. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo attended the conference. First lady Jane Beshear, a former teacher, applauded the effort in a video statement.
- An elderly Garrard County man has been found dead not far from his home. An alert had been issued for 78-year-old Donald Scully on Thursday morning. Scully's wife had called police because she was out of town and hadn't heard from her husband since last Friday. Later Thursday, searchers found his body about 50 yards from where Scully's pickup truck was lodged in a sinkhole on his property. An autopsy has been conducted to determine the cause of his death.
- Highway fatalities in Kentucky dropped to an 11-year low in 2010. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety said Thursday there were 760 fatalities on roadways last year, down 31 from 2009. It's the lowest total since 1999, when the death toll was 729. It's the fifth straight year highway fatalities have declined in the state.
- Celebrate Derby season and show off your Hat-A-Tude with the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS)! The evening of fashion, food and friends is set for 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in downtown Frankfort. This year marks the second year for the event and a new line-up of activities. After cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres, fashionistas of all ages will enjoy a runway show featuring Derby apparel for every occasion and through the decades provided by Polly Singer Couture Hats and Veils, Lexington; Bella Rose Boutique, Lexington; Images Model & Talent Agency, Lexington; and Rosie’s Consignment Boutique, Louisville. Make-up for the models will be provided by Ana Crane Simpson. Singer has created unique fashions for a myriad of high-profile events, including horse races, polo matches, weddings and other social and charitable functions. Her work has been featured internationally. Singer’s new line, Kate, which will be featured in the fashion show, was inspired by the hats worn by Kate Middleton and others at Royal Ascot.
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