Thursday, May 05, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-6-'11
- President Obama will be heading to Ft. Campbell this Friday to talk to members of the 101st Airborne Division. President Obama will make an appearance at Ft. Campbell to talk with the soldiers who just returned from Afghanistan. The president also has a trip to Indianapolis planned on Friday. He is visiting a company that makes automatic transmissions for commercial vehicles and will discuss his energy agenda.
- Indictments were handed down Wednesday for five suspects charged with beating Norman Adams of Leslie County to death in October, then sending his body on a four-wheeler down a hill to make it look like he died in an ATV accident. The suspects are accused of beating Adams to death, tampering with evidence by removing his body from the scene of the incident, and abuse of a corpse for pushing Adams down a hill on an ATV. Harold Pennington and Millard Miniard have been arrested.
- A new golf course and housing subdivision is planned for a one thousand acre mountaintop removal site the city purchased at Marion's Branch in Pikeville. The Marion's Branch Advisory Board plans to use the site and turn it into a neighborhood of around 300 homes to make housing affordable for the working couple. City officials want to use 600 acres to build a golf course, something they say will help them attract more conferences to the Expo Center and tourists to the city. City manager Donovan Blackburn says because it is currently government owned, they will offer incentives for people to buy the homes. Officials hope to have it finished in a few years.
- U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced HUD will speed federal disaster assistance to the State of Kentucky and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding last week. President Obama has issued a disaster declaration for Ballard, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carlisle, Carroll, Carter, Crittenden, Daviess, Fleming, Fulton, Gallatin, Henderson, Hickman, Kenton, Lawrence, Livingston, McCracken, Morgan, Nicholas, Oldham, Owen, Union and Washington counties in Kentucky. The President’s declaration allows HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in these counties.
- Kentucky State Police are asking for help in locating a woman and two children missing since last month. Police said in a statement Thursday that 28-year-old Staphne Ann Hall and her children, 9-year-old Cynthia Hall and 7-year-old Robert Hall, were last seen in Grayson, Kentucky on April 15th. The statement says they were possibly traveling to Beaumont, Texas. The family was last known to be traveling in a White 1996 Ford Thunderbird. Staphne Hall is described as being 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. Cynthia Hall is about 40 pounds and has blonde hair and blue eyes. Robert Hall is about 60 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555 or 606-928-6421.
- Attorney General Jack Conway has written a letter promising to follow "appropriate investigative protocol" in reviewing passage of a law that allows optometrists to perform some uncomplicated medical procedures now reserved for ophthalmologists. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobbie Holsclaw, while not alleging wrongdoing, said the measure had sailed through the legislature so quickly earlier this year that it raised eyebrows. It allows optometrists, who made some $250,000 in campaign contributions to state lawmakers over the past year, to perform a variety of simple surgical procedures. American Optometric Association President Joe Ellis has said lawmakers passed the bill because of a need to modernize state law.
- Thursday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati found Kentucky's decision to shorten the waiting period for seizing old traveler's checks from 15 years to 7 years is constitutional. The ruling in upholding a change to the law makes the state unique in the country. The Court found the law doesn't violate the Constitution, but it sent the case back to federal court in Frankfort because other issues remain in question. The decision reverses a 2009 ruling overturning the law. Kentucky lawmakers in 2008 shortened the period after which Kentucky can declare the checks abandoned property. Traveler's check issuer American Express challenged the law in 2008, saying it allowed the state to improperly take uncashed checks. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have 15-year waiting periods before traveler's checks can be seized.
- Kentucky Environmental Secretary Len Peters testified Thursday before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, saying he's troubled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to talk with states and listen to suggestions regarding the issuance of coal mine permits. Peters said Kentucky intervened in a lawsuit against EPA because state officials believe the agency's actions over the past year have been arbitrary and that his attempts to resolve issues have been disappointing. Peters says EPA has unlawfully reviewed and objected to mining permits required by the Clean Water Act. He said the EPA has objected to permits that it had supported a year ago. A lawsuit is pending in federal court.
- Governor Steve Beshear has asked that 16 additional counties be included in a request for disaster assistance from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as a result of storms and flooding since April 17th. Beshear requested assistance for 21 counties on April 29th. Thursday, he added Anderson, Boyle, Bullitt, Calloway, Christian, Franklin, Jefferson, Logan, Meade, Mercer, Ohio, Spencer, Todd, Trigg, Trimble and Woodford counties.
- The U.S. Postal Service is moving another mail processing and distribution operation in eastern Kentucky to West Virginia. The work will be transferred from a facility in Ashland, Ky., to one in Charleston. The Postal Service had announced earlier that it plans to close a mail sorting operation in Pikeville, Ky., and move the work to Charleston. Similar operations in Beckley and Huntington also are being moved to Charleston. Kentucky District Manager James W. Kiser attributes the consolidations to a 20 percent decline in mail volume since 2007. U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says he's concerned about the consolidations' impact on mail delivery. The Postal Service says local mail delivery won't be affected.
- Republican Todd P'Pool has received an additional $114,000 in contributions since April 15th for his campaign for attorney general. P'Pool filed an updated report Thursday with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance showing his total contributions at more than $466,000. The report showed he still had $411,000 on hand. P'Pool is unopposed in the May 17th GOP primary, but he will face Democratic incumbent Jack Conway in the fall general election. Conway also is unopposed in his primary.
- A deaf University of Kentucky football fan is suing the school, seeking to force the Wildcats to put closed-captioning on the scoreboards at Commonwealth Stadium. The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Charles Mitchell of Lancaster, Ky., is similar to suits brought against Ohio State University and the NFL's Washington Redskins. Mitchell sued in U.S. District Court in Lexington. He is seeking an injunction to force the university to put captions up for all game announcements. The suit against Ohio State resulted in a settlement in 2010 under which the school will post captions to announcements. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in March upheld a decision requiring the Redskins to provide captioning.
- Two years ago, the economic meltdown dampened the run up to the Kentucky Derby. Rooms were still available in Louisville's downtown hotels. Restaurant and bar tabs were down. Even fashion took a hit, as recycled Derby hats were more in vogue. This spring, Derby spending appears to be making a strong comeback in what amounts to a second Christmas season for Louisville businesses. Jim Wood, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, predicts the bonanza for businesses will return to the $120 million level of pre-recessionary times. Wood says most major hotels sold out weeks ago and restaurants are full. It's not a total recovery yet. The president of the organization that puts together local events such as Thursday's Pegasus Parade says sponsorships are down slightly from a year ago
- A jury has convicted a 23-year-old southern Kentucky woman of killing her toddler son. Amanda Johnson was facing murder and abuse charges stemming from the October 2009 death of 23-month-old Stephen Carl Troy. A jury in Laurel Circuit Court deliberated about 2 1/2 hours Wednesday before returning a guilty verdict on both counts. The newspaper reports the state medical examiner's office found bruises on the child's abdomen, fractures on his left leg, a bruise on the lower part of his back and a bruise on the top of his head.
- A crash involving a car and a truck has killed three people in western Kentucky. Hickman County authorities identified those killed as 19-year-old LaRay Lightner and 27-year-old Jewell Smith, both of Columbus, and 62-year-old Ralph Bogle of Arlington. Hickman County Sheriff Mark Green says all three victims were dead at the scene on Wednesday. The crash occurred on Ky. 58 about three miles from Clinton. Green called it a side impact crash. Investigators are trying to determine the cause. Several people said they heard it, but police have found no one who saw it happen.
- A southern Indiana casino is back open after being closed for much of the past two weeks because of flooding along the Ohio River. The Horseshoe Southern Indiana casino near Elizabeth let gamblers in again Wednesday evening and its 500-room hotel was reopening Thursday -- just in time for Kentucky Derby weekend activities in nearby Louisville. Flooding on the casino's grounds forced it to close on April 23. It reopened Monday, but had to close again the next day. Casino vice president Jonathan Jones says officials don't know how much money was lost during the shutdown, but that employees were paid their normal wages.
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