Thursday, March 31, 2016

BREAKING: Bevin orders college, university budgets cut by 4.5 percent

(AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered immediate 4.5 percent cuts in state funding to all public colleges and universities.

The order comes as state lawmakers are locked in a stalemate over a two-year state spending plan. House and Senate leaders broke off negotiations on Thursday because Senate Republicans insisted on budget cuts for higher education while Democrats refused.

Bevin first proposed his mid-year budget cuts in January as part of a plan to cut state spending by $650 million and use the savings to begin to pay down the state's public pension debt. The House and the Senate did not include Bevin's 4.5 percent mid-year cuts in their budget proposals. But Bevin, citing a state law that allows him to reduce allotments for executive branch agencies, cut their budgets anyway.

Update: Richmond, Virginia Shooting

Two Virginia state troopers were among six people wounded in a shooting at a Richmond Greyhound bus station, local media report.

The suspect and one of the troopers were in critical condition.

State police were holding a training exercise at the time the shots rang out, one trooper's injuries are life threatening.

Witnesses reported hearing as many as 10 shots.

The bus station is three miles north of Virginia Commonwealth University's downtown Richmond campus, and across the street from The Diamond, the city's minor league baseball stadium. Paramedics rushed the wounded to VCU Medical Center.

KSP New Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner Sworn In

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. (left) performed the swearing-in ceremony for new KSP Commissioner Richard W. Sanders (right) and Deputy Commissioner William Alexander Payne (center-right) during a private ceremony at the Capitol today. Both appointments were recommended to Governor Matt Bevin by an eight-member search committee comprised of Justice Secretary Tilley, Rep. Robert Benvenuti (R-Lexington), two retired KSP officers, three current KSP officers and a community representative.

(Photo by: Les Williams)

KSP Makes Arrest in Floyd County Robbery

The Kentucky State Police Post 09, Pikeville has made an arrest in the March 23, 2016 armed robbery of VIP Fuels that occurred in Floyd County.

Through investigation, Detectives determined that Hall entered the business wearing a camouflage hoodie.  While inside, Hall brandished a weapon and demanded money. The clerk fled from behind the counter, and locked herself inside an office.  Hall then retrieved an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing the scene on foot.

On March 31, 2016, Detective Kevin Newsome obtained an arrest warrant for the accused, Hayes Nicholas Hall Jr., 28 of Floyd County.  On March 31, 2016 Troopers with Post 09 contacted Hall at the Floyd County Detention Center where he was currently lodged for unrelated charges.  Hall was charged with Robbery 1st Degree and currently remains lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center.

BREAKING: Police: 3 hurt in bus station shooting; suspect in custody

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia State Police say two troopers responding to a shooting at a Richmond bus station and a civilian have been taken to a hospital.

Spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the shooting suspect was in custody Thursday afternoon. She had no details on the condition of the troopers or the civilian.

We will continue to monitor this developing story as information warrants.

Kentucky National Guard to host Memorial Day event

(AP) — The Kentucky National Guard plans to host its first annual Memorial Day event in Frankfort.

A statement from the Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund says the event will be held at 2 p.m. on May 30 at the Boone National Guard Center. During the ceremony, 18 names will be added to the Kentucky National Guard Memorial bringing the total number of names on the monument to 251. The memorial includes the names of men and women who have fallen in the line of duty since 1912.

The event is free and open to the public. Relatives of the fallen guard members are encouraged to attend.

Fire shuts down state park's lodge

(AP) — A fire at the lodge at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in eastern Kentucky has shut the building down for a few days.

State officials say no one was hurt and sprinklers contained the Tuesday night blaze to the lounge area.

Fire investigators say it started at an electrical panel. The lodge has been temporarily closed while repairs are made.

Don Parkinson, Secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, says the lodge would reopen in a few days. Meanwhile, park officials said in a statement that they are checking for any additional issues.

The Prestonsburg park's convention center and cottages remain open.

Lawmakers say they're deadlocked on Kentucky budget deal

(AP) — Kentucky lawmakers say they've reached an impasse on budget negotiations, putting a two-year spending plan in jeopardy and risking a partial government shutdown.

House and Senate leaders announced Thursday morning they were unable to reach a deal. They have met privately for several days trying to reach a compromise in time for the legislature to approve the deal on Friday.

House Democrats insist they will not allow budget cuts for education. Senate Republicans say the cuts are needed to pay down the state's more than $30 billion pension debt.

Lawmakers could still pass a budget by April 15. But Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the only way he would agree to that is if Republican Gov. Matt Bevin agreed he would not veto parts of the budget.

Bevin: State working to fix problems in benefits system

(AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin says his administration is working to fix problems in the roll out of Kentucky's new public benefits system that led to some Kentuckians getting erroneous notices that their benefits are being cut off.

The magnitude of the problem is widespread. Bevin told reporters Thursday that about one-third of the state's population receives some form of benefits.

An executive with Deloitte Consulting, which developed the new computer system called Benefind, says thousands of letters went out with incorrect information to beneficiaries. Those benefits include Medicaid and food stamps.

State Medicaid Commissioner Steve Miller says steps have been taken to ensure that no one eligible for Medicaid loses those health benefits.

Deloitte executive Deborah Sills says the technical problems in the system did not surface during testing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mountain Parkway Expansion Progress Report Week beginning March 28, 2016

This periodic report includes information on work underway on the Mountain Parkway Expansion. Inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances could affect planned activities.

Magoffin County
Construction and clearing activities are continuing along a nearly 6-mile stretch of the Mountain Parkway to the west of Salyersville.

The Magoffin County Central Segment of the Mountain Parkway Expansion runs from just west of mile point 70 to just east of mile point 75 of the parkway.

The speed limit in the area has been reduced to 45 mph. Traffic on the parkway may be slowed or stopped periodically for the safety of workers and travelers.

Salyersville interchange
This week, the right, eastbound lane of the Mountain Parkway just east of KY 7 will be eliminated to create a buffer zone for blasting debris. Crews are also constructing the columns of an overpass at the KY 7/Salyersville interchange (Exit 75).

Excavation work also continues in preparation for additional construction, with a total of about 5 million yards of dirt to be moved. Excavation work is scheduled to be completed by spring 2017.

KY 30 interchange
Clearing and site work continues around the current KY 30 interchange near mile point 72. The project includes modernizing and improving the KY 30 interchange as well as realigning and widening about 2½ miles of roadway.

A temporary traffic signal remains near the interchange to allow construction trucks to safely cross the parkway to transport excavated materials to waste areas.

Gifford Road interchange
Between April 5 and 7, crews plan to set beams for a bridge that will carry westbound traffic on the Mountain Parkway over the Middle Fork of the Licking River.  During placement of the middle beam, scheduled for April 5, traffic may occasionally be reduced to one lane during the day.

The interchange will provide new access to and from the Mountain Parkway and serve an industrial park planned just to the north of the interchange.

Crews are also working on the second half of a culvert under the old Mountain Parkway near the Gifford Road interchange. The footer has been poured, and the sides and top will be completed over the next couple of weeks.

After completion, the Mountain Parkway in this section will be expanded to provide four-lane access.

Class 3A KHSAA State Champions Belfry High School Football Team At The State Capitol

FRANKFORT-Senate Democratic Floor Leader Ray S. Jones II, D-Pikeville, honored the Belfry High School football team yesterday on the floor of the Kentucky State Senate for winning the class 3A KHSAA state championship.  While the team was on the floor, the Senate adopted Jones’ Senate Resolution 187 honoring the team on their accomplishments.  Photo by LRC Public Information Office

Coal production company seeks to break contract with union

(AP) — A coal production company is asking a judge to allow the business to break its contract with a union in order to reorganize its finances.

Alpha Natural Resources filed a petition on Monday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, asking to be able to modify the company's obligations for retiree health care benefits.

The company argues that it needs to cut costs in order to survive an ongoing decline in the coal industry. Company lawyers say that the company spent about $53 million on health care benefits for union employees last year. Attorneys also argue that the company spent about 34 percent more on each union employee than on each non-union employee.

The company has asked for a hearing to be held on April 12 to address the issue.

Charges expected in arrow-related death

State Police say a juvenile who shot an arrow that killed a Chapmanville Middle School student will be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Caleb Fairchild, 15, was killed nearly two weeks ago while hanging out with two of his friends. Troopers say a game was being played where the juveniles where dodging arrows shot from a compound bow.

An arrow struck Fairchild in the head and he died a short time later at the hospital.

Arson suspected in Logan blaze

A fire that destroyed five houses in Logan Tuesday morning was the work of an arsonist.

The fire was first reported before 6 a.m. along Dingess Street and it was around 10 a.m. before the flames were extinguished. Logan Fire Chief Scott Beckett said it was obvious the fire was an arson almost immediately.

Four of the five houses were unoccupied. The man living in the fourth home was out of town at the time of the blaze. Beckett said all structures involved were a total loss.

The flames took out electrical service and other utilities in the area. Beckett credited the department for doing the best they could in a dangerous situation.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office was already on the scene late Tuesday morning to begin its investigation. 

Former Wayne assessor sentenced to probation

Former Wayne County Assessor Eric Hodges apologized to his family and the people of Wayne County before he was sentenced Wednesday on embezzlement charges.

Hodges was sentenced to five years’ probation after using the county’s credit card to purchase numerous items including an ATV and a down payment on a motorcycle.

Hodges told Senior Judge Thomas Steptoe Jr., he let the people who cared about him and the people who elected him down and he was truly sorry.

The judge ordered $57,000 in restitution.

Hodges previously pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement.

West Virginia to expand prescribing powers for nurses

(AP) — Some West Virginia nurses will soon have expanded abilities to prescribe treatments.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the nursing bill Tuesday after the Republican-led Legislature passed it. It takes effect in June.

Advanced practice nurses, including nurse practitioners, can now prescribe through collaboration with a doctor.

The new law will let them prescribe medications without a doctor, with exceptions.
For example, they won't be able to prescribe Schedule II drugs, including powerful painkillers, on their own. They could only prescribe Schedule III medications for up to 30 day supplies without refills.

Advocates said it will help care for underserved rural areas.

Doctors had opposed it because nurses don't undergo the same training as doctors.

Twenty-one other states and Washington, D.C. let advanced practice nurses prescribe Schedules II-V drugs.

West Virginia governor signs 2 substance abuse bills

(AP) — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved two bills that address West Virginia's substance abuse problem.

The Governor signed bills Tuesday dealing with regulation of opioid treatment clinics and availability of life-saving opioid overdose medication.

One measure will regulate Suboxone and methadone clinics, which use medication-based treatment for opioids. It will require clinics to be licensed and to offer counseling.

The other law will make the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, available without a prescription. Last year, Tomblin signed a bill letting first responders carry naloxone.

Tomblin introduced the bills, and the Republican-led Legislature passed them.

West Virginia OKs public health plan cuts amid budget spat

(AP) — West Virginia anticipates larger cuts to state employee, teacher and retiree health plans as long as a state budget stalemate drags on.

On Wednesday, West Virginia's Public Employee Insurance Agency Finance Board approved previous plans to cut $120 million from health plans.

The board originally passed the cuts in December, but largely eliminated them after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin proposed raising taxes on tobacco products and e-cigarettes to fuel the health plans.

But the Republican-led Legislature and Tomblin, a Democrat, have not yet reached a budget agreement. The House has resisted tax increases, including the tobacco tax.

The cuts would affect the 2017 fiscal year beginning July 1. The board passed a backup plan should more money head its way.

Open enrollment for members is April 2 to May 15.

Kentucky Lawmakers hopeful as budget talks resume

(AP) — Republican Senate President Robert Stivers says lawmakers are making progress toward an agreement on how to spend more than $65 billion in public money over the next two years.

House and Senate leaders met Wednesday morning in a secret meeting for about an hour before pausing for a break. Stivers told reporters it was one of the most productive hours he has in the negotiations thus far. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo did not speak to reporters.

After two days of fruitless talks, lawmakers signaled Tuesday they might be closer to a deal when they agreed to convene the full House and Senate on Friday at noon. That would give lawmakers time to approve a budget deal while preserving their ability to override any potential vetoes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kentucky Senate passes expungement bill

(AP) — A bill that would allow some nonviolent felons to have their criminal records erased has cleared a major hurdle by passing the Kentucky Senate.

The legislation would allow people convicted of many Class D felonies to go to court in hopes of clearing their records. It would not apply to people convicted of violent crimes or sex offenses.

The Republican-led Senate made several changes before passing the bill Tuesday and sending it back to the Democratic-controlled House. Under the Senate changes, offenders would have to wait five years before seeking to have their criminal records expunged.

Supporters say the bill offers a second chance for people who now have trouble getting good jobs due to their criminal past. Opponents said the five-year waiting period isn't long enough.

The legislation is House Bill 40.


On March 28, 2016, Kentucky State Police Officer Darvin Marsillett, was patrolling in the Martin area of Floyd County, when he noticed a vehicle matching a description from a complaint received the previous day. 

Officer Marsillett observed driver not wearing seat belt. Upon stopping vehicle, and further investigation, Mr. Kristopher C. Rudder, from Martin, was arrested for Failure to wear seat belt, Conspiracy to traffic in control substance 1st offense and Possession of controlled substance 3rd degree drug unspecified.

This case remains under investigation by Officer Darvin Marsillett, with the Kentucky State Police.

West Virginia offering low-income heating assistance

(AP) — West Virginia is accepting applications for low-income people who need helping paying heating bills.

The Department of Health and Human Resources says it began accepting applications Monday for its Emergency Low Income Energy Assistance Program. They'll be accepted until funding runs out.

The federally-funded program requires residents using either gas or electricity for heat to provide shut-off notices when applying.

People using other sources or bulk fuel must show their heating fuel is at a low level during the application period.

Eligibility is based on income, household size and whether the household pays for heating bills.

Residents who received direct payments of benefits must include receipts proving the money was used for heating.

Applicants must meet income caps, from $1,276 for a one-person household to $5,332 for a 10-person household.

Prosecutors seek max of 1 year in prison for ex-coal CEO

(AP) — Prosecutors want a year in prison and a $250,000 fine for convicted ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who ran a West Virginia coal mine that was the site of a deadly explosion.

In a sentencing memorandum in federal court Monday, prosecutors said a shorter sentence could only be interpreted as declaring that mine safety laws aren't to be taken seriously.

Prosecutors wrote that Upper Big Branch Mine was a powder keg 1,000 feet below the surface, primed to blow at any time. The mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

Blankenship was convicted Dec. 3 of a misdemeanor conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards at the mine.

In their memorandum, Blankenship's attorneys say he shouldn't receive more than probation and a fine. They say they intend to appeal. Defense attorneys included letters from people commending him.

Kentucky House OKs bill to require CPR training in schools

(AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have completed work on a bill aimed at requiring that public school students receive basic CPR training.

The measure was passed by the House without debate on Monday, two months after passing the Senate. The bill now moves on to Gov. Matt Bevin's desk.

Republican Sen. Max Wise, the bill's lead sponsor, has said basic CPR skills learned in school could help save lives.

The training could be given as part of health or physical education courses or during a Junior ROTC course.

The legislation is Senate Bill 33.

House passes bill to create statewide definition of bullying

(AP) — A bill aimed at establishing a statewide definition of bullying in Kentucky's public schools is headed to Gov. Matt Bevin after clearing the state General Assembly.

The measure passed the House with no debate on Monday. It cleared the Senate earlier this month.

The bill's lead sponsor is Republican Sen. Danny Carroll of Paducah.

Carroll says the standardized definition would provide schools with more guidance in identifying and stopping bullying. He says the definition would be incorporated into codes of conduct at schools, and would allow schools to accurately report the number of bullying incidents.

The legislation is Senate Bill 228.

Former Kentucky Gov. Collins joins Baptist Health Paducah

(AP) — Former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins has been named the new executive-in-residence at Baptist Health Paducah and Baptist Health Foundation Paducah.

Collins will participate in community initiatives and events, as well as contribute to development activities, including donor relationships and partnerships.

Collins, the commonwealth's only female governor, served from 1983 to 1987.

She says she is excited to have a role in improving health in western Kentucky.

Money raised by the Baptist Health Foundation Paducah helps the hospital improve its patient care through technology, services and facilities.

Bevin: Democrats hurt budget process by not negotiating

(AP) — Tensions between Republicans and Democrats over Kentucky's more than $65 billion spending plan escalated overnight, with the Republican governor calling a news conference to blame House leaders for refusing to negotiate.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said he and Republican legislative leaders were willing to compromise to pass a budget before the legislature adjourns for the year. But he said Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo was not being truthful and told reporters not to be played by Stumbo's bluffs.

Stumbo told reporters Bevin should spend less time making silly Facebook videos and pick up the phone and call him. Bevin posted a video late Monday night calling on the legislature to pass a budget.

House and Senate leaders are meeting again Tuesday to negotiate.

Monday, March 28, 2016


WASHINGTON (AP) — Capitol Police officers say a man was shot by police after drawing a weapon at a U.S. Capitol checkpoint.

He was taken to the hospital.

A female bystander also sustained minor injuries.

Chief of Police Matthew R. Verderosa tells reporters that the suspect was known to police. However, he would not confirm reports that it was the same man who disrupted the House chamber last fall by shouting.

The Capitol was on lockdown for about an hour after the initial incident and staffers were told to shelter in place. Early reports said an officer was hit, but that proved erroneous.

Washington D.C. Shooting Update

The lockdown at the U.S. Capitol and the White House has been lifted. Conflicting reports on injuries with reports of a Capitol Police Officer being shot now being retracted. Officer was injured along with two bystanders. Shooter has been placed in custody.


Scenes around the United States Capitol following a shooting incident that resulted in the lockdown of the Capitol and White House.

Brown replaces Longmeyer as deputy attorney general

(AP) — Attorney General Andy Beshear has hired another veteran of his father's administration to replace Tim Longmeyer, the former deputy attorney general who resigned and is now facing federal bribery charges.

Former Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown will be the state's new deputy attorney general. Brown and Longmeyer both worked for former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. Longmeyer was charged Friday of accepting kickbacks to steer state business to a private consulting firm. He had resigned on Wednesday for personal reasons.

Brown is a former district court judge and was the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet secretary for eight years under former Gov. Steve Beshear. A military veteran, Brown was also the first African-American chairman of the Louisville Bar Association.

In a news release, Andy Beshear called Brown a steadfast leader.

Man who died trying to save grandmother considered for award

A Johnson County man who died trying to save his grandmother during a flood is being considered for an award for his efforts.

34-year-old Scott Johnson is being considered for a medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. The award recognizes those who risk their lives trying to save others.

Kevin Johnson, Scott Johnson's father, says his son tried to get his grandmother out of her mobile home during a flood in Johnson County last July. His son made it inside, but the water lifted the home and pushed it downstream. Johnson and his grandmother died in the flood.

The commission's investigations manager, Jeffrey A. Dooley, says the commission is researching Johnson's actions and says it could be several months before a decision is made.

With midnight deadline looming, Kentucky budget talks resume

(AP) — House and Senate leaders are meeting privately to come up with an agreement on how to spend more than $65 billion of state and federal tax dollars over the next two years.

The Kentucky House of Representatives and the Senate have both passed different versions of the state's two-year spending plan. Leaders from the two chambers have until midnight on Monday to work out their differences. Otherwise, they would lose the ability to override any potential vetoes from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

House and Senate leaders were supposed to resume budget talks at 10 a.m. But the formal meeting never started. Senate Republicans and House Democrats, which control their respective chambers, have been meeting privately trying to work out a deal.

Both chambers plan to convene at 4 p.m.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Capitol Police are telling staff in the Capitol complex to shelter in place after a report of gunshots being fired in the Capitol Visitors Center.
The White House also was put on lockdown because of the report.
The situation was apparently contained to the Visitors Center but no further information was immediately available.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Capitol officials: 1 Capitol police officer shot, not seriously, shooter in custody.


Congress and White House on lockdown after reports of a shooting on Capitol Hill.  No other information is available at this time. EKB News will update this as soon as more details become available.

Friday, March 25, 2016

West Virginia to stiffen penalties for passing school buses

(AP) — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has approved increased penalties for passing stopped school buses.

Tomblin signed the bill Thursday.

On a first offense, drivers passing a school bus that stopped to pick up or drop off students could be guilty of a misdemeanor, fined $250 to $500, imprisoned up to six months and could lose their licenses 30 days.

On a second offense, it increases to $500 to $1,000 in fines and 90 days' license suspension. A third will warrant a $1,000 fine, from two days to six months in jail and 180 days of license suspension.

If someone is hurt or killed, willfully breaking the law would be a felony and guaranteed prison time of one to 10 years, plus stiffer fines.

The law takes effect in June.

Jobless rates rise in 114 Kentucky counties

(AP) — State officials say unemployment rates rose in 114 Kentucky counties between February 2015 and February 2016.

The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training said Thursday that jobless rates fell in four counties during that period — Casey, Jackson, Marion and Russell.
The rates stayed the same in Gallatin and Green counties.

Woodford County had the state's lowest jobless rate at 3.9 percent. It was followed by Fayette and Oldham counties at 4.3 percent each; Shelby County at 4.5 percent; and Franklin and Scott counties at 4.7 percent each.

Magoffin County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 21.6 percent. It was followed by Leslie County at 13.7 percent; Harlan County at 13.6 percent; Floyd County at 13.5 percent; Letcher County at 13.4 percent; and Wolfe County at 13.3 percent.

KSP Investigates Fatal House Fire in Pike County

The Kentucky State Police, Pikeville Post was called at approximately 6:52 P.M. on Thursday, March 24, 2016, in reference to a possible fatal house fire at Laurel Fork in the Feds Creek community of Pike County.

Emergency personnel located one individual deceased in the residence.  The victim has been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy and identification.

The cause of the fire and death is under investigation, and no foul play is suspected at this time.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by KSP Post 09 Detective Jeremy Giles.

Kentucky House passes bill for 1 marriage license form

(AP) — Kentucky's state House has passed a bill that would create one marriage license form for both gay and straight couples in an effort to defuse controversy over the licensing of gay marriages.

The measure passed by the Democratic-led House on Friday has the blessing of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Under the House version, a marriage license applicant would have the option of checking "bride," ''groom" or "spouse" beside their name.

The bill goes back to the Republican-led state Senate, which passed a different version calling for separate forms for gay and straight couples.

The proposals are a response to the controversy last year surrounding Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Lawmakers complete work on bill to speed rape-kit tests

(AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have completed work on a bill aimed at accelerating the testing of rape kits.

The House passed the bill without debate Friday and sent it to Gov. Matt Bevin.

A rape kit is a collection of physical evidence from a victim after a rape has occurred.

The legislation is a response to an investigation by former state Auditor Adam Edelen, who found more than 3,000 rape kits were untested in the state police lab and in other police agencies across Kentucky.

Right now, it takes about eight months for a rape kit to be tested in Kentucky because of a lack of funding and staff. The bill aims to shorten that to 90 days by July 2018 and 60 days by 2020.

The legislation is Senate Bill 63.

City commemorates singer Hank Williams with memorial plaque

(AP) — The city of Oak Hill has unveiled a memorial plaque honoring country singer Hank Williams.

Local news outlets report that the city held a presentation ceremony of the marker on Main Street Thursday.

Williams was declared dead in Oak Hill, after being discovered unresponsive in the back seat of a car.

Williams' daughter, Jett Williams, traveled to Oak Hill to attend the ceremony. She was born a few days after Williams died and she said commemorating her father is a great honor.

Thursday's ceremony was the final leg of a tour that began in Williams' hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, and concluded in Oak Hill. The tour ran in conjunction with the movie "I Saw the Light," which chronicles Williams' life.

Former personnel secretary accused of taking kickbacks

 (AP) — A former Kentucky Personnel Cabinet secretary has been accused of taking more than $200,000 in kickbacks during his time in office.

The U.S. attorney's office in Lexington said Friday that a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court on Friday accuses Timothy M. Longmeyer of taking kickbacks from a private consulting company.

The prosecutor's office said in a news release that the kickbacks were given in exchange for the Democratic appointee's help in securing multimillion-dollar contracts for the consultant. The release said the consultant was allowed to work with insurance companies that provide health care coverage to state employees.

The release said Longmeyer used his position to persuade the insurance companies to hire the private consultant, and Longmeyer accepted payments from the consultant.

Longmeyer resigned from the cabinet on Sept. 30. He was appointed a deputy in state Attorney General Andy Beshear's office in December, but Beshear said Friday that Longmeyer resigned this week.

Third Zika case in Kentucky confirmed in pregnant woman

(AP) — The Kentucky Department of Health says it has confirmed the state's third case of the Zika virus in a pregnant woman.

A statement from the agency on Friday said the woman, who is from the Louisville area, tested positive for the disease after traveling to Central America in recent months.

She has recovered from the illness.

The mosquito-borne virus, which is spreading in Latin America and the Caribbean, normally causes only mild symptoms.

Health officials are investigating whether there is a link between Zika infections in pregnant women and a rare birth defect called microcephaly, in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.

According to the CDC, the virus also has been reported in at least 36 other states.

Lawmakers finish work on public-private partnerships bill

(AP) — A bill authorizing the use of public-private partnerships for big-ticket transportation work and other projects has cleared the Kentucky General Assembly and is headed to Gov. Matt Bevin.

The measure won final passage on an 86-8 House vote Friday.

It would sanction ventures partnering state and local governments with private sources.
Supporters say the partnerships would attract private financial backing for projects that state and local governments can't afford on their own.

As part of the arrangements, a private entity could construct, finance or even operate a facility under agreement with the government partner.

The bill's lead sponsor, Democratic Rep. Leslie Combs of Pikeville, has promoted so-called "P3" legislation for four years, with support from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

The legislation is House Bill 309.

1 killed in mining accident in eastern Kentucky

(AP) — State officials say an eastern Kentucky coal miner has died in an accident at a Harlan County mine.

A statement from the Energy and Environment Cabinet says 48-year-old Mark Frazier of Line Fork died Friday after being hit by falling material at Huff Creek No. 1 mine in Holmes Mill. The release says Frazier, who had 14 years of experience, was performing maintenance work at the site, which was not in production.

The mine is operated by Lone Mountain Processing Inc., which is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc.

State mine safety officials were dispatched to the scene to investigate.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Senate passes bill to authorize public-private partnerships

(AP) — The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would authorize use of public-private partnerships for mega-dollar transportation work and other projects.

The 29-9 Senate vote on Thursday sends the bill back to the state House. Rep. Leslie Combs, the bill's lead sponsor, says she'll urge the House to accept Senate changes and send the measure to Gov. Matt Bevin.

Combs has promoted the so-called "P-3" legislation for several years.

The bill would sanction ventures partnering state and local governments with private sources. As part of the arrangements, a private company could construct, finance or operate a public facility.

Supporters say it's an option to pay for big-ticket projects that the state or local governments can't afford.

Opponents warn it would transfer basic government responsibilities to private sources.