News in Brief

Vatican observers raise questions over clerk’s pope visit

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The private meeting Pope Francis held with defiant Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is a strong papal endorsement of religious resistance to gay marriage, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he approves of how she’s waged her fight, experts said Wednesday.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said their encounter in Washington last Thursday was private. Out of deference to the Vatican, Davis’ attorney, Mat Staver, would not say how it was arranged. The Vatican essentially confirmed it, without further comment.

Davis said she grasped the pope’s outstretched hand, and he told her to “stay strong.”

Davis refused to issue any marriage licenses in Rowan County, Kentucky, rather than comply with the Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide. She served five days in jail rather than resign. Some of her deputies now issue licenses without her authority, and she claims they are invalid.

“Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything,” Davis told ABC News.

But Vatican observers say that’s reading too much into the visit.


Bloodhounds to help track down wildfire arsonists in Ky.

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky forestry officials say they will use specially trained bloodhounds to try to track down people who set fires in the woods.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry says the bloodhounds are available through a partnership with the Bell County Forestry Camp. The agency says multiple bloodhounds and their handlers are available to assist state officials investigating wildfire arson cases.

Forestry officials will also work with Kentucky State Police arson investigators.

The fall wildfire season starts Thursday and continues through Dec. 15. During the season, outdoor burning is prohibited from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in or within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland.

Kentucky has an arson hotline for people to report arson. The Target Arson Hotline can be reached at 1-800-27-ARSON.


Death investigation leads to drug bust in Rockcastle Co.

MOUNT VERNON (AP) — A 68-year-old man has been arrested in a drug bust that authorities say was prompted by a death investigation in Rockcastle County.

Multiple media outlets report that Kentucky State Police are investigating the Monday discovery of an unidentified body inside a Mount Vernon motel. The coroner says the person appeared to have died from natural causes.

Police say the investigation led authorities to a Mount Vernon home where they arrested Logan R. Towery after finding 14 firearms, more than $13,000 in cash and hundreds of suspected oxycodone pills and Xanax pills inside the house. Towery has been charged with trafficking a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school.

Authorities haven’t said how they believe Towery was connected to the dead body. It’s unclear if Towery has an attorney.


Judge’s election fraud case goes to Ky. Supreme Court

FRANKFORT (AP) — Attorneys for a Magoffin County judge have asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to review a lower court decision that would force the judge out of office for election fraud.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Judge-Executive Charles Hardin’s attorneys on Wednesday argued that the Court of Appeals’ decision to declare Hardin’s office vacant was not supported by facts.

Hardin received more absentee votes than his challenger John P. Montgomery in November 2014 and won by 28 votes. Montgomery accused Hardin of fraud and alleged that absentee ballot applications were given to people ineligible to vote.

Hardin denied the allegations, but a circuit court declared the office vacant. The Court of Appeals let the decision stand.

Hardin can remain in office while his case is pending in the state Supreme Court.


US states issue subpoena in Volkswagen investigation

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois attorney general’s office says a subpoena has been issued in the investigation into Volkswagen.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s spokeswoman Eileen Boyce didn’t have other details Wednesday, including what had been requested or the scope of the probe.

More than two dozen attorneys general, including Madigan, launched an investigation last week after the German automaker admitted it rigged diesel emissions technology to pass U.S. smog tests.

The state attorneys general said then that they anticipated sending subpoenas.

Participating states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia, plus Washington, D.C.

A U.S.-based Volkswagen spokeswoman didn’t immediately return messages from The Associated Press on Wednesday.


1 killed, 1 injured in shooting at W.Ky. plant

PRINCETON (AP) — A Kentucky woman has died of what police say appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound and another person was injured in a shooting at a ConAgra Foods plant.

Princeton police said in a news release Wednesday that 37-year-old Nellie Renee Nichols of Dawson Springs went to the factory to confront her mother and began firing from a semi-automatic pistol. Police said a male bystander suffered a hand injury not believed to be life-threatening from one of the shots.

Police said Nichols was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

A statement from ConAgra said the company is aware of “an incident” outside of its plant involving three people. The statement said the people were not employees and the plant has been secured. ConAgra said it is working with police.

According to its website, ConAgra Foods, Inc. produces packaged foods.


Ceremony honors 52 promoted officers in state police

FRANKFORT (AP) — Several dozen Kentucky State Police officers have been recognized for their promotions in the law enforcement agency.

In all, 52 officers from across the state were honored at the ceremony Wednesday in Lexington.

Three lieutenant colonels, four majors, eight captains, 13 lieutenants and 24 sergeants were commissioned.

Maj. Michael P. Crawford was promoted to lieutenant colonel and transferred to the Operations Division, as director of operations. Crawford is a 32-year veteran of the agency.

Maj. Scott Miller was also promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was transferred from the Operations Division, Special Enforcement Troop, to the Administrative Division.

Maj. James Curtis O’Bannon was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was transferred from the Operations Division, East Troop, to the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division.

Miller and O’Bannon are 18-year veterans of the agency.

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