News in Brief

State awards grants to clean up illegal dumps

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Charles Snavely has announced grants to help communities clean up illegal dumps across the state.

A news release from the agency says $1.75 million has been awarded to 26 counties to clean up 139 dumping areas. The grants are funded through a fee collected on each ton of garbage disposed of at Kentucky municipal solid waste facilities.

The statement says officials have made “significant progress” in cleaning up illegal dumps due to the fee that’s been in place since 2002.

Counties that received grants include Adair, Breathitt, Calloway, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberland, Garrard/Lincoln Solid Waste Management Area, Green, Harlan, Hart, Henderson, Jackson, Lee, Leslie, Lyon, Magoffin, Marion, Metcalfe, Owsley, Pendleton, Pike, Russell, Shelby, Warren, Whitley and Wolfe.


Creation Museum leaders’ seek approval to expand its size

PETERSBURG (AP) — Leaders of a Kentucky museum dedicated to a literal interpretation of the Bible are looking to nearly triple its size.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports Creation Museum leaders say a proposed three-story, 210,000-square-foot building would be a large hall for traveling exhibits. It’s part of the museum’s three-year plan.

Mike Zovath, co-founder of Creation Museum parent company Answers in Genesis, says it would be built where the current guest parking lot sits.

However, the museum needs approval for a zone change to build a new parking lot. The Boone County Planning & Zoning Commission will decide Wednesday whether to recommend the change.

The expansion will help prepare for hundreds of visitors the museum anticipates after Ark Encounter, a full-scale Grant County Noah’s Ark replica, is expected to open in July.


Ky. lawmakers form bipartisan Automotive Caucus

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers are banding together to promote the state’s automotive industry.

Dozens of lawmakers from both political parties on Tuesday started an Automotive Caucus to work with an industry that officials say employs more than 136,500 people in Kentucky.

Kentucky ranks third nationally in car production and second in light truck production.

Caucus members have pledged to work with the automotive industry in coming years on such key issues as workforce training, tax policies and technology development. Auto manufacturers say they’re especially interested in developing the next generation of manufacturing workers for their plants.


Authorities arrest couple in connection with baby’s death

ASHLAND (AP) — An Ashland couple has been arrested in connection with the death of their 3-month-old son.

Multiple news agencies report authorities arrested 27-year-old Leslie Daniels and 28-year-old Nora Sawyer Tuesday after the couple had been indicted on murder charges Monday.

Maj. Mark McDowell of the Ashland Police Department says the child died due to blunt force trauma consistent with shaken baby syndrome. He says the baby was bleeding in the brain and had a detached retina.

The child was taken to the hospital after he was found unresponsive on June 10. McDowell says the baby died on June 13.

The couple has been transported to the Boyd County Detention Center in Catlettsburg. A judge set bond at $100,000 each. It’s unclear if the two have attorneys.


Middle schoolers honored for app to help Alzheimer’s

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A team of Kentucky middle schoolers won national recognition and a $20,000 grant for creating an app to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia remember to take their medications.

The Verizon Foundation announced Tuesday that the group of girls at Meyzeek Middle School in Louisville was one of nine student teams to win its Innovative App Challenge. They will work with the MIT Media Lab to turn the concept into a working, downloadable application.

The six seventh-graders banded together to create the app they named the “Pharm Alarm App,” meant to alert those afflicted with memory loss to take their medications, eat meals and complete other essential tasks. Elli Tilford, one of the students, said she was inspired to create the app after losing her grandfather to the disease.


Ashland seeks to start needle drive to combat Hepatitis C

ASHLAND (AP) — The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department is planning a needle-exchange program to prevent the further spread of Hepatitis C in the area.

The number of Hepatitis C deaths in the area “shot up dramatically” in 2011 and 2012, the Independent quoted Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond as saying. The leading cause for the spread of the disease has been through dirty needles used by drug users, he said.

Kentucky leads the nation in the incidence of Hepatitis C, with 4.1 cases per 100,000 residents, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national average is .6 cases per 100,000 people.

Northern Kentucky has a needle-exchange program, as well as Lexington, Louisville, Jessamine County and others, said Epidemiologist Kristy Bolen.

The needle-exchange program can be used as a tool to stymie the spread if Hepatitis C, while also giving the health department an opportunity to educate addicts coming to pick up clean needles, Bolen said.

“We (the health department) look at it like prevention, not enabling,”?Bolen said. “Just like we hand out condoms to prevent the spread of STDs, it’s a way to give them (drug users) something to prevent the spread of Hep C.”

The health department is still seeking approval for the program from the board of health and local governments.


Louisville Judge charged with violating code of conduct

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Jefferson District Court Judge who jailed a witness without a hearing has been formally charged with violating the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Media outlets report that on Monday, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission notified Judge Sheila Collins that she could be suspended or removed from office for interrogating Jasmin Stone without counsel and locking her up after she withdrew an allegation that she was the victim of domestic violence.

The commission says Collins refused to lower Stone’s $10,000 bond. Stone was later released by another judge, Erica Williams, who dismissed the charge the next day and apologized to her.

Collins says her actions were without malice and that she cannot be penalized for making an error in good faith.

The commission gave Collins 15 days to respond.


Judge rules pastor can testify in Danville murder trial

DANVILLE (AP) — A Michigan pastor who led police to suspect Kenneth Allen Keith in the murder of three people at a Danville pawn shop will be allowed to testify during Keith’s trial.

The Advocate-Messenger reports a judge denied a defense motion Friday to suppress Tracy Herald’s testimony on the grounds that four conversations between Keith and Herald were confidential.

Keith, a Baptist preacher, has pleaded not guilty to the 2013 murders and robbery of Michael Hockensmith, Angela Hockensmith and Daniel Smith.

Herald previously testified that he had called Keith after learning of the murders. After Herald told Keith he believed the Hockensmiths were innocent victims, Herald says Keith began yelling, “They ain’t innocent!”

Herald went to police after the conversation. Three subsequent conversations between Herald and Keith were recorded, and served as the basis for an arrest warrant.

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