News in Brief

Ky. officials urge residents to get flu vaccine

FRANKFORT (AP) — State health officials are urging residents in Kentucky to get the flu vaccine now if they haven’t already had it.

Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, senior deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, said in a statement that there have been reports of severe flu symptoms in young and middle-aged adults even though the virus hasn’t yet peaked this season. Humbaugh said now is a good time to get the vaccine since it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

Health officials report the flu activity level in Kentucky is “regional,” which means outbreaks have been reported in less than half the state.

Flu season usually begins in October and can last through May.


Jennifer Garner urges lawmakers to fund children’s program

FRANKFORT (AP) — Hollywood actress Jennifer Garner is asking Kentucky lawmakers to spend $1 million on an early-childhood education program.

The star of the TV show “Alias” and movies including “Juno” and “Dallas Buyers Club” testified before the House budget committee on Tuesday on behalf of Save The Children.

Garner said the program works well in Kentucky, offering literacy and other development programs for children.

Lawmakers said they support the program but noted the state does not have much money to spend because of shortfalls in public pension programs.

Garner is a native of West Virginia and testified along with Mark Shriver, Save The Children Action Network president and a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy.

She is also scheduled to meet with Gov. Matt Bevin.


Alpha says lenders offer $500M for coal producer’s assets

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Alpha Natural Resources says it has received a $500 million offer from existing lenders for the potential sale of the bankrupt coal producer’s core assets.

Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha announced the offer in a filing Monday in federal bankruptcy court in Richmond, Virginia.

The filing says the lenders have agreed to serve as the lead bidder. The offer would set the floor for an auction process that lets competitors make higher bids.

The offer includes all Alpha coal assets in Pennsylvania and Wyoming and some assets in Virginia and West Virginia. Also included are natural gas holdings in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale and its interest in a Newport News, Virginia, coal export terminal.

Alpha filed for bankruptcy protection in August and says it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy by July.


KSU president: School could close under Bevin budget cuts

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky State University President Raymond Burse says Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts would create a dire financial situation that could require the school to close.

Burse sent a letter Monday to faculty, staff, students and alumni informing them of the crisis, according to media outlets. Burse wrote that Bevin’s proposed budget gives KSU two options: to declare financial exigency or come up with a closure plan.

Last month, Bevin proposed cutting state funding to universities by 4.5 percent for the rest of the fiscal year ending June 30. He wants to cut funding by 9 percent over the following two years.

When he became president in fall 2014, Burse said he faced a budget with an operating deficit of $7 million. Since then, the university hasn’t been able to get ahead due to declining enrollment, he said.

Burse said in the letter that he is not “declaring defeat.”

He also wrote, “I am working hard to make certain we can do our work smarter, logically and effectively to ensure that Kentucky State University is here for another 130 years.”

Currently, KSU has 1,706 students enrolled. This year, the university will celebrate its 130th anniversary.


Juvenile justice commissioner relieved of duties amid probe

FRANKFORT (AP) — State justice officials say Kentucky’s juvenile justice commissioner has been relieved of his duties amid an investigation into a teenager’s death at a state detention center.

The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet says Commissioner Bob Hayter was let go and an employee who failed to carry out required bed checks on the youth has been dismissed.

The teenager, 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen of Shelby County, was found unresponsive in her cell at Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in Hardin County on Jan. 11. State juvenile justice officials recently said a martial arts hold was used on the teenager hours before she was found dead.

The cabinet says state investigations into the death are close to being completed.

WPFL radio in Louisville first reported the dismissal.


Gay rights advocates sue over arrest at silent protest

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Three gay rights activists have filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky State Police, alleging their rights were violated last summer when they were arrested for silently protesting an event at the state fair.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, announced Monday that the lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court alleges false arrest, First Amendment violations and malicious prosecution.

The demonstrators bought tickets to the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual Country Ham Breakfast in August. They stood silently at their table in matching T-shirts, protesting the insurance company’s lobbying against same-sex marriage.

Troopers arrested Hartman and two others, writing that they “attended a private event” and “did not obey instructions to disperse.”

Prosecutors dismissed the charges against them in October.

The Kentucky State Police declined to comment on the lawsuit.


Training sessions aim to combat child sexual abuse in Ky.

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general and first lady are teaming up to promote a series of statewide training sessions aimed at combating child sexual abuse.

Attorney General Andy Beshear and first lady Glenna Bevin were joined by child advocates and state lawmakers in making the announcement Tuesday in the State Reception Room at the Capitol.

They say the training sessions will be geared toward law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers, community advocates, parents and educators.

The topics will include looking at ways sexual predators try to approach children.

Beshear cited statistics indicating one in 10 Kentucky children are sexually abused before age 18. Beshear says it’s everyone’s legal duty and moral responsibility to protect children from abuse.

Bevin says the sessions will train more people to recognize and report child abuse.


Indiana State Museum unveils mallet tied to Abraham Lincoln

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana State Museum officials have unveiled a wooden mallet they say Abraham Lincoln used to make furniture when his family lived in southwestern Indiana during his youth.

Chief curator of cultural history Dale Ogden said Tuesday the bench mallet is a rare surviving artifact linked to Lincoln during the period when his family lived in Spencer County, from 1816 to 1830.

The mallet is inlayed with nails that form Lincoln’s initials “A.L” and the year “1829.” Ogden says he’s certain of the mallet’s authenticity.

Lincoln would have used it to drive wooden pegs into furniture he and his father made.

Ogden says an Evansville man whose ancestors knew Lincoln’s family kept the mallet as a secret heirloom for five generations. That man has temporarily loaned the mallet to the museum.


Study commissioned to analyze communities near Fort Knox

RADCLIFF (AP) — Officials in the counties surrounding Fort Knox are hoping that an economic analysis will help their communities discover methods to lessen reliance on the base in the face of military cutbacks across the nation.

Lincoln Trail Area Development District executive director Wendell Lawrence tells The News-Enterprise that a contractor will be chosen to head the estimated $175,000 research project.

The project’s planning document says cutbacks at Fort Knox have the potential to affect all of the more than 150,000 residents in Hardin, LaRue and Meade counties.

Lawrence says workforce development also is a critical part of the research.

He says work will begin on the diversification plan in the coming months as soon as a successful contractor is chosen.


Ex-Ballard Co. jailers indicted on counts of misconduct

WICKLIFFE (AP) — Two former Ballard County jailers have been indicted, each on one count of official misconduct.

The Paducah Sun reports Attorney General Andy Beshear announced Monday that 70-year-old former Ballard County jailer Mike Horn and 45-year-old former deputy jailer Monica Galloway were indicted by a grand jury concerning record keeping at the Ballard County Detention Center.

Beshear says the indictments stemmed from findings in the 2013 Ballard County Fiscal Court Audit. The state auditor referred findings to the attorney general’s office in July 2015, prompting an investigation.

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