State News in Brief

Heat wave expands in Midwestern and southern states

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A sweltering heat wave is expanding as temperatures in the Midwest and south approach near record-setting levels in the waning days of spring.

The National Weather Service says the number of states under heat advisories nearly doubled Thursday to 12. The affected states are Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Temperatures are forecast in the 90s across much of those states, but the humidity is expected to make them feel much hotter. Heat indexes are expected to hit 115 degrees in central Oklahoma and northeastern Arkansas.

The weather service in Little Rock said on Twitter: “It’s DISGUSTING out there!” In central Kansas’ Salina, the thermometer hit 106 degrees on Wednesday, tying the record for that date.

Some relief is expected this weekend as the humidity decreases.


New Knox County Board of Education member casts crucial vote

BARBOURVILLE (AP) — A new member of the Knox County Board of Education has been sworn in, and the superintendent’s contract has been renewed.

WYMT-TV reports the new board member, Dr. Tom Ashburn, was a game-changer when it came to voting on the contract of Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles on Tuesday. In a 3 to 2 vote, Dr. Ashburn’s addition to the board renewed Sprinkles’ contract for four more years.

The board members who voted against renewing Sprinkles’ contract, Merrill Smith and Peggy Gray, declined to comment.

Dexter Smith, the previous board member, resigned when questions arose regarding whether he had graduated from high school or obtained a legitimate GED. Smith says he was unaware that his diploma came from an unaccredited institution.


Officials: Homeowner, robbery suspect die in shootout

COTTONTOWN, Tenn. (AP) — Officials say a Cottontown, Tennessee, homeowner and a suspected bank robber died in a shootout after the suspect used the man’s home to hide from authorities.

Local news outlets report that the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office found the two bodies inside the house Wednesday night.

Officials say the incident began after the suspect robbed a bank Tuesday in Kentucky. After a police chase, the suspect ran from his car and hid inside the Cottontown house.

Authorities say the homeowner, who had been gone since Sunday, returned home Wednesday and found the suspect inside the house. The two men exchanged gunfire, fatally wounding each other.

Officials have not released the identities of the two.


Man convicted in beating death of Lexington chef

LEXINGTON (AP) — A Fayette County jury has convicted a man of murder and kidnapping in the death 2 ½ years ago of a University of Kentucky chef.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports jurors deliberated less than four hours on Wednesday before finding Robert Markham “Mark” Taylor guilty. He was also convicted of tampering with evidence in the December 2013 death of Alex Johnson.

Timothy Ballard, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping and evidence tampering in the case in April, testified during Taylor’s trial that he watched Taylor beat Johnson to death. Taylor told jurors he tried to fight off Ballard when Ballard snapped over a comment and hit Johnson repeatedly.

Taylor also said he hit Ballard to get him off Johnson and tried to revive the chef with CPR.

Johnson’s body was found in January 2014 inside a barrel in 4 feet of water in the Kentucky River.


Volunteers sought to count butterflies for annual census

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The University of Louisville is seeking volunteers to help count butterflies for a national census.

A statement from the university says biology professor emeritus Charles Covell and other specialists will lead the count on June 25 at U of L’s Horner Wildlife Sanctuary in Oldham County. Adults and children are welcomed to participate.

Specialists will teach people how to identify the butterflies they find in the sanctuary from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers don’t have to stay the entire time.

Covell says those who participate should wear hiking shoes, long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats. In addition, they should pack water, a lunch and insect repellent.


Official says stun gun did not cause man’s death

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — A deputy coroner says the Kentucky medical examiner’s office has ruled that a man whom police hit with a stun gun died from a condition brought on by drugs and a pre-existing heart problem.

The medical examiner’s report said that 52-year-old Michael Roll died March 12 after suffering a heart attack.

Warren County Deputy Coroner David Goins told the (Bowling Green) Daily News on Wednesday that “Tasering had nothing to do with causing his death.”

State Police Trooper B.J. Eaton said previously that two state police troopers and a local sheriff’s deputy found Roll’s vehicle overturned. He said Roll appeared intoxicated and became combative with officers, who shot him with a stun gun, rendering him unconscious.

Eaton said both Roll and the officers involved were white.


Groundbreaking set for Owensboro’s new bluegrass museum

OWENSBORO (AP) — The International Bluegrass Music Museum and Hall of Fame is about to break ground on a new $15 million facility in Owensboro next week.

City leaders including Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Daviess County Judge executive Al Mattingly are attending the June 23 event at 311 West 2nd Street.

The property takes up an entire block in a revitalized section of downtown. It will have a 450-seat concert hall, recording studio, an outdoor concert area, gift shop and a rooftop restaurant. Museum officials say it will house “the world’s foremost collection” of bluegrass artifacts, memorabilia and music recordings.

Peyronnin Construction of Evansville, Indiana, is building the museum. It is expected to be finished in 2018.


Officials: Woman dies following kayaking accident

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A woman has died following a kayaking accident in Louisville.

Fern Creek Fire Chief Mike Schmidt, Jr. tells local news outlets that the incident occurred Wednesday night at The Parklands of Floyds Fork. The woman, her 10-year-old son and her sister were riding a kayak when they hit a tree stump, causing the kayak to overturn.

Emergency crews responded and found the three stranded on the water. The woman was transported to a hospital where she later died.

The cause of her death is pending an autopsy. Her identity has not been released.

The woman’s sister and son were treated at the scene of the accident.

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