State News in Brief

Former retirement board chairman sues Bevin over removal

FRANKFORT (AP) — The former chairman of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board has challenged Gov. Matt Bevin’s order removing him from office.

Bevin removed Thomas Elliott as the board’s chairman in April, but Elliott refused to leave. Last month, Bevin used state troopers to prevent Elliott from participating in a meeting. Friday, Elliott sued, asking a judge to declare Bevin’s order removing him “null and void” and to affirm that Elliott is still a member of the board.

It is the fourth lawsuit Bevin is facing as he continues to test the limits of executive power in Kentucky. Bevin also issued an executive order on Friday abolishing the Kentucky Retirement Systems board and replacing it with a new board with some new members. It’s unclear how that order will affect Elliott’s lawsuit.


State takes on inappropriate student-teacher relationships

LEXINGTON (AP) — A task force has released recommendations aimed at preventing inappropriate relationships between teachers and students in Kentucky.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the state Education Professional Standards Board made the Combating Inappropriate Student-Teacher Relationships Task Force in June 2015. According to former U.S. Department of Education official Terry Abbott, in 2014 Kentucky had the second-highest per-capita rate in the country of inappropriate relationships.

The task force found that the current state educator code of ethics is vague, and recommends that the code be revised to be clearer by the fall. It also encourages more parent involvement, like recommending schools provide resources for parents on what they need to know about their students’ activity on social media.

Nancy Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education, says the department is reviewing the recommendations.


Judge dismisses suit over Louisville Confederate monument

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A judge in Louisville has given the city the go-ahead to remove an 1895 Confederate monument by dismissing a lawsuit that sought to keep it at its original site.

In a written ruling, Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman determined that the city had the right to remove the stone obelisk near the University of Louisville that was built as a tribute to dead Confederate soldiers. Mayor Greg Fischer has pledged to have the monument cleaned and moved to a new location, though that site has not been chosen.

Burkman’s ruling Thursday echoed her orders after a May 25 hearing over a restraining order she issued that temporarily halted the statue’s removal.

A call to attorney Thomas McAdam, who is representing the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was not returned Monday morning.


Ali Center gets first big corporate gift since Ali’s death

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Muhammad Ali Center in Kentucky has received its first big corporate donation since the boxing great’s death.

The UPS Foundation said Monday it is giving a $500,000 gift to support education initiatives at the center in Ali’s hometown of Louisville. Those initiatives promote social awareness and entrepreneurship.

Ali Center President and CEO Donald Lassere says a global fundraising campaign is planned for programs to continue the champ’s humanitarian agenda.

The center — founded by Ali and his wife, Lonnie — marked its 10th anniversary in November. It showcases Ali’s boxing career with videos and his causes outside the ring as a social activist and humanitarian.

Ali died June 3 at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.


Franklin Co. sheriff investigating double slaying

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fatal shootings of two women.

Sheriff Pat Melton told news outlets that a relative of one woman found the victims’ bodies on Friday after going to a home just outside Frankfort to check on things after not being able to reach anyone.

Media report the sheriff’s office said on Monday that the women killed were 32-year-old Jennifer Lynn Downey and 89-year-old Carolyn Barker. Melton said Downey was a caretaker for Barker, who was bedridden.

Melton declined to say whether the shootings are linked to a man who died Friday from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound at a home in Frankfort, but he said investigators are talking with Frankfort police as part of the investigation.


Task force to combat hunger holding first regional meeting

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture says a panel appointed to combat hunger plans to hold its first regional meeting in northern Kentucky.

The agency says in a statement that the Kentucky Hunger Task Force will meet on June 21 at the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Office in Highland Heights. The committee plans to hold seven more regional meetings around the state to determine what logistics are necessary to meet the needs of each area.

An annual study by Feeding America showed that 17 percent of Kentucky’s population is struggling to avoid hunger.

Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles, who launched the task force earlier this month, says it’s unacceptable to have a hunger problem in a state with a rich agricultural history. He says the goal is to make nutritious foods more accessible.


Subcontractor hiring 600 in Mount Vernon

MOUNT VERNON (AP) — A subcontractor will hire 600 people in Mount Vernon to help digitize Department of Veterans Affairs records and reduce backlog.

Shaping Our Appalachian Region said in a news release Friday that Dallas-based SourceHOV is hiring general clerks, team leads and quality assurance specialists with hourly pay rates beginning at $10.52.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin are co-chairmen of SOAR. The network includes 54 counties working to expand job creation, enhance regional innovation and improve the quality of life.

SourceHOV is subcontracting the work from CSRA, which was awarded a competitive federal contract from VA.

SourceHOV CEO Ron Cogburn said the company has been part of Mount Vernon for more than 24 years.


Lawsuit says hospital lost Ky. woman’s wedding rings

DANVILLE (AP) — A Kentucky woman says a hospital lost two wedding rings after she was admitted for a broken hip.

The Advocate Messenger reports Virginia Koss filed a lawsuit against Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville.

The lawsuit says the Garrard County resident was admitted to the hospital on Feb. 21 after a fall. At the time she was wearing two rings — her own and that of her late husband. They were married 67 years.

The lawsuit says Koss objected when hospital staff asked her to take off her rings, which were removed during the surgery process. Her family noticed them missing after she was transferred to a rehabilitation center.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The newspaper reports a hospital attorney was unavailable for comment.


Firefighters: Cigarette in mulch caused restaurant blaze

ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — Firefighters say an ignited cigarette thrown into a bed of dry mulch is believed to have started a fire that destroyed a McDonald’s restaurant in Elizabethtown.

Elizabethtown deputy fire chief Everett Roberts tells The News Enterprise that by the time firefighters arrived Thursday, the fire had spread from outdoor landscaping to the building and into the attic. No one was injured.

Roberts says firefighters also responded earlier in the day to a similar call where someone threw a cigarette into mulch at an assisted living center that ignited another fire.

Roberts cautions residents and businesses from putting mulch alongside walls of buildings that he says creates “a potentially dangerous situation.”


Subaru of Indiana Automotive finds workers at Fort Campbell

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A western Indiana auto assembly plant and economic development officials have turned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to recruit soldiers planning to leave the military.

Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc., in conjunction with Greater Lafayette Commerce, has enjoyed some success finding soldiers willing to relocate to the Lafayette area about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

Eighteen Fort Campbell soldiers recently attended a talent attraction weekend at SIA in which they toured the plant that now employs more than 3,700 workers, explored the Lafayette area and completed a pre-hiring assessment. Nearly half of the attendees plan to accept an offer from SIA and relocate in the next few months, the (Lafayette) Journal & Courier reported.

Kara Webb, workforce development coordinator for Greater Lafayette Commerce, said former soldiers are attractive to employers.

“Veterans have … great teamwork skills, problem-solving skills and the best work ethic. There are also tax credit opportunities for employers who hire veterans. America’s veterans are the backbone of community where ever they land,” Webb said.

Brad Rhorer, an SIA human resources manager, said the program has been successful in its first iteration. He said the company plans to continue working with Fort Campbell. With the Purdue Polytechnic Institute on site and opportunities for advanced manufacturing education, Rhorer said there are ample opportunities for advancement.

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