State News in Brief


Beshear challenges Bevin’s action abolishing boards

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general is going to court to try to block Gov. Matt Bevin from abolishing the boards of trustees at the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Retirement Systems.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear said Wednesday the Republican governor’s reorganizations are about power, not efficiency.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto says Beshear’s action is frivolous and “purely political.”

Beshear said he’s filing a motion to intervene in a lawsuit asking a judge to overturn Bevin’s order removing and replacing Thomas Elliott, chairman of the state’s retirement system.

Bevin has since issued an executive order abolishing the retirement system board and replacing it with a new board.

Beshear says he’s also asking a judge to overturn Bevin’s decision to disband the UofL board and replace it with new members he appoints.

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Lexington abortion clinic seeks to overturn court ruling

LEXINGTON (AP) — A Lexington abortion clinic has asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court ruling that closed the clinic.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on June 15 granted Gov. Matt Bevin’s request to close the EMW Women’s Clinic of Lexington, reversing an earlier ruling by the Fayette Circuit Court, reported the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The governor wants the clinic to remain closed until it receives a license from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or until a final judgment is rendered in the case

The clinic, represented by attorney Scott White, asked the state’s highest court for a reversal on Tuesday.

As a result of the appellate court’s ruling, the clinic is basically “shut down,” White said.

The appeals court “adopted verbatim the gauzy excuse of the commonwealth that it was not trying to shut down abortion clinics in Kentucky (there is now only one) but to ensure the safety of women using those facilities,” White wrote. “We call HOGWASH on that.”

Bevin opposes the clinic’s request. His press secretary, Amanda Stamper, said the appellate court’s decision was “well thought out and based upon clear Kentucky law.”

At issue is whether the clinic may operate as an unlicensed doctor’s office that performs abortions, as it has for years, or whether it is a full abortion clinic that requires state licensing.

Kentucky’s only licensed abortion clinic is in Louisville.

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Judge sentences trail-hiking fugitive to 8 years

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a Kentucky accountant to eight years in prison, just over a year after FBI agents arrested him to end his six years as a fugitive in an $8.7 million embezzlement case.

U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott (duh-LAHT’) in Cincinnati also ordered 54-year-old James T. Hammes (HAM’-uhs) to continue to pay restitution and to be on probation three years after his release.

Dlott cited the high amount of money Hammes embezzled, his flight to avoid prosecution and collateral damage he caused to his family. Hammes’ attorney indicated she will appeal the sentence.

Hammes pleaded guilty last year to a count of wire fraud.

He had spent most of his six years hiking the Appalachian Trail going by the name “Bismarck.”

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Driver faces murder, DUI charges in crash that kills 2 girls

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Police say a Louisville driver is facing charges that include murder and drunken driving after hitting three girls standing in the bicycle lane of a roadway.

Media cited an arrest report from the Jeffersontown Police Department that says 26-year-old Juan Carlos Ortega-Santos was charged after the crash that killed two girls, ages 10 and 16, and injured another one Tuesday night. A boy with the group was not injured.

Jail records show Ortega-Santos was booked on Wednesday morning on two counts of murder, assault, wanton endangerment, drunken driving, no operator’s license and no insurance. The records did not indicate whether he has an attorney.

The arrest report says his blood-alcohol level measured .20 when it was drawn around midnight, which is more than double the legal limit.

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McKee being added as Kentucky Trail Town

FRANKFORT (AP) — State tourism officials say an Appalachian town will be certified as a Kentucky Trail Town.

The officials say the community of McKee will receive the designation at a ceremony on Wednesday in the Jackson County town.

The Kentucky Trail Town Program is designed to help connect communities to trail systems and develop them as tourist destinations. It’s aimed at helping guide travelers to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services.

The designation aims to help communities improve their tourism economy.

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Whitesville votes to become ‘wet’ city, allow alcohol sales

WHITESVILLE (AP) — Whitesville residents have voted to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city.

Media outlets report that voters went to the polls Tuesday to answer the question, “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city of Whitesville?” The results were a decisive yes, with the measure passing 114 to 56.

Whitesville held its last wet-dry election in 2012, and anti-wet voters won 71 to 66.

The next step will be for the Whitesville City Commission to hire an alcohol beverage control administrator and set the licensing fees for package liquor stores and bars.

Whitesville City Commissioner Bob Abell says alcohol sales will likely be discussed at the commission’s next meeting on July 5.

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2 dead, 2 injured in shooting at Louisville apartment

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Louisville Metro Police say two men have died and two other people have been injured in a shooting at a Louisville apartment.

Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley told media outlets that the shootings were reported about 10 p.m. Tuesday at an apartment near Churchill Downs. She said two men were pronounced dead at the scene. Another man and a woman were taken to a hospital. Their conditions haven’t been released.

Smiley said officers think the woman lived in the apartment.

She said the homicide unit has taken over the investigation.

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