State News in Brief

State slams Jefferson County Schools, orders review

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The state’s top education official has ordered a significant review after concerns emerged over Jefferson County Public Schools’ use of physical restraints and seclusion techniques.

The Courier-Journal reports that Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt wrote in a letter Wednesday that he is sending his staff to conduct an onsite review of JCPS’ management practices.

The newspaper reported in March that the school district had knowingly underreported to the state the number of times students were physically held down or confined to a room in schools.

The district originally told the state that it had restrained or secluded students 174 times in the 2014-2015 school year. That number was later revised to 4,165 incidents.

JCPS paid $1.75 million last month to the family of a 16-year-old autistic boy whose legs were broken when a teaching assistant physically restrained him.


Grimes slated to speak at DNC in Philadelphia next week

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes will speak to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.

Grimes was one of dozens of speakers added to the agenda on Thursday. The secretary of state is in her second term in office, having narrowly won re-election in November.

Grimes gained national prominence in 2014 for her challenge to veteran U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. McConnell won the race and would go on to become Senate majority leader.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton campaigned for Grimes several times in her Senate campaign. The Clinton family is close with Grimes and her family, including Jerry Lundergan, Grimes’ father and former chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party.

Grimes’ mother, Charlotte Lundergan, is a superdelegate pledged to support Clinton.


Man sentenced in beating death of Lexington chef

LEXINGTON (AP) — A Fayette County judge has sentenced a man convicted of murder and kidnapping in the death of a University of Kentucky chef to 49 years in prison.

Lexington media report the judge followed the jury’s recommendation in handing down the sentence for Robert Markham “Mark” Taylor during Friday’s hearing. Jurors found Taylor guilty in June of charges in the 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.

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


Deputy: Video shows foster child being abused, 2 arrested

STURGIS (AP) — Two western Kentucky women have been arrested after video surfaced appearing to show them confining an 11-year-old special needs foster child who was struggling to get away.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office tells news outlets that 41-year-old Marsha A. Gray and her 24-year-old daughter Suzanna M. Gray, both of Sturgis, were arrested Wednesday.

Deputy Jason Thomas says an online video shows Suzanna Gray covering the girl’s eyes and pulling her head back as the child screams. Marsha Gray later tries to slap the child.

Authorities say the girl, who wasn’t physically injured and was taken by social services, is Marsha Gray’s foster child.

Investigators believe the video was shot July 7.

Both Grays are charged with first-degree criminal abuse of a child under 12. It’s unclear whether they have attorneys.


Ali Center to host exhibit on race and human variation

LOUISVILLE (AP) — An exhibition that looks at race from biological, cultural and historical perspectives and challenges visitors to think about race and human variation is coming to the Muhammad Ali Center.

“RACE: Are We So Different?” opens to the public on September 24th, and is produced by the American Anthropological Association with assistance from the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Ali Center spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke says the topic of race has become increasingly significant and timely in recent months. She hopes the exhibit will “spur interest in learning more about the perceptions and realities of race” and encourage community dialogue.

In tandem with the exhibit, the Ali Center will facilitate “Talking Circles” for employees and co-workers that let them discuss race in a non-confrontational way.

More information is available at


Demolition of old western Ky. bridge slated for Monday

AURORA (AP) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the demolition of an old western Kentucky bridge is slated for next week.

Spokesman Keith Todd says crews plan to take down the four main spans of the old Eggners Ferry Bridge Monday morning by explosive demolition. Two shorter spans will be removed by crane on a later date.

A new bridge, which opened in April, now carries U.S. 68/Kentucky 80 traffic over the Kentucky Lake-Tennessee River navigation channel and connects Aurora, Kentucky, to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

Officials say traffic on the new bridge will be closed while the demolition takes place. Tow boat traffic will be halted for about 24 hours to accommodate cleanup after the demolition.

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