State News in Brief

Coal ash pond plan approved by Public Service Commission

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Kentucky Public Service Commission has approved compliance plans totaling nearly $1 billion by the state’s two largest utility companies to close and cap ponds that store coal ash from power plants.

The agency says in a release that the settlement approved Monday reduces the initial electric bill increases for customers of Kentucky Utilities. For those customers, the rate hikes will peak in 2022, three years later than the original proposal. For Louisville Gas & Electric customers, the highest increase is in 2020.

Kentucky Utilities will spend $675 million to meet new federal environmental requirements for coal ash ponds at five sites. LG&E will spend more than $300 million to cap ash ponds at Mill Creek and Trimble County generating stations.

The two utilities combine for about 900,000 customers.


Ky. man who posted violent song lyrics wins civil lawsuit

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A western Kentucky man who spent several days in jail for posting violent song lyrics to Facebook has settled a lawsuit against the county where he was jailed.

The federal lawsuit was brought against Muhlenberg County and the officer who arrested James Evans in 2014. The settlement announced Monday awarded Evans $60,000.

Evans posted song lyrics in 2014 from heavy metal band Exodus that included the words “student bodies lying dead in the halls,” prompting complaints to school officials. The American Civil Liberties Union took up Evans’ defense and the terroristic threatening charge was eventually dropped. The ACLU says in a release that Evans then sued the county and the officer.

Evans spent eight days in jail upon his arrest because he could not afford the $1,000 bond.


Remains identified as Florence man missing more than a month

WINCHESTER (AP) — Kentucky State Police say the remains of a man who was reported missing more than a month ago have been found in central Kentucky.

Police said in a news release Monday that the remains were found near Winchester on Friday. They were identified as those of 38-year-old Robert Jones.

Jones and his girlfriend, 35-year-old Crystal Warner, both of Florence, went missing July 3. Police said the search for Warner continues.

Last month, 52-year-old Craig Pennington of Springfield was indicted on two counts of murder and other charges, including kidnapping, tampering with evidence, theft, terroristic threatening, abuse of a corpse and menacing.

Jones was identified through dental records. Police said additional testing will be used to try to determine an exact cause of death.


Attorney general: U of L foundation wrongly withheld records

FRANKFORT (AP) — The office of Kentucky’s attorney general has found that the University of Louisville Foundation wrongly withheld records about conflicts of interests and staff salaries.

The Courier-Journal reports that the office ruled on Aug. 5 that the foundation improperly denied records to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

Assistant Attorney General Amye Bensenhaver said in an opinion that the foundation told KyCIR that the request about the conflicts of interests was burdensome. Bensenhaver also said that the foundation refused to supply salary records for its employees because it said the request was overly broad.

Bensenhaver says the foundation failed to support any of its claims.

The foundation can appeal the opinion of the office to circuit court.


Officials: 1 dead after police-involved shooting in Ky.

GEORGETOWN (AP) — Kentucky State Police say one man is dead following a shooting involving officers.

State police say in a news release that 34-year-old Juan J. Godines of Camden, South Carolina, died Monday near the Scott-Woodford County line.

Authorities say troopers tried to conduct a traffic stop on Godines, who had several warrants against him related to an earlier domestic incident.

Godines fled and was chased by officers. He later crashed into some trees and fled on foot into a wooded area, where police followed.

Authorities say that’s when they encountered the suspect, who was armed. Police say shots were fired and Godines was pronounced dead. The news release did not say if Godines was struck by gunfire from officers.

No officers were injured. The investigation is ongoing.


Trial begins for man accused of killing, dismembering woman

LEXINGTON (AP) — Trial is underway in Kentucky for a Lexington man accused of killing and dismembering a woman nearly two years ago.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports 60-year-old Paris R. Charles’ trial began Monday on murder and abuse of a corpse charges in the death of 50-year-old Goldia Massey.

Massey’s son reported her missing in October 2014. Authorities say her arm was found along the Kentucky River in Henry County that month. Her torso was found along the river in Jessamine County that December.

Prosecutor Rewa Zakharia told jurors police found box cutters, saws and saw blades in Charles’ home during a search.

He was arrested in February 2015.

Charles’ attorney Leslie Smith maintains her client’s innocence. She says Massey’s son gave police differing dates about when he had last seen his mother.


Officials raise concerns over planned Ferris wheel

NEWPORT (AP) — Officials have raised safety concerns over plans to build a 235-foot Ferris wheel along Newport’s riverfront.

Local news outlets report that the Louisville District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter June 28 to Mayor Jerry Peluso, warning him that the project would weaken the levee’s system.

The agency is now asking developer Koch Development to consider alternate locations or to submit more detailed documents that are commensurate to the approval level required to build the Ferris wheel.

Army Corps levee safety officer John Bock also suggested incorporating a new floor wall section into the design or designing a Ferris wheel foundation that’s independent of the levee embankment.

Koch Development Managing Director Matthew Stack said in a statement Monday that the company is resubmitting plans to address the concerns of the Army Corps.

The SkyWheel would sit along the Ohio River and offer people panoramic views of Ohio and Kentucky.

Koch Development has said it would begin construction after the design and construction plans are approved by the Army Corps. Stack said the project is expected to be built in about 12 months.


UK to appeal open records and open meetings violations

LEXINGTON (AP) — The University of Kentucky will appeal an opinion that determined the school violated the state’s Open Records Act and the Open Meetings Act.

Local news outlets report that University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto made the announcement in a campus-wide email Monday.

The school will appeal two opinions by the office of Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear. The first opinion found that the university had violated the open records law after turning down a request from the Kentucky Kernel for documents related to a sexual harassment case. The second opinion found that the university violated the Open Meetings Act when it conducted business but did not keep minutes at a Board of Trustees dinner.

Capilouto says the privacy of community members is more important than transparency in this case.


Ky. schools receive grants for artist residencies

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Arts Council says it has awarded a Teaching Art Together grant that will fund an artist residency in eight schools in the eastern part of the state.

A statement from the agency says the grant will allow teachers to collaborate with professional artists, who will design and implement one- to four-week residencies at the schools.

The schools that received grant money are located in Knox, Clay, Jackson and Owsley counties. Some of the artists who will teach at different schools include basket weaver Dianne Simpson, writer Judy Sizemore and musician Mitch Barrett.

Diana Mills, who was the grant writer for Barbourville City School in Knox County, said the grant will help broaden the educational horizons of students.

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