State News in Brief

20 percent of Kentucky grads hit all ACT college benchmarks

FRANKFORT (AP) — Newly released ACT scores show only a fifth of Kentucky’s 2016 high school graduates met all the benchmarks that show they are ready for college-level coursework.

News outlets report that the scores, released Wednesday, didn’t move significantly compared to the Class of 2015.

More students in the Class of 2016 were able to reach ACT’s benchmark score in English than in other subjects. A benchmark score is an achievement level that reflects a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher in a first-year college class.

Forty percent of students met the reading benchmark, a 1 percent increase from last year. Scores went down in other subjects, with 59 percent meeting the English benchmark, 31 percent meeting the math benchmark and 30 percent meeting the science benchmark.


Coomes hired for health policy role in Bevin administration

FRANKFORT (AP) — A longtime economics professor at the University of Louisville is joining Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration in a key health policy role.

Paul Coomes has been appointed as executive director of the state Office of Health Policy.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson.

She says Coomes will lead the office responsible for health planning and policy research as well as administering the state’s Certificate of Need Program.

Coomes is a past chairman of the economics department at UofL and is past president of the Kentucky Economic Association.

Coomes is descended from William and Jane Coomes, who arrived in 1774 at Fort Harrod in Kentucky.


Eastern Kentucky University considers cutting programs

RICHMOND (AP) — Eastern Kentucky University is deciding if it will cut academic majors and minors with low enrollment.

Local news outlets report that the university’s academic affairs council will vote on Sept. 15 on a recommendation to cut or suspend 21 programs. The recommendation for suspension comes from a preliminary report by the school’s Academic Budget Review Subcommittee.

EKU spokeswoman Kristi Middleton says the recommendation doesn’t mean that those programs will be cut, but they will be reviewed. She also says students with majors on the list can still graduate with them and that many of the subjects will still be taught.

After Sept. 15, the academic council will send its recommendation to the faculty senate. The final recommendations will then be sent to the Board of Regents in December.


Jailed priest sued over ‘inappropriate’ student photos

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The parents of a young boy who claim their son was inappropriately photographed by a former Catholic priest are suing the Archdiocese of Louisville for negligence.

The lawsuit is the second involving Stephen Pohl by parents of a student at Margaret Mary Catholic School, where Pohl was pastor. Pohl pleaded guilty in March to a federal charge of viewing child pornography.

The Courier-Journal reports parents Daniel and Mary Agnes Hayden allege that their son was among the students who were photographed doing “inappropriate physical poses” ordered by Pohl.

The archdiocese declined to comment on the new lawsuit. It was filed Friday by attorney William McMurry. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

Police have said none of the photos Pohl took of students at the school were considered pornographic.


Ex-professor sues U of L; Says study was unsafe

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A former University of Louisville neurosurgery professor has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was fired for reporting patient care and safety issues to the federal government.

The Courier-Journal reports that in a lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court last week, Daniel Graves says he was terminated in violation of the Kentucky whistleblower protection law. He reported human subject procedures he says compromised patient care and violated state and federal regulations.

Graves was part of a research team led by Dr. Susan Harkema that was trying to measure whether a muscle relaxant helped paralyzed subjects suspended from a harness stand. The study lost federal funding for unresolved problems with oversight, among other concerns.

University spokesman Gary Mans says the Graves wasn’t fired, but that his contract expired.


State approves water rate increase for Lexington area

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Public Service Commission says it has approved a water rate increase for more than 100,000 customers in and around Lexington.

A statement from the agency says it approved a settlement Tuesday granting Kentucky-American Water a little less than half of the increase it requested.

The company had asked to increase its annual revenue by about $13 million a year, which would have added nearly $7 to an average residential bill. The PSC approved a rate adjustment that will increase its revenue by about $6.5 million, which will add about $3.60 to an average bill. The news rates take effect on Aug. 28.

Kentucky-American Water asked for a rate increase to recover the cost of system improvements and major construction projects.

The company serves more than 126,000 customers in 10 counties in central Kentucky.


Voters in 2 counties say ‘no’ to alcohol sales

CATLETTSBURG (AP) — Residents in two Kentucky communities have voted against referendums on alcohol sales.

Media report voters cast ballots Tuesday in Boyd County to decide whether to expand alcohol sales and in Casey County to decide whether to allow alcohol sales.

The measure in Boyd County, which already allows restaurants to sell drinks, would have expanded sales to package stores and allowed bars and smaller restaurants to apply for liquor licenses. The issued, which attracted 6,553 voters, lost by 1,105 ballots.

The measure in Casey County attracted 4,670 voters and lost by 127 ballots. The county is dry, so alcohol remains unavailable for purchase.

According to state law, communities have to wait at least three years to hold another local-option election after residents reject legalizing alcohol sales.


Man shot, killed on front porch of Louisville home

LOUSIVILLE (AP) — Authorities say a man has been shot and killed on the front porch of a home in Louisville.

Multiple media outlets report that Louisville Metro police say the shooting happened late Tuesday night in the Shelby Park neighborhood.

Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley says officers arrived at the home where they found the victim, a man in his 20s, who had been shot while on the front porch of the residence.

He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Smiley says there are no suspects in the case at this time.

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