State News in Brief


10 cases of flu confirmed in Ky.

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Public Health reports it has confirmed that the flu virus is circulating in parts of the state.

The agency says in a news release that 10 cases have been confirmed in Bullitt, Fayette and Jefferson counties. The release says that may indicate the flu season is starting early in Kentucky. It typically begins in October or November.

Public Health Commissioner Hiram C. Polk recommends getting a flu vaccination as well as taking simple preventative step such as washing hands frequently.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends people ages 6 months and older get the flu vaccine. The agency recommends not using the nasal spray vaccine because it has been shown to be ineffective.

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Bevin says funding issue resolved for broadband network

FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin says the state has resolved a funding issue for a project to build a statewide broadband network.

A group of private companies has borrowed $289 million to build the network. Kentucky officials had promised to pay the companies about $28 million a year for internet service, including $13 million from the state’s public school districts. But state officials soon found they could not use the money from public school districts, creating a $13 million gap.

Finance Secretary William Landrum said the state has signed several agreements with private telecom companies that will save the state more than $10 million. He also said the state plans to sell excess capacity from the network to private companies.

Bevin said the project will be finished and has the “absolute commitment” of this administration.

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New survey shows Ky. pension system is worst funded

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A new survey shows Kentucky’s pension system has the lowest ratio of all states of money needed to make payouts to current and future retirees.

WFPL-FM reports the survey by S&P Global Ratings shows Kentucky has $31.2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, and the state’s various pension funds have 37.4 percent of the money needed for current and future retiree payouts.

State pension officials reported last month that the main pension fund for state workers is only 17 percent funded.

Officials blame $326 million of the $347 million loss over the last fiscal year on “negative cash flows associated with employer contributions.” That includes funds from local governments, the state and other agencies that participate in the Kentucky Employees Retirement Systems. Officials also cited a 4 percent increase in the number of retirees to whom the system had to pay benefits.

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Repairs at Richmond chemical weapons plant nearly complete

RICHMOND (AP) — Workers have nearly finished $15 million worth of repairs at a central Kentucky chemical weapons destruction plant.

The Richmond Register reports officials with Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass, the general contractor for the plant in Madison County, told the Kentucky Chemical Demilitarization Citizens’ Advisory Board Wednesday that work on repairing 4,000 defective piping welds should be completed in November.

Bechtel Parsons Project Manager Ron Hink says it’s still from General Atomics of San Diego, which had a subcontractor place the initial welds.

The massive complex was built to dismantle and destroy chemical weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond.

The facility is expected to start operations in 2020. Hink says the repair work caused very little delay as other issues pushed back the start about six months.

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Journalism faculty ask UK president to apologize, drop suit

LEXINGTON (AP) — Fifteen journalism and media faculty members from the University of Kentucky are asking university President Eli Capilouto to apologize and drop the university’s open records lawsuit against the student paper.

Al Cross, who signed the letter, said it was delivered to Capilouto on Thursday afternoon.

The university is suing the Kentucky Kernel, which sought documents relating to a sexual assault investigation involving a former professor.

The letter to Capilouto said his remark last week to the board of trustees that the newspaper published “salacious details to attract readers” challenged the paper’s reputation and that of its editor and “cast aspersions on journalism faculty.”

University spokesman Jay Blanton said while the concerns are appreciated, the disagreement is about the privacy of victims and is rightly being determined in court.

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News organization sues UofL Foundation over records

LOUISVILLE (AP) — WFPL-FM’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has filed a lawsuit against the University of Louisville Foundation to force the release of documents.

WFPL reports that the Kentucky attorney general has ruled that the foundation violated Kentucky open records law by refusing to release documents to the center.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Jefferson County Circuit Court. It seeks an injunction to force the foundation to release ethics and disclosure forms, along with payroll and financial documents the center first requested in February.

WFPL said the foundation has said the records requests were burdensome because they were “overly broad and blanket in nature.”

The foundation manages the university’s some $700 million endowment.

A spokesman said the foundation’s attorneys are reviewing the lawsuit and that foundation Chairman Bob Hughes doesn’t comment on active litigation.

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School security monitor accused of head slam suspended

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Kentucky school worker accused of slamming a girl’s head into a table has been suspended.

The Courier-Journal reports district officials confirmed that Kevin Watson was suspended Wednesday with pay indefinitely as the incident at the school is reinvestigated.

The report says a student at the Breckinridge Metropolitan High School in Louisville sustained a head injury after Watson, a security monitor, used a Aikido martial arts training technique to physically restrain her last September.

Watson received a written reprimand in February that appeared to blame the injury on a restraint gone wrong.

State officials have raised concerns that the method, used for several years in some schools, can result in injury and broken bones.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt last month ordered public schools to stop using the technique.

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Kentucky Virtual Library names new director

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Virtual Library has named a new director.

She is Ilona N. Burdette, who has been director of library services for 17 years at St. Catharine College. She was previously director of Marion County Public Library in Lebanon.

Burdette says she hopes to ensure that students, educators and individuals across Kentucky know about the resources available through the Virtual Library and improve ease of access.

The Virtual Library is a program of the Council on Postsecondary Education. It was launched in 1999 and provides access to library and information resources to Kentucky citizens through member libraries.

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Ex-substitute teacher pleads not guilty to sex charges

PADUCAH (AP) — A female former substitute teacher in Kentucky accused of having sex with two male students has pleaded not guilty.

The Paducah Sun reports 28-year-old Kasey Warren of Bardwell appeared in McCracken Circuit Court on Thursday, where she pleaded not guilty to charges of third-degree rape and third-degree sodomy.

The charges came after Kentucky State Police received a report on June 28 that Warren had sex with two 16-year-old students in McCracken County. Warren was taken into custody last month. She has since been released on bond.

Kentucky State Police spokesman Michael Robichaud says Warren was charged with rape because she abused her position of power. He says Warren was hired by the Carlisle County school system in January, but is no longer employed there.

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