News in Brief


Ky. officials agreed to confidential deal

FRANKFORT (AP) — A published report says state officials agreed to keep details of a proposed oil spill deal secret, but a judge rejected the idea.

The Courier-Journal reports the proposed settlement came in the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s case against Childers Oil Co. The eastern Kentucky business had been cited multiple times for contaminating a section of the Kentucky River when diesel fuel leaked on its property in Whitesburg.

The proposed agreement sought to have Childers pay the state $48,057 and included a confidentiality clause in which the cabinet would seal the settlement, keeping terms secret.

The proposal came before Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate on Sept. 18. He rejected it, citing a missing signature on the proposed agreement. In the same order, he also rejected the request for confidentiality.

Jon Fleischaker, an attorney for The Courier-Journal, said the confidentiality agreement would have violated the state’s Open Records Act.

“I think Judge Wingate did exactly the right thing. Such an agreement with a confidentiality clause is unenforceable because under the Open Records Law, a contract — which is what a settlement agreement is — is a public document and they cannot mutually agree to make it a non-public document,” Fleischaker said.

The cabinet’s general counsel, Mike Haines, said the agency has a right to keep terms secret in such cases.

“But I would agree that it’s rare,” Haines said.

He said the state agreed to the clause because it was the only way Childers Oil would agree to pay the entire amount of the state’s cost to respond to the spill plus a penalty.

“We did it to resolve the case,” he said.

Susan Maines, the attorney for Childers Oil, didn’t respond to the newspaper’s attempts to seek comment.

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Police: 5-year-old fatally hit by Butler Co. school bus

MORGANTOWN (AP) — Kentucky State Police say a 5-year-old boy has been fatally struck by a school bus in south-central Kentucky.

State police spokesman B.J. Eaton told the Daily News in Bowling Green that police were called around 3:20 p.m. CDT Monday to the scene on Kentucky 70 about four miles west of Morgantown.

Eaton says the child was hit at his scheduled stop after the Butler County school bus stopped in front of a residence to let children exit.

Butler County Coroner Marty Jones says the child was pronounced dead about 15 minutes later. The boy’s name hasn’t been released.

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13 students taken to hospital after school buses collide

SHELBYVILLE (AP) — A school official says 13 students in Shelby County have been taken to a hospital after two buses crashed near a high school.

Ryan Allan, who is the spokesman for Shelby County Public Schools, told media that the crash happened Tuesday morning near the entrance to Shelby County High School when there was confusion about which bus had the right of way.

Allan said both buses were travelling at a low speed when they collided. One bus was empty except for the driver. The other was carrying about 20 students to the Area Technology Center.

Allan said 13 students were taken to Jewish Hospital to be checked out. He said none of the injuries were serious.

Both bus drivers were also taken to the hospital.

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August US mine impact inspections result in 193 citations

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Federal inspectors issued 193 citations and 13 orders at U.S. mine operations in August.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says it conducted the inspections at 14 coal mines and seven other mines.

The special impact inspections were conducted in 12 states, including Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

The inspections began in 2010 after the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia killed 29 miners.

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College wins grant for work on preventing military injuries

(AP) — University of Kentucky researchers secured a $4.2 million grant Monday to look for ways to prevent training injuries among elite U.S. military members. It’s part of a new campus initiative to reduce injuries from athletic fields to military training fields.

UK’s team will work directly with the Marines’ special operations command, university officials said. The Defense Department grant will back research to help optimize performance among those elite forces. The goal is to help them during military service and enable them to lead healthy, productive lives after their time in the military, UK officials said.

Service members “say they want to be able to play ball with their kids, and because of what we do, when they retire they’re going to be able to do so,” UK President Eli Capilouto said at the announcement in Lexington. “This work will help support the brave souls on the front line … who defend our country.”

Military training injuries are often similar to those sustained by athletes, including torn ACLs, rotator cuff injuries, lower back pain, shoulder dislocation and ankle sprains, school officials said.

The award is the largest ever received by UK’s College of Health Sciences, campus officials said.

It coincides with the establishment of the UK Sports Science Research Institute on the university’s Lexington campus.

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Quarantine extended 20 years because of blackbird droppings

HOPKINSVILLE (AP) — The Christian County Board of Health has extended a decades-long quarantine an additional 20 years for property along a Hopkinsville street where a massive blackbird roost contaminated the soil more than 40 years ago.

The Kentucky New Era reports that the board voted unanimously and without discussion Monday to extend the quarantine, which sets criteria that any property owner would have to follow prior to any development occurring on the land. The Pardue Lane quarantine started in 1979 and would have expired in January 2016.

Christian County Health Department Director Mark Pyle says disturbing the soil could lead to histoplasmosis, a lung infection caused by breathing in spores of a fungus often found in blackbird droppings.

According to a 1996 report, approximately 80,000 blackbirds roosted on the site in the early 1970s.

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Kelley Paul files husband Rand’s S. Carolina primary papers

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Rand Paul is now officially a candidate in South Carolina’s presidential primary.

On Tuesday, Paul’s wife, Kelley, stopped by South Carolina’s Republican Party headquarters in Columbia to file her husband’s papers to participate in the GOP nominating contest.

South Carolina is home to the first Republican presidential primary in the South. Nearly all candidates remaining in the race have officially handed in their paperwork and filing fee to participate.

Kelley Paul told The Associated Press that her husband is committed to continuing his campaign and that it’s too early to rely on polling data. She says endorsements like the one from U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney show Rand Paul’s conservative credentials.

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Key GOP group stops running ads in Ky. governor’s race

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Republican Governor’s Association has stopped running TV ads for Matt Bevin with a little more than a month to go in Kentucky’s competitive governor’s race.

The association has spent $3 million on six ads for Bevin, mostly attacking his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway, for supporting the policies of Democratic President Barack Obama. But with two other governor’s races this fall RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said the group is “re-evaluating what is best for us to do.”

“We continually re-evaluate what role the RGA plays of how helpful we can be,” Thompson said, adding the decision does not mean the group has lost faith in Bevin’s chances of winning. He said the group could go back on the air before November.

The move is a big blow for Bevin, who has aired just one TV ad of his own after spending more than $1 million of his personal fortune to win a four-way Republican primary in May. And it comes one week after Conway began airing a series of TV ads titled “In his own words” that splice together clips of Bevin contradicting himself on issues including education, agriculture, taxes and health care.

Whenever Conway aired a new ad over the summer, the RGA would usually respond. But not this time. Thompson said the move is normal given “multiple governor’s races” the group has to plan for. But the only other races on the calendar this year are in Mississippi and Louisiana. The association has not spent money in those states yet, although Thompson said the group could begin airing ads in the Louisiana governor’s race.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto declined to comment on the RGA, saying the two groups are not allowed to coordinate their ad campaigns. But Ditto said Bevin’s campaign will begin airing a new TV ad on Wednesday following the campaign’s first ad last week, a 30-second spot that mimicked a football pregame show depicting Bevin as “Team Kentucky” and Conway as “Team Obama.” And, she added, Bevin was filming a third TV spot on Monday.

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TVA’s Sequoyah reactors have licenses renewed

SODDY-DAISY, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed operating licenses for both reactors at Tennessee Valley Authority’s Sequoyah Nuclear Plant in Soddy-Daisy.

The 20-year renewals take effect in 2020 and 2021. Unit 1 was originally issued an operating license in 1980, followed a year later by Unit 2.

TVA says the units have generated more than 500 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity. Together with Browns Ferry near Decatur, Alabama, and Watts Bar near Spring City, Tennessee, TVA says nuclear power routinely provides more than 30 percent of TVA’s total power generation. Completion of Watts Bar Unit 2 early next year will increase nuclear generation to nearly 40 percent.

TVA is the nation’s largest public utility, supplying power to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Comer greeted at hemp meeting, plans return to private life

LEXINGTON (AP) — Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said Monday he plans to “ride off into the sunset” when his term ends in December after an agonizing defeat in May’s Republican primary for governor by just 83 votes.

But judging by the reaction Comer received at the Hemp Industries Association’s annual conference on Monday, he might have some political life left in him.

“He is a bit of a rock star around here,” said Eric Steenstra, executive director of the association, which is holding its annual conference in Kentucky for the first time.

Comer built his political career on hemp, the less potent cousin of marijuana that has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years thanks to its other uses in health care and manufacturing. When Comer first ran for office, hemp was illegal to grow in Kentucky. Four years later 121 growers have planted 1,742 acres of hemp across the state, including research plots at seven state universities. Even Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader of the U.S. Senate, posed for a picture in front of a hemp crop at the University of Kentucky recently.

Monday, Comer told the conference Kentucky is the leading industrial hemp-producing state in the country. And he recounted the political risks he took to make that happen, including taking on leaders of his own party while becoming the only Republican to win a statewide election in 2011. The crowd gave him a standing ovation and many mobbed him in the hallway after his speech, seeking pictures and advice on future hemp legislation.

But Comer’s political ambitions were thwarted by Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who survived a furious four-way Republican primary in May to take on Democratic nominee Jack Conway for governor in November. Comer’s campaign was rocked when a former girlfriend wrote a letter to the Courier-Journal alleging Comer had abused her while the two dated in college. Comer forcefully denied the allegations.

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