News in Brief

Ky. unemployment rate falls to 5 percent

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s unemployment rate fell to 5 percent in September for the first time in 14 years.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 5.1 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Kentucky’s rate dropped from 5.2 percent in August.

Kentucky’s civilian labor force lost 11,369 people in September. Employment was down by more than 7,800. But the number of unemployed also decreased by more than 3,500.

Manoj Shanker, an economist with the Office of Employment and Training, noted Kentucky’s labor force is shrinking as the state has a larger proportion of retirement-aged people than the national average. But Shanker noted Kentucky’s labor market has improved, outperforming the national average in 13 out of the last 14 months.

Shanker also noted Kentuckians’ average weekly earnings have increased at more than twice the rate from last year.


Audit finds flaws in kynect, rates it ‘generally effective’

FRANKFORT (AP) — Federal auditors say Kentucky officials had trouble making sure everyone purchasing discounted health insurance plans on kynect met all of the federal requirements.

An audit from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General said Kentucky’s health insurance exchange was generally effective in determining a person’s eligibility. But officials did not always properly verify some applicants’ identity or their eligibility for minimum essential coverage.

The findings do not mean state officials allowed ineligible people to purchase qualified health plans because the state had other methods of catching the problems.

Kentucky officials agreed with the auditor’s findings and said they had fixed the problems. The system could have an influx of new shoppers as kynect’s largest insurer, the Kentucky Health Cooperative, announced last week it was going out of business.


University looking to enhance security after death threat

RICHMOND (AP) — Officials at Eastern Kentucky University say they will look for ways to enhance security at the school more than a week after a death threat was found in a campus restroom.

WYMT-TV reports Executive Director of Public Safety and Risk Management Bryan Makinen says the school is working on a request to engage a third-party vendor to help them assess the school’s infrastructure and give security recommendations.

Makinen says additional security cameras would be welcomed. He also says there were cameras installed at the building where the threat was written, but they weren’t able to see who was in the area.

The school cancelled classes on Oct. 7. Students returned to class Wednesday. The school is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the threat.


Enrollment starts for 2016 roadside farm market program

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The season for Kentucky’s roadside farm markets is continuing, but plans are under way for next year’s market season.

The Kentucky Farm Bureau says enrollment has started for the 2016 Certified Roadside Farm Market program.

Started in 1996, the program began as a way to help farmers market their fruits and vegetables directly from roadside markets to consumers. Since then, membership has expanded to include greenhouses, landscape nurseries, Christmas tree farms, vineyards/wineries and meat/cheese farm markets.

Markets certified through the program are identified by a sign with the cornucopia logo and listed in the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Certified Roadside Farm Market Directory. The program also provides collective advertising, promotional items and education tour opportunities.


Paducah woman takes plea after 28 cats seized from her home

PADUCAH (AP) — A Paducah woman who had 28 cats seized from her home by investigators has been barred from owning more than three felines.

The Paducah Sun reports that 74-year-old Janice Lady submitted an Alford plea Thursday to 28 counts of animal cruelty as part of an agreement with the county attorney’s office. Under an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict.

As part of the diversionary agreement, Lady must demonstrate over the next two years that she is complying with terms laid out by the county attorney’s office. If she meets those terms, including no longer feeding strays, the case will be dismissed in 2017.

Investigators say they found the cats living in deplorable conditions in May. Because the house was so packed with belongings, it took authorities four days to catch the cats.


Candidate’s radio show prompts complaint from GOP

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Republicans have targeted the Democratic candidate for Kentucky agriculture commissioner, saying Jean-Marie Lawson Spann violated campaign-finance laws by using her corporate-sponsored radio show to promote her campaign.

The Republican Party of Kentucky said Thursday it filed the complaint with the state Registry of Election Finance.

The complaint comes less than three weeks before the Nov. 3 election. Spann called it a “superficial political attack” meant to distract voters.

Spann is competing against Republican state Rep. Ryan Quarles for the job of running the state Department of Agriculture.

The first-term incumbent, James Comer, opted to run for governor this year, losing narrowly in the GOP primary.

In their complaint, Republicans highlighted transcripts from episodes of the “Jean-Marie Ag Show” in claiming the program was used to trumpet her campaign. It amounted to illegal contributions to her campaign from the show’s corporate backer, the GOP claimed.


Louisville’s needle-exchange program spreads to suburbs

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Louisville’s needle-exchange program is spreading to the suburbs as demand for needle swaps has surpassed expectations.

Starting next week, the city’s first community needle-exchange site will open at Lake Dreamland Fire Station in southwestern Louisville, local health officials said Thursday. They hope to expand the outreach to other locations across Kentucky’s largest city.

The sites — a response to the region’s struggles with heroin addiction — offer a place where addicts can swap dirty needles for clean ones. The goal is to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C and to steer drug users toward treatment.

Kentucky has the nation’s highest rate of acute hepatitis C.

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Jessica Green said the satellite sites will serve people unable to make it downtown, where needle exchanges began last June in a unit outside the city’s Public Health and Wellness headquarters.

Green said the outreach should not cause concern among area residents.

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