News in Brief

Alpha Natural Resources to sell at least 16 closed mines

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — One of the country’s biggest coal producers, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, is getting ready to sell at 16 inactive mines in four states.

Alpha Natural Resources is planning to sell shuttered mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, according to documents filed this week in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia.

The company, which is headquartered in Bristol, Virginia, wants bids to be placed by Jan. 20, 2016. The sale procedures will be considered during a Nov. 5 hearing.

Citing “adverse market conditions,” the company said earlier this month that it plans to idle two mines in West Virginia’s Raleigh County and lay off 92 workers at the end of November. The Register-Herald reports that it’s unclear whether the 79-person operation at the Edwight Surface Mine and 13-person operation at the Independence Coal Co.’s Tunnel Mine will be among those that are put for sale.

Alpha operates about 60 coal mines, many in parts of Appalachia that have seen the sharpest declines in coal demand and coal prices. Coal prices have plunged in recent years as utilities have switched increasingly to natural gas, partly because of price, but also because of changing regulations.

When Alpha filed for bankruptcy in August, it was the fourth big coal producer to do so within the last two years.


Manhunt prompts Ky. school district to call off classes

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Kentucky school district has canceled classes as police search for a 62-year-old man accused of shooting and wounding a Tennessee police officer and then firing at a state trooper in Kentucky.

Authorities believe the suspect, Floyd Ray Cook, is on foot. He was last seen in the hilly, wooded countryside in Cumberland County, Kentucky, which borders Tennessee. Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Gregory says Cook is “as dangerous as they come.”

Classes were called off Monday in Cumberland County as the manhunt continued.

Superintendent Kirk Biggerstaff says the search has people unsettled.

Cook is accused of wounding the Tennessee officer during a traffic stop Saturday in Putnam County. Authorities say a bulletproof vest saved the officer’s life. Cook is accused of shooting at the Kentucky trooper later Saturday.


Rep. Clark’s bill to aid opioid-exposed infants gains ground

BOSTON (AP) — A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark intended to help newborns suffering from exposure to opioids is making its way through Congress.

The Massachusetts Democrat said the bill instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to come up with the best approach for diagnosing and treating “neonatal abstinence syndrome,” and helping states collect data on the problem.

Clark’s legislation was approved in the Senate this week after being introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania.

The House earlier approved a similar version of the bill.

Clark said Congress has a moral obligation to make the opioid crisis a national priority. She said newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal are the youngest victims of the battle with the epidemic.


Ky. to receive $6 million grant for new veterans cemetery

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s plans to create a veterans cemetery in Leslie County will be backed by a grant from the National Cemetery Administration.

The cemetery will serve veterans and their families from southeastern Kentucky.

Gov. Steve Beshear’s office says the National Cemetery Administration plans to award a $6 million grant for the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery South East. The office says the final grant award will be made after the state Department of Veterans Affairs completes the project’s design phase early next year.

Construction on the project is set for next year. The cemetery will be located on about 40 acres along Kentucky Highway 118 just north of Hyden.

Construction will include an entry gate, administration and maintenance buildings, committal shelter and a columbarium.


Education campaign emphasizes safe sleep for infants

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky officials have launched a campaign aimed at making sure babies are sleeping safely.

Officials are pushing the initiative because Sudden Unexpected Infant Death happens in about 85 infants each year in Kentucky. Public health officials say many of those deaths are preventable.

In an effort to decrease the number of deaths, officials began a campaign this month to remind the public of the “ABCs” of safe sleep.

Dr. Ruth Shepherd at the Kentucky Department of Public Health told The Courier-Journal that the safest way for babies to sleep is “alone, on the back, in a crib.”


Couple who sued Ky. clerk Kim Davis marry

MOREHEAD (AP) — April Miller and Karen Roberts stood before a minister Saturday night, hand-in-hand, and said the two words they fought for months to exchange.

“I will.”

The people packed into the room around them jumped into a standing ovation. They all wore matching rainbow buttons that read (hash)LoveWins.

The couple, the first denied a license by Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, celebrated their wedding Saturday, capping a months-long saga that landed them in the middle of a national firestorm over religious freedom and civil rights.

They laid out one rule for their guests: no one was to mention Davis.

“This is about us and our wedding,” Roberts said.


UK proposes $250 million campus renovation project

(AP) — A massive campus construction phase still underway has resulted in new residence halls, classrooms and research labs at the University of Kentucky. Now school officials want to take another step to transform the Lexington campus — a $250 million plan to renovate many of its older buildings.

UK said Saturday it plans to ask Kentucky lawmakers for $125 million in state bonds next year to help pay for the multi-year project to renovate and revitalize its campus core. Other funding would come from agency bonds, other university sources and private gifts.

“We aren’t asking for a blank check but an investment and partnership with the state that we serve, so that we can do even more in education, research, service, care and creative scholarship,” UK President Eli Capilouto said.

The request signals a change in strategy at the state’s flagship university. Its capital requests to lawmakers typically seek state money for construction of new buildings, but now the school’s renovation plan looms as its top capital priority for the 2016 General Assembly session.

Lawmakers convene the session in early January and their top priority will be passing a new two-year state budget.

The need to fix up aging buildings has been an ongoing problem at UK, where a 2006 study determined the sprawling campus had more than $1 billion in deferred maintenance needs. The renovation plans unveiled Saturday would target the “historical core of the campus that is in desperate need of modernization,” said Eric N. Monday, UK’s executive vice president of finance and administration.


Children to be trained in heroin overdose reversal drug

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS (AP) — A Kentucky mother is hoping to teach children how to reverse a heroin overdose with a life-saving drug.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports that Jennifer Stepp of the community-based Bullitt County Opioid Addiction Team plans to teach children on Nov. 21 how to use the non-narcotic naloxone to restore breathing in those overdosing. Stepp said she will provide details on her training early in November.

A company that makes a naloxone-administering device similar to the Epi-pen has donated kits for Stepp’s training.

Northern Kentucky certified addiction expert Dr. Mina “Mike” Kalfas says children in the region are realizing the danger of drugs and may one day find someone dead from an overdose.

A Kentucky Health Issues Poll in 2014 revealed that 26 percent of those surveyed in Northern Kentucky knew someone with a heroin problem.


Inmates beat another inmate after getting false information

PIKEVILLE (AP) — Officials say four inmates have been charged with felony assault after beating another inmate.

Jailer Freddie Lewis tells WYMT-TV the four inmates beat Matthew Dotson earlier this month at the Pike County jail after they were given false information about him. Lewis says the inmates heard Dotson was in prison on child molestation charges. Dotson, however, was arrested on theft charges.

Lewis says Dotson was kicked, punched and hit with a lunch tray. He had cuts on his face and knots on his head.

Lieutenant Johnny Cooper says the inmates, Larry Kendrick, James Rowe, Derek Nunemaker and Adam Charles, have been put in isolation until further notice.

Dotson has since been released from prison, the news organization reports.


Edelen seeks 2nd term in race against Harmon

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s race for state auditor is a matchup between a Democratic incumbent who has flexed the office’s watchdog muscle and a staunchly conservative Republican state lawmaker making another bid for statewide office.

Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen and GOP Rep. Mike Harmon are competing in the Nov. 3 election for the job as Kentucky’s chief financial watchdog.

The race stacks up as a mismatch financially, with Edelen — seen by many as a rising star in his party — able to dip into a campaign fund with more than $500,000 on hand for the final weeks of the campaign. Harmon had several thousand dollars left in his campaign treasury.

Late in the campaign, Edelen aired an ad portraying Harmon as a jet-setting lawmaker who met with special-interest groups at taxpayers’ expense. Harmon called the ad ridiculous, including the implication he was served an alcoholic drink aboard a jet. Harmon said he’s a teetotaler.

“Even though I am greatly outgunned financially, apparently I must be doing well,” he said. “We’ll just continue to be the David and Goliath.”

Harmon, meanwhile, has to contend with Edelen’s first-term record of finding waste in government.


Ky. AG’s race pits son of governor vs lawmaker

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s race for attorney general has featured rhetorical attacks worthy of a courtroom drama, pitting a venerable political brand name against an up-and-coming state lawmaker. The candidates, both in their 30s, have been quick to bad-mouth each other’s qualifications.

Looming as a wild card is two-term Gov. Steve Beshear, who has a personal stake in the outcome.

Beshear’s son, Andy, a prominent trial attorney, is the Democratic nominee. His Republican opponent is freshman state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, who serves as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

The race to become Kentucky’s chief law-enforcement officer has turned into a multi-million-dollar slugfest that has the candidates hurling conflict-of-interest accusations at each other. The winner replaces Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for governor in the Nov. 3 election.


State seeks more people to serve on teacher tribunals

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Education is trying to recruit additional educators and non-educators to serve on teacher tribunals.

Under state law, before a teacher is fired or suspended by a school district, the teacher has the right to appeal the decision and have the case heard by a tribunal. Each tribunal consists of a retired or current public school teacher, a retired or current public school certified administrator and a layperson.

None of them can live in the district from which the appeal was made.

The hearing is overseen by a hearing officer from the attorney general’s office.

State officials say people currently in the pool for assignment to a teacher tribunal or those who have already served on a tribunal will need to reapply and undergo training to continue to serve.


New UK research building to focus on state’s health woes

LEXINGTON (AP) — The University of Kentucky is getting set to start work on a new building for researchers who will focus on the state’s health problems.

The $265 million research facility on the school’s Lexington campus is scheduled for completion in spring 2018. Gov. Steve Beshear, legislators and UK officials gathered Friday for a ceremonial groundbreaking. Beshear says the research has the potential to improve many lives in Kentucky and beyond.

Half of the funding for the building is coming from the state, and the rest will come from university resources, including private gifts.

The researchers will focus on combating Kentucky’s high rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and drug abuse.

UK officials say the new building will be linked to other major research space on campus.


Pennyrile Parkway transitioning to I-69

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky transportation officials say contractors have begun changing exit numbers along the Pennyrile Parkway in western Kentucky as the roadway makes the transition to Interstate 69.

Kevin McClearn, who is the chief engineer for District 2 of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, told The Paducah Sun that state officials have asked crews to make the transition as quickly as possible to reduce possible confusion by travelers. He said there could be instances when the exit number on the panel sign doesn’t match the number at the end of the ramp.

Currently, I-69 ends at the Pennyrile Parkway and Western Kentucky Parkway near Nortonville.

McClearn said signs along the Pennyrile Parkway will be changed over the next month, though the official transition to I-69 is still weeks away.

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