News in Brief


Bevin makes first hire for new administration

FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican Gov.-elect Matt Bevin has hired a Louisville attorney to be the first member of staff.

Bevin announced Tuesday that M. Stephen Pitt will be his general counsel. Pitt is a former assistant U.S. attorney and has been an attorney with Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs for 38 years. His clients have included Dupont, General Electric and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, of which Bevin is a major donor.

The 69-year-old Logan County native has a law degree from the University of Kentucky and is married with four grown daughters.

Pitt said he is impressed with Bevin and his vision for Kentucky. Bevin praised Pitt for his character and competence, saying he will make an excellent public servant.

A news release from Bevin’s transition team did not say how much Pitt will earn.

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Ohio River bridge at Milton, Madison is complete

MILTON (AP) — Transportation officials in Kentucky and Indiana say work is just about finished on the Milton-Madison Bridge over the Ohio River.

Officials say painting is complete, and traffic controls have been removed. All that’s left is restriping the pavement and performing some minor corrective work.

The nearly half-mile structure became the longest bridge in North America to be slid into place in April 2014. The original bridge first opened to traffic in 1929. Traffic continued moving between Madison, Indiana, and Milton, Kentucky, because of the bridge slide technique for all but 41 days of construction.

The bridge recently received top honors for innovation from the Southern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

A documentary on the building of the bridge can be seen at http://www.miltonmadisonbridge.com/ or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81CIFULaWCQ&feature=youtu.be.

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Verso Paper layoffs take toll on Ballard County budget

WICKLIFFE (AP) — Layoffs at the Verso Paper plant in Wickliffe could lead to a downsizing in county staff to make up for a potential $500,000 budget shortfall.

The Paducah Sun reports that about 300 workers at the plant are scheduled to lose their jobs this week as a result of the plant closing indefinitely. Verso spokeswoman Elizabeth Keyes says paper production stopped Nov. 3, and layoffs go into effect this week.

The plant has been the biggest employer in Ballard County for decades.

Ballard County Judge-Executive Vickie Viniard says her office will be losing about $500,000 in payroll taxes from Verso. She says the county could have to downsize and implement other cost-saving measures to make up for the lost funding.

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UK-affiliated medical foundation ordered to open records

LEXINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jack Conway has ruled that a foundation affiliated with the University of Kentucky must turn over its records for public inspection.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Conway recently ruled that because the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation — a nonprofit entity that pays all UK doctors — was created by UK and remains under its control, it’s a public agency subject to the state’s Open Records Act.

The foundation was questioned during the controversial ouster of surgeon Dr. Paul Kearney, who lost his clinical privileges in August after what officials deemed to have been unprofessional behavior. Kearney said UK administrators pursued the revocation only after he started asking questions about the foundation’s spending.

One of Kearney’s former students filed an appeal after the foundation turned down parts of his request for records.

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Frankfort considering needle exchange program

FRANKFORT (AP) — The city of Frankfort is considering a resolution that would establish a needle exchange program.

The State Journal of Frankfort reports that the Franklin County Fiscal Court approved a similar resolution last month. Health Department Executive Director Judy Mattingly says the program would allow those participating to remain anonymous, using a number identification.

It would operate one day a week from the county’s mobile command center, giving the program the ability to move to various locations in the county.

Health officials would supply enough clean needles for someone to get through a week without reusing one, and each time they return to get new needles they will have the opportunity to speak with a social worker.

The resolution will be up for a vote at a future commission meeting.

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Company expanding Lawrenceburg operation, adding 61 jobs

LAWRENCEBURG (AP) — Several dozen jobs are being added in Lawrenceburg where a porcelain tile manufacturer is expanding its operation.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced Monday that Florida Tile Inc. is investing more than $25 million in the central Kentucky manufacturing and distribution operation, adding 61 jobs.

A news release from Beshear’s office says Florida Tile will add manufacturing lines and equipment at its plant and expand the distribution center by more than 200,000 square feet.

Florida Tile was founded in 1954 in Florida and moved its headquarters to Lexington in 2010.

The state has approved tax incentives up to $450,000 for the project.

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University of Kentucky hoping to win food competition

LEXINGTON (AP) — The University of Kentucky landed at the bottom of the heap in a competition last year, but organizers are pushing for a better showing in this year’s SEC Game Winning Food drive.

Last year the Southeastern Conference’s UK, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State collected more than 9,200 cans of food for their communities.

The Big Blue Pantry is the recipient of proceeds from Kentucky’s food drive. UK said in a news release that about 200 students use the food bank regularly with more joining every week.

Any type of nonperishable food is accepted, but most needed are canned meat, cereal, canned fruit and vegetables, peanut butter and premade meals. Donate at the Johnson Center, Patterson Office Tower and University Health Services Building through Nov. 30.

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Daniel Boone National Forest waiving some fees on Wednesday

WINCHESTER (AP) — The Daniel Boone National Forest is waiving fees on Wednesday at several recreation areas in honor of Veterans Day.

The forest says the waivers apply to all forest visitors at designated locations.

Camping fees will be waived at Red River Gorge, Koomer Ridge Campground, Barren Fork Horse Camp, White Sulphur Horse Camp, Clear Creek Campground, Claylick Boat-in Campground and Bee Rock Campground. Backcountry campers staying overnight in the Red River Gorge area will not be required to have a fee permit.

Recreation fees will also be waived on Veterans Day at these day-use sites: Redbird Crest Trail, White Sulphur OHV Trail, Clear Creek Shooting Range, Appletree Shooting Range, Keno Shooting Range, Natural Arch Scenic Area, Laurel River Lake boat ramps and Cave Run Lake boat ramps.

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