News in Brief


I-75 lane closures set for Thursday

MANCHESTER — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to restrict northbound and southbound traffic to one lane on Interstate 75 in Whitley County (mile points 8.5 – 9.0) on Thursday, December 3 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The lane restriction will allow contractors to clean up a petroleum spill in the median at mile points 8.5 – 9.0.

Motorists are advised to use caution during this period and be aware of signage, road crews and other drivers.

The date, time and duration of work may be adjusted if inclement weather or other unforeseen delays occur. Dial 511 or navigate 511.ky.gov, and www.waze.com for the latest in traffic and travel information in Kentucky. You can also get traffic information for District 11 counties at www.facebook.com/KYTCDistrict11.

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Jurors still deadlocked in ex-coal CEO Blankenship trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Jurors said Tuesday they are still deadlocked in the trial of ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, prompting a federal judge to advise them they can return a partial verdict if they agree on a portion of the charges.

In their seventh full day of deliberations, jurors sent U.S. District Judge Irene Berger a note saying they were still deadlocked. The note also asked for any further instructions from Berger.

The judge told jurors that they could return a partial verdict if one could be reached out of the three counts against Blankenship.

Berger also reminded jurors to be open-minded, and said those in the minority should consider the majority opinion, and vice versa. She said opinions may be changed in the jury room, and urged jurors to re-examine their views.

Defense attorneys objected to the additional instructions, and were again denied when they requested a mistrial because the jury can’t agree.

Berger said she thought the jury’s note indicated that jurors are “still wanting to make an effort.”

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break safety laws at the Upper Big Branch coal mine and defraud mine regulators in the years before an explosion killed 29 men at the mine in southern West Virginia in 2010. He’s also accused of lying to financial regulators and investors about company safety.

The case is the centerpiece of a wide-spanning investigation into Massey that began after the explosion. The probe produced four other convictions up the Massey corporate chain, leading to Blankenship’s indictment in November 2014. Relatives of the miners who died have long called for Blankenship to go to prison.

Prosecutors contend that Blankenship was a bullish micromanager who knew about and meddled in the smallest details at Upper Big Branch. He pushed for more production and ran shadow safety programs that weren’t backed by money for more miners or time for safety tasks, they said.

The defense, which rested without calling any of its own witnesses, said the prosecution had failed to show Blankenship was involved in a conspiracy.

Deliberations began the evening of Nov. 17, but were suspended several days for Thanksgiving. His trial began Oct. 1.

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Trailer full of donations stolen from Louisville church

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A trailer with thousands of dollars’ worth of supplies for the homeless was stolen from Valley View Church in Louisville.

Church leaders tell local media that the trailer disappeared last week. Pastor Matt Morris says surveillance video shows the trailer was in the church parking lot until about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, when suspects gut the lock on a parking lot gate and pulled the trailer away.

Morris says that church members aren’t mad, they just want their trailer back.

The trailer had donated goods inside that were going to hundreds who are homeless in Indiana and Louisville — like clothes, blankets and shoes.

The trailer is white with the words, “Helping Hands Ministries” written on the side. Anyone with information on the stolen trailer is asked to call police.

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2 central Kentucky bridges to get emergency repairs

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says it has awarded contracts so that emergency repairs can be done on two central Kentucky bridges.

A statement from the agency says Intech Contracting LLC will fix both the Kennedy Mill Bridge over Herrington Lake between Mercer and Garrard counties and the historic Singing Bridge in downtown Frankfort, which spans the Kentucky River.

The bridge over Herrington Lake was closed to traffic on Sept. 3 due to deteriorated steel. The Singing Bridge was reduced to one lane for the same reason.

Repairs for both bridges will cost $208,285, which is less than the cabinet’s estimate.

Repairs to the Kennedy Mill Bridge are expected to be complete by April 1, and repairs to the Singing Bridge are expected to be complete by May 30.

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Power plant records 2 million hours without accident

SEBREE (AP) — A western Kentucky power plant is being honored with working more than 2 million hours without a lost-time accident.

The employees of the Big Rivers Sebree station recently received the Governor’s Safety and Health Award for the feat.

Kentucky Labor Secretary Larry Robert says it shows “an extreme dedication to safety.”

The Sebree station has 225 employees and has three generating stations on its campus, with the capacity to produce 896 megawatts of electricity.

The facility also earned the award in August, when it recorded 1.5 million hours without an incident.

The workers at the Sebree station are represented by The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1701.

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