News in Brief

Jobless rates down in 92 Ky. counties

FRANKFORT (AP) — State officials say unemployment rates fell in 92 of Kentucky’s 120 counties between November 2014 and November 2015.

The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training says jobless rates rose in 23 counties during that time and remained the same in five counties.

Woodford County had the state’s lowest jobless rate at 3.2 percent.

It was followed by Fayette, Oldham and Spencer counties at 3.6 percent each. Shelby County was next at 3.7 percent.

Magoffin County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 12.6 percent.

It was followed by Letcher County at 10.2 percent; Harlan County at 10.1 percent; Owsley County at 9.9 percent and Wolfe County at 9.7 percent.


Traffic deaths in Ky. up from last year

FRANKFORT (AP) — Heading into the holiday season, state officials say traffic deaths on Kentucky roadways are up from a year ago.

Kentucky State Police say there were 712 traffic fatalities statewide as of Dec. 21, an increase of 72 from the same period a year ago.

State police are urging motorists to wear seat belts as they head out on roads for the holiday season.

KSP Sgt. Michael Webb says some traffic deaths this year could have been avoided if motorists had buckled up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passengers by 45 percent, opposed to those who don’t wear seat belts.

Webb says state police will use all available resources this holiday season in an effort to reduce fatalities.


Ky. settles lawsuit with OxyContin maker for $24 million

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has settled a lawsuit against the manufacturer of OxyContin for $24 million.

The state first filed the lawsuit back in 2007. It accused Purdue Pharma of marketing the prescription painkiller as non-addictive because it slowly released the drug over 12 hours. But if the pill was crushed, it lost its time release qualities and created an instant high.

Kentucky officials said that led to a wave of addiction and increased medical costs across the state. Purdue Pharma replaced the drug with a new version in 2010 that deters abuse.

The agreement says Purdue Pharma will pay Kentucky $12 million followed by another $12 million over the next eight years. The court ordered the state to spend the money on addiction treatment programs.

Purdue Pharma did not admit any wrongdoing.


State building cleared after ‘unfounded’ report of armed man

FRANKFORT (AP) — State officials evacuated a government building on Wednesday after “unfounded” reports of a man in the building possibly with a gun.

Kentucky State Police said in a news release the complaint appears to be unfounded. Workers and visitors to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services building in Frankfort were evacuated. The cabinet often handles sensitive family issues including foster care and adoption cases.

State police and local law enforcement officials were still searching the building at about noon on Wednesday. State police officials said there is “no credible information” that a person is at the building with a gun.


Bankruptcy judge OKs Alpha’s bond deal with West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A bankruptcy judge has approved a deal resolving a reclamation bond dispute between coal operator Alpha Natural Resources and West Virginia regulators.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin R. Huennekens’ order says the agreement is fair and equitable.

The order filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia, overruled an objection by several environmental groups.

Under the agreement, Alpha will reduce its self-bonded obligations and provide $39 million in financial commitments to back its remaining obligations.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection had ordered Alpha to replace the self bonds with other forms of bonding after the company said it might no longer meet criteria for self-bonding. Alpha contended that the DEP didn’t have the authority under bankruptcy law to require it to replace the bonds.


Transportation worker killed in southern Ky. bridge crash

SCOTTSVILLE (AP) — A state transportation worker has been killed in a crash on a bridge in southern Kentucky that also injured a co-worker.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says it’s the first work-related fatality for the agency since 2011.

State police say a trailer attached to a vehicle on US 31 East in Allen County came loose around 9:43 a.m. Tuesday and hit an oncoming pickup truck. The truck spun out of control and hit two workers doing maintenance on the Bays Creek Bridge.

Titus Morris, a 34-year-old equipment operator in Allen County, died of injuries in the crash. Another worker, Jeffrey Harrison, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Morris was a 15-year employee of the cabinet. Harrison started working for the cabinet in 2006.


Authorities investigating fire at Ky. detention center

MT. VERNON (AP) — Authorities are investigating a fire at the Rockcastle County Detention Center that caused some inmates and staff to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Media outlets report the fire started around 3 a.m. Wednesday in the ventilation system above a jail cell.

Authorities have not said how many inmates and staffers were taken to a local hospital.

They did say that inmates at the jail will be taken to other county detention facilities, and that the Rockcastle County Detention Center will likely be closed several weeks due to smoke and water damage.

Authorities said the adjacent courthouse suffered minor damage, but the fire did not spread there. It was set to be open Wednesday.


Man wanted in connection with Ky. toddler death arrested

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities say a man wanted in connection with the shooting death of a 16-month-old Kentucky girl has been arrested in Nashville.

Media outlets report 29-year-old Duwan Mason was taken into custody Tuesday evening at the Hickory Ridge Apartments after a task force received information he would be there.

Mason was wanted out of Louisville, Kentucky in connection with the August 2014 shooting of the toddler.

He was charged in Nashville with being a fugitive from justice, and is being held in lieu of $250,000 bond pending his extradition to Kentucky.

It’s unclear if Mason has an attorney.


Authorities: Officer injured in shooting, suspect dead

LUDLOW (AP) — Authorities are investigating an officer-involved shooting in northern Kentucky that left a man dead and the officer injured.

Kentucky State Police said in a news release on Wednesday that Ludlow Police Officer Sam Hodge conducted a traffic stop on a van operated by Charles Reynolds around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Police didn’t provide details, but they said there was an exchange of gunfire during the traffic stop, and that Hodge was struck in the shoulder and Reynolds in the chest.

They were each transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Reynolds was pronounced dead. Hodge is listed in stable condition.

According to the release, Hodge has been with the Ludlow Police Department for a year, but has about 20 years of law enforcement experience.

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