News in Brief

Blackhawk Mining to idle 146 West Virginia workers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Blackhawk Mining has announced plans to idle some coal operations in southern West Virginia and permanently lay off 146 workers.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Blackhawk Mining sent layoff warning notices to the Kanawha County Commission on Monday.

The Panther Creek mine in Kanawha County was part of Blackhawk Mining’s purchase through an auction of a substantial amount of bankrupt Patriot Coal’s assets last year.

Blackhawk says the layoffs are expected to take place in March at Panther Creek’s Winchester Underground Mine and Tom’s Fork Prep Plant in Eskdale.

Other operations at Panther Creek will remain active.

Scott Depot-based Patriot filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last May.


Threats reported at schools across Ky.

PADUCAH (AP) — A proliferation of threats at schools across the state has officials working with police to determine best responses and prevention techniques.

Kentucky Center for School Safety Director Jon Akers told The Paducah Sun that there have been more than 50 threats since Oct. 6, a day after Eastern Kentucky University issued a public safety alert because officials found menacing graffiti in a bathroom threatening to “kill all.” Classes were eventually canceled, but resumed the following week without incident.

Akers said the volume of threats in the fall is the most he’s seen in the decade he’s served as director of the safety center.

He said it appears that all threats have been made by students and most have been near planned breaks or holidays. According to Akers, the responses have varied from lockdowns to dismissing classes because each threat and each district is different.

The safety center is working with police to offer training sessions for education officials across the state.

“People are asking, how’s it ever going to be stopped?” Akers said. “My response to that is, once you catch someone like that, really consider prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. We don’t want this to become the new normal.”

In Kentucky, making a threat against a school or students is a felony offense.

In addition to criminal charges, Akers said schools have the option to sue those who make threats for restitution.

Larry Zacheretti, security supervisor for McCracken County Schools, said serious consequences await anyone who makes a threat against a school.

“We’ve been very fortunate this year that we haven’t had any threats at all, and I like to attribute that to the fact that we take them seriously and have pressed charges in the past, and we advertise that fact,” Zacheretti said.


8 Ky. arts organizations receive national grants

FRANKFORT (AP) — The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $200,000 to eight Kentucky arts organizations, part of 1,126 grants awarded nationwide totaling more than $27.7 million.

The grants come in the NEA’s first round of grants for fiscal year 2016.

Among the Kentucky recipients is Danville’s Community Arts Center, which the Kentucky Arts Council said received an NEA Challenge America grant.

The Danville project involves a coordinated series of printmaking events for teens in rural, central Kentucky. The Challenge America category offers $10,000 matching grants for projects that carry arts to underserved populations.

Others receiving grants are Berea College and Actors Theatre of Louisville, $50,000 each; Sarabande Books, Louisville, $35,000; Stage One: The Louisville Children’s Theatre, $25,000; and Central Music Academy of Lexington, Louisville Orchestra and Appalshop in Whitesburg, $10,000 each.


Work starts on natural gas-fired generating plant

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Work is underway on a Tennessee Valley Authority project to build a $975 million natural gas-fired electrical generating plant in Memphis.

The Commercial Appeal reports the new plant in the far southwestern corner of the city will replace the Allen Fossil Plant, an aging coal-burning facility nearby. When finished in mid-2018, the new plant will produce enough power for 580,000 homes.

Dan Tibbs, who is managing the project for TVA, says the project is on schedule and on budget.

It’s touted as one of the largest construction projects in the city’s history.

Compared to the coal-burning facility, the gas facility will emit nearly 90 percent less nitrogen-oxide pollution, a precursor to smog and ground-level ozone, and will release 60 percent less carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, the newspaper reported.

Discharges of sulfur dioxide, the compound blamed for acid rain, will be virtually eliminated.

“It’s a pretty dramatic reduction in emissions,” said Bob Rogers, pollution-control manager for the Health Department.

The pollution reduction is so dramatic that the county should have an easier time complying with federal air-quality standards.

Having battled for years to reduce ozone pollution, local officials are submitting data showing Shelby County’s air is now clean enough to be declared in compliance with air standards, a designation that would help in recruiting industry.

Construction of the gas plant culminates a process that began in 2011, when TVA entered into agreements with state and federal regulators, as well as environmental groups, settling alleged Clean Air Act violations at Allen and other coal-fired facilities. The agreements required TVA to either retire the coal plants or equip them with costly pollution-control equipment by December 2018.


Carrier to launch new flights from Cincinnati airport

CINCINNATI (AP) — A low-cost carrier plans to launch new nonstop flights including to Los Angeles and San Francisco from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport this spring.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Frontier Airlines will being offering more than 50 weekly flights to 11 destinations as its grows its service at the airport. Cleveland is among other airports where Frontier is adding flights.

Frontier will join Delta Air Lines on April 15 as the only carriers to offer nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco from the Cincinnati region’s airport. The new flights come in the wake of a new contract between Frontier and the airport.


Land Between Lakes’ red wolf habitat to receive lift

GOLDEN POND (AP) — Land Between The Lakes’ Woodlands Nature Station will receive help from a conservation group to improve the station’s red wolf habitat enclosure.

The nonprofit Red Wolf Coalition will help enhance the environment for the station’s breeding pair of endangered red wolves.

Plans include planting native trees to provide shade for the wolves and visitors and adding top soil, mulch and water bars to support native grasses and wildflowers. The plan is to create an enclosure that resembles Kentucky woodlands.

Land Between The Lakes said in a news release the work will be done by volunteers from the University of Connecticut as part of their alternative spring break program.

Land Between The Lakes served as part of the original range for red wolves.

Lands Between The Lakes National Recreation Area manages more than 170,000 acres in western Kentucky and Tennessee.


Anne Frank exhibit opens at Louisville library

LOUISVILLE (AP) — An exhibit featuring family photographs of Anne Frank has opened at Louisville Free Public Library and continues through Feb. 27.

The exhibit includes 71 photographs from Frank family albums. The library says many of the photos are rarely shown to the public.

Along with the exhibit “Anne Frank: A Private Photo Album,” the library is offering programs related to Anne Frank, the Holocaust and World War II.

Among the programs is a course on the Holocaust facilitated by St. Francis of Assisi teacher Fred Whittaker, who has trained at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial and at Yad Vashem in Israel. Weekly segments will be led by guest instructors, including a Holocaust survivor and an authority on the resistance movement.

A program called “Rebellion of Hope” will be offered on Jan. 31.


Judge orders former amusement park sold at auction

CAVE CITY (AP) — A judge has ordered a carnival-themed amusement park in Cave City to be sold months after it was shut down due to code violations.

The Glasgow Daily Times reports Barren County Circuit Judge John Alexander issued the order to sell Funtown Mountain as part of foreclosure proceedings.

The attraction is owned by Louisville businessmen Will Russell, who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection as an individual in November.

Russell opened the carnival-themed roadside attraction formerly known as Guntown Mountain in June after getting a loan from the Kentucky Tourism Department and raising money through a Kickstarter campaign.

An attorney in the case, Emily Cowles, said parties are trying to schedule the sale for late February, but the master commissioner would set the date.


Police shoot, injure suspect in Georgetown

GEORGETOWN(AP) — A central Kentucky police chief says an officer has shot a suspect who refused to drop a weapon that turned out to be a pellet gun.

Georgetown Police Chief Mike Bosse told media that officers responding early Monday to a domestic disturbance ordered the suspect, 29-year-old Stephen C. Young, to drop what appeared to be a handgun. Bosse said that instead Young pointed the weapon at officers, and one officer fired.

Bosse said Young was hit twice and taken to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries. No officers were injured. The chief said Young will be charged with assault.

He said the officer will be on administrative leave until he’s ready to return to duty.

The shooting remains under investigation.


Authorities identify boy who was shot to death

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Officials have identified the young boy who was shot to death in Louisville.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Coroner Jo-Ann Farmer says 8-year-old Andre LaMont O’Neal Jr. was shot at a home Saturday night. A previous police report originally said the boy was 9 years old.

Farmer says the child was taken in a private vehicle to Kosair Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead early Sunday.

Media outlets report Elgin Anders has come forward saying the shooting happened when he dropped a gun and it discharged, striking the boy. Anders says he was in the back seat of the car that took the child to the hospital.

Community activist and family spokesman Christopher 2X says Anders should have waited for emergency responders.

Police are continuing to investigate the case.

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