News in Brief

Indiana officials: No new bird flu infections reported

HUNTINGBURG, Ind. (AP) — No additional turkey farms in a southern Indiana county have tested positive for bird flu since an outbreak at 10 farms, where nearly 250,000 turkeys will be killed as a result, authorities said Sunday.

That 100 farms tested over 24 hours came back negative was a sign control measures appear to be working, said Denise Derrer, spokeswoman for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health.

She called the current bird flu outbreak one of the worst to ever strike Indiana, adding it could take several weeks before it is known for sure that it has been contained. The infections were reported Friday and Saturday.

All 60,000 turkeys at the first farm where the bird flu was detected have been euthanized. Not all the 250,000 had yet been killed, said Derrer, though she didn’t have specific figures.

Most of the additional tests were done within about a six-mile radius of the infected farms. But some producers tested farms outside that radius — a few even in Illinois near the Indiana border, Derrer said.

“They want to make sure it is not being spread,” she said.

Derrer said Thursday morning that laboratories determined the strain of all ten infected farms in Dubois County was H7N8 — though she said later that additional tests were being done on one of those farms.

Confirmation of new bird flu cases alarmed industry officials after the spread of the H5N2 virus last year. That outbreak led to the deaths of about 48 million turkeys and chickens.

The H7N8 virus has not yet been found in wild birds, suggesting that the virus could have developed in wild birds that spent the winter in southern Indiana, USDA spokeswoman Andrea McNally said Friday.

While the H7N8 strain is highly contagious for birds, the USDA said no human infections from the viral strain have been detected.

Indiana’s poultry industry brings in $2.5 billion a year, Derrer said. Dubois County is Indiana’s top poultry producer with 1.4 million turkeys, she said.


N.Ky. doctor says more doctors must address heroin

FORT WRIGHT (AP) — Mina “Mike” Kalfas wanted nothing more than to practice family medicine in Northern Kentucky where he grew up. But then he got called in to help fill a vacancy at the drug and alcohol treatment center next door.

That was nearly 20 years ago. The Kentucky Enquirer reports Kalfas is one of the region’s premier addiction doctors, with more patients seeking his help than he can accommodate.

As it turned out, Kalfas liked addiction medicine, growing attached to his struggling patients.

“I started treating them and saw their vulnerability,” he said. “And realized that no one wanted to take care of them. No one was defending them. Standing with them. For them.”

He now sees more than 300 addiction patients, most addicted to heroin. And Kalfas says he has to turn away new patients three or four times a week.

Kalfas realized early on that the just-say-no treatment wouldn’t work for heroin addicts. In 2002, when the FDA approved the synthetic opiate Suboxone for opiate addiction treatment, Kalfas jumped on it, getting training and certification within a year.

He now treats 100 patients with the drug, the limit allowed by the federal government. He says he would treat more if he could.

Kalfas feels he is barely making a dent in the thousands addicted to heroin in Northern Kentucky, and he would like to see every family physician treat heroin-addicted patients.

It is a medical disease, he says, and needs to be treated medically, just like diabetes or cancer.

“I see going forward, with the sheer numbers with addiction, primary care has to develop skills to handle this problem. They’re on the front lines, and it’s a primary care disorder.”

If that doesn’t happen, Kalfas says, “More people are going to die.”


Drone suit seeks to resolve issues of trespassing, privacy

HILLVIEW (AP) — A lawsuit filed against a man who shot down a drone over his Hillview home last summer seeks to resolve what expectations homeowners have to privacy as their property is seen from the air.

The Courier-Journal reports a local judge previously dismissed charges against William Merideth for firing a gun within city limits. Merideth said he feared the drone was spying on his teenage daughters on the back porch.

But now the drone’s owner, John David Boggs, is suing Merideth in federal court, seeking damages for the $1,800 drone.

Boggs also is asking the court to resolve the “boundaries of the airspace surrounding real property, the reasonable expectation of privacy as viewed from the air, and the right to damage or destroy an aircraft in flight.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has sole authority over the national airspace, but Kentucky law gives landowners the right to use force necessary to prevent trespassing. The Supreme Court hasn’t addressed the issue since 1946 when it ruled a North Carolina farmer could assert property rights up to 83 feet in the air and win compensation after low-flying military aircraft disturbed his cows and chickens.

Despite the FAA’s authority, 26 states enacted laws involving drones last year.

In the Kentucky General Assembly, at least two drone bills are pending. One filed by Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, would prohibit the use of drones for harassment, voyeurism or to aid burglaries.

Boggs says in his suit that he was flying it at about 200 feet – and neither trespassing nor spying on Merideth’s family – when his unmanned aircraft system was taken out two minutes into its flight.

In an exhibit attached to his suit, Boggs presents the last image shot from the drone – a photo of forests, streets and rolling hills.

“At no time was plaintiff capturing video or still images of defendant or anyone on his property,” the suit says.

But Merideth has said he saw the drone about 10 feet over the roof line by his neighbor’s house, looking under a canopy, and later hovering over his own property.

Merideth says he called police on two previous occasions when he saw the drone over his property, but they told him they couldn’t do anything about it. He said that led him to takes matters into his own hands.

“At some point,” he said, “Enough is enough.”


Iraqi convicted in plot to aid terrorists gets court hearing

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — An Iraqi refugee serving a life sentence for terror-related convictions will appear in court in Kentucky to argue that he was poorly represented by his attorney.

Mohanad Hammadi said in court records that his lawyer, James Earhart, pressured him into pleading guilty without advising him of an offer from prosecutors to cooperate with investigators.

Federal Magistrate Judge Brent Brennenstuhl ordered an evidentiary hearing to be held April 21 in Louisville, The Daily News in Bowling Green reports.

The hearing will be “to further develop the record regarding Hammadi’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel,” Brennenstuhl said during a phone conference with attorneys.

Hammadi, 28, pleaded guilty in 2012 to several crimes arising from an investigation into allegations that he and fellow refugee Waad Alwan attempted to provide money and weapons to terrorists in Iraq. The two had arrived in the U.S. as refugees.

Alwan is serving a 40-year sentence, while Hammadi was sentenced in 2013 to life without parole.

Hammadi filed a motion in March to have his sentence vacated. He claims Earhart told him that no American jury would fairly and impartially consider the evidence against him in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“My attorney abandoned me and my case despite me having a very limited understanding of English, no experience with the criminal justice system and all alone with no family or friends to assist me,” Hammadi wrote in the affidavit.

Hammadi and Earhart are anticipated to testify at the hearing, according to Brennenstuhl’s order, and additional witnesses and evidence may be introduced to address Hammadi’s claims.

Hammadi’s new attorney, Patrick Renn said Hammadi, with proper advice, would not have accepted his attorney’s advice to plead guilty without a written plea agreement.

According to federal court records, Alwan recruited Hammadi to assist in what they believed were efforts to send hundreds of thousands of dollars and numerous weapons and explosives to insurgents in Iraq. But the operation turned out to be an undercover FBI investigation.

The FBI arrested Hammadi and Alwan in 2011.


Middle school basketball coach resigns for game brawl

BELFRY (AP) — A Pike County middle school basketball coach involved in a fight at a game has resigned.

Belfry Middle School coach Bobby Varney II submitted his resignation Wednesday, said his attorney, Kent Varney. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Bobby Varney remains a teacher at the middle school.

Pike school board attorney Neal Smith says video showed a referee kicking the coach’s father, Pike County Magistrate Bobby Varney, in the head.

The school board banned seven people, including two referees, from district athletic events until June 30.

Smith says the brawl started when the coach took his team off the floor because he disagreed with the officiating, and a fan walked over and began arguing with the game’s referees. Smith says a fight erupted involving several adults.


Paducah school group shares $1M Powerball prize

PADUCAH (AP) — The second of three $1 million tickets from Wednesday’s historic Powerball drawing has been claimed by a group of 11 coworkers from Paducah public schools.

Media outlets report the school employees call themselves the “Tiny Tornadoes” and had never played the lottery together before this week. Each kicked in $5 to buy 27 quick pick tickets.

After Wednesday’s drawing, group member Angel Lawrence checked their numbers from copies she’d made of their tickets. When she realized they had a $1 million winner, she called fellow winner Tracy Leonard since the tickets were on Leonard’s desk at the school. They then called and awoke McNabb’s principal, who met them at the school that night to retrieve the tickets.

The members plan to split the winnings evenly.


School board chairman faces resignation after sign incident

LEXINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Clark County Public Schools board says he has been asked to resign or face charges after an incident involving portable plastic signs.

Multiple news outlets report Michael Kuduk apologized after he was videotaped removing signs supporting Clark Superintendent Paul Christy.

Kuduk says the incident occurred after the board’s December meeting in which Christy’s contract was renewed. Kuduk had voted against the renewal. He says he was upset after the meeting and in a fit of anger, decided to tamper with the signs. He says he regrets his actions.

Christy says he gave Kuduk the option to resolve the situation if he resigns and pays restitution in damages to the signs.

Kuduk says he will announce his decision during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

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