News in Brief

State officials brace for winter storm punch

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky state and local officials prepared for a winter punch that forecasts said could range from a few inches of snow to more than a foot.

The National Weather Service is predicted as much as 10 inches of snow could fall on Frankfort on Friday, with locations elsewhere in Kentucky receiving up to 10 to 15 inches. Freezing rain and ice were also in the forecast. The weather service issued a winter storm warning for the entire state.

In Frankfort, the General Assembly canceled its Friday session and state government offices were closed Friday because of the threat of winter weather.

Kentucky State Police said a man died in southeastern Kentucky on Thursday when his car collided with a state salt truck. Police said 59-year-old Billy R. Stevens of Williamsburg was pronounced dead at the scene in Whitley County.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said road crews were mobilizing Thursday in an effort to maintain the state’s roads.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s office said in a statement that the National Guard is on high alert to provide assistance.

“With the sheer volume and rate of snowfall expected, it’s unlikely that even main roads will be clear until after the storm subsides on Saturday,” Bevin said in the statement Thursday. He advised restricting travel to a minimum.

The Division of Emergency Management said the Emergency Operation Center in Frankfort is working at a heightened level of alert with additional staff.

The possibility of residents losing power prompted the Public Service Commission to advise caution in using portable generators or when clearing storm debris and to stay away from downed lines. Generators should be operated outside and away from windows and doors.

The University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University canceled classes for Friday in anticipation of the storm.

The Department of Corrections said weekend visitation has been canceled at some prisons because of the weather threat.


Lawsuit blames 2 suicides on suspended disability checks

PIKEVILLE (AP) — Family members of two people who killed themselves last year are suing the Social Security Administration, saying that the government’s decision to end disability checks for hundreds of eastern Kentucky residents played a substantial role in their deaths.

Media outlets report that attorneys filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pikeville on behalf of John Daniel Jude and Emma Burchett.

The lawsuit says Burchett’s husband, Leroy Burchett, and Jude’s wife, Melissa Jude, killed themselves in June after getting notice that their benefits would be suspended.

More than 1,000 of attorney Eric Conn’s clients received the letter after Conn was accused of colluding with a judge to rig Social Security cases.

Social Security Administration spokesman William Jarrett declined to comment.

A similar lawsuit filed on behalf of Emma Burchett against Conn was dismissed in July.


UK finalizes deal to resume some pediatric heart surgeries

LEXINGTON (AP) — UK HealthCare and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital finalized an agreement that will bring some pediatric heart surgeries back to the University of Kentucky after a nearly four-year absence.

The health care systems said in a news release Wednesday that the first surgical procedure at UK under the new agreement will likely take place in late 2016 or early 2017.

In September, officials announced an intended partnership between the two health care systems, saying the collaboration will allow more Kentucky children to receive care closer to home. That letter outlined a proposal to hire a heart surgeon who’ll have a primary appointment at Cincinnati Children’s but be based at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington.

UK’s pediatric cardiac surgery program was suspended in 2012 following an uptick in child mortality rates.


Evansville looks for new hockey team for Ford Center

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says the city has identified two potential ownership groups of minor league hockey teams that could move into the Ford Center and replace the departing Evansville Icemen.

The Icemen announced Wednesday they’ve signed contracts to move to nearby Owensboro, Kentucky, for the 2016-17 season.

Negotiations between Evansville officials and the Icemen on a new lease agreement to keep the ECHL team at the Ford Center broke down last week.

Southern Professional Hockey League President Jim Combs told the Evansville Courier & Press it has had discussions about placing a team in the Evansville market. The league has nine active franchises for the current season and one dormant franchise.

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