News in Brief

Ky. Democrats choose Overly as new chairwoman

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Democrats have chosen state Rep. Sannie Overly as party chairwoman after a two and a half month search.

The Kentucky Democratic Party Executive Committee unanimously elected Overly its new chairwoman Saturday. Overly is a state representative from Paris and chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, the first woman to ever hold that position. She was Jack Conway’s running mate during his unsuccessful bid for governor in 2015.

Overly’s main job will be to maintain control of the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the South still controlled by Democrats. Democrats have a 50-46 majority in the House. Special elections for four vacant seats are scheduled for March 8. If Republicans win all four, they would share power with Democrats until at least the November general election.


Martial arts hold used on teen before detention center death

ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — State officials say a martial arts hold was used on a Shelby County teenager hours before she was found dead at an Elizabethtown detention center.

Multiple news outlets report that Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center officials found 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen unresponsive in her cell Jan. 11.

Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman Stacy Floden wrote in an email to the CBS program “48 Hours” Crimesider that the Aikido restraint was used because the girl refused to remove her sweatshirt so she could be searched during the booking process. An Aikido restraint typically immobilizes a person’s arm.

Officials have said it appears McMillen, who arrived at the detention center Jan. 10 after an alleged domestic dispute with her mother in Shelbyville, died in her sleep.

McMillen’s death remains under investigation.


Investigation starts into huge fire at Lexington stockyard

LEXINGTON (AP) — Investigators have started interviewing witnesses to a massive fire that destroyed a beef cattle auction business in Lexington.

Lexington Fire Department spokesman Joe Best said Sunday that it’s too early to determine the cause of the fire and exactly where it started.

Saturday’s fire destroyed seven acres of the stockyards operated by the Blue Grass Livestock Marketing Group. No one was injured. The flames also consumed several nearby businesses.

Best says officials are interviewing a large number of potential witnesses, including business owners.

The fire churned up a plume of thick, black smoke that darkened the skies for miles. Best says firefighters continued putting out smoky hot spots on Sunday as gusty winds picked up.


Louisville mayor lowers flags in honor of Powers

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is honoring the life of the late state Sen. Georgia Davis Powers with a flag-lowering ceremony.

The ceremony on Monday morning at Louisville Metro Hall was open to the public.

Fischer has ordered city flags to fly at half-staff starting Monday and through Powers’ funeral.

Powers died Saturday at age 92.

A giant in the fight for civil rights in Kentucky, Powers was the first African-American woman elected to the state Senate, where she served 21 years. She fought for fair housing and employment rights and became a close confidant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Funeral arrangements for Powers are pending.


Thomas More College safety director fired after indictment

CRESTVIEW HILLS (AP) — The director of campus safety at Thomas More College has been fired following his indictment on child pornography charges.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports school officials announced Thursday in a news release the firing of 53-year-old Robert Marshall.

Marshall was arrested Wednesday after a year-long investigation. Covington police say he has been indicted on 36 counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.

Thomas More College President David Armstrong says the school had no prior knowledge of the investigation and first became aware of it Wednesday.

Police say the investigation into Marshall began in January 2014 after a witness reported that the material was on Marshall’s home computer.

Marshall had worked at the college since 1999. It isn’t immediately clear if he has an attorney.


Ky. Poetry Out Loud recitation contest set for Feb. 23

FRANKFORT (AP) — Students from 18 Kentucky high schools will compete in a state poetry recitation contest this month.

Poetry Out Loud will be held Feb. 23 at the Grand Theatre in Frankfort.

The state champion will receive $200 and the winner’s school will receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books. The runner-up will get $100, plus $200 for books for the school’s library.

The winner will represent Kentucky at the national finals May 2 through 4 in Washington, D.C.

The contest is sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.


New federal coal mine dust rules taking effect

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Underground coal mines will be increasing sampling for the dust that causes breathing problems and black lung disease under a new federal rule taking effect Monday.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is requiring coal operators to increase the number of air samples taken in underground mines.

The agency also will require miners working in the dustiest underground conditions to wear personal devices that give real-time readings on air quality.

Joe Main, who heads the mine safety agency, says the key to curbing breathable dust in the mines is increasing the number of samples taken by mine operators.

Black lung has no cure and can cause significant breathing problems, degrade movement and lead to an early death.

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