News in Brief


Company wants Letcher Co. to consider treated mine water

WHITESBURG (AP) — An Arkansas company is asking Letcher County residents to consider drinking treated water from abandoned coal mines.

The Mountain Eagle reports the county currently gets water from Carr Creek Lake. But at a Water and Sewer District board meeting last week, David Owen asked the panel for a letter of intent to let his company explore the mine water alternative.

Owen said EverBlue Water Technologies could build a treatment plant for mine water and connect to the district’s pipes. He said the cost would be about the same as the county is paying now.

He did not answer an inquiry from The Mountain Eagle asking why the county should change its water source if there is no cost savings.

The board postponed voting on the letter for a month.

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Grant to help community organizations get federal funds

BEREA (AP) — The Berea College Appalachian Fund has awarded a $10,000 grant to Kentucky Highland Investment Corporation to start an initiative designed to make grant writers seeking federal funds more successful.

Officials said in a statement that the Promise Zone Federal Grant Procurement Mentoring Pilot Program will create a network of grant writers and administrators to work with small organizations located in the Promise Zone, which includes Knox, Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay and Whitley counties.

Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of KHIC, said the program seeks to help smaller, community-based organizations to navigate complicated federal grant procedures.

The project will focus on getting funding in three areas: health and wellness; healthy and local foods; and science, technology, engineering and math education initiatives.

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Ky. House panel defeats bill dealing with prevailing wage

FRANKFORT (AP) — A Kentucky House committee has defeated a Republican-backed bill to exempt public school projects from the state’s prevailing wage.

Union construction workers in the audience cheered each time a lawmaker voted against the measure. Democrats were joined by one Republican in rejecting the bill Thursday in the House Labor and Industry Committee. The bill passed the GOP-led Senate last month.

Republican Sen. Wil Schroder says the legislation will resurface next year, when the General Assembly’s political dynamics could change. House Democrats have seen their majority shrink, and Republicans hope to win control of the chamber in elections this year.

All construction projects on Kentucky public schools over $250,000 must pay workers a predetermined wage based on a survey of similar projects by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.

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UK president forms committee to consider controversial mural

LEXINGTON (AP) — University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto has formed a committee to decide the fate of a controversial Great Depression-era mural that features black workers toiling in a tobacco field, black musicians playing for white dancers and a Native American with a tomahawk.

After meeting last semester with students who objected to the mural, Capilouto had it shrouded temporarily.

In a Thursday news release, Capilouto introduced the committee and said it will work expeditiously but thoughtfully to reach a solution.

Capilouto said the campus has benefited from the discussion surrounding the mural, but it was time to place the mural in “a more historically accurate and complete context.”

Capilouto called the Memorial Hall mural an important work for the campus and the Commonwealth.

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Amish man weighs plea deal in wife’s 2006 poisoning death

BETHANY, Mo. (AP) — An Amish minister from Kentucky is considering a plea deal offer in his wife’s death nine years ago in Missouri.

The St. Joseph News-Press reports that a judge has given 39-year-old Samuel Borntreger two weeks to consider the deal. Borntreger, of Summer Shade, Kentucky, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Anna Yoder Borntreger.

Court records allege Borntreger went to Kentucky authorities last month and told them he put antifreeze in her drinks and battery acid in her rectum before her death in late 2006. No foul play was suspected when she died.

Harrison County Prosecutor Cristine Stallings declined to discuss the details of the plea bargain.

Borntreger’s attorney, Kelly Miller, didn’t immediately return a phone message or email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

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Lexington looking at improving communication after fire

LEXINGTON (AP) — Lexington is rethinking how it notifies elected officials and the public during emergencies in the wake of a fire that destroyed a beef cattle auction business in Lexington.

City spokeswoman Susan Straub tells news outlets that Lexington used a phone system Saturday to alert nearby residents of the fire, but that phone system calls only landline numbers.

Straub says the city is exploring other emergency management notification systems that use cellphone numbers.

The phone system was also used to notify residents of the opening of a shelter for those with chronic respiratory problems.

Some members of the Urban County Council said Tuesday that city officials should have communicated with council members during Saturday’s fire, which destroyed seven acres of the stockyards operated by the Blue Grass Livestock Marketing Group. No one was injured.

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3 charged in UK student’s death want bonds reconsidered

LEXINGTON (AP) — Nearly a year after the fatal shooting of a University of Kentucky student during a robbery, the three young men charged with murder in his death are set to ask for new bonds so they can get out of jail before trial.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that attorneys for 18-year-old Roman Gonzalez, 19-year-old Justin D. Smith and 21-year-old Efrain Diaz Jr. will argue before a judge Friday for “reasonable” bonds. The three have been in jail since April and are charged in the April 17 death of 22-year-old Jonathan Kruger, who grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Diaz and Smith don’t have bonds set. Gonzalez, who was a juvenile at the time of the shooting, had bond set at $1 million in July. Smith’s attorney is asking for a $50,000 bond.

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Tempur Sealy reports 4Q loss

LEXINGTON (AP) — Tempur Sealy International Inc. (TPX) on Thursday reported a fourth-quarter loss of $11.3 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.

The Lexington, Kentucky-based company said it had a loss of 18 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for pretax expenses and restructuring costs, came to 99 cents per share.

The results matched Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 99 cents per share.

The mattress maker posted revenue of $767.3 million in the period, which fell short of Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $782.8 million.

For the year, the company reported profit of $73.5 million, or $1.17 per share. Revenue was reported as $3.15 billion.

Tempur Sealy shares have declined 14 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has climbed nearly 9 percent in the last 12 months.

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Labor union files complaint over Brown-Forman negotiations

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Labor leaders at Brown-Forman have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the spirits maker of unfair labor practices.

Teamsters Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman tells The Courier-Journal workers rejected two proposals before the contract ended Feb. 1, and negotiations this week ended in a stalemate.

The union and Brown-Forman agreed to a 30-day extension. But at negotiations Wednesday, Zuckerman says Brown-Forman decided to move forward with its first contract proposal, despite the union’s concerns.

Phil Lynch is a spokesman for Brown-Forman. He says negotiations will continue.

The local union represents about 200 employees who work between two Brown-Forman facilities in Jefferson County.

Zuckerman says wages, benefits and pensions are points of disagreement with Brown-Forman, which owns Woodford Reserve and Jack Daniel’s.

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Workshop planned in Louisville on brownfield redevelopment

FRANKFORT (AP) — A Louisville workshop on brownfield redevelopment is being offered for bankers and property development professionals.

The Feb. 24 event is sponsored by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection and the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The workshop will be at the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.

The sponsors say the goal is to give participants a better understanding of brownfields and issues surrounding contaminated property redevelopment. Brownfields are properties that are abandoned or underutilized due to real or perceived environmental contamination.

Agenda topics include federal environmental liability and exemptions for lenders and prospective purchasers. The event will also focus on Kentucky’s new brownfield law and available incentives to assist in brownfield redevelopment.

Participation is free but registration is required by Feb. 19.

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