State News in Brief

State police commissioner retiring after 34 years with force

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer is retiring after 34 years with the law enforcement agency.

A state police release Friday said Brewer will retire Feb. 29.

Brewer served as KSP commissioner for eight years and led the agency through tough budgetary times. His tenure also included constructing a new training academy and merging the Commercial Vehicle Division into the KSP fold.

Programs rolled out during his tenure included the Citizen’s Police Academy and the Safe Schools Active Shooter Training Program.

Brewer’s assignments with state police included uniformed operations, special investigations, narcotics, strategic planning, academy commander and the executive protection detail assigned to guard the governor and lieutenant governor.

The KSP release says Brewer plans to take a few months off before pursuing other career opportunities.



Circuit Court clerk admits stealing more than $300,000

FRANKFORT (AP) — A former Circuit Court clerk admitted to stealing more than $330,000 from her office, using a sophisticated system that allowed her to siphon public money for nearly a decade.

Emma Lou Adams, Lee County’s elected Circuit Court clerk for 23 years, pleaded guilty to felony abuse of public trust, the state attorney general announced Friday. She was ordered to repay the money stolen from the state, and is facing the possibility of one to five years in prison at her sentencing in April.

The Administrative Office of the Courts discovered irregularities in the office’s accounts during an audit in 2014, according to Marc Theriault, the agency’s general counsel. They turned their findings over to the state Attorney General.

That investigation found $334,854 went missing between 2006 and 2015, according to Attorney General Andy Beshear. The majority, more than a quarter-million dollars, was traced to money the circuit clerks take in from the public and are expected to deposit in the bank for later payments to bail bonds or restitution.

Another $78,738 was swiped from civil filing fees.

As the elected clerk, Adams, 58, was paid an annual salary of $72,987, according to state records. That is more than double the average income of $34,441 in her small, rural county.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. suspended her last August amid the investigation. She retired two days later.

Defense attorney Tom Jones said Adams does not dispute the amount stolen, though declined to comment further.

Adams did not respond to a message left at her home in Beattyville.



Crane collapses at Ohio River bridge site

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A crane removing temporary supports from the Louisville-area East End bridge has collapsed into the Ohio River.

Dan Hartlage, a spokesman for the project contractor, tells The Courier-Journal ( that the crane’s collapse Friday afternoon might have been wind related, but he says it’s too soon to determine what caused it.

No one was injured, but one person who was on the platform jumped into the river to avoid falling debris.

Construction in the area has been halted.

The East End crossing is part of the ongoing Ohio River Bridges Project. It consists of a new bridge and approaches to connect the Gene Snyder Freeway in Kentucky with the Lee Hamilton Highway in Indiana.



Ohio patrol, other state police target violators on I-75

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State Highway Patrol troopers and other members of a multi-state trooper project are focusing on speed, safety belt and OVI enforcement in a special effort along Interstate 75.

Members of the 6-State Trooper Project began the high-visibility effort Friday and will continue it through Sunday at 11:59 p.m. The Kentucky State Police and the Michigan State Police are joining in the project.

State Highway Patrol officials say there were 14,151 OVI-related crashes on Ohio roadways in 2015 that killed 390 people and injured 8,435. OVI-related crashes last year accounted for 35 percent of all fatal crashes in the state.

The 6-State Trooper Project is aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.


Activists deliver petitions to McConnell’s office

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Activists wanting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on President Barack Obama’s eventual Supreme Court nominee have delivered boxes of petition signatures to the Kentucky Republican’s office in Louisville.

Sara Duggan, a registered nurse, was among the activists stopping by McConnell’s office on Friday. She told a McConnell aide that the group wants McConnell to “do his job” and allow a Senate vote on Obama’s choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia..

About a dozen activists gathered outside the federal courthouse to voice their displeasure with McConnell.

Meanwhile, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network is defending McConnell in TV ads.

In an op-ed piece, McConnell says he wants to let American voters decide in November who they trust to lead the country and nominate the next Supreme Court justice.


AG: Settlement returns nearly $300,000 to Medicaid program

FRANKFORT (AP) — Attorney General Andy Beshear says Kentucky’s role in a settlement with a pharmaceutical company will result in nearly $300,000 being returned to the state’s Medicaid accounts.

He says the multistate settlement resolves allegations that Novartis Pharmaceuticals provided kickbacks to specialty pharmacies in exchange for recommending the drug Exjade to Medicaid and Medicare patients.

Exjade was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2005 for treatment of chronic iron overload due to blood transfusions. After launching the drug, Novartis marketed Exjade as a treatment for patients with a number of underlying conditions that affect blood cells or bone marrow.

Beshear says the settlement means $295,916 will be returned to Kentucky’s Medicaid accounts. He says in his first six weeks as AG, his office has returned $2.8 million to the Medicaid program.


Bevin taps Rodney Ballard as new corrections commissioner

FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has appointed Rodney Ballard as the new commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Corrections.

Ballard takes over for LaDonna Thompson, the current commissioner who will retire March 1. His first day will be March 14.

Since 2012, Ballard has been in charge of the Fayette County Detention Center, which has 1,300 beds and an annual budget of $33.5 million. Before that, he spent four years overseeing the Division of Probation and Parole and the Division of Local Facilities, which includes jail inspectors. He will take over a department that houses nearly 23,000 inmates across 13 facilities.

Thompson has been with the department since 1989. She made history in 2008 when former Gov. Steve Beshear appointed her as the first female corrections commissioner in state history.


Floyd County aunt sentenced in toddler’s 2011 death

PRESTONBURG (AP) — A Floyd County woman has been given a recommended 15-year prison sentence for her role in the death of her 2-year-old nephew in 2011.

WYMT-TV reports that Gladys Dickerson was sentenced Thursday in Floyd County court after having pleaded guilty to criminal abuse charges last month.

Watson Adkins was found unresponsive at his aunt and uncle’s home in Prestonsburg in September 2011.

Dickerson’s husband, Jason Dickerson, was found guilty of murder in 2014 in connection with the toddler’s death and is serving a life sentence.

Prosecutors said that while Gladys Dickerson did not commit the specific acts of abuse, she should have done more to stop them.

Dickerson will be credited for more than four years of time served in prison.


Appeals court rules in favor of papers in open-records case

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of two newspapers in a sharply worded opinion that found the state unlawfully denied access to records documenting child abuse. The ruling orders the agency to pay about $1 million in legal fees and penalties.

Writing for the three-judge panel, Judge Irv Maze criticized the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for its “systematic and categorical disregard for the rule of law.”

The ruling Friday is the latest in a legal fight between the cabinet and the newspapers — The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader — over access to records detailing child abuse deaths and serious injuries.

Maze acknowledges taxpayers would ultimately pay the hefty fees and penalties, but says denying the public’s “right to know” would be an even greater price.


UK College of Medicine expanding due to physician shortage

LEXINGTON (AP) — The University of Kentucky College of Medicine says it is expanding educational opportunities to address a shortage of physicians in the state.

UK says in a statement that it is developing a four-year satellite program in Bowling Green and will expand its Rural Physician Leadership Program in Morehead.

The initiative partners UK, Morehead State and Western Kentucky with local hospitals. The statement says UK is at capacity at its Lexington campus and it can’t increase enrollment without collaborating with other institutions.

Details of the arrangement are still being worked out, but UK officials say they have signed memorandums of understanding with the other schools and hospitals.

There are 521 students enrolled in UK’s College of Medicine. The partnership will allow that number to increase by about 30 percent.


Louisville Zoo announces baby gorilla on board

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Louisville Zoo announced that gorilla Mia Moja is pregnant and expected to deliver a healthy baby in May.

The gestation period for gorillas is 8.5 months. The newborn will weigh about four pounds.

The Louisville Zoo on Thursday wrote that like pregnant humans, pregnant gorillas experience a change in their tastes. During her first trimester, Mia Moja would drink only grape juice, refusing apple, cranberry or orange. The 27-year-old mother takes prenatal vitamins and undergoes weekly ultrasounds to track the baby’s development.

It will be her second baby. She gave birth to Misha in 2010.

The baby will be the zoo’s 11th gorilla. Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered and her pregnancy is part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

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