State News in Brief


AT&T files lawsuit over utility pole access in Louisville

LOUISVILLE (AP) — AT&T has filed a federal lawsuit over action taken in Louisville that will let Google Fiber install equipment on AT&T’s utility poles.

AT&T says the ordinance passed by Louisville’s Metro Council this month violates state and federal rules. The Courier-Journal reports the company wants a federal judge to clarify that the authority to regulate poles is reserved to the Kentucky Public Service Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

The measure allows high-speed Internet providers to install their new equipment on utility poles owned by AT&T. AT&T and Time Warner Cable lobbied against the proposal.

“We will vigorously defend the lawsuit filed today by AT&T,” Mayor Greg Fischer said after the suit was filed Thursday. “Gigabit fiber is too important to our city’s future.”

City officials have said Google Fiber could mean Internet speeds around 20 times faster than conventional broadband.

AT&T spokesman Joe Burgan said Google Fiber and others could attach their equipment to AT&T’s poles if they enter into their licensing agreement, which he said they have done in other cities.

“This lawsuit is not about Google,” Burgan said. “It’s about the Louisville Metro Council exceeding its authority.”

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Accused of theft, missing western Kentucky woman found dead

MURRAY (AP) — Authorities have found the body of a western Kentucky woman for whom an arrest warrant had been issued earlier this month.

Kentucky State Police spokesman Michael Robichaud tells news outlets that investigators are working to determine the cause of 31-year-old Jennifer Hicks’ death. He declined to say where in Calloway County the body was found Thursday.

Hicks had been the subject of a missing person investigation since Feb. 9.

Last week, Kentucky State Police obtained an arrest warrant charging her with theft of more than $10,000. It’s unclear where the theft charge stems from.

WPSD reports Calloway County Coroner Rick Harris is scheduled to perform an autopsy on Hicks’ body Friday.

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Nursing home resident, 35, charged in older resident’s death

SCOTTSVILLE (AP) — A 35-year-old Kentucky nursing home resident has been charged with killing a 71-year-old resident of the facility.

Police said the defendant was arrested on a murder charge Thursday and was held without bond in Allen County Detention Center. They said he was formerly named Robert Reynolds but legally changed his name to The Reverend.

Allen County Coroner Darren E. Davis told the Daily News in Bowling Green that Gary Glueck was stabbed with a pen and had an electrical cord wrapped around his neck. Davis said the state medical examiner’s office determined Glueck died from strangulation.

Scottsville police Detective John Rose said the men had been in an argument.

Scottsville Manor Administrator Lesa Keen said additional people are being brought in to reassure residents of their safety at the 40-bed facility.

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VFW post to build homeless veterans shelter in Prestonsburg

PRESTONSBURG (AP) — A Prestonsburg Veterans of Foreign Wars post plans to build a new shelter for homeless veterans in Floyd County.

Members of VFW Post 5839 tell WYMT-TV the group began planning the shelter about six months ago out of a desire to help homeless veterans of eastern Kentucky.

Project manager Calvin Howell says the shelter will house homeless veterans and their families, and will be next door to the VFW Post. It will hold about 24 people.

The 6,000 square foot facility will have beds, a kitchen, computer, washer and dryer. VFW Members will help veterans access services to get them back on their feet, like mental health services or job placement.

A ground breaking ceremony will take place in April. Members hope to open the shelter before the spring of 2017.

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January US mine inspections result in 138 citations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Federal inspectors issued 138 citations and four orders at U.S. mine operations in January.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the inspections were conducted at 11 coal mines and six other mines in 12 states, including Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

The impact inspections began in 2010 after the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia killed 29 coal miners. Since April 2010, MSHA has issued 15,833 citations and 1,303 orders.

Mines targeted by the inspections are those that have compliance concerns or poor compliance history.

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Official: Low-level nuclear waste dumped in Ky.

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Kentucky official says low-level nuclear waste from drilling operations in other states was dumped illegally in Kentucky last year.

Division of Waste Management Director Tony Hatton told The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1UncIpc ) that officials confirmed the waste from operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia was sent to a landfill in Estill County. Officials are investigating possible shipments to a landfill in Greenup County.

State officials this week began warning all landfills to watch for such waste and not to accept it.

Hatton said the waste comes from rock and brine brought to the surface during oil and gas drilling.

The waste that Hatton said made it to the Estill County facility was concentrated during recycling, but it’s not believed the Greenup County waste had gone through that process.

Neither is allowed to be imported into Kentucky from those states.

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Man sentenced to 40 years in Ky. oil wells scam

LEXINGTON (AP) — U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey says a man who defrauded more than 240 investors out of more than $3 million through a scam involving oil wells in Kentucky has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Harvey said in a statement that U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove handed down the sentence on Wednesday for 69-year-old John G. Westine Jr. on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy to launder funds, and securities fraud. Westine also was ordered to pay $3 million in restitution. His sentence was enhanced due to a 1992 conviction on similar charges.

A co-defendant, 56-year-old Mark Cornell, was sentenced to nine years and six months on a charge of deception in the purchase and sale of a security.

Two other co-defendants were previously convicted and sentenced.

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Senate passes bill aimed at expanding dogfighting law

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill aimed at fixing a flaw in the state’s laws against dogfighting.

Kentucky outlaws the actual act of dogfighting “for pleasure or profit.” But the bill’s supporters say it’s the only state that doesn’t outlaw actions contributing to the blood sport.

The bill clearing the Senate on Thursday would expand the law to make it a felony to breed, possess, train or sell dogs for the “primary purpose” of dogfighting. The bill passed 36-0 and goes to the House.

The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Paul Hornback, has led efforts since last year to shape the legislation.

But some animal rights activists raised concerns this week that the Senate’s version is too broad, creating potential loopholes for those wanting to supply fighting dogs.

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Bill would create harassment charge for drone operators

FRANKFORT (AP) — Drone operators could be charged with harassment or voyeurism under a bill that has cleared the Kentucky House of Representatives.

The House voted 87-3 to approve the bill that makes it illegal to use a drone to harass or spy on others. The bill is in response to Bullitt County resident William Merideth, who last year shot down a drone he said was spying on his teenage daughters on the back porch.

Merideth was arrested for firing his gun in the city limits. But a state judge later dismissed the charges. The drone’s owner, John David Boggs, said he was not spying on Merideth and has sued him in federal court.

Bill sponsor Democratic Rep. Linda Belcher of Shepherdsville said the bill does not apply to police or any “lawful commercial or personal use.”

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Memphis man convicted in teen sex trafficking case

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The U.S. Attorney in New Orleans says a Tennessee man has been convicted on eight counts involving sex trafficking.

In a Thursday news release, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite (poh-LEET’) said 25-year-old Timothy Jones of Memphis was convicted for bringing two teenage girls to New Orleans to have them engage in prostitution. Prosecutors said Jones used violence and fraud to coerce the girls to participate.

Jones recruited a 17-year-old from Baton Rouge to work for him in the sex trade in 2013. She escaped from him after three weeks.

A 16-year-old recruited in Memphis in 2014 was taken first to Kentucky and found by U.S. marshals in New Orleans last year, when Jones was arrested.

Jones faces from 15 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for June 29.

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Blue Grass Stockyards to rebuild after massive fire

LEXINGTON (AP) — Blue Grass Stockyards plans to rebuild in Lexington after a massive fire destroyed the beef cattle auction business.

Jim Akers, chief operating officer, said in a statement released by the Lexington mayor’s office that the city is “part of our culture; our roots are here,” while also noting that it has a central location and is convenient to farmers.

The fire on Jan. 30 churned up a plume of thick, black smoke that darkened the skies for miles. The flames also consumed several nearby businesses.

The Lexington Fire Department ruled the blaze accidental, saying that a construction worker’s circular saw ignited combustible materials. No one was injured.

The statement said the new facility will be on Ironworks Pike near Interstate 75. It was previously located off Forbes Road.

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Magoffin County officials accused of buying votes

PIKEVILLE (AP) — A federal indictment has accused three elected officials in Magoffin County of benefiting from a vote-buying scheme.

Media outlets report that the indictment, handed down Thursday, accuses several people of making payments in exchange for votes for Judge/Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin, County Clerk Renee Arnett Shepherd and Magistrate Gary “Rooster” Risner.

The indictment says that Risner; his wife, Tami Jo Risner; Mason Daniels; Shepherd and her husband, Larry Shepherd, conspired to offer people money to vote for Hardin, Renee Shepherd and Gary Risner. A fifth person, Scott Lynn McCarty, is also charged with aiding vote-buying.

Authorities say the scheme started in 2013 and lasted through the November 2014 election.

The Risners, Daniels and McCarty have pleaded not guilty. The Shepherds declined to comment, as did Hardin’s attorney, James Deckard.

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Man fatally shot at restaurant; co-worker charged

ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — Police say a man has fatally shot a co-worker at a fast-food restaurant in central Kentucky.

Media cited a statement from the Elizabethtown Police Department in reporting that 27-year-old Joshua Lee Ratliff is facing charges including murder and fleeing from police in the shooting Thursday evening at a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant.

News outlets report Ratliff entered a not guilty plea Friday morning to the charges.

An arrest citation accuses Ratliff of shooting 22-year-old Ryan Birse of Elizabethtown nine times. The citation says Ratliff entered the establishment, located Birse and began firing.

A customer, Michelle Piercy, told The News-Enterprise that she ran outside with her teenage son after hearing shots behind the counter and dialed 911 while hiding behind a car.

Police are investigating. They have not release a motive.

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Vandals damage Ohio River bridge that’s undergoing upgrade

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Southern Indiana police are searching for vandals who damaged equipment and workers’ property on the deck of an Ohio River bridge that was temporarily closed in January for improvements.

Jeffersonville Police Chief Kenny Kavanaugh says the damage discovered early Thursday spanned the length of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge that links the city with Louisville, Kentucky.

Ohio River Bridges Project Spokeswoman Mindy Peterson says vandals spray painted items, damaged tools, broke lights along the bridge’s deck and damaged many workers’ personal items.

The News and Tribune reports a state contractor is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

The bridge was closed to traffic in mid-January for improvements that are part of a $2.3 billion joint bridges project between Kentucky and Indiana.

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Accused of theft, missing western Ky. woman found dead

MURRAY (AP) — Authorities have found the body of a western Kentucky woman for whom an arrest warrant has been issued earlier this month.

Kentucky State Police spokesman Michael Robichaud tells news outlets that investigators are working to determine the cause of 31-year-old Jennifer Hicks’ death. He declined to say where in Calloway County the body was found Thursday.

Hicks had been the subject of a missing person investigation since Feb. 9.

Last week, Kentucky State Police obtained an arrest warrant charging her with theft of more than $10,000. It’s unclear where the theft charge stems from.

WPSD reports Calloway County Coroner Rick Harris is scheduled to perform an autopsy on Hicks’ body Friday.

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