State News in Brief

Tests: Water, air around landfill safe despite nuclear waste

IRVINE (AP) — Estill County officials say all tests so far have shown the air and water to be safe around a local landfill where low-level nuclear waste was illegally dumped last year.

Judge-Executive Wallace Taylor told WKYT-TV on Monday that preliminary tests show no radiation in the water, but one sample from a pond on the landfill’s property did show elevated lead levels.

Preliminary air samples taken last week also showed no evidence of radiation affecting the schools across the street.

Taylor says further air and water tests are scheduled for this weekend.

Officials have confirmed the waste came from drilling operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Taylor says officials are working on a settlement that would require the landfill to scan the contents of every truck that enters the property.


Niece of suspect in Ky. trooper death given probation

EDDYVILLE (AP) — An 18-year-old woman who admitted to being uncooperative during the investigation into the shooting death of a Kentucky state trooper will not have to serve prison time.

News outlets report that Ambrea Shanks of Florissant, Missouri, was sentenced Monday to five years of probation after pleading guilty in a Lyon County courtroom to first-degree hindering prosecution or apprehension.

Thirty-one-year-old Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was shot to death in September in western Kentucky after a high-speed chase that reportedly started with the trooper pulling over Shanks’ 25-year-old uncle, Joseph Johnson-Shanks, for speeding.

Police say that during a phone call with her uncle, Shanks told him he was on speaker phone and not to say anything.

Authorities say Johnson-Shanks was later shot to death by troopers after he refused to surrender.


Education commissioner plans town hall meetings across state

FRANKFORT (AP) — State Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt wants to know how Kentuckians define school success. So he’s planning a series of town hall meetings starting next week to gather comments.

The suggestions will be used by state education officials in developing a new accountability system. Pruitt has listed that as one of his priorities since being hired as education commissioner last fall.

Pruitt says he wants an accountability system that’s fair, reliable and easier to understand.

The state’s work stems from congressional passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That law shifts much of the oversight and responsibility for schools from the federal government to the states. That includes how accountability is determined and how to define and improve low-performing schools.

The first town hall meeting is set for March 14 in Shelbyville.


JCPS: Error led to student restraints not being reported

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Students in Jefferson County Public Schools were physically held down or confined to a room more than 4,400 times last school year — but the school district only correctly reported 174 of those instances to the state.

The Courier-Journal reports that the state data says JCPS students were restrained 168 times last school year and secluded six times. JCPS says students were actually restrained or secluded 4,403 times last year.

Superintendent Donna Hargens says the problem arose when schools reported problems to an internal database, not the state. In an email to state Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, Hargens said JCPS is working to figure out how to import the data to the state database.

Per Kentucky’s 2013 regulation, restraint and seclusion may only be used if a student’s behavior poses imminent danger or physical harm to themselves or others.


Auction of Muhammad Ali items planned for the fall

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Graceland Auctions says it is planning an auction of authenticated Muhammad Ali memorabilia later this year.

The Memphis-based auction house says the auction of items associated with the 74-year-old former boxing champion will take place this fall in the United States, though an exact location has not been disclosed.

Fans and collectors will be able to participate in the auction in person and online.

Consigned items will be included in the new exhibition “I Am The Greatest: Muhammad Ali at The O2,” located in London. The exhibition features more than 100 Ali-related artifacts — including unseen footage, photographs and rare personal memorabilia.

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