State News in Brief

2 charged after going over Cumberland Falls in kayaks

LEXINGTON (AP) — Kentucky officials say two men have been charged with trespassing after going over Cumberland Falls in kayaks last weekend.

State Department of Parks spokesman Gil Lawson says a ranger cited Dane Jackson and Nicholas Troutman after they came off the river below the falls, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

The charge is a misdemeanor. The two weren’t available for comment Monday, but they posted video and comments on their Facebook pages.

Lawson did not have information on where the two were from or their ages.

Both said on Facebook they are champion kayakers.

Lawson said the two went over the falls in separate kayaks about 6 p.m. Saturday.

He says the Parks Department strongly discourages anyone from attempting to go over the falls because of the danger of death or injury.


House GOP says budget tweak would spur millions for pensions

FRANKFORT (AP) — House Republicans say a tweak in Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget plan would get the federal government to spend an extra $162.2 million on the state’s multi-billion dollar public pension debt.

But the proposal depends on adopting Bevin’s budget cuts. House Democrats, who will have a majority, have said they will reject some of Bevin’s cuts.

Bevin’s budget proposal includes making lump sum payments to the pension systems for teachers and state workers. But instead of just giving the money directly to the retirement systems, House Republicans want to route the money through the state payroll system. That would trigger a match from the federal government, which covers about 30 percent of state worker salaries and 15 percent of teacher salaries.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the plan does not go far enough.


Proposal to guarantee victims’ rights clears House panel

FRANKFORT (AP) — A proposal aimed at amending Kentucky’s Constitution to guarantee rights for crime victims has cleared another hurdle in the General Assembly.

The measure was approved by the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on Monday. If it passes the Democratic-led House, the measure would be placed on the November ballot in Kentucky. The proposal has already passed the Republican-controlled Senate.

The measure’s lead sponsor, Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville, says it seeks to put victims’ rights on the “same legal footing” as the rights of criminal defendants.

The proposal would ensure crime victims are given “timely notice” of all proceedings involving their alleged offenders. It also would ensure victims are allowed to comment in any proceedings involving release, plea bargains, sentencing and parole of the offenders.


Elections board certifies results of special House elections

FRANKFORT (AP) — The State Board of Elections has certified the results of last week’s four special Kentucky House elections that solidified Democratic control of the chamber.

The board’s certification on Tuesday clears the way for the four new House members to be sworn into office. Their swearing in is scheduled to occur later Tuesday.

Democrats won three of four special House elections last Tuesday.

Their victories dealt a blow to Republican takeover attempts and solidified Democratic power in the last legislative chamber in the South the party still controls.

The victories give Democrats 53 of 100 seats in the House. The new lawmakers take office at a crucial time as the House prepares for crucial votes on the state budget.


Officer indicted, accused of stealing from police department

SHELBYVILLE (AP) — A Shelby County grand jury has indicted a Simpsonville police officer accused of stealing from his department.

Local news outlets report that officer Terry Putnam was indicted Friday on charges of theft, criminal mischief, official misconduct and tampering with physical evidence.

The Kentucky State Police said in a news release that Putnam was arrested in January. He is accused of stealing about $30,000 in cash, drugs and handguns from evidence lockers at the Simpsonville Police Department on Nov. 6.

State police say Putnam and another officer were the only two officers in the department to refuse a polygraph test following an investigation.

It’s unclear if Putnam has an attorney.


Louisville police see spike in overdose calls this month

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Louisville police say they have seen a spike in the number of overdose calls they’ve responded to this month.

The Courier-Journal reports Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad says he thinks he knows what’s causing it.

“There is something going on, we believe, with the heroin that’s being used in our community,” said Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad. “We believe it is mixed with other drugs, and it is something that is causing people to overdose.”

Jefferson County Coroner Dr. Barbara Weakley-Jones says the city is seeing an increase in overdoses involving prescription drugs, such as potent pain medication fentanyl and anticonvulsant gabapentin.

Conrad says the heroin is being cut with these other drugs while maintaining potency.

On Monday, he shared information from the coroner about the overdoses and a drug police are using to counter overdoses. In February, officers gave a potentially life-saving dose of heroin antidote naloxone 26 times to those overdosing. This month’s total has jumped to 43 so far.

“The potency is always changing and can always be mixed with new medications,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, interim director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. “Every time someone injects they run the risk of overdosing.”


Autopsy: Stunned man suffered injuries in crash

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — A coroner says a man who died after officers used a stun gun on him when he became combative after a weekend rollover crash suffered blunt-force trauma from the crash.

Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby said on Monday that 52-year-old Michael Roll of Bowling Green suffered injuries consistent with the crash, but a cause of death won’t be released until toxicology results are back in two or three weeks.

State Police Trooper B.J. Eaton said previously that two state police troopers and a local sheriff’s deputy found Roll’s vehicle overturned Saturday night on William Natcher Parkway near Bowling Green. Eaton says Roll appeared intoxicated and became combative with officers, who shot him with a stun gun, rendering him unconscious.

Eaton said both Roll and the officers involved were white.


Lexington program financing affordable housing units

LEXINGTON (AP) — A program in Lexington is allocating grants and low-interest loans to groups developing affordable housing projects.

The Lexington Herald Leaders reports that Lexington’s affordable housing fund has financed 443 affordable housing units since it was created in September 2014.

Rick McQuady, the director of Lexington’s affordable housing fund, gave the Urban County Council the first update on the fund’s progress during a council work session March 8. He says the program has financed 164 new units and rehabilitated 269 existing units.

To date, the fund has allocated $5.3 million in grants or low-interest loans that will go toward developing the projects.

McQuady says he has talked to various groups that want to rehabilitee or create an additional 300 to 500 units in the coming year.


Carter fiscal court denies library taxing district request

GRAYSON (AP) — The Carter County Fiscal Court has denied the implementation of a taxing district to support county libraries.

The Independent reports that the fiscal court met Monday night to consider the issue and argued that a taxing district could prove detrimental to the community because it can legally increase its tax rate without voter approval.

The county’s public library director, Nellie Middleton, told the court that the library wanted to make sure kids have books in their homes.

Judge-Executive Mike Malone argued that taxing districts become a government within a government that there was no way the fiscal court would create it.

The court didn’t rule out letting county residents vote on the proposal.


State resort worker killed in crash on way to work

CARROLLTON (AP) — A longtime state resort park worker has been killed in car crash while driving to work to cover a shift in for a co-worker.

Andy Persanyi was the dining room supervisor at General Butler State Resort Park in Henry County.

He was driving to his job Sunday morning when he was fatally injured in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 71.

A release from the state parks system says Persanyi was coming to work so a colleague could take the day off to attend a Special Olympics event.

Gov. Matt Bevin extended condolences to Persanyi’s widow and family in the release.

Persanyi began his career at General Butler as the park’s chef 13 years ago. Two years later, Persanyi was promoted to the dining room supervisor.

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