State News in Brief

CSX Corp. cuts 101 jobs in eastern Ky.

RUSSELL (AP) — Officials say 101 positions at a CSX Corp. facility in eastern Kentucky are being eliminated amid a slump in the coal industry.

CSX spokeswoman Melanie Cost told media that the company decided to make the cuts as a last resort. She said the facility in Russell primarily serves trains moving from coal fields in central Appalachia and there is no longer enough activity to support the jobs.

Officials said the cuts affect only the transportation and mechanical departments and leaves more than 300 employees at the location.

CSX also cited a decline in coal when it reduced operations at sites in Corbin, Kentucky, and Erwin, Tennessee, last fall, and when it announced in January that it was closing its administrative offices in Huntington, West Virginia.


Man pleads guilty to bribing voter in vote-fraud case

LEXINGTON (AP) — A Magoffin County man has pleaded guilty to helping bribe a voter.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Scott Lynn McCarty has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and admitted that he aided and abetted the payment of a woman in a May 2014 primary. He will be sentenced in May and faces up to a year in prison.

McCarty says he went to the voting booth with the woman to make sure she voted for certain candidates. Afterward, he directed her to see a person who would pay her for voting.

McCarty is charged in another case in which he and four others are accused of conspiring to buy votes for two candidates in 2014. All those charged have pleaded not guilty in that case.


Arflack named commissioner of Veterans Affairs

FRANKFORT (AP) — Retired Brigadier Gen. Norman E. Arflack has been appointed commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin made the announcement in a release on Tuesday.

Bevin says the state’s veterans “will benefit greatly from his four decades of service in the military, the Kentucky National Guard, and state government.”

Bevin says Heather French Henry has agreed to serve as deputy commissioner.

Arflack rose to the rank of Brigadier General after four decades in the Kentucky National Guard. He has also served as executive director of the National Guard Association of Kentucky and as member and vice chair of the Board of Directors of the National Guard Association of the United States.

Arflack served in the Kentucky State Police for more than two decades.


Search effort suspended for car that plunged into Ohio River

NEWPORT (AP) — Search efforts have been suspended for a car that plunged into the Ohio River after a massive pileup on a bridge leading from Kentucky to Cincinnati.

Campbell County Director of Emergency Management William Turner said Wednesday that water rescue officials say it is unsafe to put divers back into the rising river. He said officials would likely reassess the situation Saturday.

Turner said officials still don’t know how many people were inside the car when it toppled over the side of the bridge Tuesday.

Campbell County Police Chief Craig Sorrell said 12 vehicles were involved in four separate accidents at rush hour on the Combs-Hehl Bridge, which carries Interstate 275 from Campbell County, Kentucky, to Cincinnati. Rescue teams from several agencies searched the river for hours immediately following the crash.


Boyd County Fiscal Court approves needle exchange program

CATLETTSBURG (AP) — The Boyd County Fiscal Court has passed a resolution to approve a needle exchange program for one year.

The Independent reports that the fiscal court passed the resolution Tuesday, but some commissioners expressed concerns about funding.

The program will be paid for by special taxing districts, and some worried it could become too costly to operate.

Ashland-Boyd County Health Department Public Health Director Maria Hardy and epidemiologist Kristy Bolen presented the program to the court as a way to address local cases of hepatitis C.

Commissioner John Greer, who was the sole member to vote against the program, says he is afraid the program could encourage drug abuse.

Commissioner Tom Jackson argued that protecting the public from hepatitis C and HIV overrides the concerns of drug abuse.


Paducah floodwall restoration project could cost $25 million

PADUCAH (AP) — The Paducah City Commission held a workshop to discuss plans for rehabilitating Paducah’s floodwall.

Local news outlets report that Public Works Director Rick Murphy said during Tuesday’s workshop that the floodwall is 22 years past its life expectancy. The wall was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1939 and 1949 and was intended to last 50 years.

Murphy has been working with the corps over the past several years to move forward with the Local Flood Protection Project, a plan to repair or replace portions of the floodwall system.

Deputy District Engineer Linda Murphy says the rehabilitation process is expected to cost about $25.5 million.

City Manager Jeff Pederson says he hopes the city can begin work on the repairs beginning next fiscal year.


Zoo announces baby gorilla born premature, mother dies

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Louisville Zoo announced that 27-year-old gorilla Mia Moja died from complications from an emergency cesarean section to deliver a female baby three weeks premature.

The baby, in critical but stable condition since its birth Monday, weighed less than four pounds, nearly the average size of a full-term baby. Mia Moja died Tuesday morning.

Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak called her death “heartbreaking” and said a post-mortem exam will be performed on the gorilla, a critically endangered species.

The zoo said in a statement that the mother started experiencing unusual bleeding and her condition was considered life threatening. A team of veterinarians and OB-GYNs examined her and decided an emergency cesarean section was necessary.

The baby will be bottle fed, watched around the clock and monitored by a University of Louisville neonatologist.


City sees increase in vacant, abandoned property complaints

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Complaints about Louisville’s vacant and abandoned properties surged last year compared to 2014.

The Courier-Journal reports Metro Codes and Regulations shows that the city saw a 23 percent increase in those complaints.

Public Works spokesman Harold Adams says Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration has been working to both reduce the number of vacant and abandoned properties and to step in where property owners are either unwilling or unable to keep lots clean, boarded and mowed.

In September, Metro Council members put in an additional $126,000 toward mowing to deal with high grass at public parks, vacant and abandoned properties, and along major state-owned thoroughfares.

Director of the codes and regulations department Robert Kirchdorfer says they’ll help to deploy extra crews to assist in mowing to keep the referral backlog down.

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