State News in Brief


Investigation says miner crushed under 18-ton machine

DIXON (AP) — An investigation into an accident that killed a coal miner in Western Kentucky last year found he was crushed after workers propped up an 18-ton machine with a stack of wooden boards that gave way.

The Lexington Herald Leader reports the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration faults the company for failing to put adequate procedures in place for propping up suspended equipment.

Rickey Thorpe was killed Sept. 16 at the Onton No. 9 mine in Webster County. That’s an underground mine operated by Sebree Mining, a subsidiary of Alliance Resource Partners.

According to the investigation, Thorpe was an electrician who was helping repair a valve on a continuous mining machine.

Workers had propped up the heavy cutter head boom on the machine with a stack of 2-inch-thick boards instead of the manufacturer’s approved steel chocks.

As Thorpe leaned under the suspended boom, the boards gave way with a loud pop and it fell and crushed him.

It took nearly 90 minutes for workers to lift the boom and pull out Thorpe’s body.

MSHA said the mine operator failed to train Thorpe in the hazards of working under suspended loads.

Violations by the mine operator cited by the federal inspectors include one listed as an “unwarrantable failure” to comply with the law because a supervisor saw Thorpe working in an unsafe condition and did not stop it.

Thorpe’s death was one of only two at Kentucky coal mines in 2015, tying the record for the lowest number of fatalities.

There have already been two deaths at Kentucky mines this year.

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Police say man stole donation jar and table it was bolted to

LEXINGTON (AP) — A man accused of stealing a donation jar for disabled veterans along with the table it was attached has turned himself in to police.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports police say the victim was collecting donations in front of a Walmart store when David Kirk approached the donation table. Kirk tried to take the money-filled jar, but when he found it was bolted to the table, he picked up the entire table, put it in bed of his pickup truck and drove away.

Kirk turned himself in after police obtained an arrest warrant.

He is charged with first-degree robbery. On Sunday, he was being held on a $10,000 bond. He has a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Jail records do not indicate if he has an attorney.

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Stave mill planned in Marshall Co. to supply cooperages

BENTON (AP) — The American Stave Company is building a mill in Benton to produce barrel staves for the bourbon and whiskey industries.

A news release from the governor’s office says the $12 million project will create more than 40 full-time positions.

The company plans to begin site work this spring, with the facility opening by July 2017.

American Stave’s first Kentucky mill opened in September in Rowan County. The Morehead Wood Products mill now employs 71 people. Both mills will supply cooperages in Lebanon and Missouri.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved American Stave for performance-based tax incentives up to $750,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The agency approved another $200,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.

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State officials to join feds in Ohio Co. arsenic cleanup

HARTFORD (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection will join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the cleanup of a significant arsenic site in Ohio County.

The Messenger-Inquirer reports the contamination was discovered in 2014 about six miles south of Daviess County. Since then, the EPA has been handling the investigation and planning the cleanup.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura says the state was called after arsenic was found on nearby properties.

EPA investigators believe the arsenic had been stored in containers inside a barn that burned down, releasing the arsenic into the ground. The EPA says exposure to arsenic can cause cancer, and high levels can be deadly.

Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnson says he heard from a KDEP official that the reclamation process will begin in the summer. The cost of the project is unknown.

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Harrodsburg mother killed in hit-and-run crash; man arrested

HARRODSBURG (AP) — Investigators in Mercer County have arrested a man who they say was responsible for a hit-and-run accident that left a Harrodsburg mother dead.

Citing an arrest citation, WLEX-TV reports that 21-year-old Matthew Warner was arrested Sunday evening and is being charged with leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence.

Authorities say Warner struck 38-year-old Heather Lawrence as she was walking along U.S. Route 127 early Sunday, abandoned the truck and had someone else report it as stolen. It is unclear whether he has an attorney.

The victim’s husband, Carl Lawrence, tells WKYT-TV that his wife had left their home after an argument. He says he and his wife had four children, ranging in age from two to 18.

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18-year-old charged with arson of vacant Lexington home

LEXINGTON (AP) — An 18-year-old Lexington man has been charged with second-degree arson after police say he admitted to entering a vacant home and causing the fire.

According to an arrest citation, Daniel L. Prather was arrested Sunday morning, about three hours after a house fire in northeast Lexington.

Police say Prather had soot on one of his hands and was next to the home when police arrived. The citation says a witness told police that Prather had been seen at the home earlier in the day.

Once arrested, police say Prather said he entered the home through a window, and gave “multiple stories as to how the fire started, including leaving candles lit and another intentional cause.”

Police took Prather to the Fayette County Jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

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Retiring justice to hear final case in Indiana’s 1st capital

CORYDON, Ind. (AP) — Retiring Indiana Supreme Court Justice Brent Dickson is set to hear his final arguments this month in the same tiny southern Indiana courtroom that housed the state’s original Supreme Court.

Dickson’s last day with the court is April 29. But on April 20 he and the four other justices will travel to Corydon (KOHR’-eh-duhn) to hear arguments in a death liability case stemming from a fight at a 2010 birthday party that killed a man.

Those arguments will be recorded and webcast to schools as one of Indiana’s official bicentennial events.

The justices will meet in a small, upstairs room in Indiana’s first capitol building in Corydon. The court’s original three justices heard their first cases there in May 1817, five months after Indiana achieved statehood.

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KSP investigate Columbia house fire death

COLUMBIA (AP) — Officials are working to identify a person who was found dead in a Columbia house fire.

Kentucky State Police Det. Clint Walker says in a news release that police were notified Sunday afternoon that a body had been found in ruins of a town house in Columbia.

The day before, the Adair County and Columbia fire departments had responded to a vehicle fire at the same address. It wasn’t until the next day that the owner of the town house returned to the residence and located the body.

Walker says the body has been sent to the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy and identification.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Louisville Zoo’s orphaned baby meeting other gorillas

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A new baby gorilla, whose mother died after delivery, is starting to get acclimated to other gorillas.

The Courier-Journal reports the nearly 3-week-old baby girl is now in the Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest.

Zoo staff says the infant has a room with a view of other gorillas. She can also hear and smell them from her new abode. The nine adult gorillas can visit with the baby via a steel mesh door.

A post on the zoo blog says that on a recent night Cecil, Kicho, Bengati and Jelani all took turns coming to the door to check her out. Jelani kept returning for visits and also wanted to see the video the zoo is recording of the baby.

The zoo is considering a contest to name her.

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9 massive murals moving from Cincinnati airport to downtown

CINCINNATI (AP) — Nine massive glass-tile mosaics originally made for the train concourse at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal are being moved across the Ohio River from the area’s biggest airport to the downtown convention center where they’ll now be displayed.

The process got under way Saturday with three of the 20-by-20-foot murals being moved from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to the Duke Energy Convention Center. The rest will be moved later.

They’re being relocated from two airport terminals that are scheduled for demolition. WLWT-TV reports the Kenton County Airport Board will spend about $2 million to remove and transport the murals, and Cincinnati will pay about $750,000 for them to be unloaded and mounted on the convention center’s exterior.

The mosaics were created in 1933 by artist Winold Reiss.

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