State News in Brief


Bevin agrees not to spend $18 million until lawsuit resolved

FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has agreed to not spend nearly $18 million in public money until after a judge decides whether he has the authority to spend it.

Bevin has cut spending for state colleges and universities by about $18 million for the final three months of the fiscal year. He wants to use the money to begin paying down the state’s public pension debt, which is estimated at more than $30 billion.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued Bevin, saying he did not have the authority to order the spending cuts. Both sides argued their case before Franklin Circuit Thomas Wingate on Thursday. Wingate said he wants to have another hearing in a few weeks before deciding the case. But he said he will order the money not to be spent until then.

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Kentucky Retirement Board chair defies governor’s order

FRANKFORT (AP) — The chairman of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees is presiding at a meeting in defiance of Gov. Matt Bevin’s order removing him from the board.

Thomas K. Elliott took his seat at the head of the board table at Thursday’s regularly-scheduled board meeting, a day after Bevin issued the order to oust him.

The board was scheduled to elect its leaders, but delayed that vote until the next meeting. Board members also voted to request an attorney general’s opinion on whether Bevin exceeded his authority by removing Elliott.

In removing Elliott Wednesday, Bevin said one of the country’s worst funded public pension systems needs a “fresh start.” Elliott was reappointed to the board by former Democratic Governor Steve Beshear last year and his term does not expire until 2019.

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Appeals court dismisses Kim Davis’ lawsuit against Ky.

FRANKFORT (AP) — A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit that a Kentucky clerk filed against the state for requiring her to issue marriage licenses that contained her name to same-sex couples.

Kim Davis refused to issue such licenses to same-sex couples, arguing it violated her religious beliefs. The American Civil Liberties Union sued her. A federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses.

Davis sued then-Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and another state official, but Beshear left office in December. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin replaced him and signed an executive order removing the names of county clerks from marriage license forms.

The court dismissed the case, saying Davis is not experiencing irreparable harm.

The ACLU’s lawsuit is still pending.

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Utilities unveil state’s largest solar power plant

BURGIN (AP) — Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities have unveiled the state’s largest solar facility.

Multiple news outlets report that the companies showcased the solar plant Tuesday at the E.W. Brown Generating Station near Burgin. The complex features a hydroelectric plant, three coal-fired generating units and seven natural gas-fired combustion turbines.

Utilities CEO Paul W. Thompson says the facility is already producing electricity, although the plant won’t be finished until May or June. He says the facility is expected to produce 19,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually, which is enough to power 1,500 homes for a year.

As of Tuesday, about 13,000 of the 44,600 solar panels have been installed.

Utilities director Scott Straight says the plant was built because customers are demanding more environmentally responsible ways to generate electricity.

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Clinton hires Grimes’ veteran to lead Ky. campaign

FRANKFORT (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has hired a veteran of Alison Lundergan Grimes’ 2014 Senate run to lead her Kentucky campaign ahead of next month’s presidential primary.

The Clinton campaign has hired Elizabeth Cantrell Brooks as their state director ahead of the May 17th Kentucky presidential primary. Brooks worked for Grimes’ unsuccessful Senate campaign and was the campaign manager for state Rep. Lew Nicholls’ successful special election for the House of Representatives last month.

The campaign also hired former Kentucky Democratic Party Political Director Christian Motley, who also worked for former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s 2011 re-election campaign. Other hires include Communications Director Tim Hogan and Organizing Director Justin Vollmer.

Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are battling for the Democratic nomination. Clinton won the New York primary on Tuesday.

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Student stabbed at Lexington high school

LEXINGTON (AP) — Officials say a central Kentucky high school student has been injured in a stabbing.

Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said the Bryan Station High School student was treated for non-life-threatening injuries on Thursday after being stabbed by another student with a pocket knife.

Media report that Principal James McMillin sent a notification to parents calling the event an “isolated incident.” In the notification, McMillin said the student accused in the stabbing was charged with first-degree assault.

Lexington police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said the investigation would be handled by the school’s law enforcement.

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Ky. fugitive found hiding under clothes pile in Alabama

SELMA, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a man sought in the shooting death of a Kentucky father of three has been captured in Alabama after he tried to hide from deputies under a pile of clothes.

Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson tells news outlets that Bobby Walker Jr. was arrested Wednesday by sheriff’s deputies who were responding to a domestic violence call.

Dallas County Sheriff’s Office Captain Mike Granthum tells WSFA-TV that deputies chased Jackson through the woods and found him inside a home’s closet, underneath some clothes.

Court documents show that Walker and another man, Kevin Bower, were indicted in connection with a March 15 shooting in Louisville that left 19-year-old La’Mont’e Harris dead and another man injured.

Walker is awaiting extradition to Kentucky. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney.

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Cave City attraction sells at auction for $295,000

CAVE CITY (AP) — A south-central Kentucky country music radio station owner has bought a closed recreational park in Cave City.

The Courier-Journal said David Froggett Jr. purchased the two tracts of land and buildings for $295,000 at auction Wednesday.

Froggett, of Edmonton, owns WHSX-FM. He told the Daily News of Bowling Green last week that he plans to turn the attraction into a “resort park-nature park combination.”

The park started as the Western-themed Guntown Mountain in 1969. It was purchased in May by a Louisville businessman who planned to turn it into a Kentucky-themed park, but he was unable to follow through due to health issues.

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Patty Dunaway appointed state highway engineer

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet says it has hired a woman to serve as state highway engineer for the second time in the cabinet’s history.

Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas announced Patty Dunaway’s appointment on Wednesday. Her appointment is effective May 1.

The state highway engineer oversees the Department of Highways.

Dunaway has had numerous roles during her 26-year career at the Transportation Cabinet, working in construction, design and planning. Since 2006, she has been chief district engineer for the District Four highway office in Elizabethtown.

Dunaway has been involved with various planning studies, including the Heartland Parkway and the U.S. 31W Safety Corridor. She was responsible for overseeing the Base Realignment and Closure highway projects at Fort Knox.

She received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky.

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Glasgow plant to close, lay off 191 employees by mid-2017

GLASGOW (AP) — Dana Corp. employees in Glasgow have learned the plant will close by mid-2017.

The Glasgow Daily Times reports the company plans to reduce employment by half by the end of the year. The plant employs 203 people and produces gear sets, shafts and secondary gearing components for commercial vehicles.

Dana Holding Corp. spokesman Mark Burd said the reason for the closure is deterioration of the commercial vehicle market.

A notice filed with the state on Tuesday said Dana will let 191 employees go as a result of the plant closure. Burd said the facility employs 186 hourly workers and 17 salaried workers, though some are currently laid off.

Burd said employees will be eligible for severance pay, and some may relocate to other Dana facilities.

The plant was built in 1972. Dana acquired it in 1998.

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