State News in Brief

Sanders plans 2nd event during visit to Ky.

LEXINGTON (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has added a second stop during his visit to Kentucky in advance of the state’s May 17 primary election, with a rally now planned for Lexington on Wednesday.

The Sanders campaign previously announced he would be in Louisville on Tuesday for a rally at Waterfront Park’s Big Four Lawn.

Both events are free and open to the public, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. Admission is first-come, first-served. People are asked not to bring bags. Weapons, sharp objects, chairs, signs and banners on sticks will not be allowed through security.

Doors open for the Louisville event at 4 p.m. The next day in Lexington, doors open at Lexington Center’s Heritage Hall at 4 p.m.


Ethics commission says it can’t stop Bevin’s inquiry

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Executive Branch Ethics Commission says it cannot stop Republican Gov. Matt Bevin from investigating whether his Democratic predecessor violated state ethics laws.

Bevin says he will hire a private law firm to investigate whether former Gov. Steve Beshear coerced state employees to donate to political campaigns.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, Steve Beshear’s son, asked the ethics commission to tell Bevin he does not have the authority to conduct such an investigation. Commission Executive Director Kathryn Gabhart wrote back on Monday saying the commission does not have the authority to stop Bevin.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto said the commission was right to reject Andy Beshear’s request. She said Bevin welcomes the commission to conduct its own investigation.

Andy Beshear said any investigation by Bevin would not be credible.


Lexington officials report large decline in homelessness

LEXINGTON (AP) — The number of homeless people in Lexington has declined substantially recently, thanks to recent community investments in affordable housing and homeless prevention programs, city officials said.

There are nearly 400 fewer people living on the streets and in emergency and other temporary housing in Lexington than there were two years ago, a 26 percent decrease, Mayor Jim Gray announced at a news conference Monday.

The number of people experiencing chronic homelessness has been cut in half within a year, Gray said.

“We cannot claim victory, but we can claim progress,” Gray said.

The data comes from an annual count done each January in which volunteers scout more than 60 different locations to count homeless people in shelters and living outside. According to this year’s count, there are 1,064 homeless people in the city, including 98 who are considered chronically homeless: someone who has spent more than 12 months being homeless or has had multiple episodes of homelessness over three years.

Since 2014, the city has allocated $750,000 for homeless prevention programs and $2 million to a fund for affordable housing units.

The city’s office of homeless prevention and intervention has used some of that money to house about 30 people through a program that helps those who have not been served through the traditional shelter system, executive director Charlie Lanter said.

“We still have much work to do, but Lexington is on the right path to ensure this is a great American city, where everyone can find access to affordable housing and the necessary supports and opportunities to thrive,” Gray said.


Jim Beam fills 14 millionth barrel of bourbon

CLERMONT (AP) — Jim Beam has filled and sealed its 14 millionth barrel of bourbon since the 1933 repeal of Prohibition, achieving a first in the bourbon industry.

Seventh-generation master distiller Fred Noe and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin sealed the barrel Monday at the company’s flagship distillery in Clermont, Kentucky, about 20 miles south of Louisville.

The milestone comes two years after the distillery filled its 13 millionth barrel.

Noe said in a news release that the achievement speaks to the success of the company’s whiskey and the increasing worldwide enthusiasm for bourbon.

Bevin said Kentucky bourbon is now an international symbol of the state’s heritage and craftsmanship.


Police: House burglaries, blazes appear connected

NICHOLASVILLE (AP) — Kentucky State Police say they are investigating three house fires that occurred after the homes were burglarized.

Police said in a statement that they think the cases are related and believe the blazes are the result of arson.

The statement says the first fire was reported Friday at a home near Lancaster in Garrard County. As police were finishing the investigation there, they were called to another house blaze near Wilmore in Jessamine County. A third house fire was reported Monday near Nicholasville. Police say all the homes had been burglarized before catching fire.

Police urge anyone who saw anything suspicious that could be related to the blazes to call 859-623-2404 or 800-27ARSON. There is a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.


Calling all tree huggers: Come help break Guinness record

CLERMONT (AP) — Officials at Bernheim Forest in central Kentucky are putting out a call to everyone: Come hug a tree in an effort to break a world record.

Dr. Mark Wourms, who is director at the arboretum and research forest in Clermont, told The News Enterprise that preregistration is open for the Bernheim Big Tree Hug Challenge on June 4. Officials are hoping to break the Guinness world record for the largest number of people hugging trees. He said it appears the current record is 1,200 people. Bernheim is hoping to get 3,000 participants.

Wourms said it would be a fun way to capture people’s attention and get them involved with planting and caring for trees.

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