News in Brief

State News in Brief

Hemp may sprout this week at Henry Clay Estate

LEXINGTON (AP) — An agronomist from the University of Kentucky who helped plant hemp at the Henry Clay Estate says some of the seeds may sprout as early as Saturday.

Agronomist Rich Mundell was on hand this week as hemp was planted at Ashland for the first time in 130 years.

Ashland curator Eric Brooks told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the hemp will be an educational tool and a permanent part of the estate.

Hemp was once one of Kentucky’s top cash crops but was banned from being grown without a federal permit by the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Restrictions were loosened in 2014.

The United Hemp Industries, the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation and the university’s industrial hemp research program facilitated the planting Tuesday. The foundation will host Henry Clay’s hemp symposium on June 11.


Jury convicts Ron Paul aides of campaign finance violations

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Three campaign advisers to 2012 presidential candidate Ron Paul were convicted Thursday in a federal case alleging they conspired to cover up the campaign’s payments to a former Iowa state senator who had agreed to endorse their boss.

Prosecutors said it is illegal to cause a campaign to file inaccurate spending documents. They’ve pursued charges since July 2015 when a grand jury first indicted the men.

Paul’s campaign chairman Jesse Benton, campaign manager John Tate and deputy manager Dimitri Kesari argued they broke no laws when they paid a video production company, which passed on $73,000 to former Sen. Kent Sorenson. He dropped support for in the presidential race for Michele Bachmann and endorsed Paul six days before the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

They said they were targeted because of their conservative politics and argued campaigns typically don’t identify payments to subcontractors of vendors.

The federal jury convicted Benton, Tate and Kesari of conspiracy, causing false campaign contribution reports to be filed to the Federal Election Commission and participating in a false statement scheme. Benton and Tate also were convicted of causing the campaign to file false records of the payments; Kesari was convicted of that charge last year.

Benton and his attorneys declined to comment after the jury verdict was announced in court following a seven-day trial. He hugged his wife in the hallway outside the courtroom as she sobbed.

Tate and his attorneys also declined to comment.

Kesari’s attorney, Jesse Binnall said he will appeal. He said federal prosecutors were overzealous in charging the men with actions that the FEC has not pursued in other campaigns.

“What they did here doesn’t constitute a crime,” he said. “Nothing they did was wrong.”

Sentencing will be set later. The judge continued their bond and the men walked out of the courtroom.


Campbell Co. approves needle exchange program

ALEXANDRIA (AP) — Campbell County’s government has voted in support of creating a needle exchange to grant heroin users access to clean syringes.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports that Campbell County Fiscal Court voted 3-1 in favor of the exchange at their Wednesday meeting after hearing more than an hour of debate.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department, which must approve the exchange, has been trying to establish the programs in order to help curb soaring hepatitis C rates in the region, which has a rate nearly 20 times higher than the nation’s average.

Kenton County approved a plan in March for a mobile needle exchange unit in Covington. Kenton County and Covington officials both stipulated either Campbell County or Boone County need to join them in creating a needle exchange for a plan to move forward.


Lexington-area rural homes being burglarized, set on fire

GEORGETOWN, (AP) — Kentucky State Police say someone has been burglarizing rural homes and then setting the structures on fire.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Robert Purdy told media that investigators believe five recent fires that have damaged or destroyed homes in four different counties are related.

“We can’t conclusively say 100 percent,” Purdy said. “But it looks there is a great possibility that they are going to be connected.”

The most recent fire happened on Tuesday morning at a home that was burned down in Scott County.

Authorities are also investigating two fires in Jessamine County, one in Fayette County and one in Garrard County that have all occurred within less than a week.

Purdy says no one has been inside any of the homes.

“It appears whoever is burglarizing and setting these properties on fire is doing it during the day, when people are at work,” Purdy said.

State police are asking anyone with surveillance cameras who lives near one of those fires to see if they caught anything suspicious on video.

“The biggest thing we’re asking the public right now is to be vigilant,” Purdy said. “If you see somebody that doesn’t belong in your neighborhood, if you see a vehicle driving by several times or if you have somebody knock on your door that doesn’t belong there, those are the kinds of things that are going to help us in the investigation.”


200 Pleasure Ridge High students walk out of class

LOUISVILLE (AP) — About 200 Pleasure Ridge Park High School students have staged a walkout in support of their teachers.

Media outlets report that the student-led walkout happened early Wednesday afternoon. Its main focus was the district-level discussion about changing the student code of conduct, but some students also mentioned concerns with the district’s idea to possibly freeze many of its employees’ salaries next school year.

The Jefferson County Public Schools board hasn’t received any formal recommendations to change the code. A committee has submitted recommendations to eliminate suspensions for certain offenses and shorten suspensions for other offenses. JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens says the proposed changes are meant to clarify vague areas.

JCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin says students who participated in the walkout will be subject to the code of conduct.


Report: Children worked at a few RJR contract tobacco farms

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A report about the practices of farmers who sell tobacco to R.J. Reynolds shows that a few growers had children under the age of 13 working in their fields, violating a pledge by the company to ban the hiring of people so young.

The report by a consulting company and released Wednesday by a pro-worker group shows that five non-family minors under the age of 13 were working in the fields at the time of the assessment.

RJR spokesman John Wilson says the company’s 2015 grower contracts prohibited the employment of non-family minors below the age of 16. He says the company has identified two growers who violated that policy.

A researcher with Human Rights Watch says such assessments are encouraging but more robust and meaningful data are needed.


Derby Kids hit social media

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The offspring of several Kentucky Derby trainers are hitting social media this week to provide inside dirt on their fathers’ horses.

At least 14 sons and daughters are tweeting on the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association account. The HBPA is donating $100 to the charity of choice for all the Twitter participants.

Bailey Romans, daughter of trainer Dale Romans who will saddle Brody’s Cause on Saturday, is among those interviewing her dad online. She tweeted a photo of the colt baring his teeth, suggesting they needed to be cleaned before Derby day.

Keith Assmussen, son of Steve Asmussen who trains Gun Runner and Creator, is joining in. Hannah Pletcher, daughter of Todd Pletcher, also has two horses to tweet about: Destin and Outwork. Bailey Desormeaux is the son of Keith Desormeaux, who trains Exaggerator, and nephew of the colt’s jockey, Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux.

Not involved is Bode Baffert, the pre-teen son of four-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert. Bode is frequently seen with his parents at the track, but they don’t allow him on social media yet.

The Twitter account is @KyHBPA with the hashtag #KYDerbyKids.


Master distiller retiring from Ky. distillery

BARDSTOWN (AP) — Master distiller Ken Pierce is retiring from the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown after a career spanning more than 30 years in the industry.

At the Kentucky distillery, Pierce was involved in all aspects of bourbon production, from evaluating grain to selecting mature whiskey. He was instrumental in developing 1792 Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and in recent line extensions.

The whiskey is named for the year Kentucky became a state.

The distillery said Wednesday that Pierce had stints as chief chemist and director of distillation before becoming master distiller. It says his retirement is effective May 13.

The Barton 1792 Distillery is part of Barton Brands, which is owned by the Sazerac Company.


Faculty Senate expresses confidence in Ramsey at Louisville

LOUISVILLE (AP) — More than half of the University of Louisville Faculty Senate has cast votes of confidence in university President James Ramsey.

Out of 60 votes, 55 percent said they believe in Ramsey’s ability to be an “effective leader,” 40 percent said no and 5 percent abstained.

University spokesman John Karman told The Courier-Journal ( ) that Ramsey was “very happy” with the results and believes they are a strong message for the board of trustees if its members take a similar vote.

Board Chairman Larry Benz, who has opposed Ramsey, said there have been many faculty votes on the president “and it is hard to tell what is truly reflective.”

The outcome of the anonymous survey came after most faculty senators who spoke out at an April meeting said they thought it was time for Ramsey to go.

State News in Brief
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