State News in Brief


Ky. sees big unemployment drop in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates were significantly lower in five states in April, led by a big drop in Kentucky.

The Labor Department says Kentucky saw its unemployment rate fall to 5.3 percent in April, down from 5.6 percent in March. The state with the largest increase was Pennsylvania, which saw the unemployment rate rise to 5.3 percent from 4.9 percent in April. Pennsylvania was one of four states with significantly higher jobless rates in April.

The national jobless rate was unchanged in April at 5 percent. Employers added 160,000 jobs, well below the average gain of 243,000 over the prior six months.

Over the past year, 37 states have added an appreciable number of jobs. Two states have lost jobs, and 11 states have seen job levels essentially unchanged.

In addition to Kentucky, the other four states judged to have significantly lower unemployment rates in April were Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas and Vermont. In addition to Pennsylvania, the states with significantly higher rates were New Jersey, Wyoming and Utah. The other 41 states were seen as having stable unemployment rates from March to April.

For April, the states with the lowest jobless rates were South Dakota at 2.5 percent and New Hampshire at 2.6 percent. Alaska and Illinois had the highest rates, both at 6.6 percent.

Over the past year, the states with the biggest gains in payroll employment were California, up 450,200; Florida, up 254,500 and Texas, with a gain of 189,600 jobs.

The two states with significant job declines over the past year were North Dakota, with a drop of 17,600, and Wyoming, with a decline of 10,800. Both states have been hurt by cutbacks in the energy industry due to falling prices.

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Man shot, killed after threatening troopers in Ky.

FISTY (AP) — A man has been shot and killed by Kentucky State Troopers after they say he threatened them with a gun.

Trooper First Class Jody Sims says in a news release that troopers responded Thursday night to a complaint of an intoxicated man who was fighting with people at a home in Fisty. The man, identified as 36-year-old Timothy Brandon Stacy, had a gun and had fired it several times.

Troopers arrived to find Stacy outside. Stacy ran inside and troopers told him to come outside unarmed, which Stacy ignored.

Sims says Stacy came outside with a gun. He ignored commands to drop the gun, waved the gun at troopers and threatened them. The troopers then shot Stacy, killing him.

Troopers Josh Huff and Charlie Moore, and Detective Chris Collins have been placed on administrative leave. The incident is being investigated.

The races of the troopers and the man who was killed weren’t immediately available.

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Ky. looking at hops as potential crop

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is turning attention to the potential of growing hops in the bluegrass state.

Quarles says the state Department of Agriculture is having discussions with the University of Kentucky and Western Kentucky University to study the viability of hops production.

He says a growing craft brewery sector has created a market for Kentucky-grown hops. He says Kentucky’s number of craft breweries has grown more than 600 percent in the past five years.

Quarles says it’s important to work with universities on research to set best production methods for potential emerging crops such as hops.

Hops production was widespread in Kentucky, particularly northern Kentucky, until the early 20th century. Mildew, pests, droughts, and fluctuating prices forced hop producers in the eastern U.S. to cease operations or move to the Pacific Northwest.

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Ex-academy director sentenced for not reporting sex abuse

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The former leader of a military-style academy for teenagers in Kentucky has been sentenced to 90 days of home confinement for failing to report sexual child abuse.

The Courier-Journal reports former Bluegrass Challenge Academy director John Wayne Smith was sentenced Thursday and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine after being convicted of not reporting sexual abuse of four girls at the program.

He retired in 2014.

Former staff member Stephen E. Miller was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to abusive sexual contact with three girls at the academy and sodomy with a fourth girl in 2013.

The federal case prompted an overhaul of operations at the academy located at Fort Knox and new policies meant to ensure any suspected abuse is promptly reported to authorities.

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Jury finds hot dog vendor not guilty in road-rage killing

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A Louisville hot dog vendor has been found not guilty of killing a man in a suspected case of road rage.

Media outlets report jurors on Thursday cleared 68-year-old Donald Hayes of murder in the death of 57-year-old Danny Wilson.

Hayes’ attorneys say Hayes acted in self-defense when he shot Wilson in 2014.

Hayes testified Wednesday that he was driving when a car driven by Wilson got in front of him and hit the brakes. The men then weaved in and out of traffic, passing each other, before pulling into a bank parking lot, where authorities say Wilson broke Hayes’ window with a bat.

Hayes then fired his gun, striking Wilson in the face.

Prosecutor Barbara Whaley told the jury that Hayes fired as an act of retaliation.

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Buffalo Trace to expand with $200M investment

FRANKFORT (AP) — Buffalo Trace Distillery says a more than $200 million expansion is planned to help keep up with demand for its bourbon.

The Frankfort distillery said Thursday that distilling operations will be expanded during the next seven years. The new investments will go into cooking, fermenting and bottling operations, land and additional warehouses to store aging whiskey.

The distillery says it will begin building new barrel warehouses in 2017 on the extra 200 acres of farmland it purchased a few years ago.

The distillery also gave an update on its current inventory of bourbon mature enough to bottle. It says the situation is marginally better than three years ago.

Distillery spokesperson Kris Comstock says across-the-board shortages remain for all brands, but volumes are increasing and allocations will continue.

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