The Owensboro fire chief says lightning accompanying a storm likely caused a blaze that gutted the auditorium of a church in Owensboro and cut off power to the neighborhood, including Brescia University.
The fire started at about 3:30 CDT Monday and burned throughout the morning as firefighters poured more than 3,000 gallons of water a minute onto the First Christian Church Disciples of Christ Church. There were no injuries.
Fire Chief Steve Mitchell told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer the attic above the church auditorium was engulfed in flames and it wasn't long before the roof collapsed.
Five nearby houses were evacuated. A power grid was shut down, cutting power to several blocks of homes and Brescia University.
After five years of advocacy, supporters of raising Kentucky's dropout age to 18 celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law.
Flanked by House and Senate lawmakers—as well as First Lady Jane Beshear—the governor officially signed the law in a ceremony in his conference room. The bill would make raising the dropout age voluntarily for school districts until 55 percent of all districts made the change. Then it would become mandatory statewide. The legislation is a compromise reached by lawmakers in the 2013 General Assembly session.
Jane Beshear says the fact the five year fight on the issue is over is monumental for education in the Commonwealth.
"And I can't say it's a small step, it's a huge step," she said.
Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is facing 42 charges of ethics violations related to his tenure from 2003-2011. The state’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission returned the charges following a ten-month investigation.
That investigation started when state auditor Adam Edelen issued a report last April accusing Farmer of abusing his office and employees in the Agriculture Department. That report claimed Farmer used workers to take him hunting and shopping, mow his lawn, and even chauffeur his dog.
The Courier-Journal reports the case against the former UK basketball player now goes to a hearing officer who will review the evidence and then make a recommendation to the ethics commission regarding punishment. If the commission ultimately finds Farmer guilty he could face a fine of up to $5,000 per count. Farmer served two terms and Agriculture Commissioner before running unsuccessfully as Lt. Gov. in 2011.
Kentucky’s attorney general is supporting federal legislation to curb recruiting abuses by for-profit colleges.
Jack Conway and 13 attorneys general are supporting the Protecting Financial Aid for Students and Taxpayers Act sponsored by Sen. Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).
The bill restricts colleges and universities from using federal financial aid for recruitment, advertising, and marketing purposes.
"I support higher education and students who seek a degree to create a better life for their families, but many times I see those dreams turn to nightmares when students fall prey to a fast sales pitch from a for-profit college with a questionable reputation," Conway said. "The students end up with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and no degree."
Governor Steve Beshear has one week to veto a controversial law protecting religious freedom or else it will become law.
On the federal level, if a bill isn't signed by the President within a certain period of time, it's thrown out in a process called the pocket veto.
But in Kentucky, the process is reversed. The governor has 10 days to sign a bill into law. But if he doesn't sign or veto in that time, it becomes law anyway.
Consider it a pocket law. The legislation in question is the so-called Religious Freedom bill, which allows Kentuckians to bypass laws they saw interfere with their religious beliefs. Opponents say it would overturn Fairness laws in cities across the commonwealth, and have lobbied the governor to act.
But the governor hasn't hinted at what he'll do with the bill.
Kentucky may find out Monday if the state can resume carrying out death sentences. A hearing will be held in Frankfort on the state’s request to lift an order barring executions.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd halted all executions in 2010 after finding issues with Kentucky’s three-drug method for lethal injections. Attorney for death row inmates argued the three drugs caused an unnecessary risk of pain.
Earlier this year, the state switched to one or two drugs, depending upon the availability of the drugs.
Governor Beshear has requests to set execution dates for condemned inmates Robert Foley and Ralph Baze, but the governor has given no indication if or when he will act on those requests should the injunction be lifted.
Kentucky has executed three inmates since the death penalty was re-instated in 1976. The last was in 2008.
With only two days left in the legislative session, Tea Party activists are encouraging Kentucky Senators to not confirm Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark.
So far, the Senate has approved all of Governor Steve Beshear's appointments except Clark. Many activists are upset with her role in implementing the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky and they hope to send a message to the governor by blocking her nomination.
A Senate spokeswoman says whether lawmakers will consider the nomination when they return from recess later this month is still “to be determined.” David Adams is the lead activist calling for the rejection of Clark.
"We have to send a signal that this is a problem, this is unacceptable and must be dealt with swiftly and surely," says Adams.
Both the Department of Insurance and the Governor's Office declined to comment.