Regional
12:46 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Case Resolved Against Former Barren County Sheriff

A federal lawsuit against former Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton and three of his deputies has been settled.  The case was unrelated to a civil rights lawsuit against Eaton that went to trial last year. 

Mark Smith filed the complaint in 2012 against then-Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton stemming from his arrest in 2011.  Also named as defendants were deputies Chris Wyatt, Rodney Sponhouse, and Aaron Bennett. 

An agreement was reached Tuesday, two weeks before a trial was to begin in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.  Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. 

Smith’s excessive force lawsuit was separate from a case that went to trial last year against Eaton and two other law enforcement officers. They were acquitted of using excessive force on another suspect, but Eaton was convicted of witness tampering after deputies testified he encouraged them to put false reports.  The former sheriff is appealing that conviction.

Politics
9:13 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Republican-Led Kentucky Senate Wants to Defund ACA Through Next State Budget

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester)
Credit Kentucky LRC

The Kentucky Senate’s $20 billion budget proposal aims to defund the Affordable Care Act in the commonwealth, but its provisions won’t affect the program.

The Senate’s executive budget that was passed Monday disallows state general funds from being used to fund the ACA, the commonwealth’s Medicaid expansion and the state health insurance exchange, Kynect, all of which are federally funded until the year 2017.

But the state budget only affects fiscal years 2014-2016, making the measure largely a political one in advance of November’s elections.

When asked what his chamber would do if the 321,000 Kentuckians enrolled via Kynect lost their coverage due to the ACA being defunded, Sen. President Robert Stivers said he would support “supplemental programs,” like health savings accounts, to help insure them.

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Regional
5:23 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Richie Farmer Is Now Behind Bars

Credit Kentucky News Network

Family members confirm that former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer reported to federal prison Tuesday afternoon. Farmer is staying at a minimum security satellite camp next to a high security facility in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia.

Farmer was allowed an extra week of freedom in order to watch his son play basketball in the boy's Sweet 16 Tournament. He is a former star player at the University of Kentucky.

Farmer pleaded guilty last year to corruption charges stemming from his time in office. He'll serve a 27 month sentence.

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Regional
9:54 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Senate Amendement Would Ban Undercover Videos on Kentucky Farms

Photos like this one taken by the Humane Society would be outlawed under a bill amended by the Kentucky Senate Tuesday.
Credit U.S. Humane Society

An undercover video released in February by the Humane Society showed – what it described – as inhumane conditions at a hog farm in Owensboro.  Under an amendment proposed by the Senate agriculture committee on Tuesday, taking secret videos like that would be against the law.  

The amendment was added to the House bill that dealt with the ways animals could be euthanized.The amendment declares that any photographs or video taken without a farmer's permission would be considered a crime.  

Paul Shapiro with the Humane Society of the United States called it an attempt to silence the investigations they conduct. 

“Animal cruelty exposés often rely on video and photographic evidence,” said Shapiro.  “The meat industry’s response to our exposés is to try to criminalize the mere act of whistle blowing at their operations, which shows you just how much they have to hide.”

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Environment
4:38 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Judge: Current Law Does Not Allow for Use of Eminent Domain for Controversial Pipeline Project

A Franklin County judge has ruled that Kentucky law doesn’t allow the use of eminent domain for a natural gas liquids pipeline. The move is the latest blow to the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline project.

The Bluegrass Pipeline would carry natural gas liquids across Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico. The NGLs are used in manufacturing processes, but the project has been controversial because of worries about the project's environmental impact and safety concerns.

A measure to block NGL pipelines from using eminent domain is moving through the state legislature, but the Franklin County ruling adds another legal hurdle to the project. Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the pipeline doesn’t fall under the commonwealth’s definition of “public service,” and thus couldn’t use eminent domain.

Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council filed the lawsuit on behalf of several Kentucky landowners.

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Regional
1:17 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Lake Cumberland to Return to Normal Levels for First Time Since 2007

Lake Cumberland at Wolf Creek Dam

The level of Lake Cumberland in southeastern Kentucky will be raised in time for the summer tourism season. 

Water levels were lowered seven years ago to allow repair work on Wolf Creek Dam.  An endangered fish found in headwaters threatened to keep the lake lowered for an eighth year in a row.

Members of Kentucky's congressional delegation sent a  letter sent and had a face-to-face meeting last month with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The lawmakers asked the federal agencies to return the lake to its full capacity.

On Tuesday, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell informed the lawmakers that Lake Cumberland’s level will be restored to the normal pool of 723 feet by mid-May. 

The lawmakers called the announcement is "great news for the thousands of people who rely on the lake for recreation and tourism, and to the local communities, businesses, and individuals whose livelihoods are being impacted because of the lower water levels.”

Lake Cumberland was cleared to rise following an expedited review of how to protect the Duskytail Darter, a 2.5 inch fish on the endangered species list.

Regional
12:17 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

GM Gift Funds New Habitat Home in Bowling Green

The frame of a planned four-bedroom home in Bowling Green made possible through a partnership with General Motors and Habitat for Humanity.
Credit Lisa Autry

General Motors is helping an immigrant family living in Bowling Green realize the American dream. 

A grant from the GM Foundation is allowing the Bowling Green-Warren County Habitat for Humanity chapter build a new home for a Burmese family. 

On Tuesday, local leaders gathered to see construction on the home which will be located on a new 14-acre development called Durbin Estates near downtown Bowling Green.

Donning a hard hat, Corvette Assembly Plant Manager Jeff Lamarche said GM is putting in some sweat equity, as well.

"Sometimes it's not just your treasure, but it's also your time and your talent that you can donate," replied Lamarche.

A team of Corvette employees will be helping construct the Bowling Green home.

A $1.4 million grant from the GM Foundation will fund the construction of ten homes and 15 neighborhood revitilization projects across the country. 

Education
11:41 am
Tue March 25, 2014

As Negotiations Enter Crucial Phase, Budget Funding for Higher Ed, University Projects Unclear

The Gatton Academy for Math and Science is housed at WKU.
Credit WKU NPR

The budget passed by the Kentucky Senate this week has mixed news for WKU. Money for a capital project at the school was removed while other WKU-related funds were left intact.

The Senate’s budget deleted funding for most university capital projects, including bonds to fund a renovation of the Thompson Complex Center Wing, home to numerous WKU science classes.

However, the Senate budget does include funding for the Gatton Academy for Math and Science to support 80 additional students beginning in 2015.

The budget passed by the House includes bond funding for the Thompson Complex project and money to expand the Gatton Academy. But it also contains a 2.5 percent cut to higher education funding.

The Senate spending plan restored that higher education funding cut at the expense of most university capital projects.

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Politics
9:37 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Mine Safety Advocates Worried about Loss of Money for Inspections

The Kentucky House reduced the amount of money for mine safety inspections in a recent version of a state budget the chamber passed.
Credit flickr

A slash to Governor Steve Beshear’s proposal for mine safety in the Kentucky House budget bill passed this month has many safety advocates concerned. They say there might not be enough money to conduct required inspections.

Gov. Beshear has proposed $7.6 million in each of the next two years for the state program that inspects and licenses coal mines. But when the budget bill was passed by the House, Beshear’s budget office noticed the number had been reduced to $5.3 million per year.

The Courier-Journal reports the 15 percent reduction was not discussed during the budget committee meeting or floor session when the bill was passed. In response, Gov. Beshear says his administration is “very concerned about the lack of sufficient funds to ensure safety” for miners, and the House and Senate will work together to ensure the funding is there “to cover critical needs in the agency.”

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Sports
4:39 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Derby Trophy Delivered to Churchill Downs

Credit Churchill Downs

With Kentucky Derby 140 less than six weeks away, the solid gold trophy that the owner of the winning 3 year old will receive is being delivered to Churchill Downs in Louisville.

The trophy is 22 inches tall with a 14-karat gold horse and rider atop it and horseshoe-shaped wreath handles. It sits on a jade base and weighs about five pounds. It'll be unveiled at the track Tuesday.

Churchill Downs says the company that makes the trophy began work on it in November. The process takes about 2,000 hours.

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