Associated Press

The Morehead News

The Kentucky clerk who was jailed for refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples says Pope Francis told her to stay strong when the two met briefly during his visit to the United States last week.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, didn't deny the encounter took place but said Wednesday in Rome he had no comment on it.

In an interview with ABC, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis says they hugged during the meeting last Thursday and the pope thanked her for her courage.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian, spent five days in jail earlier this month for defying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In the ABC interview, which aired Wednesday morning, Davis said knowing the pope agreed with her validates her efforts.

Kentucky State Police say a 5-year-old boy has been fatally struck by a school bus in Butler County.

State police spokesman B.J. Eaton said that police were called around 3:20 p.m. CDT Monday to the scene on Kentucky 70 about four miles west of Morgantown.

Eaton says the child was hit at his scheduled stop after the Butler County school bus stopped in front of a residence to let children exit.

Butler County Coroner Marty Jones says the child was pronounced dead about 15 minutes later. The boy was identified as five year old Jayden Hawkins of Morgantown.

A statement from Butler County schools said the driver of the school bus has been employed by the school system for 18 years and has "an exemplary driving record with the district."

Dylan Lovan,AP

Kentucky firefighters who died in the line of duty will be honored at a memorial service this week in Frankfort.

The annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Juniper Hills Park.

Kentucky's Fallen Firefighter Memorial includes more than 200 names of firefighters who died in the line of duty. Two more names of fallen firefighters will be added to the wall this year. They include Anthony Grider of the Campbellsville Fire Department who came too close to power lines during an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last summer on Campbellsville University's campus and Malcolm Jenkins of the Fern Creek Fire Department.

The service will include a wreath-laying to honor fallen firefighters.

The annual Red Helmets Courage Ride, a motorcycle tribute to firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice, will begin at Frankfort Fire and EMS Station Number 3 prior to the service.

Overnight travelers on Interstate 65 in southern Kentucky to the Tennessee state line may find they need additional travel time this week.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says rolling roadblocks will be used over a 54-mile stretch so that pavement markers can be replaced and repaired.

The rolling roadblocks will start Monday night and continue for about a week, starting at 10 p.m. and lasting until 7 a.m. each day.

The crews will start in the northbound lanes at the Tennessee state line and work north until about mile marker 54. When that section is complete, workers will start southbound and continue back to the state line.

The cabinet says Kentucky State Police will be present during the roadblocks. Officials advise using caution while the work is underway and say the rolling roadblocks could add travel time.

Abbey Oldham

The wife of Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul is returning to South Carolina for a campaign swing on her husband's behalf.

The U.S. senator from Kentucky's campaign says Kelley Paul is in the Palmetto State on Monday for two stops.

Kelley Paul will give a keynote address at a luncheon hosted by the Hilton Head Island Women's Club. Then, she's going to Columbia for a meeting of the Richland County Republican Party at Doc's Barbecue.

On Tuesday, Kelley Paul is scheduled to go to the state Republican Party Headquarters in Columbia, where she will officially file her husband's papers as a candidate in the first-in-the-South primary.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is the first person to file for Kentucky's presidential caucus.

Bush filed his paperwork on Thursday during a visit to Louisville for a state Republican party fundraiser. He also paid a $15,000 filing fee.

Kentucky normally has a presidential primary in May. But this year, the Republican Party of Kentucky voted to have a presidential caucus on March 5. That way, Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul could run for president and re-election to his U.S. Senate seat at the same time without breaking a state law that bans candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election.

Despite Paul's advantage, other candidates have shown interest in the caucus. Thursday, Republican candidate Marco Rubio told Kentucky Sports Radio he planned to compete in Kentucky.

Republican state Sen. Julie Raque Adams has launched an organization to recruit and train women to run for public office.

Adams announced that she will serve as executive director of Kentucky Strong, which has the backing of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Adams cited the lack of women elected to public office in the state, citing data that showed Kentucky is near the bottom nationally in the percentage of women elected to its legislature.

McConnell said in a statement that women will get the training they need to run and win elections.

A similar organization called Emerge Kentucky recruits women to run for office as Democrats.

WKMS

The Missouri man whom police say shot and killed a Kentucky state trooper had pleaded guilty to drug charges in southern Illinois several months earlier.

Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Missouri was charged with possessing drugs and guns after he was pulled over on Interstate 57 on Christmas 2014.

He spent nearly a month in the Franklin County Jail before pleading guilty to a charge of intent to deliver marijuana. Johnson-Shanks was sentenced to 30 months of probation.

Thirty-one-year-old Cameron Ponder was shot to death late Sunday in western Kentucky after a high-speed chase that reportedly began after the trooper pulled over Johnson-Shanks for speeding.

Police say Johnson-Shanks was shot to death by other Kentucky troopers after he refused to surrender.

WKMS

Updated at 8:37 a.m.: 

Police say the man accused of fatally shooting a Kentucky State Police trooper has been shot and killed after an hours-long manhunt.

Trooper Jay Thomas, a state police spokesman, says 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Missouri was shot by police Monday morning when he refused to drop his weapon. He died at a hospital.

Original post:

A Kentucky state trooper was killed in a shooting during a chase in western Kentucky and authorities are searching for a suspect.

In a news release, Kentucky State Police say 31-year-old trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was conducting a traffic stop Sunday night around 10:20 p.m. on Interstate 24 when the driver fled.

The news release says a chase ensued with the suspect stopping abruptly, causing the trooper's vehicle to "make contact" with the rear of the suspect's vehicle.

Authorities say the driver then fired several shots into Ponder's police cruiser, hitting him several times. Ponder was taken to a hospital in Princeton, Kentucky, where he died.

The suspect, who police say fled the scene on foot, has been identified as 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks. He's described as a black male who's about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing about 140 pounds.

A Kentucky city has agreed to drop its lawsuit challenging the state auditor's authority to do special examinations of cities.

Assistant Auditor Libby Carlin says Auditor Adam Edelen's office will bill Somerset $50,000 to cover the costs of doing the exam that led to the suit.

The exam cited a number of problems in city financial and personnel practices.

Those problems included failing to get bids as required for some work, not having contracts in place for special deals on city natural gas and failing to follow the pay and job-classification plan.

Edelen's office referred findings to the state attorney general's office and other agencies.

Both sides issued a short statement Friday saying they had resolved the dispute.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear is appearing in a pair of TV ads for his son as he seeks to follow his father's path by becoming Kentucky's attorney general.

Andy Beshear's campaign began airing the ads Monday on broadcast TV statewide. One ad features Andy Beshear's wife talking about her husband's plan to toughen penalties for child abusers, adding that he is "honest and caring like his dad."

Another ad shows Steve Beshear and his wife Jane walking hand in hand while Andy Beshear says his parents taught him family values. Andy Beshear then says "I'll stand up for Kentucky, just like my dad."

Steve Beshear was attorney general from 1979 to 1983. Polls show he is popular with voters as he prepares to leave office in December. He cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

Kentucky lags behind national averages for ACT college-readiness benchmarks in core subjects, with the biggest deficit in math.

The best performance among Kentucky's 2015 high school graduates was in English, with 60 percent of students meeting the ACT college-readiness benchmark. The national average was 64 percent, according to data released Wednesday by the organization that administers the exam.

The report says Kentucky's lowest scores were in math and science. Thirty-two percent of Kentucky test-takers achieved the college-readiness measurement both in math and science. National averages were 42 percent in math and 38 percent in science.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who is retiring, says the low math score should be a motivator for action. Holliday says it's time the state puts together a math task force and looks at teacher preparation.

It was more difficult and took longer than the first game.

There were some nerve-wracking moments. Sweetwater Valley received more than a little help from an opponent kicking the ball around and throwing it away.

Of course, too, there were some balls hit over the fence.

Sweetwater Valley beat Bowling Green East, 11-3, on Tuesday night, a result that was far more of a challenge to achieve than Friday's 14-2, 3½-inning rout of the same opponent.

How another Little league World Series victory came didn’t really matter. It did.

"As long as we can capitalize ... I'm OK," Sweetwater Valley manager Ward Lannom said. "A win is a win."

Sweetwater Valley at the Little League World Series

Sweetwater Valley took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning before it even really started hitting -- on two singles, a walk, two errors and a passed ball.

Levi Mendez swelled that lead to 5-0 with a two-out line drive over the left field fence in the second inning. That hit was made possible when Antonio Andrade beat out a slow roller to first base.

Bowling Green got on the board and threatened to do more in the bottom of the fourth. Nate Nankil relieved SVLL starter Dante Schmid with two outs and the bases loaded, and after a wild pitch brought home the inning’s second run, Nankil got out of the inning with a strikeout.

Andrade led off the fifth with a long blast to the grassy hill beyond right field to end a run of six straight Sweetwater Valley strikeouts and push the lead to 6-2, and it went to 7-2 after Nankil doubled, went to third on Walker Lannom’s single and scored on a passed ball.

A fifth-inning home run cut the lead to four runs, and Bowling Green had a runner on first when Andrade speared a hard grounder to third base and threw out the runner to end the inning. That was one of a handful of fantastic fielding plays by SVLL on Tuesday.

After Sweetwater Valley scored four runs on two walks, one hit and two errors in the top of the sixth, Nankil closed out the save. Schmid earned his second victory of the Series.

Eli Burwash scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth inning then earned the save pitching as Bowling Green, Kentucky, avoided elimination Monday at the Little League World Series by beating Taylors, South Carolina 4-3.

Red Land dropped South Carolina into the losers' bracket Sunday night with a 9-8 comeback win.

Bowling Green will play Tuesday night against the winner of Monday night's game between Cranston, Rhode Island and Bonita, California.

Burwash struck out two batters and allowed only a walk during the sixth inning to preserve the win. He hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the fifth inning and scored the go-ahead run on Maddox Burr's infield single with two outs. Burwash also hit a leadoff home run in the first inning as Bowling Green built a 3-0 lead.

Taylors is the first South Carolina team to win a game at the series. Braden Golinski led the team with a two-run home run.

Bowling Green has won four straight elimination games since regionals.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials say they have investigated and can't say for sure how a mountain lion turned up on a central Kentucky farm last December.

A conservation officer responded to a complaint on Dec. 15 in Bourbon County and found the animal treed by a homeowner's dog in a populated area outside of Paris. The officer shot and killed the animal due to public safety concerns.

The lion was determined to be a 5-year-old male, weighing 125 pounds and in good condition. DNA analyses link the lion's genetic origin to a population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The agency says there's no evidence the mountain lion made its way to Kentucky on its own and is believed to have been a released or escaped captive lion.

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