Associated Press

National Park Service

National Park officials are expecting a spike in traffic along the Appalachian Trail after the release next month of a Hollywood film about two hikers who attempt to conquer the 2,190-mile route.

The Daily Times in Maryville reports Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials saw a 60 percent increase in traffic in the area after the book, "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on The Appalachian Trail," was published. The movie is based on the 1998 book and stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.

Christine Hoyer, backcountry management specialist for the park, says officials knew the movie was coming. She says the land managers with responsibility for The Appalachian Trail have been working with The Appalachian Trail Conservancy to deal with the expected increase in traffic.

Three Kentucky county clerks who are refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples drew thunderous cheers from a crowd gathered at the state capitol.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by The American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples.

The three clerks have stopped issuing any marriage licenses from their offices.

Davis spoke briefly, saying "I need your prayers ... to continue to stand firm in what we believe." A federal judge has ruled Davis must issue the licenses, but her attorneys are appealing the decision.


The Kentucky Republican Party has approved a presidential caucus for March 5, allowing Rand Paul to run for president and re-election to his U.S. Senate seat at the same time without running afoul of state law.

State law bans candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election. Paul tried without success to convince the state legislature to change the law. But a presidential caucus, it allows voters to vote for Paul for president on March 5 and then vote for him again for re-election to his Senate seat during the primary election on May 17.

Committee members said their vote was motivated not by Paul's candidacy but by a desire to make Kentucky relevant in presidential politics. Paul's campaign has faltered in the polls recently.

Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin have agreed to participate in a televised debate next month in Louisville.

The Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV will sponsor the debate, along with Bellarmine University, where the hour-long event will be held at 7 p.m. EDT Sept. 25.

The two television stations will televise the debate live, and all four media partners will live-stream it on their websites. Other stations outside the Louisville and Lexington television markets may be included in the live broadcast.

A WHAS representative will moderate, with one questioner each from the other three media partners.

The debate will take place in the university's Cralle Theater, and about 300 guests will be invited to attend

Kentucky firefighters have been dispatched to help combat wildfires in Washington, California and North Carolina.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry says it sent 14 firefighters to be part of a 20-person crew fighting a fire in North Carolina.

Five KDF firefighters left on Aug. 1 to help deal with a fire in northern California.

Two other Kentucky firefighters were sent out west, one to deal with a fire in Washington and the other to help with another blaze in California.

State officials say that as Kentucky's fall fire hazard season begins Oct. 1, this might be the last opportunity for Kentucky to send aid to other states.

Kentucky News Network

A judge is upholding a warrant allowing investigators to search the email account of an indicted political operative who has worked for Rand Paul, Ron Paul and Mitch McConnell.

Magistrate Judge Helen Adams rejected a request Monday by Jesse Benton to quash a warrant ordering Google Inc. to turn over the contents of his Gmail account.

The decision means the government will get access to thousands of emails that Benton sent and received dating back to 2011.

Benton had argued the warrant was overly broad and violated his privacy. His attorney argued the government was conducting a "fishing expedition."

Benton and two other aides to Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign were indicted last week, accused of conspiring to buy the support of a state senator before that year's Iowa caucuses.

The Tennessee prison system is at a capacity level that could allow the governor to declare an overcrowding emergency, giving him and other state officials the power to reduce the number of inmates to a lower level, according to data obtained by The Tennessean.

As of June 30, the prison system was operating at 98.5 percent capacity, with 95.1 percent of total beds filled. State law says if the in-house prison capacity exceeds 95 percent for more than 30 days, the commissioner can ask the governor to declare an overcrowding emergency.

Tennessee Department of Corrections spokeswoman Neysa Taylor says the department isn't required to declare an emergency based on current data.

Gov. Bill Haslam has said recently that prisons should operate near full capacity.

Federal prosecutors have charged three people who worked for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign with conspiring to buy the support of a former Iowa state senator.

Among those changed is Jesse Benton, who now heads up a super PAC supporting the 2016 presidential candidacy of Paul's son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday charges Benton, John Tate and Dimitrios Kesari with conspiracy and several other related crimes.

The indictment says they negotiated with former Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson to switch his support to Ron Paul in exchange for money. Sorenson had previously backed Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

The indictment says the arrangement was concealed from Ron Paul himself and that Benton initiated the deal.

The Tennessee Department of Health wants residents to become more aware of Hepatitis C, saying the rate of acute cases in the state has more than tripled in the last seven years.

Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner says it's also estimated that more than 100,000 Tennesseans may be living with chronic Hepatitis C and not be aware.

The disease has no vaccine. The Health Department says the most important way to prevent the disease from spreading is to avoid exposure to infected blood.

Dreyzehner says anyone who suspects infection should be tested right away and, if infected, speak to a doctor about treatment options.

The agency says most of the increase in transmission of Hepatitis C in Tennessee is due to sharing of contaminated needles and syringes among intravenous drug users.

Wealthy libertarians are giving big to Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul.

Three super PACs supporting the Kentucky senator say they raised a combined $6 million through June 30.

That's on top of the $7 million Paul's campaign reported raising between his April announcement and the end of last month.

Super PACs have no limits on how much they can raise, but they cannot directly coordinate with the candidate they're helping.

Donors to the super PACs include Jeff Yass, a high-frequency trader and board member of the libertarian Cato Institute, and George Macricostas, head of a data center company called RagingWire.

Paul is one of the expected 17 major GOP candidates for president. The total raised by his campaign and allied groups puts him in the top six for fundraising.