Kentucky News Network

City of Owensboro, KY

Kentucky's fourth largest city began its journey Tuesday night toward joining seven others that don't discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or identity.

The Owensboro Human Rights Commission presented a proposed ordinance, with director Sylvia Coleman recommending its consideration and approval. In fact, all five members of the City Commission expressed support Tuesday night for the fairness ordinance, prompting Mayor Ron Payne to instruct the city's legal staff to bring it to the commission for future consideration.

The Fairness Campaign's Dora James says Owensboro officials have been working toward the ordinance since December. She says it all started with a simple chat between a campaign member and a city commissioner.

If Owensboro approves the ordinance after a first reading on the 19th and a second reading next month, it would become the eighth Kentucky community with such a law.

The latest status hearing in the triple murder case against Kenneth Keith has only led to another one. The next hearing is now set for October 7th. Commonwealth's Attorney Richie Bottoms says if the case goes to trial, it probably wouldn't happen until early next year.

Former pawn shop owner and pastor Keith's defense remains in place. He had been represented by Somerset lawyer Mark Stanziano, who was killed outside his office in late June. Stanziano's widow and legal partner Bethany is stepping in.

No Central American youth are on their way to Fort Knox.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul Paul told the annual meeting of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Monday that the southern U.S. border has been so porous that some of the children would be shipped to Fort Knox. A Paul spokesman said in a follow-up statement the Senator's office was "aware that Fort Knox has been discussed as a possible location for unaccompanied migrant children."

However, the offices of two other members of Kentucky's federal delegation, Republican Congressman Brett Guthrie and Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, say they've been told by the U.S. Health & Human Services Department that Fort Knox was briefly considered as a potential Unaccompanied Alien Children shelter, but it isn't being considered anymore.

The heat of June is only a set-up for the heat of this year's Fancy Farm Picnic still six weeks away. August 2 is the date for this year's fundraiser in the small Graves County community of Fancy Farm. 

One of the organizers, Mark Wilson, says the event is attracting the attention of national news media for the first time with the U-S Senate race between incumbent U-S Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. 

"We're already getting requests for the big media vans and trucks.  Some of them are going to bring buses in for the national reporters to set up, " adds Wilson.  "A lot of the prognosticators say this could be one of the largest picnics ever crowd-wise."

Senator Rand Paul's potential run for president in 2016 also adds to the media glare. 

This year, Fancy Farm organizers are asking the political parties to stop "organized" crowd chanting which has detracted from the political speaking in recent years.

Bardstown Police Department

Fallen Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis is being honored in the nation's capitol.  
 
Ellis' name has been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, which honors local, state and federal officers who have been killed in the line of duty. 

Ellis' name will be read in a candlelight vigil Tuesday night.  Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin is in Washington for the service.

"I've been coming to see the memorial for several years, but to walk up and see one of your own officer's name on it, it's completely different," says McCubbin.

Ellis was gunned down on May 25 of last year while removing debris from an exit ramp off the Bluegrass Parkway in Nelson County.

He left behind a wife and two sons.  There have been no arrests in the case.

"The investigation is in a lull right now.  There's not much moving on it, which makes it even more frustrating," adds McCubbin.
 
Carved on the walls of the memorial in Washington are the names of more than 20,000 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. 

A body found last month in Wayne County has been identified as a Pulaski County woman who apparently died in 2011. When sheriff's deputies approached her son to ask questions, he took out a gun and took his own life in front of them.

The body of 96-year-old Faye Whiteford of Science Hill was found during an investigation of her whereabouts. Her son, Jon Whiteford, had been cashing her Social Security checks and hadn't reported her death. Social Security itself called for an investigation of Ms. Whiteford's health after she hadn't filed any medical claims in three years, despite being 96.

The benefit checks being sent to her were still being cashed, however.

An autopsy revealed she'd died of natural causes years before the late April discovery of her remains. Her body was hidden and wrapped in a plastic tarp in the front yard of a home where Jon Whiteford was staying.

After years of complaints and calls for investigations from consumers, Kentucky's fluctuating gas prices are now being investigated in Washington. The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the state's single supply of gasoline, a monopoly by Marathon Oil.

Spokeswoman Alison Martin says Attorney General Jack Conway and Governor Beshear had a study done on the impact of artificially high prices on Kentucky consumers and have turned its data over to the FTC. The Commission originally declined to look into the situation but that changed with the appointment of a new chair, Edith Ramirez, earlier this year.

Martin says despite public outcry the last several years, the state's regular sudden price hikes don't qualify as actual "price gouging" that could be acted on during a statewide emergency.

Barren-Edmonston Drug Task Force

Kentucky State Police say they've busted a large scale methamphetamine drug syndicate in south-central Kentucky. Twenty eight people are charged with engaging in organized crime.

They were arrested after a three year investigation into drug trafficking in counties that include Allen, Warren, Barren, Metcalfe, Cumberland, Powell and Monroe.

The Kentucky State Police Drug Enforcement unit led the investigation.

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.

An Elizabethtown woman is facing charges after police say she deliberately smashed her car into a Kroger store, and it's not the first time she's done it.

June Ann Blocker allegedly drove through the front door of the Dolphin Drive store Wednesday, injuring two people when she slammed into the checkout lane. She's charged with drunk driving, assault, criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. Police say Blocker was charged more than a decade ago with doing the exact same thing at another Elizabethtown Kroger. Friends say the incidents are related to a running vendetta she has with the company as a former employee.

Kroger isn't the only chain where Blocker has been blocked from entry. A court order demanded she stay away from all Hardin County Walmart stores and take her medication.

Thirteen hundred Kentucky National Guard troops have been furloughed as a result of the federal government shutdown.  Major General Ed Tonini says the shutdown has "adversely impacted" the guard.  He believes the furloughed troops should be working and should be paid.

"It affects them personally and their families, and their ability to put food on the table," comments Tonini.  "Beyond that, they are continually training to do the work of the nation and the work of the commonwealth."

Weekend drills have been postponed, and the adjutant general had to cancel a planned trip to Guantanamo Bay to visit Kentucky guardsmen serving there.

Enrollment has just begun and there are already some scams related to the Affordable Care Act. 

Reanna Smith-Hamblin with the Better Business Bureau of Kentucky and Indiana says scammers love to prey on confusion over such complex things as the health care law, so her advice is to never give personal information to unsolicited callers.

“This people are after your personal, your identity, so be very careful about anyone that contacts you on the Affordable Care Act," advises Smith-Hamblin.

She adds that you can't even trust caller ID because of spoofing devices that make it look like scammers are calling from a particular place, when in fact, they are not.

A Hardin County man is in the hospital after being shot by a Kentucky State Police trooper around midnight Sunday. 

Trooper Jeff Gregory of the Elizabethtown post says troopers were called to Hodgenville Road for a  welfare check on Gerald Scheppa.

"Mr. Scheppa had apparently been making suicidal references to family members, so they were worried about him," explained Gregory.  "He had a large knife on him and ran into a wooded area when he saw the police pull in."

According to KSP, when officers approached Scheppa, he threw a knife at the officers, and that’s when Trooper Charlie Miller fired his gun.  Trooper Miller was not injured in the incident. 

Two Kentucky State Police troopers have been fired following an investigation involving a teenage girl.  

A KSP spokesman confirmed Troopers Jerry Clanton and Stratford Young were terminated last Friday. The investigation was launched following accusations of inappropriate behavior involving a 15-year-old girl.

Both Clanton and Young were assigned to the Elizabethtown Post. Clanton was named Trooper of the year for the post in a ceremony held in May. 

Meade County officials say a grand jury will determine if any charges will be brought in the case.

Kentucky News Network

A Kentucky lawmaker says it wasn't so bad being mocked on national television.  Republican Senator Damon Thayer of Georgetown recently appeared in a segment on Comedy Central that poked fun of legislation he introduced in the General Assembly this year. 

The segment was called "Can't Touch This" about states trying to pass laws to counter-act federal laws, a procedure called nullification that's been ruled unconstitutional several times by the Supreme Court. 

Thayer told comedian Jason Jones about a bill the state Senate passed this year to say Kentucky won't go along with any new guns laws from Washington.

Thayer:  "There will be federal gun laws that actually take away what we believe is our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms."

Jones:  "Other than that premise being completely false (audience laughter), what kind of message did you send to those gun grabbers in Washington D.C.?"

Also appearing on "The Daily Show" segment was Larue County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner discussing counties like his moving to nullify state laws. 

For Thayer's part, he says he doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as he did 15 or 20 years ago, so when asked to do the show, he said "why not."

The complete segment can be viewed here.

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