Kentucky News Network

Michael Cook

Update at 12:28am:   According to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service, the path width of damage is 300 yards, with maximum winds of 135 mph, making it an EF2 tornado.  One home was completely demolished, three houses and numerous outbuildings were severely damaged, and several livestock were killed. 

Original Post: A tornado touched down in southern Kentucky Monday afternoon, damaging farm structures and some homes. 

The twister hit in Logan and Simpson counties.  It was visible for miles.

Michael Cook, who took this photo, was working on a farm just west of Franklin when the tornado hit.  It destroyed several grain bins and damaged some homes.

Ohio County Detention Center

A western Kentucky child is in critical condition after ingesting a chemical used to make methamphetamine.

The 2-year-old Ohio County girl drank sulphuric acid drain opener that was in a shot glass. She suffered chemical burns to her lips, tongue, mouth and esophagus.

Authorities say the child's mother and her boyfriend were making meth inside the home.   They allegedly waited six hours before taking the child to the hospital.

Bardstown Police Department

The widow of an ambushed Bardstown police officer is making her first public comments since her husband was gunned down Saturday. 

Kentucky State Police say 33-year-old officer Jason Ellis was shot multiple times after he got out of his cruiser to pick up debris on the Bluegrass Parkway in Nelson County.

Amy Ellis Tuesday morning thanked the community for an outpouring of support.

"The only reason I can get up here right now is because of prayers, and God has picked me up off the bathroom floor," said Ellis.  "I didn't want to live another second without him, but I know I have to be strong for our kids."

More than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil Monday night outside the police station.  A stream of mourners turned a police car into a makeshift memorial, covering it with flowers, flags, and balloons. 

On the 25th anniversary of the nation's deadliest drunk driving crash, federal safety officials are pushing for tougher DUI laws. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that states lower the benchmark for determining when a driver is intoxicated.  NTSB chair Deborah Hersman says hundreds of lives could be saved each year by lowering the blood alcohol level.

"We can choose to accept the senseless and needless losses or we choose to act," Hersman remarks.

The NTSB is also pushing for stiffer drunk driving penalties, including laws requiring first-time offenders to have ignition locking devices. 

The NTSB recommendations come 25 years after a drunk driver travelling on the wrong side  of I-71 in Carrollton, Kentucky slammed head-on into a bus carrying passengers home from a church youth trip.  Twenty-seven people died, 24 of them children.

Kentucky News Network

A Hardin County middle school teacher has been arrested for sexually abusing a student.

Forty-six-year-old Anthony Durrant is charged with inappropriately communicating with a student at James T. Alton Middle School. Police say Durrant touched a 13-year-old student on the buttocks April 12 and the two were exchanging inappropriate texts over the weekend.

The teenager also allegedly sent an explicit photo to the teacher. Police say they were contacted after the parents of the teen found the messages.

 Durrant had taught sixth grade social studies at the school since 2010. He was terminated from his job on Tuesday.

Kentucky News Network

The University of Kentucky says Nerlens Noel will forego his sophomore season and enter his name in the NBA Draft.

"I have loved my time at Kentucky, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA," Noel said. "I’ve learned so much here at UK and am thankful for Coach Calipari, the staff and my teammates for all of their support. I especially appreciate the Big Blue Nation and all of the support, prayers and well-wishes I’ve received from them during my rehab and decision-making process. I’ll always be a Wildcat."

Noel led the nation in blocks as he averaged 4.4 rejections per game and tallied 106 in 24 games played before a season-ending knee injury. He averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

The draft is June 27.

Bogus doctors' notes have some Spencer County students facing charges. Several fake notes popped up at Spencer County High School, where school officials noticed a high number of absences. They took a closer look at the notes and called police to investigate.

Taylorsville Police say dates had been changed on some of the notes and fake doctor's names were used on others. These are notes from real offices, with information changed. Police are warning students this is a serious matter, with felony charges being filed.

Over half a dozen students at a few different schools have been charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument. The investigation is continuing, with more charges possible. Police say it's possible some parents were even involved.

The Louisville Cardinals are atop the college basketball world, capturing the NCAA men's championship Monday night in Atlanta.

Luke Hancock scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half and Louisville won its third national title by rallying for an 82-76 win over No. 4 Michigan. He was 13-for-18 from the field in the last two games to be named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan were mostly silent in the first half before helping the Cardinals outscore the Wolverines 45-38 in the second. Siva finished with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Behanan chipped in 15 points and 13 boards.

The Wolverines were ahead 35-23 late in the first half, but the Cardinals went on a 14-3 run and led by as many as 10 in the second half en route to their first championship since 1986.

Jefferson County Schools could be the first in the state to act to raise the dropout age from 16 to 18.  School board member Chris Brady says he'll bring the issue up for discussion Monday night and could pursue a vote.

"I think it's in our best interest to set the expectation that everyone graduates by at least age 18 and to say it's not okay to dropout before that time," Brady adds.

Brady says it's important for JCPS to act quickly to send a message to the state and the community that the district wants to do everything it can to reach all students.  JCPS is the state's largest district.  
 
Governor Beshear just signed the bill last week. It leaves the decision up to individual districts. Once 55% of districts raise the age, it will become mandatory for all four years later. Over 6,000 Kentucky students drop out each year. Over 1,000 JCPS students are dropping out each year.

The state wants to hear the opinions of teachers across the state. They're being asked to complete the TELL Kentucky Survey. TELL stands for teaching, empowering, leading, and learning.

Schools will use the information gathered for their annual improvement plans. The state will also use the data to make improvements. Questions on the survey cover everything from school leadership and community support to use of time and managing student conduct.

The survey is being done every two years. 2011 was the first year, with 80% of Kentucky teachers responding. State officials hope to get that number to 90% this year. The online survey is anonymous and takes about 30 minutes to complete. It runs through March 29.  Click here for more information on the survey and to see response rates, by district.

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