Matt Markgraf

Matt "McG" Markgraf joined the WKMS News Team in January 2007, while pursuing his bachelorâââ

Kentucky Democratic Party

The Kentucky Democratic Party has named a new chair. The KDP State Central Executive Committee elected Ben Self to the position on Saturday. 

The Pike County native and Lexington resident is co-founder of West Sixth Brewing and the 'Bread Box' - a mixed-use development in which the brewery is located.

Self began his political work as an activist for the Democratic Party during former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's presidential campaign in the 2004 election. He then co-founded the progressive tech firm Blue State Digital with other former Dean staffers and later served as Technology Director of the Democratic National Committee.

comer.house.gov

U.S. Congressman James Comer of Kentucky said the investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia has been a national distraction.

The investigation headed by special prosecutor Robert Mueller led to the indictment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Monday. Manafort was charged with tax fraud and money laundering.

Comer said he supports the legal process but special investigations always go beyond the original intent. 

Matt Markgraf

Murray State University President Bob Davies said he hopes for a bipartisan Congressional effort to find a long-term solution for DACA recipients working towards university degrees and contributing to society.

DACA is the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for people known as "DREAMers" who entered the country illegally as children. The Trump administration announced this week it will end DACA and will work with Congress to address immigration issues.

Anthem Not Offering Health Insurance Plans in Half of Kentucky in 2018

Sep 7, 2017
feverpitched, 123rf Stock Photo

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield officials said on Wednesday the company will no longer offer health insurance plans in 61 counties in Kentucky in 2018. 

Anthem Public Relations Director Mark Robinson said the decision to scale back in Kentucky is based on a continuation of “market place uncertainties.”

Credit Photo corresponding to letter post via actionnetwork.org

Paducah area African American church leaders and the local N.A.A.C.P. are calling upon the city to remove the statue of Confederate General Lloyd Tilghman on Fountain Square.

A letter published over the weekend suggests in its place installing a plaque that explains why the statue was removed and listing the names of slaves owned by Tilghman. The Lloyd Tilghman House Facebook page says he owned five slaves. The historic home is a museum in the city.

Members of the Paducah Area African American Methodist Episcopal Churches, local N.A.A.C.P., Community Clergy Fellowship and Community Coming Together signed the letter to the City of Paducah stating that "The vast majority of Black citizens in this city emphatically do not want to preserve the painful legacy of slavery and white supremacy" represented by the Tilghman statue.

CHANGE.ORG PETITION

A group called ‘Paducah Residents’ has started an online petition seeking the removal and replacement of Confederate monuments in the city and the renaming of a school named after the wife of a Confederate general. 

The Change.org petition says the monuments represent an era of African American oppression and slavery and gloss over historic violence. The letter also says the monuments serve to promote a “retelling of history that allows slave owners and bigots to be seen as heroes, and continues to embolden and empower racist and white nationalist event today.” 

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Hemp farmers and processors in Murray presented progress and problems in growing the crop to U.S. Senator Rand Paul on Thursday. Paul is in the region as part of a tour discussing healthcare options and made a stop in Murray to talk hemp ahead of visits to other communities. Afterwords, he also commented on North Korea and health care reform options.

Joseph Kelly operates West Kentucky Hemp LLC. and works with Kentucky 21st Century Agri. He led much of the presentation, briefing Paul on some of their processes and procedures, ambitions and challenges. Kelly and others involved in hemp described its various uses: leaves (producing CBD), floor material (buds) for extracting oil, seeds (as grain and pressed for oil) and other uses involving the fiber.

Alix Mattingly

Kentucky Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is skipping this year's Fancy Farm Picnic in Graves County. 

In a statement from her office, Grimes said she will instead be attending her nephew's little league state championship game.

The list of confirmed Democratic speakers is now Attorney General Andy Beshear and House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins.

James Comer, Twitter

Kentucky’s First District Congressman, James Comer, is making good on a promise to file legislation to reclassify industrial hemp from a controlled substance to an agriculture crop.

Comer filed the  Industrial Hemp Farming Act Friday. He says it is his attempt  keep the Department of Justice “off the farm.” Hemp is only legal in states with certified industrial hemp pilot programs like Kentucky.

The federal government currently classifies hemp as Schedule 1 substance due to its similarities to marijuana. Comer was instrumental in bringing the hemp industry to the state as the former agriculture commissioner.  Comer has said “We’ve proven it’s not a drug. The next step is to begin to deregulate.”

Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner outlined his vision for broad education reform in the commonwealth, including providing at least some form of post-secondary education for everyone, improving outdated area technology centers, reconsidering the traditional school day and investing in career counseling.

Heiner delivered his remarks at Murray State University’s annual Harry M. Sparks Distinguished Lecture Series Tuesday evening in Wrather Auditorium. In attendance were local educators, state legislators and city and county officials.

Citing the rapid pace of development of smartphones and computer chips, and Amazon’s ‘Kiva’ robots replacing human labor in distribution centers, Heiner said the ‘world of work’ is changing fast.

1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment "Red Currahee", via Facebook

Some 100 Fort Campbell soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team ‘Bastogne’ are returning home Wednesday from Cameroon in Africa. 

The soldiers, known as the ‘Red Currahee,' served in Task Force Toccoa in northern Cameroon. They worked with the country’s air force, state department and non-governmental organizations to expand positive relationships and regional security.

They also worked with U.S. school children and medical outreach, delivering immunizations, clothing and toys to young children.

Ft. Campbell

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says he will order flags lowered to half-staff in honor of a Fort Campbell soldier who has died in Kuwait.

1st Lt. Jeffrey D. Cooper of Mill Creek Washington died Saturday from a non-combat related incident. 

According to a news release, Cooper, 25, was killed in a vehicle rollover accident while traveling from Camp Buehring to Ali Al Salem Airfield.

Cooper was an infantry officer in the 2nd Battalion 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

He joined the Army in 2013 and arrived in Fort Campbell in 2015. He has received the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. 

The accident is under investigation.

Fort Campbell

The U.S. Army is deploying 1,400 Fort Campbell 101st Airborne Division soldiers to Afghanistan. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team deploys this fall to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. 

In a news release Tuesday, 101st acting senior commander Brigadier General Scott E. Brower praised the brigade, known as Rakkasans, for combat efforts against al Qaeda and Taliban forces in 2002 and an advise-assist mission in 2014 and 2015.

"From hunting Al Qaeda and Taliban forces during Operation Anaconda in 2002, to performing the advise-assist mission in 2014-15, the soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team have been nothing short of exceptional while supporting operations in Afghanistan over the years," said Brig. Gen. Scott E. Brower, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) acting senior commander. "The Rakkasans are trained, well-led, and prepared to accomplish any mission given to them while supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel."

According to the U.S. Army website, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel trains, advises and assists Afghan security institutions and conducts counter-terrorism measures against remaining al Qaeda forces.

Hopkinsville Community College, via Facebook

The Delta Regional Authority is investing more than $100,000 dollars in the Todd County Career Path Institute. The western Kentucky facility trains adults, college and high school students in welding, industrial maintenance and electrical networking. The money will go towards equipment for hands-on training.

DRA chairman Chris Masingill said workforce training and education is critical for attracting business leaders. "The number one question that business leaders ask about when they look to do an expansion or a location is that they really look at the skill level of our workforce. And so we want to continue to invest into programs, into locations, into partners that are really trying to move the needle on that."

The announcement Thursday was made on the same day Governor Matt Bevin's office awarded the institute with the 2016 Spirit of Kentucky Award recognizing regional partnership efforts.

Masingill said that was a coincidence, but he’s glad to know the Governor feels the same way about the institute. “We work collaboratively. It takes the governor and us, me as the federal co-chair, working collaboratively and we review these projects. So this project would not have gotten funded without the support of Governor Bevin.”

U.S. Army Fort Campbell Facebook

Military police have apprehended a soldier after report of an active shooter at Fort Campbell. 

The soldier was in the 101st Airborne Division . The incident occurred near the Campbell Army Airfield. 

Spokesman Robert Jenkins says no injuries were reported and the installation is secure. He says gates are open and there are no threats to the post or local communities.

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