Rick Howlett

Rick has been a member of the WFPL News team since 2001 and has covered numerous beats and events over the years.   Most recently he’s been tracking the Indiana General Assembly and the region’s passion for sports, especially college basketball.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky’s attorney general is suing health care and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for allegedly failing to disclose the potential risks associated with one of its surgical products.

Beshear’s office has filed a civil suit against the company and its medical supply unit, Ethicon for what it says was deceptive marketing of a vaginal mesh implant. The surgical mesh is a synthetic fabric used to treat common pelvic conditions experienced by women.

During a news conference Tuesday, Beshear said the company failed to disclose the potential risks and side effects associated with the product, including chronic pain and loss of urinary or sexual function.

“It’s chronic pain that they experience that prevents the most basic functions: using the restroom — and we’re not talking about discomfort, we’re talking about serious, searing pain — sexual relations, difficulty sleeping, sitting, working, moving,” Beshear said.

J. Tyler Franklin

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he still supports Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, despite the latest firestorm that has erupted over Trump’s most recent remarks about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

McConnell addressed the Middletown Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Many say Trump encouraged violence this week when he suggested “maybe there is” something supporters of the Second Amendment could do to stop Clinton from choosing Supreme Court justices. Trump’s campaign said he was referring to the political weight of the National Rifle Association and gun-rights advocates.

Met with laughter from the crowd, McConnell declined — tongue-in-cheek — to respond when asked what he thinks about Trump.

Rick Howlett

A central Kentucky college officially closes on Monday, after 85 years of operation.

Officials at St. Catharine College near Springfield announced in June that the school would shut down, citing declining enrollment and a dispute with the U.S. Department of Education over a cut in financial aid.

The move left several hundred students scrambling to find a new school.  Many have transferred to similar-sized institutions such as Bellarmine, Midway and Kentucky State University.

More than 100 faculty and staff members were laid off.

St. Catharine President Cindy Gnadinger said it’s been a trying time for everyone.

J. Tyler Franklin

The first meeting of the reconstituted University of Louisville Board of Trustees has ended with the job status of school President James Ramsey apparently unchanged.

Ramsey was expected to offer his resignation to the new board. But Chairman Junior Bridgeman told reporters after the meeting that Ramsey did not submit his resignation, nor was he asked to resign.

Bridgeman said the new board will decide on Ramsey’s status after it reviews the matter more.

“I would just suggest and ask that you give the board the time to understand everything, and then everything will become evident,” he said.

Rick Howlett, WFPL

After years of planning, fundraising and a legal battle with the state, the Ark Encounter theme park opens to the public Thursday near Williamstown, in Northern Kentucky.

The park — which features a full-scale model of Noah’s Ark — was dedicated earlier this week in a ceremony that included the blowing of the shofar, or ram’s horn. Some 7,000 donors got an early look at the ark, a literal interpretation of the story of Noah’s Ark told in the Old Testament of the Bible.

It was built by the Christian group Answers in Genesis, which also operates the Creation Museum not far away in Petersburg.

The official opening marks a moment of jubilation for the group’s founder, Ken Ham, and the park’s creators. But opponents aren’t staying silent.

Rick Howlett

A Noah’s Ark attraction built by the group Answers in Genesis is ready to open in northern Kentucky. The group held an open house for media and donors Tuesday at the $100 million park near Williamstown, Kentucky.

The long-awaited Ark Encounter theme park is based on the Old Testament story. The centerpiece is a 510-foot wooden ark, filled with exhibits based on descriptions in the Bible.

Its construction has rankled opponents who say the attraction will be detrimental to science education. They’ve also criticized the group’s faith-based hiring practices, which were at the core of a legal battle over tax rebates awarded, then withdrawn by the state.

That case was won by Answers in Genesis. Founder Ken Ham says a federal judge rightly ruled that religious preference in hiring is legal.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Rick Howlett, WFPL News

General Electric’s Louisville-based appliance division has a new owner.

GE Appliances is now part of the China-based Haier Company. The multibillion-dollar sale was finalized on Monday.

About 6,000 people work at Louisville’s Appliance Park, which was constructed by GE more than 60 years ago. The division will now be called “GE Appliances, a Haier Company.”

Chip Blankenship will continue as president and CEO. He said employees should not expect any major shakeups under the new owner.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Negotiators for United Parcel Service and the Independent Pilots Association will resume talks later this month in hopes reaching a contract agreement.

The latest round of federally mediated negotiations ended last week in Washington.

UPS pilots have been working under the terms of their previous contract for five years. The IPA, which represents some 2,500 pilots, has been preparing for the possibility of a strike.

Earlier this month, the union set up a strike operation center at its Louisville headquarters, a move dismissed by UPS as a publicity stunt.

For a strike to be called, the mediator would have to declare an impasse and release the two sides from talks. That would be followed by a 30-day cooling off period.

Union president Bob Travis said the IPA and UPS have been called back to Washington by the National Mediation Board for what he called “two consecutive weeks of intensive negotiations” starting the week of May 16.

Union officials said some of the remaining sticking points involve flight schedules and crew fatigue. Both sides say there was some progress made in the most recent round of talks.

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Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel is retiring.

That’s according to Borel’s agent,  Larry Melancon, who tells the Daily Racing Form that Borel informed him of his decision.

The publication says Borel is currently based at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas and has not commented publicly.

The 49-year-old Borel has won more than 5,100 races, including three Kentucky Derbys. In 2009, he became the first jockey to win the first two legs of racing’s Triple Crown aboard different mounts.

He rode Mine That Bird to victory in the Derby and finished first aboard the filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness Stakes.

Borel was inducted into the racing Hall of Fame in 2013.

Seven new members will be inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame Wednesday night in Louisville.

The inductees include former WKU women's basketball coach Paul Sanderford and former Major League Baseball umpire Randy Marsh, a native of Northern Kentucky.

Hall of Fame President Jim Ellis says Marsh worked dozens of big events during his 28 year career, including five World Series and four All-Star games. “Kind of guy you could sit and listen to forever," Ellis said, "He’s got stories about past players that a lot of us grew up watching on television, and he actually umpired and got nose-to-nose with some of them.”

Other inductees include Keeneland Race Course, former Fairdale High School basketball coach Lloyd Gardner, Laurel County basketball standout Sharon Garland, track star Shandy Boyd Smith of Louisville, and Mel Purcell, who played on the pro tennis tour and is the men’s tennis coach at Murray State University.

Kentucky News Network

Triple Crown champion American Pharoah returned home to Churchill Downs Sunday as his handlers prepared for boisterous celebrations 37 years in the making.

Less than 24 hours after winning the Belmont Stakes to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since 1978, the bay colt received the VIP treatment upon his return to Louisville.

Police escorted American Pharoah's transport van from the airport to trainer Bob Baffert's Barn 33, and the horse was cheered like a rock star by hundreds of fans as his entrance was broadcast over the jumbo screen overlooking the storied track.

The energy figures to ratchet up for the horse, whose display in the adjacent Kentucky Derby museum was updated to reflect his historic achievement.

Churchill Downs' famous twin spires will display Zayat Stables' turquoise-and-gold colors all week.

Penn State / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Jean Ritchie was born in the Perry County community of Viper, and that was where she learned the Appalachian folk music she would bring to the world.

Richie moved to New York City in the 1940s and became an internationally recognized torch-bearer of the traditional songs. She sang and played the dulcimer and other instruments on dozens of albums and became a familiar figure in the folk revival of the 1950s and ‘60s.

Richie moved back to Kentucky several years ago, settling in Berea.

She was preceded in death by her husband, photographer George Pickow. Survivors include two sons. Her niece, Judy Hudson, says Ritchie died in her home in Berea, with her family around her.

The tall, red-haired Ritchie, who grew up in Kentucky's Cumberland mountains, sang ballads with a clear soprano voice. She accompanied herself on the guitar, autoharp or the mountain dulcimer, a string instrument that Ritchie helped rescue from obscurity.

Hudson said Ritchie suffered a stroke several years ago and moved back to Kentucky from the East Coast.

A ceremony will be held on this Memorial Day in Frankfort to dedicate a new site honoring members of the Kentucky National Guard and Air National Guard who have died in the line of duty.

National guard Spokesman David Altom says the centerpiece of the memorial is a bronze statue of Daniel Boone.

“He’s standing guard in front of this giant slab of granite in the shape of the state of Kentucky with the names of our fallen soldiers from the past 100 years," explains Altom.  "It’s unique to anything I’ve seen in Kentucky, and I’d say it’s almost as beautiful as anything you’d see in Washington, D.C.”

Altom says more than 230 members of the Guard have died in the line of duty since 1912.

The memorial was funded by private donors, corporate grants and an appropriation from the legislature.

The dedication ceremony is at 2:00 pm Monday at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort. It’s open to the public.

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