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 heââ

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.

UK Athletics

A record seven members of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team announced they will enter the NBA draft.

The seven were UK’s top scorers during their 38-1 season that ended last weekend with a loss to Wisconsin in the Final Four.

At a press conference Thursday in Lexington, Junior Willie Cauley-Stein, sophomores Dakari Johnson and Andrew and Aaron Harrison and freshmen Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker all said they’ve decided to turn pro.

“I mean, of course it was a tough decision for all of us,” Guard Aaron Harrison said. “But I think this is all of our dreams so we just want to chase our dreams, really.”

Coach John Calipari said he did not to try to convince anyone to stay or leave, but arranged meetings with the players, their families and NBA team officials early this week to discuss their pro prospects.

“I’m not convincing anyone to stay and I’m not pushing anybody out the door,” Calipari said. “This is their choice with their family.”

Karl-Anthony Towns could be the first player chosen overall on June 28. Cauley-Stein and Lyles could soon follow, with both projected as possible lottery selections. Booker is also a potential first-rounder, with the rest projected to go in the second.

Angel's Envy

International spirits company Bacardi Limited has made its entry into the booming bourbon market with the purchase, announced today, of a Louisville-based bourbon maker.

Bacardi is the new owner of Angel’s Share Brands. The company includes the popular Angel’s Envy bourbon, developed by the late Lincoln Henderson and his family. Henderson was a longtime master distiller for Brown-Forman Corporation.

Angel’s Envy is currently distilled off-site and aged in port wine barrels.

An estimated 16.4 million Americans have gained health insurance coverage since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

That’s according to new data released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Dr. Richard Frank, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, said number of uninsured Americans has reached a 40-year low.

“This is a historic drop in the uninsured and nothing since the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid come near to this type of change," commented Frank.

About 14.1 million adults have gained coverage since open enrollment began in October 2013, according to the report.

An additional 2.3 million 19- to 25-year-olds have gained coverage since a new provision went into effect in 2010, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.

Kentucky has the second greatest reduction in the rate of uninsured people among the states, just behind Arkansas. The state’s uninsured rate is now 9.8 percent– down from 20.4 percent in 2013.

Lance Dennee / WKMS

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is urging motorists to stay off highways to allow emergency crews to clear snow and stalled vehicles. Heavy snowfall across the region led Beshear to declare a state of emergency for the second time in a month.

“A lot of these people have been working 12 hour shifts for two weeks now because of the first winter storm and now this one," Beshear said. "But, they’re doing a great job and we just ask people to be careful and be patient as we try to get the roads cleared."

Beshear said 85 National Guard troops from six armories have been activated to assist with the emergency response around the state.

The snowfall snarled traffic on Interstate 65 in central Kentucky and I-24 in western Kentucky. Dozens of motorists had to be rescued.

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments Thurs on whether sexual conduct between two teenagers should be prosecuted as a crime.

The case, from Woodford County, involves a 15 year old boy and his 13 year old girlfriend.
The boy pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for having sex and exchanging nude photos with his girlfriend. He was designated a juvenile sex offender. The girl was not charged.

An attorney for the boy said the teens had no intention of committing a crime.

The attorney general’s office says the boy was charged because he initiated the acts and had previously been charged with indecent exposure in a separate case.

No date has been set for the court to issue a ruling.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana officials say a new mentoring program launched this school year has been a success and will be expanded next year.

It’s called School to Work, and spokeswoman Kristin Milosevich says it initially matched 15 Seneca High School students with mentors from Price Waterhouse Coopers and Humana.

“The whole concept of school to work is that it actually puts high school students who are, will benefit from a one-to-one mentoring relationship in the workplace on the path to getting their first job, going on to college.”

Milosevich says Big Brothers Big Sisters hopes to match as many as 75 students from across Jefferson County Public Schools with mentors in the workplace for the next academic year.