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

Sports
3:24 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Derby Winner Draws Number Two Post for Belmont Stakes

California Chrome on Kentucky Derby day.
Credit Creative Commons

California Chrome is the 3 to 5 early favorite to win the Belmont Stakes and become horse racing's 12th Triple Crown champion.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will break from the No. 2 post under Victor Espinoza on Saturday at Belmont Park. Eleven Belmont winners have come out of that post, the last being Tabasco Cat in 1994.

Trainer Art Sherman says he’s happy with the draw.

"It gives you a chance to see who’s going to have the speed and where you’re laying going into the first turn," explains Sherman.

Wicked Strong is the 6 to 1 second choice and drew post No. 9.  The colt finished fourth  in the Derby and sat out the Preakness.

Tonalist was made the third betting choice at 8 to 1 odds and will break from the No. 11 post.

Eleven horses are entered in the Belmont Stakes.

Regional
4:03 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Indiana House Passes Measure Placing Gay Marriage Ban Into State Constitution

Indiana's House of Representatives has approved a proposal that would write the state's gay marriage ban into the constitution.

The Republican-led House narrowly voted 57-40 Tuesday in favor of the measure. The proposed ban now heads to the Indiana Senate.

The vote followed weeks of uncertainty for a measure that swept through the General Assembly with ease just three years ago.

"This amendment has jumped the shark," said Democratic Rep. Mat Pierce, who voted against the measure. "History has really passed it by. And that’s why I think we need to give up on it."

The House measure leaves open the door for approval of civil unions and employer benefits for same-sex couples.  It also would potentially reset the clock on Indiana's lengthy process of amending the constitution.

But Senate Republicans could potentially place the measure back on course to appear on the November ballot.

Bourbon
8:04 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Soon To Be Big In Japan, Jim Beam's Roots To Stay In Kentucky

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., maker of Jim Beam and owner of other popular bourbon brands, including Maker's Mark.
Bruce Schreiner AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:48 am

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.

Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.

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Regional
12:17 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

New Power Plant Coming to Western Kentucky

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities have announced plans to build a new natural gas powered generating plant in western Kentucky and a smaller, solar-powered station.  Spokeswoman Chris Whelan  says the facility planned for Muhlenberg County will be similar to the generating plant being built at the companies’ Cane Run site in Jefferson County.

"It will be 700 megawatts, roughly $700 million to construct, and then we’re also proposing we will build a 10 megawatt solar facility at one of our existing sites," explains Whelan.

Assuming the plants receive regulatory approval, the solar facility will go online in 2016, with the Muhlenberg plant running by 2018.

LG&E and KU are retiring their coal-fired generating stations at Cane Run, Green River in western Kentucky and Tyrone in Woodford County.

Whelan says the new gas-fired plant will create several hundred construction jobs and about 40 permanent jobs.

Regional
2:57 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

In Bardstown, Residents Work to Keep Memory of Slain Officer Fresh in People's Minds

A poster in Bardstown remembering slain police officer Jason Ellis.
Credit Rick Howlett

It’s been just over three months since the ambush shooting death of Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis. The 33-year-old was attacked while on his way home from work on the Memorial Day weekend.

Police say they have not identified any suspects but continue to follow up on leads.  As the days pass without an arrest, many are working to keep the case fresh in people’s minds.

On a hot Saturday afternoon in late August, hundreds of motorcyclists gathered at the Jim Beam Distillery for food, drink and an auction. They were taking part in a poker run to raise money for the Jason Ellis Memorial Fund, established for the slain Bardstown officer’s wife and two sons, ages 6 and 7.

This event raised more than $32,000. Similar fundraisers have generated thousands more, some went to a reward fund set up to help find the officer’s killer or killers. It has grown to about $200,000.

Police believe the ambush of Officer Jason Ellis was carefully planned.

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Politics
12:44 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Indiana High Court: Fines Against House Democrats Stand

The Indiana Supreme Court has let stand the fines levied by state House Republicans on Democrats for their walkout over a controversial right-to-work bill.

Justices split 3-2 on an opinion issued Tuesday finding that the constitutional separation of powers bars the courts from interfering in internal legislative decisions. The state's highest court approved a request that the case be dismissed.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote for the majority that it is not the court's role to assess punishments within the legislative branch of government. Justices Loretta Rush and Robert Rucker dissented, writing that the House's "discretion to punish its members" doesn't include withholding pay.

Majority House Republicans ordered the state auditor to withhold the fines from Democrats who spent weeks at an Illinois hotel in protest of the right-to-work bill in 2011, and staged another walkout the following year.

Health
8:35 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Kentucky and Indiana Planned Parenthood Operations to Merge

The Kentucky and Indiana Planned Parenthood affiliates will merge next month, creating a new non-profit that will operate 28 centers across the two states.

It will be known as Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and Indiana.   The centers will offer services such as pregnancy tests, birth control, breast exams and Pap tests.

Planned Parenthood of Kentucky Chairwoman Kim Greene says the combined affiliate will have 190 employees at the centers and its administrative headquarters in Indianapolis, with a few job duplications in IT and finance.

“We have had to consolidate three of those sorts of positions, but other than that, there will be no other employee changes, employee losses.”

Greene says the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has made the merger necessary to more effective serve patients.

The merger becomes official on July 1st.

Sports
8:50 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Post Positions Set for 139th Running of the Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs is the scene for Saturday's 139th Run of the Roses.
Credit Churchill Downs

The early favorite for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is Orb at 7 to 2. Trained by Shug McGaughey,  Orb drew post position number 16 Wednesday evening at Churchill Downs.

The second favorite is Verrazano at 4 to 1. He’ll run from post position number 14. 

Verrazano is one of five Derby starters trained by Todd Pletcher.

The third choice, at 5-1, is Goldencents, trained by Doug O’Neill, who won last year with I’ll Have Another.

O’Neill  says and the horse’s owners are pleased that Goldencents will break from the number eight post.

A full field of 20 horses is entered for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Sports
4:28 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

How Louisville Went From 'Little Brother' To Powerhouse

Louisville forward Chane Behanan celebrates after defeating Michigan in the NCAA basketball championship on Monday. It was the school's first basketball title since 1986.
David J. Phillip AP

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 6:34 pm

University of Louisville fans have had a lot to cheer about lately — and not just basketball.

Monday's big victory by Louisville's men's basketball team over Michigan is just the latest success for the school and for an athletic department that is quickly becoming one of the country's most admired.

In January, the football team upset fourth-ranked Florida to win the Sugar Bowl, and coach Charlie Strong turned down a lucrative offer from the University of Tennessee to continue rebuilding the Louisville program.

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Americandy: Sweet Land Of Liberty
5:06 am
Sat July 21, 2012

The Modjeska: A Star On Stage, Sweetly Remembered

The modjeska owes its name to a Victorian-era candy maker's infatuation with a Polish actress.
Melisa Goh NPR

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 9:20 am

In the back room of Muth's Candies in Louisville, Ky., Jonathon Skaggs and Bobby Masterson are busy dipping marshmallows into a copper pot.

The pot is filled with a top-secret hot caramel mixture. Skaggs and Masterson tap the excess golden caramel off each candy before placing it on a board to cool.

Masterson says it's a rhythm repeated hundreds of times each day.

"They're good ... they're a big-time seller in here in Kentucky, especially right here in Louisville," Masterson says. "There's a lot of people that come and get 'em."

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