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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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