Kevin Willis

It’s the time of year when animal shelters across the state become inundated with kittens.

Margie Patton, with the Barren River Animal Welfare Association in Glasgow, says many in the shelter community come to dread the spring and summer months because of the number of cats that are dropped off.

She says it’s a problem that could be largely solved by increased spaying and neutering.

“Most people don’t realize that female cats can get pregnant when they’re four or five months old, and so often people come in and they’ve had this surprise litter,” Patton says. “So we’re trying to encourage people to spay or neuter their cats before they’re four months of age.”

According to Patton, BRAWA has made solid gains in recent years in the number of dogs it’s been able to match with new owners. But the ability of cats to procreate at such a prolific level makes it nearly impossible for the shelter to handle the number of felines that are dropped off.

“They can have three litters a year, four litters a year. The females will stay in heat and just keep having kittens. We’ve had some who were in here to get spayed, who had eight-week old kittens, and they were already pregnant again.”

Patton says many kind-hearted people feed stray cats in their communities. She suggest bringing those strays to the shelter to be spayed or neutered is an even better idea, because it’s much easier to find a home for one cat, as opposed to a litter of kittens.

The judge whose ruling striking down Kentucky's ban on gay marriage led to an appeal heard this week in the U.S. Supreme Court, has died. He was 66.

WAVE-TV and The Courier-Journal, citing an announcement from the court, are reporting that U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II died Wednesday at home after battling cancer for several years.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement saying Heyburn had delivered opinions in complex cases over more than two decades on the bench but would also be remembered for his devotion to his family.

Last year, Heyburn struck down Kentucky's ban on gay marriage and on recognizing same-sex marriages from outside the state. The rulings were reversed on appeal, but the Supreme Court heard arguments on them Tuesday.

How Black Jockeys Went From Common to Rare in the Kentucky Derby

Apr 29, 2015
Kentucky Derby Museum

Each year, along with hat shopping, forecast watching, and amateur handicapping, the Kentucky Derby brings with it a sense of the state’s rich history. But whose history is it?

Today’s thoroughbreds are piloted around the racetrack by jockeys who are mostly white and Latino. But in the early days of racing, black jockeys dominated.

In fact, in the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875, only one rider was white. That race was won by Aristides, ridden by Oliver Lewis.

But the decline of black jockeys in the Derby and the rest of thoroughbred racing is intricately tied to the history of race and economics in the U.S., experts said.

The early dominance of black jockeys was a result of Antebellum customs. In the time of slavery, enslaved people were often the caretakers of horses on plantations, said Teresa Genaro, freelance turf writer and founder of Brooklyn Backstretch.

“What happened was that you had generation after generation of young black men who grew up around horses and grew up riding horses,” she said.

“The white plantation owners and white slave owners put people that they really trusted in charge of their horses, because their horses are obviously expensive, and necessary to the success of their plantations.”

Decades after the end of slavery, black jockeys remained prominent in racing, riding 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derby winners. Some became widely celebrated, including Isaac Burns Murphy and James “Jimmy” Winkfield.

But the economic aftermath of the Civil War in the South, and the abolition of slavery, changed the lives of black jockeys.

A growing social media campaign is aimed at reopening an investigation into a car crash that killed a Hopkins County teenager earlier this year.

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments Tuesday about whether states have the power to ban same-sex marriage. A dozen couples are challenging the bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Judge Rules in Favor of Printer that Refused Gay Pride Job

Apr 28, 2015

A judge in Lexington has ruled in favor of a shop that refused to print T-shirts for a gay pride festival.

The ruling Monday by Fayette County Circuit Judge James Ishmael overturns a decision by the city's Human Rights Commission. The commission had ruled in 2014 that the print shop, Hands On Originals, violated a city law that bans discrimination against gays. The shop says it has refused several jobs due to its Christian beliefs.

Ishmael said the Human Rights Commission went beyond its statutory authority in siding with the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization. The judge said that the print shop's refusal in 2012 was based on the message of the gay group and pride festival and "not on the sexual orientation of its representatives or members."

Gregory Bourke

A same-sex couple from Louisville will be in Washington Tuesday Kentucky’s gay marriage appeal is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon married in Canada in 2004. 

The couple, along with their teenage daughter and son, will be in the courtroom as the nation’s highest court considers whether Kentucky’s gay marriage ban violates the Constitution. 

State law prevents both Bourke and De Leon from adopting the children.  Only De Leon is listed on their birth certificates.

"This is a potential problem for them because if the adoptive parent were to pass away, then they would not have a legal parent," Bourke tells WKU Public Radio.  "Their life would go into chaos and the stability of the whole family would be at risk."

After raising his children for the past 15 years, Bourke says he wants to legally be recognized as one of their parents.

Bourke and De Leon were the first Kentucky couple to file a federal lawsuit requesting their marriage be recognized in the commonwealth.  It was a family decision, so Bourke says that’s why it’s important for the family to have a seat at the historic hearing.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky says a lot is at stake, including the validity of the Supreme Court should it overturn the majority vote of the people who support traditional marriage. 

"Thirty-nine states have voted to keep marriage between one man and one woman.  That's 51 million people," says Family Foundation founder Kent Ostrander.  "Only 33 million wanted to redefine it."

Ostrander fears that should the court "misjudge" the issue, it could become another Dred Scott or Roe versus Wade decision and further divide the country. 

The Supreme Court hearing comes after a federal appeals court ruled last year to uphold marriage restrictions in Kentucky and three other states.

Six Kentucky same-sex couples and their attorneys are heading to Washington and the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments for their challenge to the state’s gay marriage ban will be heard by the high court Tuesday.

The twelve Kentuckians—most from Louisville—are asking the nation’s highest court to overturn a circuit court ruling that kept the state’s gay marriage ban intact.

Shannon Fauver and Dawn Elliott from the Fauver law firm in Louisville were the first to file lawsuits challenging the ban. Fauver says she’s still surprised their case got this far, "Dawn and I sit around sometimes and say, ‘look what we started.’ We had no idea this would be the case that goes to the Supreme Court when we started. " she said.

Kentucky’s case is bundled with gay marriage cases from Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
A ruling from the high court is expected this summer.

Nine people have been indicted on charges of stealing what Kentucky authorities say was more bourbon whiskey than one person could drink in a lifetime.

The indictments were handed up Tuesday. Prosecutors allege the scheme led by rogue distillery workers lasted for years and involved tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of whiskey.

Authorities say two distilleries were targeted — the Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries.

They allege the criminal syndicate operated since 2008 or 2009, and that the recovered whiskey alone is worth at least $100,000.

The indictments tie together two highly publicized heists in the world’s bourbon-producing hub — the theft of barrels of Wild Turkey bourbon earlier this year and the disappearance of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.

Fort Campbell

Dozens of Fort Campbell soldiers are returning to the post along the Kentucky-Tennessee border this week from deployment to Afghanistan.

The military says about 160 soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division are expected to arrive Friday morning.

The soldiers have been in Afghanistan advising and assisting the Afghan National Army.

The 1st Brigade is known as "Bastogne", a name commemorating the brigade's defense of the town of Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.