Regional

Jenean Hampton

The Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame will announce the 2015 class of inductees Wednesday. 

Among them is Kentucky’s Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.  Jenean Hampton of Bowling Green joined the Air Force after graduating from high school in Detroit.

"I was one of the only people in my class who did not to go to work for one of the big three automakers," Hampton told WKU Public Radio.  "I wanted to do something more important than make cars so I joined the Air Force instead as a computer systems officer."

Hampton spent seven years in the Air Force, which included a deployment to Desert Storm. 

She will join 24 other veterans in a formal induction ceremony in Frankfort in September. 

Hampton is on a ticket headed by GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin.  They will face Democratic nominee Jack Conway and his running mate Sannie Overly in the November election.

The Bardstown community has launched a social media campaign to help in the search for a missing woman.  Crystal Rogers hasn’t been seen in three weeks.  

Local businesswoman Mary Taylor decided to challenge other businesses in the area to purchase shirts that read “Pray for Crystal.”  Business owners then take pictures of their employees wearing the shirts and post them on social media. 

Taylor said it's important to keep Rogers' name alive.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $100,000 to place in a trust fund for Rogers’ five children.

"We just got to thinking about the financial cost of raising five kids while they're searching for their mother, and however the case ends up, how large that cost would be for grandparents and other family members over the next however many years, for five children," Taylor told WKU Public Radio.

Rogers' car was found abandoned on the Bluegrass Parkway with a flat tire. 

Her boyfriend was the last person to see her on July 3.  He took a polygraph but the results were inconclusive.

Flickr/Creative Commons/J. Stephen Conn

The chance for the public to comment on whether the state should keep a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the state Capitol rotunda closes on Wednesday.

Members of the Historic Properties Advisory Commission will then discuss findings at a special meeting held on Aug. 5.

The statue’s presence in the Capitol building has come under criticism in the wake of a mass shooting last month in a historically African American church in Charleston. Dylann Roof, the man accused in the shooting, was depicted holding a Confederate flag in photos posted online.

Prominent Kentucky officials including Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, Attorney General Jack Conway and leaders of both chambers of the state legislature have called for the removal of the statue.

On Thursday, Kentucky’s parks department and state fair board voted to prohibit the sale of confederate flags.

Boyle County Detention Center

The former preacher charged with three counts of murder in a shooting in a Danville pawn shop in 2013 has been found competent to stand trial.

Commonwealth Attorney Richard Bottoms told local media Monday that Kenneth A. Keith's trial will move forward, starting with a status hearing Sept. 1.

The competency hearing suffered several delays because of several changes in Keith's defense attorneys.

A public defender, Sandra E. Downs, has been appointed and Keith has pleaded not guilty.

Keith is accused of fatally shooting and killing three people in October 2013 at a Danville pawn shop. He could face the death penalty if he is convicted.

Keith was a pastor at Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside. He was evaluated at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Hospital in La Grange.

Somerset Police Department

The Somerset Police Department will soon have an extra set of eyes in the sky. 

According to the FAA, it’s the first law enforcement agency in Kentucky to receive federal approval to fly an unmanned aircraft. 

Captain Shannon Smith said it should not be confused with a military-type drone.

"It's not a spy plane as some people have called it," Smith told WKU Public Radio.  "It's designed as an aerial photography platform and that's exactly how we intend to put it into play."

The drone will supplement the department’s existing gyroplane.  Smith says the un-manned aircraft will be especially helpful in search and rescues.  It could also be used in criminal investigations to gather evidence, though police would still need to obtain search warrants. 

The aircraft is expected to be off the ground by the end of summer.

An effort is underway in Owensboro to help prevent drunk driving. 

A program called SafeRide provides free rides to people who have consumed too much alcohol at restaurants and bars, or any venue that serves alcoholic beverages. 

One of the architects of the program is City Commissioner Bob Glenn who says the service is needed in Owensboro which is home to four colleges.

"We have lots of young people with a social life," Glenn told WKU Public Radio.  "We have a convention center with thousands of guests every week attending events where alcohol is served, and we're a city that has a lot of festivals where alcohol is served."

Businesses can purchase $10 vouchers that can be given out to customers who are intoxicated.  The vouchers can be used for a free cab ride home.  The city partnering with Yellow Cab, but hopes to add other taxi companies and a limo service in the future. 

One restaurant is already participating and Glenn expects more to come on board by the end of summer.

The program does not use taxpayer dollars, and is instead, funded through voucher sales and private donations.

Several Injured in Beech Bend Accident

Jul 26, 2015

At least eight people were taken by ambulance to the Medical Center at Bowling Green's emergency room Saturday evening after being injured when a ride at Beech Bend Amusement Park toppled over. Nearly a dozen more people were expected at the hospital in their own private vehicles. None of the injuries were considered critical.

The Warren County Sheriff's Office and the Medical Center's Emergency Medical Services responded to the park just after 6:00 Saturday evening after receiving reports a swing ride known as "The Jitterbug" fell over. News reports early Sunday morning indicated uneven weight distribution may have led to the accident.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Division of Regulation and Inspection is responsible for the inspection and safety of amusement park rides in the state.

Update 7/27 6:10 a.m.

Officials raised the number of those who suffered minor injuries from 8 up to at least 12. Warren County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Stephen Harmon said most were taken to area hospitals in private vehicles, not ambulances.

The sheriff's department was on the scene Saturday night mostly in a support role, Harmon said, keeping crowds away from the scene and clearing lanes for emergency vehicles to get in and out.

Beech Bend owner Dallas Jones told WKU Public Radio agents from the agriculture department's division of regulation and inspection were on the scene of the accident until dark Saturday. They'll continue their investigation of the scene Monday. the remains of the ride have been removed from the park. Jones said investigators may have found a couple of broken bolts at the scene Saturday that they'll be investigating.

An eastern Kentucky man has been sentenced to life in prison for the overdose death of a woman. 

It's the first time in Kentucky that a life sentence was imposed in an overdose death involving prescription drugs. 

Fifty-five-year-old Terry Smith, of Manchester, was accused of giving oxycodone pills to Patty Smallwood in 2011.  She went to sleep and never woke up.  A toxicology report following her death showed four times the therapeutic level of the painkiller in her system. 

U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey said the sentence should send a message to prescription drug dealers.

"They are not only putting the lives of their customers or victims at risk, but they're putting their own freedom at risk," Harvey told WKU Public Radio.

Smith ran a large-scale drug trafficking ring in eastern Kentucky.  He would recruit addicts to travel to out-of-state pill mills to obtain prescriptions painkillers.  The individual then gave the pills to Smith, who kept a portion for himself and divided the rest among the people who made the trip.

Because of Smith's criminal history, he received a mandatory life sentence under federal law.

Kentucky LRC

An attorney representing three state workers says Kentucky has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against current and former state lawmakers for $400,000.

Thomas Clay says the Legislative Research Commission agreed to pay Yolanda Costner, Cassaundra Cooper and Nicole Cusic the money to end the lawsuit.

Costner and Cooper said former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold touched them inappropriately. Cusic said she was demoted after complaining that state Rep. Will Coursey sexually harassed some female staffers.

Arnold and Coursey have denied the allegations and did not admit guilt as part of the settlement. The agreement simply satisfies the claims.

State lawmakers are in the process of hiring a new director for the Legislative Research Commission.

Kentucky Department of Parks

The Kentucky Department of Parks will no longer sell merchandise featuring the Confederate battle flag at park gift shops.

The policy is modeled after one recently established by the National Park Service in the wake of the church shootings last month in South Carolina.

"We're doing it because we want our parks to be welcoming to all people and we feel like this is a step in the right direction," Department of Parks Spokesman Gil Lawson told WKU Public Radio.

Under the policy, already in effect, items such as caps and shirts bearing the Confederate emblem are banned from gift shops.  There are some exceptions, including items featuring both the U.S. and Confederate battle flags, and educational material such as books and DVDs.

The ban will primarily affect gift shops at three sites that feature Civil War history: the Jefferson Davis Birthplace, the Perryville Battlefield, and the Columbus-Belmont State Park.

A new report from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says the government spends about $900 million a year to train and develop state workers while business owners say they don't know how that money is spent and what comes of it as they still struggle to find qualified employees.

The report's recommendations include asking the next governor to hire an independent entity to review the state's workforce development system and for the state to do a better job disclosing how it spends money to train workers and what the results are.

Of the companies surveyed in the report, 15 percent said they have trouble with employees passing drug tests, 23 percent said they can't find people with the right technical skills and 27 percent said they can't find people with "soft skills," like showing up for work on time.

The governors of Indiana, Tennessee, and other states have recently issued executive orders allowing National Guard members to carry guns at places such as armories, recruiting centers, and training sites.

According to Kentucky National Guard Spokesman David Altom, the commonwealth has been proactive in protecting soldiers and airmen. He told WKU Public Radio that since 2013, state law has allowed members to carry guns as long as they have a concealed-carry permit.

"We issued a memorandum authorzing concealed carry of weapons on state facilities," Altom explained.  "The purpose of that is to give soldiers the option of responding in case of something like what happened in Chattanooga."

Following the shooting deaths of five servicemen in Tennessee last week, State Representative Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville, is urging Governor Beshear to issue an executive order allowing all National Guard members to be armed now instead of having to wait to obtain a permit. 

Beshear has said the order is unnecessary, adding that guardsmen are also able to carry weapons in state facilities and recruiting stations with approval from their commanding officer.

A county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal, testified in federal court Monday.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis said her decision to refuse marriage licenses is based on her religious beliefs and therefore protected by the first amendment.

Davis told the court she fasted and prayed about her decision to refuse marriage licenses. Her lawyers argued that since her decision was made for religious reasons she should be protected by religious freedom laws.

Davis is being sued by four Rowan County couples who were denied marriage licenses; they are represented by the ACLU of Kentucky. The ACLU says that it was unconstitutional for Davis to adopt an official policy of refusing marriage license based on her religious beliefs.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning said he’ll have a ruling on case on August 11.

Pay-What-You-Can Restaurant Opening in Danville

Jul 17, 2015
Grace Cafe

A non-profit, pay-what-you-can community restaurant opens this weekend in Danville. Officials say it’s the first such establishment in Kentucky. 

Grace Cafe will offer a locally sourced brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday accompanied by an exhibition of local artists. A  portion of the proceeds from sold artwork will help support the restaurant. 

Executive Director Rochelle Bayless says that the menu will include donation recommendations, but each customer is asked to pay only what he or she can.

"If your pockets are full, we ask that you pay and pay it forward," comments Bayless.  "If your pockets are light, pay what you can, and if your pockets are empty, enjoy a meal in exchange for an hour of volunteer time."

Bayless says she was working on her master's thesis in food insecurity when she realized the need for assistance in the community.  The non-profit organization Feeding America reports that one-fourth of Danville residents fall below the poverty line, and more than 20% of children in the Boyle County are food insecure. 

After this weekend, the cafe will be open from 11-2 on Wednesday through Sunday, and hopes to expand to offer family dinners in the fall.

A convoy of National Guard vehicles and heavy equipment including excavators and dump trucks, are heading into the hardest hit area of flood-plagued eastern Kentucky on Wednesday morning as crews prepare to resume searching for the missing.

Two people were killed and six disappeared in a raging flood that hit the area Monday afternoon.

Rescue crews combing the hilly Appalachian terrain Tuesday were hampered by more heavy rains, swarming mosquitoes, soupy humidity and knee-deep mud.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency to give local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in recovery efforts.

Authorities say the search area stretches more than 8 miles, from the town of Flat Gap south to Staffordsville -- a rural area with 500 homes and 1,200 residents.

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