The Morehead News

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis will have to resume issuing marriage licenses while she is being sued by four local couples who were denied licenses, according to a ruling Wednesday from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Davis’ defense team is appealing that decision.

In its ruling, the three-judge appeals court panel said there was “little or no likelihood that the Clerk in her official capacity will prevail on appeal.”

Davis’ defense lawyers say they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Davis is represented by Liberty Counsel, a non-profit law firm that specializes in religious freedom cases. Its founder and chairman, Mat Staver, says that even though she’s a government official, Davis’ religious freedoms should be upheld. “The implication is that if you work at a government agency you don’t have any religious freedom rights. If that’s the implication that’s staggering and that’s a startling proposition.”

Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Jim Wathen has been selling military merchandise at the Kentucky State Fair for nearly a decade.

By noon on a recent weekday, he had already restocked a rack of Confederate flags. He said the 3-by-3-inch Confederate flag, his top seller, is a piece of military history.

“It’s not anything to do about any racism or anything like that,” said Wathen, who also sells sock hats, stickers and patches with the Confederate battle emblem.

But the flag won’t be Wathen’s top seller at next year’s Kentucky State Fair.

The Kentucky State Fair Board voted this summer to ban the sale of the Confederate flag emblem at the fair. Several state agencies throughout the South removed Confederate symbols following a mass shooting at a historic black church in South Carolina.

The fair board’s full ban won’t go into effect until 2016; nearly every vendor this year had already signed a contract and paid as much $500 in deposit fees prior to the fair board’s vote.

Flickr/Creative Commons/John Bratseth

Dozens of counties in Kentucky are in need of volunteers to serve on foster care review boards.

The boards consider the cases of children placed in foster care because of dependency, neglect, and abuse. State law mandates that there be at least three volunteers on each board, although more are often needed due to heavy caseloads.

Dolores Smith, an Owensboro-based supervisor with the Department of Family and Juvenile Services, says the state laws creating the foster care review boards cast a wide net in terms of who is qualified to serve.

“(The statutes) mention folks with backgrounds in education, medicine, law, social work, and psychology,” Smith said. “But the overwhelming area they mention is that volunteers should have a genuine concern for child welfare.”

The goal of the foster care review boards, Smith said, is to find a safe, permanent home for children placed in the state’s custody.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials say they have investigated and can't say for sure how a mountain lion turned up on a central Kentucky farm last December.

A conservation officer responded to a complaint on Dec. 15 in Bourbon County and found the animal treed by a homeowner's dog in a populated area outside of Paris. The officer shot and killed the animal due to public safety concerns.

The lion was determined to be a 5-year-old male, weighing 125 pounds and in good condition. DNA analyses link the lion's genetic origin to a population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The agency says there's no evidence the mountain lion made its way to Kentucky on its own and is believed to have been a released or escaped captive lion.

A southern Kentucky man who pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the fatal shooting of a prominent defense lawyer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Clinton D. Inabnit  will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence imposed Monday in Somerset. Inabnit is in his early 40s.

Inabnit lived across the street from Mark Stanziano's law office in Somerset. Authorities said he ambushed Stanziano last summer as the attorney arrived at work, shooting him six times with a 9 mm pistol.

Inabnit had been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. Police said he told them he received a message through the newspaper telling him to shoot Stanziano and that unidentified people told him ringing in his ears would stop if he shot the lawyer.

Ky Commission on Human Rights

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights’ governing board wants to see a change to a section of the state constitution that allows slavery as criminal punishment.

Section 25 of the Kentucky Constitution's Bill of Rights reads, “Slavery and involuntary servitude in this State are forbidden, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The text was ratified in August 1891.

The commission unanimously passed a resolution Thursday urging Kentuckians to get rid of the provision and issued a statement saying its removal would be another step toward expunging “all vestiges of the cruel and immoral institution of slavery" following this summer's racially-motivated church killings in Charleston, S.C.

Commission executive director John J. Johnson says he was recently surprised to learn of the provision’s presence in the state constitution.

“Someone called it to my attention a few months ago and I almost thought surely slavery is not still referenced in the Kentucky constitution and we looked it up and, sure enough, it was,” Johnson said.

“Why not remove it? There’s no need for it to be suggested that slavery is even legal as a punishment for a crime," Johnson said.

National Park Service

National Park officials are expecting a spike in traffic along the Appalachian Trail after the release next month of a Hollywood film about two hikers who attempt to conquer the 2,190-mile route.

The Daily Times in Maryville reports Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials saw a 60 percent increase in traffic in the area after the book, "A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on The Appalachian Trail," was published. The movie is based on the 1998 book and stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.

Christine Hoyer, backcountry management specialist for the park, says officials knew the movie was coming. She says the land managers with responsibility for The Appalachian Trail have been working with The Appalachian Trail Conservancy to deal with the expected increase in traffic.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Three Kentucky county clerks who are refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples drew thunderous cheers from a crowd gathered at the state capitol.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by The American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples.

The three clerks have stopped issuing any marriage licenses from their offices.

Davis spoke briefly, saying "I need your prayers ... to continue to stand firm in what we believe." A federal judge has ruled Davis must issue the licenses, but her attorneys are appealing the decision.

Guy Howie

When Guy Howie takes the reins of the Glasgow Police Department, it will be a homecoming of sorts. 

On Friday, Mayor Dick Doty picked Howie out of three finalists to lead the department. 

Howie spent nearly seven years as chief of the Hopkinsville Police Department before returning a year ago to the Ocala Police Department in Florida where he served 26 years in various roles. 

Howie told WKU Public Radio he plans to bring community policing to Glasgow.

"It doesn't mean you're soft on crime, but it means you're looking at crime from the community's point of view and what they see as issues," said Howie.  "I also believe in a data-driven approach toward looking at crime and allocating resources to what the data provides us."

Howie acknowledged he looks forward to leading smaller department, but said size is irrelevant.

“I’m sure there’s more crime in Ocala because we have a lot more people," added Howie.  "I’ve looked at the Glasgow crime statistics.  They have burglaries, thefts, drugs, and just recently, a shooting.  I’m sure per capita, it’s probably about the same, but I think Glasgow is a safer community."

Howie is a 35-year law enforcement veteran.  He’s expected to start his new duties around October 1.  His hiring still needs approval from the Glasgow City Council.

Credit Flickr/Creative Commons/J. Stephen Conn

The Kentucky Human Rights Commission is asking lawmakers to remove a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol, despite a vote by another commission this month to let it stay.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday for a resolution asking that the statue be moved to the Capitol Education Center or the Kentucky History Center. The resolution said leaving the statue in place is offensive to Kentucky citizens.

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission, which has final authority, voted Aug. 5 to keep the statue in the Rotunda but add an "educational context" to the display.

The board Thursday also voted to ask lawmakers to begin the process of removing a reference to slavery in the Kentucky Constitution and to encourage governments to place statues, plaques and murals recognizing the contributions of women.

Kentucky Department of Parks

Kentucky officials are seeking proposals from private developers who want to build and operate lodges at two state parks.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the effort, if successful, would produce the first privately-run lodges at Kentucky state parks.

Requests were issued for a lodge and restaurant at Burnside Island State Park in Pulaski County and at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Bell County.

Officials in Burnside and Pineville said they support the state's move because the lodges would boost tourism and help the economy.

Although there's a lodge on top of Pine Mountain, the new facility is proposed at the bottom on a golf course.

Pineville Mayor Scott Madon said there will be a need for more overnight accommodations there due to planned developments.

The judge in the lawsuit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis says the clerk will have to resume issuing marriage licenses by August 31 unless an appeals court says otherwise.

Earlier this week U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning granted a temporary stay of a decision he levied against Davis. Bunning ruled that Davis’ religious beliefs couldn’t prevent her from carrying out her duties as a government official.

Davis has appealed that ruling. She has refused to issue marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in June.

Reluctant Kentucky Clerk Gets Time for Gay Marriage Appeal

Aug 18, 2015

A Kentucky county clerk who objects to same-sex marriage will not have to issue marriage licenses while she takes her case to a federal appeals court.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis is being sued by two gay couples. U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis last week to issue the licenses despite her objections.

On Monday, he granted her request to stay his decision while she pursues her case before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Davis has refused to grant marriage license to anyone in Rowan County since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

The federal government is making a bigger investment in the fight against heroin. 

Kentucky and other Appalachian states will share in a $2.5 million grant aimed at reducing the trafficking, distribution, and use of heroin. 

The Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area is one of five regional HIDTAs which help federal, state, and local authorities coordinate drug enforcement operations. 

According to Director Michael Botticelli in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the fight has shifted from prescription pills to heroin in many parts of the country.

"We have seen a leveling off of overdoeses related to prescription drugs, but what has been challenging is the dramatic increase in both heroin use and heroin overdoses," said Botticelli on Monday in a conference call with reporters.

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency law enforcement efforts are crucial to the fight against heroin which is hitting the commonwealth particularly hard.

"I have no doubt that this new funding will enhance law enforcement’s ability to fight heroin in some of the areas, such as Kentucky, that have seen communities and families ravaged because of this drug," McConnell said in a statement.  "In this era of limited federal resources, we must use these interagency partnerships to maximize our return from the federal dollars we spend to combat this epidemic."

In addition to the $2.5 million federal grant, the Appalachia HIDTA will also receive nearly $400,000 to be used for programs to help prevent drug abuse in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia.

The Morehead News

A same-sex couple has been denied a marriage license in Rowan County one day after a federal judge ruled that the clerk there had to resume issuing marriage licenses to couples, no matter their sexual orientation.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June, saying doing so would violate her religious beliefs.

At least two county clerks in Kentucky are also refusing to issue marriage licenses as a result of the ruling.

Four Rowan County couples represented by the ACLU of Kentucky are suing Davis for denying them marriage licenses. U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning ruled Wednesday that Davis’ religious convictions don’t excuse her from performing duties as an elected official.

ACLU attorney Dan Canon said Davis’ disregard of the judge’s ruling isn’t surprising.