The WKU Owensboro campus has experienced a major network and phone system outage due to a fiber cut in the area.  All Wednesday night classes are canceled.

Flickr/Creative Commons/John Karwoski

A western Kentucky coal miner was killed early Wednesday morning at the Sebree Mine in Webster County.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says 29-year-old Rickey Thorpe of Dawson Springs was repairing a continuous miner head when it fell, crushing him. The Alliance Coal mine has been closed while Kentucky Division of Mine Safety investigates.

This is the second mine-related fatality in the Commonwealth this year. The other occurred in May at a Pike County surface mine.

More Transparency Shows More Fees for State Pension Plan

Sep 16, 2015

After promising more transparency in its expenses, Kentucky's pension plan for public employees has reported investment fees that are more than double what's been previously made public.

According to WFPL's Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in Louisville, the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees made the disclosure last week in a meeting.

A memo to board members said the agency revised the amount it paid to outside investment firms as part of a "proactive transparency change."

KRS Chief Investment Officer David Peden said the system's net income was not affected.

WFPL reports the numbers give the nearly 350,000 public employees and retirees that depend on the pension system a better idea of how much the board pays to firms to invest about $16 billion in assets.

The Morehead News

A federal appeals court reiterated that embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis "has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success" in her legal bid to exempt her office from licensing same-sex marriages.

On Tuesday, the day after Davis returned to work following a stint in jail for defying a federal judge, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals shot down another of her requests to delay issuing the licenses.

After four couples sued Davis for refusing them licenses, she filed a counter lawsuit against Gov. Steve Beshear, alleging that he improperly instructed clerks to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June that legalized gay marriage. The appeals court rejected her request to delay that directive.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian, has one more request for reprieve pending before the appeals court.

It took more than 150 writers and researchers nearly seven years and $400,000 to get the one-of-a-kind book published. Now that it is, one of the editors of The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia, WKU historian Dr. John Hardin, says it'll serve as the "go to" place for African American research for years to come.

Dr. Hardin spoke with Joe Corcoran about the book and its significance.

The Kentucky State Trooper killed in a Sunday night shooting on I-24 in Lyon County was a Hardin County native who will be buried Friday at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff.

31 year old Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder died at a hospital in Princeton, KY just hours after being shot during a routine traffic stop that turned tragic. The suspect, Joseph Johnson-Shanks of Missouri was shot and killed by police after an hours-long search.

Ponder had just graduated from the State Police Academy in January. He was in the process of transferring back home from the State Police Post in Mayfield to the one in Elizabethtown.

Trooper Ponder was a 2002 graduate of North Hardin High School where he won all-state honors in track. He turned down a track scholarship from WKU to enlist in the Navy instead.

Ponder's body was transported to Coffey and Chism Funeral Home in Vine Grove Monday following an autopsy in Louisville. A KSP Trooper will stand guard by the casket 24 hours a day until his burial Friday.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 Friday morning at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown. Burial with full military honors will follow at the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff.


Updated at 8:37 a.m.: 

Police say the man accused of fatally shooting a Kentucky State Police trooper has been shot and killed after an hours-long manhunt.

Trooper Jay Thomas, a state police spokesman, says 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Missouri was shot by police Monday morning when he refused to drop his weapon. He died at a hospital.

Original post:

A Kentucky state trooper was killed in a shooting during a chase in western Kentucky and authorities are searching for a suspect.

In a news release, Kentucky State Police say 31-year-old trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was conducting a traffic stop Sunday night around 10:20 p.m. on Interstate 24 when the driver fled.

The news release says a chase ensued with the suspect stopping abruptly, causing the trooper's vehicle to "make contact" with the rear of the suspect's vehicle.

Authorities say the driver then fired several shots into Ponder's police cruiser, hitting him several times. Ponder was taken to a hospital in Princeton, Kentucky, where he died.

The suspect, who police say fled the scene on foot, has been identified as 25-year-old Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks. He's described as a black male who's about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing about 140 pounds.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis says she won’t interfere in the issuance of marriage licenses by her deputy clerks, but she claims the licenses are invalid.

"Any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order," Davis said in a news conference Monday morning.

Davis stopped granting marriage licenses after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June.

Last week her deputy clerks began granting the forms while Davis was in jail for defying a court order to issue them.

As long as licenses are being issued by the office, it appears that the court will be satisfied.

Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport

Aviation students in the Owensboro region can complete their degrees and receive training without ever leaving home under a new program between Owensboro Community and Technical College and Eastern Kentucky University. 

Under the agreement, students will take their first two years of classes at OCTC and complete their bachelor’s degree at EKU online.  They’ll then have hands-on training at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport. 

EKU’s Director of Aviation Ralph Gibbs says programs like this will fill a real need.

"There's a forecast demand of pilots over the next 20 years that is 500,000," Gibbs told WKU Public Radio.  "That's such an astronomical number that even if I had the next 20 years to create new pilots at the Richmond campus, it wouldn't even put a dent in it."

EKU has similar agreements with community and technical colleges in Hazard, Middlesboro, and Ashland.

Funtown Mountain Facebook

The future of an amusement park in south central Kentucky looks grim as the owner faces legal troubles.  Officials have closed Funtown Mountain just off I-65 in Cave City because of safety violations. 

Cave City Police Chief Jeff Wright says much of the park has been destroyed since owner and Louisville businessman Will Russell announced publicly that he was giving away some of the property.

"The bottom building where the gift shop used to be is ransacked.  Everything is broken, torn out.  Everything that used to be inside the building like ice cream machines, coke machines, they've all just been thrown out in the parking lot," Wright told WKU Public Radio.  "In all my law enforcement career, I've never seen anything like this happen.  To be honest with you, it's just been an embarrassment to the city of Cave City as far as I'm concerned."

Russell himself has caused some of the destruction, claiming it was a form of art. 

Russell made the following statement on the Funtown Mountain Facebook page Wednesday:

"When we acquired the property in June, there were buildings and warehouses full of old stock and souvenirs that we could never use," wrote Russell.  "This is why we decided to let the people of Kentucky have these items for free. This has created some good will towards the project and inexplicably some animosity from a small group of opposing voices."

The post also noted that Russell is taking some time to execute plans for Funtown Mountain and that he intends on it being a full-time amusement park by spring 2016.

Russell has been arrested twice since July and is facing drug and alcohol charges. 

Russell purchased the old Guntown Mountain property and re-opened it in June as Funtown Mountain.  He received a $250,000 loan from the Kentucky Tourism Development Land Program and raised more than $26,000 through an online campaign.