Regional

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

The attorney hired to represent Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky in a lawsuit over abortion services says he’ll ask a judge to dismiss the case.

Speaking Friday for the first time on behalf of the Planned Parenthood branch, Louisville attorney Thomas Clay claims the suit is not based on facts.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services filed the lawsuit this week against the Planned Parenthood branch, seeking more than $900,000 in fines.

“There are a number of issues that are raised in this complaint and we intend to assert every lawful defense we can and pursue any other legal remedy that might be available,” Clay said.

State officials allege the health services provider violated state law after providing 23 abortions earlier this year without first having obtained a proper license.

Henderson County Judge-Executive Passes Away

Feb 19, 2016
M.Lawrence, Martin Studio

The leader of Henderson County has died.  Judge-Executive Hugh McCormick announced last week that he would have a cancerous tumor removed from his lung. 

Two days later, the surgery was performed and he was placed in intensive care at a hospital, where he passed away Thursday.  Magistrate George Warren was surprised and saddened by the news.

"Doctors told him they found the cancer in the early stages," Warren told WKU Public Radio.  "What ended up happening was that they had to remove a complete lung, and because of other health conditions, breathing on his own was the issue.  Subsequent to the surgery, we were very optimistic that he would be coming back."

The 58-year-old McCormick served Henderson County more than 25 years, first as a magistrate, and then as judge-executive.  Colleagues remember him as someone who wasn't afraid to make touch decisions while always keeping the county's best interests in mind.

The fiscal court will meet in special session Saturday to choose a magistrate to serve as interim judge-executive.  Governor Bevin has 30 days to make an appointment and that person will serve until the November general election.

Kentucky Agency Suing Planned Parenthood Over Abortions

Feb 18, 2016
Jacob Ryan

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's administration is asking a judge to penalize a Louisville Planned Parenthood facility for performing abortions without a valid license.

Bevin, a staunchly anti-abortion Republican, ordered abortions halted at the downtown facility after learning last month that it was performing the procedures. Planned Parenthood says it got approval from former Gov. Steve Beshear's administration, which left office in December.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services sued Thursday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, seeking up to nearly $700,000 in fines. The lawsuit says some materials submitted with Planned Parenthood's application were a "complete sham" and the cabinet's former inspector general was a "sympathetic advocate willing to ignore law."

Judi Morrison, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, says the group was reviewing the lawsuit Thursday afternoon.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that a gay woman may proceed with her efforts to obtain joint custody of a girl borne by her ex-partner when they were still together.

The court issued its ruling Thursday.

The woman, identified as Amy, had asked the court to block adoption proceedings by her ex-partner's husband. The girl's mother became pregnant with the help of a sperm donor. She gave birth in 2006 when she and Amy were still a couple.

The case is among several across the country involving wrenching personal questions about what it means to be a parent under today's ever-changing definition of family in the eyes of the law.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Joost Nelissen

Kentucky Baptists who have experience in providing clean drinking water in under-developed countries are headed to Michigan. 

Five teams will leave Monday for Flint to install water purification systems for families dealing with lead contamination. 

Coy Webb, head of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief, said the teams want the residents of Flint to know people are paying attention to what happened there.

"I think anytime there's long-term problems they just feel like people aren't taking notice of their needs, which many times is not true, but they still feel that way," Webb told WKU Public Radio.  "We hope our teams going door to door can not only give them safe drinking water, but also let them know there are people who care about them."

Flint Residents' Broken Faith: 'The People We Trusted Failed Us'

Teams will be leaving from several Kentucky cities, including Beaver Dam.  In the past year, the Baptists have been deployed to Zambia and Mozambique to provide safe drinking water, but Webb said this will be the first time to his knowledge, that relief teams have been dispatched in the U.S. on a water purification mission.

Counties surrounding Fort Knox are working to lessen their reliance on the post in the face of military cutbacks. 

A study is underway to determine how the region might diversify to improve the local economy.  Wendell Lawrence, executive director of the Lincoln Trail Area Development District, says discussions like this are happening across the country.

"It is Army wide because the end strength seems to be going down quite frequently, and when you have cutbacks in strength, it affects units and installations," Lawrence told WKU Public Radio.

Fort Knox has lost at least 2,3000 soldiers since 2010, in addition to their family members and civilian employees. 

Lawrence says cutbacks at Fort Knox have the potential to affect more than 150,000 residents of Hardin, Larue, and Meade counties. 

He added that the region has several assets as it looks to diversify, including manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism.

Judge: Kim Davis Obeying Orders In Gay Marriage Case

Feb 10, 2016
Ryland Barton

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has obeyed his orders in the months since she spent five nights in jail for refusing to license same-sex marriages.

United States District Judge David Bunning wrote that Davis has allowed her deputies to issue marriage licenses and dismissed a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to consider ordering her to reissue licenses she altered to remove her name.

After the United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage last summer, Davis refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses. She relented during a turbulent court battle, but altered the licenses.

The ACLU asked the judge to make her reissue the marriage licenses.

Bunning on Tuesday found that request to be “moot”; he said the altered licenses are valid.

Laura Ellis

Three advocates for LGBT rights who were arrested last year at the state fair’s Kentucky Farm Bureau Country Ham Breakfast & Auction have filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky State Police.

The suit was filed Monday evening in Jefferson Circuit Court. The plaintiffs are arguing false arrest, First Amendment free speech violation, First Amendment retaliation and malicious prosecution. The suit also seeks punitive damages.

Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, and fellow activists Sonja de Vries and Carla Wallace, were arrested in August while protesting at the annual breakfast event, which is considered a staple of the Kentucky State Fair.

The charges were eventually dropped.

Hartman speculated last year that the group may eventually file suit against the state police. In an interview with WFPL Monday evening, he said the lawsuit is a vindication.

Hartman said he’s looking for the suit to send a message that “you really do have to follow the law and practice the law or else there will be penalties involved.”

Flickr/Creative Commons/John Bratseth

Citizen Foster Care Review Boards in 22 Kentucky counties are searching for volunteers.

Board members review the cases of children who have been put in foster care because of dependency, abuse, or neglect.  Volunteers complete a six-hour training session and must consent to a to criminal record and Central Registry check.

More information and application materials can be found here.

Dolores Smith is a unit supervisor with the review board program. She says the boards are looking for volunteers from many different backgrounds.

“The number one thing we look for is someone who has a genuine concern for child welfare—that’s the overriding feature,” Smith said. “Kentucky statutes also mention that we look for different professions, like education, social work, psychology, medical, and legal fields.”

Powers Remembered as Kentucky Political Trailblazer

Feb 6, 2016
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Georgia Davis Powers' funeral turned into a celebration of a life that broke down barriers as a civil-rights icon and the first African-American woman elected to the Kentucky Senate.

The Courier-Journal reports the celebration Friday in Louisville included the reading of a letter from President Barack Obama and remembrances from religious leaders.

Powers died last Saturday at the age of 92.

Among those attending were U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

She helped organize civil rights marches in Kentucky, including the 1964 march in Frankfort to bring attention to the need for a law prohibiting discrimination in housing.

Powers served 21 years in the state Senate, fighting for African-Americans, women, the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised.

DCL/Keith Barraclough

A popular TV show featuring rescue dogs from across the country will have a Kentucky connection.

Two dogs from the Barktown Rescue animal shelter in Nelson County are participating in the 12th annual Puppy Bowl. The show airs Sunday afternoon on Animal Planet, ahead of the Super Bowl.

It’s the second year in a row that pooches from the facility in Boston, Ky., have competed in the program that encourages pet lovers to adopt from their local shelter.

The program was taped last fall.

The two Barktown Rescue puppies appearing in this year’s show are a lab mix named Gunner, and a terrier mix named Shylah.

Both dogs have been adopted since the show was taped.

Barktown vice president Heather Nelson helped drive the dogs from Kentucky to New York City to record the show in October.

Glasgow Independent Schools

Glasgow Police have made two arrests in connection with a Wednesday shooting incident.

Twenty-three year old Jaleel Wood was arrested at his workplace Thursday night and charged with attempted murder and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mary Ash was charged with attempted murder after turning herself into police Friday morning.

Both Wood and Ash are from Glasgow.

Police have an arrest warrant issued for 22-year old Anthony Wood of Glasgow, and are actively searching for him.

Three Glasgow city schools were placed on a soft lockdown Wednesday after 911 callers reported passengers in two cars exchanging gunfire.

No one was injured, and the lockdown was quickly lifted.

Glasgow Independent Schools

Three Glasgow city schools were placed on a soft lockdown Wednesday afternoon after police received calls about passengers in two vehicles exchanging gunfire.

Several callers to 911 said the gunfire took place on Columbia Avenue, not far from Glasgow High School, Middle School, and Highland Elementary.

No students were harmed.

Police were not able to locate the vehicles, but recovered evidence from the scene of the shooting.

The vehicles believed to be involved in the incident are a black Ford Crown Victoria, and a goldor tan Chevy Malibu.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Glasgow Police Department, at 270-651-5151.

Joe Corcoran

Bowling Green mayor Bruce Wilkerson is adding the title of college president to his resume.

Daymar College announced Wednesday that Wilkerson will lead their campus in Bowling Green.

He’ll continue as the city’s mayor.

The Owensboro-based school’s campus in Warren County had 214 students enrolled last year, and produced 133 graduates.

Wilkerson said he’ll focus on the quality of students, not quantity.

“Numbers aren’t the important part," the Bowling Green Mayor said. "Our focus will be on the individual student and making sure they have the opportunity to meet the goals they’ve set for themselves. We hope that in doing that, the reputation of Daymar will lead us to grow.”

Daymar’s reputation took a hit in 2014 when it was sued by then-Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway for alleged violations of the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

A religious group building a massive Noah’s Ark tourist attraction in Kentucky has won a legal battle over the state’s withdrawal of a potential tax incentive worth millions.

A federal judge ruled Monday that Kentucky officials violated the ark builders’ First Amendment protections by blocking it from the sales tax tourism incentive that could have been worth up to $18 million.

The Ark Encounter, being built by Christian group Answers in Genesis, is due to open in July.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove ruled the state’s Tourism Cabinet cannot exclude the ark attraction from the incentive based on its “religious purpose and message.” The state initially celebrated the project but reversed course in late 2014.

Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham says the ruling is a “victory for the free exercise of religion in this country.”

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