Regional

Overnight travelers on Interstate 65 in southern Kentucky to the Tennessee state line may find they need additional travel time this week.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says rolling roadblocks will be used over a 54-mile stretch so that pavement markers can be replaced and repaired.

The rolling roadblocks will start Monday night and continue for about a week, starting at 10 p.m. and lasting until 7 a.m. each day.

The crews will start in the northbound lanes at the Tennessee state line and work north until about mile marker 54. When that section is complete, workers will start southbound and continue back to the state line.

The cabinet says Kentucky State Police will be present during the roadblocks. Officials advise using caution while the work is underway and say the rolling roadblocks could add travel time.

Kentucky LRC

A Louisville lawmaker says she is crafting legislation that would help curb the state’s backlog of untested rape kits and reform the system of reporting the kits.

Sen. Denise Harper-Angel, a Democrat from Louisville, introduced the bill that required state Auditor Adam Edelen to tally up the total number of untested rape kits in the state. Edelen released a report Monday that revealed more than 3,000 are sitting untested in Kentucky’s state and local law enforcement offices.

The report partly blames the problem on a lack of funding for the Kentucky State Police Forensics Lab, which conducts the DNA testing of kits.

Harper-Angel said she’s working on legislation to ensure the swift and proper handling of the kits.

“I’m going to fight hard for additional funding for KSP and the crime lab,” said Harper-Angel, who sits on the Senate’s appropriations committee. “I’m going to rely on many of the recommendations in the report.”

Edelen’s report detailed local law enforcement agencies routinely failing to send along rape kits to the state forensics lab. In the report, he proposed requiring local law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits within 10 days of receiving them. He also recommended requiring the state forensics lab to test the kits within 90 days.

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, is once again being accused of hampering the processing of marriage forms, according to new court filings.

The court documents, filed by the American Civil Liberty Union attorneys who are representing couples who sued Davis, state that she is not complying with a court order that prohibits her from interfering with deputy clerks when they issue licenses to eligible couples. Davis' actions "render their validity questionable at best," the documents say.

The father of a slain Kentucky State trooper has urged state lawmakers to retrofit the fleet of patrol cars with bullet resistant glass.

Cameron Ponder was shot and killed in his patrol car last week following a high speed chase in western Kentucky. The shooter, Joseph Johnson-Shanks, was later shot and killed after officials said he raised his weapon at another state trooper and ignored orders to lower it.

Joe Ponder, Cameron Ponder's father, told reporters Tuesday he believed his son would still be alive had his patrol car been outfitted with bullet resistant glass.  Kentucky Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo pledged to find money in the upcoming budget to retrofit all of the State Police's 600 front line patrol cars.

Stumbo said he hoped the program could also be extended to other law enforcement agencies.

Archdiocese of Louisville

Pope Francis will make his first trip to the U.S. this week and an Elizabethtown native will have a front row seat. 

Sean McKinley is studying at the Theological College at the Catholic University of America in Washington.  He and fellow ordained deacons have been invited to help serve communion at a mass the pope will attend at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.

McKinley isn’t sure what he will say if he gets to meet the pope.

"I don't speak too much Spanish, but I just think it will be really exciting to hear the pope speaking about America, our generation and our time," McKinleny told WKU Public Radio.

McKinley praises Pope Francis for being charismatic and compassionate.

McKinley hopes to become an ordained priest next spring and begin work with the Archdiocese of Louisville.

WKMS

The Missouri man whom police say shot and killed a Kentucky state trooper had pleaded guilty to drug charges in southern Illinois several months earlier.

Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Missouri was charged with possessing drugs and guns after he was pulled over on Interstate 57 on Christmas 2014.

He spent nearly a month in the Franklin County Jail before pleading guilty to a charge of intent to deliver marijuana. Johnson-Shanks was sentenced to 30 months of probation.

Thirty-one-year-old Cameron Ponder was shot to death late Sunday in western Kentucky after a high-speed chase that reportedly began after the trooper pulled over Johnson-Shanks for speeding.

Police say Johnson-Shanks was shot to death by other Kentucky troopers after he refused to surrender.

Kentucky Considering Roadside Driver Drug Tests

Sep 17, 2015

State officials are evaluating a roadside drug test that could help police counter the growing number of drivers who are high behind the wheel.

The Courier-Journal reports that state Office of Highway Safety is partnering with authorities in Louisville, Paducah and Madison County to test portable kits that police officers could eventually carry into the field to test drivers for controlled substances.

If the tests prove reliable, lawmakers say they will consider legislation next year to expand their use.

Louisville defense attorney Larry Forman says the tests could lead to invasive searches or give officers false pretense for arrests.

According to Kentucky State Police, authorities suspected that drugs were a factor in nearly 1,600 traffic collisions across the state last year, resulting in 939 injuries and 214 deaths.

Classes at WKU-Owensboro Canceled Wednesday Night

Sep 16, 2015

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.

WKMS

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.

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