Army officials have moved up the timetable for the departure of Fort Knox's only fighting brigade.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith tells the News-Enterprise the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division will fully deactivate by the end of the year.
Last summer, the Army announced that 12 brigade combat teams, including Knox's, would be deactivated by 2017 as part of a force reduction of about 80,000. Fort Knox's brigade has more than 3,000 members.
Smith said many soldiers in the unit have already received new assignments and soon will depart.
The general says the "greater part" of 2,000 soldiers and their families tied to the unit will leave in the next six to eight months. Soldiers nearing retirement or who are exiting the Army will remain at Knox.
A tight-knit community in western Kentucky is preparing to say goodbye to a mother and eight of her children who perished last week in a house fire.
Thirty-six-year-old Chad Watson and his 11-year-old daughter Kylie were the only ones who made it out of the house alive, but they won't be at the funerals. They are still being treated for lung damage and severe burns.
A spokeswoman for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville said Thursday that both remained in critical but stable condition.
Jimmy Rager is a deacon a Calvary Baptist Church in Central City where the family attended. He says that dad and daughter are improving daily.
"Kylie has been able to write on a white board with a marker, she's been asking questions on the board," states Rager. "Chad hasn't been able to talk at all because he's been sedated and has tubes in him, but hopefully he'll get to speak just any time."
Rager says the father and daughter are aware that the rest of the family is gone.
"I know Kylie asked a question on the board 'Is my dad and myself the only ones remaining?' Chad was aware of that even at the fire. He made the statement at the fire 'My family is now in the hands of a loving God.'"
The funeral for Larae Watson and her children will take place Saturday at 1:00pm at the west campus of Muhlenberg County High School.
A proposed statewide smoking ban at work and in public has sailed through a Kentucky House committee.
Supporters said the bill would protect nonsmokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The measure was approved by the House Health and Welfare Committee on a 10-3 vote Thursday.
Committee Chairman Tom Burch says nonsmokers shouldn't have to suffer from being in the same place with smokers willing to endanger their own health.
Opponents include Republican Rep. Tim Moore. He says the bill would restrict personal freedom to use a legal product.
The measure drew bipartisan support. Republican Sen. Julie Denton says she hopes the spread of information about the risks of secondhand smoke will give the bill enough momentum to get through the General Assembly.
Kentucky State Police say they’re hoping to prevent residents from losing money in a telephone scam that’s shown up in other parts of the country. Sgt. Michael Webb says criminals overseas are auto-dialing thousands of cell phones inside the U.S. and hanging up after just one-ring.
He says the majority of those calls are coming from the Dominican Republic (809 area code), Jamaica (876), the British Virgin Islands (284), Grenada (473), Aruba (297) and Antigua (473).
“We would certainly encourage folks that if they don’t have someone that they know in one of those area code and are not expecting a call from there, to not answer it and to screen phone calls from any unknown area code right now,” said Webb.
Sergeant Webb says if you see a “missed call” from an unknown area code, it’s not a good idea to return that call, or your account could be charged $20 for the call and $9 dollars each minute. He also encourages people to check their phone bills for any unauthorized charges.
“They need to contact their cellular provider immediately if they find out that there are any unauthorized charges, said Webb. “ Especially for the overseas numbers that would be indicative of this phone scam.”
An Elizabethtown woman is facing charges after police say she deliberately smashed her car into a Kroger store, and it's not the first time she's done it.
June Ann Blocker allegedly drove through the front door of the Dolphin Drive store Wednesday, injuring two people when she slammed into the checkout lane. She's charged with drunk driving, assault, criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. Police say Blocker was charged more than a decade ago with doing the exact same thing at another Elizabethtown Kroger. Friends say the incidents are related to a running vendetta she has with the company as a former employee.
Kroger isn't the only chain where Blocker has been blocked from entry. A court order demanded she stay away from all Hardin County Walmart stores and take her medication.
Republican Kentucky House Floor Leader Jeff Hoover says it's important that a committee of lawmakers work on tax reform in private, without public access to the meetings.
When Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled his $210 million tax reform plan this week, he said he wanted lawmakers to get to work on a compromise.
Hoover wants to create a committee of House and Senate leadership to do just that, but behind closed doors and not subject to open meetings laws.
“I do not think it sacrifices transparency. What I think it does is quickens the process, and then when you get the framework established, then you come back in committee and it’s totally open and totally transparent,” said Hoover.
Fort Knox plans to install its first female commanding general in March.
The News-Enterprise reports Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs will succeed Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith as commanding general in early March.
Combs is currently commandant of the U.S. Army's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Smith is being assigned as deputy chief of staff of operations at the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Fort Knox spokesman Ryan Brus said the installation of Combs will boost diversity at the central Kentucky Army post.
The Warren County public school system has fired a custodian and volunteer assistant football coach.
The employee, whose name hasn’t been released, is accused of sending sexually inappropriate text messages to several male students.
"Some of the students said their were allegations of the suspect sending photographs of his genitalia area to the students," explained Detective Robert Kitchen with the Warren County Sheriff's Office.
Kitchen says investigators are examining the man’s cell phone and computer because evidence suggests he was also contacting students on Facebook.
He was employed by Ohio-based GCA Services, which has a janitorial contract with the school system. He worked as a night-time custodian at Warren Elementary and also served as a volunteer assistant football coach for Warren Central High School.
The school system learned about the sexting allegations last Friday and immediately terminated his employment. He is no longer permitted to be on school property or have contact with any students, according to a news release from the school system.
"The school system is committed to ensuring the safety of our students and is cooperating fully with law enforcement officials as the investigation continues," the release stated.
So far, charges have not been filed. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the claims.