By Josh Kegley, Lexington Herald-Leader and Jennifer Hewlett, Lexington Herald-Leader
A 12-member jury deliberated late into Wednesday night whether Glenn Doneghy should be convicted of murder in the hit-and-run death of Lexington police officer Bryan Durman last year. Jurors had heard 60 witnesses — many with wildly conflicting recollections and interpretations of events — testify during the past 2½ weeks. After closing arguments from defense attorney Kate Dunn and Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson on Wednesday, the case was handed to the jury about 1 p.m.
Federal regulators held a briefing today in West Virginia to discuss their investigation into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the explosion on April 5, 2010 that killed 29 miners in southern West Virginia was preventable. In a presentation, MSHA administrator Kevin Stricklin outlined Massey’s failures at the mine, including a focus on coal production at the expense of proper safety measures.
A Harlan County miner became the nation’s ninth coal miner to die on the job this year, and the second in Kentucky. The name of the miner hasn’t been released, but the accident happened at the Manalapan P1 mine at Pathfork this morning. Investigators from the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing are on the scene, and preliminary reports suggest the miner was killed in a roof fall.
Lawmakers are promising legislation addressing issues raised in a state audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. The 118-page audit made 92 recommendations for strengthening Board of Trustees’ oversight and governance of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. The board manages investments of nearly $13 billion for 300,000 active and retired state workers. State Auditor Crit Luallen says the audit primarily focused on the use of placement agents, which she defined for House and Senate State Government Committee members.
The upcoming Fourth of July weekend is expected to be a little louder and flashier than usual across Kentucky. The number of fireworks stands across the commonwealth is way up over last year.
State Fire Marshall Bill Swope says 420 people received permits to sell fireworks last year. This summer, that figure has ballooned to 776 permits. Swope says the vast majority of those permits are for seasonal sales through July seventh.
Formerly illegal fireworks are making up more than half of all sales this year, fireworks stand owners say. Will O’Neil, owner of Tennessee Ted’s for the past seven years, is specifically advertising the roman candles, firecrackers and bottle rockets that became legal in Kentucky about three weeks ago. While customers are pleased about the change in the law, some fire officials aren't. “From a personal standpoint, I’m not in favor of making the fireworks laws more lax because of the exorbitant number of fires and injuries across the state that we experience,” Frankfort Fire Chief Wallace Possich said.
A group of nearly 50 from educational associations, school districts and legislators both state and federal met Monday at Shelbyville's Collins High School to begin the discussion of the relationship of the future of education in Kentucky with federal standards. The Kentucky Leads The Nation group, started by the Shelbyville-based Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, is trying to get out in front of the reform and reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind.
The Kentucky Office for the Blind in the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet seeks public input on the needs of Kentuckians with visual disabilities at two focus group meetings in July. One meeting will be held July 11 in Louisville with the second the next day in Lexington.
Two days after the murder trial against Glenn Doneghy was scheduled to end, attorneys rested their cases. Most of Tuesday's testimony came from former state police trooper Sonny Cease, who was hired by the defense to investigate the crash that killed Lexington police officer Bryan Durman last year. Doneghy, 34, is accused of murder in Durman's death. He is on trial in Fayette Circuit Court. Cease is a former state police trooper best known for being the lead investigator of the 1988 Carrollton bus crash in which 27 people died.
Friends and family of Amanda Ross expressed relief Tuesday that in pleading guilty to Ross's murder, former lawmaker Steve Nunn had taken responsibility for his actions and spared everyone a long and painful trial. "I hope this will bring some peace to Amanda's mother and family," said Terry McBrayer, a Frankfort lobbyist and a friend of the Ross family. "At best, the trial would have been long and sordid. This might be the first day to start healing."
Kentucky's racetracks starting Friday can apply for permission to allow bets on historical races. But despite a needed boost in business, some tracks are leery of adding "Instant Racing" immediately. The regulations that allow Instant Racing become effective July 1 and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will accept applications from the racetracks. Many tracks hope it can boost declining revenues and make them competitive with tracks in surrounding states, but a legal challenge by the Family Foundation has made them take pause.
When he steps down from his post Thursday, University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. will join UK's engineering faculty as a tenured professor with a salary of about $162,000 a year. But first, Todd will take a yearlong unpaid leave of absence. Instead of a salary, he will receive the retention bonus guaranteed in his contract for staying 10 years. It's worth $511,000, his base salary during his last year of work.
The Herald-Leader's "Kentucky Bucket List" of 50 experiences every Kentuckian should do, see or have while living in our commonwealth, received tremendous response from readers after it was published June 17. Inspired by Parade magazine's recent cover story on "America's Bucket List," The Herald-Leader's list — which was far from exhaustive — spurred readers to suggest ideas that we didn't include. So today, The Herald-Leader shares 20 readers' suggestions of experiences to have in Kentucky before you die.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has cited six Kentucky mines for safety violations. Those mines were among the 19 nationwide that the agency inspected in May as part of their special impact inspections, which target mines with a history of compliance problems.
Governor Beshear says it’s difficult to reach any general observations or conclusions about a murder carried out by a former state lawmaker. Steve Nunn plead guilty Tuesday to the shooting death of his former fiancée Amanda Ross in September of 2009.
The debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling continues to dominate discussions on Capitol Hill. And, as WEKU’s Matt Laslo reports from Washington DC, the Kentucky congressional delegation isn’t too keen on raising the nation’s borrowing limit unless serious spending cuts are included.
Several environmental groups are threatening to suetwo eastern Kentucky coal companies for thousands of water violations. They say the state won’t take action. This comes as the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet is lobbying to have even more control over the state’s waterways. The notice of intent to sue was sent from Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and several other organizations to International Coal Group–recently acquired byArch Coal–and Frasure Creek Mining. They say the coal companies self-reported thousands of violations at eastern Kentucky mines.
Calling the report a “whitewash”, the campaign manager for independent gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith believes the audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems leaves more questions unanswered. On Tuesday, State Auditor Crit Luallen found no evidence of wrongdoing in the retirement agency, but did raise concerns about the use of placement agents, who act as middlemen to secure investments from entities like the KRS. The report found New York placement agent Glen Sergeon had “an unusually close working relationship” with former KRS chief investment officer Adam Tosh, who resigned last summer.
Of the dozens of items in Lexington's $274 million budget for the next fiscal year, one of the most controversial surrounds the sport of disc golf. The spending plan passed last week by the Urban County Council includes a $150,000 bond proposal for disc golf courses at Coldstream Park and Jacobson Park.
State Auditor Crit Luallen says she found no evidence of wrongdoing in an audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. But Luallen says the audit does raise several areas of concern. The audit primarily focused on the use of placement agents, who act as middlemen to secure investments from entities like KRS. Placement agents have been at the center of "pay-to-play" scandals in other states, but Luallen says that does not appear to be the case in Kentucky.
The sign beside the large white tent on Scottsville Road in Bowling Green says it all - “All fireworks now legal.” But Clint Lowrie of Franklin, manager of Fireworks Supermarket, said many people who walk in still ask if it is legal to buy the larger fireworks. The answer is yes, thanks to a state bill signed into law in March. “People are just relieved to not spend the money on gas to go to Tennessee,” Lowrie said, referring to the common practice of Kentuckians crossing the state line to buy fireworks they couldn’t buy here.
Western Kentucky University already was spending money on projects to reduce energy use. So when the university learned it could receive additional incentives through the Tennessee Valley Authority, it was an added bonus. On Monday, WKU received a check from TVA for more than $106,000, money that will be plowed back into the energy savings program on campus, according to WKU President Gary Ransdell.
“Big Coal makes us sick.” That was the message printed on bright orange signs held by activists at a rally on the banks of the Kentucky River in Clark County Saturday morning. The signs had a double meaning. Just days after the media reported results of a study linking pollutants from mountaintop removal mining to a higher incidence of birth defects, members of the Sierra Club and other groups called on Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration to do a better job of enforcing the federal Clean Water Act.
The polar bear cub Qannik arrived in a UPS Boeing 747 last night in Kentucky as reported by dueling twitter accounts. There are two accounts currently claiming to be none other than Qannik herself. One is @QannikthecubLZ (Official Louisville Zoo account), the other is the rogue @QannikBearaccount.
The future of a landmark Lexington hotel remains uncertain after it was sold for $9 million at a master commissioner's sale Monday. Crowne Plaza Lexington — The Campbell House, at 1375 South Broadway, was in default on its $21 million mortgage. The property was purchased by the mortgage holder, JPMC 2006-CIBC14 South Broadway REO, LLC. Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine had awarded a judgment against the hotel's owners, Thoroughbred Campbell House LLC, on April 28 and ordered the property sold. She also appointed Chris Bryan, vice president of Hospitality Receiver LLC, to take over management of the hotel. Bryan hired Prism Hotels & Resorts, a hotel receivership and management company based in Dallas, to run the property on a day-to-day basis.
Not all of the timber in eastern Kentucky is good enough quality to be marketed commercially. But the lower quality wood is not going to waste. A Lexington based company is one of only 17 groups nationally selected for ‘wood to energy’ project funding.
Nunn, who was set to go on trial in August, entered the plea Tuesday morning in Fayette Circuit Court.
He waived formal sentencing and Judge Pamela Goodwine sentenced Nunn to life without parole. He also was given 12 months for violating a domestic violence order of protection. That sentence is to run concurrently.
When Goodwine asked Nunn if he was guilty of the charges Nunn said "yes ma'am" in a quiet voice.
Afterward, Nunn's attorneys, Warren Scoville said first-degree manslaughter was the best case scenario and with that charge he would have still spent the rest of his life in prison.