The Commonwealth

Local news
Berea College Partners for Education

Berea College is being awarded $6 million to expand a federal program aimed at helping students in high poverty areas go to college.  The Promise Neighborhood funds will be used in Knox County.

Ky Veterans Center to Open in Early 2017

Nov 11, 2016

Beginning in early 2017, more than 100 Kentucky veterans will likely be living in a new home.  Study continues about where to build a fifth veterans center in Kentucky.

There are Veterans centers currently operating in Wilmore, Hazard, and Hanson.  Work continues on a new facility in Radcliff with plans to welcome veterans by the end of February. 

Stu Johnson-WEKU News

A Kentucky man has entered a "not guilty" plea in a computer hacking case with ties to a highly-publicized sexual assault in Eastern Ohio. 

Deric Lostutter appeared in federal court in Lexington Wednesday. He is accused of helping to hack a website to draw attention to a 2012 Ohio High School rape case.  He is charged with conspiring to gain illegal access to an online account and making false statements. 

Emergency officials spent part of the day investigating a train derailment in the central Kentucky town of Falmouth.

The CSX railroad says 24 cars came off the track this morning (Wed).  Four tank cars contained sulfuric acid but the railroad and local officials confirm that none of the hazardous materials were released.

Local officials issued a “shelter in place” order for the area within a half-mile of the derailment.

Atheist Couple Claims Discrimination by Trigg County Official

Jul 19, 2016

A non-religious couple is claiming discrimination from a western Kentucky county official who refuses to marry the couple without a religious ceremony.  

Jon and Mandy Heath arranged to marry at the Trigg County Courthouse this month, but say they were informed by Judge Executive Hollis Alexander that he won’t perform the secular ceremony they requested, only a religious one.  

According to the couple's complaint, Alexander told them "I include God in my ceremonies, and I won't do one without him."

New AmeriCorps Focus on Central Kentucky Self Sufficiency

Jul 15, 2016


Kentucky will use six million dollars in federal AmeriCorps dollars to support 19 programs and more than a thousand members.  AmeriCorps supports service programs including those at EKU and Berea College.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (AP) — A group opposed to a new Noah's Ark attraction in Kentucky says it is warning hundreds of public schools against visiting the Ark Encounter.


The Freedom From Religion Foundation says ark field trips would expose children to religious proselytizing in violation of the constitutional separation of church and state.

The long-anticipated Noah’s Ark theme park opens to the public in Williamstown Thursday.

As WEKU’s Cheri Lawson reports, the $100 million project, called the Ark Encounter, has been shrouded in controversy since it was announced six years ago.    

Midway between the rolling hills of Cincinnati and Lexington sits Williamstown, Ky. It's here where there's a massive timber-framed structure - Noah's Ark. 

AG Beshear Says Rowan Clerk Kim Davis Violated Open Records Act

Jul 6, 2016

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office says a county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has violated the state’s Open Records Act. The opinion was issued Tuesday.

Kentucky Lottery President Dies in Fall

Jul 4, 2016

The Kentucky Lottery says its longtime president and CEO has died.

In a news release, the Kentucky Lottery says Arch Gleason died Friday from injuries sustained in a fall.

Gleason spent nearly 23 years leading the Kentucky Lottery. He took over in the fourth year of the lottery's existence, and he served under five governors.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Volkswagen has agreed to pay the state of Kentucky nearly $3.5 million in civil penalties in a settlement that could result in up to $100 million for the state and its residents.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear on Tuesday announced the state's part in the automaker's agreement to pay up to $15.3 billion to settle lawsuits and allegations that it cheated on emissions tests.

The Morehead News


FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has asked a federal appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit against her because of a new state law that will take effect next month.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalized gay marriage last year. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, but she refused and went to jail.

Judge Rules Louisville Can Move Confederate Monument

Jun 20, 2016


A judge says Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer can remove a confederate monument near the University of Louisville campus.

The mayor and U of L President James Ramsey announced plans to remove the statue in late April, but a group headed up by the Sons of Confederate Veterans challenged the move, saying the monument was protected as a designated historical object.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell called the group’s legal arguments “dishonest.”

John Hingsbergen

Hundreds gathered in Lexington’s Triangle Park Sunday night for a vigil in memory of the victims of the nation’s worst mass shooting. 

Worship leader of Bluegrass United Church of Christ, Kenny Bishop offered this with his opening comments, inviting those in attendance to say with him,  “God is love.”

Bishop told those gathered scripture says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” 

Reflecting on the tragic loss of life inside a gay bar in Orlando, a range of emotions was running through the downtown crowd.  The gunman had claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. 

From a Facebook notice posted Sunday by Lexington Fairness:  

"This morning, America and the world woke up to the worst mass shooting in the history of The United States. This vigil is meant to bring our community together to show our community's support for the Orlando and entire Flordia community. Please make plans to join at Triangle Park starting at 8:00 pm. There will be a limited supply of candles, so if you have some please bring them."

Ky. Constables: Untrained & Unaccountable

Jun 8, 2016

Kentucky has hundreds of elected constables. They can wear badges & carry guns. They have the authority to pull you over, serve you with court papers and even arrest you.

What many of them don't have is law enforcement training.

Here's R.G. Dunlop of WFPL's Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting with "Untrained and Unaccountable," a joint investigation with WAVE-3 News.

Services have been scheduled for Friday in Louisville for boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died on Friday.


Former President Bill Clinton, comedian Billy Crystal and broadcaster Bryant Gumbel are scheduled to deliver eulogies.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor Ali.

The three-time heavyweight champion had been hospitalized in the Phoenix area since last Monday with respiratory problems and his children had flown in from around the country.

Mercer-Boyle County Jail Among Most Overcrowded in Ky.

May 26, 2016

Officials say the Mercer-Boyle County Jail is at 170 percent capacity, making it one of the most overcrowded jails in Kentucky.  

Boyle County Jailer Barry Harmon says the jail has a population of 327 inmates.

The Advocate Messenger reports the jail has a record number of female inmates, with 85. Harmon says it is the fourth-most overcrowded jail in the state. Nearby Lincoln County is at the top of that list at 204 percent capacity with 147 inmates.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's Democratic attorney general has asked the Supreme Court to decide whether Gov. Matt Bevin has the authority to cut college and university budgets without the approval of the state legislature.

A state judge ruled last week that Bevin does have the authority to order public colleges and universities not to spend all of the money the state legislature gave them. Attorney General Andy Beshear is appealing the decision, arguing it gives the governor's office too much power.

Ky. Police Officers Killed in Service Honored

May 24, 2016
Ky. Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation

Kentucky’s Department of Criminal Justice Training held its annual Law Enforcement Memorial service Monday at the training facility in Richmond. 

Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley addressed the crowd of several hundred gathered at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, “We can gather on days like today, and honor the memory of those who have gone before us. We can say thank you, those are powerful words, not enough, but powerful.”

Fallen Law Officers to be Honored in Richmond Memorial Ceremony

May 19, 2016

Kentucky will honor four law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty last year during an annual memorial ceremony at the state's Department of Criminal Justice Training. 

A statement from the agency says the May 23 event in Richmond will honor the sacrifice of Kentucky State Police troopers Cameron Ponder and Eric Chrisman, Richmond Police Officer Daniel Ellis and Nicholasville Police Officer Burke Rhoads. Ponder and Ellis were fatally shot while investigating calls. Rhoads and Chrisman died in car crashes.

State Police Used to Prevent Ousted Retirement System Chair from Meeting Participation

May 19, 2016

Kentucky's Republican governor used state police officers to prevent the ousted chairman of the retirement system board from participating in a meeting.

Gov. Matt Bevin removed chairman Thomas Elliott from the board last month. But Elliott had refused to vacate his seat, saying Bevin could not remove him before his term expires.

Elliott attended Thursday's board meeting, but sat in the audience while state police officers stood nearby. Elliot said the governor's office told him he would be arrested and charged with disrupting a public meeting if he participated.

Online License Renewal Now Available in Ky. Counties

May 13, 2016

Motorists in most Kentucky counties can now renew their vehicle registrations online.  The application process allows motorists to renew standard, specialty, and personalized Kentucky license plates.  

Ryan Watts with the state transportation department says online registration will allow citizens to save on parking expenses, time lost from taking off from work or other engagements.”

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (AP) — Two billboard companies have refused to display an advertisement by an atheist group to protest the Ark Encounter amusement park in Kentucky.  

Tri-State Freethinkers president Jim Helton tells news outlets the group recently raised $10,000 for a billboard. The proposed design depicts Noah's Ark with people drowning around it and the words, "Genocide and Incest Park: Celebrating 2,000 years of myths."

The advertisement has been turned down by billboard companies Lamar and Event Advertising and Promotions LLC.

The Kentucky Derby will be run for the 142nd consecutive year Saturday at Churchill Downs.  Two brothers from Louisiana will try to make history as the first trainer-jockey siblings to capture the Run for the Roses. 

Three time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Kent Desormeaux will be aboard Exaggerator, the early second choice in the 20 horse field, with odds of 8 to 1. Exaggerator is trained by Desormeaux’s brother, Keith.

A battle over a Kentucky tax incentive for a religious theme park featuring Noah's Ark has ended in a win for the big boat. A state tourism board this week approved a sales tax rebate incentive worth about $18 million for the 510-foot long Ark Encounter attraction.               

Kentucky officials in 2014 withdrew the project from the incentive program, which rebates a portion of sales tax collected by a tourist attraction.

State officials at the time said the incentive would be funding "religious indoctrination."

A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis filed against the state for requiring her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples that included her name.

Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing it violated her religious beliefs. The American Civil Liberties Union sued her on behalf of two gay couples and two straight couples. A federal judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses. Davis sued then-Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and then-State Librarian Wayne Onkst, arguing the forms violated her religious beliefs.

Sen. Rand Paul Holds Town Hall Meeting at EKU

Mar 11, 2016
Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul says he’s not endorsing any of the presidential candidates on any of their positions.  Paul, who dropped out of the GOP presidential race just over a month ago, held a town hall meeting at Eastern Kentucky University Friday. 

“No, I’m going to stay out of it,” he said.  “I’ve sort of said my piece.  I was very clear on what I thought were strong suits, weak suits of all of them.  But I think in the end, the republican nominee will be a lot better than the democratic nominee.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Multiple protesters at the rally on Tuesday in Louisville for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump allege they were pushed by other rally attendees, and some have begun filing police complaints over the incidents.

Kentucky Civil Rights Pioneer Georgia Powers Dies

Jan 30, 2016
Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Former Kentucky state Sen. Georgia Powers has died at the age of 92.

Powers was the first African-American and first woman elected to the Kentucky Senate, where she served for 21 years beginning in 1968. 

Powers was born in Springfield in Washington County, but she grew up in Louisville. She became involved in social justice work during the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1964, Powers helped organize a 10,000-person march on the state Capitol building in Frankfort, demanding a ban on discrimination against African-Americans in restaurants and hotels. She was joined in the march by Martin Luther King, Jackie Robinson and folk singers Peter, Paul and Mary.