The Commonwealth

7:26pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Commonwealth

Forests at Risk Without Federal Funding

Kentucky's forests could face as much danger from humans as any of the insects that invade them if funding isn't maintained in the Farm Bill, according to one Kentucky tree farmer. Charles D. Williams of Munfordville is helping with a grassroots campaign to raise awareness of Kentucky's nearly half-million acres of forests. The devastation could come if humans fail to maintain needed funding. So Williams - who owns nearly 1,000 acres of woodland - and others are writing letters to newspapers around the country and lobbying Congress about the need for forest protection. An attorney by trade, Williams also has lobbied the state for stronger laws against timber trespassing.

7:23pm

Tue December 27, 2011
The Commonwealth

Highway Fatalities Down

Fewer people died on Kentucky highways this year than through the same time period in 2010. As of Wednesday, the Kentucky State Police recorded 701 fatalities in 2011, compared to 750 through the same date in 2010. There were 771 in 2009, 797 in 2008 and 845 in 2007. "Kentucky over the last several years has experienced fewer deaths on our highways than in previous years, and 2011 is no different," Kentucky State Police spokesman David Jude said.

5:02pm

Mon December 26, 2011
The Commonwealth

Nonprofit Turns Some Away

Brenda Hall had a home for her and the four grandchildren to spend Christmas in because of help from the nonprofit group that provides civil legal aid to residents across the region. “It’s been a godsend,” the 56-year-old said of Legal Aid of the Bluegrass. “It would have been really hard to move right before Christmas.” The group went to court last week to stop the eviction of Hall and the grandchildren she raises. The landlord claimed she violated her lease because her grandson, who is an honor student, didn’t get along with a neighbor’s child.

4:56pm

Mon December 26, 2011
The Commonwealth

Kentucky Leads for Best Place to Abuse Animals

Once again, Kentucky is leading the pack in one annual ranking. However, the ranking is an ignominious one as, for the fifth straight year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has named Kentucky the best state in the nation to be an animal abuser. The rankings are compiled following a study of laws around the nation designed to protect animals and punish convicted animal abusers.

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4:26pm

Mon December 26, 2011
The Commonwealth

Rain-Rain-and More Rain

It’s been a pretty wet year in many communities across Kentucky and records are falling.  It appears repeated weather patterns are partly responsible for feet of rain falling throughout 2011.  Some records for precipitation over 2011 have already been set.  Just as a couple of examples, the wettest years on record have occurred in Louisville and in Baxter near Harlan in eastern Kentucky.   Jackson Meteorologist Shawn Harley says several east Kentucky communities are experiencing top five rainfall amounts.

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11:51am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Commonwealth

Police in Full Force for Holiday Travel

Thousands of Kentuckians will be taking to the roadways sometime this weekend to celebrate the holiday. Kentucky State Police spokesman Lt. David Jude says law enforcement will be out in full force starting Friday evening around 6.

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9:47am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Commonwealth

Contracter Files Lien on Courthouse

A contractor has filed a mechanic’s lien on the Hopkins County Judicial Center because the company states it has not received a final payment for laying limestone. Evans Limestone Co. of Bedford, Ind., recently filed a lien against the Hopkins County Public Properties Corp. in Hopkins Circuit Court. The company is asking for payment of $38,394 for work it says was completed in April.

9:38am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Commonwealth

Algae Issue Closes Georgetown Spring

The bad taste and odor evident in the city’s tap water late last week pose no health concern, Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service officials said Tuesday.The water utility is addressing an issue with algae in Royal Spring, the city’s primary source of water. On Monday, Georgetown Municipal Water and Sewer Service officials took the spring offline until the problem is corrected, General Manager Billy Jenkins told water board members at the body’s monthly meeting Tuesday.

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9:29am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Commonwealth

Salvation Army Behind on Goal

A struggling economy, increased demand for services, and funding cuts are creating the perfect winter storm for the local Salvation Army. With just three days to go, the charity's annual red kettle campaign is running 20% behind."The kettle campaign has never been this far behind", said Major Debra Ashcraft.

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9:20am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Commonwealth

Gas Prices Rise in Time for Holidays

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the town, drivers were happy for gas was going down. But then just days away from the visit by St. Nick, stations spiked it 40 cents and made everyone sick. Central Kentucky drivers took to Twitter, Facebook and old-fashioned word of mouth to offer up some choice holiday greetings for service stations after the price of gas skyrocketed Wednesday. "It sucks," said Richmond's David Keene, who warned his real feelings weren't fit to print in a family newspaper.

9:15am

Fri December 23, 2011
The Commonwealth

Ben-Gal Cheerleader Subject of Investigations

Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleader and Northern Kentucky teacher Sarah Jones, who gained national attention by suing a gossip website that claimed she was promiscuous, is now the subject of two investigations. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has been asked to assign a special prosecutor to a criminal case. And the board that certifies teachers in Kentucky is also investigating Jones. She resigned Nov. 30 from Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood. Unknown is what the 26-year-old Jones has been accused of doing.

1:33pm

Thu December 22, 2011
The Commonwealth

Work to Expand Bridge in Bowling Green

Construction crews continue to work on expanding the bridge at the I-65 Scottsville Road exit on Wednesday.
Alex Slitz/The Daily News

Motorists traveling on Interstate 65 and Scottsville Road might have noticed large steel pylons sticking out of the ground near the existing overpass.The steel is part of the foundation of an expanded bridge that will ultimately be a single-point urban interchange. "Right now, they are working on the north side of the bridge," said Keirsten Jaggers, spokeswoman at the Department of Highways in Bowling Green. "They will put all the big steel piers in the ground ... then they will go ahead and build up the ramps that will be closer to the interstate than they are. There is a lot of earthwork for those ramps needed."

1:29pm

Thu December 22, 2011
The Commonwealth

'Layaway Angel' Stops in Central Kentucky

Kelsey Smith used her layaway account to buy gifts for her daughter, Addison Chapman, 1.
Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader

The "layaway angel" has been in Central Kentucky. Kelsey Smith says she's the latest beneficiary of this Christmas' biggest gift trend — an anonymous layaway payoff — that has spread like a charitable wildfire among Kmarts and some Wal-Marts. For Smith and her family, the generosity could not have come at a better time. Her year-old daughter, Addison, was in the hospital earlier this year with pneumonia, and Smith, who works in a dental office, said she and fiancé James Chapman have been struggling to pay medical bills.

1:23pm

Thu December 22, 2011
The Commonwealth

Illegal Drug Sales in Franklin County

Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland says illegal prescription drug sale and use in Franklin County has become “incredible.” Five were indicted Wednesday for trafficking in controlled prescription drugs, which has become commonplace with about 35 charged with the same offense in the last six months. Cleveland said initially he was inclined to go easy on the prescription pill trafficking charges to get the files off his hands, “but the more you look at it, the angrier you become.”

1:19pm

Thu December 22, 2011
The Commonwealth

Federal Government Cites Three Kentucky Mines

The federal government has cited three Kentucky coal mines for major safety violations. Since the deadly explosion last year at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, MSHA has been conducting monthly impact inspections. The agency targets mines with spotty safety records, in an effort to catch operators unaware and correct violations. This was the D&C Mining Corporation’s seventh surprise inspection on its mine in Harlan County, and inspectors found serious problems.

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1:13pm

Thu December 22, 2011
The Commonwealth

Boyle Recieves Constitution Square

Several dozen people filled a room Wednesday at Danville's Grayson's Tavern to celebrate the state's official announcement that Constitution Square State Historic Site will be turned over to Boyle County. The announcement comes after months of talks between county and state officials about the details of the arrangement for one of the state’s smallest historic sites.

2:28pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

Hospitals Fight Medication Shortages

Southcentral Kentucky hospital officials say local facilities are being affected by a nationwide prescription drug shortage, but they are striving to continue to provide good and safe care to patients. "It affects us every day. In my 30 years of being a pharmacist, this is the worst I've seen it," said Jim Morris, director of pharmacy at Greenview Regional Hospital. "There were 37 on the short supply list in 2006. There are over 220 on the short supply list this year. A lot of these are generic drugs where there are limited manufacturers remaining in the market." According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, a variety of drugs are in short supply.

2:20pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

Judge Plans to Release Guidance for Children

A circuit judge plans to release new guidance on what information the state can withhold when it releases files on children who died or nearly died as a result of abuse or neglect. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said Wednesday that it seemed almost certain that rules the state had proposed to use would result in information being withheld that should be public under the law. Shepherd's ruling comes after the Lexington Herald-Leader and The (Louisville) Courier-Journal filed complaints against the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Shepherd also ordered the cabinet to give him unaltered copies of the internal reviews of fatalities and near-deaths by the end of Thursday. Shepherd will review those and decide whether the newspapers should get additional information that the cabinet initially withheld from them.

1:44pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

Former Police Chief Sues Harrodsburg

Rodney Harlow

Rodney Harlow, who was passed over last week when Harrodsburg City Commission selected Billy Whitenack as police chief, has filed a lawsuit seeking to regain his job. The suit alleges the defendants violated the Policeman’s Bill of Rights and Harlow’s right to due process because they failed to inform Harlow of citizen complaints against him and then used those complaints as grounds for his termination.

1:38pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

State Will Release Prisoners

In January, the state will begin releasing prisoners by the hundreds under parole-like supervision guidelines. The move involves prisoners who have six months left on their sentences. However, locally, the move apparently will not have a large immediate impact. Currently, 982 inmates across the state are eligible for release when the program starts Jan. 1, but as many as 3,000 could be set free by the end of 2012.

1:36pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

Neighbor Discovers Illegal Trash Dump

Bishop Street resident Dennie Comer, above, said he was surprised to find a large illegal dump site in a well-hidden gully only about 20 yards from his home last week. He's lived at the residence over two years and said he did not realize it was there.

Corbin resident Dennie Comer said he was shocked last week when doing a good deed for a neighbor revealed a massive illegal dump in a gully only about 20 yards from his home. "I thought, whoa! That's a pretty big dump to be right in the middle of Corbin," Comer said. "I was kind of surprised I was living so close to it and never really knew anything about it."

1:29pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

Federal Funding to Restore Abandoned Mine Lands

The Kentucky Department for Natural Resources has received $46.9 million in funding from the federal government for mitigating the impacts posed by abandoned mine lands in Kentucky. The funding comes from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement within the U.S. Department of the Interior and will help construct abandoned mine land reclamation and water supply replacement projects, as well as fund the state’s administrative expenses.

1:24pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

Group Targets Northern Kentucky Pensions

Dozens of Northern Kentucky public employees will be “pension millionaires” once they retire, according to estimates released by a national anti-tax group. The Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America looked at employees of Boone County, Kenton County, the counties’ school districts and Florence. The group’s vice president, Christina Tobin, used a press conference on Tuesday at the Courtyard by Marriott to accuse Covington officials of refusing to provide salary information for their current employees.

1:12pm

Wed December 21, 2011
The Commonwealth

'Turtleman' Appears on The Tonight Show

Ernie Brown Jr., the Turtleman, is taking over Hollywood!

The Turtleman is scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight. Marion County's Ernie Brown Jr. has his own TV show on cable's Animal Planet network. His specialty is diving into farm ponds and catching large snapping turtles with his bare hands. Brown was also on the Tonight Show several weeks ago.

3:18pm

Tue December 20, 2011
The Commonwealth

Sherman Minton Recieves First Steel Delivery

The first delivery of structural steel plates needed to repair the Sherman Minton Bridge arrived at 6:30 p.m. Monday. No abnormal weather or other unanticipated issues have thus far impacted the repair schedule that would reopen the bridge to traffic in March. The Interstate 64 bridge over the Ohio River between New Albany and Louisville was closed Sept. 9 after a significant crack was discovered in a load-carrying element of the bridge.

12:47pm

Tue December 20, 2011
The Commonwealth

Lancaster Hires New Police Chief

After nearly a year of turmoil within its police department, Lancaster City Council brought in a veteran outside lawman to help restore order.  Rodney Kidd, a retired sergeant who worked 18 years for Louisville Metro Police, was hired Monday to become Lancaster’s first official police chief since Mayor Brenda Powers dismissed longtime chief Ronald Lamb in January. 

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3:38pm

Mon December 19, 2011
The Commonwealth

Coal Severance Funding to Benefit Union College

Gov. Steve Beshear Monday announced $1.5 million in multi-county coal severance funding to benefit Union College’s Nursing and Health Sciences Program. The funds will help renovate the former Knox County Hospital to serve as a new facility for Union College’s academic nursing and health science programs. Union College will now use the rehabilitated facility as a center for academic programs including physics, chemistry, biology, health and human performance instruction and general classroom and lab space.

3:24pm

Mon December 19, 2011
The Commonwealth

Lawmakers Hope to Toughen Sex Trafficking Laws

As preparations continue for February’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, state lawmakers will try to move quickly on legislation that would impose tougher penalties for human trafficking. Governor Mitch Daniels says he’ll support any measure that severely punishes anyone who promotes teenage prostitution during Super Bowl festivities or any other time.

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3:20pm

Mon December 19, 2011
The Commonwealth

Injured State Trooper Receives Award

State Sen. Julian Carroll, left, and KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer, right, present the award to Glen Franklin, center.

Gov. Steve Beshear joined Kentucky State Police in honoring Trooper Stewart (Glen) Franklin with the Guthrie Crowe Award. This award is bestowed upon officers who have sustained a severe wound or injury while serving in the line of duty. The honor stems from a 1972 incident in Franklin County when Trooper Franklin was involved in an undercover arrest of a bootlegger. During the arrest, Trooper Franklin was shot at close range with a .22 caliber revolver causing permanent paralysis to his lower extremities.

3:08pm

Mon December 19, 2011
The Commonwealth

Proposed Immigration Law Concerns Businesses

Proposed state legislation is being characterized by some as potentially forcing businesses to "police" illegal immigration. The legislation, proposed by state Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, would essentially require businesses to use the federal E-Verify computer check system to see if employees are legally in the country. As a consequence of hiring illegal immigrants, a business could lose its license to operate in the state for up to six months.

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