The Commonwealth

11:07am

Tue June 14, 2011
The Commonwealth

Disaster Help Expanded to 29 KY counties

FRANKFORT – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has granted Gov. Steve Beshear's request for disaster assistance to Kentucky farm families in 29 counties, due to severe weather conditions that occurred beginning April 17. “The severe storms and flooding impacted all facets of Kentucky’s agricultural industry" Gov. Steve Beshear said in a press release, "and assistance from the USDA will help offset resulting income losses.” Counties covered in the declaration include:

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1:25pm

Mon June 13, 2011
The Commonwealth

New Display Devoted to Kentucky Governors

One governor was assassinated more than a century ago, and his killer remains a mystery even today. Another governor died soon after being sworn in. A third tried to impose a sales tax and instead caused riots. Theses stories of Kentucky’s governors as well as artifacts from their terms are now on display at the Toyota Kentucky Hall of Governors at Frankfort's Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History. Among the artifacts are pocket watches, walking canes, a wedding ring and the bloody undershirt worn by Gov. William Goebel when he was assassinated.

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1:23pm

Mon June 13, 2011
The Commonwealth

Keeping Waterways Safe

One day late last week, a teenage girl and a young woman were adrift on a boating tube at the opening of one of the busiest channels on Barren River Lake. The craft that had been towing them was a mile away. “This is one of the most dangerous things I’ve seen in 16 years,” said Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Sgt. Brett Zalla. He then turned his patrol boat and asked the young women to board and point out the boat that had been towing them. Once he caught up to the boat’s driver, he explained that the girls were floating and helpless if a boat had coming zipping around the corner. A boater might not have seen them drifting on top of the water.

10:47am

Mon June 13, 2011
The Commonwealth

Public Intoxication Arrests Increasingly Rare

During a seven-day period beginning June 1, Hardin County Detention Center booked eight people charged with alcohol intoxication in public. Now, state law no longer allows arrests on the charge, except in limited circumstances. Under House Bill 463, which went into effect June 8, police no longer can make arrests for certain misdemeanor crimes, including alcohol intoxication in public, Sgt. Tim Cleary of the Elizabethtown Police Department said. Instead, officers are to cite misdemeanor offenders.

10:40am

Mon June 13, 2011
The Commonwealth

Business Hopes New Law Deters Metal Theft

A new law took effect Wednesday, to deter the growing problem of metal theft in Kentucky. House Bill 242 directs recycling centers and scrap yards to require signed proof of ownership or authorization to sell any metals that have been smelted, burned or melted. According to Attorney General Jack Conway, metal thefts costs businesses nationally around $1 billion each year, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage. It can also affect public safety by compromising communications or emergency response capabilities, such as 911 service.

9:04am

Mon June 13, 2011
The Commonwealth

Ohio Lawyer faces Kentucky Disbarment

If the Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors votes to disbar Stan Chesley on Tuesday in Lexington, it would be a professional death sentence for Cincinnati's most famous lawyer - known as the "Master of Disaster." The same trial commissioner who recommended disbarment also wants Chesley to return $7.6 million of the $20 million he was paid in fees from a Boone County settlement for people sickened by the diet drug fen-phen. Since Kentucky has a reciprocal agreement with Ohio, Chesley could lose his law license in Ohio if he is disbarred in Kentucky.

10:37am

Sun June 12, 2011
The Commonwealth

Fort Knox's Armor Era Ends

The last members of Fort Knox’s U.S. Army Armor School stood steadily at attention through light rain Friday at Fort Knox’s Brooks Field. They took the parade field for a ceremony marking the end of the school’s 71-year history at Fort Knox. The ceremony, which drew a hearty crowd, also symbolized completion of the transition of the last remaining elements of the school to its new home at Fort Benning, Ga.

3:00pm

Fri June 10, 2011
The Commonwealth

State Furlough Days Unlikely in 2012

FRANKFORT — Based on a strong General Fund tax revenue trend for fiscal year 2011, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday afternoon that it appears no furloughs for state employees will be necessary in 2012.  “I am pleased to see that revenues continue to improve beyond budgeted expectations," Beshear said in a press release from his office. "It appears that we will end the current fiscal year with unexpected funds, though the amount, of course, won’t be known until we close the books after June 30.

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2:51pm

Fri June 10, 2011
The Commonwealth

State Revenues Increase, Again

Frankfort - For the 13th consecutive month, Kentucky's General Fund tax receipts grew in May. The state budget director Friday reported that May’s receipts grew 17.8 percent compared to May of last year, an increase of $113.6 million. Total revenues for the month were $750.3 million, compared to $636.7 million during May 2010. Receipts have now grown 6.7 percent for the first 11 months of fiscal year 2011.

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2:49pm

Fri June 10, 2011
The Commonwealth

Hard Winter Prompts Road Repairs

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear has directed the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to undertake 19 emergency maintenance projects to repair sections of highway pavement damaged by severe weather last winter. The cabinet will use $13.6 million of contingency funds for the projects, most of which are on interstate highways and Kentucky parkways. The projects are being added to the cabinet’s 2011 highway maintenance schedule.

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10:30am

Fri June 10, 2011
The Commonwealth

Seven Indicted in Drug Ring

Two South Florida residents allegedly helped funnel 20,000 or more prescription pills to an Owsley County drug ring in April and May, according to federal court documents. George Darden, 44, and Elisa H. Alston, 40, are charged in federal court in Kentucky with conspiracy to distribute pills in Owsley County, court records show.

10:04am

Fri June 10, 2011
The Commonwealth

Alcohol Sales in State Parks

The Kentucky Department of Parks wants a license to sell alcohol at Lake Barkley State Resort Park, as well as state parks in other wet counties. State Parks spokesman Gil Lawson said the application is one of five involving state parks in wet counties and other territories, and that the application at Lake Barkley State Resort Park includes liquor by the drink in the dining room. Meanwhile, the parks department is also seeking beer licenses at two state park golf courses – Audubon in Henderson and My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown.

10:35pm

Thu June 9, 2011
The Commonwealth

Further Fireworks in Kentucky

Many people might consider fireworks to be as much a part of the American fabric as apple pie, particularly during this time of year.  In Kentucky, it’s likely you’ll be seeing more flashes and hearing more bangs.  A new law opens the door to many fireworks previously deemed illegal in the commonwealth.

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11:54am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Commonwealth

DNA may Support Theory of Officer's Death

DNA evidence found on the steering wheel of the vehicle that hit and killed Lexington police Officer Bryan Durman last year matches the DNA of a woman whom police apparently ruled out last fall as a possible suspect in Durman's death, says a defense attorney for the man accused of murder in the case. The woman, who goes by the nickname "Juicy," is the same woman alleged to be on a recently made video recording admitting she was the driver who hit Durman.

11:34am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Commonwealth

Bowling Green Iraqis Waive Rights

Two Iraqi refugees facing federal terrorism charges have waived their rights to have a detention hearing at this time in U.S. District Court. Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, was brought into the federal courthouse in Bowling Green early this morning but decided to sign a waiver giving up his right to a detention hearing today. However, Alwan has reserved the right to ask for it at a later date, said U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Stephanie Collins. Alwan’s codefendant, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, signed a similar waiver that was filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday.

11:30am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Commonwealth

New Law Changes Bond Rules

A new slate of laws that took effect Wednesday will change the way judges set bonds. Bonds will be issued based on the assessed risk of defendants. Under the new law, more people will be released on unsecured bonds or on their own recognizance, Hopkins District Judge Logan Calvert said. This part of the provisions was set forth by House Bill 463, which was passed into law earlier this year by the state legislature.

11:18am

Thu June 9, 2011
The Commonwealth

Ft. Campbell Welcomes Home a Hero

The crowd at Outlaw Field Airport erupted with cheers the second that Staff Sgt. Charles “Chaz” Allen’s plane touched the ground. Allen, a member of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky., was not able to come home from Afghanistan with the rest of his unit in April. Instead he was undergoing surgery and rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after stepping on an improvised explosive device in January that destroyed part of both of his legs and broke his right elbow.

3:27pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Commonwealth

Heat Wave Contributes to Poor Air Quality

Despite predictions that this summer would be milder than usual, Louisville has been experiencing temperatures reaching the mid 90s.  The Climate Prediction Center made the original forecast, and the center still holds that the heat will plateau as the summer goes on.  Ryan Sharp from the National Weather Service says Louisville residents should be thankful for this year’s wet spring.

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3:06pm

Wed June 8, 2011
The Commonwealth

New Law Targets Metal Theft in Kentucky

Among the many new laws taking effect today is one whose purpose is to deter the growing problem of metal theft in Kentucky. House Bill 242 unanimously passed both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly during the 2011 legislative session and was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear on March 16.

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9:53am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Commonwealth

Feds Fund Storm Cleanups

FRANKFORT – The state will receive a $4.27 million National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will create about 317 temporary jobs for eligible dislocated workers to assist with clean-up and recovery efforts as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck Kentucky in April. “This money will help Kentucky communities rebuild after suffering extensive damage this spring,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a press release from his office. “The temporary jobs it will create will not only benefit current jobseekers but will provide much-needed assistance in those hard-hit areas.”

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9:50am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Commonwealth

New State Laws go into Effect

Senate Bill 110, which would allow optometrists to perform some uncomplicated medical procedures currently reserved for ophthalmologists, officially becomes law on Wednesday. The new law will allow optometrists to perform a variety of simple procedures, like removing non-malignant skin tags from eyelids or clearing lenses implanted by ophthalmologists in cataract surgeries. It would not, however, allow optometrists to perform LASIK surgery, which is used to correct poor vision. This is one of many laws that went into affect Wednesday.

9:42am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Commonwealth

Police Officer Killed in Afghanistan

Funeral arrangements have been set for former Kenton County Police Sergeant Brett Benton, who was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday while working for a contractor. Visitation will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, at First Church in Richmond. Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the church with burial at Richmond Cemetery immediately following. Benton, 37, was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle near Alingar District, Langham Province.

9:30am

Wed June 8, 2011
The Commonwealth

Tougher Rules on Scrap Metal Dealers

Elizabethtown city officials are in the process of tweaking an ordinance regulating purchases made by junk, secondhand and scrap metal dealers through the Leads Online database, which can be accessed by the Elizabethtown Police Department as a tool to locate stolen items. Under the ordinance, dealers would be required to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle in which the registered item was transported, in addition to photo identification, the address of the seller, the date the property was received and an accurate description of the item.

1:12pm

Tue June 7, 2011
The Commonwealth

Putting a Bigger Boom in your Summer

Ladies and gentlemen, do not start your engines. There’s no need to drive out of state to buy fireworks to light up the summer sky. Starting Wednesday, you’ll be able to buy them legally in Kentucky. Roman candles, firecrackers and bottle rockets can be sold and used here, legalized by a bill passed during the last legislative session. Personal use of the larger versions of these fireworks, such as those used at public fireworks shows, will still not be allowed.

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1:04pm

Tue June 7, 2011
The Commonwealth

Jailers Learn Job at Conference

Still fairly new to his job, Simpson County Jailer Eric Vaughn, who took office Jan. 3, hopes to learn from his veteran counterparts across the state at the 29th annual Jail Improvement Conference that the Kentucky Jailers’ Association is holding this week at Bowling Green's Sloan Convention Center. “I’m learning a lot from veteran jailers,” Vaughn said during a break between classes. He looks forward to talking to other jailers about practices and ideas that could help his facility run more efficiently. Barren County Jailer Matt Mutter, elected last year, agrees that the conference is a great place for networking with other, more experienced jailers.

10:37am

Tue June 7, 2011
The Commonwealth

Armor School Departure Nearly Complete

After calling Kentucky home for 71 years, the transition of armor functions from Fort Knox to Fort Benning, Ga., will pass another milestone this week when units with the U.S. Army Armor School case their colors at Brooks Field. The colors casing and departure ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday and is open to the public. The Armor School’s primary training units — the 194th Armored Brigade and the 316th Cavalry Brigade — will roll up their flags and case them in a green sheath, a rite of passage for the Army, said Col. Michael Wadsworth, deputy commandant of the Armor School.

9:44am

Tue June 7, 2011
The Commonwealth

New Law Means More Citations, Fewer Arrests

Starting Wednesday, small amounts of marijuana or prescription pills may not land a violator in jail. Under provisions of House Bill 463 set to take effect this week, law enforcement officials will issue citations instead of making arrests on many misdemeanor offenses. Hopkinsville Chief of Police Guy Howie said his department has already been issuing citations for some misdemeanor offenses. Still, he admitted any time there is a new procedure there is also an adjustment period. “It’s going to be a change,” Howie said. “It’s going to take some getting used to.”

5:26pm

Fri June 3, 2011
The Commonwealth

Deadline Near on Disaster Benefits

FRANKFORT — Officials from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Friday announced that six additional Kentucky counties have qualified for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, bringing the total to 17 counties. Kentuckians in Ballard, Daviess, Henderson, Lawrence, McLean and Pike counties who have lost work or whose businesses were damaged due to severe weather that occurred beginning April 22 may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

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5:16pm

Fri June 3, 2011
The Commonwealth

$75 Million in State Highway Contracts

FRANKFORT – The state announced Friday the awarding of nearly $75 million in highway projects. They include funding for bridge deck repair, road maintenance, highway safety improvements and a new, state-of-the-art “double crossover diamond” interchange in Fayette County. All the contracts were awarded on the basis of competitive bidding. The Transportation Cabinet received and announced the bids on May 20, according to a press release.

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5:14pm

Fri June 3, 2011
The Commonwealth

Florida Governor Cracks Down on Pill Mills

After initially fighting one of its key provisions, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday aimed at cracking down on clinics that frivolously dispense pain pills, feeding a nationwide prescription drug abuse epidemic. "Florida will shed its title as the Oxy Express," Scott said at a bill signing ceremony in Tampa, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear reacted to the news by issuing a statement:

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