A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the planned new interchange on Interstate 65 at Oakland and its connector to U.S. 31-W comply with federal environmental review standards. The ruling means the state will move forward with the project as quickly as it can, said Greg Meredith, chief district engineer with the Department of Highways. The project has been in the works since 2003 and had a federal earmark of $36 million. The project slowed when Karst Environmental Education and Protection sued the Federal Highway Administration in October 2010 to halt the project. The lawsuit contended that federal officials didn’t comply with the National Environmental Policy Act before approving the project.
More than 26,000 prescription pain pills were diverted from a Butler County pharmacy onto the black market in and around Bowling Green. That’s what Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force officers found as the result of an investigation that started with one undercover drug purchase in May. Hundreds of man-hours later, task force officers traced the source to a Butler County pharmacy where an employee, without the knowledge of her employer, stole the pills and provided them to another person for resale, police said.
Officials of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago have concluded that they have no idea how many deportation cases they handle in Shelby County or Kentucky. The issue first came to light in July when The Sentinel-News sought to find out exactly how many illegal immigration cases involving persons facing criminal charges were processed through the state and the county on detainers from ICE.
A metal thief recently kicked a dent in Bowling Green business owner Terry Simon’s bottom line when the thief made off with thousands of dollars worth of tools and building materials that he later sold for scrap. Simon is one many Kentuckians who have fallen victim to illegal scrappers, people who steal anything made of nonprecious metal that they later sell to metal recyclers. For the scrapper’s effort, he got nearly $400, according to Bowling Green Police Department records. Police recovered some of Simon’s property, but some of what was recovered was damaged beyond any usefulness to Simon. To address the problem, state Rep. Richard Henderson, D-Jeffersonville, recently pre-filed legislation targeting metal theft.
An overhaul of the state's Medicaid program is set to go live on Nov. 1, state officials said this week. Earlier this year, the state entered into contracts with three managed care companies and continued a contract with Passport Health Plan to serve more than 560,000 people on the state-federal health plan for the poor, aged and disabled. The move, expected to save $375 million over the next three years, was initiated to keep costs down in the more than $6 billion program.
Gov. Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 in honor of a Fort Knox soldier who died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. According to the Department of Defense, Spc. Michael D. Elm, 25, of Phoenix, Ariz., died Oct. 14 in Khowst, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
For the third year in a row, Kentucky lawmakers will consider the repeal of loophole that has resulted in some lawmakers receiving lifelong annual pensions of more than $100,000. The measure approved six years ago allows state representatives and senators to calculate their legislative pension based on their highest three years of salary, even if that salary came from another state job.
When Larry Lee walked away from a personal care home in Falmouth on Aug. 4, no one knew how his story would end. Lee, 32, suffered from a brain injury, schizophrenia, and diabetes, and it was unlikely he would survive long on his own. Lee's family took matters into their own hands and tried to find him. Family, friends, and community members searched for an entire month. Unfortunately, Lee was found dead Sept. 3, near the Licking River, only a few miles from where he went missing. However, Lee's story doesn't end there. Instead, it could lead to new legislation to improve personal care homes throughout the state of Kentucky.
A statewide smoking ban will again come before lawmakers when they head back to Frankfort in January, but just how much support such a measure will have is unclear. “There is no question that it would save the state money in terms of what it pays out for Medicaid,” said state Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green. “We certainly are a high-smoking state and that is based on our tobacco-growing tradition,” Richards said. “I could support a statewide smoking ban, depending on how it’s written, because I think it’s one of those laws that right now have a patchwork across the state and people don’t know from one community to the next whether they have one.”
Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate lifted a restraining order Thursday against a group called Restoring America after the group revealed its donors, a requirement of Kentucky campaign finance law. Restoring America said it got nearly $1.4 million from Terry Stephens of Russell Springs. He is the father-in-law of Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams. Restoring America had been airing TV commercials promoting Williams in the governor's race and criticizing Gov. Steve Beshear.
Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent in September from 9.5 percent in August, according to the Office of Employment and Training. The preliminary September jobless rate was half a percentage point below the 10.2 percent rate recorded for the state a year ago.
As Pike County officials continue to celebrate strides toward establishing commercial air service at the Pikeville-Pike County Airport, Congressman Hal Rogers chose instead to focus on the state of the coal industry during a visit to Pikeville this week. At an event at the University of Pikeville on Wednesday, Rogers vowed to “reign in” the Environmental Protection Agency and to continue to resist the Obama Administration’s “war on coal.”
State Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville) is taking dead aim at employers who hire people in the country illegally. Montell this week prefiled a bill that he said he hopes will reduce the number of employees who are in the state illegally by putting more restrictions – and potential penalties – for those who do the hiring. Montell announced Wednesday that he will introduce BR 58 at the 2012 legislative session that would require all employers with more than 11 workers to use E-Verify, a system that checks Social Security numbers for authenticity.
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office has ruled that the Whitley County Clerk's Office subverted the intent of the state's open records act by not allowing a man to use a personal handheld scanner or a camera without a flash to copy county records rather than pay the 50-cent per page charge to the clerk's office.
Henderson Fiscal Court heard the opening salvo Tuesday of a campaign jailers plan to use to sway the General Assembly next year. In a nutshell, Kentucky jailers maintain that House Bill 463 -- a recently enacted major overhaul of the criminal justice system -- is going to have a negative impact on the jails across the state. The way around that problem, they say, is allowing the state's current contracts to expire next year with Corrections Corporation of America, which has prisons in Marion and Floyd counties. The inmates in the Marion Adjustment Center and the Otter Creek Correctional Center would then be transferred to county jails.
An anesthesiologist from Louisa, who is also the former owner of two Eastern Kentucky pain clinics, is among five persons indicted by a Lawrence County Grand Jury. Attorney General Jack Conway said Dr. Lee Adam Balaklaw, 56, was indicted on 20 counts of Medicaid fraud following an investigation into his billing practices at Anesthesia Associates of Louisa.
Attorney General Jack Conway Monday announced the arraignment in Fayette Circuit Court of a former provider in the Kentucky Medicaid Supports for Community Living (SCL) program following an investigation by the Attorney General's Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control.
A Kentucky coal mine is now under extra scrutiny after it became the fourth to be recently placed on a ‘potential pattern of violations’ status by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. If the mine operator doesn’t rectify the problems, the mine can be shut down when serious violations are discovered. But this process is one that mine safety advocates would like to change.
Nearly 50 people gathered on the Old Capitol lawn Saturday to rally for job creation and against Washington, possibly rehearsing for future protests. Sponsored by the local chapter of MoveOn.org, a public policy group for “democracy in action,” the hour-long rally featured several speakers, including Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, who expressed their concerns with the government and the nation’s lackluster economy. Members of MoveOn.org organized the rally after being inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests, which denounce economic inequality, particularly focusing on the 1 percent of people who control about a third of the nation’s wealth.
After criticizing President Barack Obama’s jobs bill that was presented in September, Kentucky’s two U.S. senators were among a Republican group last week to introduce an alternative plan. Both Rand Paul of Bowling Green and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were on hand Thursday in Washington for the introduction of the “Jobs Through Growth Plan.” U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also helped introduce the plan.
Tom Springer argues that coal miners seeking compensation for black lung disease should be treated no differently than other workers who have the disease. The Madisonville attorney has presented oral arguments before the Kentucky Supreme Court, which should decide within the next few months whether the Court of Appeals was correct in finding the current black lung statute unconstitutional.
The former administrator of a Letcher County personal care home that was recently shut down by the state pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to a charge that he took thousands of dollars from residents. James F. "Chum" Tackett, who also was a former mayor of Jenkins, agreed to a sentence of two years and two days in prison. He also agreed to repay $113,547 that he admitted taking from residents, according to court documents.
Kentucky Secretary of State Elaine Walker announced Thursday she was diagnosed with breast cancer and is telling the public to help raise awareness that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Walker was diagnosed during a routine mammogram last week, where she learned after follow-up tests that the tumor was cancerous. Walker is among 3,000 women and men who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Kentucky this year.
The Fort Campbell soldier, unsuccessfully tried four times in civilian court on murder charges, will appear in military court Friday for an investigation into the same charges. Sgt. Brent Burke is scheduled to appear for an Article 32 hearing Friday morning on murder charges filed by the Army. The hearing is similar to a grand jury proceeding.
The three candidates for Kentucky governor have different reasons for seeking the state’s highest office. Steve Besheaer, David Williams and Gatewood Galbraith stated their views in a statewide debate last night at Eastern Kentucky University. It was the first time this fall all three candidates were together for a debate.
For the first time in the general election, the three candidates for governor of Kentucky will debate tonight. Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear, Republican David Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith last appeared together in early August at the Fancy Farm picnic. Beshear has drawn criticism for refusing to attend debates and forums with his opponents. And the three will have only two full-fledged debates before election day. The first is tonight in Richmond, Kentucky. The second will be on the 31st on KET. The Kentucky Broadcasters Association and the League of Women Voters are sponsoring the event.
Kentucky's September General Fund tax receipts rose by 10 percent compared to year ago figures. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2011, General Fund receipts are up nearly 5 percent. August figures were down sharply but enjoyed a healthy rebound in September, according to state Budget Director Mary Lassiter.
State lawmakers heard a variety of opinions on how to limit methamphetamine production today. The number of meth labs in Kentucky has been increasing for years. The drug manufacturer group Consumer Healthcare Products told the Joint Committee on the Judiciary the state should create a database of people who have been convicted of meth-related crimes. Those listed would be blocked from purchasing cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, which is used to make meth.
A Frankfort man no longer faces a charge of organized crime after the prosecution and defense agreed there is not enough criminal evidence for the case. Franklin County Attorney Rick Sparks and public defender Kristin Gonzalez agreed during a pretrial conference the case lacked evidence to charge Henry Earl Penn Jr. with organized crime. Instead, Penn, 42, faces two counts of trafficking in Percocet and cocaine.