Published 2:13 pm Friday, August 10, 2018

Gov. Bevin appeals ruling striking down pension law

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has appealed a circuit judge’s decision striking down changes to the state’s retirement systems.

Bevin attorney Steve Pitt filed the official notice of appeal on Friday. He has asked the state Supreme Court to take the case, a move that would bypass the state Court of Appeals.

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The Republican-controlled legislature passed Senate Bill 151 earlier this year. The law made changes to the state’s struggling retirement systems, including moving all new teacher hires into a hybrid plan and limiting how teachers can use sick days to calculate their retirement benefits.

In June, Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd struck down the law because he said lawmakers violated the state constitution by not giving the bill three readings over three days.

Coal mine supervisors facing fraud charges plead not guilty

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — Eight former supervisors and safety officers at a Kentucky coal company have pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges they rigged dust monitoring in underground mines.

The eight officials at Armstrong Coal were arraigned this week in Owensboro and Bowling Green. An indictment alleges company officials ordered workers to remove dust sampling equipment and place it in clean air portions of the mine to get desirable readings.

The indictment says the alleged offenses happened at Armstrong’s Parkway and Kronos mines between 2013 and 2015.

Charley Barber, the former superintendent of Parkway mine in Muhlenberg County, had a separate arraignment Thursday in Bowling Green. The other defendants appeared before a judge earlier in the week.

A judge set a trial date for Oct. 3.

Troubled water district asks for another rate hike

INEZ, Ky. (AP) — Just five months after the Kentucky Public Service Commission approved a rate increase, a troubled water district is asking for another one to stave off financial collapse.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Martin County Water District officials asked the commission for an increase of about 18 percent Tuesday. The district had applied for an increase of nearly 50 percent for its 3,500 customers in January, but was granted a 17.5 percent increase and 10 percent surcharge in March.

Martin County Water Board Treasurer Jimmy Kerr says the request makes him “ill” because of the financial impact on customers, but says it’s necessary “to give the people of Martin County the water system they want.”

No decision has been made.

The district’s management is under investigation by Attorney General Andy Beshear.

McConnell praises Trump’s tough trade stance toward China

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has praised President Donald Trump’s tough trade actions against China and says any efforts by Congress to block the president’s use of tariffs would likely “not be achievable.”

The Senate’s top leader told workers at a Kentucky manufacturing plant Friday that the Chinese “have been eating our lunch for years” on trade. McConnell commended Trump for “taking them on” and said he hopes his fellow Republicans’ policies result in a better deal.

The Trump administration this week announced it would proceed with previously announced 25 percent tariffs on an additional $16 billion of Chinese imports starting Aug. 23. China hit back by saying it would impose identical punitive duties on $16 billion of U.S. goods.

McConnell, a free-trade advocate, said a trade war will hurt both sides.

Mom of 7 charged with trafficking, abusing children

UTICA, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky woman is accused of abusing her children and allowing men to sexually abuse them.

News outlets report a grand jury indicted 37-year-old Shelly Hayes on charges that include human trafficking and rape.

The Ohio County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday that Hayes is the mother of seven children, six of whom are under 18. Her initial arrest warrant indicates at least one abused child was 12 or under.

Detective Kate Pate tells WBKO-TV that Hayes was initially arrested May 23. According to the initial warrant, her children told authorities multiple men had sexually abused them, and their mother threatened them to keep quiet.

Pate says more arrests are anticipated.

It’s unclear whether Hayes has a lawyer. She declined to speak to WBKO-TV.

Sex offender charged in 1993 rape 13-year-old

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A registered sex offender has been arrested in connection with the 1993 rape of a 13-year-old Kentucky girl.

News outlets report 47-year-old James Ashley Fields was arrested Tuesday after the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab tested the sexual assault kit.

According to Fields’ arrest warrant, the teen girl was approached by two men, with whom she smoked marijuana and drank alcohol. After a few hours, the warrant says the two men pushed her down and raped her. They tied a rope around her neck and walked several blocks before releasing her.

Fields was previously convicted of rape in Tennessee. In Kentucky, Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird says authorities have “had several altercations with him.”

Fields told police he didn’t have sex with the girl. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Video appears to show man accused of threatening Trump

COLUMBIA, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky State Police say it appears that a man wanted for allegedly threatening President Donald Trump, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer and others stole a vehicle belonging to Meyer’s brother.

Police said in a statement that Meyer’s brother, Timothy Gilliam, arrived home Thursday evening and found that someone had kicked in the front door of his home in Adair County and stole a Jeep Grand Cherokee and food. Police say Gilliam showed investigators surveillance videos and it appears the suspect is 26-year-old Shawn Christy of McAdoo, Pennsylvania.

The FBI’s Pittsburgh office is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Christy. He faces federal charges for allegedly posting threats last month on Facebook.

The FBI says Christy is believed to have numerous stolen handguns.

10th city passes ordinance against discrimination

MAYSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — An LGBTQ advocacy organization says Maysville has become Kentucky’s tenth city to pass a fairness ordinance.

The Lexington Herald-Leader quotes the Fairness Campaign as saying the northern Kentucky city passed the ordinance Thursday. The Fairness Campaign says the ordinance will prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination for housing, employment and other public accommodations.

Maysville Mayor David Cartmell says in a statement that he’s pleased Maysville has joined other progressive cities in the state by adopting the ordinance. The first two Kentucky cities to pass fairness ordinances were Louisville and Lexington in 1999. Since then, Covington, Frankfort, Morehead, Danville, Vicco, Midway and Paducah also have passed fairness ordinances.

Korean War soldier returning home for burial

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The remains of a Kentucky soldier who disappeared after a 1950 Korean War battle will be returned home for a burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Joe S. Elmore’s remains were originally thought to be of a British soldier when they were discovered in North Korea in 1995, but they could not be identified. The remains were later buried in South Korea.

Nearly 20 years later, the remains were removed from the grave and transported to The Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which seeks to identify missing and unidentified American soldiers. The agency used DNA to match the remains to Elmore.

Elmore was 20 when he died on Dec. 2, 1950, in Hamgyeong Province, North Korea. He will be given a military funeral in Albany, Kentucky, on Aug. 18.

UofL’s freshman class includes more out-of-state students

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The University of Louisville says preliminary figures show its incoming freshman class includes a growing number of out-of-state students.

Of the nearly 2,800 incoming students, the university says 22 percent are from outside Kentucky. UofL administrators believe that may be the highest percentage of out-of-state freshmen in the university’s history.

The university says engineering, biology, business, education and nursing are the five most popular majors of the incoming class.

The school says the upcoming fall semester also marks a new record for the J.B. Speed School of Engineering with its largest incoming class ever. Speed expects 521 first-year engineering students, a big jump over last year’s 472 first-year students.

UofL’s first-year students will start arriving on campus Aug. 15. Classes begin Aug. 20.