State News in Brief

Residents sue over arsenic found near Montgomery Co. homes

MOUNT STERLING (AP) — Some residents are suing a wood treatment company that once operated a site in rural Montgomery County where the state detected higher-than-normal arsenic levels.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Mary and John Sparks, Gwen Burns and Cole Caddell filed the civil lawsuit against Southern Wood Treatment Co., among others, on Monday.

The lawsuit says the defendants used “chromated copper arsenic and/or ammonical copper arsenic” as a wood preservative in treating lumber, and didn’t properly dispose of remaining equipment, materials and chemicals when the site closed in the 1980s or ’90s, contaminating the area.

The state Division of Waste Management tested the soil of surrounding properties last month and found arsenic concentrations requiring immediate cleanup.

Southern Wood Treatment referred questions to attorney John Rompf Jr., who couldn’t be reached for comment.


Ky. diocese reinstates priest accused of sex abuse

OWENSBORO (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Owensboro has reinstated a priest who was suspended after being accused of sexually abusing a juvenile in the 1980s.

The Diocesan Review Board reviewed the complaint against the Rev. Freddie Byrd and decided there was not enough information to substantiate the allegation. The Messenger-Inquirer reports that Byrd was reinstated last week to active ministry at St. Ann Church in Morganfield after being suspended in June.

The complaint to the diocese in western Kentucky accused Byrd of engaging in inappropriate conduct with a 17-year-old in 1983, at a time when Byrd was not yet a priest.

The diocese alerted law enforcement. Kentucky State Police spokesman Corey King says authorities did not conduct an investigation.


Plans set for Big Blue Madness ticket distribution

LEXINGTON (AP) — Tickets for this year’s Big Blue Madness on Oct. 14 will be available next week, and the University of Kentucky has information for those who want to attend.

The tickets will be available at 10 p.m. Sept. 30 at Memorial Coliseum ticket windows on Avenue of Champions and online at At Memorial Coliseum, each person will be limited to two tickets. Online orders are limited to two per household, and a minimal service fee will be attached.

Fans who want to line up ahead of time may begin no earlier than 5 a.m. Sept. 28. Camping areas are limited, and once available space is taken, remaining fans will be asked to acquire tickets online.

A limited number of control cards will be given out to people camped out at 2 p.m. Sept. 30. Fans will get a maximum of two tickets per control card.


Bissett to leave coal association for Huntington chamber job

LEXINGTON (AP) — The president of the Kentucky Coal Association is stepping down to lead a regional chamber of commerce in West Virginia.

Bill Bissett will resign at the end of October to become president and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce. His first day on the job will be Nov. 1.

A West Virginia native, Bissett will replace Cathy Burns, who resigned to become Huntington’s city manager.

Huntington is Bissett’s hometown. He has two degrees from Marshall University, and was the school’s chief of staff and senior vice president for communications before taking the top job at the coal association 6 ½ years ago.

The coal association represents operators in eastern and western Kentucky and will launch a search for a new president.


Man faces 10 years for child abuse after using belt on girl

RADCLIFF (AP) — A man in Kentucky faces as much as a decade in prison for child abuse after authorities said he disciplined a child with a belt that bruised her buttocks.

The News-Enterprise reports that 37-year-old Christopher Nichols of Radcliff, Kentucky, was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree criminal abuse of a child younger than 12.

An arrest warrant shows Nichols told a case worker with Child Protective Services that he used the belt to discipline the girl while she was in his custody in April.

He now faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted. It isn’t immediately clear if he has an attorney.


Bowling Green man pleads guilty in 3-year-old’s death

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — A Bowling Green man has pleaded guilty in the death of a 3-year-old boy.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports 27-year-old Montez Devon Hazel pleaded guilty in Warren Circuit Court on Tuesday to second-degree manslaughter in the death of Christ’en D. Adams, who was in Hazel’s care.

Bowling Green police responded to a home in August 2014 after Hazel called to report that the child wasn’t breathing.

An autopsy revealed that the boy’s cause of death was a perforated bowel caused by blunt force trauma. No other existing injuries were found.

Hazel was indicted by a grand jury in November 2014, and his trial was set to begin Tuesday.

Part of Hazel’s plea agreement recommended a five-year prison sentence. He’s scheduled to be formally sentenced in November.


Tow truck driver dies after being struck by SUV

STANTON (AP) — A tow truck driver has died after he was struck by an SUV while working.

Clark County Coroner Robert Gayheart tells local media that 48-year-old Mark Banks, of Banks Towing, was loading a vehicle onto a tow truck Monday night along the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway when the SUV hit him. He says Banks was wearing a reflective vest at the time of the incident.

Banks was taken to Clark Regional Medical Center, where he died.

Powell County Sheriff Danny Rogers says the driver of the SUV was also taken to the hospital. No charges have been brought against her.

The Powell County Sheriff’s Office and Kentucky State Police are handling the investigation.


Ashland airport to use $3.3M federal grant for new taxiway

WORTHINGTON (AP) — Ashland Regional Airport officials will use a federal grant totaling more than $3.3 million to construct a new taxiway.

The Daily Independent reports the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday awarded the Airport Improvement Program funds to the Ashland-Boyd County Airport Board in Worthington.

Airport board chairman David Mansfield says they worked for eight years to secure the funds to relocate the airport taxiway.

He says the project will allow the airport to comply with Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements. Construction is expected to begin in April.

With the funds secured, Mansfield says officials can now focus on expanding the airport to add new terminals and other facilities.

The 63-year-old airport serves general and private aviation. It’s also a frequent landing spot for business executives and elected officials

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