News in Brief


Beshear orders security enhancements at National Guard

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has issued an executive order authorizing Adjutant Gen. Edward Tonini to enhance security at state National Guard facilities and recruiting stations following the shooting death of five servicemen in Tennessee last week.

The order tells Tonini to immediately implement additional policies consistent with state law. Department of Military Affairs spokesman David Altom said these policies include things like rehearsing active shooter drills and ensuring doors are locked.

Beshear noted in the order that Kentucky already has policies in place allowing active duty servicemen to carry concealed weapons at state facilities as long as they have a valid concealed weapons permit. Republican state Rep. Kevin Bratcher has asked Beshear to issue an executive order allowing active duty soldiers to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

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Report: State needs accountability in workforce development

FRANKFORT (AP) — The government spends $900 million a year to train Kentucky workers, yet just 8 percent of employers say the state’s workforce has “good skills” according to a new report from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

A survey of the chamber’s 60,000 members found 15 percent can’t find people who can pass a drug test, 23 percent have trouble finding people with the right technical skills and 27 percent have problems finding people with “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time and communicating with others.

“You would think, ‘Gee, somebody growing up they should have these kind of skills developed just in the course of daily living.’ That unfortunately has not been the case,” said Diana Taylor, the chamber’s senior policy analyst. “That is a cultural and societal question that is beyond me.”

Chamber officials say the report reflects the perspective of the state’s employers and not intended to be a “comprehensive analysis” of the state’s workforce development programs. Still, it calls for Kentucky’s next governor to conduct an independent review of the state’s workforce training system, saying “the governor should be personally involved with this review before finalizing the cabinet structure of his administration.”

“We found a significant amount of confusion (and) frustration, and we found a maze of federal and state programs that are hard for a businessperson to navigate,” said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Other recommendations include drug testing applicants for workforce training programs; doing a better job of disclosing state and federal government spending on workforce training and the results of that training; and including so-called “soft skills” in college and career readiness requirements for schools.

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Judge: Evidence jail officers used excessive force

LEXINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has ruled there is evidence that officers at a Kentucky jail used excessive force on an inmate who died in custody.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell also says there is evidence some corrections officers at the Fayette County jail and medical staff showed deliberate indifference to the inmate.

The prisoner, Jeffrey McKinney, died in 2012 after a seizure while being restrained by corrections officers who perceived his behavior as combative.

A jury is expected to decide claims that McKinney’s family has made in a wrongful-death lawsuit.

In her ruling, Caldwell said “fact finders” could determine that excessive force was used and deliberate indifference was at issue.

She also ruled against correction officers who argued they were shielded from civil liability in the case.

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Drug company agrees to pay for filling invalid prescriptions

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The U.S. attorney in Louisville says an internet drug company has agreed to forfeit $450,000 from the illegal sale of prescription drugs as part of a guilty plea.

The plea agreement says Aracoma Drug Co. electronically received invalid prescriptions from NationalRXPartners for prescription drugs to be dispensed to people who filled out questionnaires over the Internet.

The U.S. attorney says the company operated out of West Virginia and accepted the prescriptions, knowing that they were invalid.

The company pleaded guilty in federal court this week to charges of dispensing prescription drugs without a valid prescription.

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Ground broken for second new western Kentucky bridge

CADIZ (AP) — Construction of a pair of bridges in western Kentucky is moving forward, with a groundbreaking ceremony held for the second span, on Lake Barkley.

Gov. Steve Beshear and state and local officials had a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday. The new $128 million bridge will carry four lanes of traffic and a pedestrian-bicycle path on U.S. 68/Kentucky 80 as the eastern entrance to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area.

It will replace the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge, which was built in 1932. The new bridge is expected to be open by October 2017.

The project also includes replacement of the Eggners Ferry Bridge on Kentucky Lake. Construction of the new Kentucky Lake bridge is already underway and is expected to open in December, with completion next year.

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Bevin, Conway to talk farm policy in Louisville

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s race for governor is taking off this week as the Democratic and Republican nominees are scheduled to debate farm policy in front of the state’s agriculture leaders on Thursday.

Republican nominee Matt Bevin and Democratic nominee Jack Conway are scheduled to participate in a Measure the Candidates Forum sponsored by the Kentucky Farm Bureau. It will be the second time the two candidates have appeared together at a publicized event. The forum is not open to the public but will be streamed on the Farm Bureau’s website at http://kyfb.com/livestream.

The candidates will likely answer questions about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to regulate streams and ponds on farm land. Conway, who is also the state’s attorney general, has joined attorneys general from other states in a lawsuit asking a judge to block those rules.

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TVA reopens South Holston Dam visitor center

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority has reopened the South Holston Dam visitor center nearly 14 years after it was closed due to security concerns following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Bristol Herald Courier reports TVA closed 49 visitor centers in Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky and is now in the process of refurbishing and reopening them one by one.

Laura Smith, project manager for TVA, says people involved in the reopenings work to create new displays about the area’s natural resources, how TVA generates electricity and the history behind each dam.

TVA says it has been working on the project for the past four years and so far eight centers in three states have reopened. They include Fort Patrick Henry Dam in Kingsport, Tennessee, which also reopened this week.

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Coroner reports on inmate deaths in Fayette Co.

LEXINGTON (AP) — Fayette County’s coroner says two inmate deaths at the county jail were due to mixture of prescription drugs and alcohol abuse along with natural causes.

Reports on the deaths of Steven Wayne Lieras and Otha Buchanan were obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader through an open records request.

The newspaper says a toxicology report found traces of prescription drugs and alcohol in Lieras’ bloodstream. His death was ruled an accident.

The 46-year-old Lieras was found unresponsive in his cell April 14. He died at University of Kentucky Hospital.

The report says obesity and chronic alcohol abuse might have contributed to his death.

Buchanan died after being found in medical distress in his cell April 17. The coroner says the 63-year-old Buchanan died of natural causes.

Diabetes and drugs could have been factors in Buchanan’s death.

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Report: Columbia Gas followed rules prior to hotel explosion

LEXINGTON (AP) — Investigators say Columbia Gas of Kentucky did not violate any safety rules at a Lexington hotel that exploded last year after a natural gas leak.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission announced Wednesday that an investigation revealed that the gas company followed safety regulations regarding protection of meters from accidental damage.

On Sept. 7, a car hit an above-ground gas meter outside Fairfield Inn & Suites in Beaumont Centre. The resulting gas leak fueled a large explosion that collapsed a large portion of the 60-room hotel, causing severe damage to three floors. No one was seriously injured.

Investigators say the gas meter met the standards in place when the meter was installed in 1994.

Concrete pillars have since been placed around the gas meter at the hotel, which reopened in May.

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Texas company moving to Cynthiana, creating 80 jobs

CYNTHIANA (AP) — A Texas company is moving to Cynthiana, where it will create 80 jobs.

Gov. Steve Beshear’s office says Commercial Specialty Truck Holdings is relocating subsidiary Continental Mixer Solutions and investing $2 million in the project.

Continental Mixer Solutions has moved to a facility shared by another subsidiary, E-Z Pack Refuse Hauling Solutions, which employs 100 people.

Continental Mixer Solutions, which is relocating from Houston, makes concrete mixers and has been in operation since 1982.

The state has preliminarily approved tax incentives of up to $2 million for the company.

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