News in Brief

Ky. fair, parks take stand against Confederate flag

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s state fair board and its parks department took stands Thursday to block the sale of Confederate battle flag merchandise, actions praised by a civil rights leader but condemned by a rebel flag supporter who called it “viewpoint discrimination.”

State parks officials said its gift shops will no longer sell caps, shirts and other items strictly featuring the battle flag. The ban includes the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site, a memorial to the native Kentuckian who was the Confederacy’s president.

“The display and sale of the Confederate battle flag has historically played a small part in the operation of Kentucky State Parks,” Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker said. “However, given the recent controversy surrounding this symbol, the Kentucky Department of Parks felt it was important to ensure our policy was sensitive to all our guests and users.”

Items featuring both the U.S. and Confederate flags can remain on gift shop shelves, as well as educational materials such as books and DVDs that “put the flag in historical context,” the parks department said in a release.

The actions come after police say a white man who appeared in photos waving a Confederate flag carried out a shooting rampage that killed nine people at a black church in South Carolina last month. The suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, is white. Federal authorities say his personal writings decried integration and used racial slurs.

Meanwhile, the state fair board took steps to ban the sale or giveaway of items displaying the Confederate battle flag. That ban will apply to future contracts with vendors for events at the state fairgrounds and a downtown Louisville convention center the fair board also operates.


Attorney: State settles sexual harassment lawsuit for $400K

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky taxpayers will pay $400,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against current and former state lawmakers.

Thomas Clay, an attorney for the state workers who sued, confirmed the settlement amount Thursday, one month after the Legislative Research Commission agreed to settle the case.

Yolanda Costner and Cassaundra Cooper, both aides to Democratic House leadership, said former Democratic state Rep. John Arnold touched them inappropriately. The two women sued Arnold and the Legislative Research Commission for not doing enough to protect them. The commission consists of 16 lawmakers — eight Republicans and eight Democrats — who oversee a staff that helps lawmakers write and researching legislation. Costner said Democratic House Majority Whip Johnny Bell fired her in retaliation for filing the lawsuit.

In a separate lawsuit, Nicole Cusic said she was demoted after complaining that Democratic state Rep. Will Coursey sexually harassed some female staffers.

Arnold, Bell and Coursey all denied the allegations. They did not admit guilt as part of the settlement, but agreed to settle the claims and end the case for a total of $400,000, split among the three women.

“It was a long mediation and at the end of the day I think they wanted more but they agreed that it was time to put this matter behind them and they were glad to get it resolved and hopefully affect some kind of change within that culture at LRC,” Clay said. “I think there are a lot of people who are still at LRC who are a part of this culture and until they get some outside person involved and effecting change at LRC I’m not optimistic that the culture there is going to be changed.”


400 soldiers from 101st Airborne returning to Fort Campbell

FORT CAMPBELL (AP) — About 400 soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division are returning to Fort Campbell in the next few days from deployment to Afghanistan.

Half the troops will be returning Friday with the remainder on Monday.

Ceremonies are planned both days with family, friends and fellow soldiers to welcome the returning troops.

The soldiers are with the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The sprawling Army post straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.


E.Ky. man sentenced to life in drug overdose case

LONDON (AP) — An eastern Kentucky man has been sentenced to life in prison for distributing prescription painkillers resulting in a woman’s death in 2011.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Kentucky said it’s the first life sentence in Kentucky in a prescription drug overdose death case.

U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell also sentenced 55-year-old Terry Smith of Clay County on Thursday to 30 years for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and 10 years for illegal firearms possession. Smith’s 53-year-old wife, Gerry, was sentenced to 7 ½ years for conspiring to distribute oxycodone.

A jury convicted them in January.

Prosecutors said Patty Smallwood and others traveled to Georgia to obtain painkiller prescriptions for Terry Smith, who gave them some of the pills. A toxicology report after Smallwood’s death showed four times the therapeutic level of oxycodone in her system.


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 NationalRXRPartners 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.


Cruz, on Senate floor, accuses GOP leader McConnell of lying

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stunning attack on a leader of his own party, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of lying to him and said he couldn’t be trusted.

Cruz, a Texan who is running for president but ranks low in early polling, delivered the broadside in a speech on the Senate floor, an extraordinary departure from the norms of Senate behavior that demand courtesy and respect.

At issue are assurances Cruz claimed McConnell, R-Ky., had given that there was no deal to allow a vote to renew the federal Export-Import Bank — a little-known federal agency that has become a rallying cry for conservatives. Cruz rose to deliver his remarks moments after McConnell had lined up a vote on the Export-Import Bank for coming days.

“It saddens me to say this. I sat in my office, I told my staff the majority leader looked me in the eye and looked 54 Republicans in the eye. I cannot believe he would tell a flat-out lie, and I voted based on those assurances that he made to each and every one of us,” Cruz said.

“What we just saw today was an absolute demonstration that not only what he told every Republican senator, but what he told the press over and over and over again, was a simple lie.”

A spokesman said McConnell would have no response. The majority leader was not on the Senate floor when Cruz issued his attack.


Allegiant adding hub at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky airport

HEBRON (AP) — Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air is creating a hub at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport and adding flights there.

The Lexington Herald-Leader said Allegiant expects to put as many as three 156-seat Airbus 319 aircraft at the airport. The airline said Thursday it will employ more than 90 flight crew members and airport personnel locally.

Allegiant is adding five weekly flights to its fall and winter schedule to some of its most popular destinations from the airport, located in Hebron, Kentucky.

The company said Cincinnati is the fastest-growing market in Allegiant’s history. It began service there in February 2014 with four weekly flights.

Allegiant also serves Blue Grass Airport in Lexington. Airport spokeswoman Amy Caudill said in an email that Allegiant assured airport officials that its flights should continue normally.


Nominations open for U of L Florence Nightingale Awards

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The University of Louisville School of Nursing wants the public to nominate a nurse who has made a difference for its Florence Nightingale Awards in Nursing.

Dean Marcia Hern says it’s the second year for the awards, intended to honor nurses in Kentucky and southern Indiana.

Nominating essays of 600 words or less are due Sept. 8 and should explain how a registered nurse impacted a patient’s or client’s life.

For more information, visit . Nominations may be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to U of L School of Nursing, 555 S. Floyd St., Louisville, KY 40292, Attention: Karen Rose.

Awards will be announced in October. Winners receive $1,000 and a plaque.


Administrative Office of Courts adds 12 counties to eFiling

FRANKFORT (AP) — Twelve western Kentucky counties now have electronic filing available for cases in state courts.

The Administrative Office of the Courts says the new counties are Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken and Trigg.

Lawyers are able to file electronically in 94 Kentucky counties that offer eFiling, which began in December 2013. The AOC plans to have the program available in all 120 counties by the end of this year.

Since the program began, AOC says more than 800 lawyers and other users have filed more than 33,000 documents electronically.

Documents can be filed during normal business hours, after hours and on weekends.

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