News in Brief

Patriot Coal issues layoff notices to workers

SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. (AP) — Patriot Coal Corp. has issued layoff notices to an unspecified number of workers.

Patriot tells media outlets that the notices issued Monday, known as WARN, are in accordance with the terms of an agreement to sell a majority of its assets to Blackhawk Mining LLC.

If the sale is completed, Scott Depot, West Virginia-based Patriot says a majority of the affected employees will be offered jobs with Blackhawk.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Blackhawk announced in June that it entered a definitive agreement to purchase Patriot’s Panther, Rocklick Wells, Kanawha Eagle, Paint Creek and Midland Trail complexes in southern West Virginia.

Patriot filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 12.


Mustard vapor detected at Blue Grass Army Depot

RICHMOND (AP) — A filter has been connected to an igloo at Blue Grass Army Depot where a mobile laboratory detected a low-level release of mustard vapor.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports officials said the vapor detected Monday posed no danger to the public or the workforce on the installation near Richmond.

Mustard, or blister agent, is a powerful skin irritant. It’s been stored at the site since 1944.

The filter is intended to ensure the vapor release is contained within the structure.

Blue Grass Chemical Activity, the agency that deals with chemical weapons at the depot, said the vapor was detected during a weekly routine analysis of the chemical weapons stockpile.

A work plan is being developed to allow trained chemical workers to determine the source of the vapor reading.


Power plant emissions rule draws criticism from both sides

LOUISVILLE (AP) — President Barack Obama’s plan to curtail power-plant emissions generated tough talk Monday from candidates for governor in coal-producing Kentucky. Democrat Jack Conway vowed to derail the rule in court, and Republican Matt Bevin accused his rival of hypocrisy on the issue.

Conway, the state’s attorney general, said he joined in a lawsuit aimed at stopping the environmental rule when it was first proposed. Now that the plan is in its final form, he promised to continue the fight against this “job-killing rule.”

Kentucky’s top political leaders from both parties denounced Obama’s plan, but for Conway it was another chance to show his willingness to stand up to the Democratic president, who is deeply unpopular in Kentucky. The coal sector’s struggles have become a hot political issue in Kentucky.

“It is apparent the Obama administration is doubling down on policies that hurt Kentucky,” Conway said in a statement. “I have challenged the president in the past and won — that is just what I plan to do in this case.”

The power plant rule forms the cornerstone of Obama’s plan to curb U.S. emissions and keep global temperatures from climbing.

Bevin said the “radical, anti-coal EPA restrictions” would damage Kentucky’s coal industry and increase electricity rates for consumers.


Sheriff’s office asks drug dealers to turn in their rivals

FRANKFORT (AP) — A Kentucky sheriff’s office has posted a flyer on its Facebook page asking drug dealers to turn in their rivals.

Multiple media outlets report the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office posted the flyer Monday afternoon. It features an image of a marijuana leaf and says, “Is your drug dealing competition costing you money? We offer a free service to help you eliminate your drug competition!”

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton says the post is funny, but the sheriff’s department is not joking around.

At the bottom of the letter, people are asked to fill out information about the drug dealer they are reporting, including the dealer’s name and vehicle.

Melton says he got the idea from the McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia.

As of Tuesday morning, the post had 394 online shares.


Local right to work case heads to federal court

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A federal judge will hear arguments on Tuesday about whether a Kentucky local government can stop employers from making workers join labor unions.

At least 12 counties in Kentucky have passed so-called “right to work” ordinances, the only such ordinances in the country. Labor leaders sued Hardin County after it passed its ordinance. Advocates say the ordinances help the counties attract jobs while labor leaders say it would hurt their negotiation power and could lead to lower wages.

It has become an issue in Kentucky’s race for governor. Democratic nominee Jack Conway is also the state attorney general. His office put out an opinion last year saying local governments do not have the authority to pass such laws. Republican nominee Matt Bevin supports the laws saying it is the only way to keep Kentucky competitive.


Lee Co. circuit clerk suspended pending investigation

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton has ordered the temporary suspension of an eastern Kentucky circuit clerk pending an investigation into possible official misconduct.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts said Monday that Lee County Circuit Clerk Emma C. Adams was suspended from official duties. The AOC said in a news release that it initiated the investigation and is cooperating with other agencies but would not provide further information.

A home phone listing could not be located for Adams.

The AOC said Owsley County Circuit Clerk A. Michael Mays will serve as special clerk during the suspension, and the Lee County office will continue to operate with normal business hours in Beattyville.

Circuit clerks maintain circuit and district court records and issue driver’s licenses, among other duties.


Former teacher, assistant coach charged with more counts

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A former teacher and assistant football coach at a Louisville parochial high school who was charged with child exploitation involving a 13-year-old has been charged with additional counts, and authorities say the case now involves 16 minors.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Louisville says 33-year-old Patrick Newman was charged Friday in a felony information with 16 counts of using minors to produce child pornography. He is also charged with possessing and transporting child pornography.

Newman’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Prosecutors say the investigation started this year after a tip. Newman was originally charged in a criminal complaint with illegal online communications with a 13-year-old in Texas.

Newman has been in custody since he was first charged two months ago. He was fired from Trinity High School the next day.


Brewing company expanding to 2nd location

GEORGETOWN (AP) — A brewing company that got its start in Kentucky in 2012 is expanding to a second location in the state.

Gov. Steve Beshear’s office says Lexington-based Country Boy Brewing will create 20 jobs and invest nearly $4.4 million into the expansion project in Georgetown. The increased production will allow the company to distribute its craft beer to more states.

The company will move into a larger brew house in Georgetown with a higher fermentation capacity. As a result, Country Boy Brewing will be able to produce 10,000 barrels of craft beer annually.

Country Boy Brewing, owned by Kentucky natives, now distributes its core brand — Cougar Bait American blonde ale — in four states.


Driver charged with 6 counts of vehicular homicide in crash

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The truck driver who authorities say caused a highway accident outside of Chattanooga in June, killing six, has been charged with six counts of vehicular homicide.

Multiple media outlets report that a Hamilton County grand jury on Monday also indicted 39-year-old Benjamin Brewer of London, Kentucky on four counts of reckless aggravated assault, driving under the influence of narcotics, speeding and making false reports about his duty status. Chattanooga police issued an order for Brewer’s arrest on Monday.

According to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board, Brewer had been on duty for about 50 consecutive hours in the three days leading up to the June 25 crash.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Brewer also tested positive for methamphetamine six weeks before the crash.

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