Governor raises minimum wage for some state workers
LEXINGTON (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear raised the minimum wage for some state workers to $10.10 per hour on Monday, following similar decisions by some of the nation’s largest employers and the state’s largest city.
The increase, which takes effect July 1, is $2.85 higher than the previous minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. It will cost taxpayers about $1.6 million and affect about 800 positions, a mix of full-time and part-time employees in the executive branch. It also applies to private companies that have state contracts. But it won’t take effect until those contracts come up for renewal. It does not apply to people who work in the judicial and legislative branches.
State workers who make most of their money on tips, including restaurant staff at some state parks, would get a raise to $4.90 per hour. Beshear said about a third of the affected employees work in state nursing homes caring for military veterans. Most of the other affected workers work in behavioral health centers and state parks.
“The more the lowest end of our economic ladder makes, the less people will be on government assistance programs,” Beshear said at a news conference at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, where some state employees work for less than $10.10 per hour. “If you really want smaller government, then let’s raise the minimum wage and we’ll have smaller government.”
National Democratic party leaders have made raising the minimum wage a priority in recent elections as wages have dropped following a crippling economic recession. Across the country, states and cities mostly controlled by Democrats have raised the minimum wage. Last year, Louisville became the first city in Kentucky — and the first in the South — to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour, above the federal level of $7.25 per hour. Several business groups have sued the city to block the increase.
Beshear and other Kentucky Democrats have tried for years to pass a law requiring everyone to pay salaries of at least $10.10 per hour, but each attempt failed to pass the Republican-controlled state Senate. Meanwhile, about 510 state employees worked for less than the minimum wage. Now with just six months left in his term, Beshear said the state could afford to raise the wage for those workers, plus an extra 269 workers who make at or just above $10 an hour.
State Board of Elections certifies May 19 primary results
LEXINGTON (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican primary for governor is now officially one of the closest statewide elections in state history.
The State Board of Elections certified the results of the May 19 primary on Monday. Matt Bevin won the Republican nomination for governor by just 83 votes over state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said nearly 400,000 people voted in the primary, or about 12.6 percent of registered voters.
The Republican primary for governor was so close it took more than a week to decide it. Comer did not concede and asked for a statewide recanvassing. But the review of voting machines and absentee ballots did not give Comer additional votes, and he conceded the next day.
Grimes called it a “truly historical” election.
63 gambling machines seized from 7 places in Pulaski Co.
SOMERSET (AP) — The Pulaski County Sheriff says 63 gambling machines have been confiscated from seven places in a two-day raid.
Multiple news sources report authorities from nine different agencies, including the Pulaski County sheriff’s office, seized the machines late Sunday and early Monday throughout the county. A news release from Sheriff Greg Speck says accounting ledgers and several thousand dollars in cash were taken. The raids came after an undercover investigation dating back to February.
As a part of the investigation at each location raided, people were searched, identified and interviewed. Larry Burdine, Nathan Farmer and Robert Stephens were arrested for outstanding warrants unrelated to gambling.
Body of truck driver found under bridge after fiery crash
LEXINGTON (AP) — The body of a truck driver has been found under the Interstate 75 bridge where his vehicle caught fire after a crash.
Police told media that they are trying to determine how the man’s body ended up under the Clay’s Ferry bridge along the Fayette-Madison county line. His identity was not released.
Firefighters said the tractor-trailer was hauling a large piece of electrical equipment.
Police said their preliminary investigation found that the truck driver lost control of the vehicle, hit a barrier and then the truck caught fire. Leaking fuel then caused a couple of explosions.
Fire officials say about 100 gallons of diesel fuel leaked into the Kentucky River.
The crash and fire slowed traffic along I-75 for hours on Monday.
2 plead not guilty in slaying of 86-year-old woman
LIVINGSTON (AP) — Two women have pleaded not guilty to charges including murder and robbery in the slaying of an 86-year-old woman in Rockcastle County.
WKYT-TV reports a public defender entered the plea on Monday for Tabitha Howard and Kimberly Slusher. The women were arrested by Kentucky State Police last week in the death of 86-year-old Mary Hinton.
Hinton was found dead June 2 after an apparent home invasion. Family members say Hinton had a rare skin condition, was legally blind and hard of hearing. She had lived alone in the home for 30 years.
Howard and Slusher are being held on $750,000 bonds.
Trial set for man charged in fatal highway shooting in Ohio
LEBANON, Ohio (AP) — An Illinois man charged with kidnapping a Kentucky woman and fatally shooting her last year along Interstate 75 in southwest Ohio is set for trial next year.
The Ohio trial of 41-year-old Terry Froman of Brookport, Illinois, is scheduled to start Feb. 22 in Lebanon. Froman has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder, kidnapping and discharging a firearm in the slaying of 34-year-old Kim Thomas of Mayfield, Kentucky.
Authorities allege Froman killed his estranged girlfriend’s 17-year-old son in Kentucky and then kidnapped and killed her along the highway about 30 miles north of Cincinnati. Froman was arrested Sept. 12.
His trial was set for August. But Warren County’s prosecutor says the defense wanted more time to review evidence.
Froman’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call Monday seeking comment.
Conway agrees to 6 appearances with Bevin before election
FRANKFORT (AP) — Democratic nominee for governor Jack Conway has agreed to six appearances with Republican nominee Matt Bevin in the months before the Nov. 3 general election.
The appearances are:
• A forum in Louisville on June 19 before the joint convention of the associations of county judge-executives, magistrates and commissioners.
• A forum hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau on July 23.
• Political speaking at the St. Jerome’s Fancy Farm Picnic on Aug. 1.
• A debate at Centre College on Oct. 6 to be broadcast statewide.
• A debate at Eastern Kentucky University on Oct. 25 to be broadcast statewide
• An appearance on KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” program on Oct. 26.
A spokesman for Bevin said the campaign has already accepted numerous debate invitations and will continue to accept them.
Coroner’s office identifies man found burning in Louisville
LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Jefferson County coroner’s office has identified the man found set afire on a sidewalk west of downtown Louisville.
Deputy Coroner Jim Wesley told The Courier-Journal that 49-year-old Edward L. Vinson suffered multiple blunt-force trauma before being set on fire. Wesley said Vinson died of that trauma as well as from thermal trauma from the flames.
He was found dead early Sunday. Wesley said Vinson lived a block away in a vacant building at the time of his death.
The case is still being investigated. No arrests have been made.
Salato Center hosting program to help butterflies
FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentuckians interested in helping butterfly populations can attend an event this week at the Salato Wildlife Education Center at Frankfort.
Participants can help plant a butterfly waystation at the conclusion of the program on Saturday. Salato Center officials say that with Monarch butterfly numbers in retreat due to habitat loss, waystations are special plantings along migration routes designed to provide food to adults and larvae.
The program will be included with the cost of general admission into the center, but registration is required. To register, call 502-564-7863.
The Salato Center is operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The center is located off U.S. 60, about a mile and a half west of the U.S. 127 intersection.