News in Brief


Ky.’s jobless rate rises slightly in July

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky officials say the state’s unemployment rate rose slightly last month but remained below the national rate.

The state Office of Employment and Training said Thursday that last month’s seasonally adjusted rate in Kentucky was 5.2 percent. Officials say the preliminary July rate was up from a revised 5.1 percent rate in June but was well below the 6.2 percent statewide rate in July 2014.

The U.S. jobless rate remained at 5.3 percent last month.

Kentucky officials say employment gains were made last month in the government, financial activities, leisure and hospitality and information sectors.

Sectors that had employment declines in July included mining and logging, construction, manufacturing, educational and health services, professional and business services and trade, transportation and utilities.

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Ky. seeking private lodge operators at 2 state parks

BURNSIDE (AP) — Kentucky officials are seeking proposals from private developers who want to build and operate lodges at two state parks.

The Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1WJcOYO) reports that the effort, if successful, would produce the first privately-run lodges at Kentucky state parks.

Requests were issued for a lodge and restaurant at Burnside Island State Park in Pulaski County and at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Bell County.

Officials in Burnside and Pineville said they support the state’s move because the lodges would boost tourism and help the economy.

Although there’s a lodge on top of Pine Mountain, the new facility is proposed at the bottom on a golf course.

Pineville Mayor Scott Madon said there will be a need for more overnight accommodations there due to planned developments.

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As landlines disappear, so does funding for 911 services

FRANKFORT (AP) — On a 911 map of the Lake Forest subdivision in Owensboro, the homes light up because nearly everyone in the older neighborhood has a landline.

But on the other side of town, a map for Whispering Meadows is in the dark. Newer homes, occupied by younger families, have cellphones instead of landlines.

With landlines rapidly disappearing across Kentucky and the country, the old way of paying for 911 communications services has withered, too. That has left cities and counties struggling to maintain old systems and forced them to scramble to pay for upgrades or buy new systems.

“This is sort of a consequence of the structural changes the telecommunications market has gone through over the past 20 years,” said Trey Forgety, director of governmental affairs for the National Emergency Number Association.

The problem is especially bad in Kentucky, where local governments can charge fees on landlines for 911 services but are not allowed to tax cellphones. Fees from cellphones cover about 20 percent of the total cost to operate 911 systems in Kentucky, yet they account for 80 percent of all calls to 911 dispatch centers, according to Joe Barrows, executive director of the Commercial Mobile Radio Service Board, which collects cellphone fees in Kentucky.

Lake Forest homeowners pay $1.25 fee per month for each landline. In Whispering Meadows, the fee for cellphones is 70 cents, sometimes less. Calls to 911 are answered, but the government struggles to pay for it.

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Ky. Human Rights Commission wants Davis statue removed

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Kentucky Human Rights Commission is asking lawmakers to remove a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis from the state Capitol, despite a vote by another commission this month to let it stay.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday for a resolution asking that the statue be moved to the Capitol Education Center or the Kentucky History Center. The resolution said leaving the statue in place is offensive to Kentucky citizens.

The Historic Properties Advisory Commission, which has final authority, voted Aug. 5 to keep the statue in the Rotunda but add an “educational context” to the display.

The board Thursday also voted to ask lawmakers to begin the process of removing a reference to slavery in the Kentucky Constitution and to encourage governments to place statues, plaques and murals recognizing the contributions of women.

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National conference in Ky. to explore future of hemp

LEXINGTON (AP) — A nonprofit association that advocates for hemp growers is hosting an annual conference with a keynote address by Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

The Hemp Industries Association organized the three-day conference, which begins on Sept. 27. Its members are hemp businesses and farmers. It’s the first time the conference will be held in Kentucky.

University of Kentucky agronomist David Williams will also speak on the potential of hemp. The conference at the Hilton in downtown Lexington will focus on the expansion of the industry and market in North America and include a hemp farm tour.

The group says in the U.S., 26 states have removed barriers to hemp production.

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New trial ordered in double murder case in Floyd Co.

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man who was found guilty but mentally ill of killing two neighbors in Floyd County.

The ruling Thursday pointed to 28 crime scene and autopsy photos admitted at trial as the reason for ordering the new trial for Berry Hall.

Hall was convicted in 2012 in the shooting deaths of Alan Tackett and his wife, Lisa, outside their home in 2008. Hall also was convicted on four wanton endangerment counts — one for each of the Tacketts’ children, who were home when their parents were killed.

Some photos showed fatal wounds in graphic detail.

The court’s majority opinion said many photos depicted the same scene and were needlessly cumulative. The opinion called it a rare abuse of a trial court’s discretion in admitting gruesome photos.

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Post office where brown recluse spiders found is reopening

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Almost four months after a post office in eastern Jefferson County closed because brown recluse spiders were found in the building, the U.S. Postal Service says it’s reopening.

The Fisherville Post Office will reopen on Monday. It closed on April 27 due to safety concerns over the spiders.

Taylorsville Postmaster Sandra Caudill says there have been numerous pesticide treatments and some patching on the outside and that the building has been deemed safe by the maintenance department.

Box customers have been picking up their mail at Eastwood Post Office but will be able to return to Fisherville on Monday.

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