News in Brief

Clerk still won’t issue same-sex marriage licenses

MOREHEAD (AP) — A county clerk in Kentucky has again refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, invoking her religious beliefs and “God’s authority” — this time in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against her.

On Tuesday morning, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ office denied the licenses to several couples. At first, Davis was in her office with the door closed and blinds drawn, and her staff said she wouldn’t be available. But Davis emerged a few minutes later, telling the couples and the activists gathered there that her office is continuing to deny the licenses “under God’s authority.”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene in the case, leaving Davis no legal grounds to refuse to grant the licenses. A district judge could now hold her in contempt of court, which can carry steep fines or jail time. As an elected official, Davis can’t be fired.

An attorney says the Kentucky clerk who won’t issue marriage licenses and all her deputy clerks have been called for a federal court hearing Thursday morning.

Rowan County Attorney Cecil Watkins says the federal court alerted him that a hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday in Ashland.

Watkins says clerk Kim Davis is summonsed to attend, along with all the deputy clerks who work in her office


Ky. historians urge removal of Jefferson Davis statue

FRANKFORT (AP) — Dozens of historians from 16 colleges and universities in Kentucky have called for a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis to be removed from the state Capitol.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that 72 current and former history professors signed a letter recently sent to Gov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Historic Properties Advisory Commission, urging officials to take down the statue.

The commission voted 7-2 in early August to keep the statue in the Capitol, where it stands with statues of four other prominent Kentuckians. The panel also voted to establish a committee to give the statues more historical context

Confederate symbols have come under increased public scrutiny since the June 17 massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.


Judge says he’ll sign off on Patriot Coal asset sale

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A bankruptcy judge has told Patriot Coal that it can sell its remaining assets at auction.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Keith Phillips said on Monday at a hearing in Richmond that he would sign off on Patriot holding an auction on Sept. 9. The bidding would be led off by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Patriot announced in August that it planned to sell some assets to ERP Compliant Fuels LLC, an affiliate of the Virginia nonprofit. The assets include the Federal Mining Complex in northern West Virginia. The nonprofit also would acquire other mining permits for purposes of water quality improvement and reclamation.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Blackhawk Mining announced in June that it planned to acquire the majority of Patriot’s mining operations. Rival bids are due Friday.

Patriot has asked Phillips to reject its collective bargaining agreement with the United Mine Workers of America and change retirees’ health benefits. A hearing on the company’s request was scheduled Tuesday.


Senate leader: Not enough votes to defund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate’s top Republican says it will take a new president before Congress can cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says Republicans lack the votes to halt the payments. He says that since President Barack Obama won’t sign a bill ending the federal dollars that flow to Planned Parenthood, blocking that money will have to await the next president, who takes office in January 2017.

Secretly recorded videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing their provision of tissue from aborted fetuses to researchers have prompted Republicans to try cutting off its federal money. Last month, a bill to do that fell six votes short in the Senate.

McConnell made the comments in an interview with Kentucky TV station WYMT, recorded on Monday.


Fire in downtown Hazard displaces 35 families

HAZARD (AP) — A large fire that broke out in a building in downtown Hazard has been contained.

Media report the blaze at the building that houses the Peking Chinese Restaurant as well as apartments was reported Tuesday at around 5 a.m. No injuries were reported, though about 35 families have been displaced.

Hazard Police Department Deputy Chief said a portion of Main Street is closed as well as some businesses, though municipal offices remain open. He says people are being asked to avoid the area if possible so firefighters can continue their work.

First Presbyterian Church is providing temporary shelter to those in need.


Former Paducah teacher pleads guilty to sex count

PADUCAH (AP) — A former Paducah middle school teacher accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female 14-year-old student could spend three years behind bars after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.

The Paducah Sun reports that 24-year-old Chelsea Rose, a former teacher and cheerleading coach at Reidland Middle School, pleaded guilty Monday in McCracken Circuit Court to a charge of prohibited use of an electronic communication device to procure a minor in a sex offense.

As part of the plea agreement, Rose’s sentence would run concurrently to any sentence that could be imposed in a related case ongoing in Marshall County. Additionally, Rose will have to register as a sex offender and undergo a sex offender assessment.

A judge must still approve the terms of the plea agreement.


Federal agency proposes taking plant off threatened list

STANTON (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take white-haired goldenrod off the list of threatened and endangered species.

The plant is unique to eastern Kentucky, only found in sandstone rock shelters or on sandstone cliffs with overhanging ledges in the Red River Gorge region. The Fish and Wildlife Service says the move to have it removed from the list under the Endangered Species Act follows more than two decades of collaboration and conservation work in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Meanwhile, the two federal agencies are working to conserve the Kentucky arrow darter. Fish and Wildlife and the Forest Service signed an agreement Monday committing to action to protect the small fish that’s found in some of the small headwater streams of the Daniel Boone.


Agency OKs abandonment of Bullitt Utilities sewer system

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Public Service Commission has authorized abandonment of Bullitt Utilities sewer system, which serves about 700 customers in the Hunters Hollow and Hillview areas of Bullitt County.

The abandonment is effective Sept. 30, and the PSC said Monday it will ask Franklin County Circuit Court to appoint a temporary operator, or receiver, to begin running the system before that.

The PSC said in a news release it intends to seek appointment of the Bullitt County Sanitation District because it offers the best chance for continued service.

The abandonment case is the third involving Bullitt Utilities before the PSC since the company’s Hunters Hollow wastewater treatment plant failed in 2014. The first two — an investigation into the adequacy of the service and a request for a surcharge to pay for new facilities — remain before the PSC.


Fort Campbell holding appreciation event for retirees

FORT CAMPBELL (AP) — Military retirees and their families are being recognized during an event at Fort Campbell this month.

The Fort Campbell Retirement Services Office will hold its annual Retiree Appreciation Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT Sept. 19 at the Soldier Support Center. Registration starts at 7 a.m.

More than 20 organizations will be represented, offering one-on-one assistance. There will also be equipment displays and a retiree brunch.

Pneumonia and shingles vaccinations will be given free of charge at a health fair. Legal assistance will be available for powers of attorney.

Retirees can also visit the Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt Museum and an engagement skills trainer.


Churchill Downs upgrading premium clubhouse seating

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Churchill Downs plans to offer more premium seating with an $18 million project expected to be done in time for next year’s Kentucky Derby.

The Louisville track said Tuesday the project will modernize its Turf Club and other premium clubhouse areas.

The track says the project will increase premium seating capacity by 41 percent, from 1,886 to 2,660, in areas being upgraded. It says total reserved seating for the Derby will increase from 57,880 to 58,654.

Derby attendance reached a record this year, with more than 170,000 people watching American Pharaoh start his run to the Triple Crown.

The track says the interior renovations will begin after its fall meet wraps up in late November.

It’s the latest in a series of renovations at the track that opened in 1875.

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