News in Brief


Federal fund will pay $30M per year for Ky. broadband

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A fund created by the Federal Communications Commission will pay AT&T $30 million a year for the next six years to make high-speed Internet available to more than 84,000 rural Kentucky homes and businesses.

The Connect America Fund was created in 2011 to expand broadband to rural areas where expansion isn’t supported economically.

AT&T says it will deliver broadband at speeds of at least 10 megabits per second for downloads and 1 megabit per second for uploads.

The FCC said last month that nearly one-third of rural Americans lack access to such service.

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Ky. center to receive $3.7M to fight drug overdoses

FRANKFORT (AP) — The federal government is giving Kentucky $3.7 million over the next four years to fight prescription drug overdoses.

Gov. Steve Beshear’s office announced Thursday that the funding will go to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, a partnership between the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

Beshear said in a news release that legislation that took effect in 2012 has brought a decline in so-called “doctor shopping” and prescriptions for heavily abused medications.

He said the funding will help the state continue educating the public about the dangers of drug use and abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the $20 million program. It is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative.

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Woman pleads not guilty in trooper shooting investigation

PRINCETON (AP) — A woman has pleaded not guilty after police say she was uncooperative during their investigation into the shooting death of a Kentucky state trooper.

The Paducah Sun reports 18-year-old Ambrea Shanks of Florissant, Missouri pleaded not guilty Thursday in Caldwell District Court in Princeton. Shanks is charged with first-degree hindering prosecution or apprehension.

Thirty-one-year-old Trooper Joseph Cameron Ponder was shot to death late Sunday in western Kentucky after a high-speed chase that reportedly started with the trooper pulling over Joseph Johnson-Shanks for speeding.

Police say Shanks was in the car with Johnson-Shanks, also of Florissant, Missouri, during the police pursuit. She was arrested on Monday.

Authorities say 25-year-old Johnson-Shanks was shot to death by other Kentucky troopers after he refused to surrender.

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Miners, W.Va. officials criticize proposed stream rule

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A public hearing on a proposed federal stream protection rule drew more than 100 people, including several dozen miners who said it would devastate the state’s coal industry.

Multiple media outlets report that West Virginia officials also criticized the proposal during the U.S. Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation’s hearing on Thursday night at the Charleston Civic Center.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the rule is just the latest decision by the federal government placing more regulations on coal mining and coal-fired power plants.

Several supporters of the proposal also spoke. Daile Boulis said state officials have been co-opted by the fossil fuel industry.

The federal agency has said the proposed rule overhauls a set of regulations that are three decades old.

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Davis loses another appeal in gay marriage case

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis lost another legal bid to delay issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, marking the latest in a mounting stack of rejected appeals.

Davis, who returned to work this week after five days in jail for defying a federal court order, had again tried to persuade the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to delay a judge’s mandate that she issue marriage licenses to all couples.

Now Davis’ lawyers with the Liberty Counsel, a firm that opposes gay rights, argue that because those couples have received the licenses, Davis should not have to issue any additional licenses while the case is pending.

The appeals court scrapped that request Thursday on a legal technicality: Davis’ lawyers did not first ask Bunning to delay his mandate, as federal court rules require, before they appealed to the higher court. The lawyers, in justifying skipping that step, cited the judge’s “extraordinary doggedness.” The appeals court wrote that “this is not a valid reason.”

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Trooper shooting suspect had Illinois record

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Missouri man whom police say shot and killed a Kentucky state trooper had pleaded guilty to drug charges in southern Illinois late last year.

WSIL-TV reports that Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks of Florissant, Missouri was charged with possessing drugs and guns after he was pulled over on Interstate 57 on Christmas 2014.

He spent nearly a month in the Franklin County Jail before pleading guilty to a charge of intent to deliver marijuana. Johnson-Shanks was sentenced to 30 months of probation.

Thirty-one-year-old Cameron Ponder was shot to death late Sunday in western Kentucky after a high-speed chase that reportedly started with the trooper pulling over Johnson-Shanks for speeding.

Police say Johnson-Shanks was shot to death by other Kentucky troopers after he refused to surrender.

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Republicans launch effort to recruit female candidates

FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican state Sen. Julie Raque Adams has launched an organization to recruit and train women to run for public office.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Adams announced on Wednesday that she will serve as executive director of Kentucky Strong, which has the backing of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Adams cited the lack of women elected to public office in the state, citing data that showed Kentucky is near the bottom nationally in the percentage of women elected to its legislature.

McConnell said in a statement that women will get the training they need to run and win elections.

A similar organization called Emerge Kentucky recruits women to run for office as Democrats.

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Mine rescue station opening in W.Ky. this week

MADISONVILLE (AP) — The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is opening a mine rescue station in western Kentucky.

The facility opening Friday is to serve mines in the Midwest in case of emergency. Similar stations are located in Beckley, West Virginia; Pittsburgh; and Price, Utah.

The station at Madisonville will include a fully equipped mine emergency unit team truck, surface communication system, first response underground communication system, infrared gas monitoring and a mobile gas chromatograph laboratory.

A tour of the facility will follow remarks by Assistant Labor Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main, other MSHA officials and representatives of Alliance Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and the Kentucky Division of Mine Safety.

The opening is set for noon CDT Friday at 150 School Ave.

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Christian conservatives rally for religious awakening

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Hundreds of people cheered the husband of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during a rally of Christian conservatives Thursday outside the Tennessee Capitol.

The celebration of Constitution Day was sponsored by the Tennessee Pastors Network and also drew Rafael Cruz, a pastor and the father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican and presidential candidate.

Speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision effectively legalizing same-sex marriage, Cruz said, “The devil overplayed his hand.”

He said the country needs to elect a constitutional conservative as president, and suggested that Christian conservatives will be roused to action by the ruling.

“We’ve been silent too long,” he said.

“Religious persecution ends in January 2017,” he said.

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Toxic algae blooms prompt delay of Ohio River swim event

NEWPORT (AP) — A swim across the Ohio River from Cincinnati to northern Kentucky and back has been postponed because of toxic algae blooms found in the river.

Brewster Rhoads is swim chair and a volunteer for the sustainability organization Green Umbrella. He told The Cincinnati Enquirer it’s hoped any health threat will be gone by the tentative new date of Oct. 10.

Proceeds from the Great Ohio River Swim are used to promote the organization’s website for outdoor events and venues for adults and children in the region.

The Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission says the blooms were first discovered on the river last month in West Virginia and now can be found into parts of Kentucky. A recreation advisory has been in effect since earlier this month.

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