News in Brief

Judge accused of threatening police is suspended

LOUISVILLE (AP) — An eastern Kentucky judge accused of a long list of belligerent behavior including name-calling, unethically presiding over cases, and threatening a “bullet in the head” for the next police officer to pull him over has been suspended.

In all, Pike County Circuit Judge Steven D. Combs faces 10 counts of misconduct. He was temporarily suspended with pay Tuesday pending a final ruling by the state’s Judicial Conduct Commission. Another hearing will be held, and the commission’s options could include removing Combs from the bench, suspending or reprimanding him.

Combs was disappointed by the suspension, said Steve Ryan, one of his attorneys.

“He works hard,” Ryan said Wednesday. “All indications are that he’s a good judge when he’s on the bench.”

The allegations against him include phone calls to Pikeville police — one in December in which Combs is accused of contacting a captain to demand an investigation of automated calls he received regarding drinking and driving during the holidays.

Combs then said the next officer who pulled him over would get a “bullet in the head,” according to the commission.


Report: West Virginia has highest drug overdose death rate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S., according to a report released Wednesday, further spotlighting Appalachia’s festering drug abuse problem that is also fueling a rise in hepatitis C in one of the nation’s poorest regions.

There were about 34 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 West Virginia residents from 2011-13, up dramatically from 22 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007-09, according to the report released Wednesday by the nonprofit groups Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate was more than double the national average, the report says. Citing statistics from the CDC, it found that West Virginia’s rate far surpasses the second-highest state, New Mexico, which was at 28.2 deaths per 100,000. The national average was 13.4.

“It’s more than disappointing. It’s devastating,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in Charleston. “Can I say that I’m shocked? I’m not, because I know the depth of this problem.”

The reasons why vary, but they are intertwined, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, West Virginia’s state health officer.

He cited the impoverished region’s history of poor education, along with the isolation of people and communities in its rugged mountainous terrain. There’s a limited offering of substance abuse programs, though it’s growing, but services may be far away and hard to reach.


Man drives to police department, asks to be arrested

HOPKINSVILLE (AP) — Authorities say a Hopkinsville man asked police to arrest him after he admitted to driving to the police station under the influence of alcohol.

The Kentucky New Era reports 26-year-old Christopher L. Stewart was arrested at 8:19 p.m. Tuesday after he drove to the police department and slammed on his brakes before nearly hitting one of the police cruisers.

Stewart then approached officers and told them he was ready to go to jail for DUI.

He told police that he drank a pint before driving to the station. Police say Stewart also attempted to drink a closed bottle of fuel injector cleaning fluid but officers stopped him.

He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. It is unclear if he has a lawyer.


Police: Aggressive ‘street preachers’ arrested at food fest

SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (AP) — Two so-called street preachers have been arrested on disorderly conduct charges during Springfield’s annual Taste of Country event.

Forty-nine-year-old John L. Davis, of Albemarle, North Carolina, and 54-year-old John E. McGlone, of Breeding, Kentucky, were arrested Saturday after becoming aggressive, police in Springfield told The Tennessean. Police say the two men yelled at bystanders and called them names as they tried to promote religious messages.

“They were these ‘street preachers’ who were very loud and disruptive and told to tone it down,” police Chief David Thompson said. “They were asked to follow the code of conduct posted for the event. But they were exhibiting aggressive behavior.”

The Chamber of Commerce organizes the event each year and posts large signage at every entrance noting the festival’s code of conduct, which excludes unauthorized solicitation and offensive, harassing or vulgar language.

Jordan Osborne, the chamber’s vice president of operations, said she was harassed when she tried to point out the code to the men.

“They were hostile, pointing at people. They called me a ‘jezebel’ and told me I was going to hell,” Osborne said. “When you see people wanting to fight, it’s scary.”

Davis and McGlone have been released from the Robertson County Jail on bond.

Thompson says the two men were part of a group of a dozen who were passing out literature and preaching to people.


Girl calls 911; mother found dead, father wounded

EDMONTON (AP) — A south-central Kentucky sheriff’s department says officials found a woman dead and a man wounded inside a home after their 9-year-old daughter called 911.

Metcalfe County Sheriff Rondal Shirley’s office said in a news release the girl called late Tuesday for help “because her father had blood on him and she could not wake her mother up.”

The Glasgow Daily Times said the sheriff’s office reported that 48-year-old Daniel Tiller was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the head. Coroner Larry Wilson pronounced 44-year-old Jessica Tiller dead at the scene.

The news release said the child heard her parents arguing and went to sleep. When she awoke, she found her parents and called 911.

The sheriff’s office is investigating.


Deadline is July 13 to seek disaster loan for March weather

FRANKFORT (AP) — Private nonprofit organizations in Kentucky that sustained physical losses from severe weather in March in 57 Kentucky counties have until July 13 to submit disaster loan applications with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Eligible counties are Anderson, Bell, Bourbon, Boyd, Breathitt, Bullitt, Butler, Calloway, Carter, Casey, Clay, Daviess, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Franklin, Fulton, Gallatin, Grant, Greenup, Hancock, Harrison, Hart, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, LaRue, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Marshall, Martin, Mason, Menifee, Metcalfe, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Owen, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Powell, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Spencer, Trigg, Washington, Webster, Whitley and Woodford.

The organizations must provide noncritical services such as food kitchens, homeless shelters, museums, libraries, community centers, schools and colleges.

To apply, visit , call 800-659-2955, email [email protected] or download an application at


Lawsuit challenges Ky. ban on corporate political donations

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s ban on corporate contributions to political parties and state candidates is being challenged by a group pushing right-to-work legislation opposed by organized labor.

Protect My Check Inc. filed a lawsuit Thursday in Kentucky seeking to overturn the corporate contribution ban.

The federal lawsuit claims the ban violates equal protection and free-speech rights.

Protect My Check says it wants to make political contributions but is prohibited by Kentucky law. The group pushes legislation allowing employees at unionized workplaces to opt out of paying union dues without losing their jobs.

Protect My Check notes unions and limited liability corporations can contribute to candidates and political parties in Kentucky.

Defendants are Kentucky Registry of Election Finance officials. Registry officials declined immediate comment, saying they had not yet seen the suit.


KentuckyOne rebuffs call to take down ‘misleading’ cancer ad

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A KentuckyOne Health cancer center has refused to take down an advertising banner in the heart of Louisville’s medical center that some doctors have called “misleading.”

The Courier-Journal reports that the University of Louisville Hospital’s ethics committee unanimously voted last month to ask the James Graham Brown Center to take down or revise the banner advertising the “CyberKnife” radiosurgery procedure. The billboard features the message, “Fight cancer with 5 or fewer treatments.”

Dr. Larry Florman, a surgeon who sits on the ethics committee, says the advertising is “misleading” because the procedure only works that quickly for small, isolated tumors.

KentuckyOne spokesman David McArthur says the company examined clinical results and decided to keep the advertisement up. He says the procedure has helped hundreds of patients.


Stretch of Kentucky River open to navigation again

FRANKFORT (AP) — An 82-mile stretch of the Kentucky River from Frankfort to its mouth at the Ohio River is navigable with the opening of locks and dams Nos. 1 through 4.

They are open to boaters for the first time since 2007, when major renovation work began.

The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet said in a news release that more than 1,200 people on 295 boats have passed through the locks since they opened Memorial Day weekend. It takes an average of about 20 to 30 minutes to “lock through.”

Some celebrations are planned, including a ribbon-cutting on June 26 and River Blast on June 27, both in Frankfort. River cleanups are also planned in different communities along the river and along the Ohio River this Saturday.

For more information, visit


Program promoting Ky. artists accepting applications

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Kentucky Arts Council is accepting applications from artists interested in participating in a program that helps them market their creations.

The Kentucky Crafted Program is an adjudicated marketing assistance program for the state’s finest visual and craft artists. It provides assistance through marketing and promotional opportunities and arts business training.

Kentucky Arts Council director Lori Meadows says it is an ideal way for artists to access wholesale buyers and work on their entrepreneurial skills.

Artists accepted into the program are eligible to use the Kentucky Crafted logo, exhibit at special markets and be included in the arts council’s online directory for artists.

The deadline to apply for Kentucky Crafted is Aug. 17. For more information about the program, contact Ed Lawrence, arts council arts marketing director, at [email protected]

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