News in Brief


Natural gas-powered unit goes online at Ky. power plant

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Kentucky’s largest electric power utility says a new natural gas-powered generating unit that has gone online is the first of its kind in the state.

Louisville Gas and Electric said Monday that the 640-megawatt unit at its Cane Run Generating Station in western Louisville is up and running. It replaces coal-burning units at the plant, which was built in the 1950s.

The unit generates electricity with gas turbines, and then recycles exhaust heat to generate steam and produce additional power. The Tennessee Valley Authority is installing a similar gas-powered turbine at its Paradise Fossil plant in Drakesboro, Kentucky.

LG&E says the Cane Run project came in about $18 million under the projected cost of $563 million.

The company says it is continuing closure plans for Cane Run’s coal-fired units.

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Search to resume for 3 missing after boat capsizes

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A fire chief says crews plan to resume the search in Kentucky for three people who remain missing after the pontoon boat they were riding in hit a barge and capsized in the Ohio River.

Louisville Fire Chief Greg Frederick said the recovery effort would resume mid-morning Monday, but would be challenging due to river conditions that include swift currents carrying lots of debris.

Frederick said there were nine people total aboard the boat when it capsized Saturday night. One adult and one child died after the accident and four others, including three children wearing life jackets, were rescued. He said one of those still missing is a child.

Frederick said the barge was in a construction site about a mile upstream from the Clark Memorial Bridge.

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2 people drown on Kentucky Lake on Saturday

MURRAY (AP) — Two separate drowning incidents on Kentucky Lake have resulted in the death of a 17-year-old boy and a California woman.

Multiple media outlets report that the drownings occurred on Saturday, with the first occurring around 1 p.m. in the Cypress Bay area.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Captain Garry Clark says the unidentified woman apparently slipped on an inner tube and fell into the water. Her body was later found and she was pronounced dead at a Tennessee hospital.

Later that day, a boy from Hopkinsville, Kentucky drowned while swimming in the Kenlake area in Marshall County.

Clark says the boy called for help, but drowned before anyone was able to get to him.

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Humane Society says Ky. shouldn’t expand bear hunt

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Humane Society of the United States says Kentucky’s bear population is still too small to allow for an expansion in hunting quotas.

But state wildlife officials say the number of bears in Kentucky has grown and the population can withstand increased hunting. The Humane Society says the bear population needs more time.

The state is estimated to have about 350 bears, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

“We have two very small populations of bears in Kentucky,” said Wendy Keefover, of the Humane Society of the United States. “They want to increase the hunting quota essentially by 10 bears. They should be augmenting the population rather than killing it.”

Last year, 21 bears were killed during the hunting season. Under the proposed changes, the state would permit 35 bears or up to 20 female bears to be killed during the season.

Bears returned to Kentucky in the 1990s after the population was virtually eliminated through hunting and habitat destruction by the early 1900s.

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Critics blast hiring of cabinet official’s husband

FRANKFORT (AP) — The hiring of a Kentucky cabinet official’s husband has been questioned by critics who say the hiring represents a conflict of interest and a misuse of funds that could be better spent on helping overworked and underpaid social workers.

The Courier-Journal reports that Bob James, the husband of Teresa James, the commissioner of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ social service agency, has been hired for the new role of assisting the cabinet’s Inspector General’s office.

Cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said in a statement that officials see no conflict in having Bob James work at the same cabinet as his wife.

Julie Denton, a former state senator from Louisville, says Bob James’ $50,000 salary should instead be going toward fixing the problem of high turnover among state social workers.

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Asian carp processor hoping more in Ky. try the fish

WICKLIFFE (AP) — A western Kentucky fish processing company that sells Asian carp is hoping more Kentuckians will try the fish, which is plentiful in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Two Rivers Fisheries ships the fish to restaurants in major cities, including St. Louis, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Boston, as well as Europe and Asia.

The carp processing company and fish market opened in Wickliffe in 2013.

The company calls its carp “Kentucky white fish.” Two Rivers Fisheries owner and president Angie Yu told The Paducah Sun the carp have been eaten in Asia for thousands of years, but there’s a stigma on the product with American diners. The fish are considered bony, so they must be prepared properly, she says.

“Asians know how to cook it,” she said. “They have so many ways. Every family knows how to make it.”

The fish is considered invasive and has growing populations in Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, where state fish and wildlife officials have made efforts to reduce the population.

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Man who called 911 later charged in girlfriend’s death

UNION (AP) — A northern Kentucky man who called 911 saying his girlfriend repeatedly banged her own head on a window has been charged with murder in her death.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports Daniel Vetter called authorities last month and told dispatchers he was outside when the woman began banging her head on a window.

Meranda Hobbs, 27, died after the June 4 incident.

Investigators with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office said there were “unusual circumstances” surrounding the incident. Vetter told police the two had been drinking that morning and Hobbs began hitting her head when he was outside on the phone.

Vetter, 33, of Union, was arrested Wednesday at the Kenton County Detention Center, where he was already serving a sentence for a DUI conviction.

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Aetna to buy Humana as health insurer landscape shifts

(AP) — Aetna aims to spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

The proposed cash-and-stock deal, announced early Friday, would make Aetna a sizable player in the rapidly growing Medicare Advantage business, which offers privately run versions of the federally funded health care program for the elderly and some people with disabilities.

The combination also would bolster Aetna’s presence in the state- and federally funded Medicaid program and Tricare coverage for military personnel and their families.

Health insurers are eager to do more business with government payers due in part to a Medicaid expansion fostered by the health care overhaul and Medicare Advantage’s surging enrollment. The overhaul is expanding Medicaid coverage in several states as it seeks to provide health coverage for millions of uninsured people.

Meanwhile, total enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans has tripled over the past decade to about 16.8 million people and is expected to keep growing as more baby boomers become eligible for the plans. Aetna’s acquisition of Humana would make it the largest provider of Medicare Advantage coverage, with 4.4 million members, a figure that could change depending on regulatory review.

“Government markets are the most rapidly growing aspect of the system,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO of the market research firm Avalere Health.

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Retired Marine officer to speak at ceremony for Vietnam wall

FRANKFORT (AP) — A retired Marine officer will be among the speakers at a ceremony for the Traveling Vietnam Wall at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

The state Department of Veterans Affairs says retired Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields will join Gov. Steve Beshear in speaking at the ceremony Friday.

Fields retired from the Marine Corps in 2004 after more than 34 years of active military service. At the time of his retirement, he was serving as deputy commander of Marine Corps forces in Europe and Africa.

The Traveling Vietnam Wall will be on display at the Horse Park from noon EDT Thursday through 3 p.m. Sunday.

The wall is an 80 percent scale model of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C.

A total of 1,104 Kentuckians died in the Vietnam War.

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Woman who led police on chase facing murder charge

LEXINGTON (AP) — A woman who led Lexington, Kentucky, police on a chase in a stolen bucket truck has now been charged with murder.

According to WKYT-TV, 32-year-old Vanessa Napier was eventually apprehended by police on Friday after stealing the truck and faces several charges, including driving under the influence and fleeing and evading police.

She was charged with murder on Saturday after police discovered a man’s body on Athens Walnut Hill Pike. Investigators have not said how Napier is connected to the man, who has not been identified. She is also charged with tampering with evidence in that case.

Napier is being held without bond in the Fayette County Detention Center. It was not immediately clear if she has hired an attorney.

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Interstate 64 repairs, resurfacing began Monday

LOUISVILE (AP) — A stretch of Interstate 64 in Franklin and Shelby counties may see some lane closures starting Monday as resurfacing work and bridge deck repairs began.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the project extends from just east of the Waddy-Peytona exit at mile point 43 to the Frankfort-Lawrenceburg exit at mile point 53.

Bridge deck repairs will be made at the crossings over Benson Creek at mile point 47.2, South Benson Creek at mile point 49.1, Bardstown Trail at mile point 45.5 and Kentucky 1665 at mile point 49.8.

The project also includes resurfacing of ramps at the I-64 and Kentucky 151 interchange and replacement of guardrail in both directions between mile points 43.8 and 53.1.

Overnight lane closures are possible. The work is scheduled to be finished Nov. 1.

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