News in Brief


Health officials urge vaccinations as flu season nears peak

LEXINGTON (AP) — Health officials in Lexington and Louisville are urging people who haven’t gotten flu shots to get vaccinated.

A statement from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department says two recent flu-related deaths have been reported. In Louisville, health officials are reported a spike in the number of flu cases. Both agencies sent an appeal urging people to get vaccinated as flu season ramps up. It typically peaks in late January or early February.

In Fayette County, officials say there have been at least 13 confirmed cases of the flu. In Louisville, officials say there have been 20 cases confirmed in less than two weeks compared to eight cases in the preceding seven weeks.

Officials say a flu shot is the best way to protect against the virus.

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Eastern Ky. couple dead in apparent murder-suicide

WHITESBURG (AP) — Authorities in eastern Kentucky say a man and woman have died in an apparent murder-suicide outside of their home.

Letcher County Coroner Renee Campbell tells WYMT-TV that Kentucky State Police were called to the home near Deane around 1 a.m. Saturday. She says 27-year-old Mark Mullins and 23-year-old Tiffany Hatton were found dead outside.

Both Mullins and Hatton had gunshot wounds. Campbell says the deceased were a couple who had an infant together.

Investigators haven’t said who they believe fired the gun.

The bodies have been taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort, where their autopsies will be performed.

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Supreme Court agrees to hear University of Louisville suit

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s highest court has agreed to fast track a lawsuit between the state’s Republican governor and Democratic attorney general over the leadership of the University of Louisville.

Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton issued an order on Monday ordering the Court of Appeals to transfer the case to the state Supreme Court.

Gov. Matt Bevin issued an executive order abolishing and replacing UofL’s board of trustees last summer. Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him, and a state judge blocked Bevin’s order. Bevin appealed. Meanwhile, the school’s accrediting body has put the university on probation.

Saturday, the state legislature voted to abolish and replace UofL’s board with a new governing body appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Bevin’s lawyers are likely to ask the court to dismiss the case.

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Family court judge reprimanded for handling of divorce cases

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A family court judge in Lexington has been reprimanded for requiring divorcing couples with children to participate in special hearings to determine if their marriages are really irretrievably broken.

Childless couples did not have to participate in those hearings.

Fayette Family Court Judge Timothy Philpot received the public reprimand in an order released Monday by the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission. It found that Philpot violated judicial canons, including one requiring that judges perform their duties “fairly and impartially.”

Philpot, a former state senator, cooperated with the investigation and agreed to the commission’s order.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Philpot wrote a novel last year that tells the story of a judge who orders similar controversial hearings to delay the divorce of a couple with children in hopes that they will reconcile.

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Job initiative to help Ky. Air National Guard Wing

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A regional initiative that helps veterans find jobs in the greater Louisville area is partnering with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing to help its members transition out of the military.

The initiative, called Where Opportunity Knox, is hosting a recruiting and information booth for members of the Airlift Wing one weekend a month and office hours throughout the month. The dates have not been specified.

The goal of the initiative is to connect 10,000 transitioning Veterans and military spouses to jobs in the Greater Louisville region by the end of 2017.

Where Opportunity Knox is funded by the Duke Energy Foundation, the Gheens Foundation, the James Graham Brown Foundation and the Ogle Foundation. For more information, visit: http://whereopportunityknox.com.

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Fort Campbell soldier from Texas dies in Jordan

FORT CAMPBELL (AP) — The Department of Defense has announced the death of Special Forces soldier who was serving in Jordan.

According to a statement from the DOD, Spc. Isiah L. Booker of Cibolo, Texas, died Jan. 7 in a noncombat-related incident. Booker was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, a sprawling Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

The unit is part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military’s name for the campaign to drive Islamic State extremists out of Iraq and Syria.

The statement says the incident is under investigation. No further details were immediately available.

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Tolled bridges average 81,000 vehicles in recent days

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Officials say traffic crossing three tolled bridges connecting Kentucky and Indiana in the Louisville area averaged more than 81,000 vehicles during three recent days.

RiverLink officials say just over 50 percent of those vehicles had transponders that were mounted and read by bridge cameras. Tolling started Dec. 30 on the new Lewis and Clark Bridge, the new Interstate 65 Abraham Lincoln Bridge and the improved I-65 Kennedy Bridge.

The Courier-Journal reports that nearly 185,000 RiverLink transponders have been requested to date. Drivers without transponders will get bills in the mail and pay higher toll rates.

The number of drivers with transponders is expected to continue to increase as more accounts are opened and transponder orders are fulfilled.

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5 chosen for induction into Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame

LEXINGTON (AP) — Five authors have been chosen for induction into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports a ceremony will be held Feb. 2 at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington.

The inductees include best-seller author Barbara Kingsolver and author and poet Gayl Jones. Three deceased writers also are on the list: Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb, Alfred Bertram Guthrie Jr. and Joseph Seamon Cotter.

The inductions will bring the hall to 29 members. The Carnegie Center created the Hall of Fame in 2013 to bring attention to the state’s rich literary heritage.

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Beaver Dam rest stop temporarily closed; employees lose jobs

BEAVER DAM (AP) — More than a dozen people have lost their jobs after a welcome center and rest area along the Wendell Ford-Western Kentucky Parkway closed.

Media outlets report the facility closed Sunday afternoon. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says it is seeking a new vendor, but hasn’t established a timeframe for reopening.

The welcome center housed a gas station, convenience store and an Arby’s. Vickie Morris, a shift manager at the Ohio County Travel Center at mile-marker 75 in Beaver Dam, says 13 people had been employed at the welcome center, not including Arby’s employees.

Morris says the contract on the space was up and the state denied Arby’s bid to keep ownership of the building.

The Transportation Cabinet said in a statement that the rest area was closed because of “liability issues.”

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4 candidates interviewed for WKU’s next president

BOWLING GREEN (AP) — The search for Western Kentucky University’s next president is narrowing with the current number of candidates under consideration dropping to four.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/2i6Pklh) members of the university’s Board of Regents and Presidential Search Committee met Sunday and Monday at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville to interview four candidates for the job.

University officials have spent several months on the search. Search Committee Chair and Regent Phillip Bale says the group of candidates is a “diverse group in terms of background experiences.” He says the board hasn’t discussed whether finalists for the job should have to reveal their identities.

Bale says the board plans to name a president by early March, if not sooner.

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