News in Brief

Bill offers immunity for breaking into cars to rescue pets

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would give civil immunity to people who break into locked vehicles to rescue dogs and cats considered to be at risk of death.

The bill cleared the Senate on a 35-1 vote Wednesday. Republican Sen. Danny Carroll of Paducah is lead sponsor of the bill, which heads to the House.

The bill would provide instances when civil immunity would apply for damage that people cause to a vehicle when they break in to rescue a dog or cat.

Such immunity would apply if the person has a reasonable belief that the dog or cat is in immediate danger of death. Immunity also would apply if the person uses no more force than is reasonably necessary to enter the vehicle.

The legislation is Senate Bill 8.

Panel OKs bill to track substance abuse treatment efforts

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky legislative panel has approved a bill to require health officials to track the success of state-funded substance abuse treatment programs.

The bill cleared the House Health and Family Services Committee on Thursday. The proposal calls for the Health and Family Services Cabinet to develop a system to gauge the effectiveness of treatment programs.

In a state battling opioid addiction, the measure also requires the cabinet to update licensing and regulatory requirements for treatment programs.

Cabinet official Allen Brenzel says some licensing requirements put an “undue burden” on providers wanting to offer treatment.

Rep. Addia Wuchner, the bill’s lead sponsor, says she wants to ensure programs offer the same basic components to maximize opportunities for patients to recover.

The bill heads to the House.

The legislation is House Bill 124.

Last of 4 inmates to escape jail in December caught

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. (AP) — The last of four inmates to escape a Kentucky detention center has been captured, nearly three weeks after breaking out.

Chief Deputy Jamie Reihs of the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department says Ashland police arrested 33-year-old Thomas Bentley on Wednesday after a short foot chase. The Daily Independent reports that Bentley was one of four inmates to flee the Boyd County Detention Center on Dec. 28.

Twenty-one-year-old Isiah Bare was captured the day of the escape, while 31-year-old Joseph Salyers was captured Dec. 29 and 21-year-old Austin Childers was captured Jan. 3.

Catlettsburg Police Chief Cameron Logan has said the inmates likely pried open the door to a pipe chase while in a cell, lifted an air conditioning unit and moved it to ascend to the roof before jumping the fence.

Icy roads bring SW Indiana students a 7-day ‘weekend’

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Students in southwestern Indiana are enjoying a seven-day “weekend” after snow-covered roads from recent storms prompted another day of cancelled classes.

The Evansville Vanderburgh County School Corporation canceled Thursday’s classes because secondary roads and sidewalks in Evansville and rural roads across Vanderburgh County remain covered with snow and ice.

School officials say roads and sidewalks are unsafe for both school buses and students who walk to school.

Thursday’s classes were also canceled for schools in Posey County, Indiana, and just across the Ohio River in Henderson County, Kentucky.

The Evansville Courier & Press reports that most of the region’s students last attended school on Jan. 11.

The school closures have turned students’ planned three-day weekend that included Monday’s holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. into a seven-day weekend.

Winter Adventure Weekend offered at Carter Caves

OLIVE HILL, Ky. (AP) — Winter adventures await outdoor enthusiasts this month at Carter Caves State Resort Park in eastern Kentucky.

The Independent reports the Winter Adventure Weekend will offer 201 activities from Jan. 25 through Jan. 28, including hiking, paddling, rappelling, cave tours and zip lining.

Park naturalist Coy Ainsley says experienced guides, many of which are volunteers, will lead all activities over the four-day event.

Activities are available for various experience levels, from beginner to advanced. Participants must register to attend.

New activities this year include mountain biking, a female only caving trip, a session on canoe camping and a workshop on cave photography.

Ky. ‘adoption czar’ leaves post midway through 1st year

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s “adoption czar” has left Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration seven months into his appointment, without explanation.

The Courier-Journal reported Monday that a Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesman said the state contract with Daniel Dumas had been terminated. He didn’t provide more details, and Dumas didn’t respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

A legislative committee in June approved the former Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor’s contract to review Kentucky’s troubled child welfare system. His selection drew criticism from some, including Democrats who said he lacked professional social service experience. Reporting directly to the Republican governor, Dumas drew a salary of around $250,000 a year under the two-year contract, which would have been renewable for two more years.

Louisville airport authority names new director

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Louisville Regional Airport Authority has named a new executive director.

Dan Mann is currently director of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina. Mann will begin his stint in March.

A release from the airport authority says Mann has more than 25 years in airport management and air service development. The South Carolina airport had five consecutive years of passenger growth under Mann. The airport also had a $58 million capital improvement program that included the installation of a solar panel farm on its campus.

He was previously executive director of the Eastern Iowa Airport and manager of the airport in Casper, Wyoming.

Mann succeeds C.T. “Skip” Miller, who has led the airport authority since 2003.

Rape charges dismissed against ex-university board chair

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A judge has dismissed the rape, sodomy and witness bribery charges against a former University of Kentucky board chair.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports that special Circuit Judge Kelly Mark Easton dismissed the charges against 78-year-old Billy Joe Miles on Tuesday, but the manner of the dismissal has yet to be resolved.

A home health worker had accused Miles of sexually assaulting her, leading to a 2016 indictment. Assistant Attorneys General Jon Heck and Barbara Maines Whaley filed an affidavit earlier this month, saying the woman’s attorneys told prosecutors she didn’t wish to proceed with the case because of her “fragile psychological condition.”

Defense attorney Scott Cox argued that the case should be dismissed with prejudice, which prevents prosecutors from bringing the charges back to court in the future.