5 arrested in Va. in protest against coal operator
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Police arrested five people after they hung a large banner in downtown Roanoke to protest West Virginia coal billionaire Jim Justice’s mining operations.
The banner was strung between two buildings Thursday morning. Police Sgt. J.H. Bowdel tells The Roanoke Times that officers removed the protesters from the rooftops of the buildings. They will be charged with trespassing.
Bowdel says the protesters had bookbags containing climbing equipment, including rope and safety vests.
The environmental groups Mountain Justice, Rising Tide North America and Radical Action for Mountain and People’s Survival say in a news release that they hung the banner to protest the practices of Justice’s mines.
Last month, Justice reached a $1.5 million settlement with Kentucky officials over dozens of violations at several of his coal mines in eastern Kentucky.
Louisville charity founder sentenced to prison
LOUISVILLE (AP) — The founder of a charity that delivered food to the needy has been sentenced to 24 months in a federal prison for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. sentenced 66-year-old Hugh “Stan” Curtis on Thursday in Louisville. Curtis will also serve a three-year period of supervised release and must pay $183,354 in restitution.
Curtis pleaded guilty in June to tax evasion, mail fraud and money laundering for diverting donations he solicited on behalf of the nonprofit USA Harvest. Curtis acknowledged depositing $164,620 into his personal account and cashing and keeping donation checks totaling $18,734.
Curtis also admitted that from 2005 through 2008, he failed to report to the IRS roughly $341,646 in personal income from donations made to USA Harvest.
Berea council discusses gay rights ordinance
BEREA (AP) — City leaders in Berea are considering how to implement a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance that had its first reading this week.
The ordinance is modeled after others that include protections for gays and have passed in a handful of Kentucky cities.
The Richmond Register reports some council members were concerned with personnel costs associated with processing discrimination complaints.
Council member Vi Farmer says she is worried about additional personnel costs, since the city would have to contract with an attorney to serve as a hearing officer. Mayor Steve Connelly says Berea would likely contract the Fayette County Human Rights Commission for those functions.
The Tuesday night meeting drew a crowd of about 150.
A second reading and vote on the measure could come at an Oct. 7 meeting.
Central Kentucky interchange to open soon
WINCHESTER (AP) — An interchange connecting the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway to Kentucky 974 in Clark County will soon be open to traffic.
Gov. Steve Beshear and local officials cut the ribbon for the $8.3 million project on Wednesday after about 18 months of work on the diamond interchange.
The interchange includes four new ramps, a new 297-foot bridge and reconstruction of Kentucky 974 for almost a mile.
Beshear’s office says the project will accommodate traffic growth expected from a nearby industrial park and the J.K. Smith Power Station, will improve access to eastern Clark County and will alleviate the burden of heavy commercial vehicles on some rural roads.
The new interchange is also expected to allow quicker emergency response in the area.
Some lighting is still to be installed, with the interchange expected to open by mid-September.
Kentucky State University dropping nonpayers
FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky State University is dropping a quarter of its students for nonpayment.
The Lexington Herald-Leader says some of the bills are as high as $40,000 and have lasted two years.
The university faces a $7 million shortfall due to losing 645 students who hadn’t paid, but interim President Raymond Burse said Wednesday that future cost savings may fill the gap. He said he expects about 200 students to pay their bills and return.
He says KSU has tried to help students who most need it and has given warnings and financial counseling to students for more than 18 months.
Enrollment last fall was 2,533.
Kentucky State paid balances for 111 students whose balances were less than $1,000. Burse also ordered $65,000 in scholarships and book vouchers for 42 students about to graduate this year or first-time students.
UK announces $20 million gift for student center
(AP) — The University of Kentucky has announced a $20 million gift from its most generous donor to build a new student center on its Lexington campus.
The donation from UK graduate Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton is the largest gift in the school’s nearly 150-year history. It’s the lead gift in the construction of the new student center — a $175 million, self-financed renovation and expansion scheduled to open in 2017.
UK President Eli Capilouto announced the donation Thursday.
The new student center will include student activity and study spaces, dining and retail operations and a bookstore.
Gatton’s contributions to his alma mater exceed $45 million. UK’s business school is named after Gatton.
The new student center is the latest in more than $1 billion in construction projects at the state’s flagship university.