News Around the State

Development districts sue Bevin administration over $867K

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A lawsuit from regional development groups says Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration withheld funds after the Republican governor issued a budget reduction order for most state agencies last year.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports seven of Kentucky’s 15 Area Development Districts filed a lawsuit June 28 saying the state Department for Local Government used $867,000 intended for the districts to make up its own budget shortfall. The lawsuit asserts that the department’s actions, approved by the state Finance and Administration Cabinet, violated multiple constitutional and statutory provisions.

The development districts are run by county judge-executives and funnel state and federal funds into programs for public safety, workforce development, regional planning and elder care.

DLG Commissioner Sandy Dunahoo accused the districts of wasting taxpayer money on the lawsuit in a Thursday statement.

Protesters confront McConnell outside Ky. restaurant

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A group of protesters confronted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about the Trump administration’s immigration policy as he left dinner in Kentucky, in the second such incident in under a month.

News outlets report the group outside Louisville’s Bristol Bar & Grille chanted “Abolish ICE!” on Saturday. The impromptu protest took place near where hundreds protested the government’s now-ended family separation policy outside an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office.

One protester asked, “Where are the babies, Mitch?”

McConnell’s dining companion, Kentucky politician Jonathan Shell, characterized the protesting group as “small” and “extremist.”

Shell criticized one protester who called McConnell “turtle head” and said, “We know where you live.” While the protest was attended by Louisville’s Democratic Socialists of America, the chapter said in a statement that that protester was unaffiliated.

Bevin administration ordered to pay for withholding records

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has been ordered to pay the Courier Journal’s legal cost because it refused to release public records identifying shareholders of a company planning to build a state-subsidized $1.5 billion aluminum rolling mill near Ashland.

The newspaper reports Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ordered Bevin’s Cabinet for Economic Development to pay almost $30,700 in its legal cost, plus $2,225 in statutory penalties Thursday. In March, Shepherd ruled the government cannot legally withhold public records that identify shareholders of Braidy Industries.

Shepherd said records concerning Braidy’s investors will remain under seal for 30 days. He did indicate that shareholders identified in the documents match the names provided by Braidy Industries in December.

Agency spokesman Jack Mazurak says the economic development cabinet plans to appeal the order and Shepherd’s earlier ruling.

Man says he killed woman met at counterculture gathering

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — Authorities in Kentucky say a Florida man has confessed to killing a woman he met at the massive “Rainbow Family” counterculture gathering in a Georgia forest.

Elizabethtown police spokesman Chris Denham tells news outlets that 20-year-old Joseph Bryan Capstraw was charged with murder Saturday after a woman was found dead in a home. According to the arrest citation, Capstraw said he blacked out after arguing with the woman, and woke up to find her badly beaten, and multiple injuries to his hands.

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy M. Jarrard says the victim has been identified, but her name can’t be released yet.

The sheriff’s office says the pair hitchhiked from the 47th annual Rainbow Family of Living Light gathering in the Chattahoochee National Forest.

It’s unclear whether Capstraw has a lawyer.

Indictment says former jailer had a hand in inmate’s assault

STANTON, Ky. (AP) — A former deputy in eastern Kentucky has been indicted for conspiring with inmates at the jail to assault another inmate and lying to the FBI.

A federal grand jury in Lexington indicted Jamie Derickson on four counts, alleging he conspired with inmates at the Powell County Detention Center in 2016. He struck an agreement with inmates that they would assault another inmate after Derickson placed him in a jail cell, the indictment alleges.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the indictment issued on Friday also alleges that Derickson later lied to FBI agents when he claimed that he did not know the inmates were going to assault another inmate.

If convicted, Derickson faces up to 10 years for each civil rights offense and five years for lying to investigators.

Ky. developer challenges city hall selection process

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky developer plans to challenge a city committee’s selection process for a proposed new government building.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports lawyers for Cowgill Partners said in a letter that month that their challenge is premised on their bid being lower than CRM Companies’ winning proposal.

CRM’s proposal would move Lexington city employees currently housed in five different buildings to one new city hall downtown. Lexington’s purchasing director, Todd Slatin, says CRM’s proposal ended up saving the city money through the square footage and number of parking spaces it offered, as well as the revenue from selling the five buildings.

Cowgill’s lawyers pushed back, saying Lexington is conflating value and dollars.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council has yet to award the bid. Several councilmembers expressed reservations about the whole project Tuesday.

Indictment says former jailer had a hand in inmate’s assault

STANTON, Ky. (AP) — A former deputy in eastern Kentucky has been indicted for conspiring with inmates at the jail to assault another inmate and lying to the FBI.

A federal grand jury in Lexington indicted Jamie Derickson on four counts, alleging he conspired with inmates at the Powell County Detention Center in 2016. He struck an agreement with inmates that they would assault another inmate after Derickson placed him in a jail cell, the indictment alleges.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the indictment issued on Friday also alleges that Derickson later lied to FBI agents when he claimed that he did not know the inmates were going to assault another inmate.

If convicted, Derickson faces up to 10 years for each civil rights offense and five years for lying to investigators.

Newspaper aims to help ex-inmates succeed after jail

CINCINNATI (AP) — A newspaper available in jails in Ohio and Kentucky is intended to help inmates build successful lives after their release.

Tracy Brumfield started publishing the Re-Entry Into Society Empowered or RISE paper in 2017 with a grant from People’s Liberty and the Haile Foundation, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati reports. The publication includes stories that Brumfield believes are inspirational and space for recently released offenders to share their experiences in hopes of helping others.

Without help, former inmates can revert back to bad practices, Brumfield said. Many former inmates leave prison without a job or a place to stay.

Brumfield also recently started volunteering one day a week to meet with ex-inmates immediately after their release. She provides them with care packages filled with items such as grocery store gift cards, bus passes and notes to help with the transition.

“Before they hit that door, we remind them why they don’t want to come back, and we offer them hope that somebody cares,” Brumfield said.

RISE is currently available in jails in areas including Hamilton County in southwestern Ohio and Kenton County in northern Kentucky.

Brumfield says she eventually hopes to expand the newspaper’s circulation to other jails. She also wants to expand her volunteer program from one day a week to several days a week.

“Individuals will kind of, you know, go straight back to what they know, so we’re hoping this is a little bit of a disruption,” Brumfield said.

State to step up enforcement of call-before-you dig law

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Environmental regulators in Kentucky say a law change will allow them to pursue enforcement actions against excavators who violate the state’s call-before-you-dig law and damage natural gas or hazardous liquid lines.

The Public Service Commission says the law change takes effect July 14. Under the change, the PSC will be able to impose financial penalties if violations are uncovered.

PSC Chairman Michael Schmitt says stepped-up enforcement of the call-before-you-dig requirements reflects a greater emphasis nationally and at the state level on pipeline safety.

The PSC says in 2017, there were more than 1,200 incidents in Kentucky in which gas lines were damaged during excavation.

Like every other state, Kentucky has a statewide 811 service that, by law, must be called at least two working days prior to beginning excavation.

Storage collapse sent alcohol gushing into retention ponds

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials say the final collapse of a whiskey storage warehouse sent torrents of spirits gushing into retention ponds.

John Mura, a spokesman for the state Energy and Environment Cabinet, said Friday about 120,000 gallons (454,000 liters) have been captured in two retention ponds at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown.

Part of the warehouse came crashing down in late June. The rest of the decades-old structure collapsed Wednesday, leaving thousands of whiskey barrels piled in a mountainous heap.

The distillery owner Sazerac, a Louisiana-based spirits company, didn’t immediately comment on the volume of spirits ending up in the ponds. The company has said it didn’t know how many barrels could be salvaged.

Mura says testing has turned up no indication of waterways being contaminated by whiskey spilled in the second collapse.