News Around the State

Attorney General: OK to post list of write-in candidates

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general says it is OK for election officials to post a list of certified write-in candidates at polling places.

The opinion from Democrat Andy Beshear’s office could give a boost to at least six current and former teachers running as write-in candidates for the state legislature.

In Kentucky, votes only count for write-in candidates if the candidate files a letter of intent by the fourth Friday in October with the Secretary of State or the county clerk.

Election officials have trained poll workers to not post the list of certified write-in candidates for fear it would violate the state’s ban on electioneering. But Beshear’s office said posting the list would not break the law because the lists would not advocate people to vote for or against a candidate.

Woman accused of faking own kidnapping, sending ransom notes

CORBIN, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky woman has been accused of staging her own kidnapping and sending her father fake ransom notes demanding $400.

News outlets report 19-year-old Abbygail Farley’s father had reported her missing. Court documents say he received text messages Tuesday from her phone and another number saying she was abducted.

Corbin police say Farley was pretending to be an abductor and demanded the cash. Farley’s father was told where to leave the money, and police and the FBI helped him drop it off.

Police Lt. Coy Wilson tells WYMT-TV authorities discovered Farley used a texting app to send the notes. They pinged her phone and found her inside an apartment.

Farley was charged with offenses including falsely reporting an incident and theft by extortion. It’s unclear if she has a lawyer.

Coroner: Inmate dies after lawn mower overturned on him

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) — Authorities say a Kentucky federal prison inmate who started a 15-month sentence two weeks ago has died.

Pulaski County Coroner Clyde Strunk tells the Lexington Herald-Leader 55-year-old John Arthur died Monday after a riding lawn mower turned over on top of him.

Strunk says prison officials told him Arthur was using the mower to cut grass at the U.S. Penitentiary in McCreary County. Strunk says the machine flipped over into a pond as Arthur mowed on an embankment and trapped him underneath.

Strunk hasn’t officially ruled on the cause of Arthur’s death.

The U.S. Department of Justice says in a statement Arthur was found unresponsive at the facility. Strunk pronounced him dead roughly an hour later at a hospital.

Arthur’s sentence for disability fraud began July 30 after he pleaded guilty in June.

Chinese company to reopen paper mill

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Chinese company says it will buy a shuttered western Kentucky paper mill and reopen it by the end of this year.

Global Win Wickliffe LLC signed a purchase agreement Thursday for the former Verso Corp. mill in Ballard County. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s office said in a news release that the company plans to invest $150 million and hire 500 people.

Company officials say they plan to produce pulp and brown paper packaging at the site.

The announcement comes days after Bevin met with Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai (su-wee’ tee-ahn-khi). Bevin said only seven Chinese companies have facilities in Kentucky. Bevin said he hopes to increase that to 200 companies over the next two decades.

Soccer coach accused of having sex with minor, sending nudes

IRVINE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky high school soccer coach is accused of having sex with an underage student and sending multiple students nude photographs.

WKYT-TV reports 28-year-old Andrew Hatton was arrested Tuesday on charges of third-degree rape, distribution of obscene matter to minors and possession of matter portraying sexual performance of a minor.

His arrest citation says a member of the girls’ soccer team at Estill County High School told police she had sex with Hatton up to five times. Another player reported the coach had added her on Snapchat and sent nude pictures of himself, requesting nude pictures of her in return.

The school’s website listed Hatton as the boys’ soccer coach, but state police say he used to coach the girls. He’s been placed on leave. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Kentucky State Police unveiling Safety Town at state fair

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky State Fair is opening, and state police have a new Safety Town exhibit to unveil.

State police plan a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the exhibit, a red carpet walk for children entering, plastic trooper badges for the first 100 children and photo ops with the Kentucky State Fair mascot.

The event gets underway at 1 p.m. Thursday, and state police say it will be livestreamed on Facebook.

The fair begins its 11-day run Thursday at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

2 state park golf courses closing temporarily

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials say two state park golf courses will be closed temporarily to allow for re-seeding of greens.

The Department of Parks says both courses are in western Kentucky.

Parks officials say the 18-hole courses at Mineral Mounds State Park near Eddyville and Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park near Dawson Springs will close Aug. 20 for about four weeks. They say the greens will be re-seeded, and the courses are expected to re-open later this year.

The officials say the re-seeding is needed due to weather-related damages.

Two other state park courses in the region remain open. They are at Lake Barkley State Resort Park at Cadiz and Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park at Calvert City.

Police officer gets $300K in whistleblower lawsuit

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A jury has awarded $300,000 to police officer in Kentucky who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against his department, saying he was demoted for challenging police leadership and sharing information with local government leaders.

News outlets report jurors returned the verdict Wednesday for Raymond “Jimmy” Harper, who sued the Louisville Metro Police Department. Harper was a major and the Second Division commander until May 2017, when he was demoted to lieutenant and River Patrol commander during restructuring.

The lawsuit said police leadership told Harper to stop giving crime data and other information to Metro Council members. It also said Police Chief Steven Conrad rebuked Harper for speaking with Mayor Greg Fischer on a departmental decision.

Conrad said in a statement that the verdict was disappointing but he supported the court’s decision.

Union-backed aircraft mechanics win big pay raises in deal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A union representing UPS aircraft mechanics says it has won big pay raises, protected health benefits and improved retirement security in a tentative contract deal with the shipping company.

The union said Tuesday that the proposal sets “a new bar” for aircraft mechanics in the U.S. airline industry. The proposed contract covers 1,300 workers represented by Teamsters Local Union No. 2727, based in Louisville, Kentucky.

The union says the deal, to be voted on in coming weeks by union members, calls for an immediate 16 percent pay raise, along with 3 percent raises each year of the five-year contract.

Local 2727 President Tim Boyle praised the “resolve and unity” of union members in securing the deal. UPS says the proposed contract “meets the needs” of the company and its employees.

University of Louisville announces $5M to help tree study

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The University of Louisville says it has received $5 million to help fund a study that looks at the connection between a green environment and human health.

The school announced on Tuesday that the National Institutes of Health awarded the Green Heart project a $3 million grant over a five-year period and The Nature Conservancy awarded it a $2 million grant.

The University of Louisville and its partners plan to plant thousands of trees, shrubs and grasses in urban areas and study whether the action removes air pollution and improves human health.

University of Louisville Envirome Institute Director Aruni Bhatnagar says whether trees and other greenery actually have specific quantifiable health-promoting effects has never been rigorously tested.

He says the project could lead to new strategies for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.