News in Brief

Harsh winds down trees, damage homes throughout state

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A strong line of storms that moved through Kentucky overnight knocked down trees and power lines, and damaged several homes throughout the state.

There was one injury reported in Madison County when a resident was struck by debris Wednesday morning, officials said.

Emergency officials reported several damaged homes in Madison, Estill and Lee counties.

There were thousands of electric customers around the state without power early Wednesday morning. LG&E reported about 5,500 customers in the Louisville area without power at noon. Jackson Purchase Energy and Paducah Power had recorded about 13,000 without power, but that number had been reduced to less than 6,000 by Wednesday afternoon. Most of the outages were in McCracken County.

Shelters for displaced residents have opened in Lee and Madison counties.


House OK’s bill to limit length of painkiller prescriptions

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentuckians would be limited to a three-day supply of prescription painkillers under a bill that has cleared the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 333 is aimed at fighting the state’s opioid epidemic, which often begins with an addiction to prescription painkillers. The bill includes a number of exceptions, however, including treatment for chronic pain, cancer patients, hospice or end of life care or if a doctor believes the patient needs more than a three-day supply and can document it in medical records.

The bill also allows for the use of products that contain cannabidiol, which is derived from hemp, but only if they have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Bill sponsor Rep. Kimberly Moser said the bill would not restrict farmers from growing hemp.


Company plans to reopen Knott Co. mine, hire 60 workers

HINDMAN (AP) — A mining company is planning to reopen an eastern Kentucky coal mine within the next week and hire 60 workers.

WYMT-TV reports that Kingdom Resources plans to take over operations one of the old Enterprise mines in Knott County.

Kingdom Resources CEO Mark Wilson says the mine will be known as Kingdom Coal.

Knott County Judge Executive Zach Weinberg says he was told the company plans to hire 60 workers within the next two weeks.

It is unclear how long the mine has been closed.

Kingdom Resources is based in Midlothian, Texas.


Bill to regulate solar power put on hold by sponsor

FRANKFORT (AP) — Legislation backed by Kentucky’s traditional utilities to regulate solar power has been put on hold by the measure’s sponsor after receiving pushback from solar advocates.

Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter said he worked on changes to the bill but was uncomfortable with the language.

Carpenter is chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and he announced during a committee hearing Wednesday that he was skipping over his measure.

Solar advocates contend the bill would stymie the fledgling solar industry.

A key issue is a system that allows solar users to feed their excess power into their local utility’s grid and receive a one-for-one credit toward power they buy.

Utilities say giving credit at the retail rate doesn’t defray their costs in the power grid.

The legislation is Senate Bill 214.


Task force that intercepted UPS packages halted amid scandal

LOUISVILLE, (AP) — An elite Louisville task force that intercepted shipments of heroin and other illegal drugs at UPS’ worldwide hub has been disbanded after a former detective stole nearly $75,000 while on the job.

The Courier-Journal says the Louisville Metro Police Department pulled the task force from the shipping giant’s hub at the Louisville International Airport in September.

Investigators used drug-detecting dogs to intercept packages, many of which had been shipped by Mexican cartels.

The task force was disbanded after the FBI uncovered that Det. Kyle Willett had stolen large amounts of cash from the packages. Willett pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge in December.

The detectives have been reassigned to other narcotics investigations.

UPS spokesman Mike Mangeot says the company has continued in-house security measures to intercept illegal packages.


Bill aimed at helping foster children wins final approval

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky children could be placed with close family friends after being removed from their homes under a bill that has won final legislative approval.

The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, sending it to Gov. Matt Bevin. It’s among several efforts by Bevin and lawmakers to improve the state’s adoption and foster care programs.

The bill would allow children in the foster care system to stay with “fictive kin,” defined as people who are not related but have an emotionally significant relationship with the child.

Final action on the bill was hailed by Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. Brooks says close family friends can provide a “vital safety net” when children are removed from their homes, placing them with adults they trust.

The legislation is House Bill 180.


House approves bill to limit first-offense DUI convictions

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentuckians would be limited to just one first-offense DUI conviction in their lifetime under a bill that has cleared the state House of Representatives.

Penalties for DUI in Kentucky escalate with each subsequent conviction. But if someone has two DUI convictions more than 10 years apart, both are treated as a “first offense,” which carries no jail time.

House Bill 261 would not allow people to be charged with a second first-offense DUI, no matter how much time has passed. Lawmakers amended the bill on Tuesday so that first-offense DUI convictions would be sealed after 10 years and would not show up on background checks. The law also would not apply retroactively.

House lawmakers approved the bill 94-0. It now heads to the state Senate.


Boy injured as storms pass through Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities say a Tennessee boy has been injured after a tree fell on his home as severe storms passed through central Tennessee.

Clarksville Police Department spokesman Lt. Steve Warren told The Leaf-Chronicle that the 12-year-old boy was injured Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, National Weather Service meteorologist Sam Herron says there have been numerous reports of scattered damage across Middle Tennessee. He said there were reports of a possible tornado near the Cool Springs mall south of Nashville.

The Nashville Emergency Operations Center tweeted that damage to power lines and trees indicates another possible tornado touched down in the city.

In addition, news outlets are reporting the storm has caused thousands of power outages across Middle Tennessee and a traffic backup on Interstate 65.


‘Hunger Games’ exhibit going to Jennifer Lawrence’s hometown

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Officials say that Louisville will take over as the next host of “The Hunger Games.”

According to media reports, The Frazier Museum announced on Tuesday that the “immersive exhibition” from the movie starring Louisville-native Jennifer Lawrence is coming April 1 through Sept. 10. The Hunger Games: The Exhibition has already been displayed in New York and San Francisco and Sydney.

The Courier-Journal reports Karen Lawrence, Jennifer’s mom, attended the announcement and said she helped get the exhibit to the family’s hometown by placing a call. Frazier did the rest.

The exhibition will have more than 1,000 authentic costumes and props including “The Girl on Fire” dress as well as the “Mockingjay” dress, armor and pin.


Denied: Student to get books instead of half-court shot cash

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A University of Louisville student disqualified after hitting a half-court shot to win a basketball contest will get a consolation package for missing out on the $38,000 prize.

The Courier-Journal reports the university’s athletic department is paying for sophomore Jackson Logsdon’s books and meal plan for the next two years.

Logsdon made a layup, free throw, 3-point shot and a half-court shot during halftime of the women’s home basketball game Thursday.

But the contest prohibited participants from playing high school basketball within the past six years. Logsdon played basketball in high school and said he never claimed he didn’t play previously. He says he knew it would be unlikely he would collect the prize.

School athletics spokesman Ira Green said the university sponsored the contest.


Jailer: Inmate smuggles in drug that sends 6 to hospital

ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) — A Kentucky jailer says an inmate is facing charges after smuggling in a drug that sent six prisoners to the hospital.

Jailer Danny Allen tells The News-Enterprise that 49-year-old Anthony Johnson brought the synthetic drug, believed to be “spice,” into the Hardin County Detention Center by hiding it in his socks, which officers didn’t make him remove.

Arrest reports say six inmates smoked the drug Sunday and within minutes became “violent or unresponsive.” Allen says one of the inmates struck an officer and a nurse. The prisoners were treated at a hospital and returned to jail. Allen says charges against them are likely.

Johnson didn’t consume the drug. He faces multiple charges including wanton endangerment.

Allen says the officers who failed to have Johnson remove his socks weren’t suspended.

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