News in Brief

Ky.’s jobless rate increases slightly in April

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky officials say the state’s unemployment rate rose slightly in April.

The Office of Employment and Training says last month’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted rate was 5.1 percent, up from the 5 percent statewide rate in March 2017.

The statewide rate in April 2016 was 5 percent.

Officials say the state’s leisure and hospitality sector had the largest month-to-month increase last month, growing by 1,600 jobs. They say the construction sector and the education and health services sector each added 1,500 jobs last month.

Manufacturing declined by 2,900 jobs since March 2017. But since April 2016, officials say the manufacturing sector was up by 4,200 jobs.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector decreased by 1,300 jobs from March to April of this year. Government employment declined by 500 jobs in April.

N.Ky. cities hold campaign against opioid abuse

ERLANGER (AP) — The cities of Erlanger and Union are each conducting public awareness campaigns this weekend to take on Kentucky’s opioid crisis.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Erlanger will hold a door-to-door drive Sunday to distribute nearly 10,000 informational door hangers. The city has teamed up with Kenton County, The Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Planning Development Services and the Northern Kentucky Health Department on a campaign focusing on the heroin crisis.

Union’s campaign will take place this Saturday and Sunday, with a door-to-door drive to distribute informational flyers on heroin and opioid abuse and resources. The city of Union will be the first city in Boone County to conduct such a campaign.

Spectrum shuts down call center Ky. city, lays off 56

LEXINGTON (AP) — Cable company Charter Communications has shut down its Spectrum call center in Lexington, Kentucky resulting in layoffs of 56 full-time workers.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Charter spokesman Mike Pedelty confirmed the decision Wednesday and said Spectrum’s strategy for providing better customer service hinges on larger call centers for more efficient communication with representatives. He said the company is working with terminated employees to provide severance benefits.

The city’s retail store and field operations will remain open.

Charter Communications acquired Lexington’s then-cable provider Time Warner Cable last year, creating the subsidiary Spectrum. City of Lexington spokeswoman Susan Straub says the city is exploring if the entities violated a 10-year franchise agreement and settlement agreement signed in December 2014 that said Charter expected to maintain the existing employee base.

County coroner seeks $60K amid homicide, overdose increase

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The rising homicide rate and opioid epidemic in a Kentucky county has led to a city’s coroner requesting additional money for resources.

WAVE-TV reports on Thursday that Jefferson County coroner Barbara Wheatley Jones has asked the Louisville Metro Council for $60,000 to build a morgue and fund three additional deputy coroners to speed up response times. The county currently leases four spaces in the state morgue, but averages five bodies a day. The city has to pay a private company to store extra corpses.

The coroner’s office handled 5,400 deaths in 2016 and is expected to handle 6,200 cases this year, a significant rise from 4,700 deaths in 2014. The office has seen 49 homicide deaths this year and coroners see two to three overdose deaths daily.

McCracken Co. deputy jailer charged with misconduct

PADUCAH (AP) — A McCracken County grand jury has indicted a local deputy jailer after an investigation into multiple complaints from inmates alleging mistreatment.

The Paducah Sun reports 31-year-old Sgt. Ben Green was indicted on 16 counts of first-degree official misconduct May 5. He was arrested May 8 and posted bail the same day.

The case stems from Green’s February decision to move several inmates from protective custody to general population cells, resulting in altercations between inmates. At least three inmates claim they were physically assaulted.

Jailer Tonya Ray says Green was terminated from employment at the jail in March.

Green’s attorney Jeremy Ian Smith said his client’s decision was within his scope of duties, but Ray says the jailer is the only one who can override inmate classification.

New initiative aims to reduce youth violence

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A three-year project aimed at reducing youth violence in Louisville is kicking off with a block party.

A statement from the University of Louisville’s Youth Violence Prevention Research Center says the campaign is aimed at nine neighborhoods in the western part of the city and will focus on practicing pride, peace and prevention.

The block party on Saturday at the Louisville Central Community Center will include speakers, music, games and access to various community resources.

UofL says the initiative aims to change the perception that that violence is normal and will encourage community dialogue around difficult issues such as racial and social injustices. The center says it hopes the efforts promote racial justice and reduce youth violence.

Motion aims to disqualify Yates from LMPD sex-abuse lawsuit

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A county attorney’s office in Kentucky is seeking to disqualify Louisville’s city council president as a plaintiff’s attorney in a child sex abuse lawsuit against the city and two former police officers.

The Courier-Journal reports a motion filed Wednesday says Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell cites a conflict of interest that any damages awarded to David Yates’ client will come from the metro government over which Yates has oversight.

Yates and co-counsel Tad Thomas represent a former member of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Youth Explorers program who is suing the city and ex-police officers Kenneth Betts and Brandon Wood, who are accused of sexually abusing him.

Yates says he has obtained an ethics opinion from the Kentucky Bar Association saying it’s permissible for him to sue the city.

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