State corn, soybean production drop forecast
LOUISVILLE (AP) — A double-digit drop in corn and soybean production by Kentucky farmers is being predicted in a new report.
Corn production in the state is forecast at 200 million bushels, down 18 percent from the prior year.
Soybean production for Kentucky is forecast at 67.6 million bushels, a 17 percent drop from 2013.
The predictions are in a report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s field office in Kentucky.
It estimates statewide corn yield at 138 bushels per acre, down 32 bushels from 2013.
Soybean yield is estimated at 40 bushels per acre, down 9.5 bushels from a year ago.
Kentucky burley tobacco production is forecast at 153 million pounds, up 4 percent from last year.
Hay production is forecast to be down from last year due to lower yields.
State forestry workers help fight Western fires
FRANKFORT (AP) — Eleven firefighters from Kentucky’s forestry division have volunteered to help battle wildfires in the western U.S.
State forestry officials say two full-time employees with the agency and six seasonal firefighters are heading to Humboldt, California, as part of a crew from Kentucky and Tennessee. They will be assigned to a fire after arriving.
Three other division employees have already been sent to help battle wildfires in northeastern Washington.
KDF Director Leah MacSwords expressed pride in the employees for volunteering for the dangerous assignments. MacSwords says one condition is that the Kentucky employees must return by Sept. 1 to get ready for the fall forest fire hazard season in the state, which begins Oct. 1.
Firefighters from across the U.S. are assisting in fighting wildfires in five Western states.
W. Ky. man sentenced in ‘08 slaying
CADIZ (AP) — A western Kentucky man who pleaded guilty to murder in a Trigg County cold case has been sentence to life in prison.
Media reported that 28-year-old Seth Hooks apologized on Wednesday for his actions before being sentenced in Trigg Circuit Court.
He was charged with killing 64-year-old Harvey Choat, who was found dead in his Trigg County home on March 18, 2008 of multiple gunshot wounds. Hooks was arrested more than five years later after police received an anonymous tip in the case.
During the sentencing hearing Hooks read from a prepared statement in which he offered “my deepest apologies and regrets” to Choat’s family.
Prosecutors have said robbery was the motive for the killing.
Attorneys say Hooks will be eligible for parole after 20 years.
McConnell says wife won’t resign from board
GREENVILLE (AP)? — Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell said his wife will not resign from a board that has given $50 million to a campaign dedicated to closing coal-fired power plants.
WDRB-TV in Louisville reports that McConnell defended his wife during a campaign stop in Muhlenberg County in western Kentucky.
Yahoo News reported last week that Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife and the former labor secretary under President George W. Bush, joined the Bloomberg Philanthropies board in 2012. In 2011, the board committed to give the Sierra Club $50 million for its “Beyond Coal” program.
Monday, seven eastern Kentucky Democrats — including House Speaker Greg Stumbo — sent a letter to Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett demanding that the group denounce Chao’s board membership and call on her to resign.
“We call on you personally and on the Kentucky Coal Association directors to denounce the Bloomberg board’s disgraceful action and call on the McConnells to return the money they have pocketed from this and any other anti-Kentucky coal organizations,” the letter read.
But Wednesday, McConnell said attacks on his wife are “nothing new.”
Mississippi man convicted of extortion
LOUISVILLE (AP)? — A Mississippi man has been convicted of extortion in a case involving threats against the University of Louisville Athletic Association’s reputation and a demand for $3.5 million.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Kentucky says 36-year-old Thomas E. Ray, of Jackson, Miss. was convicted Wednesday after a 1 ½-day trial in U.S. District Court.
The prosecutor’s office said Ray used the alias “Melinda White” and sent an email from his home on April 23, 2013, shortly after Louisville won the NCAA men’s basketball championship. His email was sent to two U of L employees.
He faces up to two years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a year of supervised release. He will be sentenced Nov. 3.
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich said Louisville participated in the investigation and is pleased with the verdict.
Churchill Downs announcer leaving for New York
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Larry Collmus’ tenure as track announcer at Churchill Downs barely got past the starting gate.
Collmus, who took over in the spring as race caller at the home of the Kentucky Derby, on Wednesday accepted the job as track announcer for the New York Racing Association, starting in the spring of 2015. He will stay on at Churchill for the upcoming September and fall meets.
“I’m trading one dream job for another,” Collmus said.
Collmus, 47, will start calling races on the New York circuit in April, the final month of the Aqueduct Racetrack spring meet, the NYRA said in its announcement. He will announce the Belmont Park spring and fall meets and the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course.
Collmus has three nearly decades of experience calling races, and his crisp cadence is familiar to horse racing fans nationwide.
Collmus will continue his role announcing Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races for NBC Sports, the NYRA said. He’ll also continue his winter role calling races at Gulfstream Park in Florida.