News Around the State

Workshop to offer information about Opportunity Zones

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials say a workshop will help community and business leaders take advantage of an economic development tool.

The event is set for Tuesday in Somerset, where officials will give updated information about Opportunity Zones.

Representatives from the state Cabinet for Economic Development and the Department for Local Government also will answer questions. Participants can submit questions in person or online.

The cabinet oversees the Opportunity Zone initiative. The designation offers federal tax breaks and deferrals to entities and individuals investing in Opportunity Funds, which support development projects within one or more zones.

Reservations are requested for the free, public workshop. Officials say participation is recommended for elected officials, community and economic development leaders and businesses within Opportunity Zones and those looking to develop projects in zones.

Initiative aims to restore American chestnut trees

RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) — Volunteers have planted more than 600 American chestnut trees at Eastern Kentucky University in an effort to restore the tree to the Daniel Boone National Forest.

WKYT-TV reports the university has partnered with The American Chestnut Foundation and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in an effort to restore the trees to the region. A blight in the early 1900s killed millions of the trees across the Eastern U.S.

Daniel Boone National Forest supervisor Dan Olsen says 615 seedlings were planted in late November at The American Chestnut Federation Regional Seed Orchard. He says officials hope to harvest seeds from the orchard in the future.

UT Chattanooga biology professor Hill Craddock called the planting historic, saying future American chestnut forests will descend from the plantings.

Developer to donate $10M to help UK students pay for college

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — University of Kentucky officials say a founder of one of the state’s top development companies has promised to donate $10 million to help some of its students afford college.

The Herald-Leader reports school officials on Tuesday announced the donation of developer Mira Ball, who attended the school before starting Ball Homes with her late husband.

The donation will help students from Nelson and Henderson counties, which are the home counties of Ball and her husband, Don. Funds will be distributed through a school program that works to help students pay for uncovered college costs.

Ball was the first woman chair of the school’s Board of Trustees. She is now serving co-chair of the school’s campaign to raise $2.1 billion to expand scholarships, conduct research and achieve several other goals.

Ky. reaps nearly $60M in transportation grants

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The federal government has awarded almost $60 million for transportation projects in Kentucky.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the funding Tuesday. The grants are part of $1.5 billion appropriated for the program and are intended to improve safety at the locations.

The grants include $25 million to Pulaski County to replace the Kentucky 80/Kentucky 461 intersection and the Valley Oak Drive-Coin Road intersection.

Also, $23 million goes to Calloway County to add two lanes and shoulders along almost 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) of U.S. 641.

The third grant is $11.5 million and goes to help the Owensboro Riverport Authority widen and improve almost 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) of Kentucky 331/Industrial Drive and Rinaldo Road.

Teacher accused of seeking sex with child held on US charge

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Kentucky middle school teacher who pleaded not guilty to a charge of seeking sex with a child is now in federal custody.

U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman’s office tells news outlets in a Tuesday statement 37-year-old Brandon Lee Dietz was detained on orders from a federal magistrate judge.

A criminal complaint says Dietz contacted an undercover investigator for the state Attorney General posing as a 14-year-old girl. Prosecutors say the Jefferson County Public Schools teacher messaged the investigator online last month and was arrested when he traveled to meet the agent.

Arrest records say Dietz works at Frederick Law Olmsted Academy North, a Louisville all-boys school, and is also listed as a coach with a girls’ softball team.

It’s unclear if Dietz has a lawyer who could comment.

Man gets 18 years for killing 8-week-old girl in his care

GLASGOW, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man got 18 years in prison for killing an 8-week-old baby in his care.

The Daily News reports 39-year-old Chad Flora Lewis of Cave City was sentenced Monday in Barren Circuit Court.

Lewis pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and two drug counts last month, days before his murder trial was to start in the 2015 death of 8-week-old Jalayah Grace Clark. Prosecutors sought the 18-year sentence under the plea agreement.

According to previous court testimony, deputies said Lewis told investigators that he had been taking care of the girl while her mother worked and shook the crying child.