News Around the State

Sheriff suspends law enforcement due to lack of funding

INEZ, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky sheriff has told the local fiscal court he is suspending all law enforcement activities because of lack of funding.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports , Martin County Sheriff John Kirk took the stage without invitation at a fiscal court meeting Monday. Kirk said his office is still owed a $75,000 payment due in January. He also complained that new obligations placed on his office will add $99,000 to his annual expenditures.

Kirk said he has laid off the bookkeeper and limited office hours to 20 hours a week.

On his personal Facebook page, he posted that residents should, “lock your doors, load your guns and get a biting, barking dog.”

He also explained further his decision to suspend policing activities, writing, “The law requires the Sheriff to collect taxes, Bailiff court and serve papers. We have always provided police protection but without the funding we can no longer do this.”

A large part of the problem is a sharp decline in coal severance taxes hitting Eastern Kentucky. Local government economic assistance fund money to coal-producing counties has dropped by 80 percent since fiscal year 2012. The fund returns a portion of state-collected mineral severance taxes to local governments.

In Knott County, the fiscal court approved a partial shutdown of county government last month. That allows the county’s road department to respond only to emergencies. The fiscal court also canceled health insurance for all county employees and elected officials. And Judge-Executive Jeff Dobson said they will also make cuts to a program that delivers food to senior citizens.

In Pike County, officials have laid off workers and proposed a major rate increase for garbage pickup.

Without the sheriff’s office responding to calls in Martin County, residents will have to rely on Kentucky State Police, which sometimes has just one officer patrolling multiple counties.

KSP spokesman William Petry said it puts a strain on troopers if they can’t rely on help from local law enforcement. But he added, “We’re going to respond as we always have.”

Report: Ky. school district broke election day law

GREENUP, Ky. (AP) — Investigators say a Kentucky school district violated state law by holding classes on election days while a campus was a polling place.

The Lexington Herald-Leader cites a report it obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act from the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability.

The Feb. 1 report says the Greenup County School District held classes Nov. 6 while Greenup County High School was used as a polling place. It also held school May 22 during primary elections.

The law is that a district must be closed on the election day if it’s used as a polling place. It can still have professional development activities, meetings or parent teacher conferences.

District Superintendent Sherry Horsley said in a responding email that the county clerk is in the process of changing the polling place.

Police release ID, body camera video of officer who shot man

SHIVELY, Ky. (AP) — Authorities in Kentucky have released the identity of a Shively officer who shot and wounded a man last week.

News outlets report Shively police on Friday said Officer Steve Becker repeatedly shot 26-year-old Terry L. Sams, who has been hospitalized and is in stable condition. Police say Becker was one of several officers who responded Thursday morning to a report of an erratic person causing alarm to residents.

Chief Kevin Higdon says Sams was found wandering through the backyards of several residents and tried to flee, later pointing a gun at Becker. Lt. Col. Josh Myers says Sams’ gun was loaded and has been sent to a state crime lab.

Higdon says Becker wasn’t wounded and has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.

Ceremonies planned at Fort Campbell for returning soldiers

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Fort Campbell plans two welcome home ceremonies this week for more than 300 soldiers who are due to return to the Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line.

The post says in a statement that ceremonies will be held on Feb. 11 and Feb. 15 for soldiers assigned to “Task Force Destiny,” 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The soldiers are among 700 returning to the post in February after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

During their deployment, the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade provided aviation support to U.S., coalition and Afghan forces. They transported cargo and passengers, and conducted security missions and air assault operations. Five soldiers received the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and valor.

Company donates markers for horse cemetery

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) — Old Friends horse farm in Kentucky says a monument company is stepping forward to make sure each retired racehorse buried there is eventually remembered with a headstone.

The farm near Georgetown says it has received a donation from Bardstown-based Kentucky Monument company. The farm says Kentucky Monument has donated three new markers for graves in the farm’s horse cemetery.

It says the company has committed to donate several granite headstones each year so all horses currently interred will eventually have a fitting headstone.

Old Friends President Michael Blowen says all horses that die at the farm receive a grave marker, but only some receive permanent stone markers because of the expense. He says many existing stone markers were paid for by an owner of a horse, a track connection or racing fans.