News Around the State

Federal funds to address congestion, safety on Ky. road

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) — Federal funding will address traffic congestion on a major route in south central Kentucky.

Gov. Matt Bevin, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and others were in Somerset on Saturday to announce a $25 million grant that will help complete new interchanges and widen a three-mile stretch of Kentucky Route 461 in Pulaski County from two to four lanes.

Bevin says in a statement the funding also will improve safety along a road that is heavily used by commercial trucks and tourists traveling from Interstate 75 to Lake Cumberland.

Police searching for father of child found dead after fire

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — Police are looking for the father of a 2-year-old boy found dead at the site of a house fire in Kentucky.

Kentucky State Police say in a news release that firefighters from the City of London found Joseph Brock’s body after putting out a fire at a residence in the Marvin Gardens Mobile Home Park in Laurel County shortly after midnight Friday.

The post says the causes of the fire and the child’s death haven’t been determined, and that the body will be taken to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

Police say they’re searching for the child’s father, 26-year-old Vaughn Brock. They say he was last seen leaving the area on foot shortly after the residence became engulfed in flames.

Protesters interrupt McConnell remarks at Ky. event

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Protesters briefly interrupted remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell while he hosted a campus event in his Kentucky hometown.

Nearly a dozen protesters stood up Monday at an event at the University of Louisville. The protest broke out when McConnell was about to introduce Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Identifying herself as a McConnell constituent, one protester shouted at the Kentucky Republican: “If you expect our leadership, why don’t you stand with us?” She condemned McConnell for accepting campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

Protesters stood up as McConnell praised students on campus.

McConnell didn’t respond directly to the protesters, who sang “Which side are you on now, which side are you on?” while led out by police.

When his remarks resumed, McConnell said, “Welcome to America these days.” The event continued with Kaine’s speech.

Third Ky. historic site transferred to local officials

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has transferred a third state historic site to local officials.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the state gave the 80-acre William Whitley House Historic Site to Lincoln County officials, who approved the acquisition last week. Lincoln County Judge-Executive Jim W. Adams Jr. said there won’t be many changes and the site will remain open to the public.

The house was built between 1787 and 1794 and was home to Kentucky pioneer William Whitley and his wife, sharpshooter Esther Whitley. It was the first brick house in the state and became part of the state parks system in 1938.

Since last December, Kentucky has transferred Boone Station Historic Site in Fayette County to David’s Fork Baptist Church and White Hall State Historic Site in Madison County to Eastern Kentucky University.

Writer Jeff Worley appointed Kentucky poet laureate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky writer has been appointed Kentucky poet laureate.

Gov. Matt Bevin appointed award-winning writer Jeff Worley of Lexington to the post. He will be inducted on April 24.

The Kentucky Arts Council said in a news release the governor appoints a poet laureate in odd-numbered years to a two-year term. The poet laureate serves as the state’s literary ambassador, leading the state in literary activities and events through the term.

Worley is a Wichita, Kansas, native. He has written six book-length poetry collections, including “Happy Hour at Two Keys Tavern” in 2006. The collection was a co-winner in the Society of Midland Authors Literary Competition, won the 2006 Kentucky Book of the Year in poetry at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

UK students on hunger strike want help for low-income peers

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A group of University of Kentucky students has started a hunger strike that they say won’t end until the administration creates a “basic needs center” to help low-income students.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports about seven students plan to drink only water until their demands are met. About another 50 students plan to limit their meals to one a day.

The strike began Wednesday and is organized by the group SSTOP Hunger. SSTOP stands for Sustainable Solutions to Overcome Poverty. The group wants a central resource center to help students who cannot afford food or rent. They say the resources offered currently are too difficult to access.

UK President Eli Capilouto sent a campus-wide email Thursday that explained what those resources are. They include a food pantry that students can use once a week and a certain number of free meals at campus dining halls. In addition, the UK LEADS program helps students with unmet financial needs while they are on campus.

“We don’t all agree on every aspect of how to address these issues,” Capilouto wrote of the striking students. “But while we may disagree in some of our specific approaches, we will never disrespect the concerns that have been raised or those who have raised them.”

Capilouto’s email directed students with immediate needs to six full-time employees in two different departments.

Beau Revlett is SSTOP’s director. He said UK’s services need to be centralized with a dedicated staff.

“As far as we’re aware there is no one who does this full time. It’s something they have to do on top of all their other responsibilities,” he said.

Revlett said the hunger strike is “a way to get the public to understand these issues.”

A basic needs center was one of the recommendations of a UK task force that has studied the issues for several years. That group’s survey found that 43 percent of the 2,000 UK students interviewed said they experienced food insecurity on campus. Nearly half of those reported actual hunger because they couldn’t afford to buy food. Eight percent of those interviewed said they had experienced housing insecurity.