News Around the State

Kentucky health agency now without infectious diseases chief

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky is struggling with the nation’s worst hepatitis A outbreak, and its state Department of Public Health is suddenly without its infectious diseases chief.

John Bennett tells The Courier Journal that he was dismissed on Friday. Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesman Doug Hogan confirmed in an email to the AP that Bennett is no longer with the health department.

Bennett says he wasn’t given a specific reason for his dismissal and nothing suggests it was related to Kentucky’s outbreak response.

Kentucky said Monday that the outbreak first declared in 2017 has killed 52 people and sickened more than 4,400. Kentucky has had more hepatitis A-related deaths than any other state struggling with similar outbreaks.

Hogan says the number of hepatitis A cases has been declining for several months.

Kentucky man, wife killed trying to go around railroad arms

SLAUGHTERS, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man who tried to go around railroad crossing arms and his wife have died in a crash with a train.

The Webster County sheriff’s office said in a news release that a southbound train was stopped on a side switch track waiting for a northbound train to pass. The release said 83-year-old James King of Slaughters proceeded over the tracks, failed to see the oncoming northbound CSX train and pulled into its path on Sunday.

The sheriff’s office said King and 78-year-old Carolyn King were pronounced dead at the scene on Kentucky 138 at the railroad crossing in Slaughters, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Madisonville.

The crash remained under investigation.

Churchill, Keeneland breaking ground near Army post

OAK GROVE, Ky. (AP) — Churchill Downs Inc. and Keeneland are breaking ground on a racing facility in Kentucky.

The ceremony is Tuesday for the $150 million state-of-the-art live and historical racing venue in Oak Grove, Kentucky. The site is outside Fort Campbell, the sprawling Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

Planned are up to 1,500 historical racing machines beginning next year, a 125-room hotel, a 1,200-seat grandstand and event space for indoor events, a 3,000-person outdoor amphitheater and stage and a state-of-the-art equestrian center including indoor and outdoor arenas. Historical racing machines resemble video gambling machines and offer bets on past horses races, keeping the names of the horses and the race secret.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has awarded a license to Churchill and Keeneland for 12 live Standardbred racing dates beginning in October at the venue.

Ethics panel declines to reconsider Glenn’s complaint

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky ethics panel says it won’t reconsider an ethics complaint by a Democratic lawmaker against the state House’s Republican leader.

The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission on Tuesday denied a request by Rep. Jim Glenn to reconsider its dismissal of his complaint against House Speaker David Osborne.

Glenn alleges Republican leaders who control the House used state resources, including a staff lawyer, to help prepare an election challenge against him.

Glenn won the House seat after last year’s election results initially had him winning by one vote, but a recount put the race in a tie. Republican DJ Johnson eventually withdrew his challenge.

The ethics panel says Osborne’s actions were “authorized by law.”

Pierce Whites, an attorney representing Glenn, says the decision abandoned long-standing rules against using legislative staff in partisan election matters.

Committee recommends suspending 101 academic programs

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — A committee is recommending that Western Kentucky University suspend more than a quarter of its academic programs.

The proposal comes after the Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation committee reviewed all 380 academic programs offered at the university in Bowling Green. It proposes suspending a total of 101 programs: 11 undergraduate degrees, four graduate degrees and 86 other credentials such as minors and certificates. A few of the programs included majors in French and art education and minors in economics, biology, theater and English.

The Daily News reports Acting Provost Cheryl Stevens said in an email on Monday that the committee is ready to present its recommendations on Friday to the Board of Regents.

The Board of Regents is expected to vote on the proposal on May 10.