News Around the State

Kentucky soldier based at Fort Campbell dies in Iraq

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky soldier based at Fort Campbell has died in a noncombat related incident in Iraq.

News outlets cite a statement from the Defense Department in reporting that 22-year-old Spc. Ryan Dennis Orin Riley of Richmond died April 20 in Ninawa Province. The statement says the incident is being investigated.

Riley was a fire control specialist with the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee line.

He enlisted in October 2016 and was promoted to specialist last year.

Jefferson County teachers’ group endorses Edelen

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democrats running for Kentucky governor have turned Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s feud with some teachers’ groups into a frequent attack line against the incumbent.

With political activism surging among teachers, courting their support has been a priority, and now Adam Edelen has picked up a key endorsement.

The Jefferson County Teachers Association says it’s backing Edelen’s campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The endorsement comes from an influential group in Kentucky’s most populous county, which is a Democratic stronghold.

Edelen calls the endorsement a “game-changing moment” in the campaign.

Attorney General Andy Beshear and state Rep. Rocky Adkins have been fixtures at teachers’ rallies at the Capitol to show their support.

Adkins is drawing support from a statewide group called Educators for Rocky.

Beshear points to his legal fights against Bevin’s actions opposed by teachers.

Transportation firm to clear homeless camp near train tracks

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Transportation company CSX says it’s going to clear out a Kentucky homeless camp whose population spiked this month when residents were forced from a nearby Louisville camp.

The Courier Journal reports CSX says it’s working with police to move residents to “safer living situations.”

The Louisville director of Resilience and Community Services, Eric Friedlander, says CSX wants residents off the private property near the train tracks by April 29.

He says CSX isn’t abiding by Louisville’s required 21-day camp clearing notice. He says he’s notified local outreach and advocacy groups.

Louisville cleared a camp on April 1 due to new homeless services and many residents moved to this camp. The city has funded stopgap measures including shelter beds, lockers and outreach staff, but funding ends in June.

Kentucky entrepreneur’s school selects 72 students for 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Dozens of Kentucky high school students have been selected to participate in the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs this summer.

The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet said in a news release that more than 300 high school students applied to participate in the program at Northern Kentucky University. A total of 72 were selected for full tuition scholarships. That is the highest enrollment number for the program.

The release said the program lets students learn about opportunities, benefits and pitfalls of starting a business. The students work in teams to develop business models, design prototypes and pitch startup ideas.

The program is scheduled for June 23 to July 13.

More than 350 student entrepreneurs have received scholarship funding through the program since 2013.

KEMI board votes to cut CEO’s pay following critical audit

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The governing board of Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance has recommended that its chief executive take a pay cut and lose his long-term job contract in favor of year-to-year probation.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the action follows an audit that criticized spending practices at KEMI, including no-bid contracts and University of Kentucky athletics tickets going to top managers for no identifiable business purpose.

KEMI is Kentucky’s largest issuer of workers’ compensation insurance, collecting money from 23,000 policyholders in all 120 counties, including most school districts. The General Assembly created it as an independent nonprofit in 1994 to serve as an insurer of last resort, staking it with a $7 million loan of public funds.

KEMI’s board of directors voted unanimously Friday to change the terms of CEO Jon Stewart’s employment after a three-and-half-hour closed-door meeting with representatives from the offices of the state auditor and the attorney general, the Lexington newspaper reported.

“The board has authorized the executive committee to work with Mr. Stewart to implement a probationary contract at a reduced salary for a one-year term, with opportunity for annual renewals,” the board said later in a statement. “As evidenced by the board’s audit request, we continually look for opportunities to make improvements for the benefit of Kentucky’s employers.”

Stewart, who has served in his position for seven years, had a contract that ran until May 2023. A state database lists his annual salary as $445,438. The board did not reveal Friday what his reduced salary will be.

Stewart declined to comment after Friday’s meeting.

On Tuesday, state Auditor Mike Harmon released an audit of KEMI that criticized the agency for a lack of competitive bidding and cost controls, inaccurate reporting of its contracts to the General Assembly in violation of state law, and business funds used for expensive meals, liquor, gifts and entertainment for the benefit of Stewart and other top managers.

The chairman of KEMI’s board, northern Kentucky attorney Brandon Voelker, said he requested the audit after growing concerned about spending practices at the agency. Gov. Matt Bevin named Voelker to the KEMI board in 2016.

Bill banning child sex dolls heads to Tennessee governor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee is poised to become the latest state to ban possessing, selling or distributing a child-like sex doll.

The legislation outlawing child-like sex dolls won unanimous support from House lawmakers this week. The bill now goes to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk after previously clearing the Senate earlier this month.

The bill bans an “obscene, anatomically correct doll, mannequin or robot that is intended for sexual stimulation or gratification.”

Other states, including Kentucky and Florida, are advancing similar bills. The issue gained attention after a Kentucky dropped charges against a man who ordered sex dolls resembling children, saying there was no actual child involved.

A version of the ban has been considered in Congress within the so-called CREEPER Act by former Republican Rep. Dan Donovan of New York.