News Around the State

Delayed Kentucky internet project faces new squirrel setback

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A project that would bring high-speed internet across Kentucky will be delayed because company representatives say an “abundance” of squirrels have chewed through wiring.

The Courier-Journal reports lawmakers in the state’s capitol questioned reports of ravenous squirrels Tuesday, blocking officials in charge of the KentuckyWired project from borrowing an additional $110 million.

KentuckyWired was started in 2015 under former Gov. Steve Beshear to boost Kentucky’s internet infrastructure. Officials are now saying squirrels damaged cable that was supposed to be up and running in April.

This isn’t the first time the project has been denied extra funds. In February, lawmakers blocked a request for an additional $20 million for “unanticipated borrowing costs.” KentuckyWired has been plagued from the beginning by delays and cost overruns , running nearly four years behind schedule.

Heavy rains lead Kentucky county to declare emergency

MANCHESTER, Ky. (AP) — An eastern Kentucky county has declared a state of emergency due to damages from heavy rain and flooding.

Clay County Emergency Management Director David Watson told WYMT-TV that officials knew of around $75,000 in damages to roads and bridges on Monday and there are still places that need to be checked out.

He said county crews have been sawing trees and clearing debris in an effort to keep roadways open.

In addition to the damage, the station reports 9 people were forced to leave their homes due to high water.

David Watson says people with home damage should document it for insurance purposes.

Federal grant to continue youth-support services program

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky agency says it has secured another $5 million federal grant to continue a program providing youth-support services.

Kentucky’s Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities says the latest grant will continue the program through March 2024. The Transition Age Youth Launching Realized Dreams program allows youth ages 16 to 25 to easily access quality, developmentally appropriate, youth-driven support services. Officials say the goal is to help participants achieve their goals and transition into adulthood successfully.

Officials say available services include expedited assistance in locating housing, mental health services and substance-abuse treatment.

Since 2014, the program has helped more than 1,900 youth. Officials say youth and young adults can visit one of Kentucky’s 20 drop-in sites to access behavioral health services.

Kentucky driver’s license pilot program to start June 28

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky transportation officials say they will begin issuing new driver’s licenses this month that are designed to comply with a federal travel law.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says in a statement that it will begin rolling out the licenses in Franklin County on June 28 as part of a pilot program before the licenses are issued statewide. County driver’s licensing offices will be closed June 27 to prepare. The pilot program will also include Woodford and Hart counties and the rollout dates there will be announced soon.

Vehicle Regulation Commissioner Matt Henderson says with the updates, Kentucky licenses will be “among the most secure in the nation.”

Other Kentucky counties will be added this summer after the test pilot ends.

The REAL ID enforcement deadline is October 2020.

Delivery man who rescued girls from alleged abuse honored

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky police have honored a pizza delivery driver they say rescued two girls who were being abused by their father.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Mark Buede was honored Tuesday by the Lexington Police Department. Police say Buede was delivering a pizza to an area motel last November and knocked on the door, which opened to reveal a man and a naked child on a bed behind him.

Police say the scene caused Buede to alert authorities, who responded and found two girls hiding in the room. They say a subsequent investigation led authorities to believe the man had been abusing his daughters. Police didn’t release the man’s identity, but said he was charged with multiple offenses.

Other people, including the involved officers, were also honored Tuesday.

Federal jury indicts Delaware man on ‘swatting’ hoaxes

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A federal grand jury has indicted a Delaware man accused of making hoax emergency calls to locations across the country, causing police and SWAT teams to respond.

An indictment handed down May 16 against 29-year-old Rodney Allen Phipps of Georgetown was unsealed Monday.

Prosecutors allege Phipps falsely reported shootings and other emergencies at locations in five states in a scheme known as “swatting.” Investigators say he also would threaten to shoot law enforcement officials who responded to those locations.

Authorities say Phipps made the swatting calls to authorities in New Jersey, Louisiana, Kentucky, Florida and Georgia from 2015 to 2017.

Phipps was charged with five counts of making interstate threats and one count of making a false threat involving explosives. He could face up to 35 years in prison.