News in Brief

Published 10:13 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

GOP proposal would let Ky. governor appoint appellate judges

FRANKFORT (AP) — A Republican lawmaker has filed a bill that would let Kentucky’s governor appoint the state’s appellate judges.

State Rep. Jason Nemes pre-filed the legislation Wednesday. It would amend the state constitution to let the governor pick judges from a list of three nominees provided by the Judicial Nominating Commission. Right now, the commission is only used to fill vacancies.

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The bill would limit appellate judges to two terms. After being appointed once, voters would decide whether the judge should stay for another term.

Kentucky’s judges are elected in nonpartisan elections. Last week , Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said the state should consider changing how it selects judges. He said the state has a “remarkable number of people who have no business being judges.”

Groups demand Duke Energy show coal ash disaster maps

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The country’s largest electric company is refusing online access to federally mandated maps showing the scope of disaster resulting if a coal-ash pit burst and spilled its toxic muck onto neighboring properties.

Advocacy groups Southern Environmental Law Center and Earthjustice said Wednesday they’re planning to sue Duke Energy Corp. Environmentalists say the information is blacked out for more than a dozen Duke Energy sites in Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina.

The groups say the Charlotte-based company is the country’s only electric utility not providing the Dam Safety information online.

The Associated Press found the Tennessee Valley Authority, Alabama Power and Ohio-based American Electric Power among those posting the maps required by a two-year-old Environmental Protection Agency rule.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Erin Culbert said local emergency workers are given all details.

Trial delayed for man charged in killing of coal executive

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — A judge has delayed the trial for one of two men charged in the fatal shooting of a former coal executive in southern West Virginia.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Miki Thompson granted a motion from the attorney for 22-year-old Anthony Raheem Arriaga asking for the delay. The trial is now set to start on Oct. 16.

Arriaga of Delphos, Ohio, and 19-year-old Brandon Fitzpatrick, of Louisa, Kentucky, are charged with murder in the May 2016 death of Bennett “Ben” Hatfield. Authorities say Hatfield was visiting his wife’s gravesite when he was shot. He resigned in 2015 as Patriot Coal’s president and CEO.

Prosecutors say the men killed Hatfield as part of a scheme to steal his vehicle and sell its parts.

Fitzpatrick’s trial is scheduled to start on Oct. 5.

‘Cowboy’ riding horse on highway won’t go quietly

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A man on a horse had a run-in with police in Kentucky when he went for a ride on the highway.

According to an arrest report, 62-year-old Danny Cook was seen riding his horse on U.S. 27 in Stanford Sunday night.

WDRB-TV reports Cook was considered a traffic hazard by police. An arrest report says he goes by the nickname “Cowboy Cook,” and true to his name, he didn’t go quietly.

Officers caught up with Cook and asked him to stop, but he responded by yelling an expletive and threatening the officers.

He eventually stopped at a nearby Walmart and tied his horse off, but refused to cooperate. Police had to take him to the ground to arrest him. Cook was charged with evading police, terroristic threatening and resisting arrest.

Ky. county joins lawsuit targeting opioid distributors

HENDERSON (AP) — A Kentucky county is joining a multi-county, multi-state effort to sue opioid distributors to recoup costs associated with the drug epidemic.

The Henderson County Fiscal Court voted unanimously Tuesday pursue litigation, after a presentation by attorney Jeff Gaddy of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty and Proctor, P.A., one of the firms spearheading the lawsuit.

Gaddy told The Gleaner the lawsuit targets wholesale distributors who may not have complied with regulations. Ohio, West Virginia and Alabama have joined the lawsuit.

Gaddy says around 20 lawsuits have been filed in Kentucky thus far.

The agreement between the Henderson fiscal court and attorneys says the county will pay the firms 30 percent of any award, but won’t bear upfront costs or have to pay if there’s no monetary recovery.

Man pleads guilty in beating death of 7-week-old

BURLINGTON (AP) — A Kentucky man has pleaded guilty to the 2015 beating death of a 7-week-old boy.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports 25-year-old Cody Jene Phelps of Walton pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree criminal abuse in the death of Aiden Wainscott.

Wainscott was found unresponsive in his crib in November 2015 while under the care of Phelps, the boyfriend of the baby’s mother at the time. Phelps was not the boy’s biological father.

A report from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department says Phelps said he’d noticed the baby’s chest wasn’t moving while changing the diaper.

Phelps was arrested two days after the baby’s death, after investigators learned Wainscott suffered head trauma and broken bones.

Phelps will be sentenced Oct. 18. Prosecutors have recommended a 20-year prison sentence.

Auto supplier adding 113 jobs at plant

OWENSBORO (AP) — Kentucky officials say an automotive supplier will add 113 jobs in western Kentucky.

Automotive frame manufacturer Metalsa Structural Products is adding the jobs in Owensboro with a $36.5 million expansion to produce a new line of stamped and welded components.

Gov. Matt Bevin says Metalsa is one of Kentucky’s largest automotive employers.

Bevin’s administration says the $36.5 million at the Owensboro facility will include investment in robotic welding cells, assembly line robots, infrastructure and building expansions to accommodate the new production line and additional warehouse space.

The expansion began this summer and hiring is for September 2018 through June 2019. Company leaders expect production to begin in March 2019.

In Kentucky, Metalsa currently employs about 2,700 people at three vehicle-frame facilities in Owensboro, Hopkinsville and Elizabethtown.

Teen pleads not guilty to murder, heroin charges

LEXINGTON (AP) — A teen who police say admitted to fatally shooting a man and importing heroin has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against him.

News outlets report that 18-year-old Timothy Ganther Jr. was arrested Monday in connection with the Sept. 3 death of 28-year-old Jerome Wadsworth, of Michigan, who was found in a ditch in Lexington and later died at a hospital.

Lexington police Sgt. Jervis Middleton says Ganther and Wadsworth were acquaintances who had been in an argument.

Court documents say Ganther had admitted to intentionally shooting Wadsworth, as well as importing more than 100 grams of heroin from Ohio to Kentucky with intent to sell. On Tuesday, Ganther pleaded not guilty to murder, importing heroin and trafficking in a controlled substance.

He’s been assigned a public defender.

2 more waystations added for Monarch butterflies

FRANKFORT (AP) — The Garden Club of Kentucky plans to dedicate two more waystations for Monarch butterflies, bringing the total number in the state to 14.

A statement from the Kentucky State Parks says the waystations are located at the William Whitley House State Historic Site in Stanford and at Carter Caves State Resort Park in Olive Hill.

Members of the Garden Club have worked with the parks department to install stations that will support Monarch butterflies during their migration to and from Mexico. The stations include nectar producing flowers, a shelter and milkweed, which is the only plant that Monarch caterpillars will eat.

Officials say the stations will serve millions of monarch butterflies, which have had declining numbers in recent years.

The dedications will take place Sept. 22 at the William Whitley House and Sept. 27 at Carter Caves.