News in Brief
Economists predict $155M deficit for Ky.
FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky taxpayers can expect a shortfall of more than $155 million after a panel of state economists have revised the state’s official revenue forecast.
In August, the Consensus Forecasting Group issued a preliminary estimate predicting a shortfall of $206.2 million. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin responded by asking for budget cuts of 17.4 percent from most state agencies. The cuts would cover the deficit and replenish the state’s savings account.
The governor can’t order budget cuts unless the official revenue estimate is changed. State economists were expected to do that in December. But the Bevin administration asked the panel to revise the estimate now so they could get an early start on cuts.
The panel predicted a smaller deficit because Kentucky collected more tax money than it had expected in the past three months.
Sheriff: Child accidentally shot woman in car after church
SOMERSET (AP) — Authorities say a Kentucky grandmother was accidentally shot and killed by a juvenile relative while the family was driving back from church.
The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that 68-year-old Eutta Phelps was fatally shot in her car Wednesday night, east of Somerset.
Investigators say a 12-year-old boy and his 17-year-old cousin were playing with a gun in the back seat when the gun was fired, killing Phelps, who was in the passenger seat.
It is unclear whether Phelps’ grandson or his cousin had the gun when it fired.
Deputy Karl Clinard said Thursday that the gun was a muzzle-loading pistol, not a more modern firearm. Authorities were not sure who owned the gun.
Investigators believe the shooting was an accident.
Ex-Miss Kentucky USA fights prison search before drug arrest
LIMA, Ohio (AP) — A former Miss Kentucky USA who’s accused of smuggling marijuana into an Ohio prison shouldn’t have been pulled aside and searched by guards, her attorney told a judge.
The attorney for 28-year-old Kia Hampton of Louisville, Kentucky, argued Thursday that authorities shouldn’t have been given a warrant that allowed a strip search.
Authorities say Hampton was found with a balloon filled with marijuana while she was trying to visit an inmate at the Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution in late May.
Hampton, who won the Miss Kentucky USA pageant in 2010, was served a search warrant upon arriving at the prison for an inmate visit.
She was talking with guards in a separate room when they spotted a balloon filled with three grams of marijuana on the floor near her feet, said Shawn Wakefield, a prison investigator. Hampton said she had taken the marijuana out of the waistband of her pants and shoved it into her pants leg, Wakefield testified.
Female guards then conducted a strip search but did not find any other drugs, The Lima News reported .
A state trooper said authorities asked for the search warrant after listening to phone calls that led them to believe Hampton planned to smuggle drugs to an inmate.
Hampton was planning to visit the inmate who is serving a four-year sentence for drug trafficking. Prison authorities said Thursday that Hampton had made regular visits to the inmate, sometimes up to three per month.
The third-degree felony charge of bringing drugs onto government facility grounds carries a maximum three-year prison sentence upon conviction.
Brownback’s policy director resigning from administration
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Gov. Sam Brownback’s policy director is leaving the administration next week.
Brownback announced Brandon Smith’s departure Thursday. Smith has worked for the Brownback administration for nearly three years. Brownback’s office said Smith will take a job in Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration.
The announcement comes as Brownback is awaiting confirmation to be ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom in President Donald Trump’s administration. Once he is confirmed, Brownback will resign and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will become Kansas’ new governor.
Smith’s replacement has not been named.
Ex-Lexington pastor accused of abusing 2 children
LEXINGTON (AP) — A former associate pastor of a large Kentucky church has been accused of sexually abusing two children.
Citing court records, news outlets report that 63-year-old Reid Buchanan was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of sexual abuse.
Buchanan had worked at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington from July 2016 to August 2017.
Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church spokeswoman Cathy L. Bruce said Buchanan was immediately relieved of his duties and suspended when the church learned of the allegations in July.
Bruce says the alleged abuse did not take place on church grounds or at church events.
Buchanan pleaded not guilty to both charges in court on Thursday.
Fallen corrections officer receives headstone after 62 years
FRANKFORT (AP) — A fallen Utah corrections officer who lay in an unmarked grave in Kentucky for over 60 years has received a headstone.
The State Journal reports Edwin J. Fisher’s grave received the headstone Wednesday. Representatives of Utah and Kentucky’s departments of corrections looked on as an honor guard member revealed the headstone.
In 1955, an inmate fatally stabbed the Utah State Prison corrections officer who was returning to his post following a lunch break.
Fisher was located after a family member notified officials that Fisher was entombed next to his wife in the Frankfort Cemetery.
The headstone bears the Utah state seal, a star enclosing “Utah Department of Corrections” and the inscription “Killed in the line of duty.” It also has Fisher’s name along with his birth and death dates.