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News in Brief

Coal operator plans to idle western Ky. mine

OWENSBORO (AP) — A coal operator says it expects to idle a western Kentucky mine later this year.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports that Armstrong Coal Co. anticipates idling the Equality surface mine in Ohio County sometime between Dec. 8 and Dec. 22.

If that happens, it will mean layoffs for 61 employees at the mine and 49 at the Armstrong Prep & Dock facility in Ohio County.

The company says the expected shutdown is due to market overproduction and depressed demand for high-sulfur coal produced by the mine.

Armstrong has operated the mine since 2010.

Last year, the mine produced 1.6 million tons of coal, according to the company’s website.

Armstrong said last week it reached an agreement in principal with holders of $156 million worth of its debt that’s due in 2019.

Officials to hold up car registrations over unpaid tolls

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Drivers in Indiana and Kentucky could be blocked from renewing their vehicle registrations over unpaid Ohio River bridge tolls.

Officials said Tuesday that a hold will be placed on vehicle registrations if a toll goes without payment after at least four notices have been sent. They say full payment is required for a hold to be released.

Scott Adams of the Indiana Department of Transportation says both states will start cracking down later this month.

Tolls began Dec. 30 on three bridges connecting Louisville, Kentucky, and southern Indiana. Officials say more than $50 million of tolls have been collected since. Daily traffic reached more than 80,000 vehicles in September.

RiverLink is the all-electronic toll network that uses cameras to capture drivers’ license plates so drivers can be billed.

Professor from Ky. found dead in Wyo. backcountry

BUFFALO, Wyo. (AP) — Authorities say a University of Louisville geography and geosciences professor has died on a hiking trip in the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office says 62-year-old Carol Hanchette of Louisville, Kentucky, died from hypothermia.

Authorities say she and 67-year-old Richard Cornelius of Billings, Montana, entered a wilderness area last Friday and made camp. While hiking Saturday, they separated when Cornelius decided to head back to camp on his own.

However, he got lost and never reached the camp. He eventually found his way out Monday and met others who contacted authorities.

A search for Hanchette began Monday evening.

Her body was found the next day. She had left the camp apparently to seek help and was hiking out with her gear in a snow storm.

Man accused of using school pick-up lane for drug deal

LANCASTER (AP) — Police in a Kentucky town say a 63-year-old man was arrested for allegedly using a school pick-up car lane for a drug deal.

Lancaster police say Bobby G. Shumaker is accused of parking his vehicle in the pick-up line of Lancaster Elementary School before walking behind a nearby service station to sell drugs.

Media outlets report Shumaker is charged with possession of a controlled substance, trafficking drugs within 1,000 feet of a school and wanton endangerment,

Court documents show Shumaker was arrested last week about 15 minutes before students were released. Police say he allegedly tossed 10 Hydrocodone tablets into the school parking lot.

Police say a search of Shumaker’s house turned up 2,300 pills and more than $8,000 in cash. A preliminary court hearing is set for Nov. 6.

Ky.’s chief justice to give update on judicial branch

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s chief justice is scheduled to appear before a legislative panel next week to give an update about the state of Kentucky’s judiciary.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. will appear before the General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary on Oct. 20 at the Capitol Annex in Frankfort.

The hearing will be an opportunity for Minton to give lawmakers an update on judicial branch operations. The chief justice is the administrative head of the state court system and is responsible for overseeing its operations.

Ore., Ky. disputing adoption of 4-year-old girl

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Families in both Oregon and Kentucky are seeking to adopt a 4-year-old girl from southern Oregon, causing the states to dispute which has jurisdiction over her.

Oregon child welfare officials temporarily placed the Klamath Falls girl with her aunt and uncle in Kentucky two years ago. The officials then decided last year that an Oregon family, unrelated to the child, could adopt Laila Sloan, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported on Wednesday.

Before the Oregon family could adopt, a Kentucky judge ruled that the uncle and aunt, James and Angela Sloan, could adopt her because their state has jurisdiction.

Richard Garbutt, an Oregon attorney assigned to represent the girl, said the state is fighting the Kentucky decision. The state wants to avoid setting the precedent of allowing another state to claim authority over Oregon foster children temporarily placed out of state, he said.

Oregon currently has 349 children placed with foster families in other states and 37 in out-of-state residential facilities, according to the state human services agency.

The Oregon family was chosen by state child welfare officials to adopt the girl’s baby brother. An older brother lives in Oregon as well.

The Sloans hired lawyers in both states to fight for adoption rights.

The Oregon Department of Justice hired a Kentucky lawyer to challenge that state’s jurisdiction, Garbutt said.

Man dies after fall at Red River Gorge

SLADE (AP) — Authorities say they have found the body of a man who died after falling an estimated 230 feet off a cliff in Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

News outlets report search crews found Max Suffridge’s body Tuesday, but it took four and a half hours to recover it. Suffridge was from Louisville, and friends say he was in his late 20s.

After Suffridge fell, officials say one of his friends tried to rescue him. While climbing down, the friend got his hair and climbing gear caught on something. He cut his hair to free himself, then fell about 20 feet. Officials say he climbed back to the top and called for help.

Jail inmates were brought in to help and used chainsaws to clear a path to get Suffridge’s body out.

Ky. awards contract to operate parkway rest area

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky officials have awarded a contract to renovate and operate the Beaver Dam convenience rest area along the Western Kentucky Parkway.

The state Finance and Administration Cabinet says the contract went to Martin and Bayley Inc. The cabinet says the company is an experienced convenience rest area operator in five states.

It has a 20-year contract to renovate, reconstruct, operate and maintain general merchandise and fuel service operations at the Beaver Dam rest area. The contract also has two five-year renewal options for a total up to 30 years.

The center near Madisonville is scheduled to open Jan. 26, 2018.

Louisville Zoo welcomes new female gorilla

LOUISVILLE (AP) — The Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest will soon have a new resident.

The zoo says the new arrival is Bandia, a 20-year-old western lowland gorilla.

Zoo officials say Bandia arrived this week and will join Gorilla Forest after a quarantine period followed by acclimation time.

She is the second recent arrival for the Gorilla Forest. Earlier this summer, the zoo received a male silverback gorilla named Casey from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

Louisville Zoo officials say the plan is for Casey to become the patriarch in a family group that includes one-year-old Kindi, surrogate mother Kweli, and female gorillas Paki and Bandia.

School district fires employees after abuse report

LOUISVILLE — Officials in Kentucky’s largest public school district say all of the teachers and employees mentioned in a report alleging abuse and neglect of preschoolers have been fired.

Jefferson County Public Schools acting Superintendent Marty Pollio said this week that he started firing employees immediately after learning about the allegations.

JCPS spokeswoman Allison Martin tells The Courier-Journal that seven Head Start employees have been let go since August due to allegations in the report.

Twenty-three incidents were detailed in the report alleging physical abuse, humiliation and neglect in JCPS’ Head Start program. The federally funded program helps low-income families prepare children 5 years old and younger for school.

The report from the federal Administration for Children and Families was released in August.

Pollio says more firings will take place and school protocols will be updated.