News in Brief
Gov. might not call special session
FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican governor has acknowledged for the first time he might not call a special session of the state legislature to overhaul one of the country’s worst funded public pension systems.
Matt Bevin has said repeatedly he would call a special session of the state legislature before the end of the year to address the pension issue. But his proposal has received significant opposition from state employees and even members of his own political party. Last week, 47 Republican House members signed a letter asking him not to call a special session this year.
Monday, Bevin told reporters there is still a chance he could call the legislature back to Frankfort next week to vote on the bill. But he said lawmakers could take up the issue during the session scheduled to begin Jan. 2.
Lawmaker accused of sexual assault
FRANKFORT (AP) — A Kentucky lawmaker who attracted national attention last year when he compared President Barack Obama and his wife to monkeys has been accused of sexual assault.
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting quotes Maranda Richmond as saying she has asked Louisville police to reopen an investigation of Dan Johnson.
Johnson was elected to the state legislature in 2016 — after he posted the Facebook remarks about the Obamas. He didn’t respond to a voicemail Monday. Richmond says Johnson assaulted her in 2012. She says she reported it to police in 2013, but the case was closed without charges. No one at the police department responded to a telephone call seeking comment.
The Associated Press does not generally identify alleged sexual assault victims, but is doing so because Richmond has gone public.
Constable charged with helping inmate escape
GREENVILLE (AP) — Authorities say a Kentucky constable has been charged with helping a jail inmate escape from custody.
Kentucky State Police say Muhlenberg County Constable Willie Parker was arrested Friday on charges of bribery of a public servant and escape by complicity.
Police said Greenville inmate Anthony White escaped while being transported by Parker from the Muhlenberg County Court House to the Muhlenberg County Detention Center in June.
Investigators said Parker agreed to accept a bribe from Kelly Dooley, the inmate’s girlfriend, to help in White’s escape.
White and Dooley have been indicted on the same charges as Parker. Both were in jail at the time of their indictments. Jail records do not show if they or Parker have lawyers.
Death of man at Ky. Ford plant under investigation
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a man at a Ford truck plant in Kentucky.
Media outlets report that police responded to Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville just before 1 a.m. Saturday. Officers found emergency personnel and Ford security attempting to save the man.
Louisville police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said in a statement that the man died at the scene “as a result of electrical shock.”
WAVE-TV reports that the coroner’s office identified the man as 41-year-old Ivan Bridgewater, of Seymour, Indiana.
Kelli Felker, the manufacturing and labor communications manager at Ford, said in a statement that Ford is cooperating with the investigation.
Man sentenced in his sisters’ killings seeks new trial
HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky man who was sentenced to 20 years in prison on murder charges in his sisters’ killings is seeking a new trial and a judge’s recusal.
The Kentucky New Era reports defense attorneys for 66-year-old Robert Jerry Rogers filed a motion Nov. 13 for a new trial, and another Wednesday to recuse Judge John Atkins. Rogers was found guilty but mentally ill in October for the 2016 stabbings.
Rogers’ attorney, Brandi Jones, filed the new trial motion, saying Atkins “decided the defendant’s guilty prior to the presentation of any evidence.” The recusal motion quotes state law on judges.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynn Pryor said in court Wednesday that she saw “no justifiable reason” for a new trial.
Atkins is expected to make a decision at a Dec. 20 hearing on both motions.
Bridge closed, source of damage investigated
OWENTON (AP) — Kentucky officials have closed a bridge after it was damaged by an unidentified impact.
The Transportation Cabinet said in a news release Friday that damage was caused to the portal strut bracing and lower sway bracing at the top of the bridge over Severn Creek in Owen County on Kentucky 355. The agency said it’s presumed the damage was caused by a vehicle or piece of equipment.
The bridge was opened in 1942. Kentucky State Police notified the cabinet of the damage on Thanksgiving Day, and engineers posted restrictions. The cabinet decided to close the bridge a few days later after observing vehicles violating the posted weight limit.
Repairs are expected next spring.
The cabinet is working with state police to investigate how the damages occurred.
Bluegrass festival announces headline acts for 2018 event
OWENSBORO (AP) — The International Bluegrass Music Museum has announced the lead acts for its annual ROMP Festival in western Kentucky.
A statement from the museum says Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush and Doyle Lawson will highlight the annual four-day ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival in Owensboro next summer. Additional acts include Rhiannon Giddens, We Banjo 3 (Ireland), and Billy Strings. More performers will be announced in the spring.
Last year’s festival drew a record audience of more than 26,000 people. The largest crowd attended Saturday night for headline acts that included the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The SteelDrivers and Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass.
The 2018 festival will be held June 27-30.
State parks offering eagle watch tours next year
FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentucky State Parks are offering a chance to view eagles in western Kentucky.
The eagle watching weekends will be offered in January and February at Lake Barkley and Kenlake State Resort parks and Kentucky Dam Village.
The tours take place on an excursion yacht and by van. They are led by state park naturalists and staff from the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Ticket prices for the three-hour weekend tours range from $25 to $70 a person.
Lake Barkley will have tours from Jan. 19-21. The tours at Kentucky Dam Village will be from Jan. 26-28 and Kenlake will host tours on several dates in February.
Kentucky State parks have hosted the tours for four decades.
Coroner: Boy, 11, is 3rd victim of apartment fire
LOUISVILLE (AP) — A coroner says an 11-year-old boy is the third victim of a fatal apartment fire in Kentucky.
The Courier-Journal reports that the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said Kameron Harris was pronounced dead at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville on Friday. Smoke inhalation was cited as the cause of death.
The fire started at an apartment building on Tuesday night. Officials say 41-year-old Archimeda Riley and 16-year-old Savannah Cooper also died in the fire.
Police say 26-year-old Danesha Peden was arrested Thursday and faces charges including arson and murder. Police said Peden acknowledged pouring gasoline on the house and starting the fire.