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State News in Brief

Health officials say flu considered epidemic in Ky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky health officials say the flu has reached epidemic levels this season.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesman Doug Hogan says that’s because there have been more cases this flu season than what’s normal.

A statement from the Department of Public Health on Wednesday said Kentucky is in its sixth week of widespread flu activity, meaning at least half the state has reported outbreaks or flu-like activity. There have been 65 reported deaths, three of which were children.

During the 2016-2017 season, the state reported 76 deaths. The season before that, there were 25.

Officials say healthy people should get vaccinated and avoid close contact with sick people. Those who do get the flu are advised to limit contact with others.

Smallwood appointed to state appellate vacancy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky lawyer has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals.

Gov. Matt Bevin appointed Gene Smallwood Jr. of Whitesburg to serve as judge on the court for Kentucky’s 7th Appellate District, Division 2. The vacancy was created when Judge Janet L. Stumbo retired Dec. 31.

Smallwood has practiced law for 40 years. He received bachelor’s degrees in political science and English from the University of Michigan and graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Bevin’s office said in a news release Wednesday that Smallwood will serve until the position is filled in the November election.

Bill seeks to relieve victims of abusers’ legal fees

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — An obscure Kentucky law now requires victims of domestic violence to pay the legal fees of their abusive spouses in divorce proceedings when their abusers are in jail.

A state Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Thursday to eliminate that provision.

Jeanette McCue said she faced such a predicament.

She said her husband beat her and put a gun to her head. When she filed for divorce, she found out she’d have to pay for her husband’s attorney because he was in prison, serving time for the abuse. McCue says finding that out was “a smack in the face.”

The bill would require the state to pay legal costs of abusers in such divorce cases.

The bill’s lead sponsor is Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville.

101st Airborne Division soldier receives Soldier’s Medal

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — A 101st Airborne Division soldier has been given the Soldier’s Medal after saving two people from a burning vehicle.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Davis received the medal this week in a ceremony at Fort Campbell. The Ellijay, Georgia, native is with C Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Artillery cannon crew member and section chief.

Davis was traveling to Georgia in June when he saw a vehicle that had turned over. He pulled over and ran to the car when he saw a small engine fire. Fort Campbell said in a news release that two people were trapped inside, soaked in gasoline from a container that had been thrown from the back of the car.

Davis says as he was working to get the second person out, the vehicle caught fire, causing flames to burn at their legs.