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News Around the State

Hepatitis A outbreak continues in several Kentucky counties

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says a hepatitis A outbreak is continuing in several counties.

The cabinet said in a news release that the state Department of Public Health was reporting 117 cases by last week, 96 in the Louisville area. Some associated cases were also found in Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Hopkins, Leslie, Marion, McCracken and Taylor counties.

The 10-year average in Kentucky has been about 20 cases per year.

The outbreak was first reported on Nov. 21. No deaths have been attributed to the Kentucky outbreak.

The cabinet recommends age-appropriate vaccinations, washing hands with warm water and soap, handling uncooked food appropriately and fully cooking food. Also, always wash hands before touching or eating food, after using the toilet and after changing a diaper.

Millions in grants will help Martin Co. repair water lines

INEZ, Ky. (AP) — Federal and state leaders announced a $3.4 million project to repair water line systems that are on the brink of collapse in Martin County.

Officials in the far eastern Kentucky county have said the water department is in dire financial straits and they have been forced to shut off water to residents for days at a time. The Appalachian county has a history of low water pressure and leaky lines.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Gov. Matt Bevin secured the multi-million project that will install a secondary water intake in the Tug Fork River. Other work will include upgrading the Crum Reservoir dam and making improvements to the water treatment plant.

“We have listened to the concerns of the local community, and the grant and corresponding project plan will provide assistance and address needed repairs and improvements within the local water district” Bevin said in a press release Saturday.

The money will come from grants from the Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The work includes a monitoring system to allow water plant operators to check on water tanks, pump stations, and control valves within the system

Rogers, whose district includes several Appalachian counties, acknowledged the project won’t fix everything that’s wrong with the county’s water system, but said the funding “is a big step in the right direction.”

The improvements will also address emergency water outages that happened in December and January, the officials said.

School board sued over student’s beating

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A lawyer for a student who was beaten at a Kentucky high school has filed a lawsuit seeking to raise awareness about bullying.

Attorney Glenn Martin Hammond represents a student who claims she suffered a brain injury during an attack at Pike County Central High School in October, WYMT-TV reported. Hammond filed the lawsuit Thursday afternoon against the county Board of Education, and said Pike County Schools are not doing enough to address bullying.

The student was dragged to the floor and severely beaten, Hammond said. She is now seeking treatment at a hospital in Cincinnati, he said.

County schools Superintendent Reed Adkins said officials are taking the lawsuit seriously. “Our goal is to come up with a way to put armed deputies inside our schools because I think it has come to that,” he said.

The school system has zero tolerance for bullying and threats, Adkins said. However, safety issues only seem to be getting worse, Hammond said.

Officials will hold a town hall meeting Monday evening to discuss ways to make schools safer, Adkins said.

Police: Ky. man flees, leads police on 100 mph chase

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) — Police say a Kentucky man sped away when officers tried to remove him from his car and led them on a chase that exceeded 100 mph (160 kph).

Morehead police Capt. Kyle Callahan tells WKYT-TV officers were responding to a reckless driving complaint Saturday night when they stopped a car driven by 30-year-old John E. Hall. Callahan says Hall refused to give officers his middle initial and said he did not have to exit his car after they asked him several times.

Callahan says Hall nearly hit four officers when he drove off. He was arrested after crashing and fleeing the scene.

Police arrested and charged his passenger, 32-year-old Jenna C. May, with public intoxication. Hall was charged with several offenses including DUI. It is unclear if they have lawyers.

Grand reopening planned at Kentucky Downs racetrack

FRANKLIN, Ky. (AP) — Officials say Kentucky Downs plans to show off its extensive renovations during a grand reopening next month.

The racetrack in southern Kentucky says in a statement that the event is set for Friday, March 23. The makeover included a new bar and lounge, renovated gambling areas and a covered entrance that allows for valet parking.

In addition to live racing in the fall, the track in Franklin offers pari-mutuel betting, bingo and instant racing machines.

Dan Ware, director of the Simpson County Tourism Commission, has said Kentucky Downs is among the biggest tourism draws in the area.

Suspect arrested after missing Ky. teen found in home

(AP) — A 16-year-old girl reported missing from Kentucky two months ago has been found in South Carolina, and authorities say they have arrested a suspect in her disappearance.

The Saluda County Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page that it received a report on Feb. 20 from the girl’s family. Deputies went to the home of 24-year-old Florencio Gomez Saiche, who said no one else was in the house.

According to the sheriff’s office, deputies heard movements, searched the home and found the victim and took her to safety.

The girl had last been seen in Kentucky around Dec. 7. Media outlets say she’s been reunited with her family.

Saiche is jailed without bond on charges of kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. It’s not known if he has an attorney.

WKU to cut University College, about 140 jobs

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Western Kentucky University is eliminating the University College and cutting up to 140 jobs.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports WKU announced the cuts Friday to make up a $15 million budget shortfall. WKU President Timothy Caboni says this is only the first phase.

He says University College, which offers flexible programs for “non-traditional students,” will dissolve by July 1. A message from Caboni to staff says eliminated employees will be notified by mid-March and all “displaced” employees will be paid through June 30 unless they leave earlier.

The university will also be making other changes including turning management of regional campuses over internally to the school’s Division of Extended Learning and Outreach.