News Around the State

Published 3:56 pm Friday, April 12, 2019

2 more Kentucky school districts receive subpoenas

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — At least two more Kentucky schools districts have received a subpoena from the state Labor Cabinet for teacher absence records during protests at the legislature this year.

News outlets reported Thursday that Fayette County and Madison County schools have received subpoenas asking for absence records.

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Fayette County district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said the district hasn’t reviewed the subpoena. She said the district would defend employees if adverse action is attempted against them.

School districts in Jefferson, Oldham and Bullitt counties said Wednesday that they had received subpoenas.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has criticized teachers for the widespread absences that forced some schools to cancel classes for as long as a few days while teachers protested at the Capitol.

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis made similar requests for information earlier. He has asked districts to tighten teacher absence policies.

Kentucky county to pay $253K over claims of false billing

BEATTYVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky county has agreed to pay nearly $254,000 to the federal government to settle a lawsuit alleging its ambulance service submitted more than 1,000 fake reimbursement claims to Medicare and Medicaid.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Thursday that the federal government sued Lee County and related agencies last year. It said the county-owned ambulance service forged reports to make patients seem sicker than they were so ambulance runs would qualify for federal reimbursement.

Together with earlier settlements reached with an official from the ambulance service and the company that handled its billing, U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. says the government will recoup a total of $515,000 from the scheme.

Kentucky AG: Work by cold case unit helps lead to indictment

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general says work by a cold case unit in his office has helped lead to the indictment of a Hardin County man accused of a 2011 sexual assault.

Attorney General Andy Beshear said Thursday that investigators found a DNA match that led to the indictment of 37-year-old Thaddeus Artis. Beshear says Artis faces charges of rape, sodomy, intimidating a participant in a legal process and being a persistent felon.

Court officials in Hardin County said Thursday there’s no record yet of an attorney for Artis. He’s scheduled to be arraigned on April 23.

Beshear says his office worked with local authorities in the Artis case. He says it’s the latest indictment secured in a sexual assault case as a result of work by his office’s cold case unit.

Kentucky plan to reduce Mammoth Cave haze approved by EPA

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Kentucky’s plan to meet federal air pollutant and visibility requirements around Mammoth Cave National Park.

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler visited Kentucky on Friday to announce the approval of the state’s regional haze plan. States develop plans in order to comply with a portion of the Clean Air Act that requires states to work toward reducing air pollution problems at national parks and wilderness areas.

The new approval replaces a federally imposed plan on Kentucky’s haze requirements that dates back to 2012.

“EPA is removing burdensome, top-down federal requirements and approving the Commonwealth’s own plan for clean air and visibility,” Wheeler said.

A major factor in the reduction of haze has been the retirement of coal-fired power plants in recent years and the installation of pollution scrubbers at other coal plants in Kentucky.

Kentucky officials say emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from Kentucky power plants are down 78% and 40% over the last 10 years.

Since 2015, more than a dozen coal-fired electric units in Kentucky have been retired, replaced by gas-burning units or are scheduled to close.

“Because of the number of closures as well as the shift to gas-fired electricity, you are seeing a reduction in the short and long range transport of pollutants that are involved with haze,” said Tom Fitzgerald, who heads the Kentucky Resources Council, an environmental advocacy group.

Mammoth Cave National Park has also seen a reduction in pollution over the last decade. According to figures posted on the National Parks website, Mammoth Cave has had a 65 percent reduction in sulfate deposits in rain, snow and smog between 2006 and 2015.

Wheeler also announced a $1.1 million EPA grant to the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection to help clean up petroleum contamination from commercial underground storage tanks.

GM to reveal next-generation Corvette in July

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — It’s just the thing to make the hearts of Corvette fans race: A new rendition of the classic sports car is coming.

And General Motors has a big change in store for the eighth generation Corvette being revealed July 18. The engine in the new model is being moved from under the hood, to be tucked between the passenger compartment and the rear wheels — a “mid-engine” design.

For fans who closely follow any tweak in the venerable car, it’s a big deal. Chevrolet calls this next-generation model “the most anticipated Corvette ever.”

This Corvette will be “the sum of each generation before it,” but will “stand alone as the new standard of performance,” a company press release says.

GM hasn’t said publicly when the new generation Corvette will reach dealerships.

Previewing the reveal, General Motors released a photo showing GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra standing next to a camouflaged, next-generation Corvette on Thursday in New York.

In another sneak peak, GM President Mark Reuss posted an image of the next-generation Corvette on his Facebook page.

The new sport car has been photographed undergoing road tests for months. Corvettes debuted in 1953 and are manufactured at a GM plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Janitor convicted of killing co-worker sentenced to 43 years

BURLINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A judge has sentenced a Kentucky janitor to 43 years in prison in the slaying of a co-worker.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports Boone County Circuit Court Judge J.R. Schrand followed the recommendation of the jury on Thursday in handing down the sentence to 45-year-old David Dooley.

Dooley was convicted of murder in March in the 2012 slaying of Michelle Mockbee, who prosecutors said discovered he had been falsifying time cards at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Authorities said Mockbee was in charge of the company’s payroll.

Dooley maintained his innocence, and defense attorneys argued that prosecutors couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dooley committed murder.

Dooley also was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to life, but he was given a new trial when a judge determined some evidence was withheld from defense attorneys.

Former coach pleads not guilty to sex abuse, child porn

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — A former high school fishing coach has pleaded not guilty to charges of sex abuse and child pornography.

The Paducah Sun reports John Parks appeared in court Thursday to answer to one count of first-degree sexual abuse and 10 counts of possession or viewing of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.

Parks is the former McCracken County High School fishing coach. A 15-year-old student reported in February that Parks touched him in an intimate matter and sent him inappropriate text messages.

Authorities say police examined Parks’ phone and found at least one photo of a nude male who was under 18 when the image was taken.