News in Brief


Grimes announces online voter registration system

FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentuckians will be able to register to vote online beginning with the 2016 presidential election.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced the new voter registration system on Tuesday. It is similar to a system that allows soldiers and others living overseas to register to vote. Grimes said more than 700 people have used the existing system since it went live last year.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says 23 states allow voters to register to vote online while another five plus the District of Columbia have not yet implemented their systems. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the state Board of Elections says it will cost about $45,000 to implement the electronic voter registration system, with the money coming from the federal Help America Vote Fund.

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Fort Campbell soldiers returning from Afghanistan

FORT CAMPBELL (AP) — Hundreds of Fort Campbell soldiers who have been in Afghanistan advising the Afghan National Army are expected back at the post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line this week.

Fort Campbell says approximately 250 soldiers from 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division are due to return early Friday.

A ceremony with family, friends and fellow soldiers is scheduled.

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Sheriff adding ‘In God We Trust’ decals to patrol cars

LONDON (AP) — A Kentucky sheriff says he is adding decals that say “In God We Trust” to all marked patrol cars.

Laurel County Sheriff John Root said in a statement on Tuesday that he is paying for the patriotic decals with his own money. He says the move is a response to recent violence against law enforcement officers around the nation.

Sheriff’s spokesman Gilbert Acciardo said Root spent $150 on the decals, which will be placed on the department’s 27 marked cruisers.

Root said the decal is “a symbol of moral values in Kentucky and Laurel County.”

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Bankrupt Patriot Coal proceeds with sale to Blackhawk Mining

SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. (AP) — Bankrupt Patriot Coal says it is proceeding with a partial sale to Blackhawk Mining LLC after an auction.

In a news release Tuesday, Patriot says Lexington, Kentucky-based Blackhawk Mining won an auction Monday for a substantial amount of Patriot’s assets.

The transaction and Patriot’s reorganization plan both still need approval in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia. Scott Depot, West Virginia-based Patriot will seek the sale’s approval at an Oct. 5 bankruptcy hearing.

Patriot says Coronado Coal LLC participated in the auction and was designated the backup bidder.

Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia environmental officials have expressed concerns about mine pollution cleanup in Patriot’s plan.

The Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund is looking to acquire Patriot’s other mines and mining permits for purposes of water quality improvement and reclamation.

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Prisoner uses bed sheets in escape, falls when knot slips

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Two inmates at a Louisville jail facility could have used a course in knot-tying when they plotted an escape using bed sheets.

The men escaped to the roof of a minimum-security building Monday night, and used a rope made of bed sheets to climb down about four floors. Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton says 29-year-old Matthew Johnson was climbing down when a knot on the sheets came loose, dropping him about 20 feet.

Police learned of the escape around 9 p.m., when a hospital worker saw Johnson climbing down.

A second inmate, 37-year-old Christopher Cornelius, didn’t risk the climb and was found hiding on the roof.

Johnson was found hiding in a car early Tuesday morning. He injured his ankle and back and remained hospitalized Tuesday.

Both men were in jail on drug charges.

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Owensboro utility to close unit of coal-fired power plant

OWENSBORO (AP) — The days are numbered for one unit of a coal-fired power plant in western Kentucky.

Owensboro Municipal Utilities has announced it will shut down Unit 1 of the Elmer Smith Power Plant sometime between 2019 and 2021. WFPL-FM reports the plant’s other, larger unit will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.

The utility doesn’t have a plan yet for replacing the power, but CEO Terrance Naulty says it will likely be natural gas or renewable energy.

More than half of the coal plants operating in Kentucky in 2011 were built before 1970, and utilities are being forced to decide whether to update the plants or shut them down.

Naulty said shutting the unit down works out better financially.

“It’s not driven by environmental regulations. This is a pure economic decision,” he said. “It makes more sense for us to invest in newer, cleaner, cheaper technology than to invest in the older coal-fired generation.”

Rick Fowler of the Sierra Club’s local group said the organization is looking forward to the unit’s retirement.

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State’s only military school scheduled to be auctioned

MILLERSBURG (AP) — Kentucky’s only military school, Forest Hill Military Academy, is in default on loans and is scheduled to be auctioned at a master commissioner’s sale on Oct. 1.

Media outlets report a judge recently ruled against the owner, U.S. Army Cadet Corps, and ordered the property be sold to pay the lender, Farmers Deposit Bank. The bank had filed suit against Cadet Corps seeking $535,188 plus interest. Court records say the Cadet Corps had two loans totaling $1 million borrowed from the bank. An affidavit says the school has not made payments since August 2014.

Headmaster Jay Whitehead says he hopes to find an investor to buy the property at the commissioner’s sale.

The school was founded in 1893 by Col. C.M. Best, but has recently struggled to make ends meet.

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Ford expanding truck plant in Louisville

LOUISVILLE (AP) — Ford Motor Co. has revealed that it intends to boost the size of its stamping facility, body shop and materials handling at the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

Multiple media outlets report that the company has filed plans with Metro Louisville zoning officials, seeking approval to add a total of 288,715 square feet at a handful of locations on its 413-acre site in eastern Jefferson County. Ford officials declined to discuss the plans.

The company hasn’t disclosed how much the planned conversion of its Super Duty models to aluminum frames will cost. The plant manufactures F-250, 250, 450 and 550 Super Duty models, as well as the Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. Officials say they want to produce lighter trucks to boost fuel economy and increase each truck’s towing capacity.

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My Morning Jacket drummer opening Ky. restaurant

LOUISVILLE (AP) — A member of My Morning Jacket is trying his hand at the restaurant business.

Patrick Hallahan, the drummer for the Louisville, Kentucky-based rock band, is opening a restaurant in his hometown with two other partners.

The new Butchertown Grocery is set to open in November in the city’s historic Butchertown neighborhood. The bar and restaurant, housed in a century-old building, will also be owned by Bobby Benjamin, who will act as executive chef, and lawyer Jon Salomon.

A release from the business team says Hallahan is bringing “a unique character and soul to the restaurant.”

The casual dining restaurant will have a cocktail lounge with live music. It is set to open in November.

My Morning Jacket released their seventh studio album, “The Waterfall,” earlier this year.

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Trial date set for Ky. man charged in death of toddler

GLASGOW (AP) — A trial date has been set for a man charged in connection with the death of a 2-year-old girl.

Media outlets report that a Kentucky judge set an April 19, 2016 trial date for Anthony Barbour during a hearing Monday.

Authorities have charged Barbour with murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence in connection with the death of Laynee Wallace earlier this year. The girl was reported missing May 19 and police found her body in a well six days later. Police arrested Barbour the day the girl’s body was found. Law enforcement believes the girl was killed May 17 or 18.

Barbour’s attorney, Ken Garrett, says he may look into a change of venue for the trial because of the media attention the case has received.

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