FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton filed suit against Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday, asking for court orders that would restore her two fired staff members to their jobs.
The lawsuit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court, argues the Bevin administration illegally dismissed Hampton's chief of staff Steve Knipper in late January and deputy chief of staff Adrienne Southworth in late May.
The lawsuit seeks a court order declaring that the lieutenant governor is the proper appointing authority for employees of the lieutenant governor's office.
It asks the court to declare that the "attempted termination" of employees of her office by the governor without Hampton's consent was "wholly and legally ineffective."
The suit names Bevin "in his official capacity as Governor" and the state Personnel Cabinet as the defendants.
Pastor, former day care director arraigned
Kentucky New Era
First United Methodist Church senior pastor the Rev. Paige Williams, 61, and former day care director Abby Leach, 32, were arraigned Wednesday morning in Judge John Atkins' Hopkinsville courtroom.
Williams and her defense attorney Bill Deatherage as well as Leach and her attorney Ben Fletcher entered not guilty pleas as they both consider plea offers from the commonwealth moving forward.
Williams is charged with first-degree complicity to criminal abuse of a child under 12 years of age in connection to a child abuse case that arose in January at the day care.
Leach was the day care director at the time of the alleged abuse and is also charged with first-degree complicity to criminal abuse of a child under 12 years of age.
After entering the plea, Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Boling advised the court that the evidence the commonwealth has gathered has already been turned over to the defense.
Atkins told the court that former FUMC day care employee Allison Simpson's case will be transferred from Judge Andrew Self to Atkins' court, so all three cases to be presented together.
The cases all relate to child abuse charges that were handed down to Simpson following a Hopkinsville Police Department investigation in January.
Boling reiterated to Atkins that more charges are in the process of being brought against Simpson in the case, but he doesn't expect to indict her on those additional charges until October.
Atkins scheduled Williams and Leach for another pretrial conference Sept. 11; however, neither woman is required to appear in court on that date.
According to court documents, the pair committed complicity to criminal abuse by "intentionally breaching their legal duty to protect (seven) minor children all less than 13 months old, by failing to prevent Allison Simpson from intentionally abusing these children."
The incident allegedly occurred between Dec. 1, 2018, and Jan. 28, 2019, the documents added. The documents state that their actions "placed (seven children) in a situation that might cause serious physical injury, cause torture, cruel confinement or cruel punishment at the hands of Simpson."
Williams and Leach's indictments came Aug. 2, months after 24-year-old Simpson was arrested for the alleged abuse Jan. 30.
According to New Era archives, on Jan. 10, Simpson allegedly subjected two babies to cruel confinement and punishment while she was working at the day care. She is accused of putting a 10-month-old and an 8-month-old in "substantial danger of serious injury," the report states. No other details about the incident have been released.
In Simpson's original indictment, she was charged with the abuse of two children. However, in Williams and Leach's indictments, there are seven children listed. The new charges Boling spoke of in court refer to the other seven children.
Briggs & Stratton to close Murray facility, 600 jobs impacted
Murray Ledger & Times
Briggs & Stratton Corp. announced Thursday morning plans to consolidate production of its small vertical-shaft engines into its Poplar Bluff, Missouri facility. A news release from the company said this consolidation would result in the closure of the company's Murray facility by the fall of 2020 and is intended to align production capacity with current and expected future market needs. Six hundred work at the company's Murray facility.
"The market for small vertical-shaft engines has been relatively stable over the last several years but has not grown for various reasons, including a difficult housing market driven by the lack of affordable single-family homes in the United States," the release said. "Unlike other areas of Briggs & Stratton's business such as commercial engines and products which have seen double-digit growth, the residential walk-behind mower market, where the vast majority of these engines are used, has not rebounded to historical levels. Accordingly, the company is taking action to right-size its footprint."
"Our residential engine business continues to be core to our company as we make progress on diversifying our business by growing our commercial presence," said Todd Teske, chairman, president & CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corp. "This production consolidation is important for the long-term health of this operation and will allow for better utilization of our assets by freeing up resources that we can use on growth areas within our company. Our team in Murray has done great things over the three decades since the plant was established. We are grateful for their work and the support we have received from the local community and Commonwealth of Kentucky."
Impacted employees will have the opportunity to relocate to another facility, the company said. The Poplar Bluff plant will be hiring to accommodate the increased production being added to that facility, in addition to the hiring taking place within the company's commercial businesses.
The Company anticipates annualized pre-tax savings of $12 million to $14 million, with approximately $10 million recognized by fiscal year 2021. Total charges related to the consolidation are expected to total $30 million to $35 million over fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
Lexington schools met 'In God We Trust' mandate by framing a dollar
By Valarie Honeycutt Spears
When Brittany Pike saw the back of a dollar bill framed at Lexington's Athens Chilesburg Elementary School last week, she couldn't have been more pleased.
Pike took a photo and posted it on Facebook Wednesday along with this message about Fayette County Public Schools' response to Kentucky's new law that requires the national "In God We Trust" motto to be displayed prominently at schools:
"This school year Kentucky began requiring schools to place "In God We Trust" in the building. I absolutely love living in a school district that wants to follow the law while also ensuring EVERY student feels welcomed back regardless of religious beliefs. Thank you so very much Fayette County Public Schools for simply posting a dollar with 'In God We Trust.' My kids don't feel awkward or excluded for not believing in any God."
Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk said Wednesday afternoon that in complying with the new law, "all schools in our district have been provided a framed version of an enlarged copy of a $1 dollar bill to display in a prominent location."
Pike told the Herald-Leader that her husband is the state director at the group American Atheists, and has been working behind the scenes to address the new law.
She said her child noticed the framed dollar bill at ACE last week and asked about it.
"We are pleased that that's what Fayette County had decided to do to fulfill the law but also to let everybody feel included at the same time," Pike said.
In a blog post entitled : A KY School District Found a Brilliant Loophole for the "In God We Trust" Law, blogger Hemant Mehta writing under the heading "The Friendly Atheist" said "It's a brilliant move."
The new law is required as a result of legislation filed by State Rep. Brandon Reed, a Republican minister from Hodgenville. It said in part that beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, local boards shall require each public elementary and secondary school to display the national motto of the United States, "In God We Trust," in a prominent location in the school.
In response, Reed said, "It is extremely disappointing to see Fayette County Public Schools spend time searching for silly loopholes to a law that passed with broad support from both Democrats and Republicans and received over 70 votes in the House of Representatives. "
"Instead of empowering students by allowing them to create artwork displaying our national motto, Fayette County has instead chosen to play political games and deprive students of that opportunity," said Reed. "Many districts across the state have chosen the avenue of creative student artwork, which my bill expressly allowed for and would come at little to no cost to our schools. Our national motto is prominently displayed in other public institutions, and is something to be proud of, not ashamed. I hope to see FCPS reconsider their unfortunate decision."