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“So, you are trapped on a deserted island, but you can take five books with you to pass the time. What would they be?” This question is a classic icebreaker that has been used to loosen up attendees at corporate meetings and organizational retreats for years. It may sound like a pretty simple query, but the answers are always wildly diverse and often difficult to pinpoint for many people. Many public libraries have done their own version of this game — minus the shipwrecked-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean part. The recent release of “The Institute” by Stephen King and another entry in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, albeit written by David Lagercrantz, had me pondering this literary question.

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Boyle County Magistrate Phil Sammons’ objectifying and sexist comments during a public meeting last week were the last straw that finally broke the camel’s back. While Sammons’ comments brought attention to a problem, the focus should not and cannot be only on what one man said to one woman one time. All on its own, Sammons’ comment can seem tiny — an off-hand joke spit out with little intent and no thought. It’s just a single piece of straw. “Come on, it was just a joke,” we can hear men saying each time another piece of straw lands.

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Democrat Andy Beshear reports his campaign for governor raised about $2.8 million in contributions this summer compared with about $2 million in contributions for incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. The two campaigns filed their first reports listing donors and expenses of their general election campaigns on Friday with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

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He parked his old Chevy Monza on Sixth Street, walked around to the trunk where he gathered his belongings and strode inside the building where he had worked for most of two decades. He rode the elevator to the third floor and stepped off. Then he began firing. Over the next few minutes, Joseph Wesbecker, the angry man with an arsenal of weapons stashed in the bag he carried, walked through his old workplace and — sometimes carefully, sometimes randomly — shot his co-workers. It was 30 years ago Saturday when Louisville lost its innocence — drowned in 20 pools of blood on the floor of the old Standard Gravure printing plant and the back halls of The Courier Journal.

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After spending more than three years in custody, murder suspect Danny Tharpe of Winchester is back on the trial docket for allegedly killing and robbing a friend. Tharpe, 52, was arrested May 19, 2016, a day after Jeff Adams was found unresponsive in his home with a wound to his neck.

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Clad only in pajama bottoms, 5-year-old Tanner Bivins was found cold and unresponsive one frigid January 2018 morning in a squalid Hopkins County home with only a fireplace for heat. Authorities were shocked by the conditions inside — garbage, roaches, rodents, feces on floors and walls, and buckets of human waste as toilets for the home with no utilities. Even more shocking was Tanner's condition. Pronounced dead at the hospital, the boy was filthy, malnourished, dehydrated and had such severe head lice that he was missing hair, his scalp covered with open sores and scars from scratching. Blood was caked under his fingernails. But despite such gruesome details, state social services officials won't classify Tanner's death as one caused by abuse or neglect. They say it's because an autopsy listed his cause of death as "undetermined."

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said his use of a state-owned plane is none of taxpayers' business as long as they aren't picking up the tab for his flights. “The real question is: Why does it matter what the purpose (of the trip) is?" Bevin told the Bowling Green Daily News on Thursday. "Did taxpayers pay for it? If they did, then they should know the purpose. If they didn’t pay for it, it’s none of their business.” Bevin's remarks were in response to a question about a Courier Journal report this week regarding his flights to nine different states on a Kentucky State Police plane this summer.

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High temperatures and a lack of rain are taking their toll on Louisville and the surrounding region. Jefferson County is one of several counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana currently in a moderate drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. It's been 17 days since we saw a drop in Louisville, according to local National Weather Service meteorologist Samantha Carr, and don't expect relief any time soon – we have a 15% chance of showers Friday, she said, but if that doesn't happen, Thursday is the next day with a significant chance of precipitation.

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Two people were found dead after a fire was extinguished at a home in Whitley County early Friday. Kentucky State Police said their investigators were called to a residence on Wolf Creek River Road at 12:36 a.m., after firefighters put out the flames and found the bodies. The identities of the victims and their cause of death is pending, state police said. Autopsies were scheduled for Saturday.

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Nerve-racking. Awe-inspiring. A memory worth re-telling and luxuriating in again and again. During a meeting with reporters this month, Kentucky Coach John Calipari clearly enjoyed talking about the round of golf he played on Aug. 23 with former President Barack Obama. It was easily apparent that this golfing experience was anything but par for the course, which in this case was the semi-private Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha’s Vineyard. The spark that led to what sounded like a lasting memory was a chance meeting with Robert Wolf, who worked in the Obama administration and is a fan of basketball and the UK coach.

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An Independence man has been arrested and charged after police said he threatened to set fire to a local organization. On Sunday, the Kenton County Police Department, along with the FBI and other agencies, executed a search warrant in the 4900 block of Open Meadow Drive in Independence. Daniel Kibler, 28, was charged with possession of a destructive device or booby trap device, terroristic threatening and eight counts of wanton endangerment. He is currently lodged at the Kenton County Jail.

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At the very end of the last session, Kentucky lawmakers slipped through a bill that caused a lot of consternation among solar energy advocates around the state. Not that they were given much time to debate it, of course. Senate Bill 100 affected people who install solar panels on their houses and businesses. Under the previous law, “net metering” allowed people who made extra energy with their solar panels to basically sell it back to the utility at the same rate the utilities charge. This made solar installation more financially feasible for many. The new law will require the Public Service Commission to set different rates per utility company or cooperatives. The utility companies that backed the bill said it would stop subsidizing solar customers who were not paying for the costs of maintaining the electric grid that they are still use.

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When Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ name came up during her father’s trial this past month, she was described by attorneys and witnesses as a rising star in the Democratic Party. Emails from her 2011 campaign for Secretary of State showed her inner circle staring brightly into the future, planning to put her in the governor’s mansion or U.S. Senate cloakroom. There was no evidence that Grimes was aware of the campaign contributions, but given how tightly her father was entwined in her political rise, the verdict is a major blemish on Grimes’ political biography.

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A Northern Kentucky woman is being held on a $1 million bond after a 17-month-old was pronounced dead at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, according to a press release from the Dayton Police Department. Stacey Schuchart, 29, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree manslaughter in connection to the child's death, the release states.

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Federal prosecutors and the attorney for a former Franklin Police Department lieutenant who admitted tipping off a physician to a drug investigation against him are requesting probation for the former officer. Vickie Kristiansen, 43, is set to be sentenced Sept. 23 in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding.

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A tractor-trailer car hauler headed for Bowling Green's General Motors Corvette Assembly Plant was stopped by a couple dozen striking United Auto Workers Local 2164 members on Corvette Drive Monday morning. It was a microcosm of what this work stoppage could mean for GM, which hyped in April plans to add a second shift and start producing the eighth generation Corvettes. Now those plans, which involved adding some 400 jobs, are on hold.

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Fairness sounds like an easy concept. It isn’t. What may be “fair” to one individual or group may be seen as not “fair” to others. That may be due to perspective, income, upbringing or an entire array of other factors. Even so, “fairness” should always be the goal of government. It is important to understand that part of a government’s role is to protect and take care of those who are unable or unwilling to take care of themselves, no matter the reason. The strong, powerful and wealthy seldom need the protection of government. So, as one looks at the Fairness Ordinance passed recently by the Georgetown City Council, it is also important to understand the intent is to protect people who need protection.

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A live microphone can be a politician’s sweetest dream or their worst nightmare. When the politician is unaware the mic is live, that politician’s true nature is often revealed. That is what happened recently as a conversation between Georgetown council members Marvin Thompson and Polly Singer-Eardley was captured via video and audio during a council meeting. Thompson’s comments about the LBGTQ community and a lawsuit against the city by paralyzed Scott County Deputy Jaime Morales were crude, insulting and highly hypocritical considering Thompson’s immediate family has a history of suing the City of Georgetown. Singer-Eardley’s comments could not be heard, but she was seen laughing and engaged in the commentary. Sadly, none of this is a laughing matter.

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Are Kentucky schools in crisis mode because of teacher shortages? While some districts argue numbers reported about shortages are inflated, there is no doubt there is a shift in interest in the teaching career, and schools are feeling the impact. Recent data reveals while openings for teaching positions have increased over the last several decades, the number of people pursuing careers in teaching has declined, signaling the problem is only going to get worse — especially as the state’s more skilled and experienced teachers retire to protect their pensions or leave the profession for other careers.

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Obesity rates continue to rise in Kentucky and across the country, according to a new study. In a country where more than 100 million people — or nearly one in three — were considered obese in 2018, Kentucky is one of only nine states where that group exceeded 35 percent of the state’s population, an annual Trust for America’s Health study released Thursday shows.

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A Corbin mother is facing charges of criminal child abuse after Laurel County Sheriff’s deputies and social services workers found her children living in a filthy, bug-infested home. Deputies arrested Casey Laws, 33, Monday afternoon on two counts of third-degree criminal abuse of a child 12 and under, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Deputy Gilbert Acciardo, the department’s public affairs officer, said deputies had been asked to accompany social services to the residence.

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The judge reinstated probation for a former Clark County employee who stole thousands of dollars in public money from an account she controlled. Jennifer Paige Adkins, 42, turned herself in to police Sept. 3, days after a warrant was issued for her arrest for allegedly violating the terms of her probation. According to court documents, Adkins left Kentucky without permission and had not paid her court costs, restitution or probation fees. Restitution alone totaled nearly $13,000.

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The parents of a McCracken County High School student who was sexually victimized by another student are asking the Attorney General's office to investigate the McCracken County attorney who dismissed charges against school administrators for failure to report earlier this year. Late last month, the parents of a girl who accused a then-student of coercing her into sex and videotaping it sent a letter to Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, calling County Attorney Sam Clymer's reasoning "a flawed and dangerous interpretation" (of the law).

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A Graves County jury recommended a 90-year total sentence Thursday for a man jurors determined shot his ex-girlfriend three times. Except when imposing a sentence of life in prison or more, Kentucky law allows a maximum term of 70 years, so that will be the limit Graves Circuit Judge Tim Stark can sentence Bradley Morris to during formal sentencing proceedings Oct. 14. With any sentence of 24 years or more, the Kentucky Parole Board may consider granting parole after the defendant has served 20 years in prison. Kathy "K.C." Bouland was shot in the calf, knee and shoulder nearly two years ago.

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The former Oldham County High School choir director who is accused of having sex with a student is constitutionally challenging two state laws. Haley Reed was arrested on June 7, 2018, the day before the last day of school, on 15 counts of first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor, 10 counts of third-degree rape and five counts of third-degree sodomy. After her arrest, Reed admitted to having sex with a minor approximately eight times between April 25 and June 1 in 2018, according to Oldham County Police. All encounters allegedly happened after school hours inside Oldham County High School.

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The area on South Broadway where the railroad tracks pass near downtown Providence was packed with people on both sides Thursday as they waited patiently in the heat for the last coal train from Dotiki Mine to move through. There were miners, and family and friends of miners, all coming out to watch the train pass after the mine officially shut down production on Friday, Aug. 16.

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The trial for a Knott County man accused of multiple rape and sexual abuse charges allegedly committed against two family members under 12 years of age from 2013-2016 ended after a week-long trial. During the trial, Jerry Sizemore, of Sassafrass, was facing 89 counts including incest (20 counts), first-degree rape of a victim under 12 years of age (14 counts), incest — forcible compulsion/incapable of consent or under 18 years of age (18 counts), first-degree sexual abuse of a victim under 12 years of age (9 counts), first-degree sodomy of a victim under 12 years of age (12 counts) and first-degree rape (16 counts). On Friday, Sept. 6, the jury found Sizemore not guilty of all charges.

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Kentucky State Police is launching a new program that will help crime victims. Numerous government officials, including Ken­tucky Gov. Matt Be­vin, touted Thursday the upcoming program, set to be implemented by October. The program, called Victim Advocate Support Services, hires one victim advocate for each KSP post. The victim advocates administer care to crime victims or those involved in traumatic events, connecting them with resources, such as mental health services, crisis intervention or legal support. The victim advocates also serve as liaisons between police and victims, helping victims navigate the justice system while allowing detectives to focus more on case details.

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Herb Brock, a man known for giving a voice to those who otherwise would not have one, died this week. He was an Advocate-Messenger staffer from 1979 until he retired in 2010, and his career was something that he was very proud of. His son, David Brock, says as strange as it sounds to say about such a wordsmith, there really are no words to describe what the job meant to his dad.

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Earlier this year, law enforcement in Warren and Barren counties took reports from people complaining about a man who exposed himself to juveniles and threatened them with rape and other harm. The man did this over the Snapchat app, and authorities said an investigation uncovered him in Tennessee and resulted in a federal indictment that was returned Wednesday. Adam Murphy, 31, is charged in the five-count indictment with transfer of obscene materials to minors, attempted production of child pornography, attempted enticement, attempted receipt of child pornography and interstate threatening communications.

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Plans to ramp up production of the new mid-engine eighth generation Corvette and increase employment at Bowling Green’s General Motors Assembly Plant could be detoured by a labor dispute. GM and United Auto Workers negotiators haven’t been able to come to terms on a new contract, with pay and benefits for younger “in-progression” workers and part-timers a major issue, and the current deal with the union expires at midnight Saturday.

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Mary Taylor is angry. The owner of Liberty Tax Service is a friend of Sherry Ballard, whose daughter, Crystal Rogers, has been missing for four years and whose husband was shot and killed nearly two years ago. Recently, signs around town remembering Rogers and her father and calling for justice for the Ballard family have gone missing, and Taylor thinks the city and county governments are taking them. Both Bardstown and Nelson County officials are denying it.

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The Kentucky Derby favorite flunks a drug test less than three weeks before the race. Solution: stall. How else to explain the lack of urgency after Justify tested positive for scopolamine in April 2018? How else to explain an eight-day gap between regulators’ receipt of lab results from the Santa Anita Derby and their notification of trainer Bob Baffert? How else to interpret last spring’s timeline except to think the California Horse Racing Board deliberately dawdled to safeguard Justify’s Run for the Roses? “Curious at best,” said Barry Irwin, owner of 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom. “But I’m not surprised. The California Horse Racing Board has a history of hiding and covering up stuff, and it’s never improved. It’s part of the culture. It’s like it doesn’t matter who the people are. It’s just the same crazy stuff.”

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Even before allegations of a failed drug test emerged, Justify's 2018 Triple Crown victory had already faced its fair share of heat. The Bob Baffert-trained colt, who was retired after winning the 2018 Belmont Stakes and now charges up to $150,000 for a mating session, failed a drug test weeks before the 2018 Kentucky Derby, according to a report Wednesday from the New York Times. The California Horse Racing Board then buried the case and lightened the penalty for horses who test positive for scopolamine, the drug reportedly detected in Justify's system. That report, as one might imagine, raised eyebrows across the wide world of sports. But it isn't the first time a win by Justify has come with a little controversy.

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Kentucky health officials are now investigating several cases of a severe lung illness linked to e-cigarette products that has rapidly spread across the country, killing six. On Thursday, a spokeswoman with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services confirmed that the agency is investigating three cases and two probable cases of the illness, which has been reported in 36 states. Christina Dettman, a spokeswoman with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said she could not say where the local cases were reported or provide additional information about who got sick.

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High temperatures and a lack of rain are taking their toll on Louisville and the surrounding region. Jefferson County is one of several counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana currently in a moderate drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. In the Bluegrass State, almost all of Hardin County and part of Bullitt County are in a moderate drought while most of the rest of those counties are considered to be abnormally dry. Portions of Meade, Breckinridge, Grayson, Hart, Nelson, Larue, Washington, Marion, Boyle, Garrard, Casey and Lincoln counties are also in a moderate drought, along with Breathitt County in Eastern Kentucky and portions of several surrounding counties.

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Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton vowed Thursday to continue her legal fight against Gov. Matt Bevin for dismissing two of her three staffers even though she has less than three months left in office. “Absolutely, this is too important,” Hampton said after a pre-trial conference in Franklin Circuit Court to set a court schedule for her lawsuit against Bevin. Hampton said she remains active as the state’s No. 2 elected official and needs the help of her staffers.

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The family of Marco Shemwell filed a lawsuit against the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and its former chapter at the University of Kentucky, saying the organizations were responsible for the death of the 4-year-old last year. Jacob Heil, who was pledging ATO at UK, will stand trial in April on a reckless homicide and DUI charge following the September 2018 crash that killed Marco. Heil was allegedly drinking at a fraternity-sanctioned event the morning of Sept. 15 and at the fraternity house prior to the crash.

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A federal jury found two longtime Democratic operatives guilty Thursday of funneling illegal corporate campaign contributions into Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ 2014 U.S. Senate campaign, delivering another blow to a significantly weakened Kentucky Democratic Party. The jury convicted former Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Lundergan, the father of Grimes, on 10 charges and Democratic political consultant Dale Emmons on 6 charges after federal prosecutors alleged they had a “concerted scheme” to funnel more than $200,000 into Grimes’ election efforts without seeking reimbursement from the campaign. The most serious charges could each carry a maximum of 20 years in prison for each man. As the clerk read the verdict, someone among Lundergan’s supporters let out a soft cry.

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New York Times racing writer Joe Drape dropped a bomb on horse racing, reporting that Justify, the winner of the 2018 Triple Crown, tested positive for a regulated substance in California not long before the Kentucky Derby but California racing regulators hushed it up. Apparently, Justify tested positive for scopolamine, but the California Horse Racing Board kept it very quiet in the weeks leading up to the Derby, and eventually dismissed it in a closed door hearing, according to Drape. The predictable squawking and squirming started Thursday morning as Baffert strongly denied any insinuations about doping and blamed environmental contamination, since scopolamine is found in jimson weed, which gets in hay and feed. Churchill Downs said that Justify tested clean before and after the Kentucky Derby, and we assume the same is true for the Preakness and Belmont.

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The peace and tranquility of a cool Sunday afternoon was pierced by the call across the scanner of a submerged car at Pendleton County's Kincaid Lake State Park boat dock with a five-year-old boy still inside. From all corners of the county, emergency personnel raced toward Kincaid and against the clock. The efforts were rewarded when the boy was pulled from the submerged car, responding.

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Two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert on Thursday denied giving Justify a banned medication. “I unequivocally reject any implication that scopolamine was ever intentionally administered to Justify, or any of my horses,” Baffert said in a statement. “Justify is one of the finest horses I’ve had the privilege of training and by any standard is one of the greatest of all time. I am proud to stand by his record, and my own.” Baffert blamed environmental contamination for a positive finding for the chemical, which is found in Jimson weed. He also said he had no “input into, or influence on, the decisions made by the California Horse Racing Board.”

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A Laurel Circuit Court jury found a Corbin woman guilty of setting her husband on fire in 2017. The jury convicted Vera Wooton, 42, of one count of first-degree assault and recommended the minimum 10-year prison sentence. John Wooton suffered burns on more than half of his body from his knees to his neck in the incident on Aug. 7, 2017 outside their home.

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A group of dignitaries graced McCreary County Sept. 5 to commemorate the grand opening of the Fibrotex USA facility in Stearns. Hosted by the Outdoor Venture Corporation’s CEO J.C. Egnew, the event celebrated the beginning of the partnership between the two companies, which is expected to add up to 350 full-time jobs to the county. With more than 200 guests in attendance, the opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony officially began a new era for McCreary County.

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Clark County was one of three counties included in a recent study highlighting syringe exchange programs’ vital role in helping those with substance use disorders get clean.Many in Clark, including this newspaper, have long believed the syringe exchange program is one of many right choices being made to address substance abuse, help people get clean and lead productive lives. Now a new study published last month has found significant evidence that backs up our beliefs. The study published in the Journal of Rural Health studied three Kentucky counties — Clark, Knox and Owsley — with syringe exchanges.

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The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said the efforts of 911 dispatch and four other agencies helped save the life of a 19-month-old Nicholas “Neko” LeCour last Thursday. According to the statement, at approximately 11 p.m., Sept. 5, 911 dispatchers received a medical emergency call regarding a 19-month-old male who was unresponsive and having seizures in the Riceville area of Johnson County. Paintsville EMS was dispatched, the statement said, but JCSO deputies Chad Penix and Luis Crespo Ramos, who were together patrolling the area of U.S. 23 south of Staffordsville, heard the call and realized that they could reach the child more quickly.

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The first full day of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce's annual D.C. Fly-In ended on a high note with some promising news from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The senator told the chamber delegation at a Wednesday night reception in the U.S. Capitol Building that he believes funding will be increased next year over previous amounts for the ongoing cleanup of the U.S. Department of Energy's Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant site. "We're actually going to be able to get more money for the cleanup this year than you had asked for," McConnell said.

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The Rev. Jean-Rene Kalombo has a daily routine of walking a nearly 5-mile roundtrip from Fourth Street to Kroger inside Owensboro's Wesleyan Park Plaza. That built-up cardio came in handy on Saturday when the 56-year-old pastor of SS. Joseph and Paul Catholic Church pursued a thief on foot for at least 10 blocks.

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A preliminary federal report says a Providence coal miner was killed when he was struck by a battery-powered scoop. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) posted its first report on the death of Jeremy Elder Tuesday. It says Elder, 39, was working as a miner helper Sept. 5 at the Cardinal Mine between Manitou and Nebo.