Kentucky's new leaders, among youngest in US, take office

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Five of Kentucky's six statewide elected officers officially took office on Monday, giving the state some of the youngest elected leaders in the country.

Four of the five officers are under 40. Two of them, 32-year-old Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and 34-year-old Treasurer Allison Ball, are among the youngest statewide elected leaders in the country. Both are Republicans.

Republican Auditor Mike Harmon is 49 and a 12-year veteran of the state legislature.

Democrats have just two statewide elected officers in Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Attorney General Andy Beshear. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton took office last month. They were elected on the same ticket.

The swearing-in ceremony comes just one day before the state legislature convenes for its 2016 session.


Kentucky state House special elections set for March 8

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin has scheduled special elections on March 8 for four vacant state House seats.

Democrats have a 50-46 advantage in the state House of Representatives, the last legislative chamber in the south still controlled by Democrats. Four seats are vacant. If Republicans win all of them, they would split power with the Democrats 50-50.

The special elections will include all or parts of Christian, Trigg, Boyle, Casey, Fayette, Owen, Scott, Boyd and Greenup counties. Former Republican state Reps. Mike Harmon and Ryan Quarles resigned to become state auditor and agriculture commissioner while former Democratic state Reps. John Tilley and Tanya Pullin resigned after Bevin appointed them to new jobs.

Last month, two Democrats announced they were switching parties ahead of the legislative session that begins on Tuesday.


Legislative Research Commission launches own YouTube channel

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — As the Kentucky General Assembly convenes in Frankfort on Tuesday, the Legislative Research Commission is launching its own YouTube channel, "LRC Capitol Connection."

The channel provides videos about the legislature, legislative issues and state lawmakers. It can be accessed at http://bit.ly/CapitolConnection .

LRC Director David Byerman can also be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/directorlrc .

The first YouTube video focuses on the commission's history, with a second planned to tell about renovations in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers.

Additional videos are planned to provide updates on legislative action and share lawmakers' views on issues under consideration.


Yarmuth: Democrats might not have viable US Senate candidate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — One of Kentucky's top elected Democrats said Monday he is concerned the struggling party will not be able to field a viable candidate to challenge U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in November.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville said he has been working with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to recruit potential candidates. He said some viable candidates are thinking about running for the seat but would not say they were likely to run. He said Democrats would have to nominate someone who is already well known to voters and has the ability to raise lots of money.

Former Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen was the most likely Democrat to challenge Paul. But Edelen lost his re-election campaign to Republican Mike Harmon in November.

The filing deadline is Jan. 26.


Division of Water warns against contact with floodwater

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Division of Water wants people to know about the dangers of floodwater as flooding continues in parts of western Kentucky.

The Division of Water says people should avoid contact with floodwater and not try to cross flooded roads or enter flooded areas, either in a vehicle or on foot. It's hard to tell how deep water is, it moves rapidly and it may carry large debris that can cause injury.

Also, sanitary sewers may overflow and leak into floodwaters, so no contact should be made with floodwaters to avoid potential contamination.

The agency says floodwaters also pose the danger of electrical shock due to downed wires.

Residents also shouldn't consume food or water that has been exposed to floodwaters, including well, spring or city water.


Ohio River bridge likely to be closed another couple of days

WICKLIFFE, Ky. (AP) — It will likely be a couple more days before the Ohio River "Cairo" Bridge between Kentucky and Illinois can be reopened.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the bridge remains closed where floodwaters have covered the bridge approach levee at the Kentucky end of the span.

The bridge normally carried about 5,000 vehicles daily across the Ohio River. The closing impacts north-south traffic on U.S. 51 between Kentucky and Illinois and east-west traffic along U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 into Kentucky and Missouri.

The bridge closure also creates about an 80-mile detour via the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge through southern Illinois.

The road has been closed since early Thursday. U.S. 51 is also closed south of Wickliffe, Kentucky, near the Ballard-Carlisle county line.


Former priest pleads guilty to viewing child pornography

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Catholic priest accused of taking inappropriate pictures of students at his school is facing nearly three years in federal prison for viewing child pornography on a computer.

Stephen Pohl pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court to one count of accessing child pornography. The 57-year-old was head pastor at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, which includes a school campus.

Federal prosecutors reached a plea deal with Pohl that, if accepted by a judge, would send him to prison for 33 months. He will be sentenced March 29.

Investigators found dozens of photos that Pohl had taken of students at his school, but an affidavit says none was considered pornographic. But the affidavit says police did find Pohl had accessed child porn images on the Internet.


Lexington parking violators pay their fines with 5 tons of food for the hungry

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A program that allows Lexington parking ticket recipients to cover their fines with canned goods for the hungry has collected 5 tons of food during the holidays.

The Lexington Herald-Leader says the Lexington Parking Authority collected 10,000 canned goods and other food items during the five-week "food for fines" program. That's up from 6,200 food items collected last year.

All donations are given to God's Pantry Food Bank. The food bank says 10,211 pounds of food was received, which is the equivalent of 8,370 meals.

In 2014, only parking citations were eligible for the program. This season, the program expanded to include traffic citations.


University of Kentucky selects dean for College of Medecine

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A top health care executive in New Jersey has been selected as dean of the University of Kentucky's College of Medicine.

The university says Dr. Robert DiPaola is expected to assume the job in early spring, pending approval from UK trustees.

DiPaola is director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and vice chancellor for cancer programs for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

His selection follows a national search. The announcement was made Monday by UK Provost Tim Tracy and Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president for health affairs at UK.

At Rutgers, DiPaola was responsible for all research, clinical and administrative activities of a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. UK says that under his leadership, external research funding increased to more than $100 million annually.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.