Kentucky News Now – December 15th 2015
Bevin: Schools will front tuition for guard members
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin says Kentucky university and community college presidents have agreed to admit National Guard members until the state can reimburse the schools for their tuition.
Bevin's office said in a news release Monday that the $5.3 million program is about $1 million to $2 million short of the amount needed to cover all the requested assistance.
Last week, the guard said applications for assistance spiked this year and it had to deny 696 guard members funds for the spring semester.
On Monday, House leaders asked Bevin to add more money to the program. They said in a letter that denying the tuition to guard members would send the wrong message.
Bevin's office said his administration is looking at funding in the current budget and the budget for the upcoming session.
ZONE CHANGE INVESTIGATION
Former official gets probation on zoning charges after plea
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — A judge has sentenced former McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry to two years of unsupervised probation and ordered him to pay $13,830.91 in restitution.
Multiple media outlets report that Newberry entered an Alford plea Monday to misdemeanor second-degree official misconduct, meaning he didn't admit guilt but acknowledged there's enough evidence for a conviction.
Newberry and former Deputy Judge-Executive Doug Harnice had been charged with one count each of tampering with public records. Charges against Harnice were dropped.
Both were indicted by a grand jury in January 2014 following an investigation. The two were accused of altering the county's zoning maps without following proper procedures. Paducah attorney Burton Washburn said he discovered the changes in 2013 and concluded hundreds of parcels had been illegally rezoned from 2007 to 2008.
SUPREME COURT-KENTUCKY DEATH SENTENCE
Justices say Kentucky death sentence wrongly overturned
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Kentucky officials seeking to reinstate the death sentence of a man convicted in the 1997 murders of a Louisville couple.
The justices ruled Monday that a federal appeals court was wrong to overturn Roger Wheeler's sentence based on the exclusion of a juror who expressed reservations about the death penalty.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the sentence after ruling the juror should not have been dismissed. The 2-1 ruling said the juror eventually said he could consider the full range of punishment.
Kentucky officials argue the juror never "unequivocally" said he could consider the death penalty.
The high court said in an unsigned opinion that the appeals court did not give enough deference to the state court ruling.
CHIMNEY TOP ROCK DEATH
Ohio man dies after falling during hike at Red River Gorge
SLADE, Ky. (AP) — A 28-year-old man has died after falling 200 feet while hiking at Eastern Kentucky's Red River Gorge.
Wolfe County Search and Rescue said in a Facebook post that the hiker crossed a safety railing at Chimney Top Rock shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday, and then leapt across an open space to the chimney. His ankle rolled when he landed. The post says that, combined with his momentum, caused him to fall. The rescue team retrieved the body 200 feet below.
Wolfe County Coroner Frank Porter identified the man on Monday morning as Timothy James Amiot of Cincinnati.
The rescue team says this was the third fatality in 2015 at Chimney Top Rock.
Paducah brothers try to sell 30,000 inherited dolls
(Information in the following story is from: WPSD-TV, http://www.wpsdlocal6.com )
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — Four Paducah men have about 25,000 dolls left to sell of the 30,000 that they inherited from their mother.
The brothers tell WPSD-TV their mother, Colleen Hobgood, died in April and her last wish was for them to sell the 30,000 dolls she collected during her lifetime and split the profits.
Bob Hobgood says he almost wishes his mother had gotten stocks instead. He says his mother paid between $40 and $100 for many of the dolls, but that the brothers are selling them for "a whole lot less than that."
The Hobgoods have donated a truckload of dolls to Toys for Tots and plan on donating more to WSPD-TV's toy drive. They plan to have a doll sale in March, and are selling some on Ebay.
Officials say Rocket Docket saving money
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Officials say a new Rocket Docket initiative has saved taxpayers about $2.8 million in jail costs in three months and is projected to save $11 million in its first year.
Attorney General Jack Conway and members of the Prosecutors Advisory Council said in a statement that the savings is more than double what the program will cost this year. The initiative, which went into effect on Aug. 1, was part of comprehensive heroin legislation that the General Assembly passed in the spring.
Conway said the program allows the justice system to move faster and more efficiently by allowing low-level offenders with substance abuse issues to receive rehabilitation and treatment.
The statement says 361 defendants were placed in treatment programs through Oct. 31.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.