2 charged after going over Cumberland Falls in kayaks

(Information in the following story is from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials say two men have been charged with trespassing after going over Cumberland Falls in kayaks last weekend.

State Department of Parks spokesman Gil Lawson says a ranger cited Dane Jackson and Nicholas Troutman after they came off the river below the falls, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

The charge is a misdemeanor. The two weren't available for comment Monday, but they posted video and comments on their Facebook pages.

Lawson did not have information on where the two were from or their ages.

Both said on Facebook they are champion kayakers.

Lawson said the two went over the falls in separate kayaks about 6 p.m. Saturday.

He says the Parks Department strongly discourages anyone from attempting to go over the falls because of the danger of death or injury.


Early voting bill passes Kentucky House

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A bill aimed at boosting voter turnout in Kentucky by allowing early voting without an excuse has been passed by the state House despite some lawmakers' concerns about strapping county clerks with extra costs.

The measure cleared the House on a 57-37 vote Monday. It now goes to the Senate, where the bill could face an uphill fight. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is a leading supporter of the bill.

The legislation would allow early voting by any Kentucky registered voter at least 12 working days leading up to the Sunday before election day. The early voting period would include two Saturdays. Grimes has said the majority of counties now offer absentee voting on Saturday.

The bill's opponents said expanded early voting would be a burden for county clerks with small staffs.


House GOP says budget tweak would spur millions for pensions

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — House Republicans say a tweak in Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's budget plan would get the federal government to spend an extra $162.2 million on the state's multi-billion dollar public pension debt.

But the proposal depends on adopting Bevin's budget cuts. House Democrats, who will have a majority, have said they will reject some of Bevin's cuts.

Bevin's budget proposal includes making lump sum payments to the pension systems for teachers and state workers. But instead of just giving the money directly to the retirement systems, House Republicans want to route the money through the state payroll system. That would trigger a match from the federal government, which covers about 30 percent of state worker salaries and 15 percent of teacher salaries.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the plan does not go far enough.


Proposal to guarantee victims' rights clears House panel

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A proposal aimed at amending Kentucky's Constitution to guarantee rights for crime victims has cleared another hurdle in the General Assembly.

The measure was approved by the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on Monday. If it passes the Democratic-led House, the measure would be placed on the November ballot in Kentucky. The proposal has already passed the Republican-controlled Senate.

The measure's lead sponsor, Republican Sen. Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville, says it seeks to put victims' rights on the "same legal footing" as the rights of criminal defendants.

The proposal would ensure crime victims are given "timely notice" of all proceedings involving their alleged offenders. It also would ensure victims are allowed to comment in any proceedings involving release, plea bargains, sentencing and parole of the offenders.


Autopsy: Stunned man suffered injuries in crash

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — A coroner says a man who died after officers used a stun gun on him when he became combative after a weekend rollover crash suffered blunt-force trauma from the crash.

Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby said on Monday that 52-year-old Michael Roll of Bowling Green suffered injuries consistent with the crash, but a cause of death won't be released until toxicology results are back in two or three weeks.

State Police Trooper B.J. Eaton said previously that two state police troopers and a local sheriff's deputy found Roll's vehicle overturned Saturday night on William Natcher Parkway near Bowling Green. Eaton says Roll appeared intoxicated and became combative with officers, who shot him with a stun gun, rendering him unconscious.

Eaton said both Roll and the officers involved were white.


Man charged in deadly fire says he was smoking near oxygen

(Information in the following story is from: WKYT-TV, http://www.wkyt.com)

WINCHESTER, Ky. (AP) — A man charged in an apartment fire that killed three people, including his son, says he was drinking and smoking near his oxygen tank when it caught fire.

Police charged 55-year-old Jackie Hisle Jr. on Friday with three counts of second-degree manslaughter in the massive blaze at a Winchester apartment building that also injured at least five people.

Hisle told WKYT-TV on Monday that he won't be able to forgive himself for the tragedy. He said he isn't sure whether a lit cigarette or something in his ashtray sparked the blaze.

An arrest citation says Hisle had been warned previously about smoking near the oxygen tank.

Hisle is being held in the Clark County jail on a $1 million bond. It's not clear whether he has an attorney.


Agency tries to revive region's economy with telework jobs

(Information in the following story is from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com)

HAZARD, Ky. (AP) — An agency in eastern Kentucky is attempting to revive the area's economy with telework jobs as the region's coal industry struggles.

The Lexington Herald Leader reports that Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, a Hazard-based agency, has started the Teleworks USA program in an effort to diversify the area's struggling economy.

Employees of the program train people in computer and customer service skills and help them polish resumes to prepare for job interviews.

Operations manager for Teleworks USA Betty Hays says trainees also receive certifications covering customer service and sales and learn digital literacy.

Michael Cornett, the head of Teleworks USA, says 213 people found jobs through the program in 2015.


West Kentucky Community president retiring

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — West Kentucky Community and Technical College President Barbara Veazey is retiring after becoming the school's founding president in 2003.

Veazey will leave her post in June. She told staff and faculty she was "inspired each day by the brightest, most forward thinking group of individuals."

West Kentucky CTC enrolls more than 9,000 students in western Kentucky and online.

Veazey was appointed president of Paducah Community College in 2002, and when the school consolidated with West Kentucky Technical College in 2003, Veazey was named its first president.

Kentucky Community and Technical College System President Jay Box will visit the campus later in the month to explain the search process for the next president.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.