Jordan Smith, Kate Upton headlining Kentucky Oaks

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky native Jordan Smith will sing the national anthem at the Kentucky Oaks this year.

Smith, a native of Harlan County, was the winner of season nine of NBC's "The Voice" last year. Churchill Downs says model and actress Kate Upton will serve as first lady of the May 6 Oaks.

Part of the first lady's role is to raise national awareness of breast and ovarian health and honor the survivors of breast and ovarian cancer.

A parade with 142 cancer survivors will take place on the racetrack following Smith's national anthem performance. Smith recently released his debut album, "Something Beautiful."

The Oaks, the premier race for 3-year-old fillies, takes place a day before the Kentucky Derby.


The Latest: Eastern Kentucky University joins tuition hikes

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Tuition at Eastern Kentucky University will rise by 5 percent for resident undergraduate students for 2016-17.

The university said Thursday in a news release that the Board of Regents approved the increase, which is just below the cap of 5.3 percent set by the Council on Postsecondary Education. The change amounts to an additional $418 per student per year.

Eastern joins other state universities that have begun to raise tuition in the wake of decreased state funding, including Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.

The increases come after a legislative session during which lawmakers approved Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's 4.5 percent spending cuts on colleges and universities, about $40 million altogether. Much of the legislature's debate focused on how the cuts would impact tuition for the upcoming school year.


1st funeral held for victims of Ohio slayings that killed 8

SOUTH SHORE, Ky. (AP) — Amid extra security, a funeral has been held for one of eight people shot in rural southern Ohio in what authorities describe as a cold-blooded massacre targeting one family.

The gathering Thursday in South Shore, Kentucky, for 38-year-old Gary Rhoden is the first of three planned funerals for the victims. A funeral home says the Greenup, Kentucky, man would be buried in South Shore, across the Ohio River from Portsmouth.

Seven adults and a 16-year-old boy from the Rhoden family were found dead April 22 at four properties near Piketon, about 80 miles east of Cincinnati.

The funeral for a 20-year-old mother who was killed is scheduled for Saturday. A service for the other six victims is planned for Tuesday at a church in West Portsmouth.


Officials set up temporary center to solve Benefind issues

(Information from: The Courier-Journal,

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — State officials have created a "tactical operations center" meant to improve the flow of aid to Kentuckians in need.

The Courier-Journal reports that on February 29, the state launched the computer system, "Benefind." The system was meant to be a one-stop shop for public benefits, but instead caused a massive disruption. Thousands of letters went out in error telling people their benefits had been canceled.

To resolve these problems, the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services established a temporary center in Frankfort where nearly 100 state workers work eight hours a day to speed up the claims system.

Brandon Carlson, a retired Army major now employed by the cabinet as project manager, says he modeled the center after tactical operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Health advocates say they're beginning to see some improvements with access to benefits.



Marshall ceramics event raises $17K for food pantry

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — Marshall University ceramics students have raised $17,000 for a food pantry.

The university says the 2016 Empty Bowls event raised enough money to allow the Facing Hunger Foodbank to provide 127,500 meals.

A check presentation was held Thursday at the university in Huntington.

Through the work of Marshall ceramics students and local potters, more than 1,000 bowls were sold April 15. For a $15 donation, patrons received a handcrafted ceramic bowl and a modest lunch meant to emulate a soup kitchen meal.

The Facing Hunger Foodbank serves more than 115,000 people in 17 counties in West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio.


Louisville tool lets residents map, compare internet speeds

(Information from: WFPL-FM,

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville is launching a free tool that will let the city's internet users record and map their connection speeds.

WFPL-FM reports it's currently nearly impossible who know who is getting good, reliable service and who isn't. Private internet providers aren't required to release much data on their connectivity speeds.

Ted Smith is chief of innovation for Louisville Metro, which developed the tool with PowerUp Labs and help from officials in Seattle, which has a similar tool.

Smith says Speed Up Louisville will let users compare their connection speeds with people across the city. He hopes it will spur providers to move into struggling areas and meet the needs of residents.

Smith says the citizens will win if the providers compete to provide the best service.



Copyright 2016 The Associated Press