Monday, February 29, 2016

Area Deaths

Jim Stephen “Steve” Harris, 60, of Salem died Friday at his home. Boyd Funeral Directors and Cremation Services was in charge of arrangements.

Nina Ruth Gass, 80, of Marion died Monday at the Crittenden Hospital. Gilbert Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Baby Ruth Jackson, 75, of Marion died Saturday at Crittenden Hospital. Gilbert Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Gary Dale Brasher, 58, of Marion died at his home Sunday. Gilbert Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fredonia farm center escapee caught

Shreves
UPDATED at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28
Kentucky State Police troopers have arrested a Hardin County, Ky., woman wanted for escaping from the West Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia 11 days ago. Just before noon local time, Lostia M. Shreves, 30, of Cecilia was located at a vacant residence in the Flint Hill area of Hardin County. Shreves had entered the residence, and troopers found her alone inside.  She was placed under arrest without incident. At the time of her escape, she was serving time for possession of a controlled substance, burglary and unlawful distribution of meth. She now faces new charges for burglary and will be lodged in the Hardin County Detention Center.

Original post
State Police are searching for an escapee from Western Kentucky Correctional Complex near Fredonia.

At 9 p.m., Wednesday, authorities at Western Kentucky Correctional Complex discovered Lostia M. Shreves, 30, of Cecilia, Ky., missing during a routine head count. Her hometown is in Hardin County near Elizabethtown.

The woman is described as a white female, 5-7 with short brown hair and blue eyes. 

Shreves was serving time for a probation violation for felony offenses, including drug violations. 

Shreves was last seen wearing a grey sweatshirt, khaki pants, white T-shirt, a fisherman style hat and black boots. However, similar inmate clothing was found discarded near the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex grounds. It is likely that she changed clothing.

State police also say that a pickup truck was stolen from a residence near the prison farm. The vehicle was reported missing shortly after Shreves escaped. The truck is a maroon 1997 Ford F-150 truck with Kentucky license plate 8472CG.

Shreves is serving time for a probation violation for felony offenses. The charges that led to the probation violation were, possession of a controlled substance, unlawful distribution of meth precursors and burglary

Friday, February 26, 2016

CHS seeks Clinical Assistant

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Life insurance benefits bill passes House, goes to Senate

Life insurance companies would have to make a good-faith effort to find beneficiaries of policies they sold before the enactment of a 2012 state unclaimed benefits law under legislation that is on its way to the state Senate.

House Bill 408, sponsored by Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills, specifies that the Unclaimed Benefits Act, a law state lawmakers passed in 2012, should apply retroactively to beneficiaries of policies sold before the legislation took effect in 2013. Known as the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act, the law requires life insurance companies to determine if a policy holder has died and then make a solid effort to locate beneficiaries of the policy.

Harris told the House that HB 408 “is a simple consumer-protection bill that helps every single life insurance policy holder in the Commonwealth of Kentucky receive the benefits that their beneficiaries are owed.”

The bill was amended with a floor amendment sponsored by Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, that clarifies what constitutes a “good-faith effort” by insurance companies under HB 408.

The amendment “simply says that the Department of Insurance shall promulgate (implement) regulations that communicate to insurers what actions, steps and undertakings constitute a good-faith effort,” said Rowland.

HB 408 as amended passed the House 84-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

HB 408 was filed by Harris this month after the state dropped its defense of the 2012 law in a case filed by several life insurance companies against the law four years ago. The companies argued that the law should not apply to policies issued before the legislation took effect. An appeals court agreed, saying Kentucky law requires a retroactivity provision in any law that is intended to apply to a period before the law took effect.

Lady Rockets play for district title

Crittenden County's girls' basketball team (15-14) will play Lyon County (21-7) at 7 p.m., tonight at Eddyvlle for the championship of the Fifth District.

Both teams have already qualified for the Second Region Tournament which starts Monday at Hopkinsville.


CHS Rehab is second to none

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Drone legislation clears House, heads to Senate

A bill that would define what a drone is and what unlawful use of a drone means passed the House by a vote of 87-3. Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted against the measure. See next week's issue of The Crittenden Press to read why he voted no.

House Bill 120, sponsored by Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, would define a drone as an unmanned aircraft that must be registered with and identified by the Federal Aviation Administration. Unlawful use of a drone would include using a drone to harass someone or for acts of voyeurism, forcible entry, theft or burglary. All offenses would be misdemeanor crimes except harassing conduct, which would be a violation carrying a fine.

The bill would not restrict the use of a drone by law enforcement as part of a criminal investigation, or for “any lawful commercial or personal use,” it states.

A proposed amendment to HB 120 sponsored by Rep. Diane St. Onge, R-Lakeside Park, who had sponsored her own drone legislation earlier in the session, would have removed most of the text in Belcher’s bill and replaced it with provisions that St. Onge said would cover “a wider range for what drones can be used for.” The amendment, narrowly defeated by a vote of 43-44, would have spelled out how drones could be used, and by who, including use of drones by law enforcement.

One provision in the proposed amendment that led to some debate would have prohibited law enforcement from using drones to conduct a search unless officers have a search warrant or “exigent circumstances exist.” Exigent circumstances allow for search and seizure without a search warrant if there is probable cause that a serious crime has been, or will be, committed and there is not enough time to obtain a warrant.

House Majority Whip Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, questioned why the amendment addresses exigent circumstances for use of drones without a search warrant when use of drones without a warrant under those circumstances is already allowed. “If there is exigent circumstances there is never a need for a warrant,” said Bell.

St. Onge said exigent circumstances are addressed in current law but that several questions raised about drone use in recent years required clarity in HB 120.

Belcher said she filed HB 120 after a drone was shot down by a man living her hometown. She said HB 120 addresses the use of drones without attempting to limit their use by law enforcement or regulate their use in the private sector “because drones are an evolving technology.”

HB 120 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

5th District Tournament Action Photos

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Senate approves improved survivor benefits for firefighters’ families

Surviving family members of cancer-stricken firefighters are a step closer to qualifying for government-paid survivor benefits after the state Senate approved Senate Bill 195 by a 37-0 vote today. It wouldn’t matter if the firefighter was a professional or volunteer.

“Exposure to dangerous carcinogens is a continuous health hazard to these brave men and women who protect our local communities and cities,” said Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London.

SB 195 is sponsored by Robinson and Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill.

Under the legislation, the firefighter would have to be 65 years old or younger at the time of their passing and had been on the job for at least five consecutive years. Their cancer could not be attributable to a preexisting condition or tobacco – they cannot have used tobacco in the 10 years preceding diagnosis.

The death benefit would also be $80,000 and be paid out of the state’s general fund. Estimates have been made of one to four deaths per year that might be determined to be attributed to the conditions addressed in SB 195.

Similar legislation has been introduced for the last five years, and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, introduced Senate Bill 138 earlier in this session that would do the same thing as SB 195. “It should not go unnoticed that the bill did not get in this form without a lot of hard work” by McGarvey, said Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray S. Jones II, D-Pikeville.

SB 195 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate approves bill to give stronger bite to state’s dog-fighting ban

The state Senate passed a measure by a 36-0 vote today that would amend Kentucky’ dog-fighting ban to also make it illegal to promote the practice.

Senate Bill 14 would make the owning, possessing, breeding, training, selling or transferring of dogs intended for use in fighting a felony punishable by one year to five years in prison. In legal parlance, it makes it the “furtherance” of the act of dog fighting illegal in Kentucky.

State Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, said he introduced the legislation because Kentucky is the only state without a similar provision in their animal cruelty laws.

“I started back in June or July … trying to come with some way to make sure Kentucky was not looked at in a negative manner on this particular issue because we had been for quite some time,” said Hornback, who is also a farmer.

He said SB 14 distinguishes farmers who use animals to protect their livestock from people who fight dogs for a sport. Hornback said he has donkeys that guard his livestock against coyotes. He added that he use to have emus that did the same job.

“There are a lot of things out there that go on in the field of agriculture,” Hornback said, “and I wanted to make sure those things are protected. I put exemptions in the bill for that.”

Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, accused some national animal welfare groups of spreading misinformation about SB 14 in an attempt to promote an agenda of eliminating domestic ownership of all animals.

“They manufactured a crisis that says (SB 14) will promote dog fighting,” Webb said. “I respectfully disagree with that.”

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, was the other primary sponsor on SB 14.

“I want to compliment (Hornback) for his, pardon the pun, dogmatic approach on this bill,” Thayer said. “He never gave up. He brought all sides together.”

SB 14 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tenant protection bill passes House 90-3

Victims of domestic violence would be able to get out of a lease with at least 30 days’ notice to their landlord under a bill that has passed the Kentucky House.

House Bill 41, sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, would allow tenants who have a domestic violence order or interpersonal protective order against someone to get out of a rental agreement or housing lease established after the proposed law takes effect. Civil liability for the landlord’s loss of income due to the lease termination would fall to the alleged abuser, according to the bill.

The provisions would apply whether or not the alleged abuser named in a protective order is a co-tenant, the bill states.

Additionally, HB 41 would prohibit landlords from denying someone a lease based on the fact that a person has taken out an emergency protective order, domestic violence order or other type of restraining order. The bill also would prohibit landlords from using rental agreements to penalize tenants who request assistance from emergency services and allow a victim to request that locks be changed by the landlord with at least 72 hours’ notice.

HB 41 passed the chamber by a vote of 90-3. Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted against the measure, which now goes to the Senate for consideration. See next week's issue of The Crittenden Press to read why Bechler opposed the bill.

Life insurance benefits bill passes House panel

A 2012 law that requires life insurance companies to make a good-faith effort to locate beneficiaries of policies they have sold would be applied retroactively under legislation that cleared the House Banking and Insurance Committee Wednesday.

House Bill 408, sponsored by Rep. Chris Harris, D-Forest Hills, specifies that life insurance companies must honor life insurance policies and related agreement that they issued before and after the passage of the 2012 Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act. The law requires life insurance companies to determine if a policy holder has died and then make a solid effort to locate beneficiaries of his or her policy.

HB 408 was filed by Harris this month after the state dropped its defense of the 2012 law in a case filed by several life insurance companies against the law four years ago. The companies argued that the law should not apply to policies issued before the legislation took effect. An appeals court agreed, saying Kentucky law requires a retroactivity provision in any law that is intended to apply to a period before the law took effect.

Harris said HB 408 includes that provision, thereby ensuring that thousands of mostly low-dollar burial plans are honored.

“This bill will not require insurance companies to pay one red cent more than their contract requires them to pay. It does however require them to make a concerted effort to pay what they actually owe to our constituents,” said Harris.

Questions about the extent companies would have to go through to find beneficiaries were raised by Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, who said many policies were sold door-to-door 50 or 60 years ago and beneficiaries of those policies may be hard to track.

“How much additional work will these smaller insurance companies expected to put into this, you know a $500 policy or $2500 policy sold 50 or 60 years ago?” Montell asked. “I want to enforce payment to beneficiaries, I just don’t want it to be unreasonable on this retroactive part of the law.”

Making a good-faith effort will not require a company to “perform miracles” and locate people who are nearly impossible to find, said Harris. “But it does require them to make a good-faith effort to find some of these beneficiaries who are owed this money and haven’t received it.”

House Banking and Insurance Chair Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, said smaller life insurance policies still serve a purpose in the market no matter how many decades have passed, adding “we need to tighten this up some.”

Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, told his fellow committee members that adding a retroactivity provision to the 2012 law is “the right thing” to correct what he called an “oversight”. “I am a real estate agent and one thing I’ve learned is … it’s always best to be complete,” said Tipton.

Twenty two states including Kentucky have adopted laws requiring insurers to make a good-faith effort to locate beneficiaries of death and burial benefits, said Harris.

HB 408 now goes to the full House for consideration.

Bill to increase time served for attempted murder of peace officers moves to floor

Lawmakers serving on the House Judiciary Committee sent a clear message today to those who try to harm our state's protectors by unanimously passing a bill that that would make attempted murder of a peace officer or firefighter an offense with longer prison time.

Paducah Democrat Gerald Watkins, who sponsored House Bill 137, said he was pleased with the action. If the bill becomes law, it would require that 85 percent of the defendant’s sentence be served before probation or parole.

“This common-sense piece of legislation sends a strong message,” Rep. Watkins said. “We want to protect those who protect us.”

Rep. Watkins testified that those committing these crimes are eligible for parole/probation after only serving about 20 percent of their sentence. He added that he was proud to introduce a bill that would classify attempted murder of our police officers and firefighters as a violent offense.

“Increasing prison time for those who commit these crimes is what we should be doing,” he added.
The measure, which is set to be considered by the entire House, is endorsed by the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police, the Kentucky Sheriff's Association, and the Kentucky Professional Firefighter's Association.

Autism bill gets Senate committee approval

A bill intended to foster continued improvements in services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders passed the Senate Health and Welfare Committee today.

Senate Bill 185, sponsored by Senate Health and Welfare Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, would require Kentucky to have an Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders and a state Office of Autism.  The advisory council has already been created by an executive order in 2013 and the Office of Autism was established in 2014 to coordinate and enhance the services of statewide and regional agencies. The legislation would make these entities permanent by law.

Harold Kleinert, co-chair of the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders, says that SB 185 would ensure that there aren’t gaps in providing services to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

“It’s a complex series of moving parts, and the way to deal with that is an advisory council that represents the key state agencies, state universities, families and self-advocates,” said Kleinert. “No single agency has within its own scope a sufficient charge to really address the lifespan needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families.”

SB 185 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

WKCTC to feature weather expert March 7

Weather in western Kentucky can change considerably from day to day and predicting these changes is the job of Beau Dodson, a local meteorologist who will share his expertise during an upcoming science seminar at West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

The seminar, which is free and open to the public, will be held Monday, March 7 from 11 a.m. to noon in Waller Hall, Room 112.

“It’s been said that ‘if you don’t like the weather in western Kentucky, just stick around because it’s going to change quickly,’” said Dr. Karen Hlinka, WKCTC science and mathematics division dean and science seminar co-coordinator. “We are excited to have Beau on campus to give us insights into the ever-changing field of meteorology.”

Studying weather since the age of eight, Dodson followed his passion for meteorology after graduating from Mississippi State University. He served ten years as a volunteer meteorologist for McCracken County Emergency Management and continues to assist the Rescue Squad when needed. Dodson was on the lead team that opened the largest American Red Cross Shelter in U.S. history at the Houston Astrodome following Hurricane Katrina.

Dodson has received multiple awards and honors including the 2009 Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Award for Excellence, Six Who Makes A Difference Award, and the Caesar Fiamma Volunteer Service Award. He is also one of less than 200 people in the United States to have been awarded the Mark Trail Awards in Washington D.C., which honors individuals and organizations that use or provide NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receivers or transmitters to save lives and protect property.

Dodson currently serves as President of the Shadow Angel Foundation, Chief Meteorologist of WeatherTalk LLC, and is a local business owner in western Kentucky.

For more information about the seminar, contact Dr. Karen Hlinka at (270) 534-3236 or karen.hlinka@kctcs.edu.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What's news this week in Crittenden County...

Gareth Hardin
1948-2016
Gareth Hardin is being remembered this week as a calm, trustworthy and methodical businessman and community leader whose impact on Crittenden County may never be fully measured. Hardin, 67, died Saturday at the Ray and Kay Eckstein Hospice Center at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah as a result of complications from cancer surgery.

For more on Hardin's impact on the community and the following headlines, pick up a copy of this week's issue of The Crittenden Press:
  • KU seeking increase in monthly environmental surcharge
  • Farmers Bank moves to open Madisonville branch.
  • At 41, Long Island woman discovers half-brother in Marion she never knew.
  • Friday fire on Claylick Creek Road wipes out family’s home.
  • SPORTS: Lions hand off football to QB Club.
  • SPORTS: Rockets back in All A Classic despite objections.
  • Senior food bank could get new home.
  • Lot zoning change request to be heard.
  • EDITORIAL: GOP caucus a test of voters’ acumen.
  • OPINION: Legislating school behavior an overreach.
  • Dycusburg street name changes proposed.
  • Jailer diversifying to cushion from any potential revenue dip.
  • LETTERS: Writer asks to keep Marion a dry town.
  • LETTERS: Alcohol offers no future for children.
  • Corn remains king for county farmers.
  • Marion woman faces charges in auto theft; stolen vehicle located in Louisville suburb.
  • Registration closed for alcohol election.
  • Circuit clerk 5th in $1 Trust collections.
  • County establishes budget, roads committee.
  • Junior beekeeping class organizes starting March 7.
  • Library offers new old classics; very popular young adult works.
  • Woman’s Club celebrating 96 years.
  • Crittenden bands selling Amish goods for funds.
  • Kentucky 2nd sleepiest state.
  • FORGOTTEN PASSAGES: Local men of the hour in early 20th century in politics, business, education.
  • LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Veteran, education bills get vote.
  • LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Education bill underestimates value of arts.
  • SPORTS: Hodge thinks timing right for girls in Fifth.
  • SPORTS: Champion scores career high in season finale.
  • SPORTS: Hodge proud of Rockets’ fight to finish.
  • SPORTS: Crittenden boys’ finish season winning 3 of last 5.
  • OUTDOORS: Warm weather hampers hunt for repeat champs.

Zip line bill passes House, goes to Senate

Recreational zip lines would be regulated by the state under a bill that has passed the House and is on its way to the state Senate.

House Bill 38, sponsored by Rep. Jeffery Donohue, D-Fairdale, and Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, passed the House by a vote of 90-1. The bill would require the state to set standards for the use and operation of aerial recreational facilities like outdoor zip line and canopy tours should it become law.

Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted for the bill.

Donohue said he decided to file HB 38 when a zip line began operating in his district.

“The industry has started to self-regulate, but it welcomes this to have guidelines for the whole state of Kentucky,” said Donohue.

Donohue said the legislation has been worked out with input from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, which would set the standards and regulate zip lines and related forms of entertainment. The department could rely on industry standards and third-party inspections when setting requirements, and could set reasonable fees to help administer those requirements, according to the bill. 

Those who violate the requirements would be subject to civil penalties of up to $10,000, the bill states, will paid penalties placed in an “aerial recreational facilities administration fund.” The fund would be established under HB 38 to pay for regulatory enforcement.

Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, supported the bill, telling the House that HB 38 is needed as so-called “adventure tourism” grows across the state.

Zip lines “are a fun way to get your blood flowing, as they say, but certainly would be fraught with danger if inappropriately rigged and if not constantly maintained. So I applaud (the bill) to see that they are just that—that they are inspected and that they are kept in a way that will be safe for the folks who come and spend their money,” said Stone.

Fredonia fugitive seen in Hardin County, Ky.

Lostia Shreves, who escaped from the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex near Fredonia on Feb. 17 is believed to have been hiding in a vacant home in Hardin County, Ky. She is from Cecelia, which is in Hardin County.

On Monday, a truck believed stolen by Shreves was found in a barn near Elizabethtown, Ky.

Police in Hardin County are warning residents to be vigilant while they continue to search for the escapee.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

Statewide tornado drill Tuesday morning


If you hear the county's tornado warning sirens wailing Tuesday morning, don't panic; it's only a drill.

At 9:07 a.m. – 10:07 a.m. EST – Crittenden County will join other county's across the commonwealth in participating in the Statewide Tornado Safety Drill as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week that ends Sunday.

Severe weather is Kentucky’s most common threat, as evidenced by the four weather-related, federally-declared disasters during 2015.

"As evidenced by the severe weather events in the first two months of this year; preparedness efforts of our county EM partners, local emergency responders and citizen outreach, made a dramatic difference in ensuring no injuries or loss of life occurred during these responses", said Michael Dossett, Director of Kentucky Emergency Management. Dossett went on to say, "Testing your plan during Awareness Week, whether by family members or with your co-workers, ensures we are all ready for the next weather hazard that may challenge the Commonwealth".
As part of severe weather awareness activities, a statewide tornado drill will be conducted in conjunction with the proclamation.

At approximately 10:07 a.m. EST Tuesday, the National Weather Service, in partnership with Kentucky Emergency Management, the Kentucky Weather Preparedness Committee and Kentucky Broadcasters Association will issue a test tornado warning message.

Across Kentucky, outdoor warning sirens will sound, weather alert radios will activate, and television and radio stations will broadcast the alert; allowing the public the opportunity to practice tornado safety.

The broadcasted test message will emphasize this is only a test of the alert system. During the test alert all Kentuckians, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, educators and government agencies are encouraged to participate in the tornado drill and update their emergency plans.

Registration deadline Tuesday for alcohol vote

Tuesday marks the last day for anyone living in the City of Marion who is not already on voter rolls to register for the March 22 alcohol election in the city. If you are a city resident and already registered to vote in any political election, you need to do nothing.

Crittenden County Clerk Carolyn Byford's office is open until 5 p.m. today and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to take new registrations.

Farmers Bank closing for Hardin's funeral

Farmers Bank & Trust Co. will be closing both Marion branches and its Salem office from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday for the funeral of former bank President and CEO Gareth Hardin.

Mayor Alexander's mother passes

Mary Jewel Alexander, the mother of Marion Mayor Mickey Alexander, has passed away. According to Marion City Administrator Mark Bryant, she died this morning.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Community mourns Hardin's passing

Crittenden Countians and beyond are mourning the loss of Gareth Hardin, one of the community's greatest ambassadors, business leader and civic champion.

Hardin, 67, died Saturday afternoon at the Ray & Kay Eckstein Hospice Care Center at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah due to complications from cancer surgery. He leaves a wife and two grown sons, and their families.

Arrangements are incomplete at Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion.

A former president and CEO of Farmers Bank and Trust Co., in Marion, Hardin had also been chairman of the Crittenden County Economic Development Corporation and served in a number of other capacities during a long and esteemed career as a community leader and banker. He was also chairman of the Farmers Bancorp and a member of Marion United Methodist Church where he served in a leadership role.

Friday, February 19, 2016

State police commissioner retiring

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer after more than eight years in the role has announced his retirement. Brewer, who has served 34 years with the agency, will leave his post Feb. 29.

Ferry now re-opened

The Cave In Rock Ferry has re-opened, as winds have calmed.

School officials unhappy with All A rule

Crittenden County High School’s boys will be back in the All A Classic Basketball Tournament next year, albeit under duress.

The Rockets and two other area schools (Lyon and Livingston) boycotted the small-school basketball tournament in January to bring attention to their opposition to the All A Classic allowing certain private schools – that they say recruit and offer student-athlete financial aid – to be involved in event.

Now, the All A Classic has, in effect, retaliated against the boycotting schools by creating a new rule for participation. Its new regulation says a school must participate in all of the Classic sports tournaments (if the school offers that particular sport) or it can't compete in any of them.

Right now, the All A Classic offers basketball, baseball, soccer, softball, golf, volleyball and cheerleading.

Crittenden County basketball coach Denis Hodge is unhappy about being compelled to play in a tournament where he thinks cheating goes unchecked and Crittenden Superintendent Vince Clark says opposition to what's happening in scholastic sports will continue.

See next week's printed edition of The Crittenden Press for more on this developing story.

High winds close ferry

Due to wind gusts of up to 45 mph, the Cave In Rock Ferry is closed. Notice will be provided here if it reopens today.

Providence man arrested on drug charges

Kentucky State Police have charged a Providence man with traffic and drug-related offenses after conducting a traffic stop.

On Thursday at approximately 9:45 p.m., Trooper Cody Kromer observed Randy L. Travis, 47, of Providence operating a Ford truck on West Elm Street in Clay with no tail lights and making a turn without using a signal.

During the course of the traffic stop, Trooper Kromer determined that Travis was under the influence of a controlled substance. A search of his person found two prescription pills and rolling papers. A search of the truck revealed a plastic bag containing suspected methamphetamine. Travis also was operating on a suspended operator’s license.

Travis was lodged in the Webster County Detention Center and charged with the following offenses:
  • Improper equipment.
  • Failure to or improper signal.
  • DUI, first offense.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Possession of controlled substance (meth), first degree, first offense.
  • Operating on a suspended or revoked operator’s license.

Measure on marriage license forms approved by Senate

Sen. Ridley
The state Senate moved to change Kentucky marriage licenses today, passing a bill that would remove county clerks’ names from the license forms while creating a separate document for same-sex couples.

Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, voted for Senate Bill 5, and it passed, 30-8. It seeks to codify Gov. Matt Bevin’s Dec. 23 executive order while making adjustments in response to last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. As such, the bill would provide for two different marriage license forms. One would identify the couple seeking the license as “bride” and “groom.” The other would be gender neutral.

Provisions of the bill would also remove the clerk’s name from the form, though individual clerks could add it later if they desired.

Proponents praised it as a win for religious freedom.

Senate President Robert Stivers II, R-Manchester, who supported the bill, was among proponents who cast the bill’s passage as a positive step forward.

“There are individuals out there that want to have their union recognized, and that is the law and we will abide by it,” Stivers said.

“But there are people in this state, [that] have religious beliefs and convictions,” he added, and the traditional “bride/groom” form affirms their beliefs.

SB5 became a priority after last summer’s Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. Following the decision, a handful of county clerks refused to issue the licenses embossed with their names, citing their faith. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was later jailed for five days by a federal judge for contempt for refusing his order to resume issuing licenses to single-gender couples.

Thursday’s bill had clear opposition, including a failed attempt to amend the bill and eliminate the separate forms. Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, proposed the change which would have given applicants a choice of checking “bride,” “groom” or “spouse” on one form. The amendment was voted down, 23-15. Sen. Ridley voted in favor of the amendment.

Senate Bill 5 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

KSP raffling Ram 1500 Big Horn 4x4


To support its Trooper Island Camp for underprivileged children, Kentucky State Police are selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a new 2016 Dodge Ram 1500 Big Horn 4x4 pickup.

The truck features include: a brilliant black pearl-coat exterior and black-diesel gray interior; a four-door, air-conditioned crew cab with heated, leather front seats embroidered with the KSP seal on the headrest; a 5.7 liter V8 Hemi MDS VVT engine with 395 hp; an eight-speed automatic transmission and a five-year/60,000 mile powertrain limited warranty. On the Internet, visit KSP online for a full list of features and equipment

Tickets are $10 each. To purchase a ticket, visit The Crittenden Press at 125 E. Bellville St. in Marion or contact any KSP post or CVE regional office located throughout the state. Tickets are also available online by debit or credit card payment.

Only 20,000 tickets will be sold. The winning ticket will be drawn on Aug. 28 at the Kentucky State Fair.

Trooper Island is a free summer camp for underprivileged children age 10-12 operated by KSP on Dale Hollow Lake in Clinton County. It is financed entirely by donations, no public funds are used.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Booking photo bill heads to Senate

Rep. Bechler
Websites or publications that use jail booking photographs for profit could face stiff fines under legislation passed today by the state House.

House Bill 132, sponsored by Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah, passed the House by a vote of 93-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. The bill would make it illegal to post booking photos to a web site or include them in a publication then require payment to remove the photos from public view, Watkins said.

Violators could be prosecuted in state circuit court and be required to pay damages starting at $100 a day for each separate violation along with attorney fees, he said.

Booking photos and criminal charges loaded onto a jail’s web site after an arrest are later removed when a case is adjudicated, said Watkins. By that time, however, the photos and charges may be circulating on commercial web sites or in paid publications.

“They will not remove (the information) without a fee being paid first. They usually charge around $500 to remove each photograph. If you pay it, other sites do the same thing, and sometimes the same company has several web sites,” said Watkins. “So it never ends—it’s an extortion ring.”

Watkins filed the bill after discussing the practice with a local judge and prosecutor. He said commercial use of booking photographs is recognized by the FBI as a “fast-growing problem nationally.”

Versions of the legislation filed by Watkins in past sessions would have made the practice a Class D felony. When asked by Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, why a violation wouldn’t be a felony in HB 132, Watkins said it came down to what local jailers wanted.

“To endorse and support the bill they wanted it changed to … a fine,” said Watkins. The bill has been endorsed by the Kentucky Jailers Association and the Kentucky Press Association, he said.

Governor to order flags to half-staff

Gov. Matt Bevin will direct that flags be flown at half-staff  beginning Friday and continuing through sunset Saturday as a mark of respect for Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the United States who died last week. Justice Scalia’s interment is scheduled for Saturday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Education overhaul bill passes Senate

Sen. Ridley
A bill that would overhaul education and accountability standards in public schools passed the state Senate by a 25-12 vote today. Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, voted with the remaining Democratic members of the Senate and one Republican in voting against the bill.

The measure, given the designation of Senate Bill 1, outlines a process to review, and possibly change, what students are taught – and how they’re tested – in key subjects such as English, mathematics, science and social studies. Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, who introduced the legislation, said the goal is to align what is taught with what is tested.

“What we have before us is a bill that I sometimes call, ‘Let the teachers teach bill,’” he said. “I couldn’t agree with that more today than I did the first day … I heard it.”

He questioned the results of Kentucky’s current education and accountability standards. He said an Office of Education Accountability study found the percentage of Kentucky graduates entering post-secondary education hadn’t perceptibly increased in the last six years.

“Over the last six years the state has used three different formulas to determine graduation rates,” Wilson said. “Each one yielding a higher measure making it difficult to genuinely determine growth. It’s like if we wanted the Kentucky basketball team to score a little higher we just move the three-point arc in a little bit more.”

Senate President Pro Tem David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, also spoke in support of SB 1. He said the bill would replace a school’s self-evaluations called Program Review with a requirement for the principal, school-based council and superintendent to sign a letter of assurance about arts and humanities, practical living, writing and social studies.

“Through this self-assessment process we call Program Review, we’ve caused districts and schools to chase points,” Givens said of the current system.

Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, explained why he voted against SB 1.

“I like many of you are held accountable by the people back at home that elect to send us here,” he said. “… The folks at home are not supported of this particular piece of legislation.”

He said the emails, phone calls and messages left at the legislative hotline from his constituents are disproportionately against SB 1.

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said he voted against SB 1 because it would create an academic standards committee consisting of three gubernatorial appointees, six legislators and the commissioner of education.

“What this bill does is politicize our public education,” he said. “It threatens our students’ ability to have the free expression of ideas. In other words … it will probably lead to politicians controlling the content of what our students learn. That is very dangerous and a real threat to democracy.”

Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, said she voted against SB 1, in part, because it would allow high school students to use credits from foreign language, voc-tech or computer classes to satisfy course requirements in the arts and humanities.

“Arts and humanities requirements being substituted for some of the things in this bill causes me a great deal of indigestion,” Webb said. “… The arts are the lifeblood of many students. The arts are what keeps many students in school. I don’t remember much about calculus but I do remember what I learned in band and my appreciation for music.”

Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, who was the last Senator to cast a vote because the roll call was taken in alphabetical order, explained why he supported SB 1.

“One thing I think that we have missed today also on the Senate floor is the students,” said Wise, a professor at Campbellsville University. “I think a lot of times we have gotten into discussions today talking about the politics. And we have talked about the teachers.

“ … I listen to the students when they come to my classroom.”

He said the over-burdensome amount of paperwork teachers have to fill out and “teaching to a test” are what his students recognized as problems they experienced in school.

“We are failing our students in so many aspects,” Wise said. “ … I think we really need to reevaluate some of the discussions today and think about how this bill is going to let the students learn and allow the teachers to teach.”

The bill will now go to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Teacher planning-time bill clears House

Rep. Bechler
Public school teachers would be given at least 60 minutes per school day for lesson planning and other “nonteaching” activities under a bill that passed the Kentucky House today.

Current law says teachers must have “additional time” for nonteaching activities, like planning and reviewing student work, but allows school councils and school districts to determine how much time the teachers get. Under House Bill 107, schools would have to set aside 60 minutes per day period for full-time teachers, with at least 120 minutes allotted to teachers each week for “self-directed” activities like planning, professional development and outreach.

“This is just to ensure that teachers do have time that they can decide how (to) use,” said Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, who is sponsoring HB 107 with Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington.

Smart said schools can adjust their instructional time to accommodate the proposed nonteaching periods by altering the length of the school day.

“In Madison County we have nine elementary schools and all of them have different start and stop times, so that’s how they (meet their needs),” said Smart.

Rep. Kim King, R-Harrodsburg, challenged the bill on the floor. King said her school-based decision making councils say HB 107 would usurp some of their authority under state law.

“Each of my school-based decision making council members at home consider this undermining their authority,” said King.

Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, said both he and school superintendents in his area are concerned about the cost of HB 107. He said that while HB 107 it is a “good-intentioned bill”, he and his school officials are concerned “there will be more teachers needed, especially in the elementary grades.”

Smart said the bill would not affect instructional time and therefore would not require more teachers. It allows for “self-directed time” when, she said, a teacher decides what he or she has to get done.

HB 107 passed by a vote of 77-17 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, voted against the bill. Bechler is concerned the mandated time away from instruction will have negative affects on students and budgets.

"We will be forced to hire more teachers, or we will be forced to have much larger class sizes," Bechler said on the House floor, urging others to oppose the measure.

U.S. 41 Twin Bridges lanes be restricted Thursday

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will restrict northbound traffic to one lane on the U.S. 41 Twin Bridges on Thursday, February 18 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to install additional safety-related signage and mill pavement between the end of the northbound bridge to the entrance to Ellis Park.

Efforts to mill pavement and upgrade signage are designed reduce the number of wet-weather crashes observed along this section of U.S. 41.

Crews will mill a 1,200-foot section along both lanes and add surface friction to improve traction. Retro-reflective signage will be enhanced to further alert northbound traffic to the curve. Plans also include adding the site to a priority list for a high-traction surface that would likely be applied sometime this summer.

All northbound traffic will initially move to the right-hand or driving lane to allow work along the passing lane and median at the north end of the bridge.  Around mid-day, traffic will transition to the left-hand or passing lane to allow work along the driving lane and right shoulder area.

Bridge history
The U.S. 41 Twin Bridges, also known as the Bi-State Viet Nam Gold Star Memorial Bridges, carry approximately 37,000 vehicles per day across the Ohio River between Henderson and Evansville, Ind. The Twin Bridges have a total length of 5,393.6 feet with a 720-foot main navigation span. The bridge superstructure is a Warren cantilevered through-truss design. The bridges are located about a mile downstream from the confluence of the Green River and the Ohio River. The northbound bridge was opened to traffic on July 4, 1932, while the southbound bridge opened on Dec. 16, 1965.

Panel delivers midwives licensing bill to Senate

 The state Senate Committee on Health and Welfare passed a bill today that would create a board to license midwives in Kentucky.

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, who introduced the legislation known as Senate Bill 85, said the need for it was brought to his attention by midwives who felt a state license would help legitimize their profession and bring further safeguards to expecting mothers.

“It is not illegal to have your child at home or, as we obviously see in the news, in a taxicab on the side of the road or police car or emergency vehicle,” he said. “This happens all the time. This is nothing new. This has been going on since Adam and Eve.”

Buford said SB 85 would advance public safety because it ensures families who prefer out-of-hospital births will have access to qualified care providers. He added that Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia and Indiana have similar laws.

SB 85 supporter Robin Elise Weiss testified that home births would save tax dollars because about 50 percent of births in Kentucky are covered by Medicaid. She said of the 56,000 babies born in Kentucky in 2014, 20,000 were delivered by cesarean section – a medical procedure that adds, on average, $3,700 to a hospital bill.

“It brings professionals together for the health and welfare for Kentucky’s birthing families – the most venerable populations in Kentucky with responsibly, accountability and professionalism on all parts,” said Weiss, who teaches at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences. “Currently, home births is an underground marketplace. If you want a midwife, you need to know who to talk to. You can’t go to any respected health entity and ask for a list of vetted professionals. You have to rely on word of mouth.”

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, voted in favor of SB 85.

“As one of the three members of this committee that has given birth, I think this is a great bill,” she said. “I think it is an opportunity for women and their families to be able to share in what should be a 99.9 percent natural occurrence. It is not a disease we are trying to cure here.”

Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said he voted for the bill because he believes it would increase the rate of breast feeding in Kentucky.

“Midwives are some of the top proponent … of breast feeding,” he said.

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, voted for the bill but said he was concerned about the cost to establish a new licensing board. He cited a legislative staff report that put the startup cost at $62,000.

“I think we have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to know what it is costing us,” he said. “I think it is a questing we need to ask going forward every time we do licensure … instead of reaching up in the air and grabbing a number.”

Sen. Ralph Alvarado, a pediatrician, voted against SB 85.

He said the bill would establish a new independent medical practitioner in Kentucky but not require the practitioner to have a professional relationship with a doctor or medical facility. He said other health practitioners such as physician assistants have to have a four-year degree, two years of training in addition to a professional relationship with a doctor.

SB 85 will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

University projects bill passes House, heads to Senate

Legislation to allow state college and university building projects to proceed without state budget authorization is on its way to the Senate.

House Bill 265 would allow state postsecondary capital projects funded with restricted funds, agency funds, federal funds or private funds to be exempt from the state budget process as long as the projects are approved by the college’s or university’s governing board and the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), and presented to the state legislative Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee.

All of the project costs would be the responsibility of the college or university, not the state.

“If they can support projects 100 percent with their restricted funds, agency funds or a combination of restricted funds, agency funds, and federal funds—they can bond projects,” said HB 265 sponsor Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville.

The House amended the bill to require state college or universities to have a debt policy in place before issuing debt not authorized in the state budget. That amendment, sponsored by Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, would also require the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee to determine whether the institution can support the project on its own. The committee would then either approve the project or request more information, which could delay approval, said Montell.

“Should a university default on these bonds then ultimately that goes back to the taxpayers,” he said. “So I do think we have to proceed with caution as we move forward.”

HB 265 passed the House today by a vote of 93-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

What's news this week in Crittenden County...

Find our
Wedding Guide
inside this week's issue
Irresponsible pet owners in the City of Marion may soon start facing bigger troubles than a lost dog. A leash law requiring dogs to be penned, chained or otherwise contained has existed in the city for decades, but enforcement has been rather lax in recent years. That could soon change.

For more on this story and the following headlines, pick up a copy of this week's issue of The Crittenden Press:
  • Old Man Winter pushes students to 10 snow days.
  • 2 days added back to 2016-17 fall break.
  • Man who burglarized parked cars gets 5-year sentence.
  • Marion council opts to forego tax hike.
  • Grand Jury indicts five.
  • Last call to register for upcoming vote on alcohol Tuesday.
  • Legislation would keep Illinois work camp open.
  • Court-ordered testing goes to detention center.
  • Natural causes believed reason for man dying at Crittenden Jail.
  • Bank, UK team to recognize Crabtree.
  • Council weighs request to allow mobile homes.
  • Scouts run in pinewood derby.
  • Retired soldier leads CP church.
  • PACS offers help to seal homes from foul weather.
  • Group: Farmers want to keep kynect.
  • Two ag-related classes scheduled for Tuesday.
  • USDA’s sign-up period  for CRP ends next week.
  • GOP absentee apps can be overnighted.
  • FORGOTTEN PASSAGES: Declamatory contests part of school history.
  • DEFEW'S VIEWS: Experience with goats a pleasant surprise.
  • LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Actress Garner speaks to youth literacy.
  • LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bechler says House anti-bullying legislation too broad to support.
  • GUEST OPINION: 2016 elections most important in a lifetime.
  • No. 1 killer of women can be avoided.
  • Orientation for inbound freshmen next week.
  • Students named to WKCTC dean’s list.
  • SPORTS: Rockets warm up for 5th.
  • SPORTS: Lady Rockets are hitting stride at right time.
  • 4-H hosting ‘Get Green On’ 5K in March.

WPSD Local 6 meteorologist arrested

Kentucky State Police seized guns and marijuana Tuesday from the home
WPSD Local 6 meteorologist Tori Shaw and her husband, Tyler Smoyer.

A WPSD Local 6 meteorologist was arrested Tuesday on multiple drug-related charges by Kentucky State Police.


Victoria L. "Tori" Shaw Smoyer, 32, and her husband, Tyler M. Smoyer, 35, both of Mayfield, were charged with felony cultivating marijuana (five plants or more), firearm enhanced; misdemeanor possession of marijuana; and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Both subjects were lodged in the Graves County Jail.

Shaw Smoyer, who goes by Tori Shaw on air, is a meteorologist at the Paducah television station.

Shaw
Smoyer
According to KSP Post 1 in Mayfield, an anonymous tip of an indoor grow operation located on Ridgeland Drive in Mayfield was received through the agency's Text-a-Tip Program. Troopers responded to the scene to perform a knock and talk and were able to gain enough evidence to obtain a search warrant for the residence. Upon service of the search warrant, troopers located five marijuana plants, six long guns, two pistols, two silencers, eight storage boxes of ammunition, a tactical vest and multiple items used to cultivate marijuana. Two more marijuana plants were located discarded in a trash can behind the residence.

Troopers were assisted on scene by the Graves County Sheriff’s Office.

KSP has a toll-free number – (800) 222-5555 – that citizens can call to confidentially report impaired drivers or criminal activity. They can also download the free KSP mobile phone app. The app provides quick, direct access to KSP including weather, road and traffic information as well as text, voice and photo tip capabilities to report criminal behavior. The app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android applications and can be easily downloaded free of charge through Apple and Google Play stores.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Area Death

Hurst “Tony” Miniard , 50, of Marion died today at Livingston Hospital. Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion is in charge of arrangements.

School dismissing for snow

Crittenden County Schools are in the process of dismissing classes due to weather.

School officials say bus drivers have been notified and are in route to the school to pick up students. Buses will be transporting children home as soon as possible. Children will be arriving at their regular after-school destinations about 30 or 40 minutes earlier than normal, said Superintendent Vince Clark.

Student drivers have already been dismissed.

UPDATE: Tonight's basketball games at Rocket Arena are cancelled. The boys and girls were scheduled to host Hopkins Central in a doubleheader.


Traffic school postponed

Crittenden County CATS (County Attorney Traffic Safety) program scheduled for 6 p.m., tonight has been postponed. The monthly program will be held on its next regular date March 15 at the courthouse.

Road crews responding to flurries, freezing rain

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews in Livingston County and Crittenden County are repsonding to a line of flurries, sleet, and freezing rain that is moving through at this time.

Both counties have trucks out treating bridges, overpasses and potential trouble spots.  Temperatures are hovering at about 32 degrees at this time.

Motorists are advised to pay close attention to localized weather conditions and reduce driving speed when they encounter winter precipitation.

Area Death

Doris L. Crouch, 81, of Bellefontaine, Ohio, formerly of Marion, died Saturday in Bellefontaine. Gilbert Funeral Home in Marion is in charge of arrangements.

One hour delay for school

Crittenden County Schools will go on a one-hour delay today Tuesday, February 16.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Injury accident at Mattoon

First responders have been dispatched to Mattoon where there is a report of a two-vehicle injury accident at the intersection of US 60 East and Ky. 654 North.

Area Death

Albert D. Heilman Sr., 73, of Salem died Friday. Gilbert Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Cleveland O. Rogers, 83, of Burna died Saturday. Boyd Funeral Directors and Cremation Services in Salem is in charge of arrangements.

Library closed today

Crittenden County Public Library is closed today. There will be no fines for overdue materials.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

No school

No school in Crittenden County Monday, Feb. 15.

Crash blocking Ky. 139 in Caldwell

There is a report of a two-vehicle crash blocking Ky. 139 in Caldwell County. The wreck is expected to have the highway blocked for perhaps two hours, according to transportation department officials.

The crash site is just north of the intersection with Ky. 91.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Education standards bill clears key Senate panel

Legislation to revamp how academic standards are set in public elementary, middle and high schools could be taken up by the full state Senate as early as next week.

Senate President Robert Stivers II, R-Manchester, made the comment after the legislation, given the designation of Senate Bill 1, was passed out of the Senate Standing Committee on Education by a 9-3 vote on Thursday.

“This has been a long process of working on this bill all throughout the interim, making sure we were talking to all stake holders in regards to Senate Bill 1,” said Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, who is a sponsor of SB 1 and chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

A key component of SB 1 outlines a process to review, and possibly change, what students are taught – and how they’re tested – in key subjects such as English, mathematics and science.

“Our testing does not align with our standards,” Wilson said.

First, SB 1 calls for public input on what the academic standards should be. Then, individual panels for each subject at the elementary, middle and high school levels would review the academic standards. The panels would be made up of six teachers and at least one professor from a state university.

The panels’ recommendations would be forwarded to a 10-person standards and assessments recommendation committee. That committee would include three members appointed by the governor, three senators appointed by the Senate President and three state representatives appointed by the Speaker of the state House of Representatives. The state education commissioner would be a non-voting member.

The final recommendation would be forwarded to the Kentucky Department of Education. Under SB 1, the standards and assessments would be reviewed every six years starting in fiscal year 2017-’18 but could be staggered among subjects.

Sen. Gerald Neal said he liked workforce development and early intervention components of SB 1 but he had concerns over the appointments to the standards and assessments committee.

“The fact of the matter is you know and I know that is a political process,” Neal said. “When appointments come through those processes, whether we like it or not, it becomes a political piece.

“ … If you have individuals that are appointed that carry a certain ideological or philosophical positions as opposed to a pure education perspective, and that happens throughout our systems, I’m not sure that is a good thing. That gives me concern.”

A provision that would eliminate statewide testing on social studies concerned Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg.

“If they are not assessed, it seems like to be they get pushed aside and they are not taught…,” he said.

Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, said SB 1 attempts to tackle three issues educators in his district repeatedly identify as hindrances to the education process --  testing, reporting requirements and unfunded mandates.

“These things are killing us,” West said. “These things are not allowing us to teach to our kids.”

Icy conditions lead to wrecks

Today, units from  Kentucky State Police Post 2 in Madisonville have investigated a total of seven, non-injury collisions. The collisions occurred in the following counties:
  • Crittenden County: 1.
  • Hopkins County: 4.
  • Muhlenberg County: 2.
With another round of wintry weather expected later this weekend, the KSP is reminding motorists to be aware and monitor current weather conditions before travel. 

Here are a few simple steps to help keep you on the road:
  • Avoid travel unless necessary when winter weather is in your area.
  • If you do have to travel, call 511 for current road conditions.
  • Slow down.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.

Anti-bullying legislation sent to Senate

A bill intended to add a clear definition to state law books of what constitutes bullying passed in the state House of Representatives Thursday.

House Bill 316, sponsored by Rep. Rita Smart, D- Richmond, would define bullying as “any unwanted verbal, physical, or social behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated” if it occurs at school, on school busses, at school-sponsored events, or disrupts the educational process in some other way.

“To vote against this bill would be a travesty,” said Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, during the discussion of the bill on the House floor. “This bill is for the good of the whole, for our most prized possession: our children.”

Rep. Regina Bunch, R-Williamsburg, who served on the Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force in 2015, stressed the importance of passing HB 316.

“As a teacher of special needs students for over 20 years, I have witnessed what the detriment of bully can cause students,” said Bunch. “We need to be swift, we need to be just in our attention to this and we cannot be complacent.”

HB 316 passed the House by a vote of 94-1 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, was the sole dissenting vote on the measure. See next week's issue of The Crittenden Press to learn why.

‘Revenge porn’ bill approved by the House

Malicious distribution of sexually-explicit photos or videos that were intended to be kept private by a person depicted in the images — a practice known as “revenge porn”— would be against the law under a bill now on its way to the state Senate.

House Bill 110, sponsored by Reps. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, and Tom Riner, D-Louisville, would make sharing such images a misdemeanor if they show an identifiable person and are shared with intent to harass, intimidate or otherwise harm without a person’s consent. Sharing the same images maliciously for profit or gain would be a felony.

The bill was amended by the House to clarify that written consent for distribution of such images must be given by those photographed, and that consent to the creation of an image does not inherently mean consent to its distribution.

Jenkins said revenge porn is a tactic often used to humiliate a former romantic partner when a relationship fails. There are cases where former partners have “sent these photos to (their former partner’s) friends, their minister, their mother, their grandmother in a way that is very harmful and humiliating,” said Jenkins.

Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, said in context of the discussion on HB 110 that “personal decisions have consequences.”

“Your choices have consequences. I know… people fall in love, they do things, but situations like this can impact people for the rest of their life. And I’d just like us to take the opportunity to encourage people to be responsible for your actions and consequences and think about what you’re doing,” said Tipton.

HB 110 passed the House by a vote of 92-0.

Spring forest fire hazard season begins Monday

It doesn’t make sense for wildfires to start easily when Kentucky has had such a run of cold, wet weather, but how wet or cold the ground is has little to do with how vulnerable dead grass is to a spark.

“Despite recent precipitation, dead fuels like grass, leaves and twigs are rapidly dried with sunlight and wind,” said William H. Steele, Jr., director of the Division of Forestry. “With only a few hours of sunlight and wind, these fuels can become primed for carrying a wildfire.  It is very important that people do not develop a false confidence during wet conditions.”

Kentucky law designates Feb. 15 through April 30 as spring forest fire hazard season. During this time, it is illegal to burn anything within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The burning law is intended to prevent fires by allowing burning only during the time when conditions are less likely to cause the spread of fire.

Typically, winds are calmer and humidity is higher from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. While burning is allowed during these hours, no one should burn unless the air is calm and there is adequate moisture in the air to prevent the spread of fire. It is illegal to start a fire any time of the year on or near timberland without taking all reasonable precautions to prevent it from spreading.

One of the leading causes of forest fires in Kentucky is fire accidentally escaping when people burn trash or unwanted material. The Kentucky Division of Forestry urges Kentucky residents to be extremely careful this fire season when burning outdoors and to follow state and local laws.

Remember to check local ordinances, state air quality and state waste management regulations before conducting any outdoor burning.  The Division for Air Quality has many outdoor burning restrictions and should be contacted at (888) BURN LAW.

No school

No school today, Friday Feb 12

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Panel approves proposed raises for commercial vehicle enforcement officers

Salaries for commercial vehicle enforcement (CVE) officers could be raised to match the salaries of state troopers under legislation that passed the House Labor and Industry Committee today.

House Bill 312, sponsored by House Labor and Industry Chair Rick Nelson, D-Middlesboro, would close a $10,000 gap in starting salaries between CVE officers and state troopers, as long as the officers have the same rank, grade and position. Kentucky CVE officers’ starting salaries are roughly $28,000.

Ken Hightower, a retired sergeant with the CVE, said that CVE officers and state troopers receive the same basic training and share similar responsibilities on the job.

“It would only be fair that this (bill) gets passed,” said Hightower. “The salary difference is a disparity and our officers’ salaries should help them to have a better livelihood and be able to provide for their families.”

HB 312 still needs to gain the approval of the House and Senate before it could be signed into law.

Dog and cat welfare bill walks through Senate

The state Senate passed the dog and cat version of the “Look before You Lock Bill” by a 37-0 vote today.

Known as Senate Bill 53, the legislation would provide civil immunity for damaging a vehicle to a person who enters a vehicle with the reasonable, good faith belief that a dog or cat is in immediate danger of death if not removed from the vehicle.

“The person must make a reasonable effort to locate the owner, or the person responsible for the dog or cat, prior to entering the vehicle,” said sponsor Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah. He said SB 53 would also require the person to believe the animal was in immediate danger if not removed from the vehicle before emergency responders could arrive.

Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, thanked Carroll for amending the bill to address her concerns.

“I appreciate the sponsor of the bill addressing some of my concerns in the amendment language,” she said. “I know his intention is very well founded. I hope that it does raise awareness. I don’t think having civil liability would stop me from braking out a window out if I saw an animal in distress but maybe we can keep the conversation afloat and educate even responsible pet owners.”

Carroll said SB 53 was similar to the “Look before You Lock Bill,” or Senate Bill 16, that passed out of the Senate earlier in the session. SB 16 would protect rescuers from being sued for any property damage caused in pursuit of saving the life of a child left locked in a vehicle.

Bill to ban smoking for those under 21 clears House committee

Anyone under the age of 21 would be prohibited from buying tobacco products and inhaled vapor products in Kentucky under a bill approved today by the House Health and Welfare Committee.

House Bill 299, sponsored by Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, and Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, would take effect this August 1 should it become law. Currently, anyone 18 and older can legally buy tobacco and vapor products—including electronic cigarettes—in the state.

“Smoking contributes to heart disease, it contributes to chronic lung disease, it contributes to cancer, it contributes to peripheral vascular disease, so it does a lot of things that are negative,” said Watkins, a physician. “We raised the age to use alcohol to 21 a long time ago… to me, raising the age for individuals to use tobacco to 21, I think, makes sense.”

Under HB 299, penalties for selling tobacco products to those under age would stay the same for retailers, who now face fines of $100-$500 for a first violation and $500-$1,000 for subsequent violations. The bill would impose new penalties for those buying such products under age--$100-$500 for each violation, with punishment for youth under age 18 handled in juvenile court.

Only Hawaii has raised the legal smoking age to 21 so far, said Watkins.

Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, said he would like those who are age 18 and older who either serve or have served in the U.S. military to be exempt from the proposed restrictions in HB 299.

“I do not want to (legally) impose on them who have given and sacrificed… however altruistic it is in this case, on those young men and women who have served in harm’s way in combat situations and are younger than age 21,” said Moore.

Watkins said he has great respect for the military but “I don’t feel like we should make an exception. I think if we want to really do them a favor, we’ll help them to stop smoking.”

HB 299 now goes to the House floor for consideration.

Governor signs pro-life legislation

Today, in front of a record crowd at the annual Kentucky Right to Life Rally, Gov. Matt Bevin ceremonially signed Senate Bill 4, an historic pro-life bill to ensure informed consent prior to abortions.

“I am humbled to be here as the governor of Kentucky, where we value the sanctity of life,” said Gov. Bevin. “We must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect the rights of the unborn child. I’m honored to sign this important pro-life legislation. I sincerely appreciate the determination and persistence shown by our legislators in order to make this a reality. Today marks a great victory for Kentucky values.”

A number of legislators joined the Governor for today’s ceremony, including:  Senate President Robert Stivers, Senate Minority Leader Damon Thayer, Sen. Julie Raque Adams, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, Sen. Dan Seum, Sen. Joe Bowen, Sen. Mike Wilson, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, Rep.  Stan Lee, Rep. Jim DeCesare, Rep. Robert Benvenuti, Rep. Joe Fischer, Rep. David Floyd, Rep. Kim King, Rep. Tim Moore, Rep. Russell Webber and Rep. Addia Wuchner.

“The Senate Majority Caucus has been trying to pass pro-life legislation for over a decade,” said President Stivers. “We were proud to finally see this measure make its way through the process, and we appreciate all those in the legislature and Gov. Bevin for fighting for the rights of the unborn.”

“This day has been long awaited by many of us who are pro-life and who support pro-life causes,” said Leader Hoover. “I’m extremely proud to have been a part of the effort to deliver to Gov. Bevin his very first bill to be signed into law – a bill that will save the lives of unborn children.”

Also participating in the ceremony were:  Margie Montgomery, Executive Director of Kentucky Right to Life; Mike Janocik, Deputy Executive Director, Kentucky Right to Life Association; Kent Ostrander, Executive Director, The Family Foundation of Kentucky; Kathy Rutledge, Kentucky Regional Coordinator for “Silent No Moore” and “Operation Outcry”; Jason Hall, Executive Director, Catholic Conference of Kentucky;  and former State Senator Katie Stine.

“After all these years, we are delighted that women of Kentucky will finally get the information they need prior to consenting to an abortion,” said Montgomery. “The more women know about abortion, the more likely they are to make life-affirming choices. We are grateful for Gov. Bevin’s leadership on this issue, as well as the GOP Senate and House leadership.”