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Latest Kentucky news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. EDT

Posted at 3:28 AM, Jul 03, 2019

JIM BEAM FACILITY FIRE

Barrel warehouses burn at Jim Beam facility in Kentucky

(Information from: WKYT-TV, http://www.wkyt.com)

VERSAILLES, Ky. (AP) — Authorities are fighting to extinguish a fire at a Jim Beam bourbon warehouse in Kentucky.

Woodford County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler tells WKYT-TV that two barrel warehouses at the facility caught fire late Tuesday. Crews were still attempting to get the fire under control early Wednesday.

It’s unclear what caused the blaze. A nearby road has been shut down.

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KENTUCKY PENSIONS

Bevin, Democratic lawmaker exchange barbs over pension plan

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — When Kentucky’s Republican governor reached out to lawmakers to outline changes to his pension-relief proposal, a Democratic representative read the electronic version but decided to make a point with the paper copy.

Rep. Jeff Donohue sent the paper copy back unopened, the envelope marked “Return to Sender.” The Louisville lawmaker says he wanted to start a conversation.

Bevin took to social media on Monday to make a point of his own. In his response to Donohue, Bevin said: “Shame on you.”

Democrats snapped back, saying Bevin has become so defensive about his struggles on the pension issue that he’s lashing out over an envelope.

The exchange comes as Bevin has worked to generate enough support from the GOP-led legislature to pass his pension measure in a special session he wants to convene.

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR’S RACE-VETERANS

Beshear releases plan to boost veterans’ job opportunities

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democrat Andy Beshear has released a plan to improve job opportunities for military veterans in his first major policy rollout as his party’s nominee for Kentucky governor.

Beshear said Tuesday his plan will increase access to job-skills training for veterans. The state’s attorney general is challenging Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in the November election.

Beshear’s plan includes expanding opportunities for veterans to convert their military experience into credit hours at colleges or vocational/technical schools.

The Democratic challenger says he’d launch a program to help veterans land jobs in Kentucky’s agritech sector. He also wants to expand a program, in partnership with trade unions, to find jobs for veterans as craftsmen and engineers in the construction industry.

Beshear says it’s the first in a series of policy priorities aimed at veterans.

YOUTH EXPLORERS-KENTUCKY

Ex-officer who abused minors sentenced to federal prison

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky police officer who admitted to sexually abusing minors involved in the department’s now defunct youth program has been sentenced to 16 years in federal prison.

News outlets report Kenneth Betts asked the judge for mercy during the sentencing hearing Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge David Hale had rejected a plea agreement in May that would’ve sentenced Betts to 15 years in prison. Hale said the deal was too lenient and federal guidelines call for a 27-year sentence. Hale accepted a revised plea agreement proposing 15 to 20 years and handed down the 16-year sentence Tuesday.

Betts’s prison sentence is to be followed by 20 years of supervised release. He’s ordered to pay a $5,000 special assessment and $20,000 in restitution with regard to one of the victims.

COAL BANKRUPTCY

Operator of major Wyoming coal mines files for Chapter 11

(Information from: The Gillette (Wyo.) News Record, http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com)

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Another large Wyoming coal producer has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Blackjewel LLC operates the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayre mines in the Powder River Basin and several other U.S. coal properties.

The Milton, West Virginia-based company filed Monday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for southern West Virginia.

The Gillette News-Record reports the bankruptcy comes three days after Blackjewel missed a $1 million tax payment owed to Campbell County.

Eagle Butte ranks fourth and Belle Ayr sixth among the top-producing U.S. coal mines. The mines produced over 33 million short tons (30 million metric tons) of coal in 2017 and have nearly 600 workers.

Several Wyoming coal producers including Arch Coal, Peabody Energy and Cloud Peak Energy have filed for bankruptcy in recent years amid diminished demand for coal-fired electricity.

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FORCED LABOR-CHILDREN

Kentucky woman pleads guilty to using kids for forced labor

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to allowing her boyfriend to use her four children for forced labor.

According to documents in U.S. District Court, Tiffany Louise Walsh of Hazard pleaded guilty last week and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Court records say the boyfriend, identified only by his initials, allegedly forced Walsh’s children to make wooden plaques and other handmade items and sell them door to door. He is also accused of emotionally and physically abusing them if they did not meet his daily quota for money, including spraying them with bleach.

The documents say Walsh knew he used the money to buy lottery tickets, cigarettes and carry-out food for himself and Walsh.

Walsh and her boyfriend face dozens of charges in state court.