- Associated Press - Thursday, August 28, 2014
Kentucky gets $20 million grant for energy study

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Democrats and Republicans gathered Wednesday to celebrate a $20 million federal grant designed to move Kentucky toward new forms of energy, a tricky subject in a state dominated by the coal industry.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Andy Barr joined Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and state House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins to announce a federal grant that will be distributed among the state’s eight public colleges and universities. The money will pay for researchers to explore new ways to generate energy from plants and chemicals.

“As the world grows more sophisticated around us, the older ways of doing things, whether that’s powering our cars, generating fuel and energy or producing clean water are no longer good enough,” Beshear said. “Now, we in Kentucky could be unnerved by this reality or we could see it as an opportunity to do some amazing things.”

About 90 percent of Kentucky’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. And the coal industry is a major employer and economic driver in parts of eastern and western Kentucky. But a decline in demand combined with new federal emission standards have resulted in the loss of 7,000 direct coal mining jobs since January 2012.

Those job losses have become flashpoints in Kentucky politics. Coal has dominated the race for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat between McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

But both Republicans and Democrats said Wednesday’s grant announcement will complement the coal industry, not compete with it.

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Appeal for soldier convicted in ‘03 grenade attack

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A military appeal hearing was set Thursday for a U.S. soldier sentenced to death for killing two fellow service members and wounding 14 others in a grenade attack in Kuwait nearly 10 years ago.

The hearing for 43-year-old Army Sgt. Hasan K. Akbar is scheduled for Nov. 18 in Washington, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces said on its website. Akbar was sentenced to death in 2005 by a military jury.

He was convicted of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder in connection with an attack on the 101st Airborne Division at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait during the early days of the Iraq war. Prosecutors say he threw four hand grenades into tents as members of his division slept, then fired his rifle at soldiers in the ensuing chaos on March 23, 2003.

Air Force Maj. Gregory L. Stone was killed by a grenade. Army Capt. Christopher S. Seifert was fatally shot in the back. Fourteen soldiers were wounded, mostly from grenade shrapnel.

His appeal challenges the trial counsel’s. Maj. Jacob Bashore, one of Akbar’s military defense attorneys, said in a brief that the attorneys who defended Akbar during his trial should not have shown Akbar’s diary to the jury. The diary, which contained details of a conversion to radical Islam and expressed anti-government views, hurt Akbar’s case, Bashore said.

In one diary entry dated Feb. 23, 2002, Akbar wrote that he believed staying in the Army would eventually lead him to prison.

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Breathitt schools to remain under state control

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Board of Education has decided to keep control of the Breathitt County school district for up to three more years.

Media report the unanimous decision came Tuesday after a nine-hour hearing in Frankfort.

Attorneys for state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday argued that continued state management was needed so that students would continue making progress.

Local school board members argued that some of their powers should be restored because they know what’s best for students.

State manager Larry Hammond has overseen the district since December 2012. He recommended that it stay under state control.

Board of education member said it appears that local officials have “only a superficial knowledge” of the skills needed to run the district.

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Judge OKs sale of 3 James River Coal mines

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of three James River Coal Co. mining complexes to a subsidiary of Kentucky-based Blackhawk Mining LLC.

The sale includes the Hampden complex in West Virginia, including the assets of Logan & Kanawha Coal Co. LLC; the Hazard complex in Kentucky, excluding the assets of Laurel Mountain Resources LLC; and the Triad Mining complex in Indiana.

Blackhawk subsidiary JR Acquisition LLC will pay $20 million in cash and assume $32 million in liabilities.

The operations employ about 900 workers.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1tUdyKUhttp://bit.ly/1tUdyKU ) reports that U.S. Bankruptcy Kevin R. Huennekens approved motions enabling James River to sell the mines on Tuesday. The company plans to complete the sale by the end of the week.

Richmond-based James River filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.

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