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News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EST

Saturday, February 1, 2014

- Associated Press - Saturday, February 1, 2014
Child who survived deadly Ky. fire recuperating

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A girl who escaped a western Kentucky house fire that killed her mother and eight siblings is recuperating from burns and communicating with her hospital nurses, a family friend said Friday.

Kylie Watson wrote "I'm hungry" on a dry erase board from her hospital bed, pastor Tim Burden said. Burden said the 11-year-old girl's father, Chad Watson, is also making progress at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Eight of Chad Watson's children and his wife, Nikki, died in a house fire in rural Muhlenberg County early Thursday morning. Investigators say the fire was likely ignited when a combustible material made contact with a baseboard heater.

"The whole community is mourning. This is a tragedy, and it could happen to any of us," said Duane Harvey, a neighbor who was the first person to arrive at the fire just after 2 a.m.

The father and daughter were listed in critical but stable condition on Friday afternoon.

Friends and relatives around the community of Depoy say the church-going family was loving and close but struggled with finances. Local banks are accepting donations to help the two survivors.

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McConnell, Grimes release contribution numbers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes kept pace with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in fundraising late last year in one of the nation's most closely watched campaigns.

But the longest-serving senator in Kentucky's history headed into an election year with three times as much money in the bank as Grimes.

McConnell's campaign said Friday that the Senate's top-ranked Republican raised $2.22 million in the final three months of 2013. Grimes' campaign said she took in $2.1 million during the period.

Heading into 2014, McConnell had the luxury of dipping into a campaign bank account that totaled $10.9 million, while Grimes had almost $3.5 million on hand, the respective campaigns said.

McConnell, always a prolific fundraiser, has already collected $20 million for the election, gearing up for another tough race in his home state.

By the end of 2013, Grimes had taken in $4.6 million since launching her campaign last year to win back a Senate seat for Democrats in Kentucky. Grimes is secretary of state in Kentucky.

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Governor to discuss tax plan with top lawmakers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear is expected to pitch his plans to revamp Kentucky's tax code in a meeting with legislative leaders next week, beginning what the House's top leader said Friday could be an "uphill struggle."

Beshear asked top lawmakers to meet with him Monday to talk about proposals that could affect taxpayers across the state, House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers said.

"Right now, it's a wait and see," Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, told reporters. "People are respectful of the governor ... they respect his request to wait and see what his proposals are before we pass judgment on them."

But Stumbo added that any tax overhaul effort would likely face "an uphill struggle."

This year's 60-day General Assembly session will be one-third complete Tuesday. Lawmakers still have to craft a new two-year state budget in a session in which elections are looming later in 2014.

Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson said Friday that the governor will reveal his tax modernization plan to the public next week.

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Student hit near Henderson school dies

HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) - A western Kentucky high school student has died a day after being hit by a car as he walked across a road during morning school traffic.

The Gleaner in Henderson (http://bit.ly/LxuhDAhttp://bit.ly/LxuhDA ) reports the death Friday of 18-year-old Bradley Randall was released by the Vanderburgh County, Ind., coroner's office. Randall died at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Ind.

Authorities said the Henderson County High School student was hit just before 8 a.m. CST Thursday near the school by a car driven by a 16-year-old.

The Henderson County School System said counselors were being made available to students Thursday and Friday.

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Information from: The Gleaner, http://www.thegleaner.com/http://www.thegleaner.com/

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