- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Eastern Kentucky’s struggles fuel Senate battle

GRAYS KNOB, Ky. (AP) - Joe Bart Watts was mining coal 3 miles in a mountain when his house burned down last summer. Over the next year, Harlan Cumberland Coal cut his hours, laid off 200 workers and he had to move in with his mother.

In this sparsely populated swath of eastern Kentucky, it is voters like Watts who have become the prize in what has become a battleground area in one of the country’s most watched U.S. Senate races.

“This year has been the worst, I think, for coal mining for us as it’s ever been,” said Watts, who supports Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.

McConnell, a 30-year incumbent, has tried to tie challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes to Democratic President Barack Obama and what Republicans have called his “war on coal.” Obama is deeply unpopular in the state.

With most polls showing a close race, McConnell started a three day bus tour Monday through eastern Kentucky to make his pitch to miners and their families with a little over two weeks left before the election. The tour will take him through 15 counties where the median household income is $33,023 per year, about $20,000 less than the national figure. In Harlan County, where Watts works, the unemployment rate is 14.4 percent, the second highest in the state. The median home price is $55,000 and the school district has lost more than 1,100 students since 1999.

McConnell blames Obama and his energy policies, framing the issue as an “us against them” mentality.

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Ohio grand jury charges Illinois man with murder

CINCINNATI (AP) - A southwest Ohio grand jury has indicted a 41-year-old man on murder charges in the slaying last month of a Kentucky woman on Interstate 75.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said Monday that Terry Froman of Brookport, Illinois, could face the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder. He was indicted on two aggravated murder counts, two kidnapping counts and a firearms discharge count.

Froman was arrested Sept. 12, accused of killing his estranged girlfriend’s son in Kentucky, kidnapping her and then killing her on I-75. Authorities approaching the car stopped on the side of I-75, some 30 miles north of Cincinnati, said they heard multiple gunshots.

Police said Froman had a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the body of Kim Thomas, 34, was in the back of his vehicle off the interstate, which police had shut down. He was treated at a hospital and later jailed.

Froman also faces charges in Kentucky of murder and kidnapping. Authorities said Thomas’ 17-year-old son, Michael Mohney, was found dead at her Mayfield, Kentucky, home, triggering the search for Thomas that ended in southwest Ohio.

Fornshell said he and Graves County Commonwealth’s Attorney David Hargrove have been in regular communication about the case.

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Couple charged with limiting child’s food

RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) - Police in central Kentucky have charged two people with limiting a child’s access to food as punishment for the child wetting the bed.

WLEX-TV in Lexington reported (http://bit.ly/10e754Ehttp://bit.ly/10e754E ) that 34-year-old Linda Richmond and the child’s father, 37-year-old Julio Valladares of Madison County, were arrested Saturday morning after police say the child had to go to the hospital.

Police say the child had been confined to a chair several hours a day and the two adults were limiting the food the child received due to recent bedwetting.

Police say Richmond lived in the home with the child’s father and continued the “pattern of abuse” when the father worked.

The couple is charged with first-degree criminal abuse of a child 12 or under. Jail records did not list an attorney for either.

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Former Paducah plant workers may be rehired

PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - The roughly 300 remaining employees at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant are expected to be laid off this week, but official say they may be rehired quickly by the deactivation contractor.

Centrus Energy Corp. Vice President Steve Penrod said the potential rehiring of the employees by Fluor Federal Services is part of the process of turning the plant back over to the U.S. Department of Energy. Penrod said “nearly all” of the former employees will be rehired.

“For months we’ve been going through a very formal process to transfer the site back to DOE,” Penrod said. “This is part of that process.”

Fluor spokesman Jack Williams told The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/1wffQX2http://bit.ly/1wffQX2 ) the company has hired about 375 people and sent out more than 400 offer letters.

Williams said that 73 percent of those currently being hired are former employees of United States Enrichment Corp., the former name of Centrus Energy.

In its last report to Congress, the DOE indicated the deactivation and decommissioning process would be completed by 2040, and the approximately 700-750 acres inside the fence at the plant would then be clear for industrial use.

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