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News
Paul calls raising tariffs on Mexico 'bad idea,' opposes move
 Aaron Mudd  / 
 06.06.19

Speaking to Bowling Green business leaders Thursday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, called President Donald Trump’s plan to levy escalating tariffs on Mexico “a bad idea” that would ultimately hurt American consumers.

“It’s a $17 billion increase in taxes, and I think it’s bad for Kentucky and bad for business,” Paul said during a roundtable event at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. and Mexican officials labored for a second day Thursday to avoid import tariffs Trump threatened to impose to strong-arm Mexico into curbing Central American migration to America’s southern border, The Associated Press reported.

If talks fail, a 5 percent tax on all Mexican goods imported into the U.S. would go into effect Monday, with monthly increases to follow until the tariffs reach 25 percent, according to Trump.

During the roundtable discussion, Paul also took questions on health care, trade with China, immigration and reforming entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.

Addressing tariffs on Mexican imports, Paul said it could hurt America’s economy and threaten progress on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. The latest deal has been signed by all three countries but needs to be authorized by their legislatures.

“It disrupts the USMCA deal that they spent two years doing,” Paul said. “The USMCA deal is good for our autoworkers, is good for our automobile manufacturers and I haven’t met anybody in Kentucky who doesn’t want it.”

Paul also opposed the move on constitutional grounds, adding that even though he supports Trump, “I don’t want him to have too much power because there needs to be checks and balances.

“There’s a separation of powers and the reason is so one person doesn’t accumulate too much power,” he said.

Trump faces growing opposition to the tariffs from his own party in Congress, which he has pushed back against.

A “lot of people, senators included – they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to tariffs,” Trump said, according to the AP. “They have no – absolutely no idea.”

Speaking Thursday, Paul reiterated that Congress should hold the line against the move.

“I think we need to resist that for constitutional reasons and also (it’s) not good for our economy,” he said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdaily news.com.


News
Purse auction raises money for United Way
 Emily Zantow  / 
 06.07.19

People tried to outbid one another for 70 purses Thursday at Knicely Conference Center during the sixth annual U.S. Bank Handbags for Hope fundraiser.

Hundreds flock to the event each year, hoping to score new handbags and help raise money for United Way of South Central Kentucky and its kindergarten readiness programs.

“People want to support, in this instance, it’s children, childhood, kindergarten readiness, and there’s a lot of kids that don’t have the opportunity to be ready … so it’s a very unifying organization (and) event for the betterment of our community,” fundraiser specialist Travis Ayers said. “You can take a lot of time to make money and pile it up, but there’s a lot more joy in getting rid of it than there is to pile it up.”

The event included a silent and live auction, along with designer handbag giveaways.

During the silent auction, rows of purses lined the walls of the room and attendees unzipped zippers, reached into pockets and examined material before deciding whether to bid.

The 58 handbags are ones “you might find at a local department store, to Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Coach, a lot of higher-end bags,” said Jennifer Richardson, donor relations manager for United Way.

First-time attendee Erin Woodward had her eye on a multicolor Tory Burch clutch.

“There is a beautiful, unique, sort of eclectic clutch, that completely suits my style because my husband and I like to go on a lot of dinner dates and I like to dress up. I know it’s – I’m probably too old to play dress up – but it speaks to me, I think I have to bid on that bag,” Woodward said.

Woodward said she decided to check out the fundraiser after learning about it both online and by word of mouth.

“I’ll compliment someone I see in town and say, ‘Hey girl, I love your bag’ and they’ll say, ‘Thanks, I got it at Handbags for Hope last year,’ so I thought, well, I’m gonna go and see what it’s all about,” Woodward said.

It was also the first time at the event for Stephanie Booth, who came with co-workers from Franklin Bank & Trust.

“There’s a couple of Michael Kors and Vera (Wang) bags that I had seen, and a couple of them were a little expensive. But I started on those bids early, so I bet they’re getting really high right now,” Booth said.

Richardson said locally “well-known men” model the 15 handbags available during the live auction. Those bags also come with an experience, such as a trip to Holiday World in Indiana or to Nashville.

Most of the purses up for grabs are donated, and the others are purchased by members of United Way using monetary donations.

Those who attended the event also had the option to sponsor a child through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which provides children with a book each month from birth until age 5.

Tickets for the five-hour fundraiser had been sold out since the end of March, and last year it churned out more than $87,000 for United Way.


News
Life without parole sought against two suspects in Logan slaying
 Justin Story  / 
 06.07.19

Demetrius Roberson

RUSSELLVILLE – Logan County Commonwealth’s Attorney Neil Kerr filed notice Tuesday of his intent to seek life without parole for Deon Young, one of two people facing trial next month in the death of Lexus Bell.

At a pretrial conference Thursday, Logan Circuit Judge Tyler Gill denied a motion from Young’s attorney, Alan Simpson, to prohibit Kerr from seeking enhanced penalties for Young.

Bell, 21, was shot to death Aug. 21, 2016, at her Russellville apartment.

Young, 27, is charged with murder, first-degree robbery and 10 counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

A co-defendant, Demetrius Roberson, 25, is charged with murder, attempted murder, first-degree robbery and nine counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

Kerr announced in March that he wouldn’t seek the death penalty against Roberson but would continue to seek life without parole.

Kerr’s predecessor in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, Justin Crocker, had filed notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Roberson, who is accused of firing the fatal shots in the 2016 incident.

Young and Roberson are scheduled to face a jury trial July 8.

Three other co-defendants, Reba Kirk, Tayveon Bibb and Jordan Lunsford, have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the slaying.

Simpson argued in a motion filed Wednesday that Kerr’s notice of intent to seek life without parole filed a month ahead of trial was untimely and unreasonable.

The potential for enhanced penalties would require Simpson to enlist a mitigation expert who would investigate and potentially testify about Young’s life and background if he were convicted at trial, and the attorney said it was unclear whether that expert would be available on short notice or whether Young could afford to pay for the expert.

Simpson said in his motion and told Gill on Thursday he would announce at the opening of the trial that he wasn’t ready to go forward.

“It’s fundamentally unfair to give notice a month before trial when there hasn’t been a whisper about it before,” Simpson said.

Gill denied Simpson’s motion, saying in court that the attorney’s obligation to put on mitigation evidence in the event Young is convicted has remained the same while the case has been pending.

Gill said he could not find a law requiring Kerr to provide notice of intent to seek life without parole, while prosecutors must file notice of intent to seek the death penalty.

If Simpson were to announce he was not ready to proceed with trial on the opening day, Gill said he would hold the attorney in contempt.

“I have an obligation to uphold the public’s trust in the system,” Gill said, addressing Simpson. “I would enforce your duty to defend this man at trial ... and you can take that to the bank.”

Also on Thursday, Gill heard arguments on a motion from Roberson’s attorney, Michael Bufkin, to exclude all firearms identification evidence in the case.

Bufkin argued that the methods used by ballistics experts to determine whether bullets and shell casings collected at crime scenes were likely to have been fired from weapons also collected as evidence lack scientific validity.

In Bufkin’s motion, he said ballistics experts reach their conclusions by firing the weapon collected into evidence, examining the marks left on the test round fired by the analyst and comparing the marks to the spent ammunition from the crime scene.

Bufkin argued there is no standard in place regarding the number, quality or kind of marks left on a spent test round for an expert to declare a match with a round from the crime scene.

Also, there are no databases used for statistical comparison, no computer analysis and no measurements taken during the examination.

“The conclusions reached by the examiner are purely subjective in nature and will vary based upon the examiner’s experience and work ethic,” Bufkin said in his motion.

Kerr argued that the evidence should be allowed, citing Kentucky Supreme Court rulings holding that such evidence is reliable and admissible.

Steven Hughes, a ballistics expert with the Kentucky State Police Jefferson Lab, testified Thursday that the 11 shell casings collected from the crime scene match a gun provided to him in the investigation by the Russellville Police Department, but that tests on bullets and bullet fragments collected from the crime scene and at autopsy were inconclusive.

Gill said he would take the motion under advisement and ordered the attorneys to file written briefs within 10 days.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.


Demetrius Roberson


News
Planning commission tables controversial proposals
 D Kizer  / 
 06.07.19

On a contentious evening filled with opposition from nearby residents, the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County agreed Thursday that Alaa Tlais would withdraw his proposal to rezone 0.2397 acres at the northwest corner of Russellville Road and Whispering Hills Boulevard until the commission’s July 18 meeting.

Tlais, a pharmacist who lives on Crossridge Street, applied to rezone the property from townhouse/multi-family residential to general business in order to develop an owner-operated pharmacy. Tlais also requested a variance related to setback in his proposal, but it was revealed that Tlais would need to request a separate variance for a pickup window.

The eight commissioners in attendance decided to postpone official judgment on the proposal after speaking with Tlais during a 10-minute recess and hearing from five area residents who spoke against the development.

“I hope next time I can get your support,” Tlais told the concerned citizens who asked the commission to deny his proposal.

A staff report noted the proposal was consistent with the Future Land Use Map designation of “mixed use/residential,” but the commission was also asked to consider whether commercial development at the entrance of the subdivision would “alter the essential character of the neighborhood.”

In his remarks to the commission, Tlais agreed to several development plan changes – including a maximum building height of 20 feet, monument signage and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. as the hours of operation.

The “14 or 15 changes,” along with the need for an additional variance request, eventually prompted attorney Hamp Moore to call for the proposal to be re-advertised.

Tlais cited his personal experience living on Crossridge Street, where businesses are relatively close to residential areas. Tlais said the commercial development in the area hasn’t been a hindrance or really affected him at all.

Whispering Hills Boulevard resident Toy Baker disagreed. “This is a drastic change that will create more traffic,” Baker said.

She later told Tlais that unlike where he lives, her subdivision doesn’t have a traffic light in the area, so development would make it even harder to exit the neighborhood safely.

“To put a business there at the opening of our subdivision is crazy – it’s absolutely crazy,” Robin Hood Trail resident Karen Henrickson said.

Henrickson’s husband, Charles, also spoke, as well as Meadowbrook Circle resident James Williams and Wilson Wickerham, who owns the property adjacent to the proposed pharmacy on Whispering Hills Boulevard.

“As far as the culture of the neighborhood, I respect everybody that’s spoken so far,” Wickerham said. “I’ve only lived there a year, but they clearly have built their families in that neighborhood and I really hope that that’s considered and the fact that this is a neighborhood that has kids, that has elderly people that are living there and that we should take in great concern and not destroy that they’ve lived there so long.”

In other business, the planning commission approved a motion to recess and reconvene during the June 20 or July 18 meeting after further changes to a proposed amendment to the general development plan for 3.459 acres at 0 Cumberland Trace Road and 165 Old Scottsville Road caused confusion.

Magnolia Lane Investments LLC member Robert Michael Holland explained that he was seeking approval from the commission to add metal siding or panels to the list of permitted building materials for a proposed structure on the site, which is currently zoned for highway business.

Applicants submitted full-color building elevations of the proposed structure along with their proposal and pledged the building would be constructed as depicted in the drawings. But after the commission suggested a rash of changes, Chestnut Hill Court resident John Ross spoke up and let the commission know that he needed to be able to visualize the structure.

“What I’m seeing here today is not a minor amendment to the binding articles,” Ross said. “This is a fairly major change to the structure of what we initially were shown and the neighborhood agreed with, and I would really suggest we come back on another meeting with better drawings of exactly what they want to do, how they’re going to landscape the property and also what piece of this building they’re going to use for expansion.”

Ross agreed to meet with Holland on behalf of his neighborhood, and Holland pledged to come back with new elevations and less ambiguity about his plans.

Ogden Park Property Owners Association Inc. received commission approval to amend the general development plan for 0.99 acres at 1115 Fairview Ave. Retail uses are now allowed on the property, but property attendee Marty Wilkins made it clear he’d be prohibiting several types of retailers, including restaurants, liquor sales and smoke or vape shops.

Property owners Matthew Hardy, Adrian Hardy, Jeff Anderson and Shelly Anderson got approval from the commission to rezone 8.394 acres on the northwest corner of Mt. Olivet Road and Mt. Olivet-Girkin Road from agriculture to residential estate. The development plan calls for the property to be subdivided in a maximum of eight single-family residential lots.

The commission also approved a proposal that changed 26.95 acres owned by The Club at Olde Stone LLC at 4031 Old Scottsville Road from agriculture to planned unit development so that Olde Stone could develop the property with a par 3 golf course and a maximum of 15 lots for single-family residences.

The planning commission’s actions now go to Warren Fiscal Court or the Bowling Green City Commission for final approval.

The planning commission is scheduled to meet again June 20.

– Daily News reporter Drake Kizer may be reached at dkizer@bgdailynews.com or by calling 270-783-3257.


Deon Young