Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Kentucky Digest

Federal court gets drug suspect's case

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Luis Miranda is facing life in prison after arriving at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport early Friday with a guitar case and another piece of luggage containing 10.78 pounds of heroin.

        He appeared in U.S. District Court Friday and was charged with drug possession.

        U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Wehrman determined he was not eligible for bond because of the serious nature of his alleged offense.

        According to law officers, Mr. Miranda was taking the red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New York City with a layover in Cincinnati.

        Airport officers here asked to search his luggage, which Mr. Miranda consented to. They discovered several bricks containing a brown substance inside one of Mr. Miranda's checked bags. It was heroin. Law enforcers said the amount indicates that it was for distribution purposes.

        Mr. Miranda confirmed that the bag was his, officials said.

1 in 50 miners
shows lung disorder

               PIKEVILLE — A study by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has found that about one in 50 coal miners showed evidence of black lung disease.

        Of 11,970 miners who have completed voluntary chest X-rays, 300 showed evidence of the disease caused by breathing excessive amounts of coal dust, said Davitt McAteer, director of the federal agency that regulates coal mine safety.

        Mr. McAteer said the numbers show that the long-standing procedure of allowing mine operators to take dust samples in mines is not adequate. He said he is pushing for reforms that would have mine inspectors doing the sampling.

        “One of the things that is very unfortunate is that 11 percent of these abnormalities is in miners between the 30- to 40-year-old range,” he said.

        Black lung, or coal workers' pneumoconiosis, can lead to heart disease and other respiratory ailments. The National Black Lung Association estimates that 1,500 people die each year due to black lung disease and related complications.

        Kentucky had the highest number of abnormal chest X-rays, according to the preliminary results released Monday. Doctors found that 112 of the 3,376 miners who received X-rays may have black lung.

        In West Virginia, 5.7 percent of the miners tested showed evidence of black lung — the highest concentration in the nation. There, 1,660 miners were tested and 94 tested positive.

        MSHA began offering free, confidential chest X-rays under a program called Miners' Choice Health Screening in October 1999 to determine the prevalence of black lung among working miners. Forty percent of the miners diagnosed with the disease were 50 years old or older.

Foster parents get
$60 to buy gifts

               FRANKFORT — Finding a Barbie Dream House or a 20-inch bicycle under the tree on Christmas morning would thrill many children.

        But for some foster children around Kentucky, either toy would cost more than the $60 bonus foster parents receive from the state in early December that can be used for Christmas presents.

        The state's 5,800 foster children, from newborn to age 18, in private and group homes, often depend on the donations, said Betty Howard, president of the Fayette County Foster Care Association.

        State foster parents usually care for multiple children and have limited income.

        They say they try to give the children as much as possible because they come from broken homes. But $60 limits what can be bought and often children ask for things that aren't affordable.

        The Barbie Dream House cost $79 while the 20-inch bicycle runs about $70. A remote control car or the popular two-wheeled scooters could cost $45 or more.

        Although state officials agree that $60 isn't much, it's all they can afford, said Mary Ellen Nold, a state social-services specialist. The Christmas bonus costs the state about $348,000 annually.

Facility inspected
after abuse charges

               FRANKFORT — A state mental institution where patients were allegedly beaten by staff members has passed inspections and is now in compliance with state and federal rules, the Cabinet for Health Services reported Monday.

        Two former patient aides at the Somerset facility were indicted in October on felony charges that they kicked a patient in the head.

        The state Cabinet for Health Services fired them and four others at Oakwood, which has 400 patients and 800 employees.

        The cabinet followed with an inspection and a finding in October that the facility did not meet Medicaid standards and would have its license revoked unless corrective action was taken.

        Oakwood officials submitted a 62-page plan, which an inspection last week showed has been put in place.

        Coincidentally, the annual licensing inspection was also conducted and Oakwood passed with only a minor problem, according to cabinet spokesman Gil Lawson.

        Although the cabinet runs Oakwood and is also responsible for inspecting it and similar public and private health facilities, the duties are separate, Mr. Lawson said.

Series of blasts
shakes building

               LOUISVILLE — The 35-story Aegon Building in downtown Louisville was evacuated Monday morning after a series of small explosions in the basement, a fire official said.

        Firefighters and Louisville Gas & Electric workmen were summoned as several hundred workers, employed in the building's 25 offices, went to the nearby Kentucky International Convention Center to stay out of the cold, said Louisville fire Capt. Ronel Brown.

        A fire had broken out in an electrical vault and knocked out part of the building's power. The smoky fire was confined to the basement.

        There were no injuries.

Mobile home fire
kills woman, 64

               PADUCAH — A 64-year-old woman was killed in an early-morning fire in her mobile home, authorities said.

        Catherine E. Hunt died of apparent smoke inhalation about 2:30 a.m. CST Sunday, McCracken County Deputy Coroner Jerry Beyer said. Her body was found in her bedroom.

        Mr. Beyer said Ms. Hunt had called 911 from her mobile home at 2:25 a.m. and said she thought an outbuilding was on fire.

        She called back two minutes later to say the fire was in her residence, he said.


Salvation Army gets $190,000 windfall
Family escapes poison air
Many schools' report cards improve
Tristate lagging in rates for diplomas
White Christmas predicted
City's claims bill: $3.2M over 2 years
Judge warns both Comair and pilots
PULFER: Keep those calls and e-mails coming
Snow plows balance need, demand
Thieves steal gifts from Taylor Mill church
Charter schools draw from 4 areas
Ky. Republicans jubilant after electoral vote
Ohio electors true to Bush
CROWLEY: What-ifs will follow Gore
Hamilton raises utility gas rate
Judge denies slaying suspect access to file
Police say suspect confessed to killing
Smoking ban urged for Butler County prisoners
Airport board seeks more land
Covington limits superintendent hunt
Drug unit piles up pledges
Help for pregnant teens
Initiative seeks funds for schools
Man accused in five purse thefts
Man charged in pit bull attack
Bank robbers sent to prison
Clues sought in Richwood slaying
- Kentucky Digest
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