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This Hour: Latest Kentucky news, sports, business and entertainment

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McConnell, Grimes spar at Kentucky farm forum

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - What was supposed to be a forum on agriculture turned into a political slugfest as the candidates in a key Senate race traded verbal blows on everything from attendance in committee meetings to allegations of improper campaign finance.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, questioned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's effectiveness. She highlighted McConnell's prolonged absence from Agriculture Committee meetings and blamed him for a lapse in the federal farm bill that provided crop insurance for farmers.

During the candidates' first joint public appearance, McConnell said his role as the Republican Senate leader caused him to miss some meetings and said the farm bill he helped negotiate saved crop insurance for Kentucky's tobacco farmers. He then ridiculed Grimes for getting a good deal by renting a campaign bus from her father's company.

Grimes called the bus criticism a desperate attack.


Groundbreaking planned for Diageo distillery

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A groundbreaking is set for a Kentucky distillery being built by global liquor giant Diageo (dee-AH'-zhee-oh).

Executives of the London-based conglomerate are expected to offer details Thursday on the timeline for the $115 million project in Shelby County. They're also expected to shed light on what spirits will be produced there.

Diageo calls the project a major investment in Kentucky's bourbon industry.

The new facility comes as Kentucky bourbon producers try to keep up with global demand.

The Kentucky Distillers' Association says Kentucky distilleries filled 1.2 million barrels of bourbon last year - the most since 1970.

It says inventory has topped 5 million barrels for the first time since 1977.

In the 1970s, there was a glut of bourbon. Now, producers are banking on strong demand in coming years.


EKU participating in e-mentoring program

RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) - Eastern Kentucky University has received a grant for an innovative mentoring program for students preparing to become classroom teachers.

The program will enable EKU students who are presenting lessons in some area schools to be technologically linked to a professor on the Richmond campus. Watching in their offices, the university's faculty member can relay helpful tips to the EKU students.

EKU's College of Education recently received the $10,000 grant from The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky.

As part of the program, about 20 students completing clinical teaching experiences will be paired with faculty this fall.

Schools that agree to participate will be outfitted with audio and video technology.


TVA board to vote on replacing Memphis coal plant

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Valley Authority's board is scheduled to vote on a proposal to retire the coal-fired Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis and replace it with a natural gas facility.

TVA's board is scheduled to meet Thursday in Knoxville.

The utility said in July that it completed a draft environmental assessment looking at replacing the Allen plant.

TVA committed to install emission controls or retire Allen's coal units by December 2018 under a 2011 agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions across its coal-fired generating fleet.

Environmental groups say the Allen plant causes a pollution hazard and it should be shut down and replaced with a facility that generates cleaner energy.

TVA is the nation's largest public utility, supplying power to about 9 million people in several states.


Murder case ends in drug plea after witness dies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A Louisville man has pleaded guilty to a drug offense after the slaying of a witness caused a federal murder and racketeering case to fall apart.

Dion Dajuan Neal reached an agreement with prosecutors Wednesday that will result in his release after sentencing later this year in exchange for his guilty plea to possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Neal has served about 40 months in federal custody.

Neal and Ricky Lewis Kelly were charged in 2011 with killing LaJuante "B.B." Jackson in 2005 in furtherance of a drug trafficking enterprise.

Federal prosecutors dropped charges against Kelly on Monday because a key witness in the case, Greg Sawyers, was shot and killed in July 2013.

State prosecutors charged Kelly with murder in Jackson's death on Tuesday.


Second arrest made in fatal eastern Ky. fire

INEZ, Ky. (AP) - Authorities have made a second arrest in the deaths of three people whose bodies were found in a home that burned in eastern Kentucky.

Kentucky State Police say that 26-year-old Amanda Bowen of Inez was arrested and charged with three counts of murder and one count of first-degree robbery.

Authorities were alerted of the house fire in Inez early last Saturday, and the three bodies were found inside the home.

Officials haven't released the victims' names. Autopsies are being conducted by the state medical examiner's office.

Police arrested 41-year-old Jack D. Smith, also of Inez, on Saturday and charged him with three counts of murder, one count of first-degree robbery and one count of tampering with physical evidence.

It wasn't immediately clear if either Bowen or Smith has an attorney.


Owensboro delays considering 'fairness ordinance'

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) - Officials in Owensboro have decided to put off considering a gay rights ordinance for at least a year.

Mayor Ron Payne told the Messenger-Inquirer that things need to "cool down" before the City Commission discusses the issue. He said officials have been "bombarded" since expressing support for a so-called fairness ordinance that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Payne said people would be given the opportunity to comment on the issue in that time period and officials would research how such ordinances have worked elsewhere.

At least seven other Kentucky cites have passed a similar ordinance: Danville, Lexington, Louisville, Covington, Frankfort, Morehead and Vicco.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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