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

The Associated PressJuly 13, 2014 

Ohio, surrounding states under severe storm watch

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect across most of Ohio, as well as in parts of neighboring Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The National Weather Service issued the watch Sunday afternoon, effective through 8 p.m., with storms expected to intensify throughout the day and evening. It includes all but the upper northwest corner of Ohio, as well as southeast Indiana, north central Kentucky, western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.

Forecasters say the primary threats are gusting winds of up to 70 mph and isolated pockets of hail that could reach 1.5 inches in diameter.

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Fundraising falling short for Grandpa Jones marker

HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) — Raising money to put up a historical marker honoring country music entertainer Louis "Grandpa" Jones at his western Kentucky birthplace is taking longer than a local historical group expected.

The Henderson County Historical and Genealogical Society had hoped to have the needed money in hand by now, The Gleaner (http://bit.ly/1saN9dR) reported. Society vice president Linda Hallmark said the group is thankful for the $700 raised so far, but the project's cost is $2,500.

The Kentucky Historical Society authorized the marker in February.

Jones was born on Oct. 20, 1913 in the Niagara community in Henderson County. He began performing in the 1920s, joined the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1946, and was a cast member of the TV show "Hee Haw." He died in 1998.

Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.

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Perryville tries to preserve barn owls

PERRYVILLE, Ky. (AP) — An effort is afoot to save barn owls roosting in structures at the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site while officials also work to restore the area to its condition during the Civil War.

The Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1k5P0Jm) reports preservationists built new, safe homes for the birds, but they haven't yet moved it.

"They tend to do what they want to do, not what we tell them to do," said Kate Hayden, a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources avian biologist who is helping with the effort.

Park officials are planning to tear down several barns and silos from the 1950s in order to make the 750-acre property look more like it did in October 1862, when the Battle of Perryville was fought.

"One of our local bird watchers called one day and said there were barn owls living in one of the silos we'd scheduled for removal," park preservation director Joni House said. "That put me in a quandary.

"We want the battlefield to look the way it did, but we also don't want to remove habitat if it's going to hurt any of the creatures that live here."

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Rules on judicial races challenged in suit

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Judicial candidate Robert Winter Jr. thought he was on solid ground when he sent out fliers before Kentucky's May primary identifying himself as a "lifelong Republican" and three of his opponents as Democrats.

But soon after the primary, the state's Judicial Conduct Commission sent Winter a letter advising him that three complaints had been filed against him, The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1oTEQzQ) reported. The commission requested that he respond.

Instead, the Kenton County lawyer sued the commission in federal court. He's demanding that Kentucky's judicial ethics rules be struck down as unconstitutional and that the judicial enforcement agency be prevented from sanctioning him.

The commission says Winter's suit is premature because it hasn't filed a formal charge against him — and may never do so.

"Just because we ask someone about complaints doesn't say what we are going to do about them or what our position is," said Steve Wolnitzek, the Judicial Conduct Commission's chair.

Lawyers say the case shows how Kentucky regulators are still grappling with how to balance the interest in keeping judicial races nonpartisan with the newfound freedoms given judicial candidates by the courts.

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