TIME Bizarre

Kentucky Police Blame Cold Weather On … Elsa From Frozen

Frozen
Disney

"Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song 'Let it Go!'"

Cold weather hasn’t stopped a Kentucky police department from showing its sense of humor.

The Harlan City Police Department posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that it blamed poor weather on Elsa from Frozen, and that it had taken out a warrant for the snow princess’ arrest.

For the uninitiated, Elsa possesses the magical power to create snow and ice.

Shortly after, the Harlan police posted another message warning residents that, joking aside, the weather was still serious business.

While we might not be able to blame Elsa for the weather, how about issuing an arrest warrant for getting “Let It Go” stuck in our heads for the past year and a half?

TIME States

Kentucky Mulls Statewide Smoking Ban

146242512
Shui Ta Shan—Flickr RF/Getty Images

But measure unlikely to become law

Kentucky lawmakers voted Friday to ban smoking in all public buildings and workplaces, but the measure faces a steep uphill battle to become law.

The vote was seen as a landmark move in Kentucky, which ranks among the states with highest tobacco yield. The sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Susan Westrom, said secondhand smoke kills about 950 Kentuckians each year.

The bill passed 51-46 in the Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives, WLWT reports, but will face harsher odds in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

[WLWT]

TIME faith

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Group Sues Kentucky Over Withdrawn Tax Breaks

Ark Encounter Concept art of Noah's Ark

Answers in Genesis to sue for $18 million over tax rebates withdrawn for group's hiring practices

A Creationist group building a Noah’s Ark-inspired theme park said Tuesday it would sue Kentucky for $18 million in tax rebates the state withdrew over its hiring practices.

Answers in Genesis President and CEO Ken Ham announced the lawsuit in a YouTube video, claiming the state breached the group’s right to freedom of religion by denying the tax incentives on the grounds that the group was using the project as an “extension of [its] ministry.”

Kentucky’s tourism secretary said in December that the park required a “salvation testimony” and a “Creation belief statement” in its job postings, which the state said was hiring discrimination based on religious grounds.

“[The lawsuit] really involves freedom of religion, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech in this great nation of America,” Ham said in the video. “Numerous bloggers and media outlets have spread a lot of misinformation about the tax rebate program, and also a lot of false information about employment laws as they relate to the Ark Encounter project.”

Ham, who became known for his creation debate last year against Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” was joined in the video by Mike Johnson, Chief Counsel of Freedom Guard, a religious liberty defense organization that will represent Answers in Genesis.

“This is public interest law,” Johnson said. “We’re defending freedom for everyone, and I think that’s an important cause that all of us should be involved in.”

TIME Crime

Kentucky Teen Fugitive: ‘We Just Went On a Few High-Speed Chases’

Dalton Hayes is shown in this Bay County Sheriff's Office booking photo
Bay County Sheriff's Office—Reuters Dalton Hayes, 18, is shown in this Bay County Sheriff's Office booking photo released on January 18, 2015.

Dalton Hayes plays down a two-week crime spree with his 13-year-old girlfriend

Dalton Hayes, the 18-year-old Kentucky teen who allegedly stole a series of vehicles on his way to Florida with his 13-year-old girlfriend, revealed from jail Monday that he had been attempting to reach Miami and escape prosecution in his home state, where he was charged with theft and burglary last year.

Hayes will be extradited back to Kentucky and will face additional charges of burglary, criminal mischief and trespassing.

Taking a bus would have been better, according to Hayes. “We just went on a few high-speed chases,” he said in an interview with the Panama City News Herald.

The pair disappeared on Jan. 3 and were arrested in Florida last Saturday after allegedly stealing trucks, one of which contained two guns, in a multi-state chase.

[NBC News]

TIME Crime

Kentucky’s ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ Teens Will Face Charges in Their Home State

Missing Teens Crime Spree
Tammy Martin—AP In this December 2014 file photo provided by Tammy Martin, her son Dalton Hayes poses with his girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips at his family's home in Leitchfield, Ky. Kentucky authorities say two teenage sweethearts suspected in a crime spree of stolen vehicles and pilfered checks across the South have been apprehended in in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Jan. 18, 2015

They're being booked for burglary and trespassing related offenses

After a two-week-long crime spree, Dalton Hayes, 18, and his 13-year-old girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, will be returning home to Kentucky to face multiple charges.

Hayes, who was captured in Florida, relinquished his right to an extradition hearing and will be charged with burglary, criminal trespassing and custodial interference, according to NBC News.

Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said Phillips will be charged with similar crimes “but she’ll be treated differently than Dalton because he’s an adult.”

The couple is suspected of stealing three cars during a two-week crime spree that covered multiple states and drew media comparisons to the infamous 1930s criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde. On Facebook, the Grayson County Sheriff’s office distanced themselves from the comparison, however.

Hayes’ mother, Tammy Martin, said she doesn’t know what went through her son’s mind but was happy he was found.

“The first thing I’m going to do when I see him is hug him and tell him I love him, and then I might smack him,” she said.

[NBC News]

TIME Boxing

Muhammad Ali Has Been Hospitalized Again

Moet & Chandon At Celebrity Fight Night XIX
Michael Kovac—Getty Images Muhammad Ali at Celebrity Fight Night XIX at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix on March 23, 2013.

The legendary heavyweight is receiving follow-up care days ahead of his 73rd birthday

Boxing icon Muhammad Ali was checked back in to hospital on Thursday for the second time in less than a month for follow-up care, after suffering from a severe urinary-tract infection in December.

Ali was initially hospitalized late last year for what was originally believed to be a mild case of pneumonia, but was later determined to be a urinary tract-infection, reports the Associated Press.

However, the sporting legend is hoping to recover soon and plans to celebrate his 73rd birthday on Saturday at home with his family, said Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell.

The former world heavyweight champion has kept a lower public profile as of late as he continues his long-running battle with Parkinson’s disease.

[AP]

TIME Kentucky

Girl Survives Kentucky Plane Crash That Killed 4

Kentucky Plane Crash
Timothy D. Easley—AP Salvage workers bring out part of a Piper PA-34's fuselage, wing, and landing gear from a crash site Jan. 4, 2015 in Kuttawa, Ky. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash site Sunday in Kentucky in which a 7-year-old girl survived and four of her family members were killed.

A “brave little girl” who survived a deadly plane crash in remote eastern Kentucky on Friday walked away from the wreckage to seek help at a stranger’s doorstep.

Larry Wilkins, 71, was watching the local news at his Buckberry Trail home at around 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) when he said he heard a knock.

“The little girl come to my door,” Wilkins told NBC News in a telephone interview late Friday. “She was bleeding pretty bad, her legs were bleeding, her face had a bloody nose…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

20-Day-Old Baby Reunited With Mother After Carjacking

The baby appears to be fine, but would undergo a precautionary medical check-up

A 20-day-old baby who was in a car that was stolen from a Kentucky gas station Thursday night was reunited with his mother after the vehicle was found hours later about seven miles away, police said.

An Amber Alert had been issued for the infant, Henry Flores, after his mother’s Volkswagen was stolen while he was in the backseat, Florence police said in a statement. The alert was canceled after two women who had received text message notifications about the stolen vehicle spotted it at a different gas station. The pair found the sleeping baby in the backseat of the…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Religion

Noah’s Ark Theme Park Won’t Get Tax Breaks

'Ark Encounter' is struggling to stay afloat

A life-size Noah’s Ark theme park planned in northern Kentucky won’t receive $18 million in tax incentives after concerns from the state over its hiring practices.

The state’s tourism secretary wrote a letter Wednesday saying that Answers in Genesis, which is funding the planned Ark Encounter theme park, was requiring “salvation testimony” and a “Creation belief statement” in its job postings, which the state said was discriminating based on religious grounds.

(MORE: Modern-Day Noah: Dutch Man Builds Ark of Biblical Proportions)

“It is readily apparent that the project has evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of AIG’s ministry that will no longer permit the commonwealth to grant the project tourism development incentives,” wrote Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart.

The Ark Encounter, which would feature a 510-foot wooden replica of Noah’s Ark as described in the Bible, has been underway since 2010, but the $170 million project has run into financial difficulties since getting approval in 2011 from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority.

TIME

Mitch McConnell’s Secret Weapon: His Wife

Elaine Chao Mitch McConnell Kentucky
Mark Lyons—EPA US Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, waves to supporters with his wife Elaine Chao during his victory celebration at the Marriott East Hotel in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 4, 2014.

Campaign insiders say Chao was a driving force of his reelection campaign

The weekend before the midterm election, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, campaigned at a restaurant in Montgomery County, east of Lexington. Chao introduced McConnell to the packed house, but after the event was done McConnell sat down to grab a late lunch with a staffer. A woman and her two daughters approached the leader and asked for a photograph. His aide said, “Sure thing, can you just wait until the leader is finished eating?”

“Sure,” replied the women, who then continued to stand, staring at the leader as he ate.

Chao then sat down and she motioned for the woman and her daughters to join her at the other end of the table. And for 10 minutes, Chao engaged the family. “Are you two sisters?” she asked. They shyly nodded.

“I grew up with a lot of sisters, too. There’s nothing better than girl power,” she said, regaling the girls with stories of her five younger sisters and her family, who arrived in the U.S. from Taiwan on a freight ship in 1961, when Chao was eight, fleeing the communist revolution on mainland China. By the end of her stories, the girls were beaming and giggling.

McConnell, 72, was never one for retail campaigning. Childhood polio left him tender and averse to backslapping. To avoid it on the campaign trail, he’ll often grip a person with his left hand on the upper arm, holding them away from him, as he shakes their hand with his right. He’s also hard of hearing, which means in loud rooms he often misses what people say. But on the campaign trail, Chao, 61, makes up for her husband’s shortcomings.

Over the past two years, Chao headlined fifty of her own events and attended hundreds more with and on behalf of McConnell. She also raised “a huge part” of McConnell’s $30 million war chest, says John Ashbrook a spokesman for McConnell. But, perhaps most importantly, she was the campaign hugger.

Dr. Noelle Hunter said she’s formed a “special bond” with Chao over the past year, after McConnell worked to recover Hunter’s eight-year-old daughter, Muna, from Mali, when she was taken there by Hunter’s ex-husband. The political science professor, who was the subject of one of McConnell’s most memorable campaign commercials, was a former Democrat until she met the McConnells at a parade in Paintsville last year in August. “I went to shake her hand and she just grabbed me and held me gave me a mom-type hug,” Hunter said. “She said, ‘We are praying for you to get Muna home.’ She was so warm and gentle. I’d never met her before. I had no idea she even knew about my situation. And it meant the world to me that clearly these two people were talking about Luna over the dinner table.”

Chao is also the one who keeps tabs on various political allies across Kentucky. “She very actively listens. She really pays attention and remembers details about people,” says Kelly Westwood, head of the Kenton County women’s Republican group. “She doesn’t see them for months and then says, ‘I know you sprained your arm, how’s it going?’ Or, ‘How’s you bid for city council going?’ She remembers everything.”

It is perhaps Chao’s personal touch that helped McConnell offset his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes’ attacks on him as anti-women. Chao starred in several ads on McConnell’s behalf talking about his record on women’s issues. In the end, McConnell beat Grimes 56% to 41%. “The biggest asset I have by far is the only Kentucky woman who served in a president’s cabinet, my wife, Elaine Chao,” McConnell said at the annual Fancy Farm GOP political picnic in August.

Soon after that event, Kathy Groob, the founder of a Democratic PAC, Elect Women, mocked Chao’s heritage on Twitter. “She’s not from KY… She is Asian and [President George W.] Bush openly touted that,” Groob said. Groob also referred to Chao as McConnell’s “Chinese wife,” and said McConnell is “wedded to free trade in China.

Groob deleted the tweets and shut down her account. The Kentucky Democratic Party also condemned them.

Perhaps the only thing that really angers McConnell is when Chao is attacked. This has happened before, in 1996, when surrogates for his opponent that year (Democrat Steve Beshear, who is now governor of Kentucky) started saying, “It’s time to elect an All-American family to represent Kentucky.”

“It was a racial slur in my view and it infuriated the Senator,” says Billy Piper, a longtime former McConnell aide, who remains close with the leader. “He is not ever going to take it when she gets attacked.”

Chao is proud of her family’s history. Not only did they struggle against communism in a very personal way, but her father came to the U.S. with nothing and built a multi-million dollar shipping business.

And that legacy of hard work rubbed off on Chao, who wanted to give back to the country that gave her family so much. She graduated from Mount Holyoke and Harvard Business School before becoming a White House fellow in the Reagan Administration. She served as deputy Transportation Secretary under George H. W. Bush and director of the Peace Corps. In the Clinton era, Chao was named the head of the United Way before becoming Secretary of Labor for all eight years under George W. Bush.

McConnell, who married Chao in 1993, often quips: “People remark that I’m in a mixed marriage. I don’t see it that way. In my first marriage, I married a Liberal. Now that was a mixed marriage. With Elaine, she and I understand one another.”

Read next: Go Inside Senator Mitch McConnell’s Winning Campaign

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