Monday July 28, 2014

FISCAL COURT VOTES TO PAY FOR AIR MED HELICOPTER SERVICES

At its July meeting the Letcher County Fiscal Court voted to pay $17,000 for Air Med medical helicopter services to be added on to the insurance plans for county employees and first responders.  Last year the court voted to add the coverage which picks up the remaining cost after what health insurance pays out for the cost of an emergency flight.  Judge/Executive Jim Ward says it would cost over $90,000 to provide this benefit to all county residents but County Treasurer Phillip Hampton told the court there’s no provision in the budget to pay that higher amount.  Hampton suggested including the cost to cover the entire county in next year’s budget.  

MURDER AT PIKE COUNTY MOTORCYLE CLUB MEETING

A man was killed and 2 people were hurt after a shooting in Pike County.  Police say Daniel Ward shot and killed Bradley Coleman at a motorcycle club in the Stone community.  The 2 other people shot were taken to the hospital but there has been no word on the severity of their injuries or their current conditions.  Ward was arrested on suspicion of murder and police say additional charges are pending.  

RESCUE DOGS IN KNOTT COUNTY FOR TRAINING

Rescue dogs and their handlers were out in Knott County over the weekend for training exercises.  The class included rescue groups from Knott County along with those from 3 other nearby counties along with one rescuer who traveled from Wisconsin for the training sessions.  Classes were conducted by from Carl Alexander from the National Search Dog Agency and certification paperwork was handed out once training was completed.  A total of 8 dogs were involved in the training.  

PERRY COUNTY VOLUNTEERS GIVE OUT FOOD BOXES

Volunteers in Perry County prepared and gave away over 300 boxes of food this weekend.  It’s an endeavor conducted by the "Youth Awakening" ministry group which raised money all year to buy the food.  The food boxes were handed out on Saturday at the National Guard armory.    

HARLAN STUDENTS EARN COLLEGE CREDITS

High school students in Harlan County are getting a jump on their college education while finishing up work on their high school diplomas  A joint program between the Harlan Independent School System and Jefferson County Community College gives students the chance to earn credit hours by taking college level classes along with their high school curriculum.  School officials say one in 5 Harlan County seniors graduated with college credits in hand – as compared to just a handful 5 or 6 years ago.  The classes include those on a typical freshman’s schedule including Humanities, college-level math courses along with science and tech classes.  All credits earned transfer to four-year institutions. 

SOUTHWEST VA MINE RECEIVES OVER 2 DOZEN CITATIONS

Over 2 dozen citations have been filed against a Dickenson County, Virginia coal mine by a federal watchdog agency.  Dickenson-Russell Coal Company's Cherokee Mine was named in the latest report from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.  Inspections began 4 years ago the Upper Big Branch explosion in West Virginia killed 29 coal miners.


CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE PLANS TAKE SHAPE FOR NEW PIKE COUNTY INDUSTRIAL PARK

The timeline for construction of Pike County’s newest industrial park is beginning to take shape.  Last week Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers unveiled plans for the new industrial park called Marion Branch – at the location of a 380-acre former surface mine site.  Global animal nutrition company Alltech is planning to build a fish farm and egg farm at the park – and is the site’s first tenant.  The first step is construction of an access road to Marion Branch and a bridge across the Big Sandy from U.S. 23 to the new access road.  Pikeville officials say road construction could begin as soon as October and would likely take about 4 months.  Bridge construction will take longer to complete – well over a year, according to officials.  

FORMER WISE COUNTY PARAMEDIC CHARGED

A former Wise County Virginia paramedic is charged with inappropriate activities with a minor.       The Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney's office says Andrew Justin Rose is also accused of using an electronic device to propose an indecent act.  Authorities say he was a member of the Appalachia Rescue Squad at the time of the suspected activity.  Rose had faced prior theft charges while with the Clintwood Virginia Rescue Squad.

Friday July 25, 2014

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AT LETCHER COUNTY OWNED BUILDINGS

Energy efficiency at Letcher County owned buildings was on the agenda at the July fiscal court meeting. The court heard a report from Mark Saunier of Comfort & Process Solutions regarding energy audits conducted at the buildings. Saunier says the court could realize savings of $40,000 – but more extensive audits would be needed, and Comfort and Process would do those at no additional cost. Once those audits are done, Saunier says if the court chooses to have Comfort & Process implement the energy savings measures it would take its fees out of the savings to the county that were projected in the audit. The court agreed to allow the no charge audit but no further work was authorized.

 
LETCHER COUNTY CARES ASKS FISCAL COURT FOR FINANCIAL HELP

The director of a Letcher County domestic violence victims shelter appeared before the Letcher County Fiscal Court to ask for financial help – or else it may be forced to close. Phyllis Barker of Letcher County Cares says the tough economy means the shelter has seen more victims than before, and attempts to obtain grants have met with little success. The shelter currently serves seven women and 11 children. While no specific funding was granted to the shelter, the court plans to find a way to get it the money it needs to survive.

 
CRASH ON U.S. 23 IN FLOYD COUNTY THURSDAY INJURES 2

A crash in Floyd County yesterday sent 2 people to the hospital and blocked the road while the investigation took place. Police say a car and a pickup truck collided head on the intersection of Town Branch and U.S. 23 in Prestonsburg. Both drivers were taken to Highlands Regional Medical Center and the extent of their injuries has not been disclosed. Investigators are looking into the circumstances that led up to the collision.

 
INDIANA POLICE CAPTURE WANTED KNOTT COUNTY MAN

Police in Indiana apprehended a Knott County man wanted on over 20 sex charges including 6 counts of rape. Sylvester Slone was taken into custody Tuesday night at a home near Kendallville in Noble County. He had a warrant out for his arrest in that jurisdiction. Slone is currently in an Indiana jail and there’s been no word so far on if or when he will be extradited to Knott County. 

 
MINE SAFETY COMPETITION IN CUMBERLAND

Over 150 miners from 7 states descended on Harlan County for a mining safety competition organized by the Cumberland Tourism Commission. This was the 4th year for the event. Organizers estimate during the three day event, the visitors pumped more than $60,000 in the local economy.

 
WELLNESS CLINIC BEING HELD IN CAWOOD

A Free Wellness Clinic will be held today and tomorrow at James A Cawood Elementary School on Ball Park Road in Harlan. It's being organized by employees of The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hours are from 1pm until 7pm today and 10:30am until 6pm tomorrow. The clinic offers no charge physicals, eye glasses, podiatrist exams, dental exams and work along with diabetes checks and hygiene awareness. Children and adults can also obtain clothing, shoes, personal and oral hygiene products along with no charge haircuts. Officials say they will give away 500 backpacks to children tomorrow at 3 pm.

 
FLOYD COUNTY MAN TAKES PLEA DEAL ON MAJOR COCKFIGHTING CHARGES

A Floyd County man charged with helping operate what authorities called one of the nation's largest cockfighting pits has taken a plea deal. Walter Stumbo will be sentenced in October on his guilty plea to conspiracy to sponsor or exhibit an animal in a fighting venture and conduct an illegal gambling business. Stumbo also pleaded guilty to charges of transporting both roosters and gaffs from Virginia to Kentucky. Stumbo's son, Joshua pleaded guilty to the same charges. 

 
CITY OF LOYALL CUTTING COSTS

Officials in one Harlan County city are looking at ways to cut costs - and have cut trash pickups to every other week as a way to save money. Loyall Sewer and Street Department Supervisor Mark Duff informed the city council trash pickups will be on the first and third Thursday of each month. Duff says residents who need to remove a large amount of trash can rent a truck at city hall and they will charge $50 per load.

Wednesday July 23, 2014

 

NEW AD FROM ALLISON GRIMES FEATURING HARLAN COUNTY COAL MINER

The campaign for the Democratic challenger to Senator Mitch McConnell released a new TV ad yesterday - featuring an unemployed coal miner from Harlan County. Alison Lundergan Grimes is seen sitting next to David Stanley who asks Senator McConnell why he said it’s not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky. Stanley was referring to a McConnell quote from April in the Beattyville Enterprise newspaper. According to Kentucky dot com the head of the Kentucky Coal Association labeled the Grimes ad as unfair and inaccurate. The ad hit the airwaves a day after over 200 Arch Coal workers in Letcher County and Wise County, Virginia lost their jobs.

PLANS FOR NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN PERRY COUNTY

Plans are in motion to build a new elementary school in Perry County. Yesterday the school board okayed plans for a new West Perry Elementary school and those plans now go to the state for approval. Preliminary estimates put construction costs at around $18 million. A new building for East Perry elementary was completed last year.

FLOYD COUNTY SHERIFF CANDIDATE PULLS OUT OF RACE

More than three months before the November election, the race for Floyd County sheriff is already over now that Joey Collins pulled out of the race. According to the Floyd County Times  Collins said he entered the sheriff's race over concerns about the other candidates - but once John Hunt decided to run, Collins felt he would make a good sheriff. Collins also asked those who supported his bid for sheriff to give their support to Hunt. The newspaper reports Hunt praised Collins’ decision as a move to put the county’s welfare over politics.

NEW FINES FOR CITY CURFEW IN EVARTS

One Harlan County city has implemented fines for those under the age of 18 who fail to obey the city's curfew. The Evarts City Council implemented a $25 fine for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. According to the ordinance fines would be paid by the parent of those found to have violated curfew.

TENNESSEE FUGITIVE CAPTURED IN FLOYD COUNTY

A fugitive wanted in Tennessee was captured yesterday in Floyd County as he was just walking down a road. The Sheriff’s Office says it received word that police in Hancock County, Tennessee were looking for Jerry Wayne Anderson II on suspicion he embezzled $75,000 from a farm and home supply company there. 2 deputies found Anderson walking on a road in Auxier, stopped him and according to investigators admitted to one deputy he was the man wanted in Tennessee. He now awaits an extradition hearing.

NEW COMMUNITY CENTER DISCUSSED FOR PRESTONSBURG

iscussions continued Monday night about a new community center in Prestonsburg. City officials told those in attendance at the Mountain Arts Center that they believe that once operational, the center would bring in enough revenue to cover operating costs - and may even turn a profit. The big issue is getting money to build the facility - and a project consultant says grants could cover around half the construction cost.

BROADWAY SCHOOL BUILDING IN HAZARD BEING TORN DOWN

By the end of the week a school building in Perry County will be nothing but a memory. The old Broadway School building in Hazard is being torn down and in its place will be 6 new homes. The building was the first site for Hazard High School.

NEW CANDIDATE FOR PIKE COUNTY JUDGE EXECUTIVE

An employee in Pike County government says she's running to become the next judge-executive. According to the Appalachian News-Express once Community Services Commissioner Carol Napier files to run she will be out of a job as state law prohibits county employees from running for public office. 15 years ago Napier ran for the same office but lost.

VIRAL PERRY COUNTY VIDEO FEATURING DOG AND RABBIT

Viral videos from a Perry County family of their dog and rabbit playing together have landed the duo a shot on national television. The owners of Ellie - a poodle-golden retriever mix - and Petey the rabbit - tell the Hazard Herald they got a call from a TV producer after they saw the videos on YouTube. Crews are supposed to arrive sometime next week.

 

Tuesday July 22, 2014

MORE LAYOFFS AS CUMBERLAND RIVER/ARCH COAL SHUTS DOWN

Over 200 Cumberland River Coal Company workers in Letcher County and Wise County, Virginia are out of a job after parent company Arch Coal idled operations yesterday. Employees say they had no warning they were about to lose their jobs. In a press release CEO John Eaves says the company is responding to challenges marketing the expensive metallurgical coal that the mine produced. The Cumberland River coal is used in the steelmaking process. Eaves said Arch Coal will work on selling lower-cost metallurgical coal which will yield greater profits. An Arch spokesperson in Saint Lewis says a few employees will remain for environmental regulations and to sell off coal stock that had been previously mined. The company says it will take steps to provide opportunities at other Arch subsidiaries where available.

ALLTECH INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT COMING TO PIKE COUNTY

Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers announced a new industrial development project for Pike County. The site, called Marion Branch, is a 380-acre former surface mine site. Global animal nutrition company Alltech, headquartered in Nicholasville, will become the first tenant at the new facility in Pikeville.

ACCUSED PERRY COUNTY BANK ROBBER MAKES FIRST APPEARANCE

The man accused of robbing a Perry County bank last week made his first court appearance on Monday. Floyd Fletcher pleaded not guilty to charges he stole more than $2,000 from the People's Bank and Trust inside the Hazard Walmart. A grand jury will hear Fletcher’s case.

PIKE COUNTY MAN PULLED OVER ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES

A Pike County woman who had dodged jail time on drug charges was arrested last week – on suspicion of drunk driving. Police say Lindsay Pruitt of Robinson Creek was pulled over by a Pikeville police officer after he observed her crossing the center line then driving on the wrong side of the road. Investigators say Pruitt had a blood alcohol level just over the legal limit. She was serving a ten year term of supervised release on the drug charges and the terms of the sentence mandated Pruitt not commit any crimes and stay away from alcohol and drugs.

COAL BUSINESSMAN BILL STURGILL PASSES AWAY

Memorial services will be held tomorrow for Bill Sturgill, a Floyd County native who was a well known businessman and a philanthropist to the University of Kentucky. Nearly 55 years ago Sturgill formed Kentucky Oak Mining Company with coal operator Dick Kelly and it introduced strip mining and reclamation techniques to Eastern Kentucky. Sturgill served on the UK board of trustees and was chairman for 10 years and the university gives an annual award in his name to a graduate faculty member for outstanding contributions to graduate education.

SMOKE FREE KY COALITION COMING TO PERRY COUNTY

The Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition will visit Perry County as part of its “Road to a Healthier Kentucky” tour. It will be at Appalachian Regional Healthcare on Medical Center Drive in Hazard next Tuesday at 11am. Organizers say the goal of the tour is to get folks active and engaged in supporting smoke-free policy.  Almost 30 percent of Kentuckians still smoke, more than any other state in the nation.

AWARDS FOR 2 AREA CONSERVATION DISTRICTS

2 area Conservation Districts received awards at a convention held in Louisville last week. The Floyd County Conservation District was named the top conservation district for the second straight year in Area 8. Meanwhile the Perry County Soil and Conservation District was named the top conservation district in Eastern Kentucky this year for the first time in the district’s history.

DICKENSON COUNTY VA SCHOOLS NOW SMOKE FREE

Schools in Dickenson County Virginia are now smoke free campuses. The school board recently changed the policy to prohibit tobacco products on district grounds. The Centers for Disease Control awarded an $80,000 grant to help the district and several others buy signs and other promotional materials to implement the change. Wise County is also covered under the grant but its board hasn’t voted on a policy change.

Monday July 21, 2014

CRASH NEAR US 23/119 JUNCTION AT JENKINS INJURES 3

A crash in Letcher County sent 3 people to the hospital. Police say it happened around the junction of US 23 and US 119 near Jenkins.  It involved two vehicles and a coal truck - and that truck overturned, according to investigators. The road was closed for about 2 hours following the crash

LETCHER COUNTY MAN FACING ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES AND MORE

A Letcher County man is facing a number of charges including animal cruelty on suspicion he killed a kitten. Robert Machniak of Jenkins was arrested on Number One Hill when cops responded to calls that he had been threatening family members and his brother's girlfriend. The kitten was clinging to life when police got there, but died a short time later. Police say Machniak appeared to be intoxicated.

KNOTT COUNTY DOUBLE KWIK ROBBERT SUSPECT REMAINS AT LARGE

The suspect in a robbery at a gas station in Knott County remains at large. Police say the incident happened early Sunday at the Double Kwik at 28 West Highway 80 in Hindman. An employee told investigators they were outside when someone "covered up" approached and asked the them to go inside. The thief  got away with about $500 No one was hurt.

PURSE SNATCHING SUSPECT CAUGHT IN PERRY COUNTY

Police have caught a man suspected in 2 purse snatchings in Perry County. Investigators say both  happened at the Hazard Walmart - one in the parking lot, the other in the store. One purse contained more than $2,500, according to police. Steven Brock Jones faces two counts of theft of more than $500, fraudulent use of a credit card, and escape in the second degree.

BANK INSIDE HAZARD WAL-MART ROBBED BUT SUSPECT CAUGHT QUICKLY

A man who held up a Perry County bank barely got away with the loot before being arrested. Police say Floyd Fletcher of Martin County robbed the People's Bank inside the Hazard Wal-Mart armed with a small pocket knife. Fletcher tried to make his getaway but was caught by a Hazard Police officer who just happened to be at the store. He was taken into custody without incident Police say Fletcher may face federal charges in connection with the stickup.

FLOYD COUNTY SITE OF DOG CADAVER TRAINING SESSIONS

Floyd County was the scene recently of training sessions for tracking and cadaver dogs. The Kentucky Search Dog Association brought more than a dozen dogs and handlers to train in some rugged areas that the association says is a perfect area to train in. The visit also gave the trainees an opportunity to work with the Floyd County Search and Rescue Squad.

MURDER TRIAL IN HARLAN COUNTY SET FOR OCTOBER

The murder trial for a Harlan County man is set for late October. Jody Cooper is charged with killing Damiano Delaney in February of last year. Police say Delaney was shot several times inside a home in the Rosspoint Community. Cooper's accomplice - Justin Miller is out on bond and his next court date is August 7th.

HIGHLANDS HEALTH SYSTEMS AVOID STRIKE

Unionized workers at Highlands Health System will not be going on strike. Late Friday the rank and file approved what Highlands called their last, best and final offer. The deal reportedly includes annual pay raises and addresses one big concern workers had - the cost of adding a spouse to the employee's health insurance. Had the contract not been ratified - the union was planning to issue a 10-day strike notice.

THOUSANDS TURN OUT FOR WISE COUNTY RAM EVENT

Thousands turned out this weekend at the Wise County Virginia fairgrounds for the annual visit of the Remote Area Medical clinic. People received treatment for medical, dental and vision care at no cost. It opened its doors Friday morning and wrapped up yesterday. The clinic is the brainchild of Stan Brock, whose first claim to fame was his appearances pursuing wild cheetahs on “Wild Kingdom” in the 1970s.

HILLBILLY CHRISTMAS IN JULY HELD ON SUNDAY

The 9th annual Hillbilly Christmas in July took off from Pike County yesterday. They're heading for Lexington with to raise money for young patients at the Shriner's Hospital. The collected enough toys to fill a trailer that they plan on delivering next week. Around 150 riders began Sunday morning from the Pikeville Harley-Davidson, and more riders joined in during the journey.