Friday 7-3-15

By Jerry Adams 

Layoffs and reduced office hours are on the way in the Letcher County Sheriff's office. Sheriff Danny Webb says his hands were tied after the County fiscal court cut his budget. Several employees have been notified that they will be let go—and the sheriff says the office will close on weekend and cut back during the rest of the week.  The moves come after the fiscal court decided to cut a $15,000.00 a month payment to the or insurance and retirement, saying the sherriff  hasn't trimmed  his budget enough on his own. Deputies will remain on regular patrol, but 911 calls will be dispatched from the Kentucky State Police Post in Harzard.

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Just in time for our country's birthday, there's a new monument in Pikeville honoring those who have served to keep us free. Veterans from around Pike County were on hand on Thursday for the dedication of the new Veterans Memorial Park on Hambley Boulevard, among them, members of the local V F W and the State V F W commander.  While the first phase of the memorial is finished, veterans groups want to add to include more bricks marked with the names of veterans, a retired tank and some picnic tables.

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Kentucky State police continue to look for a missing woman from Perry County. They say Stacie Smith hasn't been seen since June 22nd when she left her home in Buckhorn. Troopers say she could be driving a white 2003 dodge stratus.  Officials do not suspect foul play, but family members are concerned about her safety.

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Two people—including a Harlan County Deputy were hurt in a crash on Highway 119 near Payne Gap on Thursday.  Police say the deputy was transporting a prisoner from Pike County, when her vehicle skidded of the wet roadway,  Both the deputy and prisoner were taken to Whitesburg ARH with non life threatening injuries.

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Two deputies from Johnson County are expected to be OK after their cruiser crashed in Morgan County, near the Magoffin County line. Police say the vehicle went out of control, hit a coal truck, smashed into the guard rail and then rolled down an embankment around 2 on Thursday afternoon. 

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Police in Whitley County are looking for a man accused of punching his girlfriend's baby. They have issued an warrant for 25  year old Kenneth Boyd. Deputies accuse him of hitting that child on Saturday morning but the child didn't go to the hospital until the next day, The mother, identified as  Felecia Smith is in jail, facing child abuse charges—the little boy is recovering from his physical injuries.

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The Leslie County city of Hyden has a new mayor.  Carol Lewis Joseph will take over from former mayor Lonnie Hendricks, who stepped down for health reasons.

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A musician from Perry County's career is getting a boost after winning the highway 23 country music Road to Fame competition in Prestonsburg, 19 year old Whitley Tate took top prize in that contest—and will get $1,500.00 and a several performance opportunities as a result.

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If you're starting your Fourth of July weekend today, keep an umbrella handy—and keep an eye on the sky. More heavy rain and possibly severe storms are in the way and there is a flood watch in effect. For all the information on how this might effect your holiday plans, stay with 103-9 The Bulldog for the latest information.

Thursday 7-2-15

By Jerry Adams

The fourth of July weekend could be off to a wet and possibly dangerous start, There is a Flash Flood Watch in effect for the area through Friday with 2-3 inches of rain expected by the time it ends. That could cause some flooding. The advice on the roads as always—turn around don't drown.

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There have already been some reports of flash flooding in some places.  In Pulaski county, officials say the torrential rain that drenched the area caused problems, especially along highway 27 in the Somerset area , where there was a flash flood emergency declared for a time late last night. The National Weather Service also confirms a small tornado touched down the Nancy area around 4 on Wednesday afternoon but did no damage.

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It is a story you will hear often, but bears repeating. Police say if you drink and drive this holiday weekend, they will be looking for you. In Knox county, deputies say they will use a $3000.00 state grant to pay for increased patrols over the weekend. Sheriff Mike Smith says the goal isn't to stop people from having a good time, but to keep the county safe from  impaired drivers.   He says he hopes to get a similar grant later this year—in time for the Christmas holiday season.

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Maybe he was trying to find something for the grill, but police in Middlesboro have arrested a man who was going about getting the food the wrong way.   Russel Jordan Anderson is accused of stuffing steaks into his pocket as he tried to leave a Kroger store there on Tuesday.   In addition to the steaks, they say he was also carrying something more dangerous in his pocket as well...a baggie of meth,  He is facing charges of theft and drug possession.

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Tense moments at Hazard ARH  on Wednesday, as police had to put the hospital on a brief lock down, when a man came into the hospital with a knife and threatened several people there.  They say Terry Newman of Richmond made it to the fourth floor of the hospital, where he was arrested. He's charged with disorderly conduct, menacing and resisting arrest.  No one was hurt and the hospital was able to quickly return to normal.

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Doctors in area hospitals say they are seeing more people coming to the ER for problems with their teeth, They may not be equipped to handle dental work, but the hospitals have to treat those patients even if they don't have insurance or a way to pay.  Dentists say the biggest issue is a lack of routine care, which leads to bigger and more painful problems down the road.  They also say eastern Kentucky needs a better way to handle dental emergencies to keep people from having to resort to a hospital trip for a toothache.

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The no smoking sign is up on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College. Officials say they have made the campus nicotine free—including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.   They  ay its part of a larger effort to keep folks in eastern Kentucky healthy.

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Folks in and around Hazard will have something old that is new again for the fourth.  Mayor Jimmy lindon says he's glad to welcome e back the Hazard fish fry—which has not taken place for the last five summers. It starts Saturday morning at 11 near city hall. And if you'd like to FYOF---fry your own fish, you can do that too. There is a fishing tournament from 7am  to noon. The mayor says they're ready—with 900 pounds of fish for the friers—and a restocked river for the anglers..

Wednesday 7-1-15

By Jerry Adams

The Pike County fiscal court has approved a new 1 percent occupational and business profits tax. Members say they had no choice because of the county is in bad financial shape  facing a 1.7 million dollar budget deficit –and that without the tax, county services would have come to a halt at midnight. Opponents say the tax ill be a big burden for workers and businesses, but the fiscal court approved it by a 7 -0 vote during at last night's emergency meeting.

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State police say alcohol may have played a part in a  crash on Monday night in  Perry County which left one man dead and injured three others—including a well known judge. The victim is identified as 40 year old Kevin Fugate.  He apparently crossed the center line of Combs Road in Hazard—killing him, and injuring his passenger. That oncoming car was driving by Perry County District Judge Leigh Ann Stevens. She and her passenger were hurt. State Police continue to investigate.

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And state police are investigating an accident involving one of their own in Pulaski County. They say one woman died in a collision with a patrol car on highway 27 in Somerset.  She is identified as 56 year old Denise Koval. Troopers say she apparently turned into the path of trooper Joshua brainard's oncoming patrol car. He was not seriously injured. 

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A woman who was featured in a documentary about her family has been arrested in Martin County—charged with shoplifting in Pike County. Sue Bob White was shown in in a film called “The Wonderful Whites of West Virginia”.  She was arrested at the Martin County jail, where she had gone to post bail for another family member—and when she told officers who she was, they found out she had a warrant for those shoplifting charges.

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Police in Bell County have started a murder investigation, after an autopsy showed that a man who died in Ar jay two weeks ago had been shot. 38 year old David Mason was found in the woods not far form his home—and his grieving family says they can't understand why anyone would want to kill him.  State Police say they aren't sure either and will be following any leads they can get to find who did it.

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The forecast may look damp for fourth of July, but that won't stop the annual fireworks show at Buckhorn Lake on Friday.  Officials say they sky will light up at dusk—capping off a day of events from hula—hooping, to water balloon tossing, music and kids games. Thousands of people are expected. 

Tuesday 6-30-15

By Jerry Adams  

Monday was a deadly day on the roads in the mountains with police now investigating at least three separate fatalities in Perry, Pike and Knox Counties.

In Perry County, one person died in a crash on Combs Road in Hazard around 9:15 last night.  Police say two  cars were in involved—one of then crossed the center line and hit the other.  Police haven't released the name of the person who died, but they have identified one of the passengers as Perry County District Court judge Leigh Anne Stephens. She suffered broken bones and is expected to recover.

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In Pike County, a single car crash on Caney Creek road in the Gulnare community  left a woman dead.  She is identified as 23 year old Joy Varney of lower John's Creek.  State police say her car ran off the road and hit a tree early Monday morning—she died later at Pikeville Medical Center.

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And in Knox county, another single car accident on U.S. 25  early Monday left a woman dead.  Police have identified her as 50 year old Tammy Hale. Reports say her car spun out of control and slammed into the median.

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The Letcher County Health Department has started discussing a  needle exchange program to avoid an outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases. Officials say while the idea is controversial, it is one potential safeguard to keep IV drug users from sharing needles. They point to a recent surge in the number of cases of HIV in rural Scott County, Indiana, and warn that a similar crisis could easily happen here. The board will talk more about the subject at a meeting on July 14th.

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The U.S. Supreme Court says some federal rules limiting emissions from coal fired power plants go too far and local lawmakers are applauding that 5 to 4 decision.  Kentucky was one of 20 states that challenged the rules, and Representative Fitz Steele of Hazard says the ruling is a win for the coal industry. The disputed regulations will now have to be re written to comply with the courts finding.

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Meanwhile, a  report says Letcher County was one of three counties in the Appalachian area that lost more than 70 percent of its mining jobs since the end of 2011. According to the Wall Street Journal, Letcher County joins Leslie County Kentucky and Nicholas County West Virginia on that list of places with those devastating numbers. The paper says experts point to the tanking price of metallurgical coal used in steel mills.

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The fallout from the U S supreme court decision on gay marriage continues in Kentucky.  Some County Clerks are refusing to issue ANY marriage licenses following the  ruling that gays and lesbians can get married in all 50 states. The clerks say they're taking that stand because of their religious beliefs. One church is taking the opposite position, St James Episcopal church in Prestonsburg says it welcomes people of all orientations. Reverend Judy Yunker says her church aims to inspire acceptance of all of God's people.

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Yet another sighting of a black bear has some folks in Perry County concerned. The bear has been spotted in the Combs area and people who live there worry that the animal may have wandered from its mountain den looking for food. Fish and Wildlife officials say  you should keep any food or garbage well covered or out of reach—and that you should report any sightings or signs of bear activity in your area.

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School districts say they may have a hard time enforcing it,  but a new law hits the books at midnight that raises the high school dropout age to 18. One potential problem is that students who left school at 16 as allowed by the OLD law will now be forced to go back to school. School districts say while the goal of the higher age is admirable, they probably don't have much leverage to track down the students and force them back into the classroom until they turn 18.

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University of Kentucky coach John Calipari is weighing in on the debate over the confederate flag.   He says he was asked about the controversy during a news converence at a basketball clinic and has put up a post on facebook saying the flag should come down.

Monday 6-29-15

By Jerry Adams

Attorneys for embattled Floyd County lawyer Eric C. Conn want a judge to toss out a wrongful death suit against their client. Conn is being sued by hundreds of people who were told last month that their social security disability payments would be cut off amid allegations that Conn may have used fraudulent information to obtain them and two of those people were so distraught by those letters  that they committed suicide. Conn has never been charged and he denies the allegations. His lawyers say as sympathy for the  people who took their own lives but bears no responsibility.  The social security administration has resumed  benefits  but the recipients have been forced to submit new paperwork to show that they are entitled to the checks.

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Sunday was a day of celebration at a rebuilt Magoffin County Church. It's been more than three years since a tornado destroyed St. Luke Catholic Church, and parishioners finally have a new place to worship, which they dedicated at a special mass. Father Bob Damon says the congregation is grateful  for the replacement for the building that was ripped pert by the storm—part of a deadly outbreak in March 2nd 2012.  He says the new church is a symbol of God's love—and that  positive presence that has now been restored. Plans are also in the works to rebuild the chuch rectory which was destroyed by the tornado as well.

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Johnson County will soon have  a new animal shelter when “Whiskers and Wags” shelter will open later this week.  Officials say they have worked hard getting everything ready for the opening on Wednesday—and that the new home  in Paintsville for those stray animals will be a far cry from what they had before.  Shelter board members say they can't wait to begin matching the abused and neglected dogs and cats with new, loving owners. The shelter will also provide basic care like shots and exams to the animals that are bought in.

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There was magic in the air at the Jenny Wiley State Park over the weekend. The park held its first dinner and magic show for guests.  Officials say it was a big hit and an evening of fun that they hope to repeat in the future.

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With the fourth of July just around the corner now, officials say it's time to keep fireworks safety in mind. They say it's mainly common sense—keeping at a sfaey distance, keeping water nearby, and not trying to handle fireworks that see to be duds. Even sparklers can be dangerous is mishandles and officials say kids should always be supervised when using them.

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It's the season for farmers markets—and the Floyd County farmers market was a busy place at its seasonal opening.  Next weekend, the market will offer a new way to pay for those fresh vegetables, fruits and other market fare, when  buyer scan use tire SNAP cards for purchases, the Floyd County farmers market in Preston is open on Saturday's from 9:00am to 2:00pm.

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