Local News Thursday March 2, 2017

A high speed chase that started in Pike County… ended with a crash near the Floyd County line. Pikeville Police spotted the car speeding in the wrong direction on US 23 at around 2:00 yesterday [Wednesday] morning. An officer tried stopping the vehicle, but he kept going until he crashed into a hillside. The driver was thrown from the car. He was taken to the hospital… there’s no word on his condition.

Storms destroyed about 75 homes in EH-stl County yesterday… more tha 2 dozens others were damaged, along with many businesses. Emergency management officials say severe storms knocked out power to more than 27-thousand customers. The severe weather also damaged seven of the state’s 12 state prisons. The Kentucky State Penitentiary in Lyon County and the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington were the hardest hit. Three staff members at the Kentucky State Penitentiary were injured by flying glass and other debris. The Department of Corrections has cancelled visitation for at least one prison for today [Thursday]. Several counties have declared states of emergency.

Bank Street in Hazard was closed overnight because of a landslide. Hazard Police say mud and other debris was blcoking the road.

County leaders are looking at whether a 1-percent occupational tax could be the ticket to solving a 1.3 million dollar budget shortfall. If county officials don’t find a way to balance the budget, the state could take legal action for force the county to comply with state law, which doesn’t allow a county to carry any debt. The members of the fiscal court voted down a proposed tax on insurance premiums Monday, and will now consider the occupational tax option. The cities of Whitesburg and Jenkins already have an occupational tax in place.

An inmate at the Harlan County Detention Center has died. According to Kentucky State Police, the female prisoner was found unconscious in her cell on Friday. She was taken to a hospital where she died a short time later. An investigation found that the 26-year old Evarts woman died from health-related issues, and there’s no foul play suspected.

A man who had run away from police is now safe behind bard. Harlan City Police say the 31-year old Verda man had a warrant out for his arrest. Officers tried serving the arrest warrant… when he ran away. Police caught up with him a short time later, and waited until he decided to climb out from beneath the house he was hiding under. Police took him into custody and drove to the jail… but once out of the patrol car, he ran off again. Kentucky State Police found him and returned him to the jail where he faces new charges for escape and resisting arrest, in addition to the burglary and criminal mischief charges he had faced.

Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill yesterday that would create panels to review the merits of malpractice lawsuits, in the hopes of reforming the state’s medical malpractice system. The bill passed on a 51-45 vote and now goes back to the Senate. Supporters say the panels don't take away anyone's right to go to court with malpractice claims. Opponents say the panels would be a barrier delaying access to courts.

County leaders are looking at whether a 1-percent occupational tax could be the ticket to solving a 1.3 million dollar budget shortfall. If county officials don’t find a way to balance the budget, the state could take legal action to force the county to comply with state law, which doesn’t allow a county to carry any debt.

Pine Mountain Settlement School hosts a free  soup bean supper tonight, following the introduction of a Harlan County Farmer’s market. Several agencies will also be on hand to talk about how the Farmer’s Market can benefit local families. You can register for the dinner at the Pine Mountain Settlement School website.

Local News Wednesday March 1, 2017

A Texas-based company plans to get Enterprise Mine back in operation within the next week. The mine is in Knott County on Defeated Creek and Redfox. Kingdom Resources bought the mine from Alpha Natural Resources back in October, but it hasn’t been in operation since July. 85 workers lost their jobs when the mine was idled. Kingdom Resources plans to hire 60 crew members to start, but hopes to hire more down later on.

The Knox Central teacher that was arrested on drug charges Sunday has been suspended. 29-year old Joshua Ramsey was arrested at a hotel in Bell County after police say they got some information during a traffic stop that led them to his hotel room. According to Knox County School Officials, Ramsey has taught math at Knox Central for about a year. 

Wise Virginia man faces up to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to a list of charges, including felony child abuse. The 50 year old man admitted to letting his 12-year old daughter drive his jeep while he was high. He’s also charged with drug possession and probation violation among other crimes.

State-wide gas prices are on the rise, thanks to a pause in production while producers shut down for maintenance and to switch to making summer blends of fuel. The price went up 3 cents per gallon over the past week in Kentucky… to 2.21 a gallon. We’re paying paying 2.15 on average in Letcher County… 2.25 in Perry County.

Letcher county residents won’t see a hike in insurance premiums… but there’s still no plan for taking care of a 1.3 million dollar budget deficit. Judges on the fiscal court voted down the proposal to raise insurance premiums, but no new plan to raise funds to pay off the debt was formally introduced.

The former police chief of Hazard has died. Edgar Bucky Reynolds passed away on Monday. He served on the force for nearly 25 years. He was 79 years old.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin was in Washington DC this week, meeting with officials from the Trump administration… along with other governors from across the US. He says as US lawmakers look at ways to change Obamacare, he wants them to keep in mind the 30-percent of Kentucky residents who are on Medicaid, and to not strip it away.

Students gathered at the State Capitol yesterday, asking lawmakers to put an end to corporal punishment in schools. 31 states in the US have already put similar bans in place. The House committee on education will hear testimony on House Bill 393,  which would ban paddling in schools.

Local News Thursday February 23, 2017

Yesterday people gathered in Letcher County discussed the future of broadband internet in the area.  One Hazard Community and Technical College student told others gathered at the Campbell’s Branch/Linefork Community Center that internet is not a want, but rather a necessity.  Right now nearly 600 homes in the county are not classified as having broadband coverage.  Harry Collins, chairman of the Letcher County Broadband Board says they will submit a grant on March 13th to the department of agriculture for funding that would allow them to create and expand an infrastructure for broadband in the county.

A dozen young people were taken to the hospital following a crash involving a church bus in Laurel County last night.  Deputies say around 8:30 last night the bus from Lick Fork Missionary Baptist Church entered a right hand curve, lost control, went off the road and hit an embankment.  The driver of the bus, Charles Kirby was not injured, but the girl in the front seat has to be extricated and wa flown to UK Medical Center with serious injuries.  11 other passengers, all juveniles, were taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital in London.  Two other juveniles were picked up from the scene by their parents uninjured.

Harlan county officials plan to conduct a study to determine if they should build a new rec center.  Judge Executive Dan Mosley says the idea came because of the high obesity rate of high school students.

A House Bill being proposed would restrict sentencing options for people convicted of manslaughter or reckless homicide while driving under the influence.  The bill, which passed committee yesterday, would remove shock probation as an option.  The bill now heads to a full House vote.

Saving Our Appalachian Region or Soar will host a round table discussion next month to discuss strategies to reduce obesity and diabetes in the region.  It will be held at Union College in Barbourville on Thursday March 16, from 10am to 2pm.  Registration is free but space is limited.

The Patriot Bioenergy Cooperation plans to convert old mining sites in Pike county into farmland where they will build greenhouses to grow hemp.    The company has already been processing hemp at their Shelbiana facility for months and will break ground on the expansion today.  The company will bring more jobs to the area as they strive to turn the old mine fields into integrated energy facilities.  They’ll be hiring farmers, lab technicians, and more.

Harlan County mom is facing charges after her baby was found in the street while she was passed out in a car.  Police arrested 28-year old Megan Helton of Evarts after a bystander called and told them that they picked up the baby so that it would not be hit by passing cars.  Helton is charged with neglect, endangering the welfare of a minor and public intoxication.

Two 11-year-old kids are facing charges for starting a fire in a field in Whitley County.  The grandmother of one of the boys called 911 after she said they started the fire accidentally while playing with hot wheels.  Sheriff Colan Harrel cited both boys with third degree criminal mischief and a violation of the fire hazard burning season.   Harrel  says he doesn’t believe the boys set the fire maliciously, but it did still endanger several homes and the firefighters who put the fire out.

A bill that cleared the state senate would require Kentucky’s public colleges an universities to compete with each other for the shrinking tax dollars assigned to colleges in the state.  The bill would divide up more than $1 billion in tax dollars based on a new formula that would reward schools for graduating more students with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math and for conferring degrees on low-income and minority students, total enrollment, and campus size.  The bill now heads to the house.

A Bell County man who is charged with meth possession and giving an officer a false name, briefly escaped from behind bars last night.  Police say 23-year-old Aaron Skidmore was able to break free from the Bell County Detention Center.  Just a few minutes after he got out a Pineville Police officer apprehended Skidmore in the parking long of a Pic-Pac.  He’s now facing a charge of second degree escape for those 5 minutes of freedom.

Local News Tuesday Feb 21, 2017

A Laurel County man is charged with several crimes after police say he gave alcohol to two teenage girls and convinced on of them to have sex with him.   London Police say they were called to a Baymont inn where they found a 13 year old and 15 year old with 23-year-old Joshua Wagers.  The 15-year-old told police that Wagers had talked her into having sex with him that night, and earlier in the week.  The teenage girls were released to their parents.  Wagers is charged with unlawful transaction with a minor and rape charges.  He was booked into the Laurel County Detention Center.

The Wise County Sheriffs office is asking for help finding a missing teenager.  They say 16-year-old Brenden Hill was reported missing on February 18th.  He’s described as 5’6” tall and around 165 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.  Anyone who may know where he is is asked to contact the Wise county Sheriffs office.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says there were more Kentucky voters than ever in the 2016 election, but voter turnout was actually down. 1,955,195 Kentuckians voted, which equated to 59.1 percent of registered voters.  That percentage was down from 59.7% in 2012 and 64% in 2008.

A new online petition calls for traffic lights to be put in at Betsy Layne Schools.  The Group “The Future of Eastern Kentucky” says they want to see traffic lights on US 23 at both the high school and elementary school.  Currently the sheriff’s department helps to direct traffic when school starts and lets out.  So far the petition has about 200 signatures.

Five people are facing charges following an undercover prostitution sting in Ashland.  Detectives fro the Criminal Investigations Section posted a personal ad on the internet, and would arrange a meeting with responders.  When the person arrived at the meeting spot they were immediately arrested.  A total of five people have been charged with prostitution.

Anyone in Knott County who has insurance will pay a little more to keep county facilities in business.  Due to serious budget constraints the city considered three options, shutting down county-run facilities, implementing an occupational tax, or taxing insurance premiums.  Yesterday the insurance tax wom out.  Judge Executive Zack Weinburg says he’s hopeful that the tax, which is expected to bring in $600,000-$700,000 annually is only temporary.  The tax does not apply to life or health insurance.

There were some scary moments at a Pizzeria in Floyd County yesterday afternoon.  Witnesses say a man ran up to the cash register at Zippy’s Pizza, grabbed it and slammed it to the ground shooting money everywhere.  That’s when the suspect and employee Johnny McKinney began fighting.   McKenny says while they were fighting a woman came inside, got money from the cash register, then the man and woman went out into the parking lot where he heard a gunshot.  McKinney says he returned fire.  No one was hit.  The two suspects drove away, but almost an hour later police arrested Christian Lyons and Davonna Wallen in association with the crime.  Both of them used to work at Zippy’s Pizza.  They’re both charged with second degree robbery, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

A Harlan County man is charged with rape after police say he had sex with an underage girl.  37-year-old Jerry Rhymer was arrested after a brief foot chase with police.  He’s also charged with fleeing and evading and disorderly conduct.

A new ambulance belonging to Perry County EMS salutes the Troops.  The ambulance features camo print letters, a silhouette of a soldier saluting and more.  They say the ambulance is a small way to show their support for so many families in Eastern Kentucky who have children fighting for freedom.  It’s not the first cause the EMS company has supported with their ambulances.  They already have ambulances bearing designs focused on awareness for heart disease, autism, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Local News Monday February 20, 2017

The family of missing man Hershel Starrett continue to search for him.  He went missing on December 20th, and his family says they think he may have been back by his Harlan County house at least once since that night.  Family says they’ve received several tips and will continue searching for him until they find him either alive or dead.  Earlier this month Hershel’s wife Melissa and cousin Jamie Starrett were indicted on conspiracy to commit murder charges.  Police say the pair were plotting to kill Joshua Starrett, Melissa’s son.  There is not any direct information to indicate that either one of them was involved in Hershel’s disappearance.

An experiment designed by two students at the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, a high school on the Morehead State University Campus, has gone into space.  The students designed an experiment to examine the behavior of smooth muscle cells as they acclimate to a microgravity environment.  It was launched yesterday aboard a SpaceX rocket headed to the International Space Station.  The students were in Florida for the launch and will be able to monitor it via a live video and data feed.  The experiment will stay in space for a minimum of six weeks.

A Bell County woman is charged with burglary after Christy Turnbill told officers that she caught Amber Maiden inside her Middlesboro home taking things.  Turnbill says Maiden fled, but deputies found her and arrested her a short time later.  She’s charged with second degree burglary.

Many schools across the area are closed today due to the President’s day holiday, but some others are closed due to illness.  Scott County Schools are on a Non Traditional Instruction day today while Somerset, Wolfe County, and Corbin Independent Schools are closed to let students dealing with illness rest. Letcher County schools are open.

Warm, dry temperatures are causing the US forest service to caution people camping to be very careful with their campfires.  Cordell Taylor a fire management officer with the US Forest service says low humidity and strong wind gusts can quickly spark a fire out of control, especially when leaf litter is as dry as it is now.

A 29-year old miner from Pikeville was injured seriously after being trapped inside a coal mine in Buchanan County Virginia.  Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy officials say the miner, whose name has not been released, got pinned between the cutter head of the continuous mining machine and the wall of the mine, often called a rib.   He was flown to Bristol Regional Medical Center Thursday night.  Since then his condition has stabilized.  The area of the mine where the incident occurred is now closed for investigation.  Investigators initially found no problems with the machine.  The injured miner had been working at Buchanan #1 for two months.

A medical doctor in Kentucky, who also happens to be a Republican State Senator is leading an effort to further restrict smoking in the state.  Senator Ralph Alvarado has pushed several statewide workplace smoking bans that have failed, but last week, Alvarado convinced the Senate to approve a ban on all tobacco products at Kentucky’s 173 public school districts.  That will also apply to school sponsored events.  The bill now heads to the House of Representatives.  Kentucky leads the nation in both smoking rates and smoking related cancer.

Hazard Police say a man who went missing last week was found safe last night.  David Ryan Evans went missing last week but was found safe.  It’s not clear why he was out of contact.

Several families across the state feeling relieved today after a glitch in the Medicaid system meant they didn’t get money they were counting on last week.  The glitch affected disability checks for more than two weeks. All 11,000 people who were affected should be getting the money they need soon.