Local News Wednesday February 15, 2017

Volunteer firefighters are desperately needed across Eastern Kentucky.  Officials at several local fire companies including the W.R.Castle Fire and Rescue in Johnson County say they’re having trouble finding help, and have been for while.  The shortage of volunteers likely has a lot to do with the economy.  Many people have to travel long distances for work, are working long hours, or had to move away altogether.  There are positions open with most local fire departments.  To become a volunteer firefighter you need to pass a criminal background check, be in good health, and complete 150 hours of certification training.

A 14-year-old girl is accused of stabbing her father multiple times.  Johnson County deputies say they received a call Monday morning from a man saying his daughter stabbed him.  The man was treated for stab wounds to the abdomen and shoulder.  He is recovering.  It’s not clear what the motive was for the violence.

A man charged in a deadly hit and run case will go to a grand jury.  46-year-old John Melton is accused of hitting 62-year-old Roscoe Jones as he was walking along the side of the road earlier this month, then fleeing the scene.  Melton went before a judge yesterday to face charges of second degree manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident.  He’ll return on February 24th to see if an indictment is returned against him.

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would toughen penalties for people convicted of trafficking smaller amounts of heroin or fentanyl.  The bill, approved unanimously, would close a loophole giving lighter penalties to first time traffickers and those trafficking less than two grams of the drugs.

There will be a pre-bid meeting today to give more information about a housing project that will renovate the old Elkhorn City High school into apartments.  Officials say they will select a contractor by March 1st and hope to begin construction sometime in April.

Mine workers rallied in Washington DC yesterday, lobbying for another extension to ensure that miners have their benefits past April.  They’re in favor of the Miners Protection Act which would guarantee retired coal miners their health care benefits and pensions.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnels plan would only fund health benefits, not pensions.

A coal truck overturned on KY-2007 in Harlan County yesterday morning.  The driver, 47-year-old Randy Collier was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  HE was driving for R&S Trucking out of Whitesburg.

A man is behind bars after deputies say he pulled out a gun at the Wildcat Market in Flat Lick Tuesday Morning.  A deputy says he found 29-year-old Stanton Peace with a handgun in his wasteband, and when Peace tried to reach for the gun, the deputy grabbed his hand and took the firearm away.  He’s charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon and public intoxication.  35-year-old Elizabeth Compass was also arrested.  For having eight Xanax bars on her.

Kentucky House Republicans are demanding a public promise from Governor Bevin that if they pass a bill to overhaul the states drivers licenses that he won’t veto it….again.  Kentucky is one of 27 states that has not complied with the federal Real ID Act.  Last year he urged the legislature to comply with the law, but when they did he veto-ed it.  Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover says he wants Bevin to testify before a House committee and promise he won’t veto again.  The federal government has given Kentucky until June 6th to comply. If they’re still not in compliance Kentuckians would have to use a passport or other approved federal ID to fly domestically, enter federal courthouses, or gain entry to army bases, among other things.

Humana is leaving the Affordable Care Act’s public insurance exchanges for next year following a failed merger with rival Aetna.  Currently Humana covers about 150,000 people in 11 states.  

Local News Tuesday February 14, 2017

As of the first of the year, the City of Pikeville is officially in charge of managing the Kentucky Exposition center.  Their first order of business is bringing in more acts and shows.  The city took over management duties as a way to save around $200,000 a year, but they think that number could go even highter.  They believe simply removing restrictions that the centers management had in place previously will allow the center to book more shows.  They also want to focus on selling more tickets to each show, and customer service.

A Pulaski County teachers aid is accused with raping a teenager.   38-year-old Traci Flynn was in Florida on a trip with Southwestern High School when she was indicted by a grand jury on charges of third degree rape for allegedly having sex with the 14 year old boy as well as using an electronic communications system to procure a minor to commit aa sexual offense, and sodomy.  The boys mother overheard her son and some friends talking about the relationship and went straight to police.  Flynn is awaiting extradition to Kentucky.

The Kentucky House approves a so-called "Blue Lives Matter" bill.  The measure would make attacks on police officers and first responders a hate crime.  Opponents -- including the Black Lives Matter group -- argue that police, fire and EMS workers should not be a protected class because of their occupation.   The bill now goes to the Senate.

Harlan County’s Cumberland Hope Community is receiving $220,000 in grant funding  to help women in the area addicted to drugs to get clean.   The grant will pay for much of the programs staffing and facility costs, allowing staff to focus on providing a supporting and loving atmosphere for women to get clean for themselves and for their families.

Tennessee Lawmakers have proposed a bill that would give drivers the right to run into protestors in the event that a rally slows or stops the flow of traffic.   Drivers would be cleared of any wrongdoing if they hit and/or injured a protestor blocking traffic.  It would still hold drivers who “willfully” injure protestors responsible.

Kentucky State Police are looking for a man they say beat his girlfriend, possibly using a gun.  When police responded to the home, they say 30-year-old Marcus Sparks ran into the woods.  The victim was taken to the hospital with injuries to her face and head.  They’re still searching for Sparks who is wanted on a charge of second-degree assault.

An undercover investigation in Harlan County led to the arrest of 39-year-old Eugene “JR” Farley and 28-year-old Tabitha Stanton.  Both are facing charges of trafficking methamphetamine.  Farley is also accused of trafficking heroin.

Potentially bad news for boaters.  The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering increasing boat registration fees in the state to help pay for programs that would combat the spread of invasive Asian Carp.  If approved it would be the first time in 15 years that boat registration fees have gone up.  Prices would increase anywhere from $5 to $27 per year depending on the kind of boat.  The Commission will decide whether or not to move forward with the increase at their meeting on March 17th.

The Appalachian Wildlife Center is still a few years away from opening, but they’re taking the first steps to add to the local elk population.  They’ve completed a large elk pen near the future spot of the wildlife center in eastern Bell County.  The pen is designed to gently introduce elk to the area. When the center opens in 2019 they’re planning to feature elk viewing.

Local News Monday February 13, 2017

An Ashland woman is under arrest after officials say she led them on a chase. It started around 9 p.m. Saturday as state troopers say they were conducting a safety checkpoint and a woman, later identified as 51-year-old Patricia Gore, drove off. Troopers followed Gore across several roads and into Greenup County before her car was stopped on Port Road in Wurtland. Officers say Gore then ran on foot, but they were able to locate and arrest her. She’s facing several charges including fleeing or evading police, reckless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, and wanton endangerment.

More schools across central and eastern Kentucky are closed today due to widespread illness.  Fleming and Harlan county schools are closed today, while Perry County schools will be closed today and tomorrow.

A crash on Highway 451 in Perry County late Saturday night sent at least one person to the Hospital. Kentucky state police say they’re still investigating the two car crash.

Dozens of Eastern Kentucky farmers gathered Saturday morning at the Pike County Extension Service over the weekend to learn proper growing practices and agricultural techniques.  They’ll use those methods to grow some of the produce that will be sold at the farmers market in Pike County that should start sometime in early May.

A Pike County family is mourning the loss of 66-year-old William "Ernie" Griffey, who died Wednesday in a crash on Grapevine road in Phyllis. Griffey enjoyed being in the mountains, hunting deer, and fishing. They say Griffey made him the best deer jerky and always make it her vison to make it the best person there. Police say they’re still investigating the crash.

Sturgill Simpson was nominated for a Grammy for best country album of the year and album of the year alongside Maren Morris, Loretta Lynn, and Keith Urban. Simpson, who graduated from Woodford County High School both produced “A Sailors Guide to Earth”  and served as drummer and beat out some big names to win best country album.   It was beat out by Adele’s “25” for Album of the Year.

A former Virginia news anchor whose girlfriend was shot fatally during a live broadcast in 2015 has announced that he plans to run for a seat in the House of Delegates.  Chris Hurst says he wants to reduce gun violence and affect other issues as well.

Kentucky State Police say they’re looking for a man who led them on a chase through Letcher County late Friday night.  Troopers say they stopped a black Jeep Cherokee for registration issues.  After talking with the driver, they say he sped away, hitting a trooper.  They say the driver, 43-year-old James Freeman abandoned his Jeep and ran into the woods.  Officials have been unable to find him since, and are asking for anyone who knows his whereabouts to contact police. A trooper was taken to the hospital for a possible foot injury in that incident.

Hazard Police are warning people about another phone scam that allegedly requires sending in money to get money.  They’ve received a report of a person getting a phone call telling them they had won $9,000 in cash but that they needed to send money to get it. Captain Paul Campbell with Hazard Police says if you didn’t enter a contest and are being told you’ve won a prize, there’s a good chance that something fishy is up.  They say be vigilant and get suspicious if someone you don’t know is calling you by your first name or using other personal information, and never give out social security or credit card information over the phone unless you’re positive you know who you’re speaking to an initiate the call, and if you’re just not sure, put the number that called you into google to see if they’ve scammed anyone else.  If they have….call police.

Police are investigating a burglary they say happened early Sunday morning at Tri-State Pawn and Jewlery in Ashland.  Security tapes show a man with his face covered using a hammer to break the glass at the front of the store, before making a bee line to the gun cabinet.  Store managers say the suspect got away with seven handguns.  The store’s alarm system was triggered, but the suspect was gone by the time law enforcement arrived on scene.  The owners of the pawn shop are offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.

Pikeville Cheer won the Small Varsity Division II cheer national title Sunday night at Disney in ORlando, making it back-to-back national championships for the Panthers. Several other area squads placed as well.  Southwestern placed 2nd and Perry Central placed 4th in Small Varsity Division II Nationals, Corbin placed 4th in Medium Varsity Division II, and North Laurel placed 4th in Small Varsity Division I Nationals.

A rare white Thoroughbred horse was born on Super bowl Sunday in Lexington.  The filly is unnamed but joins seven generations of white horses to be born at Patchen Wilkes Farm, including White Beauty, the first white Thoroughbred ever registered with the Jockey Club.

Local News Friday February 10, 2017

Kentucky State Police say a man was stabbed to death in Knox County.  Troopers were called to Lois Ln. in Corbin around 9 p.m. on Thursday. The Knox County coroner pronounced a man dead at the scene, police said. Detectives are investigating the incident.

A crash Wednesday in Pike County left one man dead.  Police say Timothy Patrick lost control of his vehicle while driving on Grapevine road and hit a truck driven by 66-year-old William Griffey.  He died at the scene of the crash.  Investigators say alcohol does not appear to have been a factor.

Many people have been wondering what the Big Sandy Retirement Rider is that they’re seeing on their Kentucky Power bill, besides just another fee.  That fee covers the cost of when unit two stopped operating in 2015.  Kentucky Power says it will take about 25 years to recover the $200 million in expenses it incurred and they believed the fee would be the most cost-effective for customers in the long run.

The Kentucky Senate has OK-ed legislation that offers an incentive for school districts to push back the start of the school year to late August.  Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer believes a trend of going back to school earlier has both hurt tourism and learning.  He believes students don’t learn as well with its so hot.  The switch would be voluntary, but schools who chose not to resume until at least the Monday closest to August 26th would not have to meet the state’s 170 day requirement, though they would still have to meet the state mandated minimum of 1,062 hours. That bill now headed to the house.

Several schools across the area are closed today due to widespread illness, now health department officials are confirming that closing for a few days really can stop the spread of illness.  Doctor Tom Ashburn says giving people time apart and taking the time to clean and sanitize surfaces in the building can definitely make a difference.

One lawmaker is responding to news that a white nationalist group is holding a two day event in Prestonburg and Pikeville and is asking the rest of the legislature to do the same.  Minority Floor Leader Ray Jones is filing a resolution asking members of the General Assembly to condemn the organization for coming into Eastern Kentucky to Spread racism and hatred.  The event is scheduled for two days, April 28th at Jenny Wiley State Park, and April 29th a rally near the Pike County Courthouse.

Yesterday Kentucky State Police arrested 52-year-old Everett Miller on charges of trafficking.  The arrest came after a months long investigation targeting crystal meth dealing in the Flat Lick area.

Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies say someone broke into a home and shot two dogs Wednesday night.  Teresa Davis says she has 5 dogs, one of them was killed, the other is now at the vet being treated, and a third went missing.  Davis says she was in the process of moving during the burglary and had nothing of value in the home, but is struggling to understand why that happened.  Deputies have sent in evidence for testing and say they do have a suspect in mind, but have not yet made an arrest.

The Senate Education committee has approved a bill that would ban all tobacco, including all e-cigarettes products both on school property in the state and at school-sponsored activities.  The measure is sponsored by Senator Ralph Alvarado, who is a doctor, and hopes it will reduce Kentucky’s youth smoking rates.  Assuming it passes that house as well school boards would have a year to implement the policy.

Two church congregations in Perry County are mourning the loss of Pastor Brent Arn.  He died Wednesday of a ruptured brain aneurysm.  Arn pastored and attended Bowmand united Methodist Church and Lothair Methodist Church.  Both are expected to hold memorial services for him, but dates and times have yet to be announced.

Local News Thursday February 9, 2017

A fire broke out yesterday morning at Shepherd's Grocery and Hardware in Leatherwood, forcing officials to close KY-699 for a few hours.  The grocery store is the only one in walking distance to the community and was also a social gathering place.  Owner Sandy Holcomb says after 21 years in business it is heartbreaking to see it go up in flames.  There was also an apartment complex in the building.  A few people suffered from smoke inhalation but were treated on the scene.  No one was seriously injured.  Firefighters said they do not know what caused the fire yet, or if the building will be repaired.

Prestonsburg and Pikeville are playing a reluctant host to a two-day event aimed to "take a stand for white working families" hosted by the Traditionalist Worker Party.   That organization is recognized as a white nationalist hate group.  The event is scheduled for April 28th at Jenny Wiley State Park and April29th near the Pike County Courthouse.  Kentucky State Parks issued a statement saying that the event was scheduled with them as a family reunion, and while they will not discriminate against any individual or group, they will keep an eye out for situations that may threaten their guests and take action as necessary.  The rally in Pikeville already has opposition from another event called the Rally for Equality and American Values described as a bipartisan event for people to stand up against neo-nazis.

The Paintsville Utilities Commission will go forward with a more than four percent increase on customers bills, starting next month. The Utility says the increase was actually voted on back in 2012 but was never implemented.

ov. Matt Bevin said some people will be paying more in taxes under his proposal to overhaul the state's tax code.During his annual State of the Commonwealth Address yesterday he announced that he will call a special session of the state legislature later this year to change how the state collects taxes. Bevin says the state needs more money to pay off its public pension debt, which is estimated to be more than $80 billion, so it won’t be “neutral”.

Even as the Governor attempts to overhaul the tax system, records show he’s late in paying his 2016 property taxes on his Louisville home.  Bevin owes just over $11,000 on his Barberry Lane Home, including a 10 percent penalty because it wasn’t paid by January 31st.  Bevin has not commented on the late taxes.

Harlan Independent Schools are back open today after closing for two days due to widespread illness, however the Jenkins Independent School system are closed today and tomorrow due to illness.  Flu and flu like illnesses have been running rampant across the area, prompting many schools to shut down for a few days to fully sanitize and give students rest. Clay County Schools, Barbourville Independent Schools, and Knox County schools are all closed through the end of the week due to illness as well.

Laurel County deputies arrested three people and took children from a home where meth was being made.  Deputies say they were checking on a report of a meth lab when they saw Yvonna Jankins run out the back door with an active one step meth lab stuffed down the back of her pants.  Two teenage children in the home  were checked for chemical exposure then put into the custody of Social services.  Jenkins along with two others in the home, Ralph Brown, and Leigh Kuhn are facing charges related to manufacturing meth and endangering the welfare of a child.

Legislation implementing stricter reporting requirements for Kentucky's troubled pension systems has cleared the state Senate. The measure designed to increase oversight particularly as it relates to fees and investment practices of the pension systems passed unanimously and now heads to the house.

What is currently an empty lot in Martin County will in coming years be home to the new Dream Community Job Training and Area Technology Center.  The current Area technology Center is 50 years old. A $2.7 million grant will help build the new building that will provide job training for high school students and adults in a variety of industries including aerospace, advanced manufacturing, IT, healthcare and more.The facility will be about 36,000 square feet and is set to open in 2019.

During a “Rally For Life” yesterday at the State Capitol Governor Matt Bevin ceremonially signed two bills banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and requiring women to have an ultrasound before an abortion.