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.

Local News Friday February 17, 2017

A Wise, Virginia man has been indicted by a grand jury for trying to kill two University of Virginia's College at Wise students late last year. 55-yearold Ricky Lynn Hamilton is accused of stabbing two male students during a fight on November 13th at an apartment complex.  He is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Both of the victims told investigators that they had prior disagreements with Hamilton, who is facing a total of 10 charges related to the incident and is due back in court next week.

Police say Thieves broke through back doors and went through the ceilings of Leslie County Kentucky Farm Bureau, World Finance, and L N Tobacco on Owls Nest Rd. in Hyden Thursday morning.  Chief of Police Bill Baker say burglars cut the power, turned off surveillance cameras and alarms before taking cigarettes, money and other items.  Officials at all three businesses hit say they’re trying to fix everything and get it back up and running for customers. The Leslie County Kentucky Farm Bureau is offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

It’s been 20 years since the successful elk reintroduction project began in Eastern Kentucky. For several years you could only hunt elk if you had a very difficult to apply for permit. Right now, only a few hundred tags are given out each year, but, House Bill 187 could increase their chances.  It would double the chances the next year for people who didn’t win in any given year.  Applications for the 2017 elk hunt opened on January first. You have until April 30 to apply and the winners will be announced by May 15.

Last night the city of Prestonsburg held a strategic planning meeting at the Mountain Arts Center. They focused on creating more jobs, a place for the arts and building tourism industries. The people in the community came prepared with their own ideas. Some wanted to see more jobs and economic developments. While others wanted to see a push towards adventure tourism. Now the Kentucky League of Cities will begin making a strategic plan. Bobbie Bryant, community advisor with the Kentucky League of Cities, says their goal is to make each city the best possible version of itself.

A bill that would make it tougher to get a disabled parking decal advanced in the senate unanimously.  It would also establish a $10 fee for initial or renewal placards.

Police have arrested someone they believe fired a pellet gun at a Wayne County school bus Wednesday afternoon in Monticello.  Police say 19-year old Jonathan Gregory fired one shot into bus 214, breaking a window.  There was only one child on the bus at the time, and the 7-year-old was not injured.  Gregory is charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment.  He has denied the charges saying he was out of town.

President Donald Trump has put the brakes on a regulation blocking coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams Trump called the regulation a "job-killing rule" before he signed a measure to overturn it. Several coal miners and energy company executives also attended the White House signing ceremony. Republicans and some Democrats argued that the rule could eliminate thousands of coal-related jobs. They said the rule also ignored dozens of existing federal, state and local regulations.

A Wise County, Virginia grand jury has returned a seven-count indictment against a Coeburn woman connected to a fatal December crash that killed a mother of two from Missouri.   Police say 36-year-old Samantha Rae Dennis was trying to avoid a DUI checkpoint on Route 58 in Coeburn on Dec. 23 when she sped away at over 100 miles per hour and crashed into a vehicle driven by Rebecca Williams Starling, who died at the scene while her two children were taken to the hospital for treatment. Dennis is facing numerous charges.   She has another court hearing scheduled for Feb. 21.

Kentucky's public schools would have to offer a course about Bible history and require students to pass a civics test before graduating under a pair of proposals that are advancing in the state Senate. The civics test would be the same test immigrants must pass before becoming U.S. citizens. The Kentucky Council of Churches and the ACLU oppose the bill, saying it hurts religious freedom.

Pike County schools closed again today due to widespread illness.  The school district says they are re-opening on Monday.

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.