Thursday October 31, 2013

A 28-year-old Eolia man has pleaded guilty to robbing two Virginia convenience stores last fall.

Jonathan Dean Adams entered a guilty plea in Wise County Circuit Court on Oct. 16 and was sentenced the same day.

Money, cigarettes and other merchandise were stolen Sept. 16, 2012 from State Line Food Mart and Double Kwik, both located in Pound, Va.

In both instances Adams brandished a weapon and took items, some of which were recovered.

All the sentences against Adams are to be served consecutively for a total of 40 years.

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The case of a Perry County woman and man facing charges in an attempted murder case is heading to circuit court.

A grand jury returned indictments against Larry Yocum and Teresa Karr.

Yocum faces attempted murder and tampering with evidence charges.

Police say he beat Jeff Karr with a brick and left him to die in the Kentucky River.

They say Karr's wife Teresa washed Yocum's clothes, trying to get rid of evidence.

She faces a tampering with evidence charge.

An arraignment date is set for December 12th.

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The Lynn Camp Middle and High Schools were on lockdown on Wednesday while investigators looked into a safety concern.

Knox County Sheriff's Deputies say a student threatened to bring a knife to school.

Knox County School officials say administrators placed the school on lockdown to investigate but deputies say no weapon was found.

Deputies and administrators say there is no evidence anyone intended to cause harm at either school.

Superintendent Kelly Sprinkles sent a letter home to parents explaining the situation.

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A Southern Kentucky jail escapee is back in custody after spending five days on the run.

Williamsburg Police say Justin Cornettt was caught Wednesday morning at a motel in Bell County.

Cornett escaped from the Whitley County Jail Friday with another inmate, James Fields.

Fields was caught hours after the escape but Cornett eluded police for five days.

Cornett has been transported back to Whitley County.

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A Breathitt county woman faces murder charges after a summer crash that left three people dead.

Billie Caudill was arraigned in court Wednesday where she pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and driving under the influence.

The crash happened near the Perry-Breathitt county line on July 3.

Officials say 30-year-old Billie Caudill was driving under the influence when she crossed the center line and hit a truck head on.

70 year-old William Belcher and his wife, Lillie, also died in the crash along with Caudill's husband Danny.

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Forty-three percent of the households in Letcher County will be affected by a decrease in monthly food stamps benefits that begins Friday, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).

Of 9,300 households in Letcher County, 4,038 are enrolled in the Federal SNAP program, according to information from CHFS and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The long-term change in benefits will depend on household size, income and expenses according to the cabinet.

For more on this story see this week's edition of the Mountain Eagle.

Wednesday October 30, 2013

The tension continues to build between Jackson County's judge executive and the sheriff and now one of them is facing legal action from the other.

At Tuesday's special meeting of the Jackson County Fiscal Court, Judge Executive William O. Smith announced plans to sue Sheriff Denny Peyman.

This comes after a disagreement between the two about $278,000 owed from the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Both men remain at odds over who is responsible.

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Officials at the LKLP Safe House in Hazard recognized Domestic Violence Awareness Month by holding a candlelight vigil on Tuesday evening.

The touching tribute was for the Perry County community devastated by a deadly triple shooting more than nine months ago.

A tree was planted at Hazard Community and Technical College in lasting memory of 12-year-old Taylor Cornett, 20-year-old Caitlin Cornett and 53-year-old Jackie Cornett.

21-year-old Dalton Stidham is charged with murdering them in the parking lot of the college.

His trial is set to begin on January 6th.

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There will not be a strike at the Harlan Health and Rehabilitation Center.

United Steel Workers sent a strike notice earlier this month saying if no agreement was reached by midnight on October 31st, they could go on strike.

Negotiators reached an agreement last week and the union members ratified the new contract during a vote on Monday.

Officials say it went into effect immediately.

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A man is under arrest following a fight that ended in a shooting.

The Buchanan County Virginia Sheriff's Office says 63-year-old Ben Ratliff is charged with two counts of malicious wounding.

Deputies say they found Amanda and John Ratliff with non-life threatening gunshot wounds on Thursday at a home on Dusty Road in Grundy.

Ben Ratliff is being held at Southwest Regional Jail in Haysi.


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Dirt track race car driver, Josh McGuire, is recovering after a violent crash at the 201 Speedway during the Halloween 50 Saturday night in Johnson County.

Hundreds watched the crash happen at the track and thousands have seen it online via YouTube.

Track officials say McGuire was going somewhere around 100 MPH as he entered the first turn on his fourth lap...when his car began to flip.

Doctors say that McGuire has a fracture in his C1 vertebrae and he was flown to St. Mary's Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia, where he is now recovering but his family says he will be okay and is very lucky.

Doctors do not think McGuire will need surgery, but will spend the next three months in a neck brace.

Tuesday October 29, 2013

Flu season is officially upon us.

The Health Department said cases have been reported in Henderson and Jefferson Counties along with Perry County here in the mountains..

Health officials said it is so important for people to get the flu vaccine.

The very young and the very old are most at risk.

The more people who are protected, the fewer who will get sick and spread the virus.

The flu season started in August last year, doctors say so far flu season is off to a slower start this year.

The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to start working but isn't fool proof.

If you find yourself suffering symptoms, health officials said it's important to see a doctor right away.

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Kentucky political leaders have rolled out an initiative intended to find ways to bolster the economy in Appalachia.

Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers held a joint press conference in Hazard on Monday to unveil the latest effort, which they dubbed SOAR, which stands for Shaping Our Appalachian Region.

Beshear said the economic woes of recent years have hurt Appalachia and intensified the hardships of families in the mountain region.

He and Rogers have scheduled a summit of public and private sector leaders to find solutions to problems the region faces.

Beshear and Rogers cited the loss of thousands of coal jobs in eastern Kentucky as one of the reasons for calling the summit, which will be held on Dec. 9 at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville.

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Operation UNITE and several local police departments teamed up this weekend to get more than one ton of medicine off the streets.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is only seven years old, but is seeing progress year after year.

Operation UNITE racked up more than 2,000 pounds of medicine during the annual event.

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Dirt track race car driver, Josh McGuire, is recovering after a violent crash at the 201 Speedway during the Halloween 50 Saturday night in Johnson County.

Hundreds watched the crash happen at the track and thousands have seen it online via YouTube.

Track officials say McGuire was going somewhere around 100 MPH as he entered the first turn on his fourth lap...when his car began to flip.

Doctors say that McGuire has a fracture in his C1 vertebrae and he was flown to St. Mary's Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia, where he is now recovering but his family says he will be okay and is very lucky.

Doctors do not think McGuire will need surgery, but will spend the next three months in a neck brace.

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State officials are applying for a license to sell alcohol in the restaurant at Pine Mountain State Park.

The city of Pineville has annexed the lodge and restaurant into the city limits and Pineville allows restaurant alcohol sales.

Gil Lawson, spokesperson for the state tourism office, says the state is preparing to submit the application to the ABC this week.

If approved, the restaurant would sell beer, wine, and liquor.

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Singer Kree Harrison will be this year's celebrity guest on the Santa Train for its 71st trip through Appalachia.

The train runs along a 110-mile route, beginning in Shelby, Kentucky, and travelling through part of Virginia before ending in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Along the way, it distributes more than 15 tons of gifts, including toys and food.

This will be Harrison's second trip on the Santa Train.

She first rode in 2001, when she was 11 years old.

Now the "American Idol" runner-up is working on her debut album and recently made an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry.

More information on the Nov. 23 journey is available at www.teamsantatrain.org.

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A $1 million Powerball ticket was sold in Paintsville, Kentucky, but the winner has not come forward.

Kentucky Lottery says that the ticket for Saturday night's drawing matched the five white balls, but not the Powerball.

The ticket was sold at the Paintsville Smart Shop located at 1074 3rd Street.

The winning ticket had the following numbers: 4 6 34 49 56.

The winner has 180 days from Saturday's drawing to claim their prize.

Monday October 28, 2013

This morning at 10:00am, Governor Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers, Senate President Robert Stivers and Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo are expected to announce what they call "a major initiative" to revive Eastern Kentucky's economy.

The event will be held on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College.

The announcement is in response to the loss of more than 6,000 coal mining jobs in the region in the last two years.

WYMT-TV will carry the announcement live at 10:00am.

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Officials are asking travelers to be cautious this morning on Route 3 in Martin County by the Federal Bureau of Prisons United States Penitentiary.

Crews are working to rescue twenty horses from that road in Martin County.

They say close to ten of the horses are already contained.

Crews believe they will be working for several more hours.

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There are new developments in the federal case against the former mayor of Martin, as her step-son was arrested when officials say he threatened witnesses in the investigation.

James "Stevie" Robinson is now in jail after a FBI agent and an agent from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office arrested him late Friday afternoon in Floyd County.

As officials conducted their investigation that led to the federal indictment of former mayor, Thomasine Robinson, and 3 others including her daughter ... they found serious threats were being made to witnesses.

Floyd County Attorney Keith Bartley says it is clear the attempt by Robinson was to also prevent even more information from coming out in what is still an ongoing investigation.

Stevie Robinson's father, James Robinson, was also arrested and charged last November with menacing and terroristic threatening after he made threats to current Martin mayor, Sam Howell, after Howell defeated Robinson's wife, Thomasine, in last year's election.

Stevie Robinson is currently in the Floyd County Detention Center, being held on a $500,000 cash bond. He is already on probation and parole for being convicted of a federal crime in another state.

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A Knott County grand jury indicted a man accused of shooting at sheriff's deputies.

Timothy Slone faces two counts of attempted murder and criminal mischief charges.

Police say earlier this month, he shot at deputies Mike Caudill and Leo Slone.

Caudill and Slone returned fire hitting Slone during the shootout.

An arraignment date is set for November 14th.

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The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has labeled two West Virginia coal mines and one in Kentucky as pattern violators, meaning they've repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations.

One is Pocahontas Coal Co.'s Affinity Mine in Raleigh County, where two men died within two weeks of each other in February.

The others are Brody Mining's Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County, W.Va., and Tram Energy's Mine No. 1 in Floyd County, Ky.

They're the first added to the list since MSHA began using new screening criteria in March.

MSHA director Joe Main said Thursday his staff is reviewing several other mines that could be added.

Friday October 25, 2013

On Thursday night there was a big break in a Knott County murder investigation.

Kentucky State Police arrested 37-year-old Gary Ward, of Johnson County, for the murder of Christina Barnett.

Earlier this month, a Knott County Grand Jury heard evidence from state police and issued a warrant for Ward.

Ward is charged with murder, evidence tampering and abuse of a corpse.

Today marks one month since Barnett's body was found under a pile of trash in a wooded area just off Highway 80 in Knott County by her sister and some friends.

Barnett's mother, Donna Hale, said she believes Ward is the man her daughter met online.

As of Thursday night Ward was being held in the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard.

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Four people who worked for the Floyd County city of Martin - including the former mayor and her daughter - were indicted Thursday on fraud charges.

Former mayor Thomasine Robinson and three others misused federal money and took part in a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's office.

The nine-count indictment targets Robinson, her daughter and former Martin Community Center director Rita Whicker, former city employee Ginger Halbert and city bookkeeper Ethel Clouse.

The four women are charged with conspiring and social security fraud, misappropriating money from a federal program and aggravated identity theft.

If convicted, they could spend at least two years in prison on each count.

Robinson was voted out of office by three votes in November 2012.

The four women will be arraigned Nov. 5 in federal court in Pikeville.

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The mystery of what happened to a well-known Floyd County lawyer who disappeared four months ago has been solved.

Friends were concerned Clyde Johnson had died when he went missing June 24, but police confirmed finding him earlier this week at a campground in Port O'Connor, Texas, which is on the Gulf of Mexico north of Corpus Christi.  

This is according to Attorney Ned Pillersdorf, a friend of Johnson's.

Pillersdorf said he was told that when a Texas police officer approached Johnson at the campground this week, Johnson told the officer he was fine and to leave him alone.

Johnson, 47, was a fixture in Floyd County, representing more than 100 clients, serving as president of the county bar association and helping coach high school football.

In June, Johnson told his secretary that he was going to take his dog, Pete, and go fishing, and would not be back until June 24.   He never returned and state police opened a missing person investigation.

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United Steel Workers and officials with the Harlan Health and Rehab Center have a reached a tentative agreement that could avoid a strike.

The United Steel Workers sent a ten day strike notice to the nursing home last week.

The notice says if an agreement is not reached by midnight on October 31st, employees have the option go on strike.

The local Union Steel Workers President say they reached the tentative agreement Wednesday night with a federal mediator.

The employees will vote on Monday whether to accept it.