Thursday January 23, 2014

The Kentucky Senate approved a proposed ballot measure on Wednesday that would switch elections for Kentucky governor and other statewide constitutional officers to even-numbered years, every four. Republican Sen. Christian McDaniel said the goal is to raise voter turnout and reduce election-related costs by consolidating more elections. The proposed constitutional amendment cleared the GOP-run Senate.
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Beginning in 2015, the Letcher County Board of Eduction will stop contributing money for health insurance for teachers as well as for cooks, janitors, other workers often referred to as “classified employees.” Saying it is trying to balance the school district’s budget, the board agreed during a special meeting Jan. 20 to stop paying nearly $50 per employee each month toward health insurance. The board is projected to spend $254,000 on employee health insurance during the 2013-2014 school year.
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Members of the Letcher County Fiscal Court feel your pain when it comes to scrambling to find the money needed to pay your huge electric bill. At its January meeting Friday, the court criticized what it termed outrageous increases in bills for electrical service from Kentucky Power Company. The issue was introduced by District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming, who has received several calls from residents afraid they will lose power because they can’t afford to pay their bills. AEP paid no taxes during the period from 2008 to 2010, and received a $545 million rebate, despite earning $5.9 billion.
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The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill to require any woman seeking an abortion to have a "face-to-face" meeting with a medical professional before the procedure. The measure seeks to update the state's informed consent law. It requires women to receive counseling and then wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion.
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Arrests related to methamphetamine have increased recently in Letcher County. A Whitesburg Rite Aid Pharmacy employee notified police around noon on Jan. 16 that two women were trying to purchase the drug Claritin-D, which pseudoephedrine, a substance used to make methamphetamine. Christie R. Sizemore, 33, of Redfox, and Chelsea L. Williams, 20, of Blackey, were arrested on Jan. 16 and charged with unlawful possession of a meth precursor (first offense).
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U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers said Wednesday that the federal government should have a continued role in spreading high-speed Internet access to the struggling coalfields of eastern Kentucky. The Kentucky Republican said the federal spending bill passed by Congress last week included $10 million to expand broadband access to distressed areas of central Appalachia. Kentucky ranks 46th nationally in high-speed broadband availability, and nearly a quarter of the state's population lacks broadband access.

Wednesday January 22, 2014

 

Gov. Beshear proposed reshuffling state funds Tuesday night to bolster Kentucky's public schools, recommending a large infusion of money for classrooms gained from another round of budget cuts. Kentucky's higher education system was among the broad list of targets for spending cuts in the $20.3 billion, two-year state budget plan that Beshear presented to lawmakers.
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Kentucky State Police in Hazard are on the lookout after two gas stations, both in Perry County, were robbed at gunpoint within a 2 hour window Monday night. The Vicco Kwik Mart was robbed shortly after 10:00, on Monday night. In that robbery, the man made off with more than $200.00 after threatening an employee with a gun.  A person wielding a similar weapon tried to rob Ramey's BP in Cornettsville around 11:00 p.m. and only got away with about $20.00.  Police say they are not convinced these two crimes are connected.  If you have any information that can help KSP regarding these robberies, you are asked to call the Hazard Post.  That number is 606-435-6069.
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The Pineville Community Hospital Emergency Room was closed for several hours yesterday. Officials say a patient with burns from a possible meth lab explosion caused officials to shut down the ER and decontaminate it. Hospital officials say around 8:00 a.m., a man came in with severe burns that appeared to be from a meth lab explosion. The Bell County Sheriff's Department is investigating the fire and possible meth lab at the man's home in Arjay.
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As Kentuckians dig out from several inches of snow, they're faced with the prospect of temperatures in the single digits and wind chills even lower today as an Arctic blast serves a second helping of winter weather. Expect single digits early today with wind chills below zero for much of the state north of Interstate 64, the Mountain Parkway in eastern Kentucky and Interstate 69 through western Kentucky. The cold, dry air will help clear up some of the snow but will likely leave roads slick and prone to icing.
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The ASPCA helped the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office and the Pulaski County Attorney's office rescue dogs from a puppy mill on Tuesday. The dogs were taken from Dream Catcher Kennels in Nancy. The dogs range from Chihuahuas to bloodhounds. The ASPCA the animals were found living filthy and deplorable conditions. We're told many have untreated medical issues and were found living with little or no shelter in below freezing temperatures.
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Pulaski County deputies are searching for three masked men they say broke into two homes by telling residents inside their cattle were loose. Tuesday around 12:30 a.m. deputies responded to a robbery at 263 Valley Road, north of Somerset. Deputies say three men forced their way into two homes at that address. the men tied up several individuals with duct tape. They believe they took firearms, prescription medications, and cash from one of the homes.

 

Tuesday January 21, 2014

The U.S. coal mining industry will see a modest and short-lived rebound in 2014, driven by more production in Western states after two successive years of declines, according to a government forecast. Coal production from the Appalachian region is forecast to rise by just 3.5 million tons in 2014, then drop by 10 million tons next year. Still, that is some good news for Letcher County, where coal production fell in 2013 to record-low 1.64 million tons, down from 2.84 million tons tons in 2012.
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James Huffman the 34-yearold Pike County man accused of wielding the knife used to stab Michael Shane Hogg to death early New Year’s Day, has a long history of violating the law.
In addition to violating conditions imposed upon him after his release on bond from the Pike County Detention Center, where Huffman was taken after threatening Pike County sheriff ’s deputies with a hunting knife and sword during one-hour standoff on Dec. 4, Huff- man failed to appear for a scheduled jury trial in Pike District Court on Feb. 15, 2006 in connection with a fourth-degree assault charge filed against him.
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Officials with the Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center in Pikeville want to stress the importance of life. The center serves twelve counties, working to provide guidance, hope, and love for those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy...operating solely off of donations from churches, businesses and individuals. Officials say their 'Banquet for Life' allows them to reach even more by raising money and awareness. The banquet is set for February 8th at 6:00 p.m. at the Mark V in Pikeville.
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Kentucky legislators may soon debate whether to allow service monkeys to assist paralyzed adults with simple household tasks. Sen. John Schickel says his bill comes at the request of a family in his northern Kentucky district. The family wants to use a service monkey to assist their daughter, who was paralyzed in an automobile accident. The bill's critics include Sarah Baeckler Davis, executive director of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance. She says monkeys are wild animals that don't belong in homes.
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Arrangements are made for a well-known Hazard businessman. James D. "Jim" Hill died on Saturday at the age of 75. He owned the Perry Oil Company in Hazard. Those in the community say he was an employer who valued, cared, and considered those he worked with his extended family. Hill was recognized as Hazard's Civic Night "Young man of the year" as well as an Honorary Colonel of the Kentucky State Police.
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Frontier Communications and the Communications Workers of America have extended their contract for workers in West Virginia again. It's the third contract extension since negotiations on a new agreement began seven months ago. Frontier said the latest extension will run until April 5 while negotiations continue. The contract originally was scheduled to expire Aug. 2, 2013. It covers 1,550 workers in West Virginia.

Monday January 20, 2014

One Perry County Deputy Jailer is on the other side of the bars. Officials say 27 year old Bruce Campbell is charged with official misconduct for bringing drugs and other items into the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard. An investigation started when someone complained an employee brought drugs into the detention center. Campbell was taken to the Leslie County Detention Center.
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In front of a crowd of people at the Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Bell County, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced 73 rural Kentucky counties are now part of the StrikeForce initiative. This means the USDA will partner with local organizations, businesses, and universities to invest in the communities. Local officials say this will create new opportunities in light of declining coal jobs. Officials say the StrikeForce initiative is one more way to grow the economy in Eastern Kentucky.
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Kentucky State Police are investigating two armed robberies in Floyd County. Officials say on Tuesday night two men demanded money while showing a weapon at the Fast Lane convenience store in the Eastern community. Then on Thursday night, officials say another armed robbery took place at the Mi-Dee Mart in Lackey. Anyone with information is asked to contact Kentucky State Police Post 9 at 606-433-7711.
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Officials in Appalachia are gearing up for what they are describing as a one-of-a-kind steam train excursion. The Appalachian News-Express reports that officials from Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia met in Pike County, Ky., last week to discuss details for the 2014 Tri-State Rail Excursion that is planned for April 12-13. Officials say the steam train journey will begin in Grundy, Va., and pass through Pike County and Devon, W. Va. Pike County director of Energy and Community Development Charles Carlton said the train will pass land associated with the Hatfield-McCoy feud and passengers will have an opportunity to see coal mining activities.
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Kentucky State Police say new information led them back to the home of a couple accused of letting their nine children live in horrible conditions. On Thursday State Police executed that search warrant and found the remains of a premature baby Rowan County property belonging to Johnathan Prater and Edith Strange. The couple is currently in jail on  endangerment charges relating to their nine children.

Friday January 17, 2014

Several Eastern Kentuckians are recovering following a crash near Morehead. It happened just after 8pm Wednesday at mile marker 143 on Interstate 64. Police say 66 year old Eli Lucas of Jenkins was driving east when he lost control and hit another car. The driver of the other car, 36 year old Tara Lyons of Olive Hill, along with Lucas and two passengers in his car, 64 year old Gary Kanes of Elkhorn City and 58 year old Vivian Kanes of Virgie, were all taken to Saint Claire Regional Medical Center.
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Plans are underway to build a new Clover Fork Clinic in downtown Harlan to provide healthcare to anyone regardless of the ability to pay. The Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, is providing a grant for construction. Officials say the site of the old Harlan Hospital on East Mound Street will be home to the new Clover Fork Clinic. Officials say the current Harlan building is too small and outdated.
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One of the largest health care providers in the area will make significant cuts in the coming days. Officials with Mountain States Health Alliance say they will eliminate 161 positions or about 1.5% of their workforce. Some of the positions are vacancies that have not been filled, but most of them will affect current employees. System officials say the cuts are necessary due to the loss of millions of dollars in reimbursements and patient volume.
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You have probably heard the expression that nothing in life is free. That could be true for drivers on the Mountain Parkway soon if a toll is reinstated to help pay for an expansion project. If Governor Beshear gets his way, drivers can look forward to more room on parts of the Mountain Parkway. On Wednesday, Beshear announced plans to make all of that road four lanes.
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Closing in on two weeks with no water some folks in Floyd County say they are losing trust they will keep it when it comes back on. Folks in the Frasure's Creek area say they got water back after nearly a week and a half only to lose it again. Several folks say they have had to deal with water outages for the past two weeks.
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An Arizona man faces a criminal mischief charge in Laurel County. Sheriff Deputies say early Thursday morning they were called to a vandalism complaint. Deputy Mikey Ashurst says when he arrived on scene he found a window had been broken out of a garage window at The Boss Shop. After reviewing surveillance video, they found a man broke out the windo and then ran from the scene. Deputies arrested Camelin Abraham. Damage was estimated at around $500.