Tuesday January 28, 2014

The first project undertaken by the Letcher County Water and Sewer District will soon be closed. The Millstone Sewer Treatment Plant, a highly innovative system at the time it was installed in the late 1990s, is set to close because of excessive repair and rehabilitation costs and the near total lack of payment by the 30 customers who are served by the system.  The plant was designed to direct its discharge into a leach field of peat that would clean the effluent before it reaches the stream that feeds the North Fork of the Kentucky River.
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The bitterly cold temperatures that hit the county earlier this month hit Fleming-Neon residents hard, with almost 40 water leaks occurring in homes and five water meters frozen.  The large number of leaks occurring at the same time contributed to the draining of 650,000 gallons from the city’s five water tanks and caused widespread water outages throughout the city’s water service area. With more freezing weather in the forecast, thry're asking water customers to not leave their water on continually in an attempt to keep it from freezing.
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Early Monday, Letcher County Sheriff's deputies arrested four people they said were making meth.  Sheriff Danny Webb says investigators spent the afternoon on Burton Hill at Letcher just off Highway 7 South cleaning up materials they believe were used to make meth.  Neighbors noticed a unique smell that led to the arrests.  In total, four people were arrested.  That includes Daniel Bentley, Sonya Freeman, John McCool and Jason Gibbs.  They were taken to ARH in Whitesburg for decontamination.  Sheriff Webb said the four suspects will face several meth related charges.  Several homes surround the trailer where the meth lab was suspected.
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A former Perry County Judge will be laid to rest today.  Doug Combs was found dead Saturday at his home in Hazard.  He served as Circuit Judge in Perry County from 1992, until he resigned in 2004 amid misconduct allegations.  He had also been District Judge.  The funeral will be today at 1 p.m. at The Gospel Light Baptist Church in Hazard.  Doug Combs was 57.
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There is a new chief at Mud Creek Fire Department and she is the first woman to hold the position in Floyd County history. 22-year-old, Stephanie McKinney, is a senior biology and psychology major at the University of Pikeville...while also being a member of the fire department for three years. With the most training hours last year in the department, she says her work ethic caught others attention...naming her chief.
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Kentucky is consolidating its workforce services for businesses looking to locate or expand in the state. Gov. Beshear said Monday the initiative amounts to a "one-stop shop" in assisting companies. The initiative is called WorkSmart Kentucky. The goal is to match employers with their workforce needs. Beshear says providing a quality workforce is the top factor in determining Kentucky's ability to attract high tech and advanced manufacturing jobs.

 

Friday January 24, 2014

The Knott County community is coming together to help a family that lost their home in a fire. The judge executive tells us people can donate clothing or money for the Richard Patrick family of Emmalena. The family lost their home in a fire on Wednesday. The Knott County Sportsplex is a drop off point for the donations between 9 in the morning and 6 in the evening, 7 days a week. Clothing sizes needed are: 2-3T for an infant. Male-Large shirts and 30/32 in pants. Female-Medium to Large Shirts. 3-5 in pants.
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A man wanted in connection to the disappearance of a Lexington man is now in police custody in Texas. The Fayette County Sheriff's Office tells WKYT that Robert "Mark" Taylor was captured by police in Hidalgo County, Texas. The sheriff's office got a tip that Taylor was there, and authorities in Texas were able to locate and arrest him on Wednesday.  Taylor will be scheduled for an extradition hearing in Hidalgo County, Texas.
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Folks will soon have the chance to take a passenger train excursion through Central Appalachia. The train rides will be April 12-13, one at 8:00 a.m each day and one at 2:00 p.m. each day. They will begin in Grundy, VA, and travel through Pike County and Mingo County. Officials say this is the first passenger train ride of its kind in that area. Tickets go on sale Friday, January 16. Prices are $35 for coach seating and $45 for deluxe seating. They can be purchased at www.21stCenturySteam.com There are 2,000 spots available.
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Next week you will need to pay close attention through one Pike County City. Officials say they plan to replace traffic lights along U.S. 23 through Coal Run Village. The project begins Monday, January 27th and runs through Friday. Work will begin at 8 a.m. and not end until 6 p.m. While no intersection will be completely blocked, officials still urge drivers to pay close attention to signs posted with lane closures.
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People interested in running for public office have a few more days to file paperwork to be placed on the May 20 primary election ballot in Kentucky. The secretary of state's office says almost 4,000 candidates have already filed for more than 300 offices on this year's ballot. The deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday. Candidates who are required to file with the secretary of state's office are those running for U.S. senator, U.S. representative, state senator, state representative, Supreme Court justice, Court of Appeals judge and circuit and district judge. Candidates for city and county office file with the county clerk in the county of service.

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.