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.

Local News Wednesday February 8, 2017

A deputy in Knox County is being vaccinated for hepatitis after being stuck by a hypodermic needle while making an arrest.  Deputy Chuck Wagner was arresting Shaunda Reed, Letha Jones, Jason Cox, and Wayne Spears when he was stuck by a syringe from Spears’s pocket.  Officers say when you’re asked about having needles you should be truthful.  Deputy Wagner now taking a series of vaccinations to prevent contracting Hepatitis B.

A fence that showed up in Hyden City Park recently is causing some questions.  The fence went up as officials were blocking part of the walking trail, though it would be easy to just walk around for access.  Mayor Carol Joseph says the city leases part of that property from a family and ran into an issue as they were trying to renew the lease.  Both the family and the city say they’re working together to reach a resolution.

Harlan Independent Schools closed again today for widespread illness after being hit hard by the flu and other similar illnesses.  While they’re out of school, the school says it is wiping down everything, disinfecting chairs, desks, handrails, restrooms and more.  They’re resuming a normal schedule tomorrow.

The Kentucky Supreme Court officially added a new Justice yesterday.  Justice Laurance B VanMeter was elected to the Supreme Court of Kentucky in November wand was introduced yesterday.  He previously spent thirteen years as a Judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.  He fills a vacancy left by retired Justice Mary Noble.

After a few games looking less than stellar, the Kentucky Wildcats mens basketball team got a much needed win last night over LSU.  The cats withstood a late rally from the tigers to come away with a 92-85 win.

Two people in Harlan County are accused of conspiring to murder a man.  A Grand Jury indicted both Melissa and James Starret for conspiracy to commit murder, and receiving stolen property.  Police say the couple conspired to kill Joshua Starrett.

Wise County Virginia officials were told this week that they wil receive half a million dollars in economic development funding from the department of housing and community development.  A $200,000 grant will be used to attract and train workers for a new call center while another grant for $300,000 will help pay for a drone project being launched by the county’s Industrial Development Authority.

Kentucky lawmakers convened In Frankfort yesterday following a month long recess for the second part of their 30-day session.  Republicans now control both chambers and Senate President Robert Stivers says their priorities for the session include changing the Penal code with hopes of reducing the state’s prison population, and passing a bill allowing charter schools in the state.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has announced that Western Union has agreed to pay around $6.8 million to Kentuckians who have been victims of fraud using wire transfers involving the company.  Beshear says a lot of that money will go to repay seniors who were targeted and victimized by some of the scams that ask people to send a pre-pad debit card or money order.   It’s part of a multi-state settlement.  Around $60,000 of that money will go to the general assembly.

The Johnson County Middle school Boys wrestling team is state champions again.  It is the school’s fourth state championship.  Two team members also won in their weight group.

Local News Monday February 6, 2017

A six-year-old girl from Greenup County was taken to the hospital after being shot by a little boy.  People who were there say the boy and girl were playing together, when the accident happened.  The girl was shot in the chest and is in critical condition.  It’s not clear how the children got access to the gun or what kind of gun it was.  Kentucky State Police are investigating.

Police in Middlesboro arrested two people at Pinnacle Homes Friday night after receiving an anonymous tip that Sidney Smith, was there.  Smith was wanted on other charges. Police found Tammy Rust of Middlesboro covering a glass pipe containing residue. Police say Rust had a scale, two plastic bags containing a crystal-like substance believed to be meth and a small bag containing Percocet, Xanax and “Totem Poles”.

Two people died in a wreck in I-64 in Rowan County last night.  Around 8:30pm a car was involved In a rollover crash that shut down the interstate.  30-year-old Ashley Calvert of Salt Lick died at the scene.  The other person involved, 32-yearold Joseph Caudill was taken to a hospital where he later died. Police are not sure what caused the crash.

The Kentucky Department for Community Based services says the number of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases  in Kentucky rose 55% over four years.  The increase has happened since former Governor Steve Beshear established an independent panel in 2012 to review those cases.  Panel members say Kentucky isn’t making enough progress to keep kids safe and they’re struggling to monitor far too many cases.

A group of local women are trying to make prom a good experience for those who may not have the money to do so.  Hailey Austin and a group of other cosmetology professionals and enthusiasts are offering to do hair and make-up for 15-20 girls who can’t afford to go get it done elsewhere.  The services will be provided on April 28th and 29th.

Police are investigating after a woman was found dead Sunday in Bell County.  The body of 38-year-old Christina Estes was found near the Middlesboro-Bell County airport.  She was pronounced dead at the scene.  The body has been sent to Frankfort for an autopsy, which will be performed today.

A Polaris Razor stolen from a Letcher County Sheriff’s Deputy’s driveway late last week has been recovered.  Kentucky state police and the Letcher County Sheriff’s office worked together to make recover the vehicle and make an arrest.

The state of Kentucky will quiz some tax payers before they can get their tax refund.  The Department of Revenue says they’ll be sending letters to some taxpayers asking them to take and identity confirmation quiz online.  Once it starts people have a five minute time limit to answer three questions.  Those who fails will be given a second quiz with a two minute limit.  The process is meant to avoid tax fraud.

Over the weekend Clay County’s Emergency 9-1-1 Board called an emergency meeting and terminated Director Jimmy Smith on a unanimous vote.    While it’s unclear why he was terminated, it appears to be an internal matter.  Ryan Smith was chosen as the interim director.

Martin County is working to install a new 911 system that would be able to accept phone calls from cell phones.  The center is preparing to upgrade to a completely computer generated system.  The new center will be located in the Emergency Operations Center of the Martin County Government Center.  They hope to have the new system up and running by March 29th.

Local News Thursday February 2, 2017

A woman charged with killing her husband and two daughters allegedly told police that she shot her husband over a $264,000 cash settlement that she had deposited in August that had been depleted.  A Kentucky State Police Detective testified that Courtney Taylor wrote a six page letter saying she shot her two daughters because she didn't want them growing up without a mother.  All three of them were found in their beds with gunshot wounds to the head.   That case is now being sent to a grand jury.

Big Sandy Community and Technical College has received a $30,000 grant to help establish a a new Community Dental Health Coordinator certificate program and to train dental hygienists.  It will provide 15 students with a $2,000 scholarships to help pay for the cost of certification classes. The program is the first of its kind in Kentucky and should provide more of in demand dental hygienists to the area.  BSCTC is still waiting on approval from the Southern Association off Collages and Schools to begin the classes.

A stabbing has beeen reported out of Pike County.  Kentucky state police say they have a person of interest in custody.  No names have been released.

A Knox County woman will spend the next ten years behind bars.  Melissa warren pleaded guilty to manslaughter and DUI in connection to a crash in December of 2015 that killed Ryan Baker.  Baker left behind a wife and a 2-year-old son.

Corbin Police are investigating a deadly hit and run accident.  Officers say 62-year-old Roscoe Jones was hit while walking along Highway 25 east overnight.  He was taken to UT Medical Center where he later died.  THe only evidence left behind of the crash is a park light where Jones was hit.  Police say they believe a car seen near the area on a security camera that was missing a headlight may be to blame.

Floyd County Sheriff's Deputies say Dustin Stanley sold synthetic marijuana to deputies.  THey say they suspected Stanley of dealing drugs for months and finally had the proof to get a warrant.  Officials also found drugs, guns, and money inside Stanley's home.  SHeriff John Hunt says he hopes putting Stanley behind bars helps to get drugs off the street.

A doctor who owned multiple pain management clinics in Georgia and Eastern Kentucky has agreed to pay the government for violating the False Claims Act.  Dr. Robert Windsor agreed to enter a $20 million consent judgement to clear up the allegations against him.  He was accused of charging for services that he did not perform and giving unnecessary tests.

The Republican Controlled house approved a measure that doe away with a regulation approved under PResident Barack Obama that prevented coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams.  Republicans say the rule was a job killer and was poorly crafter.  House speaker Paul Ryan says the rule ignored dozens of federal, state, and local regulations already in place.

A lawsuit from former House Speaker Greg Stumbo challenging the legality of Governor Matt Bevin's budget vetoes has been dismissed.  A state judge ruled that Stumbo cannon sue the governor because he lost his seat in the legislature.  Last year Bevin used veto power to erase part of the state spending plan including an expanded preschool program and a community college scholarship for high school graduates..  Stumbo had argued that the vetoes were illegal because Bevin technically filed copies instead of original documents with the Secretary of State.

Three people were seriously injured Wednesday morning in a serious crash near Ramey's Qwik Stop in Vicco.  Two people were flown to Pikeville Medical Center another was taken to a hospital in Hazard. 

Local News Wednesday February 1, 2017

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for lower gas and electric bills in Eastern Kentucky.  Many Kentucky Power residents say they feel nickel and dimmed by fees and say the winter months are tough on many people.  Many customers specifically had questions about the Big Sandy Retirment Rider that added fees to every power bill.

For the last week and a half sheriff's deputies in Knox County have been training on a virtual decision that is designed to help them make the right decisions about when and if to use deadly force.  The virtual reality simulator puts law enforcement officers in real life do or die situations.  Following each training exercise is an analysis of what the officer did right or wrong in the given situation.  They hope that kind of training will prepare them and make them more likely to make good decisions when confronted with tricky situations in real life.

The loss of coal and mineral severance funds has hit most counties in Eastern Ke ntucky hard, causing a variety of problems.  Floyd County officials Say the loss of 4 million in funding per year since 2012 and the high likelihood that the number is even lower next year is making it hard to keep the jail open.  Floyd County Judge Executive Ben Hale says fiscal court is trying to figure out how to cover the cost of the jail in the next fiscal year and  into the future.  Jailer Stuart Halpert says the number of inmates in the Floyd County Detention Center has increased despite continued budget cuts.  Some of the options that the county is looking at to keep the jail open and ease budget restrictions include a three percent increase to transient room Tax on motels or a tax on insurance companies that do business in Floyd County.  Hale says he wont consider an occupational tax, though other  members of the fiscal court might.

A Perry county man is facing charges for allegedly forging signatures on multiple prescriptions.  Pikeville police say they got a tip that Travis Hicks  was using her name to get prescription medication.  Police say Hicks forged the signatures of three doctors on five prescription blanks and had them filled at the Food City in Shelbiana.  Hicks, who is a Registered Nurse at Pikeville Medical Center used the forged prescription slips to get oxycodone  and nor could.  He's charged with five counts of forgery of prescription, theft of prescription blanks, and criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Elaine Chao, the wife of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnel has been confirmed as Transportation Secretary in the Trump Administration.  She was conformed with overwhelming support.  The vote was 93-6.  Trump has promised to invest $1 trillion in improving highways, rail service, and other infrastructure projects.

A drug roundup yesterday landed 21 people behind bars.  Indictments were served for 21 people in Perry and Knott COunties.  The indictments stemmed form several different investigations all related to drug trafficking.  More arrests are expected.

Last night Voice Winner Jordan Smith of Harlan sang the National Anthem at the UK vs. Georgia men's basketball game in Rupp Arena.

Yesterday in Lee County Teleworks USA hosted a job fair for people working from home.  Concentric, a business services company facilitated the fair virtually.  There will be another Job fair in Perry County February 9th.

Chuck Sexton, President and CEO of One East Kentucky has been chosen of a 40 under 40 award.  The award program was managed by Development counselor international, a firm specializing in economic marketing.

Governor Matt Bevin is planning a visit to Virginia to help Republican Ed Gillispie's bid for Governor. THey'll campaign together in Lynchburg and Staughton on February 9th.

After two straight losses the Kentucky men's basketball team got a much needed win, though it was hard fought.  Kentucky outlasted Georgia last night winning 90-81 in Overtime.    It looked like the cats would be headed to a third straight loss until a jumper from Malik Monk with 8 seconds left in regulation tied the game up at 76 all.

A 13 year old Girl in McCracken County allegedly robbed a clothing store while armed.  Investigators say a 13-year old girl and 14 year old boy robbed The Pink Tractor in Grand Rivers at around 12:30pm.  They say the girl, wearing a mask fired a gunshot into the ceiling before demanding cash.  Both juveniles are charged with robbery.  The girl is also charged with wanton endangerment.