Thursday June 19, 2014

RICH PRICE
WXKQ BULLDOG NEWS DIRECTOR

JUDGE EXECUTIVE RACE TAKES CENTER STAGE AT FISCAL COURT MEETING

The battle for Letcher County's Judge/Executive election heated up this week when candidate Hatler Kiser leveled several accusations against Jim Ward - and then challenged Ward to a series of debates. This all came about at Monday's Letcher Fiscal Court meeting when Kiser spoke during the public comments period. According to reports a number of the issues Kiser raised related to the Letcher County Recreation Center and how it was financed.  There's been no word on if or when the debates between Kiser and Ward and Kiser will take place.

SOAR MEETING TONIGHT AT EXTENSION OFFICE

The group Shaping our Appalachian Region - SOAR - is holding a meeting tonight at the Letcher County Extension Service office. It's a listening session for the group which is working on drafting an economic plan for the region.  It starts at 6pm at the office which is off the Whitesburg bypass.

FORMER FLOYD COUNTY FIRE CHIEF TO BE ARRAIGNED

A former Floyd County Volunteer Fire Department Chief will be arraigned June 30 on embezzlement charges. Terry Triplett had been on the run since his indictment in 2013 but turned himself in on Monday. A state auditor's report found over $120,000 dollars in questionable spending that was traced back to Triplett.

CITY OF BENHAM BANK ACCOUNT FROZEN

Trouble for a Harlan County city as the I-R-S freezes its bank accounts. Last year, the IRS said the city of Benham owed nearly 38 thousand dollars in unpaid taxes. Mayor Wanda Humphrey says the taxes were paid but the penalties had not, and that's why the accounts were frozen. Humphrey says they are working to resolve the issue.

FLEMING QUESTIONS HIGH ELECTRICITY BILLS

Letcher County's state representative got an earful about high electricity bills when she met with District Magistrate Wayne Fleming on Monday. Fleming says he's received many complaints about power bills hikes due to Kentucky Power surcharges to update its power plants.  Fleming told 94th District Representative Leslie Combs that Kentucky Power’s customers should not have to pay the cost of the upgrades. Combs says the Legislature is working on bills to stop the surcharges but it has been stalled in the Senate.

BBC REPORTERS IN THE MOUNTAINS

The British are coming to Floyd County - the British Broadcasting Corporation, that is. They're in Eastern Kentucky to find out how the state's healthcare exchange - known as kynect - is working in our area. Reporter Claire Bolderson says they chose Kentucky because it's one state where the exchange has been very successful in signing people up. The reporters started out in Clay County and once their journey is complete, their story will air on B-B-C Radio.

HARLAN MAN CHARGED WITH BURGLARY

A Harlan man suspected of taking $2000 from a residence is charged with burglary. Police say David Carmack broke into an apartment rented by Pancho Bautista and took the money. He was seen on surveillance video entering the apartment. Investigators say Carmack admitted entering the apartment using a key and stealing the cash. He's being held in the Harlan County Detention Center and bond has not been set.

WORK STOPPED ON A HARLAN ROAD

Work is halted on a road in Harlan County - and the project could turn into a battle between the state and the city of Harlan. A judge has issued a restraining order stopping a culvert replacement project on Kentucky 3459 between Gilbert Street and Middleton Street because of a dispute over who is paying for the work - the state or the city. The road was to be closed until July 3 and there's no word on how soon work will resume.

METH LAB EXPLOSION IN CORBIN

A suspected meth lab is being blamed for an explosion and fire at an apartment in Corbin. Three adults and a young girl were taken to a hospital to be decontaminated. 2 of the adults - Edward Cosgrove and Norma Brock face meth-related charges. The child's grandmother, Barbara Morrison, is charged with controlled substance endangerment to a child.

Wednesday June 18, 2014

3 SENTENCED IN SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD CASE

The first of three people from Pike County convicted of Social Security disability fraud has been sentenced. Ginger Michelle Halbert Stumbo pleaded guilty to conspiracy, I-D theft and fraud charges. As part of a plea deal she will spend 2 years in jail.   Sentencing for the other two defendants, former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and her daughter, former Martin Community Center Director Rita Whicker is schedule for July 9.  Court papers say Robinson and Whicker conspired with Stumbo to hire her as a city employee, while writing her paychecks in her son’s name, so Stumbo could continue drawing disability benefits. The 3 are also ordered to pay over $175,000 in restitution.

FREE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION WORKSHOPS TO BE HELD THIS FALL

Leslie County parents will be able to attend a free early childhood education workshop this fall. The state is funding 25 workshops throughout Kentucky thanks to a grant from the federal government. The program consist of six sessions designed to demonstrate how to turn everyday moments with children into learning opportunities. It's the first step of a four-year, $1.4 million expansion of 150 academies across the state.

LEADERSHIP SOUTHEAST KY VISITS FORMER MIINING SITES

Leadership Southeast Kentucky visited Perry County to see firsthand the potential for economic opportunities on former mining sites. The first stop was at D & D Ranch  - the nearly 1000 acre site built on the former Pine Branch Coal Sales mine. Officials say that in the 25 years D&D has been in business it's contributed over a million dollars to the economy. The leadership class of 2014 will end next month with a Kentucky Power plant tour.

CLEANUP UNDERWAY IN WISE COUNTY

Folks from Wise and Dickenson Counties in Virginia joined forces to help with a cleanup operation in Washington County. They removed nearly 2 tons of litter and over 5 tons of tires from a dump along Copperfield road. Cleanup efforts continue through August.

JENKINS STUDENTS WILL ATTEND TRAINING IN WISE COUNTY

This August students from will be heading to Wise County in Virginia for vocational and technical training. Jenkins Independent Schools Superintendent Debbie Watts says some students will be attending Wise County's Career & Technical Center. According to Watts the site location with Wise County and the course offerings were the main reasons the district struck a partnership with the center. It's expected that 20 to 24 students will be in the first class this fall.

PIKE COUNTY JOB FAIR HELD TUESDAY

Pike County unemployed miners had an opportunity yesterday to learn about potential job openings with a nationwide operation. GMS Mine Repair and Maintenance officials say they have positions available across the country, and if miners are willing to relocate, they want to put them back to work. GMS official Derek Jackson says they know there are some really high quality folks who want to get back to work, and they are looking for top notch talent.

HARLAN COUNTY WOMAN ACCUSED OF STEALING MONEY FROM EMPLOYER

A Harlan County woman suspected of stealing money from her employer is facing a felony theft charge. Police say Sheila Fair allowed purchases from the Kwik Mart in Loyall to go through without putting them in the register. Fair is also accused to taking money from gas purchases and stealing food from the store. She is being held in the Harlan County Detention Center on a $5,000 full cash bond.

CHARITY BIKE RIDE TO BE HELD FOR HAZARD CITY POLICEMAN

A charity bike ride is set for tomorrow night to raise money for Hazard Policeman Paul Campbell, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. It starts at Applebee's and will end at Campbell's house. The ride starts at 6pm and costs is ten dollars a bike. Organizers say all the proceeds will go directly to Campbell and his family.

NEW INFO IN WHITLEY COUNTY CHILD ABUSE CASE

More information is emerging about a child abuse case against a Whitley County mother and her boyfriend. Police say it happened the first week of May when they learned the father told the mother he was punishing their son for something school related. According to investigators the mother told her boyfriend to whip the boy. Both the boyfriend and the mother are facing first-degree criminal abuse charges.

 

Tuesday June 17, 2014

WHITESBURG CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING TONIGHT

The Whitesburg City Council is holding a special meeting tonight for the second reading of the 2014-2015 budget. Last week Mayor James Wiley Craft revealed the new budget increases general fund expenditures by roughly 9 percent to $1.9 million. Water and sewer expenditures were virtually unchanged from the current budget at $1.33 million. Tonight's special meeting is at City Hall and starts at 6:30.

FLOYD COUNTY MEDICAL CLINIC EMPLOYEES ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES

3 former employees of a Floyd County medical clinic along with an accomplice are under arrest on prescription drug charges. The Attorney General's office says Yvonda Lazar, Kenneth Lazar and Andrea Kennedy worked for the now-closed Commonwealth Quality Medical Management in Prestonsburg. They are charged with forging and passing blank prescriptions at different pharmacies. Derek Kennedy did not work at the clinic but he is facing the same charges. Investigators say beginning in 2010, they received complaints about fraudulent prescriptions involving Commonwealth Quality Medical. The investigation concluded earlier this month when a Grand Jury handed down indictments against the 4 people. All 4 were arrested last week.

PERRY COUNTY ROAD SHUT DOWN

A busy road in Perry County is shut down for pipe repairs. Combs Road in Hazard is closed between both sets of ramps onto Highway 15. Officials say they have crews working extended hours to get the pipe repair work done by the end of the week.

BOND SET IN BELL COUNTY MINOR SEX ABUSE CASE

Bond was set at $100,000 for a  Bell County man charged with sex abuse involving a ten year old girl. Police arrested Terry Simpson yesterday afternoon. Investigators say in April, a woman reported Simpson abused her daughter at an apartment in Ferndale and that let to an arrest warrant for Simpson on Friday.  Deputies say Simpson surrendered without incident.

FORMER FLOYD COUNTY FIRE CHIEF ARRESTED

Police have arrested a former Floyd County volunteer fire department chief on embezzlement charges. Terry Triplett has been missing for nearly 2 years but yesterday the Floyd County Sheriff's office got a call that Triplett was ready to turn himself in. According to investigators a 2012 state audit of the Garrett Fire Department found $123,000 in questionable spending that was traced back to Triplett. A grand jury handed down an indictment in 2013.

NO RETRIAL IN JOHNSON COUNTY DUI CASE

There will be no retrial for a Johnson County woman convicted of manslaughter. An attorney for Myra Castle sought the new trial after learning one of the jurors knew more about the case than what was disclosed during jury selection. A judge denied the request at an evidentiary hearing yesterday. Castle was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of C.J. Mollett, who died last August when Castle's car hit his motorcycle.

FIREARMS THEFT ARREST MADE IN HARLAN COUNTY

A Harlan County man is arrested in connection with a firearms theft earlier this month and an accomplice faces stolen property charges. Police say Lewis Borgerding was in possession of 40 guns taken from the home of Kenneth Cloud and Robin Middleton had 2 of those guns in her possession. Investigators say Middleton sold the guns to Cloud's neighbor according to recorded statements received from that person. Borgerding and Middleton are in jail on $20,000 full cash bond each.

BELL COUNTY CRASH SENDS 3 TO THE HOSPITAL

A crash in Bell County yesterday sent 3 people to the hospital. Police say it happened at the intersection of Winchester avenue and 30th Street in Middlesboro. According to investigators Tracy Ayers was turning left when she pulled into the path of a dump truck. Ayers along with a juvenile passenger in her car and the dump truck driver - identified as Homer Ervin - were taken to Middlesboro ARH.

Monday June 16, 2014

HARLAN COUNTY CRASH INVESTIGATION

The investigation continues into a fatal crash in Harlan County. Stephanie Fultz and Trey Bray died in the Cawood community wreck last Thursday. Police say Fultz was driving and lost control in a curve, crossed the center line, hit two parked trucks, and then slammed into a building. According to friends, Fultz was on her way to work and was giving Bray a ride into town when the accident happened. Investigators Fultz was wearing a seat belt, but Bray was not.

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES VISITS A COAL MINE

U-S Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes paid a visit to Floyd County last week, Grimes visited a mine before an appearance at the Mountain Arts Center. The Democrat says she doesn't side with President Obama's energy policies - and also says incumbent Mitch McConnell hasn't dealt with the job situation in Eastern Kentucky in the 3 decades he's been in office. Grimes says she welcomes the opportunity to debate McConnell before the November election.

VIRGINIA ARMED ROBBERTY CHARGES AGAINST A PIKE COUNTY MAN

A Pike County man is facing an armed robbery charge in Virginia. Police say Brandon O’Neil Justice, was arrested in connection with the June 6 holdup of the Dash-In convenience store located in Virginia next to the Virginia-Kentucky state line. Justice, was captured through an investigation in which Kentucky State Police cooperated.

PERRY COUNTY ROBBERY SUSPECT TAKES PLEA DEAL

A suspect in 2 Perry County gas station robberies in January has taken a plea deal. Byron Fields pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation to robbery in the 2 holdups. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution. The deal also means Fields will remain available to testify against the other 2 suspects in the robberies,  Michael T. Amburgey and Earnest White.

THEFT CHARGES IN HARLAN COUNTY COLD CHECK CASE

A Harlan County woman suspected of passing a cold check at a grocery store is facing theft charges. Police say last month Deanna Woodsby tried to cash the nearly $2000 bad check at Mack’s Supermarket. She's in the Harlan County Detention Center on a $5,000 full cash bond.

HCTC IN STATE TUITION RISING

In-state tuition at Hazard Community and Technical College is going up over 2 percent next year. That's part of the 2014-15 budget approved last week by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System's board of regents. Board Chair P.G. Peeples says the system remains the best postsecondary education value in the state.

VIRGINIA HEALTH FACTOR RATINGS RELEASED

Wise and Dickinson Counties didn't fare very well on Virginia's health factor ratings. Out of the state's 133 counties, Dickenson rated 125th and Wise 128th.The rankings were based on 4 categories: Health behaviors, quality of clinical care, social and economic factors along with air, water and housing quality.

Friday June 13, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY GRAND JURY INDICTS 5 IN COPPER THEFT

A grand jury has indicted 5 people from Letcher County who are suspected of vandalizing mining equipment to steal copper and other metals from the machine.

They are identified as Michael Morton, John Maggard, Rebecca Lewis, William McFall and Gregory Caudill.

Police say they broke into a Cumberland River Coal Company building 2 months ago and used cutting torches and other tools to remove the metals from the $80,000 piece of equipment.

Investigators say the machine was damaged beyond repair.


NEW RESTAURANT IN JENKINS WITH ALCOHOL SALES TO FOLLOW SOON

A Letcher County city's days as a dry town may soon be coming to an end.

The owners of the newly opened Las Penas restaurant in Jenkins say they've applied for a liquor license and expect it to be issued in the coming weeks.

Jenkins has been an alcohol-free town for over 100 years.


FLOYD COUNTY MAN FACING MULTIPLE CHARGES

A Floyd County man facing multiple drug and endangerment charges is free after a police officer failed to appear in court on Monday.

Michael Lee had been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, 13 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

District Judge Eric Hall dismissed the charges.


WHITESBURG CITY EMPLOYEES RECOGNIZED

The Whitesburg City Council recognized a long time employee who died recently and another who has retired.

Steve Taylor worked for nearly 25 years as an operator at the city water plant for 24 years before his recent death.

Long time city worker Wade Dean Adams recently retired due to health reasons.

Mayor James Wiley Craft presented certificates of appreciation to Adams and Taylor’s wife Ann.


LETCHER COUNTY POLICE CHASE

A Letcher County man is in jail on drug charges and for leading officers on a chase.

Police say the responded to a tip about a suspicious car on Thornton Road and when they tried to pull it over, the driver - identified as Jimmy Sandlin - sped away.

He was eventually pulled over and officers say they had to use tazers to get Sandlin into custody.


LETCHER COUNTY COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY'S OFFICE MOVING

Phone calls to the Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office may go unanswered today and Monday - but not because no one in's the office.

It's part of the move from Whitesburg City Hall to the second floor of the Letcher County Health Department.

I-T techs from the state are completing the installation of computer and phone connections and phones may be out while the work is completed.

Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks has been working as normal during the move - which is expected to be done by Tuesday.

LONGTIME HARLAN COUNTY POLITICIAN PASSES AWAY

A longtime state politician from Harlan County native has died.

Glenn Freeman served in both the House and Senate and is well known for his work on the state's Coal Mine Safety Analyst Program - the result of a 1976 incident which killed 26 miners.

Freeman is survived by his wife, three sons and 10 grandchildren.

He was 80.


LETCHER COUNTY FARMER'S MARKET BEGIN SATURDAY

The Letcher County Farmer’s Market kicks off tomorrow next to the Veterans Museum in Whitesburg.

It will be open from 9am until 1pm every Saturday through October.

This is the second year for the market.


TODAY AND TOMORROW WRAPS UP LETCHER COUNTY TIRE AMNESTY PROGRAM

Letcher County is running a tire amnesty program which allows folks to get rid of tires at no charge.

You can bring used tires to Swanee Loading Dock in Isom on Highway 7 or Gateway Industrial Park off US 23 in Jenkins.

The tires are ground up and then recycled.

Hours are from 8am until 4:30 pm and tomorrow is the last day for the program.