Friday July 25, 2014

ENERGY EFFICIENCY AT LETCHER COUNTY OWNED BUILDINGS

Energy efficiency at Letcher County owned buildings was on the agenda at the July fiscal court meeting. The court heard a report from Mark Saunier of Comfort & Process Solutions regarding energy audits conducted at the buildings. Saunier says the court could realize savings of $40,000 – but more extensive audits would be needed, and Comfort and Process would do those at no additional cost. Once those audits are done, Saunier says if the court chooses to have Comfort & Process implement the energy savings measures it would take its fees out of the savings to the county that were projected in the audit. The court agreed to allow the no charge audit but no further work was authorized.

 
LETCHER COUNTY CARES ASKS FISCAL COURT FOR FINANCIAL HELP

The director of a Letcher County domestic violence victims shelter appeared before the Letcher County Fiscal Court to ask for financial help – or else it may be forced to close. Phyllis Barker of Letcher County Cares says the tough economy means the shelter has seen more victims than before, and attempts to obtain grants have met with little success. The shelter currently serves seven women and 11 children. While no specific funding was granted to the shelter, the court plans to find a way to get it the money it needs to survive.

 
CRASH ON U.S. 23 IN FLOYD COUNTY THURSDAY INJURES 2

A crash in Floyd County yesterday sent 2 people to the hospital and blocked the road while the investigation took place. Police say a car and a pickup truck collided head on the intersection of Town Branch and U.S. 23 in Prestonsburg. Both drivers were taken to Highlands Regional Medical Center and the extent of their injuries has not been disclosed. Investigators are looking into the circumstances that led up to the collision.

 
INDIANA POLICE CAPTURE WANTED KNOTT COUNTY MAN

Police in Indiana apprehended a Knott County man wanted on over 20 sex charges including 6 counts of rape. Sylvester Slone was taken into custody Tuesday night at a home near Kendallville in Noble County. He had a warrant out for his arrest in that jurisdiction. Slone is currently in an Indiana jail and there’s been no word so far on if or when he will be extradited to Knott County. 

 
MINE SAFETY COMPETITION IN CUMBERLAND

Over 150 miners from 7 states descended on Harlan County for a mining safety competition organized by the Cumberland Tourism Commission. This was the 4th year for the event. Organizers estimate during the three day event, the visitors pumped more than $60,000 in the local economy.

 
WELLNESS CLINIC BEING HELD IN CAWOOD

A Free Wellness Clinic will be held today and tomorrow at James A Cawood Elementary School on Ball Park Road in Harlan. It's being organized by employees of The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hours are from 1pm until 7pm today and 10:30am until 6pm tomorrow. The clinic offers no charge physicals, eye glasses, podiatrist exams, dental exams and work along with diabetes checks and hygiene awareness. Children and adults can also obtain clothing, shoes, personal and oral hygiene products along with no charge haircuts. Officials say they will give away 500 backpacks to children tomorrow at 3 pm.

 
FLOYD COUNTY MAN TAKES PLEA DEAL ON MAJOR COCKFIGHTING CHARGES

A Floyd County man charged with helping operate what authorities called one of the nation's largest cockfighting pits has taken a plea deal. Walter Stumbo will be sentenced in October on his guilty plea to conspiracy to sponsor or exhibit an animal in a fighting venture and conduct an illegal gambling business. Stumbo also pleaded guilty to charges of transporting both roosters and gaffs from Virginia to Kentucky. Stumbo's son, Joshua pleaded guilty to the same charges. 

 
CITY OF LOYALL CUTTING COSTS

Officials in one Harlan County city are looking at ways to cut costs - and have cut trash pickups to every other week as a way to save money. Loyall Sewer and Street Department Supervisor Mark Duff informed the city council trash pickups will be on the first and third Thursday of each month. Duff says residents who need to remove a large amount of trash can rent a truck at city hall and they will charge $50 per load.

Wednesday July 23, 2014

 

NEW AD FROM ALLISON GRIMES FEATURING HARLAN COUNTY COAL MINER

The campaign for the Democratic challenger to Senator Mitch McConnell released a new TV ad yesterday - featuring an unemployed coal miner from Harlan County. Alison Lundergan Grimes is seen sitting next to David Stanley who asks Senator McConnell why he said it’s not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky. Stanley was referring to a McConnell quote from April in the Beattyville Enterprise newspaper. According to Kentucky dot com the head of the Kentucky Coal Association labeled the Grimes ad as unfair and inaccurate. The ad hit the airwaves a day after over 200 Arch Coal workers in Letcher County and Wise County, Virginia lost their jobs.

PLANS FOR NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN PERRY COUNTY

Plans are in motion to build a new elementary school in Perry County. Yesterday the school board okayed plans for a new West Perry Elementary school and those plans now go to the state for approval. Preliminary estimates put construction costs at around $18 million. A new building for East Perry elementary was completed last year.

FLOYD COUNTY SHERIFF CANDIDATE PULLS OUT OF RACE

More than three months before the November election, the race for Floyd County sheriff is already over now that Joey Collins pulled out of the race. According to the Floyd County Times  Collins said he entered the sheriff's race over concerns about the other candidates - but once John Hunt decided to run, Collins felt he would make a good sheriff. Collins also asked those who supported his bid for sheriff to give their support to Hunt. The newspaper reports Hunt praised Collins’ decision as a move to put the county’s welfare over politics.

NEW FINES FOR CITY CURFEW IN EVARTS

One Harlan County city has implemented fines for those under the age of 18 who fail to obey the city's curfew. The Evarts City Council implemented a $25 fine for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. According to the ordinance fines would be paid by the parent of those found to have violated curfew.

TENNESSEE FUGITIVE CAPTURED IN FLOYD COUNTY

A fugitive wanted in Tennessee was captured yesterday in Floyd County as he was just walking down a road. The Sheriff’s Office says it received word that police in Hancock County, Tennessee were looking for Jerry Wayne Anderson II on suspicion he embezzled $75,000 from a farm and home supply company there. 2 deputies found Anderson walking on a road in Auxier, stopped him and according to investigators admitted to one deputy he was the man wanted in Tennessee. He now awaits an extradition hearing.

NEW COMMUNITY CENTER DISCUSSED FOR PRESTONSBURG

iscussions continued Monday night about a new community center in Prestonsburg. City officials told those in attendance at the Mountain Arts Center that they believe that once operational, the center would bring in enough revenue to cover operating costs - and may even turn a profit. The big issue is getting money to build the facility - and a project consultant says grants could cover around half the construction cost.

BROADWAY SCHOOL BUILDING IN HAZARD BEING TORN DOWN

By the end of the week a school building in Perry County will be nothing but a memory. The old Broadway School building in Hazard is being torn down and in its place will be 6 new homes. The building was the first site for Hazard High School.

NEW CANDIDATE FOR PIKE COUNTY JUDGE EXECUTIVE

An employee in Pike County government says she's running to become the next judge-executive. According to the Appalachian News-Express once Community Services Commissioner Carol Napier files to run she will be out of a job as state law prohibits county employees from running for public office. 15 years ago Napier ran for the same office but lost.

VIRAL PERRY COUNTY VIDEO FEATURING DOG AND RABBIT

Viral videos from a Perry County family of their dog and rabbit playing together have landed the duo a shot on national television. The owners of Ellie - a poodle-golden retriever mix - and Petey the rabbit - tell the Hazard Herald they got a call from a TV producer after they saw the videos on YouTube. Crews are supposed to arrive sometime next week.

 

Tuesday July 22, 2014

MORE LAYOFFS AS CUMBERLAND RIVER/ARCH COAL SHUTS DOWN

Over 200 Cumberland River Coal Company workers in Letcher County and Wise County, Virginia are out of a job after parent company Arch Coal idled operations yesterday. Employees say they had no warning they were about to lose their jobs. In a press release CEO John Eaves says the company is responding to challenges marketing the expensive metallurgical coal that the mine produced. The Cumberland River coal is used in the steelmaking process. Eaves said Arch Coal will work on selling lower-cost metallurgical coal which will yield greater profits. An Arch spokesperson in Saint Lewis says a few employees will remain for environmental regulations and to sell off coal stock that had been previously mined. The company says it will take steps to provide opportunities at other Arch subsidiaries where available.

ALLTECH INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT COMING TO PIKE COUNTY

Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers announced a new industrial development project for Pike County. The site, called Marion Branch, is a 380-acre former surface mine site. Global animal nutrition company Alltech, headquartered in Nicholasville, will become the first tenant at the new facility in Pikeville.

ACCUSED PERRY COUNTY BANK ROBBER MAKES FIRST APPEARANCE

The man accused of robbing a Perry County bank last week made his first court appearance on Monday. Floyd Fletcher pleaded not guilty to charges he stole more than $2,000 from the People's Bank and Trust inside the Hazard Walmart. A grand jury will hear Fletcher’s case.

PIKE COUNTY MAN PULLED OVER ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES

A Pike County woman who had dodged jail time on drug charges was arrested last week – on suspicion of drunk driving. Police say Lindsay Pruitt of Robinson Creek was pulled over by a Pikeville police officer after he observed her crossing the center line then driving on the wrong side of the road. Investigators say Pruitt had a blood alcohol level just over the legal limit. She was serving a ten year term of supervised release on the drug charges and the terms of the sentence mandated Pruitt not commit any crimes and stay away from alcohol and drugs.

COAL BUSINESSMAN BILL STURGILL PASSES AWAY

Memorial services will be held tomorrow for Bill Sturgill, a Floyd County native who was a well known businessman and a philanthropist to the University of Kentucky. Nearly 55 years ago Sturgill formed Kentucky Oak Mining Company with coal operator Dick Kelly and it introduced strip mining and reclamation techniques to Eastern Kentucky. Sturgill served on the UK board of trustees and was chairman for 10 years and the university gives an annual award in his name to a graduate faculty member for outstanding contributions to graduate education.

SMOKE FREE KY COALITION COMING TO PERRY COUNTY

The Smoke-Free Kentucky Coalition will visit Perry County as part of its “Road to a Healthier Kentucky” tour. It will be at Appalachian Regional Healthcare on Medical Center Drive in Hazard next Tuesday at 11am. Organizers say the goal of the tour is to get folks active and engaged in supporting smoke-free policy.  Almost 30 percent of Kentuckians still smoke, more than any other state in the nation.

AWARDS FOR 2 AREA CONSERVATION DISTRICTS

2 area Conservation Districts received awards at a convention held in Louisville last week. The Floyd County Conservation District was named the top conservation district for the second straight year in Area 8. Meanwhile the Perry County Soil and Conservation District was named the top conservation district in Eastern Kentucky this year for the first time in the district’s history.

DICKENSON COUNTY VA SCHOOLS NOW SMOKE FREE

Schools in Dickenson County Virginia are now smoke free campuses. The school board recently changed the policy to prohibit tobacco products on district grounds. The Centers for Disease Control awarded an $80,000 grant to help the district and several others buy signs and other promotional materials to implement the change. Wise County is also covered under the grant but its board hasn’t voted on a policy change.

Monday July 21, 2014

CRASH NEAR US 23/119 JUNCTION AT JENKINS INJURES 3

A crash in Letcher County sent 3 people to the hospital. Police say it happened around the junction of US 23 and US 119 near Jenkins.  It involved two vehicles and a coal truck - and that truck overturned, according to investigators. The road was closed for about 2 hours following the crash

LETCHER COUNTY MAN FACING ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES AND MORE

A Letcher County man is facing a number of charges including animal cruelty on suspicion he killed a kitten. Robert Machniak of Jenkins was arrested on Number One Hill when cops responded to calls that he had been threatening family members and his brother's girlfriend. The kitten was clinging to life when police got there, but died a short time later. Police say Machniak appeared to be intoxicated.

KNOTT COUNTY DOUBLE KWIK ROBBERT SUSPECT REMAINS AT LARGE

The suspect in a robbery at a gas station in Knott County remains at large. Police say the incident happened early Sunday at the Double Kwik at 28 West Highway 80 in Hindman. An employee told investigators they were outside when someone "covered up" approached and asked the them to go inside. The thief  got away with about $500 No one was hurt.

PURSE SNATCHING SUSPECT CAUGHT IN PERRY COUNTY

Police have caught a man suspected in 2 purse snatchings in Perry County. Investigators say both  happened at the Hazard Walmart - one in the parking lot, the other in the store. One purse contained more than $2,500, according to police. Steven Brock Jones faces two counts of theft of more than $500, fraudulent use of a credit card, and escape in the second degree.

BANK INSIDE HAZARD WAL-MART ROBBED BUT SUSPECT CAUGHT QUICKLY

A man who held up a Perry County bank barely got away with the loot before being arrested. Police say Floyd Fletcher of Martin County robbed the People's Bank inside the Hazard Wal-Mart armed with a small pocket knife. Fletcher tried to make his getaway but was caught by a Hazard Police officer who just happened to be at the store. He was taken into custody without incident Police say Fletcher may face federal charges in connection with the stickup.

FLOYD COUNTY SITE OF DOG CADAVER TRAINING SESSIONS

Floyd County was the scene recently of training sessions for tracking and cadaver dogs. The Kentucky Search Dog Association brought more than a dozen dogs and handlers to train in some rugged areas that the association says is a perfect area to train in. The visit also gave the trainees an opportunity to work with the Floyd County Search and Rescue Squad.

MURDER TRIAL IN HARLAN COUNTY SET FOR OCTOBER

The murder trial for a Harlan County man is set for late October. Jody Cooper is charged with killing Damiano Delaney in February of last year. Police say Delaney was shot several times inside a home in the Rosspoint Community. Cooper's accomplice - Justin Miller is out on bond and his next court date is August 7th.

HIGHLANDS HEALTH SYSTEMS AVOID STRIKE

Unionized workers at Highlands Health System will not be going on strike. Late Friday the rank and file approved what Highlands called their last, best and final offer. The deal reportedly includes annual pay raises and addresses one big concern workers had - the cost of adding a spouse to the employee's health insurance. Had the contract not been ratified - the union was planning to issue a 10-day strike notice.

THOUSANDS TURN OUT FOR WISE COUNTY RAM EVENT

Thousands turned out this weekend at the Wise County Virginia fairgrounds for the annual visit of the Remote Area Medical clinic. People received treatment for medical, dental and vision care at no cost. It opened its doors Friday morning and wrapped up yesterday. The clinic is the brainchild of Stan Brock, whose first claim to fame was his appearances pursuing wild cheetahs on “Wild Kingdom” in the 1970s.

HILLBILLY CHRISTMAS IN JULY HELD ON SUNDAY

The 9th annual Hillbilly Christmas in July took off from Pike County yesterday. They're heading for Lexington with to raise money for young patients at the Shriner's Hospital. The collected enough toys to fill a trailer that they plan on delivering next week. Around 150 riders began Sunday morning from the Pikeville Harley-Davidson, and more riders joined in during the journey.

Wednesday July 16, 2014

STATE LAW SAYS FIRST TIME STUDENTS MUST HAVE VISION EXAM

As parents in Letcher County and throughout Kentucky are starting plans for back to school, officials remind moms and dads that state law requires children ages 3 through 6 to have a vision exam if they are entering a public school or preschool program for the first time. Experts say vision problems are a major factor in limiting a child’s abilities to learn and succeed. Researchers have found up to 13 percent of children age 5 and younger have some type of vision condition. After age 5, that number increases to 25 percent.

CAUSE OF FIRE AT WORLDWIDE EQUIPMENT STILL UNKNOWN

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed part of a Floyd County business last month. The blaze at Worldwide Equipment’s parts and service building in Prestonsburg  may have been caused by an electrical fire, but that has not been 100 percent confirmed. Worldwide Equipment is in the initial stages of rebuilding the parts and service facility, with cleanup completed on the oil and hazardous materials. Damage was estimated at well over a million dollars.

2 PERRY COUNTY MEN INDICTED ON METH CHARGES

An indictment was handed down against 2 Perry County men on methamphetamine manufacturing charges after police found a meth lab in their home. Joseph Newton and Billie Womack are each being held on $75,000 bail. Police initially went to the home after getting a tip that a wanted man was there and once allowed to search, officers found the meth along with a number of marijuana plants. Womack was indicted last December on several traffic-related charges.

FLOYD COUNTY ARMED ROBBERY SUSPECT STILL AT LARGE

A suspect in a Floyd County convenience store holdup is still at large and police are asking for tips to find him. The early Sunday morning robbery happened at a Marathon off US 23 in Prestonsburg.  According to police the man made a motion to the clerk as if he had a weapon and made off with an undermined amount of cash. No one was hurt. The man is described as very tall – well over 6 feet – and was wearing dark clothing. A reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest is being offered by the store owner.

PIKEVILLE CITY POLICE LOOKING TO ADD MORE OFFICERS

The population growth in Pikeville means the city’s police department is busier than ever. Chief Phillip Reed says the average case load per officer is up nearly 10 percent from the last 3 years. He says he’d like to add more officers so the department has a better street presence, which in turn will improve public safety. Reed says the department received 11,000 calls last year – up from 9000 in 2012.

STATE AUDITOR KICKS OFF PUBLIC HEARINGS ON RURAL HOSPITALS FINANCES

State Auditor Adam Edelen was in Prestonsburg yesterday to kick off a series of public hearings on the financial health of rural hospitals. Edelen says the small hospital network is a system in crisis because of new healthcare regulations which makes it very difficult for administrators to keep operations running. he Prestonsburg stop is one of ten Edelen is conducting to hear concerns from hospital administrators and staff, elected officials, health care providers and the public.

CUMBERLAND MAN ARRESTED ON PUBLIC INTOXICATION AND METH CHARGES

A Cumberland man arrested in Harlan County on suspicion of public intoxication was also charged with methamphetamine possession. Jimmy Nantz was booked into the Harlan County Detention Center on a $100 full cash bond. Police say Nantz was seen at Portal 31 in Lynch and had slurred speech along with being unsteady on his feet. Officers found meth on Nantz and he admitted taking that along with a prescription pain killer. 

MAN SOUGHT IN CAR BREAK INS NEAR BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK

Police are looking for tips to finding the man suspected of breaking into several cars in Kentucky and Virginia. Dickenson County, Virginia deputies say the man is breaking into cars near the Breaks Interstate Park. The suspect is described as between 19 and 25 years old, with dark hair and is driving a pickup truck. Anyone with information is asked to call the Dickenson County Virginia Sheriff's Office