Thursday May 29, 2014

COURTHOUSE CAFE CLOSING THIS FRIDAY

Courthouse Café owners Josephine Richardson and Laura Schuster have watched businesses open in downtown Whitesburg and later close after struggling to make it. After 29 years of serving lunch and dinner on the corner of Main Street and North Webb Avenue, Richardson and Schuster have decided to close their restaurant. The restaurant’s Alcoholic Beverage Control  license is up for renewal at the end of this month and Richardson said it didn’t make sense to renew the license if it was uncertain how long the Courthouse Café would remain open.


LETCHER COUNTY GOVERNMENT BUDGET "TIGHT" IN 2014-15

Reflecting steep cuts in coal severance tax receipts and other funding sources, the Letcher County government’s operating budget will be “really tight” for the next fiscal year beginning July 1st. receipts for coal and other mineral taxes are down by at least $1 million. the 2014 budget had been returned to be reworked because the coal and mineral tax reemits had been estimated at too high a rate.


SKCTC CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT SUMMER CLASSES

The Creative Development Center at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will offer several summer classes. The local program will join with Bruce Parsons of the University of Pikeville (UPike) to offer one SKCTC class and one UPike class. The courses will deal with photography, writing and smartphone and web-based application development. Some scholarships will be available. For more information, contact SKCTC.

COUNTY NO LONGER BIDDING ON MCROBERTS SCHOOL

The issue of making a bid to acquire the McRoberts Elementary School property has been put to rest by Letcher County Fiscal Court. The McRoberts School bid has become increasingly controversial since the court’s April meeting, with accusations of bid rigging being leveled by County Judge/ Executive Jim Ward against District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming, who represents Jenkins and McRoberts on the fiscal court. Fleming said he was accused of bid rigging by Ward, and added that he believes Letcher County Attorney Jamie Hatton also wrongfully accused him of breaking the law.

PIKE COUNTY PRINICIPAL SPENDS NIGHT ON SCHOOL ROOF

Pushing our youth to excellence. That is the message a Pike County principal wanted to send his students. Robert Jones cut a deal with sixth graders. Meet a goal, and I will go beyond being an educator. Last year he danced in the cafeteria. This year, Principal Jones says he had to top that...so he slept on the roof of Pikeville Elementary.  It is all because of a deal made with the more than 90 sixth graders, challenging them to read 1,200 books as a class and pass tests on them for the Accelerated Reader program.

ASHLAND HOSPITAL AGREES TO MAJOR SETTLEMENT

King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland has agreed to pay the U.S. Government $40.9 million to settle allegations of fraudulent billing.  The hospital was accused of making millions of dollars by falsely billing federal health care programs for heart procedures that were performed on patients who didn't medically need them.

Wednesday May 28, 2014

EXPANSION OF PIKEVILLE PLANT NECESSARY

Officials in Pikeville say their wastewater treatment plant is currently running at about 92 percent capacity. With many other projects on the horizon like a new shopping center and optometry school .... they say expanding their service is necessary. The city is one step closer to having the funding for the multi-million dollar project.  Pikeville is receiving millions in loan and grant money for the new plant, which officials say will allow the area to continue growing. The new plant will serve more than 3,000 homes and businesses in Pikeville and Coal Run.

JOB FAIR IN PIKEVILLE

Dozens of laid off miners attended a job fair in Pikeville on Tuesday. 'Hiring Our Miners Everyday' along with the Kentucky Coal Association hosted the event for White Oak Resources. Representatives from White Oak were on hand to take applications for underground jobs available in Illinois. Officials say while the coal economy is struggling in Eastern Kentucky, they want to help those unemployed find work ... even if it means relocating.


BELL COUNTY MEMORIAL DAY ROBBERY

A Bell County man is facing robbery and other charges for trying to steal a woman's purse. Bell County Sheriff's Deputies say on Monday night, 33-year-old Donnie Wayne Smith used force while trying to take a woman's purse at a building on Old Pineville Pike. Deputies say when he got to jail, he tried to smuggle drugs in. In addition to robbery, he also faces drug and promoting contraband charges.


ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Breathitt County is finally getting rock blasting plans underway after years of planning. For several years, rocks like these have fallen on or near the road. Elkins said the nearly four million dollar repairs will serve the community well. Weather permitting, the road should reopen by December. construction, which started Tuesday on the Highway 15 Bypass in Hazard, is supposed to last about two weeks.


EMERGENCY MONEY APPLIED FOR IN PIKE COUNTY

The Pike County Fiscal Court unanimously moved to apply for a $54,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. County officials say the money would be used to buy equipment that can monitor air quality in emergencies like last month's tunnel fire. The creosote-laden fumes from the Robinson Creek tunnel fire have been a concern since the flames started April 26th.


UK RAZING BUILDINGS

The University of Kentucky plans to proceed with razing eight buildings over the summer to make way for new construction. The move comes despite some objections from preservationists, who have noted that some of the buildings are historic and iconic. The school expects to spend $4 million to demolish buildings including Hamilton House, which was built in 1880, and Wenner-Gren Research Laboratory, which housed UK's early aeronautic research.

Tuesday May 27, 2014

DRIVER RUNS CHECKPOINT IN NEON & ALMOST HITS OFFICER

Neon Police say one of their officers was nearly hit head on when a drunk driver ran through a safety checkpoint Friday Night.  Officers say around 11:30 p.m. 25 year old Dianah Lynn Wyatt approached the checkpoint on Highway 805 near Cromona, stepped on the gas and forced Officer Tim Miller to jump for safety.Officers stopped her about one and a half miles down the road and placed her under arrest.  She is charged with driving under the influence, wanton endangerment and no insurance.



FREAK ATV ACCIDENT IN BELL COUNTY KILLS MAN

A Mount Vernon man died in what some people call a freak accident Friday.  We are told it all happened while Jesse McFerron was trying to help someone get their ATV unstuck at The Wilderness Trail off Road Park in Bell County.  That is when officials say the winch and tow being used snapped under tension and whipped back hitting McFerron in the back of the head.  He was taken to Pineville Community Hospital where the coroner pronounced him dead.


WHITESBURG MEMORIAL DAY SERVICE

As 21 shots rang out in downtown Whitesburg, folks gathered to honor veterans past and present.  And while many took the day off with friends and family, the crowd attended the ceremony to remember.  Veterans stood at attention through prayer, speeches, and song among those for whom they fought for. Some vets say they hope to include the younger generation in their close-knit brotherhoods.



CLICK IT OR TICKET THROUGH JUNE 1ST

Kentucky State Police are out enforcing their "Click It or Ticket" campaign. Over a two week span, troopers will aggressively target drivers who choose not to wear seat belts or use child safety restraints. Getting caught will leave you with a $25 dollar fine, but not getting caught could cost even more. Last year during the four day holiday weekend, seven people were killed on Kentucky roads. The "Click It or Ticket" enforcement campaign runs through June 1st.



JACKSON COUNTY ACCIDENT

A Richmond man is dead after a crash in Jackson County on Sunday. Jackson County Coroner Melvin Lakes says Jeffrey Cramer, 40, of Richmond, was killed when the truck he was in went airborne across Highway 421 and struck an embankment. Cramer was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene.  speed is considered a factor in the accident.

HOARDING IN CORBIN

Corbin city leaders are cracking down on a hoarding situation in town. They gave Lawrence Johnson 20 days to clean up his house. Friends are helping him clear off his property. The outside of the home has defined Johnson in recent years, but there's much more to his story. He's from Hungary and came to America after his family's bakery was taken away.  The goal is to remove the house and everything else on the property, leaving only a patch of grass behind. Johnson has until June 6 to clean up the property.

Friday May 23, 2014

WESTERN KY PLANE CRASH

Officials in western Kentucky say a father and son were injured when their small plane crash landed on the shoulder of the Pennyrile Parkway in Hopkinsville. 58-year-old Mike Creed, the pilot, and 20-year-old Benjamin Creed of Hopkinsville took off in the Piper airplane shortly before the crash Thursday. when the plane began to lose altitude, the pilot decided to return to the local airport but couldn't make it and attempted an emergency landing on the parkway.



WEST VA CHEMICAL SPILL UPDATE

Health officials thought their safe level for consuming a chemical spilled into the water supply would have protected West Virginians from other modes of contact. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official says drinking contaminated water was the primary exposure and was associated with the most significant health effects. So, officials thought their safe drinking water level would protect against other exposures, like skin contact and breathing fumes. The January spill sullied tap water for 300,000 people.


STORMS CAUSE MAJOR POWER OUTAGE FOR LESLIE COUNTY

Wednesday nights thunderstorm left quite the mess for folks in Leslie County to deal with.  Broken trees caused downed power lines in the Wendover area and throughout the county.  Workers say once that line is fixed more than 400 customers should have power.  Officials predict most of Leslie County to have electricity by now.


PIKE COUNTY MAN DEAD AFTER FREAK MOWING ACCIDENT

A Pike County man died after what officials call a freak accident.  Johnny Shumate was cutting grass along Gardner Fork near Shelbiana when the deck of his utility lawnmower hit a rock, causing him to overturn. We are told the tractor then rolled about 150 feet over an embankment.


I-75 TRAFFIC ALERT

A traffic alert to those who travel I-75 in Whitley County. Beginning this morning the northbound right lane will close until noon around mile marker 14.  Transportation officials say they will be making pavement repairs. You are asked to drive with caution and pay attention to signs and crews.


BREATHITT COUNTY INTENTIONAL SCHOOL FIRE

Officials say a 13 year old boy intentionally set a fire at a Breathitt County Middle School.  We are told the teen set the fire in a bathroom stall at Sebastian Middle School Students were evacuated for a period of time to get smoke out of the school. The child was taken into custody and parents were notified.

Thursday May 22, 2014

MCCONNELL-GRIMES DEBATES

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell on Wednesday challenged his fall Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes to three debates, pitting his 30 years of policy experience against Kentucky's first-term secretary of state. At a campaign stop on Wednesday, Grimes said she would welcome the debates with McConnell. The GOP Senate leader sent a letter to Grimes inviting her to three Lincoln-Douglas style debates "without an audience, without props, and without notes."



LETCHER COUNTY ELECTION

Most of Letcher County’s current officeholders moved a step closer to another four-year term after Tuesday’s primary election. In one of the most closely watched races, incumbent Property Valuation Administrator Randy Hall defeated Randy Blair by a margin of 792 votes. Sheriff Danny Webb easily won the Democratic nomination over challengers Randall Adams, Jon Hall and Ellis Keyes.

WHITESBURG BIKE NITE BACK ON

Organizers of Whitesburg’s monthly “Bike Nite” say they have obtained the permit necessary to continued holding the event on Main Street. Donna Halcomb, spokesperson for the Bike Nite committee said she was handed the permit while visiting the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s District 12 office in Pikeville Tuesday afternoon. Halcomb and other members of the Bike Nite committee attended the May meeting of the city council last week after being told by city officials the committee would have to have a permit from the state in order to continue blocking a portion of Main Street for the event.


JEFFERSON COUNTY SCHOOLS AUDIT

A state audit of Kentucky's largest school system found a bloated administration that has left classrooms resources limited. The audit report released Wednesday made more than 200 recommendations for improvement at Jefferson County Public Schools. The audit found that JCPS ranked highest among them in school administration, support staff and instructional aides while ranking at or near the bottom in spending for instruction and teacher staffing.

KSP TROOPER AND LETCHER COUNTY NATIVE HONORED

A Letcher County native who is an 18-year veteran with the Kentucky State Police has been honored for the bravery he exhibited during an armed standoff with a man in Pulaski County who had shot and killed his wife. KSP Trooper First Class Chris Ison was awarded a “Citation of Bravery” for his actions during the August 2012 standoff that led to the successful capture of Timothy Hislope.

FOOD STAMP USAGE UP IN LETCHER COUNTY

The use of food stamps in Letcher County increased during the recession, assisting families in stretching their food dollars, contributing to local spending and helping spark a national debate about the future of the federal nutrition program. The proportion of Letcher County residents receiving food stamps hit 29.8 percent in 2011. Nationally, 14.8 percent of the population receives SNAP benefits.