Wednesday February 12, 2014

A bill to allow concealed deadly weapons in Kentucky bars has passed its first committee hearing in the Legislature. The Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee approved the measure Tuesday. The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. John Schickel of Union, is the committee's chairman. Current state law prohibits concealed firearms from being carried into bars, but Schickel's bill would allow it as long as those who carry them do not drink. He called that a matter of self-defense.
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Eastern Kentucky has always been known for great music, but one woman in the region can now claim the title of best high school music teacher in the state. Marilyn Schraeder is the choir director for Harlan Independent Schools a position she has held for the past 45 years. Affection for her students is one reason Schraeder earned the High School Teacher of the Year award from the Kentucky Music Educators Association.
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An Eastern Kentucky soldier is not coming home. Private First Class Joshua Gray, died Monday at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan as the result of a non-combat related incident that remains under investigation. The 21-year-old was deployed in January and served as a satellite communications system operator maintainer. Gray was a 2011 graduate of Johnson Central High School. Friends say he was very involved....a member of the academic team, Skills USA team, prom king, and voted 'Most Unforgettable' by his senior class.
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A bill to increase the number of Kentucky children required to use vehicle booster seats has cleared its first hurdle in the General Assembly. The measure won approval from the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday. State law now requires child safety seats for any youngsters under age 9 or under 50 inches in height. The bill would broaden the height range to include youngsters up to 59 inches. The bill's sponsor says 32 other states have similar laws, including all of Kentucky's neighbors.
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The Whitley County High School Athletics Director is on leave of absence following his arrest in Maryland. Maryland court records show 49-year-old Michael Campbell has several sex offense charges, assault charges, and one rape charge. He was arrested on January 22nd in Baltimore and is in jail there. He has a court appearance on February 18th. Whitley County School officials say John Siler is serving as Acting Athletic Director.

Tuesday February 11, 2014

The Kentucky House has voted to expand a scholarship program for students in the state's coal regions. The measure is aimed at increasing the number of people achieving four-year college degrees in the eastern and western Kentucky coalfields. The scholarships would be awarded to students who, for the most part, attend four-year college campuses in coal counties, in hopes they stay there after getting their degrees. The measure seeks to make permanent a pilot project.
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Only 30 tons is left in the Laurel County road garage and that was borrowed from the state. Laurel crews are already close to doubling their usual usage of a thousand tons a year.  The state, they are getting low, too. Kind of cutting cities and counties off on borrowing salt from them. There are more than 1,200 miles of county roadways in Laurel County. In times like these, not all of those miles of roadway will be covered. A salt shortage means some roads will only be spot treated. Laurel County has ordered 800 tons from Michigan when normally they’d be able to get it from Louisville.
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The ARH Foundation for Healthier Communities announced today it has received a $1 million gift from Hazard native and energy industry leader Joe Craft towards the $47 million expansion project at the Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center. In recognition of this gift, the new patient tower will be named in his honor. The newly named Joe Craft Tower has three floors and more than 100,000 square feet of space and includes units for patients with the most critical care needs.
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The conditions of a father and daughter who were the only survivors in a Kentucky house fire that killed nine family members have been upgraded. Vanderbilt University Medical Center officials said Monday that 36-year-old Chad Watson and his 11-year-old daughter, Kylie, are both in stable condition. two had been in critical but stable condition since they arrived on Jan. 30 but were upgraded over the weekend. Police say the fire started when a combustible material fell against an electric heater in a bedroom overnight.
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The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has launched a web portal that makes vast amounts of information available to the public. With a click of a mouse, someone can find out how many electric vehicles are registered in Kentucky, how much was spent last year on highway projects in each county and where state-maintained bridges are located. The new Web portal is called Kentucky Transportation Cabinet DataMart. Other details accessible through the portal will include traffic counts, highway crash data and organizational performance measures.
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A Congressional hearing into last month's chemical leak into the Elk River is scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m. at the Kanawha County Courthouse in Charleston. An estimated 10,000 gallons of the chemical MCHM leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries and tainted the water supply for about 100,000 West Virginia American Water customers in nine counties.  The president of West Virginia American Water is scheduled to testify at the hearing, as is the chairman of the U.S. chemical Safety Board and the director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Monday February 10, 2014

A special meeting of the Letcher County Fiscal Court turned controversial late last week when Judge/ Executive Jim Ward accused District Two Magistrate Terry Adams of voting against bringing new jobs to Letcher County. At the same time, Ward declined to name the company that is interested to locating on county-owned property at Isom. The business makes wood pellets that can be mixed with coal for power plants. Ward said he is afraid the company would lose state-funded incentives it hopes to receive if it is named prematurely.
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Police say an active methamphetamine lab was found inside a Thornton mobile home last week. This makes the third time in as many weeks that the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department has come in contact with a residence where police have found methamphetamine precursors. The renter of the trailer, William Bentley, 38, of 79 Golden Rod Drive, was arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine. Police found eight meth precursors including Coleman fuel, Liquid Fire, sea salt and Drano.
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Eight horses died in a barn fire Sunday morning. Scott County fire officials say the barn burned to the ground about 6 a.m. the flames may have been sparked near the tack room where three things were plugged in.  the barn was just renovated and everything was up to code. Fire crews are still working to determine what started the fire. seven of the horses killed in the fire were thoroughbreds and the yearlings would've been sold in September.
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Police officers with the city of Jenkins are currently investigating the suspected theft of a heat pump late Friday evening from the New Freedom Worship Center in Letcher County.  Severed wire is all that remains of the pumping unit. Police say pieces of a ripped screen window and a pronounced footprint on the front door are evidence of the failed entry. Pastor Danny Quillen has been ministering at the church for 10 years. He was in a job training session when he heard the news.
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Six school districts in Kentucky have received a $40,000 grant for a pilot program to help find ways to cut costs. The initiative is designed to save school systems across the state millions of dollars. The Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the American Productivity and Quality Center have partnered to train staff on different techniques that can be used to enhance savings. The districts that received funding from the state Department of Education include Daviess, Boone, Garrard, Lee, Martin and Nelson counties.

 

Friday February 7, 2014

The Kentucky House has passed a bill to raise the state's minimum wage for the first time since 2009. Under the bill, the minimum wage would gradually increase from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 per hour in July 2016. There would be 95-cent increases in three phases. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his bill would help an estimated 400,000 workers. He says they are entitled to living wages that let them buy life's necessities. Opponents said the higher wage would force some employers to cut jobs. They said it would add costs for school districts and local governments to pay low-wage employees.
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The bodies of a father and son who appear to have died from injuries from an all-terrain vehicle accident were found by a Jeremiah resident yesterday. Kentucky State Police troopers found an ATV over an embankment near Arthurs Loop in Blair Branch around 11 a.m. The ATV left a dirt road adjacent to Arthurs Loop and overturned. The body of Tracy Adams, 34, of Jeremiah, was located under the ATV, while the body of his 70-year-old father Carlos Adams, also of Jeremiah, was lying next to the ATV with his leg trapped between a tree and the ATV.
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A Pike County woman went to the courthouse to get married.... but ended up getting arrested. Pike County Sheriff's deputies say 38-year-old, Terri Thacker, was unsteady on her feet as she entered the judicial center on Monday afternoon. Deputies say she was hiding underneath a hoodie as she came through security. Her boyfriend had to more or less help her around to get to where she was going.
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The head of a Kentucky propane company that stopped sending the heating gas to business customers in several states said problems with supply and shipping forced the company to halt deliveries. Paducah-based United Propane Gas notified its commercial customers in late January it would be forced to temporarily cease shipments. National supplies of propane were depleted by a late harvest that increased demand from farmers who needed to dry an unusually large amount of grain before storage.
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Police are searching for two people in connection to a meth bust made this week in Johnson County. Johnson County sheriff's deputies arrested John LeMaster, 34, Amanda Johnson, 26, and Frank Music, 44, Tuesday on Hyden Branch in Van Lear. Officials say the suspects were making meth in an empty trailer and found the drug and multiple "shake and bake" labs. Two others remain on the loose.
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A student aboard a bus that veered off Route 61 and hit a rock wall, sending 15 students to the hospital Wednesday afternoon, said it was a normal commute that instantly turned terrifying. A student said their bus veered off a narrow section of Route 61 near the Montgomery-Fayette county line and hit the rock wall. The accident happened about 3 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters say 15 Valley High and Junior High students were taken to the hospital. Most of the injuries were described as sore backs and necks nothing that appeared too serious.

Thursday February 6, 2014

Gov. Beshear will lead a trade mission to the United Kingdom, one of Kentucky's largest export partners. the trade mission is set for May 11-16. The Kentucky delegation will make stops in London and Manchester. Kentucky exported more than $1.6 billion in products and services to the United Kingdom last year, up more than 20 percent from 2012. Top exports include aerospace and pharmaceutical products. Beshear says the trip will give Kentucky companies a chance to build business ties in the United Kingdom, which has the world's sixth-largest economy.
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A special meeting of the Letcher County Fiscal Court turned controversial late last week when Judge/ Executive Jim Ward accused District Two Magistrate Terry Adams of voting against bringing new jobs to Letcher County. At the same time, Ward declined to name the company that is interested to locating on county-owned property at Isom. The business makes wood pellets that can be mixed with coal for power plants. Ward said he is afraid the company would lose state-funded incentives it hopes to receive if it is named prematurely.
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Prosecutors have filed a motion asking that information found during a search of the cellular phone owned by accused murderer Patrick Smith be sealed “until such a time as an indictment is returned by the grand jury or this case is otherwise disposed of.” Smith, of Pike County, is charged with complicity to murder in the early New Year’s Day death of Michael Hogg of Kingscreek, who was stabbed to death after an altercation in downtown Whitesburg with Smith and James Huffman, also of Pike County.
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The Kentucky Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to require doctors to perform ultrasounds prior to abortions and to describe what is seen to the pregnant women. Doctors failing to comply would face fines of up to $100,000 for a first offense and up to $250,000 for subsequent violations. The requirement would be added to Kentucky's existing informed-consent law. The measure would require a doctor performing an ultrasound to provide a "simultaneous explanation" of what is seen, including the location of the fetus in the uterus.
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Chris Sexton, a former Letcher County coal miner who has retrained and re-entered the workforce with help from the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program’s Hiring Our Miners Everyday jobs initiative, was publicly recognized at a forum on longterm unemployment at the White House on Jan. 31. The event focused on long-term unemployment and developing a more skilled and competitive workforce.
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The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has selected Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and three other colleges within the Kentucky Community and Technical College System as among the nation’s 150 best community colleges. Joining Southeast are Hazard Community and Technical College, Madisonville Community and Technical College and West Kentucky Community and Technical College.