Friday October 17, 2014

GRANT ISSUED FOR WATER SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS

The City of Hazard's water systems gets an upgrade thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the state. In announcing the award, Governor Steve Beshear says it's an example of government providing infrastructure necessary to provide access to clean drinking water. System storage capacities will be increased along with improvements to the water distribution and treatment systems. The Kentucky Department of Water says Hazard's piping systems have had small breaks and there is no emergency backup systems in place.

MEN SUSPECTED IN RAPE HAVE BOND LOWERED

Bonds are reduced for 2 Harlan County men charged in the rape of a 19 year old woman. A judge set Kenneth Keith and Perry Saylor's bonds at $300,000 secured by 10 percent, down from the original $500,000 full cash bond. Police say Keith raped the woman and Saylor aided Kenneth Keith in the suspected sexual assault that took place at Cranks Creek Lake. Personnel at Harlan County ARH notified police of the suspect rape after examining the woman. The two are due back in court in December.

MOUNTAIN PARKWAY WORK HAS ITS OFFICIAL KICKOFF

Governor Steve Beshear along with state and local leaders marked the beginning of expanding the Mountain Parkway. The project widens 30 miles of the road to make it a 4 lane highway along with extending the parkway along Kentucky 114 to Floyd County. $24 million dollars awarded from the US government is helping to speed up construction of the extension.

MAN CHARGED WITH ROBBING CHURCH’S LAWN TOOLS

A Harlan County man is indicted for stealing landscaping equipment from a church then selling it to an individual. Court papers say Gene Posey stole the items from the Mary Helen Methodist Church in September of 2013 then sold them to a Cranks resident. Posey is held on $4000 full cash bond.

UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN TO 6-YEAR LOW

Kentucky's unemployment rate dropped nearly a half percentage point in September to 6.7 percent. The Office of Employment and Training says that's the largest one month drop in nearly 40 years and puts unemployment at a level last seen in July 2008. Just over 2 million Kentuckians are employed, with the number of unemployed shrinking by around 8600.

NEW PERRY COUNTY SCHOOL CLOSER TO REALITY

It's another step forward in the plans to construct a new Perry County elementary school now that the school board approved a preliminary design of the building. One feature in the proposed West Perry Elementary School is its two-wing design that keeps younger students on one side while older students and middle school students are on the other side. School Superintendent Johnathan Jett tells WYMT the design gives the school more technology and a more conducive learning environment.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SUSPECTED KIDNAPPING

A Pike County man is arrested on suspicion he held a woman against her will. Police say when they got to the Pikeville home the woman told officers Craig Slife held her hostage. Slife tried to run off but was eventually taken into custody. In addition to kidnapping, Slife faces intoxication charges along with fleeing from police officers.

CHARITY CANDLES ON SALE AGAIN THIS YEAR

This year a Harlan County civic group will again sell coal-themed holiday candles to help miners families pay their electric bills. Harlan 20/20 raised $26,000 last year from the candle sales and organizers say they hope to best that number this year. Candles are made by Goose Creek Candle Company in Casey County and are available at stores throughout Harlan County. Those wanting to apply to receive help from the candle proceeds are asked to contact the Harlan County Community Action Agency.

Thursday October 16, 2014

DRUG INDICTMENTS HANDED DOWN

A half dozen people from Letcher County are arrested on felony drug charges. Police say all 6 are from Whitesburg and all face accusations they sold controlled substances. Those arrested include Belinda Hall, Donna Hampton, Dennis Halton, Margie Ison, Joseph Sturgill and Danielle Sturgill. A Sheriff's Department spokesperson says there are other investigations under way.

MAN ACCUSED OF FRAUD FOR PASSING BAD CHECKS

A grand jury indictment is handed down against a Letcher County man on multiple counts of theft and fraud. Court papers say the charges against Bryan Sexton of Whitesburg stem from cashing forged checks starting last November through June. The indictment says the fraudulent checks were drawn against accounts at the Whitaker Bank of Whitesburg and most were from an elderly couple's account but in one instance the account of Everidge and Hatton was compromised.

ADDITIONAL SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE CHARGES FILED

A Perry County grand jury indicts a man on 3 felony counts of sexually abusing minors. Court papers say Steven Jude of Hazard inappropriately touched 3 girls, one of those an 11 year old girl who was the sister of his fiancée. Jude is held on $75,000 bond with home incarceration. He has served jail time on similar charges connected with 2 other girls.

SPEEDING UP THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY

Work is under way to get a high speed internet backbone installed in the area east of I-75. Shaping Our Appalachian Region or SOAR committee member Lonnie Lawson told WYMT they hope that by next month they can announce the timetable to get the fiber optic backbone installed. Once that work is completed the infrastructure is built out to bring broadband internet to individual homes and businesses. SOAR says the plan is to have the network in place by early 2016. Lawson says SOAR will work with existing internet service providers to expand broadband coverage.

GPS LEADS DRIVER TO GET STUCK

A woman from Wise County, Virginia is rescued after getting lost on Black Mountain. Police say Mardee Scott told officers she was following her GPS's directions Sunday night to get back from making a wrong turn and her SUV ended up getting stuck on an old surface mine. Scott was unhurt but was cold and wet from being outdoors through the night.

TEENAGER INDICTED IN CHURCH BURGLARY

An indictment is handed down against a Perry County teenager in connection with a June burglary.  18 year old Shawn Noble of Viper is accused of breaking into the Big Leatherwood Baptist Church and taking musical instruments, some food and a  van belonging to the church. Court papers say Noble damaged the van and did around $1000 damage to the church building. The indictment also charges Noble with unlawful restraint of a minor and forcing the minor to engage in criminal activity. Bail is $75,000 with home incarceration.

MAN ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF ACCESSORY TO A RAPE

There's been a second arrest in a suspected rape in Harlan County. Police say Perry Saylor of Coldiron faces charges of aiding Kenneth Keith in the suspected sexual assault of a 19 year old woman last month. The Enterprise reports Keith had been released on $50,000 bond secured by 10 percent 2 days after his original arrest but he's been taken back into custody and held on a $500,000 full cash bond. Saylor is also held on $500,000 bond.

RED, WHITE AND BLUE FESTIVAL KICKS OFF

A celebration that's said to be the oldest in Floyd County is under way. The city of Martin's Red White and Blue Days Festival offers music, food, rides, a 5k run, car show and a parade. Friday features a special flag raising and a veterans memorial dinner. Marcella Bailey founded the festival in 1969 to honor military veterans and those currently in service to the country.

Wednesday October 15, 2014

DAUGHTER PLEADS FOR TIPS TO FIND FATHER’S KILLER

The daughter of a Letcher County man killed 14 years ago is asking for anyone with information on her dad's murder to come forward. It was in October of 2000 when Jack Blair was found dead in his car 250 feet below US 119. The State Patrol has no suspects in Blair's death. 7 months before the murder Blair was arrested on cocaine conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty. He was killed before sentencing took place.

MAN INDICTED ON SUSPECTED RAPE

A Harlan County man is to be indicted on rape charges. Court papers say last month Kenneth Keith of Cumberland physically and sexually abused a 19 year old woman at a camper in Cranks Creek Lake. Police were called by Harlan County Hospital personnel after examining the woman. Keith is due in court tomorrow.

NO CHANGE IN P’BURG TAX RATES

Tax rates in Prestonsburg remain unchanged - and while that's good news for property owners, it means a loss in revenue for the city. The Floyd County Times reports Prestonsburg's city council chose not to follow a recommendation by the property valuation administrator's office to raise taxes in view of lower property assessments. Councilman Les Stapleton says now is not a good time to raise taxes while BD Nunnery says a better way to increase revenues is to grow the tax base.

FOOD INSECURITY HIGH IN FLOYD COUNTY

A report from Feeding America says nearly one in 5 Floyd County residents are living in food insecurity, the USDA term meaning they don't have enough to eat for a regular lifestyle. The Floyd County Times reports over 27 percent live below the poverty line and those numbers translate to higher food bank usage than nearby counties, with children and senior citizens making up half of those needing help to stay nourished. Three in 4 of those surveyed said they chose between food and paying the utility bill, and the same number chose between food and medical care.

VIRGINIA MINES WIN SAFETY AWARDS

A mine and a coal processing plant in Wise County, Virginia along with 2 mines in Dickenson County, Virginia are recognized by the state of Virginia for safety. In Wise County, Paramont Coal Company’s 88 Strip received a Mine Safety Award in the large surface category and Pigeon Creek Processing Corporation’s Plant No. 1 was recognized in the large coal processing facility category.  In Dickenson County, Paramont Coal Company’s Deep Mine 37  and Dickenson Russell Coal Company’s Roaring Fork Number 4 earned the Mine Safety Award in the large underground category. The mines are operated by Alpha Natural Resources and its affiliates.

FREE DRUG TESTS HANDED OUT TO PARENTS

The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Operation UNITE join forces to offer parents home test kits to determine if their kids are using drugs. The goal is to give kids a way out of using drugs by having them tell people their parents are testing them. The program begins in Rockcastle County and moves to Pike County next month.

ANOTHER SCAM WARNING

Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt is warning about a new scam where someone calls saying they're with a local or state court and demands payment of a fine or debt and wants to be paid on the phone. Sheriff Hunt says if you get a call like that hang up right away and call the authorities.

LOYALL FINANCES A-OK

An accountant finds the finances of a city in Harlan County to be in "good shape". The Enterprise reports CPA Richard Scruggs told the Loyall City Council he did determine there is a lack of checks on all the cities accounting processes, but said that's due to a lack of personnel, not any kind of fraudulent activity. According to the audit Loyall has around $26,000 in assets and $27,000 in liabilities.

Tuesday October 14, 2014

TIPS WANTED TO FIND MISSING GUNS

Nearly a dozen guns are missing from a Perry County store. Police say the weapons were stolen from the Double E Gun Shop in Hazard by a man doing small repairs at the store.  Investigators say the man - identified as Glen Best - stole 13 guns in total and sold 2 of them, but isn't saying where the other 11 went. Anyone with knowledge of where the guns are is asked to contact the Perry County Sheriff's Department.

PIKE COUNTY SHOPPING CENTER NOW OPEN

A ribbon cutting is held at Pike County's newest shopping center. Hobby Lobby is now open at Pikeville Commons on North Mayo Trail. It's one of up to 20 businesses to locate at the new center, which has been in the works since September of 2013. In addition to retailers, around 170 apartments are in the process of being built, with some already completed.

SENTENCING IN ROBINSON CASE MAY BE DELAYED AGAIN

Another sentencing delay is requested for a former mayor in Floyd County along with her husband on convictions tied to a vote buying scheme. Last week the judge presiding over the cases of former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and Red Robinson delayed sentencing until November 5 because of scheduling conflicts.  Now the attorneys for the Robinsons filed motions to extend that further because one attorney is scheduled to participate in a North Carolina murder trial and the other is working on a case that goes to trial the day before the rescheduled sentencing.

MOONSHINE OPERATION BUSTED

3 Dickenson County Virginia men are arrested when police find a moonshine operation at their homes. Agents searching 3 homes found 20 gallons of untaxed alcohol, moonshine making equipment around $24,000 worth of marijuana and three firearms. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says Randall Hackney, Scotty Hackney and Ronald Hackney are expected to face multiple charges in connection with the bust.

GRAND JURY INDICTS COUPLE FOR CHILD ABUSE

2 people from Harlan County are indicted by a grand jury on charges connected to the suspected abuse of a 6 year old. Court papers say in March of this year Amos Thomas beat the child with a belt and Natasha Jerrell - the mother of the child - allowed it to happen. The child suffered bruising on the back. A trial date has not been scheduled.

MARION BRIDGE DEVELOPER VISITS PIKEVILLE

The head of the company developing a new facility in Pike County comes to town to discuss the project. Dr. Pearse Lyons is the founder and president of Alltech, a global animal and nutrition health company  Lyons says the company chose Pike County for its can-do attitude and the incredible allegiance throughout the area - an allegiance that Alltech now shares. The site, called Marion Branch, is the location of a former 380-acre surface mine and is owned by the City of Pikeville. Lyons says they are also planning a brewery and distillery for the site and he says it will offer a line of moonshine along with beer and bourbon.

US SENATE DEBATE IS NOW HISTORY

Senator Mitch McConnell and challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes head back to the campaign trail following last night's debate - the only one being held before election day. Observers say both stayed close to their talking points and things did get a bit heated at times - but the candidates didn't reveal anything new. When asked about whether or not she voted for President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Grimes replied that as secretary of state she's upholding the constitutional right of privacy in the voting booth. McConnell didn't answer the question of whether or not climate change is a man-made phenomena.

Monday October 13, 2014

BLACKEY DAY’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Thousands turn out for the 50th anniversary Blackey Day Festival. The event featured lots of free entertainment, over 2 dozen craft booths and a cakewalk along with a cupcake walk for kids. A silent auction was held and the proceeds benefit the Blackey Improvement Committee, organizers of the festival.  For many Blackey Day is a homecoming to people who live away and they plan a visit home to Letcher County well in advance.

PIKE COUNTY JAILBIRDS CHARGED WITH DRUG POSSESSION

3 Pike County Detention Center inmates faces additional charges for possessing drugs while incarcerated. The Appalachian News Express reports Connie Allen of Dorton was found with prescription painkillers, Eric Childress from Left Fork of Island Creek had a syringe along with pain meds and Barry Ron Maynard of Pikeville was in possession of hydrocodone. Each is charged with first-degree promotion of contraband, which is a felony.

LIHEAP SIGNUPS START THIS WEEK

Pre-registration begins Wednesday for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program administered by the Big Sandy Area Community Action Program. Last year the program helped around 15,000 homes in a 5-county area including Floyd and Pike Counties and officials expect even more applications this year. Pre-registration runs through the end of the month and the statewide LIHEAP subsidy program begins November 3rd.

PIKE COUNTY TOT RECOVERING FROM CANCER SURGERY

A Pike County infant is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor. 3 months ago Clay Allen was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma cancer and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy before last week's surgery. Doctors say the chemo shrunk the tumor to half its original size. 14 month old Clay sees his doctors on Wednesday for a scan to determine if he is cancer free.

MISSING HARLAN COUNTY MAN FOUND DEAD

A Harlan County man reported missing is found dead. Police say Willis Dixon of Nolansburg walked away from his home early Wednesday morning and his body was found in a Nolansburg stream late Saturday morning. Dixon had a history of medical conditions including schizophrenia. Investigators say foul play is not suspected.

DOCTOR, 2 OTHERS FACE DRUG CHARGES

A doctor, his wife and a staff member at a Perry County clinic are indicted on drug charges. Court papers say Doctor James Chaney, his wife Lesa and Physicians Assistant Gregory Hoskins distributed and unlawfully dispensed drugs while working at the Ace Clinique of Medicine in Hazard between 2006 and 2013. Each entered not guilty pleas and have a December court date. If convicted they could each face 50 years in jail.

ARGUMENT ENDS WITH A STABBING AND AN ARREST

A woman in Harlan County is jailed on assault charges stemming from an argument. Police say Lorenza Hernandez of Cumberland pulled a knife and stabbed the victim twice. She is held without bond at the Harlan County Detention Center.

ALLEGATIONS MADE ABOUT PIKE COUNTY AIRPORT SPENDING

Pike County's airport hasn't yet started commercial air travel and already there's charges that money was misappropriated by the airport board's chairman. The Appalachian News Express reports Board Member Bobby Wagner says chairman Bill Hickman okayed spending over $20,000 for items requested by one of the companies involved in getting the air service operations - but didn't get board approval to spend the money until several days later. Wagner also says some of the items were massively overpriced and if bought locally could have been acquired a lot cheaper. He says a request for a formal state audit of the board's books will be made at the October 20 meeting.