ANIMAL ABUSE CALL RESULTS IN A MASSIVE MARIJUANA FIND IN LETCHER COUNTY
A call to police about an animal cruelty case in Letcher County turned into the discovery of a massive marijuana grow. Investigators say officers found dozens of plants at a home along Highway 317 in Fleming Neon – some described as over 10 feet tall. Tommy Wright was taken into custody in connection with the pot farm.
NEW SUPERINTENDENT FOR JENKINS INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
The Jenkins Board of Education has named a Pike County elementary school principal as its new superintendent. In what almost sounded like a marriage ceremony, Frederick Bowling said “I do” when he was offered the job. Bowling was one of 4 candidates the board had interviewed for the superintendent job that opened up when Deborah Watts announced her plans to retire in May. He’s been in education for over 20 years and was a principal for nearly half of his career.
TRIPLETT NAMED NEW MEMBER OF JENKINS CITY COUNCIL
Roy Triplett was named to the Jenkins City Council as the person who will take over the seat held by Carol Anne Litts, who died last month. Triplett is a member of the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department, where he also serves as chaplain. At Monday’s meeting Mayor G.C. Kincer read a plaque commemorating Litts for her service to the Jenkins. She was on the City Council for 12 years.
TONY SERGENT GETS NICE JOB EVALUATION RESULTS
High marks are given to Letcher County Public Schools Superintendent Tony Sergent on his first job evaluation. The board noted he’s manage the district’s budget very well, solicits input from numerous stakeholders before making decisions and is liked in the community. Sergent, who’s been a teacher and a football coach with the district - became supervisor last July.
FUNERAL TO BE HELD SATURDAY FOR LESLIE COUNTY MURDER VICTIM
Funeral arrangements have been made for a Leslie County man shot to death last weekend. Visitation for Christopher Blake Sizemore will be held tonight at Walker Funeral Home in Hyden. His funeral will be held Saturday at Noon at Mullins Family Cemetery in Clay County. Police say Sizemore and his brother were shot by Gavin Wells near Wooton. Sizemore later died, his brother survived. Wells is due back in court on Tuesday.
FLOYD COUNTY LOOOKING FOR CANDIDATES
Officials in Floyd County are looking for a few good…candidates. As the deadline to file nears, no one has declared their candidacy for mayor in Allen along with commissioner contests in that city and Wayland. School board seats in 2 districts also have no takers. The filing deadline is Tuesday at 4pm.
WANTED WISE COUNTY VA MAN ARRESTED IN TENNESSEE
Police in Tennessee arrest a Wise County, Virginia man wanted on several warrants. Officers on a routine traffic stop took Adam Mitchell into custody and he faces charges there for car theft and stealing a number of other items. He’s being held on $63,000 bond. Mitchell has outstanding warrants in Wise County for failing to register as a violent sex offender, grand larceny and petty larceny. Extradition proceedings are now under way.
BIG SANDY CTC SEARCHING FOR NEW LEADER
A Floyd County college is now searching for a new leader. Big Sandy Community and Technical College president and CEO Dr. George Edwards announced he is leaving his post on January 5. Dr. Edwards was the founding president of the college. He will work on a special assignment at BSCTC through June 30.
MITCH MCCONNELL MAKES A STOP IN WHITESBURG AS PART OF TOUR
Just a day after Alison Lundergan Grimes made a stop in Eastern Kentucky with former President Bill Clinton, Senator Mitch McConnell paid a visit to the area along with Congressman Hal Rogers as part of their “Coal Country Bus Tour”. The tour featured six stops in several hours, including Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg. If the Republicans gain enough Senate seats this November, McConnell would likely become the new majority leader. Rogers is the longest serving Republican U.S. House member in the history of Kentucky.
FINAL DEFENDANT IN MAJOR COCKFIGHTING RING FOUND GUILTY
The final defendant in what police called one of the nation’s largest cockfighting rings has been found guilty. On Wednesday a federal jury found Sonya Stumbo of Floyd County guilty on multiple charges including conspiracy to knowingly sponsor or exhibit an animal in a fighting venue. She will be sentenced in October and could get up to 50 years. Stumbo’s husband, her son and 2 defendants from Wise County, Virginia all took plea deals in the case.
16 FELONY INDICTMENTS HANDED DOWN AFTER ONE NIGHT CRIME SPREE AT PAYNE GAP
16 felony indictments are handed up by a grand jury against a Letcher County man for a one-night crime spree in June. Court papers say Dylan Wright burglarized at least 3 homes and 14 cars – including one belonging to a Whitesburg police officer. All of the suspect thefts took place the night of June 24th in the Payne Gap area. Wright also faces a stolen weapons charge and carrying a concealed weapon charge because a gun he took was found in his truck after Wright got into an accident. The grand jury also indicted Heather Hall on charges she received stolen property and is a persistent felony offender.
NOVEMBER ELECTION CANDIDATES FILE
The Letcher County Court Clerk’s office has been a bit busy lately processing paperwork for candidates seeking election or re-election this November. Whitesburg Mayor James W. Craft has filed for re-election and he will go up against Letcher County Central High School Band Director Jason Griffith. Former Jenkins City Council member Terry Braddock has joined Joe DePriest in challenging the re-election of Mayor G.C. Kincer. 5 current Whitesburg City Council members are running for re-election with Tom Sexton being the only one who hasn’t yet filed paperwork. Fleming- Neon Mayor Susie Polis will be seeking a new term against Joe Brown, who filed to run last month.
GRIMES/CLINTON CAMPAIGN STOP IN HAZARD
It was a packed house in Perry County yesterday when Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes and former President Bill Clinton made a stop at the Hal Rogers Center in Hazard. Clinton noted that’s it’s been a decade-and-a-half since he last came to Perry County and that legislation he helped pass in 1999 has really helped the region. He also spoke about the battles with former Kentucky Senator Wendell Ford and how they worked out compromises.
AMBER ALERT ENDS AFTER MISSING VIRGINIA BOY FOUND SAFE IN PIKE COUNTY
A missing Patrick County, Virginia boy that prompted an AMBER Alert on Monday has been found safe in Pike County. Police say they found 3 year old Tommy Engle in Pikeville with his father. The boy’s father is in the Pike County Detention Center, wanted on two felony assault charges against Tommy’s mother.
6 MOUNTAIN COUNTIES TO SHARE COAL COMPANY FEE REFUNDS
6 eastern Kentucky counties will share in $400,000 of refunds from the state based on coal company fees. Pike County will be getting the biggest refund at over $73,000 while Letcher County gets the smallest at nearly $11,000. The Department for Natural Resources collects mining fees and returns a portion of the money to coal producing counties.
CHILD RAPE SUSPECT IN HARLAN COUNTY TURNS HIMSELF IN
The suspect in a Harlan County child rape case turned himself in to police. Phillip Maddox was indicted in November on charges he sexually assaulted a 12 year old girl. Maddox – who police say had been on the run for nearly a year - is being held on a $25,000 full cash bond.
PLEA DEAL TAKEN IN POLICE INVOLVED SHOOTING IN PIKE COUNTY
A plea deal taken by a Pike County man on charges he threatened to shoot officers means he could be in jail for up to 5 years. Police say James Sallette threatened officers and aimed a firearm at them near his home in Island Creek in February after they responded to an assault complaint at a nearby home. Sallette was shot by cops after ignoring their commands to drop his weapon. None of the officers were injured.
HEAD ON CAR-MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT IN PERRY COUNTY
A car-motorcycle head-on accident in Perry County sends the rider to the hospital with a broken leg. Police say that the motorcyclist was going at a high speed when the bike collided with the car. The rider – who’s name hasn’t been released – was taken to Hazard Appalachian Regional Medical Center and the car’s driver was not hurt. Police say they don’t expect to file any charges in connection with the crash.
PIKE COUNTY WANTED FACING DUI AND ASSAULT CHARGES
A Pike County woman pulled over by police is now facing a felony assault charge for attacking an officer at the Pike County Detention Center. Court papers say Nicole Huffman of Belcher was pulled over early Saturday morning in Pikeville and was arrested on suspicion of DUI and drug charges. At some point after being admitted to jail, Huffman physically assaulted attacked one of the corrections officers, according to prosecutors. It’s not clear what provoked Huffman to go after the jailer.
GRIMES/CLINTON IN HAZARD TODAY
The US Senate campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes is in Perry County today – and with it is a former President. Bill Clinton will speak at the Forum at the Hal Rogers Center – the first time he’s been back to Hazard in 15 years. Clinton is a friend of the Lundergan family and carried Kentucky in both of his presidential campaigns.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IMPACT IN EASTERN KY
The passage of the Affordable Care Act has meant three Eastern Kentucky counties have reduced the percentage of uninsured to around one quarter of what it was before the state opened its healthcare exchange. That’s according to data from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which says over 20 percent of those in Letcher, Perry and Leslie counties were uninsured – but since the exchange opened last October, that number dropped to less than 5 percent. According to the Cabinet’s data over 413,000 Kentuckians have obtained coverage through the exchange – and around 75 percent were those with first-time coverage.
ALLEN CENTRAL STUDENT/ATHLETE FOUND DEAD
Shock has gone through a Floyd County high school on the news a star athlete was found dead just before the first day of school started yesterday. Allen Central High School football and baseball player Trey Aldrich died at his home. The Floyd County coroner is determining the cause of death. Last night teammates and coaches along with parents and the community gathered last night to plan a memorial for Aldrich. Funeral arrangements are pending. Allen Central football coach Jeremy Hall says Aldrich’s number 15 uniform will not be used by any other player this season.
PIKE COUNTY MAN CHARGED IN MOTORCYCLE CLUB MURDER GOES BEFORE THE JUDGE
The man suspected in a Pike County fatal shooting will face a judge today. Daniel Ward is expected to make his first court appearance on charges he shot and killed Bradley Coleman at a motorcycle club meeting in the Stone community. Charging papers say Ward also shot 2 other people but their wounds were not life threatening.
CDC IN PERRY COUNTY FOR TWO NEW INITIATIVES
2 new health initiatives were announced yesterday in Perry County – and they are so important, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came to town. Tom Frieden helped announce the Appalachian Cancer Navigation project that helps those dealing with cancer to find the care they need. Frieden also unveiled the Community Leadership Institute of Kentucky, which helps leaders work in improving their skills in developing solutions for the needs of individual communities. The Shaping Our Appalachian Region Initiative is involved with the Institute.
FLOYD COUNTY MAN SENTENCED IN CHILD ABUSE CASE INCLUDING MURDER
It’s life plus 40 years in jail for a Floyd County man convicted of murder and abuse in the death of Watson Adkins and his four siblings. Jason Dickerson got life for the murder of Adkins plus 10 years for each of the 4 abuse charges. The sentences will run concurrently according to prosecutors. Charges against Jason’s wife Gladys Dickerson are still pending.
FLOYD COUNTY BOARD LAWSUIT SETTLED
Litigation between the Floyd County Board of Education and Stanville Properties has been settled. A lawsuit was filed over the board’s purchase of land near Betsy Layne High School for the construction of athletic fields. The district was accused of interfering with a sale of the land to Kentucky Power. The settlement means the district will pay just under a million dollars for the property.
LESLIE COUNTY MAN NOW CHARGED WITH MURDER AFTER WEEKEND SHOOTING
The Leslie County man who is accused of shooting a man and his brother over the weekend is now charged with murder. Police say Christopher Sizemore died from his injuries Monday afternoon. Gavin Wells is charged with shooting Sizemore in the head and his brother in the hand. According to investigators a fight broke out between the three and alcohol is said to be a factor.
PHARMACY TECH IN WISE COUNTY SUSPENDED DURING STOLEN MEDICATION INVESTIGATION
A pharmacy technician in Wise County, Virginia is without her state license while she’s investigated of suspicion she stole medication from where she worked. Carolyn Fields is accused of taking the pills over a 5 month period that ended in April, according to the Virginia Attorney General's office. Fields also faces multiple drug possession and embezzlement charges and is due in court Friday for trial.
LETCHER COUNTY POLICE BUST MAN FOR SELLING SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA THAT WAS MAKING PEOPLE SICK
Undercover cops in Letcher County busted a man for selling synthetic marijuana that is believed to have sickened at least 2 people. Norman Monroe from Jenkins was arrested at his Smokey Row home yesterday morning and charged with felony trafficking and wanton endangerment. A search warrant revealed Monroe had a stash of the drug in his home along with cash and guns. Monroe is suspected of selling the synthetic marijuana – called “Chill Out” – to a pair of men who cops found Friday night, one of them without a pulse. On Saturday 2 more cases of “Chill Out” overdose were reported – one of which was a teenager who remains in the hospital fighting for his life. Investigators say more arrests are expected.
FLOYD COUNTY INMATE ACCUSED OF BITING ANOTHER INMATES EAR OFF TO APPEAR IN COURT TODAY
The Floyd County jail inmate suspected of biting off part of a fellow inmate’s ear is due in court today. Prosecutors say surveillance video shows Brian Caudill biting Jason Boyd’s ear twice as they were fighting, removing Boyd’s lower ear lobe. Doctors were able to reattach the lobe. Caudill – who has a lengthy rap sheet and was already facing multiple charges – now faces a count of felony assault and is now in solitary confinement.
PIKE COUNTY BACK ON TOP OF KY COAL PRODUCTION
Pike County has moved back to the top of the Kentucky coal production list for the second quarter of 2014 with production of over 3 million tons. The latest report from the Energy and Environment Cabinet puts Perry County in second place at 1.9 million and Harlan County was 3rd at 1.3 million. Those numbers are all up from the first quarter of 2014. The report says Eastern Kentucky had a 15 percent production increase compared to a nearly 9 percent production decrease in Western Kentucky.
FOUR PEOPLE TAKEN TO HOSPITAL AFTER HARLAN COUNTY CRASH ON MONDAY
Four people were taken to the hospital after a crash in Harlan County yesterday. Police say a SUV struck a car at the U.S. 119 Bypass and Kentucky 72, injuring the SUV’s driver and 3 other people. It’s not clear in which of the vehicles the passengers were riding in. The crash investigation is continuing and there’s no word on if charges were filed.
JOE CRAFT TOWER AT HAZARD ARH DEDICATED
Yesterday morning the new Joe Craft Tower at Hazard Appalachian Regional Healthcare was officially dedicated. It had already been in operation for a few months as workers finished up the final details of the $50 million project that adds additional patient rooms, doubles the emergency room capacity and has a new helipad for airlifts. Alliance Resource Partners President and CEO Joe Craft –a Hazard native - donated $1 million to the project
FLOYD COUNTY WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER PASSING OUT WITH A CHILD NEARBY AT PIKE COUNTY OPTOMETRIST
The decision by a Floyd County woman to take her daughter to the eye doctor turned out to be a bad move when police caught her passed out in the waiting room. Not only was Tonya Haines arrested for public intoxication and endangerment, she was also picked up for a felony warrant in Indiana. According to court papers Tonya Haines showed up at a Pikeville optometrist’s office and according to workers there appeared to be intoxicated and having difficulty completing paperwork. The Appalachian News Express report when police arrived Haines was found unconscious with her 5 year old next to her. She was booked into the Pike County Detention Center and has waived extradition to Indiana. The girl is now in the custody of her grandfather.
THREE DICKENSON COUNTY FAMILIES DISPLACED AFTER WEEKEND FIRE
Three Dickenson County, Virginia families were displaced from their homes after an apartment complex fire over the weekend. Investigators say nearly 100 people were evacuated from the building, but there were no reports of serious injuries. The Red Cross assisted the three families in finding temporary shelter. No word on what caused the fire.
2 BROTHERS SHOTS AND SUSPECT ARRESTED IN LESLIE COUNTY
Gunfire Saturday night in Leslie County injured one man and put his brother in the hospital with life threatening injuries. Police say the brothers had been in an alcohol-fueled argument in Harlan County with a man identified as Gavin Wells when all three left there and ended up in Leslie County. That’s where investigators say Wells shot one of the brothers in the head and the other in the hand. Wells then took off and a passerby got the 2 men to Hazard ARH. As Wells was driving back to the shooting scene, police pulled him over and took him into custody. No word on if bond was set for Wells.
BENEFIT HELD FOR 3 YEAR OLD IN HARLAN COUNTY
On Saturday the community rallied around a Harlan County family waiting for a treatment to become available for their young daughter suffering from chronic seizures. A benefit was held to help 3 year old Michaela’s family come up with money to get things she needs to cope with a condition called Leukodystrophy – which causes multiple seizures, sometimes even hundreds of them a day. One of the goals is to help Michaela’s family raise $5000 for a handicap-accessible van to get her back and forth from the doctor. Michaela’s mom says her condition may be mitigated by the use of cannabis oil, but that’s not yet legal in Kentucky.
BATTLE BREWING OVER PIKE TV CHANNEL
A battle is brewing between Pike County’s judge-executive and the government TV service that he says was his brainchild. The Appalachian News Express reports Judge-Executive Wayne Rutherford okayed a stop payment order on a $30,000 check for Pike-TV, the joint effort between the county’s fiscal court, the City of Pikeville, the University of Pikeville and Pikeville Medical Center. Rutherford took the action after Pike-TV crews didn’t show up at a Friday morning meeting – a special session that according to station manager Al Greenfield they didn’t know about until 5 minutes before the meeting was to start. The newspaper reports Pike TV’s Paul Patton plans to discuss the matter with Rutherford.
3 PEOPLE SHOT LAST THURSDAY IN LESLIE COUNTY CONTINUE TO RECOVER
2 of the 3 people hurt Thursday in a Leslie County shooting have been released from the hospital. Joshua Slusher and Derrick White were treated and released, according to the Leslie County Sheriff’s office. A third victim – a 17 year old girl – was also hurt but there’s been no update on her condition. Investigators say there were multiple shots fired and Slusher told police he pushed the teenager away from the gunfire. Police say they are continuing to track down leads on the suspect gunman’s whereabouts.
GOVERNOR BESHEAR AWARDS KNOTT COUNTY MAN
Governor Steve Beshear bestowed an award on a Knott County man for his ongoing community service efforts. Sergeant Jerry Hall, Jr. received the Veteran Volunteer Service Award at a ceremony in Frankfort last month. Earlier this year Sergeant Hall helped his community deal with a water service outage by hauling in over 7,000 gallons of well water. Hall was nominated by his wife Ashley along with some help from a couple of people.
NEW COAL DUST RULES ARE NOW IN EFFECT
Coal operators are expressing concerns that new rules from the Obama administration aimed at reducing coal dust in mines could lead to more layoffs as compliance expenses will end up increasing coal prices. But worker advocates applaud the new statutes saying they will help reduce black lung cases. The rules went into effect Friday and operators could be cited if they do not take immediate action to correct high levels of dust. Black lung disease has killed more than 76,000 miners since 1968, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
HARLAN COUNTY WOMAN INDICTED ON DRUG CHARGES
A Harlan County woman has been indicted on drug charges dating back nearly 18 months. Last week Julia Sizemore was arrested in Loyall on the indictment that says she sold or transferred a controlled substance on two separate occasions in February of 2013. She’s being held in the Harlan County Detention Center on a $4,000 full cash bond. There’s been no word on a trial date.