Friday May 2, 2014

The secretary of state says a record 3.1 million Kentuckians are registered to vote for the May 20 primary elections. The number beats the previous record of just over 3 million registered voters for the 2012 general elections. Registered Democrats grew by 0.41 percent while registered Republicans grew by 3.9 percent. Democrats still outnumber Republicans by more than 476,000 voters.
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Dalton Stidham opened fire January 15, 2013 in the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College killing the mother of his child, Caitlyn Cornett, her uncle Doug Cornett and Doug's daughter Taylor Cornett were all killed.  Stidham has agreed to three life sentences that be served consecutively without the possibility of parole in exchange for a guilty plea. He accepted the plea deal to avoid the death penalty.  A judge will decide to accept or deny the plea deal at Stidham’s sentencing set for June 5th.
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A community member's tip led police to multiple meth labs in Perry County Thursday.  Perry County sheriff's deputies say Freddy Kennedy III, age 32, will face meth making charges.  They say they found Kennedy with an active meth labs and at least eight more labs Thursday afternoon in an abandoned basement below an apartment complex in Christopher.  Deputies say the lab was especially dangerous because the room was not well ventilated, and tenants could have been exposed to the fumes.
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Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the May 1-4 Knott County Spring Trail Ride at the Mine Made Paradise Adventure Park just outside Hindman.  More than one thousand riders hit the trails for opening day on Thursday. The campground opened on Sunday because many campers choose to come early and spend the entire week. The cost for the event is $20 per person.  Those 12-years-old and younger will get in free.  To learn more about the spring or fall trail rides in Knott County, visit http://www.knottcountyadventure.com/horseback.html
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Bell County Forestry Camp officials report Joshua Woodall, 29, is back in custody. Prison officials say the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department found and arrested him Wednesday evening. Investigators say Woodall walked away from the Bell County Forestry Camp on Wednesday morning. He was serving a twenty year sentence for Receiving Stolen Property, 3rd Degree Burglary and Theft from Pulaski County.
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Stopping the drug problem one pill bottle at a time is a key part of Operation UNITE's mission to fight eastern Kentucky's addiction to prescription drugs. With the help of local law enforcement agencies, they made some serious progress last weekend as part of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back-Day. In total, Operation UNITE collected nearly one ton, which is almost 2,000 pounds, of unwanted or outdated medication.
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The Council on Postsecondary Education will allow universities and community colleges across the state to increase tuition.  Paying for college is usually the main concern for students.  Members on the CPE approved Tuesday to allow Kentucky community colleges and universities to increase tuition. The panel says that the increase is necessary due to less state funding and higher university expectations.

Thursday May 1, 2014

Dozens of nurses at Appalachian Regional Healthcare who threatened to walk off the job Thursday morning will not strike after all.  Members of the Southern United Nurses/National Nurses United union reached an agreement with ARH Wednesday that prevents the planned one-day strike at ARH hospitals in Hazard and Beckley, West Virginia.  Both sides came to terms on a new, three-year labor contract. Details of the deal were not released. It's expected that the more than 700 members of the union will vote between Wednesday and Friday next week whether to ratify the new contract.
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Officials tell us they are investigating a fire in Magoffin County.  It happened at the River Bend Apartments on Gardner Trail Road in Downtown Salyersville and started just before 4am Wednesday morning at the building that housed eight apartments. No one was hurt.  Firefighters say they got the fire out in about 30 minutes and then worked to clear the scene for almost three hours.  No word on the cause, but the State Fire Marshal and the Arson Investigator are on the scene.
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Court officials tell us a new trial date has not been set.The Jenkins City Council has approved salary raises for the mayor and council members who will take office in 2015. The mayor’s annual salary was increased from a base of $28,000 to $31,000 per year. The raise does not affect incentives already in place that, if met, can raise the mayor’s pay by $4,000. Council salaries were doubled to $50 per month.
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There will be another round of bidding before the fate of the old McRoberts School building is decided. At its April meeting, the Jenkins Independent Schools Board of Education met in closed session before voting to reject all bids submitted. While the decision to talk about the bids behind closed doors came as a surprise to audience members, Board Attorney Tim Crawford cited an opinion from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office that he said allows school boards to go into executive session to decide the outcome of a bid opening.
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A voting machine for voters who expect to be absent from the county or can’t make it to the polls on Election Day will open today in the offices of Letcher County Clerk Winston Meade. Voting machine hours are 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, from May 1 to May 19.

Wednesday April 30, 2014

The National Weather Service has determined that injuries and damage in Harlan County were caused by 90 mph straight-line winds. The weather service said the storm on Monday caused three minor injuries and damaged three buildings in Evarts, including one building hit by a tree. Numerous trees were also reported damaged. Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill said the storm also downed power lines and caused power outages in the county.
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A fire in a Pike County railroad tunnel is causing some concern for folks in the area. Several schools cancelled class on Monday, as the Robinson Creek area fills with heavy smoke and fumes.  Folks describe the scene Saturday night as terrifying; with loud crashing noises and flames reaching as high as the mountain. Monday morning, firefighters from Shelby Valley worked to extinguish the flames inside the tunnel that stretches 700 feet through the mountain.
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Investigators believe two fires along one Laurel County street are questionable. The first fire happened on Waterworks Road Sunday night, then another home burned last night. Firefighters think because both fires are close to one another, it is suspicious. Police say it is too early to tell is arson is to blame.
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Appalachian Regional Healthcare officials and a labor union hope they can reach a contract agreement. Hospital and Union officials are expected to meet Wednesday in Lexington at 1 p.m.  If they do not come to an agreement by midnight Wednesday, nurses would then go on a 24 hour strike. The Southern United Nurses/National Nurses United Labor Union issued the notice last week. Only ARH Hospitals in Hazard and Beckley, West Virginia will be affected.

Tuesday April 29, 2014

Strong storms damaged homes and businesses in the Harlan County city of Evarts Monday afternoon.  Winds ripped the roof off the Dairy Hut and blew a hole in the side of the Marathon gas station. Both businesses are located in downtown Evarts and are owned by Randy Brackett.  Winds also damaged several houses, including the home of Evarts mayor Eddie Manning.  No injuries were reported in Harlan County because of the storm.
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A fire in a Pike County railroad tunnel is causing some concern for folks in the area. Several schools cancelled class on Monday, as the Robinson Creek area fills with heavy smoke and fumes. Monday morning, firefighters from Shelby Valley worked to extinguish the flames inside the tunnel that stretches 700 feet through the mountain.  Pike County Emergency Management Director Doug Tackett says the odor is due to the old age of the tunnel and how it was built, using creosote which can emit toxic fumes..Instead of using water, officials are going to use dirt to try to smother it out.  In a statement from CSX officials they say there is significant damage to the tunnel and do not have a timeline as to when the line will reopen.  CSX is working with the state fire marshal's office to determine a cause.
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Developers are halting a three-state underground pipeline project that drew intense opposition in Kentucky from residents, activists and even a group of nuns. Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners said in a web posting Monday that they were not able to assemble a large enough customer base for the natural gas liquids that would be delivered by the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. They suggested, however, that the project could be resurrected at a later date. The companies said they are no longer seeking to acquire land for the project and offices that housed land acquisition teams have been closed.
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A man is in the hospital after being struck by lightning in Powell County. It happened around 8:45 Monday morning at the Powell County Transfer Station on Highway 15 in Clay City. Officials say the man was alert and talking when crews got to the scene. He was taken by ambulance to Clark Regional Hospital in Winchester .  The victim's name and condition have not been released.
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A Perry County School brought national honors to Eastern Kentucky with rankings out last week. U.S. News and World Report awarded the school a Bronze Medal. Two qualifications earned schools Bronze Medals. Schools had to first perform better than average in the state, and economically disadvantaged students had to perform better than expected. Buckhorn's rate of economically disadvantaged students stood at 78 percent.
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Fayette County Public Schools are undergoing big zoning changes for the first time in more than ten years. The district has announced plans to build two new elementary schools, one new high school, and to create new boundaries for school districts. With two new elementary schools set to open in 2016 and a new high school in 2017, school leaders say re-working the map on attendance zones is a necessity.

Monday April 28, 2014

A search party was called off Sunday morning after crews found a missing man dead.  Search and rescue workers found the body of Billy Bays, 42, around 9am Sunday.  Bays was reported missing by family members Saturday afternoon when he did not return home from hunting mushrooms near Oneida.  Investigators say no foul play is suspected and there were no visible signs of trauma.
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More than one hundred motorcyclists rode in a poker run Saturday morning.  The bikers began their routes in Corbin, all riding for one special third grader.  Candace Keith, 9, has been fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia since last August.  Candace has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments and will soon go through a bone marrow transplant. The poker run began in Laurel County, as bikers rode through Somerset, Williamsburg, and back through London.
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The roads of downtown Hazard were turned into a racetrack this afternoon for the 15th Annual Bud Combs Memorial All-American Soap Box Derby.  The derby attracts kids of all ages to race their soap box cars. There are two separate divisions and winners have the chance to advance to the national competition. This event is one of many community service projects put on by the Hazard Kiwanis Club.