Tuesday November 18, 2014


A portion of  Kentucky-15 was shut down by Hazard Police Monday night due to ice and snow.  The winter weather caused dangerous road conditions for drivers, but no major accidents were reported. Officers responded to several calls from stranded drivers who had slid off the slick roads, advising people to stay off the roads if possible and only venture out in an extreme emergency.   Officers say they did not respond to any accidents, but several drivers became stranded after sliding off the slick roads.  Highway conditions began to improve as road crews treated the roads.


A stabbing occurred at Hazard Community and Technical College on Monday at around 11:30 a.m. resulting in one person being hospitalized and two more being treated for minor cuts. Hazard Police are reporting that the stabbing was a fight over a girl and took place in a hallway of the First Federal Center on the HCTC campus.  When officers arrived, they found  that one student, a 17-year-old, had brought a box cutter type knife to the school and during the fight, he had injured another student by cutting him under his left eye.  A faculty member apparently tried to intervene and was cut on the left arm.  The 17-year-old cut himself accidentally and was taken to the ER for treatment. His name is being withheld because he is a juvenile, but may face at least first-degree assault charges.  The stabbing is currently under investigation by the Hazard Police Department.


A Harlan County grandmother was arrested Monday,  facing wanton endangerment, endangering the welfare of a minor, and other drug charges. Police say her two year old granddaughter l was at Harlan ARH after eating a Suboxone pill. Police are reporting that the child was under the care of Worthington when the girl found the pill in her purse.   38 year old Christy Worthington was taken into custody Monday afternoon.


Two fires were reported over the weekend resulting in the loss of property and the lives of several family pets.  Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire in the Farmers Mills area near Chevrolet at the Darby Bennett home,  Sunday around 8:30 a.m.  Fire Chief Steven Hatfield said  the first firemen on the scene discovered a pool house near the home, fully engulfed. The fire had been called in by a motorist passing by the home and home owners were apparently still sleeping in the main house. An employee of Bennett’s arrived and jumped the fence and opened iron gates leading to the home so that emergency vehicles could get to the fire.  The fire was contained in the pool house near the home, but the family lost five of their six dogs, a pet duck and several bearded dragon lizards in the fire and a kennel attached to the pool house was a total loss.  The cause of the fire appears to have been electrical and is still being investigated.  Also assisting at the scene was the Harlan Fire Department. In another area of the county at approximately 12:30 a.m. Monday, the Loyall Fire Department was dispatched to a fire at 301 Johnnie Street. Upon their arrival they observed flames exiting from bedroom windows on the right side of the home. Fire Chief Vern Guffy said firefighters were on the scene for approximately three hours extinguishing the fire, which resulted in heavy fire and water damage to the interior of the home. A rekindle at approximately 8 a.m. and returned to the scene to once again extinguish the fire. The home is owned by Angela Brooks, but being rented by Christy Warren. Cause of the fire is still under investigation. Also assisting on the scene were the Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department and the Harlan Fire Department.


Fire Chief George Birman Jr. spoke to the city council during a meeting on Thursday reporting that Benham Fire Department will once again be receiving state aid money. The fire commission is granting state aid money and is requesting that it be kept in a separate account from any other city funds, with Birman noting that the money is the fire chief's responsibility. Birman said two signatures are required for signing checks from the account, the fire chief and the city clerk or the fire chief and the mayor, and if the city has money to put into the fire department it has to be a completely separate account.” The $8,000 is good news for the city, as the fire department is in need of equipment such as turn out gear. Birman also updated the panel on the possibility of repairing a broken fire hydrant.


An Evarts man was arrested by the Kentucky State Police on Friday on multiple charges, including drug trafficking.  According to the citation, KSP Trooper Jimmy Halcomb, at about 12:35 p.m. on Friday, observed a 1999 silver 911 Turbo Porsche being driven by Charles W. Helton, 51, of Evarts, allegedly going 73 mph in a 55 mph zone on U.S. 119. The citation states Halcomb got behind the Porsche and observed it allegedly crossing the fog line several times and almost rear-ending a vehicle in front of it before passing it and pulling onto the shoulder of the road. Helton was charged with first-degree trafficing a controlled substance first degree (first offense), possession of marijuana, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, no operator’s/moped license, operating on a suspended or revoked operator’s license, failure to register transfer of motor vehicle, speeding 18 mph over the limit, no registration plates and no registration receipt. He was lodged at the Harlan County Detention Center
• Matthew Hall, 26, of Baxter, was arrested on several warrants Sunday by Harlan Police. Two failure to appear warrants on traffic violations and another warrant for drug court termination. Police Chief Owens said after running a check on Hall, he was also served with an indictment warrant for charges of second-degree trafficking a controlled substance and persistent felony offender. Owens said Hall was arrested at Walmart after receiving an anonymous tip. He was lodged at the Harlan County Detention Center.


Letcher Middle School Students continue their celebration of Veterans day by seeking donations for the Big Sandy Regional Veterans Transitional Housing Center in Pike County.  Each classroom has a donation box that they are working hard to fill. School Teacher Courtney Casebolt said it's a student project that began two weeks ago, and because Principal Rick Warf is a veteran, they wanted to continue with it. Chris Adair is a resident at the housing center, and is one of more than 15 veterans that Casebolt said will get a laundry basket full of gloves, socks, food, and other items.This is a first time project for the school and teachers hope their students get the message.  Students are writing letters, sharing why they want the chance to deliver the baskets on December 15th. Casebolt said many of the students have just wrote that they want to come say thank you. December 11th is the last day Letcher Middle School is accepting donations.

Friday November 14, 2014


2 decrepit buildings on Main Street in Fleming Neon haven't been torn down and city officials want to know why. One is owned by the Dawahare family and the Letcher County Library Board owns the other one. Mayor Susie Polis says she's contacting the library board and the Dawahare family tells her they can't afford the demolition costs.


The final pre-trial hearing is held for a Knott Co. man accused of shooting and injuring a probation and parole officers. Rocky Wicker Senior is accused of opening fire on the officers when they tried to serve a warrant on his son at a home in the Mousie community. WYMT reports the courtroom was packed yesterday with a large number of Department of Corrections officers some of whom came all the way from Louisville to show their support for the 2 wounded officers. Wicker's trial starts December 8 and a representative of the DOC officers say they will be back in court then.


A plea deal is reached in the case of a Floyd County man accused of sexually abusing an eight year old. The Floyd County Times reports Harvey Robinson originally faced 15 counts of rape, sodomy, and abuse for his actions with the child over a 16 month period. Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner says one reason they accepted the plea deal was so the child wouldn't have to appear in court to testify against Robinson. He's due to be sentenced in February.


Pike County Judge Executive Elect Bill Deskins is called to court - but not over his campaign. The Appalachian News Express reports a complaint was filed by Steelworkers Local 14581 president Gypsy Cantrell Ratliff over claims Deskins verbally harassed and threatened her at a rally for Alison Lundergan Grimes held a day before election day at the Pikeville/Pike County airport. He is due in court November 18.


Construction on over 2.5 acres of land in Floyd County deeded to a company planning to build apartments for those with low income or special needs is expected to begin soon. In July the Prestonsburg City Council allocated the land from the Stonecrest Industrial Park to Mountain Comprehensive Care on the stipulation it received approval for the project from the federal Economic Development Administration. The company says it will build a 60 bed facility on the site along with a psychiatric residential treatment facility for boys and girls ages 13 to 18. Federal grants and coal severance money are helping to pay for the $3 million cost of the project which is expected to create 90 jobs.


A recanvass for the Circuit Court Judge race in Harlan County yields the exact same result as the initial count. Kent Hendrickson defeated incumbent Henry S. Johnson by 179 votes. Johnson says he asked for the recanvass because he wanted to be certain the votes were counted accurately. As part of the transition Hendrickson is recusing himself from all cases he was involved with as an attorney, and a special judge will handle those proceedings. Hendrickson will be sworn in early next year.


15 years in jail is the sentence for a Pike County man taking a plea deal on home invasion charges. Court papers say 18 year old Daniel Gillman of Pikeville and an accomplice broke into the home of Lizzie and Robert Compton and held the couple against their will while stealing cash, jewelry and other goods. Commonwealth’s Attorney Rick Bartley says Robert Compton suffered non life threatening injuries in the January incident. Gillman's accomplice, William Hamilton also took a plea deal and is to be sentenced November 21.

Thursday November 13, 2014


A businessman's derailed plans to build a distillery at a historic building in Letcher County may get a new lease on life. Colin Fultz leased the auto repair show at Main and Madison Streets from the city of Whitesburg but in September the city council denied his request to use it for alcoholic purposes because of public opposition. Mayor James Wiley Craft says Fultz requested a meeting to reconsider his plan and a public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening at Whitesburg City Hall. The 80 year old building  is on the National Register of Historic Places.


A relative to one of those suspected in the 2012 murder of a Letcher County man is indicted by a grand jury. Jonathan Maggard - the cousin of James Maggard - faces obstruction charges in the beating death of Drad Fleming. Court papers say Jonathan allowed James to use the bathroom at the Eolia mine guard shack where Jonathan worked to clean up and change clothes the night of the beating. The documents say Jonathan knew about Fleming's murder but didn't contact authorities.


Kentucky State Troopers ask for tips to find whoever broke into a Knott County building and stole a number of items. Investigators say the Hindman Disabled American Veterans building was burglarized earlier this week and the suspects took microwave ovens along with other appliances.  Police say they have some leads but ask that anyone with information on the breakin to call KSP Post 13 of the KSP at 606-435-6069.


A Harlan County industrial and tourism promotion organization applies for a $1 million federal grant. The Enterprise reports Tri-Cities Heritage Development Corporation filed the application for a Transportation Alternative Program grant that if approved would help pay for things like new bike paths, community improvement projects and other non-traditional roadway initiatives. The terms of the grant required TCHDC is required to contribute 10 percent of the amount awarded and officials say they have that covered. It's not known when the grants will be handed out.


Pike County's Animal Shelter adopted out nearly 90 dogs and cats on Wednesday - the most in the shelter's history. The shelter has had an overcrowding problem and the Appalachian SPCA stepped in to help reduce the population. Animal adoption fees are five dollars and include spaying or neutering.


A woman in Harlan County is suspected of conducting a fraudulent raffle by faking the names of charities benefiting from the proceeds. Police say Heather Yount of Harlan went door to door selling tickets to an iPad drawing and told buyers the money goes to KCEOC Community Action Partnership as well as an area pre school where Yount has a child enrolled. Arrest papers say officers checked with KCEOC along with the school and found neither was conducting any fundraising efforts. Yount is held on $5000 bond secured by 10 percent.


Operators of a Pike County food pantry are scrambling to find a new source for donations now that their main supplier stopped making deliveries. With no food to hand out, the Thankful Heart Food Pantry turned to getting toys organized for a Christmas giveaway. A search for a new supplier is underway and the pantry is welcoming any non-perishable food donations so they can stay open.


A Martin County pawn shop is raided on suspicion of illegal activity. Kentucky State police say a search warrant was served at the Inez Pawn Shop as a result of an extensive investigation. Gambling machines, along with an undisclosed amount of money, drugs and other items were seized.

Wednesday November 12, 2014


Burglary charges against 2 Floyd County man are now forwarded to a grand jury for possible indictment. Investigators say Abram Swiger broke into a home in the Tram community and stole electronics, cash and a number of weapons. Police acting on a tip found most of the stolen property at Swiger's home and the guns were found in the possession of Jody Carroll of Harold. A request to lower bond for both men was denied.


Loyall's fire department will be getting a Christmas present of sorts - a replacement fire truck. The Harlan Daily Enterprise reports the Loyall City Council worked out a deal with an Alabama company to acquire a 13-year old fire truck that replaces one over 30 years old. The council recently passed a resolution to enter into a low-interest loan agreement with the Kentucky Fire Commission to borrow no more than $30,000 to pay for the truck. Annual funding from the state and other sources is being used to pay back the loan. The new truck is expected to arrive within the next 4 to 6 weeks.


Kentucky's Healthcare exchange begins open enrollment on Saturday and Governor Steve Beshear is touting a number of changes to make it easier for people to get signed up. In addition to improvements at the state's Kynect website, there's now a app for Apple and Android devices to help in making choices for healthcare and Medicaid.  For those needing in-person help Kynect will have a store in Lexington's Fayette Mall, during open enrollment - which continues until February 15th.


With the general election in the history books - and a contentious mayoral battle over - Prestonsburg's city council is back to business as usual. The Floyd County Times reports Monday's council meeting was over in around 15 minutes, with quick action on 3 agenda items including authorizing Mayor Jerry Fannin to apply for disaster aid from heavy rains earlier this year. Fannin lost his bid for re-election to Les Stapleton, and the Times says that contest made council meetings leading up to the election into verbal free for alls that at times lasted hours.


The Breathitt County man accused of murder when he crashed his pickup in August  is released from jail because an indictment was not returned against him within a 60 day limit.  Police say Shawn Hardin was intoxicated when he when he lost control and hit a house on Wolverine Road near Tracy Lane. Four people riding with Hardin - Pearl Armstrong, Adam Fugate, Lee Campbell, and Josh Thorpe - died.  Commonwealth's Attorney Darrell Herald says police are still gathering evidence and the case will go before a grand jury when it's ready.


A one-car crash in Dickenson County, Virginia takes the life of the 18 year old driver. Police say John Yates of Vansant, Virginia was going around a curve in Haysi near the intersection of Route 611 and Route 608 when he lost control, went off the road and struck a bridge. Yates was airlifted to a Tennessee hospital where he was pronounced dead. The crash investigation is continuing and police haven't said if alcohol or drugs were a factor.

Tuesday November 11, 2014


The information superhighway remained blocked yesterday for some folks in Perry County. WYMT reports customers of Windstream Communications have been dealing with outages beginning late last week, leaving those without a backup connection offline. A company spokesperson blames the outages on a failed piece of equipment and repairs were scheduled for Monday.


2 Magoffin County schools went into lockdown due to police activity. Investigators say they were called yesterday on a report a student pulled a knife on another person and when they were questioning him, he took off on foot. According to school officials the lockdown at the county high school and elementary school was purely a precaution while the incident was being investigated. Parents received a robo-call telling them what was going on and that there was no cause for alarm. The boy suspected of pulling the knife is still at large.


Drivers may be seeing green on some roads this winter.   Kentucky Highway District 12 is employing a new road treatment solution called Clear Lane which is said to turn pavement a green color. A spokesperson with the district says there's nothing hazardous in Clear Lake - it just looks different. The new road treatment is being tried out in Johnson County but the department says it's ready to handle whatever mother nature delivers to Letcher, Knott, Pike Floyd, Lawrence and Martin Counties which make up the rest of District 12.


Training underway in Perry County is helping folks land jobs where they can work while still at home. According to the Hazard Herald Digital Works began delivering its exclusive Tier 1 customer support and technology training program at the Teleworks Hub in Hazard, which is at the Kentucky Career Center JobSight at 412 Roy Campbell Drive. A second training session is planned for next month in Jackson County. Those completing the self-paced training are connected to companies hiring workers who can either work from home or at the Teleworks Hub. According to a Digital Works spokesman the company's Ohio programs provided employment placement for more than 90 percent of training graduates in telework jobs starting at $9 per hour.


A man from Knott County who worked in West Africa battling ebola is back home. Joseph Fair works for the World Health Organization and is in a 21 day quarantine - the amount of time health officials say it takes for Ebola symptoms to emerge. Fair's work is now known nationwide thanks to his appearance on Sunday's episode of the CBS newsmagazine program 60 Minutes, where he talked about his work with reporter Lara Logan. 


2 men and a woman are arrested on suspicion they committed a Floyd County home invasion in October. Arrest papers say Kevin Gayheart, Famer Halbert and Traci Spurlock went to the home of Deanne Prater, of BNW Lane, used a baseball bat to significantly damage a parked pickup truck then swung the bat at the home's windows to gain entry. Police say once inside, they pistol whipped Chad Prater then took off with the family's pit bull terrier. Gayheart and Halbert each face up to 20 years in jail while Spurlock - charged with aiding the 2 men - could be in jail for up to 5 years.