LOCAL NEWS

Wednesday 8-19-15

By Jerry Adams

Officials say there were no serious injuries in a school bus crash in Perry County on Wednesday. That bus carrying two students, a monitor and the driver was hit as it made a turn on Higway 28, not far from the Chavies Elementary School. One of those students went to the hospital for a checkup, but is OK. Police say an SUV apparently collided with the bus in that school zone. With schools back in session, they say it is a reminder for drivers to be extra cautious, especially around the open and closing of school hours.

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The Bell County School Board says it has approved a plan for people attending high school football games this fall to take part in a prayer before kickoff.   The board says it has reviewed the way the voluntary prayer will be conducted and say it is  constitutional for a student led organization to be involved. The district was involved in a prayer controversy a few years back after a complaint by a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Kentucky ACL says it is aware of the current plans and says it will monitor the situation to make sure the school is following the law.

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The Harlan County Fiscal Court says it will consider allowing a new Cable TV provider in to the county after complaints about one of those that currently proves TV to residents. Members quizzed a representative of Zito Media about the number of customer complaints . Zito Media says its small number of subscribers makes it difficult to maintain the system, especially given the terrain, but the fiscal court says other companies are operating with the same restrictions in other sorts of the county with fewer service problems. Officials say the plan to advertise for other cable TV companies which might want to set up shop in the area.

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A man from Pike County has been charged with animal cruelty after police say he chained his dog to a pipe near the Pikeville Elementary School. They say Jordon Johnson told officials he had chained the animal before going out for a run. Johnson was also cited for public intoxication .                                                                            

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Police hope the public can help them solve the theft of historical items and office equipment from a museum in Laurel County. They say the burglars targeted that museum twice in June and got away with thousand of dollars worth of items. Among the artifacts taken, a replica 1890's era long gun the museum's security system and donation boxes and a collection of Colonel Harland Sander's memorabilia. Police think whoever stole the Sanders objects knew what they were looking for because of the value it has on the open market. The Laurel-London Crime stoppers has put up a reward for information about the theft.

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A man from Cumberland has been indicted on a kidnapping charge in Harlan County. Officials identify him as as 30 year old Frank Lee, who deputies say restrained and assaulted a woman in an incident back on May 26th. Lee has been arrested and is being held in the county detention center. Officials say he has at least four previous felony convictions dating back to 2007.

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Some late summer roadwork could cause inconvenience for drivers on coupe of area highways, Crews will be out repairing a road break on Kentucky 1210 in Floyd County near the May Valley Elementary School—and that drivers could face delays of u to an hour during those work times for the next week or so. Crews will also be out on Highway 2059 in Pike County, where a portion of the road will be closes today and tomorrow between 8 AM and 3 PM for repair work as well.

Tuesday 8-18-15

By Jerry Adams

Letcher County Fiscal Court has turned down a request to add 25 thousand dollars to the county Sheriff's Office budget. The court's 3 to 3 tie means the extra funding was NOT approved. Among those voting not to add more to the 150 thousand dollars already appropriated was county judge executive Jim Ward, who says it was a tough, but necessary decision, given the county's already tight finances. The department allocation is 150 thousand dollars—which is 650 thousand dollars less than last year, Those who supported the additional money say they department is too important to leave underfunded.   Department hours and staff have already been cut because of the decreasing county share of the budget.

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The Letcher County Fiscal Court did approve support for a plan that would bring some federal dollars to communities hit by the downturn in coal.  The federal Power Plus plan involves grants to help diversify the economy. The city of Whitesburg has also decided to take part.

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The holiday season could bring some new jobs for eatsren kentucky residents. Teleworks USA is looking to hire as many as 25 hundred employees to answer phones and process customer orders for its clients. The company will hold ajob fair next Tuesday to look for qualified applicants. The jobs pay 9 dollars an hour—and officials say they will bring a much needed boost to the mountain economy.  That job fair will be held in two sessions at the Teleworks USA telework hub in Hazard—one at 10 AM and one at 2 PM.

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And some area residents are picking up valuable skills at a course in Fiber Optics at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. The school says it is meeting a need—both for people looking for work and for an industry that needs certified installers. Those involved say the program is a perfect fit as the mountain region moves toward greater access to broadband communication services—that will be carried over fiber cables.

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Two men accused of conspiring to kill a Clay County man have had their first day in court. Thomas Miracle and Roscoe Henson were at a preliminary hearing on charges that they worked together to kill 24 year old Trevor Dykes outside his Goose Rocks community home. They judge says there is enough evidence to hold the two until a grand jury meets next month to decide if they should be indicted. Police say Miracle hired Henson to kill Dykes because of a child custody dispute. The victim;s family members were in the courtroom and they say it was difficult to see the two for the first time, but that they want to make sure justice is served. Dykes was gunned down on July 27th as he left his home for work. Sheriff Kevin Johnson says the two suspects have admitted their roles in the killing.

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Police are investigating a crash that killed a man in Leslie County. They identify him as 61 year old Rufus Gibson of Hyden. They say he died when his vehicle ran off Highway 421 and into a creek on Monday morning.

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The Rowan County Clerk will not have to issue marriage licenses, after a federal judges ruling. Last week, judge David Bunning ordered Kim Davis to perform those ceremonies in spite of her religios beliefs. The judge has now put that ruling on hold so a higher court can review the case. Judge Bunning says he relalzes that emotions are running high on both sides, so for now, he says he will defer until the entire sixth circuit court can decide what to do next.

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FEMA has opened a center in Johnson County to help those effected by last month's devastating floods. The center will provide assistance by processing applications forloans and grants and letting people know what forms of aid are available. Those on hand for the opening say they are happy that help is finally arriving—help that could allow them to get back to the life they had before the water rose in July. That assistanc center is located on Highway 40 in Paintsville.

Monday 8-17-15

By Jerry Adams

A house fire in Harlan County has left one woman dead. Officials identify her as 26 year old April Dean, who was trapped inside that home in the Stanfil community early Sunday morning. The Sunshine Fire Company responded to that blaze on Highway72, but were unable to save Dean. There is no word on what caused the fire—officials are investigating, but they say NO foul play is suspected.

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A  Pike County congregation held its Sunday service outside this week—after a fire destroyed their church building. The Piso Freewill Baptist Church caught fire on Monday—and so, members improvised and held their worship under a tent next to the structure on Sunday. They say they are focusing on the future now and will do what t takes to rebuild. They also say their faith is strong and that they will remain together with God as they face the challenge ahead. So far the cause of that fire is under investigation.

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Charges have been filed against a woman in Floyd County after they say she set up a booth promising free phone service, which they say was nothing but a scam. Police say they arrested Susan Ward after complaints that she had promised a free phone upgrade for cash at that booth in downtown Martin, , but that there were no free phones. She is charged with theft by deception..

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A weekend crash in Bell County has left one person dead. Police say 42 year old Scotty Shackleford died when his ATV crashed into a truck on Highway 186 near Bennetts Fork Church late Saturday night. The truck driver was also injured and flown to UT Medical center.

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Officials in Bell County say they aren't happy with some news coverage from big newspaper. A recent article about drug abuse and poverty by the Boston Globe focused on Pineville, and Pineville Mayor Scott Madon says that while his community has a problem with illegal drug use, so do many other places. He says the article was an unfair portrait of his town that ignored many of the positive things there. Other officials agree, saying county is working hard to address the drug problem, and working hard to improve the economy as well

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Some roadwork effecting traffic in Knott County for the next few days. The Kentucky Highway cabinet says highway 1697 near highway 550 in Sloan fork will be closed during the day to make it safer for school busses. Officials say the work should take about a week and a half.

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Some people in Breathitt County had a chance to step back in time..and to hone their marksmanship skills as well over the weekend. The national program called “Johny Appleseed” made a stop in Jackson, letting people practice shooting small caliber rifles...and giving them history lessons about how rifles were used during the Revolutionary War. Those in attendance say it was a worthwhile experience that taught them a lot about guns—and about history.

Friday 8-14-15

By Jerry Adams

A man accused of firing the shots that killed a Clay County man last month has had his first day in court.  32 year old Roscoe Henson was arraigned Thursday  on charges that he killed Trevor Dykes as Dykes got ready for work on july 27th outside his home in Manchester.  Officials say a second man, Thomas Miracle, hired Henson to kill Dykes in a child custody dispute involving Miracle's girlfriend's child.  Sheriff Kevin Johnson says investigators continue to unravel strands of the case and that more arrests are possible.  Dykes family says the are grateful for the police work so far and want to make sure whoever did kill him is brought to justice.  Henson s next court date is set for Monday.

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Meanwhile, Clay County deputies have another murder case on their hands as well.   21 year old Kevin Stidham is accused of killing his girlfriend near a home on Miller Lane in the Big Creek community on Thursday afternoon.  Investigators say 32 year old Sherry Collins was shot to death and that allege that Stidham put marks on the his arms to indicate a struggle that never took place.  Reports say Stidham has confessed.  He is being held until his first court appearance.

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Letcher County officials say they have their hands full with the heroin epidemic, and want to set up a needle exchange program for addicts to keep down the risk from diseases spread my shared needles.  Health officials say it makes sense, and that some addicts may even be convinced to get help when they show up at exchange sites. Other people disagree, saying that giving away needs sends the wrong message that its OK to use heroin, as long as the syringes are clean.  In spite of those concerns, the county health department hopes to have some kind of exchange set up soon—before a serious outbreak of illness like hepatitis or HIV spreads into the community.

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The controversy over Rowan County clerk Kim Davis's decision not to issue marriage license in the wake of June's US Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriages may be heating up. Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that Davis must comply and begin to issue those license, something she says she can't do because of her religious belief. Members of her office say they have been instructed not to go along with the ruling either and so, for now, no licenses are being issued. No word yet on what will happen next, but Davis says she is prepared to take her stand to the next level and all the way back to the Supreme Court, if necessary

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Officials in Harlan say they are addressing the issue of a residence on main street that is overlfowing with cats, where neighbors have complained abour the smell.  Residents are also concered about possible health problems near the home as well.  The city council says Police Chief Mike Thomas cited the woman who owns the property under the city nuisance ordinance and for faliure to have the cats vaccinated.  She is due in court on Augist 24th.  Animal control officials say their hands are times until the legal issues is resolved. The council also says the city health department will follow up on the matter and work to get the property cleaned up..

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Demolition work on a Laurel County landmark, heavily damaged by a fire in February is complete. Crews brought down the home of Weaver's hot dogs, which had been on that site on Main Street in London since 1940. Officials say the walls were just too weak for the building to remain standing and so for safety  reasons, they ordered it to come down.  Co owner Kimberly Weaver says while they have set up two new locations, she won't feel at home until Weaver's is back on Main Street. Some of the old place remains— a previous owner had made digital copies of the photos that  once hung on the walls.  Those pictures will be reprinted and hung on the walls of the NEW Weaver's when its built.

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The old east end bridge in Elkhorn City is about to come down. There is already a new bridge helping people get from Elkhorn City to the Breaks, but with the demolition work, officials are worried that debris from the project could fall into the river below and are warning boaters to stay away until the wrecking crews get done in October.

Thursday 8-13-15

By Jerry Adams

A second suspect in a suspect in a Clay County murder is now behind bars.  32 year old Roscoe Henson is suspected of being one of two men who were hired to kill Trevor Dykes at his home in Manchester last month. Reports say he was picked up and booked into the Clay County jail late last night.  Meanwhile,  the other person accused in the case is now identified as Thomas Miracle—who has been arraigned on solicitation to commit murder charges in Clay County District Court. Officials think the killing may have been the result of a custody dispute.  Dykes was gunned down as he left his home for work on July 27. His family hopes the arrests are the first step toward justice in the case.

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President Obama has signed an emergency declaration that means federal help for residents of Johnson County whose property was damaged in last month's flood.  That  help could include low cost loans and other federal programs to help them rebuild. The declaration also covers some of the storm related costs for governments and some non profit groups in other areas including  Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Magoffin, and Perry counties.

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Police in Perry County have charged man with leading them on a chase that ended up with a crash on Kentucky 80 on Wednesday morning. Deputies say Aaron Jones took off as they tried to stop him near the Daniel Boone Motor Inn in Hazard. After the crash that ended the chase. they say Jones took off on foot but was quickly taken in to custody. He is facing charges of fleeing and evading law enforcement.

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A grand jury has indicted two women from Letcher County on charges that they embezzled almost 200 thousand dollars from a payday loan provider where they both worked. Christy Lee Sexton and Shelly Lynn Salyers are accused of taking out loans in the names of former customers, including some who were dead, and then taking the money for themselves.  The women worked for Cash in a Dash in Whitesburg before they were fired.  A few weeks after the investigation into the fraudulent loans began, the Cash in a Dash building caught fire. So far that case remains unsolved. Sexton and Salyers are in Letcher County jail and are due in county Circuit Court on August 25th  .

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Prayers for a high school student badly hurt in a crash in Harlan County ATV accident.  Sara Napier is a member of the Harlan County high school basketball and track teams—who was injured in a crash on Pine mountain. Her family and her friends are pulling for her recovery from a serious leg injury and they are confident that she will be back with her team as soon as she can.

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An openly gay former high school basketball player from Prestonsburg says his picture was left out of his high school yearbook on purpose.  Betsy Layne High school says Dalton Maldonado' s picture didn't make it to the pages due to an editing error and that they will re-print the book to include his photo. Maldonado came out earlier this year after an argument with an opposing player who he claimed had used anti-gay slurs during a game.

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A judge has ruled that the Rowan County Clerk must issue marriage license to same sex couples. Kim Davis has refused to do that, saying it would go against her Christian belief, but now a federal judge says she must comply with the US supreme court ruling making those marriages legal.  Federal District Judge David Bunning says gay and lesbian couples shouldn't have to go to other counties and that Davis is required to perform her duties under the law.  No word if Davis plans to appeal that ruling. She is one of three county clerks across the state who stopped issuing marriage licenses because of the conflict between their beliefs and the supreme court ruling.