LOCAL NEWS

Friday September 5, 2014

A PERSON TAKES A PLEA DEAL IN FLOYD COUNTY VOTE BUYING CASE

One of the 5 people suspected of vote buying in Floyd County who took a plea deal has been sentenced to probation. Former City of Martin employee Henry Mullins's guilty plea resulted in a conspiracy charge being dropped. Mullins attorney says his role in the vote buying scheme to sway the 2012 mayoral election was minor and asked that he not be given jail time, and the judge agreed. 3 others charged including former Martin Mayor Thomasine Robinson were found guilty in May and a 5 person was found not guilty.

HARLAN COUNTY WOMAN EXTRADITED TO TENNESSEE ON ROBBERY CHARGES

A Harlan County woman has been extradited to Hawkins County, Tennessee to face robbery charges. Holly Zinno is suspected of holding up a pharmacy in Bulls Gap last April, making off with cash and nearly 700 prescription painkiller pills. She is being held without bond and is due in court on Monday. Zinno was recently arrested on DUI and child support charges and that's when police learned she was wanted in Tennessee.

3 WISE COUNTY RESIDENTS ARRESTED AT JIM JUSTICE PROTEST

3 people from Wise County, Virginia were arrested yesterday  during a Jim Justice protest in Roanoke, Virginia. Rebecca Holmes, Kyle Gibson and William Blevins were among the 5 people who police say strung up a banner between 2 buildings in downtown Roanoke with the words “JIM JUSTICE PROFITS APPALACHIA PAYS” on one side and “JIM JUSTICE: TOXIC SPILL BILLIONAIRE” Each face misdemeanor charges and were granted a $1,500 secured bond. No injuries were reported.

PROPERTY VALUE DECLINE IN HARLAN COUNTY LEADES TO INCREAST IN PROPERTY TAX

Declining property values in Harlan County forced the Fiscal Court to impose a $22 million increase to the county's property tax  to offset the revenue loss. The increase agreed to yesterday amounts to a new compensating rate of $33.60, a $2.20 raise over the 2013 rate. A compensating rate is the amount to insure a municipality's level remains the same, and if property assessments go up, the compensating rate declines.

2 CAR CRASH AT GARRETT ON HIGHWAY SENDS 2 TO THE HOSPITAL

A 2-car crash in Floyd County Wednesday morning sent 2 people to the hospital. Police say a pickup truck rear ended a slow-moving SUV on Route 80 near Garrett, pushing in the left side of the vehicle to its rear tires. The driver of the truck and a passenger were taken to a hospital with unknown injuries, and the 2 people in the SUV were treated at the scene. Investigators are determining the cause of the crash.

NOT GUILTY PLEAS ENTERED IN MARTIN COUNTY TRIPLE HOMICIDE CASE

Not guilty pleas were entered by the 2 suspects in the murder of 3 people in Martin County. Jack Smith and Amanda Bowen are scheduled to be back in court December 4. The two are accused of stealing medicine and jewelry then killing Cainie Johnson Jr, Tina Goble, and 8-year-old Trinity Maynard then starting their home on fire. Court officials say Bowen is now being held in the Floyd County Jail so she has no contact with Smith. Investigators are also looking into allegations Smith was involved in a shooting the day before the triple murder.

DESPITE DELAYS PIKEVILLE COMMONS SHOPPING CENTER SHOULD BE OPEN BY CHRISTMAS

Developers of a new shopping center in Pike County say they expect it will be open in time for Christmas. The weather delayed construction work at Pikeville Commons on Thompson Road by around a month, according to city leaders. Between 400 to 600 jobs are expected to be created once the center is fully operational.

LYNCH POLICE MAKING PROGRESS IN WAR ON DRUGS

Police in one Harlan County city say they are making progress in the war on drugs. 15 meth labs have been busted in the city of Lynch in just the past 4 weeks - with 8 of them found in a single apartment complex. Lynch was without a police force for 6 months earlier this year and city leaders say they hope their efforts in ridding drug activity will entice people and businesses to move back to Lynch.

Thursday September 4, 2014

NUMEROUS TRAFFIC CITATIONS ISSUED IN LETCHER COUNTY

Over 160 traffic citations were issued in Letcher County between August 25 and Labor Day. According to police the vast majority were commercial vehicle violations, but the patrols nailed a number of speeders on the section of US 119 between Payne Gap and Mayking. Police say there were a number of tickets issued for drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts.

KNOXVILLE DOCTOR THAT PRACTICED IN LETCHER & BELL COUNTIES HAS LICENSE SUSPENDED

The state has suspended the medical license of a Knoxville doctor who practiced in Letcher and Bell Counties. Dr. Donald Ramsey is accused of prescribing prescription weight loss supplements to employees at Hazard ARH where he also worked as an ER doctor. Charging papers say Ramsey is accused of overprescribing the medicine even though the co workers were not being seen for any ailments. The suspected wrongful prescribing happened over a one year period beginning in February 2013.

LAWSUIT FILED BY KY AND 11 OTHER STATES OVER EPA REGULATIONS

New coal plant regulations put in place by the EPA earlier this year are the target of a lawsuit filed by 12 states including Kentucky. Attorney General Jack Conway joined with West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey in saying the agency overstepped its bounds when it ordered the tighter regulations on emissions from coal fired power plants. State Senator Brandon Smith says the regulations are an energy policy issue, not an environmental issue - and that means the EPA has no authority to set standards.

JUMBO TRON AT LCC DOWN FOR A WHILE

It could be a very long time before football fans see instant replays on the video board at Letcher County Central High School. Last month a lightning strike took out a computer that displays videos on the 9 year old board and the company that supplied the equipment has gone out of business, so there's no support available to help technology experts figure out what gear is needed to get the board working again. The estimated price tag to replace the board and the computers is around $85,000, and that doesn't include shipping, handling or installation.

HEAVY RAINS AFFECT FLOYD AND HARLAN COUNTIES TUESDAY NIGHT

Heavy rains Tuesday night once again stranded a Floyd County family when an overflowing creek flooded the road to their home. Homeowner Kermit Bell tells local TV that it always happens around 30 minutes after a heavy rain, adding the roadway dropped around 4 feet and continues to wash away. Bell says when it starts raining he takes his kids to a relative's home so they don't miss school. Several homes were damaged in Harlan County Tuesday night including one home being struck by a fallen utility pole.

POSSIBLE BRAKE FAILURE CAUSED WRECK ON HIGHWAY 15 IN PERRY COUNTY

Police in Perry County say a possible brake failure was behind a 2-car accident on Highway 15 near the turn off to Johnny Cox All American Drive in Hazard. Investigators say the driver tried to avoid other cars and even tried to steer his car out of the way to make it stop, but it ended up spinning around and hitting a pickup truck. 2 people were hurt but their injuries are said to be non life threatening.

WOMAN EXPOSES HERSELF TO KSP TROOPER DURING DOMESTIC CALL

State Police say a Pike County woman exposed herself to a trooper who was taking her into custody in connection with a domestic dispute. Investigators say Thelma Rhinesmith appeared to be intoxicated and told officers she had drank and took drugs.

5K RUN THIS SATURDAY TO BE HELD AS FUNDRAISER FOR SHOP WITH A TROOPER

This Saturday the Harlan post of the Kentucky State Police is holding a charity 5k run to raise money for its "Shop With A Trooper' event. Corbin High School is the location for the run that starts at 8am. Each year in December kids in need are accompanied by a state trooper to pick out Christmas gifts that are paid for by the officers, and events like the one Saturday raise money to buy those gifts. The run is also a memorial to those who lost their lives on 9/11.

Wednesday September 3, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY GRAND JURY TO DECIDE IF INCIDENT WAS SELF DEFENSE

A Letcher County grand jury will decide if a Mayking man was acting in self defense when he shot his son last month. Police say David Fugate Junior was arguing with his mother Jackie when he assaulted her and another woman, then went after his father. Investigators say that's when David Fugate Senior opened fire, hitting his son. The younger Fugate was airlifted to Holston Valley Medical Center where he is recovering from stomach surgery. State Patrol detectives are continuing to investigate the shooting.

PIKE COUNTY WATER UTILITY WANTS TO RAISE RATES

Pike County's water utility is expected to file rates paperwork with the state Public Service Commission next month. The Appalachian News-Express reports the Mountain Water District is nearly done with a rate study that had begun in May which was paid for by the district with no state funding. Administrators say a special meeting of the Board of Commissioners may be convened to go over rates which the district's accountant says haven't had a true increase in 17 years.

BOND SET FOR HARLAN COUNTY MAN ACCUSED OF BREAKING INTO MSHA OFFICE

Bond was set at $12,000 for a Harlan County man suspected of breaking into the Mine Safety and Health Administration Office last weekend. Police say Thomas Napier made off with some credit and gas cards along with mining belts and tried using one of the stolen cards to buy several cartons of cigarettes. Investigators say Napier did over a thousand dollars in damage to the offices. Most of the stolen items have been recovered.

LETCHER COUNTY ELEMENTARY TEACHER APPOINTED TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

A Letcher County elementary school teacher has been appointed to the Center For School Safety board of directors. Danielle Bailey-Ratliff of Elkhorn City teaches 2nd grade at Letcher Elementary School. She is one of the teacher representatives on the board and her term runs through July of 2016.

ATV DEATH IS SECOND FATALITY ON LABOR DAY IN HARLAN COUNTY

A second fatal accident occurred in Harlan County on Labor Day. Police say Danita Millis was on an ATV that went off Kentucky 1137 and ended up striking a tree. Millis was airlifted to Holston Valley Medical Center in Tennessee where she was pronounced dead around 2 hours after the accident. Relatives say Millis and her fiancée were expecting twins. Earlier on Monday Flossie Smith of Evarts was killed when her SUV left the road, heading into a ditch, up an embankment then rolled over onto its top. Smith was pronounced dead at the crash scene.

LETCHER COUNTY MAN FACES ILLEGAL COAL MINNG CHARGES

Illegal coal mining charges have been filed against a man suspected of stealing 700 tons of coal at a Letcher County surface mine. State officials say  Bryan Lee Wagner was directed to immediately cease mining operations and begin reclaiming the land along with installing temporary sediment control. A civil penalty will be assessed against Wagner that could run between $5000 and $25,000 per day. The state says it is currently calculating the dollar amount of Wagner's fine.

BOND SET FOR HARLAN COUNTY MAN ACCUSED OF EXPOSING HIMSELF TO 8 YEAR OLD GIRL

Bond is set at $25,000 for a Harlan County man suspected of exposing himself to an 8 year old girl and inducing her to view obscene material. Police say Jeffrey Coker of Evarts also tried to get the girl to expose herself and told her not to tell her grandmother because if she knew she would shoot him. Coker was taken into custody on Friday.

FUNERAL SERVICES HELD FOR 4TH BREATHITT COUNTY WRECK VICTIM

Funeral services were held yesterday for Pearl Campbell - one of the 4 people killed last month in a Breathitt County pickup truck accident. Family and friends remembered Campbell as a kind unselfish person who always made people he came in contact with feel welcome to be around him. Campbell and 3 others were riding in the truck driven by Shawn Hardin when it went off  Wolverine Road near Tracy Lane and landed in a house. Hardin is expected to be arraigned tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

LABOR DAY POLICE CHASE REACHING SPEEDS OF 100MPH ENDS IN LETCHER COUNTY

The holiday weekend’s police emphasis patrols were called into action on Labor Day when a driver led officers on a chase that ended in Letcher County. An officer in Pike County tried pulling over Bradley Meadows after learning he was wanted on several felony warrants and Meadows took off, heading into Virginia before coming back into Letcher County at speeds reaching 100 miles an hour. Investigators say Meadows finally crashed his car at the intersection of US Route 119 and the old Kentucky route 15 business junction in Whitesburg. He faces a new round of charges including DUI, fleeing from police and possession of a controlled substance.

NEW EMERGENCY/RESCUE SQUAD HQ DEDICATED

Floyd County dedicated its new Emergency and Rescue Squad Headquarters on Saturday. The building is named for Alexander Goble Willis – one of the charter members of the organization. A memorial is there to remember the 27 people killed in the 1958 bus crash. The new building’s construction cost was $1.5 million.

HARLAN COUNTY WOMAN DIES IN A BELL COUNTY LABOR DAY CRASH

A Harlan County woman lost her life yesterday in a one-car crash. Investigators say the accident happened on U.S. 119 in Bell County when the SUV driven by Flossie Smith of Evarts left the road, heading into a ditch, up an embankment then rolled over onto its top. Smith was pronounced dead at the crash scene. The accident is being investigated and so far police haven’t said if drugs or alcohol were a factor.

FLOYD COUNTY MEN SENTENCED FOR ROBBING A PIKE COUNTY BANK

2 men from Floyd County were each sentenced to 20 years in jail on their conviction robbing a Pike County bank. Anthony Gillespie and Claude Isaac were found guilty of robbing the U.S. Bank branch at Virgie in November 2013.  Both also pleaded guilty to charges of being a persistent felony offender.

A FOURTH PERSON HAS DIED FROM INJURIES SUFFERED IN BREATHITT COUNTY PICKUP TRUCK ACCIDENT

A fourth person has died from his injuries suffered in a Breathitt county pickup truck accident last month The crash happened on Wolverine Road near Tracy Lane when the pickup with 2 inside and 4 riding in the bed went off the road and landed in a house. 3 people died the night of the crash. The 4th victim - identified as Joshua Thorpe – had been airlifted to UK hospital where he was pronounced dead on Saturday. Marcus Jones – the other survivor airlifted to UK – remains in stable condition. The driver - identified as Shawn Hardin - faces multiple murder and assault charges.

MAN RELEASED FROM PRISON TO HALFWAY HOUSE

A man convicted for his role in the 2009 murder of a Floyd County native is released from prison to serve the rest of his sentence in a halfway house. Jeffrey Mundt was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in burying James Carroll's body. Mundt’s boyfriend, Joseph Banis is serving a life sentence in Carroll's murder, avoiding the death penalty by agreeing to testify against Mundt.

FIRE OFFICIALS LOOKING INTO CAUSE OF PERRY COUNTY HOUSE FIRE

Firemen are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that destroyed a Perry County home Saturday night. When crews arrived at the Augustus Court home they found it was fully engulfed but firemen were able to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby homes. o one was injured.

Friday August 29, 2014

JENKINS SCHOOL BOARD LOOKS INTO MISUSE OF PASSES TO EVENTS

A Letcher County school district takes action over misuse of passes to its athletic events and increases several fees. The Jenkins School board voted to void all previously issued passes after a discussion of the matter between High School Principal David Lee and board vice chairman Tracy Goff. Administrators are asked to come up with a new plan for pass issuance and the board will consider recommendations at a future meeting. The board also voted in a one dollar hike on attendance fees for high school and middle sports events, doubled the Pee Wee cheerleader fee to $20 and set student parking fees at $5 per year.

HOMELESS SHELTER NEEDS FOOD DONATIONS

A call has gone out from a Perry County homeless shelter for non-perishable food donations. Officials with Community Ministries Corner Haven Homeless Shelter in downtown Hazard say they've been seeing more people than ever coming in for meals, and that's left the shelves bare. Donations can be dropped off at the shelter on Main Street in Hazard 7 days a week between 6am and 11pm.

STATE TREASURER VISITS FLOYD COUNTY FOR STATEWIDE TREASURE FINDERS EVENT

State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach was in Floyd County this week to promote next month's Treasure Finders event - one of 120 held statewide to help folks in getting unclaimed property returned to them. Hollenbach says around 12,000 county residents have around $1.5 million in property waiting to be claimed. The event on September 11 will be at the Mountain Arts center and Hollenbach is looking for volunteers to make calls to those who are owed money, A similar event was held in Letcher County in June and one of the claimants turned out to be the City of Whitesburg - who had $6400 returned to them.

WISE COUNTY VA DENTIST PLEADS GUILTY TO PRESCRIPTION CHARGES

A dentist in Wise County, Virginia pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining and distributing over 2500 prescription painkillers during a 2 year period. Prosecutors say Newton Carroll Mullins ordered thousands of hydrocodone pills for use in his practice but diverted them for personal use. Court papers say Mullins admitted writing prescriptions for employees then had them fill them and bring the pills back to him. Mullins could face a fine of up to $750,000 and 14 years in jail.

MINES IN 3 COUNTIES RECEIVE CITATIONS FROM MSHA

Mines in Leslie, Floyd and Pike Counties were among those receiving citations and orders in July from the US Mine Safety and Health Administration. The mines cited are  Pine Branch Mining's Thunder Ridge Surface mine, Appalachian Mining & Reclamation's Ivel preparation plant  and New Jet LLC's Eagle 3 underground mine. The special inspections commenced 4 years ago at mines which had ongoing compliance issues along with other violations and since then nearly 800 inspections have resulted in 14,000 citations and orders.

PIKE COUNTY TO CONSTRUCT A NATURAL GAS TO SYNTHETIC FUELS PLANT

A natural gas to synthetic fuels plant is to be constructed in Pike County. Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and House Speaker Greg Stumbo announced RCC Big Shoal plans to build the plant and will receive up to $18 million in tax incentives. The project still has a long way to go before a groundbreaking happens and officials estimate it will take between 3 and 5 years to get the new facility up and running and once that happens, 30 to 50 new jobs will be created.

WISE AND DICKENSON COUNTY SCHOOLS SHOW IMPROVEMENTS

Schools in Wise and Dickenson counties in Virginia showed improvements year to year on the state standards of learning math examinations. The passing rate in Wise County was 86 percent, up 2 percent from last year and Dickenson County showed significant improvement from last year's passing percentage of 58 percent, obtaining a 73 percent rate this year. Average passing rate statewide was 74 percent.