LOCAL NEWS

Friday November 14, 2014

ANSWERS SOUGHT ON DEMOLITION PROGRESS

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.

DOC OFFICERS SHOW SUPPORT FOR TWO OF THEIR OWN

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.

TRIAL AVERTED IN CHILD RAPE CASE

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.

TROUBLE FOR AN ELECTED OFFICIAL

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.

WORK BEGINS SOON ON DEVELOPMENT

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.

2 COUNTS, SAME TOTALS

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.

SENTENCING IN HOME INVASION CASE

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

DISTILLERY GETS A SECOND LOOK

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.

NEW INDICTMENT IN FLEMING MURDER

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.

DAV BUILDING BURGLARIZED

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.

FEDERAL GRANT APPLICATION

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.

RECORD ONE DAY ANIMAL ADOPTIONS

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.

ARREST MADE IN FAKE RAFFLE

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.

FOOD PANTRY LOSES SUPPLIER

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.

PAWN SHOP RAIDED

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

GRAND JURY GETS BURGLARY CASE

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.

NEW FIRE TRUCK ON THE WAY

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.

HEALTHCARE OPEN ENROLLMENT DAYS AWAY

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.

CALM RESTORED AT CITY COUNCIL

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.

NO CHARGES AGAINST DRIVER ACCUSED OF KILLING 4 PEOPLE

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.

FATAL CRASH IN VIRGINIA

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

WORK CONTINUES ON INTERNET OUTAGE

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.

POLICE ACTIVITY PROMPTS LOCKDOWN

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.

NEW WINTER ROAD TREATMENT

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.

WORK AT HOME JOB INSTRUCTION

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.

EBOLA WORKER HOME

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. 

HOME INVASION SUSPECTS ARRESTED

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.

Monday November 10, 2014

BEREA COLLEGE PROGRAM EXPANDS

School Superintendents from Letcher and Harlan Counties were among those gathering for the launch of an expanded Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program at Berea College. The college's Partners For Education division is receiving a $5.5 million annual grant over the next 7 years to increase educational outreach work in Appalachian Kentucky to 7,000 more families. Organizers say the goals for GEAR UP - as the program is known for short - is to improve academic performance and college readiness along with increasing graduation rates from both high school and higher education. Students in Leslie, Knott, and Perry Counties already participate in the program.

COAL PRODUCTION DOWN

The state Energy and Environment Cabinet says coal production in Eastern Kentucky declined nearly 4.5 percent in the July-September period. According to the report that's a reversal from April through June and resulted in just over 200 jobs being lost. State production overall was up thanks to gains in Western Kentucky.

PLEA DEAL FOR SUSPECT IN OFFICER ASSAULT CASE

5 years in jail awaits a Pike County man from a plea deal on charges he stole an officer's weapon and struck him with it. Court papers say Robert Caldwell was being served an arrest warrant when he and the officer got into a struggle, and Caldwell grabbed the policeman's baton and hit the officer. Had Caldwell gone to trial he could have faced 10 years behind bars if convicted.

CAR SHOW WRAPS UP FOR 2014

Drivers and their rides turned out for the last monthly “Cruzzin in the Park Car Show” at Perry County Park for 2014. The show is the brainchild of Hal Dixon who says he started it 14 years ago as a way to show off your car and it costs nothing more than the gas to get there. Monthly shows restart in April.

BUSINESS EVACUATED

A small mercury spill forces the evacuation of a Harlan County business. The Enterprise reports it was at B&D Mine Supply in Coxton and according to owner Burl Fee Junior it happened when they moved a shelf and a spoonful of the mercury spilled. Environmental teams were called in to clean up the spill and no one was hurt.

NOT GUILTY PLEA IN BRIBERY CASE

A Pike County state lawmaker and a former mining inspector plead not guilty to bribery charges. Court papers say Rep. Keith Hall of Phelps and former state mine reclamation inspector Kelly Shortridge worked together in a suspected scheme to ensure Hall's mines passed inspection.  An indictment said Hall and Shortridge set up a shell consulting company which received money from a company Hall owned. Trial is set for January 5.

ROAD WORK - TRAFFIC ALERT

A headsup if you're using Hal Rogers Parkway or Kentucky 2447  in Perry County. Bridge repair work west of Hazard near Exit 56 begins today and continues for around the next 30 days. The road will have alternating one-way traffic and no vehicles over 13 feet wide are allowed through the construction zone. On Kentucky 2447 work begins today on the bridge crossing the North Fork of the Kentucky River and as with the Hal Rogers Parkway project, there will be alternating one way traffic over the span.

DETERRING REPEAT OFFENDERS

Pike County's Commonwealth attorney says repeat arrests for shoplifting from the same store are down - and it's because of greater penalties for those repeat offenders. Rick Bartley tells the Appalachian News Express his department handed down over a dozen indictments charging people with theft and felony burglary and not one single person returned to court for shoplifting. Bartley says the cases have been coming from Walmart because they issue outright bans to those caught shoplifting and any other business is welcome to contact him if they're the victims of repeat offenders so felony charges can be brought against suspected thieves.