This news from William Farley with the Mountain Eagle:
In a move that will put Whitesburg level with most surrounding cities, the Whitesburg City Council voted unanimously at its September meeting to institute a one-and-a half percent payroll tax on people working in the city.
The move came after the council heard bad economic news about issues with the city waterworks and met in executive session to discuss pending litigation with Veolia Water, which ran the city’s water and sewer operations for a number of years.
In related news, 36 City of Whitesburg employees are being furloughed one day of each two-week pay period.
Whitesburg Mayor James W. Craft said that finances of the city have caused the mandatory days off for employees of the administration, street department and water department.
Fire and police department employees have been spared the furlough.
In the two months since the furloughs began, Craft says the city is saving an average of $4,000 a month.
For more on this story and the entire Whitesburg City Council meeting see this week's edition of the Mountain Eagle.
Also from the Mountain Eagle, Jeff Breeding has been sworn is as the newest member of the Fleming- Neon City Council.
Mayor Susie Polis swore in Breeding before he joined the council in addressing the agenda for its September meeting.
Breeding fills the seat vacated by Everett Duncan, who resigned after he moved out of the city.
The annual Neon Days celebration will be held this Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14, in Neon
This year’s Neon Days celebration will also mark the city’s 100th birthday.
Following the recent layoff of two office personnel and a parttime deputy by the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department, the Letcher County Fiscal Court has voted unanimously to extend a loan of $20,000 to the sheriff ’s department to prevent any further layoffs.
At the Sept. 6 special meeting, Judge/Executive Jim Ward told the court that the funds will be taken from the Road and Bridge Fund and will be repaid as soon as county tax revenues come in.
The sheriff ’s department derives most of its income from collecting county taxes.
Fifth District Magistrate Wayne Fleming made a motion to extend the loan and the vote was unanimous to approve the loan.
Officials say one person is dead after an accident on U.S. 23.
Police say they got the call just before 3:00 Wednesday afternoon that there was a two car accident on U.S. 23 at the intersection of 321.
Police say it appears a red Chevrolet SUV pulled out onto U.S. 23 from 321 into the path of a coal truck that was in a northbound lane.
The coal truck then hit the SUV in the driver's side and pushed the vehicle down 23 before coming to a stop.
The woman driving that SUV was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police say the driver of the coal truck was not injured
The accident is still under investigation.
Police have not released any names.
A man convicted of falsely reporting a gunman at the University of Virginia's College of Wise will spend two years on supervised release.
Bryant Alexander Hairston also must pay more than $4,000 in restitution to law enforcement and counseling agencies who responded to the January incident.
The 20-year-old Martinsville man pled guilty in May to two counts of making false statements.
Police said Hairston called 911 and reported seeing a gunman on campus.
The bogus report prompted university officials to place the school on lockdown.
Hairston was a student at the school at the time of the incident.
The search is over for the son of the man accused of shooting a parole officer Monday in Knott County.
Rocky Wicker Jr. was arrested Tuesday afternoon at a home in the Mousie community following a tip.
According to State Police, Wicker Jr. tried to run, but authorities were able to arrest him on an outstanding warrant.
Investigators said state probation and parole officers were looking for Wicker Jr. Monday afternoon at the home of his father, Rocky Wicker Sr. in connection with a parole violation from 2010.
As Officer Brian Melvin approached the home, Wicker Sr. is accused of shooting the officer in the arm, then firing at a car with three other officers inside.
Wicker Sr. was arrested Monday and charged with four counts of attempted murder and wanton endangerment.
Officer Melvin is expected to spend at least another day at Hazard ARH but a full recovery is anticipated.
The U.S. Department of Justice says a 30-year-old inmate at the U.S. penitentiary in Jonesville, Virginia in Lee County was found dead in the gymnasium.
Demetrius Hall was serving a 152 month sentence for armed assault on a police officer and armed robbery.
Staff responded to the gym and found Hall unresponsive.
He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Foul play is not suspected.
A woman was taken to the hospital and two others are behind bars after a stabbing Tuesday in Harlan County.
According to police, the fight took place near a food stamp distribution office in downtown Harlan around noon and spilled over into the building's parking lot.
21 year old Ginger Pendleton and 26 year old Ashley Massey were fighting when Pendleton pulled a knife and stabbed Massey twice.
Harlan Police Chief Mike Thomas said it appears the two women had been taunting each other and had exchanged threats over Facebook about an ex-boyfriend.
Police also arrested Massey's niece, 20 year old Dominique Thomas, 20, for causing a disturbance at the scene.
Massey was taken to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn.
Her condition was not immediately available, but police said her injuries were not life-threatening.
On Tuesday afternoon officials at the Leslie County Detention Center contacted law enforcement after 26-year-old Ricky Hendrix escaped a second time.
Hendrix was just caught early Saturday morning after escaping the first time in May.
Around 11:40 am Tuesday, jail coordinators said Hendrix kicked out the jail van window, rolled onto Kentucky Route 118 and ran away.
This incident occurred near Detention Road, which is the jail's driveway.
Court Security Officer Bryan Adams said Hendrix was coming from court, wearing leg irons and a belly chain.
Local law enforcement and two state troopers checked up and down the Hyden Spur and surrounding communities.
Hendrix was caught near the Hyden Spur getting in a vehicle and is now in custody.
A southwest Virginia court reporter has been sentenced for obstructing justice.
66 year old Ernest Benko of Norton, Va. was accused of lying to investigators in the case of a Wise County attorney charged with obtaining controlled substances by fraud.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Benko was hired by that attorney in May 2009 to record sworn statements in the attorney's case.
Investigators later determined those statements were false.
The U.S Attorney said Benko lied during interrogations with FBI agents and Virginia State Police.
Benko pleaded guilty in June.
A judge sentenced him Tuesday to 15 months in prison.
Letcher County Central High School was closed for over 2 hours Monday morning after school officials learned of a possible bomb threat.
Letcher Schools Supertindent Tony Sergent said all Letcher Central students were safe while officials investigated the possible threat.
Sergent says a comment made to another student got back to school officials and he was notified of the comment at 6:35 a.m.
Whitesburg police officers were then dispatched to inspect the Letcher Central campus.
Students already at the high school were loaded onto buses and taken to the old Whitesburg High School campus.
Other buses arriving later were also directed to the WHS campus.
A clean sweep of the building turned up nothing and students were allowed back in school starting about 9:30am.
Sergent said it is part of the district’s emergency plan to keep students out of the building when an incident occurs.
He said all threats must be checked out.
Officials are still investigating the incident.
A Perry County man known for his singing and dancing routine while selling newspapers was the victim of a hit-and-run Monday.
49 year old Larry "Love" Jackson, 49, sold newspapers in downtown Hazard for more than 20 years.
He was hit by a truck while crossing the street Monday around 10 a.m.
Jackson said he was hit by a red truck at a crosswalk in front of the Perry County Hall of Justice.
Jackson suffered a twisted ankle and a cut above his right eye. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
As of Monday night, police said they had not located the person who hit Jackson.
Two people have now died from injuries received in a Friday afternoon car accident on U.S. 23 in Prestonsburg.
It happened near the 23 and 80 intersection close by the Bull Creek Flea Market.
The driver of one of the vehicles, Paula McConnell, died the day of the accident and now a passenger in her vehicle, 10-year-old, Donovan Floyd, has also died.
McConnell was Floyd's great-aunt.
The 10 year old was a student at Highland Elementary and had been on life support since the accident.
Funeral arrangements have not been set.
Troopers with the Kentucky State Police along with federal agents collected evidence and questioned individuals at the Ace Clinique of Medicine on Roy Campbell Drive in Hazard and the Kentucky Pain Physicians Clinic on Morton Boulevard, also in Hazard, as part of what has been confirmed as a federal investigation.
State Police are directing questions about the raids to Kyle Edelen at the Eastern District of Kentucky's U.S. Attorney's Office.
No other information was given.
The Kentucky Corrections Department says a probation and parole officer has been wounded in Knott County where he was trying to arrest a man accused of not complying with the terms of his probation.
The agency says Brian Melvin and three other probation and parole officers were in the community of Mousie in Knott County on Monday afternoon to try to serve a 2010 warrant on 28-year-old Rocky Wicker Jr.
The agency said Wicker's father, Rocky Wicker Sr., allegedly opened fire on Melvin, hitting him in the arm.
Corrections Department spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said Melvin is recovering at Hazard Appalachian Regional Medical Center.
Rocky Wicker Sr. was later arrested without incident.
Rocky Wicker, Jr. has still not been arrested.
Pineville city leaders have approved annexing parts of Pine Mountain State Park into city limits.
Leaders say this will benefit both the town and the state.
After more than one year of discussions, Pineville City Council has passed the second reading and approved annexing parts of Pine Mountain State Park including the lodge and restaurant.
The annexation means city leaders can collect occupational and restaurant taxes at the lodge.
The restaurant tax dollars will go to the tourism fund.
Officials say the annexation also means the state can sell alcohol at the restaurant because Pineville allows restaurant alcohol sales.
A Leslie County escapee is now behind bars.
Leslie County Sheriff's deputies say they caught 26 year old Ricky Hendrix around 4:00am Saturday.
Hendrix was arrested back in April on multiple charges including burglary and manufacturing methamphetamine.
In May he walked out of the Leslie County Detention Center and had been on the run ever since.
We are told deputies caught up with Hendrix when they received a tip about his possible location.
Deputies say they found Hendrix just off of Leeco Road in Leslie County.
Hendrix is facing multiple charges, including some felony charges.
Some students in Letcher County had a bumpy ride home Friday afternoon.
Officials say a bus ran into a ditch along Highway 588 at Ice just outside of Whitesburg.
The bus was loaded with students and officials say at least four of them were taken to the hospital, but no serious injuries were reported.
A Pike County school bus ran off the road and over an embankment also on Friday afternoon.
The accident happened on Stone Coal Road around four o'clock Friday afternoon.
School officials say the driver swerved to miss an oncoming car.
All seven students and the driver were checked by medical officials, and no injuries were reported.
An apartment building has burned in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
The Big Stone Gap fire department tells us the fire happened on the corner of Wood Avenue and East 5th Street.
No one was inside the building at the time of the fire.
Firefighters say they made an initial sweep of the building and did not find anyone inside, however they did have reason to believe the old building was not safe and could collapse.
Police say arson has not been ruled out.
Lawsuits accusing two energy companies of cheating southwest Virginia landowners out of royalty payments for natural gas siphoned from coal seams are headed for a showdown that could dramatically expand the scope of the legal action.
At a hearing in Abingdon, a U.S. district judge will consider a recommendation from a U.S. magistrate judge that four lawsuits be certified as class actions representing thousands of property owners who've had the gas extracted from their land.
The judge isn't expected to rule immediately.
The plaintiffs name EQT Production Co. and CNX Gas Co., companies with thousands of wells in Appalachia.
CNX parent CONSOL Energy said it supports the "fair and efficient" distribution of royalties held in a state escrow account to property owners.
A Letcher County woman died of smoke inhalation after her home caught fire early Thursday morning.
66 year old Bettie Jo Fields of Sergent, was pronounced dead at 7:48 a.m. yesterday morning by Letcher County Coroner Marty Baker.
Her body was found after a neighbor leaving for work saw the fire and called 9-1-1 around 7:00am.
Baker said Fields, who lived alone, had been sleeping in the bedroom of her single wide Trailer located near the Thornton Cemetery.
The bedroom was not consumed by the fire.
Baker said blood tests will be conducted to confirm the cause of death.
Kentucky State Police dispatched an arson investigator to the scene of the fire, which Mayking Fire Chief Tony Fugate says is typical when a fire involves a death.
No foul play is suspected.
Funeral services for Bettie Jo Fields will be held at 2:00pm Saturday at Letcher Funeral Home.
A former Clay County magistrate and two business owners whose convictions in a vote-buying case were overturned last summer have pleaded guilty in a deal that calls for reduced sentences.
The Lexington Herald-Leader said former magistrate Stanley Bowling; and garbage hauling business owners Bart Morris and his wife, Debra, entered the pleas Thursday in federal court in Lexington.
They were convicted in 2010 with five others but released from federal prison after the convictions were overturned.
Under the plea deals, Bart Morris, who was sentenced to 20 years, will be given 5 years, while Bowling's sentence will drop from 15 years and 10 months to 5 years.
Debra Morris was originally sentenced to 10 years. She would not have to return to prison under the new deal.
State auditors referred the Bell County Clerk's 2011 audit to several other agencies for investigation.
State auditors questioned reports and money on the vehicle transactions and payments.
Auditors also claimed the records were not adequate.
The audit includes responses from Bell County Clerk Becky Blevins who claimed the office does have the proper records required by Kentucky law.
State auditors referred the audit to the Attorney General, Kentucky Department of Revenue, Kentucky Department of Transportation, and the Bell County Attorney.
A Floyd County man will spend two decades behind bars after he admitted to causing a crash that killed two people.
Officials say James Slone caused a crash that killed his passenger, 43-year-old Karen Mitchell and the driver of the other vehicle, 36-year-old Jeffery Hamilton, in June of 2011.
Slone pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of manslaughter, assault and driving under the influence.
Thursday a judge formally sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
Also a man involved in a Floyd County wreck that killed a Breathitt County woman will spend 20 years in jail.
Officials say James Mace pleaded guilty Tuesday to first degree assault and second degree manslaughter.
The August 2012 crash killed 63 year old Brenda Montgomery.
Harlan City Police arrested two people accused of dealing drugs in a gas station parking lot.
Police say they received complaints last Friday of drugs in the Exxon parking lot.
Officers say they found a man and woman in a car with a bag full of pills.
Police arrested William Calton and Sarah Egan.
Police say they had 100 percocets and a large amount of cash.
They face several charges including drug possession and Calton has drug trafficking charges.
An eastern Kentucky man plummeted to the ground in a skydiving accident in Mississippi, and lived to talk about it.
However the journey since the crash in early August has been a hard one for 26-year-old David Meek of Paintsville.
He is finally back close to home in Kentucky and is currently in long term rehab at Cardinal Hill in Lexington.