LOCAL NEWS

Tuesday April 29, 2014

Strong storms damaged homes and businesses in the Harlan County city of Evarts Monday afternoon.  Winds ripped the roof off the Dairy Hut and blew a hole in the side of the Marathon gas station. Both businesses are located in downtown Evarts and are owned by Randy Brackett.  Winds also damaged several houses, including the home of Evarts mayor Eddie Manning.  No injuries were reported in Harlan County because of the storm.
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A fire in a Pike County railroad tunnel is causing some concern for folks in the area. Several schools cancelled class on Monday, as the Robinson Creek area fills with heavy smoke and fumes. Monday morning, firefighters from Shelby Valley worked to extinguish the flames inside the tunnel that stretches 700 feet through the mountain.  Pike County Emergency Management Director Doug Tackett says the odor is due to the old age of the tunnel and how it was built, using creosote which can emit toxic fumes..Instead of using water, officials are going to use dirt to try to smother it out.  In a statement from CSX officials they say there is significant damage to the tunnel and do not have a timeline as to when the line will reopen.  CSX is working with the state fire marshal's office to determine a cause.
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Developers are halting a three-state underground pipeline project that drew intense opposition in Kentucky from residents, activists and even a group of nuns. Williams Co. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners said in a web posting Monday that they were not able to assemble a large enough customer base for the natural gas liquids that would be delivered by the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. They suggested, however, that the project could be resurrected at a later date. The companies said they are no longer seeking to acquire land for the project and offices that housed land acquisition teams have been closed.
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A man is in the hospital after being struck by lightning in Powell County. It happened around 8:45 Monday morning at the Powell County Transfer Station on Highway 15 in Clay City. Officials say the man was alert and talking when crews got to the scene. He was taken by ambulance to Clark Regional Hospital in Winchester .  The victim's name and condition have not been released.
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A Perry County School brought national honors to Eastern Kentucky with rankings out last week. U.S. News and World Report awarded the school a Bronze Medal. Two qualifications earned schools Bronze Medals. Schools had to first perform better than average in the state, and economically disadvantaged students had to perform better than expected. Buckhorn's rate of economically disadvantaged students stood at 78 percent.
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Fayette County Public Schools are undergoing big zoning changes for the first time in more than ten years. The district has announced plans to build two new elementary schools, one new high school, and to create new boundaries for school districts. With two new elementary schools set to open in 2016 and a new high school in 2017, school leaders say re-working the map on attendance zones is a necessity.

Monday April 28, 2014

A search party was called off Sunday morning after crews found a missing man dead.  Search and rescue workers found the body of Billy Bays, 42, around 9am Sunday.  Bays was reported missing by family members Saturday afternoon when he did not return home from hunting mushrooms near Oneida.  Investigators say no foul play is suspected and there were no visible signs of trauma.
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More than one hundred motorcyclists rode in a poker run Saturday morning.  The bikers began their routes in Corbin, all riding for one special third grader.  Candace Keith, 9, has been fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia since last August.  Candace has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments and will soon go through a bone marrow transplant. The poker run began in Laurel County, as bikers rode through Somerset, Williamsburg, and back through London.
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The roads of downtown Hazard were turned into a racetrack this afternoon for the 15th Annual Bud Combs Memorial All-American Soap Box Derby.  The derby attracts kids of all ages to race their soap box cars. There are two separate divisions and winners have the chance to advance to the national competition. This event is one of many community service projects put on by the Hazard Kiwanis Club.

Friday April 25, 2014

The University of Kentucky will loosen its longstanding alcohol ban to allow legal drinking at some places on the Lexington campus. In another policy shift, the state's flagship school said it will extend its code of student conduct to apply to student behavior at places off campus. The changes, coming after a lengthy review, are expected to take effect in the upcoming fall semester. UK said it will revise the campus alcohol policy to allow some legal drinking under guidelines and conditions that weren't specified.
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Wednesday evening, some homeowners in Perry County came home to a frightening scene. Fire officials say a wildfire burned nine acres of grassland near Chavies, but did not damage any homes or buildings. The fire began around 6:30pm, and the Grapevine/Chavies Fire Department extinguished it a couple hours later.  Kentucky Division of Forestry is investigating the incident as arson.
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After the President announced the Promise Zone Initiative for eight counties within southeast Kentucky, leaders are now turning to students for ideas on how to improve the region. These students have grown up in one of the most beautiful counties in Kentucky, but they’ve also grown up in a county with some of the highest poverty rates.  Teams are listening to students from all of the eight counties within the Promise Zone Initiative.
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A man charged in the murder of an Eastern Kentucky woman was in court this morning. 55 year old Melvin Slone pleaded not guilty in a video arraignment. State Police arrested Slone Wednesday. They say he shot and killed 79 year old Martha Hollar. Hollar was found dead inside her burning Lee County home earlier this month. It is not clear if Slone knew the victim.
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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes called Wednesday on the President  to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline as she tries to defeat an incumbent Republican in the heart of coal country. Grimes' statement comes on the day a group committed to blocking the pipeline announced it will spend $500,000 setting up field offices in Kentucky to try to defeat U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. Grimes has criticized the administration's energy policies before.
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The East Kentucky Leadership conference kicked off yesterday morning with several sessions, ranging in topics from applying for grant funding, to engaging young professionals and women in the fight to improve our region's economy. About 400 are registered for the East Kentucky Leadership Conference. The Center for Rural Development in Somerset is hosting this year's event.

Thursday April 24, 2014

Atmos Energy Corp. customers will see their bills rise after the company won approval for an $8.5 million annual revenue increase. The amount is more than $4.8 million less than the utility sought. The Kentucky Public Service Commission approval Tuesday means the typical residential customer using an average of 5,000 cubic feet of natural gas per month will have an increase of $1.99 per month in the base portion of the bill.
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Austin Ison, 26, pleaded guilty in Letcher Circuit Court last week. Sentencing for Ison is set for 2 p.m. on May 14. Ison could be sentenced to five years in prison for each of the five charges for a maximum term of 20 years. Ison will be eligible to apply for parole after serving 36 months, nearly two years of which he has already served.
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Letcher County’s government is interested in buying the vacant McRoberts Elementary School. At its April meeting Monday night, the Letcher Fiscal Court voted to negotiate the purchase of the school if all bids submitted to the Jenkins Independent School District are rejected next week. The bids were due April 21 and will be opened April 28 by the Jenkins Board of Education. The county did not submit a bid.
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The original "Band Of Brothers" is getting a new commander and a new home. The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment will undergo a change of command ceremony at Fort Campbell on Wednesday. And, at the end of the week, the regiment will move from the 4th Brigade Combat Team to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The move is being made as the Army shrinks its overall size as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wrap up.
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Arch Coal Inc. mines in Kentucky and elsewhere in Central Appalachia were able to sell coal for slightly more than the cash cost of mining it during the first quarter of 2014. Arch Coal’s Appalachian mines, including Cumberland River Coal Company’s operations in Letcher County and Wise County, Va., sold 3.6 million tons of coal during the first three months of 2014 for an average price of $67.70 per ton, or $2.22 more per ton than the actual cash cost of mining it.
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A grand jury indicted Milburn Glover on murder wanton endangerment, and a weapons charge. Police believe Glover shot and killed David Ritchie, killing him along  Boothhill Road in Letcher County. Originally Glover only faces a possession of a firearm by a convicted felon charge. An arraignment date is set for May 15th.

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said voters in Democratic strongholds such as Chicago will think differently if they see Republicans not just visiting these places, but discussing issues pertinent to their circumstances.  Paul was scheduled to take his message of a more inclusive Republican Party to the University of Chicago, after meeting with African-American leaders in the city and discussing economic development.
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Two groups teamed up Tuesday to bring a farm to an Eastern Kentucky elementary school.  The reason is to give kids insight into what all goes into the industry that much of our nation depends on.  The Owensboro Museum of Science and History's Agriculture: Kentucky program uses nine different stations to teach students at East Perry Elementary School about the different aspects that go into the industry.
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Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning West Virginia residents about a rental property scam. In the scam, people post fake rental ads on Craigslist or other websites. Consumers who respond receive information about properties that don't exist, are not available or are owned by someone else. The supposed landlords often ask for rent up front and promise that keys or a lease will be mailed upon receipt.
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Oldham County police say a preschool student with special needs was found on a school bus after the mother came to pick the child up at the end of the day. Police say school officials didn't realize the child was missing until the mother arrived. A police news release said the child was located shortly after 2:30 p.m. EDT, still in the bus that picked the child up around 10:40 a.m.
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Since Sunday, three homes on Stringtown Road in Whitley County have burned down. The Pleasant View Fire Department had to put a fire on that road for the third straight day Tuesday.  The first fire was Sunday afternoon. A vacant home was burned to the ground. Then, it was a mobile home next on Monday. Early Tuesday morning, another house caught fire. State arson investigators are looking into the cause of these fires.