LOCAL NEWS

Local News Friday January 27, 2017

A grand jury in Harlan County has indicted a mother in the murder of her two-month-old child. Social Services went to the home of 23-year old Sierra Foster in December to look into a complaint from someone that she claimed she was under the influence of drugs and unable to care for her child.  Investigators found Foster high and her child dead.  They say she had not cared for her child for at least 12 hours when the child was found, investigators said.  She charged with murder, criminal abuse, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The grand jury returned indictments on all charges.

Vandalism and Break ins at the Bull Creek Trade Center in Prestonsburg had Kentucky State Police Troopers searching the scene yesterday for any sign of fingerprints or other clued as to who broke into around 10 businesses there.  Damage included broken windows, locks, door frames and more.  Many vendors have already begun repairing the damage.  Many say they’re looking into additional security measures to keep the same thing from happening again in the future.

Police in McCreary County say they were called to a possible kidnapping and when they arrived they found 40-year-old Gary Roberts dead in the road near that call.  Roberts was last seen leaving his home with 25-year-old Kenneth Mullins going very fast.  Mullins has been arrested in connection to the death.  An exact cause of that death is still pending an autopsy.

Perry County Park is going to get a new three mile long walking trail.  The Perry County Fiscal Court applied for, and was awarded a $200,000 grant to build the walking trail.  Perry County Judge Executive Scott Alexander says they’ve been aggressively applying for grants which are allowing them to expand and renovate their parks, even when money is otherwise tight.  So far they’ve won around $600,000 total in park funds.

A 44-year old man was found dead Thursday afternoon in the bathroom of the Dollar General Store in Neon.  Letcher County Deputy Sheriff Joshua Pease says they were called to the store after employees reported that the man had been unresponsive in the bathroom for some time.  The man was pronounced dead on the scene by Letcher County Coroner Renee Campbell.  Officials are not identifying the man and say an autopsy will determine his cause of death.

The McCrery County Fiscal Court has proposed a new tax to help solve a major budget shortfall, around one and a half a million dollars. One of the options is a 7% insurance tax, which many people came out to protest.  Judge Executive Douglas Stephens says they’re going to try making cuts before taxes, but there’s not much left to cut and they have a big shortfall to make up.  They did not reach a solution to the problem and will continue to discuss. Knott County has proposed a similar solution to a similar predicament.

A Lynch man has been sentenced to five years in prison for rape.  Toney Moore had sex with a girl under the age of 16 in 2014.  He pleaded guilty to three counts of third degree rape. He’ll spend five years in prison and participate in the sexual offender treatment program.

A mother and son were in Johnson County court yesterday to face accusations of robbing and beating an elderly man.  Conley Holbrook testified that Ronnie and Arthur web brutally assaulted her father, 80-year-old Wallace Conley in his home.  The judge sent Ronnie Webb’s case to a grand jury.  Arthur Webb’s hearing was reset to next week.  The Conley family says Wallace Conley is still recovering from his injuries.

Minor power outages in Perry County yesterday were triggered by a Rock slide.  Kentucky Power officials say the slide tripped a breaker and caused outages for more than 900 customers. Power was restored after about an hour.

After a trend for years of Counties approving alcohol sales, the trend seems to be reversing itself.  Allen County Voters became the third area in the state to vote down alcohol sales in a matter of a month or two.  

Local News Wednesday January 25, 2017

Eastern Kentucky Authorities are searching for a man suspected in two separate car theft cases.  Police one of the thefts occurred on Monday morning at a Shell station in Jackson.  Greg Mann says he was getting coffee when suddenly he noticed his truck driving off without him.  The truck was found wrecked later that that day on Highway 541 in War Creek.  Constable Ronnie Begley found 25 year old Charles Lutes walking down the road and put him in his cruiser for questioning.  While Begley and officials were inspecting the crash Lutes ripped apart the door panel and pulled the window down just enough to escape.  He’s also wanted for questioning by the Lee County Sheriff in connection to a stolen car that ended up in Breathitt County.

Right now the Historic Daniel Boone Hotel in Downtown Whitesburg is vacant.  Despite being one of the architectural centerpieces of the city, it’s been unused since the 1980’s.  Now two grants of half a million from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Department of Local Government aim to start restoration.  The building has developed a leak that has rotted wood and made the building structurally unstable.  While a full renovation is expected to cost around $6.5 million, the first million should get the ball rolling.  Mayor James Wiley Craft says the first order of business is to put a new roof on the building to stop the leak.  They plan to begin stabilization in late spring or early summer.  Once open it will feature 44 guest rooms, a penthouse, boutique shops, and a high end restaurant.

High water earlier this week created many problems across the region, but one of the most concerning is a washed out bridge in Pike County that connects several families to Kentucky 197 in Elkhorn City.  Right now road crews have a temporary solution in place, a gravel road leading to the next closest exit for the six families affected. County official say they will work to have the bridge fixed by spring.

The Knott County Fiscal Court has proposed new taxes as a solution to the county’s budget issues.  Judge Executive Zach Weinberg says a lack of coal severance money is putting programs like parks, the library, fire departments, and the senior citizens’ program on the chopping block.  The only way to save them?  Asking those in the county to pony up more money.  They’ve come up with three potential options, adding a one percent occupational tax, an eight percent insurance premium for insurance other than health and life, or to shut down the county government entirely.  The court will vote on the issue on February 2nd at 2pm.

$3 million in federal grant money is coming to southwest Virginia to try to help keep jobs in the region.  Mountain Empire Community College has received a nearly $1 million grant to start a new power lineman program, to train for the high demand, high pay job.  The Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing in Abington received $1.3 million to support businesses who make supplies for the coal industry.  The remaining grant money will to to Virginia Community Capital.

T
he ESPN College game day crew will make a stop in Hazard this weekend on their way to the Kentucky-Kansas game in Lexington.  The bus I scheduled to be in the Walmart Parking lot from 3:30pm until 6:30pm tomorrow.

A Laurel County couple has been charged with sexually abusing an eighth-year-old girl on four separate occasions.  Jordan and Sable Young are facing four counts each of sexual abuse.  Social Service officials are also investigating those incidents.


One lane of Kentucky 40 between Paintsville and Martin County near mile marker 19 is currently blocked by a rock fall.  State officials were able to clear one lane of traffic, and continue working to clear the other lane.

Local News Tuesday January 24, 2017

A crazy day for Letcher County schools yesterday.  Around 1pm students were sent home due to a high water advisory.  Once the advisory was issued, school officials began alerting parents through a variety of channels including calls, emails, texts, and their facebook page. Martin County schools also dismissed early due to high water.

A Prestonburg man is facing child pornography charges.  49 year old Kenneth Lewis was arrested after a search warrant at his home following a three week long investigation.  Cyber crime officials in the Attorney General’s Office began investigating Lewis for allegedly trading images and videos online that showed sexual exploitation of children.  Lewis is charged with one count of possession or viewing of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor and one count of distribution of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor.

A Floyd County couple had their home burglarized over the weekend.  For Orville and Hazel Adams it’s the second time in two years that they’ve lost things like tv, guns, tools, jewelry, and medication.  Last time they were held at gunpoint.  This time the home was ransacked while they were at church.  Kentucky state police are asking anyone with information or tips about the burglary to call them.

An interesting casting call is getting a lot of local attention.  B17 Entertainment has put a call out for coal miners and former coal miners in Eastern Kentucky to be on a TV show.  The company says they’re looking for American Miners that want the opportunity to work for a very successful mine overseas.  Producers will be in West Virginia and Kentucky this week to meet with interested miners.

You’ve heard the term stealing candy from a baby, well some local thieves stole baseball gear from a local kids baseball league.  Kentucky State Police say a pitching machine, baseball bats, printer, popcorn machine, and other tools were reported stolen from the Letcher Little League concession stand over the weekend.  The league says their season will go on as planned, but many parents say they counted on their kids being able to use that extra equipment.  The league says they’ll be looking into other forms of security to prevent future thefts.

High water yesterday caused several issues including blocking off several roads in Martin County.  With more rain still to come, officials are suggesting people find an Alternate route to get around Blacklog road.

Big Sandy Community and Technical College is the recipient of a $3.5 million grant to help implement training for high demand fields. The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce Economic Revitalization (POWER) grant is from the Appalachian Regional Commission and will help fast track training for high speed jobs in industries like cybersecurity, medical coding, and advanced manufacturing through their Eastern Kentucky Coal Country Transformation project.

Barbourville Doctor Charles Jones was arrested Sunday on child pornography charges.  Barbourville Police now say the investigation and charges date back to 2014, when suspected child pornographic images were found on a common printer/copier by one of Jones’ co-workers.  Investigators say they later found hundreds of illegal images on his computer and storage devices.

The Kentucky Department of Education is changing the cutoff for children entering kindergarten.  Starting with the upcoming school year children entering kindergarten must be five years old on or before August 1st.  Previously the cutoff was October 1st. Students can only qualify for early enrollment by passing an evaluation process designed to determine the child’s readiness for school.

Local News Monday January 23, 2017

Letcher County Police are looking for two men wanted in connection to an active meth lab found last Thursday night.  Two women, Wendy Riley, and Jessica Moberly were arrested in connection to the same case.  Police say they were unable to locate Chris Brown and Dylan Rayburn who ran into a wooded area.
Women’s Marches took place across the country on Saturday including in Pikeville.  Dozens of women gathered early Saturday afternoon to march for women’s rights and equality.  Former First Lady Judy Patton spoke at the event.  It was organized by Gypsy Cantrell Ratliff, the President of Pikeville’s local United Steel Workers Union.

Kentucky State Police are warning about a new phone scam.  They say victims are getting a call from Cumberland Valley National Bank telling them their credit card has been locked and in order to unlock it, they must enter their credit card number and social security number.  Police say you should never give out personal information over the phone or internet unless you initiated contact and know who you are speaking to.  If you get a similar call, you’re urged to visit your bank to report suspicious activity on your account.

A $1.5 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will help make a new Inter-generational Training Center on the Lees College Campus in Jackson a reality. Hazard Community and Technical College plans to construct a 14,700 square foot center focusing on job training and credentialing for information technology, telemedicine and health sciences, mechatronics, eco-tourism, and small business development.

A Pike County boy severely injured in a car crash that killed his father is finally back home.  Gatlin Leedy had been in the hospital for nearly two months recovering.

There’s more information about a man charged as an accessory to the murder of Janina Jefferson at the Town of Appalachia Water Treatment plant back in November. 24-year-old Jacob Rowland is facing five charges in connection to the case.  Police say he drove Eric Jones, the man charged with Jefferson’s murder, to the scene even though he knew Jefferson had an active restraining order against Jones who was her ex-husband.  According to documents filed in the case Rowland is the sone of Jones’ current girlfriend Carmella Mefford and though of Jones as a “father figure.”  Rowland’s girlfriend was also allegedly in the car when they dropped Jones off near the water plant on the night of the murder.   She has not been charged in the case.  Jones, who is officially charged with murder is still at large and considered armed and dangerous.

A motion filed by one of the doctors accused of colluding with disability attorney Eric C. Conn to fraudulently win social security disability benefits has asked that Conn’s former clients who lost their re-determination hearings for benefits not be allowed to be used against him.  Many of Conn’s clients had to re-submit for benefits after he was charged, some retained benefits, while some did not.

A group of students at Betsy Layne High School in Floyd County recently won the “best in the state” Verizon Innovative Learning App Challenge.  The students created at app called Hear Me that was chosen from more than 1,800 entries.  That won them $5,000 for the school, and each student won a tablet.  The app will now go on to the regional level.  If they win there, they will go to Orlando to meet with app developers.

ESPN’s popular pre-game show College GameDay is returning to Rupp Arena in Lexington for the Kentucky/Kansas game on January 28th.  The show known for crazy signs will air live from Rupp starting at 11am.  Admission is free.  Doors open at 9:30am.  Tipoff is at 6pm.

Local News for November 7, 2016

Forest fires still burning in Eastern Kentucky
More than 10,000 acres of Eastern Kentucky are on fire.  Forestry officials don’t expect that
number to go down anytime soon thanks to largely dry and often windy conditions persisting
across the area.  Fires in Harlan County on Pine Mountain and in Breathitt County in Jackson
are two of the largest of the more than 20 fires active in the area. Harlan County has declared
a state of emergency and most Eastern Kentucky Counties including Harlan, Letcher, Perry,
and Pike County are under a burn ban until further notice.

Two gas tanker trucks collide over the weekend
Over the weekend a crash between two gas tanker trunks shut down US 23 near Jenkins for hours,
and severely injured one of the drivers.  Officials say it happened Saturday morning.  Fire Crews
from Jenkins and Neon helped to mop up gas from the truck that was turned on it’s side.

11-year-old Louisville boy dies in Red River Gorge
An 11-year old boy scout from Louisville died in Red River Gorge over the weekend after a tree
fell on his tent.  Wolfe County Search and rescue says Jack Rose was in his tent for the night
when a tree fell and hit him in the head.  Two doctors who were nearby responded but could not
revive the boy.  The Boy Scouts of America released a statement confirming the death and
expressing sadness for Rose, his family, and his troop.  They also thanked Wolfe and Powell
County Search and rescue teams for their support.

New scam arises as people pose as Kentucky Utility Workers
Police warn that in a new scam people are posing as Kentucky Utilities workers saying they will turn
off your utilities in 15 minutes unless you put money on a prepaid credit card, outstanding bill pay, or
money pak card.  They say ignore the call and if you’re really worried call the utility company yourself.

Kentucky Wildcats win their Final Exhibition Game on Saturday
A sounding win for the Kentucky Wildcats in their final exhibition game on Saturday. They thumped
Asbury 156-63.  That’s the most points ever scored by UK in a regular season or exhibition game. 
The previous record was 143 points against Georgia in 1956.  The regular season begins this Friday 
in Rupp Arena with the cats taking on Stephen F. Austin at 7pm.

Forest Fires continue to burn across the region
As fires continue to burn across the region fire officials are urging people to keep their lawns free of
leaves, sticks, and other flammable lawn debris.  If a fire gets close to your home inform authorities
immediately.  Currently more than 20 fires are burning across Eastern Kentucky resulting in a lot of
hazy smoke. 

ATV crash kills a Perry County man near the Knott Perry County Line
A Perry County man died following an ATV crash yesterday morning near the Knott Perry County Line.
Tyler fugate will be remembered this evening from 6 until 9pmat the Maggard Funeral home.  His funeral
will be held tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.  Fugate was taken to the hospital after the ATV he was driving
went off an embankment near the Knott-Perry County Line.  He later died at Hazard Medical Center.

Former Harlan County Sherrif has been indicted
Former Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird has been indicted on a charge of theft of property from a
federally funded program.  The indictment claims that Lipfird stole money that was supposed to be
used for controlled drug purchases.  The indictment also alleges that Lipfird made Harlan County pay
for a litany of expenses including personal expenses, a dating site subscription, a friend’s cell phone,
and duplicate travel expenses that should not have been paid for with taxpayer money.  No court date
has been set.  If found guilty Lipfird could face up to 10 years in prison and a quarter of a million dollar fine.

Notice anything unusual while voting call Election Fraud Hotline
As you head out to vote tomorrow if you notice anything suspicious or abnormal you should call the Election
Fraud Hotline set up by Attorney General Andy Beshear.  That number is 1-800-328-VOTE.  The hotline is
open from 6am to 7pm.  Beshear says each and every call alleging possible violations of voting rights will be
investigated quickly.  He says they’re committed to making sure the election is clean and anyone who tries to
tamper with the outcome is prosecuted.