LOCAL NEWS

Tuesday 8-18-15

By Jerry Adams

Letcher County Fiscal Court has turned down a request to add 25 thousand dollars to the county Sheriff's Office budget. The court's 3 to 3 tie means the extra funding was NOT approved. Among those voting not to add more to the 150 thousand dollars already appropriated was county judge executive Jim Ward, who says it was a tough, but necessary decision, given the county's already tight finances. The department allocation is 150 thousand dollars—which is 650 thousand dollars less than last year, Those who supported the additional money say they department is too important to leave underfunded.   Department hours and staff have already been cut because of the decreasing county share of the budget.

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The Letcher County Fiscal Court did approve support for a plan that would bring some federal dollars to communities hit by the downturn in coal.  The federal Power Plus plan involves grants to help diversify the economy. The city of Whitesburg has also decided to take part.

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The holiday season could bring some new jobs for eatsren kentucky residents. Teleworks USA is looking to hire as many as 25 hundred employees to answer phones and process customer orders for its clients. The company will hold ajob fair next Tuesday to look for qualified applicants. The jobs pay 9 dollars an hour—and officials say they will bring a much needed boost to the mountain economy.  That job fair will be held in two sessions at the Teleworks USA telework hub in Hazard—one at 10 AM and one at 2 PM.

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And some area residents are picking up valuable skills at a course in Fiber Optics at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. The school says it is meeting a need—both for people looking for work and for an industry that needs certified installers. Those involved say the program is a perfect fit as the mountain region moves toward greater access to broadband communication services—that will be carried over fiber cables.

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Two men accused of conspiring to kill a Clay County man have had their first day in court. Thomas Miracle and Roscoe Henson were at a preliminary hearing on charges that they worked together to kill 24 year old Trevor Dykes outside his Goose Rocks community home. They judge says there is enough evidence to hold the two until a grand jury meets next month to decide if they should be indicted. Police say Miracle hired Henson to kill Dykes because of a child custody dispute. The victim;s family members were in the courtroom and they say it was difficult to see the two for the first time, but that they want to make sure justice is served. Dykes was gunned down on July 27th as he left his home for work. Sheriff Kevin Johnson says the two suspects have admitted their roles in the killing.

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Police are investigating a crash that killed a man in Leslie County. They identify him as 61 year old Rufus Gibson of Hyden. They say he died when his vehicle ran off Highway 421 and into a creek on Monday morning.

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The Rowan County Clerk will not have to issue marriage licenses, after a federal judges ruling. Last week, judge David Bunning ordered Kim Davis to perform those ceremonies in spite of her religios beliefs. The judge has now put that ruling on hold so a higher court can review the case. Judge Bunning says he relalzes that emotions are running high on both sides, so for now, he says he will defer until the entire sixth circuit court can decide what to do next.

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FEMA has opened a center in Johnson County to help those effected by last month's devastating floods. The center will provide assistance by processing applications forloans and grants and letting people know what forms of aid are available. Those on hand for the opening say they are happy that help is finally arriving—help that could allow them to get back to the life they had before the water rose in July. That assistanc center is located on Highway 40 in Paintsville.

Monday 8-17-15

By Jerry Adams

A house fire in Harlan County has left one woman dead. Officials identify her as 26 year old April Dean, who was trapped inside that home in the Stanfil community early Sunday morning. The Sunshine Fire Company responded to that blaze on Highway72, but were unable to save Dean. There is no word on what caused the fire—officials are investigating, but they say NO foul play is suspected.

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A  Pike County congregation held its Sunday service outside this week—after a fire destroyed their church building. The Piso Freewill Baptist Church caught fire on Monday—and so, members improvised and held their worship under a tent next to the structure on Sunday. They say they are focusing on the future now and will do what t takes to rebuild. They also say their faith is strong and that they will remain together with God as they face the challenge ahead. So far the cause of that fire is under investigation.

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Charges have been filed against a woman in Floyd County after they say she set up a booth promising free phone service, which they say was nothing but a scam. Police say they arrested Susan Ward after complaints that she had promised a free phone upgrade for cash at that booth in downtown Martin, , but that there were no free phones. She is charged with theft by deception..

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A weekend crash in Bell County has left one person dead. Police say 42 year old Scotty Shackleford died when his ATV crashed into a truck on Highway 186 near Bennetts Fork Church late Saturday night. The truck driver was also injured and flown to UT Medical center.

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Officials in Bell County say they aren't happy with some news coverage from big newspaper. A recent article about drug abuse and poverty by the Boston Globe focused on Pineville, and Pineville Mayor Scott Madon says that while his community has a problem with illegal drug use, so do many other places. He says the article was an unfair portrait of his town that ignored many of the positive things there. Other officials agree, saying county is working hard to address the drug problem, and working hard to improve the economy as well

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Some roadwork effecting traffic in Knott County for the next few days. The Kentucky Highway cabinet says highway 1697 near highway 550 in Sloan fork will be closed during the day to make it safer for school busses. Officials say the work should take about a week and a half.

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Some people in Breathitt County had a chance to step back in time..and to hone their marksmanship skills as well over the weekend. The national program called “Johny Appleseed” made a stop in Jackson, letting people practice shooting small caliber rifles...and giving them history lessons about how rifles were used during the Revolutionary War. Those in attendance say it was a worthwhile experience that taught them a lot about guns—and about history.

Friday 8-14-15

By Jerry Adams

A man accused of firing the shots that killed a Clay County man last month has had his first day in court.  32 year old Roscoe Henson was arraigned Thursday  on charges that he killed Trevor Dykes as Dykes got ready for work on july 27th outside his home in Manchester.  Officials say a second man, Thomas Miracle, hired Henson to kill Dykes in a child custody dispute involving Miracle's girlfriend's child.  Sheriff Kevin Johnson says investigators continue to unravel strands of the case and that more arrests are possible.  Dykes family says the are grateful for the police work so far and want to make sure whoever did kill him is brought to justice.  Henson s next court date is set for Monday.

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Meanwhile, Clay County deputies have another murder case on their hands as well.   21 year old Kevin Stidham is accused of killing his girlfriend near a home on Miller Lane in the Big Creek community on Thursday afternoon.  Investigators say 32 year old Sherry Collins was shot to death and that allege that Stidham put marks on the his arms to indicate a struggle that never took place.  Reports say Stidham has confessed.  He is being held until his first court appearance.

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Letcher County officials say they have their hands full with the heroin epidemic, and want to set up a needle exchange program for addicts to keep down the risk from diseases spread my shared needles.  Health officials say it makes sense, and that some addicts may even be convinced to get help when they show up at exchange sites. Other people disagree, saying that giving away needs sends the wrong message that its OK to use heroin, as long as the syringes are clean.  In spite of those concerns, the county health department hopes to have some kind of exchange set up soon—before a serious outbreak of illness like hepatitis or HIV spreads into the community.

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The controversy over Rowan County clerk Kim Davis's decision not to issue marriage license in the wake of June's US Supreme Court decision legalizing same sex marriages may be heating up. Earlier this week, a federal judge ruled that Davis must comply and begin to issue those license, something she says she can't do because of her religious belief. Members of her office say they have been instructed not to go along with the ruling either and so, for now, no licenses are being issued. No word yet on what will happen next, but Davis says she is prepared to take her stand to the next level and all the way back to the Supreme Court, if necessary

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Officials in Harlan say they are addressing the issue of a residence on main street that is overlfowing with cats, where neighbors have complained abour the smell.  Residents are also concered about possible health problems near the home as well.  The city council says Police Chief Mike Thomas cited the woman who owns the property under the city nuisance ordinance and for faliure to have the cats vaccinated.  She is due in court on Augist 24th.  Animal control officials say their hands are times until the legal issues is resolved. The council also says the city health department will follow up on the matter and work to get the property cleaned up..

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Demolition work on a Laurel County landmark, heavily damaged by a fire in February is complete. Crews brought down the home of Weaver's hot dogs, which had been on that site on Main Street in London since 1940. Officials say the walls were just too weak for the building to remain standing and so for safety  reasons, they ordered it to come down.  Co owner Kimberly Weaver says while they have set up two new locations, she won't feel at home until Weaver's is back on Main Street. Some of the old place remains— a previous owner had made digital copies of the photos that  once hung on the walls.  Those pictures will be reprinted and hung on the walls of the NEW Weaver's when its built.

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The old east end bridge in Elkhorn City is about to come down. There is already a new bridge helping people get from Elkhorn City to the Breaks, but with the demolition work, officials are worried that debris from the project could fall into the river below and are warning boaters to stay away until the wrecking crews get done in October.

Thursday 8-13-15

By Jerry Adams

A second suspect in a suspect in a Clay County murder is now behind bars.  32 year old Roscoe Henson is suspected of being one of two men who were hired to kill Trevor Dykes at his home in Manchester last month. Reports say he was picked up and booked into the Clay County jail late last night.  Meanwhile,  the other person accused in the case is now identified as Thomas Miracle—who has been arraigned on solicitation to commit murder charges in Clay County District Court. Officials think the killing may have been the result of a custody dispute.  Dykes was gunned down as he left his home for work on July 27. His family hopes the arrests are the first step toward justice in the case.

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President Obama has signed an emergency declaration that means federal help for residents of Johnson County whose property was damaged in last month's flood.  That  help could include low cost loans and other federal programs to help them rebuild. The declaration also covers some of the storm related costs for governments and some non profit groups in other areas including  Breathitt, Clay, Floyd, Knott, Letcher, Magoffin, and Perry counties.

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Police in Perry County have charged man with leading them on a chase that ended up with a crash on Kentucky 80 on Wednesday morning. Deputies say Aaron Jones took off as they tried to stop him near the Daniel Boone Motor Inn in Hazard. After the crash that ended the chase. they say Jones took off on foot but was quickly taken in to custody. He is facing charges of fleeing and evading law enforcement.

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A grand jury has indicted two women from Letcher County on charges that they embezzled almost 200 thousand dollars from a payday loan provider where they both worked. Christy Lee Sexton and Shelly Lynn Salyers are accused of taking out loans in the names of former customers, including some who were dead, and then taking the money for themselves.  The women worked for Cash in a Dash in Whitesburg before they were fired.  A few weeks after the investigation into the fraudulent loans began, the Cash in a Dash building caught fire. So far that case remains unsolved. Sexton and Salyers are in Letcher County jail and are due in county Circuit Court on August 25th  .

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Prayers for a high school student badly hurt in a crash in Harlan County ATV accident.  Sara Napier is a member of the Harlan County high school basketball and track teams—who was injured in a crash on Pine mountain. Her family and her friends are pulling for her recovery from a serious leg injury and they are confident that she will be back with her team as soon as she can.

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An openly gay former high school basketball player from Prestonsburg says his picture was left out of his high school yearbook on purpose.  Betsy Layne High school says Dalton Maldonado' s picture didn't make it to the pages due to an editing error and that they will re-print the book to include his photo. Maldonado came out earlier this year after an argument with an opposing player who he claimed had used anti-gay slurs during a game.

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A judge has ruled that the Rowan County Clerk must issue marriage license to same sex couples. Kim Davis has refused to do that, saying it would go against her Christian belief, but now a federal judge says she must comply with the US supreme court ruling making those marriages legal.  Federal District Judge David Bunning says gay and lesbian couples shouldn't have to go to other counties and that Davis is required to perform her duties under the law.  No word if Davis plans to appeal that ruling. She is one of three county clerks across the state who stopped issuing marriage licenses because of the conflict between their beliefs and the supreme court ruling.

Wednesday 8-12-15

By Jerry Adams

The cats at the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter have been saved.  Earlier this week, the shelter put out word that they would have to euthanize 60 cats because of overcrowding, but now, the public has responded and adopted more than 100 cats and kittens.  People from as far away as Lexington showed up, and now the  shelter has plenty of room. In fact, they have no more cats left for adoption for now.

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More than 100 people lined up in Jenkins on Tuesday, for a chance to fill one of 50 positions at a new call center that is set to open there next month. Healthcare National Marketing plans to open that center to make calls to people about health and dental insurance. The Florida based company says after the initial 50 jobs are filled, they plan to add more, to staff an expected second shift at the facility. Healthcare National Marketing is based in Florida where they employ 200 people at a similar call center.

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Police have made an arrest in the murder of a Clay County man who was shot as he got ready for work last month. The aren't releasing the mans name and he was brought into jail with a jacket over his head to protect his identify as the search goes on for another person beloved to be involved in the killing.  24 year old Trevor dykes was gunned down on July 27th  in front of his home in Manchester. Since then, detectives say the have been working non stop to close the case. Dykes's friends and family says they have waited for this moment and now want justice. The suspect  in custody is facing solicitation to commit murder charges.

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A man from Harlan County is accused of leading police on a chase that began in the Bledsoe community—and ended several miles later in Bell County on Tuesday morning.. They say they had to use spike strips to stop the car, driven by 54 year old Byran Wells. The pursuit began when police say wells refused to stop for officers on Highway 221. He is facing several charges.

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Some people in Letcher County say they have found help from addictions though a new program.  The Letcher County Lifeline Connection is a faith based program, which uses something called neuron electric therapy, or NET, at the Isiah House drug treatment center.  The group also holds support meetings for people with any substance abuse problem—and for their families as well. They have several of those sessions scheduled in the coming weeks throughout the county.

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Johnson county sheriff's are looking for two people they say burglarized a charity there. They say they have surveillance video of the suspects who took items from the Christian Appalachian Project early Sunday morning.  The project says the theft of the items, in including tools and other supplies—will hurt. They also say they want the theives to know that they have stolen—not only from the project, but from members of the community who are in need. The sheriffs office is hoping the public can provide tips about that theft.

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When flood waters washed though Johnson County last month, thew swept away dozens of homess—and the precious meories that were inside. Now some volunteers are combing though debris, salvaging what they can and trying to put pictures that they have found back in the hands of people they belong to. All Hands volunteers say they are happy to do something meaningful—rather than just sorting junk and putting it in the trash.

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A woman who found a pair of World War II dog tags in a park in isom is hoping to get them back to their owner. Sarah Caudill found the tags near a dumpster at the isom Community Park and says  find the people who they belong to. She says they are important to someone and are of both personal and patriotic significance. The well worn tags are on a chain and have the name Richard
McCraken—and Caudill has posted pictures of them on the Internet, hoping someone will recognize them.

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Kentucky has joined the list of states suing the EPA over its tough new restrictions on coal emissions from power plants. Attorney general Jack Conway says the federal government is overstepping its authority with those rules that were announced earlier this year. Conway says the proposed regulations would make it difficult for the state to come up with its own air quality guildines and would likely lead to higher electric bills as well.