LOCAL NEWS

Wednesday October 16, 2013

 

The trial of a man accused of killing Mingo County West Virginia Sheriff Eugene Crum has been rescheduled for March.

Tennis Maynard's trial had been set for Dec. 9.

Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Fred Giggenbach says that prosecutors believed they needed more time to review evidence and interview witnesses.

The Kanawha County prosecutor's office agreed to represent the state in the trial after former Mingo County prosecutor Michael Sparks stepped down from the case in September.

Sparks resigned last week after he was charged in federal court with conspiracy in an unrelated case.

Maynard is accused of shooting Crum on April as the sheriff ate lunch in his car parked in downtown Williamson just across the state line from Pike County.

The 38-year-old's trial is now set to begin March 3.

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Four school districts in Eastern Kentucky were part of 14 found to have what State Auditor Adam Edelen calls a lack of transparency and accountability.

Reports from the past year show Breathitt County, which is now being ran by the state,  experienced some of the worst abuse in the state while former superintendent Arch Turner was in office.

He is now serving time in prison in a federal vote buying case.

Reports from other districts showed minor issues like Letcher County, which at the time was managed under former superintendent Anna Craft.

He said the issues in Letcher County were mainly not properly documenting expenses, which is not uncommon with other districts across the state.

Anna Craft has since retired and Edelen says the board and new superintendent Tony Sergent are working to make sure they accept the recommendations of his report.

The other two districts in Eastern KY were Pike and Martin Counties.

Auditor Edelen made his remarks Tuesday in front of the Interim Joint Committee on Education.

Results of the school district examinations can be found on the state Auditor’s website.

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The Kentucky Office of State Budget Director’s monthly report on the collection of taxes in the state has become a constant reminder of the faltering of the coal industry in the state.

According to the OSBD’s report, in September, the state collected a total of $17.9 million in coal severance taxes.

While that amount represents only a 20 percent decline from the amount collected in September 2012, it represents a 54 percent decline from the $27.7 million collected in September 2011.

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A Floyd County man who admitted to stealing from a grave was sentenced Tuesday, but not before getting a stern lecture from the judge, John David Caudill.

Last month Randall Vickers pleaded guilty to the crime and stood in front of the court Tuesday to be sentenced.

Judge Caudill gave Vickers the prosecutors' recommendation of two years in jail with probation after 120 days.

Vickers was taken back to the Floyd County Jail to finish out his sentence.

 

Tuesday October 15, 2013

Virginia State Police say you may experience delays if you are traveling on Highway 58 in Wise County this morning.

Dispatchers say there's a fire near a coal conveyor belt that runs over the road between Norton and Coeburn.

That's the only information we have at this time.

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A recent investigation into drug activity in Pike County has led to the resignation of another dispatcher.

Officials say the investigation was a joint operation between the sheriff's department and Operation UNITE.

They say the name of the dispatcher will not be released because no formal action was taken.

Authorities say the person had 19 years of experience.

The case will be heard by the grand jury.

This investigation was an expansion from an arrest earlier this year when Pike County Deputy and dispatcher Matthew Blanton was arrested on drug charges.

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An oil spill on four Bell County highways has now been cleaned up.

Bell County Emergency Management Director Ben Barnett says a truck carrying crude oil spilled the oil on highways KY 2011, KY 221, KY 66, and US-25E on Sunday.

He says the oil made the road slick for cars, but there were no injuries.

Crews worked most of the night and day Monday to clean the roads.

Officials say the roads are safe for travel now.

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A drug bust over the weekend leaves six people in Pike County facing charges.

Probation and Parole officers say they got a complaint about Marvin Collins claiming he had narcotics on him.

When officers got to his home in Shelby Gap they say they found Collins, Joseph Scott and Roxanna Millwood with several prescription pills.

Officials say three others, Sam Webb, James Arnett and Perry Johnson, were caught trying to buy pills from them.

Five were arrested on drug trafficking charges.

Perry Johnson was arrested for an outstanding warrant.

Officials say they recovered more than $20,000 worth of prescription medications, several cell phones and more than $2,000 in cash.

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A Pike County man accused of murdering his wife has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Bruce Dillon accepted a guilty plea for first degree manslaughter Friday afternoon, and he could spend less than two decades in jail.

Dillon has already spent more than one year in jail facing a murder charge for the death of his wife Sherry.

Sherry Dillon disappeared July of last year and nearly one month later was found buried in a small freezer in their yard.

The guilty plea came with a recommended 19 year sentence meaning Bruce Dillon could be out jail by age 72.

He will be formally sentenced December 13.

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A new trial for five people in a Clay County vote buying case will take place in November.

Federal court officials continued the trial of former Clay County Circuit Judge Cletus Miracle, former school superintendent Doug Adams and three others until November 4, 2013.

The group won a new trial when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their convictions earlier this year.

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Kentucky officials say a crackdown on underage drinking has resulted in dozens of citations being handed out.

The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's "Cops in Shops" program has given 154 alcohol-related citations since the effort started Aug. 29.

A total of 94 underage possession citations have been issued.

Other charges include possession of a forged instrument and assisting a minor to purchase alcohol.

ABC says it has also stepped up its presence at tailgating events to reduce illegal alcohol use.

 

Friday October 11, 2013


The Whitley County Coroner tells WYMT Mountain News he is on the scene of a deadly house fire.

It happened overnight on Old Corbin Pike in Williamsburg.

Not many details are being released right now, but we are told at least one person is dead.

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Kentucky Power turned off power to customers near Payne Gap and Jenkins here in Letcher County last night because of a single vehicle accident.

Police say a car went over a hill about 150 feet and took out a power pole one Highway 119 North.

They also say no one was injured in the accident.

Officials say everything is cleared up and power has been restored.

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Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell asked the Environmental Protection Agency for a coal hearing in Pikeville.

Senator McConnell contacted the EPA Thursday  to ask if they could organize a listening session to discuss the impact the agency's regulations had on coal.

Earlier today, the EPA announced it was proposing field hearings across the country, but not in any of the three largest coal producing states which are Wyoming, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

The Senator also said the listening session should be in Pikeville because it is in the heart of coal country.

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John C. Combs, of Red Fox, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday after his plea deal was accepted in Perry County Circuit Court.

Combs pleaded guilty to the murder of Dr. Dennis Sandlin in December of 2009 at the Leatherwood/Blackey Clinic of MCHC.

Combs tried to speak after he was sentenced but the Judge John David Caudill would not allow it.

Combs sentence was part of a plea deal.

He pleaded guilty to murder in order to avoid the death penalty.

 

Thursday October 10, 2013

 A Georgia man has been found not guilty of murdering a friend who died in a home at Premier Subdivision in Jenkins from a gunshot wound in March 2011.

After deliberating for an hour and a half Tuesday afternoon, a Letcher Circuit Court jury made up of 11 women and one man acquitted Alfred “New York” White, 46, of Jonesboro, Ga., in the shooting death of Walter Johnson Jr., 39, of Atlanta.

For details on the verdict see this week's edition of the Mountain Eagle.

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A Sassafras man is accused of trying to sell stolen utility wire to a scrap metal dealer Tuesday morning.

30 year old Joseph W. Sizemore of Yellow Creek  was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property after police found approximately 66 lbs. of copper wire in two five-gallon buckets in the trunk of his 2004 Hyundai.

Lt. Brian Damron of the Letcher County Sheriff’s Department was at Southern Steel in Isom early Tuesday morning when an employee told Damron that Sizemore had just left after he tried to sell utility wire and had been turned away.

Damron stopped Sizemore and asked to look through the car.

Damron contacted the Hazard Police Department who confirmed the Elliot company, who contracts for KY Power,  had noticed the wire missing from one of their trucks just a few hours earlier.

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Police say it started out as a get together among friends.

Now, three men in Southwest Virginia are facing attempted murder charges.

It happened late Saturday night at the Super 8 Motel in Norton.

Officers say three people were being held against their will in one of the rooms.

We are told one of them managed to get free and call 911.

When they got to the scene, they found two women and one man tied up and arrested three others.

43 year old David Mark Hill, his brother 45 year old Maynard Hill and 54 year old James Surrett, all of Coeburn, are facing several charges.

All three men are being held without bond in the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail.

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Appalachian Regional Hospital says it has signed an agreement to buy Williamson Memorial Hospital.

ARH not only plans to buy the 76-bed hospital, but five physician practices owned by Williamson Memorial.

They expect the sale to be finalized by February 2014.

ARH currently has a hospital in South Williamson, KY.

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One person is dead after a crash in Clay County.

It happened Wednesday night on Highway 421 in Manchester. Police tell us two cars collided and they are still investigating how the crash happened.

Names have not been released yet.

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An Eastern Kentucky woman is behind bars, accused of selling a variety of drugs, even her own heart medication!

The motor home 56 year old Nancy Neace lives in used to sit on Typo Road in Bonnyman.

It now sits at the Perry County Garage waiting for a search warrant.

Deputies accuse Neace of selling illegal and prescription drugs to a number of people from a cooler outside her motor home..

Investigators are calling this one of the most significant drug busts of the year and credit the public for tipping them off.

Deputies say they are still investigating this case and say more arrests may come in the future.

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A Kentucky Bar Association official says the agency is reviewing accusations that a Floyd County disability lawyer collaborated with a former West Virginia judge to improperly award disability benefits to hundreds of applicants.

Thomas Glover, chief bar counsel, says the agency is "looking at" the allegations against Eric C. Conn of Stanville, and they could affect his license if proven true.

The accusations against him were in a report released Monday by congressional investigators.

It accused Conn of scheming with retired administrative law Judge David B. Daugherty to approve more than 1,800 disability cases from 2006 to 2010.

 

Wednesday October 9, 2013


Kentucky Power customers could soon be paying more on their bills.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission Monday approved a request by Kentucky Power to buy a 50-percent share of a plant in West Virginia and shutter the Big Sandy plant in Lawrence County, Ky.

The company wants to close the Big Sandy plant near Louisa in 2015 instead of upgrading the facility to comply with stricter air regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Kentucky Power will buy half of the Mitchell plant near Moundsville, W.Va.

Rates will spike about 14 percent, and customers could see bigger bills in the next two months according to PSC officials.

Around 173,000 customers in 20 Eastern Kentucky counties are affected by the decision.

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A state judicial oversight panel publicly reprimanded an Eastern Kentucky judge over comments he made during the sentencing of a teacher convicted of sexually abusing five teenage girls that were his students.

The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission ruled Monday Judge Frank Fletcher's comments showed bias in favor of the male defendant.

The case in question is that of Charles Andrew Mitchell.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to 15 sex-related charges, including sending explicit photos to a student and having intercourse with a minor while he was a teacher at Sebastian Middle School in Breathitt County.

During the sentencing, Fletcher said Mitchell was "not blind" and "only human" and that some of of the girls did not look their age.

The commission ruled Fletcher's comments showed prejudice in the case.

Judge Fletcher sentenced the teacher, Charles Mitchell, to seven years behind bars and later granted shock probation.

Officials say Mitchell is no longer in jail.

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A man is dead after an ATV accident in Wolfe County early Tuesday morning.

Officials say 61 year old Roger Spencer was operating an ATV on his property when he drove over an embankment in his front yard.

Spencer lost control causing the ATV to roll over on him and trap him underneath around midnight.

Family found him around noon Tuesday.

No foul play is suspected.

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A business owner in Clay County shot a robbery suspect who entered his store early Tuesday morning.

Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson says the incident happened around 1:30am at a store in the Horse Creek area of Clay County off Highway 80.

Johnson says the owner of the store was inside when Dustin Gregory broke in.

The owner shot Gregory in the leg.

Gregory was flown to UK Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Sheriff Johnson says Gregory will face burglary charges when he is released from the hospital.

More charges may be filed later.

The store owner, whose name is not being released, has not yet been charged.

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An iconic Pikeville restaurant will soon be closing its doors for good.

Jerry's Restaurant in downtown Pikeville has been in business for more than 50 years.

Jerry's of Pikeville opened in 1960 and is in the 3rd generation of ownership by the Justice family.

Business has been slow in recent months but has been good this week with people eating there one final time.

Jerry's will close its doors for good on Friday.