LOCAL NEWS

Thursday September 25, 2014

STOLEN ITEMS FOUND IN LETCHER COUNTY AND 3 ARRESTED

$60,000 worth of stolen items - including a backhoe and a 14 foot trailer - are found in Letcher County, and 3 people are arrested. Police say the backhoe is owned by a Wise County Virginia man who now has it back, but they need help reuniting the other items with their owners. The theft happened in the McPeeks Branch area and investigators say the case will go before a grand jury.

FLOYD COUNTY BURGLARY ATTEMPT STOPPED AND SUSPECT ARRESTED

Things went from bad to worse for a suspected burglar in Floyd County. Police say the man broke into a Prestonsburg home pointing a gun at the 2 people inside threatening to kill them - but one of them wrestled the gun away and the suspect took off. Investigators say seconds later the suspect ran back into the house, only to be hit with an ax handle. The suspect is in the Floyd County Detention Center on $10,000 bond.

ACT SCORES IN HARLAN COUNTY BEST EVER

Scores on standardized tests taken by Harlan County 11th grade students are continuing to improve. Assistant Superintendent Brent Roark says the scores on the ACT - an exam taken by all high school juniors - are the best the district has ever had. The national exam is used by the state as part of its school performance evaluations.

FLOYD COUNTY BUSINESS OWNER FALLS FOR SCAM

A Floyd County business owner is victimized by a scam where someone calls a business threatening to shut off the power unless they make a payment over the phone. The call came in about an hour before closing and the owner - who runs a deli with a large inventory of perishables - did what the caller asked, buying $1500 in debit cards and giving the numbers over the phone. An American Electric Power Spokesman says they never demand payment over the phone, and if someone calls saying they will turn off service hang up and call AEP to be sure there's no issue with an account.

EVARTS TAXPAYERS MAY BEING PAYING MORE SOON

Taxpayers in one Harlan County city may be digging a little deeper to pay their bills. The Daily Enterprise says the Evarts City Council approved the first reading of an increase in the ad valorem tax - a levy on both personal property and real estate - from .407 cents per $100 of assessed value to .415 cents. The hike means about $4 more a year for a homeowner with a property valued at $50,000. A vote on the increase is expected next month and if approved, takes effect with bills sent out in November.

MICHIGAN DOCTOR ACCEPTS PLEA DEAL IN EASTERN KY DRUG CASE

A doctor from Michigan accused of working 2 other people to infiltrate Pike and Floyd Counties with illegal prescription painkillers accepted a plea deal. Court papers say Dr. Anthony Choe wrote prescriptions for the duo who had them filled then gave them to a woman who sold them in Eastern Kentucky to a drug dealer. The deal - which still needs to be okayed by a judge - calls for Choe to spend 5 years in prison and be banned for life from practicing medicine.

STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT PULLING SIGNS THAT AFFECT RIGHT OF WAY

Kentucky Department of Highways workers are pulling down any signs that interfere with the right of way on state roads. A spokesperson says there are a lot more campaign signs up since it's a local election year and since there's one more grass moving cycle to be done for the end of the year, the signs are safety hazards to workers and the public. Removed signs are kept for 2 weeks in the state highway garage for the county they were in.

DRUNK DRIVER PLOWS INTO FLOYD COUNTY TOBACCO SHOP

A Floyd County tobacco shop was unexpectedly converted into a drive-through when a suspected drunk driver plowed into the front window. Police say the driver told them the car's brakes failed but officers found he showed signs of intoxication and failed field sobriety tests. 2 people were in the store at the time and it's not known if they were hurt.

Wednesday September 24, 2014

PLEA DEAL IN LETCHER COUNTY SEX AND DRUG OFFENSE CASE

2 people charged in a Letcher County Sex and Drug Offense Case took plea deals and will be serving jail time. In November Lester Brown and Tonya Faye Combs were indicted for giving a child under 16 alcohol and marijuana along with engaging in sexual activity with the child. Combs plea deal nets her 6 years in jail while Brown will be behind bars for 5 years and both are required to register as sex offenders.

FEDERAL DISASTER DECLARATION FILED BY GOVERNOR FOR PARTS OF EASTERN KY DUE TO FLOODING

Governor Steve Beshear has formally requested a federal disaster declaration for parts of Eastern Kentucky devastated by heavy rains last month. Damage estimates totaled over $6 million. In especially hard-hit Floyd County, cleanup and rebuilding efforts continue even without federal assistance and emergency management officials say it could be months before any financial aid comes in - if it does at all. Prestonsburg's city council is opening a half million dollar line of credit to pay contractors in anticipation of receiving reimbursements.

SATURDAY IS PILL TAKE BACK DAY CONDUCTED BY KSP

Saturday is “National Prescription Pill Take Back Day” and Kentucky State Police will be joining the DEA in collecting outdated or unused prescription and non-prescription medicines for proper disposal. Troopers will be at posts in Hazard on Justice Drive, North Mayo Trail in Pikeville and US 421 South in Harlan from 10am until 2pm. In addition the Attorney General's office in Prestonsburg on North Lake Drive will have a collection site.

TEXTBOOK SCAM TARGETING SCHOOL SYSTEMS

School administrators are being warned about a scam that could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Attorney General Jack Conway says a company sends official-looking invoices for textbooks the school never bought. The company name is very similar to a legitimate school book publisher, and Conway says most districts simply pay the bill without checking to see if they received what they were paying for. So far there have been nearly 100 reports of the scam nationwide and at least one in Kentucky.

RESIDENT AND FISCAL BATTLE OVER ROAD REPAIRS IN FLOYD COUNTY

A Floyd County resident and the county's fiscal court are at odds over who's responsible for road repairs the resident says are needed because a hillside keeps dumping onto the roadway. The Floyd County Times reports Jeff Crum from Cow Creek appeared before the court saying Ward Branch is so bad 4 wheel drives can't get through it and since his son has medical issues it's important that the road is clear. Crum presented documentation showing workers were using county owned equipment to make private property repairs, while he has paid out of his own pocket to rent equipment to fix the road - even being warned he can't do that without a permit. The Court says the issue is the hillside can't support the home - and all that can be done is to clean up the road when slides occur.

PIKE COUNTY MEMORIAL PARK GROUNDBREAKING DATE SET

A date is set for the groundbreaking at the site of a new Pike County memorial park. It will be on Hambley Boulevard in Pikeville and is the result of a yearlong collaboration between the VFW and county commissioners. The design includes an eternal flame with the names of those from the county who never returned home from overseas.

TREASURER WARNING OF SCAM TARGETING SENIOR CITIZENS IN KY

Kentucky's treasurer is warning about a new scam making the rounds targeting seniors. A caller says they have a $2.5 million sweepstakes prize to award but before they can send the money they first need to get an income tax payment of around $1300. Treasurer Todd Hollenbach says this is a new twist on an ages-old scam where someone calls offering a big prize or money but says they have to send money first. Hollenbach says it's very simple: If you're told you won something but you have to first send money to get your prize - it's a scam.

Tuesday September 23, 2014

FREE DENTAL CARE COMES TO LETCHER COUNTY

Free dental care has come to Letcher County - but just for a week. The Florida-based SmileFaith Foundation set up shop in Jenkins in partnership with “God's Love from a Diaper Bag”, an organization that helps needy moms. Patients coming to the Appalachian Community Dental Clinic located at 9727 Highway 805 will be seen by volunteer dental teams from across America. Cleanings, fillings and extractions are being done through Friday and hours are from 8am until 4pm.

PIKE COUNTY SCHOOLS SAY THERE ARE NO SAFETY ISSUES AFTER A STUDENT THREAT AGAINST A PRINCIPAL

Pike County school officials are reassuring parents along with faculty and staff that there's no threats to safety after a student threatened to slit the throat of Pike Central's Principal David Rowe. He says it happened Friday when a student became upset about a writing assignment and told a teacher if he did it, he'd write about slashing Rowe's throat. The student was taken to Rowe's office where he admitted making the threat.

BURGLARY OF POOL SUPPLY STORE IN HARLAN COUNTY

The owner of a Harlan County pool supply business is offering a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever broke into the store taking merchandise, tools and money plus 2 pickup trucks and a car from a neighboring used car dealer. Police say the crooks cut a hole into the Discount Pools building on US 119 some time over the weekend. The burglary was discovered on Sunday. The pickup trucks are a maroon 1992 GMC along with a white 1996 Chevy Silverado, and the stolen car is a dark red 2009 Ford Fusion.  Call State Police if you have tips on the whereabouts of the robbers or the stolen items.

PIKE COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTERS NEEDS HELP TO DECREASE POPULATION

Officials with the Pike County Animal Shelter are asking for help to get the population down. They say maximum capacity is around 200 animals and last week they were nearly 100 animals over capacity, and had to turn people away. Shelter personnel encourage people to continue adopting animals or offer help to the shelter.

MISSING HARLAN COUNTY TEENAGER FOUND SAFE

A Harlan County teenager reported missing Sunday was found safe. Gary Planck's family says he was out dirt biking and didn't come home, and searchers were out nearly 15 hours covering 50 miles of trails when they found Planck with his bike stuck in the mud. Police say Planck told them he got lost and ended up landing in the mud. He wasn't hurt.

FLOYD COUNTY MAN TAKES PLEA DEAL AND SEEKS DELAY IN SENTENCING

Attorneys for a Floyd County man who took a plea deal on drug charges in Pike County asked a judge to delay his sentence so he could go to what the lawyers called an important doctor's apartment with his pregnant wife. The Appalachian News Express reports lawyers for Joshua Meade argued their client had no prior felony convictions, but Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Erin Chamberlin said Meade's plea deal significantly shortened his sentence. The judge denied the attorney's request, but said he'd consider taking action on Meade's sentence in the future.

RAPE & KIDNAPPING CHARGES AGAINST A CUMBERLAND MAN

A Harlan County man faces rape and kidnapping charges in an attack on a 19 year old woman. The State Police says the victim came to Harlan ARH hospital and medical personnel called officers saying the woman had been raped. Kenneth Keith of Cumberland was arrested the day after the attack and has been jailed without bond. A court date has not been set.

GOVERNMENT GRANTS OVER A MILLION DOLLAR FOR HYDROELECTRIC POWER STATION IN DICKENSON COUNTY,VA

The federal government has granted a $1.125 million guaranteed federal loan to pay for a hydroelectric power station in Dickenson County, Virginia. Once completed, the station at the John Flanagan Dam will supply power to 800 homes and cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 8500 tons. The Jordan Hydroelectric Partnership will be working with the US Corp of Engineers which is in control of the dam.

Monday September 22, 2014

WHITESBURG DISTILLERY PUT ON HOLD

A businessman's plans to bring a distillery to a historic building in Letcher County are sidetracked because of public opposition. Colin Fultz leased the auto repair show at Main and Madison Streets from the city of Whitesburg but the city council has denied his request to use it for alcoholic purposes.  Mayor James Wiley Craft says opposition to the distillery came from the First Baptist Church over concern the operation is in full view of their building. The 80 year old building  is on the National Register of Historic Places.

KNOTT COUNTY SCHOOL ON LOCKDOWN FRIDAY

Gunshots put a Knott County school on lockdown. Police say on Friday they were chasing a man who ran off after a traffic stop in Perry County and headed toward Carr Creek Elementary, so as a precaution the school was locked down. The man is still at large. Later that night a tip came in about the man's whereabouts and police went to the Holly Hills Shopping center, but again had no luck finding him.

PIKE COUNTY WOMAN SENTENCED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT AT ELKHORN AMBULANCE SERVICE

A Pike County woman is sentenced to 3 years in jail for her role in embezzling a now-defunct ambulance company. Mary Morton took a plea deal on charges she stole at least $68,000 from the Elkhorn Ambulance Service. The Appalachian News Express reports the service's operators blamed Morton - who handled the company's financial records - for it having to file for bankruptcy in March.

2 MILE SECTION OF BREATHITT NAMED IN MEMORY OF CRASH VICTIM

A section of a Breathitt County highway has been named in memory of a man killed in a pickup truck crash. Family and friends of Josh Thorpe were out over the weekend cleaning up a 2 mile section of Kentucky 1098 named in his honor. Thorpe was one of 4 people killed last month when a pickup driven by Shawn Hardin went off Wolverine Road and landed in a house.  His family says because Thorpe was an organ donor, three people's lives have been saved.

VIDEO HELP ID BURGLAR AT FLOYD COUNTY RESTAURANT

Surveillance video made it easy for police to identify the burglar who broke into a Floyd County restaurant's safe. Police say Billie Hall was seen on video using a credit card to open the restaurant's safe then taking an envelope with several hundred dollars. The restaurant owner gave police the video footage and an officer identified Hall as the person breaking into the safe. Hall has 2 prior theft convictions in Pike County, the most recent netting probation as long as he had no more theft charges.

McCONNELL CANCELS DEBATE AT UPIKE

Senator Mitch McConnell has cancelled his appearance at a debate in Pike County next month. The Appalachian News Express reports McConnell's campaign says an upcoming bus tour is the reason he won't be at the University of Pikeville next month to debate Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell's organizers say Grimes has turned down a number of other debate opportunities, but her campaign McConnell is using the bus tour as an excuse not to debate.

4 EVARTS POLICE OFFICERS RECOGNIZED

4 city of Evarts police officers received certificates of appreciation for their work in capturing an escaped inmate from the Harlan County Detention Center. The Harlan Daily Enterprise reports Evarts Assistant Police Chief Owen Noe, Chief Lupe Blas, Sgt. John Teagle and Officer William Clogston were recognized for locating Michael Bryant Day, who had escaped from jail in May. Day had originally been convicted on drug charges.

PIKE COUNTY SCHOOL OFFICIALS DROP IDEA OF WEIGHT LOSS CONTEST

Pike County school officials decided to drop a weight loss competition that was to be a part of a promotion to fight childhood obesity. According to the Appalachian News-Express the district-wide competition was to offer prizes including tablet computers, scholarships and cash. Superintendent David Lester tells the newspaper the district didn't want to encourage kids to lose weight just to win a contest. The contest was to have started September 15, and Lester says they're working on developing a different event.

Friday September 19, 2014

GUILTY PLEAS FILED BY 2 LETCHER COUNTY WOMEN ACCUSED OF ELDER ABUSE

Guilty pleas are filed by the daughter and granddaughter of a Letcher County woman who the 2 were accused of abusing months before her death. Teresa and Serenna Maggard of Neon were indicted 2 years ago on charges they and 2 of Teresa's other children confined Mildred Hughes in a manner that resulted in physical pain and suffering. Hughes died hours after bring brought to the emergency room at Whitesburg ARH. Sentencing is set for October 22 and the Commonwealth is recommending 10 years in prison for each woman.

LETCHER COUNTY MAN TAKES PLEA DEAL IN CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CASE

A Letcher County man takes a plea deal on child pornography and other sex charges. Roger Johnson admitted possession the images and gratifying himself in front of children. Sentencing is scheduled for November.

FLOYD COUNTY FATHER FILES THEFT CHARGES AGAINST HIS SON

A Floyd County man who says his son stole money from him has filed charges against him.  Court papers say Curt Jarvis Junior of Prestonsburg told his father he was going to use the bathroom, but instead pried open a bedroom door and took nearly $1000. He is due back in court next week.

COMMERCIAL AIRLINE SERVICE WITH APPALACHIAN AIR SET TO BEGIN OCTOBER 27

Commercial airline service at the Pikeville-Pike County Airport will kick off October 27. Appalachian Air has been trying to establish service and originally planned to begin nonstop flights between Nashville and Pikeville in April - but a number of issues delayed that until now. A consultant says the new service should be well utilized because people routinely drive beyond Pikeville to take a flight.

PROBATION DENIED IN HARLAN COUNTY DRUG CASE

Probation has been revoked for a Harlan County man for his conviction on drug charges. The Harlan Daily Enterprise reports Raymond Moses from Harlan hadn't been staying in touch with the county drug coordinator, telling a judge he thought it was a waste of his time because the court wasn't being fair with him as he tried to clean up his life. Moses is now in jail serving his original 10 year sentence.

PIKE COUNTY STATE EMPLOYEE, COACH AND MINISTER PASSES AWAY

A long-time state highway supervisor in Pike County has died suddenly. Gene Layne of Pikeville was also the pastor of Church of God Militant Pillar and Ground of Truth, and the congregation is remembering him as a man who was proud of his community and worked to make it a better place. Layne was a youth sports coach and served on a number of community boards, receiving the Governor's Ambassador Award in 2010 for his volunteer work.

3 PEOPLE HURT IN HARLAN COUNTY CRASH

3 people are hospitalized from their injuries in a 2 car crash in Harlan County. Police say a pickup truck tried passing a car on US 119 when the car started to turn left into a driveway. The truck hit the car's driver's side and rolled over several times. One passenger in the truck and the driver were airlifted to a hospital and another passenger was taken by ambulance to Hazard ARH hospital. The driver and passenger in the car were unhurt, but the driver was taken into custody on an outstanding arrest warrant.

UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS FOR KENTUCKY IN AUGUST

Kentucky's unemployment dropped another three-tenths of a point in August to 7.1 percent - that's 1.3 percent lower than it was in August 2013. The professional and business services sector had the largest number of new jobs last month, followed by government jobs with most of those at colleges and universities that are back in session. The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training  reports that by the end of the year the number of jobs should exceed the number of positions before the 2008 recession.