LOCAL NEWS

Monday July 7, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY SCHOOLS SUMMER FEEDING PROGRAM AT FARMER'S MARKET

The Summer Feeding at the Farmer's Market program in Letcher County is under way. Every Saturday morning through the summer kids under 18 can get a free meal at the market in Whitesburg. Adults can buy breakfast burritos and blueberry smoothies at a discounted price. Locally grown produce is used to make the meals.

LETCHER COUNTY WATER & SEWER HIRES BELL ENGINEERING FOR CUMBERLAND RIVER PROJECT

The Letcher County Water and Sewer District Board of Directors chose a Lexington area firm to oversee work on the project bringing treated water to residents of the Cumberland River area. Bell Engineering was hired to replace Vaughn and Melton of Middlesboro who had begun work on the project but was unable to find a water source that could serve Cumberland River residents. Board members say it was time to bring in a new project management team to help the district move forward. The sourcing issue drew the attention of Congressman Hal Rogers and the board says he is working on a solution to the matter.

WORLD WIDE EQUIPMENT TO REBUILD FLOYD COUNTY FACILITY LOST TO FIRE

The owners of a Floyd County business that went up in flames last week say they plan to rebuild. World Wide Equipment's offices and parts department were destroyed in the fire that C-E-O Terry Dotson estimates caused damage in excess of one point five million dollars. Dotson says other World Wide locations will help in assisting Prestonsburg customers until a temporary facility is opened in the coming weeks. Fire investigators say the the flames ignited in the ceiling between the first and second floors of the nearly 50 year old building. No one was hurt.

SELF INFLICTED STABBING IN HARLAN COUNTY

Police say a stabbing in Harlan County turned out to be self-inflicted. Officers and medics responding to the stabbing near Evarts called in an airlift to take the victim to a trauma center. There's no word on his name or identity - or the events that led up to the stabbing.

NEW PLAYGROUND IN VICCO

Perry County has a new playground - paid for by an Emmy-award-winning TV show producer and his spouse. Max Mutchnick was the co-creator of the "Will and Grace" sitcom that was on the air for 8 years. Mutchnick and Erik Hyman paid for the playground in Vicco and and named it after their daughters Evan and Rose. Last year Vicco was in the national spotlight after becoming the smallest city in the United States to pass a fairness ordinance that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation - and that's what brought Mutchnick and Hyman to help support the town with the addition.

MEMORIAL ALMOST DONE FOR 1958 FLOYD COUNTY SCHOOL BUS DISASTER

Floyd County's Emergency and Rescue Squad is putting the finishing touches on a memorial to the Prestonsburg school bus crash in 1958 that to this day is the worst school bus accident in United States history. A statue will be unveiled during next month's building dedication for the new Alexander-Goble-Willis Rescue Training Center. 26 students, and their driver, died after their school bus plunged into the Big Sandy River. The crash resulted in the creation of the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad - the first of its kind in Kentucky.

PERRY COUNTY WOMAN ARRESTED FOR SLITTING ANOTHER WOMAN'S NECK

A Perry County woman is under arrest on suspicion she slit a woman's neck. Police say Betty Jo Fields of Viper pulled the knife on a woman she had been fighting with in the George's Branch community. She's been charged with first degree assauly. The victim's wound was non life threatening and she has been treated and released. Police are investigating what motivated the attack.

THOUSANDS RAISED IN HAZARD 5K FOR POLICEMAN BATTLING CANCER

More than 200 runners and walkers registered for the Hazard Police Foot Pursuit 5K last week. Thousands of dollars were raised for Lieutenant Paul Campbell, who is battling Stage 4 Colon Cancer. Campbell's family says he had surgery last week and is recovering.

Thursday July 3, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY MAN INDICTED BY GRAND JURY FOR CASHING FAKE CHECKS

A Letcher County man has been indicted by a grand jury on charges he cashed checks on a fake payroll account. According to court papers, Joseph Martin Lewis cashed a check for $716.47 at Food City on March 6 on a nonexistent payroll account of Blue Diamond Coal Company. The indictment also says Lewis cashed a check for $709.25 at Food City on March 9 from the same Blue Diamond Coal Company account. Lewis faces 2 counts of theft by deception and being a persistent felony offender.

SUV STOLEN FROM MAYKING FIRE DEPARTMENT STILL MISSING

There’s been no sign of the SUV that police say was stolen from the Mayking Volunteer Fire Department late last week. The white, four- door 1998 model Jeep Cherokee with official Kentucky license plate 7916 was reported on June 26. Both sets of keys were still in the Fire Department building, leading police to believe the SUV was hot wired. Tips on whoever took the Jeep can be called in to the Letcher County Sheriff’s Office.

LETCHER COUNTY MAN IN COURT TODAY TO ANSWER BURGLARY CHARGES

A Letcher County man is scheduled to be in court today on multiple burglary counts. Court papers say Dylan Wright is accused of breaking into 16 motor vehicles, two garages and one residence in the Webb Branch community of Letcher County. All the suspected burglaries happened in the early hours of June 24. Wright was apprehended after a crash on Route 805 between Neon and Jenkins where several of the stolen items were thrown from his pickup truck.

GRAND JURY INDICTS 2 FOR BREAK IN

2 men have been indicted by a Letcher County Grand Jury on multiple charges in connection with a break in at a Whitesburg home in May. Tristan Derrick Adams and Robin Miller face theft and possession of burglary tools charges along with fleeing or evading police and being a persistent felony offender. Charging papers say the items taken from the Highway 2026 home were valued at over $500.

POLICE ARREST MAN FOR STEALING GOLF MERCHANDISE FROM RAVEN ROCK

Jenkins police arrested a Dickenson County, Virginia man on charges he stole around $17,000 in merchandise from a golf pro shop over a 2 year period. According to investigators Allen Lorde took the goods a little at a time while volunteering at Raven Rock Golf Shop in Jenkins between February 2012 and April of this year. Detectives found what’s described to be a “golf shrine” at Lorde’s home with gold balls, tees, clubs, clothing and other items. Police say all of the items Lorde took from the shop were found and returned to the store.

CUMBERLAND MAN FACING SEX ABUSE CHARGES

A Cumberland man is facing a sexual abuse charge after allegedly subjecting two juveniles to sexual contact. William Brock is in the Harlan County Detention Center on a $50,000 full cash bond. Police say that last December Brock had sexual contact with two female juveniles under the age of 12 on multiple occasions. He is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a child under 12.

WORLD WIDE EQUIPMENT FIRE IN FLOYD COUNTY

Firemen were called to a Floyd County business to battle a fire that eventually destroyed a repair garage. Investigators say the fire at World Wide Equipment started around four Wednesday afternoon. No one was hurt.  According to Prestonburg’s fire chief Bobby Carpenter there were several tractor-trailers in the garage and the flames were intense.The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES IN 3 EASTERN KY COUNTIES TODAY

Democratic United States Senate Candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is running against Senator Mitch McConnell – is planning to make campaign stops today in Perry, Knott and Leslie Counties. At a Knox County stop yesterday, Grimes addressed a gathering about her jobs plan and her ideas to help the coal industry and create new jobs for Kentucky's middle class. Grimes says she will fight in the United States Senate to finally put Kentucky, especially coal, as a prime American export back where it belongs and make sure they diversify the economy.

Wednesday July 2, 2014

POLICE SEARCH FOR WOMAN WANTED FOR STEALING FROM HAZARD WAL-MART

Police are looking for a woman on suspicion she made off with over $700 in merchandise from the Hazard Walmart. According to investigators the woman loaded up the goods in a plastic tub and headed for the exit. Loss prevention officers tried to stop the woman but she escaped, taking off in a mid to late 90's light green minivan. She’s described as in her mid to late 30s, with blonde hair changing to a dark color at the bottom, wearing shorts and cowboy boots.  Call Hazard Police if you know of the woman’s whereabouts.

3 COUNTIES RECEIVE GRANT MONEY FOR SCHOOL READINESS

Floyd County and Bell/Harlan County will be sharing in over a million dollars worth of state grants to promote school readiness for children.  The money goes to Community Early Childhood Councils in those counties, which work to develop strategies for improving school readiness and early childhood outcomes.  Floyd County will receive $20,000 and Bell/Harlan gets $28,000.

PERRY COUNTY PLEA DEAL

A Perry County man has taken a plea deal in connection with the January holdup of a pizza delivery driver. Jerry Hurt had originally faced first degree robbery charges, but the deal knocked that down to second degree robbery. He also pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking under $500. Hurt may get up to 6 years in jail when he’s sentenced next month. He also agreed to testify against Austin Coots, the other suspect in the robbery.

HARLAN COUNTY COUPLE ARRESTED

A Harlan County couple were arrested on endangerment and criminal abuse charges. Police say the home of Sarah Bray and Charles Penny had no power and no bathing water. There were 4 kids in the home and investigators say they appeared to be filthy. Officers searching the home found drugs and paraphernalia near where the kids were playing. Bond for Bray is $35,000 cash and Penny’s bond is $15,000 cash. Police say the children are now in a safe place.

ANOTHER PERRY COUNTY PLEA DEAL

A second suspect in the robberies of 2 Perry County gas stations in Perry County has taken a plea deal. Last week Ernest White of Hazard pleaded guilty to second degree robbery and felon in possession of a gun charges. Sentencing is scheduled for July 31 and White could be in jail for up to 15 years. Earlier Byron Fields pleaded guilty to reduced charges in connection with the January stickups at 2 BP stations.

FLOYD COUNTY MAN INDICTED IN VOTE BUYING TRIAL

A Floyd County man was indicted for his testimony at a vote buying trial. Ray D. Hagans was charged for lying under oath while testifying in the trial of former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and four others. Hagans also faces charges he accepted payment for voting. Court papers say he originally testified that 2 men gave him money to vote for Robinson’s opponent, but that testimony was false. He’s scheduled to be in U.S. District Court on July 21.

JAMES RIVER COAL COMPANY WANTS MORE TIME FOR BANKRUPTCY FILING

James River Coal Company has asked for more time to complete its Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan. Officials say they need an additional 100 days to finish work on a reorganization plan and searches for a sponsor. The company has a number of mining complexes in Kentucky including Bell County.

WELL KNOWN PERRY COUNTY BUSINESSMAN PASSES AWAY

A well known Perry County businessman has died. Moe Maggard, Sr. passed away Monday, the day before his 75th birthday. He was co-owner of Maggard Brothers Funeral home and owned Maggard Florist in Hazard. His funeral will be Thursday at noon.

E-COLI BACTERIA HIGH IN 2 AREA RIVERS

Officials are warning swimmers to stay out of 2 area rivers due to high levels of e-coli bacteria. Advisories are in effect for the upper Cumberland River, between Pineville and Harlan – and the north fork of the Kentucky River in Perry County. The water quality in the north fork of the Kentucky River is said to be improving. Meanwhile Harlan Municipal Water Works has issued a boil-water advisory for customers in the Sunshine area until further notice. Officials say it’s because of work on water mains.

Tuesday July 1, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY DRUG BUST

The Letcher County Sheriff's office says they made the biggest synthetic marijuana bust in county history. On Sunday officers confiscated around $50,000 in drugs and cash from a Payne Gap home. Russell Peaks of Wise County Virginia and Lawrence Sexton of Jenkins were taken into custody and face multiple charges. Peaks is also wanted on a narcotics and probation violation warrant from Wise County. Sheriff Danny Webb says this raid should help take some of the synthetic meth off county streets.

FARM EQUIPMENT STOLEN IN KNOTT COUNTY

A Knott County man is offering a reward for the return of thousands of dollars of farm equipment stolen last week. Police say 3 walk-behind tractors were stolen from a shed at a property on Hollybush Road when someone cut a heavy chain securing the doors. The equipment was used at a garden tended to by 3 men, including Larry Hall, who is the one offering the $1000 reward. All 3 men say they started the garden as just something to do, and some of its crops were donated to neighbors and friends. If you have information about the theft, contact Kentucky State Police.

CAR BREAK-INS AT KONA

Police arrested a man suspected of breaking into a number of cars in Letcher County. Dylan Wright was taken into custody and faces over 20 charges associated with the car break-ins in the Kona area of Letcher County. Sheriff Danny Webb says nearly all the stolen property was recovered and they’ve worked to get the items back to their rightful owners.

PERRY COUNTY POLICE CHASE LEAVES MAN ON THE RUN

Police are asking for tips to find a man who escaped following a chase in Perry County. Investigators say an officer pulled over a driver early Saturday in downtown Vicco. When he got out of his patrol car, the driver took off, reaching speeds around 65 miles an hour during the 3 and a half mile long pursuit. Investigators say at one point the driver tried to ram the patrol car. The pursuit ended when the driver crashed through a fence at a property off Route 7 in Fusonia, then fled on foot, evading capture. The man is described as white, in his late 30s or early 40s, with short hair and cleanly shaven.

FLOYD COUNTY ROCKSLIDE

A rockslide shut down part of a Floyd County road yesterday afternoon. Police say it happened on Kassidy Drive in Prestonsburg, going toward the StoneCrest Golf Course. No injuries were reported.

STUDY SAYS LESLIE COUNTY ONE OF TOP 10 HARDEST PLACES TO LIVE

Leslie County has made it to the top 10 in New York Times’ list of the hardest places to live. In fact 6 out of the top 10 spots are in Eastern Kentucky, with Clay County at number one. The Times used factors like median household income, life expectancy and unemployment rates as indicators of how hard it is to live somewhere. The easiest place to live – according to the Times – is Los Alamos County in New Mexico.

COUNTERFEIT BILL SHOWING UP IN HARLAN

Harlan City Police say there’s been an increase in counterfeit bills being passed at area businesses. Investigators say the bogus bills are tens and twenties and all have the same serial numbers, which shows they are coming from the same place. So far the counterfeiters haven’t been found.

FLOYD COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER NEEDS HELP WITH ANIMALS

The Floyd County Animal Shelter is asking for help in reducing its animal population.  The shelter takes animals in daily and has up to 100 dogs and 70 cats – and the shelter manager says some of those animals may be euthanized if they can’t find forever homes for them. Last weekend’s adoption event at the Floyd County Farmer's Market resulted in zero animals finding a home – but 13 animals were brought in.

Monday June 30, 2014

VANDALS DAMAGE AT BLAIR CEMETERY

Police are still hunting for whoever damaged or destroyed nearly 30 grave markers at The Blair Cemetery in Whitesburg. Investigators say the vandalism happened sometime between April and Memorial Day. Some of the markers were over 100 years old and the cemetery has asked decedents of those buried there – along with the community - to help pay for the repairs. Investigators ask anyone who has any information to catch the vandals to get in touch with the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office or Whitesburg City Police.

LETCHER COUNTY FOOD PANTRY BENEFIT BIKE RIDE

The Letcher County food pantry got a helping hand from the Rigid Riders motorcycle club in the form of food and cash donations. Food Pantry president Geraldine McDonald says the need is great right now and the efforts of the club help greatly in meeting that need. Saturday’s event was the first food pantry ride for the club. Donations are accepted at the Pantry’s location on Madison Avenue in Whitesburg.

MAYKING FIRE DEPARTMENT SUV STOLEN

A Letcher County fire department is asking for the public’s help to find an S-U-V that was stolen last week. The 1998 Jeep with official Kentucky License Plate 7-9-1-6 was taken from the Mayking Fire Department. The department says it used the Jeep for training trips and inside was thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Investigators ask anyone with information on the theft to call the Letcher County Sheriff’s Office.

EXPLOSION AT STATE HIGHWAY GARAGE IN PIKEVILLE

Some scary moments for a couple of Pikeville highway department workers when a gas explosion sent a portion of a garage's concrete floor flying into the air. Investigators say methane that accumulated in an abandoned may have caused the blast at the garage next to Pikeville High School. The 2 workers were not hurt.

PERRY COUNTY SUMMER IN THE PARK

A Perry County tradition went on as scheduled Saturday despite the nasty weather. It was the 9th annual Summer in the Park, held at Bobby Davis Park in Hazard. There were lots of kids activities including a workshop to teach the making of Hazard's famous tiny doors. Entertainment included performances by the Little Theatre of Hazard, which is celebrating its 60th season.

PIKE COUNTY MAN INDICTED IN SHOOTING

Prosecutors say a Pike County man indicted in a shooting is claiming it was an accident. Roger Johnson says while he was having an argument with the shooting victim, he says the gun went off while it was being cleaned. The victim – identified as Anthony Chainey – suffered a bullet wound to the stomach. Johnson could be in jail for up to 20 years if convicted.

CITY ATTORNEY CONTRACT IN PRESTONSBURG CANCELLED

Prestonsburg is without a city attorney when the city council voted to reject a contract with Jim Webb. The vote was 4 to 2, with 2 council members absent. The rejection brought stunned reaction from Mayor Jerry Fannin, who says the matter will be taken up at a future meeting. Webb says the city council overstepped its authority in not approving his contract.

SOAR LISTENING SESSIONS NEXT MONTH

The Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) Education and Retraining Working Group will host a series of six public listening sessions next month. Organizers say the sessions give the public a chance to deliver input on a number of action plans being considered to attack persistent challenges of unemployment and poverty.

KSP I-75 CHALLENGE

Drivers are likely to see more state troopers on Kentucky roads through the Independence Day weekend. As part of "The I-75 Challenge," Kentucky State Troopers are joining with police in 5 other states to focus on drivers who are speeding, driving distracted, not wearing a seat belt and driving under the influence. The 'staying alive on 75' enforcement effort covers 1800 miles from Michigan to Florida.