LOCAL NEWS

Tuesday June 17, 2014

WHITESBURG CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING TONIGHT

The Whitesburg City Council is holding a special meeting tonight for the second reading of the 2014-2015 budget. Last week Mayor James Wiley Craft revealed the new budget increases general fund expenditures by roughly 9 percent to $1.9 million. Water and sewer expenditures were virtually unchanged from the current budget at $1.33 million. Tonight's special meeting is at City Hall and starts at 6:30.

FLOYD COUNTY MEDICAL CLINIC EMPLOYEES ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES

3 former employees of a Floyd County medical clinic along with an accomplice are under arrest on prescription drug charges. The Attorney General's office says Yvonda Lazar, Kenneth Lazar and Andrea Kennedy worked for the now-closed Commonwealth Quality Medical Management in Prestonsburg. They are charged with forging and passing blank prescriptions at different pharmacies. Derek Kennedy did not work at the clinic but he is facing the same charges. Investigators say beginning in 2010, they received complaints about fraudulent prescriptions involving Commonwealth Quality Medical. The investigation concluded earlier this month when a Grand Jury handed down indictments against the 4 people. All 4 were arrested last week.

PERRY COUNTY ROAD SHUT DOWN

A busy road in Perry County is shut down for pipe repairs. Combs Road in Hazard is closed between both sets of ramps onto Highway 15. Officials say they have crews working extended hours to get the pipe repair work done by the end of the week.

BOND SET IN BELL COUNTY MINOR SEX ABUSE CASE

Bond was set at $100,000 for a  Bell County man charged with sex abuse involving a ten year old girl. Police arrested Terry Simpson yesterday afternoon. Investigators say in April, a woman reported Simpson abused her daughter at an apartment in Ferndale and that let to an arrest warrant for Simpson on Friday.  Deputies say Simpson surrendered without incident.

FORMER FLOYD COUNTY FIRE CHIEF ARRESTED

Police have arrested a former Floyd County volunteer fire department chief on embezzlement charges. Terry Triplett has been missing for nearly 2 years but yesterday the Floyd County Sheriff's office got a call that Triplett was ready to turn himself in. According to investigators a 2012 state audit of the Garrett Fire Department found $123,000 in questionable spending that was traced back to Triplett. A grand jury handed down an indictment in 2013.

NO RETRIAL IN JOHNSON COUNTY DUI CASE

There will be no retrial for a Johnson County woman convicted of manslaughter. An attorney for Myra Castle sought the new trial after learning one of the jurors knew more about the case than what was disclosed during jury selection. A judge denied the request at an evidentiary hearing yesterday. Castle was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of C.J. Mollett, who died last August when Castle's car hit his motorcycle.

FIREARMS THEFT ARREST MADE IN HARLAN COUNTY

A Harlan County man is arrested in connection with a firearms theft earlier this month and an accomplice faces stolen property charges. Police say Lewis Borgerding was in possession of 40 guns taken from the home of Kenneth Cloud and Robin Middleton had 2 of those guns in her possession. Investigators say Middleton sold the guns to Cloud's neighbor according to recorded statements received from that person. Borgerding and Middleton are in jail on $20,000 full cash bond each.

BELL COUNTY CRASH SENDS 3 TO THE HOSPITAL

A crash in Bell County yesterday sent 3 people to the hospital. Police say it happened at the intersection of Winchester avenue and 30th Street in Middlesboro. According to investigators Tracy Ayers was turning left when she pulled into the path of a dump truck. Ayers along with a juvenile passenger in her car and the dump truck driver - identified as Homer Ervin - were taken to Middlesboro ARH.

Monday June 16, 2014

HARLAN COUNTY CRASH INVESTIGATION

The investigation continues into a fatal crash in Harlan County. Stephanie Fultz and Trey Bray died in the Cawood community wreck last Thursday. Police say Fultz was driving and lost control in a curve, crossed the center line, hit two parked trucks, and then slammed into a building. According to friends, Fultz was on her way to work and was giving Bray a ride into town when the accident happened. Investigators Fultz was wearing a seat belt, but Bray was not.

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES VISITS A COAL MINE

U-S Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes paid a visit to Floyd County last week, Grimes visited a mine before an appearance at the Mountain Arts Center. The Democrat says she doesn't side with President Obama's energy policies - and also says incumbent Mitch McConnell hasn't dealt with the job situation in Eastern Kentucky in the 3 decades he's been in office. Grimes says she welcomes the opportunity to debate McConnell before the November election.

VIRGINIA ARMED ROBBERTY CHARGES AGAINST A PIKE COUNTY MAN

A Pike County man is facing an armed robbery charge in Virginia. Police say Brandon O’Neil Justice, was arrested in connection with the June 6 holdup of the Dash-In convenience store located in Virginia next to the Virginia-Kentucky state line. Justice, was captured through an investigation in which Kentucky State Police cooperated.

PERRY COUNTY ROBBERY SUSPECT TAKES PLEA DEAL

A suspect in 2 Perry County gas station robberies in January has taken a plea deal. Byron Fields pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation to robbery in the 2 holdups. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution. The deal also means Fields will remain available to testify against the other 2 suspects in the robberies,  Michael T. Amburgey and Earnest White.

THEFT CHARGES IN HARLAN COUNTY COLD CHECK CASE

A Harlan County woman suspected of passing a cold check at a grocery store is facing theft charges. Police say last month Deanna Woodsby tried to cash the nearly $2000 bad check at Mack’s Supermarket. She's in the Harlan County Detention Center on a $5,000 full cash bond.

HCTC IN STATE TUITION RISING

In-state tuition at Hazard Community and Technical College is going up over 2 percent next year. That's part of the 2014-15 budget approved last week by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System's board of regents. Board Chair P.G. Peeples says the system remains the best postsecondary education value in the state.

VIRGINIA HEALTH FACTOR RATINGS RELEASED

Wise and Dickinson Counties didn't fare very well on Virginia's health factor ratings. Out of the state's 133 counties, Dickenson rated 125th and Wise 128th.The rankings were based on 4 categories: Health behaviors, quality of clinical care, social and economic factors along with air, water and housing quality.

Friday June 13, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY GRAND JURY INDICTS 5 IN COPPER THEFT

A grand jury has indicted 5 people from Letcher County who are suspected of vandalizing mining equipment to steal copper and other metals from the machine.

They are identified as Michael Morton, John Maggard, Rebecca Lewis, William McFall and Gregory Caudill.

Police say they broke into a Cumberland River Coal Company building 2 months ago and used cutting torches and other tools to remove the metals from the $80,000 piece of equipment.

Investigators say the machine was damaged beyond repair.


NEW RESTAURANT IN JENKINS WITH ALCOHOL SALES TO FOLLOW SOON

A Letcher County city's days as a dry town may soon be coming to an end.

The owners of the newly opened Las Penas restaurant in Jenkins say they've applied for a liquor license and expect it to be issued in the coming weeks.

Jenkins has been an alcohol-free town for over 100 years.


FLOYD COUNTY MAN FACING MULTIPLE CHARGES

A Floyd County man facing multiple drug and endangerment charges is free after a police officer failed to appear in court on Monday.

Michael Lee had been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, 13 counts of wanton endangerment and two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor.

District Judge Eric Hall dismissed the charges.


WHITESBURG CITY EMPLOYEES RECOGNIZED

The Whitesburg City Council recognized a long time employee who died recently and another who has retired.

Steve Taylor worked for nearly 25 years as an operator at the city water plant for 24 years before his recent death.

Long time city worker Wade Dean Adams recently retired due to health reasons.

Mayor James Wiley Craft presented certificates of appreciation to Adams and Taylor’s wife Ann.


LETCHER COUNTY POLICE CHASE

A Letcher County man is in jail on drug charges and for leading officers on a chase.

Police say the responded to a tip about a suspicious car on Thornton Road and when they tried to pull it over, the driver - identified as Jimmy Sandlin - sped away.

He was eventually pulled over and officers say they had to use tazers to get Sandlin into custody.


LETCHER COUNTY COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY'S OFFICE MOVING

Phone calls to the Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office may go unanswered today and Monday - but not because no one in's the office.

It's part of the move from Whitesburg City Hall to the second floor of the Letcher County Health Department.

I-T techs from the state are completing the installation of computer and phone connections and phones may be out while the work is completed.

Letcher Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison G. Banks has been working as normal during the move - which is expected to be done by Tuesday.

LONGTIME HARLAN COUNTY POLITICIAN PASSES AWAY

A longtime state politician from Harlan County native has died.

Glenn Freeman served in both the House and Senate and is well known for his work on the state's Coal Mine Safety Analyst Program - the result of a 1976 incident which killed 26 miners.

Freeman is survived by his wife, three sons and 10 grandchildren.

He was 80.


LETCHER COUNTY FARMER'S MARKET BEGIN SATURDAY

The Letcher County Farmer’s Market kicks off tomorrow next to the Veterans Museum in Whitesburg.

It will be open from 9am until 1pm every Saturday through October.

This is the second year for the market.


TODAY AND TOMORROW WRAPS UP LETCHER COUNTY TIRE AMNESTY PROGRAM

Letcher County is running a tire amnesty program which allows folks to get rid of tires at no charge.

You can bring used tires to Swanee Loading Dock in Isom on Highway 7 or Gateway Industrial Park off US 23 in Jenkins.

The tires are ground up and then recycled.

Hours are from 8am until 4:30 pm and tomorrow is the last day for the program.

Thursday June 12, 2014

AUTOPSY RELEASED IN DEATH OF 4 MONTH OLD BABY

The State Coroner's office has released a preliminary autopsy report on an infant boy whose whose body was found over an embankment behind a Letcher County home last Friday.

Blunt force head trauma and an internal chest injury are listed as the causes of Blayze Alexander Smith's death..

Police say they found the body just over an hour after a call came in that the baby was missing.

Later on Friday a 16 year old was arrested and is now charged with murder.

Investigators say the teenager is related to the baby boy.

Funeral services for Smith were held yesterday.


PLEA DEAL FOR 2 PIKE COUNTY SHERIFF EMPLOYEES

2 ex-Pike County Sheriff's Office employees have taken a plea deal and avoid being tried on felony drug trafficking charges.

Deputy Matthew Blanton and dispatcher Phillip Thacker pleaded guilty to first-degree misconduct charges.

Blanton and Thacker along with another person were indicted last year for trafficking in controlled substances.


3RD ARREST IN HARLAN COUNTY HOME ROBBERY

Police in Harlan County arrest a third suspect in connection with a home robbery last month.

Investigators say Carl Collins teamed up with Arbin Shepherd and Cletus Robbins to rob Benji Stout at a home in the Catrons Creek Community.

He faces multiple charges and is being held on a $100,000 cash bond.

A police report says that during the robbery the trio threatened to kill Stout's girlfriend if she went to the cops.

The report also says Robbins shot Stout in the chest.


APPLICATION APPROACHING FOR COAL COUNTY SCHOLARSHIP

The application deadline is approaching for a new scholarship awarded to people living in coal-producing counties so they can obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Students need to have already earned 60 hours or more towards their bachelors degree and be in good academic standing.

Maximum award amounts can be as high $6,800 annually but students need to have no past due obligations to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.

Applications are due by Sunday.


LCPS-TV CHANNEL GOING OFF THE AIR

Letcher County Public Schools is shutting down its cable TV channel at the end of the month.

Officials say cost reductions are the reason - and it will save the district over $100,000 a year.

This comes at a time when the school budget was already in the red by over a half million dollars and that was made up by dipping into savings.

If the channel had not been shut down - the 2014-15 budget would be in a deficit of nearly $400,000

A federal grant got the channel operational 15 years ago, but that funding ended a while back.


STORMS CAUSE POWER ISSUES

Around 10,000 in Pike County lost power during Tuesday night's storms.

Winds in excess of 60 miles an hour damaged homes, ripped up poles and snapped trees.

Utility crews were out all of yesterday cleaning up the mess and getting power restored.

Officials warn that if a power line is down - treat it as if it's a live wire - even if it looks like the power's out.


SEX OFFENDER CASE GOING TO THE HARLAN GRAND JURY

A Harlan County grand jury will hear the case against a registered sex offender.

Bobby Wayne Johnson pleaded not guilty to a first degree criminal abuse charge.

Police say he grabbed a 15 year old girl's chest at the apartments near the rotary park.

Johnson was previously convicted of sex related charges in Georgia.

A preliminary hearing is set for June 23rd.

Wednesday June 11, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY PROSECUTORS DECIDING JUVENILES CHARGES

Letcher County Letcher County prosecutors are deciding whether to charge a 16 year old murder suspect as an adult.

On Friday police found the body of 4 month old Blayze Alexander Smith down a ravine behind the fanily's home on Turner Drive.

The teenager suspected of killing Smith was arrested that same day and taken to a juvenile detention center.

Prosecutors haven't set a date for their decision on filing charges against the boy and his name is being withheld.

 

SHOTS FIRED AT WIFE AND DAUGHTER IN HARLAN COUNTY

Tense moments Monday night at a Harlan County home as police rescued a woman and her five year old daughter after shots were fired.

According to investigators Johnny Irvin was highly intoxicated and had barged into his nephew Jason Jones's home.

The 2 argued and eventually Jones shot Irvin in the leg. The mother and daughter hid out in a bedroom closet and called 9-1-1 - and while on the phone dispatchers heard gunshots.

Officers safely evacuated them through a window, then went inside and confronted Irvin - who first refused to leave, but was taken into custody after police tazered him.

He is facing multiple charges including D-U-I. Jones was not charged.

 

NEW TRIAL POSSIBLE IN JOHNSON COUNTY DUI CASE

A Johnson County suspected drunk driver who was convicted of manslaughter may end up getting a new trial.

The attorney for Myra Castle says one of the jury members wasn't truthful about their knowledge of the case during the jury selection process.

A judge ordered an evidentiary hearing for this morning.

 

PIKE COUNTY CAR CRASH

A 2-car crash in Pike County involved a City of Prestonsburg Public Works Department pickup truck.

Police say it happened at the intersection of Mays Branch and North Lake Drive late Monday morning.

When first responders arrived they found a minivan had run over a stop sign and the Prestonsburg truck was near Porter Lane.

Both drivers were taken to Highlands Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

The Kentucky State Patrol is investigating the crash because a Prestonsburg city vehicle was involved.


WHITAKER BANK FOUNDER PASSES AWAY

Tributes are pouring out for Elmer Whitaker - the Leslie County-born businessman who founded the bank that bears his name.

Elmer Keith Whitaker says his grandfather died from complications due to diabetes.

He went to work in the coal mines right after high school graduation and ended up going in with his father to buy their own mine - which ended up being the cornerstone of what would become Whitaker Bank, which now has branches in 17 Kentucky counties.

Whitaker was 85.


ANIMAL CRUELTY IN PERRY COUNTY

A Perry County man is due in court at the end of the month on suspicion of animal cruelty.

Sheriff's deputies say Paul Melton neglected the care of a horse by not feeding  - and it became so weak that it had to be euthanized yesterday morning.

Melton says the horse was already sick when he got it and he was working on preparing an area to nurse it back to health.

Perry County chief deputy Tony Everson says this is one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he has seen recently.


HARLAN COUNTY NATIVE NAMED VP AT LMU

A woman from Harlan County was named vice president for administration at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.

Lisa Blair-Cox joined L-M-U 12 years ago as executive assistant to the President, and her new job makes her a member of the President's cabinet.

Most recently Blair-Cox was dean of administration - a position she began in 2011.