LOCAL NEWS

Wednesday June 18, 2014

3 SENTENCED IN SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD CASE

The first of three people from Pike County convicted of Social Security disability fraud has been sentenced. Ginger Michelle Halbert Stumbo pleaded guilty to conspiracy, I-D theft and fraud charges. As part of a plea deal she will spend 2 years in jail.   Sentencing for the other two defendants, former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and her daughter, former Martin Community Center Director Rita Whicker is schedule for July 9.  Court papers say Robinson and Whicker conspired with Stumbo to hire her as a city employee, while writing her paychecks in her son’s name, so Stumbo could continue drawing disability benefits. The 3 are also ordered to pay over $175,000 in restitution.

FREE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION WORKSHOPS TO BE HELD THIS FALL

Leslie County parents will be able to attend a free early childhood education workshop this fall. The state is funding 25 workshops throughout Kentucky thanks to a grant from the federal government. The program consist of six sessions designed to demonstrate how to turn everyday moments with children into learning opportunities. It's the first step of a four-year, $1.4 million expansion of 150 academies across the state.

LEADERSHIP SOUTHEAST KY VISITS FORMER MIINING SITES

Leadership Southeast Kentucky visited Perry County to see firsthand the potential for economic opportunities on former mining sites. The first stop was at D & D Ranch  - the nearly 1000 acre site built on the former Pine Branch Coal Sales mine. Officials say that in the 25 years D&D has been in business it's contributed over a million dollars to the economy. The leadership class of 2014 will end next month with a Kentucky Power plant tour.

CLEANUP UNDERWAY IN WISE COUNTY

Folks from Wise and Dickenson Counties in Virginia joined forces to help with a cleanup operation in Washington County. They removed nearly 2 tons of litter and over 5 tons of tires from a dump along Copperfield road. Cleanup efforts continue through August.

JENKINS STUDENTS WILL ATTEND TRAINING IN WISE COUNTY

This August students from will be heading to Wise County in Virginia for vocational and technical training. Jenkins Independent Schools Superintendent Debbie Watts says some students will be attending Wise County's Career & Technical Center. According to Watts the site location with Wise County and the course offerings were the main reasons the district struck a partnership with the center. It's expected that 20 to 24 students will be in the first class this fall.

PIKE COUNTY JOB FAIR HELD TUESDAY

Pike County unemployed miners had an opportunity yesterday to learn about potential job openings with a nationwide operation. GMS Mine Repair and Maintenance officials say they have positions available across the country, and if miners are willing to relocate, they want to put them back to work. GMS official Derek Jackson says they know there are some really high quality folks who want to get back to work, and they are looking for top notch talent.

HARLAN COUNTY WOMAN ACCUSED OF STEALING MONEY FROM EMPLOYER

A Harlan County woman suspected of stealing money from her employer is facing a felony theft charge. Police say Sheila Fair allowed purchases from the Kwik Mart in Loyall to go through without putting them in the register. Fair is also accused to taking money from gas purchases and stealing food from the store. She is being held in the Harlan County Detention Center on a $5,000 full cash bond.

CHARITY BIKE RIDE TO BE HELD FOR HAZARD CITY POLICEMAN

A charity bike ride is set for tomorrow night to raise money for Hazard Policeman Paul Campbell, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. It starts at Applebee's and will end at Campbell's house. The ride starts at 6pm and costs is ten dollars a bike. Organizers say all the proceeds will go directly to Campbell and his family.

NEW INFO IN WHITLEY COUNTY CHILD ABUSE CASE

More information is emerging about a child abuse case against a Whitley County mother and her boyfriend. Police say it happened the first week of May when they learned the father told the mother he was punishing their son for something school related. According to investigators the mother told her boyfriend to whip the boy. Both the boyfriend and the mother are facing first-degree criminal abuse charges.

 

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.