LOCAL NEWS

Monday September 15, 2014

MOUNTAIN HERITAGE FESTIVAL ONCE AGAIN NAMED TO THE TOP 10 FALL FESTIVALS IN KENTUCKY

Letcher County's Mountain Heritage Festival - which kicks off next week - has once again made the list of  top 10 fall festivals from the Kentucky Travel Industry Association. Festival Committee member Lee Anne Mullins announced the news at the Whitesburg City Council's September meeting and says the city has played a big role in the festival's recognition. Mayor James W. Craft praised the committee and volunteers for their work to make the festival a success. This is the festival's 31st year.

5 MILLION IN FUNDING AWARDED FOR 9 AREA ROAD PROJECTS IN SEVERAL COUNTIES

$5 million has been awarded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for 9 area road projects. Among those are a $600,000 project to install guardrails on KY 7 in Perry County and $447,000 to resurface KY 221 in Perry and Leslie Counties and a portion of Harlan County. The bulk of the money - nearly $1.5 million - goes toward the next phase of the Dawkins Line trail in Magoffin County, with work scheduled to be completed by the end of May.

VICCO DOUBLE KWIK ROBBERY SUSPECT ARRESTED

It didn't take long for police to find the suspect in a Perry County convenience store armed robbery. The gunman walked into the Vicco Double Kwik yesterday morning demanding cash and took off on Kentucky 15 toward Hazard. Hours later the suspect - identified as Sherman McIntosh - was found in the Jeff Community and taken into custody. He's being held at the Kentucky River regional detention center.

BELFRY HIGH SCHOOL LUNCH PICTURES TURN INTO SOCIAL MEDIA STORM

Pictures of lunch items served at a Pike County high school cafeteria has turned into a social media storm after a student says she was given food that was moldy and another said an item had bugs that had been cooked inside. The Appalachian News Express reports the Belfry High School student showed the potato with the bugs to a vice principal and he told her it was seeds. The Pike County Health Department says they didn't find anything wrong when they investigated the school and haven't received any other complaints.

NEW KENTUCKY TOBACCO POLICIES BEGIN IN NOVEMBER

More restrictive tobacco policies go into effect on state property in November under an executive order signed by Governor Steve Beshear. The new regulations ban the use of all tobacco products and e-cigarettes in state-owned or -leased buildings, in state-owned vehicles and on state property. Kentucky is only the fifth state to institute such a policy.

PERRY COUNTY PEP RALLY FOR WE EXPECT SUCCESS PROGRAM BRINGS IN OVER 4000 STUDENTS

Perry County's district-wide pep rally on Friday brought in over 4000 students. The event was part of the district's We Expect Success program, and each student was given a free t-shirt that gets them no charge admission to any school event. District officials say the goal is to get kids of struggling families involved in activities they may not be able to afford to attend.

EX-PIKE COUNTY POSTAL WORKER IS SENTENCED

An ex-Pike County postal worker will be in jail for 9 months and has to repay $7500 for her plea deal to theft and sale of drugs charges. Court papers say Sherry Justice took over $7000 from the night deposits at the Kentucky Pikeville Main Post Office and Pikeville Main Street Finance Stations along with issuing herself 3 money orders. Prosecutors say Justice sold a total of 19 prescription painkiller pills to a witness cooperating with police.

CAMP COUNSELOR IN DICKENSON COUNTY SENTENCED IN SEXUAL ABUSE PLEA DEAL

10 years in jail is the sentence for a man taking a plea deal on charges he sexually abused a teenager at a Dickenson County Virginia camp. Court papers say Terrelle Robinson received a 40 year sentence with 30 years suspended. Prosecutors say Robinson was a counselor at Camp Jacob in 2011 when the suspected abuse occurred. Robinson filed an Alford plea which means he doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges the state had sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Friday September 12, 2014

FORMER KNOTT COUNTY WATER & SEWER DIRECTOR INDICTED

An indictment has been handed down to a former Knott County water and sewer district manager on theft charges. Court papers say between 2009 and 2013 Reva Campbell made questionable charges of around $85,000 on a department-issued credit card. Attorney General Jack Conway's office says an investigation began last October after possible forged financial documents were found during an audit of the district. Campbell's arraignment is on September 25 and she could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

LETCHER COUNTY RANKED NEAR THE BOTTOM IN CHILD WELL BEING

Letcher County ranked in the bottom third on a recently released list of child well-being from an independent child advocacy organization. According to the County Data Book from Kentucky Youth Associates the county was 82nd of the state’s 120 counties based on 16 factors used to rank child well-being. Executive Director Dr. Terry Brooks says Kentucky leaders need to enact solutions to prevent adverse child experiences in the first place and when they do happen, help children successfully recover. The organization says the report was sponsored by Passport Health Plan, Delta Dental Plan and Kosair Charities.

MOUNTAIN PARKWAY CONSTRUCTION GETS A BOOST FROM FEDERAL GRANT

A $24 million federal grant is expected to speed up construction on part of the Mountain Parkway in Magoffin County. Officials say the money means widening work on the section in Salyersville between US 460 and Kentucky 114 will start 2 years ahead of schedule. The state is paying for the additional $15 million to complete the project.

SUSPECT ARRESTED IN HARLAN COUNTY SCHOOL BREAK INS

State Police say they've apprehended a number of suspects connected with a series of break ins at a Harlan County elementary school. Investigators say there's been a number of thefts from Green Hills Elementary School in Bledsoe over the last few weeks and the burglars also damaged several of the building's doors. Troopers say all of the stolen items - worth over $4000 - have been recovered.

JENKINS CITY COUNCIL HEARS ABOUT CHANGES WANTED IN ALCOHOL SALES TAX

Just 2 months after alcohol sales in restaurants were restarted in a Letcher County city, they could be ending because of a possible change in the ordinance that lifted the prohibition. It started when the sister of Jenkins City Councilman Rick Damron appeared at the council's September meeting to ask that sales taxes from food and alcohol sales be separated, saying the tax should only be applied to alcohol sales. Mayor G.C. Kincer said that be very difficult to do and even if it were done, it may actually result in the one restaurant licensed to sell alcohol to lose their license. City revenue officer Benny McCall says he will consult with the state on what implications the change would have on selling alcohol. For now the Council took no action on the woman's request.

STEPSON OF FORMER MARTIN CITY MAYOR IS SENTENCED

The stepson of the former mayor of a city in Floyd County will be in jail for two and a half years on a conviction for his role in a vote buying scheme. James Robinson was one of 6 people charged in connection with a plot to sway the 2012 election for Mayor in the city of Martin, which according to court papers involved paying off people to get votes for Ruth Thomasine Robinson or threatening to evict tenants of buildings if they didn't vote for her. Robinson and her husband have also been convicted in the scheme, and are due to be sentenced in October.

6 YEARS IN PRISON FOR PERRY COUNTY MAN IN  ASSAULT CASE

It's 6 years in prison for a Perry County man who took a plea deal on charges he beat a man with a brick and left him to die. Court papers say Larry Yocum beat Jeff Karr as a result of a love triangle between the 2 men and Teresa Karr that went bad. Teresa Karr faces tampering of evidence charges on suspicion she washed Yocum's clothes after the attack.

Thursday September 11, 2014

2 FACE CHILD ENDANGERMENT CHARGES AFTER DRUGS FOUND IN LETCHER COUNTY HOME

2 Letcher County residents face charged of child endangerment after police found drugs in their home. According to police the children's mother - identified as Wendy Riley - and Randy Amburgey II told investigators they had used the drugs. Syringes and traces of prescription painkillers were found when the home was searched earlier this week while the children were at school. Riley and Amburgey were taken to the Letcher County Jail.

TAX RATE UPDATE FOR WHITESBURG AND FLEMING-NEON

Tax rates in one Letcher County city are going down and staying the same in another. Whitesburg property taxes would be slightly reduced under a proposal unveiled at the September City Council meeting.   The reduction would amount to 2 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The ordinance will be taken up at the next council meeting and if approved, becomes law. Fleming-Neon taxpayers will be paying the same rate for property, vehicle and vessel taxes - 25 cents per $100, and tangible taxes will be 45 cents per $100.

FLOYD COUNTY SCHOOL COMPLETES DEAL TO BUY LAND FOR NEW COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL

Floyd County's school board has completed a deal to buy over 150 acres of land at Eastern for building the county's new high school. The Floyd County Times reports the district spent $1.275 million for the land but still needs to work out obtaining the mineral rights which is currently in litigation with Elkhorn Coal. Once the new building is finished, students from Allen Central High School and South Floyd High School will both attend the same school, leaving their old buildings to be refurbished for 2 of the district's elementary schools.

MORE CHILD ENDANGERMENT CHARGES FILED IN PIKE COUNTY

Child endangerment charges could be filed against a Pike County man and woman suspected of using drugs while taking care of 2 small children. Police say they were responding to a welfare check call at a home on Grapevine Road in Pikeville and found Thomas Sawyers and Amanda Taylor appeared to be high. Officers say there was no one there who was sober.

FEMA CONTACTED ON BEHALF OF SEVERAL COUNTIES DEALING WITH FLOOD RECOVERY

Governor Steve Beshear directed Emergency Management Director Mike Dossett to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration to obtain funding for recovery from last month's heavy rains that resulted in significant damage in Knott, Floyd, Pike and Johnson Counties. In a prepared statement, Governor Beshear says it's clear from the state's evaluation that the dollar amount of the damage exceeds minimums for federal assistance and they expect a swift response to their requests for aid. Federal assistance would include grants to repair roads and bridges along with low-interest loans for homeowners to rebuild damaged property and pay for uninsured property loss.

PIKE COUNTY PHARMACY WORKER SENTENCED TO 6 YEARS

It's 6 years in jail for a former Pike County pharmacy worker convicted of scheming to distribute prescription painkillers. Charging papers say Beverly Lockhart was working at a number of pharmacies when she conspired with 11 co-defendants on the plan to illegally dispense the drugs. Lockhart is required to serve at least 5 years of the sentence and she was the last to be sentenced in the case.

APPALACHIA'S BRIGHT FUTURE EVENT TO BE HELD THIS WEEKEND

Letcher and Harlan Counties will be taking part in the second annual Applalachia's Bright Future event this weekend. It's organized by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and Whitesburg Chapter Manager Josh May tells the Harlan Daily Enterprise they're inviting people to Eastern Kentucky to see real examples of economic transition. The event kicks off tomorrow night in Lynch and runs throughout the weekend.

Wednesday September 10, 2014

MAN INVOLVED IN MONDAY'S 5 CAR CRASH IN PIKEVILLE PASSES AWAY

One of the victims in Monday 's 5-car crash in Pike County has died of his injuries. Police say Walter Gearhart was one of 3 people injured in the accident on US23 in Pikeville. The crash investigation is continuing.

JOHNNY RAY TURNER RECEIVES AWARD

State Senator Johnny Ray Turner received an award for his work on behalf of those with disabilities. The Kentucky Rehabilitation Association recognized Turner for his sponsorship of legislation to change the state's Bioptic Driving Regulations which had imposed a 36 month restriction on night time driving even if an individual passed the night time driving test. The bill passed during the 2014 session. Turner represents Letcher, Knott, Floyd and Harlan Counties.

NEW CHILDHOOD ACADEMY IN PERRY COUNTY

Perry County now has an early childhood academy thanks to the United Way and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. The two organizations collaborated to open a Born Learning Academy at Roy G. Eversole Elementary School in Hazard. The school is one of 34 statewide receiving funding for a Born Learning Academy which educates parents and guardians on how to use everyday moments to teach their kids basic concepts. Just over a dozen people came to an informational session Monday night. Floyd County received an academy last year and ones in Leslie and Bell Counties are set to open in the next few weeks.

ROAD WORK DELAYS CAUSING PROBLEMS IN HARLAN COUNTY

Road work in Harlan County has drivers seeing red - literally. A Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesperson says traffic lights in the construction zone on US 421 were temporarily switched from being triggered by road sensors to timer operation so the road work can proceed. The change means traffic lights circle on the same interval all the time - and that has meant longer red light durations. Harlan City Police Chief Mike Thomas tells the Daily Enterprise that some impatient drivers have been running the red lights and he asks drivers to be patient while the project proceeds. Work is expected to be completed by mid October.

PERRY COUNTY BANK ROBERRY INDICTMENT CAUSES DISAGREEMENT

The indictment of a man suspected of robbing a Perry County bank in July has stirred up a disagreement between prosecutors and the operators of the county's homeless shelters. Prosecutors say Martin County native Floyd Fletcher was staying at the Corner Haven shelter in Hazard when he robbed the People's Bank branch inside the Hazard Walmart. Perry County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hansen tells the Hazard Herald Fletcher is the second homeless man from outside the county to commit a dangerous crime, and says the shelter needs to do a better job of keeping people outside of Perry County out of their facilities. Hazard-Perry County Community Ministries executive director Adrienne Bush called Hansen's comments irresponsible, saying the benefits they provide to people in Perry County and Eastern Kentucky outweigh any suspected blame when someone committs a crime. Fletcher was ordered held on $100,000 bond and is due in court next month.

ARREST MADE IN ROBBERY OF KNOTT COUNTY SUBWAY

An arrest has been made in connection with the robbery of a Knott County Subway restaurant last month. Stephen Calhoun faces robbery and theft by unlawful taking charges in the holdup of the restaurant in the Hollie Hills Shopping Center. Police haven't said what led them to arrest Calhoun and there's been no word on if bond was set.

BIG HOLES CAUSED BY HEAVY RAIN IN ONE PIKE COUNTY NEIGHBORHOOD

The recent heavy rains have created a new problem for a Pike County neighborhood: There's a big hole in one family's yard and driveway along with a hole in a neighbor's driveway. Contractors say the repairs will likely cost around $200,000. Officials in Knott, Floyd, Pike and Johnson Counties have advised Governor Steve Beshear they are in need of assistance from FEMA.

HARLAN COUNTY MAN ARRESTED IN VEHICLE BREAK IN

A Harlan County man suspected of breaking into a car and taking over $1000 in cash is behind bars. Police say Elijah Smallwood of Harlan broke into the car owned by Edward Jones late last month. He's being held on $5000 full cash bond.

Tuesday September 9, 2014

3 SERIOUSLY INJURED IN MULTIPLE CAR CRASH IN PIKEVILLE MONDAY

3 people were hospitalized after a multiple vehicle crash yesterday in Pike County. Police say a 10-wheel truck lost control at the intersection of southbound US 23 and Island Creek, went off the road, rolled onto its side and slid into the northbound lanes, hitting at least 4 cars. There's been no specifics on the injuries the 3 people suffered but officials say they ranged from minor to severe. Severe backups were reported on the roads near the crash scene while police conducted their investigation.

ANOTHER VACANT HOME BLAZE IN HARLAN COUNTY

For the second time in as many weeks Harlan County firefighters responded to a blaze at a vacant home. Investigators say the front door of the home on May Street in Harlan was open when firemen arrived yesterday and they encountered heavy smoke and flames coming from a back room. Last week firemen responding to the same home found the back door open and flames coming from that area. An investigation into both fires is under way.

FEDERAL CHARGES FILED AGAINST A KNOTT COUNTY COUPLE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD

Federal fraud charges are filed against a couple from Knott County suspected of illegally obtaining social security disability payments since 1999 totaling over $49,000. David and Ida Hughes were indicted for falsely reporting they were separated in order to receive benefits as 2 individuals rather than as a couple, which reduces the amount of the benefit. The couple are scheduled to appear in US district court in Pikeville on September 22.


BABY STRUCK IN ATTACK ON ELDERELY WOMAN

Bond was set at $27,00 full cash for a Harlan County woman accused of hitting a 3 month old child as she was trying to attack an elderly woman. Police say Angela Lamb was burglarizing Joyce Smith's home when the suspected assault occurred. The infant was taken to Harlan ARH Hospital and there's been no information released on the baby's condition or if Smith was hurt in the attack.

BIG SANDY CTC LOOKING FOR INPUT ON EXPANSION

A Pike County college is getting the public's input on how it should proceed with a 60,000 square foot expansion. The Appalachian News Express reports a public hearing was held at Big Sandy Community and Technical College to get input on what they can do to use the expansion to best serve the area. The expansion is the result of a grant from the BuildSmart Investment for Kentucky Competitiveness, a public-private partnership that is providing funding for projects at each of Big Sandy’s four campuses.

MEAT CLEVER ATTACK IN HARLAN COUNTY

A dispute between two women at a Harlan County home ended up with one in jail accused of using a meat cleaver to attack the other. Police say Tami Dunson of Lynch went after Bridget Mallory with the cleaver at her home then threw it at her, leaving Mallory's home before cops arrived. The next day Dunson returned to Mallory's home with an axe handle and this time Mallory was able to keep her out. Bond for Dunson was set at $5000.

MINERS WIN CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST MILE MINING COMPANY

Around 100 Wise County Virginia coal miners won a class action lawsuit against Jim Justice-owned Mile Mining claiming they weren't given 60 days notice before they were laid off. The former employees are now waiting to hear the amount of damages they will be awarded. Justice reached a $1.5 million settlement with the state of Kentucky over a number of violations stemming from not doing post-mining reclamation work required by law.

ACCIDENT KILLS A HARLAN COUNTY MAN

A man is killed and 2 were critically injured in a Sunday night wrong way crash in Harlan County. Police say Clifton Jeffers was on north on US 421 when he drifted into oncoming traffic hitting a car driven by James Osborne. Osborne died at the scene and Jeffers along with a passenger in Osborne's car were airlifted to Holsten Valley Medical Center in Tennessee. Police are investigating what led up to the crash.