LOCAL NEWS

Monday August 25, 2014

LETCHER COUNTY JULY EMPLOYMENT RATES

Letcher County's July unemployment was 13.2 percent - up a tenth from June but nearly 4 and a half percent lower than July 2013. The state says just over 1000 people in the county are out of work. Perry County's unemployment jumped 3 tenths of a point to 11.2 percent and Leslie County's rate also rose .3 to 13.3 percent.

RESCUERS RESPOND TO WOMAN AT KINGDOM COME CREEK

Letcher County rescuers were called out to a wooded area near Kingdom Come Creek on reports of an injured woman. Police say the woman called dispatchers late Thursday saying she had broken her leg. The woman's name hasn't been released and there's been no word on her condition.

HEAVY RAINS POUNDED THE AREA AGAIN LATE LAST WEEK INTO SATURDAY

Eastern Kentucky got little relief from the heavy rains last week even prompting emergency declarations in Floyd and Johnson Counties. A mudslide in the Tram community took a home off its foundation - and its owners say they didn't carry flood insurance because they felt their home were built up high enought to be safe from flooding. Presonsburg was also hard hit by flooding with 18 inches of water over Highway 1427, and Mayor Jerry Fannin says it's the worst flooding in over 10 years. In Pike County Hurricane and Stone Coal Creeks overflowed their banks and a number of roadways were flooded - in one case trapping a family inside their home.

MCCONNELL MAKES CAMPAIGN SWING IN JOHNSON & FLOYD COUNTIES

Senator Mitch McConnell made a campaign swing through Johnson and Floyd Counties on Friday. McConnell discussed two topics he says are improtant to Kentuckians: Coal and healthcare. He visited the Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center and 2 area businesses. McConnell also took time to go see healthcare pioneer Eula Hall at the Mud Creek Clinic, saying he wanted to both see how she was doing and to get her thoughts on Obamacare.

ATV THIEF BEHIND BARS

A suspected Pike County ATV thief is behind bars. Police arrested Donnie Saunders in connection wtih the July theft from a home in the Hurricane Creek community. One of the home’s residents says the gate was torn down and the 2012 Honda ATV was hooked to a vehicle and dragged away. The whole thing was caught on a neighbor’s security cameras. Saunders is charged with theft by unlawful taking.

WILD HORSES MISSING IN HARLAN COUNTY

38 wild horses have disappeared in Harlan County, and one was found dead, accoording to the Humane Society. They were a part of a group of 100 horses being cared for, and officials say they fear the other horses will be found dead. Kentucky State Police are investigating the disappearance and the Humane Society says they are offering a $4100 reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of whoever took the horses.

DRUG CHARGES FILED AFTER SEARCH OF JOHNS CREEK HOME IN PIKE COUNTY

Drug charges are filed against a Pike County woman and a man from Michigan after police searched a Johns Creek home.  Cops arrested Tomi Preece and also served a warrant on Marcus Wallace from Highland Park Michican. Both are charged with multiple counts of drug trafficking.  Court papers say officers found Preece was hiding drugs in an undergarment she was wearing including prescription painkillers and heroin. Preece is being held on $20,000 bond and Wallace's bond was set at $30,000.

HARLAN COUNTY DETENTION ESCAPEE IS BACK BEHIND BARS

An escapee from the Harlan County Detention Center is back behind bars and his suspected accomplice - his wife - is under arrest. Police say Michael Day was taken into custody at the Evarts home where his wife - identified as Tiffany Jones - was living. He was serving a 5 year sentence on drug charges. According to the Harlan Daily Enterprise Day was living in the mountains during his 4 months on the lam and Jones admitted to police she had been assisting him.

CAM-RUN 5K HELD SATURDAY IN PERRY COUNTY

Saturday morning's fog didn't keep the runners away from the annual Cam-Run 5k and 10k. The run is in memory of Perry County student-athlete Cameron Hoskins, who died in 2009. Money raised from the run benefits needy student-athletes in the county.

Friday August 22, 2014

 

LETCHER COUNTY COUPLE FILE LAWSUIT OVER DEATH OF 8 YEAR OLD SON

A Letcher County couple filed a lawsuit against the City of Jenkins and 2 city contractors over the death of their 8 year old son. The suit filed on behalf of Megan and Keith Carty charges that the city, Nesbitt Engineering and Bobby Lutrell and Sons were negligent in the sewer work done on Williams Street in Jenkins on May 7. According to the lawsuit gravel and other debris were left on the road and that caused Trenton Carty to lose control of his bike and land in a ditch, dying from his injuries. The Carty’s are seeking damages to compensate for Trenton's pain and suffering, his future earnings power, the loss of Trenton to his parents and punitive damages.

EDISON BANKS NAMED OUTSTANDING COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY

47th Judicial District Commonwealth attorney Edison Banks is one of 4 prosecutors to receive the Outstanding Commonwealth's and County Attorney Award from Attorney General Jack Conway.  Conway says Banks was the first in Eastern Kentucky to successfully prosecute a doctor shopping case and has taken on a dozen prosecutions this year alone for the AG's Office of Special Prosecutions. Banks was recognized for his efforts to fight illegal drug use in Letcher County and working to keep Commonwealth families safe.

DRIVE SOBER, GET PULLED OVER DUI EMPHASIS CONTINUES

Police throughout Letcher County and the state are participating in the Drive Sober, Get Pulled Over DUI emphasis patrols. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration one person loses their life every 51 minutes in a drunk driving crash. The patrols run through Labor Day.

AUSTISM AWARENESS BIKE RIDE SATURDAY IN LETCHER COUNTY

A bike ride is being held tomorrow in Letcher County to promote autism awareness. Whitesburg Bike Night is arranging the event that starts at West Whitesburg Elementary School. Registration is at 10:30am and the ride kicks off at noon, with a free lunch served afterwards at Whitesburg City Park.

FLOODING HITS SOME AREAS HARD THIS WEEK

Recovery efforts are continuing from this week's heavy rains. Knott County was particularly hard hit on Monday and again on Wednesday with roads being washed out and rains causing small mudslides. Volunteers there spent Wednesday evening cleaning up a softball field damaged by flooding earlier in the week. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews were out in Leslie County yesterday rebuilding a driveway washed away by flooding. And the owners of a trailer home in Perry County that broke from its foundation on Monday say it could be pushed into the road if another heavy rain falls.

TWO JAIL INMATES IN BIG SANDY FACE CHARGES IN DEATH OF FELLOW INMATE

2 jail inmates at the federal jail in Big Sandy are charged in the death of another prisoner last December. A grand jury indicted Denardo Hopkins and Eric Williams on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges along with trafficking in contraband for possessing a sharp weapon. Gregory Kittle was serving a nine-plus year sentence for assault when the fatal attack happened.

3 ARRESTED IN FAMILY FUED IN HARLAN COUNTY

A family feud that led to a warrant service in Harlan County resulted in 3 people taken to jail. Police say Fred Jones of Loyall took out a criminal mischief warrant against his estranged wife Sherry Jones and a neighbor, Robert Marlowe for damaging his motorcycle and truck. Fred's landlord also took out criminal mischief warrants for damage done to the home. When officers went to serve the warrants, they found Sherry Jones and Marlowe were in possession of stolen property. The Harlan Daily Enterprise reports that Marlowe's girlfriend shows up and her kid - who's Fred's grandchild - runs to him and he refuses to let the child go, so Fred is charged with custodial interference.

 

Thursday August 21, 2014

MORE POT PLANTS FOUND IN LETCHER COUNTY

Another pot grow is found in Letcher County and police need tips on finding whoever is responsible for it. A sheriff's deputy was heading to a call when he came upon the marijuana plants at an abandoned mobile home on Elaine Road in Premium. Investigators are trying to determine who had previously lived in the trailer. Anyone with information to catch the pot growers is asked to contact the sheriff's department.

ANOTHER DAY OF HEAVY RAINS BRINGS MORE FLOODING

Heavy rains wreaked havoc with several Eastern Kentucky counties already recovering from Monday's rain. In Knott County firemen had to rescue people from an area off highway 550 near Hindman. In Leslie County highway 80 near the Gray community was closed because of mudslides and high water. Flooding reports came in from several areas of Perry County including Grapevine and downtown Hazard.

PERRY COUNTY MAN FACES CHARGES AFTER WRECK ON HIGHWAY 7 IN LETCHER COUNTY

A Perry County man who told police he had used methamphetamine before getting behind the wheel faces multiple charges in a one vehicle crash. Police say Tracy Campbell of Cornettsville was on Kentucky 7 between Woodrock and Blackley when he went off the road, down an embankment and landed on railroad tracks. According to investigators Campbell's wife and infant child were in the truck. Also riding with Campbell was Nathan Cole of Cornettsville, who was charged with public intoxication along with drug possession. The infant is the care of social services.

ATV MEETING IN ELKHORN CITY COULD BE IN VIOLATION

Discussions held Monday in one Pike County city about revised ATV laws may have been held in violation of Kentucky's statute requiring public notices of meetings. The Appalachian News Express reports the Elkhorn City Council met in what was called a work session to address the issue of off road vehicle use in the city, which has been an issue lately. There was a quorum at the session, and an attorney told the newspaper because of that the work session was actually a meeting that required a minimum 24 hour public notification under Kentucky's Open Meetings Act.

HARLAN COUNTY WOMAN FACES DRUG CHARGES

Narcotics charges dating back to 2012 have been filed against a Harlan County woman. Police arrested Melanie Shoemaker of Loyall on charges she sold or transferred the drugs in October of that year. An indictment was handed down last November. Shoemaker is being held in the Harlan County Detention Center on a $1000 bond secured by 10 percent.

DONATIONS BEING COLLECTED IN WISE COUNTY FOR 2 YEAR OLD VICTIM'S HEADSTONE

Police in Wise County Virginia are collecting donations to get a headstone for a 2 year old girl who was killed by her mother's boyfriend in 2012. The officers who worked the case of Emma Baldwin began their fundraising campaign on Monday and contributed $400 to the $1500 cost of the headstone. Emma is buried in Covington, Kentucky. Her mother Brandie Baldwin took a plea deal on charges she didn't adequately protect Emma and will serve a 14 year sentence.

SECOND SUSPECT ARRESTED IN MARTIN COUNTY FIRE THAT KILLED 3

A second suspect has been arrested in connection with a Martin County fire that took the life of 2 adults and an 8 year old child. Amanda Bowen and Jack Smith both face murder, robbery and evidence tampering charges. They are being held on $5 million bond each and are due in court on Tuesday. The Martin County coroner announced its preliminary findings in the 3 deaths saying each person had been stabbed and each were shot. Funeral arrangements for the 3 victims are still pending.

ARREST MADE ON FOURTH PERSON INVOLVED IN HARLAN COUNTY ARMED ROBBERY

A fourth arrest is made in connection with an armed robbery in Harlan County that sent the victim to the hospital with a gunshot wound. Erica Bryant was arrested on Tuesday and 3 men - identified as Cletus Robbins, Arbin Shepherd and Carl Collins were previously arrested in connection with the May robbery of Benji Stout. A grand jury indictment says Bryant restrained Stout while the 3 men robbed him of over $2400, then threatened his girlfriend's family if they went to police. Bryant is being held on $300,000 full cash bond.

Wednesday August 20, 2014

EASTERN KY COAL MINE OPERATOR REACHES SETTLEMENT BECAUSE OF RECLAMATION VIOLATIONS

Coal mine operator Jim Justice has reached a settlement with the state over mine reclamation violations that are said to be the largest number in the last 10 years. The deal has Justice admitting to the violations, paying a $1.5 million fine and completing all reclamation work within the next 12 months. Justice is also putting up over $10 million in bonding and using part of his vast wealth to guarantee the work will be done. The deal includes mines in 8 Eastern Kentucky counties including Letcher, Floyd, Leslie, Knott, Harlan and Pike counties.

CLEANUP ONGOING FROM MONDAY'S FLASH FLOODING

Cleanup work continues from Monday's storms that caused extensive damage in Perry, Knott and Breathitt Counties. One road in Perry County remains washed out and a makeshift walkway was put together to get residents access to their homes. Perry County Judge-Executive Zach Weinberg says the damage there is around $200,000. Weinberg says the county plans to install larger culverts but even then that won't stop damage from flash flooding like what happened Monday.

HARLAN COUNTY ROAD UNSAFE

Highway 987 in Harlan County is not safe. That's what the daughter of a woman injured in a crash says. On Monday Thelma Daniels ran off the road, hit an embankment then careened across both lanes. Daniels is at UK hospital according to her daughter. A Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesperson says they will look into the history of crashes on that section of 987 but any major revisions to the road would have to be part of the state's 6 year road plan.

COUNTERFEIT BILLS IN PERRY COUNTY

A number of Perry County banks are reporting that they've received counterfeit bills recently and the quality was so high it was nearly impossible to tell them from the real thing. Police say everything looked correct on the $50 notes and what makes this case unique is the bills were easily slipped by unsuspecting businesses. The fake fifties were found when the money made it into a bank counting machine. According to investigators there haven't been any other denominations of counterfeit money passed and banks have shared the serial numbers on the fifty dollar bills with area merchants.

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL FOR VICTIMS OF MARTIN COUNTY FIRE

The three victims in Saturday's Martin County house fire were remembered at a candlelight vigil last night. Tina Goble, Cainie Johnson and 8 year old Trinity Maynard were killed in the fire that prosecutors say was intentionally set by Jack Smith. Smith was to have appeared in court yesterday but that has been delayed for a week. He pleaded not guilty to 3 counts of murder.

3 PEOPLE INJURED IN PERRY COUNTY CRASH

3 people are hospitalized following a 2 car crash in Perry County. It happened on Highway 15 and police say a car pulled out of a parking lot in front of an oncoming southbound car. The driver of the car that pulled out tried to take evasive action but couldn't avoid hitting the southbound car. The 3 injured were all in the southbound car and they all said they had pain in the neck, back and shoulder. No one in the other car was hurt.

DRUG AND PROSTITUTION RISE IN THE CITY OF HARLAN

Businesses in downtown Harlan say they're concerned about a rise in drug dealing and prostitution - and Monday night they took their concerns to the Harlan City Council. Police chief Mike Thomas says they will address the situation as best as they can and noted that 4 people were taken into custody as the meeting Monday was underway. Mayor Danny Howard echoed Chief Thomas' words saying they will work on getting a plan in place by the end of the week to deal with the problem.

SPECIAL ELECTION RESULTS IN SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA

Unofficial results from yesterday's voting in Wise and Dickenson Counties in Virginia show Ben Chafin in the lead to take over the 38th district senate seat vacated by Phillip Puckett.  Rick Mullins from Dickenson County came in third place with 9 percent of the vote.

Tuesday August 19, 2014

FLOODING RAINS IN KNOTT, PERRY AND BREATHITT COUNTIES ON MONDAY

Yesterday's heavy rains made a mess of things around the area - and the hardest hit areas were Perry, Knott and Breathitt Counties. A number of buildings in Hindman were flooded when Troublesome Creek rose above its banks and Highway 550 near Highway 160 was closed most of yesterday due to water over the roadway. Highway 476 between Hardburly and Darford was also closed because of flooding. The Davidson Baptist Church in Perry County was significantly damaged by flood debris and members say it will take at least a couple of days to clean things up. Lost Creek - a tributary prone to flooding - went over its banks yesterday and sent water into several homes. Residents there say the culverts installed to drain waters were simply overwhelmed by the heavy rains.

2 PEOPLE BADLY INJURED IN HARLAN COUNTY WRECK ON 421

2 people were severely injured in a one car crash on US 421 in Harlan County. Police say the SUV rolled over several times ejecting a woman from the vehicle. She's identified as Paula Cox of Evarts and was airlifted to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn.  Cox's husband Phillip Cox was also hurt and taken to Hazard ARH. Investigators say drugs played a factor in the crash.

SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR MURDER IN DEADLY MARTIN COUNTY HOUSE FIRE

A suspect has been arrested in a Martin County fire that took the lives of 3 people. Jack Smith was taken into custody Saturday night and in addition to murder charges, he faces robbery, tampering with evidence and drug charges. He's being held in the Big Sandy Detention Center and will make his first court appearance today. Police are saying very little about what happened before the Saturday morning fire that killed Tina Goble, Cainie Johnson and 8 year old Trinity Maynard. Goble is the mother of Timothy Goble - one of the Paintsville firefighters who responded to the blaze.

IRS FORGIVES DEBT TO HARLAN COUNTY

The IRS has forgiven a $38,000 tax debt owed by a city in Harlan County. Last fall the Benham City Council learned it owed the money because of unpaid taxes between June 2012 and March 2013. An investigation into possible misappropriation of funds was launched by the IRS when the council was notified of the past due taxes and each council member was interviewed by the agency. Senator Mitch McConnell's office sent a letter to Benham officials saying the matter with the IRS has been resolved in the city's favor.

VOTERS HEAD TO POLLS IN WISE AND DICKENSON COUNTIES TODAY

Voters in Wise and Dickenson Counties in Virginia head to the polls today to vote for a candidate to complete the term of State Senator Phillip Puckett. 3 candidates are on the ballot - one of them,  Rick Mullins - is from Clintwood, and Dickenson County officials say there's already been a large number of absentee ballots sent in. Registrars say, however that they expect low turnouts - between 20 and 25 percent.

HARLAN COUNTY CRASH

A one car crash in Harlan County sent the driver to the hospital. Police say Thelma Daniels from Smith was on Kentucky 987 when she went off the road, hit an embankment and went across the road. There's been no word on the severity of Daniels' injuries or what caused the crash.