DISCUSSION RENEWED ON NEED FOR TRAFFIC LIGHT AT CARR CREEK LAKE AFTER ACCIDENT THURSDAY
Some folks in Knott County say the intersection where a man was killed last week needs to have better traffic control. Police say Johnny Childers of Red Fox was turning left from Highway 160 to go southbound on Highway 15 near Cody when he pulled out in front of a northbound truck. It broadsided Childers’ SUV, killing him at the scene. Police say he was not wearing a seatbelt. Last December Jenny Watts was killed at the same intersection also making a left turn – and that has renewed discussion that a traffic light is needed there. Transportation Department officials say according to their statistics the existing controls of flashing lights and a stop sign are sufficient for the intersection.
FINANCIAL INVESTIGATION REQUESTED BY PIKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
The Pike County School Board plans to request additional financial investigation after an audit last month into $50,000 in missing money. The June audit – which covered non-classroom financials such as bookstores and concession stands - revealed around 200 discrepancies in procedure, with the bulk of the irregularities at Belfry Middle School. If approved by the Board, a full district audit is scheduled for late September, according to District Superintendent David Lester. The audit will exclude the food service part of district operations.
HARLAN COUNTY COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY CHANGES OFFICES
Just weeks after Letcher County Commonwealth Attorney Edison Banks relocated his office – his counterpart in Harlan County has done the same. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney has moved to the ground floor of the Harlan County Courthouse – the former home of the Harlan County Judge Executive. Commonwealth Attorney Parker Boggs says the new office is easier to access with more parking and its proximity to other offices will make it interactions with other departments more efficient since they are now in the same building. Boggs says the bulk of the remodeling and moving items in to the new offices were done by inmates from the Harlan County Detention Center, lowering costs to taxpayers.
FORMER FIRE CHIEF AND WIFE INDICTED ON THEFT CHARGES
A former Pike County volunteer fire chief and his wife are indicted in charges they stole money and equipment from the department he headed as it was being shut down due to a lack of membership. Court papers Lawrence and Sandy Dingess were stealing the items and money over a 3 year period. According to Pike Commonwealth Attorney Rick Bartley the thefts were discovered when the department was reactivated earlier this year. Bartley blames poor records-keeping for the money disappearance.
GRANT FROM DEPARTMENT OF AG AIDS PROMISE ZONE INITIATIVE
The federal government has awarded a grant to a newly-created program to help improve the economy in Southeastern Kentucky. The $115,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture awarded to the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation will be put toward the Promise Zone initiative which works with businesses in Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Harlan and 2 other counties. K-H-I-C president and C-E-O Jerry Rickett says the money will handed out on a revolving basis, meaning once a business is up and running, it pays back the grant money so it can be used to help other businesses build or expand.
HCTCS GRADUATES OVER A DOZEN FROM LINEMAN CLASS
Hazard Community and Technical College held a graduation Friday for its Lineman Class. There were over a dozen graduates from the 10-1/2 week long program and many already have job offers. The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program covers the cost of the course which has helped to get laid off coal miners back to work.
ELKHORN BRANCH OF PIKE COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM IS NOT SHUTTING DOWN
Officials with the Pike County Library system are reassuring those in Elkhorn that their branch is not being shut down. Hours have been curtailed at all branches because – according to library officials – they’re putting in a new asset management system and rather than hire outside help in the transition, existing employees are working on getting the library’s over 200,000 items entered in the new software – a process that is done by hand. The Elkhorn branch along with all other Pike County branches are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
LETCHER COUNTY FISCAL COURT DISCUSSES SPRAYING NOTIFICATIONS
The Letcher Fiscal Court continued discussions on requiring natural gas pipeline companies and utilities to provide Letcher County citizens with advance notice of herbicide spraying operations conducted from the air. Representatives from E-Q-T told the court of all complaints registered over aerial spraying conducted by natural gas companies, those concerning EQT make up only about one half of one percent of the total. They also said while state regulations will be the ultimate guideline for aerial spraying, EQT is willing to discuss method of notifying people and to further limit accidental exposure to the spray.
JENKINS COMMUNITY CENTER PLANS PRESENTED
Plans to expand the swimming pool in Jenkins by adding a community center are moving ahead – and the city council wants to build more than just a meeting place. Architectural drawings presented at the city council meeting showed a design that includes a gathering place, meeting hall, ballroom and concert hall. The architect says this design will attract events to Jenkins that have been passed over with the closure of the Elkhorn Country Club. After a discussion, the council asked the architect to revise the drawings so the facility is even larger than first presented. Once that’s done, the council will vote on approving construction of the facility.
KNOTT COUNTY APARTMENT FIRE
A fire broke out at a Knott County apartment building last night. Investigators say the building is in Pine Top on Kentucky 582. There were no reports of injuries and no word on if any residents were displaced due to fire damage.
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT LOOKING FOR ABANDONED HORSES OWNER
4 horses were found abandoned in Letcher County, and police say the owner has just over a week to claim them or they will be given away. They were found Monday on Cinnamon Drive at Smoot Creek. The owner will need to contact the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department and give a description of the horses to deputies before they will be released.
MOUNTAIN COMP CARE GETTING A VETERANS AID GRANT
A federal grant has been awarded to the Mountain Comprehensive Care Center in Eastern Kentucky to assist veterans with training to help them succeed in civilian careers. The $162,000 grant from the U-S Department of Labor will help low-income and homeless veterans in a five-county area including Floyd and Pike Counties. Similar grants were awarded to 155 other organizations nationwide.
HARLAN COUNTY MAN BURNED
A Harlan County man is recovering from serious injuries while trying to burn debris near his home. Investigators say Robert Napier threw gas on the debris when it flared up. Napier was airlifted to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn. His condition has not been disclosed.
REWARD OFFERED IN PERRY COUNTY BURGLARY CASE
A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a Perry County burglar. Police say the thief broke into a home in Woodland Park sometime last weekend and stole a number of items worth over $10,000. Investigators say jewelry and electronics are among the missing items along with some rare Vietnam War medals. Tips can be called in to the Hazard Police Department.
PSEUDOEPHEDRINE SALES LIMIT
National drug store chain CVS has made news over its decision to limit sales of some medicines containing pseudoephedrine – but one Perry County pharmacy has been doing that for some time now. The owner of Rx Discount Pharmacy in Hazard says a prescription is required to buy the cold medicine whose active ingredient is used to make methamphetamine. There’s no concern over lost business as the owner says they don’t sell enough of the medicine to impact profits.
VACANT LYNCH HOSPITAL COULD BE USED AGAIN
A Harlan County hospital building left vacant for a decade may soon be readied for use as government offices and business space. The city of Lynch owns the building and the City Council is seeking grants to do the renovations. Once finished, the Lynch city hall will move into the first floor and already a call center is being courted to take second floor space. The city council says that would create 25 to 50 new jobs.
FLOYD COUNTY DUI CRASH INJURES TWO
A crash in Floyd County injured 2 people and put a third behind bars. Police say it happened on U.S. 23 near Tiger Mart when a pickup pulled out into the southbound lanes and struck an oncoming car. One person in the pickup and one in the car were taken to Highlands Regional Medical Center for treatment of non life threatening injuries. Police say the pickup’s driver was given a field sobriety test, and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
TWO HAZARD DOCTORS INDICTED
Two doctors who worked at a Perry County health clinic are indicted on illegally prescribing pain pills. Charging papers say James Chaney and Andrew Krasuski unlawfully prescribed the controlled substances when they were at Clarion Health and Wellness. They’re both due in court next month. Chaney’s license to practice was suspended by the state medical licensure board at the end of last month.
FLOYD COUNTY MAN SUES UTILITY COMPANY OVER GAS INDUCED SICKNESS
A Floyd County man who was hospitalized following the venting of a gas line last October is now suing the utility and the contractor who did the work. According to the suit Frank Stone of Martin says he was overcome by the gas which collected inside his camper as crews emptied the line just feet away. Martin says he went to the hospital later that day when he still felt ill and was there for 4 days. He claims there was no warning given that the line was being ventilated before the work began. Neither the utility nor the construction contractor have commented on the litigation.
STATE POLICE CONTINUE INVESTIGATION OF FATAL CRASH IN BREATHITT COUNTY
The State Police in Hazard are still investigating a fatality crash in Breathitt County that killed a man. Police say Kimberly Watkins of Jackson lost control of the pickup on Kentucky 1098 in South Fork as she rounded a curve. According to investigators the truck left the road and struck a tree. The crash killed Earl Watkins. Kimberly Watkins was airlifted to the UK Medical Center and remains in serious condition. Investigators say neither person wore a seat belt and toxicology results are pending.
MISSING PERRY COUNTY MAN FOUND DEAD AT VICCO
A Perry County man reported missing by his wife a week age was found dead. Police say David Banks of Vicco was located in a car that went off on Georges Branch Road and down an embankment. The cause of Banks’s death hasn’t been disclosed but detectives say foul play is not being suspected.
SOAR LISTENING SESSION HELD TUESDAY IN FLOYD COUNTY
Health was the topic of yesterday’s Save Our Appalachian Region listening session in Floyd County. Community members and those in the medical profession gathered at the Floyd County Extension Office to discuss taking steps to improve health in the area. There is another health work group listening session today at two o'clock at the Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville.
RAM CLINIC RETURNING TO WISE COUNTY JULY 18-20
Remote Area Medical (RAM) will be returning to Wise County, Virginia later this month to provide free health care. Dentists and doctors will be on hand at the Wise County Fairgrounds for 3 days beginning July 18. Medical dental and vision care are provided at no cost to those who are underinsured, uninsured, unemployed, working poor, or can’t afford to pay. Registration begins at 6am July 18 and patients will be served on a first come, first serve basis. Bagged lunches and water will be provided but officials ask patients to bring sunscreen and an umbrella.
ARMED ROBBERY AT A PERRY COUNTY DOUBLE KWIK
Another armed robbery at a Perry County convenience store – the second in less than a year. Police say a man pulled a knife on the clerk at the Double Kwik in Avawam. He got away with an undetermined amount of money. The robber is described as white, wearing a dark hoodie and blue jeans. Last November the store was held up by a suspect who used a screwdriver as a weapon to threaten a worker.
4 PEOPLE SHOT IN PIKE COUNTY & GUNMAN STILL AT LARGE
4 people in Pike County were shot early yesterday morning and the gunman is still at large. Police say they were called to a trailer on Ky 194E in Stopover near Phelps for a report of shots fired. The four victims were airlifted to Pikeville Medical Center. One person has been released. So far, no arrests have been made.
PERRY COUNTY MAN KILLED LAST NIGHT ON AN ATV
A Perry County man was killed last night in an A-T-V crash. Police say the man was a passenger on the ATV when it traveled off the road, over an embankment, and into a creek. The coroner’s office says the man was 60 years old but his name was not disclosed.
FORMER MAYOR OF MARTIN SENTENCING HEARING DELAYED
The sentencing hearing for a former mayor of a city in Floyd County and her daughter is delayed until next week. Martin’s ex mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and former Martin Community Center director Rita Whicker were found guilty of scheming to defraud the Social Security disability program. The two were to be sentenced on Thursday but that has been now pushed back to July 16. Court papers say Robinson and Whicker hired Ginger Michelle Halbert Stumbo as a city employee, but write her paycheck in her son’s name, to allow her to continue drawing disability benefits. Stumbo reached a plea deal three days before the scheduled trial date.
HAZARD/PERRY COUNTY WATER OUTAGE
Some city of Hazard and Perry County folks were without water yesterday morning as work continues to upgrade the area’s water system. Officials say the outage was because of pump work that’s part of the Hazard Water Systems Improvements Project. That project was approved by city commissioners earlier this year and is being partially paid for by an increase in the minimum charge for water service.
HARLAN COUNTY MAN FACES DRUG CHARGES
A Harlan County man faces drug charges after police say they found over 5 pounds of marijuana at his home. Joey Blevins was charged with cultivating marijuana five plants or more and was taken to the Harlan County Detention Center. Investigators say dispatchers received a call about pot being grown inside a home and when officers arrived, they first spoke with Janie Blevins, Joey Blevins’ mother as Joey was not at the home at the time. Court papers say officers found a path into the woods where they discovered a number of marijuana plants. Blevins was taken into custody without incident.
2 FEDERAL AGENCIES ASSIST IN EASTERN KY JOB CREATION
The effort to bring more jobs to Eastern Kentucky received a major assist yesterday from 2 federal agencies. Yesterday Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers were joined by officials from the Corporation for National and Community Service to announce that more than one million dollars is being in a new AmeriCorps VISTA project in Eastern Kentucky. 52 AmeriCorps workers will work with Shaping Our Appalachian Region, known as SOAR initiative with the stated goal of improving the economy and quality of life. The U.S. Economic Development Administration also announced $312,000 dollars for job creation in the region.
UNITE SHOOT HOOPS NOT DRUGS CAMP THIS THURSDAY AT HARLAN COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL
An area organization combating substance abuse will put on a basketball camp in Harlan County. Operation UNITE – which stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education will put on a Shoot Hoops, Not Drugs camp Thursday at Harlan County High School. Four-time All-SEC Academic Team member Jarrod Polson will join fellow University of Kentucky alum Jeff Sheppard at the camp. Shoot Hoops Not Drugs is a camp in its 9th year, teaching kids to stay involved and win at life. Sheppard says he is able to put on five to six basketball camps per year and uses the sport to educate kids about the dangers of drugs.
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.