LOCAL NEWS

Wednesday October 22, 2014

SOCIAL MEDIA BLAMED FOR EBOLA RUMORS

Pikeville Medical Center reacted quickly to rumors spread via social media that the hospital admitted a patient with Ebola. The Floyd County Times reports hospital president and CEO Walter May issued a statement denying the reports and added staff intends to be prepared if an Ebola patient did come to the hospital. In addition to training, the hospital is preparing an isolation room to treat those with contagious viruses. May says creating panic and hysteria by spreading false rumors on social media distracts people from things that are important, such as getting a flu shot.

BOND REVOKED IN HARLAN COUNTY FOR TENNESSEE MAN

It's back to jail for a Tennessee man for a bond violation in Harlan County. A judge revoked Jonathan Howard's $10,000 bond on burglary and drug charges because he's facing charges in Bell County. Howard also faces new charges in Harlan County dating back to 2011 when police say he had a stolen check from a health clinic. He's is now held at the Harlan County Detention Center on $51,000 full cash bond plus $2000 bond secured by 10 percent.

WHICH NIGHT TO TRICK OR TREAT?

An annual tradition for kids is causing a controversy in Floyd County. The dispute is over which night kids are allowed to trick or treat - Halloween night or the day before. According to the Floyd County Times the fiscal court approved moving the date to the 30th - a Thursday - because of concerns the activity has over regular Friday night happenings like high school football. The ruling overruled Judge Executive Doc Marshall's original declaration that Halloween was trick or treat night. Now Marshall has overruled the fiscal court because according to deputy judge Lois Marshall only the judge executive has the power to authorize which night kids can go collect their candy. Adding to the controversy is a decision by the Prestonsburg City Council to have kids trick or treat on the 30th.

POWER DISTRIBUTION UPGRADE COMPLETED

Kentucky Power marks the completion of a 20 mile long high tension electrical line between Perry and Knott Counties. Officials say the $50 million project took 5 years to complete and makes service more reliable especially during high demand periods in winter and summer. The addition of the 138,000 volt distribution line also means service improvements in parts of Leslie and Breathitt Counties.

SEARCH WARRANT NETS DRUG ARREST

A Pike County man faces drug and weapons charges following a police raid. State Police say the Criminal Interdiction Team searched a home in the Ferrels Creek community and found an undisclosed amount of illegal drugs, narcotics, money and weapons.  James Elkins of Lick Creek was taken into custody. Police ask anyone with information on illegal drug sales to call in anonymous tips at 1-800-222-5555.

ALTERNATIVE INSTRUCTION OKAYED FOR WEATHER RELATED CANCELLATIONS

Snow days in 2 mountain school districts won't necessarily mean missed days of classes this year. Leslie and Perry County school districts are 2 of 13 statewide approved by the Kentucky Department of Education to use alternative methods of instruction when classes are cancelled because of weather. Previously only a handful of schools were approved to use alternate instruction on school days. Last year Leslie County students missed 35 days of classes due to the weather.

STATE GRANT PAYS FOR SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS

Two Dickenson County, Virginia elementary schools are receiving security upgrades. According to the Dickenson Star the new equipment at Sandlick and Ervinton Elementary schools will cost over $77,000, with over 80 percent of that paid for by a state security equipment grant. In total $6 million was awarded statewide for the upgrades to 373 schools in 100 state divisions.

Tuesday October 21, 2014

NEW EKU FACILITY BEING BUILT

Ground is broken on an expansion to Eastern Kentucky University's facility in Letcher County. The facility in the Lilly Cornett Woods previously served as a research center for EKU but it doesn't have lab resources or anywhere for visitors to stay.  Two buildings are being constructed , complete with two labs and and bunks. The center is expected to be completed by next May.

TECO SELLS MINE, EXITS MINING BUSINESS

Perry County Coal Corporation is sold by parent TECO Coal to a Booth Energy Group subsidiary and once the deal is done it means the end for TECO's mine ownership. In announcing the $170 million dollar sale to Cambrian Coal Company, TECO says current employees are receiving a  US Department of Labor required Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice which starts a 60 day clock before any layoffs or plant closings take place. TECO says it gave the notice in order to give the new owners maximum flexibility in the operations of the company, but a company spokesperson says Cambrian expects to keep most of the current workforce.

HCTC AND EKU INK AVIATION DEAL

Hazard Community and Technical College inks a deal with Eastern Kentucky University giving HCTC aviation students a easier path towards earning a bachelor's degree. The arrangement allows students to study at HCTC then transfer to EKU or remain at HCTC to finish their Bachelors in Aviation. Access to Wendell Ford Airport in Perry County for HCTC students is also part of the agreement.

MWD FILES FOR RATE HIKE

Pike County's water utility applies to the state Public Service Commission to raise rates for the first time in 20 years. The Appalachian News Express reports if the request from the Mountain Water District is okayed, residential rates would go up by 25 percent and wholesale customers would see a tiered rate hike but only after existing contracts expire. The filing is in the preliminary stage and it may take a year for the increases to be okayed.

ARRESTS MADE IN HARLAN COUNTY BREAKIN

3 teenagers are among the 5 people arrested in connection with a Harlan County burglary. Police say the group broke into a home off Kentucky 840 in Loyall and took guns and over $3200 in cash. The 2 adults - Jessica Middleton and Morgan Boggs, both of Harlan - are jailed on $20,000 full cash bond each, and the teenagers are in juvenile detention. Investigators say Middleton was the getaway driver and her cell phone had details on the home's layout along with locations to gain entry into the house.

SENATE RACE REMAINS TIED

The latest Bluegrass poll shows it remains a statistical dead heat between Senator Mitch McConnell and challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell now has a one point lead over Grimes among those responding to the poll taken between the 15th and the 19th, which was  conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV  The last poll showed Grimes with a 2 point lead, but in both polls the numbers fall within the margin of error.

LOTS OF RAIN THIS MONTH

The National Weather service confirms what many already know: It's been a rainy October, more so than normal. According to the Harlan Daily Enterprise nearly 8 of inches of rain is recorded at the Baxter station - around 3 times the amount that usually falls for the month of October. The record set in 1977 is 9.22 inches  Meterologists say the rain should lighten up for the second half of the month.

DONATIONS EXCEED GOAL

Police in Wise County Virginia collecting donations to get a headstone for a 2 year old girl killed by her mother's boyfriend ended up raising 5 times more than the marker's cost. The officers who worked the case of Emma Baldwin say a donation of $6000 is made in her name to the Southwest Virginia Children's Advocacy Center.

Monday October 20, 2014

OFF DUTY POLICE OFFICER CATCHES MAN SUSPECTED OF DRUG POSSESSION

A traffic stop in Floyd County turned into a foot pursuit and ended up with a man arrested on multiple charges including drug possession. Police say when Aaron Patton was stopped in Lackey by an off-duty officer he took off but was caught a short time later. Arrest papers say Patton possessed marijuana and prescription painkillers. Patton is jailed on  $20,000 cash bond.

ROBBERY AT PERRY COUNTY CORONER’S HOME

2 men are arrested in a suspected break-in at the home of the Perry County coroner. Police say Eddie Boyd and Billy Caress broke into the Woodland Park home of Jimmy Maggard and took over $10,000 in jewelry. Maggard says his wife was home at the time and the crooks didn't expect she'd be there so they took off when she shouted for her husband. Investigators say Boyd and Caress may be responsible for other robberies in the area.

SUSPECTED WIRE THIEF ARRESTED

An indictment is handed down against a Harlan County man accused of stealing copper wire. Court papers say Chad Collett stole the wire from Harlan Honey and sold it to Baxter Metal for just under $540. Collett is also indicted as a persistent felony offender, having been convicted in 2010. He is at the Harlan County Detention Center on bonds totaling $7,000 full cash.

GRIMES VISITS PIKE COUNTY

US Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes made a weekend stop in Pike County. Hundreds turned out at Hatfield McCoy Park for an event arranged by the United Mine Workers of America. It's part of a 7-county campaign swing through coal country. Incumbent Mitch McConnell kicks off his own Eastern Kentucky bus tour today with congressmen Hal Rogers, Andy Barr and Thomas Massie. The latest Bluegrass Poll shows Grimes with a slight edge over McConnell, while a recent Rasmussen poll gives McConnell an eight point lead over his challenger.

SUSPECTED RAIL THIEVES ARRESTED

Two Floyd County men are arrested on suspicion they cut up pieces of railroad tracks. Police say Christopher Coleman of Harold, and Elva Akers of Grethel cut the rails near Johnson Road in Spewing Camp on at least two occasions, and were caught in the act on one of those suspected thefts. fleeing on foot and leaving behind a pickup truck reported stolen out of Menifee County. The Floyd County Times reports both men face the same charges but Coleman's bond is double Akers' $25,000 bond because he is considered a flight risk. A grand jury is deciding on whether or not additional charges are to be brought against the two.

FLOODING PROBLEMS PROMPT ACTION BY BUILDING OWNER

The owner of a Harlan County apartment building says she's tired of the flooding that happens every time it rains and want to know what's being done to fix it. The Enterprise reports the problem is with a building on Courtney Street in Loyall and building owner Betty Stump appeared before the City Council to get answers on when the problem will be solved. Mayor Clarence Longworth says the city is trying to repair the problem but once work started crews ran into additional issues that delayed completing the fixes. Longworth says now that the unplanned additional work is done, workers are tacking the flooding issues. Stump pressed Longworth for a completion date and he said they're doing the best they can to get it done by winder.

GOING PINK IN PERRY COUNTY

Perry County goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Hazard-Perry County Cancer Coalition organized getting area businesses and organizations to decorate in pink for the month of October and organizers say there are too few women being screened for breast cancer. Residents and employees at Hazard Health and Rehabilitation Center were among those who decorated and for them it hit home as a coworker is fighting the disease.

Friday October 17, 2014

GRANT ISSUED FOR WATER SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS

The City of Hazard's water systems gets an upgrade thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the state. In announcing the award, Governor Steve Beshear says it's an example of government providing infrastructure necessary to provide access to clean drinking water. System storage capacities will be increased along with improvements to the water distribution and treatment systems. The Kentucky Department of Water says Hazard's piping systems have had small breaks and there is no emergency backup systems in place.

MEN SUSPECTED IN RAPE HAVE BOND LOWERED

Bonds are reduced for 2 Harlan County men charged in the rape of a 19 year old woman. A judge set Kenneth Keith and Perry Saylor's bonds at $300,000 secured by 10 percent, down from the original $500,000 full cash bond. Police say Keith raped the woman and Saylor aided Kenneth Keith in the suspected sexual assault that took place at Cranks Creek Lake. Personnel at Harlan County ARH notified police of the suspect rape after examining the woman. The two are due back in court in December.

MOUNTAIN PARKWAY WORK HAS ITS OFFICIAL KICKOFF

Governor Steve Beshear along with state and local leaders marked the beginning of expanding the Mountain Parkway. The project widens 30 miles of the road to make it a 4 lane highway along with extending the parkway along Kentucky 114 to Floyd County. $24 million dollars awarded from the US government is helping to speed up construction of the extension.

MAN CHARGED WITH ROBBING CHURCH’S LAWN TOOLS

A Harlan County man is indicted for stealing landscaping equipment from a church then selling it to an individual. Court papers say Gene Posey stole the items from the Mary Helen Methodist Church in September of 2013 then sold them to a Cranks resident. Posey is held on $4000 full cash bond.

UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN TO 6-YEAR LOW

Kentucky's unemployment rate dropped nearly a half percentage point in September to 6.7 percent. The Office of Employment and Training says that's the largest one month drop in nearly 40 years and puts unemployment at a level last seen in July 2008. Just over 2 million Kentuckians are employed, with the number of unemployed shrinking by around 8600.

NEW PERRY COUNTY SCHOOL CLOSER TO REALITY

It's another step forward in the plans to construct a new Perry County elementary school now that the school board approved a preliminary design of the building. One feature in the proposed West Perry Elementary School is its two-wing design that keeps younger students on one side while older students and middle school students are on the other side. School Superintendent Johnathan Jett tells WYMT the design gives the school more technology and a more conducive learning environment.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SUSPECTED KIDNAPPING

A Pike County man is arrested on suspicion he held a woman against her will. Police say when they got to the Pikeville home the woman told officers Craig Slife held her hostage. Slife tried to run off but was eventually taken into custody. In addition to kidnapping, Slife faces intoxication charges along with fleeing from police officers.

CHARITY CANDLES ON SALE AGAIN THIS YEAR

This year a Harlan County civic group will again sell coal-themed holiday candles to help miners families pay their electric bills. Harlan 20/20 raised $26,000 last year from the candle sales and organizers say they hope to best that number this year. Candles are made by Goose Creek Candle Company in Casey County and are available at stores throughout Harlan County. Those wanting to apply to receive help from the candle proceeds are asked to contact the Harlan County Community Action Agency.

Thursday October 16, 2014

DRUG INDICTMENTS HANDED DOWN

A half dozen people from Letcher County are arrested on felony drug charges. Police say all 6 are from Whitesburg and all face accusations they sold controlled substances. Those arrested include Belinda Hall, Donna Hampton, Dennis Halton, Margie Ison, Joseph Sturgill and Danielle Sturgill. A Sheriff's Department spokesperson says there are other investigations under way.

MAN ACCUSED OF FRAUD FOR PASSING BAD CHECKS

A grand jury indictment is handed down against a Letcher County man on multiple counts of theft and fraud. Court papers say the charges against Bryan Sexton of Whitesburg stem from cashing forged checks starting last November through June. The indictment says the fraudulent checks were drawn against accounts at the Whitaker Bank of Whitesburg and most were from an elderly couple's account but in one instance the account of Everidge and Hatton was compromised.

ADDITIONAL SEXUAL CHILD ABUSE CHARGES FILED

A Perry County grand jury indicts a man on 3 felony counts of sexually abusing minors. Court papers say Steven Jude of Hazard inappropriately touched 3 girls, one of those an 11 year old girl who was the sister of his fiancée. Jude is held on $75,000 bond with home incarceration. He has served jail time on similar charges connected with 2 other girls.

SPEEDING UP THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY

Work is under way to get a high speed internet backbone installed in the area east of I-75. Shaping Our Appalachian Region or SOAR committee member Lonnie Lawson told WYMT they hope that by next month they can announce the timetable to get the fiber optic backbone installed. Once that work is completed the infrastructure is built out to bring broadband internet to individual homes and businesses. SOAR says the plan is to have the network in place by early 2016. Lawson says SOAR will work with existing internet service providers to expand broadband coverage.

GPS LEADS DRIVER TO GET STUCK

A woman from Wise County, Virginia is rescued after getting lost on Black Mountain. Police say Mardee Scott told officers she was following her GPS's directions Sunday night to get back from making a wrong turn and her SUV ended up getting stuck on an old surface mine. Scott was unhurt but was cold and wet from being outdoors through the night.

TEENAGER INDICTED IN CHURCH BURGLARY

An indictment is handed down against a Perry County teenager in connection with a June burglary.  18 year old Shawn Noble of Viper is accused of breaking into the Big Leatherwood Baptist Church and taking musical instruments, some food and a  van belonging to the church. Court papers say Noble damaged the van and did around $1000 damage to the church building. The indictment also charges Noble with unlawful restraint of a minor and forcing the minor to engage in criminal activity. Bail is $75,000 with home incarceration.

MAN ARRESTED ON SUSPICION OF ACCESSORY TO A RAPE

There's been a second arrest in a suspected rape in Harlan County. Police say Perry Saylor of Coldiron faces charges of aiding Kenneth Keith in the suspected sexual assault of a 19 year old woman last month. The Enterprise reports Keith had been released on $50,000 bond secured by 10 percent 2 days after his original arrest but he's been taken back into custody and held on a $500,000 full cash bond. Saylor is also held on $500,000 bond.

RED, WHITE AND BLUE FESTIVAL KICKS OFF

A celebration that's said to be the oldest in Floyd County is under way. The city of Martin's Red White and Blue Days Festival offers music, food, rides, a 5k run, car show and a parade. Friday features a special flag raising and a veterans memorial dinner. Marcella Bailey founded the festival in 1969 to honor military veterans and those currently in service to the country.