Tuesday 7-28-15

By Jerry Adams

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A shooting in Clay County has left one man dead. The victim is identified as 24 year old Trevor Dykes—who police say was shot as he left his home for work on Monday morning, not far from Goose Rock Elementary School. Sheriff Kevin Johnso
n says police are talking to two people he describes as persons of interest.

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Nobody was hurt in an accident involving a coal truck and a train on Highway 7 in Letcher County.  That crash happened around 10 Monday morning when police say the truck and train collided in the Colson community.  The driver, identified as Donny Hall was stuck for several hours in the wreck but was pulled to safety. The highway was closed for about six hours for crews to clean up the mess. The cause is under investigation.

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One man is dead after a crash in Harlan County.  Police identify him as 30 year old Shawn Smith, who they say lost control of his car and flipped on Nola Street in the Cawood community. He was pronounced dead at Harlan ARH shortly after the crash.

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Officials are investigating a mining accident in Dickenson County, Virginia that left one man injured. They say that victim was injured while working on some roof bolts Monday morning at the Paramount Coal Company's number 26 mine. He is identified as a 44 year old man from Big Stone Gap who has been on the job with Bates Contracting since earlier this year. Reports say he was airlifted to a hospital in Louisville where his condition is unknown.

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An indictment  of an ambulance driver involved in a fatal accident nearly a year ago.  A Knox County grand jury has charged 25 year old Kevin French with being drunk behind the wheel in the crash that killed 14 year old Sampson Callender as he rode his bike along US 25 last august.  Two other boys riding with Callendar were not hurt.

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A man has been arrested in Laurel County and charged with a holdup in Corbin earlier this month. Police have accused Anthony Sizemore with the armed robbery of a Belk Store on Cumberland Gap Parkway. One woman was injured when she was pushed to the ground during the heist. Sizemore is facing wanton endangerment and assault charges.

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Someone is passing bad money in Pike County. Authorities say there have been  at least four cases of counterfeit bills since Thursday. Their advice to local business is to check all bills carefully, especially larger ones, with a special pen that detects counterfeits.   if  a bill doesn't feel right, you should let police know right away.

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Meanwhile, another kind of fake is being circulated at Family Dollar stores. The company says people are being fooled by a website simlar to but not related to the store's, where they can print out the useless coupon, which promises 50 dollars off an purchase of 55 dollars or more. The store will not honor that phony discount.

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Some  Pike County residents are fed up with their local government and they are trying to do something about it. The group called Pike Countians Against Government waste has has started a  petition to change the structure of government from the current six magistrates to a three person commission. They will need 1200 signatures to get the question onto the ballot in November, but they may have their work cut out. With just two weeks before the deadline, they have collected about 100 so far. Current elected officials  aren't sure the change is necessary and say people should weigh that petition   carefully before deciding to sign it.

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Harlan County will play host to an annual event for horse enthusiasts later this week. The Harlan County Shriner Horse Show and Fair runs from Thursday to Saturday at the Shriners Fairgrounds in Putney. Organizers say it will have something for everyone, with racing and show horses and a stick horse competition for kids Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30. The fun has a purpose—to raise money for the Shriner Hospitals for children in Lexington and Cincinnati.

Friday 7-24-15

By Jerry Adams

Controversy around a Whitesburg gun shop whose owners have put up a sign calling it a “Muslim free store.”  Jill Stidham at Jace Firearms says she is just exercising her free speech rights, following last weeks shooting death of five service members by a muslim gunman in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She calls Islam a religion of hate and says if people are offended , they can take their business elsewhere. Some residents say the sign sends the wrong message about the city being intolerant.

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Officials in Breathitt County call it the biggest drug bust they've made in a long time. Two people have been arrested following that raid at a home on Highway 20 west. Inside  police say the found drugs, including meth, pills and marijuana, and around 8000 dollars cash stuffed into safe boxes. Joseph Pennington and Zachariah Gross will face several charged in connection with that raid.  A third man, Jason Pennington, was also arrested and charged with a parole violation,

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Tears of joy in Pike County after a missing man was found safely.  71 year old Floyd Castle had been missing since Tuesday when he wandered off from his home in the Mouthcard community. His family says they are overjoyed and thankful after searchers found him safe and sound. They say castle has early signs of Alzheimer's disease and apparently got confused after he went out for a walk.

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Volunteers from around the country have been showing up in Johnson County to help the cleanup efforts there.  Now, some of them have a place to stay, thanks to the Christian Appalachian Project. That temporary dorm in Paintsville is home to about 50 to 60 people who are in Johnson County doing things like cleaning basements and hauling away mud from homes that were hit by the flooding.  Volunteers say they are touched by the stories of those who they are helping, and say they are glad to do what they can for people still very much in need of a hand.

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A  man from Clay County has died after he was shocked during cleanup work from last weeks storms. 50 year old Dwayne Brewster was electrocuted when some live wires pulled out of from a junction box on property in the Belles Fork community around 6:30 on Thursday night. Officials  say he was helping the owner level the foundation that had been damaged during last weeks floods.

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Officials are hoping the public can help find a man who swiped a dirt bike from a Laurel County business. It happened early Wednesday at Crossroads Motor Sports in London when the man walked past security cameras and simply took the bike, which is worth around a thousand dollars and had been dropped off for repairs.  Owner Ronnie Lewis says he can't say what he would have done had he caught that bold thief in the act. London police say anyone with information should call their office.

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Cumberland is a step closer to becoming an official “Trail Town” city that would allow it to host trail riding events. A local task force has received permission from another landowner to allow the trail to cross his property, meaning a trial run could be held on September 18th.  Members of the group say they are excited about the project which could bring marketing opportunities from the state, and draw lots of  new visitors to the area.

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A driving alert for a part of Pike County this weekend. The Kentucky Highway Cabinet says  a 1.2  mile  portion of Kentucky highway 3419 at Smith Fork in Phelps will be closed  from 5 this afternoon until 5 on Sunday as  crews  replace a concrete culvert. They say while it may be a temporary inconvenience over the weekend, the road will be in much better shape when the work is done.

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The Kentucky State Fair Board says it will no longer sell or promote items bearing the confederate flag. The decision on will include next months state fair and other properties the board oversees. Also taking a stand against the controversial flag, the Kentucky State Parks department which says confederate flag themed merchandise will no longer be for sale in any park gift shops. Group s opposing the flag call both decisions steps in the right direction against what they feel is a symbol of intolerance.

Thursday 7-23-15

By Jerry Adams  

Authorities are looking for a Letcher County woman who they say took off after she was placed under house arrest for allegedly stabbing her husband. Regina Yates was charged with that stabbing earlier this month and was told not to leave her mother's home in Tennessee . Now, police say they can't locate her and warn that she is dangerous . Whitesburg police chief Tyrone Fields is hoping Yates gives herself up, but in the meantime, he says he and other officers will continue to look for her so she can be taken back to jail. Her husband, Stacy Yates, continues his recovery from serious stab wounds.

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Kentucky State Police are looking for a missing man in Pike County. 71 year old Floyd Castle walked away from his home in the Mouthcard community on Monday. They are asking the public for any information that might help find him.

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Meanwhile another missing man from Laurel County has been found and is OK.  Michael Goetze was located after he went missing back on July 2nd.   Authorities are not saying just where he was found.

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Officials have identified a woman who drowned in Carr Creek Lake.  36 year old Tammy Ann Deaton was from the Perry County community of Glowmawr. He body was found  near the Carr Creek Dam, not long after she was reported missing on Tuesday evening.

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A Bell County jail inmate is facing  even more  charges after police say they found a makeshift weapon in his cell. Jailers say they were tipped of about Kenneth Williams activities, after overhearing a phone call in which he threatened to try to break out. He had already tried that once  before and was involved in a violent altercation inside the jail earlier this month. Williams was originally jailed on a robbery charge.

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A free concert and telethon helped raised at least $50,000.00 flood victims in Johnson County last night. The country music group Sundy Best was on hand for that show at Johnson Central High in  Paintsville, while WYMT television held a telethon to go along with the concert.  Several other local groups took part in that event.

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Some schoolkids in Magoffin County are helping out others in Johnson County. They have gathered school supplies that will go to children who lost everything in last week's floods. Officials say it's repaying one kindness with another.  Johnson County students were among those who helped when the Magoffin County High school was damaged by a tornado back in March 2012.

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Also helping out—the Johnson County animal shelter where many animals have ended up after the flood.   Officials say its been a challenge  because so many of those animals have been injured but they are doing there best to case for all of them, but the pets continue to come in, the shelter says it needs donations to help care for them all. People whose animals are still missing can call the shelter to find out if they have been located and are being kept there.

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Some veterans in Bell County say they are doing what they can to remember the victims of last weeks recruiting station shootings in Tennessee.  The group Vets Serving Vets held a memorial for those men on Wednesday and say while they can't help directly, they hope their support will be some comfort to the families of those who were killed in Chattanooga.

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Governor Steve Beshear is allowing nation guard members in the state to carry weapons when they are on duty—and taking other step to protect those who work at recruiting centers around the state.  He says keeping members of the guard safe is a priority of his administration.

Wednesday 7-22-15

By Jerry Adams  

A state audit says the Letcher County Sheriff's Office has to do a better job controlling its money. The report for the fiscal year ending in December 2013 faults the department for poor controls of receipts and payroll, a deficit in a fee account and using money intended for one purpose to pay for something else. County Sheriff Danny Webb says his office needs more money to fix the problems, but County Judge Executive Jim Ward says there isn't enough in the county budget. There have already been layoffs in the sheriff's office and Sheriff Webb warns there could be more cuts  to come.

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Meanwhile, a new state grant  could save Letcher County 93 thousand dollars a year. It's called a rocket docket grant—and it allows people are arrested on some drug and other non violent crimes to get treatment instead of jail time. Officials say that would mean fewer inmates and less money spent keeping them behind bars. Commonwealth attorney  Edison Banks says its a good deal for taxpayers and for people with substance abuse problems to get the help they need.

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Deputies have arrested a Letcher county man on rape and other charges. They say 23 year old Jared Nicholas Ratliff is accused of assaulting a woman last Friday at an abandoned strip mine  in the Joe's Branch section of Jenkins. Ratliff is also accused of sending test harassing text messages to the woman after the incident. He is being held on 20 thousand dollars property bond and will be under home incarceration on his release.

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Police are trying to catch a serial burglar in Floyd County. That bandit has broken into several homes in the the Prater Creek community and now, the state police and county sheriff have released a surveillance tape they hope will lead to an arrest. They have already received some tips and are confident that the burglar will be caught. For now though they have stepped up patrols in the area over the last couple months.

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Authorities are investigating a drowning in Carr Creek Lake in Knott County. The County coroner says the victim, whose body was found near the Carr Creek dam around 7:00 Tuesday night is a woman in her 30's but her name is not being released.

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Police are looking for two thieves who stole from a Pike County hardware store,. They say a man and woman entered the store in Coal Run Village on Friday and after pretending to look around,  the man simply grabbed some tools and walked out.  The suspects were caught on tape and state police say they hope someone will recognize them and provide additional information.

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A guilty plea from a former lab worker at a Hazard drug clinic, who says she falsified tests on orders from the clinic owners.  Reports say Amanda Lynn Dunne says she altered those results from the Acec Clinique of Medicine, whose owners are facing federal charges of illegally dispensing pills from 2006 until their arrest last fall.

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Two people have been arrested and charged with leaving a child alone in Laurel County.  Officers says 48 year old Egbert Hensley and 43 year old Mitzi Hensley with custodial interference after a neighbor spotted the toddler wandering  outside some apartments on Pine Grove Road.  Officials say the youngster was supposed to be in the care of social services..and has been returned there safely.

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Volunteers in Johnson County continue their work to help people effected by last weeks floods. One group at the Red Bush community center is getting together to prepare and deliver hot meals to people whose homes were damaged.  Volunteers say the meals are a welcome sight to to those who get them and that man people are still cleaning up and trying to get back to their feet

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Meanwhile the place for flood victims who need supplies in Johnson County  has a new location.  That center was set up at the Johnson County Central High School, but as of this morning, it will be run from the Mayo Plaza near the Big Sandy Superstore.  Officials continue to ask people to call ahead before showing up to make any drop offs.  The number is  606-792-6893.

Tuesday 7-21-15

By Jerry Adams

With yet another threat of rain today, the cleanup continues from the storms that hit  one week ago.  It's taken a week for one week for one Letcher county  family to even get back to their home to look at the damage. That's because a giant mudslide has blocked the driveway since the storms and was only cleared away on Monday. Darlene Jent says she is thankful for for neighbors who took her and her niece in after the mud blocked access to their home in Blackey. Because the driveway is private property, Jent had to hire a contractor to do the job.

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As people in Johnson County rebuild, officials say the flood was so bad that officials will not recommend that people move back into some areas that were washed away, The Kentucky DEP says even though this was a once in every 500 year flood, the risk it just too great to rebuild. Many people there agree they wont go back, not because of the the risk, but because of the painful memories the location now holds.

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We are learning  more about the people who died in the floods in Johnson County. One of them, 22 year old Richard Blair, had cerebral palsy and was in his wheelchair when the water cam crashing into the hone he shared with his family. Blair's mom says it's painful to remember the final moments before her son was swept away—and that she did everything she could to save him, to no avail.

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The Letcher County Commonwealth Attorney says several inmates in the county jail will soon be up for parole.  Those 8 prisoners will have a chance to make their case before the parole board and Edison Banks says anyone who wants to provide information for the parole board to consider should contact the board directly for more information before those hearings in September.

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Jailers in Harlan county are investigating the death of an inmate. Officials say 49 year old Darrell Wayne Johnson was take to Harlan ARH early Monday after he was found unresponsive in his cell. He was later pronounced dead. Kentucky State Police say while there is no suspicion of foul play, they well look into the circumstances of Johnson's death.

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Two men have been indicted on charges they killed a woman and her daughter in Perry County in 2013.  32 year old Matthew Minks and 30 year old Ronnie Everage are accused of killing Sandra and Suzy Melton in their Scuddy home and then setting the home on fire to try to cover up the crime. They are both facing several charges, including murder, arson  and tampering with evidence.

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The Hazard police department is getting a new home. The city has bought the former McDonalds on East Main Street which will be transformed to house the department. Chief Allen Minor says his department has outgrown its current office, where it has been for 20 years, He says the new space will be almost double what the department has now and will provide more room for storage on the inside and parking on the outside. Work on the building to get it ready for new occupants will take about 6 months.

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Residents in Boonville are mourning the loss of their city manager. Ronnie Callahan Junior is being recalled as a personable and positive man who will be missed. He passed way over the weekend, apparently from natural causes. Ronnie Callahan was 46.

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A man from Laurel County is doing his part to keep the military recruiting station there safe. Bryan Cheak never served in the military, but he is now posted outside the recruiting center in London. He says he felt he had to do something after last weeks shooting deaths of five members of the military at a similar recruiting station in Tennessee.  People who work in the  center says while Cheak isn't affiliated with the armed forces, they feel better knowing he is standing watch outside .