LOCAL NEWS

Tuesday 10-20-15

By Kristen Thoburn

Police say Harlan County magistrate James Howard abused his authority by issuing checks to a company, for which he is a manager and major stock-holder. The allegations are in relation to five separate checks which police say, were issued in 2009 and 2010 to the company he manages, LP energy. Howard is charged with misuse of confidential information, and abuse of public trust, under $10,000. Howard says he hasn’t done anything wrong, and an investigation will prove that.


A Perry County man charged with murder in connection to a car crash pleaded not guilty Monday. Police believe Bobby Snell, 22, was driving under the influence Thursday morning and caused a crash that killed Caitlin Simpkins, 18. Snell will be back in court October 27 for a preliminary hearing.

Police say 61-year-old Tommy Reeves was found dead in a Barbourville river. Reeves was reported missing to the Knox County Sheriff’s Department by his girlfriend after he went missing on October 4. According to Kentucky State Police, an autopsy is pending, but preliminary results indicate Reeves died from cardiovascular problems. The death is still under investigation.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin made two stops in Eastern Kentucky Monday. He met with members of the chamber of commerce before stopping at the ribbon cutting of a new call center in Somerset. Bevin also stopped in London and Taylor County.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for farmers and processors who would like to participate in industrial hemp pilot projects next year. Applications are being taken through Nov. 5 by the state agriculture department for the new growing season. the amount of hemp grown in Kentucky has continued to climb. In 2015, 922 acres were approved for industrial hemp growing, up from 33 acres in 2014.

Changes are coming to The Tanglewood Downhill Trail in Whitesburg. The Kentucky Division of Forestry is bringing in students from the Virginia Tech Community Design Assistance Center (CDAC) to help create a vision that will adapt to the trail. Many say the city calls for some serious change, but folks still want to keep their heritage in the mountains.  the master plans will soon be given to the city of Whitesburg. It will then be up to the mayor, the board and the community to implement the ideas suggested.

Good for tourism or bad for the community? Folks in Elkhorn City are split when it comes to deciding if alcohol should be sold in restaurants. Last week the Pike County Clerk received a petition to let the people decide if alcohol should be sold in restaurants. The petition only allows restaurants that can seat 50 or more people and have at least 70-percent of their sells coming from food to serve alcohol. The Pike County Clerk must verify all the signatures on the petition before it is put to a vote. There is currently no alcohol sold in Elkhorn City. If there are enough a special election will be held, most likely in January.

It's going to be a busy Halloween night in Lexington with the Kentucky-Tennessee football game, Breeder's Cup and trick-or-treating. On Monday, the SEC league office announced UK-UT kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on the SEC Network on Saturday, October 31.

Monday 10-19-15

By Kristen Thoburn

One person is dead and another is arrested for DUI... and manslaughter. Kentucky State Police arrested Robert Walker of Letcher County.  He was allegedly operating a vehicle under the influence, which resulted in the death of one person.   Walker was also arrested for wanton endangerment. Kentucky State Police is handling the investigation.


Since it opened late last month, owners of Kentucky Mist moonshine distillery in Whitesburg say their business has put about $26,000 back into the local economy. They say a big part of that is the distillery's gift shop, which features mainly handmade items from people in the area. Owner Collin Fults says they were inspired by farmers markets to give local artists and craftspeople a place to sell their goods. He says some of his biggest customers are tourists from out of town who are looking for some local flavor.

 A man is searching for a home after his exploded in Corbin. One neighbor says he is suffering burns on his head and chest. Brandon Goodin says he was using power tools when the explosion happened and it was still loud to him. He said he could feel the ground rumble beneath him. When he looked, his neighbor's foundation was obliterated. Officials say they have ruled out foul play. The gas company is also looking in to if there may have been a leak.

A man walked away from the Bell County Forestry Camp yesterday only to be found less than four hours later. Officials say David Philpot, 36, walked away from the minimum security prison. K-9 officers with the prison found Philpot on Pine Mountain hours later. Philpot is serving a 20-year-sentence for theft charges in laurel county, but officials say additional charges will be added to his sentence in connection with this incident.

Kentucky State Police Public Affairs Officer Shane Jacobs said approximately 15 troopers were involved in the Safe School Active Shooter class at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College’s Harlan Campus on Friday. The program involved faculty and other staff from the SKCTC campuses around the area, including Harlan, Cumberland and Pineville. Jacobs said along with troopers from Post 10 in Harlan, troopers from Post 13 in Hazard were also on hand to assist with the program.

The Whitley City Fire Department has dedicated a new training center and memorial in honor of a firefighter who died in the line of duty in 2013. Lt. Arlie "Pooh" Hill was fatally injured when attempting an apparent rescue attempt from a burning residence on August 30, 2013. Lt. Hill suffered severe burns to over 90 percent of his body in the tragic accident.  He passed away nearly two months later from his injuries.   On Saturday, the Whitley City Fire Department held a ceremony to dedicate the memorial and training center in honor of Lt. Hill.

Laurel County sheriff deputies rounded up a group taking part in what is considered organized crime. Sheriff's deputies say a woman was shoplifting from the Wal-Mart just outside of Corbin. They say Ella Bowman was taking the items to a car in the parking lot where a group was waiting to bag them in unused Wal-Mart bags and return them for gift cards. The pile of bags was found in the car. Officers say some of the suspects also gave false names, hoping to avoid outstanding warrants.

A popular Perry County restaurant is now "smoke-free." This weekend Jabo's Coal River Grille in Hazard went smoke free.  Its owner said families would often complain about the smoke. While not all customers are pleased, some said it is a good idea.  While the owner said sales might suffer, he thinks non-smoking is the right move. Those would like to smoke can still do so outside. The owner said he plans to add heaters in order to accommodate customers as much as possible.

Friday October 16, 2015

By Kristen Thoburn

According the Kentucky State Police Department, a Perry County woman was fatally injured in a collision yesterday that sent two other passengers to the hospital and the driver to jail. Troopers discovered a 2004 Chevrolet Trail Blazer resting on its top. The car ejected 18 year old Caitlin Simpkins. Simpkins died at the hospital. Two other passengers, 22 year old Brandon Collins and 19 year old Justin Collins, suffered non-life threatening injuries. Driver of the car, 22 year old Bobby Snell is in jail on suspicion of driving under the influence.


Construction is expected to begin soon on a new Taco Bell restaurant in Whitesburg. a stand-alone Taco Bell restaurant will be built in West Whitesburg on property  directly across from the “Sugar Shack.” Mayor craft says the new store will create 50 new jobs to the area.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is outlawing the open carry of guns in some state-owned building and pushing for tighter gun control measures. McAuliffe signed an executive order Thursday at the Capitol setting up a task force aimed at more robust prosecution of gun crimes.

Ponderosa Steakhouse in Hazard partnered with several senior care groups in the region to raise money, and awareness for elder abuse. Ponderosa donated twenty percent of their sales to the cause. They said they were happy to help, and attempt to also bring attention to the most common form of elder abuse, which is financial.

A Harlan native will speak at the Big Sky Bigfoot Conference in Hot Springs Montana later this month.   Michael Cook, founder of the Kentucky Sasquatch team says he has had an interest in Bigfoot for 15 years following a possible sighting at Martins Fork Lake.

The City of Whitesburg will soon host its first Oktoberfest.  Streets in downtown will be shut down next Saturday  October 24, from around 3 to 4 p.m. through midnight for the festival. Downtown businesses will set up tents and serve beer, soft drinks, and moonshine products from the distillery. There will be tents for drinks and food, including bratwurst.  One stage will be set up for music as well.

A Pike County bus driver is behind bars charged with multiple counts of rape involving a child.  45 year old Kennith Brown allegedly had sex with a 12-year-old girl at least five times between August and October of 2015. It is unclear whether the victim was a student in the school district. Neal Smith, general counsel to the board of education  says Mr. Brown will not be driving a school bus any time soon, or at least until the charges are proven irrefutably to be false. 

The director of public safety at Eastern Kentucky University says they are looking at ways to enhance the university's current security system more than a week after officials found a death threat in a campus bathroom. There is security cameras inside the building, where a message was left that said, "KILL ALL BY 10/8/15 THIS BU OOP." But no cameras were in a position to see who was leaving that area on the ground floor.   UK has seen a drop in campus crime since installing more cameras.

Good news if you DON’T have insurance.   Aspen Dental in Madison County is offering free dental exams and x-rays for people without insurance. The practice opened last month, and says they want to make basic dental care accessible to all.   Dentist Dr. David Devito, says a healthy smile can make all the difference in having confidence or not

Whitesburg Mayor Craft announced that the city will hold a Halloween Safe Night on October 31 in front of City Hall. The event will last from 5 through 8 p.m. and in the event of rain, it will move into the Letcher County Courthouse. Craft invited businesses, office seekers, and others wishing to provide candy to come down and set up a table.

Kentucky lost to Auburn last night 30 to 27 in their first Thursday night game ever.  Before the game there was a concert by Montgomery gentry but they had a very special guest.  Eastern Kentucky’s Marlana Vanhoose joined the superstars for their song My Town.  The blind teen became famous after a youtube video of her singing the national anthem went viral. 

Monday 8-24-15

By Jerry Adams

Authorities are investigating a weekend fire in Perry County. Nobody was hurt in that blaze on Newsome Lane in Cornettsvile on Saturday, but the home was destroyed. Neighbors say they smelled smoke and called 9 1 1 , but that by the time fire crews got to the scene it was too late to save the building. No one was home at the time of that fire.

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A boy from Knott County is recovering, after a live saving kidney transplant from his adoptive father. Breven Portwood had been diagnosed with kidney disease and his father, Elmer Portwood was the perfect match. Father and son are improving at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. 12 year old Breven says he is looking forward to returning to a normal live and elmer says he is thankful that he was able to help his son —who was born in Guatemala and adopted as an infant.

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No sign of foul play in the death of a Clay County man whose body was found in the Daniel Boone National Forest on Friday. Officials say 43 year old Steven Eddie Woods was discovered after he was reported missing last week. An autopsy will be done to determine how he died.

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Thousands of people rallying over the weekend in support of the Rowan County Clerk—and her refusals to issue marriage license because of her religions belief. That rally in Frankfort on Saturday drew people from around the state and around the country. Kim Davis spoke briefly,saying she was grateful for the turnout an needed prayers. A judge has ruled that Davis must issue those licenses in the wake of the US supreme court decision on gay marriage earlier this year, but that decision is on hold pending a review buy the sixth circuit court of appeals.

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Cleanup work is progressing in Johnson County in the aftermath of the floods. Officials say the first phase of construction debris pickup in the flooded areas is complete. The contractor plans to wait a week to give people time to sort through and pile more material for pickup. The final round of pickups will begin Monday, August 31.  Officials say material that can be picked up and hauled off is limited to construction debris from homes and other buildings that were damaged or destroyed during last month's floods. Debris should be separated into six categories: Construction Debris, Electronics, Large Appliances, Hazardous Waste, Vegetative Debris, and Household Garbage.

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Another new traffic pattern in Pikeville this week.  It's due to work on Bypass Road in Pikeville as the work progresses north toward Town Mountain Road. The Kentucky Highway Cabinet says motorists are asked to watch for new directions on variable message boards and new signs and barriers . All businesses on Bypass Road remain open and accessible from the Chloe Creek side of the project through to Don Combs Bridge. Officials say while that work may be frustrating now. When its done, Bypass Road will be much, much safer for vehicles and pedestrians

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It was a great day for flying on Saturday at the Big Sandy Regional Airport, as the field celebrated its 14th annual Airport Day. There were dozens of copters and even a military Black Hawk on hand to showcase the airport and let aviation enthusiasts share their hobby. Officials say while Eastern Kentucky may not have a large aviation community, it is growing and that events like Airport day let people appreciate the joy of flight,

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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul will be able to run for president—and re election to he IU S senate seat at the state time. The state GOP has approved a March 5th presidential caucus—in addition to the state primary in May,. State law says a candidate cannot appear om the same ballot twice, meaning Paul would have had to give up either his senate—or presidential primary . Paul will have to pay 250 thousand dollars for the caucus—he says he should have no trouble coming up with that cash.  

Friday 8-21-15

By Jerry Adams

Police have charged a man with driving while under the influence following an accident involving a school bus in Floyd County. That crash around 3 PM on Highway 1426 in the community of Dana sent one child to the hospital with minor injuries. The driver is identified as 38 year old Anthony Kiser, who was arrested for D U I. He will face several other charges chages inlcuding wanton endangerment as well and was taken to the Floyd County Jail. There were 42 children, and the driver,on the bus at the time of the crash.

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A man from Floyd County who was found guilty but mentally ill on charges that he killed two neighors back in 2012. The state suprme court says Berry Hall deseres a new trial because of some graphic crime scene photos that the jury saw during his trial. The judges say those 28 pictures were repetitive and unnecessary. Alan Tackett and his wife Lisa were found shot to death outside their home.

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A new trail could help keep people in letcher county physically fit, and officials hope it will help with fiscal fitness too, by attracting more people to the community. That trail is planned for Whitesburg and could some day be hooked into a similar path in Jenkins. Leaders of that Greeway Project say the 14 mile trail is one of the few consistently down hill places in the county, making it ideal for biking and hiking—maybe not so ideal though for going uphill if you aren't already in shape.

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Its back to school for students at the University of Pikeville, Registration continues today and classes begin for the fall semester om Monday. U-Pike says there are still scholarships available and hope that potential students who are still on the fence when it comes to college will consider enrolling, even with the first classes just a few days away now.

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Federal officials have started going door too door in Johnson County, spreading the word about disaster relief available for victims of last month' s flooding. FEMA says its survivor assistance teams want to make sure people know what help is available to help put the pieces back together after the rising water washed away or damaged dozens of homes. Meanwhile,  FEMA says residents should be on the lookout for scam artists trying to take advantage of the situation. Officials say representatives will not make unsolicited phone calls asking for personal information and that any agent who stops by in person will have proper identification, which residents should ask to see.

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The city council in Evarts says they are holding the line on a tax incrase this year. Council members say given the tough economy, now isn't the time to add taxes to residents who are already struggling to make ends meet. They say they should be able to go though the budget and find enoough savings to avoid an increase in the tax rate for now but will take another look at taxes next year as they hope for an improving economy.

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Back to the bargaining table for workers at Paul B Hall Medical Center in Paintsville. The United Steelworkes Union has ulled back from a 10 day strike notice at the facility, and says it will resume contract talks on September 3rd, aimed at avoiding a walkout.

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An honor for the state prosecutor in Clay County. Clay Bishop has been named as on of the state's top county attorneys at a ceremony hosted by governor Steve Beshear. This is the third time Bishop has been recognized for his work. He was named to that top prosecutors list in both 1995 and 2006. The governor says Bishop has done an outstanding job, in office, including his work fighting domestic violence. In addition to his public work, Bishop has a private practice and teaches paralegal studies at Eastern Kentucky University.

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