LOCAL NEWS

Wednesday October 15, 2014

DAUGHTER PLEADS FOR TIPS TO FIND FATHER’S KILLER

The daughter of a Letcher County man killed 14 years ago is asking for anyone with information on her dad's murder to come forward. It was in October of 2000 when Jack Blair was found dead in his car 250 feet below US 119. The State Patrol has no suspects in Blair's death. 7 months before the murder Blair was arrested on cocaine conspiracy charges to which he pleaded guilty. He was killed before sentencing took place.

MAN INDICTED ON SUSPECTED RAPE

A Harlan County man is to be indicted on rape charges. Court papers say last month Kenneth Keith of Cumberland physically and sexually abused a 19 year old woman at a camper in Cranks Creek Lake. Police were called by Harlan County Hospital personnel after examining the woman. Keith is due in court tomorrow.

NO CHANGE IN P’BURG TAX RATES

Tax rates in Prestonsburg remain unchanged - and while that's good news for property owners, it means a loss in revenue for the city. The Floyd County Times reports Prestonsburg's city council chose not to follow a recommendation by the property valuation administrator's office to raise taxes in view of lower property assessments. Councilman Les Stapleton says now is not a good time to raise taxes while BD Nunnery says a better way to increase revenues is to grow the tax base.

FOOD INSECURITY HIGH IN FLOYD COUNTY

A report from Feeding America says nearly one in 5 Floyd County residents are living in food insecurity, the USDA term meaning they don't have enough to eat for a regular lifestyle. The Floyd County Times reports over 27 percent live below the poverty line and those numbers translate to higher food bank usage than nearby counties, with children and senior citizens making up half of those needing help to stay nourished. Three in 4 of those surveyed said they chose between food and paying the utility bill, and the same number chose between food and medical care.

VIRGINIA MINES WIN SAFETY AWARDS

A mine and a coal processing plant in Wise County, Virginia along with 2 mines in Dickenson County, Virginia are recognized by the state of Virginia for safety. In Wise County, Paramont Coal Company’s 88 Strip received a Mine Safety Award in the large surface category and Pigeon Creek Processing Corporation’s Plant No. 1 was recognized in the large coal processing facility category.  In Dickenson County, Paramont Coal Company’s Deep Mine 37  and Dickenson Russell Coal Company’s Roaring Fork Number 4 earned the Mine Safety Award in the large underground category. The mines are operated by Alpha Natural Resources and its affiliates.

FREE DRUG TESTS HANDED OUT TO PARENTS

The Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Operation UNITE join forces to offer parents home test kits to determine if their kids are using drugs. The goal is to give kids a way out of using drugs by having them tell people their parents are testing them. The program begins in Rockcastle County and moves to Pike County next month.

ANOTHER SCAM WARNING

Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt is warning about a new scam where someone calls saying they're with a local or state court and demands payment of a fine or debt and wants to be paid on the phone. Sheriff Hunt says if you get a call like that hang up right away and call the authorities.

LOYALL FINANCES A-OK

An accountant finds the finances of a city in Harlan County to be in "good shape". The Enterprise reports CPA Richard Scruggs told the Loyall City Council he did determine there is a lack of checks on all the cities accounting processes, but said that's due to a lack of personnel, not any kind of fraudulent activity. According to the audit Loyall has around $26,000 in assets and $27,000 in liabilities.

Tuesday October 14, 2014

TIPS WANTED TO FIND MISSING GUNS

Nearly a dozen guns are missing from a Perry County store. Police say the weapons were stolen from the Double E Gun Shop in Hazard by a man doing small repairs at the store.  Investigators say the man - identified as Glen Best - stole 13 guns in total and sold 2 of them, but isn't saying where the other 11 went. Anyone with knowledge of where the guns are is asked to contact the Perry County Sheriff's Department.

PIKE COUNTY SHOPPING CENTER NOW OPEN

A ribbon cutting is held at Pike County's newest shopping center. Hobby Lobby is now open at Pikeville Commons on North Mayo Trail. It's one of up to 20 businesses to locate at the new center, which has been in the works since September of 2013. In addition to retailers, around 170 apartments are in the process of being built, with some already completed.

SENTENCING IN ROBINSON CASE MAY BE DELAYED AGAIN

Another sentencing delay is requested for a former mayor in Floyd County along with her husband on convictions tied to a vote buying scheme. Last week the judge presiding over the cases of former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and Red Robinson delayed sentencing until November 5 because of scheduling conflicts.  Now the attorneys for the Robinsons filed motions to extend that further because one attorney is scheduled to participate in a North Carolina murder trial and the other is working on a case that goes to trial the day before the rescheduled sentencing.

MOONSHINE OPERATION BUSTED

3 Dickenson County Virginia men are arrested when police find a moonshine operation at their homes. Agents searching 3 homes found 20 gallons of untaxed alcohol, moonshine making equipment around $24,000 worth of marijuana and three firearms. The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says Randall Hackney, Scotty Hackney and Ronald Hackney are expected to face multiple charges in connection with the bust.

GRAND JURY INDICTS COUPLE FOR CHILD ABUSE

2 people from Harlan County are indicted by a grand jury on charges connected to the suspected abuse of a 6 year old. Court papers say in March of this year Amos Thomas beat the child with a belt and Natasha Jerrell - the mother of the child - allowed it to happen. The child suffered bruising on the back. A trial date has not been scheduled.

MARION BRIDGE DEVELOPER VISITS PIKEVILLE

The head of the company developing a new facility in Pike County comes to town to discuss the project. Dr. Pearse Lyons is the founder and president of Alltech, a global animal and nutrition health company  Lyons says the company chose Pike County for its can-do attitude and the incredible allegiance throughout the area - an allegiance that Alltech now shares. The site, called Marion Branch, is the location of a former 380-acre surface mine and is owned by the City of Pikeville. Lyons says they are also planning a brewery and distillery for the site and he says it will offer a line of moonshine along with beer and bourbon.

US SENATE DEBATE IS NOW HISTORY

Senator Mitch McConnell and challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes head back to the campaign trail following last night's debate - the only one being held before election day. Observers say both stayed close to their talking points and things did get a bit heated at times - but the candidates didn't reveal anything new. When asked about whether or not she voted for President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Grimes replied that as secretary of state she's upholding the constitutional right of privacy in the voting booth. McConnell didn't answer the question of whether or not climate change is a man-made phenomena.

Monday October 13, 2014

BLACKEY DAY’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Thousands turn out for the 50th anniversary Blackey Day Festival. The event featured lots of free entertainment, over 2 dozen craft booths and a cakewalk along with a cupcake walk for kids. A silent auction was held and the proceeds benefit the Blackey Improvement Committee, organizers of the festival.  For many Blackey Day is a homecoming to people who live away and they plan a visit home to Letcher County well in advance.

PIKE COUNTY JAILBIRDS CHARGED WITH DRUG POSSESSION

3 Pike County Detention Center inmates faces additional charges for possessing drugs while incarcerated. The Appalachian News Express reports Connie Allen of Dorton was found with prescription painkillers, Eric Childress from Left Fork of Island Creek had a syringe along with pain meds and Barry Ron Maynard of Pikeville was in possession of hydrocodone. Each is charged with first-degree promotion of contraband, which is a felony.

LIHEAP SIGNUPS START THIS WEEK

Pre-registration begins Wednesday for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program administered by the Big Sandy Area Community Action Program. Last year the program helped around 15,000 homes in a 5-county area including Floyd and Pike Counties and officials expect even more applications this year. Pre-registration runs through the end of the month and the statewide LIHEAP subsidy program begins November 3rd.

PIKE COUNTY TOT RECOVERING FROM CANCER SURGERY

A Pike County infant is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor. 3 months ago Clay Allen was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma cancer and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy before last week's surgery. Doctors say the chemo shrunk the tumor to half its original size. 14 month old Clay sees his doctors on Wednesday for a scan to determine if he is cancer free.

MISSING HARLAN COUNTY MAN FOUND DEAD

A Harlan County man reported missing is found dead. Police say Willis Dixon of Nolansburg walked away from his home early Wednesday morning and his body was found in a Nolansburg stream late Saturday morning. Dixon had a history of medical conditions including schizophrenia. Investigators say foul play is not suspected.

DOCTOR, 2 OTHERS FACE DRUG CHARGES

A doctor, his wife and a staff member at a Perry County clinic are indicted on drug charges. Court papers say Doctor James Chaney, his wife Lesa and Physicians Assistant Gregory Hoskins distributed and unlawfully dispensed drugs while working at the Ace Clinique of Medicine in Hazard between 2006 and 2013. Each entered not guilty pleas and have a December court date. If convicted they could each face 50 years in jail.

ARGUMENT ENDS WITH A STABBING AND AN ARREST

A woman in Harlan County is jailed on assault charges stemming from an argument. Police say Lorenza Hernandez of Cumberland pulled a knife and stabbed the victim twice. She is held without bond at the Harlan County Detention Center.

ALLEGATIONS MADE ABOUT PIKE COUNTY AIRPORT SPENDING

Pike County's airport hasn't yet started commercial air travel and already there's charges that money was misappropriated by the airport board's chairman. The Appalachian News Express reports Board Member Bobby Wagner says chairman Bill Hickman okayed spending over $20,000 for items requested by one of the companies involved in getting the air service operations - but didn't get board approval to spend the money until several days later. Wagner also says some of the items were massively overpriced and if bought locally could have been acquired a lot cheaper. He says a request for a formal state audit of the board's books will be made at the October 20 meeting.

Friday October 10, 2014

BY RICK PRICE

BLACKEY MAN LEADS POLICE ON CHASE

A Letcher County man pulled over for a seatbelt violation now faces a number of additional charges. Police say they tried to stop Rodney Sexton of Blackey on Kentucky 7 South and as he slowed to pull over, Sexton took off, leading police on a mile long chase ending in a parking lot near Letcher Elementary School. Charging papers say Sexton left the car and struggled with officers who used non-lethal force to get him into custody.

NO INDICTMENT FOR WELLS

A grand jury decides not to indict a Leslie County man on murder charges. Gavin Wells is suspected of fatally shooting Christopher Sizemore after a fight broke out between the two and Sizemore's brother. Wells said he acted in self defense. Sizemore's brother was also shot in the altercation.

FLOYD COUNTY CLEANS UP…YET AGAIN

Folks in Floyd County are again dealing with the aftermath of heavy rains, the fifth big storm in the last two months. One of the hardest hit areas is the Dodson Branch community want to know if or when help is on the way. County authorities are meeting with FEMA officials to learn how soon the aid approved by President Obama can be distributed to pay for cleanup work.

PIKE COUNTY HOSPITAL RECEIVES AWARD

Congressman Hal Rogers visits Pikeville Medical Center to present the Health Impact Award, given to the center's Heart and Vascular Institute. Pikeville Medical Center will mark its 90th anniversary this December.

MORE SENTENCES IN COCKFIGHTING CASE

Sentences are handed down in what police called one of the nation’s largest cockfighting rings. Jonathan Robinson - the son of Wesley Robinson, both of Wise County Virginia - gets a year and a day in jail for pleading guilty to a number of charges including possession of an animal for fighting. Walter Stumbo from Floyd County received an 18 month sentence and his wife Sonya along with their son Joshua wach received 10 month sentences. Sonya Stumbo went to trial on her charges while her husband and son took a plea deal.

RECORD SETTING TORNADO CONFIRMED

The National Weather Service confirms a tornado did touch down in Pike County Tuesday night - and it wasn't just an ordinary tornado, but the strongest one in history to hit the area. The EF1 twister blasted through the area with winds around 90 miles an hour tearing up trees and damaged houses. The Big Sandy community experienced the greatest amount of damage but there are no reports of injuries. Pike County's last big tornado was an EF0 twister 15 years ago.

MORE CHARGES FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SUSPECT

A Floyd County man taken into custody on a possible domestic violence order violation now faces drug charges. Robert Burchett was arrested in Magoffin County and when searched police found marijuana pills and drug paraphernalia.

 

SCHIZOPHRENIC MAN’S WHEREABOUTS STILL UNKNOWN

A Harlan County man wandering away from his home on Tuesday is still missing. Police say Willis Dixon of Nolansburg is schizophrenic and is said not to be dangerous or violent. Dixon is 40, 6 foot tall around 220 pounds with light blond hair and a sleeve tattoo on his left arm. Call Kentucky State Police if you know of Dixon's whereabouts.

STATE SUED OVER COUNTY SPECIFIC LAW

Pike County sues the state over a new mandated process to receive coal severance tax proceeds. Lawmakers implemented a change just for Pike County in the 2014-2015 budget which includes a provision requiring state officials to consult with the county's legislative delegation and changes the application process with rules just for Pike County. The lawsuit says the changes are unconstitutional because it affects only one county. Pikeville senator Ray Jones said one reason for the change was the county requested $11 million in requests for coal severance only had about $4 million of it spent.

Thursday October 9, 2014

MINER DIES FROM INJURIES IN TUESDAY ACCIDENT

A Tennessee man injured in a mining accident in Bell County has died from his injuries. It happened at the Nally and Hamilton mine on Centers Branch Road off Kentucky 92 in the Ingram community. Investigators say Justin Mize was injured when a right-highwall miner cutter chain broke, and as Mize was retrieving it a rock hit him. A Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesperson says Mize died while being airlifted to a hospital. This is the first mining related death this year.

CONSULTANT SAYS REC CENTER NOT ENERGY EFFICIENT

Operational costs for Letcher County's 3 year old recreation center can be reduced by nearly $44,000 annually if energy efficiency improvements are implemented. That's the conclusion of an outside consultant presenting their survey results to the Letcher County Fiscal Court. The consultant told the court that contractors who built the center didn't correctly inspect the facility, and nowadays  municipalities bring in outside inspectors to certify installations. Judge/Executive Jim Ward says he will contact the center's original contractor to get answers on the inefficiency issues.

PERRY COUNTY'S SCHOOL BOARD LOCKS IN ITS 2014-2015 BUDGET

The Herald reports the final budget is $49 million with a large amount of that funded from state sources that take into account student's average daily attendance. District officials are already looking at next year's spending plan, where employees are scheduled to get 2 percent raises - double what is in this year's budget.

SECOND SUSPECT ARRESTED IN A/C THEFT

Another Harlan County man faces theft charges on suspicion of stealing  heating and cooling equipment from a vacant home then sold it. The Enterprise reports Cory Bledsoe of Baxter was arrested yesterday and is held on $5000 bond secured by 10 percent. On Monday Bobby Napier of Baxter was taken into custody. Police say Bledsoe and Napier took a 3-ton heating and cooling unit from a home on Kentucky 840 in Lawnvale then sold it to Baxter Metal Company for less than $70. Police say construction workers at a home next door saw some suspicious activity around the home, and a short time later a truck pulled up and 2 men grabbed the AC unit then took off.

MORE TROUBLE FOR A PIKE COUNTY MAN

A Pike County man is indicted on weapons charges resulting from an arrest 10 days after taking a plea deal on drug charges. Billy Jack Fuller of Feds Creek is indicted on a weapons charge for possessing 4 guns and ammo, with the serial number removed from one of the guns. Fuller pleaded guilty to drug possession and distribution charges and was to be sentenced next month but there's been no word on when he'll be in court on the weapons charge.

FATHER CHARGED WITH PHYSICALLY ABUSING HIS INFANT SON

Charges are brought against a Perry County man on suspicion he physically abused his month old baby. Henry Clemons of Hazard was arrested and taken to the Kentucky River Regional Jail. Police say in August Clemons called for help saying his baby couldn't breathe, and medics took the infant to Hazard ARH then to a Lexington hospital, where doctors found both of the baby's legs, the left forearm and a rib were broken. Charging papers say Clemons knew about the injuries but did not seek assistance. The baby is recovering and is with relatives.

NWS HEADS TO PIKE COUNTY

A National Weather Service team is traveling to Pike County to survey the damage from Tuesday night's storms and to determine if a tornado touched down in the area. The heaviest damage was near Buffalo Creek at the Pike-Floyd County line where trees were uprooted and the winds damaged a number of houses. Heavy rains the night before damaged the cafeteria and 2 classrooms at Shelby Valley High School but it didn't cause classes to be interrupted.

NEW COURT CLERK APPOINTED

The Harlan County Circuit Court has appointed a successor to Paul Williams, who passed away last month. Court Clerk office bookkeeper Wendy Flanary is sworn in to be the first new clerk in nearly 4 decades. Flanary will serve out the remainder of Williams' term and says she hasn't decided about running for a full term.