LOCAL NEWS

Wednesday July 16, 2014

STATE LAW SAYS FIRST TIME STUDENTS MUST HAVE VISION EXAM

As parents in Letcher County and throughout Kentucky are starting plans for back to school, officials remind moms and dads that state law requires children ages 3 through 6 to have a vision exam if they are entering a public school or preschool program for the first time. Experts say vision problems are a major factor in limiting a child’s abilities to learn and succeed. Researchers have found up to 13 percent of children age 5 and younger have some type of vision condition. After age 5, that number increases to 25 percent.

CAUSE OF FIRE AT WORLDWIDE EQUIPMENT STILL UNKNOWN

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed part of a Floyd County business last month. The blaze at Worldwide Equipment’s parts and service building in Prestonsburg  may have been caused by an electrical fire, but that has not been 100 percent confirmed. Worldwide Equipment is in the initial stages of rebuilding the parts and service facility, with cleanup completed on the oil and hazardous materials. Damage was estimated at well over a million dollars.

2 PERRY COUNTY MEN INDICTED ON METH CHARGES

An indictment was handed down against 2 Perry County men on methamphetamine manufacturing charges after police found a meth lab in their home. Joseph Newton and Billie Womack are each being held on $75,000 bail. Police initially went to the home after getting a tip that a wanted man was there and once allowed to search, officers found the meth along with a number of marijuana plants. Womack was indicted last December on several traffic-related charges.

FLOYD COUNTY ARMED ROBBERY SUSPECT STILL AT LARGE

A suspect in a Floyd County convenience store holdup is still at large and police are asking for tips to find him. The early Sunday morning robbery happened at a Marathon off US 23 in Prestonsburg.  According to police the man made a motion to the clerk as if he had a weapon and made off with an undermined amount of cash. No one was hurt. The man is described as very tall – well over 6 feet – and was wearing dark clothing. A reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest is being offered by the store owner.

PIKEVILLE CITY POLICE LOOKING TO ADD MORE OFFICERS

The population growth in Pikeville means the city’s police department is busier than ever. Chief Phillip Reed says the average case load per officer is up nearly 10 percent from the last 3 years. He says he’d like to add more officers so the department has a better street presence, which in turn will improve public safety. Reed says the department received 11,000 calls last year – up from 9000 in 2012.

STATE AUDITOR KICKS OFF PUBLIC HEARINGS ON RURAL HOSPITALS FINANCES

State Auditor Adam Edelen was in Prestonsburg yesterday to kick off a series of public hearings on the financial health of rural hospitals. Edelen says the small hospital network is a system in crisis because of new healthcare regulations which makes it very difficult for administrators to keep operations running. he Prestonsburg stop is one of ten Edelen is conducting to hear concerns from hospital administrators and staff, elected officials, health care providers and the public.

CUMBERLAND MAN ARRESTED ON PUBLIC INTOXICATION AND METH CHARGES

A Cumberland man arrested in Harlan County on suspicion of public intoxication was also charged with methamphetamine possession. Jimmy Nantz was booked into the Harlan County Detention Center on a $100 full cash bond. Police say Nantz was seen at Portal 31 in Lynch and had slurred speech along with being unsteady on his feet. Officers found meth on Nantz and he admitted taking that along with a prescription pain killer. 

MAN SOUGHT IN CAR BREAK INS NEAR BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK

Police are looking for tips to finding the man suspected of breaking into several cars in Kentucky and Virginia. Dickenson County, Virginia deputies say the man is breaking into cars near the Breaks Interstate Park. The suspect is described as between 19 and 25 years old, with dark hair and is driving a pickup truck. Anyone with information is asked to call the Dickenson County Virginia Sheriff's Office

 

Tuesday July 15, 2014

2 SOAR LISTENING SESSIONS TODAY IN WHITESBURG & PIKEVILLE

Two area listening sessions are being held today for the Shaping Our Appalachian Region program. The first is from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Letcher County Extension Agency on Extension Drive in Whitesburg. Then at 6pm a session will be held at at the Pike County Extension Service in Pikeville.  The listening session are designed to engage public dialogue about the next strategic steps toward improving the area’s economy.

LETCHER COUNTY MAN NEEDS KIDNEY REPLACEMENT

A Letcher County man is trying to find a donor for his third kidney replacement. Clancy Hensley had a transplant in 1992 that according to his family was supposed to only last 5 years. That transplant followed one done a year earlier. Hensley’s family hopes that they can find a living donor as the waiting list for replacements is much shorter than for those receiving a kidney from a deceased donor. He needs to complete one more test before being added to the University of Kentucky Medical Center transplant list. The family asks that anyone who is willing to be a possible kidney donor to contact the UK Medical Center nurse transplant coordinator.

FLOYD COUNTY BUSINESS SUING THE IRS

The IRS is being sued by a Floyd County business. Worldwide Equipment of Prestonsburg claims the agency wrongly classified a truck the company sells as an on road-vehicle – meaning the government can collect excise taxes. Court papers say the truck – used in mining – is intended to be used off road only with occasional highway use. The suit seeks $2.5 million.

POLICE ENFORCING NO TRAFFIC ON NEW US 460 IN PIKE COUNTY

Police are warning those using the newly paved US 460 in Pike County to stay off the road because it isn’t open yet. Drivers are skirting the orange construction barrels and taking to the new road that cuts commuting time between Elkhorn City and US 23 in Pikeville. Police have staked out the area and are now handing out trespassing tickets to those ignoring the road closed signs. Officials hope to have the road open between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

HARLAN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTY ARREST ON ASSAULT CHARGES

A Harlan County Sheriff's Deputy is arrested on suspicion he physically assaulting his ex wife. John Luttrell was booked yesterday at the Harlan County Detention Center and released on bond. Investigators haven’t disclosed the circumstances that led to Luttrell’s arrest.

COURT RULING UPHELD IN WISE COUNTY ILLEGAL DISCHARGE ALLEGATIONS

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that a company illegally discharged harmful waste into a Wise County, Virginia creek. A&G Coal Corporation appealed a judge’s decision that the company was required to report plans to discharge selenium when a permit application was filed for the Kelly Branch mine.  One of the 3 appellate judges wrote that allowing A&G to use the so-called permit shield defense would "tear a large hole" in the federal Clean Water Act.

MIDDLESBORO BECOMES PART OF THE CUMBERLAND RIVER DRUG TASK FORCE

The city of Middlesboro has signed off on joining the Cumberland River Drug Task Force. It’s an Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force that covers Harlan, Bell and Knox Counties. Retired Kentucky State Police trooper Roy Pace is overseeing the force which has been months in the making. Organizers hope to expand task force operations into 10 nearby countie

FATAL CAMPGROUND ACCIDENT IN DICKENSON COUNTY VA OVER THE WEEKEND

Police are investigating a fatal campground accident in Dickenson County, Virginia. Investigators say an SUV struck two women who are sitting near a fire pit at the Pound River Campground. Norma Jean Kendrick of Clintwood died and Georgia Mullins of Clintwood was treated for minor injuries. Police say the SUV driver suffered life-threatening injuries. Her name has not been released. According to witnesses the SUV’s accelerator stuck as the driver pulled into a campsite. The vehicle ended up in the Pound River.

Monday July 14, 2014

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.

Thursday July 10, 2014

 

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.

 

Wednesday July 9, 2014

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.