Saturday, May 09, 2009


Flash Floods Plague Eastern Kentucky

A line of storms Friday night produced flash flooding which plagued parts of eastern Kentucky. Pike County Emergency Manager Doug Tackett says county residents experienced widespread flooding Saturday morning which caused extensive damage to homes, roads and water lines, while some areas experienced power outages. As water came over the banks at Johns Creek around 3:00 A.M., Meta residents evacuated their homes, saying the water was higher than they'd seen it in many years. Residents say flood waters were at least partway up the walls of their homes. Around 10:30 A.M., folks were parked along KY 194 off U.S. 119 watching water surround their homes while they attempted to decide what to do. Rock falls, mudslides, downed trees and high waters were reported across the county. Pikeville reported about 30 mudslides Friday night, and KY 1460 (Chloe Creek Road) was impassable. The courthouse was flooded in Belfry, and motorists in that area couldn't get very far. Shelters were set up at Pike Central High School and Belfry High School to aid people who were forced out of their homes.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Three Probable Swine Flu Cases Put Officials On High Alert

Health officials were on high alert Friday (today) as three new probable swine flu cases appeared in Louisville and northern Kentucky. A University of Louisville student, a child from Louisville and a young woman from Kenton County were the first probable cases reported in Kentucky since Monday. T he University of Louisville student does not live on campus and has had limited contact with students, faculty and staff, but anti-viral medication has been provided to those suspected of having contact.


CONSOL To Idle Knott County Mine

CONSOL Energy says, beginning July 1st., the company will cease operations at its Jones Fork mine near Mousie in Knott County, affecting 153 employees. Since the mine will be idled but not permanently closed, workers won't receive severance packages but will be eligible for unemployment. It was targeted because its location made it costlier to operate.


Pepsi Controller Charged With Embezzling $8.7 Million

G & J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Inc. is conducting an internal investigation following a discovery earlier this year that money had been embezzled from the Southern Division based in Lexington and reporting it to the FBI. A federal grand jury in Cincinnati has returned a 75 count indictment for James T. Hammes, who has been at large since fleeing in Februrary. He's indicted on wire fraud and money laundering after allegedly embezzling more than $8.7 million between 1998 and February 2009.


Kentucky Motor Speedway Owner Says Former Owners Should Get Out Of NASCAR's Way

Burton Smith, the owner of Kentucky Motor Speedway, is urging the track's founding group to drop an antitrust lawsuit which is preventing NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series from being added to next year's schedule. The 2005 suit is on appeal, and Smith says the group has a moral obligation to Kentucky to get out of the way.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Mingo County 22 Mine Road Industrial Park Attracts New Businesses

Mingo County 22 Mine Road Industrial Park, which already boasts three businesses having well over $100 million in capital assets, has over 650 flat, usable acres of land awaiting development. Two more operations are signed and sealed to be located at the park. Wrightway Ready Mix and Wright Underground Concrete, both a part of Wright Concrete, are scheduled to open in late spring of this year, bringing 20 new jobs at first and expanding to as many as 60 within two years. An 80 acre tract will serve as the new home of the combined Mingo-Logan National Guard unit.


Tractor Trailer Hits Gospel Tour Bus

Nine people were transported to the Hardin Memorial Hospital Thursday morning after a tour bus owned by the Morgans, a Christian family musical group from Bracken County, was slammed into by a tractor trailer while parked on the road shoulder on Interstate 65 near Elizabethtown. The accident occurred around 4:00 A.M. The tractor trailer driver, Ricky Springer from Tennessee, suffered four broken ribs and an injured knee, while the others, including three children, suffered minor injuries.


KY 580 To Be Repaired In Johnson County

Road officials in Johnson County say motorists need to find an alternate route if they normally drive past mile marker 6 on KY 580. They say recent rain has caused a slip in the road that has worsened, and the repair could take some time to complete. A contact drill will be used to place a railroad steel retaining wall through the damaged section, and it will then be packed with rock and blacktopped. Engineer Doug Wright says there is access to KY 40 on either side of the slip.


Floyd County Denied School Waiver

As the request for six disaster days for the Floyd County school system has been denied by the Kentucky Department of Education, students will remain in class until at least June 11th. Superintendent Henry Webb says the system will reluctantly accept the decision and move forward. On April 13th.,the Floyd County Board of Education decided to add thirty minutes to each school day to make up for lost days. If the six days had been granted and added to the extension, the closing date would have been June 3rd. Due to additional time off, May Valley Elementary and Betsy Layne High School have set June 12th. as their last instruction date.


Consent Decree Filed In Pikeville

If the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn't object within 45 days, a judge will be asked to sign off on a deal in which a consent decree was filed in U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

In September, the Sierra Club and Kentuckians For The Commowealth sued Clintwood Elkhorn Mining, a subsidiary of TECO Energy, claiming it had violated the Clean Water Act. Clintwood Elkhorn has agreed to pay $250,000 as a penalty for mining around streams in Pike County.

The environmental groups discovered last spring work had begun and rock had been dumped into valleys, sediment ponds had been created and partial reclamation had begun in an area near Miller's Creek, north of Fishtrap Lake, before permits were granted. The consent decree filed in Pikeville calls for the company to spend most of the settlement to restore parts of Hurricane Creek.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Federal Prosecutors Motion Calls Made During Bid-Rigging Investigation

Federal prosecutors in the bid-rigging case of former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, road contractor Leonard Lawson and Lawson aide Brian Billings filed a motion Tuesday detailing 33 calls in early 2008 Nighbert made to Lawson's home. Prosecutors say four of the calls came in January, and the rest were made in March, while an investigation was being conducted, and allegedly after Nighbert and Lawson became concerned that another Transportation Cabinet official might decide to cooperate with the investigation. Trial is scheduled for June 23rd. in Covington.


School Districts Await Disaster Day Approval

Pike County's waiver request for disaster days is underway, along with Floyd, Johnson, Knox and Letcher counties. The state Department of Education says their staff is working around the clock after 40% of Kentucky's school districts have asked permission to waive up to ten make-up days due to September winds from Hurricane Ike and January's ice storm. Sixty six of the state's 174 school districts are seeking disaster day waivers, while about half have already been approved. The department says it's awaiting additional supporting information from 33 districts to finalize their requests. The state has ten days to approve or deny the requests.


Columbia Gas Seeks Rate Hike Approval

Columbia Gas is seeking approval from the state Public Service Commission for a 7% increase in rates for its 140,000 customers in 31 counties in central and eastern Kentucky. The company says it needs the increase to continue to replace aging lines, many of which the company says are bare steel or unprotected or uncoated pipe. The proposal would aid in replacing 525 miles of lines, allow the company to recover almost $11 million spent in 2008 and boost revenues by about $11.6 million. Columbia is also asking the PSC to change its rate structure for delivery fees to include only a flat fee. Delivery fees are 30% of the bills and where the company makes its profit.


Kentucky's Second Swine Flu Case Confirmed

Although no new swine flu cases were reported in Kentucky Tuesday, further testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the young man from Daviess County indeed has swine flu. He is receiving anti-viral drugs, and health officials say he is doing well.


Kentucky Leaders Say Higher Coal Taxes Are Off-Limit

While other taxes and fees have gradually increased and other coal states have asked the mining industry to contribute more, Kentucky hasn't, in about thirty years, touched its coal severance tax rate or its mine permit fees. Governor Beshear and the legislature say, although they could find themselves wrestling this summer with a $1 billion state budget shortfall and no matter how painful spending cuts might be, they will not consider higher coal taxes. This week, the House and Senate budget chairmen said coal is off-limits. They and the Kentucky Coal Association warn raising coal taxes would discourage mining and eliminate jobs in the state.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


UNITE Impersonator Pleads Guilty

Tony Ray Herald of Pike County pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Pikeville to working with Vernon Todd Griffie, a former Perry County volunteer sheriff's deputy, and going to homes of people in Letcher and Knott counties for the purpose of scoping them out and arranging to buy drugs. Later, the two would return, impersonating police and Operation UNITE officers, and, while using a gun, place the victims in handcuffs while robbing them of cash and pills. An accomplice, Brooke Leann Collins, pleaded guilty in Feburary to helping in September 2007 with the robbery of a Mayking resident. Griffey filed for a rearrainment in April and is awaiting a second psychiatric evaluation following a suicide attempt. Herald will be sentenced August 17th.


Cable Franchise Negotiations Continue

In what seems to be an endless string of negotiating meetings, the city of Pikeville is still unable to approve cable franchise agreements with Suddenlink and Inter-Mountain Cable. In the recent round of renewal talks, Pikeville is once again considering an evaluation by engineer William Phots. Phots previously prepared a similar report for the city, and his most recent report was commissioned by Suddenlink. Signaled out for particular criticism was Myers Towers on Hambley Blvd. in Pikeville. Donovan Blackburn, city manager, using the Phots report, apparently absolved Suddenlink for bad reception in the eleven story building, but rather related it with the building's wiring. In the meantime, Blackburn offered this statement, "We are moving forward."


KSP Investigate Deadly Floyd County Accident

Kentucky State Police are investigating a deadly accident which occurred around 12:30 P.M. Monday afternoon on KY Route 114 in Prestonsburg. Investigators say Ollie Blackburn crossed the center line and hit a boat being pulled by a vehicle, then continued on, hitting a second vehicle. Bonnie Meade, a passenger in the second vehicle, died in the crash.


Mingo County Couple Facing Death Penalty Get New Trial

Fifty nine year old George "Porgy" Lecco of Red Jacket and 46 year old Valerie Friend of North Matewan were convicted in May 2007 for the death of Carla Collins, a drug informant who was murdered in 2005. The Mingo County couple, who face the death penalty, will now get a new trial because a juror failed to disclose he was under investigation for child pornography. No date has been set.

Monday, May 04, 2009


Kentucky Probable Swine Flu Cases Rise As Mexico Criticizes Discrimination

As Mexico criticizes swine flu discrimination around the world, th Kentucky Department for Public Health reported the state's fifth probable case Monday (today) involving a Hardin County toddler who attends a day care center at Fort Knox, which has voluntarily closed the center through at least Wednesday of this week. The state's fourth probable case involves a young Daviess County man who attends college in Massachusetts.


Whitesburg Accident Kills One...Hospitalizes Others

Twenty seven year old Jessica Pigg of Viper was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday when the car she was driving in Whitesburg crossed the center line and hit another vehicle driven by 19 year old David Wittsack of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Wittsack, along with three passengers in Pigg's vehicle, 15 year old Samantha Brooke Hatton, 14 year old Elizabeth Ross (both of Whitesburg) and 59 year old Barbara Lee of Thornton were taken to Whitesburg ARH. Ross was later taken to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport.


Crash Kills Floyd County Man

Sixty two year old Keith Webb of Dwale in Floyd County was pronounced dead at a local hospital Saturday following a single vehicle accident on U.S. 23 near the Town Branch intersection. Authorities say he lost control of his vehicle, ending up on a hillside near Prestonsburg.


Stay Issued For Prison Release Ban

Circuit Judge David A. Tapp issued an injunction early last week banning the early release of prison inmates, but the Kentucky Department of Corrections said Friday the Kentucky Appeals Court granted the department's request for a stay and recommended the case be transferred to the state Supreme Court. The Department of Corrections says it can now resume releases on a statewide basis, except in Tapp's circuit.


Trial Set For Clay County Officials

A September 14th. trial date has been scheduled for eight Clay County officials charged with attempting to rig federal, state and local elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Former Circuit Judge Russell Cletus Maricle, school superintendent Douglas C. Adams, County Clerk Freddy Thompson, Democratic election commissioner Charles Wayne Jones, election officers William E. Stivers and Paul E. Bishop, along with William B. Morris and Debra L. Morris are all charged with racketeering. All, except Adams and Bishop, face a charge of conspiring to buy votes. Some face additional charges, including mail fraud.


Overnight Rains Flood Eastern Kentucky

Several days of continuous rain have put eastern Kentucky roads under threat. According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, several eastern Kentucky roads were closed Monday morning due to overnight flooding. At 9:15 A.M., three state roads, 1224 at Rockhouse, KY 40 at Tomahawk and KY 40 at Warfield (all in Martin County) were reported under water. In Floyd County, KY 1427 at mile markers 5 and 6 were under water and a mudslide closed KY 1750 at mile markers 1 and 2. Kentucky State Police reported minimal incidents, one of which included a stranded motorist. The rain was a blessing in controlling forest fires, but, now, they pose a different kind of threat.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Convicted Murderer Released

Friday corrections officials released Carlton Foley who was convicted of murder and robbery in Laurel Circuit Court on November 12, 1997 and was sentenced to 20 years on each charge, to run consecutively. He was convicted for the murder of 36 year old Timothy A. Sizemore whose remains were located by two fishermen near the Harmon Creek area of Lake Cumberland (Wayne County) on May 6,2003 after he was reported missing on July 3,1996 in Knox County. Foley became the first person in Kentucky convicted of murder without a body.


KSP Investigate Female Body Found In Perry County

Kentucky State Police are investigating a female body found on a strip mine site in the Vicco community of Perry County early Friday morning. The body has been identified as 29 year old Jessica Haddix Mullins. Police officials say the identification was made primarily by a description of tattoos to family members. The body was sent to the state Medical Examiner's Office for positive identification.

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