Friday, June 26, 2009


Capital Murder Attorney Steps Down

Marcus Jones, an attorney for the state Department of Public Advocacy, says he's leaving the agency July 3rd. and can no longer represent Robert Drown of Kenova, West Virginia. Drown is to stand trial in Johnson County for the May 2007 murders of 31 year old Jennifer Ison and her two daughters, 10 year old Shannah and 3 year old Marissa, which occurred at their home near Hitchins in Carter County. Jones is the third defense attorney to resign from the capital murder case. Circuit Judge Rebecca Phillips has called the succession of attorneys "inconceivable" and says she will order supervisor Tom Griffiths to appear at the next hearing scheduled July 20th. to explain the "revolving wheel of co-counsels."


Beshear Signs Bills Approved By General Assembly

As promised earlier, Friday (today), Governor Steve Beshear signed into law two bills approved during the special legislative session and filed them with the Secretary of State's office. State officials say lawmakers approved a host of tax breaks which includes tax exemptions for active duty military personnel and those who buy new cars and homes. The General Assembly also deleted a provision that would have saved $10 million by reducing the number of paid holidays for state workers. Officials say tax breaks added by lawmakers are likely to cost the state about $23 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1st. In the following year, the cost of the programs and others pushed by Beshear and approved by the General Assembly is expected to cost $84 million.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The Local Economy Gets A Boost

Not all news about the local economy is bad. Thursday, the Pike County Fiscal Court announced a new company, EQT Energy, a Pennsylvania Corporation, is coming to Pike County, bringing with it about 100 new jobs, and moving natural gas to a more prominent position in the nation's energy picture. Tapping another eastern Kentucky resource, EQT Corporation will establish a regional headquarters in Pike County. The company plans to build a 45,000 sq. ft. complex at Scott Fork on U.S. 119, if the site is suitable and it can work out certain agreements. EQT is the largest natural gas producer in Applachia, with about 13,000 wells. A groundbreaking date has not yet been set, but, what once was a possibility, a vision, has now become a reality.


Free RAM Clinic At Pike County Central High School

The Remote Area Medical Expedition (RAM) officials and volunteers are preparing for what they expect to be a big turnout this weekend at the Pike County Central High School. Free medical services will be offered as RAM workers provide everything from eye, dental, cardiology and diabetic care. RAM and county officials are working with Kentucky Homeplace, a division of U.K.'s Center for Excellence in Rural Health, in order to limit costs of follow-up doctor visits or prescriptions people may need. The RAM clinic will be open from 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Saturday and Sunday at the Pike County Central High School and will operate on a first come first serve basis.


Kentucky Men Indicted For Theft Of West Virginia Railroad Tracks

A federal grand jury has indicted Clarence A. Thomas, Thomas G. Hamilton and C. Roby Meadows. According to the indictment, the three men traveled from Salyersville, Kentucky to Kermit, West Virginia (Mingo County) from July 2004 to November 2004, and stole sections of railroad track belonging to Norfolk Southern Railroad Company, costing the company $190,000 to replace it. Authorities say the men sold the track as scrap in Kentucky. They're charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts of interstate transportation of stolen goods.


Kentucky Lawsuit Nets $16 Million Judgment

Attorney General Jack Conway has announced a $16 million judgment has been handed down as the result of a lawsuit against Sandoz, the generic drugs division of pharmaceutical giant Novartis. The lawsuit claimed the company defrauded the Medicaid program and Kentucky consumers by inflating prices of prescription drugs. Prior to this judgment, Conway's office had settled cases with four other drug companies for an amount that exceeds $14 million. The Attorney General's Office has filed lawsuits against 47 pharmaceutical companies, claiming they defrauded Medicaid, violated consumer protection laws and engaged in false and deceptive advertising.


Longtime Perry County Officials Indicted

A federal grand jury has indicted 65 year old Chester Jones, Chairman of the Perry County Democratic Executive Committee, and 68 year old Sherman Neace, who served three terms as Perry County Judge Executive before losing in 1998. A two-count indictment alleges they committed mail fraud by sending a false report to the state election finance agency to cover a vote buying scheme, and they conspired to commit mail fraud. They're accused of diverting $7,500 from the state Democratic Party and using it to buy votes in the last November election. The mail fraud charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years. Arraignment is set for July 8th.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Budget Bill Gets Approval

With a handfull of changes to Governor Beshear's budget proposal, Kentucky House and Senate leaders have passed a plan they say will provide for a nearly $1 billion projected budget shortfall for the fiscal year which begins July 1st.

Among other things, the budget deletes a provision that would require state employees to take unpaid holidays, while also providing a slight increase for the budgets of prosecutors and public defenders. Into the budget bill, lawmakers also moved a provision that would allow U.K. to use private money to build sports facilities and allow the state to lease land to an advanced battery facility in Hardin County. Wednesday (today), the Senate unanimously approved the budget proposal, while the House cleared it in a vote of 86 to 10.


FEMA Continues To Assist...While Some Centers Transition

So far, FEMA has approved more than $11.1 million in individual assistance for flood victims in Pike, Breathitt, Floyd, Owsley and Magoffin counties. People have already received more than $10.8 million in cash grants, but FEMA says the number of applications is dwindling.

After Saturday, disaster recovery centers will close or transition. On Monday, June 29th., the Small Business Administration will open loan outreach centers:

Martin Community Center in Floyd County
Owsley County Action Team Building in Owsley County
Belfry Library in Pike County

Centers where individuals can apply for FEMA grants will remain open at:

Johns Creek Elementary School in Pike County
Lifeskills Building in Breathitt County.


New Company Could Soon Be A Reality In Pike County

Pike County officials say hundreds have lost their jobs due to recent layoffs in the coal industry and other businesses. In the last two months, the county's unemployment rate has increased from 6% to 8%. Pike County Fiscal Court members say there's a plan in the works to bring a new company to the area which involves natural gas and will create 100 or more new jobs. Members say they have spent 15 months working on the project, but they cannot release the name of the company until all details are finalized. Details are expected to be finalized in Frankfort on Thursday.


Employee Minimum Wage To Increase

Beginning July 1st., the state minimum wage will see an increase of 70 cents per hour, taking it from $6.55 to $7.25. A federal minimum wage increase of the same amount is set for July 24th. The minimum wage for tipped employees will remain at $2.13 per hour.


New Laws Go Into Effect

New laws approved during the 2009 session of the Kentucky General Assembly go into effect Thursday.

Among the new laws, are a requirement that home health agencies conduct criminal background checks of employees, sexual offenders will be banned from social networking sites where minors are allowed and flags purchased by state and local governments must be made in the U.S.

Profit entities that collect donated items for resale will be required to place a sign on collection bins stating the collections are not charitable in nature and do not qualify for a charitable deduction. HB 39 exempts 17 year olds, who have enlisted in the military, from being required to obtain an intermediate driver's license and exempts individuals over age 18 from graduated driver's licensing requirements. There are several other laws that go into effect Thursday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Prestonsburg Officials Propose Public Smoking Ban

Prestonsburg officials met Monday night with members of the "Breathe Easy, Floyd County" coalition to discuss an ordinance that would ban smoking in public buildings. At the city council meeting, the coalition voiced its opinion, saying this is a public health issue for the work place, and they expect clean water and clean air. While some businesses are all for it, some fear it may hurt their business. The first reading of the ordinance will be conducted at the next city council meeting, and could get final approval by the end of July. The ordinance would follow smoking bans in Pikeville and Paintsville.


Bid-Rigging Trial Gets Indefinite Delay

A $130 million bid-rigging trial which was set to begin Tuesday (today) has been indefinitely delayed. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves stepped down last week from the case involving former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, road contractor Leonard Lawson and aide Brian Billings. Reeves recused himself, citing a potential conflict of interest. Two other judges, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell and U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood were assigned to the case but recused themselves due to conflicts of interest. U.S. District Judge Karl Forester has now been assigned to the case.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Kentucky House Spends Thousands On Renovation While Discussing State Shortfall

It seems there's more than slots and the state budget shortfall causing a stir at Kentucky's Capitol. Under a project authorized by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, the Kentucky House is spending $230,000 to renovate new office space for lawmakers. The renovation involves rebuilding, rewiring and adding new carpet to approximately 4,100 sq. ft. on the third floor of the Capitol Annex, and that figure doesn't include the cost for furniture and electronics. Other occupants of the building have been forced to move elsewhere in Frankfort, costing $408,000 a year in rent to private landlords.


Trial Begins For Jailer Accused Of Rape

Trial got underway Monday (today) for Elliott County Jailer Charles Howard, who's accused of raping a 26 year old female inmate last September while transporting her from Sandy Hook to the Boyd County Jail. The trial is expected to last several days. If convicted, Howard faces up to 20 years in prison. While off the job, but not suspended, he continues to be paid.


Floyd County To Hold Expo For Home-Based Income

To spotlight home-based opportunities for making extra money, the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce will host a Home- Based Business Expo at their location in Prestonsburg on July 1st. The event will feature booths from many companies hoping to attract people to many opportunities available. The event will run from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Judge's Limo Found In Possession Of Alleged Drug Dealer

Bell County Sheriff's Deputies say, when they went to the home of Ricky Napier of Sims Fork in the Arjay community to arrest him on first-degree charges of drug trafficking, they found a 1994 limousine registered to Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Michael Caperton, who lives in London. Caperton confirmed he owned the vehicle and had known Napier for about two or three years but hadn't seen him until recently. He says Napier had done some yard work as a down payment on the limo. When told Napier had been arrested for dealing in drugs, Caperton said he certainly would not associate with drug dealers.


FEMA Recovery Centers Will Close Or Transition

Four FEMA disaster recovery centers in Kentucky, which were opened on June 3rd. to assist residents of May flooding, will close or transition to other functions this coming weekend. The U.S. Small Business Administration will take over the centers in Floyd, Pike and Owsley counties, while a center in Magoffin County will close on June 27th. Another center in Pike and one in Breathitt counties will remain open until further notice. As of Friday, more than 2,300 people had visited the centers, and more than 4,000 people had registered, while FEMA awarded more than $10 million to flood victims.


Pike County Fiscal Court Approves Landfill At Turkey Creek

The Pike County Fiscal Court agreed Friday to immediately open a transfer station on a reclaimed mine site located at Turkey Creek. Currently, debris must be taken to the county landfill at Johns Creek, but the new site will allow for flood damaged properties, as well as appliances and other large items.

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