Friday, August 14, 2009


Floyd County Drug Dealer Sentenced

Forty-seven year old Timothy Wayne Hall of Floyd County was recently sentenced to 15 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to leading a prescription drug ring which began in 2001 and continued until 2007. Hall admitted he organized, led and directed at least five people to obtain Methadone pills from a Pennsylvania doctor and OxyCodone pills from drug dealers in Michigan, which were then brought to Floyd County for distribution. He confessed that, during a two year period, he and others moved more than 50,000 Methadone and 150,000 OxyCodone pills. As part of the sentencing agreement, Hall forfeited approximately $30,000 and several tracts of land.


County Approves New Incarceration Program

To reduce the county's burden and cost of housing overcrowded inmates, the Johnson County Fiscal Court has approved a resolution and necessary paperwork to get the county's home incarceration program started. Officials say the new program will save the county thousands of dollars.


Judge Rejects Mine Rule

The National Mining Association says a ruling made by U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. has saved potentially thousands of jobs. Kennedy has rejected the Obama administration's attempt to reverse a last minute Bush-era rule that allows surface mine waste to be dumped near streams.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


New Satellite Station Proposed

Pike County Judge Executive Wayne Rutherford is attempting to secure funding for a new satellite station he wants built in South Williamson to increase the coverage area and response time of the Belfry Volunteer Fire Department. Senator Ray Jones hopes the project can be funded with coal severance tax money. Rutherford recently sent a letter to Kentucky Secretary of Transportation Joe Prather requesting a tract of land located at the intersection of U.S. 119 North and Highway 292 in South Williamson.


Pikeville College Names Permanent President

Wednesday, Pikeville College named Pikeville resident and former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton as the school's 18th. president. Patton will replace Dr. Michael Looney who served as president for only seven months, resigning due to health concerns. After receiving his B.S. in mechanical engineering at U.K. in 1959, Patton has spent the last fifty years in Pike County. Considered a "son of the mountains," he has served in a variety of public service jobs, including, two consecutive terms as Kentucky Governor...the first in 100 years to succeed himself in office. Former Governor Patton is not a stranger to Pikeville College, having been a Pikeville College Board of Trustees member for nearly thirty years.

The possibility of Patton becoming President of Pikeville College only surfaced on Tuesday, and, by Wednesday afternoon, the idea was approved by the College Board of Trustees. The 72 year old Patton accepted the position without salary and plans to be on campus, for the first time as President Friday morning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell Appears In Eastern Kentucky

The Republican Party in Kentucky apparently needed some high-profile help in a contest for a vacant state Senate seat. They called on U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, who has been on a tour of eastern and northern Kentucky in support of Jack Ditty, a dermatoligist from Russell, who is seeking the slot left vacant when Senator Charlie Borders resigned in July to accept a position on the Kentucky Public Service Commission. Appearing Wednesday (today) in Pikeville at the Rotary Club's luncheon meeting, McConnell spoke to us about the need to elect Republican Ditty in order to keep the Republican majority in the Kentucky Senate, currently at 20 to 17.

Following his Pikeville appearance, including a reception at the East Kentucky Expo Center, McConnell also appeared at the Mountain Arts Center and Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg.


Garbage-To-Ethanol Plant Remains Viable

A proposed garbage-to-ethanol plant in Pike County experienced a setback when $5 million was removed under the U.S. Senate Congressional Review process, when Senator Jim Bunning had placed the $5 million in the federal budget. But, Argesti-Biofuels, the company that will construct and operate the plant, recently met with Pike County Judge Executive Wayne Rutherford and Pike County Director of Energy and Community Development Charles Carlton to assure Pike County the company is adament the plant moves forward. Argesti is seeking to infuse the project with $5 million in private capital and is re-visiting the Governor's office for additional funding. The project is conforming to becoming a phased project, with phase 1 costing roughly $13 million. Locally, $2 million from coal severance tax will go toward the project.


Commercial Air Service In Pike County..Closer To Reality

Commercial air service for the Pikeville Pike County Airport has taken another step toward reality. Monday night at the Hampton Inn in Pikeville, Nathan Vallier, general manager of LOCAIR, spoke to an open forum, fielding questions from the public about air service for Pikeville and the surrounding area. The forum was hosted by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. We talked with Vallier and asked him what criteria was used in selecting Pikeville as a possible site for the service. The financial requirements for localities are a little tricky and would depend on destinations and passenger loads. LOCAIR is also looking at demographics of four other airports in the region--Beckley, Greenbrier, Bowling Green and Paducah.

The forum was unusual in the sense that not one voice was raised in dissent toward the subject. The Pike County Chamber of Commerce will continue to do market research through polling to provide a solid base of customer interest on the idea of commercial air service to the Pikeville area.


Pike County Home Busted

An undercover investigation has led Coal Run Village Police to the home of a 65 year old couple, Gary and Billie Helen Spears, on Mossy Bottom Lane in Pike County, where police say they found a drug warehouse. Authorities say almost four thousand pills were seized, some of which were Velcroed underneath tables and hidden in various places throughout the home. Police say the Spears couple was operating on a barter system, taking cash from those who had it and trading drugs for stolen merchandise from as far away as Montana. Each is charged with drug trafficking and tampering with physical evidence.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Motel Robbed

Kentucky State Police say the Super 8 Motel in South Williamson was robbed around 2:00 A.M. Tuesday (today). The clerk told police a male suspect entered the motel wearing a gray hoody sweatshirt, a green army jacket and a blue bandana, brandishing a knife and demanded cash before fleeing in an unknown direction.


Otter Creek Hires Monitor

As a result of several recent allegations of repeated sexual assaults by prison staff at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, officials have hired a veteran Kentucky warden to monitor the prison. Gary M. Beckstrom, former warden at Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Elliot County, will serve as on-site monitor and will review operational procedures. The $42,000 contract runs from July 30th. to January 30, 2010, with Corrections Corp. of America agreeing to reimburse the state.


Prestonsburg Smoking Ban Approved

Monday night the Prestonsburg City Council voted 5-2, approving a smoking ban inside public places, rejecting an exemption for businesses with patrons 18 years of age and older, but allowing smoking in outdoor areas of restaurants and inside private clubs. The ban takes effect November 1st.


Bid-Rigging Trial Reset

The high profile bid-rigging case for former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert, road contractor Leonard Lawson and aide Brian Billings is scheduled to begin January 11th. On Monday, defense attorneys played audio recordings that captured FBI agents coaching former deputy state highway engineer Jim Rummage to act "agitated and exasperated" during phone calls to Nighbert and Lawson. Rummage claims he was paid $20,000 to obtain internal cabinet estimates which he gave to Nighbert and Lawson. U.S. District Judge Karl Forester has not yet determined whether recorded conversations should be heard by a jury in the upcoming trial.


General Funds Receipts Drop

Kentucky's state budget office says general fund receipts for July totaled $620.5 million, a 4% drop from the year 2008. The largest revenue accounts--sales and individual income taxes--fell a combined 7.3% from a year ago, while the cigarette tax increased 67%, due to a 30 cent per pack tax increase. Road fund revenues were $90.4 million, down 8.2%.


Animal Shelter Back To Normal

The Pike County Animal Shelter, which was severely damaged by a mudslide during the May flooding, has now reopened. While repairs were being made, the shelter operated on an adopt-out only basis, but service director Rose Deskins says the shelter is back to normal.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Clay County Drug Bust

Clay County law enforcement, with the help of the Kentucky State Police, Vehicle Enforcement and the Manchester City Police, executed the largest drug raid in Clay County history. Beginning at 6:00 A.M. Monday (today), 59 indictments were attempted to be served over the entire county...the result...51 arrests, many who were repeat offenders. The eight month operation was mounted and executed at a total cost of over $20,000.


Letcher County Road Improvements

Thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Mountain Enterprises was awarded a $2,742,550.63 contract for long-awaited improvements of KY 15 and KY 15 X in Letcher County. Monday (today) milling began at the intersection of the two highways in Whitesburg, although the project officially began August 6th. Project boundaries are from Dayton St. going toward downtown Whitesburg and includes the widening of two bridges to three lanes, with the center lane being a turn lane.


Perry County Man Arrested

Kentucky State Police and Perry County sheriff's deputies say it took a crash, a foot chase and a three hour hunt Sunday morning, but they finally got their man while he was attempting to hide in a river. Twenty-two year old Gary Marvin Daniel of Panco led troopers on a chase, which began near the intersection of Barwick Road, continued through Chavies and down KY 28, before Daniel collided with a vehicle carrying two adults and a small child. He attempted to hide in a nearby river before being arrested and charged with first-degree assault and first-degree fleeing and evading.


School Needs Financial Help

The Mountain Christian Academy in Floyd County was set to open August 17th. with 66 students already enrolled. But, school officials say the school needs $200,000 to operate, and, without some financial help, the school will not open this year.


Jails Considering Alternative Sentencing

Judges and jailers in some eastern Kentucky counties say overcrowded jails and tight budgets are prompting them to search for alternative sentencing for inmates. Boyd County officials are considering a plan to allow inmates to work on Saturdays on projects such as maintaining cemeteries. Carter County is considering alternative sentencing, while Greenup County started a successful work farm in April. Other eastern Kentucky counties say they think it may be a good idea.


Motorcyclists Killed

Motorcyclists 62 year old William Walker and 64 year old Bruce Miller, both of Grayson, died at U.K. Medical Center after being hit head-on Friday by a vehicle driven by Brian Robinette. Kentucky State Police say Robinette lost control of his vehicle when it dropped off the road, and he over corrected, causing his brakes to lock up, and his vehicle to cross the center line and strike the riders. The accident occurred near Morehead.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Kentucky Faces Obesity Problem

National reports from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control show Kentucky is tipping the scales as one of the most obese states in the nation. They say Kentucky weighs in with 31 other states where more than one-in-four adults are obese, ranking the state 7th. among adult obesity, while the state is ranked fourth among child obesity.


Phelps VFW Post Accepts Check From Pike County Fiscal Court

The Phelps VFW Post 10922 was presented with a check in the amount of $10,000 from the Pike County Fiscal Court. The money will be used to build a lodge, construct a picnic shelter and create a Veterans Memorial in the Phelps area.


Animal Shelter Underway

Pike County Humane Society has agreed to contract with Elliott Contracting to begin construction of the new Pike County Animal Shelter. The new shelter will be over 7,000 square feet and will include a cat viewing and play room, an adoption room for adopters to interact with animals, isolation rooms for sick animals and puppy and kitten rooms. The new shelter will have 51 dog kennels total, compared to 18 in the current shelter. The new shelter will be located on Lykins Creek just off Cassidy Boulevard.


Williamson Dentist Going To Prison

Williamson's only dentist, 53 year old Alan K. Vance, is expected to report to prison by October 30 th. after being sentenced to twelve months and a day for federal tax evasion. Vance pleaded guilty in March to evading payment of about $242,000 in federal income taxes between 2000 and 2003. He had dental practices in Charleston and Williamson and owned a dry cleaning business, Pressed for Time, located in Charleston. Vance was also fined $40,000.


Johnson County Woman Gets Probation

Pamela Castle of Johnson County has been sentenced to five years probation after pleading guilty to charges of custodial interference. During the January ice storm, Castle kidnapped her nine year old daughter, Alissa Castle, and fled to Georgia where she was arrested.


Harlan County Teen Dies

Sixteen year old Joe Eldridge died Friday night at Holston Valley Medical Center from brain injuries sustained in an ATV accident which occurred August 1st. on Slope Hollow in the Cloversplint area of Harlan County.


New Principal At Duff Elementary

Floyd County native Tonya Goodman has been hired as principal at James A. Duff Elementary School. Goodman earned her B.A. in elementary education from Pikeville College and Rank 1 in instructional leadership from Morehead State University.

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