Saturday, October 03, 2009


Massey Vows To Appeal Ruling Of National Labor Board

The National Labor Relations Board has sided with the United Mine Workers Labor Union in connection to a long-running court battle with Massey Energy. The board has upheld a ruling by an administrative law judge who determined Massey violated federal labor law by refusing to offer jobs to 85 union miners who were left without a job when Massey subsidiary Mammoth Coal Co. took over operations after Massey bought the company they worked for out of bankruptcy in 2004. The board ordered Mammoth to pay the miners for loss of earnings and benefits and to recognize the UMWA as the miners union and negotiate with the union at the mines. Massey CEO Don Blankenship says the company did not discriminate in their hiring and that the company had offered the miners their jobs, and Massey plans to appeal.


American Electric Power Customers Getting Higher Bills

The West Virginia Public Service Commission approved a 12.1% rate increase which went into effect this past week for customers of Applachian Power and Wheeling Power. The increase covers the first year of what is planned to be a four year phase-in. The utilities originally sought a 43% rate increase they said was needed to cover the cost of higher fuel. As a result of the increase, AEP, which owns the subsidiaries, is expected to take in $124.7 million in new revenue.


Mingo County Man Arrested

The Mingo County Sheriff's Department recently arrested 31 year old Allen K. Brewer of Kermit and charged him with three counts of wanton endangerment, nighttime burglary, domestic assault and illegal possession of a firearm. A criminal complaint states Brewer kicked his way into the Laurel Creek home of Jimmy Pritt. Once inside, he allegedly placed an automatic handgun to the head of his girlfriend, Linda Copley, and threatened to kill her, before placing the gun against her stomach, threatening to kill her unborn child. After leaving the home, deputies say he drove by the location, firing several rounds, with two rounds striking the residence. Bond was set at $21,000.


Coal Industry Speaks Favorably Of Proposed PATH In W. Va.

During a recent West Virginia Public Service Commission hearing, coal industry representatives told the commission they are in favor of the proposed $1.8 billion PATH (Potomac Applachian Transmission Highline). They say it would help market electricity made by burning coal, thereby giving the mining industry a needed boost. Some who attended the meeting voiced their fear it would unfairly raise their local electric rates. PATH, a controversial project, is proposed by American Electric Power and Allegheny Power. If approved, the high-voltage line would cross through a dozen West Virginia counties. The Public Service Commission has hearings scheduled for October 13th. in Canaan Valley and October 27th. in Buckhannon.


Kentucky Governor On Week-Long Trade Mission

Accompanied by First Lady Jane Beshear and Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will be visiting China and Japan this week, while on a week-long trade mission to attempt to build on investments that businesses in the two countries already have made in Kentucky. Japanese companies, including Toyota Motor Manufacturing which has an assembly plant in Georgetown, employ 37,000 people in Kentucky. Since 2006, Kentucky has had a trade center in Bejing, China.


Pike County City Cracks Down On Drug Dealers

Round-ups continue as the city of Coal Run officials crack down on alleged drug dealers. Recently, 32 year old Nathan Riley Hinkle of Pikeville was arrested for allegedly selling and transporting OxyContin into the area. Coal Run officers and Pike County Sheriff officials went to a residence on Stone Coal where Hinkle barricaded himself in for about one hour before consenting to a search of the residence where drug paraphernalia was discovered. Authorities say Hinkle supplied information which led them to additional arrests. Law enforcements were led to Audrey Lane near Mossy Bottom where they say a controlled buy occurred. Arrested was 78 year old Jim Spradlin, 53 year old Charline Woods and 29 year old Jody Dean Hinkle. After being alerted, authorities went to the parking lot of an area bank where they arrested 30 year old Donna Rutherford and 48 year old Floyd Mullins. They were all charged with drug-related offenses.


Renovation At Pike County School Approved

Pike County Board of Education members have unanimously approved plans for further renovations of the cafeteria at Dorton Elementary, which presently stands at more than $1.5 million. One board member says he approved the changes even though, over the course of 16 months, the cost has increased, but Pike County Superintendent Roger Wagner says the need is there. Plans approved in May 2008 set the budget at $234,000, but it later increased to $700,000 before growing to $1,489,000 by April 2009. The cost now stands at $1,735,000. Wagner says the growth of the Dorton community is the reason for the project, and revisions were made when needs were discovered. He attributes the needs to the growth of the student body.


Pike County Mother Getting New Trial

Less than two years after being convicted of second-degree manslaughter, in connection to the July 10,2005 drowning death of her four year old son Joshua Justice, Rhonda Justice has been released after posting 10% of a $10,000 bond, while she awaits a second trial. Her conviction was overturned in March when the Kentucky Court of Appeals determined the original trial erred when testimony, detailing her prior bad habits, was allowed to be entered. Investigators say her son drowned in a neighbor's pool on Vanover Lane located near Pikeville. A pretrial conference is set for November 6th.


KET Executive Director Planning To Retire

Sixty-three year old Malcolm "Mac" Wall, executive director of Kentucky Educational Television (KET), has announced he is retiring at the end of the year, after having served in the position for six and one-half years. Wall, who has had a forty year career in public broadcasting, cites a $15.7 million completion of KET's high-definition production center as a highlight of his leadership with KET. Under Wall's leadership, online education services, such as KET EncycloMedia, have expanded dramatically, providing a keystone service for teachers and students in Kentucky classrooms.


State Representative Seeks Tax Holiday For Kentucky

State Representative Fitz Steele, a Democrat who represents Harlan and Perry counties, has pre-filed a bill seeking to create an annual three-day tax holiday that would allow consumers to purchase certain items which would be exempt from Kentucky's 6% sales tax or to purchase certain items via Internet without applying the 6% use tax. The Kentucky General Assembly's 2010 legislative session, which begins in January, will consider the proposal. If passed, the holiday would begin on the first Friday in August and end the following Sunday.


Ky. Receives Grant Aimed At Job Growth

To help create jobs and encourage economic development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this past week, awarded nearly a half-million dollars ($499,975) in stimulus funds to Kentucky. Under a new program, the Strengthening Communities Fund, the grant is purposed to improve the ability of non-profit organizations to promote the economic recovery of people with low incomes, thereby spurring job growth.


Ky. College Enrollment Hits All-Time High

Over the past several years, Kentucky has been experiencing fairly consistent growth in college and university enrollment. According to a recent report from the state's Council on Postsecondary Education, since 2008, Kentucky's community college system has seen the largest increase of more than 11%, while the overall increase in colleges and universities saw a 5.4% increase. Preliminary enrollment figures show more than 250,000 students are in enrolled in public universities and colleges within the state, creating an all-time high.


Gillispie Lawyer To Ask For Additional Time

The DUI case for former University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie is scheduled to be in Anderson County Court on Monday. However, his attorney says he plans to ask for additional time to further consider a recent plea deal offer. Gillispie was arrested in August while driving in Lawrenceburg.


Louisville Preparing For Disney Filming

Louisville, Kentucky is gearing up for the Walt Disney Studios' filming of "Secretariat," the story of a thoroughbred horse who, in 1973, became the first U.S. Triple Crown champion in 25 years, while going out of the gate and into history. All signage in the paddock area of Churchill Downs is being changed to prepare for the arrival of crews, and the racetrack is being transformed back to the 70s when Secretariat ran in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May 1973. Wardrobes depicting the 1970s are being brought in from Hollywood, and metal benches are being replaced with wooden ones to reflect the scene as it appeared the day Secretariat thrilled the hearts of many.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Ky. And W. Va. Confirm Second Swine Flu Deaths

Kentucky and West Virginia have both confirmed their second cases of swine-flu-related deaths. A 41 year old Louisville, Kentucky woman who died on September 21st. had no apparent underlying medical conditions, making her death unusual. Although state health officials say there is nothing to indicate the disease is getting worse, flu outbreak prompted school officials in some school districts to cancel classes this past week. According to state health officials, about 500 Kentuckians die each year of seasonal flu which has symptoms similar to the swine flu, which is now widespread in Kentucky.

West Virginia has confirmed the state's second swine flu death. Thirty-seven year old Amy Scott of Huntington, who worked as a home health care nurse for Pro Nursing, died Thursday afternoon.


Massey Acquires Bankrupt Kentucky Mining Company

Coal producing giant Massey Energy has announced it has acquired 23 million tons of coal reserves and several mines from bankrupt Ashland, Kentucky -based Applachian Fuels. Although the terms were not disclosed, Massey says the deal covers reserves and mines in Fayette County, and Massey expects to resume mining some of the metallurgical coal within a few months.


Mining Permits Stalled For Ky. And W. Va.

In an attempt to curb damage from mountaintop removal mining, the Obama administration put brakes this week on 79 applications for surface coal mining permits for mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. The permits were on a preliminary list released on September 11 th. by the EPA which ruled to further review them. EPA says the permits would likely cause significant damage to water quality and the environment, violating the Clean Water Act. The applications now go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


W. Va. Lottery Abandons Plans For New Office Building

The West Virginia Lottery Commission abandoned a plan earlier this week to build a $60 million, seven story office building which would have housed the Lottery's headquarters, the Tax Division and other state agencies, along with a 750 space parking garage proposed to be constructed near the Capitol Complex. A weak economy and hurting lottery revenues were attributed as the basis for the decision.


American Legion To Honor Deceased Veterans

Huntington, W. Va. To honor 33 veterans who have died in recent years, American Legion Post 16 will host a Post-Everlasting ceremony in the meeting hall of their facility located on 6th. Ave. in Huntington. The ceremony, which is expected to last about 25 minutes, will be held at 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, October 6th.


Former Wyoming Co. Director Wins Court Battle

Wyoming Co. W. Va. Former Wyoming County Council on Aging Director Bob Graham has won a court battle involving the state of West Virginia. A claim by the state that Graham was paid an excessive salary and benefits while serving as director for the council has been dismissed. In 2006, Graham was convicted on one count of cashing out $31,129 in sick leave without his employer's approval, but the conviction was later overturned. He has been at odds with the state over his frozen retirement account since being released from prison. He is now appealing a federal judge's refusal to sign a certificate of innocence.


Ride With Cops Set To Depart From Huntington

Huntington, W. Va. This Sunday, motorcycle enthusiasts will join members of the Huntington Police Department as they roll out of Huntington at 11:00 A.M. Sunday morning for the seventh annual "Ride With Cops" event. The annual motorcycle ride, organized by Huntington Police Patrolman Mike Hudson, benefits the Fraternal Order of Police Children's Christmas Party. Registration begins at 9:00 A.M. Sunday at Buddy's All-American Bar-B-Que, located at 1537 3rd. Ave. In advance, registration costs $20 per ride, but the price increases to $25 per-person on Sunday. The event leaves Buddy's at 11:00 A.M., taking a new route along U.S. 52 into Ohio, across a bridge at the Greenup Dam into Kentucky and across the AA Highway to Grayson before returning to Buddy's in Huntington. The ride will include stops at John Clark Oil and James Family Outfitters.


Ky. Widows Can Seek Loss Of Consortium

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled 7-0 that a widowed spouse can sue for damages related to loss of physical and emotional companionship in wrongful death cases. The ruling overturned a long-standing precedent which denied spouses the ability to collect legal damages in such cases. Under Kentucky law, a spouse can sue for loss of consortium if their spouse is permanently incapacitated but could not seek the same damages if they died. In 1997, the state Supreme Court ruled a child could sue for loss of consortium for the loss of a parent.


Kentucky Set To Receive H1N1 Nasal Spray

Local Kentucky health departments should begin receiving the first shipments of nasal-spray vaccine to protect against H1N1 swine flu next week. Initial doses will be aimed at health care workers and target groups. The doses will be first alloted to health care workers under age 50, people caring for young children and children and young adults from ages 2 to 24. The initial shipment will be 24,300 doses of nasal vaccine, while injectible forms of the vaccine are expected in coming weeks.


Kentucky Highway Deaths Are Increasing

The number of people killed on Kentucky roadways is on the rise. According to preliminary numbers released by the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, as of September 30th., there were 586 fatalities on Kentucky roadways this year...five more than the same time last year. There were a total of 826 fatalities on Kentucky roadways in 2008.


Citizen's Police Academy Starting Date Changed

Floyd Co., Ky. The starting date for the Kentucky State Police Citizen's Police Academy has been rescheduled for October 22nd. The location and starting time remain the same...6:00 P.M. at Prestonsburg High School. The Academy runs on Thursday nights for eleven weeks.


Pike County Judge Gets Top Post

Pike County Family Court Judge Larry Thompson has been elected President of the Kentucky Circuit Judge's Association. It happened during the Circuit Judge's College, held September 20-24th. in Lexington. His term as President is for two years.


Corrections Corp. of America Faces Lawsuit

The Corrections Corp. of America, which owns the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, and prison warden Jeff Little have been slapped with a lawsuit. Former recreation coordinator Delmas Johnson alleges he was wrongfully terminated from his position on March 17th. due to age discrimination and political reasons. Court documents include a problem-solving notice listing Johnson's alleged infraction as the reason for termination. The notice states, from November 23rd. through January 8, 2009, he allowed an unsupervised inmate access to restricted areas. It states he allowed the same inmate to perform unauthorized job duties within the Recreational Department from, November 20th. to January 8,2009, while officially assigned to another work location.


U.K. Receives Grant To Test Violence Prevention Program

The Center for Disease and Prevention has provided a $2 million grant to University of Kentucky researchers, which will be paid out over a five year period. Beginning this spring, educators will use the money to provide a violence awareness program called Green Dot to 13 Kentucky high schools to determine whether a dating violence prevention program can help prevent abuse among students. Then U.K. researchers will compare surveys of students at those schools and 13 others that won't have the Green Dot program, in an effort to measure the program's effectiveness.


Ky. Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Merck &Co.

Attorney General Jack Conway has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. The suit says that, in May, 2009, Merck began an "aggresive and deceptive" campaign promoting its anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx. Conway says the campaign promoted the drug for relief of conditions including osteoarthritis and menstrual pain but failed to mention the increased risk of cardiovascular complications, including heart attack and stroke. Conway says Kentucky will not tolerate this type of deception which puts consumers at risk. Vioxx was removed from the market in 2004.


Methadone Deaths Increase As Prescriptions Increase

According to data collected through the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System, better known as the prescription tracking system KASPER, the rate of issued prescriptions for controlled substances increased in all but two of Kentucky's 120 counties between the years of 2005 and 2007. Crittenden and Union counties were the only two that did not show an increase. Reports show that, for the period, drug arrests increased by nearly 30%. In 2008, 485 overdose deaths were reported, with methadone, a painkiller intended to treat narcotic withdrawal, detected in 144 of those deaths.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Mingo Co. Confessed Murderer Gets Life

As part of a plea agreement, Thursday (today), re-tried Mingo County confessed murderer, 47 year old Valerie Suzette Friend, formerly of North Matewan, told the court that, on April 17, 2005, she fatally shot federal drug informant 33 year old Carla Collins once in the chest with a gun provided by George Lecco. Friend told the court that Lecco, formerly of Red Jacket, wanted Collins dead because he feared she was supplying law enforcement with details about his drug operation which was selling cocaine out of Lecco's Pizza Plus. In exchange for her guilty plea and willingness to testify against Lecco, prosecutors agreed to a life sentence for Friend.


Mingo County Murder Case Going To Grand Jury

Thursday (today), 39 year old Roger Stroud of Kermit agreed to waive his preliminary hearing, sending his first-degree murder case straight to the grand jury which is scheduled for January. His lawyer and prosecution agreed to share discovery evidence related to the shooting death of his estranged wife, Michelle Stroud, whose body was discovered inside a refrigerator dumped down a hill on Newsome Ridge in Mingo County. Stroud remains jailed without bond.


Knott County Man Charged With Death Of Wife

Twenty-six year old Mack Tackett of Topmost (Knott County) has been arrested and charged with one count of murder in the death of his wife, Heather Tackett. Kentucky State Police say, just before 2:00 A.M. on September 5th., they received a call that Mack Tackett had shot himself. When police arrived, they found 29 year old Heather Tackett inside the residence deceased from a single gunshot wound. Mack Tackett was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center in Tennessee, where he was originally listed in critical condition from a gunshot wound in the face. Tackett is being held at Roederer Correctional Complex in LaGrange.


Floyd County Man Could Soon Be Released

Joshua Mock of Maytown (Floyd County) admitted that, on Thanksgiving morning of last year, he shot and killed his wife, Linda, but Mock claimed he shot her in self defense. Police told a different story. They said evidence and a witness showed he intentionally shot his 28 year old wife in the neck during a fight. Mock was originally charged with murder, but he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless homicide and was sentenced to five years in prison, but that sentence has been probated. Mock could soon be released.


Father Charged In Death Of Wolfe County Son

Kentucky State Police say Ernest Banks of Campton was arrested recently and charged with facilitation to commit murder in connection with the August 18th. shooting death of his son, 39 year old Elson Banks, who was found on the front porch of his home in the Lexie community of Wolfe County. Police say Elson Banks had been shot multiple times by his brother, 37 year old Bronson Banks. Ernest Banks is being held in Three Forks Regional Jail on a $425,000 cash bond.


Ky. Supreme Court Decision Surprises Lawmakers

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled, by a 5-2 decision, Thursday (today) that a law passed by Kentucky lawmakers and implemented on July 12, 2006, banning sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of playgrounds, schools and day care centers, had been improperly applied. The court ruled the law cannot apply to those who committed offenses before the law was implemented, saying it would violate the ex post facto clause in the U.S. Constitution. Several Kentucky lawmakers say they're disappointed and surprised by the decision.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Fire Destroys Pike County Church

Officials are investigating a fire which began around 2:00 A.M. Wednesday (today), leaving the McAndrews Wesleyan Church on Route 199 in Pike County burned to the ground. Firefighters say the flames were out of control when they arrived just minutes after the fire began, but crews spent nearly 12 hours battling hot spots.


Mining Permits Stalled For Ky. And W. Va.

In an attempt to curb damage from mountaintop removal mining, the Obama administration put brakes Wednesday (today) on 79 applications for surface coal mining permits for mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. The permits were on a preliminary list released on September 11th. by the EPA who ruled to further review them. EPA says the permits would likely cause significant damage to water quality and the environment, violating the Clean Water Act. The applications now go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


New Pike County Judicial Center Going Green

Pike County Judge Executive Wayne Rutherford says "Pike County is America's Energy Capital," and we have an obligation to see our atmosphere is not in danger. With that in mind, the new Pike County Judicial Center, which will be built in downtown Pikeville, is designed to be on the cutting edge of green technology. The building, which will be a version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is being overseen by Steve Sherman, architect and project manager for the Lexington firm Sherman-Carter-Barnhart LLC. Sherman says the center will be a low-flow water building.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Friend Set To Enter Guilty Plea

According to a court filing Tuesday (today), 47 year old Valerie Friend, whose retrial was slated for October 27th., is expected to enter a guilty plea Thursday, October 1st., on unspecified charges relating to the 2005 murder of drug informant 33 year old Carla Collins. Friend and George Lecco were convicted in 2007, but the verdicts were overturned when it was discovered one of the jurors, who recommended death sentences, failed to reveal he was under criminal investigation.


Roger Stroud Preliminary Rescheduled

A preliminary hearing for Roger Stroud of Kermit, which was scheduled for Tuesday (today), was postponed until Thursday after defense attorneys asked for time to review evidence collected by prosecutors. Stroud pleaded not guilty last week to murdering his estranged wife, Michelle Stroud, whose body was found inside a refrigerator on Newsome Ridge in Mingo County. He also pleaded not guilty to a charge of concealment of a deceased human body.


Psychiatric Evaluation Ordered In Nunn Case

One day after a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against former state Representative Steve Nunn, a Fayette County judge agreed, at the request of Nunn's attorney, Astrida Lemkins, and prosecutors in the case, to order a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether Nunn is criminally responsible for his actions. Along with the evaluation, the Commonwealth also withdrew their DNA request in the case.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Ross Family Seeks Jury Trial Against Former Representative

The family of slain 29 year old Amanda Ross filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday (today) against former State Representative Steve Nunn. The suit alleges Nunn stalked and threatened his former fiancee for months before waiting outside her Lexington home where he fired multiple shots, brutally gunning her down on the morning of September 11th. The suit also accuses Nunn of assault and battery in February, and that after the fights he intimidated her, causing severe emotional distress, mental and emotional suffering and anguish. The suit says Nunn threatened Ross with death and/or serious physical injury. The Ross family is seeking a jury trial.


Sentencing Set For Former Harlan County Deputy

Former Harlan County Deputy Roger D. Hall pleaded guilty Monday (today) to two counts of facilitation to murder former Harlan County Sheriff Paul L. Browning Jr. and four counts of drug trafficking. He admitted that, in 2002, he provided the gun and paid Raymond Harris $1,000 to kill Browning. Under a plea agreement, a sentence of five years on each count, a total of 30 years is what Hall faces when sentenced November 2nd.


Friend's Murder Trial Proceeds As Scheduled

The October 27th. re-trial for Valerie Friend of North Matewan will proceed as scheduled, despite her request to have it postponed. In 2007, Friend and co-defendant George Lecco of Red Jacket were convicted of the 2005 murder of drug informant 33 year old Carla Collins. They each received the death penalty, but the verdicts were overturned when it was discovered a juror was under federal investigation. The prosecution's case said Lecco paid Friend in cocaine to kill Collins, but, now, each blames the other for the murder.


Hazard KSP Fatally Shoots Letcher County Man

According to a KSP release, Post 13 in Hazard received a call around 11:14 P.M. Friday night requesting a trooper to conduct a welfare check at the home of Terry Wayne Taulbee on Leopard Drive in the Letcher County community of Jackhorn. Kentucky State Police say, when 15 year veteran Trooper Ben McCray went to the home, Taulbee displayed a weapon, and, while approaching the trooper, made threats toward him. When Taulbee was advised to put the weapon down, he refused and raised the weapon in the direction of McCray who fired his service weapon, fatally shooting Taulbee.

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