Saturday, October 31, 2009


UNITE Makes Unique Bust In Eastern Kentucky

Over the past few days, every State Police post in eastern Kentucky has worked hard to combat interstate pill smuggling, but UNITE officials say Friday they conducted a bust like none other they have ever dealt with. An undercover officer went to the home of 57 year old Paul A. Prosperino on Walnut Street in Hazard. After he made a buy, Prosperino, a former professor at Hazard Community and Technical College, was arrested. But, what makes the bust unique is the source from where the pills came. UNITE officials say some came from within the U.S., but others were shipped in from India, stamped with "customs approval.". More than 2,000 pills, Methadone and Alprazolam (Xanax) , more than $2,000 in cash and 30 handguns were seized. UNITE says the case will be sent to the Perry County grand jury, but the investigation is far from over.


Horse Betting Method Could See Change

It seems several options in the horse racing industry have been given serious thought for quite some time now. While lawmakers consider whether to allow expanded gambling, racing officials are also considering moves of their own. One option is to cut back on the number of race days or changing their schedules to accommodate night-time racing. A Kentucky Horse Racing Commission subcommittee met earlier in the week to present a proposal to ban "past-post" bets, an idea which sparked fierce debate from those who oppose it due to potential lost revenue. Virtually all major racing jurisdictions allow bettors to place bets after the listed post time but before the horses break from the gate. Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, says he fears more than 20% of his track's betting revenue would be lost under such a ban. A public hearing is set for November, before the full commission makes a decision.


Stimulus Funding Helps Kentucky

In response to the released periodic report on federal stimulus funding for Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear says the money awarded to the state has created or preserved nearly 2,300 jobs, while avoiding deeper cuts to government services,including education, health care and public safety programs. The Obama administration says, through the end of September, $2.2 billion has been awarded to Kentucky with about $800 million more to come. According to recent records, the state has spent nearly $532 million, including $431 million on the Medicaid program. In all, $994 million is going to Medicaid. Another $543 million is being spent on construction projects and $651 million will go to balance the state budget.


Flu Activity Could Change School Funding In Kentucky

With H1N1 being widespread in Kentucky and the state continuing to experience greater than normal absenteeism due to flu-like activity both from students and faculty, several county school systems shut down schools this past week in an effort to maybe curb the problem. A major concern for the health and well-being of students left superintendents with the thought that, although it might affect school funding, it was much more important to care for the welfare of students. Senate President David Williams pre-filed a proposal on Friday that would keep flu outbreaks from affecting school district funding, and his proposal is expected to be fast-tracked in the opening days of the upcoming legislative session set to begin January 5th. The bulk of funding for school districts is received through the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky funding formula, commonly known as SEEK funding. Under the formula, if too many kids are absent due to influenza or other illnesses, the district's funding is lowered the following year. Williams' proposal would change the way Kentucky determines how much state money goes to local school districts. Now, funding is based largely on average daily attendance, but Williams' plan would allow funding to be based on average daily attendance rates from previous years.


Lower Natural Gas Prices In Kentucky

Due to "sharply lower wholesale natural gas prices," the Public Service Commission is predicting many Kentucky residents will see smaller heating bills this winter. The PSC says the reduced demand for natural gas has prompted prices to fall since last winter, reflecting a 39% decrease and the trend should remain relatively stable for several years to come. Presently, wholesale prices are at their lowest levels in at least the past six years while the amount being stored is at historically high levels. PSC officials say about 44% of the state's population heat their homes with natural gas while about 39% use electric heat. The lower rate will run through January 31st. while residential customers using 7,000 cubic feet of natural gas a month will pay about $59.63 a month, compared to last year's monthly bill of $97.78.


Coal Forum Scheduled At U.K.

A gathering of industry and government officials will take place Thursday at the University of Kentucky. The occasion is "A Forum on Coal in Kentucky." The forum will be held in the College of Engineering. One of the featured speakers will be Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford who is scheduled to speak at 11:00 A.M. on the subject of the past, present and future impact of coal on economic development in Pike County.


Probation Revocation Hearing Set For Former Comar Officer

Kanawha County's Adult Probation Department alleges Martin Bowling, former chief technical officer at Comar Inc. in Cross Lanes, did, in September, violate terms of his home confinement. Bowling, the son of Mary Jane Bowling, former Workforce West Virginia administrator, was sentenced earlier this year to three years in state prison after being convicted of stealing credit cards and using them to purchase items via Internet. At a March hearing, his sentence was reduced to five years probation and one year home confinement. The probation department says, in September, Bowling went to Cato Park, and, a week later, he went to McDonald's at Patrick Street Plaza without permission. A probation revocation hearing is set for November 23rd. Bowling faces a minimum two year sentence on the federal charges.


West Virginia Considering Distracted Driving Prevention Act

The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing this week to discuss the effects of cell phone use on drivers. U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller who represents West Virginia told members of the committee that it's time drivers hang up the phone and drive, saying vehicles with distracted drivers are deadly weapons. As Rockefeller, chairman of the committee, introduced the Distracted Driving Prevention Act of 2009, the Senator said distracted drivers are putting their passengers lives, as well as lives of everyone on the road, at risk. He says, "That is not their right." Legislation has been introduced which, if approved, would create a program to provide grants to states that enact a ban on texting while driving and those that require drivers using a cell phone while behind the wheel to use a hands-free device. To qualify for a federal grant, violating limits on cell phone use while driving must be a primary offense, meaning a driver could be pulled over for that reason only. Under the proposal, those under the age of 18 years will not be allowed any cell phone use at all while driving.


Massey Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Massey Energy has settled an age discrimination lawsuit filed by five miners in 2006 against Massey subsidiary Spartan Mining Co. and Chief Executive Don Blankenship. Over 200 union miners alleged they were not rehired when Massey bought bankrupt Horizon Natural Resources' mine in eastern Kanawha County in 2004 because they were over the age of 40 years. The National Labor Relations Board and a federal court ordered Massey earlier to rehire 82 of those miners, to which Massey says it has complied by attempting to rehire them. Under the $8.75 million settlement, 82 of the miners are to receive $38,000, while the remaining miners will receive $19,000, and trial lawyers will get $3 million.


W. Va. Senator Calling For Better Black Lung Legislation

In 1969, the federal law created a national program to pay benefits to black lung victims and their families, but a recent review by the Government Accountability Office found 87% of the miners were initially denied those benefits, while a high rate of appeals delay resolution of many cases...sometimes for years. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is calling for reforms in the way the government processes claims for the nation's coal miners. He says GAO's analysis and recommendations on how to improve the Black Lung Benefits Program are a step in the right direction, and he plans to introduce legislation to address "persistent barriers" faced by victims and their families. Rockefeller says lawmakers must continue to fight to protect the miners' health and hard-earned benefits.


Mine Protestors Stage Sit-In

While federal regulators are considering scientific evidence showing what effect mine valley fill-ins have on the entire ecosystem, mountaintop mining protestors are bent on ending what they say is the most destructive form of mining. Friday, activists with Mountaintop Justice, Rainforest Action Network and other environmental groups gathered forces, for the third time since June, in national protests, while demanding an end to mountaintop removal mining in Applachia. While some groups targeted a New Jersey office of JP Morgan Chase, a bank environmentalists say is the mining industry's largest financier, and protestors in Philadelphia hurled a banner declaring "Coal is Over," thirteen activists staged a nearly four-hour sit-in at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., while 75 activists rallied outside the building. The Washington protest ended when police indicated they were ready to begin arrests.


W. Va. Supreme Court Rules In Child Support Case

Although parents who relinquish their parental rights argue their responsibility to pay child support has ended when their parental rights were terminated, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled this week that it disagrees. The high court says, "Child support obligations are not only responsibilities parents owe to their children, they are also rights which belong to children." Those who disagree with the court's decision point to a 2006 amendment to state law in which the language "guardianship rights and/or responsibilities" was changed to read "guardianship rights and responsibilities." The court says, however, the state's child welfare law clearly shows lawmakers' primary interest is to assure the best interests of the child, and,if it was intended that parents obligations be eliminated, justices would have done more than remove the word "or" from West Virginia Code.

Friday, October 30, 2009


U.K. Secures Applied Energy Grant

Through the Energy and Water Appropriations Act, a $2 million grant will be awarded to the University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research to be used for the development of coal-to-liquid technology. Supporters say furthering the development of the technology could reduce dependence on foreign oil and open new markets for the coal mining industry, while proving vital on both the national and local levels. Funding is expected to enable researchers to construct a small-scale-refinery to develop methods for coal liquification


Columbia Gas Rates Rise

The state Public Service Commission recently approved a rate increase for Columbia Gas of Kentucky under which residential customers will pay $3.05 more monthly in customer charges, while going from $9.30 to $12.35. The increase is roughly half of what Columbia was seeking, which was $6.73. The gas delivery charge will remain at $1.87 per thousand cubic feet. Columbia is expected to experience an annual increase of $6.125 million from its 140,000 customers.


Kentucky State Budget In Shambles

With no economic upturn at hand...the Rainy Day Fund depleted and the federal stimulus money all but gone, Kentucky must now face the challenge of crafting a budget that officials are saying could be the worst in their memory. Governor Steve Beshear said, while commenting on cuts that have already taken place, "You get down to the bone at some point, and cuts hurt." Beshear must propose a two year budget for the state to the General Assembly by January 19th., but he says he has no plans to propose higher taxes to deal with the crisis. The Consensus Forecasting Group has predicted a $160.9 million shortfall for the current fiscal year, which began in July. An official estimate of the state's revenue projections will be completed in December.


Stimulus Report Shows Inaccuracies In Kentucky

A series of reports will be published at the end of this month detailing how Kentucky and other state governments, cities, universities and other agencies are spending stimulus money aimed at helping employers keep workers while adding new positions in an ailing economy. National data recently released shows the stimulus dollars created or saved nearly 870 jobs in Kentucky, but the initial report includes several inaccuracies which list stimulus money for Kentucky for projects that aren't even in the state, while other state projects show stimulus money was awarded, but officials say no stimulus money was awarded nor used for those projects. Friday, Governor Beshear said stimulus funding has created or preserved 2,300 jobs in the state.


Operation Flamingo Road Sting Targets Eastern Ky.

Beginning as early as 7:00 A.M. Wednesday morning, every State Police post in eastern Kentucky began participating in Operation Flamingo Road, the largest drug roundup in the state's existance. Officers fanned out targeting more than 500 alleged interstate drug smuggling dealers in over 30 counties. Law enforcement officials say their aim is to cut the supply of thousands of pills flowing into the area, while drying up the pipelines from other states, therefore, hoping to curb the abuse and illegal sell of prescription drugs in the Bluegrass state. In following days, officers continued their all-out effort to make an impact on the communities involved. Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer says, in 2008, there were 877 accidental deaths from prescription drug overdose in the state, more fatalities than from car wrecks. Officials say that's a huge problem which leaves a sobering effect on those who want it stopped.


Pikeville Medical Center Flu Clinic

In response to the Emergency Declaration issued by President Barack Obama concerning the nationwide outbreak of influenza, Pikeville Medical Center will be operating a 24 hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week Pikeville Medical Regional Flu Center in the former Free Screening Clinic located beside Advance Auto Parts on the North Mayo Trail. Pikeville Medical Center President and CEO Walter May says, "We have implemented a proactive approach to combating the flu virus in our communities. This is a very serious issue, and we stand ready to meet the challenges that may arise from this virus."


Pike County Veterans' Day Ceremony Set

The Pike County Fiscal Court's annual Veterans' Day ceremony will take place Sunday, November 8th. at the Mark V (Mark Five) in Pikeville. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Pike Central High School chorus and local musicians. Informational booths from area businesses and services aimed at area veterans will be available.


AEP Launches New W. Va. Project

In an international effort, American Electric Power has partnered forces with Alstom, a French company, to find a solution that will allow coal to remain a part of the energy equation while adjusting to climate change. Friday, a $70 million demonstration project was formally commissioned during a ceremony in Mason County. Company officials say it's the world's first project to integrate combustion of fuel while capturing and storing carbon at a coal-fired power plant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to AEP, the project began earlier this fall and will operate for one to five years. At current capacity, the operation is capable of capturing and storing about 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. AEP has applied for federal funding to scale up the project.


W. Va. Adds Two States To Concealed Weapon Reiprocity List

If you have a valid concealed weapons permit from West Virginia, you can now carry your weapon in North Dakota and Delaware. This brings to twenty the number of states signing an agreement with West Virginia, including Kentucky. Three other states automatically recognize West Virginia's concealed weapon permit process...Indiana, Montana and Vermont, without a written agreement, while Idaho and Kansas appear to recognize them. Under agreements, those states will recognize West Virginia permits, and West Virginia will recognize theirs. However, carriers of those permits must abide by the laws of each state while visiting within that state.


W. Va. Plans Upgraded Flood Warning System

The National Weather Service and the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services currently monitor more than 100 rain gauges on waterways across the state. U.S. Senator Robert Byrd recently announced at least $1.5 million in federal funding, as part of a 75-25 match between the federal government and the state, to update the gauges with the goal of providing a better statewide flood warning system. The state will install the new gauges, while staff time counts toward the non-federal share. If all goes as planned, installing the gauges will begin this coming summer and should be complete in one to two years. Once the Flood Warning System is operating, the state will be required to maintain and replace gauges when necessary.


W. Va. Lottery Blames Recession For Loss In Revenue

West Virginia Lottery Commission officials say a weak economy and the summer opening of a 3,000-machine video slots parlor in Pittsburg is to blame for the state's loss in Lottery revenues. September gross revenues came in at $110.6 million, down nearly $9 million from September 2008 and $5 million below the month's projections. The first three months of the 2009-2010 budget year record gross revenues at $361 million, down 6% from the same period last year. Video lottery terminals at the state's four racetracks saw the biggest revenue decline, down about 7%, while table games at three of the tracks experienced an increase. Lottery officials also say they've noticed more "gaming nights" being held on behalf of charitable organizations, and, although they may be using play money when setting up tables and roulette wheels, the activity is illegal.


Public H1N1 Town Hall Meetings Scheduled

Continued concerns surrounding the H1N1 virus and its effect on young people has prompted the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the Kanawha County Schools to host town hall meetings next week, with Kanawha County Health Officer, Dr. Rahul Gupta, and Kanawha-Charleston Health Department nurse, Janet Briscoe, Superintendent of Kanawha Schools, Ron Duerring and Kanawha County Schools nurse, Brenda Isaac, available for a question and answer period. All parents and local citizens are welcome.

The meetings will be held from 5:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. at :

Monday, Nov. 2nd., at Riverside High School Auditorium

Tuesday, Nov. 3rd., at Capitol High School Little Theater

Thursday, Nov. 5th., at St. Albans High School Auditorium

During the meetings, health officials will discuss the formation of a Kanawha County Multi-Agency H1N1 Taskforce, a department created to keep citizens informed and to ensure a strategic approach to minimize the impact of the H1N1 virus.


Swine Flu Clinics To Increase In West Virginia

H1N1 swine flu clinics will increase in numbers over the next few weeks, with the hope that all West Virginians wanting the H1N1 vaccination could get it by January. At this time, local health departments continue to vaccinate the high risk segment. H1N1 vaccination clinics were in high-swing this past week, while vaccines were given out first to those in one of five high risk groups, people between the ages of six months and 24 years, pregnant women, health care workers, caregivers of kids younger than six months and those between the ages of 25 and 64 with underlying health risks. Health officials say it could be December before there are enough H1N1 vaccines available to begin vaccinations for those who do not fall into one of the high risk groups.


Grand Jury Gets Marquee Robbery Case

The Cabell County Grand Jury will hear a case involving the October robbery of the Marquee Cinemas in Pullman Souare in Huntington. Joshua Clark, an employee of the theater, and Dustin Shaver were charged with the robbery on October 19th. Clark appeared in Cabell County Magistrate Court Thursday afternoon, while Shaver's preliminary hearing was delayed until next week. According to Huntington Police, Clark helped Shaver rob the theaters by providing crucial information to Shaver before, during and after the robbery. Police say they have a video and audio confession from Shaver stating that, on July 13th. and October 19th., he committed both robberies with help from Clark. Police say they also have evidence linking them to the November 2008 robbery at the theaters. A motion from Clark's attorney that his client should be charged with accessory before the fact was denied.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Attorney General Appeals State Ruling

Attorney General Jack Conway plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a recent state ruling involving convicted sex offenders. In 2006, Kentucky lawmakers passed a law barring them from living within 1,000 ft. of schools, day care centers, playgrounds or other places children congregate, but, on October 1st., the state Supreme Court ruled the law was wrongly applied. Conway says he's appealing in the interest of Kentucky families.


Eastern Kentucky Drug Sting Continues

A major interstate drug smuggling sting continued Thursday (today) in eastern Kentucky's biggest drug bust in the state's history. By mid-afternoon, police had arrested 322 alleged dealers of the 518 charged in over 30 counties. An official with the U.S. Attorney's Office says Methadone and OxyContin were among the most prevalent drugs involved.


Ky. Records Twelfth Swine Flu Death

Madison County Health Department officials have confirmed the county's first and Kentucky's twelfth swine flu death. A 59 year old man with significant underlying health issues has died from complications.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Major Interstate Pill Smuggling Sting In Eastern Ky.

Beginning before 7:00 A.M. Wednesday (today), every state police post in eastern Kentucky began a major roundup of suspected drug dealers accused of interstate pill smuggling. The sting, which charged 500 people, and, by late afternoon, netted an estimated 200 arrests in a dozen counties, is thought to be the largest in the state's history. Most are thought to be street-level dealers who will be charged in state courts, but some will face federal prosecution. Pike County Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Bartley says, while Florida is not the only source of pills coming into the state, it is a key source...a "tsunami" of pills into eastern Kentucky.


KSP Investigating Attempted Pharmacy Robbery

Kentucky State Police Trooper Ryan Hamilton is investigating an armed robbery attempt which occurred at the Upper Levisa Clinic Pharmacy located at Mouthcard (Pike County). Authorities say a white male subject, approximately 5 ft. 7 in. tall, thin build, wearing a grey hoodie, blue jeans and a clear painted mask attempted to enter the business while a female worker was locking the doors at the close of the business day. While brandishing a firearm, he told the female to open the door, but he failed to make entry.


Concerned Citizens Form New Animal Group

A new organization intended to protect and save lives of animals has been formed. The Appalachian Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will have as their primary purpose the curtailing of the current practice of euthanizing animals. Members of the new organization will be working closely with other agencies.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Former U.K. Star Considering Run For Governor

Former U.K. shooting guard Richie Farmer has announced he's considering a run for Kentucky Governor on the Republican ticket. Farmer says he's weighing his options and may later conduct a poll to see what the public has to say. He says, when it comes to gambling, he sees it as an issue that should be decided by the people through a ballot referendum.


Magoffin County Teacher Charged With Trafficking

Forty-six year old Darrell B. Patrick of Salyersville, a teacher at North Magoffin Elementary School, was arrested shortly after 2:00 P.M. Tuesday (today) and charged with six counts of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (OxyCodone). UNITE official Dan Smoot says there's still no evidence he sold to students or on school property.


Kentucky . Swine Flu Deaths Up Again

A Hardin County man in his 30s, with no known underlying medical conditions, has been confirmed as the county's first and Kentucky's 11th. swine flu death.


Pikeville College To Host Open House

On Monday, November 9th., Pikeville College will host an "Experience Pikeville College" open house while inviting area high school students and their families to learn about many opportunities available at the college. Financial services representatives will be there to answer any questions. The event will include tours of the campus and an invitation to a Pikeville College Bears basketball game. Registration will begin at 5:00 P.M. in the Booth Auditorium.


Hatfield-McCoy Park Dedication Set

On Sunday, October 31st., a dedication for the opening of the Hatfield-McCoy Park in McCarr will begin at noon with a potluck lunch. Those attending are encouraged to wear a Halloween costume. The Halloween oriented event will feature a trick-or-treat for kids, pony rides, a cornhole tournament, musical entertainment by the group "Packing Up" and a prize will be awarded for best costume.

Monday, October 26, 2009


UNITE Raids Magoffin Teacher's Home

UNITE officials say, as the result of a three month investigation, they raided the Salyersville home of North Magoffin Elementary teacher Darrell Patrick Friday following allegations that he sold OxyCodone. Detectives seized unidentified items from Patrick's home and say there were buys, but UNITE official Dan Smoot says they have no evidence Patrick sold drugs to school children or on school property. At press time, there had been no action taken against Patrick.


Southeastern Ky. Mother Charged With Murder

Two days after Laurel County toddler, 23-month-old Stephen Troy, was found unresponsive inside an East Bernstadt home, Kentucky State Police filed murder and first-degree criminal abuse charges against his mother, 21 year old Amanda Johnson. Troy died one hour after being transported to St. Joseph Hospital in London Friday morning. The Laurel County Coroner ruled he died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen. Johnson was held in the Laurel County Jail on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty Monday (today).


Harlan County Father Charged With Criminal Abuse

Twenty-five year old Carl C. Crider of Cumberland (Harlan County) was arrested over the weekend after physicians at Harlan Regional Hospital diagnosed his three-month-old infant with "shaken baby syndrome." The infant was flown to East Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville where further evaluation showed signs of suffocation, and the child had eleven broken ribs in the process of healing. Crider was charged with first-degree criminal abuse.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Public Questions Mine And Road Construction Valley Fills

As the public comment period on changes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nationwide Permit 21 for mountaintop mining operations closely comes to an end, an important question is cropping-up as to whether there is any difference between mining valley fills and fills for road construction. There are those who feel mining companies may be regulated a little tighter when it comes to the material makeup of the valley fills themselves. EPA officials say Nationwide 14 permits for road construction have numeric limits while NWP 21 has no limits, creating cumulative environmental impacts that can be very substantial.


Corbin Tourism Focuses On Colonel Sanders

Some say, even though Kentucky Fried Chicken is as old as the hills, it's still as finger-licking good as it was the first time it was served by the Colonel. Now, an eastern Kentucky commission head wants it especially recognized in her town. During her first meeting as newly appointed Corbin Tourism Commission Chairwoman, Suzie Razmus told members, among her top priorities, she'd like the commission to tackle the construction of a Colonel Harland Sanders statue inside the city limits and signs that point to the world's first KFC Restaurant. The Corbin Main Street Design Committee has received written approval from Yum Brands for the city to erect the statue, and Razmus has asked for better signage to Sanders Cafe from Interstate 75.


Elderly Mingo County Man Allegedly Beaten

A Mingo County Sheriff's deputy arrested David Michael Roberts of Varney last week after he allegedly beat and attempted to rob 93 year old Buddy Mounts while inside Mounts' residence in Taylorville. Authorities say Mounts had been struck in the head, and his ear had been torn from his head, leaving it dangling while remaining attached by a small amount of skin.


Matewan Council Focuses On Water Projects

The Matewan Town Council meeting last week focused on issues arising from the Red Jacket and Thacker water projects for which FEMA representatives say they want detailed itemizations and invoices for the project in Red Jacket. Council members say it's costing the town an average of $1,400 a day to continue pumping at the Red Jacket station, and the council approved a motion to stop the pumping until issues with FEMA can be resolved. On the other hand, the site for the Thacker tank cannot be used because the location is permitted for mining. Council members say another site will have to be selected.

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