Saturday, November 14, 2009


Floyd County Fiscal Court Plans Dewey Lake Improvements

During a special meeting of the Floyd County Fiscal Court, officials discussed steps to soon begin work on a 56 mile horse trail project proposed for the Dewey Lake area. Floyd County was recently awarded a windfall grant totaling more than $1 million for the project, including improvements to the trail and surrounding recreational areas, which is considered a potential economic boost that will generate thousands of dollars for businesses in the area. To maintain oversight of the funding, the fiscal court agreed all contracts and bids would be subject to approval by the court.


Head Of Ky. Mine Permit Division Fired

About a week after Governor Steve Beshear and Len Peters, Secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, announced a hike in fees to pay for 19 additional employees to help clear a backlog of permit applications, the head of Kentucky's mine permit division, Ron Mills, has been fired. There is speculation as to why Mills was dismissed from a job that pays $79,000 a year.


World Trade Center Trial Draws Praise And Criticism

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced this week that the U.S. government would prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, along with four others, in a civilian federal courthouse in New York, just blocks from the scene of the alleged crimes. Holder says Americans, especially victims and family members, deserve the opportunity to see the alleged plotters held accountable in court. Holder's decision raised legal, political and ethical questions. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) swiftly condemned the decision to bring the terror suspects to the U.S. for trial, saying these people orchestrated a mass murder, an act of war, not a criminal matter. McConnell called the decision to bring the suspects to the U.S. a "step backward for our national security." He says Congress created a system to have terror suspects tried at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and bringing them to the U.S. would give them protections of the Bill of Rights. U.S. Representative Harold "Hal" Rogers (R-Ky.) also denounced moving the terror suspects to American soil, agreeing they should be tried in Cuba.


Public Comment Set For Cave Run Trails In Kentucky

The U.S. Forest Service says trails near Cave Run Lake were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s for hikers but do not meet guidelines for users like horse riders or bicyclists. Daniel Boone National Forest officials say it's important to provide a sustainable multiple-use trail system, while considering environmental resources, so they're seeking public input for the 75 mile trail system they say needs updating. An open house forum is scheduled for November 23rd., from 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M., at the Morehead Conference Center in Morehead. The public comment period will end December 18th.


Kentucky Prison System Facing Higher Costs

A report compiled by the legislature's Program Review and Investigations Committee reveals, in the last decade, Kentucky's prison population and costs have experienced a sharp rise, while the average number of inmates increased by almost 42%, and annual costs rose by more than 53% from fiscal year 2000. On average, the state housed 21,473 inmates in 2009, compared to 15,164 in 2000, while Kentucky spent $451 million in 2009 to house those inmates, up from the $294 million spent in 2000. In 2008, a Pew Center report showed Kentucky's prison population was growing faster than other states. A staffer with the Program Review and Investigations Committee says the state's rate of inmates who re-offend is 42%, while the national average is 34%. Recommendations on how to decrease costs include, changing laws so persistent felony offender sentences only apply to those with violent offenses, shortening sentences for inmates who complete in-house programs, such as substance abuse programs, allowing inmates to be paid to run canteens and allowing the Kentucky Department of Corrections to contract with outside companies to employee prisoners.


Kentucky Expects More Budget Cuts

To help offset a projected $161 million revenue shortfall, most state agencies in Kentucky could be facing additional 6% budget cuts. The administration of Governor Steve Beshear is gathering information on the potential impact of budget cuts, while State Budget Director, Mary Lassiter, sent letters Friday to heads of most state government agencies alerting them of potential reductions in funding. The Medicaid program, public schools, state universities, community colleges and teacher retirement systems are among a short list that would be spared from the cuts.


U.M.W.A. President Voices Opinion Of W. Va. Supreme Court Ruling

Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America, says he's bitterly disappointed with the West Virginia Supreme Court decision to throw out a $50 million Boone County verdict against Massey Energy in the case of Caperton v Massey. Roberts says it's beyond comprehension how a majority, (4-1 vote) of justices failed to see the harm done when miners lost their jobs, making the case go much deeper than Harman Mining, while causing and continuing to cause suffering to miners who lost their jobs, their health care and their hopes for the future.


West Virginia Preparing For The Christmas Season

With a flip of a switch, the 25th. anniversary of the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights, West Virginia's largest holiday attraction, became a part of the scene Thursday afternoon at Oglebay Park in Wheeling. While lights are on every evening through January 3rd., officials say they estimate at least 250,000 people will drive through the display, which has added four new attractions and moved other favorites to new locations.

On Friday, the Charleston Salvation Army officially kicked off its annual Christmas Kettle Campaign outside the Charleston Town Center Mall in Kanawha County. Their goal is to raise at least $250,000 for more than 2,000 children signed up for the Angel Tree. Volunteer bell ringers are being sought to help with the drive.


W. Va. Man Charged With Concealing Body

West Virginia State Police arrested 42 year old Wesley Scott Cale Sr. Friday and charged him with concealing a body after investigators found skeletal remains Thursday afternoon under the dirt floor of a shed behind his home in Tucker County while searching for the body of his ex-wife, Bonnie Cale, who disappeared in March 2002. Authorities say Bonnie Cale was supposed to be heading to Cleveland, Ohio on March 24, 2002, to visit her father but never arrived. Troopers located Cale at a camp he owns or co-owns in the Lead Mine community. Officials are awaiting a positive identification from the State Medical Examiner's Office, but West Virginia State Police say they're investigating the case as a murder, while additional charges are pending.


Special West Virginia Legislative Session Set

To deal with municipal police and fire pension funds, this coming week, Governor Joe Manchin will call a special session of the West Virginia Legislature. Following months of discussion during legislative interim committee meetings, lawmakers have reached proposed legislation. This year, more than 20%, or $8.8 million, of Huntington's $42 million budget is going to pension costs, and under the current funding method, those costs will rise to $12.4 million a year by 2015 and will hit approximately $20 million a year between 2020 and 2022. Officials say revenue growth cannot keep up with the current retirement system's costs. The current draft legislation would allow cities to close existing pension plans to new hires and refigure plans over 40 years to pay down unfunded liabilities, while still being administered by local pension boards. A state oversight committee would be created to deal with issues, including investments and disability benefits. New hires would be placed in a plan similar to benefits offered to emergency medical services employees, and they would be allowed an election to receive Social Security.


Rockefeller's Mobile Office Visiting Local Counties

West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller says his mobile office allows those who can't travel to one of his state offices to have the opportunity to discuss their private and confidential concerns with representatives of his staff. Phil Lewis, a member of Rockefeller's staff, will be available Tuesday, November 17th. to assist the public as the mobile office visits Cabell, Mason, Wayne and Lincoln counties.
The mobile office schedule is:
9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. at the Glenwood Post Office, Mason Co.
11:00 A.M. to noon at the Cabell County Courthouse, Huntington
12:30 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. at the Lavalette Post Office, Wayne County
3:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. at the Lincoln Co. Economic Development Authority, West Hamlin


Longest Serving Senator Marking New Milestone

Just two days before Byrd's 92nd. birthday, this coming Wednesday, Governor Joe Manchin will join other speakers at the state Capitol in Charleston as they gather to honor U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, while the longest-serving senator of all time marks another milestone as he becomes the longest serving member of either house of Congress. On November 18th., Byrd will surpass Senator Carl Hayden (D-Arizona) who served in the House of Representatives from 1912 to 1927 and in the Senate from 1927 to 1969, a total of 57 years. Byrd served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1953 to 1959 before becoming a member of the Senate in 1959. Following speakers remarks, an exhibit of photos and memorabilia, including his famous fiddle, will be unveiled, highlighting his accomplishments. The event is scheduled to begin at 3:00 P.M. and is free and open to the public.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ky. Health Officials Say Flu Vaccine In Low Supply

Kentucky state health officials say about 1.2 million Kentuckians usually receive a seasonal flu shot, and, even though the peak of flu season is months away, much of the seasonal flu vaccine for this year has already been distributed. Some 200,000 additional doses may be coming for the state, however, considering the demand, officials say it may not be a large enough amount.


Officials Probe Insurance Policy Of Census Worker

Investigators are attempting to determine if census worker 51 year old Bill Sparkman committed suicide but altered the scene so it would appear as a homicide, allowing his son, 20 year old Josh Sparkman, to collect on his life insurance policy, but Josh Sparkman says, items, apparently stolen from his father's car, have him convinced his father was slain. Bill Sparkman's body was discovered in the Daniel Boone National Forest in the Arnett's Fork area of Clay County on September 12th. Sparkman was tied to a tree with a rope around his neck, but his feet were in contact with the ground, and, although his hands were bound with duct tape, they were tied in a way that he could have removed the rope from around his neck. Investigators say he died at the tree, and his body did not show signs of defensive wounds. Because Sparkman was a census worker, his family would be eligible for up to $10,000, if he was killed in the line of duty. Josh Sparkman says his father last updated his will in 1993, leaving Josh heir to an estate including his London, Kentucky, home valued at $80,000.


Churchill Downs Buying Online Gambling Site

Recent statistics show less than 14% of thoroughbred wagering in the U.S. is done online. Citing recent trends toward online transactions in other industries, Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. and California-based Inc., an online horse racing betting site, say they expect the percentage of online wagering to grow. Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, has agreed to buy for $126.8 million, meaning, if the transaction closed, Youbet shareholders would own some 16% of Churchill Downs stock. The acquisition would position Churchill at the front of the pack in online and phone betting. The deal was approved this week by Churchill and Youbet boards but still must clear regulatory review and win the approval of Youbet shareholders, but Churchill expects the deal to close in the first half of 2010.


Ky. Chamber Says Workers Should Pay More For Insurance

According to a study recently released by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, since 2000, state government spending on health insurance for workers, retirees and teachers has grown five times faster than the rate of overall state spending, soaring by 174% in the past decade. Commerce officials say it's time for employees to pay more of the tab which is now costing more than $1.2 billion a year, more than 12% of the state's General Fund spending. The average Kentucky state worker pays for 3% of their health insurance premium while the average private employee pays 20%. The chamber says the total cost to provide health coverage for 258,169 teachers, state employees and state retirees has left them no longer able to afford to provide generous health benefits greater than what most private workers receive.


Murder Indictment Issued For Former Kentucky Representative

This week, a murder indictment was brought against former Kentucky Representative, 57 year old Steve Nunn, and a November 19th. arraignment was scheduled. Nunn is charged with the murder of his former fiancee, 29 year old Amanda Ross, who was shot outside her Lexington home on September 11th., prompting House Speaker Greg Stumbo to pre-file the "Amanda Bill" less than two weeks later. In September, Ross' mother, Diana Ross, filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging Nunn stalked and threatened her daughter for months prior to her death. Depositions of Nunn's daughters are scheduled for December 18th.


Ky. Administrative Office Of The Courts Explains Raises

Since May 2008, more than 100 positions with the Kentucky state Administrative Office of the Courts have been lost, while a dozen administrators received hefty raises, some salaries boosted by 20% or more. In September, 47 workers were laid off while the court system says it trimmed staff to save money, but laid-off workers question that logic. In an effort to explain, administrative officials say the court system is operating at a $35 million deficit, and the courts have saved nearly $4.6 million through layoffs and combining duties of remaining workers. Data shows salary increases will cost $71,347 annually, but the court says the raises cost less than it would to keep laid-off workers or fill vacant positions.


Bail Denied For Accused Killer Of W. Va. Native

Grisly details emerged during a bail hearing this week for 28 year old Korena Roberts of Oregon, who was denied bond after being charged with the aggravated murder of a St. Albans native, 21 year old Heather Snively. A detective testified that, on June 5th., Snively was repeatedly beaten with a collapsible police baton before a "cutting instrument" was used to open her abdomen and remove her unborn child. Snively's body was found stuffed in a crawlspace at Roberts' home after it was discovered by hospital officials that Roberts had not given birth as she claimed. Washington County Sheriff's Detective Andrew Hays testified the state medical examiner in Oregon determined Snively had blunt-and-sharp-force injuries, extensive bruising to her arms, a broken finger and bite marks, and the wound to her abdomen appeared jagged in sections and stretched across her body, from hip to hip. He also testified blood was spattered across the walls and ceiling of the bathroom inside Roberts' home in suburban Portland. The next hearing in the case is not expected until February.


W. Va. Program Could Cut Jail Costs

In an effort to cut jail costs, the Cabell County Commission has approved funding for a pilot program, established by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which would release non-violent offenders before trial. The program would require a full-time person to interview and perform background checks on all those arrested in Cabell County before trial. The individual would then be required to report back to a committee made up of representatives from law enforcement and court officials who would meet at least once a week. The committee would determine whether the offender would be placed on home confinement, work with the Western Regional Day Report Center or be housed at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville. The committee would make recommendations to designated circuit court and magistrate judges who would decide if the offender should remain jailed or be released while awaiting trial. Presently, the county spends about $245,000 a month, about $2.9 million a year, on jail costs, but the program, which takes $32,000 to fund, is expected to save the county between $147,000 and $588,000 a year.


West Virginia Awaits Health Care Outcome

While Congress debates overhauling the nation's health care system, West Virginia plans to expand its Medicaid program to cover adults earning up to 50% of the federal poverty level, or $10,830 for individuals, has been put on hold. Governor Joe Manchin says, while about 271,000 residents lack health insurance, the state is considering everything possible to provide health coverage for everyone. Currently, Medicaid coverage is available to parents earning up to 35% of the federal poverty level, $22,050 for a family of four, but Manchin's proposal would have increased that to 50%, while allowing adults without children to enroll. Manchin is awaiting the outcome from Washington.


West Virginia Supreme Court Ruling Leaves Officials' E-Mails Private

The West Virginia state Supreme Court has ruled personal e-mails of public officials and public employees can remain private. The court ruled 4-1 that none of the 13 e-mails between former Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard and Massey CEO Don Blankenship, sought by the Associated Press, are public record. The ruling determined content is the only factor that determines whether a personal e-mail is public record, but Associated Press says there is no such thing as "purely personal" communication between a powerful business and political figure and the state's chief justice who just happens to be presiding over that powerful figure's case.


West Virginia University Predicts Job Rebound

In its annual economic outlook, West Virginia University has predicted that, around the middle of 2010, the state economy should begin producing more jobs than it loses, while the recovery will be sluggish and centered on service industry jobs rather than on energy. It's predicted, through 2014, employment will grow 0.7% annually as the economy struggles to replace 22,600 job losses. State government uses the forecast to help formulate the budget and forecast revenue. Based on the latest revenue figures, the state has a $16 million shortfall, which is expected to grow to about $100 million by the end of the fiscal year which ends June 30th.


Marshall University Memorial Set

During a ceremony at noon Saturday, November 14th., the Marshall University Memorial Fountain will be turned off for the winter in observance of the 39th. anniversary of the November 14, 1970 plane crash which took the lives of 75 victims, including coaches, staff, supporters and flight crew, while killing most of Marshall's football team. As the team was returning from a loss to East Carolina, the plane crashed near the Tri-State Airport. A memorial service will take place at Joan C. Edwards Stadium before the 4:30 P.M. kickoff against Southern Mississippi. The keynote speaker will be Joe Gillette, a 1973 Marshall graduate who would have been a member of the 1970 team had he not suffered a severe shoulder injury in the summer of 1969.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Man Pleads Not Guilty In Floyd County Murder

J. R. Allen was arrested earlier this week in Magoffin County and charged with the murder of Sally Vance who died following a shootout in Allen of Floyd County on August 5, 2008. Appearing in court Thursday, Allen pleaded not guilty, while his attorney claimed he shot in self defense after Jessie Dulaney shot into the home where he was. His bond was set at $2 million.


Floyd County Man Sentenced To Life In Prison

After admitting he fatally shot 46 year old Thomas Bentley in May 2008 and set his home in Bull Creek on fire, in an attempt to cover up the crime, Richard Lee Adkins of Floyd County was sentenced Thursday to life in prison. Adkins admitted he was the only triggerman, although police say Timothy Marsillet was involved in the crime. Marsillet still faces a murder charge, and, as part of a plea deal, Adkins will be required to testify against him. Adkins was sentenced to 21 years for tampering with physical evidence, theft and drug possession, to be run concurrently with the life sentence.


Knott County Fire Leaves Thousands Without Power

An apartment fire around 1:00 A.M. Thursday morning at a building in Hindman of Knott County left several homeless and thousands without power and phone service as crews worked feverishly to control the flames and restore as much service as possible. Judge Executive Randy Thompson says the two most important forms of communication, phone and internet, along with the radio station, were affected, making it difficult to inform Knott County residents of what was going on. The Hindman Volunteer Fire Department was on the scene for about eight hours, and utility workers are continuing to restore services, although they say it could take up to at least 36 hours for service to be restored. Officials believe electrical problems prompted the fire.


Ky. Special Legislative Session Possible

To approve economic incentives for a possible Harley-Davidson plant in Shelbyville, Governor Steve Beshear is considering a special legislative session the week of December 13th., if Harley-Davidson decides to relocate its York, Pennsylvania plant. Although Harley-Davidson officials say they may stay in Pennsylvania, they say the Shelbyville location is the only one being considered.


Laurel County School Bus Crash Results In Injuries

Forty-eight year old Jeffrey House of London was airlifted to University of Kentucky Hospital with serious injuries Thursday morning after his SUV crossed the center line on Sublimity School Road and KY 1006, hitting a school bus carrying several students from Hunter Hills Elementary, along with bus driver, 31 year old Angela M. Calvert of London. Police say House was released from the Laurel County Detention Center in February after being charged with DUI, and he was driving on a suspended license when he hit the bus, sending eight students and Calvert to Saint Joseph Hospital London and two students to Southeast Baptist Hospital in Corbin.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Eastern Ky. Man Awarded

The patrol found their man, and the man got their check. It was a surprise awakening Wednesday afternoon when the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol knocked on the door of the Russell, Kentucky home of Jack Layne and presented him with a $10,000 check. Layne works as an overnight security guard and was asleep when the patrol came knocking.


Well Known Singers Launch Campaign Against Mountaintop Mining

As miners in West Virginia and Kentucky await an EPA review of mountaintop mining permits, a group of well known music personalities have launched a campaign against mountaintop coal removal. The campaign, Music Saves Mountains, is sponsored by the National Resources Defense Council and the Gibson Foundation. Monday night, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a senior attorney with the council, addressed those attending a meeting, including Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Big Kenny Alphin, Dierks Bentley, Delbert McClinton, Kid Rock and J. D. Souther. Harris says protection is needed for the Applachian mountains, where country music was born and is celebrated in song.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Mingo County Mother Loses Battle Over Child's Immunization

A federal judge has denied a vaccine exemption for the six year old daughter of Jennifer Workman. In April, Workman, who did not want her child immunized before attending the Lenore School, sued in U.S. District Court in Charleston. Workman had claimed a medical exemption, saying she feared her daughter would develop autism, and she also implied it would infringe on her religious beliefs. In late September, school officials sent a letter to Workman, saying the girl would have to leave school until the Mingo County Health Department made a ruling. Workman's attorney plans to appeal.


Second Suspect Arrested In Floyd County Murder

A second suspect, J. R. Allen, has been arrested for his alleged role in the August 5, 2008, shooting death of Sally Vance of Prestonsburg which occurred during a shootout on Third Street in Allen. Police arrested Allen in the Middle Fork area of Magoffin County and charged him with murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Shortly after the shooting, police arrested Jessie Dulaney of Banner and charged him with five counts of attempted murder.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Ky. Lawmakers Focus On Drug Abuse Tracking

Major Kentucky lawmakers, Representatives Harold "Hal" Rogers, Ben Chandler and Ed Whitfield, are supporting different ways to derail interstate prescription pill trafficking. Rogers favors the approach of states getting grants through the U.S. Department of Justice to setup or improve ways to monitor prescriptions through a tracking system known as KASPAR. Since 2002, the program has funneled $48 million to 47 states and territories. Whitfield and Chandler support a program called the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Monitoring Program, or NASPER. That program would set up uniform guidelines across the country to track prescriptions while requiring states to share information. Their plan would be a national system, which some say would be too costly, and the Justice Department believes the program may be prohibitive.


Ky. Death Penalty System Costing Millions

The death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976, and Kentucky has since then sentenced 92 defendants to death. Critics of the capital punishment system in the state say the state can't afford to continue to impose death penalties that drag on indefinitely but rarely end in execution. The state Department of Public Advocacy estimates Kentucky spends as much as $8 million per year incarcerating, defending and prosecuting death-row inmates,while more than one-third of the state's current death-row inmates have been there at least two decades. Thirty other inmates on death-row, over the past 33 years, have had their sentences reduced as the result of appeals. Opponents say long delays and reversals are the result of a broken system that was vastly unfunded. In 2007, some states banned executions, but Kentucky politicians show no inclination to abolish capital punishment, regardless of the cost.


Pikeville College Moving Forward

Is it possible that Pikeville College has turned the corner in dealing with financial and enrollment problems for years? According to a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader, there's nothing but blue skies for the College. It's obvious the positiave prognosis can be linked to the College's new President...former Governor Paul Patton.

The unexpected death of a key administrator and the sudden resignation of the previous President after only seven months in the position, left Pikeville College somewhat rudderless and drifting. Patton has infused the school with vision and a solid picture of the future. Strengthening ties with other institutions and bridging the gap with the Pikeville community has given the College a much brighter future.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Ky. State Capitol Getting Renovation

In the late 1990s, Kentucky Governor Paul Patton envisioned a major renovation of the state's Capitol building. In preparation for the 100th. anniversary of the Capitol, the ornate rotunda is closed for repairs,which are expected to be completed by January 1st. The rotunda has not had a complete restoration since 1995, and the $450,000 project has been budgeted since 2006.


Investigation Continues For Former State Representative

As part of an investigation into the slaying of 29 year old Amanda Ross, police in Lexington are searching the digital footprints of former state Representative Steve Nunn to determine if he kept a nude photo of Ross on his cell phone after having been barred in July from having such photos of her, as part of a domestic violence order. In addition, police have obtained e-mail and phone records to learn more about the troubled relationship and to establish time lines involving the whereabouts of Ross and Nunn in the days before her murder.


Man Charged In Hardin County Fatal Accident

Police say, around 8:30 P.M. Saturday night, 24 year old Michael Brunello was heading east on Kentucky 434 in Hardin County when his vehicle hit another vehicle driven by 30 year old Thomas A. Langley of Vine Grove , causing Langley's vehicle to go off the right shoulder and overturn, resulting in Langley being ejected. He was pronounced dead at Hardin Memorial Hospital. Brunello was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, operating a vehicle under the influence and having no insurance.

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