Saturday, December 05, 2009


Coal Industry Responds

The National Mining Association says it agrees with most of the comments made Thursday by West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd regarding mountaintop removal mining, including statements that coal remains an essential energy source.Highly efficient mountaintop mines are common in parts of Appalachia but widely opposed as too damaging by environmentalists.The statement Byrd issued says the practice enjoys little support in Washington. Moreover, he says the industry isn't helping by attacking opponents and sowing fear in the Appalachian coalfields.The mining association says coal mining is adapting to the 21st century by embracing better safety equipment and technology while remaining vital to the economy


Shooting In Laurel County

Just before 6:30 P.M. Friday night, Kentucky State Police received a call of a shooting at a residence on Kentucky 3094 in Laurel County. Troopers determined 25 year old J.R. Brock had discharged a firearm inside the home, causing a bullet to strike 44 year old Aubrey Timmons before travelling through a wall and hitting a 14 -year-old juvenile. Both victims were transported to St. Joseph-London Hospital for treatment. Troopers arrested Brock on an outstanding bench warrant.


Snow Hits Kentucky

Just as it was beginning to look as if Old Man Winter may have decided to skip over Kentucky, several residents in the northeastern and southeastern parts of the state were surprised when they saw snow Saturday morning. An overnight dusting of snow in eastern Kentucky fell Friday night and with temperatures below freezing, transportation officials were warning drivers about slick roads on Saturday. The National Weather Service expected the light to heavy snow to continue falling in southeastern Kentucky until Saturday afternoon with total accumulations of about 1 to 3 inches, and that was enough to keep road crews out to salt and clear roadways in several areas.


Education Report Released

According to a cost-analysis released Friday by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, every dollar invested to make preschool classes available to more Kentucky children would produce more than $5 in benefits for the state. The study claims that expanding "pre-K" programs would reduce the need for special education courses and help to lower crime and child abuse and neglect rates, while boosting high school graduation and post-secondary education enrollment rates for low-income students. The report was prepared by the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research for Strong Start Kentucky.


Lethal Injection Protocol Considered

The Kentucky state Department of Corrections has decided to comply with a November state Supreme Court decision and adopt a lethal injection protocol through the lengthy administrative regulation process. The department is drafting a regulation that will likely be filed with lawmakers this month. The process includes a public hearing as well as an opportunity for the public to comment via e-mails or written letters about various aspects of the lethal injection protocol. The Department of Corrections then can respond to comments. The Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee, a legislative panel, would also review the regulation. The House or Senate Judiciary committees could also choose to consider the proposal. If the department files the regulation by December 15th, the deadline for executive branch regulations, the earliest it could be enacted is April 15th. If a legislative committee denies the regulation, Gov. Steve Beshear can overrule the rejection.


Lawyer For Former U.K. Player Withdraws

Stephen McFayden, the attorney for former University of Kentucky men's basketball player 43 year old Ed Davender, has been replaced by Louisville attorney Steve Romines after McFayden withdrew from the case Friday. Davender is accused of running a ticket scam totaling more than $70,000 and has been indicted on 23 counts of theft by deception. Originally Lexington police had charged Davender with taking money from at least three people after promising them UK basketball season tickets that he didn't have. A Fayette County grand jury indicted Davender last month on charges, between May 2003 and August 2009, he unlawfully obtained money from 19 people "with the intent to permanently deprive them of the money." Investigators say the amount of money stolen ranges from $300 to $23,900


Information Filed Against Wallpaper Company Owner

In a two-count information filed Friday, 63 year old Clark A. Diehl, owner of Wallpapers in Stock Inc. a Charleston company that installed wallpaper in Governor Joe Manchin's office and those of his chief deputies, has been charged in federal court with committing mail fraud in an attempt to circumvent the state's competitive bidding requirements. According to the information, in 2005, Diehl submitted three invoices from Wallpapers in Stock, and, after learning that those invoices would not be paid because they were not in compliance with the state's competitive bidding regulations, Diehl devised a scheme in which he created and submitted four written bids from two purported competing companies, for amounts of money greater than the amounts in the invoices he had already submitted, in order to make it falsely appear the State of West Virginia had obtained legally required competing bids and Wallpapers in Stock had been the lowest responsible bidder.


Inmates Beaten

West Virginia State Police say 47 year old Michael Burnette and his 21-year-old son, Christopher, of Bradley were beaten in separate sections of the Southern Regional Jail Thursday, resulting in them being taken to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital. The Burnettes were being held on $1 million bond each following their arrest Wednesday after being accused of slashing the throat of Michael Burnette's 73 year old mother and threatening to throw her off the New River Gorge Bridge. She escaped and is recovering.


Train Derails In Kanawha County

Shortly before 8:00 P.M. Friday night, a train derailed near Sharon in eastern Kanawha County when one loaded coal car overturned and 14 others came off the tracks. The train tracks, in addition to Stockholm Street, were closed for the rest of Friday night. Traffic crossings from Donald Drive to Rhonda in Cabin Creek were also closed.


Beckley Hospital To House Inmates

The Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley, formerly known as Pinecrest Hospital, will soon begin housing prison inmates as it become home to 70 minimum security prisoners who will be housed on the fourth floor, which currently has only a few offices. The city's work-release center is already on hospital grounds, and the state will save about $2 million in construction costs by not having to build a new 70-bed facility. Governor Joe Manchin says the plan matches recommendations in a report by a special commission designed to reduce crowded conditions in state jails and prisons.


Clean Coal Gets Project Funding

Energy Secretary Steven Chu says the administration has no plans to turn its back on coal. West Virginia, Texas and Alabama are getting $979 million in federal stimulus funding which will go toward carbon capture and sequestration at coal-fired power plants owned by American Electric Power, Southern Co. and Summit Texas Clean Energy. American Electric Power is currently capturing and storing carbon dioxide at its Mountaineer power plant in Mason County. The $334 million federal stimulus funding is aimed at allowing the plant to capture and store 90% of carbon emissions from the plant. Southern Co. is getting $295 million for carbon capture at an Alabama power plant north of Mobile and Summit Texas is getting $350 million for work on a 400-megawatt plant planned for Midland-Odessa. The Department Of Energy says carbon dioxide from that plant will be piped underground to increase oil recovery in the Permian Basin.
An additional $2.2 billion in private capital is also expected to be used for the projects.


Snow And Ice Causes Accidents

The West Virginia Department of Highways trucks were called out early Saturday morning to begin salting the interstate when snow and ice from the first snow of the season caused multiple accidents along I-64 near Huntington, most of them occurring on bridges and on ramps.


Murder Trial Set

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday morning in Wayne County for Stephen Wilson who is charged with the shooting death of Rev. Mark McCalla, a former minister at the Highlawn Presbyterian Church in Huntington whose body was found at the shooting range in the Beech Fork Wildlife Management Area in June 2008. In August, Wilson’s co-defendant, Daniel Smith, was found guilty of his role in McCalla’s murder and was sentenced to 90 years in prison with no chance for parole for 37 1/2 years.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Magoffin Teacher Not Indicted

North Magoffin Elementary School teacher, 46 year old Darrell Patrick, was arrested and charged with drug trafficking in October. UNITE detectives say they have plenty of proof that Patrick was selling OxyCodone from his home, but officials are concerned charges might be dismissed after the Commonwealth's Attorney did not present the case to the grand jury Thursday. If he is not indicted by December 27th, officials say Patrick's six drug trafficking charges will be dismissed in district court.


Knox County Couple Arraigned

Crystal Garland and Jeremy Strunk of Knox County were arraigned Friday afternoon, nearly two years after the death of Garland's two-year-old son, Troy McClendon. Police say the child's August 2008 death was caused by blunt force trauma. The couple are also charged with assault and criminal abuse of Garland's 8-month-old baby.


Lawmakers Urge Beshear To Hold Up Executions

Five state lawmakers, Reps. David Floyd, R-Bardstown; Jim Wayne, D-Louisville; Kelly Flood, D-Lexington; Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville; and Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, have sent a letter to Governor Steve Beshear urging him to refrain from endorsing three death warrants recently received from Attorney General Jack Conway while the American Bar Association completes its review of Kentucky’s implementation of the death penalty. The letter further states: “Perhaps the ABA’s results will help us improve our penal system."


Deadly Accident Near Morehead

Around 9:00 A.M. Friday morning, 42 year old Traci Swartz was killed in an accident on KY 32 just west of Morehead. Police say a Chevy Blazer driven by Swartz slowed down after noticing a vehicle being towed in the opposite lane and was rear-ended by a pickup truck driven by 33 year old Brian Owens of Morehead. The SUV then overturned, ejecting Swartz. Her passenger, Daniel Moore, was treated and released, along with Owens, at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead.


Still No Indictment In Infant Death

Amanda Johnson remains in the Laurel County Detention Center on a $250,000 bail but has not yet been indicted after police charged her with murder and first-degree criminal abuse in the October 23rd. death of her 23 month-old son, Stephen Michael Troy. State forensic anthropologist Dr. Emily Craig reported there were two fractures in the child's left lower leg that had occurred at two separate times. He died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen. Laurel County Coroner Doug Bowling confirmed the autopsy report showed Stephen died when something or someone hit him so hard arteries to his small intestine ruptured and he bled to death. According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, Amanda Johnson and the father, Michael Troy, had a history of violence


KSP Accepting Grant Proposals

In 2008 there were 3,067 DUI arrests in Kentucky for teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19. Kentucky State Police say enforcement is vital to reducing underage drinking, but it must be accompanied by an educational component that will bring awareness about the serious dangers involved. KSP serves as the state administrator for the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws grant announced earlier this week and is accepting grant proposals for projects to help reduce underage drinking. The grant application package is available through the Kentucky Justice Cabinet Web site at Applications for the grant must be submitted to KSP through the Kentucky Justice Cabinet Grants Management System by 4:30 P.M. January 15th.


Hearing Set In Nunn Case

Warren Scoville and Hailey Scoville Bonham, filed a motion Monday asking the court to release money from the sale of former state Representative Steve Nunn's home in Glasgow to pay legal fees. Proceeds from the sale of the house and any personal property are in escrow "until further orders from the court," according to an agreed order for injunctive relief that was filed in November after Amanda Ross's mother, Diana Ross, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Nunn in late September. Friday's hearing in Fayette Circuit Court was to hear arguments surrounding that suit. Ross's attorneys told the judge that Nunn has half a million dollars in retirement funds, and they wanted to know why that money wasn't used to pay Scoville. Scoville says, if the money is not released, he will have to excuse himself from the case. Judge James Ishmael says he will take more time to decide whether to suspend a civil lawsuit against Nunn until the criminal case is done, and he wanted information about whether Warren Scoville could represent the firm and Nunn in the same case because the attorney's firm is named in the civil lawsuit. A hearing is set for January 12th.


Rehearing Filed In Massey-Caperton Case

A rehearing petition has been filed in West Virginia Supreme Court in connection with the Harman Mining-Massey Energy case. The petition challenges, "In its zeal and determination to deliver a complete total victory to Massey, this court, by adopting the written opinion of acting Chief Justice Robin Davis, has violated Hugh Caperton's right to due process." Davis decided the contract dispute occurred in Virginia and should not have been a West Virginia case, but Justice Margaret Workman filed a dissenting opinion.


Table Game Voting Underway

Saturday, December 5th., Jefferson County voters will be casting their ballots for or against legalized table games at the Charles Town Races and Slots. But, grassroots group Vote No Table Games is hoping voters will once again defeat the measure. The last day for early voting was Wednesday, and more than 3,500 residents had cast ballots. If approved, a bulk of table games money would go to the school system.


St. Albans Hiring Police Officers

The St. Albans Police Department will be testing for Probationary Police Officers, with applications being accepted until 4:30 P.M. January 5th. A Physical Agility Test will be conducted at 9:00 A.M. on January 9th. Those that successfully pass will take a written exam at the Hansford Senior Center at 9:00 A.M. on January 23rd., while those remaining will be placed on an eligibility list.


Nursing Home Workers Indicted

A nurse and two nursing assistants at Creekwood Place Nursing Home in Logan County have been indicted on a single count of knowing abuse or neglect of an adult. According to the indictment, Melissa L. Lyon was attempting to transfer a patient into a bed on her own, even though a care plan called for two people. As a result, the patient suffered a fractured leg. Destiny W. Duncan and nurse Barbara A. Moore are accused of concealing the incident, causing prolonged suffering and pain for the patient.


W. Va. Chief Of Staff Stepping Down

Larry Puccio, who has served as Chief of Staff for Governor Joe Manchin since Manchin was serving four years as Secretary of State before becoming governor, is giving up his position to return to his real estate appraisal business. Puccio says he will remain available on an unpaid volunteer basis while the governor finishes his term and for his future endeavors.


Smoking Ban Considered

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department is drafting a proposal that would ban smoking in bars and gambling parlors. The department says it likely will conduct a public hearing on the proposed regulation and obtain feedback from issues expected to be addressed at the Cabell-Huntington Board of Health’s next meeting on Jan. 27th., although they say it’s too early to tell whether the board will take a vote on the regulation at the meeting. The proposal will be patterned after federal and state recommendations and will be compatible with current clean indoor regulation. Under Cabell’s existing regulation, smoking is banned in all restaurants and workplaces, while Bingo halls, personal care homes and establishments where alcohol represents more than 80 percent of sales are exempt from the regulation.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Pike County Schools Get Funding

U.S. Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded Pike County Schools with a $1,909,414 grant to reimburse for storm damage repairs following the Mothers Day floods in May 2009. Under President Obama's May 29, 2009 federal disaster declaration, FEMA was initially authorized to reimburse only 75% of the expenses covered under the Public Assistance categories. However, because of Congressman Rogers' efforts, FEMA is now required to reimburse 90% of the total costs incurred, which significantly lessens the financial burdens on state and local governments. Due to the enormous impact of the flooding and high-waters, Pike County was deemed eligible for FEMA Public Assistance.


Floyd County To Honor Veterans

A special event sponsored by the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce will be held Monday, beginning with a 4:30 P.M. pre-event, at the National Guard Armory in Prestonsburg to honor the memory of those killed in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and to thank veterans for their military service. Featured will be the " Address to the Nation" speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt originally broadcast after the attack. Floyd County officials will recognize the establishment of each branch of the military.


Harley-Davidson Plant Not Relocating

It's official... Approval by the Machinist Union at Harley-Davidson in Erie, Pennsylvania of a seven year contract has closed the book on a possible move of the plant to Kentucky, while assuring the plant would remain in Pennsylvania.


Pike County Landfill Progresses

Pike County Solid Waste Commissioner Mike Lyons says Phase 5 of the Pike County Landfill is progressing successfully. Recently, Hawkeye Construction of Robinson Creek laid a layer of black synthetic material on top of three six-inch layers of clay, both covering tons of solid waste.


Expo Center Awarded Coal Severance Money

During the December 1st. meeting of the Pike County Fiscal Court, the East Kentucky Expo Center Board of Directors Chairman Charles Baird was presented $300,000 of coal severance tax money which Baird says will be used for utilities, maintenance and upkeep for the center, allowing it to remain operating.


Pike County Couple Indicted

Fifty-six year old Billy Blankenship and his wife, 54 year old Roxanne Blankenship, both of Elkhorn City (Pike County) were both indicted in November on two counts of willfully filing or making false tax returns or failure to pay taxes. The indictment states, in 2007 and 2008, they sold more than $1 million in knock-off merchandise and failed to report earnings to the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


U.K. Goes Energy Efficient

Under a contract approved Tuesday by the university board, the University of Kentucky expects to save 10 to 15 percent of its energy costs. The $25 million energy savings performance contract includes installation of more efficient lighting and water-saving plumbing devices. Annually, the university pays $50 million in utility bills - 40 percent of it for electricity. Louisville-based Ameresco will do the installations, which are guaranteed to pay for themselves in 12 years or the company is obligated to pay the difference.


Former Officers Sentenced

Forty-two year-old Johnny Lee Travis and 37 year old Maxie Christopher Murray, both of Glasgow and both former high-ranking Glasgow Police Officers, were sentenced Wednesday (today) in Bowling Green on federal drug charges after pleading guilty in April to illegally possessing Hydrocodone and tampering with a witness. Both admitted they persuaded a witness not to share information about their crimes with law enforcement. They were sentenced to time served, 5 weeks imprisonment and 8 months home incarceration, along with two years supervised release.


Pike County Calls For Road Improvement

Pike County officials say they've seen too many car accidents at the entrance to East Ridge High School off Highway 460 at Lick Creek. Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford has submitted a written request to the transportation cabinet for changes. Officials say the road is heavily traveled, and, with the school having more than 700 students, structural problems are critical. District 12 Transportation Cabinet workers have surveyed the area, and Rutherford says it's time for action.


Mingo County Gets Water Grant

The USDA Rural Development has approved a water and waste disposal grant worth more than $1 million for the Mingo County Public Service District. The money will be used to extend public water service to residents in the Dingess, Trace, Parsley and Kirk areas. Construction will consist of approximately 154,000 feet of waterline and three new water storage tanks for a project that will bring service to approximately 450 rural residents who are currently without a safe and reliable source of water.


Budget Cuts Alarm Officials

Last month state Budget Director Mary Lassiter warned that, to help offset an additional expected $161 million revenue shortfall, most state agencies could face more budget cuts on top of $800 million already slashed from the state budget. Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson says budget cuts in the State Board of Elections would be a bad move. He said cutting an additional $81,000 from a $1.3 million overall budget could prohibit the Board of Elections from carrying out its duties heading into next year’s elections for local, state and federal offices. Grayson and heads of agencies across state government have sent letters to Lassiter explaining potential ramifications of 6% cuts Governor Beshear has called for.


Pike County School Bus Wrecks

Kentucky State Police say, Wednesday morning, a Pike County school bus headed to Phelps Elementary and Phelps High School, loaded with 19 children, was side-swiped when a lowboy being pulled by a semi crossed the center line while traveling on Route 194 East in Playboy Curve between Phelps and Freeburn. No injuries were reported, and there was only minor damage to the bus.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Woman Gets Life For Ky. Conviction

Connie Avalos, 50, of Riverside, Calif., was convicted in August of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in Kentucky. She was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday in federal court for participating in a methamphetamine conspiracy to distribute the drug in Grant and Pendleton counties. According to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, this is the third case this decade prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office that resulted in a life sentence for a defendant on meth charges.


Prison Guards Assaulted

Around 2:00 P.M. Sunday, three guards at the Big Sandy Federal Prison in Inez were assaulted by four inmates during a routine search of an inmate housing unit. Additional staff responded and quickly contained the situation, and the prison was placed in lock down following the incident. The F.B.I. was notified and an investigation into the incident is underway.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Ky. Roadway Fatalities Down

Preliminary statistics indicate four people died in four separate crashes on Kentucky roadways during the Thanksgiving holiday enforcement period between Wednesday and Sunday, down from the fourteen highway fatalities during the same time period last year. All of the crashes involved motor vehicles and two victims were not wearing seat belts. Single-fatality crashes occurred in Carter, Perry, Warren and Webster counties, with the crash in Webster county involving the suspected use of alcohol. Through November 29, preliminary statistics indicate that 702 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2009, 40 less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2008.


Cap And Trade Hits Back Burner

The coal industry got good news Monday (today) as cap and trade gained less smoke and hit the back burner. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Democratic Representative Fitz Steele say, with attention focused on the health care bill, the proposed Waxman Markey Climate Bill has, at least for now, hit a stand-still. The bill, better known as cap and trade, would limit the amount of carbon dioxide coal-fired plants could emit into the air. The coal industry fears, if the legislation was passed, it could create a negative impact on local economies, as well as the entire state. McConnell and Steele say electric bills would increase and thousands would be put out of work. Lawmakers say it could be quite some time before the bill is revisited, and, to many who depend upon coal, that's music to the ears.


Nunn's Attorneys Seek Funds

In a motion filed Monday (today) in Fayette Circuit Court by attorneys Warren Scoville and Hailey Scoville Bonham, the lawyers asked the money from the sale of the Glasgow home of former state Representative Steve Nunn be released to pay for legal fees. The attorneys say it's imperative funds be immediately released so necessary experts can be retained to properly defend their client. On October 16th., Nunn transferred the deed to his home to Scoville to cover legal fees, but the $170,000 from the sale and any personal property are placed in escrow until further court orders, according to an agreed order pending results from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Diana Ross.


Lexington Commerce Goes Pro-Coal

Following a two day trip to eastern Kentucky in which Commerce Lexington became better informed of the impact coal has on the economy, the chamber has changed its official policy statement to be much more coal pro. In its 2009 policy, the group acknowledged coal has meant low energy rates in Kentucky, but it noted federal action was likely to place further restrictions on emissions. The statement for 2010 says, for the first time, the group supports efforts to "protect the viability of Kentucky's coal industry." The Sierra Club's National Board of Directors called the Commerce Lexington policy change "disappointing."


Thankful Hearts And Salvation Army Need Help

With registration still open, some 2,300 families are already signed up to receive toys from the Salvation Army, but, this year, the organization says, along with other charitable groups statewide, it's in need of help itself. Overall, donations to the Salvation Army are down although the money collected by bell ringers is up slightly from last year. Ginny Ramsey of the 14th. Annual Faith and Community Christmas Store says giving is still strong, but the question is whether it will keep up with the need. The Salvation Army says groups that help are feeling an everyday pinch, and more families are seeking help this year. Thankful Hearts Food Pantry in Pikeville says, along with food running low, the pantry is also having difficulty putting together its annual Christmas event which gives away toys and clothing.


KSP Report Fatal Shooting

The Kentucky State Police say a trooper has fatally shot a Boyle County man. Trooper Eric Taylor fired the fatal shot as he and 5 Boyle County Sheriff's Deputies attempted to serve a warrant on 61-year old Roger King.

After knocking on King's door, officers saw him pointing a gun at them near a window. Trooper Taylor fired once, striking King who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Accident Kills Laurel County Woman

Martha Dixon was pronounced dead at Saint Joseph of London after the car she was driving from the parking lot of the McWhorter Fire Department pulled into the path of a pickup truck driven by Jeffery Sizemore on Saturday.


Fire Destroys Apartment House

Around 8:00 A.M. Friday morning, fire destroyed four apartments at the Nicholas Heights Apartments on Highway 467 in Manchester of Clay County. Fire departments say they quickly arrived, but, by the time they got there, flames were going through the roof and spreading to other apartments. Firefighters battled the blaze for almost two hours before getting it under control. Early determinations say it all started when an oven hood in one of the apartments caught fire.

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