Saturday, February 06, 2010


State Ethics To Investigate Rummage

The wrangling and drama of the Lawson/Nighbert trial, that ended last week seems to have a life of its own. The state's chief witness, Jim Rummage now has a set of problems he has to face.
Rummage has been relieved of criminal charges by Prosecuting Attorney Ken Taylor, however, Rummage now faces a state ethics investigation after testifying in U.S. District Court in Lexington that, during 2006 and 2007, he followed instructions of then-Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert and took confidential bid estimates to road contractor Leonard Lawson and was paid $20,000 cash in bribes. If found guilty, he could face civil penalties ranging from a public reprimand to a $5,000 fine per ethics violation.


Common Core State Standards

The Kentucky Board of Education, the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Education Professional Standards Board will hold a joint meeting Wednesday to formally adopt a resolution implementing the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics. With this action, Kentucky will be the first state to adopt the academic standards. Higher, clearer and more in-depth academic standards are required by Senate Bill 1, passed by the 2009 Kentucky General Assembly. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. ET at the Kentucky Community and Technical College Central Office at 300 North Main Street in Versailles.


Ohio Fugitive Arrested

A fugutive from Ohio was taken into custody in Wheelwright. David Irvine, originally of Ohio but living most recently in the Wheelwright area, was arrested at the Wheelwright Cardinal Mart gas station after police learned of the outstanding warrants against him in Ohio. Officers with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department said the initial thing that led to the arrest was noticing Irvine’s vehicle had out-of-date registration plates. According to police, Irvine had been in Floyd County for approximately a year before his arrest this week.


Accident Kills Teen

Nineteen year old Brittany Harman of Catlettsburg, Kentucky was killed Friday afternoon when her car collided with a northbound coal truck on U.S. 23 about two miles north of the Lawrence County line. Police say Harman's vehicle apparently pulled in front of a loaded coal truck driven by 52 year old Ronnie Click of Johnson County. The Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department and the England Hill Volunteer Fire Department assisted at the scene of the accident.


Horse Group Allegedly Supports Senate Candidates

According to a report filed with the Internal Revenue Service Friday, the Kentucky horse-industry group, Keep Our Jobs in Kentucky Inc., spent nearly $850,000 last year to help two Democrats in their state Senate bids. The report says $266,460 was spent in a race won by Democrat Robin Webb last August and $482,044 in a losing effort on behalf of Democrat Jodie Haydon in December, while about $93,000 more was spent on administrative costs. Keep Our Jobs in Kentucky is a political-action committee created under Chapter 527 of the IRS code, and although banned from urging voters to support or oppose a candidate, it can run ads supporting a candidate, while stopping short of an explicit request for a vote. More than half of the $845,000 raised by the group came from horse tracks, with Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Ellis Park, Turfway Park and The Red Mile each contributing $75,000 and Kentucky Downs giving $65,000. Most of the rest of the money came from breeders, racing stables and others involved in horseracing.


Tobacco Dealer Seeks Affidavits

Online cigarette dealer Chavez Inc., a Louisville-based tobacco dealer, is seeking to have a federal judge unseal affidavits backing at least 20 search warrants executed on the company's Louisville, Stockton, California and Denver, Colorado offices and on multiple banks where the business had accounts. On December 8th, federal investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Postal Service inspectors seized $4 million in tobacco products, along with the company's computers, business records, cars and bank accounts. They say Chavez Inc. sold contraband cigarettes outside the state of Kentucky online and through a toll-free number while avoiding paying local, state and federal taxes. A lawyer representing the dealer says the company sold less than 10,000 cigarettes per shipment, meaning a Kentucky tax stamp wasn't required.


Vote Fraud Trial Continues

Testimony is set to continue next week in Frankfort in the vote-fraud trial of eight Clay County residents accused of scheming to buy votes. Former Manchester assistant police chief Todd Roberts testified Friday that another city police officer, Mike Bishop, told him Representative Tim Couch of Leslie County supplied $40,000 to buy votes in the 2002 primary and said he was also told Couch gave vote-buyers money in 2004. Last year, Couch said he didn't ask anyone to buy votes for him in 2002 and had no knowledge of it happening.


Manchin Declares Emergency

As a major winter snow storm rolled through West Virginia Friday, Gov. Joe Manchin declared a state of emergency and activated West Virginia's Emergency Operation Center. The Eastern Panhandle was expected to be the hardest hit area, with up to 30 inches of wet, heavy snow expected in some areas by Saturday night. The Northern Panhandle was expected to see up to 16 inches, and up to a foot was expected in southeastern West Virginia.About 300 members of the Air National Guard and Army National Guard were deployed Thursday night to deal with emergency situations and were standing by with towing vehicles along the main roads, including the West Virginia Turnpike.


Snow Prompts Power Outages

Appalachian Power says about 2,900 homes and businesses were without service Friday night. The National Weather Service warned widespread power outages were likely in the company's service area of southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia with wind gusts of up to 65 mph expected. Company spokesman Phil Moye says crews were on standby to go wherever outages occured.


Mingo County Clinic Owner Charged

The owner of a Mingo County medical clinic near Kermit, West Virginia is facing federal charges involving the illegal sale of prescription drugs. A federal information filed Friday in U.S. District Court charges 30 year old Cameron J. Justice, the owner of Justice Medical Complex, with conspiring to misuse a physicians' registration number and aiding and abetting health care fraud. Investigators say Justice and an employee claimed doctors had examined dozens of patients when it was really nurse practitioners who used the physician's name while providing the services. During the four-year scheme (2005-2009) they used the physician's Medicare provider number to bill for services he didn't personally provide and to issue prescriptions to acquire controlled substances. Justice is accused of billing Medicare for nearly $300,000. If convicted, Justice faces 14 years in federal prison and a half-million dollar fine.
Dr. Augusto T. Abad of Charleston is facing similar charges, while Dr. John Theodore Tiano is scheduled for sentencing on March 18th after pleading guilty to charges.


West Virginia Considers Texting Ban

The West Virginia state Senate Transportation Committee is expected to consider a bill next week that would, if passed, make texting while driving a primary traffic offense. Another bill under consideration would make not wearing a seat belt a more serious offense. Currently, not wearing a seat belt is a secondary offense, meaning an officer is required to pull a driver over for another reason before a violation can be issued.


Group Considers Coal Alternative

A group of West Virginia state senators, led by Boone County Democratic Senator Ron Stollings, has begun brainstorming about ways to shift West Virginia's economy away from coal. The group met Thursday with representatives of the Division of Energy and the Office of Coalfield Community Development. Stollings says West Virginia must start thinking about its post-coal future and how to diversify the economy. Although most of the discussion related to coal, some senators suggested the state's many flood-control dams could be used for hydroelectricity. They also discussed projects planned for former strip mine sites, including the Boy Scout High Adventure Base in Fayetteville


Coal Industry Opposes New Taxes

Coal companies are objecting to a proposal from the Obama administration that could raise their state taxes to cover the cost of regulating surface mining. To help cut its spending by $16.7 million, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is considering an idea to cut funding to coal states. The agency has proposed a $146.1 million budget for fiscal 2011..The agency is encouraging states to raise more money with higher fees.
In the current fiscal year, West Virginia has taken in $171 million in general revenue from coal. Through January, coal production was down 8.3% from the prior year. Coal producers are struggling with weak demand from their largest market (electric utilities) and slumping industrial production. National Mining Association President Hal Quinn says "Their efforts should not be stopped by new taxes that will cost jobs and hurt our economy."

Friday, February 05, 2010


Appalachian Power Report Heard

After receiving numerous complaints from constituents in his district, Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo County demanded an investigation about the lengthy period before power was restored during the December snow storm. During a meeting Thursday afternoon, executives of the Appalachian Power Company told members of the West Virginia Legislature the widespread power outages affected more than 233,000 or about 53 percent of their total customer base and some of them were without electric service from December 19th to December 31st...the largest outage in their 84 years of business. However, Phil Wright, vice president for distribution at Appalachian Power, says repair efforts were focused in southern West Virginia, primarily in Mingo, Logan, Wyoming and McDowell counties. Wright also said the company had 750 employees sleeping on cots in the Logan High School gym during the repair work, which included one location where 19 separate repairs had to be made and one case where the power line had to be moved a distance of 1.7 miles.


Martin County Raid

Martin County Sheriff Deputies raided the Wildcat Mart convenience store on Route 40 near Inez this week, and, although no arrests were made at the time, officers removed nearly a half dozen illegal video poker machines, and just over $4,400 in cash was taken into evidence. The machines are supposed to be for entertainment purposes only, but signs inside the store indicated the payout was merchandise.


Bill Would Help Fix Unemployment Fund

The fund from which Kentucky's jobless draw their Unemployment Benefits has been in jeopardy for several years. A bill seeking to fix an imbalance in Kentucky's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund cleared its first hurdle Thursday with support from business and labor.The bill would gradually raise the amount of state taxes paid by Kentucky employers to support the trust fund, which has been under strain as more Kentuckians lose jobs and seek benefits.The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says the bill would actually save Kentucky employers more than $300 million over the next decade. That's because Kentucky is borrowing huge sums from the federal government to keep the trust fund solvent.


Massey Versus Environmentalists

In a continuing battle between environmentalists, Massey Energy seems to have won the latest legal wrangling. Massey has won a federal court order temporarily barring mining protesters from its southern West Virginia properties and the company is asking for the order to become permanent. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger granted the request last week in conjunction with a lawsuit filed by Massey targeting protesters who’ve spent the past year invading the Richmond, Va.-based company’s mine sites. They’ve variously climbed trees, chained themselves to heavy equipment, and repeatedly been arrested in hopes of stopping mountaintop removal coal mining. At Massey’s request, the judge applied it to the defendants’ officers, agents, lawyers and anyone working with the defendants, including Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice. Berger’s order likewise bars trespassing on any mining properties in the Southern District of West Virginia, home to most of the state’s surface coal production.


Beshear Stresses Importance Of Coal

In hopes of gaining support for the White House’s energy policy, President Barack Obama met in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington with governors of coal-producing states, including Governor Steve Beshear. Obama announced a series of “clean coal” proposals which included pledging to fund five to 10 commercial carbon capture and storage demonstration projects by 2016. In addition, the White House announced a carbon capture and storage task force charged with figuring out how the nation can deploy affordable cleaner-coal technology on a widespread scale within 10 years. Beshear promised Kentucky would aggressively pursue some of the projects, while also stressing the state and nation are heavily reliant on coal. On the issue of cap-and-trade, Beshear told the President, “It will drastically increase the cost of electricity in our state and other energy-producing states and drive industry not only out of our state but out of this country.”


West Virginia Parkways Plans Improvements

The West Virginia Parkways Authority says snow removal could greatly add up, creating an expense as much as a million dollars over budget. The authority has used more than 22,000 tons of salt along the West Virginia Turnpike, spending $1.6 million on salt when the budget only called for $1.2 million this winter. To prevent massive backups the state is currently installing new emergency gates. During a meeting Thursday, the board approved a project to widen the shoulders near the gates to allow truck drivers to turn their trucks around when the highway is closed...a project they hope to complete by May. Other improvements include adding more closed circuit cameras, updating message boards, updating and improving detour maps, eliminating dead cell service areas and buying five new State Police cruisers for turnpike.


"Hearts For Haiti" Campaign A Success

More than 150 containers have been filled in response to the "Hearts For Haiti" campaign, a joint venture of Pikeville Medical Center, East Kentucky Broadcasting and Pikeville College. The fundraising undertaking, which will conclude with a radiothon on Sunday, February 14, will provide funds for the American Red Cross in its efforts to help the Haitian people. More donation containers are being placed everyday, including distribution of containers to local churches.


Charges Won't Be Filed In Bid-Rigging Case

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor has announced charges of conspiracy to violate federal laws and obstruction of justice against Brian Billings will not be pursued. In addition, the prosecution won't file charges against former state highway engineer Jim Rummage. Taylor says it's the only fair and equitable choice in light of last week's acquittal of road contractor Leonard Lawson and former Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert.


Driver's License Suspensions Under Review

The Kentucky House has passed a bill aimed at revising a law that has led judges to automatically suspend the driver's licenses of people convicted of theft until they pay restitution. The bill would give judges more discretion in deciding whether to suspend the driving privileges of people convicted of theft offenses until the court-ordered restitution is paid.The law enacted last year was meant as an incentive to get people convicted of theft charges to pay their restitution as quickly as possible. But several legal officials have said the law has made it more difficult for theft offenders to pay restitution because they are losing their ability to drive to work. The bill seeking to soften that law passed the House 85-10 Wednesday. It now goes to the Senate.


Thoroughbred Industry Suffering

All is not well with the horse racing interests in the state. Kentucky’s thoroughbred industry, mirroring global economics, is riding out a painful downturn. While there are glimmers of hope, experts agree that it will continue to be a bumpy ride in 2010. The tight credit market has impacted the equine industry with some banks declining to finance racing operations altogether. Some owners and breeders have been forced to disperse their holdings, and most others have cut back their activity levels at sales and on breeding farms.


Clay County Vote-Buying Case Continues

Testifying in federal court in Frankfort in a case against eight Clay County officials Thursday, Kenneth Day told the court he was once involved when former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle took part in contacting a juror in a civil case in 1990 to push for a judgment of at least $1 million. Attorneys for several of those charged with conspiring to corrupt elections by buying or stealing votes in 2002, 2004 and 2006 attacked Day's credibility, suggesting he would lie to help prosecutors in order to get his 18-year prison sentence reduced. Day testified about times he and other officials bought votes in the 1980s and 1990s.


Manchin Plans Met With Opposition

Governor Joe Manchin has plans to move the West Virginia Lottery Commission out of Charleston and into the Dow Technology Park in South Charleston, but the plan is being met with opposition. In 2004, a circuit court judge ruled the state agency had to stay in the capital city, but Manchin is trying to work around that ruling by annexing the park into Charleston. South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens says the city is not giving up any part of their park. Charleston city leaders hired a lawyer to stop the move, and Mayor Danny Jones says leaders believe state government should stay in Charleston.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Ky. Coal Association Gets New President

The Kentucky Coal Association has chosen Marshall University Chief of Staff Bill Bissett to serve as its new President. The association said it chose Bissett, who will assume the role on February 22nd, due to his involvement with the Friends of Coal campaign while he was working at Charles Ryan & Associates in Charleston. The Kentucky Coal Association serves 23 member companies and 100 associate member companies in Kentucky.


Texting Ban Passes House

House Bill 43 passed the state House Thursday on an 80-16 vote, with three members not voting. Following almost an hour of debate the measure passed which would ban texting while driving and all uses of a cell phone for drivers under the age of 18 while in a moving vehicle. Representative Jody Richards, the sponsor of the bill, says banning the use of all communication devices for teens until they are 18 would help establish good driving habits, but a ban on texting for all adults, excluding emergency personnel, would also save lives. Representative Keith Hall, D-Phelps, said he voted against the measure in the House Transportation Committee but changed his vote Thursday after his wife was in a traffic accident involving cell phones belonging to her and another driver Wednesday night.


Oil Drilling Accident

Hazard television reported an accident occcured at a drilling site in Magoffin County. 20-year-old Tyler Lemaster's clothing became entangled in a drilling machine recently, pulling him into it. Magoffin County Rescue Squad Capt. Carter Conley reported the operator saw what happened and quickly shut down the rig with seconds to spare. Members of Lemaster's family said he had several broken bones and other injuries. He was flown to Cabell-Huntington Hospital in West Virginia. The general manager of Rhino Oil Field Services went to the hospital with Lemaster and wasn't available for comment. The rig is shut down.


Accident Victims Protection

A Kentucky House committee has approved a bill aimed at preventing health-care providers from soliciting auto accident victims within 30 days of being injured. The bill easily cleared the House Banking and Insurance Committee on Wednesday. The proposal would also apply to anyone soliciting accident victims on behalf of health-care professionals within 30 days of an accident. Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The legislation is House Bill 282.


Salvia Plant A Threat

There is a drug out there similar to LSD that is completely legal and your children may already know about it. On February 3, lawmakers in Frankfort took the first step to making it illegal.
The drug is called Salvia, which is a plant similar to mint. First documented in 1939, Salvia can be smoked, chewed or brewed in a tea to experience hallucinations similar to LSD. Many young people are learning about it from videos online where those seen using it laugh uncontrollably or can become paranoid. Salvia is completely legal in Kentucky, but the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to make it illegal to grow, sell, or distribute it. The bill, which would make trafficking, cultivating, or possessing a Class B misdemeanor, passed out of committee and will move to the House floor. 15 states have already made Salvia illegal, including Illinois, Tennessee, and Ohio, as well as 12 countries. The United States is not yet on that list.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


KSP Trooper Island Raffle Underway

For their Trooper Island fund-raising raffle this year, the Kentucky State Police have chosen to offer a classic 1960s muscle car updated for the 21st Century... the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro (1LT Coupe). The vehicle sports a Victory Red exterior and black interior, a rear spoiler and aluminum wheels with Midnight Silver finish. Each ticket is $10 and available from any state police post or by sending a check, made out to Trooper Island, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Kentucky State Police, Media Relations Branch, 919 Versailles Road, Frankfort, KY 40601. Twenty thousand tickets will be printed, and the winning ticket will be drawn Sunday, August 29th, at the Kentucky State Fair. The winner is responsible for all tax and license fees. Trooper Island is a free summer camp for underprivileged boys and girls ages 10-12 operated by the Kentucky State Police on Dale Hollow Lake in Clinton County, Ky. For more details, go online to


Thoroughbred Racehorse Owner Files Bankruptcy

In an effort to block a possible bank takeover of his 200-plus horse racing stable, North American thoroughbred racehorse owner Ahmed Zayat filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Newark, N.J., on Wednesday. The filing states that he has between $10 million to $50 million in estimated liabilities, but Zayat says he has equal assets. The move came less than a week before a hearing in U.S. District Court in Lexington on a motion by Fifth Third Bank to appoint a receiver to take over Zayat's stable. Fifth Third has sued, alleging he owes them more than $34 million in defaulted loans. Zayat claims he has the support of the key players in the horse industry, including, without limitation, Keeneland Association Inc., an approximately $2.4 million secured creditor. A hearing is scheduled for 10:00 A.M. Friday in Newark on Zayat's motions to maintain his bank accounts and continue operations.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Letcher County Teen Killed

Kentucky State Police report 16 year old Marlin J. Sandlin II of Isom in Letcher County was killed when he pulled his moped onto Ky. 15 around 12:30 P.M. Tuesday, entering the path of a garbage truck driven by by Boyd Spencer.


Widlife Management Area Proposed

A conservation partnership is working to preserve a 1,585-acre tract on the rim of New River Gorge. The agreement announced yesterday will close a gap between the Beury Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the New River Gorge National River. The state will manage the property as a wildlife management area. Partnership members are the state Division of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy and hunters and anglers. The Nature Conservancy plans to buy the property from Greenbrier Forest Products and then sell it to the DNR over the next two years. The DNR's purchase will be funded with a $20,000 grant from the West Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and revenue from hunting license sales.


MSHA Targets Mining Safety

Preventing mining accidents and fatalities in West Virginia is a constant effort of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. It says it's starting a program aimed at preventing fatal accidents in various mining settings. MSHA says the Rules to Live By program will focus on the most common violations cited during fatal accident investigations. The agency said recently the program will include outreach to the industry and targeted enforcement by its inspectors.
According to MSHA, a review of nine years of data showed falls, roof and wall collapses, heavy equipment and poor maintenance, among other things. were some of the causes. The agency found West Virginia was the deadliest mining state during that period with 94 fatalities, followed by Kentucky with 78. MSHA says it plans to formally start the program Feb. 12 in Charleston.


Andy Dick Court Appearance Postponed

The drama of Hollywood is playing out in Huntington. The nationally known comedian, Andy Dick, did not return to Huntington yesterday for a court appearance.
His preliminary hearing has been continued. The new date is March 29. The announcement of selection of a lawyer points out the seriousness he is attaching to the charges. He will be represented by noted Hollywood attorney Mark Geragos who in the past has represented among others, Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder and Scott Peterson. Dick is accused of sexually assaulting two men last month at a night club in Huntington.


Stolen Credit Cards Surface

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department is looking for help in identifying three suspects who are using stolen credit cards in the Kanawha County area and in Ashland, Kentucky. Surveillance videos show suspects purchasing items at the Gander Mountain sporting goods store at South Ridge and the Wal Mart in Ashland, KY. If you have information related to this crime, please contact the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office at 304-357-0169 or Detective J.M. Burns.


KY Company Guilty Of Dumping Toxic Waste

A Kentucky company and its plant manager have pleaded guilty to illegally dumping hazardous waste including cyanide. Ken-dec Incorporated, in Horse Cave, and plant manager David Becker pleaded guilty Monday to felonies. Prosecutors say the company illegally dumped cyanide, chromium and nickel at its plant site between January 2004 and January 2009 and also dumped tainted water into the sewer system. As part of the plea, Ken-dec will pay a $700,000 fine and clean up the waste. Becker will serve 18 months in prison.


New Lottery Game For Kentucky

A new lottery game is now online in Kentucky. Kentucky is one of 33 states now participating in the Mega Millions game, with drawings every Tuesday and Friday. Lottery spokesperson Chip Polston says he expects the new game will generate about 27 million dollars in Kentucky ticket sales annually. “We’re expecting some cannibalization of Powerball. We’re actually expecting to see Powerball sales come down about $10 million dollars from where we thought they’d end the year.” Polston says he expects customers to switch between Powerball and Mega Millions, depending on the jackpot. The Kentucky Lottery collected 97 million dollars from Powerball last year. Most lottery proceeds in Kentucky are spent on educational initiatives.


Governor Keeps Hope Alive For Expanded Gaming

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said Monday evening that every option deserves to be considered as legislative budget writers grapple with a massive shortfall, signaling he hasn't given up on legalizing video slot machines as a revenue source despite long odds.
Beshear met privately with House Democratic leaders for about 45 minutes in his office to discuss the budget. The meeting comes at a time when House leaders are weighing a handful of options to present to rank-and-file members to balance the next two-year budget.
Without the revenue from slots, Beshear has warned that state government would face painfully deep budget cuts in the next two years. The state's general fund has been depleted by the recession, leading to a projected $1.5 billion shortfall over the next two-year budget cycle. That's on top of about $1 billion cut from the current budget.


Mongiardo Fundraising Figures

Democrat Daniel Mongiardo has raised nearly $1.5 million for his U.S. Senate campaign.
Mongiardo, the state's lieutenant governor, released fundraising figures on Monday, showing he still has $782,790 in the bank. His chief Democratic opponent, Attorney General Jack Conway, hadn't released his own fundraising totals as of Monday evening. But Conway previously said he expects to have raised about $2.5 million. Spokesman Kim Geveden said Mongiardo is appreciative to the donors who contributed $225,000 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, the period covered by the latest campaign finance report.


Senatorial Candidate Struck By Vehicle

A well known Harlan County attorney, former state representative and senatorial candidate is recovering after being struck by a car. Kentucky State Police say 62 year old Johnnie Turner pulled to the shoulder of US 119 at Sukie Ridge in Harlan County around 8:30 A.M. Monday morning to clean the ice off his windshield. While exiting his vehicle, Turner stepped into the path of a car driven by 66 year old Franklin Saylor of Baxter. Turner was transported to Harlan ARH Hospital with leg injuries.


Lobbying Costs Top $14 Million

According to a newly released report, more than $14 million was spent last year lobbying Kentucky lawmakers. The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission says 600 lobbyists earned $13.5 million during the 29-day regular session and a brief special session. Thirteen businesses and organizations spent more than $100,000 lobbying the General Assembly...the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce spending more than $229,000 for the year. About $460,000 was spent on expenses associated with lobbying, such as office expenses, lodging and transportation. A total of $133,578 was spent on receptions, meals, and events which were conducted for groups of legislators, and $236 was spent on food and beverages provided to individual legislators.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Pike County Man Killed In W. Va. Accident

Police say, around 4:45 A.M. Monday morning, 40 year old Larry Ratliff of Pike County, Ky. was killed in a two-vehicle head-on accident on U.S. 52 about one mile south of Fort Gay, West Virginia. Authorities say Ratliff was traveling north when he crossed the center line and hit a truck owned by Sperry Rail Services.


Obama Budgets Billions For Kentucky

Under the budget President Barack Obama proposed Monday, Kentucky would receive billions of dollars for public works, schools, college loans and emergency management agencies. To help the middle class, the proposal would extend for another year an income tax credit that would benefit an estimated 1.6 million families...$400 for working individuals and up to $800 for married couples filing joint returns. Almost $550 million in college loans would be set aside under the Pell Grant program, while $844.7 million would be available for school programs aimed at improving student performance. Almost $101 million for child care assistance for working parents would also be provided. Other money would be available for projects such as disposing of chemical and biological weapons stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot, while highways, airports and water and sewer projects would get nearly $852 million.


House Leaders Meet With Beshear

Monday, House leaders met with Governor Steve Beshear for more than half an hour to discuss possible House alternatives to the governor’s budget plan. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says it’s clear the governor doesn’t prefer the House approach to the budget, but Beshear was “gracious in agreeing that we should all work together.” The governor’s budget plan calls for expanded gambling to help close a revenue shortfall of more than $1 billion. However, Stumbo has declared that plan all but dead. Senate President David Williams opposes expanded gambling.


Kentucky Lawmakers Oppose Coal Subsidy Cuts

At a time when the coal industry is shaky, President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget is calling for a cut of roughly $2.3 billion in coal subsidies over the next ten years. Kentucky lawmakers fear it would create heavy job losses, and they have vowed to block the proposed cuts. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the president’s proposed new national energy tax and the tax on coal, “Both would hurt Kentucky families who are dependent on coal for their livelihood.” Representative Hal Rogers (R-Somerset) says, “This is just another politically motivated assault that takes dead aim at coal, severely limiting coal companies in their ability to create jobs and keep production lines open. Worst of all, it hurts Appalachia’s hardworking coal mining families at a time when the commonwealth faces over 10.7 percent unemployment.”


Stimulus Working Well In Kentucky

Governor Steve Beshear says the latest figures show that the stimulus is working in Kentucky. According to a federal report released late Saturday from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, during the final three months of 2009, the national stimulus program paid for nearly 10,700 jobs in the state. Nearly 7,400 of those jobs were in schools.


Inmates Allowed To Work On Habitat for Humanity

Jail inmates in Mason County will be allowed to work on future Habitat for Humanity projects. The ruling involved a change of heart by the state. Inmates can now work on houses as long as the jail holds the deed to the property showing the work is being done for a nonprofit organization. If the deed is transferred to an individual the inmates could not work on the project. The state had stopped similar work because, the department said, the projects were benefiting a private citizen more than an organization.


Hazard Hosts Kickoff

The Young Professionals of Eastern Kentucky and the Lexington Venture Club held a kickoff event which began with a 6:30 P.M. reception at First Federal Center on the campus of Hazard Community and Technical College Monday night. Featured speakers included Representative Hal Rogers and former Governor Paul Patton. The purpose of the two groups is to help talented young people stay in or return to Eastern Kentucky...thereby improving the state's economy.


KSP Investigate Family Shooting

Kentucky State Police say they believe drinking led to the shooting of 46 year old Dwayne Sparks at a home on Kentucky 421 south of McKee. Police say Sparks and his father, 68 year old Ronnie Sparks, were drinking around 7:45 A.M. Monday morning when an altercation broke out. Dwayne Sparks knocked a table over onto his father and threw a pot of coffee at him, at which point Ronnie Sparks shot his son in the stomach with a handgun. Dwayne Sparks was flown to UK Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.


Operation Pride Prepares For Spring

Operation Pride in Pike County held their regular monthly meeting Monday. Preparations were discussed for the Spring Clean-Up in the County. The group is responsible for much of the cleanliness we see on our roadways and other public areas. The meeting, chaired by Jimmy Dale Sanders, Pride Coordinator, was attended by representatives from throughout the region. This included the Mayors of Elkhorn City and Coal Run Village, as well as representatives from the Pike County Health Department and Highway District 12. Everyone shared the urgency of a coordinated effort to keep Pike County clean and orderly.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Murder Suspect To Defend Himself

Fifty year old Lawrence Robert Stinnett of Bowling Green says, when his trial on charges of murder and kidnapping begins Tuesday, he will question witnesses, make opening and closing statements, and make and respond to objections. Stinnett faces charges in the February 3, 2006 beating death of 29 year old Christina Renshaw whose body was found inside the apartment she and Stinnett shared. Stinnett says. "I am the one who will pay the consequences if I'm found guilty. I'm taking a strategy I'll live and die with." Alanda Latonia Lewis of Oklahoma is also charged in the beating of Renshaw.


Mega-Millions For Kentucky & West Virginia

As familiar snow hit the regions of Kentucky and West Virginia this weekend, sledding was not the only thing on people's minds. For the first time in either state, Mega Millions tickets went on sale Sunday. The new lottery game, similar to Powerball, is now available in both states, with the first drawing to be held on Tuesday, February 2nd, and regular drawings on Tuesday and Friday nights at 11:00 P.M. GOOD LUCK !!!


Two Drug Arrests In Mingo County

The arrest of 33-year old Billy Ray Horn of Williamson and 26-year old Jonathan Damon Hatfield of Delbarton has interrupted what authorities call the "Florida Pipeline" which funnels illegal drugs into Mingo and Pike Counties. Pills were sold by the two men to a confidential informant. The investigation of the activity was ongoing for several months according to officials. Confiscated were 100 OxyContin pills and 40 Xanax bars. In addition to the drugs, Williamson police said they also recovered $1,000 in cash and seized a 1997 Lincoln Continental which Horn purchased while in Florida after his vehicle broke down. Horn and Hatfield were arraigned by Mingo County Chief Magistrate Eugene Crum who set each of their bond’s at $140,000 cash only. They were remanded to the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden.


Wyoming County Hatfield-McCoy Trail System

Adventure tourism has become a popular undertaking nationwide. With this popularity, Wyoming County is pushing ahead with the upgrade and expansion of the Hatfiled-McCoy Trail System. A trail connector at Twin Falls Resort State Park is expected to be ready by summer. Another project will involve a connector for the Pinnacle Creek and Indian Ridge area. All of the funding is in place for those three projects.


"Spike" Maynard Now A Republican

More that a year after Democratic voters rejected his re-election bid, former state Supreme Court Justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard has left that party and joined West Virginia’s GOP. The 67-year-old had been a Mingo County Circuit judge when he won a Supreme Court seat in 1996. But he lost the 2008 primary amid a conflict-of-interest scandal involving photos showing him socializing in Monaco with coal executive Don Blankenship. Blankenship runs Massey Energy, which had several major cases before the court at the time. Maynard could not immediately be reached for comment. Maynard is now assessing his chances against Nick Rahall.


Nighbert/Lawson Acquittal Leaves Unanswered Questions

Although the bid-rigging case for Leonard Lawson and Bill Nighbert ended Friday with an acquittal, there seems to be some dangling unanswered questions. Federal prosecutors have not said what they will do with key witness, former state highway engineer Jim Rummage, who testified he took money from Lawson in exchange for confidential bid information...but was not given immunity. Lawson employee Brian Billings has not been tried, and it’s not certain if he will be. Nighbert still faces a state ethics charge for failing to disclose his ownership in a corporation, Double Buck LLC, that was part of the federal indictment. Nighbert attorney, Howard Mann, says Nighbert's failure to list the company on his disclosure form for 2007 was an oversight. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor said Saturday a quick decision will be made concerning Rummage and Billings. Lawson attorney Larry Mackey suggested Rummage be charged with lying to the jury, but added, “My prediction is he will not be charged.”


PSC Delays Kentucky Power Request

In response to a nearly 35% requested rate increase for Kentucky Power, the Kentucky Public Service Commission has delayed its decision. During a review of the application, the PSC discovered an investigation into the request is necessary to determine whether it is reasonable. Several individuals and industrial users, as well as businesses, such as Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc. and Sam’s East, Inc., Mountain Water District and Ashland-based Kentucky Electric Steel, have filed requesting to be named intervenors in the case. The PSC plans to hold public hearings in Eastern Kentucky at a future date, not yet set. The PSC will accept public comments until the date of the hearing, but intervenors must be approved by the PSC, and, once approved, must have all filings in by early April.


Floyd County Man Gets New Trial

Jury selection is set to begin Monday for the retrial of Dwayne Earl Bishop. The Kentucky Supreme Court issued a new trial after Bishop was convicted in 2005 for the murder of his wife, Carolyn Bishop, whose body was discovered along a strip mine in the Mud Creek area. In December 2000, Bishop filed a motion to disqualify attorney Harolyn Howard from the case because she was expected to be called as a material witness. He then filed a motion to proceed as co-counsel, but that motion was denied. Bishop was sentenced to life in prison.


Nunn Goes For Mental Evaluation

Former state Representative Steve Nunn has been taken to the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in LaGrange for a court-ordered mental evaluation. In the meantime, Friday, attorney Hailey Scoville Bonham of the Scoville law firm in London filed responses on behalf of Nunn and Nunn's daughter, Mary Elizabeth Nunn, to a wrongful-death civil lawsuit. Diana Ross, the mother of slain 29 year old Amanda Ross, alleges in the suit that Steve Nunn fraudulently transferred personal property and real estate to his daughter and his attorneys, but the Scoville firm has been dismissed as a defendant. In his responses to the suit, Nunn declined to answer many of the allegations, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights.


Over 700 Dogs Injured At Racetrack

A greyhound-protection group says 62 dogs died at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack over a 21-month period ending in September 2009, and more than 700 were injured.
The group, GREY2K USA, says Wheeling's injury rate is the highest it's seen at any track it's studied so far. Executive Director Carey Theil calls the daily injuries the West Virginia dog racing industry's "dirty little secret." Wheeling Island officials did not immediately respond to repeated requests for comment. GREY2K USA is a Massachusetts group that aims to outlaw dog racing.


Pruett Will Not Run

Former Marshall University football coach Bob Pruett will not run for West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District seat. He said in a prepared release that he made the decision after careful consideration and analysis. Pruett said he has talked to incumbent Democrat Nick Rahall about the issues facing the district, and that Rahall has assured him they share a similar vision. Rahall, who filed Friday morning to run for his 18th term, will face Bruce Barilla of Bluefield in the Democratic primary. The candidate filing period ended Saturday. Lee Bias of Barboursville, Marty Gearheart of Bluefield and Conrad Lucas II of Huntington have filed on the Republican side.


Winter Storm Report

There's little doubt the weather leads the news. Eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia were blanketed with snow from the winter storm that dumped up to 16 inches of the white stuff since Friday. Several inches of snow fell in Pike County, leaving roads treacherous.
Road crews were at work, attempting to keep roadways passable. Complicating the issue is the nature of the storm...intermittent periods of sooner are stretches of highways cleared than another snowfall covers everything again. All this ceaseless clearing has been played out under bone-chilling temperatures.

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