Saturday, July 03, 2010


West Virginia Warns Jurors About Discussing Trials

West Virginia has joined several other states and the federal court system in recognizing that it would be a good idea to warn jurors in criminal and civil trials not to discuss the case on Internet social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. To avoid outside influences that could taint trials' outcomes, juries have long been instructed not to read newspaper stories, watch television reports about their cases or chat with family members or friends about a case, until after the trial is over. Advances in technology have now prompted an expansion of that instruction in courts nationwide. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals suggested such a revision when it ruled that Christopher Shane Dellinger's right to a fair trial was violated when a juror failed to disclose that she was his "friend" on MySpace. Dellinger, a Braxton County sheriff's deputy who had been convicted of fraud and falsifying accounts, received a new trial.


Huntington Woman Faces Ohio Drug Charge

Twenty-two year old Krystal Ewing of Huntington was arrested in Ross County, Ohio late this week after Ohio State Highway Patrol in Chillicothe discovered 408 Oxycotin pills, valued at over $25,000, in her possession. Ohio State Patrol say Ewing was speeding down U.S. Route 35 at 7:25 P.M. Thursday evening when police pulled her over and found indicators which led highway patrol to question her further.Ewing was arrested and taken to the Ross County Jail on charges of possession and trafficking.
The investigation is ongoing.


U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Remembered

Several hundred mourners for Sen. Robert C. Byrd were left waiting outside the Capitol complex Friday after the Secret Service closed entrances to the Capitol lawn prior to the start of the late senator's public memorial service. During the service, Byrd was remembered as a tireless advocate for West Virginia, a scholar, a fiddle player and the guardian of the U.S. Senate. The service drew current and former Presidents as well as average West Virginians who wanted to show their affection and loyalty toward the man who represented them in Washington for six decades. President Obama called Byrd a Senate icon, a party leader, an elder statesman and a very dear friend. He said Byrd possessed the capacity to change, the capacity to listen and the capacity to be more perfect. Vice President Joe Biden, who served with Byrd in the Senate for nearly 40 years, spoke of Byrd’s love for the institution, saying while he and his colleagues revered the Senate, Byrd elevated it. Former President Bill Clinton said Byrd wanted every Senator to be the best Senator he or she could be. Clinton spoke directly to Byrd’s controversial and brief membership in the KKK in the 1940’s saying, “Maybe he did something he shouldn’t have done and he spent the rest of his life trying to make it up.” Byrd’s casket, draped in a West Virginia flag and topped by an arrangement of red flowers, was brought down the steps from the Capitol Rotunda by a military guard and placed at the center of a landing on the steps near the speaker’s podium before being taken back to Washington, D.C. by late Friday. A funeral service is scheduled for Tuesday. Byrd will be buried in an Arlington, Virginia cemetery next to his late wife, Erma.


Horse Racing Officials Say Industry Is In Trouble

Horse racing officials say it's time for lawmakers to get off their butts in Frankfort and realize the industry is in serious trouble and needs some kind of alternative gambling. A drop of more than 50 percent in gross sales in 2009 from 2006 in its famed horse auctions, betting last spring down 7.8 percent over 2009 while attendance was down 1 percent, has prompted Keeneland to eliminate two stakes and trim others to absorb most of the cuts of a little more than $1 million. The track also cut stakes by $600,000 during the 2009 spring meet and $275,000 last fall. Keeneland management noted its average daily purses will continue to top $500,000 and be among the highest in the country, and many of its stakes retain lucrative purses. Ken Ramsey, who has won multiple owners' titles at Keeneland, says Keeneland still makes enough off the sales that the purses shouldn't have been touched. He says, while they're trying to promote sales, they cut $1 million out of their purses and eliminated two of their graded stakes. Ramsey says, how do they expect anybody to pay a big price for a horse when the potential earning power is being diminished. Trainer Paul McGee blames competition from other states. He says, "The writing is on the wall that it has, in fact, affected Keeneland and Churchill."


Research Veterans Hope To Identify "Unknown U.S. Soldier"

A simple white headstone in an historic cemetery in southern New Jersey reads "Unknown U.S. Soldier." Michael Stowe and Ted Darcy, military veterans who research soldiers missing in action, say they've compiled enough historical evidence to believe the remains are those of 2nd Lt. William R. "Billy" Gardner, of Bowling Green, known to his family as "Uncle Billy." Gardner, a 24 year old pilot in the Army Air Corps, vanished over Delaware Bay while training in a single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt on February 24, 1944 after taking off from the military post at Dover, Delaware. A military crash report says Gardner was flying between 8,000 and 10,000 feet when he rolled the plane to avoid another aircraft, causing the plane to fall into Delaware Bay. About two weeks later, the military declared Gardner dead after neither he nor his plane could be found. About 10 months later, an oyster dredger snagged part of a plane and remains dressed in an Army Air Corps uniform. A DNA sample from a relative has been forwarded to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. Stowe and Darcy are hoping to remove Gardner's name from the roughly 78,000 World War II soldiers still listed as Missing in Action and put a name on the headstone.


Lawmakers Seek Funds For Conference

Leading state lawmakers have asked private businesses and lobbyists for donations to help fund an upcoming four-day gathering of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Louisville which begins on July 25th. If their $1.5 million goal falls short, the legislative branch of government might have to come up with the remaining money, but Bobby Sherman, executive director of the Legislative Research Commission, says it will come from built-up agency funds, not General Fund dollars. The total cost of the conference is $3.5 million, with the host state or committee typically raising between $1 million and $1.5 million to offset the costs of the convention center, transportation and other guest programs. The city of Louisville is picking up some of the tab and helping with fund-raising. The conference includes keynote speaker former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a private waterfront concert by Wynonna Judd, Loretta Lynn and Patty Loveless, and a host of educational programs for legislative staff and elected officials.


Escapee Arrested Behind Wheel Of Stolen Car

Around 8:30 P.M. Friday night, Kentucky State Police Troopers Ricky Underwood and Donnie Moses responded to an area in the Loretto area of Marion County after receiving reports that Marion County Adjustment Center escapee 31-year old Parker Perdue of Edmonton was in the area wearing an inmate uniform. About an hour later, Trooper Underwood spotted a vehicle being operated by someone matching the physical description of Perdue. Following a short vehicle pursuit on A. Mills Road, Underwood arrested Purdue who was driving a vehicle that had been recently stolen from the Loretto area. Perdue was lodged in the Marion County Detention Center.


Rogers Announces Counties Eligible To Receive USDA Disaster Assistance

U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Bath, Breathitt, Jackson, Knott,Laurel, Lee, Magoffin, Menifee, Owsley, Perry, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Wayne,and Wolfe Counties as eligible for farm disaster assistance due to losses caused by severe storms and flooding earlier this year.


Area Road Repair

State highway officials will close KY 1056, which runs from May Fork to Blackberry,
early on Monday, July 5, to repair an embankment failure between milepoints 0.750
and 0.90. M&D Contracting is expected to work 24/7 to fix the break, which is part of Highway District 12's FEMA flood repair schedule. The work will take a minimum of three days and a maximum of a week. Accomodations will be made only for first responders and emergency vehicles.


Medicaid Changes

The Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services is implementing changes that will save some $87 million in state and federal funds with minimal effects on recipients and providers. The move also is intended to curb waste, fraud and abuse of the program that provides medical care to the poor and disabled. Among the changes, Medicaid will reimburse for prescriptions only when they're written by approved physicians to ensure that the state isn't paying for drugs that may be abused or sold on the streets. The changes will enhance the integrity of the program. Another would allow Medicaid to pay only for generic over-the-counter drugs -- not name brand products.


Death Penalty Law Challenged

A public defender is arguing that Kentucky's death penalty law is unconstitutional. Joanne Lynch argued in Kenton Circuit Court that Kentucky's statute is "arbitrary and capricious" because prosecutors decide whether to seek the death penalty. Robert Long from the Kentucky Attorney General's Office said Lynch's argument was flawed. Long says if the argument was equally applied to all cases, prosecutors would lose discretion in whether to even charge individuals. The arguments came in the case of 27-year-old Marion "Timmy" Lawson Parker III of Covington, who will face the death penalty if convicted of killing 28-year-old Shawn Davis. The argument is being made now so Parker will be able to appeal on constitutional grounds if convicted and sentenced to death.



Bell County Couple Gets Life

Two people convicted of kidnapping then murdering a well known Bell County man were sentenced Friday morning in Bell County Circuit Court. Lora Amburgey and Joshua Parsons were sentenced to life in prison. The two were convicted of kidnapping and murdering Paul Slusher in January 2009. While the pair pleaded guilty just a few weeks ago, Parsons asked the judge to withdraw his plea. The judge said he found no grounds to allow Joshua Parsons to withdraw his plea. Mark Slusher, Paul Slusher's son says even though Parsons tried to withdraw his guilty plea, he is satisfied the case is closed.


Doctor Shopping In Johnson County

A Johnson County Constable pleads guilty to doctor shopping drug charges. Terry Eugene Ward was arrested in April after the attorney general's office accused him of illegally obtaining HydroCodone from several doctors in the area. Court officials say that on Friday morning, Ward pleaded guilty to four charges of doctor shopping. The commonwealth's attorney recommended a three year sentence or drug rehab and requests Ward be banned from holding public office. A judge will sentence him on July 16th.


Gospel Group In Vehicle Accident

One eastern Kentucky man is still recovering following an accident in North Carolina. Several others were hurt in the accident that happened Thursday night in Charlotte. Officials say the tour bus for the gospel group, "The Bowling Family" collided with a tractor trailer. Eleven people were hurt in the crash, including three in the gospel group. Mike Bowling from London is the most critically injured. Bowling is the group's lead singer.

Friday, July 02, 2010


PSC Says Vegetation Maintenance Affected Decision

Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford is reeling after American Electric Power announced a profit of $344 million and Kentucky’s Public Service Commission approved a 17 percent rate increase for residential customers at a time when the country is in the worst recession it has seen in decades. He is calling for an elected instead of appointed Kentucky Public Service Commission. The state PSC says Kentucky Power Company’s agreement to spend $10 million on “vegetation maintenance” across 20 eastern Kentucky counties “was a very important factor” in its acceptance of an agreement granting a 12.5 percent rate increase. In a separate ruling, the commission rejected a plan by the American Electric Power subsidiary to buy wind-generated power from out of state to serve its 176,000 customers in 20 Eastern Kentucky counties. Pike Senior Citizens Programs did not agree to the settlement, saying the rate increase would disproportionately affect private residents as opposed to businesses.


Rogers Announces Homeland Security Grant

U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers announced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be awarding $2.88 million to the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium hosted at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). RDPC is a nationwide rural training initiative that enables emergency responders in rural areas to access comprehensive homeland security training programs and fill critical security gaps. EKU serves as the lead institution of a group of colleges across the nation that provides critical training courses for rural first responders and other emergency response stakeholders. Rogers secured this funding in H.R. 2892, the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010.


New Trustees At UK

The University of Kentucky swore in five new members of its board of trustees this week. The new trustees are staff representatives Sheila Brothers, Bill Farish, Keith Gannon, alumni representative Terry Mobley and faculty representative Joe Peek.


Indictment of Ex-Mine Regulator Questioned

An eastern Kentucky attorney is raising questions about the indictment of a former state mine safety analyst because she has already been punished by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. Betty Sue Whitaker of Perry County was indicted this week by a Franklin County grand jury on 28 counts of tampering with public records. She's accused of falsifying inspection reports at mines she visited briefly or not at all. Whitaker admitted ethics violations and was fined $1,500 by the ethics commission. Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf said he believes she can't be indicted because she has already been punished by the commission. Pillersdorf represented Whitaker in the Ethics Commission case.


Gov. Beshear Appoints Individuals To Board Of Education

Gov. Steve Beshear today announced appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education, choosing representation from business, education and community interests throughout the Commonwealth.

The appointees are:

Jonathan Parrent, of Caldwell County, will represent the First Supreme Court District. He is the current dean of student affairs at Madisonville Community College and works with regional high school students to improve college and career readiness. Parrent also is the father to two elementary school students. The appointment replaces Austin W. Moss, whose term has expired.

William L. Twyman, of Barren County, will represent the Second Supreme Court District. He is a former educator and national Milken Educator award winner. He currently works with the consulting firm, Educational Directions. The appointment replaces Wilburn “Joe” Brothers, whose term has expired.

Roger L. Marcum, of Nelson County, will represent the Third Supreme Court District. He is a former principal, superintendent and national Milken Educator award winner. In 2006, he was named superintendent of the year by the Kentucky School Boards Association. He is currently the executive vice president of St. Catharine College in Springfield. The appointment replaces John Douglas Hubbard, whose term has expired.

Mary Gwen Wheeler, of Jefferson County, will represent the Fourth Supreme Court District. She is the senior policy advisor on education and youth with the Louisville Metro Government. She is currently a member of the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. The appointment replaces Jeanne H. Ferguson, whose term has expired.

Martha M. Jones, of Boyd County, will represent the Seventh Supreme Court District. She is a former social worker and continuing education counselor. She also previously worked with Friends of the Children, a non-profit organization in Ashland, to assist disadvantaged schoolchildren. The appointment replaces Katheryn R. Baird, whose term has expired.

Gov. Beshear has also reappointed the following members:

Dr. C.B. Akins, Sr., of Fayette County, will represent the Fifth Supreme Court District. He has been a member of the board since June 2006. He is currently pastor of First Baptist Church Bracktown.

Judith H. Gibbons, of Kenton County, will represent the Sixth Supreme Court District. She has been a member of the board since June 2006. She is a retired vice-president of a professional career management firm.
These members will serve for terms expiring April 14, 2014.

The Kentucky Board of Education has 12 members, with the governor appointing 11 voting members -- seven representing the Supreme Court districts and four representing the state at large. The additional non-voting member is the president of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

The Kentucky Board of Education develops and adopts the regulations that govern Kentucky’s 174 public school districts. While the board has legal authority to establish performance standards for local school districts and to mandate corrective actions, the board respects the local autonomy of each school district.


KY Financial Institutions Show Growth

The Kentucky Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today released its 2009 annual report. While some declines can be expected due to the current economy, Kentucky financial institutions continue to hold steady or even improve in areas such as asset growth and profitability. For most of 2009, Kentucky was ranked eighth in profitability out of the 50 states by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., despite declines. And while the rest of the nation’s banks experienced negative asset growth, Kentucky’s 157 state-chartered banks increased total assets to $44 billion, which represented a 5.7 percent growth rate. Kentucky was one of only three states that had positive loan growth for every quarter in 2009.


Senior Judge Resigns Over Bad Check Charges

The Judicial Conduct Commission has publicly reprimanded former Senior Judge Roger P. Elliott who was indicted last year in Pulaski County on a felony charge of writing a bad check. Elliott, who served in Adair and Casey counties, had entered an Alford plea, acknowledging that the state had enough evidence to convict him. He was later indicted in Jessamine County on a felony bad check charge, but that indictment was dismissed after Elliott made restitution. The Judicial Conduct Commission issued the public reprimand in an order released on Thursday. Elliott, who had been suspended as senior judge pending the outcome of the case, agreed to accept the reprimand and to resign.


Lassiter Reminds KY Government Of Cuts Ahead

State Budget Director Mary Lassiter is again calling on department heads to begin looking for places to cut spending. Lassiter sent a letter to government leaders on Thursday telling them to brace for an initial $35 million in cuts that will be necessary to balance the state budget. That's a portion of the $131 million lawmakers mandated in cuts in a budget they passed in May. Lassiter called for the heads of state agencies to identify places to cut and to outline the potential impacts and consequences of those cuts. It's a call they've heard before with revenues having dwindled by more than $1.5 billion over the past two years.
Final decisions on the next round of cuts will be made later, after department heads submit their responses.


Hunt For Bear Continues

A state spokeswoman says a black bear spotted near a trash bin in Lee County was likely the same bear that mauled a hiker in the Red River Gorge area of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Barbara Atwood, spokeswoman for the Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said Thursday the reported sighting on Monday was in Beattyville, about 20 miles south of Red River Gorge. Atwood says state Fish and Wildlife experts are "fairly certain" it was the same bear that attacked, bit and shook Tim Scott of Springfield on Sunday. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officers continued searching for the animal. Atwood says Red River Gorge is now open to campers and hikers,as well as the nearby Natural Bridge State Resort Park.


Dismemberment Trial Hinges On Witness Credibility

A northern Kentucky judge's ruling on whether a state witness's testimony was credible could be the deciding factor in a murder trial. During closing arguments at the dismemberment murder trial of former strip club owner Raymond Clutter in Burlington on Wednesday, the public defender said Paul Anthony White lied. Attorney Jason Gilbert said Clutter wouldn't have had time to commit the crime as described by White. Clutter is accused in the rape and murder of Peggy Casey. Parts of her body were discovered spread across west-central Ohio after she was killed 16 years ago. Commonwealth's Attorney Linda Tally Smith said the government's case rests on White's testimony. Special Judge David Melcher heard the bench trial and will render a verdict July 22.


Water Students' Main Concern

College students attending a conference in Lexington have chosen the world's water crisis as the greatest threat facing their generation. The 51 students, representing each state and Washington, DC, voted on the choice Wednesday during the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship's third annual Student Congress. Water beat out oil dependency and terrorism to top the "threat index" vote. The five-day conference is held at the University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy, Transylvania University and the historic Ashland Henry Clay estate in Lexington. It focuses on the theory and practices of statesmanship.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Former Governor's Mother Dies

Ella "Marie" Amburgey Fletcher of Lexington, the mother of former Governor Ernie Fletcher died Thursday at the age of 83. Mrs. Fletcher was an administrative officer for the U.S. Marshals Service. She was born in Means, Ky. Funeral services will be 10:00 A.M. Monday at Milward Funeral Home with burial in Lexington Cemetery. Friends may call from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Sunday. Memorial contributions may be made to Lexington Salvation Army, 736 West Main Street.


Corbin Woman Pleads Not Guilty In Newborn's Death

Ashley Cox of Corbin has pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder and concealing the birth of a child. At her pretrial hearing Thursday morning, her family asked for her bond to be reduced and discussed the possibility of delaying her trial. Investigators say, when Cox went to visit her boyfriend at the Roederer Correctional Facility in Oldham County in March, she went into a lobby restroom, gave birth to a little girl, stuffed toilet paper in her mouth and suffocated her, before dumping her body into a garbage can.


Fiscal Year Begins

As the new fiscal year began Thursday, the state is looking for an additional $35 million in savings to help balance the two-year, $17 billion budget that lawmakers approved in late May. State Budget Director Mary Lassiter sent letters to most agency heads asking them to plan for an additional 1.5 percent cut on top of the 3.5 percent cut most agencies took at the beginning of the fiscal year. Agency heads have until July 15th to return those plans. Some programs exempt from the additional 1.5 percent cut include the main funding formula for schools, most of the Department of Corrections and Medicaid. The $35 million cut is part of the $131 million in savings mandated by the legislature. Governor Beshear is looking at statewide solutions to make up the additional $96 million in savings.


Pikeville Mayor Apologizes To News-Express Editor

Jerry Boggs, editor of the Appalachian News-Express in Pikeville, said Thursday that he accepts a public apology from Pikeville Mayor Frank Justice II who released a statement Thursday apologizing for "the aggravation and duress" that he caused Boggs by punching him in the face after becoming angry over a newspaper article. Boggs said in a complaint that Justice confronted him at Champs Bar and Grill a couple of blocks from the newspaper office Tuesday night after the article reported that Justice's business, K.J.C. Restaurant Co., donated $2,000 to a political group that ran an attack ad against Pike County Magistrate Chris Harris earlier this year. Boggs said Justice was angry because the newspaper reported that K.J.C. Restaurant Co. owns the local Jerry's Restaurant. Justice said he has deep regrets for the unfortunate occurrence. Boggs agreed to drop an assault complaint and says he wants to put the matter behind him.


Daniel Boone National Forest Reopens

Officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are continuing their search for the black bear that attacked a hiker Sunday along the Pinch-Em Tight Trail. In the interest of public safety, an emergency closure was issued. Daniel Boone National Forest Supervisor Frank Beum announced Thursday that the Red River Gorge Geological Area would re-open on Friday at 8:00 A.M., while the Natural Bridge State Resort Park would reopen hiking trails at the same time. The bear believed to be involved in the attack was seen Thursday south of Beattyville in Lee County, some 17 miles from the attack site, indicating the bear is no longer in the Gorge area. As a result, traps and bait have been removed from the Daniel Boone National Forest. The lodge and campground are expected to be full for the upcoming Forth of July weekend, but officials want to remind campers that an order has been issued that prohibits open food storage or leaving food accessible to bears. In Kentucky, it is against the law to intentionally or unintentionally feed a bear.


KSP Steps Up Holiday Enforcement

Law enforcement officers from more than 200 agencies statewide will be out in full force on Kentucky highways as part of a partnership with the state's Office of Highway Safety to cut down on traffic injuries and fatalities this summer. The "Blue Lights Across the Bluegrass" summer enforcement campaign kicks off and will continue through Aug. 8. It will focus on deterring distracted, aggressive, or impaired drivers, speeding and seat belt usage, said Chuck Geveden, executive director for highway safety. The campaign will include agencies throughout the state, but 25 counties are deemed as problem areas due to a high number of traffic fatalities, low seat belt usage and drunken-driving violations, and may see a higher concentration of officers, Geveden said. Geveden said officers on patrol during the campaign will focus solely on traffic enforcement and not have to respond to routine calls because of overtime provided through federal grant money.


KY Property Tax Rate Set

The Kentucky Department of Revenue has set the 2010 State Real Property Tax Rate at 12.2 cents per $100 of assessed value. Kentucky Revised Statute 132.020 requires the Department of Revenue to set the real property rate no later than July 1 of each year. This rate is based on the revenue generated from the increase in taxable real property assessments from 2009 to 2010. If the increase in revenue is more than four percent after the exclusion of new property added to the tax roll during 2010, then the prior year rate must be reduced. Because the assessment increase for 2010 is estimated at .85 percent, the state rate will remain the same as the 2009 rate, 12.2 cents per $100 of assessed value. All of the revenue generated from the state property tax rate will go into the state’s General Fund.


Flags To Half-Staff

Gov. Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of Staff Sgt. Brandon M. Silk and First Sgt. Robert N. Barton, Fort Campbell soldiers who died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.


Mine Safety Analyst Charged

Betty Sue Whitaker of Hazard, a former mine safety analyst at the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing, has been indicted on charges of falsifying multiple reports pertaining to several different mines between October 2007 and December 2008. Whitaker faces 58 counts of tampering with public records after an investigation by the Office of Special Prosecutions in the attorney general's office. She is scheduled to be arraigned on August 6th in Franklin County Circuit Court. The charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.


Woman Charged With Sex Crime

An 18-year-old Pleasure Ridge Park woman has been charged with performing a sex act on an 11-year-old boy. Bambi Starr Mason was arrested June 29 and charged with sodomy. Mason has been ordered to have no contact with the boy. She will be back in court on July 9. An investigation is underway concerning the charges.


Consumer Fireworks Are Dangerous

Every year fire departments and emergency rooms across the country must respond to the devastating consequences of consumer fireworks. There is no safe way to use consumer fireworks. To prevent injuries and fires, people are urged to attend public fireworks displays put on by trained professionals. According to a newly released report, in 2008 fireworks caused an estimated 22,500 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 20,600 outdoor and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated $42 million in direct property damage. On Independence Day in a typical year, more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for half of those fires, more than any other cause
of fires.


Alleged Rapist Pleads "Not Guilty" In Perry Co.

A Michigan man indicted on multiple counts of sex-related charges against children was in Perry Circuit Court this week where he entered a not guilty plea. James Albert Bitner, 34, voluntarily made an appearance in court on Thursday following his indictment by the grand jury in May. Bitner was indicted along with Jennifer Herald Collett, 28, of Combs, who is also facing several sex-related charges including first-degree rape. Collett, however, has not yet been arrested or turned herself into authorities as of Bitner’s court appearance. Bitner is currently employed in Michigan and has no prior felony convictions. According to the indictment returned in May, Bitner’s bail has been set at $500,000 cash, and that’s an amount Commonwealth’s Attorney Teresa Reed said should not be lowered. The judge agreed with the Commonwealtgh's Attorney. Bitner was served with the indictment warrant and taken into custody. He is currently being lodged in the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard. His trial date has been set for December 13.


Mother Fails To Get Son Out Of Jail...Forged Document

A western Kentucky woman's attempt to get her son out of jail on bond came undone over a misspelling. Court officials became suspicious when 44-year-old Katrina E. Wolfrey of West Paducah presented a letter allegedly from Wagner Moving and Storage. Wolfrey knew bond for her son Kyle Zervas would be lowered if he had written proof of a job. But the company name was misspelled and when investigators checked, they learned Wolfrey had asked for such a letter from the company and had been denied.
She was jailed Tuesday on a charge of evidence tampering. Her son is charged with receiving stolen property. Wolfrey and Zervas were both still in jail in lieu of cash bonds.


Powell County Audit Finds Deficits

A state audit of Powell County's books shows more than $48,000 missing or undeposited from the jail commissary. State Auditor Crit Luallen's office notes the county jail is "extremely susceptible to fraud" because of many cash transactions there. Luallen recommended the jailer make sure all collections are deposited on each business day and reconciled with the receipts journal. Jailer Melvin Rogers said a commercial company has been operating the commissary since February. Rogers said two people must initial each cash receipt and two people now take daily deposits to the bank. Auditors who reviewed Powell County's fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009 found the county's general, jail and disaster emergency funds ran deficits of a combined $856,048.


New Laws In Kentucky

People who violate domestic violence orders in Kentucky could be required to wear ankle monitors under a batch of new laws taking effect. Judges would require the GPS monitors only in what they deem the most volatile cases involving people who have violated domestic violence orders, allowing authorities to keep electronic tabs on them. That's one of more than 200 laws passed in the 2010 legislative session, most of which take effect July 15. Some of the most hotly debated will ban motorists from texting while driving and allow felony rape charges to be filed against prison guards who have consensual sex with inmates.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Former Minister To Appear In Court

Former Logan County, Kentucky minister 35 year old Jody Lusk is scheduled to face a jury September 1st in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green on one count of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of sexual activity. Lusk is currently serving a 20-year state prison sentence for rape after pleading guilty in February in Logan Circuit Court to six counts of rape and six counts of sodomy. Lusk admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl who was a member of his congregation at the Auburn Church of Christ on six occasions in 2009. Federal authorities now accuse him of taking the girl to Illinois for sex, but Lusk has pleaded not guilty to the federal charge. If convicted, he could face life in prison as well as a $250,000 fine.


Mother Of UK Player Dies

Despite her struggle, 49 year old Terri Krebs, the mother of recent University of Kentucky basketball player Mark Krebs, died at 12:15 P.M. Wednesday in her home in Newport after diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago and discovering last summer that the disease had spread to her bones, lungs and liver.


Prestonsburg Fireworks

The city of Prestonsburg will hold its fireworks display on Sunday, July 4, after previously announcing that the event would take place on Saturday, July 3. Fire Chief Bobby Carpenter said the date was moved to Sunday in order to better correspond with the carnival. “We have a few specialty shots this year,” Carpenter said. “We have around $18,000 worth of fireworks.” The display is scheduled to begin around 9:30 p.m. The carnival is located at Archer Park and will feature rides, food and games.


Four Arrested In Mingo County For Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting has surfaced in the Williamson area. The fake bills have been traced to a local business. Kim Evans, 25, owner of Kim’s Kreative Kutz in Williamson, was charged with two counts of counterfeiting and two counts of conspiracy, as is 24-year-old Diane Casey. Also arrested were Dock Cowgill, 27, charged with three counts of counterfeiting and two counts of conspiracy, and Carl Simpson, 38, charged with one count each of counterfeiting and conspiracy. The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Joe Smith said fake bills had been found in and around the Delbarton area and recovered by the Delbarton Police Department. The Delbarton Police and the MCSD worked together to make the arrests after an anonymous tip led them to the salon. A copier, scanner and paper used to produce the fake bills were confiscated. Fifteen felony search warrants were obtained, and more arrests are pending. The suspects were arraigned and bond was set. Evans and Casey's bond at $120,000, Cowgill's at $170,000 and Simpson's at $60,000. They were each taken to the Southwestern Regional Jail. Pike County Sheriff's Deputy James Earl Williams said fake bills were recovered last week at the South Williamson Walmart and in the Phelps area.


KY Highway Fatality Report

Preliminary statistics indicate that twelve people died in eleven separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, June 21, through Sunday, June 27, 2010. Six of the crashes involved motor vehicles and four of the victims were not wearing a seat belt. Single-fatality crashes occurred in Breathitt,Estill, Jefferson (2), Kenton and Pulaski counties. The suspected use of alcohol was a factor in the Breathitt and Pulaski County crashes. One fatal ATV involved crash occurred in Knox County. The victim was not wearing a helmet. Through June 27 preliminary statistics indicate that 329 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2010. This is 51 less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2009.


KY Hospital Association Makes Awards

The Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA)presented several Quality Awards. The Awards are presented annually to honor hospital leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment to patient care. The 2010 KHA Quality Awards were bestowed upon Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center (Danville), Marcum & Wallace Memorial Hospital (Irvine), Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center (Mount Vernon)and Trover Health System (Madisonville).


New Animal Shelter To Open

The Pike County Fiscal Court, the Pike County Humane Society and all
others interested in both animal control and the humane treatment of animals in Pike
County are invited to attend a dedication for the new animal shelter at Lykins Creek
on Saturday, July 10. The public is invited to attend and tour the new facility.“We are ecstatic the shelter is about to open after such a long time of trying to
get this done,” Donna Stratton, Chair of the Building Committee said. Pike County Deputy Judge-Executive John Doug Hays says the opening of the new
shelter is a result of everyone working together.


Bear Attacks Rare In KY

The Red River Gorge area of the Daniel Boone National Forest remained closed Wednesday. Fifty-six year old Tim Scott of Springfield, was hiking Sunday afternoon on the Pinch-Em Tight Trail when he was attacked by a black bear. Scott said he took some pictures of the bear but started backing away as it came toward him. As he turned around, it bit his leg and wouldn't let go until other hikers came to help. State Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources officials have set traps throughout the area and plan to euthanize the bear if they can catch it. Officials with the U.S. Forest Service say the gorge would remain closed until the bear is caught or has moved out of the area. The incident is Kentucky's first known black bear attack in modern history.


Free Golf In State Parks

Ever wondered if you and your offspring, parent, sibling or best buddy could find some quality time on the golf course? Pair up in July when Kentucky State Parks make it well worth the experiment by participating in the Professional Golf Association’s Play Golf America promotion. From July 6-31, at any of the 18 park courses, players 18-years of age or younger may play a free round and smack a free bucket of balls on the driving range when accompanied by a paying adult (carts not included).


Kentucky Power Gets 12.5% Increase

The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved a settlement granting Kentucky Power Co. (American Electric Power) an annual revenue increase of $63.7 million (12.5 percent), which is about half the amount sought by the utility. Under the settlement, the average bill for a typical residential customer using 1,430 kilowatt-hours per month (A kilowatt-hour is the amount of electricity used by a 100-watt light bulb in 10 hours.) would rise to more than $134, an increase of about 17 percent from the current average of about $115. Kentucky Power had sought a revenue increase that would have increased the average monthly residential bill to $153, about 34 percent above the current average.


Drug Arrest In Knott County

On Tuesday, at approximately 2:30 am Troopers Jennifer and Wes Sandlin arrested Rondal Huff, 56, of Somerset at the 80 Motel in Hindman. Mr Huff was found to be in possession of 170 Oxycodone, 167 Percocet, 8 Oxycontin and 1 hydrocodone. $3,887 in cash was also seized from Mr Huff. Mr Huff was lodged at the KY River Regional jail and charged with Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st Degree. The incident is still under investigation by Tpr Wes Sandlin.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Senator Robert C. Byrd To Lie In Senate Chamber

In honor of Senator Robert C. Byrd, Governor Joe Manchin has ordered the lights which illuminate the exterior of the West Virginia state Capitol dome to be turned off until further notice. Manchin says it's a fitting way to honor the country's longest-serving senator whose steadfast commitment to the Mountain State lit the path for so many decades. The body of Senator Byrd, who died Monday at the age of 92, will lie in repose at the Capitol’s Lower Rotunda from 9:00 P.M. Thursday to 9:00 A.M. Friday where the public is welcome to pay respect. Byrd was fond of saying that he loved the institution more than its members. Friday’s memorial service will be held at the Capitol’s North Plaza at 11:30 A.M. Burial is set for Tuesday near his wife, Erma, in Arlington, Virginia.


House Votes Down Unemployment Benefits

While Republicans continued to cite concerns about the growing national debt, the House rejected a bill Tuesday to extend unemployment benefits. The last extension expired at the end of May. Democrats say more than 1 million people have already lost their benefits, and, without the extension, payments will continue to phase out for more than 200,000 people a week. Tuesday, House Democrats brought up a standalone bill on unemployment benefits under a special procedure in which no amendments were allowed and debate was limited. Under the procedure, the bill needed a two-thirds majority to pass. The vote was 261-155. Nearly all Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while most Republicans opposed it. The measure would have provided up to 99 weekly unemployment checks averaging $335 to people whose 26 weeks of state-paid benefits have run out. The benefits would have been available through the end of November, at a cost of $33.9 billion, which would have added to the budget deficit.


Charges Upgraded For Martin County Man

Ross Brandon Sluss was in court in Martin County Tuesday when one of the four wanton endangerment charges against him was upgraded to murder during the hearing. Deputies say Sluss hit a car driven by Blanche Robinson head-on while Robinson was bringing her three granddaughters home from a pool. One of those children, 10 year old Destiny, died Monday. Deputies say Sluss was under the influence of drugs when the wreck occurred. Blanche Robinson, is now in fair condition at Cabell Huntington Hospital. Sluss's bond is set at $100,000 cash, and he is expected back in court next week.


Kentucky Men Plead Guilty

Executives from Farmer's Tobacco, a Kentucky cigarette manufacturer, have admitted they failed to properly report sales of millions of dollars worth of cigarettes to avoid paying taxes. Farmer's president, 69 year old year old Robert Ammerman of Falmouth and his son, 47 year old Mike Ammerman of Cynthiana, vice president and chief of operations, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Mississippi. The Ammermans schemed with Charles Wells, a tobacco wholesaler from Hopkinsville who pleaded guilty in May to lying about cigarette sales so he could avoid paying taxes. Wells supplied the Ammermans with raw tobacco. In return, they made VB and Kentucky's Best brand cigarettes "off the books" and sold them to Wells at below the usual cost and falsely reported the number of cigarettes they sold to Wells. The Ammermans face up to three years in prison and have agreed to forfeit to the government $8 million in cash, which represents the proceeds of their illegal activity.


Former UK Wildcat Pleads Guilty

Former UK basketball star Derrick Millar pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to more felony theft charges alleging he sold UK basketball tickets to Wildcat fans but never delivered them, causing fans in Hardin County to lose more than $1,000. Millar is currently serving five-year, three-year and one-year sentences after pleading guilty to doing the same thing in Fleming, Clark and Fayette counties.


Kentucky Joins Others In Anti-Texting

In Kentucky last year, 53,000 crashes occurred due to distracted driving, 199 of which were fatal. The new anti-texting law signed by Governor Steve Beshear in April goes into effect on July 15th. Senate Bill 23 bans any person operating a motor vehicle in motion on the traveled portion of the roadway from writing, sending, or reading text-based communications using a personal communication device. This includes text messages, e-mail, Internet and instant messaging. Drivers who are caught texting will receive courtesy warnings until January 1, 2011. After that, they will be issued fines starting at $25 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. Kentucky joins 20 other states and the District of Columbia that ban texting while driving.

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