Saturday, September 11, 2010


Shooting Rampage In Eastern Kentucky

Authorities are investigating a shooting which happened in a trailer park in the Mount Carmel Community outside Jackson. Kentucky State Police and Breathitt County Sheriff Ray Clemons say, around 11:30 A. M. Saturday, 47 year old Stanley Neace killed five people with a shotgun before turning the weapon on himself. When state police arrived on the scene, they heard a single gunshot and found Neace's body at his trailer. A relative of two of the victims told police that witnesses to the shootings told her Neace became enraged when his wife, Cassandra Neace, did not cook his breakfast to his liking. An argument broke out over how she cooked his eggs, and his wife fled to a neighbor's trailer. Neace followed and shot her, along with his stepdaughter, Sandra Strong, and three witnesses, Dennis J. Turner, Tammy R. Kilborn and Teresa G. Fugate.


Perry County Judge Stabbed

Authorities say Ronnie D. Brock attacked Perry County Judge Leigh Anne Stephens Friday at the Circle T Restaurant in Hazard with a steak knife and stabbed her five times before bystander Victor Gainer shoved Brock through a window, then sat on him until Perry County sheriff’s deputies arrived. Stephens was treated at a local hospital and released. Brock is charged with attempted murder. He had appeared in Stephens’ court in 2004 on a domestic case.


Execution Halted

A judge has halted the execution of a Kentucky man who faced lethal injection on Thursday for a 1987 murder and kidnapping of a suburban Cincinnati woman.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled the state's protocol for carrying out an execution is inconsistent with state law and doesn't provide a safeguard to prevent a mentally retarded or criminally insane inmate from being executed.

Shepherd's ruling comes six days before the state was set to execute 53-year-old Gregory L. Wilson at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville.

Wilson was convicted in 1988 of kidnapping, raping and murdering 36-year-old Deborah Pooley in northern Kentucky. Pooley was from Hamilton, Ohio.

Wilson and two other inmates challenged how Kentucky put its protocol into place.


Medicaid Funds In Deficit

The Medicaid program in Kentucky costs $5.2 billion and provides health care for 800,000 poor and disabled residents. Kentucky is grappling with a $470 million deficit in its Medicaid budget, a problem Governor Steve Beshear blames on state lawmakers. Beshear says lawmakers balanced the state budget on the assumption that Congress would come through with additional funding that would provide $238 million for the Medicaid program in the current budget cycle. Instead, the federal government provided only about $137 million to the state. The federal government matches state funding on a roughly 4-to-1 basis, bringing the total shortfall to $470 million.


KET Lays Off More Workers

Kentucky Educational Television has laid off 13 more workers.

The state's PBS network now has 152 employees, down from 233 two years. The losses have come from an early retirement program, attrition and layoffs.

Tim Bischoff, spokesman for the Lexington-based PBS member network,said the cuts were necessary because of declining funding.

The station's operating revenue projection for 2011 is $23 million, down from $27.8 million in 2008. Money the network receives from the state general fund has dropped from $15 million to $12 million.


Hand Transplant Recipient Goes Back To Surgery

An Oklahoma man who was wiggling his fingers just days after a rare double hand transplant was taken back into surgery to remove blood clots to the right hand.

A news release from the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center said the latest surgery for Richard Edwards, 55, of Edmond, Okla., was successful.

Doctors said that before Wednesday's surgery, Edwards had been able to make a partial fist with his right hand, something they've only seen in patients six months after surgery. Edwards' 17 1/2-hour surgery took place two weeks ago.

Doctors said his left hand continues to show improvement, and Edwards can make nearly a full fist with that hand, as well as move his wrist.


State Funds Increase..But, Not Enough

KENTUCKY...General fund receipts have grown 3.9 percent so far this year in Kentucky, a positive economic indicator but slower than economists had predicted.

State Budget Director Mary Lassiter said Kentucky's general fund took in nearly $642 million in August. That was up from $622 million in August 2009.

Road fund receipts also grew in August, taking in more than $127 million, a 9.5 percent increase over August 2009.

Lassiter warned that if collections don't accelerate, the state could face more financial problems.

Individual income tax receipts were up 4.2 percent and sales taxes 4.8 percent for the year. But corporate income tax receipts fell 36 percent and property tax receipts 15 percent.


Missing Swimmer Found In Ohio River

A 48-year-old Evansville man who disappeared after going out for a swim while camping has been found dead in the Ohio River.

Vanderburgh County Coroner Annie Groves said the body of Rodney Masterson was found about 9:50 a.m. Friday about 30 feet from shore at the Dogtown boat ramp southwest of Evanville. An autopsy has been scheduled for Saturday morning.

Rescue boats with sonar equipment searched the river after Masterson disappeared while swimming early Friday.


Licking River Floats Available

The Licking River derives its name from the many salt springs and licks that attracted extinct prehistoric beasts such as the woolly mammoth, giant mastodon and later animals we know such as elk, white-tailed deer and bison.

Two of the most famous licks along Licking River, the Upper and Lower Blue Licks, start and end with two good floating opportunities for canoeists, kayakers and owners of john boats. This area literally drips with frontier Kentucky history. The remoteness of this part of the Licking and the deep gorge its water carved through the ages make the paddler feel they are in the age of Boone.

The first float begins at Upper Blue Licks in Nicholas County. Upper Blue Licks lies near the eastern edge of Clay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and once served as the southern terminus of the Cabin Creek War Road. This ancient road served as a highway for Native Americans from north of the Ohio River to hunt the animals drawn to the salt licks at Upper Blue Licks. The road also served as an entry point into the interior of Kentucky for pioneers.

Although pioneers followed the blazes cut in trees and drawings of the sun, moon and animals left by Native Americans on the Cabin Creek War Road to Upper Blue Licks, the modern visitor should use KY 57 north in Nicholas County. The put-in for this 6 ½ mile float is at the end of KY 57 where it meets Licking River. You will see a pull off on the left when the road reaches the river where you can haul your boat down to the river bank. If you keep driving until you parallel the Licking River for a time, you’ve traveled too far.


FEMA Assistance Reaches $14.3-M

Areas of Kentucky struck by severe storms, flooding and mudslides in July are showing signs of recovery.

To date, more than $14.3 million has been approved in federal disaster assistance
grants and loans for homeowners, renters and business owners. Of that figure,more than $6.2 million has gone to meet housing needs in Pike County, the first county designated for Individual Assistance.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Kentucky Division of Emergency Management
(KYEM) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) officials have been working
together since President Obama's July 23 disaster declaration, which came two
days after Governor Beshear requested federal help.


Knott County Fatality



Teenagers Arrested After Huntington Beating

Three teenagers were arrested this week in the beating of a homeless man at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington. Charges range from battery and felony malicious wounding to felony accessory. The police investigation started after video of the incident surfaced Monday on Facebook and photobucket along with comments bragging about the incident. Concerned residents brought the video to the attention of the Huntington Police Department.


Man's Body Found In Creek

Sheriff's Deputies in Kanawha County are investigating after a man's body was found in a creek at Woodrum Lane in Dunbar around 7:45 A. M. Saturday morning. The man had sustained a head injury. The body was sent to the state medical examiner.


Drive-By Shooting Sends One To Hospital

The Charleston Police Department is investigating following a shooting which occurred at Go Mart on Bigley Avenue in Charleston around 2:30 A. M. Saturday morning. Police say a male victim was transported to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital after being shot in the leg during a drive-by shooting.


Man Charged After Claiming To Be The Devil

Clifton Lee Belcher, 20, was arrested and charged with burglary, brandishing a weapon, battery and obstructing an officer. Police say he entered the home of Michael Terry on Charleston's West Side, ran into the kitchen and returned to the living room with a butcher knife, pushed Terry onto the couch, grabbed him by his throat and tried to stab him. Terry later escaped to the front yard. Terry's family say they saw Belcher in his underwear worshiping Satan while shouting the world is about to end and claiming to be the Devil.


Teacher Faces Child Abuse Charge

The State Police Crimes Against Children Unit says 39 year old Rebecca Jean Ferguson, a teacher at Spring Mills Middle School in Berkeley County was arrested Friday and charged with six counts of felony child abuse causing injury. Investigators allege Ferguson physically abused her own six children, ages from 3 to 19 years, for several years.


Thieves Make Off With Heavy Equipment

After a week of searching, Nitro Police are continuing to look for thieves who stole nearly $60,000 worth of equipment from the Elkview Kmart parking lot in broad daylight. Several witnesses and a Kmart employee thought the thieves were simply members of the construction crew working at the site as they made off with items including a red Ford F-450 dump truck, a Lone Wolf low-boy trailer and a rented Caterpillar 303 mini-excavator with brand new hydraulic hammer attachment on the front. Mark Stutler, the owner of RBS Construction, says the equipment was chained and padlocked together. Thursday morning, the charred remains of what is believed to be Stutler's dump truck were found on Buff Creek Road in the Clendenin area where it was apparently taken to be burned.


Cabell County Man Charged With Child Abuse

Cabell County law enforcement arrested 42 year old William Pete Jones late Friday night and charged him with felony child abuse with risk of serious injury and a misdemeanor charge for brandishing a weapon. Jones was incarcerated at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville where his bond was set at $25,000.


Bids Sought For Safety Audits

Senator Erik Wells, a Kanawha County Democrat, is raising questions about planned West Virginia safety audits of hundreds of schools across the state. Wells is wondering why the state is seeking bids for what could be a $5 million job when it has set aside money to do the work itself. Wells says he wonders if state officials are fishing for ideas from the companies on how to do the work. The audits were inspired by the mass killings at Virginia Tech and Columbine and are intended to assist police who respond to similar situations. The winner of the bid is expected to be announced by October 1st.


Huntington Honors First Responders

In recognition of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, a tribute to honor first responders was held Saturday at Highlawn Place. The event included members of the Huntington police and fire departments, as well ambulance workers and other first responders, along with a 21-gun salute by the Color Guard from the American Legion Post 16 of Huntington.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Horse Trail Opens In Floyd County

First Lady Jane Beshear was on hand Friday for the grand opening of the Dewey Lake horse trail park at German Bridge. The park has 24 miles of trails, some going around Dewey Lake. The campground is not just for riders. It is right by hunting property owned by the department of fish and wildlife that will provide easy access to the grounds. Officials hope to add more than 30 miles of trails in the future.


Pike County Inmates Face Drug Charge

Pike County Jail inmates Jimmy Norman and Gerald Johnson were caught this week smuggling drugs into the jail while on work release at the courthouse. Pike County Jailer Rodney Scott says the inmates have been painting the inside of the courthouse for the past four months, including the office of Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee. Scott says, Thursday afternoon, a woman was seen by a sheriff's deputy giving one of the inmates a cell phone. Norman and Johnson were caught with the phone, money and drugs. Kevin Hopkins, Morgan Bryant, and Candi Sawyers were allegedly supplying the items to the two inmates. Hopkins is charged with drug trafficking and trafficking within 1,000 feet of a school. Bryant and Sawyer are charged with promoting contraband.


Judge Suspends Law Limiting Contributions

U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves has suspended a law limiting campaign contributions in Kentucky school board races to $100, making candidates in those races eligible for the $1,000 cap from individual contributors allowed in other races. Reeves ruled that the limit unconstitutionally restricts a candidate's right to free association. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a college professor and one-time candidate for the school board in Louisville who claimed the limit was unconstitutional and hindered the right to free speech in a political campaign.


Beshear Orders Flags At Half-Staff

Governor Steve Beshear has ordered that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, September 11, 2010, in observance of Patriot Day.

In accordance with a presidential proclamation, Patriot Day serves in memory and to honor the innocent Americans and people from around the world who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.


KY 15 Resurfacing

Beginning Monday, Sept. 20, resurfacing work will begin on a segment of KY 15 in Jackson. The portion to be repaved is between the intersection with KY 1812 and KY 3068 (Main Street) near Pizza Hut and the intersection with KY 30 west near McDonald’s.

To minimize traffic impacts, all work will be done after 6 p.m. Motorists using KY 15during overnight hours while this project is ongoing should expect delays and plan their trips accordingly. This will impact through traffic along the KY 15 corridor from Campton to Hazard and Whitesburg. Weather permitting, the project should be finished in approximately two weeks.


Kentucky Applies For $135-M In Federal Funds

Governor Steve Beshear announced that he has submitted the state’s application for nearly $135 million in federal money to support education and teacher hiring.

President Obama signed the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act in mid August, which includes $10 billion to support teacher hiring and retention and other educational support in the states.

Funds will flow directly to the school districts through the SEEK formula and must be used to retain, hire and rehire school personnel, including teachers. The funds may also be used to support related expenses that were in jeopardy because of funding pressures.

Gov. Beshear reminded school districts to be prudent. “I urge our schools to be cautious and conservative with these funds,” he said. “These funds will help the districts this fiscal year, but they will not be available next fiscal year, which will be more challenging than the current year from a funding perspective


National Protect Groundwater Day

National Protect Your Groundwater Day, Sept. 14, is a good time to remember the importance of groundwater to our communities and how we can protect this vital natural resource.

Groundwater is the water from rain or other precipitation that soaks into the ground and moves downward to fill cracks and other openings in soils and rocks. It is an abundant natural resource and makes up 90 percent of all the freshwater in the world.

About half of the U.S. population receives its drinking water from the groundwater in wells. In Kentucky, an estimated 1.5 million people are served by 185 public water systems that rely on groundwater in whole or as part of their source. An additional half-million rural Kentuckians rely on private wells or springs for their drinking water.

Protection of this resource is crucial to Kentucky’s economy, public health and the environment and we can all contribute to maintaining both the quality and quantity of groundwater.

“It’s important to remember that groundwater is a local resource and that local people are the ones who can choose whether to conserve, protect or pollute it,” said Sandy Gruzesky, director of the Kentucky Division of Water. “We all need to actively participate in protecting our groundwater.”

As groundwater moves through the soils, it picks up various minerals but also pollutants. Since everything that goes on the land eventually winds up in the water, we need to be mindful of what we put on or in the ground. Activities with the potential to contaminate groundwater include:
• Failing and improper use of septic tanks
• Leaking underground and above-ground storage tanks
• Excessive application of fertilizer on fields and lawns
• Leaching nitrates from animal feeding operations and other agricultural activities
• Improper disposal of hazardous substances
• Old, improperly-designed landfills
• Illegal disposal of trash and animal remains, especially in sinkholes

Kentucky’s Groundwater Protection Program requires the development and implementation of a protection plan by anyone conducting activities that have the potential to pollute groundwater. Each plan is to include pollution prevention measures. The Wellhead Protection Program requires public water supplies relying on groundwater to delineate the recharge area of the well or spring from which it draws its water, identify potential contaminant sources in this area and implement groundwater protection strategies for these areas.

If you are a well owner, check your well annually and treat your well for contaminants. An annual checkup by a qualified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water. Preventive maintenance is usually less costly than emergency maintenance and it can prolong the life of your well and related equipment.

In Kentucky, the Groundwater Branch helps protect private water wells by regulating the construction of water wells through the Drillers Certification Program. Only certified drillers should be used to drill your wells.

Publications on safe and natural household cleaning products are available through your county extension office. When you are using toxic products, such as paint or used engine oil, always dispose of the wastes properly. Contact you’re your city hall for information about the location of safe disposal receptacles in your community.

Conservation of water is another way to protect groundwater. Consider installing water-saving appliances, faucets and toilets. Plant less water-intensive landscaping and use rain barrels to collect rainfall for watering the garden. Reducing water use often has the extra benefit of lower water and energy bills.

Groundwater Protection Day is an excellent time to become informed on local groundwater and watershed issues. Collaboration among individual citizens, local governments and industry is the key to effective management of our groundwater resources. Find ways you can become part of the solution to protect and improve water resources in Kentucky.

For more information about groundwater in Kentucky, well maintenance, groundwater protection plans and wellhead protection, visit


Get Rid Of Unwanted Medications

KSP will partner with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on September 25, 2010 in a collaborative effort to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from home medicine cabinets. Collection activities will take place from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. at every KSP Post across the state. KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer encouraged citizens to take advantage of this opportunity to rid their home of expired or unwanted prescription medications.


MSHA Info Now Online

The federal government says it's putting the health and safety records of all U.S. mines on the Internet.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the information release Thursday.

MSHA says the records include all public data it's collected since the year 2000. It includes where mines are located, information on accidents, injuries, production, violations and inspections.

MSHA director Joe Main says the change is part of President Barack Obama's efforts to make more government information available to the public.

The files are available at MSHA's web site:


Police Officer Shoots Suspect

A Louisville police officer responding to a carjacking report shot a man Thursday afternoon.

Chief Robert White says two officers responded and confronted the man, ordering him to put down his weapon. White says the man declined and allegedly pointed the gun toward the officers.

One of the officers fired and struck the suspect in the parking lot of Kremer's Smoke Shoppe in the downtown area. The wounds do not appear to be life-threatening.

The officers were dispatched to a call of man attempting to carjack two women at gunpoint. White says the man entered the women's car but at some point got out and fled before encountering the officers.

The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.


World's Largest Thoroughbred Auction

The world's largest thoroughbred auction begins this weekend at Keeneland in Lexington.

The 67th annual September Yearling Sale begins Sunday at 7 p.m. EDT.

Keeneland says in a news release it has cataloged 4,857 yearlings for the 14-day sale.

The sale will be live streamed on and Facebook, and there will be updates and video links posted to Twitter.


Wet-Dry Vote In Harlan

Residents in the city of Harlan will decide this November whether to allow alcohol sales at restaurants.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop signed an executive order allowing the local option vote after supporters gathered 210 signatures on a petition. The Harlan Daily Enterprise reports that the order also allows residents in portions of Elcomb, Sunshine and Grays Knob to vote on the issue.

If the option is approved, restaurants could serve alcohol if they seat at least 100 people and derive at least 70 percent of their income from the sale of food.


Man Shoots At Van...Causes Crash

Police have arrested a man who shot several times at a passing van in southern Whitley County, causing it to crash.

Jason Lawson is charged with wanton endangerment, but police are hoping to get a grand jury indictment for attempted murder.

Shelton Coffman, the driver of the van, and his passenger, Glennis Anderson, say Lawson came out of the weeds with a shotgun and opened fire. Coffman and Anderson suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Lawson surrendered to police about two hours later.

The victims knew Lawson and said there's been bad blood between them ever since a fight.

Police say Lawson has been a regular at the Whitley County Jail, having been charged with attempted murder, wanton endangerment and arson in the past.


Plans For US Route 35 Toll Road Move Forward

The West Virginia Parkways authority is moving forward with the process of turning the new US Route 35 into a toll road. Funding is needed for the new four lane highway from the Buffalo bridge to Point Pleasant. There would be two toll plazas built, one in Mason County near Three Mile Creek Road and another in Putnam County near Tucker Branch Road. Preliminary suggested toll rates would be $2.00 for cars and $8.00 for trucks. Putnam and Mason county commissions still need to sign off on the plan, and public hearings need to be held before a final decision is made.


Former Charleston Police Officer To Be Honored

A one year anniversary memorial service is set for 10:00 A.M. Monday morning at the Charleston Police Memorial to honor former Charleston Police Officer Jerry A. Jones. Jones was killed by friendly fire on September 14, 2009, when he and other Charleston officers opened fire while pursuing Brian Good of Miliken. Good was fatally shot when he tried to ram two police cruisers with his pickup truck.


West Virginia To Honor 9-11 Terrorist Victims

Governor Joe Manchin issued a proclamation on Friday ordering all U.S. and state flags at West Virginia facilities lowered to half staff on Saturday, Patriot Day, to honor the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A ceremony commemorating the attacks' ninth anniversary will be held at noon Saturday at the Capitol Complex.


Plane Crashes With Two On Board

A plane crash is under investigation in Fayette County. Officials say, around 2:00 P. M. Friday, a plane with two people on board crashed near the Fayetteville Airport. Emergency responders say both passengers suffered head injuries and were flown to a Charleston hospital for treatment.


Department Of Transportation Worker Arrested

Police have arrested 45 year old David Marcum of Huntington and charged him with criminal invasion of privacy, a misdemeanor. According to a criminal complaint, Marcum, a filmmaker for the state Department of Transportation, was observed, on September 3rd, setting up cameras in a dressing room at the YMCA in Huntington, positioning them to record unknowing male members. A video documentary by Marcum on construction of the new Blennerhassett Island Bridge carrying U.S. 50 across the Ohio River and Blennerhassett Island was selected as the best transportation film of 2009 by the National Transportation Public Affairs Workshop. Marcum was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond. His preliminary hearing has not been set.


Man Faces Sexual Assault Charge

Police responded late this week to a Dunbar home after receiving a call about an alleged kidnapping and sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy. Forty-five year old Gary Lee Whitten was arrested after fleeing from the basement of the home when the caller interrupted him. Police say Whitten had been performing oral sex on the boy. Whitten was running across the railroad tracks toward the Travelodge when Lt. W. Moss with the Dunbar Police Department detained him. The boy told police he had been riding his bike from his friend's house when Whitten grabbed him in front of the home and forced himinto the basement. Whitten, who faces felony kidnapping and third-degree sexual assault, was being held without bond Friday at South Central Regional Jail.


Sentence For Dunbar Woman Suspended

Dunbar Police say Sarah Halstead and her boyfriend, Thomas Stevens, robbed the 7-11 on Washington Street West in March 2009. Stevens is serving a 10 year sentence after pleading guilty earlier this year. Friday, Halstead was sentenced to 10 years in prision, but that sentence was suspended allowing her to serve one year home confinement. Police say their nine month old daughter was in the car at the time of the robbery.


Georgia Accident Kills Charleston Couple

Georgia State Patrol says Martha and Harold Pittman from Charleston were traveling north on Interstate 95 near the town of Midway in Liberty County Thursday afternoon when Martha lost control and their car flipped several times. Martha died a short time later, while Harold was pronounced dead at the scene.


St. Albans Woman Sentenced

Sixty-two year old Charlotte Ann Fields of St. Albans was sentenced Thursday to six months home confinement and five years probation for committing federal tax and Social Security fraud. She was also ordered to pay in excess of $51,000 in restitution to the Social Security Administration. In December 1997, Fields began receiving disability benefits, but, around May 1999, she became part owner of and began working at Loved Ones In-Home Care LLC and did not report her employment. Fields failed to file tax returns for the years 1997-2008. When an investigation of illegal activities began in 2005, she hired an accountant to prepare tax returns for the years 2000-2005, but she did not inform the accountant she was receiving Social Security benefits.


Allegheny And First Energy Working On Merger

The proposed merger filed in June between Allegheny Energy and FirstEnergy has gotten approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission. PSC hearings in West Virginia are scheduled for early November. The companies hope to finish the merger in the first half of 2011.


Maier Foundation Inc. Buys Old Train Station

Ed Maier has acquired the 105-year-old train station situated at MacCorkle Avenue and the Southside Bridge from the Haddad family. The building, added in 1984 to the National Register of Historic Places, will soon be home to the Maier Foundation Inc. and General Corp. among Maier’s other business interests. Maier recently sold the City Center West office tower to the West Virginia Lottery Commission for $21.5 million. Maier says the purchase will not affect lease agreements with existing tenants Amtrak and Laury’s, a fine-dining restaurant.


Gauley River Fall Rafting Season Begins

The Gauley River fall rafting season got under way Friday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the valves at Summersville Lake Dam to start lowering the lake from its summertime pool to its winter level. The extra flows that give the Gauley its punch will continue on weekends until October 19th. River Expeditions owner Heather Johnson says the Upper Gauley is intense but the Lower Gauley is suitable for first-time rafters ages 12 and up.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Pope Asks Beshear To Commute Execution

Pope Benedict XVI and four Catholic bishops in Kentucky asked Governor Steve Beshear on Thursday to commute the death sentence of an inmate set to be executed September 16th. A letter on the Pope's behalf asked that 53 year old Gregory L. Wilson not be executed because of questions about his mental status. Beshear responded hours later that he found no reason to set aside the sentence. Beshear says he believes capital punishment is appropriate for some crimes and that he found no circumstances for setting aside the sentence after conducting an "exhaustive review" of Wilson's case. Beshear pledged to review clemency petitions for Wilson after final court appeals are complete.


Sypher Granted More Time To Seek New Trial

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III has granted Karen Sypher more time to ask for a new trial after she was convicted August 5th of threatening communications with intent to extort, making a false statement to a government agent and retaliating against a victim. The charges were linked to a sexual encounter Sypher had with University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. Federal rules allow for a motion for a new trial to be filed within three years of conviction if there is newly discovered evidence. If there is any other reason for a new trial, a motion must be filed within 14 days of a conviction. Thursday, Sypher was given 45 days from her conviction date in which to file a motion for a new trial.


Conway Challenges Paul To Debate

On Thursday, Democrat Jack Conway's campaign challenged Republican Rand Paul to a series of six debates around the state during October. Conway's campaign says sponsors have agreed to host debates in Louisville, Covington, Pikeville, Paducah and Lexington. Conway also would agree to a sixth debate in Paul's hometown of Bowling Green. In July, Paul challenged Conway to a series of debates, including one on Fox News. In mid-August, Conway said he would debate Paul on Fox if Paul agreed to a debate on the long-running NBC show Meet the Press, a show on which Paul canceled an appearance in May.


UK Considers Salary Increase For Todd

University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. announced on Wednesday his intention to retire June 30, 2011. On Thursday, the UK Board of Trustees' executive committee recommended a $157,046 increase in his base salary, bringing his annual pay to $511,046. The raise would apply to the current fiscal year and the fiscal year that ended June 30th. The committee also proposed giving Todd an annual bonus of up to $50,000 based on performance. The full Board of Trustees will consider the committee's recommendation on Tuesday.


Big Sandy Considers Firing Administrator

During a specially called meeting Thursday, the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center's oversight board considered whether to fire its administrator, Henry "Butch" Williams. A January trial date has been scheduled for Williams after bribery charges brought earlier this year accuse him of accepting a pickup truck as payment for having an inmate transferred. Jail board member Jim Kelly, of Johnson County, says there are other reasons to fire Williams. Kelly says Williams "failed to keep the board informed" of reprimand against guard Doug Muncy, who was charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse of an inmate in January. Kelly said Williams took unauthorized action to cut checks for construction design work under a contract with Frankfort contractor Kenar, leaving the jail facing a $1.5 million suit. The discussion was tabled until next week.


Martin County Drug Bust Nets Six

An undercover drug investigation by Operation UNITE which began in May has resulted in the arrests of six accused of illegal drug trafficking. The investigation involved the drugs Oxycodone or Suboxone.

Roy Goble, 35, of Inez, is charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Amanda Hall, 26, of Inez, faces two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance.
Shannon Hammon, 34, of Louisa, is charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Arnold McCoy, 38, of Tomahawk ,faces two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and being a persistent felony offender.
Jamie Jude, 29, of Inez, was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Tommy Messer, 31, of Inez, faces charges of trafficking in a controlled substance.

Hammon and Jude were arrested after detectives say they discovered Oxycodone, a syringe and a soda can containing OxyContin when they went to Goble’s residence to arrest him.

All six were taken to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office and the Inez Police Department participated in the arrests.


Fort Knox Youth Sports Complex

The new $4.7 million Fort Knox Youth Sports Complex will have a grand opening this weekend.

The facility has a football and soccer combination field, three soccer fields and two baseball diamonds.

The complex will be used by Fort Knox Child, Youth, and School Services to host games for Fort Knox youth sports teams.

Activities at the grand opening on Saturday will include tours, an inflatable water slide and opening ceremonies for Fort Knox soccer, football, and cheerleading programs.


Paul Patton Concerning Dr. Lee Todd's Retirement

“I take this opportunity to congratulate Lee Todd on the 10 years of outstanding leadership he has provided to the University of Kentucky. In virtually every area, the university has moved forward during these past 10 years.
While my administration, in conjunction with the Kentucky General Assembly, developed the road map to improve the lives of our people through improved postsecondary education, we, of necessity, had to leave it to the administrators of our colleges and universities to make the goals a reality. They have done an outstanding job under the most difficult circumstances to exist in our lifetimes.
Lee Todd has been a consistent and effective advocate of progress through education and has led by example. Because of his leadership, the university is poised to achieve the very lofty goals which House Bill 1 established for the university. Lee Todd and his leadership of the University of Kentucky is one of the most significant legacies of my tenure as governor of Kentucky.

I know that Lee’s service to the people of Kentucky and the cause of education is not complete. He will continue to be involved at both the state and national level.
On a personal note, Lee and Patsy have been very kind to Judi and me and we consider them to be personal friends.”


Louisville Zoo Now Has Zip Line

Now people can zip over the Louisville zoo.

The zoo says a zip line has opened to the public. Riders are secured in a harness that is tethered to an overhead cable and zip over the zoo's lake to a tower and back again.

Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak says views of the zoo "are spectacular all along the way."

Rides on the zip line are $12 per person in addition to regular admission.


Forestry Firefighter Injured

A firefighter has been hurt battling a wildfire in western Kentucky.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry says Don Lam was struck Tuesday morning by a log that broke loose and rolled off a bluff in Livingston County. He was knocked unconscious and suffered second-degree burns.

Lam, a forest ranger technician, and other workers are fighting a 12-acre wildfire in the county. He was in serious condition after being airlifted to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Ind.

The Division of Forestry says the fire spread from a burning debris pile at a construction site.

Livingston County has had a burn ban in effect intermittently since Aug. 9. Forestry officials are investigating whether the ban was in effect when the wildfire began.


Coal Ash Disposal

The Environmental Protection Agency has added Tennessee to the lineup of states where the agency is holding public hearings on proposed coal ash disposal regulations.

A hearing will be held Oct. 25 in Knoxville.

EPA made the announcement hours after notifying U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander that his request for a hearing was approved. The Tennessee Republican had sent a letter complaining about Tennessee not being included on the schedule of public hearings.

Alexander said the Tennessee Valley Authority's December 2008 coal ash spill in East Tennessee "displaced residents, caused significant environmental damage, and may require up to $1.2 billion in cleanup costs" and the people affected have a unique perspective that would be beneficial to EPA.


New Jobs in Wayne County

A call center company is opening a center in southern Kentucky that will bring 222 new full-time jobs to the state.

Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced the plans by Senture Connect to open a center in Wayne County. A statement from the governor says the company will be investing $7.9 million in the project.

The company is leasing a building where the workers will handle inbound and outbound calls for private industry, as well as state and federal government agencies.

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved Senture Connect for state tax incentives up to $4.7 million over a 15-year period.


Scam Artist Caught

Police have arrested a man who posed as a student to scam people out of money in Pulaski County.

Sean Arnold went door-to-door telling people he was a University of Kentucky or University of Louisville student and that he was collecting money for books to be given to children's hospitals.

Police said they caught up with Arnold after he allegedly altered the amount of one of the checks he was given.

Arnold was being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center on $25,000 bond.


Man Sentenced To Life Without Parole

A man charged with the abduction and rape of a North Wheeling girl received a life sentence in Ohio County court Thursday.Joshua Ridings was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole after he pleaded guilty to kidnapping. In October 2008, Ridings was sentenced to 40 years after pleading guilty to crossing state lines with the intent of having sex with someone under the age of 12. Prosecutor Scott Smith says Ridings has the chance to be paroled before his 40 year federal sentence is up, but the state sentence is life in prison without the chance for parole.


Wayne Man Faces DUI Causing Death

Twenty year old Jarrett Hawks of Wayne has been charged with driving under the influence causing death, four misdemeanor charges of DUI causing bodily injury, failure to drive right of center, and driving without a license. Investigators say, on July 9th, Hawks was driving on Route 152 near Midvale Heights when he became involved in a three vehicle accident. One of Hawks' passengers, 21 year old Followay died at a Huntington hospital several hours later. Another passenger in Hawks vehicle, along with the drivers of the other two vehicles and one of their passengers were also hurt. Toxicology reports revealed the presence of alcohol and marijuana in Hawk’s system at the time of the wreck.


Investigators Continue To Pump Water From UBB

Investigators searching for clues to the cause of Upper Big Branch mine explosion say they’re still pumping water from three flooded sections of the mine. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said Thursday that investigators are revisiting parts of the mine, but flooded sections have kept them from exploring areas where the April 5th explosion may have originated. MSHA suspects a combination of methane gas and coal dust fueled the explosion, but has yet to release an official cause of the blast, which is the subject of criminal and civil investigations. Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co., the mine’s owner, has denied wrongdoing.


West Virginia To Get Millions From Jobs Bill

West Virginia is expected to get $136 million from an emergency federal jobs bill signed into law last month. The package includes $81 million for the state’s Medicaid program and $55 million for education.
The legislation provides $10 billion to school districts across the nation to rehire laid-off teachers or to ensure that more teachers won’t be let go. West Virginia hasn’t laid off any teachers so the education funding is expected to be used for other things, such as tutoring or summer school. West Virginia Federation of Teachers President Judy Hale Judy Hale says the funding must be spent by spring 2012.


Publishers Clearing House Agrees To Settlement

West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office and Publishers Clearing House, which runs a well-known sweepstakes, have reached an agreement in which Publishers Clearing House has agreed to revise a 2001 agreement reached with 33 states, including West Virginia, and the District of Columbia in which the Port Washington, N.Y.-based company agreed to refine its pitch to ensure that consumers don't think that buying merchandise will increase their chances of winning. PCH denies any liability or wrongdoing but agreed to greatly increase the number of consumers it surveys to make sure they understood that buying merchandise didn't increase their chances of winning. Publishers Clearing House also agreed to pay $3.5 million to reimburse the states for the cost of their investigation.


DNR Director Considering Drilling In State Forest

Frank Jezioro, director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, says, at the request of lawmakers, he's exploring the possibility of allowing drilling for natural gas beneath state forest land. Jezioro says a complex issue is being made more complex because West Virginia may soon be under new leadership. Governor Joe Manchin is on the November ballot for the U.S. Senate, and, if he wins, a special election likely would be needed to select a new governor. Drilling in state forests requires the written approval of the governor and, with the possibility of a new governor and possibly a new DNR director, things are somewhat at a standstill. Allowing drilling in state forests also wouldn't be undertaken without asking for public input. Jezioro says, although the forests are deeded to the DNR, they belong to the citizens of West Virginia. Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, says drilling leases could give the DNR a needed boost in revenue, and Jezioro agrees.


Fayette County Man Charged With Sexual Abuse

Fayette County Sheriff's deputies recently arrested 53 year old Gary Keller of Oak Hill and charged him with four counts of sexual abuse by a parent or guardian, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse. Deputies say the charges stem from allegations that Keller sexually molested a 13-year-old girl he was babysitting earlier this year. He was convicted in 2004 of third-degree sexual assault and third-degree sexual abuse involving another 13 year old female victim. He was also convicted of failing to properly register as a sex offender in 2008. Keller is being held in the southern regional jail on a $120,000 bond.


Beckley Man On The Run

Beckley Police detectives say 46 year old Robert Alvin Harmon, who is wanted for grand larceny, has been on the run since August 31st. He is a white male, approximately 5-feet, 8-inches tall, weighs about 200 pounds, has brown hair and blue eyes and goes by "Bobby." His last known address was Beckley but he has connections to Ohio. Anyone with information on Harmon's whereabouts should contact the Beckley Police Department, or call Crimestoppers at 255-STOP.


Lawsuit Seeks To List Blair Mountain On National Register

The Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Friends of Blair Mountain and the West Virginia Labor History Association filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Thursday seeking to get the site of the Battle of Blair Mountain back on the National Register of Historic Places. The groups are seeking to preserve about 15 miles of mountain ridges along the Boone-Logan county border. In December 2009, Carol Shull, interim keeper of the National Register, removed the site from the rolls. The groups believe that de-listing Blair Mountain was a mistake that violates federal law. Shull was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, along with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. The lawsuit was filed by Washington, D.C., lawyer Andrea C. Ferster and Sierra Club lawyer Aaron Isherwood.


College System Seeks Funding

The West Virginia Community and Technical College System will ask lawmakers next year for $4 million in one-time funding to help cover the growing costs of programs that train students for specialized jobs. In an effort to meet employer demand for skilled labor, the state's 10 two-year colleges have implemented 112 new technical programs during the past four years. The CTC Council submitted the request to the Governor's office in August as part of a proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The proposed budget largely holds spending at present levels. Besides the one-time infusion of $4 million, the council also is requesting $6 million in additional, ongoing funding for need-based financial aid.


WVU To Participate In Carbon Capture And Storage Initiative

West Virginia University will be among the institutions taking part in a new initiative. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced Wednesday that the federal government will spend up to $40 million to create models for how carbon from power plant emissions could be stored underground. The Carbon Capture and Storage Simulation Initiative will bring together national laboratories and regional university alliances to collaborate on advancing the science and research related to carbon capture and storage. The initiative will be paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


Three Blue Ribbon Schools In West Virginia

The U.S. Department of Education has chosen three West Virginia schools among 304 nationwide as Blue Ribbon Schools

The West Virginia winners are Chamberlain Elementary School in Charleston, Fairmont Senior High School and Shepherdstown Middle School.

The program recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools that are either high-performing or have raised student achievement to high levels, particularly for disadvantaged students.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Pikeville And Midway Sign Partnership

Pikeville College and Midway College have signed a partnership that will guarantee some Pikeville College students admission into Midway's new pharmacy school in Paintsville. Each year, ten Pikeville College graduates who meet the qualifications will automatically gain admission and a spot in the pharmacy class of 80 students. Officials believe this will help students stay in eastern Kentucky and ease the pharmacist shortage.


Todd Stepping Down As UK President

UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. has announced that he would step down in June after spending a decade as the school's head. Todd set out in 2001 to propel the university to national prominence. In 2005, Todd unveiled a plan which called for an increase of $260 million in annual state funding over 15 years, enrollment growth of 6,200 undergraduates, 625 more faculty and a near-tripling of research grants. His goal was to reach Top 20 status by 2020. Instead, state money flowing into the school has dwindled, leaving a lot of his plans undone.


FEMA Deadline Approaching

Homeowners, renters and business owners in Carter, Lewis, Madison, Mason,Pike and Rowan counties who suffered losses as a result of the July storms and flooding have two weeks left to apply for disaster help.

Sept. 21 is the deadline to register for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance or to apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loan.

While more than 2,400 people have registered so far, we want to make sure Kentuckians affected by the disaster call FEMA or go online to begin the process before it's too late.

The FEMA toll-free registration number is 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585. Registration is also possible online at


Agriculture Disaster Assistance Sought

On behalf of Kentucky’s farm families, Governor Steve Beshear has requested disaster assistance from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, as a result of drought conditions that began August 1st.

“The current drought conditions have critically impacted our agriculture sector,” stated Beshear in a letter to Secretary Vilsack. “Impacts include early harvest of corn, substantially reduced yields of all crops, loss of pasture for grazing and loss of water supplies for livestock.”

Beshear is requesting disaster assistance for 35 counties, most of them in western Kentucky.


Conway Disputes Recent Polls

U.S. Senate Candidate Jack Conway was in Louisville on Labor Day as a guest at the 11th annual Greater Louisville Labor Picnic held at the Louisville Zoo. It was the first of two stops he was making this Labor Day to union picnics around the state. He was also to attend the Lexington Teamsters Labor Day Picnic in Richmond, KY.

The big talk recently has been about polls. Although some polls show Conway trailing Republican candidate Rand Paul by a significant margin, he insists that's not the case. Conway claims that the numbers are actually much closer and refers to it as a neck and neck race.

The Conway camp is disputing a new SurveyUSA poll that they claim erroneously reports that Rand Paul holds a 15% lead in the race for Senate. Conway's campaign says the poll overestimates the turnout of voters without a party registration, and underestimates registered Democratic turnout. Conway's camp says that when adjusted to historical norms, their data shows it's a 6 point race.

Conway, who is supported by local labor unions, was invited to the Labor Day picnic and says the folks in the labor community have been great to him and he "needed to come back here and say hi to some old friends."


Cell Phone Threat Messages

An Elizabethtown man is accused of threatening Hardin County family service employees. A federal grand jury in Louisville indicted 45-year-old Anthony Gambino.

The indictment alleges that between November 2009 and February 2010, Gambino used his cell phone to leave numerous voice message threats.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.


Lodging Getting Harder To Find For World Equestrian Games

With the World Equestrian Games less than a month away, hotel rooms in Lexington are beginning to get harder to find.

Some hotels are already full, including the 367-room Hilton Lexington Downtown and the 15-room Castle Post.

Rooms are especially hard to come by during the second week of the games.

Emily Lynn, sales and marketing at the Hilton, says that week includes a weekend that also sports horse racing at Keeneland and a University of Kentucky football home game against Auburn.

The last five days of the competition includes finals for popular events and David Lord, director of Lexington's Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he thinks hotels in the area around Lexington will benefit immensely.


Dog Abuser Sought

An animal rescue group hopes a cash reward will help track down a dog abuser.

United Rescues of Kentucky is offering $2,500, which brings the total reward to $5,000, for information that leads to the arrest of the person who killed a dog by dragging it behind a vehicle in Clark County, KY.

If you have any information, call the Clark County, KY Sheriff's Office at 859-744-4390.


Surge In Use Of Illegal Drugs

A recent surge in meth labs and prescription drug abuse has many coming together to prevent substance abuse in Kanawha County.

"The biggest problem is prescription drug abuse, but here in the Kanawha Valley we're also seeing a lot of methamphetamines," Sgt. Michael Baylous of the West Virginia State Police said.

Leaders with Communities that Care said most people in the area has someone in there lives affected by a substance abuse problem.

The group works to get those people help, but focuses on prevention.

"We feel that prevention is extremely important to try to prevent things from happening," Michele Baranaskas with Communities That Care Inc. said.

Baranaskas said they work with parents and law enforcement to make kids aware of the problem.

Sometimes the problem is teens thinking it's a safe alternative to street drugs or watching their parents take the drug.

One thing almost everyone agrees on is that everyone needs to work together to stop the growing problem.


Microsoft Apologizing To West Virginia Town

Microsoft Corp. and the chief rules enforcer for Xbox Live are apologizing to the West Virginia town of Fort Gay after suspending gamer 26 year old Josh Moore who was accused of violating the online gaming service's code of conduct by publicly declaring he's from Fort Gay, a name the company considered offensive. When Moore tried to tell Seattle-based Microsoft and the team at Xbox Live that the town truly exsisted, they wouldn't take his word for it, Google it or check the U.S. Postal Service website for a ZIP code. Instead, they suspended his gaming privileges until he could convince them the location in his profile wasn't a joke or a slur but was an actual community of about 800 in Wayne County.
Fort Gay has been a community since 1789, when 11 people tried to establish a settlement at the junction of the Tug and Big Sandy rivers. It was incorporated as Cassville in 1875 but was simultaneously known as Fort Gay until 1932, when town leaders changed it to Fort Gay for good. There's a Gay in Jackson County and a Mount Gay in Logan County.


Mingo County Murder Charge Reduced

Tommy Vance appeared at his trial in a Mingo County courtroom Wednesday morning where he accepted a plea deal in which his charge went from murder to a reduced charge of reckless DUI causing death. Vance was charged with the murder of Jason Lee, from North Carolina, who had traveled as a stripper to southern Mingo County as part of a promotion which was supposed to be a fun show at Club 2000. An argument between Lee and Vance which began inside the club continued outside in the parking lot where witnesses say Vance ran Lee down with his pickup truck and dragged him 30 feet. Vance faces two to 10 years in prison and a $1,000 to $3,000 fine when sentenced October 18th.


Williamson Visit To Air On The Oprah Winfrey Show

Oprah Winfrey's farewell season will air the follow-up she filmed last month in Williamson on Wednesday, September 15th. The Oprah Winfrey Show airs on both WSAZ 3 and myZ. Oprah first visited Williamson in 1987 to tackle the AIDS issue which centered around Mike Sisco. The Williamson city pool had been evacuated to allow workers to drain the water after Sisco had been swimming. What she found then was a lof of fear and misinformation. 23 years later, attitudes have changed. During her recent visit, Oprah met with a select group of only about ten people. Oprah emerged from this latest taping with a hopeful attitude.


McDowell County Ambulance Driver Killed

McDowell County emergency officials say 36 year old James Bailey of Bradshaw was transporting a patient from English to Welch Community Hospital around 3:00 A.M. Wednesday when his ambulance crashed on W.Va. 80 in Avondale. Bailey was pronounced dead at the scene. EMS attendant, Kevin Brooks, sustained injuries do not appear to be life threatening. The patient being transported sustained minor injuries, and a family member accompanying the patient was airlifted to a Charleston-area hospital.


Man Shot During Robbery

Members of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office say that, early Wednesday morning, 30 year old Chad Wehrle of Elkview walked into Teresa's Cafe in Pinch, and, while carrying a shotgun and wearing a red bandanna covering his face, told everyone to get on the ground while he demanded money. Police say Wehrle ran from the video lottery parlor and shot several times at the building after the owner, Douglas James, grabbed a gun and shot at him. Wehrle was later listed in serious condition at Charleston Area Medical Center.


Hurricane Couple Pleads Guilty

Thirty-seven year old Deborah Joyce and 39 year old Todd Joyce from Hurricane pleaded guilty Wednesday to their involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme. They admitted to misleading people into buying homes as investment properties at prices higher than what the homes were actually worth. Deborah Joyce pleaded to a two-count information charging her with conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud and to tax evasion. Joyce said she became involved with a Utah group that told her they found local private investors who were interested in purchasing properties in the Stonegate subdivision in Hurricane. Joyce admitted to inflating appraisals on 6 homes in that area. Todd Joyce pleaded to aiding and abetting and tax evasion, admitting to falsifying income information while applying for a loan to build a home in the Stonegate subdivision. Both face up to 35 years in prison when sentenced on January 3, 2011.

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