Saturday, November 13, 2010


Floyd County Deer Collision Results In Death


KSP say, around 9:45 A.M. Saturday morning, 65 year old Henry Hamilton Jr. was traveling west on KY Route 680 in Harold in Floyd County when he struck a deer that was crossing the road, causing the deer to deflect into the path of a vehicle driven by 60 year old Robert Harper. The deer went through the windshield of Harper's vehicle, fatally striking 59 year old Ardith Harper.


Pike County House Fire Kills Elderly Woman


Kentucky State Police say, when they responded to a house fire in the Mossy Bottom community in Pike County around 11:30 P.M. Friday night, they discovered the home was engulfed in flames. Seventy-nine year old James Hamilton was taken to the Pikeville Medical Center with minor injuries, while police found 78 year old Sammie Hamilton was found dead inside the home.


Manchin Says Farewell To West Virginia

Canvassing has been completed, and Governor Joe Manchin, who served for six years, has been officially declared an elected member of the U.S. Senate. Now, Manchin heads to Washington where, on Monday, he'll take the oath of office, filling the vacancy left by longtime Senator Robert C. Byrd. During his farewell speech Friday, Manchin told a crowd that Washington can learn a little about West Virginia's accomplishments which include legislation that makes the mine industry safer, balancing the budget, reducing the state sales tax by 3% and creating the 5th largest rainy day fund in the nation.


Union Accepts Contract

Nearly 800 Union workers represented by Service Employees International Union 1199 voted Friday night to ratify a new 3 year contract with Cabell Huntington Hospital, avoiding a strike set to begin Monday. Both sides said issues focused on health care costs, wages and pension benefits. Details were not released.


Drug Rehabilitation Facility Hoping To Expand


It's no secret long-term drug rehabilitation facilities are few and far between. It's a national epidemic that's no different locally. While several agencies are addressing the need, the gaps are still wide. It's why one man felt a calling to help. Now, a year later, a new drug rehab facility is already expanding.

"During the good times I was an assistant coach in Wheeling," Otto Turner said. "During the good times, I was a head basketball coach at a community college."
Also during those good times, Turner was a well-respected man with a wife and two children who was on top of the world. But then, that world crumbled.

“It got to the point where drugs drove me," Turner said. "I used to hate drug addicts. I used to hate alcoholics. It got so bad my wife couldn’t take it anymore. She left me. My water got turned off, my electric got turned off, my gas got turned off. I tried to commit suicide twice.,"

Otto went through several drug rehab programs before landing at The Shepherd's House.
"They gave me hope," Turner said. "If you want to get off drugs and alcohol, you need to find God."

Now, the energy Turner used to focus on getting his next high he pours into his cooking.
The Shepherd's House wouldn't have been possible without donations and support from the community.


Copper Theft A Problem


Copper theft continues to be a problem in the Coal Grove area. A recent rash of thefts could mean lights out for Paul Porter Park's annual Christmas light display.

"We had a lot of our electrical wiring in the smaller building, the cords and receptacles and all the connectors were in this building. That's the building they broke into," Coal Grove Mayor Larry McDaniel said. "They just knocked the lock off it and got our rolls of wire out of there."
At least 1,000 feet of electrical wiring, worth more than $2,000, was stolen to strip and sell.
Across the river in Ashland, the problem is theft of telephone cables.


Light Display In Logan County Will Continue

The countdown to Christmas means it's time for those beautiful outdoor light displays, but at Chief Logan State Park, it has been a little more challenging this year. They’re still trying to recover from a storm that caused major damage last season. Now, organizers will take all the help they can get.

Each year, Jackie Tomblin pours her whole heart into the project, "Christmas in the Park."
"It's kind of in your blood," Tomblin said. "Once you do it once, you love it."
It's the kind of love that helps pick up the pieces and move on. Many of the light displays were heavily damaged -- even ruined -- by a winter storm last December.


Husband Watches As Wife Killed By Train

A Harpers Ferry woman out for an evening stroll with her husband has been struck and killed by a train. Sgt. Robert Sell of the Jefferson County sheriff's department says 44-year-old Marsha Craun died late Thursday as she tried to cross a CSX line near Shepherdstown.

Craun stumbled while crossing the tracks and fell in the path of an oncoming train.
Sell told the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., that Craun's husband tried to help but couldn't get his wife out of the way in time.

The crossing has good visibility, and Sell says the warning lights and other equipment were working. Sell says it was just a sad accident, and the couple should have waited to cross.
The train's conductor and engineer witnessed the accident. Neither will be charged.


GOP Pursues Special Election For Governor


The Republican Party has created a website designed to pressure legislators into demanding a special election to replace Governor Joe Manchin.

Manchin is heading to the U.S. Senate to replace the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.
Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin is replacing Manchin as acting governor and says he'll wait to hear from the public on whether a new election should be held before 2012.

Both Tomblin and House Speaker Rick Thompson are among those who plan to run, whenever an election is held.

The GOP calls the failure to schedule an immediate election a travesty of justice but concedes that current succession law is unclear. Legislative attorneys say the law doesn't allow an earlier vote, but others argue the state Constitution intends otherwise.


PSC Approves FiberNet Sale


West Virginia regulators on Friday approved nTelos' plan to purchase Charleston-based FiberNet for $170 million.
The state Public Service Commission cited nTelos' financial strength and its pledge to spend $40 million in West Virginia as reasons for approving the sale, according to a 10-page order filed Friday afternoon. Waynesboro, Va.-based nTelos will become the state's second-largest telecommunications provider -- behind only Frontier Communications -- after the deal closes.

Friday, November 12, 2010


UK Committee Agrees On Search Firm


The 12-member panel charged with finding a new president for the University of Kentucky has unanimously agreed to hire Miramar Beach, Florida-based Greenwood/Asher & Associates to help find candidates. The firm is the same one that helped a decade ago in the search for Lee T. Todd Jr., the UK president who announced he will step down when his contract expires in June.


Perry County Drug Roundup


HIDTA Drug Task Force, UNITE, the Hazard Police Department and the Perry County Sheriff's Department assisted Kentucky State Police Friday during a drug roundup in Perry County, while several were also arrested on outstanding bench warrants from the Perry County Circuit Court.
Investigators say they found approximately $4394.00 in cash, 607 assorted prescription medications, and a small amount of marijuana.
Those arrested include:
• Lonnie Standifer of Scuddy• Glen Messer of Scuddy• Billy Dehart of Slemp• Rick Sumner of Lothair• James Mullins of Hazard• Tim Sebastian of Combs• Greg Miller of Hazard• Phillip Collett of Scuddy• Killis Jones of Scuddy• Lillian Riley of Scuddy• Daniel “Dano” Riley• Randy Caudill of Glomarw• Kenneth Jason Marlowe of Hazard• Timothy Paul Coleman of Hazard• Michelle Williams of Hazard• Dana Feltner of Combs• Henry Miller of Rowdy• Archie Stamper Jr. of Bonnyman• Wesley Stacy of Glomarw• Carlos Dean Gamble of Vicco


London Jury Awards Corbin Man Millions


A federal jury in U.S. District Court in London has ruled in favor of 27 year old Dalton Christopher Brewer of Corbin, awarding him $6.28 million for injuries he suffered when Whitley County volunteer sheriff's deputy Tony Ramey beat him with a pistol in June 2007. Investigators say Ramey's son had stolen a pistol from him to pay a drug debt. Ramey and his son went to Brewer's home to get the gun back. Brewer said he and Perry Ramey argued over the return of the gun, and Tony Ramey told Brewer he was under arrest, then smashed Brewer in the head several times with a pistol, knocking him unconscious, and then stomped and hit him.
Ramey says he hit Brewer with the gun only once as he defended his son during a fight with Brewer, and he tried to make a legitimate arrest. Brewer suffered problems, including seizures, impaired vision and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Louisville Man Pleads Not Guilty On Murder Charge

A Louisville man has pleaded not guilty in the disappearance of an 18-year-old college student from Indiana. Police charged 40-year-old Gregory O'Bryan on Tuesday with murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse. His arrest came 12 days after Andrew Compton of Carmel, Ind., disappeared. O'Bryan said only a few words at his arraignment Wednesday and told the judge he understood the charges against him.Police have spent two days searching an Indiana landfill. O'Bryan's arrest report says he told police Compton died during sex and he disposed of the body.


Third Republican Joins Governor Race

A third Republican may be entering the 2011 gubernatorial race. The Courier-Journal reports that Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw is considering whether to join in the GOP primary battle.

Already running are Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and Senate President David Williams of Burkesville. Holsclaw told the newspaper Thursday that she's had many people call to ask her about considering a run.The 66-year-old Holsclaw just won her fourth term as Jefferson County clerk. Williams declined to comment. Moffett's spokesman, David Adams, says he would welcome Holsclaw in the race.


Religious School Coach Found Guilty On Sex Charges


The former baseball coach at a religious school in eastern Kentucky has been found guilty of a number of sex-related charges involving young boys. A jury in Breathitt County on Friday convicted 68-year-old Dennis Jackson on nine of 13 charges. Jackson coached the baseball team at Riverside Christian School. He resigned a few days before the sex abuse charges were announced in May.

Among the charges are accusations of sexual abuse, sodomy and indecent exposure. Two charges involved an alleged victim under 12 years of age. The jury recommended Jackson serve life in prison, plus 20 years.


Six Pet Deaths In Powell County

Police and animal control officers are investigating the deaths of six pets in Powell County. All of the animals appear to have eaten hot dogs laced with pesticide. Investigators say the hot dogs were left in fields near the homes of the pet owners. State police say it is a method that is sometimes used to kill coyotes, but they're not convinced the pet deaths are accidental.


Bond Denied Over Felony Destruction Of Property

Five people were jailed on felony charges according to booking records kept at the Western Regional Jail.

Robert Mitchell Moore, 51, was incarcerated at Friday. Authorities in Cabell County charged him with felony destruction of property. Bond was denied pending arraignment.

Erin McComis, 25, was incarcerated at 9:50 p.m. Thursday. Authorities in Cabell County charged her with felony grand larceny, along with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and driving on a suspended/revoked license. Bond was $4,000.

Jackie Dwayne Lucas, 34, was incarcerated at 5:35 p.m. Thursday. Authorities in Cabell County charged him with felony daytime burglary and misdemeanor trespassing. Bond was $21,000.

Wendell Neal Adkins, 33, was incarcerated at 5:35 p.m. Thursday. Authorities in Cabell County charged him with felony entering without breaking, along with misdemeanor defective equipment, driving on suspended/revoked license, no insurance and trespassing. Bond was $22,600.

Sarah Elezabeth Bryant, 31, was incarcerated at 3:40 p.m. Thursday. Authorities in Cabell County charged her with felony accessory before the fact and misdemeanor driving on a suspended/revoked license and improper/expired registration. Bond was $22,000.


Mobile Home Destroyed By Fire

A small, single-wide mobile home burned to the ground early Friday in Milton.

Cabell County 911 received word of the fire at 3:27 a.m. Friday in the 1100 block of Amos Street. Crews arrived on scene to find the mobile home fully engulfed in flames and already burned to the ground, said Milton Volunteer Deputy Chief Bob Legg.

No injuries were reported. Legg said the residence had been unoccupied for some time.

Firefighters were unable to identify a origin or specific cause, although Legg said there were no immediate signs of arson.

The Milton Volunteer Fire Department received assistance from volunteer firefighters in Culloden and Ona.


India Looking To Buy US Coal Mines


The chairman of state-run Coal India, the world’s largest coal producer, says that the company is in talks to acquire mines from two U.S. companies, Peabody Energy Corp. and Massey Energy Co.

Coal India says the companies expressed interest in offering certain mines, but officials declined to discuss details of where the mines are located or what the deal value might be.

Coal India has budgeted $1.2 billion to buy assets in the U.S., Indonesia and Australia during the year ending March as it battles a widening gap between domestic coal supply and demand.

St. Louis-based Peabody Energy says it is the world’s largest private sector coal company. Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy says it is the largest coal producer in the Central Appalachian region.


Hospital And Union Reach Agreement


Cabell Huntington Hospital and Service Employees International Union District 1199 have reached a tentative agreement, according to union and hospital representatives.
The agreement was reached about 6 a.m. Friday after negotiations resumed Thursday. Union workers started voting on the contract immediately. Voting will continue at the Ramada Limited hotel until 7:30 p.m. Friday.
A 10-day strike notice had SEIU members set to walk off the job Monday, Nov. 15.
Union spokesperson Anthony Caldwell did not release any details of the agreement. He said SEIU will stay in contact with its members throughout Friday and provide further comment to the press after 7:30 p.m.
“We’ll count the votes, see if it’s an up or down vote,” he said. “If it’s a down vote they strike. If it’s a up vote then the contract is ratified.”
Hospital spokesman Charles Shumaker released the following statement from the hospital:
"Cabell Huntington Hospital is pleased that a tentative agreement has been reached on a contract proposal with SEIU 1199, the union that represents nearly 800 workers at our hospital. A ratification vote is taking place today."
Both sides have said that negotiations are focused on health care costs, wages and pension benefits.
The union represents 800 of the hospital's 2,300 employees.


Murder Charge Over Premature Birth


A man is facing murder charges after allegedly hitting his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach. Authorities believe those injuries lead to the premature birth and death of her baby.
Kanahwa County Prosecutor Mark Plants says that Justin Lee was arrested Wednesday and charged with first degree murder. Plants says that back in June, Lee allegedly got into a fight with his girlfriend and said he wished she would have a miscarriage. Lee then hit her in the stomach.

The injuries lead the victim to go into labor and the baby later died. Lee's being held in the South Central Regional Jail.


WV National Guard Commander Retiring

The West Virginia National Guard's longest-serving adjutant general is retiring. Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett said Thursday that he would step down as commander of more than 6,000 West Virginia citizen soldiers and airmen on Jan. 20. He began his military career in 1963 as a private in the West Virginia Army National Guard's 16th Special Forces Group.

Tackett made his retirement announcement during a ceremony dedicating new additions to the Gassaway Army National Guard Armory. Tackett said both Gov. Joe Manchin and soon-to-be acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin have approved Brig. Gen. James Hoyer as his choice for his replacement. Hoyer currently serves as director of the West Virginia National Guard's Joint Staff.


WV Statistics From Federal Census Bureau

Every year since 1878, the federal Census Bureau has published the "Statistical Abstract of the United States." Today, it is a 1,000-page volume packed with information about people in the United States and throughout the world.

West Virginia's statistics are particularly interesting, because the state appears near the top or bottom of many lists.

Information ranges from the ages and races of people to their religious preferences, their education, their health and their wealth. It also offers detailed data about farms, rivers, forests and oceans.

In 2008, West Virginia had 1,814,000 residents, making it the 37th-largest state in the nation.
The Mountain State's population dropped by 8 percent during the 1980s, then grew, just a little, by 0.8 percent in the 1990s. During the current decade, our population has increased by 0.3 percent.

Only three states had a lower percentage of population increase than West Virginia between 2000 and 2008.

Two states actually lost people. Louisiana's population dropped by 0.3 percent after people moved away in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and North Dakota's population declined by 0.1 percent. Rhode Island's population grew by just 0.2 percent.

Statisticians estimate, however, that West Virginia's population will drop to 1.72 million by 2030.

Between 2000 and 2008, West Virginia was the only state whose population declined -- if you subtract births from deaths of people already living in the state -- but West Virginia's net loss of 515 people turned into a slight gain in population by including the immigration of 15,428 people into the state during those years. Florida and West Virginia had the highest percentages of people age 65 and older in 2008, 17.4 percent and 15.7 percent, respectively.
Nationally, 12.8 percent of the population is 65 or older. Pennsylvania, Maine, Hawaii and Iowa are other states with high percentages of older residents.

West Virginia ranked first in death rates in 2007: 11.6 deaths per 1,000 residents. The national rate was 8 deaths per 1,000 people. Alaska, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma had a little more than 10 deaths for every 1,000 residents. States with the lowest death rates, ranging between 5.1 and 6.7 for every 1,000 residents, were Alaska, Utah, Colorado, California and Texas. A growing number of all births across the country are to unmarried women. In 2007, 39.7 percent of all births in the United States were to unmarried mothers. West Virginia was slightly above the average, with 40.4 percent.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Man Hits Police Cruiser In Knott County


Kentucky State Trooper Tony Watts says he was heading south on Highway 15 near Carr Creek Lake in Knott County when he noticed a car drifting to his side of the road. Watts says he attempted to move off the road to avoid a collision, but he was hit by a car driven by Paul Banks. Watts immediately called dispatchers and went to check on the people in the other car. During a search of the car, police found prescription medication not in the proper container which belonged to Johnathan Cornett, who was also in the car. Cornett was arrested and taken to Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard, while Banks was taken to the UK Hospital in Lexington.


Additional Arrests In Three-Year Old Murder Case


Two more people have been arrested in connection with the death of a 92-year-old eastern Kentucky man almost three years ago.

Kentucky State Police say 33-year-old Brian W. Hatfield of Frakes was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the death of William Jacob Taylor of Frakes. Taylor died about a week after being beaten in his home in January 2008. Also arrested Wednesday was 26-year-old Candy Maiden of Frakes. She was arrested in Campbell County, Tenn., and was awaiting extradition to Kentucky.

Police arrested two Pineville residents in the case earlier, one last Thursday and one on Oct. 20.


Bill Monroe On Times Square Billboard


The late father of bluegrass music soon will be playing in Times Square in New York.Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Karen Miller said the agency has contracted for a 15-second ad on a digital full-motion billboard on New York's 42nd Street.

The ad will promote the centennial of Bill Monroe's birth.The spot will feature Monroe, bluegrass music and Owensboro and will run 18 times a day for 48 days at a cost of $15,000. It's running from Nov. 15 to Jan. 1, times that will cover the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration.

Both events draw millions of people to Times Square every year.The ad also will feature the convention bureau's new website, Monroe died in 1996 and is buried in Rosine, Ky.


Six Fired Manchester Ex-Employees File Lawsuit


Six former employees of an eastern Kentucky city are alleging they were fired for political reasons last week the day after the election.They have filed a federal lawsuit asking for their jobs back, lost wages, compensation for embarrassment and $6 million in punitive damages from Manchester Mayor Carmen Webb Lewis, who lost her bid for re-election.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the lawsuit filed Monday in London says the former employees weren't actively involved in the race because of fear of repercussions. The lawsuit alleges that Lewis told employees they couldn't support George Saylor, a council member who defeated Lewis on Nov. 2. The newspaper reports the lawsuit makes it clear that some of the fired employees supported Saylor or declined to publicly support Lewis. A city employee said Lewis was out of town and unavailable for comment Wednesday.


Former Louisville Housing Director Charged With Misusing City Tax Dollars

Police investigative files show the mother of Louisville's former housing director got more than $10,000 in city tax dollars that she wasn't entitled to have.

The files were obtained this week and contain nearly 600 pages of police investigation documents. The mother, 57-year-old Vickie Smallwood, and the daughter and former director, 39-year-old Kimberly Bunton, are each facing two counts of theft in connection with money that went to Smallwood. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Ryan Vantrease, Bunton's attorney, says the files only give one side of the story and his client will give her side in court.


Tackett Murder Trial Set For February 21 In Floyd County


Tony Ray Tackett, the man charged with the 2006 murder of Margaret Hall, is set to go on trial in Floyd Circuit Court on Feb. 21. A motion hour was held in the case on Friday, with Tackett’s defense attorney asking for a witness hearing. Tackett, 48, was arrested in November 2006 after an eight-month investigation by police.

In April 2006, officers with the Kentucky State Police located human remains on a strip mine in Harold. The remains were identified as Margaret Hall, 56, of Tram. Hall had been reported missing on March 30. Tackett was charged with murder, first-degree rape and first-degree unlawful imprisonment.

According to reports from the initial arrest, Tackett allegedly strangled Hall to death by suffocating her with an unknown binding device. Tackett also allegedly restrained Hall by binding her hands and arms behind her back, subjecting her to serious physical injury. Tackett was charged with rape for allegedly forcibly engaging in sexual intercourse with Hall while she was physically restrained.


World-Renowned Forensic Anthropologist Retiring


Kentucky's only Forensic Anthropologist, Dr. Emily Craig, has announced she is retiring November 30th of this year. After identifying family members after September 11 and at the Comair crash, solving some of the most difficult cases and becoming world-renowned in her field, Dr. Craig says, after knee replacement surgery in 2005, it's been difficult to do all the strenuous work required for skeletal recovery. Dr. Craig says she plans to consult and teach once she's retired.


Kentucky National Guard To Assist In Iraq Troop Withdrawal


A brigade of more than 1,350 Kentucky National Guard troops have received orders to deploy to Iraq next year to assist in the military's draw down of its combat forces. The members of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade have been told to report to their respective Kentucky armories in June. Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht says the Guard members will join Operation New Dawn, a mission to withdraw American forces by the end of next year. The Kentucky National Guard soldiers will work with troops from Virginia and Utah in conducting security, base defense and convoy security operations. The Kentucky National Guard says it is the largest mobilization of its members to a combat zone since World War II.


Audit Shows Need For Medicaid Provider Transparency


A 200-plus-page audit released earlier this week by state Auditor Crit Luallen shows that the Passport Health Plan, a Medicaid managed-care provider based in Louisville spent nearly $14 million on consulting and other services over three years, including $1 million on lobbying and public relations. Passport, which represents the state's largest contract while providing services to 164,000 Medicaid recipients in Jefferson and 15 other counties, received $793 million last fiscal year from state and federal sources. Auditors found the Medicaid provider's staff amassed nearly $230,000 in travel costs over three years, including luxury hotels, limousine service, expensive meals and gifts. Luallen's audit calls for greater accountability and transparency in managing and overseeing the plan.


Friday...Statewide Furlough Day

State offices will be closed on Friday as part of the state's budget balancing plan to furlough state government workers a total of six days in fiscal year 2011, as authorized by the 2010-12 biennial budget passed by the General Assembly. The furloughs are estimated to save taxpayers approximately $24 million, as well as prevent laying off more than 400 state employees.

The vast majority of executive branch state employees are included in the furlough plan, including non-merit employees and merit system employees, full-time and part-time, the Governor and all cabinet secretaries and contract workers. A limited number of state offices have been approved to remain open or partially open. Employees approved to receive an exception and remain at work on Friday, November 12th, will take their furlough on another day in November.


Covington Police Seek Warrants For Facebook And MySpace

Covington police searching for 17 year old Paige Johnson of Florence, a missing teenage mother, are seeking search warrants for the Facebook and MySpace accounts of the teen and 22 year old Taylor Mill resident Jacob Bumpass, the man with whom she was last seen. Phone records obtained from Bumpass and Johnson reveal ongoing communication between the pair prior to September 23rd, but no contact after that date. Further investigation showed Johnson and Bumpass regularly communicated using social networking sites, and people interviewed about the disappearance said Bumpass used social networking sites to post information about Johnson after her disappearance. Authorities say Johnson reached out to people on her Facebook account, and, at 12:12 A.M. on September 23rd, she posted a message to a friend. It read, "GIRL. I need To Talk To You IMMEDIATELY!" Bumpass was arrested October 4th for possession of deadly weapons, drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana and lying to his parole officers about where he worked. Covington police have refused to call Bumpass a suspect, or even a person of interest in the case, but he is being held in the Kenton County Jail on parole violations.


Senate President's Comment Draws Negative Reaction


Kentucky Senate President David Williams has called for repeal of the 17th amendment, which provides for popular election of U.S. senators, a comment which drew negative reaction from sitting senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning. McConnell says giving the choice of senators to legislatures would be "a huge step backward" for democracy. Bunning said popular election is "the proper way to do it."


UK Research Manager Fired


The University of Kentucky has fired drug and alcohol research manager, 51 year old Tracey Ellerbe, who was suspended from her job after being arrested on drug charges. Police say a fire in her home was sparked by lights used to grow more than 40 marijuana plants. Ellerbe pleaded not-guilty to the charge of cultivation, but court documents say she "admitted to growing the marijuana for personal use.


Manchin To Deliver Farewell Address


Governor Joe Manchin has scheduled his final public speech as West Virginia's chief executive before he heads to the U.S. Senate. At 10:00 A.M. Friday, Manchin will deliver his farewell address inside the Capitol reception room. Topics will include his six years as governor, and the challenges he sees ahead in Washington as he fills the seat held by the late Senator Robert C. Byrd.


Environmentalists To Host "Toll of Coal'' Forum

Environmentalists are hosting a one-day "Toll of Coal'' forum on November 20th at Marshall University's Campus Christian Center to discuss coal and how it affects human health. The conference is sponsored by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Sierra Club and Marshall's Student Environmental Action Coalition. Rita Harris, of the Sierra Club's Environmental Justice Program in Tennessee, is the keynote speaker. The deadline to register is Monday.


ARH Files Intent To Sue West Virginia


Appalachian Regional Healthcare Inc., a nonprofit which serves 350,000 people in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, said Thursday it plans to sue the state of West Virginia over medical reimbursement rates that are so low they threaten the survival of its hospital in Beckley. ARH says it's given the Department of Health and Human Resources the legally required 30-day notice of its intent to sue. The West Virginia Primary Care Association has filed similar notice.

Rocco Massey, community chief executive officer of Beckley ARH, says reimbursements have been covering only two-thirds of his hospital's costs. In fiscal 2009, Beckley lost $4.8 million on Medicaid patients, who account for about 47 percent of the patient base. Another 14 percent of patients are on other government programs or are considered bad debt and charity cases.

Massey said $8.2 million of the $9.9 million of fiscal year 2009 reimbursements came from the federal government, while West Virginia put in only about $300,000 of its own funds that year for Medicaid reimbursements. Massey says, if the state had put in just $800,000 more, the federal government would have matched it with an additional $4 million.

Hospitals in southern West Virginia frequently refer patients to the U. Va., which says it is losing about $3 million a year because of Medicaid rates. The University of Virginia Health System says it will stop accepting West Virginia Medicaid patients in December.


Supreme Court Asked To Force Vote On School Project


In 1990, Cabell County residents approved a $45 million school bond issue that included six projects, but the school board only had enough money to complete four of the projects. The board decided to refinance its bond debt and to use the money saved toward constructing a new middle school on the University Heights property in Huntington. Now, residents are asking the state Supreme Court to force a vote on the school construction project, saying they feel they have a right to vote on what those taxes are being spent on. A lower court ruled in favor of the Cabell County Board of Education, saying money left over from the refinancing was really tax collections and not bond money, and the school board could spend it at its own discretion.


Professor Says WV Recovering Faster Than Rest Of Nation


A West Virginia University economist says the state is recovering from recession at a faster pace than the rest of the nation.

Professor George Hammond is Associate Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University. He tells John Hingsbergen that the state has added jobs at a rate nearly three times that of the rest of the U.S.Hammond spoke Wednesday at the 17th annual West Virginia Economic Outlook Conference in Charleston.


Gubernatorial Question Likely To Legislature


The courts will likely have a say in Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin's role as acting governor, Gov. Joe Manchin said Wednesday. Manchin, who is expected to leave office to join the U.S. Senate Monday, also defended his decision not to call a special legislative session to settle a dispute over what should happen next, saying the Legislature's role is limited. "This is a constitutional matter," Manchin said in an interview with the Daily Mail. "It's not, 'You can just pass something up there (in the Legislature).'"

"It's the interpretation of the constitution of what the meaning and what the intentions were," Manchin said. "And, one says, There won't be separation; and the other says, You will hold both duties. Somebody's got to make that decision." The state constitution calls for the Senate president to "act as governor" when there is gubernatorial vacancy. But it also calls for a separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Having the head of one house of the Legislature serve as the state's chief executive seems to conflict with that.
Tomblin earlier this week compared his role to that of the U.S. vice president, who also serves as the president of the U.S. Senate but assumes the office of president when there is a vacancy.
The separation of powers question has largely been obscured by the debate over when the next election for governor should be held. There, the question is whether or not there needs to be a gubernatorial election next year or during the regular 2012 election cycle. Lawyers seem to agree that state law only calls for an election in 2012, but there is some question about whether or not the constitution suggestions that there should be an election sooner rather than later.

Manchin declined to give his opinion on whether an election should be in 2012 or in 2011.
He said only that, "I'll tell you, I'm not sure the people want to stomach an election so quick."
He appeared to be referring to the election fatigue some voters might feeling. They were asked to cast three ballots in 2010, including in the special U.S. Senate primary and then in the bitter general election between Manchin and Republican industrialist John Raese. The state was blanketed with negative ads throughout the past few weeks.

Manchin said he didn't call the Legislature to town - as some, like House Speaker Rick Thompson, want - because all it could do is set a date for the election and not settle the separation of powers question. But the timing question alone could be problematic since many lawmakers - including Tomblin, D-Logan, and Thompson, D-Wayne - are jockeying to run for governor, be it in 2011 or 2012.


Terrible Conditions At Animal Shelter In Boone County


Sheriff's deputies seized more than 100 dogs and cats from a volunteer animal shelter in Boone County. The animals were starving and lying in their own waste.

"It was just deplorable," Boone County Sheriff Rodney Miller said. "The stench was almost unbearable."

Miller said that some of the animals had mange and were losing hair. The animals had apparently not been fed in weeks and were emaciated, he said. There was no running water in the shelter and there was no electricity.

"They were living in difficult conditions," he said.

The volunteer shelter was operated out of an old school building in Ottawa and apparently ran off donations. It was clear that no money had gone into the shelter in quite some time, Miller said.

Miller said police are waiting on an accurate count of the animals before they file charges. Potentially, the owner of the shelter could face one charge of animal abuse per animal, he said.
Police counted more than 78 dogs. Police do not yet know how many cats there were.


Giveaway Of Child ID Kits

The FBI is distributing child identification kits at Marshall's home football game on Saturday.
The National Child Identification Program kits give parents a copy of their children's fingerprints, a DNA sample and a record of other identifying information.

That file can be used as a permanent record if a child is abducted, runs away or otherwise becomes a victim.The free kits will be distributed to parents and guardians as they leave the game against Memphis.


New Truck For Delivery Of Donated Food


The Mountaineer Food Bank is getting some new wheels for delivering food to West Virginia's needy.

The Wal-Mart Foundation is giving $148,500 to Mountaineer Food Bank toward the purchase of a 26-foot refrigerated truck. The truck will help donated fruits, vegetables and meat last longer when being transported from store to charity.

Some of the funds came from an online campaign where Wal-Mart associates voted directly for a nonprofit group to receive funding in their home state.

Food bank officials plan to unveil the truck next Tuesday at a Wal-Mart in South Charleston.


Regional Jail Authority Seeks Answers To Overcrowding


At its quarterly meeting Wednesday, the Regional Jail Authority discussed overcrowding in the state's regional jails and prisons, saying it's gotten to the critical point, with inmates have slept on mattresses on the floors of some facilities. Currently, there are about 1,600 of the Department of Corrections 6,639 inmates being held in regional jails around the state, and one temporary solution has been the installation of additional bunks at the 10 regional jails. Other recommendations include accelerated parole for eligible inmates and efforts to enhance support to work release facilities and day report centers. Joe Thornton, secretary of military affairs and public safety, says adding on to any prisons or jails is "not on the table" at this point because of the state of the economy, and building another prison facility or jail was all but out of the question, citing a $200 million price tag.


Energy And Natural Resource Symposium

Energy industry leaders speaking in Cabell County Nov. 9 warned that the industry is under siege.

“The question,” said Hal Quinn, president and CEO of the National Mining Association, “is whether the cavalry will arrive in time before the settlers perish.”

Quinn was the keynote speaker at the 2010 Energy & Natural Resource Symposium, sponsored by the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce and Natural Resource Partners LP. He and the symposium’s other speakers painted a picture of an energy industry that’s under constant attack by politicians and bureaucrats as a result of the “energy illiteracy” that’s pervasive in Washington.

Citing the Republican Party’s gains in the Nov. 2 election, Quinn noted, “The House is under new management, and the Senate Democrats have a much narrower margin of control. That means we should now have the votes in place to stop some bad things from happening but, unfortunately, not enough in place to make good things happen.”
That, Quinn said, puts the emphasis squarely on the 2012 election.
“Right now it’s all about 2012,” he said.

More than 200 people — representing a cross-section of the region’s business community — attended the session at the Pullman Plaza Hotel, the latest in an annual series presented by the Huntington Chamber and Natural Resource Partners.
John Felmy, chief economist with the American Petroleum Institute, told the group that many of the energy policies embraced by the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress “are completely at variance with reality. They’re disingenuous, delusionary and downright dangerous.”

Asked about recent increases in gasoline prices, Felmy said questions about the price of gas are the most frequent queries he gets as he travels around the country. Gas prices currently are going up, he said, because the price of crude oil is going up. And that’s happening, he said, because the recession may have reduced demand in this country but world wide demand is nearing a record high. The growing Chinese middle class, he noted, is buying automobiles by the millions.

William L. Kovacs, vice president of environment, technology and regulatory affairs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted that “cap and trade legislation is off the table” but the energy industry is still wrestling with countless edicts from the Environmental Protection Agency, which is vastly exceeding its rule-making authority.
“Congress has lost control of the rule-making process,” Kovacs said.
Nick Carter, president and chief operating officer of Natural Resource Partners, labeled energy “the key issue of our day” and voiced his concerns about the restrictions being placed on coal by the EPA and others.
“When I go to work every day I feel like I’m going to war,” Carter said.
Carter noted the importance of coal to the West Virginia economy.
“The coal and electricity industries pay 60 percent of the business taxes collected in West Virginia,” he said.

Natural Resource Partners, which has its operating headquarters in Huntington, is the fifth largest owner of coal reserves in the United States. Five percent of the U.S. coal production comes from its properties.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


KY Senator Rallies For Support Of Health Care Lawsuit


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is rallying his colleagues to join him in filing friend-of-the-court briefs backing Florida's lawsuit against the federal health care law, saying the law's mandate for everyone to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. The law, the biggest change to the health care system since Medicare was created 45 years ago, will require most people to have coverage by 2014. For months McConnell, who has advocated an outright repeal, says he strongly supports the efforts of over 20 states that have challenged the law in the courts.


Former Miss Kentucky Latina Sentenced


Former and the first Miss Kentucky Latina, 22-year-old Daniela Gaskie, pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of fourth-degree assault and second-degree criminal mischief, after she had originally pleaded not guilty to assault charges. The beauty queen lost her crown after police arrested her, saying she kicked and punched a 59-year-old pharmacist in the parking lot of M&M Drugs, after she stabbed a Swifty Gas Station employee with a pen on September 29th. Gaskie was sentenced to 360 days in jail and 180 days of home incarceration. She also paid restitution for a damaged car from the pharmacy parking lot and medical bills for the victims.


Martin County Murder Case Heads To Grand Jury


The murder case of 38 year old Sherman Doug Perry of Martin County has been sent to the grand jury after Perry pleaded not guilty to murder, DUI, and other charges earlier this week. Police say Doug Perry crossed the center line on Highway 2032 and crashed head on into a pick-up truck, killing 40 year old Fred Marcum and severely injuring Robin Perry. Investigators say Perry told them he had prescriptions for Loracet, Xanax, and muscle relaxers and that he had taken Loracet and Xanax. When asked when the last time he smoked marijuana, he said the morning of the accident. Perry's bond was reduced to $250,000 cash.


Leslie County Couple Found Dead


Kentucky State Police say they they were called to the scene of what appears to be a murder-suicide at a home on Squirmy Trail Road in Leslie County. Police found 34 year old Kimberly Brock dead on the couch and her husband, 34 year old Keith Brock, in the bedroom, both with a gunshot wound to the head. The couple had been separated since May, but police say they were attempting to reconcile.


Hunger And Homelessness Awareness Week

First Lady Jane Beshear, joined by 2010 Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent, advocates for the homeless and other state officials, have announced November 14-20, 2010, as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in Kentucky. Mrs. Beshear also presented a proclamation signed by Governor Steve Beshear in honor of the week. Trent, whose platform is Homeless Prevention: A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out, has been actively involved with the Kentucky Interagency Council on Homelessness (KICH), the sponsor of the event. “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is a national campaign to promote efforts to end hunger and homelessness

Every year, the Kentucky Housing Corporation, the state housing finance agency, coordinates the Point-In-Time Count of homeless individuals across the Commonwealth. The 2010 Point-In-Time Count of the Homeless identified 6,623 homeless individuals in Kentucky. The count also found that more than 9,800 individuals, outside of Lexington and Louisville, were precariously housed, meaning they live in substandard housing, with friends or family, or were expecting eviction within seven days.


Greenup County Attempts Drug Crackdown


Greenup County has signed into law an ordinance aimed at cracking down on prescription drug abuse by making it unlawful to open a pain clinic, often referred to as a "pill mill," in the county. The law cites narcotic pain medicine as being the driving force behind an increase of violent crime, theft, bad checks and child abuse. Officials say they know it's not a cure-all to the drug problem, but they hope it will help. Also included in this law is a provision to make it illegal to open porn shops or strip clubs.


Franklin County Man Arrested For Possession Of Child Pornography

Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Thompson was arrested after Attorney General Jack Conway's Cybercrimes Unit investigated and discovered 80,000 images and video of child pornography on his computer. He is charged with 10 counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor and one count of distribution of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor. A search warrant was executed at Thompson's residence on October 22 in Frankfort. Thompson was arraigned in Franklin District Court on November 10th. His bond is set at $100,000 full cash.


Graphic Labels For Cigarettes

The federal government is unveiling a new plan to snuff out tobacco use, including new larger, graphic warning labels for cigarettes that include images of corpses, cancer patients, and diseased lungs and teeth. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced new efforts to reduce tobacco use, which is responsible for about 443,000 deaths per year. The plan is part of the law passed in June 2009 giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. The new labels will be finalized by June and cigarette makers have 15 months to comply.


KY Man Charged With Murder Of Indiana Teen


Police were searching an Indiana landfill for a missing 18-year-old college student from Indiana after charging a Kentucky man with murder in the disappearance. Louisville Metro Police say 40-year-old Gregory O'Bryan was arrested early Tuesday and charged with murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse in the death of Andrew Compton of Carmel, Ind. Compton was a culinary student at Sullivan University in Louisville who was last seen Oct. 28. Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley says police were searching a landfill in southern Indiana based on information developed during the investigation. Police say a search of Compton's computer found e-mails between him and O'Bryan. O'Bryan originally told detectives that he met Compton on Oct. 28, and the younger man left his apartment on foot after the two had sex. The arrest report says that O'Bryan later told officers Compton died during sex, and he disposed of the body.


KY National Guard Member Gets Purple Heart


A Kentucky National Guard member who was injured last month when his vehicle was attacked in Afghanistan has been awarded the Purple Heart. Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky's adjutant general, gave Staff Sgt. Chris Eden the medal at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Eden's back was broken when an improvised explosive device hit under his seat. The attack happened during his second deployment since the war on terror began. He also served a tour in Iraq. Eden is a Lexington police officer and is assigned to the Richmond-based 2123rd Transportation Company, which deployed to Afghanistan in February. As for his injury, Eden says he feels blessed because it could have been much worse.


Janitor Guilty Of Manslaughter...Not Murder


A jury in Lexington has convicted a former school janitor in the fatal shooting of another custodian, but found him guilty of a lesser charge. A Fayette Circuit Court jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours on Tuesday, then found Brian Allen McGuire guilty of first-degree manslaughter. McGuire had been charged with murder in the June 2009 killing of 38-year-old Jose Daniel Donato at Leestown Middle School. The jury also convicted the 28-year-old McGuire of unlawful possession of a weapon on school property. Jurors recommended a 20-year prison term when McGuire is sentenced on December 10th.


New Probation Officers

West Virginia's Northern Panhandle now has six new probation officers whose sole job is to supervise sex offenders.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis conducted a swearing-in ceremony for the specialized sex offender intensive supervision officers Tuesday.

The officers work in the region consisting of Brooke, Ohio, Hancock, Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, Pleasants, Ritchie, Doddridge, Wirt and Wood Counties.

The program is being expanded one region at a time as part of a requiring extended supervision for sexual offenders. A total of thirty officers eventually will be hired throughout the state to carry out provisions of the law.


Food Prices Rising In WV


Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation and more increases are expected in coming months, according to government reports and expert analysts.

The consumer price index for all items except food and energy rose just 0.8 percent from September 2009 to September 2010 - the lowest annual increase since 1961, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But food prices went up 1.4 percent during the period.
"Costs are being driven by growing demand for meat in China, India and other emerging markets," according to The Wall Street Journal. "That's driven up grain prices, which in turn boost the cost of chicken, steak, bread and pasta. Grain prices also have been nudged higher by drought in Russia, planting problems around the world and speculative trading."
The federal government publishes price indexes for the nation and some metropolitan markets, but not for Charleston. However, local price information is collected by Jeri Adkins, vice president of administration at the Charleston Area Alliance. Adkins collects prices three times a year for the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which is produced by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

The council was created in 1961 to promote excellence in community and economic research. It has published the ACCRA Cost of Living Index continuously since 1968.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index and the ACCRA Cost of Living Index are different. The price index measures inflation, which is the change in prices over time. The cost of living index measures differences in prices among areas at a single point in time. It provides no information about how rapidly prices are changing within an area.
But Adkins has that information in her files. She methodically collects price information on 26 specific grocery products. She looked at Charleston food prices from the third quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2010 and found that the largest increases were for:
An 11.5-ounce can of coffee, which went from $2.58 to $3.15, a 22 percent increase.
A dozen eggs, which went from 98 cents to $1.16, an 18.3 percent increase.
A half-gallon of whole milk, which went from $1.69 to $1.92, a 13.6 percent increase.
She also looked for any large decreases. She found that the price of whole fryers dropped from $1.01 to 90 cents per pound, a 10.8 percent decrease.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Food prices are rising faster than overall inflation and more increases are expected in coming months, according to government reports and expert analysts.
The consumer price index for all items except food and energy rose just 0.8 percent from September 2009 to September 2010 - the lowest annual increase since 1961, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But food prices went up 1.4 percent during the period.
"Costs are being driven by growing demand for meat in China, India and other emerging markets," according to The Wall Street Journal. "That's driven up grain prices, which in turn boost the cost of chicken, steak, bread and pasta. Grain prices also have been nudged higher by drought in Russia, planting problems around the world and speculative trading."
The federal government publishes price indexes for the nation and some metropolitan markets, but not for Charleston.
However, local price information is collected by Jeri Adkins, vice president of administration at the Charleston Area Alliance.
Adkins collects prices three times a year for the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which is produced by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The council was created in 1961 to promote excellence in community and economic research. It has published the ACCRA Cost of Living Index continuously since 1968.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index and the ACCRA Cost of Living Index are different. The price index measures inflation, which is the change in prices over time. The cost of living index measures differences in prices among areas at a single point in time. It provides no information about how rapidly prices are changing within an area.
But Adkins has that information in her files. She methodically collects price information on 26 specific grocery products. She looked at Charleston food prices from the third quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2010 and found that the largest increases were for:
An 11.5-ounce can of coffee, which went from $2.58 to $3.15, a 22 percent increase.
A dozen eggs, which went from 98 cents to $1.16, an 18.3 percent increase.
A half-gallon of whole milk, which went from $1.69 to $1.92, a 13.6 percent increase.
She also looked for any large decreases. She found that the price of whole fryers dropped from $1.01 to 90 cents per pound, a 10.8 percent decrease.
Adkins is required to price products at five stores. She typically checks prices at the Walmart at Southridge Centre, at Foodland either on Spring Street or in Kanawha City, and at three Kroger stores.
Adkins noted that the prices she reports can be greatly affected if an item is on sale the week she collects figures. Regarding the lower year-over-year price for whole fryers, "it could just be that chicken was on sale when I priced it this last time," she said.
Which brings up Adkins' top recommendation for saving money on groceries: "Watch the sales circulars and stock up, especially on the items you use."
Prices vary widely around the country. The ACCRA Cost of Living Index composite is 100. If your city's index is 100, your cost of living is exactly the average of the 314 urban areas that participate in the study.
Adkins said Charleston's third-quarter 2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index is 93.6, so living here costs 6.4 percent less than the national average. "The most expensive urban area is Manhattan, where the index is 207.9," she said. "The least expensive urban area is Harlingen, Texas, where the index is 79.9."
"Each time they send me a cost of living index they send along information about the most expensive and least expensive items found in the survey," Adkins said. "For eggs they report Kodiak, Alaska, is the most expensive, $2.99 a dozen. The least expensive is Buffalo, New York, at 79 cents a dozen."
Retailers and food producers are trying to figure out how to pass along higher costs, according to The Wall Street Journal. "Missteps could be costly when the economy remains weak," the newspaper noted.
When food price inflation hit 6.3 percent in October 2008 and producers passed on higher costs, shoppers switched to private-label products, the Journal said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that although inflation has been relatively weak for most of 2009 and 2010, "higher food commodity and energy prices are now exerting pressure on wholesale and retail food prices. Hence, food inflation is predicted to accelerate during the final months of 2010 and the first half of 2011, leading to a forecast of 2 to 3 percent food price inflation in 2011."
The ACCRA cost of living index for Charleston and other cities is available from the Charleston Area Alliance by contacting Adkins at 304-340-4253.


West Virginians Paying More At The Pump


Kanawha County residents may have been surprised to see a double-digit increase in the cost of gasoline at the pumps over the past week.

Gas prices in Charleston were between $3.05 and $3.09 on Tuesday, up from $2.85 a week ago.
Christina Rollyson, a district supervisor with the Charleston AAA office, said she was not surprised that gas prices have jumped this time of year. Numerous factors besides increased demand could cause prices to rise, she said, and officials with the West Virginia chapter of AAA are unsure if the trend will continue.

"We have no way of predicting if it will go back down soon," Rollyson said.
The West Virginia State Attorney General's office began keeping an eye on gas prices several years ago, and worries about price gouging were rampant when prices reached about $4 per gallon in 2004. But Assistant Attorney General Doug Davis does not believe price gouging is taking place at this time.

Rollyson said the price of gas has increased dramatically over the past few days because the value of the dollar has dropped. This is because the federal government has begun buying securities on the stock market in an effort to stimulate the economy, she said.
This has put more money into circulation, which in turn decreases the value of the dollar.
Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association agreed.
"The price of crude oil was running at $73 a barrel on Sept. 23," Vineyard said. "And on Friday it was about $86 a barrel."

The price of crude oil reached $87.49 on Sunday night, according to information provided by AAA. The price of crude oil is the No. 1 factor in determining gasoline prices at the pump, Vineyard said.

"This isn't an issue with supply and demand, it's about a weak dollar," she said.
According to figures provided by the American Petroleum Institute, 69 percent of the price of gasoline at the pump is determined by the price of crude oil. Sixteen percent of the cost comes from expenses incurred by refining and retailing the crude oil into gasoline and 15 percent goes toward taxes.

Regardless of the reasons, West Virginia residents are paying a higher price at the pump than the average American.


WV Highway Fatility Near Cottle

A Nicholas County man was killed in a head-on collision on W.Va. 20 near Cottle. According to the Nicholas County Sheriff's Department, 57 year old Larry Michael Bailey of Craigsville was driving south on W.Va. 20 when Susan L. Culp lost control of her northbound pickup truck, crossed the centerline, and struck Bailey's car. Culp was taken to Summersville Regional Medical Center. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.


Caperton Taking Massey Back To Court


Hugh Caperton and his companies, Harman Development Corp., Harman Mining Corp. and Sovereign Coal Sales, filed action this week in Buchanan County, Virginia against A.T. Massey Coal Co., now known as Massey Energy. In August 2002, a Boone County jury awarded Caperton and his companies $50 million in a case that alleged Massey’s “interference with contractual relations, fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.” The Boone County verdict was worth about $85 million, with interest, when the West Virginia Supreme Court dismissed it for the third time in November 2009. The lawsuit seeks $56.4 million in damages, including $11.5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages for Caperton, along with $33 million in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages for the three coal companies. Shane Harvey, Massey Energy vice president and general counsel, says Caperton’s claims have been rejected by the West Virginia court system multiple times, and Massey hopes his attorneys have not decided to waste more resources by seeking to bring a meritless case back to the Virginia court system.


Trial Continues In Murder Of Former WV Player

As the murder trial of Jocelyn Branham Earnest, former West Virginia Mountaineers basketball player from 1989 to 1992, continues in Virginia, the judge ruled Wednesday the jury can see pictures of some of the pages of her handwritten journals while prosecution witnesses testify about some of the entries. Prosecutors say former school administrator Wesley Earnest allegedly shot to death his estranged wife three years ago and then tried to make it look like a suicide. Wesley Earnest was convicted earlier this year, but jurors who discussed information from the journals, which were not part of the evidence, forced the judge to throw out the conviction. In journal entries, Jocelyn Earnest described Wesley Earnest as her "cheating husband" and wrote he would be guilty if she were ever found dead.


Trial Set In Charleston Murder


A March 7, 2011 trial has been set for Charles Poore who pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of first-degree murder, malicious assault and attempted murder. Investigators say Poore fatally shot Robert Veltri and injured his brother, Antonio Veltri while at a house along Lovell Drive in Charleston in June.


Man Sentenced For DUI Causing Injury

Donny Workman was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to DUI causing injury. Police say he hit Jennifer Rollins as she walking with friends along Grandview Ridge in Red House in June.


Dunbar City Worker Suspended

Kimberly Bailey, a Dunbar city worker has been suspended without pay after allegedly driving a senior citizen bus while drinking.


Man Charged With Mother's Murder


Walter C. Hudnall, 66, of Belle, has been charged with murder by starvation after West Virginia State Police say he starved his mother to death. Hudnall's mother, 86 year old Helen Louise Hudnall, died on March 7, 2009 after being taken to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital on February 14, 2009 by workers with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, who found her lying in her own urine and feces. She had multiple wounds to the upper and lower parts of her body, a hip and shoulder fracture, was very dehydrated, was suffering from a urinary tract infection and had a weak pulse. Hudnall was admitted to the hospital with Stage IV bleeding bed sores embedded with live maggots. Doctors determined the woman was very emaciated, a condition which occurs when the human body loses substantial amounts of fat and muscle tissue needed to sustain life. The cause of emaciation is a lack of nutrients due to starvation. Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants says William Hudnall was the primary caregiver when his mother died, and there's not doubt in his mind that the death was intentional.


Mason County Commission Rescinds Support Of Toll Road

During a special meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Mason County commission voted 2 to 1 to rescind their support of the Route 35 toll road plan, saying they didn't have all the information when they voted to support it last month. Officials with the state Department of Transportation say, regardless of the commission's decision, they feel it's the right and safe thing to do, and they plan to move forward with the upgrade of U.S. Route 35.


University Of Virginia Health System Makes Change For WV

According to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital CEO Rocco Massey, The University of Virginia Health System has announced that, after December 1st, West Virginians on Medicaid won't be reimbursed if they use the facilities in Charlottesville. Massey says UVA can no longer afford to provide services at the rate paid by the state, which is 66 cents on the dollar. Massey suggests that some of the state's surplus in the rainy day fund could be used to increase the rate at which Medicaid pays for health care.


Boone County Couple Remains Jailed


Charles and Sharon Aliff of Seth, Boone County, remain jailed on $100,000 bail each after State Police charged them with child neglect causing injury. Investigators say they went to the Aliff home on November 3rd and found a filthy house with no food, no running water and heat being provided by an electric heater. Troopers say the couple's children, ages 1 year and four-months, were both very sick. The youngest child had to have emergency surgery. The children are now in the custody of state Child Protective Services. Preliminary hearings will be scheduled.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


WVU Has New Policy For Doctors


West Virginia University has adopted a new policy limiting its doctors' dealings with pharmaceutical and medical-supply companies, and Marshall University says it will follow suit Jan. 1.

Medical schools nationwide are re-examining their policies to avoid conflicts of interest, said Dr. Alvin Moss of the WVU Center for Health and Ethics Law. Research has shown that doctors are influenced by freebies, and that can lead to bias when prescribing drugs.

A national survey published Monday suggests doctors across the U.S. have begun to cut financial ties to drug companies because of increased scrutiny from the media, legislators and medical schools. WVU now prohibits all gifts, down to meals, pens and notepads.

Marshall will also ban gifts under its new policy, Dr. Joe Werthammer told West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Freebies may not violate laws or professional standards, he said, but they don't improve patient care, either.

Marshall will also limit doctors' freedom to give speeches on behalf of drug companies.


Lawsuit Claims Flooding Caused By Work On King Coal Highway

Attorneys filed this week a lawsuit on behalf of 29 people claiming that recent flooding was caused by mining and construction of the King Coal Highway. According to papers filed in Mingo County Circuit Court, the mining companies involved are Alpha Natural Resources, Cobra Natural Resources, White Flame Energy and Nicewonder Contracting.

Attorney Kevin Thompson filed a suit on behalf of 19 plaintiffs, listing 29 complaints. Thompson said, in the complaint, that he is aware of at least 20 other claimants on the Mate Creek side of the mining operation who will file action in the near future. He added that, based on his experience, he expects dozens of other cases will be filed before the statute of limitations on the action runs out in May 2011.

The suit charges the companies have committed negligence; trespass and property damage, among other charges, and seeks punitive damages as well as a halt to mining operations. Thompson said flooding which occurred earlier this year were the result of the companies’ neglect


Couple Arrested On Robbery Charges


A husband and wife are now facing charges in a robbery at a video lottery parlor in Kanawha County.

The alleged crime happened around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday at Romeo's Cafe along MacCorkle Avenue in Marmet.

According to the criminal complaint, Jason Daniel Payne, 28, of Marmet, walked in Romeo's Cafe and asked the clerk for two hot dogs. When the clerk went to the kitchen, Payne walked behind the counter and grabbed two cash boxes and ran out, according to deputies.

Then, Payne jumped into a car and headed north on Route 61 towards Kanawha City.
Meanwhile, deputies found Payne's wallet at the scene along with his West Virginia Driver's License and the clerk identified him as the alleged robber, deputies say.

Charleston Police later spotted the suspect's vehicle getting on the West Virginia Turnpike in Kanawha County. The officer later stopped the vehicle at Church and Harvard Streets in Rand.
According to the criminal complaint, Payne's wife Amanda K. LaClair-Payne, 21, of Toledo, was driving the getaway car. She later admitted to investigators her husband did take the two cash boxes from Romeo's Cafe, deputies say. One of the cash boxes was found along Route 61, just west of Marmet city limits.


Videographers Get Miner Certification


Ten videographers with Spike TV have been certified as apprentice coal miners, ready to head underground and start filming a southern West Virginia reality show with the blessing of state officials who initially worried about their safety.
Nine men and one woman completed the same 80-hour training course required of all new miners in West Virginia, and all passed their certification tests Monday afternoon in Welch, said Bill Tucker, inspector-at-large for the state Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training.
"They're not going to be doing any work,'' Tucker said, "but by state law, they actually could work.''

Spike will be shooting "Coal'' at Cobalt Coal's Westchester mine in McDowell County, deep in the southern coalfields. Ten one-hour episodes are expected to air next spring.
Only two crew members will be underground at any one time, and, by law, they will always be in the company of experienced miners. The two-person limit is partly for safety and to limit exhaustion from crawling around in cramped confines with heavy equipment, said Debra Fazio, spokeswoman for Spike TV.
Canadian-owned Cobalt is mining a highly valuable coal used in steelmaking, but the Sewell seam is notoriously thin, forcing miners to work in a space just 42 inches high some 600 feet underground.
Fazio said there won't be time for reshoots, and the camera crew doesn't want to get in the way.
"We're not there to disrupt what these guys are doing. Their job is to get this coal out every day. Their business is still going on,'' she said. "We're there to observe what's going on.''
When the show was announced in October, state and federal mine safety officials expressed concerns that filming underground could lead to an accident in a state that has had too many. The last disaster, an April explosion that killed 29 men at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine, is still under investigation.
But Tucker said he and assistant inspector-at-large Greg Norman were relieved that the Westchester mine does not vent highly explosive methane gas, one of the suspected causes of the April blast.
"If it was a gassy mine,'' Tucker said, "you'd take a harder look at this.''


West Virginians And Food Stamps

One in five West Virginians is receiving food stamps to help them put meals on their tables.
In August, the number of people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program help surpassed 345,000 -- or roughly 19 percent of the state's 1.8 million residents.

Part of the increase can be attributed to 2008 changes in the federal program that loosened restrictions on real estate and personal property assets.

Even without the changes, enrollment in the program had been increasing in West Virginia. Between federal fiscal years 2005 and 2008, the number of West Virginians receiving benefits went from 262,442 to 276,800.

But House of Delegates Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue said recent numbers probably reflect the economic downturn, rather than changes in eligibility.
The Wayne County Democrat said unemployment probably had more to do with increased participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's program.

In August, unemployment in West Virginia was 8.8 percent. When the program changes were made, unemployment was below 4.5 percent.

The SNAP program provides monthly benefits to eligible individuals and households to buy food. Eligibility is based on household size, income, assets and some household expenses. Nationwide, about 42 million people receive benefits.

The average monthly benefit per person in West Virginia is $111.25, compared to $133.90 nationally.

Since the program is administered by the federal government, Perdue said the state does not have a say in eligibility requirements.


West Virginia Health Care Authority


The West Virginia Health Care Authority is getting a new leader.

Chairwoman Sonia Chambers told her staff Monday that Gov. Joe Manchin plans to replace her with Jim Pitrolo, his policy chief, before he leaves office.
Pitrolo will replace Chambers in the $80,000-a-year job, and she will stay on as a board member.

Chambers has chaired the board since 2001, when she was appointed to the position by then-Gov. Bob Wise.

The heads of both the House and Senate Health and Human Resources committees said they were surprised by the move to replace Chambers.Pitrolo was a Mannington car dealer for 34 years before he became Manchin's policy chief in 2005. He says his work experience will help him in the new position.


Massey Increases Credit Line to $200-M


Coal mine operator Massey Energy Co. says it has increased the size of an asset-based credit line to as much as $200 million.

Massey says the limit of the deal announced Monday depends on factors including accounts receivable. The company says it's also allowed to increase the credit line to $250 million, based on certain conditions, and the line's maturity has been extended to May 2015.

Massey says the credit line used to be limited to $175 million. Currently, the company says it has issued $76.4 million in letters of credit using the line, but has not borrowed any money from it.
Richmond-based Massey operates mines in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.


No Fault In Audit Of Jewish Hospital Protocol


A complaint filed against University of Louisville and Jewish Hospitals has been dismissed.
The Food and Drug Administration found no wrong doing by doctors conducting a clinical study.
The FDA was conducting an audit on the heartware bridge to transplant study.

The audit completed on Nov. 8 found no fault with protocol and the initial complaint has been discharged.


Campground Improvements For Workers

Improvements have been made at a central Kentucky campground to help out people who camp there while working at's distribution center during the holidays.

The campground at Green River Lake State Park usually closes at the end of October, but the Kentucky Department of Parks was asked to keep the campground open during November and December. Improvements were also made, including adding frost-free water hydrants and wireless Internet.

The distribution center is Taylor County's largest employer. employs 1,200 full-time workers there and adds another 3,000 temporary workers during the peak holiday season. The Parks Department says more than 500 of the temporary workers camp in the area.
Local and state officials took part in a ceremony Friday to celebrate the improvements.


Attempted Murder Trial Begins


Jury selection took place for an Appalachian woman accused of attempting to kill her grandfather.

Brittany Miller, accused of poisoned her grandfather, Leonard Walls, with antifreeze will face the jury selected in Casey county.

According to reports, Miller was hoping to gain an inheritance in the result of Walls' death.
Doctors found the poison in Walls' system when he became ill in February of 2008.

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