Saturday, December 11, 2010


Hartline Suspended From Playing In Compass Bowl

University of Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline has suspended from play in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Pittsburgh on January 8th, which would have been the final game of his career. Sophomore Morgan Newton will take his place as the team's starting quarterback, and freshman Ryan Mossakowski may also see action under center. Coach Joker Phillips says he regrets this happened because of what he's done for the program, while leading the team to its fifth straight bowl, and he's done a great job, but expectations are clear for how players are expected to act. Therefore,  Hartline is suspended for the game.


Williams Announces GOP Agenda

Senate President David Williams, of Burkesville, announced Friday afternoon that Senate Republicans will push bills next year to initiate changes to the Kentucky tax code and to tighten immigration enforcement. Williams says GOP senators want legislation calling for the appointment of a commission to recommend changes to Kentucky’s tax code to make the state more attractive to employers. The legislation would require the commission to make its recommendations in time for legislative action in 2012. Williams said the GOP’s immigration bill would be similar to one passed in Arizona that requires police to determine the immigration status of people they detain.


Kentucky Governor Displaying Nativity Scene In Governor's Mansion

As the Christmas holiday approaches,  Governor Steve Beshear is displaying a Nativity scene in the governor's mansion. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sent creches to governors of all 50 states last month. Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson says it is in the mansion's sunroom, which is part of the public tour. Boone County attorney Edwin F. Kagin, who is national legal director for American Atheists, said the governor "probably handled the creche in a legal manner" since the mansion is his private home.


Motorcycle Club Member Sentenced

Thomas E. Geer, 58, a member of the Last Rebels Motorcycle Club was sentenced Friday to time served for his role in a plan to use a guitar case to smuggle guns and axe handles into a David Allan Coe concert at the Monkey Barrel in Huntington in 2006. Geer pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering. The Last Rebels, a smaller club affiliated with the Pagans Motorcycle Club, wanted to use the weapons to confront members of a rival gang who were rumored to be planning on going to the concert. Geer was sentenced to eight months he has already spent in custody and placed on six months of supervised release.


State Representative To File Bill To Create Adult Abuse Registry

In Kentucky, employers can check a state registry to see whether social workers have found that a specific job applicant has abused or neglected children, but the state has no such list of people who social workers have found abused or neglected adults. State Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, says she will try to fix in a bill to be pre-filed next week for the 2011 General Assembly to address the deficiency. Governor Steve Beshear recently called for an adult abuse registry to protect vulnerable elderly or developmentally disabled adults. Palumbo said the legislation she plans to file would require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create a registry listing each person against whom a charge of abuse, neglect or exploitation of an adult has been substantiated by the cabinet. A person would not be placed on the list unless all administrative appeals had been completed and the finding had been upheld. Facilities or programs licensed or certified by the cabinet could not hire or use volunteer services from anyone on the registry. Similar legislation sponsored by Palumbo did not pass in the 2010 General Assembly.


Fayette County Doctor Arrested

Angela Lynn Basham-Calloway, 41, a Fayette County doctor in Oak Hill, has been arrested after allegedly providing a confidential informant with prescriptions for Roxicodone, a generic version of Oxycodone, and Adderall, which is commonly prescribed for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, in exchange for $800 and some of the drugs. West Virginia State Police in Beckley say they were told that Calloway had been issuing prescriptions in the names of Jack Guy and Danny Clark, who were in on the scheme, but were not Calloway's patients. Additional investigation by the State Police indicates that Calloway has issued fraudulent prescriptions for Adderall in the names of employees in her medicinal practice and their family members, including minor children.


West Virginia Energy Summit

One topic of major discussion at this week’s West Virginia Energy Summit was carbon capture and sequestration technology. The state is looking into how this may play a part in the state’s energy future.
Carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, is a process of taking carbon dioxide at sources like power plants and storing it underground. This keeps some CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere.

This technology is being discussed as a way to make coal more “clean.” Stephanie Timmermeyer, chair of the group studying its possibilities, says it’s not just a coal-aimed technology, but any type of large facility that emits carbon dioxide could potentially use this technology, not just the electricity generating plants.

The working group is putting a report together on CCS for the State Legislature. It’s due next summer. Timmermeyer says some of the most important issues have to do with legal issues like landowner rights,  trying to figure out how you’re able to maximize using carbon capture, sequestration within our current regulations and trying to decide whether we need new regulations, and what those might be.

Since last year, American Electric Power has been using CCS at its Mountaineer Plant in Mason County.
It captures about 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year and stores it underground in injection wells. Gary Spitznogle, AEP’s director of new technology development and policy support, AEP understands there’s probably going to be required reductions in CO2, whether it’s from the EPA or legislation, the company anticipats having to comply with something.


WVU Hazing Incident

A West Virginia University fraternity has been placed on three years probation for hazing.

WVU Vice President of Student Affairs Ken Gray said Friday that current and new members of Phi Sigma Kappa will be required to complete alcohol education classes, improve the chapter's academic standing and develop leadership training.

University police observed 10 men being blindfolded, covered with food and lined up against a wall at the fraternity house on Nov. 15. A WVU student charged in the hazing has resigned his post with the Student Government Association.


"Weather Is Comin...'"

A winter storm warning has been issued for West Virginia, starting Sunday and through Tuesday. The National Weather Service is predicting 6 to 8 inches of snow in lower elevations and a foot or more in higher elevations. Rain is expected to change to snow on Sunday afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall Sunday night and Monday. Wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph are expected. And wind chill readings will fall below zero Sunday night and Monday night.


Deer Hunting Stats For WV

West Virginia deer hunters killed 31 percent fewer bucks during the two-week gun season that ended Dec. 4 than they did last year, the Divisions of Natural Resources said Friday.

Preliminary data from game checking stations across the state indicate 43,226 bucks were killed during firearms season, down from 62,986 last year, said DNR Director Frank Jezioro. Preston County had the most bucks bagged at 2,030, followed by Randolph with 1,817 and Hardy with 1,350.

Declines occurred all over the state, Jezioro said, with the largest drops in the western and central counties.
Below-average production of acorns in 2008 and 2009, combined with an unusually harsh winter last year, had a significant affect on the deer population and the 2010 results.

Jezioro said too many deer in any one place will result in loss of body weight, reproduction loss and sometimes death due to starvation. Over time, overpopulation shrinks the size of the herd, reducing its ability to withstand a poor food supply and harsh winter weather. There is good news for deer this year, though: Their food supply has been abundant, and Jezorio said they're in good physical condition heading into winter.
DNR biologists will analyze data from all the 2010 deer seasons, including bow and muzzleloader hunts, before making any recommendations about regulations for next year. Those recommendations will be available for public review at 12 meetings scheduled for March 14-15, 2011.


South Charleston Football Team Honored In Parade

Even though South Charleston was eliminated from this weekend's class AAA state championship game after four players who played in a win over Brooke in the state semifinal round were ruled ineligible, the South Charleston High School football team received recognition. The football players were the parade marshals during Saturday afternoon's South Charleston Christmas Parade. After the parade, each player was presented with a certificate honoring his season. That was followed by a bon fire at Oakes Field.


Two Arrested On Drug Charges

Edward Frazier and Jonathan Spencer were arrested Thursday night near Ripley and charged with 10 counts of possession, the intent to deliver and conspiracy. A Sheriff's Department spokesman said the department had been working with the West Virginia State Police to stop the men who said the pills had come from a Florida doctor's office. The Sheriff's Department made a call to the Putnam County, Fla. Sheriff's Department, which led to the arrest of Frazier's wife Joyce, who was charged there with doctor shopping.
The Sheriff's department spokesman said Frazier and Spencer were both from the Ripley area and had moved to Florida, but one maintained a residence in Jackson County. He said the men had been taking prescription pills back and forth from one state to the other.


WV Ranked 43 In Overall Health

America's Health Rankings released its annual assessment of the nation's health.
West Virginia is currently ranked at 43.  The state made some positive gains in key areas, but is still lagging behind when it comes to longevity and overall health.
"The root of a lot of our health problems that we are doing so poorly with is life style modification like diet and exercise. That's one of our biggest challenges is trying to change the way that we live," said Jason Misenhelder, a hospitalist at Fairmont General Hospital.  One challenge the state still faces is the high prevalence of smoking.  More than 25 percent of West Virginian's smoke, which is eight percent above the national average.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Idaho Man Killed While Attempting To Cross Pike County Road

Detectives with the Kentucky State Police Pikeville Post 9 are investigating a deadly accident in which an Idaho man was killed while attempting to cross U.S. 23 in Coal Run. KSP say Lance Wortley, 54, of Kuna, Idaho, was attempting to cross the highway on foot when he was hit by a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer. After being hit, Wortley was laying in the middle of the highway and was hit by another vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The drivers of the vehicles did not receive any injuries, and no criminal charges are expected to be filed.


Kentucky Authorities End Search For Virginia Girl


Kentucky authorities ended their search for a missing Virginia girl Friday afternoon after Police in San Francisco, California found 12 year old Brittany Mae Smith of Roanoke unharmed. Smith had been missing
for one week, and her mother, Tina Smith, was found dead on Monday. Police arrested Jeffrey Scott Easley, Tina Smith's live-in boyfriend.


Helicopter Hits Letcher County Power Line

Police say a helicopter piloted by Tim Kearns was flying in Isom in Letcher County Friday with Mike Lasslo from Kentucky Power and Ed Toppings from United Coal, who were examining power lines, when they hit a line, causing the helicopter to land nto the roadway. A coal truck driven by Joey Ramsey hit the low lying line. Kearns was taken to the hospital for minor injuries and was released.


Breathitt County Man Charged With Murder

A Breathitt County man has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend's 20-month old daughter. Jeffrey Noble was in court Friday after police say he murdered Destiny Tincher in May. Judge Frank Fletcher scheduled a January pre-trial hearing after the Commonwealth's Attorney said their office needed more time to process evidence in the case. Noble's attorney requested a bond reduction, but the request was denied.


Personnel Board Exempts Political Appointees From Cuts

At the request of Governor Steve Beshear, the Kentucky Personnel Board on Friday voted to exempt 82 political appointments from a budget-cutting law that would have abolished them December 31st, saving  the state more than $5.2 million. The 82 appointed positions, with titles such as "policy adviser" and "special assistant," are in mid-level management across state government, with an average salary of $74,457.


Former Kentucky Mine Safety Analyst Pleads Guilty

Former Kentucky mine safety analyst Betty Whitaker of Bulan pleaded guilty Friday in Franklin Circuit Court to 28 counts of tampering with official records during her employment with the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing. Whitaker admitted that, between October 2007 and December 2008, she falsified 28 reports for 12 different mines, claiming she made observations and had spoken with miners.
Attorney General Jack Conway said her actions could have led to unsafe conditions and jeopardized workers. Whitaker faces one to five years in prison.


Paul Determined To Balance Budget

Newly elected Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who is bent on presenting a balanced budget proposal,
says he will draw on the work of other fiscal conservatives to swifty draft legislation once he’s sworn in on January 5th. Balancing the budget was one of the promises Paul made during a hard-fought political campaign in which he targeted voter outrage over the deficit. A Paul spokeswoman said Paul has looked particularly at proposals from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, both of which are conservative public policy organizations.


U.K. Quarterback Mike Hartline Pleads Not Guilty

University of Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline has pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and alcohol intoxication after being arrested early Friday morning. Hartline and Ashley Carnes were arrested outside of a residence following an argument with Samatha Sheeran, who told police she was assaulted by both Hartline and Carnes. Twenty year old Carnes, who also pleaded not guilty, was charged with disorderly conduct, alcohol intoxication and using or attempting to use false identification to obtain alcohol. A pretrial court date has been set for January 24th.


Fleming-Neon Declares State Of Emergency

Local officials in Fleming-Neon in Letcher County declared a state of emergency Friday because of a water shortage at a city plant. City water comes from two underground mine works, and because of drought in the summer and fall, the two reserves are too low to supply the 1,150 meters on its system. State Division of Water officials were in Fleming-Neon to evaluate the situation.


Department of Highways Preparing For Winter Storm

Kentucky Department of Highways crews are once again preparing to battle ice and snow as winter weather is in the forecast for Sunday through Tuesday of next week. Crews are mobilizing ahead of the approaching storms, pre-treating roadways when possible and making sure snow plows and other equipment are working properly. Once snow hits, crews work 12-hour shifts plowing roads and applying snow-melting chemicals.


McConnell Names New Chief Of Staff

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has appointed a new chief of staff.

The Kentucky lawmaker said Thursday that Josh Holmes will advance to the Washington, D.C., post, replacing Billy Piper who recently announced he will return to private work.

Holmes has worked for McConnell since 2007 and is currently staff director of McConnell's Senate Republican Communication Center in Washington, D.C.

Before joining McConnell's office in 2007, Holmes was deputy national press secretary for the Republican National Committee.


KY Inmate Tries To Stab Himself

An inmate in western Kentucky is recuperating after trying to stab himself in the neck during a courthouse appearance.

Inmate Anthony Fairfield suffered only scratches and bruising because of the quick actions of Deputy Sheriff James Beyer, who was acting as a bailiff on Thursday in McCracken Circuit Court.

Fairfield asked to borrow the pen to sign legal paperwork, but then used it to jab at his throat.

Beyer approached Fairfield, placed one hand against his neck to block it from future jabs and grabbed his wrist with his other hand. The two men struggled, but Beyer was able to force the pen out of the inmate's hand.

Circuit Judge Tim Kaltenbach says that from now on any legal papers that need to be signed will be taken care of at the bench.


Grants For 13 Projects In Kentucky

Gov. Steve Beshear says 13 projects have been selected to share a total of $90,000 in grants from the Kentucky Heritage Council.

The federal survey and planning grants were reviewed using priorities established by the National Park Service and the heritage council. Thirty-one applications were received requesting a total of $252,000.


Investigation Of House Fire In Ludlow

 Officials are investigating the cause of a house fire that killed a northern Kentucky grandmother and two 4-year-old girls.

Firefighters were called to the home in Ludlow around 11 p.m. Thursday, where a family of seven were in the house when the fire started.

Nancy Carol Spencer, along with twins Mackenzie and Madison Spencer, were found dead on the first floor. The girls' father, Dustin Spencer, and another child were rescued by fire crews and taken to the hospital for treatment of burns.

Dustin Spencer said he was upstairs when the fire started and was unable to make it downstair due to the smoke. He said he was able to escape by kicking out a window and escaping down a ladder.


Blankenship Refusing To Testify

The Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training got a letter from Massey Energy's CEO Don Blankenship's attorney, William Taylor, on Friday, informing the state that Blankenship won't appear Tuesday to discuss the April 5th explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 men and injured two others. Taylor says Blankenship is refusing to testify as planned, exercising his 5th Amendment rights. Other Massey employees have also refused to speak to investigators.


Treasurer Of Bullitt County Fire Department Arrested

A former treasurer for a Bullitt County fire department has been arrested on charges that he stole money from the department.

According to investigators from the sheriff's department, 57-year-old James Johnson is believed to have taken $100,000 from the Nichols Volunteer Fire Department to pay off his credit card and gambling at casinos in three states.

Johnson was arrested Thursday afternoon but declined to comment.

Scotty McGaha, a captain with the sheriff's department, said Johnson confessed to taking the money and said it wasn't that difficult.


Logan County Man Charged With Child's Murder

The Logan County Sheriff's Department arrested 24 year old Jonathan Lee Hager of Lyburn Friday for first-degree murder and death of a child by parent, guardian or custodian after his 3 year old stepson died in the Logan Regional Medical Center on December 3rd. Officers, who noticed a knot on the child's forehead and bruises on his chest, were told the child had been jumping on a bed, fell and struck a coffee table and then stopped breathing. Police ruled the child's death a homicide after an autopsy determined the child's cause of death to be from asphyxiation and not blunt force trauma, which is not consistent with falling on a coffee table. Hager later told officers he attempted to physically discipline child, who was jumping on the bed, but he resisted, causing both to fall to the floor, with Hager's knee landing on the child's chest between 30 seconds and one minute. The West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner said a knee across the child's chest would be consistent with the cause of asphyxiation but Hager's knee had to have been across the child's chest for longer than one minute.


Summersville Men Charged With Murder

Franklin Overbaugh, 41, and James Oliver Walker, 38, both of Summersville, were arrested Thursday after Nicholas County Deputies say he shot and killed 28 year old  Brian Rebel Darby, also of Summersville, with a 12-gauge shotgun. Deputies say Walker lured Darby to his home in Summersville where Overbaugh was waiting to shoot him. Darby was shot in the lower torso.


Charleston Woman Charged With Embezzlement

Mary McKinney, 46, of Charleston has been charged with embezzlement. Police say McKinney stole nearly $50,000 from the Arc of Three Rivers, a non-profit organization which manages money for people with mental disabilities and behavioral disorders. Police say McKinney began embezzling the money in 2007 while she was responsible for managing the accounts for more than 200 people. According to a criminal complaint, McKinney wrote her personal account numbers for various companies along with her initials "MM" next to the account number and paid her personal bills then hid the multiple checks by spreading them throughout various clients. Arc receives money from various state and federal government agencies for each client then manages the money for their clients in one mass account.


Tomblin Names New Staff

Friday, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin named Deborah Linz of WCHS-TV as his press secretary. Hallie Schenker Mason, a lobbyist and former legislative analyst, will be Tomblin’s public policy director. Jennifer Ferrell will serve as director of constituent services and Sherrie Stone will act as Tomblin’s executive scheduler. Both are veterans of the governor’s office. Becky Neal, a lobbyist who previously worked in Tomblin’s Senate office, will be Tomblin’s director of intergovernmental affairs.


Purse Snatching Suspects Arrested

Merlin Scott Moss and Timothy Shaffer have been arrested and charged in connection to recent purse snatchings at the Ramada Inn in South Charleston and WalMart. Police learned that Moss drove Shaffer to all of the locations that the robberies occurred. Shaffer is charged with two counts of strong armed robbery and battery. Moss is charged with robbery, receiving and transferring stolen goods and fleeing from an officer.


Harrison County Man...Third Fatality Of 2010 Hunting Season

Natural Resources Police say 70 year old Ronald Tate of Salem in Harrison County was discovered dead in the woods he hunted in Lewis County late Thursday afternoon, making him the third fatality of the 2010 hunting season in West Virginia. Investigators say it appears Tate died of injuries suffered in a fall from his tree stand. Investigators say Tate was not wearing a safety harness at the time he fell. His hunting rifle was still on his four-wheeler at the base of the tree. Of the three fatal accidents during the 2010 season, two have involved falls from tree stands. 


Cabell County Sheriff's Department Warning Of Scam

The Cabell County Sheriff's Department is warning of a scam that could be coming from Jamaica. The caller is telling area residents they have won a $1.5 million cash prize, but in order to claim the prize, victims are being told to go to the nearest Western Union to wire several hundred dollars back to Jamaica, and that once the transfer from Western Union arrives, a check will be delivered to them. Anyone who receives this type of call should immediately notify authorities.


Investment Management Board Officials Getting Raises

Three top officials at the state Investment Management Board are getting raises following a year of healthy returns for West Virginia's pension funds. Kristy Watson, the board's chief investment officer, will receive the highest raise, which amounts to $30,000 more a year. Watson, a former vice president for Morgan Stanley Asset Management in New York, will go from making about $128,000 a year to $160,000, a 25 percent increase. Executive Director Craig Slaughter and chief financial and operations officer Matthew E. Jones are also getting raises. Slaughter's salary will increase from about $152,000 to $162,000. Jones will go from making about $140,000 to $150,000.


Wyoming County Toy Fund Accepting Donations

The Wyoming County Toy Fund has raised about $18,000 in recent days in a goal to reach $30,000 to replenish gifts that were stolen or vandalized at a storage site earlier this year. About 3,000 children are expected to qualify for a December 19th distribution party that will be held at Wyoming East High School.

Donations can be made at any branch of First Peoples Bank, First Century Bank, or First Community Bank, or by mail to L. Dale Stewart, Treasurer; P.O. Box 268; Matheny, WV 24860, or call 304-294-8055.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Black Bear Hunting Season Set

The return of a hunting season for black bears in Kentucky is just days away. Last year, an early season snowstorm limited the opportunity to bag a bruin for the 372 hunters who bought permits for Kentucky's first bear hunt in more than a century. In Harlan, Letcher and Pike counties, a hunter, with all the necessary permits, could take a bear, elk and deer all on the same day. These three Kentucky counties are open to bear hunting December 18-19th and are part of Kentucky's 16-county elk zone, where a seven-day cow elk quota hunt begins on December 18th. The third weekend in December is also the last weekend of Kentucky's nine-day late muzzleloader season for deer, and hunters in these three counties can take deer of either sex December 17-19th.


Bunning Bids Farewell To Congress

U.S. Senator Jim Bunning bid farewell to Congress Thursday with a retirement speech on the Senate floor that was both emotional and scolding. Among other things, he labeled Democrats “stubborn” for pushing through the health care overhaul and blamed the Federal Reserve for destroying the dollar and the economy. He thanked his wife, Mary, and their nine children for their support during more than 20 years in Congress. Bunning said his major league pitching career toughened him for when he had to take an unpopular political stand, saying he never really cared if he stood alone in Congress as long as he stood by his beliefs and values. Many Kentucky voters admired Bunning’s fiscal conservatism and often brash demeanor, but opponents bashed him when he single-handedly held up a $10 billion spending bill for jobless benefits. Bunning said he was proud of his role in legislation that removed earnings limits on Social Security recipients, overhauled the federal flood insurance program and gave compensation to sick nuclear workers at federal facilities.


Toler Creek Man Indicted

Fifty-three year old Stevie A. Akers of Toler Creek in Floyd County was indicted in U.S. District Court in Lexington earlier this month on a charge of distributing Oxycodone. The indictment against Akers states that an FBI interviewed three police detectives and a cooperating witness who gave a lengthy statement concerning their relationship with Akers. The source says they witnessed Akers conducting multiple drug transactions, including Oxycodone, marijuana and cocaine and that Akers was very open about his drug dealing activities. Another source told investigators that Akers had multiple individuals traveling to Florida to obtain prescription narcotics which were intended to be distributed.


Perry County Accident Kills ATV Rider

Kentucky State Police say, Wednesday evening, 37 year old Brian D. Watts of Bulan was killed when he drove his all-terrain vehicle underneath a coal truck that was stopped for maintenance beside state Rt. 80 in Perry County.


FBI Conducting Breathitt County Voter Fraud Investigation

Thursday morning, officials from the US Attorney's Office, Attorney General's Office and the FBI were at the Breathitt County Courthouse in Jackson to conduct a voter fraud investigation. They spoke with County Clerk Tony Watts who says he does not know why his office is being investigated. FBI spokesperson, David Beyer, says he cannot release any details, but he did confirm that the FBI is conducting a voter fraud investigation.


Ford Motor Co. Announces Plan For Louisville Plant

In an announcement at its Louisville Assembly Plant Thursday, Mark Fields, Ford Motor Co.'s president of the Americas, said the factory plans to hire 1,800 more employees, or nearly 5 percent of Ford's current U.S. work force, to build a new version of the Ford Escape small SUV. Ford will invest $600 million in a year-long renovation of the Louisville plant with the idea of shifting to smaller cars. The new Escape will be built on the Ford Focus car platform to boost fuel economy. The Louisville plant will reopen in late 2011, when it will be running on two shifts with 2,900 workers. Some of the 1,800 added workers will be new hires, but many will come from Ford plants where they have been laid off. The Louisville plant currently builds the Ford Explorer and employs 1,100 people on one shift. Over the next decade, Ford will get $240 million in tax incentives for the Louisville project from Kentucky and local governments.


Whooping Cough On The Increase In Kentucky

The state health department is recommending all Kentuckians get vaccinated against whooping cough.

The recommendation comes after the number of recorded cases of the bacterial infection has jumped from 47 in 2007 to 250 in 2010. Especially vulnerable are children younger than age 1.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is highly contagious and spreads through airborne particles from a cough or sneeze. People at highest risk of contracting whooping cough are close household members. Infected people become contagious before the cough develops until about two weeks afterward.

The early symptoms of pertussis include runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and a mild cough. After a week or two, a persistent cough develops, occurring in explosive bursts, sometimes ending with a high-pitched "whoop" and vomiting.


Governor Beshear Selected As Co-Chair of ARC

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has been selected to be the 2011 states' co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Beshear announced his selection Wednesday in Hazard and also said Ben Hale would be the ARC economic development coordinator for Kentucky's Appalachian region. Hale is a former Floyd County judge-executive and adviser for the Department of Environmental Protection. He spent five years as assistant director of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission and two years in former Gov. Paul Patton's administration working on issues concerning eastern and northeastern Kentucky counties.

Beshear, who succeeds Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as states' co-chairman, was elected by the 13 governors in the Appalachian region for a term that starts in January.


Turfway Park Renames Derby Prep Race

Turfway Park has not renewed its contract with Lane's End Farm in Lexington, and the northern Kentucky track's Kentucky Derby prep race will have a new name next spring.

The race will be known as the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes when it is contested for the 40th time on March 26. The Kentucky Enquirer reports Spiral Stakes is the race's original name and that it was begun as a race for horses "spiraling up" to the Derby.

The new sponsor will be Vinery, a thoroughbred firm with farms in Lexington, Florida and New York. Lane's End had sponsored the race since 2002.

The race was also downgraded from Grade II to Grade III status last week. The newspaper reports 24 races were downgraded or dropped altogether from graded status partly because fewer races are being run nationwide.


Louisville And UK Personalized Louisville Slugger Bats

Just in time for the holidays, Louisville Slugger has partnered with the Alumni Associations of the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville to offer one-of-a-kind personalized bats. Louisville
Slugger has pledged to donate a significant portion of the sale proceeds to the
Associations to use toward scholarships and other programs.

The first UK blue bat was made as a gift for the UK baseball coach. Shortly after that, Louisville Slugger made two more UK bats for an auction at the Jefferson  ounty Alumni Association’s football kickoff luncheon. The UK bats proved popular atthe auction, and the Alumni Association and Louisville Slugger realized they had a fundraising opportunity.

The bats are one-of-a-kind because they are the first of the Louisville Slugger licensed bats to be a signature color – the UK version is blue with white type and a white UK logo, and the U of L version is red with black type and a black logo.


Charity Group Gets Gift Of Hotel

 A former hotel in northeastern Kentucky is being turned over to a philanthropic group that supports Appalachian communities.

The Vanceburg City Council approved donating Carter House Hotel to the Center for Appalachian Philanthropy this week.

A representative of the center, Mandy Hart, said the building would be used as a bed and breakfast, a community-conference center and training space for entrepreneurial education.

Hart said the building would also be used as a heritage center for marketing locally made goods and products.


Kentucky Woman Sentenced In Husband's Death

An Horry County, South Carolina woman wth Kentucky ties has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiring with her lover to kill her husband.

Multiple media outlets report that 54-year-old Sherry Engel was sentenced in Conway, South Carolina Wednesday after pleading guilty to accessory before the fact of voluntary manslaughter.

In October, a jury found Timmy Rogers of Leitchfield, Ky., guilty of murder.

Prosecutors say 53-year-old Frederik Engel was strangled with a shoelace in 2008. Rogers was arrested with Sherry Engel in Kentucky two weeks after her husband was found dead after he went to check the mail.

Sherry Engel has testified that she had an affair with Rogers for nearly a year before her husband's death. She said Wednesday Rogers intimidated her into helping him kill her husband.


Toddler's Death Went Unreviewed

State social workers failed to perform a required internal review of the death of a 20-month old toddler who drank drain cleaner.

The boy was staying in a Wayne County trailer with his 14-year-old mother where methamphetamine was being produced when he was poisoned in May 2009.

State law requires officials to conduct a review in abuse or neglect cases that result in a child's death or near death. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the reviews help the cabinet identify areas that need improvement.

Kayden Branham and his mother had been monitored by social workers before his death.

A cabinet spokeswoman did not answer questions Wednesday about why the review was not done.


Federal Appeals Court Considering Mingo County Woman's Claim

Thursday, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia heard oral arguments from Jennifer Workman, a Mingo County woman who claims immunizing her daughter against childhood diseases would be a sacrilege. Last year, Workman's lawsuit seeking to force Lenore Pre-K to 8 School in Mingo County to admit her daughter without state-required vaccinations was thrown out. Workman's lawyer told the appeals court her client holds sincere religious beliefs against immunization, but
lawyers for the state and Mingo County school officials say West Virginia does not allow a religious exemption to immunization, and that protection of schoolchildren's health is a compelling state interest.


Aracoma Coal Company Supervisors Get Probation

Forty-seven year old Donald Hagy Junior from Gilbert, 38 year old Michael A. Plumley from Delbarton, 37 year old Terry Shadd of Chapmanville and 38 year old Edward Ellis, Junior from Justice were sentenced Thursday. They pleaded guilty in July to not conducting an evacuation escapeway drill at Massey Energy's Aracoma Coal's Alma No. 1 Mine in Logan County, months before a January 2006 fire that killed miners Don Bragg and Elvis Hatfield. Thursday afternoon in front of U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver, all four supervisors were sentenced to a one-year term of probation. Hagy, Ellis and Plumley were ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, while Shadd was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Officials say not reviewing escapeaway routine might have contribute to deaths of Bragg and Hatfield who died of suffocation after becoming separated from other miners.


Northern Panhandle Plant Explosion Kills Two

Just before 1:30 P.M. Thursday, an explosion rocked a small chemical plant in New Cumberland of Hancock County in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle, killing two workers at the plant and injuring a third worker. The plant, owned by AL Solutions Inc.,  formerly called Jamegy Inc., develops additives for the aluminum industry and employs about 25 people. The blast happened in the main production building.


Man Pleads Not Guilty To Murder Of Unborn Baby

Justin Tyler Lee, charged with murder of his girlfriend's unborn baby, was arraigned in Kanawha County Circuit Court Thursday where he pleaded not guilty to felony charges of malicious wounding and murder after being arrested arrested November 10th in Mingo County. Lee was charged with murder after he allegedly got into a fight with his pregnant girlfriend, Brittany Adkins in June, striking her in the stomach, causing the baby to die. Lee's trial is scheduled to begin April 4, 2011.


Charleston Board Rejects Application For Liquor Permit

Members of the Charleston Board of Zoning Appeal voted 3-1 Thursday morning to reject Willard Marshall Petty's application for a liquor permit to open the former Clo & Mahone's Lounge on Seventh Avenue. Former operators, Robert Mahone and Chlorine Carter, surrendered their liquor license in August 2004, days after Monty Henry, 21, and Brandon Edwards, 19, were gunned down in the club's parking lot. Police chief Brent Webster said the club had been a frequent source of trouble for police and neighbors, with fights that sometimes spilled out into the street, and Mayor Danny Jones and his administration are dead set against reopening the bar, saying they don't see how it serves any useful purpose for the neighborhood.


Knapp Named Kanawha County "Deputy Of The Year 2010"

During an awards ceremony in the W. Kent Carper Justice and Public Safety Complex's mock courtroom Thursday, Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford congratulated Deputy Michael K. Knapp for being named "Deputy of the Year 2010." Knapp, who has served more than four years with the sheriff's department, has worked on road patrol and is a methamphetamine lab technician. Six other deputies were nominated by their commander for outstanding police work and commitment to high professional standards in their division. Senior staff reviewed the nominations and the work each deputy had done throughout the year before voting on the "Deputy of the Year 2010."


Utility Workers Union Holds Informational Picket

Members of the Utility Workers Union of America who work for West Virginia American Water held a one hour informational picket at the plant in HuntingtonThursday morning to speak out against a proposed increase in health care benefits. Members of the Union say the company is raising their health care benefits at the same time they are requesting rate increases for customers. West Virginia American Water Company officials responded by saying it values all of its employee and negotiated in good faith with the Utility Workers' Union and all its unions regarding benefits related to health care, while meeting with them at least 15 times in 5 months. The company says it has provided a proposal that is fair to the bargaining units, customers and the company, and the benefit package provided to union employees is well aligned with the company's nonunion medical benefits plan while it remains highly competitive compared to other plans offered in the water industry.  American Water says, through no fault of its own or the Union, health care has become more expensive and the company must adjust its health and wellness offerings to workers, union and nonunion alike.


The Greenbrier Owner Buying National Coal Corp.

Knoxville, Tennessee-based National Coal Corp. says its $8.6 million takeover by West Virginia businessman Jim Justice is expected to close by next Wednesday, after hareholders approved the bid by Justice’s Ranger Energy Investments on December 2nd. Justice, who purchased The Greenbrier resort in 2009 for $20.1 million, sold part of his coal holdings to Russia’s OAO Mechel for $436 million in cash and has since sold a portion of his Mechel preferred stock for more than $250 million. Justice gained a national prominence when he bought The Greenbrier, which has hosted 26 U.S. presidents and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, among others.


WV BOE Chooses Temporary Superintendent

During a meeting in Charleston Thursday, the West Virginia Board of Education voted 5-3 to select former Grant County Superintendent John T. "Ted" Mattern as temporary superintendent of West Virginia schools. Mattern will replace outgoing Superintendent Steven Paine, who is set to retire January 3, 2011. The West Virginia Attorney General's Office says Mattern cannot be designated acting superintendent, but he will serve temporarily, while the state school board continues its nationwide search for Paine's permanent replacement. Prior to his work in Grant County, Mattern helped county school districts make improvements in Logan County, Preston County and Mingo County.


West Virginia Public Broadcasting Awarded Federal Grant

West Virginia Public Broadcasting has been awarded a $366,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which is planned to be used to replace an outdated transmission system with a digital translator and locate it in Welch to help viewers from Bluefield to Logan who lost signal quality on their sets after last year's nationwide switch to digital TV.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Man Accused Of Abduction Could Be Hiding In Kentucky

Roanoke County Police Chief Ray Lavinder said at a news conference police have received about 250 leads suggesting that Jeffrey Scott Easley could be seeking refuge in North Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Ohio or Kentucky after apparently disappearing with his slain girlfriend's 12-year-old daughter. Virginia Police say Easley purchased a 13-by-10 tent and other camping supplies at a Salem Walmart on Friday, using a credit card belonging to 41 year old Tina Smith who was found dead in her home Monday. Surveillance video shows Easley shopping at the Walmart with Brittany Mae Smith.


State Plan Meets Opposition

To raise money for state government, political leaders in Kentucky are proposing winter getaway packages for hunters that would allow them to shoot deer at publicly owned parks. Tourism Secretary Marcheta Sparrow says the plan, which could involve up to 15 state resort parks, could generate cash during a time of year when traditional tourists tend to stay home, but the proposal drew quick opposition from The Humane Society of the United States. Laura Simon, the Humane Society's field director for urban wildlife, says the Society thinks it's a travesty, because state parks are one of the few safe havens left, not just for animals but for people who enjoy watching wildlife.


Beshear Plans Focus Of Legislative Session

Governor Steve Beshear said Wednesday that his focus during next year’s 30-day legislative session would be to balance the Medicaid budget, which is facing a $139 million shortfall, and to raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18. Beshear says he doesn’t see the need to reopen the entire two-year state budget during the short, odd-year session that begins in earnest on February 1st. Beshear wants to contract with more health care providers to manage Medicaid services in various parts of the state. With legislative approval, savings from expanded managed care in the next fiscal year could be moved forward and applied to the current year’s shortfall. Beshear was criticized by Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, who questions why Beshear didn’t support statewide managed care earlier in his term. Williams asked if the Beshear administration is admitting they could have saved us $450 million over three years if they had been something other than asleep at the wheel.


Rogers Vows To Cut Spending

On his first day as the chairman-designate of the House Appropriations Committee, Representative Hal Rogers said Wednesday that he was determined to overhaul the congressional budget process while cutting spending. Rogers, known for his great use of earmarks in the past, said he will enforce the two-year GOP moratorium on the practice, and, if congressional Democrats, most of whom have opposed the earmark moratorium, put special requests for funding local projects in the budget bills, they will be stripped out. Rogers said the mandate from the November election was to slash federal spending and to increase oversight of the Obama administration and its programs.


KY Gubernatorial Candidate To Attend Florida Fundraiser

Republican Phil Moffett, a Louisville businessman running as a political outsider, faces Republican David Williams in the GOP primary. A Moffett aide said Wednesday that the gubernatorial candidate will travel to Florida next week seeking some cash at a Palm Beach fundraiser. Moffett is following a tactic used by tea party favorite Rand Paul, who had difficulty early in his campaign. Florida fundraiser Teresa Dailey says Moffett will be part of a series of meetings with a number of potential GOP donors, including Republican Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, who says Moffett's tea party credentials and his political desire to "apply commonsense business principles to government" appeal to Florida's conservative donors.


KSP Highway Fatality Report

Preliminary statistics indicate that eleven people died in nine separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010. 

Ten of the crashes involved motor vehicles and four victims were not wearing seat belts.  Single-fatality crashes occurred in Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Green, Laurel (2) and Spencer counties.  The crashes
in Carlisle and Laurel counties involved the suspected use of alcohol.

 A triple fatality crash occurred in Franklin County and one of the
victims was wearing a seat belt.  One victim was a child and was secured
in a car seat at the time of the crash.
One pedestrian fatality occurred in Hardin County.

Through December 5, preliminary statistics indicate that 712 people
have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2010.  This is 24 less
fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2009.   There were
556 motor vehicle fatalities and 295 of those victims were not wearing
seat belts. Seventy-seven of those crashes involved a commercial motor
vehicle.   Fifty-four pedestrians and six bicyclists have been killed.
Seventy-nine fatalities involved a motorcycle and fifteen fatalities
involved an ATV.  Two fatalities involved a scooter.  A total of one
hundred forty-five fatalities have resulted from crashes involving the
suspected use of alcohol.


UK Student Arrested

Police say University of Kentucky sophomore, 20 year old David Milam, was selling marijuana out of his room in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house, located across from Commonwealth Stadium. Police say they found two digital scales, a fake ID, six Adderall pills and more than 500 grams of marijuana in Milam's room, and they believe he was selling to possibly 30 different clients, mostly friends. Milam was released on a $10,000 bail, while his case has been sent to the grand jury. UK Police are conducting an ongoing investigation.


Beshear And Ford Executives To Make Announcement

Governor Steve Beshear is scheduled to be in Louisville Thursday to join with Ford executives for an economic development announcement regarding the Ford Motor Co. plant in Kentucky. During an annual year-end interview with Capitol reporters Wednesday afternoon, Beshear declined to say specifically what would be announced, but he promised it would be "very good news." Ford announced two years ago that it would retool the Louisville Assembly Plant to produce vehicles on the Focus frame starting in 2011.


Fort Campbell Soldier Suspect In Wife's Death

A Fort Campbell soldier whose wife was found dead at their home on post is being held in jail.

Sgt. Karon Coker of the Christian County sheriff's department says 25-year-old Spc. Robert Spencer Jenks III was being held at the county jail as a "federal prisoner held in transit." Coker told The Courier-Journal that the jail routinely houses federal prisoners for Fort Campbell.

Spokesman Chris Gray of the Army Criminal Investigation Division in Virginia declined to say whether Jenks has been questioned or is a suspect in the death of 21-year-old Linzi R. Jenks. Officials also declined to give information about the suspected cause of Jenks' death or the investigation.

Linzi Jenks, formerly of Clark County, Ind., was found dead in the couple's home at the post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line near Hopkinsville.

Robert Jenks, who joined the Army in January 2008, is from Floyds Knobs, Ind.


Passport Chairman Resigns

Dr. Larry Cook, who served as chairman of the Passport Health Plan for 13 years, resigned Wednesday after a November audit showed various conflicts of interests as well as lavish spending on meals, travel and lobbying. Cook had said he would stay on as chairman of the board until he retires from his position at the University of Louisville on June 30th, but Governor Steve Beshear demanded Cook step down because the organization was responding too slowly to a host of problems found in the audit. Beshear has said that if Passport does not make changes, the state will terminate Passport's contract with the state after June 30th, the contract's last day. Passport has the state's largest contract, nearly $800 million, and  manages health care services for 164,000 recipients on Medicaid in Jefferson and 15 other counties.


Beware Of Restaurant Scam

Some Kentucky restaurants are being contacted by someone claiming to be from the state health department, but Kentucky health officials say it's a scam.

Department for Public Health Commissioner William Hacker says the callers ask to set up a time for an inspection and threaten fines. And Food Safety Branch manager Mark Reed says the reports so far indicate the scammers are apparently targeting primarily ethnic facilities.

Officials say the scam is going on nationwide and restaurants across Kentucky have been contacted. Callers ask for sensitive information about the restaurants and staff and ask the restaurant to call another number to set up an inspection.

Hacker advises those who believe a scammer may have contacted them should call local health department or law enforcement officials.


Large Theft Of Liquor

Three men from Louisville have been sentenced in the theft of more than $400,000 worth of liquor.

The Department of Justice announced in a news release that the men appeared in federal District Court in Lexington on Monday and were handed terms of between two years and three years.

The department says 37-year-old Vladimir Naranjo-Nieto, 32-year-old Michael Prieto-Cruz and 28-year-old Efren Rodriguez-Hernandez stole two trucks containing the liquor from L.J. Rogers Trucking Co. in Jeffersonville, Ind., and intended to sell the cargo in New York. The combined value of the cargo in both trucks was $425,000.

The case was solved when co-defendants Juan D. Perez-Gonzales and Mijail Zerquera were arrested at a truck stop in Mt. Sterling in Sept. 2009. They were earlier sentenced earlier to similar terms.


Body Found In Car In Mingo County

State Police are investigating after a man's body was found Wednesday in a car in a wooded area on Marrowbone Creek Road near Kermit in Mingo County. According to State Police, the body was found by a hunter, and crews had to use ATVs to access the area where the vehicle was found. The family of missing Huntington man Ruperto "Rupy" Robateau headed to Delbarton to see if the man is their loved one.


WV Police Charge Sex Offender With Failing To Register

West Virginia State Police arrested 69 year old Clinton E. Kirk of Burbank, Illinois at the Knights Inn Motel in Kanawha City and charged him with failing to register as a sex offender. On Tuesday, troopers went to the motel after being told that Kirk lived there. Kirk told officers he had been staying in the motel since November 18th, but he had not updated his registration to indicate his current address change in West Virginia.


Randolph County Man Charged With Kidnapping

Matthew Ray, 22, of Beverly in Randolph County appeared before a magistrate judge on Wednesday after being arrested by authorities in Virginia. Ray is accused of kidnapping a 15 year old girl, and trying to conceal the girl after she was reported missing. Ray was taken to Tygart Valley Regional Jail and placed on a $50,000 bond. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.


Charleston Businessman Could Have Stalking Charges Dropped

Seventy-six year old Donald Lee Tate, a Charleston businessman who is the owner of the Fas Chek supermarket chain and co-owner of the former Tate-Porter Auto Mall in Ripley, was arrested in September and charged with stalking after Jackson County sheriff's deputies found him near his ex-fiance Annetta Fields' house off U.S. 33 near Ripley with a Keltec .32-caliber pistol loaded with seven rounds. In a pretrial hearing held December 2nd, Tate's defense attorney Kenny Skeen and Assistant Prosecutor Beth Shaver entered an agreement to place the case on an "open docket" for nine months, placing it on hold pending further action. Tate is to have no contact with the victim during the time period, and, if he abides by those terms, the misdemeanor charge will be dismissed. Tate has a lawsuit pending against Fields in which he claims he is the sole owner of Fields' home and is seeking the return of a 3-carat diamond engagement ring valued at $29,500. The Jackson Circuit Clerk's office says that lawsuit is about to be automatically dismissed due to inactivity in the case for over a year.


Mine Safety Bill Rejected By U.S. House

The U.S. House has rejected a bill that would have adopted sweeping changes to rules about mine safety by making it easier to shut down problem mines, increasing penalties for serious safety violations and offering more protection for whistle-blowers. The vote was 214-193 in favor of passage, short of the two-thirds needed to pass. West Virginia Democrat Representative Nick J. Rahall voted in favor of the bill, while Republican Shelley Moore Capito voted against it, and Democrat Alan Mollohan did not vote.


Storm Produced 31 Inches Of Snow

The National Weather Service announced Wednesday that this week's winter storm produced 31 inches of snow in some of West Virginia’s highest elevations, with the town of Bayard in Grant County being the hardest hit. Grant was among six counties that canceled school on Wednesday after the storm prompted warnings for at least 12 counties on Tuesday.


NTelos Plans To Split Its Business

A week after nTelos completed its purchase of Charleston-based FiberNet for $169 million, nTelos executives announced Wednesday that nTelos plans to split its business in two, creating separate wireless and telephone landline companies. The company plans to ask the West Virginia Public Service Commission and other state and federal regulatory agencies to approve the proposed split. Earlier this year, nTelos announced plans to spend $40 million to expand high-speed data and fiber optic networks, part of its wireline operations, in West Virginia during the next three years. During Wednesday's conference call, nTelos executives said having wireline and landline operations under one roof creates conflicts, such as where to spend money to make capital improvements.


West Virginia DEP Moving Forward With EPA Lawsuit

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is moving forward with its lawsuit filed in October against the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Then Governor Joe Manchin and state environmental officials said that, without legal authority, the EPA implemented policies that delayed and in many cases, halted the permitted process for surface mines. The EPA has made a motion that the case be moved to Washington D-C, where a similar suit has been filed, but DEP Secretary Randy Huffman wants the case heard in West Virginia, saying he doesn’t believe the case is similar to the other case. Huffman says the other case is the mining industry suing the EPA, but West Virginia's case is a state regulatory program suing a federal regulatory program.


Gianato Remains Director Of Homeland Security

Under Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, McDowell County native Jimmy Gianato will remain West Virginia's director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Gianato is the state's liaison to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


CURA Director Running For Charleston's City Council

After 30 years as director of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Pat Brown is set to retire. Brown, who has filed to run for Charleston's City Council, says he plans to spend time with his wife and to travel to see his family.


Gas Prices Soar In West Virginia

Oil prices on Tuesday jumped above $90 a barrel for the first time in more than two years, and Wall Street analysts say tightening supplies will eventually send prices above the $100 mark next year. According to AAA's Fuel Gauge, the price of a gallon of self-serve regular gas in West Virginia rose this week about 10.5 cents to about $3.03. That's about 7 cents higher than the national average and 36 cents higher than state prices a year ago. Gas prices range from a low of $2.97 in Huntington to $3.05 in Martinsburg and Morgantown.


West Virginia Physicians Face Possible Medicare Cut

Starting January 1st, West Virginia physicians face a 25 percent pay cut from Medicare. Leaders of AARP West Virginia and the state chapter of the American Medical Association say it's a cut that will force some doctors to drop the government-funded insurance program, and jeopardize health-care access to more than 371,000 residents. Payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients and military patients are based on the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which is tied to national economic indicators. West Virginia has the nation's highest proportion of Medicare recipients, with nearly one in five residents receiving benefits. About 82 percent of AARP members covered by Medicare are concerned that they will have to find a new physician if their current doctor drops the insurance plan. The state has 12 practicing physicians for every 1,000 Medicare recipients, one of the country's worst ratios.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Rogers Tapped To Head House Appropriations Committee

U.S. Representative Harold "Hal" Rogers was tapped late Tuesday by the House Republican Steering Committee to head the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The choice brings to a close a competitive, weeks-long, behind the scenes battle among Rogers, current ranking member Representative  Jerry Lewis R-California, and Representative Jack Kingston R-Georgia. If the full House Republican caucus approves the committee decision as expected Wednesday, Rogers, R-Somerset, will head up a committee charged with helping oversee the allocation of millions in federal funds.

Democrats pounced on the committee's decision, saying Republicans will renege on pledges to curb spending. Ryan Rudominer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says families are faced with the choice of the 'Prince of Pork'  heading their appropriations process. Rudominer says Representative Rogers' record on fiscal responsibility looks like a shopping spree, no splurge left behind. He questions whether Republicans are really going to reduce the debt by selecting Rogers, of the Hal Rogers Parkway, as their pork barrel chairman or will the 85 new freshmen members honor their pledge to be fiscally responsible.


Louisville Narcotics Detective Fired

Louisville Police Chief Robert White has fired veteran narcotics detective Ronald Russ who has been a police officer since 1997. White says Russ violated department policies on truthfulness and keeping police business confidential when he tipped off Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Matthew Conway, the brother of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, he was being investigated by the metro police narcotics unit. No charges were ever brought against Conway. Russ initially said he had not informed Conway, but later admitted telling Conway he would be caught if he didn't quit any activity he might be involved in. Russ' lawyer, David Leightty, says Russ intends to appeal his dismissal.


Murder Trial For Powell County Mother Delayed

The trial for 26 year old Jessica Charles, a Powell County mother accused of murder in the death of her 22-month-old daughter, has been moved to another county. Charles' trial was set to start later this month but will now be delayed after the Commonwealth agreed that justice would be better served if the trial was held somewhere else, and DNA testing is still pending. Charles is charged with murder after her daughter, Danika, died from blunt force trauma to the head, chest, abdomen, legs and arms. The judge agreed to lower Charles' bond to $150,000 cash or $300,000 property. Charles will be back in court January 5th, when the judge should pick the new location and date of her trial.


State To Release Details About Toddler's Death

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has been ordered to release details about the life of 22-month-old Kayden Branham who died May 30, 2009 after drinking drain cleaner in a Wayne County trailer where methamphetamine had been made. The toddler and his 14-year-old mother, Alisha Branham  had been in foster care before the boy's death, but had been placed with Alisha's mother, Melissa Branham. At a court hearing in January, Alisha testified she and Kayden, as well as the boy's father, Bryan Daniels, then 19, had started staying with her father, Larry Branham, at his trailer outside Monticello about a month before the toddler died. A relative says she moved from her mother's house because there was no water, electricity or food there. Mark Stanziano, a Somerset attorney who represents Bryan Daniels, says social workers were not aggressive enough in trying to protect the teen mother and toddler. Alisha pleaded guilty in juvenile court to a reduced charge of second-degree manslaughter and is in state custody. Bryan Daniels, is charged with murder and making meth.


Pretrial Postponed For Former Rand Paul Volunteer

A pretrial hearing for Tim Profitt, a former volunteer with Rand Paul's Senate campaign, has been postponed until January 11th to allow time to "gather further discovery." Profitt was charged with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault after a scuffle in which a liberal activist was pulled down, her face pinned to the concrete and she was stepped on outside a Lexington TV studio where Paul and Democrat Jack Conway met in their final debate in October. Profitt has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Profitt could be sentenced to 90 days to a year in jail.


Passport Health Plan Fires Top Executives

Tuesday, Passport Health Plan fired Executive Vice President Shannon Turner and Associate Vice President Nici Gaines. Those actions must be ratified by the Passport board, which Passport’s interim chief executive officer, Mark Carter, said he expects when it meets Wednesday. Governor Steve Beshear had demanded a change after a report by State Auditor Crit Luallen released last month found lavish spending, extensive travel and conflicts of interest at Passport, which holds an $800 million contract with the state to manage the health care of 164,000 Medicaid recipients in Jefferson and 15 surrounding counties. Beshear also demanded that Passport replace Dr. Larry Cook as its board chairman and chief executive officer, but he remains the chairman of Passport’s board.


Date To Change Political Party Affiliation Nears

The last day to change political party affiliation in Kentucky and still be eligible to vote in that party’s 2011 primary election is December 31st. Kentucky law requires voters to turn in political party changes by the end of the previous year. The law does not prevent people from changing party after January 1st, through the primary, but, if they do, they can only vote a non-partisan primary ballot.


Kentucky Flu Cases Classified As Regional

The first flu cases of the season are showing up in eastern Kentucky, with 16 confirmed cases and two confirmed H1N1 cases in the Cumberland Valley Region. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention say more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year with flu and about 20,000 die from it nationwide. Kentucky health officials say flu cases in the state have increased to the point the state has been moved from the sporadic to regional cases classification, due mainly to a rise in cases in Bowling Green and Lexington, which has had at least 41 confirmed cases  this season. The first flu case in Louisville was confirmed Monday.


Federal Funding For Urban And Rural Transit Systems

Governor Steve Beshear has announced the approval of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to be used by the urban and rural transit systems. Kentucky will receive $17,225,740
as part of a nationwide award of $776 million in "State of Good Repair" grants to help urban and rural bus systems obtain or update facilities and equipment. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said Kentucky's application was among 400 project applications representing $4.2 billion in funding requests, and the state ranked 14th among 45 states that applied.

Two of Kentucky's large urban systems will share in the grant. LexTran - the Transit Authority of Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government - will receive $8,780,000 to construct and rehabilitate an administrative/maintenance facility. TARC - the Transit Authority of River City - will receive $2,543,892 with which to replace the fare collection system.

The Transportation Cabinet is also receiving $5.9 million for rural and small urban bus systems around Kentucky. The money will fund renovation and rehabilitation of transit administration, operation and maintenance facilities, and replacement of outdated communication equipment.


Logan County Woman Found Dead In Drain Pipe

Forty-one year old Deea Shawn Workman of Lorado in Logan County was found dead in a drain pipe about four miles up Accoville Hollow Sunday evening. Authorities discovered that she had been riding an ATV with several individuals Saturday night, and their vehicle became stuck. Workman stayed with the vehicle while the others left on foot to get help, but no one came back to check on her or the vehicle until Sunday. Deputies believe she crawled into the  drain pipe attempting to get out of the cold weather.


Trial Date Set For Alleged Huntington Mall Rapist

Fifty-one year old Donald Good of Charleston appeared in court before Senior Status Judge Dan O'Hanlon Tuesday afternoon to face 22 charges related to the 1987 Huntington Mall rapes involving two women in two separate incidents. Good pleaded not guilty after being accused of abducting the women, taking them elsewhere and repeatedly raping them. His trial was set for March 29, 2011 with a pre-trial hearing set for December 29th. He is currently at the Mount Olive Prison where he is serving time for a 1992 Kanawha County murder.


Detroit Man Pleads Guilty To Voluntary Manslaughter

During a hearing in Cabell County Circuit Court Tuesday morning, George Lockhart of Detroit pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter after originally being charged with 1st degree murder and attempted murder. In the early morning hours of December 3, 2008, Kameron O’Neal, 22 of Inkster, Michigan was shot and killed. A second man, Terrance McArthur, who was also shot and survived, says the shooting was the result of an argument over a $20,000 gold chain, and O'Neal was a friend who got shot in the leg by a stray bullet. Police say, after O'Neal was shot in the leg, he ran a block and a half before he collapsed and died in a yard along Kanawha Terrace. McCarthur says Lockhart shot him in the leg, back and neck, one bullet knocking out his teeth. He says he played dead while Lockhart returned and shot him again in the leg. Lockhart will be sentenced in January.


Putnam County Man Charged With Sexual Assault

Casey Ryan Moles of  Red House, in Putnam County, has been charged with second degree sexual assault and incest. According to a criminal complaint, Moles admitted to forcing a female family member to have sex with him since she was 5 years old. Moles is currently being held at the Western Regional Jail. His bond has been set at $50,000.


WV Coal Association Urges MSHA To Rewrite Regulations

During a hearing at MSHA's mine academy in Beaver Tuesday, the West Virginia Coal Association urged federal regulators to rewrite proposed regulations that would place stricter limits on coal dust exposure.
Lobbyist Chris Hamilton told the panel that changes would cost far more than expected and are based on unproven science, among other things. The proposal would cut by half existing limits for breathable dust in coal mines, among other things, aimed at reducing black lung. The disease has plagued miners for generations and is blamed for more than 10,000 deaths in the past decade.


Blankenship's Retirement Agreement Outlined

Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy outlined Don Blankenship's retirement agreement in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday. The document says Blankenship gets $2 million on December 31st and $10 million on July 1st. The deal also covers undetermined performance awards for this year, health insurance and a $5,000 a month consulting job for two years, as well as a secretary and use of his main office in eastern Kentucky for up to five years. In exchange, Blankenship can't compete with Massey or hire away employees for two years. His successor, Baxter Phillips, Jr., has been given a raise to $1.1 million, from $650,000.


Court of Appeals Rules In Favor Of Dunbar Man

In its decision last week, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled favorably in the case of 53 year old David Eilola of Dunbar, who was convicted in April 2007 of attempted murder for slashing his estranged wife and attempting to burn her alive. He was sentenced to three to 15 years for attempted first-degree murder; two to 10 years for malicious assault; two years for arson; one year for violation of a domestic violence protective order and one year for domestic battery, the sentences to be served consecutively. Eilola argued he should be able to come before a parole board about two years sooner because of time he served at South Central Regional Jail awaiting his trial and sentencing. The court agreed, with the exception of Chief Justice Robin Davis, who dissented, saying the defendant received more favorable consideration than the victim, and the court didn't give proper regard to victims of domestic assault. Both her opinion and the majority's were issued November 23rd. The appeal was based on a law that allows criminals to receive credit for time already served in jail, but Eilola argued that the credit was applied in a way that put him at a disadvantage. The Supreme Court ordered Kanawha Circuit Court to issue a new order reflecting the correct credit.


Supreme Court Says Kanawha Circuit Judge Exceeded Authority

The West Virginia Class AAA state football championship game has officially been scheduled for 7:00 P.M. Saturday, December 11th. Brooke High School and Martinsburg High School will compete for the state title. The West Virginia's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster exceeded her authority regarding the eligibility of four South Charleston players. Webster had allowed the four players into the semifinal game and ruled the players eligible for the Class AAA championship game against Martinsburg after officials sought to suspend them following a fight during a November 19th matchup with Hurricane. The ruling leaves any future actions in the case with the state's Secondary School Activities Commission which will decide whether South Charleston must forfeit its November 27th semifinal win against Brooke.


Putnam County Board Of Education Approves Random Drug Testing

The Putnam County Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday to adopt a policy to randomly test students for drugs in middle and high schools. The policy requires student drivers, athletes, and participants in extra-curricular activities to consent to a saliva test at any time during the school year. Students who refuse to sign the form would be banned from driving to school and from participating in after-school programs.
The board rejected an earlier proposal that called for students to undergo urine tests. County schools Superintendent Chuck Hatfield says the saliva test is less intrusive, and $50,000 will be allocated from the department's budget to fund the tests.


Governor’s Mansion To Host Christmas Parties

Earl Ray Tomblin and first lady Joanne Tomblin will host four holiday Christmas parties, along with a weekend open house at the West Virginia Governor’s Mansion, beginning Friday, December 10th
The first family has asked invited guests to bring nonperishable food items that will be donated to the United Way’s State Combined Campaign, a new initiative created by the governor and first lady, to help boost food pantries during the holidays.

The items collected during this year’s holiday parties will be directed to the United Way State Campaign and will be distributed between the Mountaineer Food Bank and the Huntington Food Bank.
In addition to the four evening parties, a holiday open house will take place from 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. Sunday, December12th. The holiday open house is open to the public.


PSC Deputy Drills West Virginia American Water's President

West Virginia American Water, the largest water utility in the state, providing services to about 600,000 customers, says it invested millions in 2008 and 2009 for new storage tanks and meters to replace and reinforce water mains and make other improvements. During an evidentiary hearing on American Water's 13 percent rate hike request Monday morning, David Sade, deputy in the state Public Service Commission's Consumer Advocate Division, questioned Wayne Morgan, president of the company, about the utility's expenses and pay policies for more than two hours. Sade brought out the fact that the number of water company employees dropped from 321 in late 2009 to a low of 308 in August but the utility's labor costs went up, while the company granted pay increases ranging from 2.25 percent to upwards of 4 percent from 2003 to 2008. Sade asked Morgan if he would expect that a lot of West Virginians would love being in the same shoes as his co-workers, getting raise after raise over the last eight- or nine-year period. Approval of the utility's request would increase its revenue by $15.6 million a year and raise the average residential monthly bill by $5.39, to $45.04.


Route 35 Tolls Back On Track

Plans to charge tolls for upgrading U.S. Route 35 are back on track following a ruling by West Virginia's Supreme Court which barred the Mason County Commission from reversing its initial September approval. The Commission voted 2-1 on November 10th to rescind its endorsement. County officials argued the original endorsement was based on incomplete and misleading representations by state officials. Justices ruled that the state Parkways Authority can proceed with public hearings for setting toll rates and issuing bonds to finance expanding a 14.6-mile section to four lanes. The Supreme Court says Mason County commissioners had no authority for that second vote.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Indiana Man Arrested In Kentucky

John Bell of Indiana was arrested and taken to the Knox County Detention Center Saturday after he drove nearly 300 miles to Barbourville to meet the person he thought was a 13 year old girl he planned to have sex with. Undercover police say they talked to Bell on Yahoo Messenger for more than one week to set up the sting.


Kentucky Man Sentenced After Poem Threatens President

Twenty-eight year old Johnny Logan Spencer, a Kentucky man who acknowledged writing a poem threatening the life of President Barack Obama was sentenced Monday to 33 months in prison. Spencer apologized for writing the poem, which depicts a fatal sniper shooting of the president. Spencer said he was upset at the time over the death of his mother and had fallen in with a white supremacist group as a way for him to cope with things, but he went a little too far. Spencer said the group helped him kick his drug habit. He had pleaded guilty to a charge of threatening the life of the president, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Spencer will be on supervised release for three years after he completes the sentence. Spencer has already served 10 months in prison, more than four of those months in solitary confinement.

The poem, titled “The Sniper,” was posted on a website called, first in 2007 and again in 2009 after Obama took office. “The bullet that he has chambered is one of the purest pride, And the inspiration on the casing reads DIE negro DIE,” the four-stanza poem reads. It does not name Obama.
“The bullet screams toward its mark bringing with it death, and where there was once a face there is nothing left...” the poem said. Spencer used the online moniker “Pain1488,” a reference to a phrase used by white nationalists as well as an homage to Adolf Hitler.


Eddyville State Penitentiary On Lockdown

The Kentucky Department of Corrections placed 43 inmates at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville on lockdown after a series of fights broke out at the facility last week. The prison has been on lockdown since the fights broke out Thursday afternoon and will remain so during an investigation. Visitation is canceled until further notice at the prison because of the lockdown status. Department officials say the fights started with an argument during recreation, then escalated into a fight in the prison gym later, and,  after that fight was brought under control, other inmates began fighting on the prison yard. Three inmates were taken out of the prison for medical treatment. Two were treated and released, and the third was released the following day. No staff members were hurt.


London Man Charged With Murder


A London man has been charged with murder after a traffic crash killed his daughter, 13 year old Destiny Hammons, and injured his wife, Kim Hammons. London City Police say 32 year old Robert Earl Hammons was under the influence as he was driving his family to a dinner with other family members Sunday afternoon. Investigators say Hammons ran a traffic signal and his car was struck on the passenger side by another vehicle, sending it into a third car. Hammons was arrested on charges of murder and parole violation.

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