Saturday, December 18, 2010


Robbery In South Williamson

A robbery Saturday morning of the Community Trust Bank in South Williamson has resulted in the arrest of Clarissa Marcum.  Marcum entered the bank and demanded money, and although no weapon was produced, she kept her hands in her pocket and made threatening gestures.

According to Dispatcher Keith Meadows of the Pike County Sheriff's Department, Marcum has been arrested in the Dix Fork section of Pike County and lodged in the Pike County Detention Center.  Assisting in the investigation and apprehension were deputies James Williamson, Billy McCoy and Sean Scott.


Perry County Schools Schedule Christmas Break


School districts across the region are looking at changing their calendars after missing two weeks of school before winter even officially begins.

In Perry County, officials are taking away part of the Christmas break.
Students will return to class December 27th and go until December 30th, weather permitting.

Officials say if they did not do this and more days are lost in January or February, the school year could easily stretch into mid-June.


Marijuana Plants Found In Floyd County

Police find dozens of marijuana plants in Floyd County. Police say 42 pot plants and materials used to cultivate marijuana were discovered in an outbuilding on Boyd Road in Dana.

Charges are pending.


Pike County Stabbing

Police say a fight led to a stabbing in Pike County. It happened in the Phyllis community.

State police say 42-year old Lancell Blankenship was stabbed after an altercation with 39-year old Danny Smith.  Blankenship was treated for serious injuries at Pikeville Medical Center.

Smith was arrested and charged with assault.


Police Chase Ends In Crash

Police have charged a man who led officers on a wild chase. State police say Tim Coots ran through a Christmas parade road block in Mount Vernon.

He led officers on a chase that ended when he crashed into a trooper's cruiser.

Coots is now charged with 10 counts of wanton endangerment, two counts of DUI and two counts of tampering with an interlock device.


Magoffin County Vote Trial Set

A lawsuit that claims there was vote fraud in Magoffin County during the November election will go to trial  starting January 7th. The attorney for outgoing Sheriff Bob Jordan and Judge-Executive candidate John Montgomery says candidates, Charles "Doc" Hardin and Carson Montgomery, bought votes, but both Hardin and Montgomery say they're innocent of any wrongdoing.  The attorney for Sheriff Jordan and John Montgomery says they have 84 witnesses lined up who say there was vote buying. Judge Engle set a pre-trial conference for January 4th in Perry County. This is a bench trial, so there will be no jury.


Coalfields As A Tourist Attraction

West Virginia's southern coalfields, known to many outsiders for recent mining disasters, are also rich with American labor history and tales of bravery that Doug Estepp believes will rivet the tourists he plans to take there next summer.

Estepp, a Mingo County native, has launched a company that could be the first to share the rugged region's history with tourists. Coal Country Tours LLC is planning at least two tours for the summer of 2011, including a three-day West Virginia Mine War Tour in June.

In 1920, a shootout between unionizing miners and coal company security guards left 12 men dead on the streets of Matewan, in the county where Estepp was raised. The 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain, an armed union uprising in adjacent Logan County, eventually required the intervention of federal troops.
"Blair Mountain was the second largest insurrection in U.S. history after the Civil War - the only time the U.S. has deployed air power against its citizens," Estepp said. "But you have to seek this history out."


Safety Practices Targeted At Massey Operation

A potentially groundbreaking lawsuit over Massey Energy safety practices apparently survived the company's initial legal challenge on Friday and is headed for a full hearing in early January, officials said.

U.S. Department of Labor officials are seeking a federal court injunction against Massey subsidiary Freedom Energy's Mine No. 1 in Pike County, Ky.

Lawyers for the department's Mine Safety and Health Administration are for the first time using more than 30-year-old enforcement authority in asking U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar to shut down the Freedom operation. MSHA inspectors and supervisors allege the mine has committed a "pattern of violations" that poses a "continuing hazard" to miners' health and safety.

Separate legal authority allows MSHA to seek a federal court injunction against mines with repeated violations and where miners are at a continuing risk. MSHA had never used that authority either, but agency chief Joe Main launched the Freedom Energy case as part of an Obama administration crackdown following the deaths of 29 miners in an explosion April 5 at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County.


Last Ford Explorer Made In Louisville

Louisville's last Ford Explorer vehicle rolled off the assembly line on Dec. 16 . Worker's at the Louisville assembly plant have been manufacturing the Explorer since 1989. Ford Explorer will now be made at a Chicago plant.

Ford said work has already begun on re-tooling the Louisville plant to build the next Generation Escape. The Louisville assembly plant will be shut down for about a year before workers can begin building the new vehicle.


Jobless Rate Up In Kentucky

Kentucky's jobless rate rose slightly in November to 10.2 percent, up from 10 percent in October.

The Office of Employment and Training released the latest unemployment figures.

Chief Labor Market Analyst Justine Detzel said Kentucky's economy sputtered in November, keeping the state jobless rate well above the national level of 9.8 percent.

Four of the 11 major nonfarm job sectors reported employment declines, and six reported employment increases. The net loss was 2,200 jobs.

The leisure and hospitality sector was hardest hit, losing 2,400 jobs for the month. The educational and health services sector led the way in new jobs, having added 1,100 jobs.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Pike County Accident Kills Elderly Woman

Seventy-six year old Marie Stiltner of Elkhorn City was pronounced dead at Pikeville Medical Center Friday following a three-vehicle crash on U.S. Route 460 in the Regina area. Kentucky State Police arrested 27 year old Jeffrey Mullins of Pikeville after they say he crossed the center line and was traveling eastbound in the westbound lane of the highway when he struck a vehicle driven by 55 year old Janice Baker of Elkhorn City and another vehicle driven by Joseph Sussan of Shelbiana. Sussan was not injured. Baker and 57 year old LInda Walker were taken to Pikeville Medical Center and later transferred to University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington. Mullins was taken to PMC where he was treated and released and then lodged in the Pike County Detention Center charged with second-degree manslaughter, driving on a suspended license, possession of schedule 1 narcotic, possession of drug paraphernalia, and no insurance.


TVA Spill Continues To Allegedly Present Problems

Two years after the December 22, 2008 spill of 5.4 million cubic yards of toxin-laden sludge in the Emory River and on privately held land beside the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Plant, some homeowners in Roane County say they are having respiratory problems, buying air filters and hosing away toxic-laden dust. The spill has spurred some to join a protracted court fight. Owners of more than 170 properties negotiated buyouts and have moved with TVA's $1.2 billion cleanup continuing. The Swan Pond community is quieter. However, TVA contends in court filings that dust from the ash spill at the Kingston Plant west of Knoxville is no more harmful than "dust from a ball field or farm land."


New License Plate Features "In God We Trust"

Governor Steve Beshear's administration moved ahead Friday with plans to issue an "In God We Trust" auto license plate next year. Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says the new design would be made available as an alternative to the current "Unbridled Spirit" plate at no extra charge beginning in mid-January. The move drew quick support from Kentucky's faith community. Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe says the agency has the legal authorization to issue the new license plate, an act that could invite a legal challenge, but the cabinet believes it is acting well within its legal authority. Independent gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith, who supports making the new plate available, questioned why Beshear chose to offer it during his re-election campaign. Beshear spokeswoman Jill Midkiff said the governor publicly announced his support for such a plate nearly three years ago.


Convicted Sex Offender Sentenced To Life In Prison

Prosecutors had asked Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman for a death sentence for Cecil New II for kidnapping and killing 4-year-old Cesar Ivan Aguilar-Cano in 2007 after abducting him while he was playing outside his home near Churchill Downs. Burkman said Friday that she chose life in prison for New, a convicted sex offender, rather than sentencing him to death, because it is a harsher punishment than living on death row, and New “will wish this court had put him on death row” after he is around “bigger, meaner men who have nothing to lose.”


WV Seeks White House Review Of Spruce Mine Permit

Representative Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va., joined with six Republican House members on Friday in calling for a White House review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed veto of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal Inc.'s Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County. EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin recommended the permit be vetoed, citing concerns that the mine would bury nearly seven miles of headwater streams and pollute waterways downstream from the mine site. U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers has suspended litigation over the Spruce Mine until February 22nd to give EPA time to make a final decision. Environmental groups sued to stop the permit, which has been the subject of controversy since at least 1998. The permit was approved by the Corps of Engineers in January 2007.


Teenage Boy Suffers Severe Burns

According to Deron Wilkes, assistant chief of the Hurricane Volunteer Fire Department, David Brown was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital after suffering severe burns when his mother's home on Carolyn Circle caught fire just before 10:00 A.M. Friday morning. His mother and sister escaped the fire in the single-story home uninjured, but Brown was listed in critical condition Friday afternoon. The home is a total loss.


Former Prison Nurse Sentenced

Thirty-nine year old Lori Sue Helmick of Bruceton Mills, a former nurse at U.S. Penitentiary at Hazelton, a federal prison in West Virginia, has been sentenced to five months in prison and five months on home confinement, followed by five years of supervised release for having sex with an inmate who was under her care. Helmick, who pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse of a ward in August, will report to prison January 18th.


Huntington Police Arrest Michigan Fugitive

Around 4:00 A.M. Friday morning, Huntington Police went to a home on 30th Street to check on the safety of several small children. A search of the home turned up two firearms, hydrocodone, cocaine, marijuana, scales, drug paraphernalia and a package containing 349 small bags of heroin. Police say the heroin was in plain view of four children. Twenty-six year old Terrence McArthur of Inkster, Michigan, a convicted felon wanted by Michigan authorities for parole violation, was arrested without incident, charged with possession with intent to deliver of a controlled substance, felon in possession of a firearm, receiving and transfer of stolen property, and possession of a controlled substance. He was taken to the Western Regional Jail and placed on a $100,000 bond. McArthur was recently involved in a trial related to a 2008 shooting in Huntington in which he was shot in the leg, back, neck, one bullet knocking out his teeth. George Lockhart pleaded guilty earlier this month to involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of 22 year old Kameron O'Neal.


Charleston Teen Pleads Not Guilty

Seventeen year old Antonio Summers was in court Friday where he pleaded not guilty to killing 14 year old Damion Blaney. Prosecutors say, in April, Summers planned to fight with another boy following an ongoing dispute. A crowd gathered outside Glenwood Elementary School on Charleston's West Side, where Summers pulled out a gun and shot at the boy, catching Blaney in the cross fire. Summers' trial is set for March 21st.


Senator Rockefeller Insists On Vote Of Greenhouse Regulations

Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has informed the U.S. Senate leadership that he will insist on a vote on his legislation which would suspend Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas regulations that are scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2011, giving Congress two years to consider energy legislation. Rockefeller says he spent this year fighting to make sure that Congress, not the EPA, determines how best to reduce greenhouse gases in a way that protects West Virginia’s economy, and, if left with no other option, he will seek to suspend the rules on the Omnibus Appropriations bill to bring up his legislation. He says it's too important an issue to delay any further.


Huntington Police Investigate Habitat Robbery

Huntington Police are continuing to investigate after 18 packs of roofing shingles valued at more than $1,150 were stolen from a Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity house construction site in the city's Fairfield West community the first week of December. Anyone with information regarding the stolen building materials is encouraged to contact Huntington West Virginia Area Habitat for Humanity's office at (304) 523-4822 or the Huntington Police Department.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Death Attributed To Storm

Central Kentucky was braced for an ice storm but awoke Thursday morning, as did much of eastern Kentucky, to a slushy mix of rain and ice. Kentucky State Police say one death could be attributed to the storm. Howard C. Garner, 80, of Nancy, lost control of his Jeep on a patch of ice on Highway 80 in Russell County at 12:35 P.M. Thursday, ran off the road and overturned. Garner was pronounced dead at the scene.


Storm Affects Power Service

Pike County emergency manager Doug Tackett says Thursday's storm resulted in a few minor power outages in Pike County, including one that affected as many as 900 customers because of a downed transformer. Tackett says the county did not have to open prepared emergency shelters. Kentucky Utilities spokesman Cliff Feltham said 1,500 customers of his company lost power across the state, including a few in Lexington, but power was quickly restored to most of them.

Kentucky Power outages peaked at about 6,700 in the 20 counties the company serves in eastern Kentucky. About 11:00 A.M., that number was down to about 4,300. The largest outage was caused by a broken transformer at the Leslie County substation, affecting about 3,000 customers.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Hazard and Mary Breckinridge Hospital in Hyden were running on backup generators early in the day, but they had reported no problems to emergency managers.


Police Unveil Plan For Solving Cold Case Murders

Police unveiled an unlikely investigative tool Thursday. They're distributing playing cards containing information about unsolved murders and missing persons to prisoners in hopes of generating fresh leads as an effective means" of solving cold cases. About 7,900 decks of  cards, paid for with a $16,400 federal grant and featuring information and photographs of victims in 52 unsolved cases from across the state, will be put in all of the state's prisons and select jails. Kentucky State Police and the Lexington and Louisville police departments partnered with the Justice Cabinet on the project. Kentucky's cards are similar to ones made by Florida-based Effective Playing Cards, which boasts that police in 12 other states have solved 20 homicides and missing-persons cases profiled on the more than 1 million decks it's produced.


Churchill Downs Purchases Mississippi Casino Resort & Hotel

Churchill Downs  in Louisville has completed its $138 million purchase of Harlow's Casino Resort & Hotel in Greenville, Mississippi. Harlow's, built on about 69 acres of leased land across the Mississippi River from Arkansas, includes a 33,000-square-foot casino with 841 slot machines, 23 table games and a poker room as well as a 105-room attached hotel. The complex also has a 2,600-seat entertainment center and three separate dining areas and approximately 480 employees.


Slick Travel Conditions In Kentucky

Freezing rain has brought slick travel conditions to much of Kentucky.

In Louisville, the temperature hovered at freezing as dawn broke and many streets were ice covered.
Most interstate routes appeared to be moving.

It was a few degrees colder in Lexington and light freezing rain was also falling in the Bluegrass region.

Jackson, too, was getting freezing rain, but slightly warmer temperatures had changed over the precipitation to rain in Somerset, Middlesboro, Pikeville and Bowling Green.

To the north, there was light snow falling in Covington.

A winter storm warning extended up the Ohio Valley from west of Owensboro across central and eastern Kentucky.


Drug Suspect Falls Through Hospital Ceiling

Louisville police say a man they had been questioning about burns he received fell through the ceiling at a hospital where he had sought treatment.

Nicholas Fultz was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, trafficking in meth, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and giving police a false name.

The arrest citation stated police stepped out of the room where they had questioned Fultz Tuesday night and then heard a loud noise. Fultz had fallen though a tile ceiling into an emergency department hallway at Jewish Hospital Southeast in a getaway attempt.

Police found a one-pot meth lab and ingredients for the drug in the car of a woman who was with Fultz.


McConnell Praises Bunning

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is praising retiring colleague Jim Bunning for his careers in baseball and politics.

McConnell gave a farewell tribute to Bunning on Thursday, saying the 79-year-old Kentuckian has been "a man of principle from start to finish."

Bunning opted not to seek a third term in the Senate this year, choosing instead to retire after some 30 years in local, state and national politics. His political endeavors came after a notable career as a major league pitcher that landed him in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bunning endorsed the man who is replacing him in the Senate, Republican Rand Paul of Bowling Green. Paul, like Bunning, is a fiscal conservative. He is set to be sworn in Jan. 5.


Proposal To Toughen DUI Laws

A lawmaker in Kentucky wants to crack down on drunk drivers.

Representative Dennis Keene of Kentucky is pre-filing legislation to make DUI laws tougher.

The Wilder native is proposing a bill that would require people convicted of drunk driving to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.

The bill for the device would not be given to taxpayers, but to the offenders.


Wayward Toys Claimed

Fifteen boxes of toys, found scattered along a highway northeast of Louisville on Monday, have been claimed by a church.

La Grange Police Chief Kevin Collett told The Courier-Journal officials of Ballardsville Baptist Church say the 180 toys were being delivered to the church when they fell along the side of Ky. 53 between La Grange and Ballardsville.

A friend of Collett's found the toys and brought them to the police station.


Calipari Up For Top Award

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has been nominated for the inaugural United Nations Nongovernment Organization Positive Peace Awards in the coach category, citing him for his concern for people around the world.

The group Celebrate Positive announced Calipari's nomination Wednesday, saying Samaritan's Feet nominated him for the award. Calipari worked with the group to take shoes to orphans in Haiti and children in Detroit. Samaritan's Feet marketing director Todd Melloch recalled Calipari's bare feet during the national anthem at a Kentucky basketball game to encourage support of the group.

The award nominees are judged by organizations such as Rotary International, Pathways to Peace and Sister Cities International. Winners in the sports categories are to be announced this month.

Celebrate Positive said in a statement that the awards recognize people, businesses, athletes, sports teams, entertainers and schools for positive contributions.


Open Meetings In Budget Process?

A Democratic lawmaker is pushing a proposal that would bar legislative leaders from retreating into closed-door meetings to draft the state budget.

State Rep. Rick Nelson of Middlesboro said he intends to file legislation in the upcoming legislative session that would require all budget meetings to be open.

Standard operating procedure in the Kentucky legislature is for legislative leaders from the House and Senate to negotiate the final draft of the budget privately in rooms guarded by state police troopers.

Nelson's proposal would simply tweak the state's open meetings law, basically adding one paragraph that would open the state budget process.


Use Caution With Portable Generators And Heaters

With winter weather hitting Kentucky again, it's possible there will be power outages, and the Public Service Commission wants people to be careful if they need to use portable generators and heaters.

PSC Chairman David Armstrong says carbon monoxide poisoning is one danger people face with portable generators. He advises using them only outside in well-ventilated areas and not in a garage, basement or breezeway. Armstrong also says they shouldn't be operated near windows, doors or other areas where exhaust fumes can be drawn inside an occupied building or home.

Charcoal grills, gas grills and other open-flame devices should be used indoors for heating or cooking. Fireplaces and wood stoves need to be properly vented and properly working.

And portable heaters should be approved for indoor use and manufacturer instructions followed. Portable heaters can cause fires and should have features that turn them off in case they overheat or are tipped over. Flammable materials should be kept at least three feet away.


Army Doctor Senteced

An Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questioned President Barack Obama's eligibility to be commander in chief was sentenced by a jury Thursday to six months in a military prison and dismissal from the Army.The military jury spent nearly five hours deliberating punishment for Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin  after three days of court martial proceedings at Fort Meade, outside Baltimore.

Lakin was convicted of disobeying orders - he had pleaded guilty to that count - and missing a flight that would have gotten him to his eventual deployment. An Army commander, Maj. Gen. Karl Horst, still has to approve the sentence returned by the jury. Upon approval of the sentence, Lakin is granted an automatic appeal that would be considered by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. He was to begin serving his sentence immediately.

In online videos posted on YouTube, Lakin aligned himself with the so-called "birther" movement that questions whether Obama is a natural-born citizen, as the Constitution requires for presidents, and said he was inviting his own court martial. But Lakin said Wednesday that despite his questions about Obama's eligibility for office, he was wrong not to follow Army orders.


Body Recovered In Kentucky River

Emergency workers recovered the body of 52 year Della B. Conrad of Irvine at 1:30 P.M. Thursday about 60 yards downstream from where she ran off Doe Creek Road and into the Kentucky River in Estill County. Rescue workers began searching Wednesday night after people who live near the scene heard a crash, and a diver found a Dodge Caravan in the water. Investigators found a wheel cover and fresh tire tracks going off the road and over an embankment. An autopsy is scheduled at the state medical examiner's office in Frankfort.


Fast-Moving Storm Hits West Virginia

Fast-moving snow, freezing rain and sleet moved through West Virginia Thursday causing multiple accidents, heavy delays and slushy and icy roads. Snow covered roads and slowed down drivers, but it kept city and state workers busy. Huntington city plow drivers started preparing Wednesday for Thursday’s storm, while the first shift started around 3:30 A.M., with crews working a 12 hour shift. At Yeager Airport, all Thursday morning arrival flights were canceled or delayed except for two flights from Washington. Bad weather also forced the cancellation of Thursday evening's Christmas party at the Governor's Mansion. Slick conditions caused a semi to jackknife on U.S. 35 near the Silver Memorial Bridge near Point Pleasant in Mason County. Several roads were closed because of ice build-up.


Man Found Dead Under Bridge

The body found underneath the Quarrier Street Bridge behind the Charleston Civic Center Wednesday has been identified as 48 year old Robert Lee Hissom of Kanawha County. Charleston Police Sgt. Eric Hodges says it appears Hissom, who had been recently homeless, had been dead for a few days before an employee from the Holiday Inn discovered the body, and it appears he died from natural causes due to exposure to the brutally cold weather.


Federal Authorities Investigating Cabell County Doctor

Federal authorities are investigating Cabell County Dr. Philip F. Fisher, a Barboursville osteopath who treats patients at the Huntington Spine Rehab and Pain Center. According to an affidavit by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Fisher issued pre-signed prescriptions and sometimes accepted some drugs back from patients, using some for himself, and sometimes giving it to others, including girlfriends and other acquaintances. The investigation shows Dr. Fisher as being potentially complicit in the overdose deaths of at least 14 individuals, including a former girlfriend. No formal charges have been filed, but authorities raided Huntington Spine, the Rest Assured Sleep Technologies facility, located next to the pain center, owned by Fisher and Fisher's Hash Ridge Road home last week.


Fayette County Man Sentenced

Thirty-six year old Don Lamont Wilkerson of Smithers, in Fayette County, has been sentenced to 51 months in prison after pleading guilty to federal drug charges and violating the terms of his supervised release. On January 15, 2009, agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration, assisted by task force officers with the Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team used a confidential informant to purchase 20 OxyContin pills from Wilkerson, who was serving a term of supervised release following an eight-year prison sentence after his conviction for being a felon in possession of two firearms. For the drug-trafficking conviction, Wilkerson was sentenced to 27 months in prison. He was also sentenced to an additional 24 months for violating the terms of his release, the sentences to be served consecutively.


Counterfeit Money In Cross Lanes

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department is investigating after counterfeit money was used in the Cross Lanes area this week. The Kanawha County Sheriff's office says phony $10 and $20 bills were passed at the Taco Bell, Speedway, Cold Spot and Garage Bar on Tuesday and Wednesday. The department is searching for a white male and white female in a Toyota Saturn sedan with out-of-state tags and also a Jeep Cherokee with a West Virginia license plate. Anyone with information on these cases is asked to contact the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office at 304-357-0169.


Kanawha County Creates Child Predator Cybercrime Unit

The Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office has created the Child Predator Cybercrime Unit. The goal is to help in the investigation and prosecution of crimes against children using the Internet, digital media, cellular phone, personal digital assistant or any other electronic device. The Unit will be headed by Maryclaire Akers, chief of staff of the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, and veteran prosecutor Scott Reynolds.


PSC Staff Urging PATH Application Dismissal

Staff members with the West Virginia Public Service Commission are again asking that an application for the 765-kilovolt multistate Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, or PATH, power line be dismissed.
Staff say new information has come to light and commissioners need to dismiss the current proceedings and start again. Developers of PATH say the line is needed to meet projected power demand along the East Coast by 2015, but in a filing last week, PSC staff say the planned upgrade of another power line in West Virginia could meet that projected demand for hundreds of millions of dollars less. The proposed line would run from American Electric Power's John Amos plant in West Virginia through northern Virginia to a substation near Kemptown, Maryland.


Parole Law And Ethics Measure Top Priority In 2011 Legislative Session

House Speaker Richard Thompson says, when the West Virginia Legislature's regular session returns next month, the parole law and an ethics measure will get swift attention from his leadership team. The fix would remedy changes made this year to the state's parole process after legislation unintentionally allowed more frequent parole board appearances by offenders serving life terms with mercy. During this year's session, the House unanimously passed the ethics measure that would require public servants to disclose their spouse's jobs and financial holdings, along with a waiting period before exiting public officials could become lobbyists. The Senate, however, ignored the measure.


United Bankshares To Merge With Centra Financial Holdings

United Bank’s parent company is buying privately held bank Centra Financial Holdings for $186.9 million. United Bankshares has signed a definitive merger agreement with Morgantown-based Centra Financial Holdings. Centra has 8.4 million shares of stock and 1.2 million options. The deal puts United in charge of Centra, its $1.4 billion in assets and its locations in Morgantown, Martinsburg, Hagerstown, Maryland and Uniontown, Pennsylvania. United has $7.6 billion in assets and 112 branches in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of next year.


McHugh Sworn In As Supreme Court Justice

Thomas McHugh took the oath of office as a Supreme Court justice for a third time Thursday afternoon. McHugh, who served on the high court from 1981 to 1997, had been appointed to the court in September 2008 during the illness and subsequent death of Justice Joseph Albright. He was elected in November to the remaining two years of Albright's 12-year term.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Morehead KSP Investigating Homicide

Kentucky State Police in Morehead are investigating after 42 year old Charles E. Maggard was found dead by his mother Tuesday morning in the living room of his mobile home on Jerrica Leigh Lane about 4 miles north of Stanton, in Powell County. Charles Maggard was supposed to take his mother to an appointment in Stanton. After she called a couple of times, and he didn't answer, she went to check on him and found a broken Ale-8-One bottle next to Maggard's body. Maggard's family has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer.


Kentucky To Get Federal Funds For Abandoned Coal Mines


Kentucky is set to receive $37.7 million as part of more than $395 million being distributed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Twenty-five states and three American Indian groups are getting money to clean up abandoned coal mines. The Crow and Hopi tribes and Navajo Nation are getting more than $9 million. Wyoming, the nation's No. 1 coal producer, gets more than $133 million - the biggest single award. West Virginia, the nation's No. 2 coal producer, gets $51.3 million, while Pennsylvania gets $47.6 million.  and Virginia just over $9 million. Illinois gets more than $17.2 million and Indiana $13.1 million. Part of the money, $150 million, comes from fees based on U.S. coal production. The remaining $245 million comes from the U.S. Treasury. Since 1977, the program has provided more than $7 billion to clean up more than 285,000 acres.


James River Coal Cited Over Kentucky Mine

Richmond, Virginia-based James River Coal Co. said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Wednesday that the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration issued an imminent danger citation December 10th after a miner was caught with an open pack of cigarettes and a lighter at one of its mines in Kentucky. The company did not identify the mine, other than to say it is operated by its Bledsoe Coal subsidiary. Bledsoe operates eight mines and processing plants in Leslie and Harlan counties. James River submitted a plan to MSHA to prevent people from bringing cigarettes and other smoking materials into its mines.


Conway Subpoenas For-Profit Colleges

Attorney General Jack Conway says his office is launching a consumer protection investigation into "questionable business practices." Conway has issued civil subpoenas to six for-profit colleges in Kentucky for a variety of information, including student loan default rates, advertising claims and job placement.

For-profit colleges have faced increased nationwide scrutiny in recent months for some questionable recruiting tactics, high loan default rates, and low graduation and job placement rates. The government is taking notice because for-profit colleges are bringing in record amounts of federal aid money - $26.5 billion last year, up from $4.6 billion in 2000.


Harlan County Shooting

Three members of family at a home in the Baxter community of Harlan County, including a one-month-old baby, were hurt in an accidental shooting around 6:30 P.M. Tuesday night. Police say 19 year old Michael Southerland of Wallins was unloading a shotgun at the home when the gun accidentally discharged, and the shotgun pellets went through a wall, striking three people in the next room. Twenty-five year old Jason Maggard was transported to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington, where he was treated and released.  Maggard's wife, Carrie, was treated at Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital and released. Ashley Maggard was flown to University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. Her condition was unavailable Wednesday night. Police are still investigating the incident.


State Social Services Make Changes

State social services officials told lawmakers Wednesday they are changing the way they investigate child abuse and neglect cases, a move designed to curtail child deaths. Patricia Wilson, the commissioner for Community Based Services in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told a legislative committee a review of child fatalities over the past two years has prompted the cabinet to make changes. Some of those changes, which will take effect in January, include talking to more people other than immediate family members about the child and ensuring social workers are not spending time on duplicate meetings or paperwork. The cabinet started reviewing all deaths related to abuse and neglect in January 2010. Kayden Branham died in May 2009 after drinking Liquid Fire at a home where methamphetamine was allegedly made. Both Kayden and his mother Alisha Branham were under the supervision of the cabinet at the time of Kayden's death.


Madisonville Lawyer Todd P'Pool Files To Run For Attorney General

Madisonville lawyer, 37 year old Todd P'Pool filed candidacy papers Wednesday declaring his intent to run for the GOP nomination for attorney general in the May primary. P'Pool, who has been elected twice as Hopkins County attorney, says he would fight to protect the coal industry from burdensome regulations imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He said an EPA "power grab" also is hurting Kentucky farmers. He says he also would join attorneys general from other states to try to stop federal health care reforms. P'Pool, founder of the faith-based Western Kentucky Teen Challenge drug treatment program, says, if elected, he would crack down on illegal drugs.


Kentucky Included In Dannon Settlement

Attorney General Jack Conway announced Wednesday that Kentucky will participate in a settlement with The Dannon Company, Inc. to resolve allegations of deceptive advertising. Dannon has agreed to pay $21 million to Kentucky and 38 other states to settle allegations that the company made unlawful claims in the advertising, marketing, packaging and selling of Activia yogurts and DanActive dairy drinks that were not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence at the time the claims were made. The $21 million payment is the largest to date in a multistate settlement with a food producer. Kentucky will receive more than $911,000 for its portion of the settlement.


Kentucky Worst In Animal Protection

An animal protection group has named Kentucky as the worst state in the nation for laws that protect animals.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund says it looked at more than 4,000 pages of statutes in reaching its conclusions and says Kentucky is the worst for the fourth consecutive year. The organization cites the state's lack of felony provisions for extreme neglect or abandonment and lack of animal fighting provisions among reasons for its ranking.

The five states named as the best for animals are the same as last year: Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Oregon and California.

Joining Kentucky at the bottom of the list are North Dakota, Idaho, Mississippi and Iowa.


Car Crashes Into Waffle House

The cleanup is over in Lexington after a car slammed into the wall of a Waffle House restaurant.
According to Lexington Police, a man was driving on Richmond Road when he suffered from a seizure. His car hit another vehicle, hopped over the median, and then slammed into the Waffle House at full speed.
Nobody in the restaurant was hurt.


Olin Brass Company May Move To Kentucky

A company that makes and distributes copper and copper-alloy products is considering moving its headquarters from southwestern Illinois to Kentucky.

Olin Brass is mulling the move to Louisville, affecting about 20 high-paying jobs.

The company says a final decision hasn't been made and a site hasn't been chosen.

Olin Brass is a division of Global Brass and Copper Inc. Olin was once part of Olin Corp., which recently announced plans to move up to 1,000 jobs in its Winchester Centerfire operations from East Alton to Oxford, Miss.

East Alton Mayor Fred Bright says he was unaware of the potential move and isn't commenting.


Forest Fire Season Ends...But, Be Careful

The fall forest fire hazard season officially ended Wednesday, but Kentucky officials are reminding people that a few warm, dry days could make conditions right for fires.

State Division of Forestry officials say everyone should be careful when doing any kind of burning outdoors.

The agency has fought more than 1,800 wildland fires in 2010, burning more than 55,000 acres. Forestry officials say the causes of this year's wildfires were arson in 1,095 cases, burning debris in 446 fires and lightning, faulty equipment or other causes in 147 cases.

The Forestry Division says dead trees and limbs from storm damage in recent years also made fighting fires harder this year.


Thoroughbred Fatalities Study

An updated analysis of thoroughbred deaths has been released providing a look at fatal injuries to the animals over a two-year period.

The Jockey Club released the information on Wednesday. Veterinarian and epidemiologist Tim Parkin of the University of Glasgow performed the study, which includes two years' data in the Equine Injury Database, the North American database for racing injuries.

The analysis covered 754,932 starts between Nov. 1, 2008, and Oct. 31, 2010, and showed the prevalence of fatal injury dropped to 2.00 per 1,000 starts. Information reported in March showed a rate of 2.04 for the one-year period from Nov. 1, 2008, to Oct. 31, 2009.

Parkin says the cumulative two-year data revealed a statistically significant difference in the prevalence of fatality on turf and synthetic surfaces as opposed to dirt. The difference in the prevalence of fatality between synthetic and turf surfaces wasn't statistically significant.


Money Buried On A Golf Course

A man who was a neighbor and golfing partner of northern Kentucky homebuilder Bill Erpenbeck has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about burying stolen cash on a golf course.

Steven Michael Skidmore entered his plea on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Covington. Sentencing of the 48-year-old Skidmore was set for March 28.

Skidmore now lives in Florida and is free on bond. He could not be reached for comment after the court hearing and his attorneys declined comment.

The plea agreement revealed the amount of money dug up as $257,611.

In the summer of 2009, Erpenbeck called agents to the Florida prison where he is serving 25 years for bank fraud and said he gave Skidmore a quarter-million dollars to hide for him.


Boomer Man Sentenced

Zachary Dye of Boomer, a former employee of Direct Buy, has been sentenced to two years in jail after  pleading guilty in October to four counts of fraudulent schemes. Investigators say he claimed he was working as a contractor for DirectBuy while he made a promise to four families to make their home improvements a reality. But instead, he left with their money, leaving them with gutted kitchens. Dye has been ordered to participate in a work release program so he can work to repay the families the $68,000 they gave him. Dye says he really felt he could do what he promised, but the money went to feed his gambling addiction.


Man Found Dead At Huntington Mall Identified

Barboursville Police have identified a man who was found dead in a car near the Sears service entrance
in the Huntington Mall parking lot on Tuesday as 75 year old James N. Hudgins of Milton. Police believe he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The body was examined by the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office and released to Heck Funeral Home in Milton.


Former Charleston Police Captain Charged

Former Charleston Police Captain Myron White was charged Wednesday with one count of battery and three counts of harassment. Melissa C. Pauley, who worked at the Bob Evans restaurant in Kanawha City, accused White of harassing her, saying that if she wouldn't go out with her he would kill himself. On May 3rd, White allegedly cornered another woman, Janie George, inside the Bob Evans. George says she felt the unwanted physical contact was insulting and harassing. White was placed on leave in May when Charleston Police started investigating the allegations. On October 16th, he returned to Bob Evans to find Melissa Pauley again. White allegedly told another Bob Evans employee to let Melissa know that he was still getting paid while on administrative leave and that she hadn't done anything to slow him down. White, who started with the Charleston Police Department in August 1979 and was one of four captains, retired in November. Police Chief Brent Webster says, White became fully vested when he reached 30 years with the department last year, and he will receive his retirement.


Police Arrest Scott Depot Woman

Charleston Police arrested Georgiana Ciavarello of Nitro Wednesday and charged her with embezzlement. Ciavarello is accused of stealing more than $700,000 while being employed as a bookkeeper for Quail Ridge Construction Co.of Charleston. She's accused of writing herself hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent checks, cashing the checks and then altering the company's accounting journal to conceal the transactions. Ciavarello faces 11 charges of embezzlement and could spend at least 10 years in jail on each charge. Her bond was set at $75,000. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 22nd.


Grant To Clean Up Abandoned Coal Mines

The Department of the Interior says it’s distributing more than $395 million to 25 states and three American Indian groups to clean up abandoned coal mines. The Crow and Hopi tribes and Navajo Nation are getting more than $9 million. The money comes from fees on U.S. coal production.
Wyoming, the nation’s No. 1 coal producer, gets more than $133 million — the biggest single award.

Much of the money is going to eastern coal producing states.
West Virginia, the nation’s No. 2 coal producer, gets $51.3 million, while Pennsylvania gets $47.6 million. Kentucky will receive $37.7 million and Virginia just over $9 million.
Illinois gets more than $17.2 million and Indiana $13.1 million.


PSC Concludes Investigation

The West Virginia Public Service Commission has concluded its investigation into prolonged power outages which affected more than 334,000 customers in West Virginia last December. American Electric Power and Allegheny Power have been ordered to do right of way clearing and tree trimming, improve field communications, improve customer service during outages and file progress reports on storm preparedness improvements in March and September.


Teays Valley Speedway Robbed

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is investigating a male suspect entered the Speedway on Mount Vernon Road in Teays Valley early Wednesday morning, showed a handgun and demanded money. The person left with an undisclosed amount of cash and headed toward Hurricane on foot. The male suspect was wearing a green Carhartt jacket with a hood, a ski mask over his face and light-colored shoes.


Trial Set In Marquee Cinemas Robbery

Joshawa Clark was in Cabell County Circuit Court for a motions hearing Wednesday morning after being charged with with robbery and conspiracy. Huntington police say he helped Dustin Shaver rob the Marquee Cinemas at Pullman Square last year. Police say Shaver tied up several of the employees before getting away with thousands of dollars in cash. He has already pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery with a firearm. As part of the plea agreement. Shaver will cooperate with prosecutors during Clark’s trial which is set for February 8th.


West Virginia Gets Grant To Fight Sexual Assault

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has awarded nearly $170,000 to the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services. The grant money, provided by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, will pay to monitor and help nine sexual assault programs across West Virginia.


Grants Awarded To Fight Drug Abuse

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has awarded more than $1.8 million to 27 county commissions and other organizations to fight drug use across West Virginia. Grants range from $29,960 for the Mason County Commission to provide job training and other services to $200,000 for the state Supreme Court to expand juvenile drug courts. Other organizations receiving grants include the Kanawha, Putnam and Fayette county commissions and the Marshall University Research Corp.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Franklin Circuit Judge To Rule On Horsetrack Wagers

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas D. Wingate says he will decide before the end of the year whether to allow Kentucky racetracks to offer betting on races that have already been run. The tracks say revenues from the wagers would improve purses at Kentucky tracks. On Tuesday, the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, the Revenue Department and the eight racetracks in Kentucky argued it is legal to allow such betting, but a conservative advocacy group, the Family Foundation, said it is illegal and is nothing more than video slot machines. The state and the tracks filed a request for a legal ruling on the matter in July after the racing commission approved new rules to let the tracks install games such as "Instant Racing," an electronic form of gambling with many similarities to slot machines. Both sides indicated they are likely to appeal the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court if they lose.


National Weather Service Issues Winter Storm Alert

The National Weather Service says a winter storm will blast the Bluegrass with a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain Wednesday and Thursday. Lexington and a number of surrounding counties in south-central Kentucky will be under a winter storm warning from 4:00 P.M. Wednesday to 1:00 P.M. Thursday, while the warning for eastern Kentucky is for 9:00 P.M. Wednesday to 10:00 A.M. Thursday.

The National Weather Service in Jackson says the most significant impacts from the storm will be from freezing rain and sleet. Most locations could pick up between one quarter and one half of an inch of ice accumulation from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, posing a threat for downed tree limbs, power outages and hazardous travel.

Nathan Foster, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Louisville, says an inch or two of sleet and snow could fall, then be covered by a quarter-inch or more of freezing rain that could coat power lines, trees and other surfaces with ice. Foster says it's definitely going to start as snow, but, overnight Wednesday, that should turn into sleet, and by Thursday morning, folks will probably be driving to work in sleet or freezing rain. The sleet/freezing rain should continue through Thursday morning and begin to taper off in the afternoon.


Environmental Groups File To Intervene In Coal Settlement

Environmental groups North Carolina-based Appalachian Voices, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Riverkeeper and New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance filed a motion Tuesday to intervene in an agreed settlement that would require International Coal Group and Frasure Creek Mining to pay the state $660,000 to settle claims of lax procedures and violations at water testing laboratories. The four groups want standing in the state's suit against the companies because they say the state Energy and Environment Cabinet appears to allege only negligence, and the cabinet is at fault for not catching the violations, while the two coal companies are guilty of "reckless disregard for the law if not fraudulent reporting." IGC has agreed to pay $350,000 in penalties, and Frasure Creek has agreed to pay $310,000, but Donna Lisenby, a member of Appalachian Voices of Boone, N.C., says Kentucky officials could have imposed a maximum of $103 million in fines for more than 2,700 violations the state found.

Tuesday afternoon, Judge Phillip Shepherd asked the state to post the settlement for public comment for 30 days before he decides whether to approve it. Shepherd gave the four groups until December 22nd to make additional filings, and he gave ICG, Frasure Creek Mining and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet until January 7th to respond.


Texting Law To Kick In

In Kentucky last year, there were more than 57,000 crashes - and more than 200 fatalities -- attributed to driver distraction, inattention and cell phone use. For all Kentucky drivers: fines begin on January 1, 2011, for anyone caught texting while driving and for those under 18 who use a cell phone while driving. Violators will be liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense, plus court costs.

Governor Steve Beshear signed House Bill 415 into law on April 15, 2010, banning texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion. For drivers over 18, it allows the use of global positioning devices and reading, selecting or entering a telephone number or name for the purpose of making a phone call. Texting is allowed only to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid.

For drivers under 18, no use of personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is allowed while the vehicle is in motion. The use of a global positioning system is allowed, but manually entering information must be completed while the vehicle is stopped.

Emergency and public safety vehicles are exempt when the use of a personal communication device is essential to the operator's official duties.


Senator Paul Announces Staff

Rand Paul, who will replace Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning in January, has announced some of his staff, including some who worked for Bunning.
William Henderson, who has been Bunning's legislative director and counsel and staff director of Bunning's Banking Committee subcommittee, will be Paul's deputy chief of staff and legislative director.

Rachel McCubbin will be Paul's deputy state director. She has worked in state operations for Bunning as a field representative in the 1st District.

Moira Bagley will be his communications director. She has had the same job with the Kentucky Republican Party.

Paul previously announced he had named Doug Stafford, a longtime Washington political operative who advised the campaign, to be his chief of staff, and Cayce Moffett, a campaign intern, as aide.


Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Presbyterian Church

A California man contends in a lawsuit filed in Louisville that the Presbyterian Church should be held accountable for not protecting children of missionaries from sexual abuse.

Lawyers for Sean Coppedge say he is seeking damages for emotional distress, lost wages, counseling costs and other injuries in the lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court.

The church issued a report in October documenting sexual or physical abuse involving its overseas missions between 1950 and 1990. Most of the victims were identified as children of missionaries in Africa and Asia.

Coppedge said he was sexually assaulted by an older juvenile at a Congo mission boarding house in 1988 and told by the senior Presbyterian employee at the boarding house to stay quiet about it.


Cincinnati Symphony Music At Airport

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will be sounding more elegant.

Airport officials and the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras have agreed to pipe the local musicians' work into the terminal sound system.

The symphony's brass quintet celebrated the agreement with a live performance in Concourse B Monday afternoon.

The airport will play recorded music by the orchestras, which have sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.

Holiday selections could include "The Nutcracker" and "Christmas with the Pops," which featured vocalist Rosemary Clooney and trumpeter Doc Severinsen.


Water Company Gets Rate Hike

The Kentucky Public Service Commission had granted Kentucky-American Water Co. a 29 percent rate increase.

The PSC said in a news release on Tuesday that it approved a rate hike that was less than three-quarters of the increase the utility had filed for.

The agency says a water customer using 5,000 gallons per month will see the bill increase from $27.46 to $35.40.

The hike will increase Kentucky-American's yearly revenue by $18.8 million.

The company had asked for $25.85 million more -- a 38 percent increase. The company says 90 percent of the increase will pay for the cost of a new treatment plant on the Kentucky River and a pipeline from the Owen County plant to Lexington.

The company serves about 119,000 customers in 10 central Kentucky counties.


Abandoned Toys Along Highway

If Santa was making a test flight over Kentucky, he needs to adjust his GPS.

Police in La Grange say 15 boxes of toys were found scattered along a road on Monday.

Police Chief Kevin Collett said a friend of his brought the boxes, containing 180 toys, to the police station after finding them along Ky. 53 between Ballardsville and La Grange, about 25 miles northeast of Louisville.

Collett figures the toys fell off a truck. He doesn't know whether they were on the way to a store or a charity.

The chief says he'd hate for kids to miss out on Christmas gifts and hopes someone calls the La Grange police and claims the toys. They'll need to be able to specify what the toys are.


Salyersville Business Destroyed By Fire

It was a bitterly cold morning Tuesday as Magoffin County firefighters battled flames for hours at Bailey's Carpet and Hardware Store on Route 7 in Salyersville. The building's smoke alarm went off at 2:00 A.M., but although firefighters arrived just minutes later, the building was engulfed in flames in about 15 minutes, leaving the business a total loss. No one was hurt in the fire. The state fire marshal and state police are continuing to investigate the cause.


Four KY Counties Eligible For Drought Loans

Farmers in four Kentucky counties are eligible for loan assistance because they neighbor Tennessee counties that have been declared disaster areas due to damages from drought and excessive heat this year.

The U.S. Agriculture Department says the counties are Bell and Whitley in eastern Kentucky and Calloway and Graves in western Kentucky. To apply for assistance, contact the local Farm Service Agency county office.

Loan applications are being taken through Aug. 8.


Artist Chosen For Kentucky Derby Festival Poster

The Kentucky Derby Festival has chosen an artist for the 2011 festival poster, which goes to print this week.

The poster is being unveiled in January, and artist Sarah Lynn Richards will attend the premiere in Louisville to sign copies.

The poster goes to print Thursday at a downtown Louisville printing company and will be unveiled Jan. 13.

The series of posters was launched in 1981 with Peter Max's "Bluegrass Pegasus."


Bomb Charges Dropped In Charleston Case

On June 14th, officers were called to the West Side area of Charleston where they found 45 year old William A. Anderson of Sissonville had shown up on a porch of a Madison Street home with a shotgun and a handgun concealed under his trench coat. In a search of his vehicle parked nearby, authorities discovered shotguns, assault rifles, several rounds of ammunition and two homemade bombs. On Monday, Anderson pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment, a charge related to another incident four days earlier when he threatened a couple with a gun. Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster agreed that the result of a police search of Anderson's van was not admissible in court. Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Drummond said the state could not proceed against Anderson without that evidence and the bomb charges were dropped. Anderson will return to court on January 13th. He remains incarcerated on a $25,000 bond.


Teen Arrested Following Shooting

A western Kentucky teenager has been taken to a Tennessee hospital after police say he was shot in the chest playing a form of Russian roulette.

Police responding to a report of a shooting Sunday night found the 16-year-old having trouble breathing. The Paducah Sun reported the youth first told officers he was shot while walking along a street, but later said the shooting occurred in the house. He was transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

During questioning of a 15-year-old boy on Monday, police say they learned the younger boy had fired the shot and hid the pistol.

The 15-year-old is charged with first-degree assault, tampering with evidence and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. Police say the latter charge relates to the boy's earlier conviction in a stolen firearms case.


Consol Energy Cited

The state Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training has cited Canonsburg, Pa.-based Consol Energy for a violation that state inspectors say contributed to the death of 39 year old Jesse Adkins who died after he was pinned between a piece of heavy equipment and a rock that fell from a wall on July 29th at Consol's Loveridge No. 22 mine in Marion County. The state mine office says walls in the area weren’t supported well enough to protect miners from falling rock.

Consol is the nation's largest underground coal mine operator. Most of its mines are in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.


Former Credit Union CEO Pleads Guilty To Embezzlement

Fifty-seven year old Bernie Metz, former CEO of Center Valley Credit Union in Wheeling, faces up to seven years in prison when sentenced on January 3, 2010. Metz pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $9 million from the credit union and forging a check to the construction company that built her Roadworthy Restaurant and Cabins in West Liberty, West Virginia. In exchange for her guilty plea, federal officials agreed to not prosecute her family members.


Lawmakers Consider Permanent Ban On Coal Slurry Injections

During an interim session meeting Tuesday, West Virginia lawmakers considered a permanent ban on new wells that pump liquid coal waste underground. Draft legislation unveiled would also offer a tax break to encourage alternatives to coal slurry injections. As a cheap means of storage, coal operators have been pumping wastewater from the washing process into used-up mines. Last year, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced a moratorium on new injection sites following concerns that slurry was contaminating local water supplies. The interim subcommittee will revisit its draft in January. The bill would make the ban part of state law and would reduce income taxes for operators that reduce or dehydrate the slurry they produce.


Trial Rescheduled For South Central Regional Jail Inmate

Officials at South Central Regional Jail say 32 year old Roy Harvey of Cabin Creek bit off part of Telly S. Larry's nose after the two got into a card game fight. Harvey had been jailed after violating his parole for drug and robbery charges. Harvey's trial has been delayed after public defense attorney Shawn Bayliss said in a court hearing Monday that Harvey has been hospitalized in psychiatric facilities twice since that October event and has attempted suicide twice. Bayliss said prison officials haven't been able to administer Harvey's prescribed medications properly, and he requested another psychiatric evaluation. The judge agreed and rescheduled the trial for March 14th.


West Virginia State Troopers No Longer Employed

State Police Trooper J.R. Martin and Trooper Bruce Helms are no longer employed by the West Virginia State Police following investigations for unrelated incidents in Preston County. Martin's employment ended October 4th.  In May, he crashed his cruiser into a guardrail, dropped contact with 911 dispatchers and was found drinking in a fire hall four hours later, while he was on duty and in uniform. Helms' last day was November 5th. In August, Helms was charged with reckless driving, domestic assault and weapons offenses after bumping a woman's vehicle and firing a rifle. His trial is set for February 4th.


Huntington City Council Considers Ban Of Synthetic Marijuana

Huntington's City Council is considering banning sales of synthetic marijuana and is considering a similar move against synthetic cocaine. A federal ban on five chemicals use to make synthetic marijuana goes into effect for at least one year starting Christmas Day. The products consist of plant material coated with chemicals that mimic the active ingredient in marijuana. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency says the chemicals have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and there is no oversight of the manufacturing process.


Plan To Move Charleston Work-Release Center Dropped

A plan to move the Charleston work-release center and other state offices to the former West Virginia Rehabilitation Center, an 11-building complex in Institute, has been dropped. Former Governor Joe Manchin had suggested using the building  to expand the states work release program to help ease prison overcrowding.


Union Urging Rejection Of WVU Hospitals' Contract

Local 814 of the AFL-CIO has been negotiating with West Virginia University Hospitals since August to replace a contract expiring December 31st. The union, which represents 868 workers, says a proposed three-year contract offers a 25-cent hourly raise and has other proposals it calls “mean-spirited.” Charlotte Bennett, vice president of human resources, called the WVUH proposal its “last, best and final” offer, and recommended passage. Bennett said the hospital is offering raises of 45 cents per hour in 2011, 50 cents per hour in 2012, and 50 cents per hour in 2013. The union says WVUH wants the right to fire an employee returning from medical leave if his position is no longer readily available and to punish employees for leaving early, even with a supervisor’s permission. The union is recommending members reject the offer in a ratification vote set for Friday.

West Virginia University Hospitals includes Ruby Memorial Hospital, the Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center, WVU Children’s Hospital, Chestnut Ridge Center and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.
The affected employees fill jobs ranging from housekeeping and food service to phlebotomy and instrument sterilization.

Monday, December 13, 2010


National Weather Service Warns Of Second Storm

Central and eastern Kentucky have already been pounded this week by a snowstorm that left roads covered and schools cancelled, but the National Weather Service in Louisville says a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain could hit the Bluegrass on Wednesday night and Thursday. Sunday night's storm brought 4.3 inches of snow to Lexington, according to the National Weather Service. Snow totals ranged from 2 to 4 inches, with some accumulation of about 5 inches near the Tennessee line. According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, Heidelburg in Lee County had received 10 inches by Monday morning.


Whitley County Sheriff Arraigned

Indicted Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge was in court for the first time Monday morning, answering to charges related to funds missing from his office accounts. He's also accused of disposing of seized weapons. Hodge had nothing to say in court when he was arraigned on nearly two dozen charges, but attorneys entered not guilty pleas on the sheriff's behalf. Hodge, who bonded out of jail shortly after his November arrest, is still working as the Whitley County sheriff. Judge Paul Braden excused himself from the case after Hodge's attorneys asked the judge to step down because of his relationship through the courts with Hodge. Hodge is due back in court January 18, 2011.


Traffic Signal At Shelby Valley High School

 Multiple traffic accidents resulting in several deaths at the entrance to Shelby Valley High School at Douglas Parkway prompted the Pike CountyFiscal Court to request a traffic control study from the Kentucky TransportationCabinet in September of last year.

In early December of this year, traffic signals were installed at the dangerous intersection.

Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford has made several attempts to draw attention to this matter in the past.

“I contacted the Federal Highway Administration about this before and was turned down,” Rutherford said. “Putting a light there would enhance the safety of the people and it is something that needs to be done immediately.”

Rutherford was elated to find out the traffic signals had been installed.



Several inches of snow and arctic cold temperatures blanketed much of Kentucky, icing roads and closing schools across the state.

Parts of eastern Kentucky saw 5 inches of snow, including Magoffin, Wolfe and Laurel counties, 4 inches in Powell County and at Corbin. Pike County also saw nearly five inches.  At the Louisville airport, 2.6 inches of snow fell Sunday and into Monday morning, with a total of about 3 inches on the ground.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet called in snow and ice removal crews early Sunday morning to have their trucks loaded and ready. Crews worked continuously into the Monday morning rush hour.


Escapee Apprehended

Kentucky State Police say 36-year-old Elton James McCawley Jr., an inmate who escaped from Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, was located in Fayette County at 6:00 P.M. EST Monday, about 48 hours after he went missing. McCawley was serving a 20-year sentence for a robbery conviction. Police say McCawley's last known address is Rockfield, in Warren County.


Double Hand Transplant Recipient To Return Home For Holidays

A Kentucky hospital says a double hand transplant recipient will be able to return home to Oklahoma for the holidays.

A statement from Jewish Hospital in Louisville says it will be the first trip home for Edmond, Okla., chiropractor Rich Edwards since the initial 17 1/2 hour operation in August. Edwards' hands were left mangled in a 2006 truck fire.

His double hand transplant was the first performed at Jewish Hospital and the third in the nation.

The statement says a celebration will be held today for Edwards. He and one of his surgeons were expected to give brief remarks.


Golf Packages At KY State Parks

The best golf in Kentucky is now available at the 18 courses operated by the Kentucky Department of Parks. For 2011, the Kentucky Golf Trail is again offering a “trail card” that provides unlimited paid greens fees for the cardholder.

The trail card fees for 2011 will continue to include the daily play fee in the purchase price.  The unlimited paid greens fee trail cards are sold at all state park golf courses and are valid through Dec. 31, 2011.  Cards start at $475 for senior players (62 and older.)  For more information on the trail card, visit

Kentucky State Parks features two golf packages: The “Chip Shot” golf package, which includes overnight lodging and 18 holes of golf with a golf cart, start at $59 plus tax per person based on double occupancy through March 31, 2011.

The park system’s popular all inclusive – “Tee’s and Zzz’s” package – includes lodging, breakfast and dinner, 18 holes with a golf cart, gift card, and preferred tee times. The winter rates for this package start at $89 plus tax per person based on double occupancy through March 31, 2011.

Daily winter rate greens fees range from $11 to $17 weekdays and $11 to $22 weekends (golf cart not included) through March 31, 2011.  For more information on daily rates and golf packages visit

There are 18 state park courses to choose from. The courses at Grayson Lake, General Burnside, Dale Hollow, Mineral Mounds, My Old Kentucky Home, Pine Mountain and Yatesville Lake – have received national and statewide recognition in recent years.

Kentucky State Resort Parks feature full-service lodges and restaurants, along with other recreational opportunities such as hiking trails, tennis courts and picnic areas. For more information about state parks and golf courses, visit


Study Looks At State's Largest Three Airports

 A new state-sponsored study examines Kentucky's three largest airports and possible incentives that could give the struggling facilities an economic boost.

The study by the state Cabinet for Economic Development suggests ways to boost the three airports in northern Kentucky, Louisville and Lexington.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports that all three have lost passengers over the past several years, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport has lost more than two-thirds of its flights due to downsizing by Delta Airlines.

The study outlines the economic development incentives the state currently offers, examines incentives in other states, and analyzes three new incentives proposed by the three airports.


Woman Found Near Creek In McCracken County Ruled A Homicide

Authorities say a 21-year-old McCracken County woman who had been reported missing was found dead, and they are calling her death a homicide.

Sheriff Jon Hayden said the body of Casandra R. Evrard was discovered Saturday afternoon near a creek west of Paducah. He said she had been reported missing Friday after she failed to show up for work. She was last seen at a residence not far from where her body was discovered. Officials conducted an extensive search for her. Hayden said he believes Evrard died Friday afternoon.

He said an autopsy was to be conducted, and a search warrant was issued for the residence where Evrard was last seen.


Knott County Native ...Powerball Winner

A 24-year-old lawn service business owner from Louisville is the winner of a $19.1 million Powerball jackpot.
The Kentucky Lottery Corp. said in a statement that Muncie Meade came forward Monday to claim the prize from Saturday's drawing. Meade said he bought the winning $5 quick pick at a Thorntons gas station with proceeds he won from a scratch-off ticket last week.

Originally from Knott County, Meade said he and his brothers were left on their own after his mother died when he was 16. He said his winnings will go toward buying each of his brothers a home. The rest will be invested as he and his fiancee, Allyson McCormick, start planning their wedding.
The winning numbers were 1, 8, 10, 19, 20 and Powerball 23.


Christmas Tree Fire

Officials say fire that injured a Claiborne County man Sunday was started with a live Christmas tree.

William Marcum was being treated at a Kentucky hospital for injuries he suffered in the early morning house fire.

New Tazewell Fire Department Capt. Brian Wood says Marcum was transported to the University of Kentucky Medical Center after being rescued from the blaze.

Marcum's wife and the couple's two grandchildren escaped the flames.

Wood says Marcum was pulled out by two New Tazewell police officers, both of whom were later treated for smoke inhalation as well.

Officials say the fire started in the living room, most likely due to the combination of a dry Christmas tree and hot decorative light bulbs.


Eagle Watch Weekends Set

Four Kentucky parks will host eagle watch weekends in January and February.

A statement from the parks department says it will sponsor the wildlife-watching as American Bald Eagles gather around lakes in western and south-central Kentucky looking for food. The park tours allow participants to observe and learn about the birds of prey.

The parks hosting eagle watches are Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park on Jan. 21-23; Lake Barkley State Resort Park on Jan. 28-30; Dale Hollow State Resort Park on Feb. 4-5 and Kenlake State Resort Park on Feb. 4-6.

The parks department offers the weekends in cooperation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


Macy's To Build In West Virginia

Department store giant Macy's Inc. said Monday it plans to build a $150 million distribution center and hire 1,900 full- and part-time employees in Martinsburg in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. The 1.3 million-square-foot facility will fill Internet orders for Macy's in the eastern United States. Work is expected to start next spring and be completed in time for operations to start in April 2012. Macy's said it plans to hire 1,200 full- and part-time employees and about 700 seasonal workers. Chief Executive Terry Lundgren says Macy's needs the operation to meet growing Internet sales.


Snow Closes Schools And Covers Interstates

All public schools were closed in 52 counties, while some others were closed in three counties, Monday, and highway crews were plowing and treating roads across West Virginia as a winter storm moved through the state, covering most interstate and Appalachian Corridor highways. A winter storm warning was in effect through Tuesday morning as the National Weather Service predicted lower elevations were expected to get between 6 inches and 12 inches of snow, while the high elevations were expected to get more.


Trial Date Reset In Huntington Murder

A new trial date of February 28, 2011 has been set for convicted drug dealer Thomas Redding from Georgia who's charged with the murder of Billy James Jordan. Huntington Police sayJordan died at Cabell Huntington Hospital from injuries sustained when he was shot at the corner of 9th Avenue and 27th Street in Huntington in July 2009. Redding is currently serving a 69 month federal prison term after pleading guilty to federal drug charges in August.

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