Saturday, December 25, 2010


Man Charged With Fatal Stabbing

Louisville Police have arrested 54 year old Ronald Craft and charged him with murder. Police say Craft fatally stabbed a black male subject at 15th and West Broadway just before 6:30 P.M. on Christmas Eve. The victim was taken to University of Louisville Hospital where he died.


London Woman Charged With Stabbing

Police say a London woman fatally stabbed her boyfriend on Christmas Day. The Laurel County Coroner confirms that 29 year old Christopher Allen was stabbed to death Saturday morning in a home on Whitley Street in London. His girlfriend, 22 year old Roi Coilett, was taken to the Laurel County Jail, charged with his murder.


Kentucky And Tennessee Wake Up To White Christmas

For the first time in years, residents in Tennessee and Kentucky woke up to snow on Christmas Day. The snow that began falling overnight on Christmas Eve was expected to continue through Sunday with additional accumulations.

By Christmas morning, the National Weather Service reported that Lexington had 2 inches on the ground, Louisville had 1 inch and Bowling Green had 4 inches.

In Middle Tennessee, accumulations were around 1 inch in Nashville and more to the south of the city with another inch expected before the end of the day. Spotters reported to the weather service that 3 inches of snow fell in Chattanooga and the higher elevations along the North Carolina border got 4-5 inches of snow.


Louisville Man Enters Not Guilty Plea

Steven Askew, a man charged with wanton endangerment and criminal mischief, has entered a not guilty plea Friday. Witnesses say Askew used a chain saw to cut into a gas pipe at a closed gas station in Louisville on Thursday, igniting gas fumes and creating a small explosion. The explosion tossed a pickup truck into the air and created a crater in the ground that partially engulfed the truck. No one was injured. Jefferson District Court Judge David Holton ordered Askew held on a $50,000 bond.


Former Governor Vying For Senate Minority Leader

The GOP picked up four new members in the November election, giving them a 22 to 15 majority. Former Kentucky Governor and now State Senator Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, is running in a hotly-contested battle to replace retiring Senator Ed Worley, D-Richmond, as Senate minority leader. Carroll is squaring off with Senator R.J. Palmer of Winchester. Carroll, 79, is the oldest member of the Senate and Palmer, 40, is the youngest. State Senator Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, who is one of the most liberal members of the Senate, declined to say who she is supporting. But, she says Democrats need a leader with a strong voice to challenge Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, who is running for governor next year. Senator Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, says the minority leader race pits liberals against conservative Democrats. Carroll is known for given frequent fiery floor speeches and is often one of a few Democrats to vote against Republican measures. Republicans, in turn, almost never allow any of Carroll's bills to pass.


KY Highway Fatalities Down

According to state highway safety director Boyd Sigler, traffic deaths in Kentucky are on pace to be the lowest this year since at least the early 1990s. There were 791 deaths in 2009, which was the lowest since 1994. Sigler says he thinks Kentucky drivers are focusing more on things like buckling up and not driving while intoxicated. Starting in 2011, Kentucky State Police will be issuing tickets for texting while driving, under a rule state lawmakers approved earlier this year. Police have been issuing warnings since July about the new law. As of last  Wednesday, there were 739 traffic fatalities in Kentucky.


Shooting In Huntington

Sheldon Zane Thacker, 19, was arrested Friday and charged with felony malicious wounding following a shooting on Highlawn Avenue in Huntington. Witnesses told police they heard two men arguing before agreeing to meet in front of  Thacker's home. Following the shooting, Thacker reportedly ran into his residence and changed clothing. Huntington Police found two handguns, ammunition similar to casings found near the scene of the shooting and clothing matching the description of that worn by Thacker. The male victim was treated at an area hospital for a shotgun wound to the leg.


West Virginia Wakes Up To White Christmas

Most of West Virginia woke up to a white Christmas Saturday morning as much of the state picked up 1 to 2 additional inches of snow overnight Friday. This was the first white Christmas in Charleston since 1999 and the first one in Huntington and Parkersburg since 1993. Places in West Virginia on Saturday morning with the most snow, old and new, were Canaan Valley and some of the mountains around Richwood in Nicholas County. Ken Batty, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, says a large storm dropping significant snow in North Carolina on Saturday afternoon will move up the East Coast over the next couple of days, most of it remaining east of the Charleston area. Snow showers from the storm could continue through Monday night, and several inches of snow could fall in much of the state by Monday afternoon.


Capito Says She Won't Ask For Earmaks

U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito says she will not ask for earmarked federal funding for her district in the 2011 or 2012 federal budgets. Last year, Capito requested 87 "earmark" projects, including sewer/water projects for 27 communities, 5 highway projects and Charleston library construction. She secured $21.4 million for 19 projects. The Congressional Republican Conference voted in mid-November to ban 2012 earmark requests.
Senator Joe Manchin is asking why elected officials would need to block community projects as they improve the process. Manchin says, "Our constituents elected us to represent them, to do as much as we can to make sure West Virginians get what they need, so I won't be hiding behind a party decision. I'm not going to roll over and say OK, I won't do that part of my job for the next two years."

In 2011, Representative Nick Joe Rahall submitted 77 requests for 3rd District projects, including 13 Corps of Engineers projects, the King Coal Highway, US 52, five other highway projects, mine safety training, and numerous water, sewer and health programs. Rahall says they are vital to communities he represents, and he's proud of every one of them.


Some WV Doctors Switch To Electronic Medical Records

Through the West Virginia Regional Health Information Technology Extension Center, a state program has helped nearly 500 doctors in West Virginia switch to electronic medical records. The center provides education, training and support services to aid the state's primary care providers, as well as helping those providers to be eligible to receive federal Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments. The program ranks sixth in the nation for its physician recruitment success rate. The group's goal is to recruit 1,000 providers.
The statewide program was created as part of a national program by the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Still Time To Give

With the year coming to an end and Christmas behind us, the American Red Cross wants to remind you there's still time to give and receive. Through January 9th, blood donors at the American Red Cross are entered in a daily drawing for a $500 gift certificate of their choice from

Donors of all blood types are needed, with type O negative currently in high demand. Those eligible to donate must be in good general health, weigh at least 110 pounds and be at least 17 years old with appropriate identification.

To donate, call 800-RED-CROSS or log on to for more information.


West Virginia Students Have Online Tool

For West Virginia students, officials with the state Department of Education say the online Learn21 site is a great way to stay on track with science, social studies and math. The site lets students play interactive games to help sharpen their skills in the classroom. They can review material taught in class, practice work they are currently learning or move forward and learn new things. New games and other content are being added to the site each month.

The department says some West Virginia students tested the games before they went live on the website and have been instrumental in choosing its content.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Meth Bust

Acting on an anonymous tip, Kentucky State Police in Harlan raided a meth lab in the community of Artemus on Thursday night, confiscating 10 pounds of finished meth and arresting Davis C. Mills Sr., 54, of Artemus, who was charged with 11 counts of manufacturing methamphethamine, 35 counts of possession and 11 counts of theft of anhydrous ammonia with intent to manufacture drugs. Mills was transported to the Knox County Detention Center.


Owensboro Museum Begins Mine Tours

A new exhibit at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History has features of an underground coal mine and includes artifacts from old western Kentucky mines. Tours of the Coal Mine Gallery, which began this week in the basement of the museum, features a 1930s-era mine that was inspired by the Rudy Mine in Bon Harbor, which closed in 1954. The exhibit includes a ride on an old-fashioned elevator lit by a single red light, along with audio recordings of miners and other sound effects. Tours continue December 27-30, and after the new year, public tours will be at 3:00 P.M. on weekdays.


Christmastime Gas Prices At All-Time High

Gasoline prices jumped this week to their highest Christmastime levels in history. According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge, the average pump price in the Huntington area stood at $3.148 on Friday morning. That marked a 4.5-cent jump from Thursday and a 15.5-cent hike from a week ago. Speedway gasoline stations in Huntington reported actual pump prices at $3.20, with similar prices elsewhere.

Nationally, the average pump price stood at $3.025. West Virginia’s average pump price of $3.11 ranked 12th most expensive nationally when compared to other states and the District of Columbia. Ohio ranked 26th at $3.03. Kentucky followed in 27th with a price of $3.01.

Twenty one states reported 40-cent or greater year-on-year increases. AAA said this was the first Christmas Eve with an average at the $3 threshold.


Barboursville Fight Ends In Arrests

Barboursville Police have arrested Clifford Dewayne Scarberry, 26, and Roger Dale Dean, 21, both of Ona, Michael Dwayne Clagg, 39, and Eathan Eugene Scarberry, 20, both of Milton. Police say when they arrived at a scene outside of Lady Godiva's strip club, they found 35-year-old Harold David Shull of Milton had been severely beaten and was covered in blood. Shull and bar staff members told police he was attacked by the four men as he exited the establishment. Shull was treated and released at St. Mary's Medical Center after he received severe bruising and lacerations to his face and hand.


Murder-Suicide In Raleigh County

The Raleigh County Sheriff's Department is investigating a murder-suicide. Deputies say  64 year old Joseph Tyrone Fleming of Fairdale shot his wife Kathleen Rose Fleming, 63, and their 40 year old son, Joseph Troy Fleming, Thursday evening before turning the gun on himself. Family members discovered the son's body  in the bathtub, while Joseph and his wife were found in the couple's bedroom. All three victims had a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities say Joseph Fleming left a written note at the scene.


St. Albans Woman Dies Years After Severe Beating

Christopher Bailey, a West Virginia man serving a life sentence for inflicting permanent brain injury on his wife, Sonya Bailey, may face additional charges now that Bailey has died 16 years later. Police say, in 1994, Bailey severely beat his wife at their St. Albans home, then stuffed her in his car trunk and drove her around three states for nearly a week. He finally walked into a Kentucky hospital with her, but she was beyond help. Sonya, who was beaten into a vegetative state, had been confined to a wheelchair after spending more than a year in a coma. She required round-the-clock care in a nursing facility and was unable to communicate, feed herself or move. Christopher Bailey was the first person prosecuted under a 1994 federal spousal abuse law.


Linz Returning To WCHS

Beginning next year, Deborah Linz will return to WCHS. In order to join acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's staff as press secretary on December 13th, Linz anchored her final broadcast with local ABC and FOX broadcasting affiliates WCHS and WVAH on December 10th. Linz will leave the governor's office on December 30th in order to rejoin the WCHS news team. Linz will reportedly work in an earlier time slot, anchoring the noon and 6:00 P.M. newscasts beginning January 3rd.


WV Internet Connections Below Federal Standards

A new study shows that 45 percent of West Virginians are using Internet connections with speeds below federal standards. The study by the Communications Workers of America ranks the state 11th in the nation for the percentage of people with speeds of at least 4 megabits per second. That’s the minimum standard set by the Federal Communications Commission.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Pikeville Judge Denies Massey Motion

In a ruling filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, Judge Amul Thapar denied a motion by Freedom Energy and Sidney Coal Company to dismiss court action to close a Pike County mine operated by subsidiaries of Massey Energy. Freedom Energy had argued that because the Department of Labor hasn't placed the mine on "pattern of violations" standing through established administrative procedures, it is illegal to ask the courts to do so. Massey attorneys argued that Congress, in describing a pattern of violations in two sections of the Mine Act, intended for the administrative procedure in one section to be exhausted before the court action described in the second section is used. However, Thapar said "the court can eliminate the 'continuing hazard' without trudging through a series of administrative procedures." Thapar said the Department of Labor can come to the courts when it has been determined that there is a continuing hazard.

On November 19th, MSHA sent Sidney Coal operators a letter placing the mine on "potential pattern of violations." The company has 90 days to respond to the letter. On December 17th, Thapar said a preliminary injunction by the court doesn't permanently close the mine but might maintain the safety of miners while giving the administrative action time to proceed. A trial on federal safety regulators' motion for a preliminary injunction to close the mine is scheduled to start January 4th.


Manhunt Ends In Tragedy

A manhunt across central Kentucky has ended in tragedy. The Mercer County Sheriff's Department has confirmed that the man who shot himself inside a truck outside of the Pattie A. Clay Hospital in Richmond was murder suspect 52 year old James M. Kelley. Police had issued an arrest warrant for Kelley in connection with the fatal shooting of 53 year old John "Bud" Dacci, who died from three gunshots wounds.
Dacci's wife was transported to a local hospital after also being shot. According to Kentucky Secretary of State Records, Kelley and Dacci were former business partners. Dacci is listed as president of Dacci's Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. in Lexington. Kelley was listed as secretary of that business until 2007.


White Christmas Expected

A widespread snow covering of 1-4 inches is expected across the state for Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, giving Kentucky its most substantial White Christmas in a decade. Snow is expected to start falling from west to east beginning early Friday evening in western sections, with the Bluegrass getting the first flakes later Friday evening and into the morning Saturday. Snow is expected to fall off and on throughout the day Saturday, with light additional accumulations possible into Sunday.


Corbin Police Make Arrest

Jarryka Thompson was taken to the Whitley County Detention Center Thursday morning after Corbin Police say she and Justin Cornett were behind at least 10 to 15 car break-ins and home burglaries in the Sanderlin Drive area. Thompson claims the person she was with committed the crimes, and she is totally innocent. Thompson is charged with multiple counts of burglary and theft by unlawful taking, while police search for Justin Cornett and are interested in questioning Robert Greer.


Hazard Police Arrest Burglary Suspects

Hazard Police arrested Johnny Melton after they caught him stealing property from a storage unit Wednesday evening. Steven Bashline was later arrested and confessed, along with Melton, to burglaries at the facility dating back to April. Police say items stolen include crystal ware, silver and other valuables. Detective Sergeant Paul Campbell of the Hazard Police Department says over a hundred thousand dollars worth of items were taken.


Stumbo, Williams And Turner To Keep Posts

Barring the unexpected, House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams will remain at the helm of their respective chambers as they head into the upcoming January 4th start of the 2011 legislative session. Stumbo has drawn no opposition for his leadership post. Senate Republicans voted shortly after the November general election to keep their leadership team, which includes Williams as president, Senator Katie Stine as president pro-tem, and Robert Stivers II as floor leader. Senate Democrats are expected to vote on their leaders on the first day of the legislative session. Only Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Johnny Ray Turner of Drift got a majority of votes to keep his leadership position.


Five Year Old Needs Bone Marrow Match

The parents of 5 year old Mailyn Chandler are asking for one thing this Christmas. Mailyn needs a bone marrow match after having leukemia for three years. Mailyn’s parents urge everyone to register with the National Marrow Donor Program. You could save Mailyn’s life, or someone else’s. For more information or to register, visit

The Chandler’s are also in need of financial support for bills, travel expenses (to and from Louisa, Ky.) and daily expenses. If you’d like to donate you can contact Amy Chandler: 101 Sparrow Drive, Louisa, KY 41230 or call (606) 369-4577.


Kentucky Lawmakers May Consider Ban On Energy Drinks

On the heels of a November action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to declare caffeine added to  energy drinks as an “unsafe food additive,” Kentucky lawmakers may consider a ban on sales of caffeniated energy drinks to anyone under 18 years old. The FDA issued warning letters in November to manufacturers after being under pressure to take action because of reports that college students had been hospitalized in recent months after consuming the drinks.

Republican state Representative Danny Ford of Mount Vernon says he believes even non-acoholic energy drinks pose a health risk to children who drink them. Kentucky lawmakers have considered such a ban on caffeinated energy drinks in the past, but the idea has never garnered enough support to pass. With new information raising fresh concerns, Ford believes it's time to try again when lawmakers convene the 2011 legislative session on January 4th. He says, if lawmakers had some of the information earlier, it would have passed.

The proposal targets carbonated drinks that contain 71 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce serving and that contain the chemicals taurine and glucuronolactone, which are commonly used in energy drinks.


Bills For The Elderly

Kentucky's population is aging rapidly and reports of adult abuse and exploitation are rising. Since 2008, nearly $6 million has been cut from the Department for Aging and Independent Living which funds senior centers, Meals on Wheels and other services for the elderly. Despite the increasing need to provide better protection and more services for Kentucky's elderly and vulnerable adults, advocates and lawmakers see little hope for improvement.

Representative Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville, is sponsoring two bills meant to better protect seniors from abuse and financial exploitation, and she says they would cost little to enact. One bill would bar anyone convicted of abusing, neglecting or exploiting an adult from inheriting after the victim's death. A second bill would bar anyone convicted of such offenses from serving as the victim's guardian, executor of the estate or serving under power of attorney. State Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, says she will seek to increase protections in a 2009 law requiring private agencies that provide personal care at home for adults to be certified by the state and conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees.


Army Sergeant Charged With Attempted Murder

An Army sergeant who was shot during a fight at Fort Campbell has been charged with attempted murder and assault for stabbing a military police officer.

The military says the fight broke out Tuesday when Staff Sgt. Ian J. Kriebel flagged down a military police officer who was on patrol. A statement from Fort Campbell Thursday says Kriebel and the officer began to fight and Kriebel stabbed the officer "repeatedly with a knife" in the neck and upper torso.

The military police officer shot Kriebel once during the altercation. The officer, who was not identified, remains hospitalized. Kriebel, of Oaks, Pa., is in military custody.

Kriebel was also charged with three counts of assault and faces a court martial. Kriebel joined the Army in 2006 and is a fire support specialist at Fort Campbell.


Federal Government Sues Abortion Clinic Protestor

A man arrested in January on a disorderly conduct charge after protesting at a Louisville abortion clinic is being sued by the federal government.

The Justice Department contends in its lawsuit that 26-year-old David Hamilton tried to imtimidate women going into the clinic and used force against a volunteer escort.

The charge against Hamilton was dismissed in May after he completed eight hours of volunteer work at a church.

Hamilton said he moved to Houston in July and that he was surprised by the lawsuit. He said he had tried to counsel women as they entered the clinic but never pushed or shoved anyone.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville. It seeks to have Hamilton prohibited from being within 8 feet of anyone obtaining or providing services at EMW Women's Surgical Center.

Hamilton's lawyer called the lawsuit "absolutely ludicrous."


Hospital Gets $2.3-Million Gift

Kosair Children's Hospital has been left $2.3 million by a Louisville family.

Louisville businessman Howard W. "Tommy" Thompson and his wife, longtime hospital gift shop volunteer Margaret L. "Peggy" Thompson, left the funds to help the area of greatest need. The hospital says the gift includes funds from the couple's daughter, Charlotte S. Thompson, who died in July.

Children's Hospital Foundation executive director Lynnie Meyer says such generosity helps ensure Kosair can give the best care to the more than 116,000 children treated there every year.


Act Quickly On Student Aid

Kentucky officials say people who plan to attend college in state next fall will have a better chance of receiving need-based aid from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority if they file paperwork soon after the first of the year.

The authority advises going to as soon as possible after Jan. 1 to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

College Access Program Grants of up to $1,900 and Kentucky Tuition Grants up to $2,964 are available for qualified students. Awards are made on a first-come, first-served basis.


Zoo Meets Needed Money Match

After a last minute appeal, the Louisville Zoo has raised enough money to secure a $900,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation.

The zoo announced six weeks ago that it needed to raise $828,000 by Jan. 1 or risk losing the Kresge money.

Zoo Director John Walczak says the final needed pledges came in this week.

The grant and recent contributions give the zoo $25.6 million to complete an arctic-themed exhibit called Glacier Run.

Part of the exhibit featuring seals and sea lions opened last spring. Another part with polar bears and grizzly bears will open next spring.

An education center with snowy owls and arctic foxes and an aviary featuring Steller's sea eagles are due to open in 2012.


Woman And Her Parents Arrested In Friend's Death

McCracken County detectives have arrested a the friend of a slain 21 year-old woman and the friend's parents in the woman's death on Dec. 10.

Twenty-one-year-old Jasmine Taylor and her parents, 44-year-old Jamie Taylor and 46-year-old Mark Taylor, were charged on Wednesday in the death of CaSondra Evrard.

Sheriff Jon Hayden said detectives believe the Taylors lured Evrard to their home under false pretenses.

Hayden said the three had a reason to want to kill Evrard but he declined to say what that was.

Family had reported that Evrard was last seen at the Taylor home. Evrard's body was discovered on Dec. 11 near a creek. Her death was ruled a homicide from sharp force injuries.

Hayden predicted additional charges against the Taylors.

All three suspects were jailed with a $1 million bond.


WV State Police Increase Holiday Enforcement Efforts

West Virginia is sixth in the nation in DUI-related deaths. State Police started their special holiday enforcement efforts the first weekend in December. This year troopers are targeting drunk and impaired drivers in their increased holiday enforcement. A government grant is paying for overtime for the increased enforcement efforts. Police will be enforcing all traffic and road regulations but especially drunk driving. Sergeant Michael Baylous of the West Virginia State Police says the agency has zero tolerance,  and if you are caught driving under the influence you will pay the penalty.

Baylous says the crackdown also applies to drivers impaired by things like illegal drugs. He adds the special enforcement will last into January, but points out troopers will still target impaired drivers all year long.


Coal Truck Driver Charged

Larry Wayne Evans, 26, of Fayetteville, was arrested Thursday on charges of negligent homicide.  Investigators say Evans was driving his coal truck on W.Va. 61 on July 21st when it collided with a sport-utility vehicle near Robson. The SUV's driver, Justin Davis, 19, of Oak Hill, died later of his injuries. A passenger in the SUV, Adam Sizemore, 19, of Oak Hill, was seriously injured. Although Evans was determined to be at fault in the incident, no charges were immediately filed. Further investigation revealed Evans operated his vehicle in a reckless manner with no regard for the safety of other motorists. If convicted, Evans faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.


McDowell County Arrest

Police arrested 30 year old David Charles Church of Welch during a break-in at Horne Lumber Company in McDowell County around 3:30 A.M. Thursday morning. Church is being charged with breaking and entering, petit larceny and destruction of property.


Father Of NBA Player Arrested In Huntington

Kenneth Ziegler, the father of former Huntington High basketball star and current NBA Memphis Grizzlies player O.J. Mayo, is charged with attempted murder on a police officer, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine, obstructing justice and fleeing in a vehicle and on foot. Huntington police arrested Ziegler early Thursday morning following a brief chase after being observed in a vehicle on 10th Avenue. When confronted by officers, he put the car in gear and drove off, dragging the officer several feet before spike strips stopped the vehicle near Hal Greer Boulevard and Charleston Avenue. In February 2008, Huntington Police tried to stop Ziegler on Hal Greer Boulevard, but he ran. When police caught up with him, they found crack cocaine and marijuana in the vehicle. In that case, Ziegler was charged with possession, fleeing and burglary.


Boone County Stabbing

Police have arrested 28 year old Tara Osborne and charged her with malicious wounding. She's accused of stabbing 56 year old Virginia Holstein of Danville in the stomach after an alleged altercation at a friends home at the Ventrue Mitchell Trailer Park, located along Newport Road, in Boone County. Osborne was transported to the Southwestern Regional Jail, while Holstein was transported to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital where she was treatment and released early Thursday morning.


EPA Plans To Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The federal EPA announced its plan Thursday to begin to regulate greenhouse gas emissions next year. The EPA says it will propose "new performance standards" for power plants by next July and final standards by May 2012. Industry officials say EPA's proposals will be very costly and the utility companies will have to raise rates on consumers to pay for technology, if there is any, to meet the standards. Opponents also say the standards could result in industry layoffs. Environmentalists are hailing the decision, saying cutting carbon pollution will improve the health and welfare of residents. The standards will also impact oil refineries. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he will work with Senator Jay  Rockefeller and other Democrats and Republicans who oppose efforts by the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases in a way that causes economic uncertainty for West Virginia businesses and their employees.


Boone County Man Allegedly Steals Christmas Gifts

Boone County Sheriff's Deputies arrested 33 year old James Russell Robinson of Chapmanville and charged him with night-time burglary and grand larceny. Deputies say he broke into a home near Uneeda, where the family was asleep, Thursday morning and stole eleven Christmas gifts, designated for children and grandchildren, a flat screen TV and other electronics. Robinson has a criminal history after being convicted of felonies on two other occasions and just completed serving 2 years in prison.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Pike County Animal Shelter Grant

Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford notified the fiscal
court that the county has been approved for a grant in the amount of $19,715 during
its Dec. 21 regular meeting..

The grant is for the Pike County Animal Shelter and will be administered through the
Kentucky Department of Agriculture and will be matched in-kind by the fiscal court.

The grant money will be used exclusively for construction/renovation, in this case,
to enlarge the housing area for animals being kept at the shelter.

“This is great news,” Rutherford said. “We need more room as our shelter’s
population continues to grow.”


KSP To Ask Drivers To "Put It Down"

Kentucky State Police are preparing to ask drivers to "Put It Down" under a new law which begins January 1, 2011. The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading an effort to put an end to distracted driving behaviors, such as texting and cell phone use. Just "Put It Down" and concentrate on the road, is the new strategy. KSP will begin issuing citations for violations of the texting law that went into effect July 15, 2010 prohibit ing drivers from texting while their vehicle is in motion. For drivers who are under eighteen, the law prohibits both texting and cell phone use. Drivers who violate the new law will be fined $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense, plus court costs.


Pike County Man Bags Black Bear

Last December, Kentucky held its first legal bear hunt in 100 years, but bad weather conditions left hunters empty-handed. State officials say, on Saturday, Danny Smith of Phelps in Pike County claimed the first legally harvested black bear in the modern era when he shot a 265-pound male about five hours into his hunt during Kentucky’s two-day legal hunt. State Fish and Wildlife officials say a 280-pound bear was taken on Sunday in Harlan County. Kentucky also recorded its first-ever bear attack over the summer when a hiker in the Red River Gorge area was mauled by a black bear.


Tanker Truck Overturns In Martin County

Route 1714 in Martin County, Kentucky was shut down for several hours Wednesday after a 18-wheeler  tanker truck filled with gas overturned just before 2:00 P.M. Wednesday afternoon on Palmer Fields Drive and Pigeon Roost Road near Warfield.


Judge Denies Sypher’s Request

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III has denied Karen Cunagin Sypher’s request that he disqualify himself after she was convicted in August of trying to extort millions from University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. Simpson also denied a request that he impanel a special grand jury to investigate what she has said are “criminal civil rights violations” against her, her family and witnesses. Simpson rescheduled Sypher’s sentencing for January 18th. Sypher was convicted of three counts of extortion, two counts of lying to the FBI and a count of retaliation against a witness. Sypher’s request that Simpson be disqualified was filed after she fired the attorney who represented her at trial and hired a new lawyer, David Nolan of Washington, D.C.


MSHA Issues Fewer Citations

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says, in November, it issued 250 citations and orders at 22 mines singled out for special inspections. The number of orders and citations decreased from 380 issued to 19 mines in October. MSHA inspected 12 coal mines and 10 mines located in 13 states from Pennsylvania to California that produce metal and other materials. MSHA director Joe Main says the numbers show special "impact inspections" are reducing violations. The practice started after the April 5th explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.


Wayne County Father Released To Home Incarceration

Bryan Daniels, a Wayne County father charged with murder and making methamphetamine in the death of his toddler has been released from jail while awaiting his upcoming trial. Investigators say the murder charge against Daniels is justified because he knew making meth was dangerous, but he exposed 20-month-old Kayden Branham to the risks anyway. Kayden died in May 2009 after drinking drain cleaner that had been left in a coffee cup. Daniels was released to home incarceration, with some other conditions, pending his trial set for next month.


Mourners Honor Homeless Who Died In 2010

Mourners carried a symbolic casket as they honored the 19 homeless people who died in Louisville over the past year.

The Courier-Journal reports the annual event held on Tuesday as part of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day is the only funeral many of those who died would have.

Maria Price, executive director of St. John Center for Homeless Men, read the list. She later told The Courier-Journal about some of the people on it.

They included Jamie Vidalis. Price said he was always friendly but didn't like crowds and stayed outside as much as possible. He froze to death on Christmas Day last year.

Price said the 19 people on the list were more than just names read from a roster.

She said, "They had hopes and dreams and they struggled but they were all God's children."


Kentucky Census Figures

The U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that Kentucky had modest population growth over the past decade and doesn't face the loss of a congressional seat.

The state's population grew by 7.4 percent, from 4,041,769 to 4,339,367 between 2000 and 2010.

The once-a-decade count will be used to reapportion the 435 U.S. House seats among the 50 states. The last time Kentucky lost a congressional seat was after an unfavorable 1990 Census count. That reduced the state's congressional districts from seven to the current six.


Fire Safety During Cold Weather

Ten people have been killed in Kentucky in house fires since Dec. 3, and the state fire marshal is reminding residents to take precautions to ensure safety during the holidays and cold months of winter.

Fire Marshal William Swope says at the top of the list is to have a fire escape plan and to practice it with everyone in the household repeatedly. Part of the plan should including having working smoke alarms with fresh batteries and to place the alarms in appropriate locations. Swope also says proper use of heating units should also be part of the plan.

He says smoke alarms need to be placed on every floor, fire escape plans need to include two exits from every room and portable or space heaters, as well as fireplaces, vents, chimneys and central heating systems need to be inspected to make sure they are in working order.

Information on fire safety is available at the Division of Fire Prevention's website at


TVA Announces Usage Numbers

The Tennessee Valley Authority set a record high December demand for electricity at 8 a.m. on Dec. 14.

A TVA statement Tuesday said the peak load of 31,436 megawatts was the highest for December in TVA history.

The utility said Dec. 14 was also the highest winter peak since Jan. 16, 2009, which was 32,572 megawatts.

On Dec. 13, TVA set a new December record for daily demand of 674.9 gigawatt-hours. That was TVA's third highest amount for a 24-hour period ever.

TVA said people are turning up thermostats and using space heaters, and bills will likely be higher. TVA has already said demand from the cold is driving up fuel costs in January.

Fuel costs from the December usage will be reflected in billing cycles after January.


Modified Smoking Ban Approved In Northern Kentucky

Kenton County officials have approved a compromise smoking ban ordinance.

After a vote to institute a comprehensive indoor smoking ban failed, the panel approved a milder version. It exempts bars that prohibit patrons under 18, have no employees under 18 and have enclosed areas for smoking with separate ventilation and entrances.

The smoking ban initially was to have been Northern Kentucky-wide, but Boone County Fiscal Court withdrew in July.

Campbell County passed the ban, but the majority of the incoming fiscal court has said it will overturn the ban. The compromise was originally prepared by Campbell Judge-executive Steve Pendery but never came up for a vote in that county.


Farm Assistance Funds

A program that provides assistance to farmers who have suffered losses due to natural disasters is taking applications beginning Jan. 10.

The applications for Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments cover the 2009 crop year.

To be eligible, a farm must have at least a 10 percent production loss on a crop of economic significance, a policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and been located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county. Without the designation, producers may be eligible if the loss is more than 50 percent of normal production.

There are also exceptions to the insurance requirement for some disadvantaged farmers.


Morehead Man Wins National Award In Housing

The membership director of the Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises has won a lifetime achievement award for outstanding and enduring service with national impact.

The Housing Assistance Council presented the 2010 Cochran/Collings Award to Tom Carew of Morehead during the National Rural House Conference this month.

The Federation of Appalachian Housing Enterprises says Carew's work has made delivery of affordable financing more effective and benefited rural families nationwide.

The Berea-based federation says it connects resources with communities in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.


Speedo Run For Fire Victims

Fire victims in Shelby County have received an unusual offer for help.

Tim Arvin has vowed to run four miles through Shelbyville in a Speedo on Christmas Eve Morning if community members can raise $4,000 to help Justin and Tonya Brown and their family.

WLEX-TV reports the family lost their 6-year-old daughter in the fire. It destroyed all the family's belongings, including Christmas presents and birthday presents for their 3-year-old son.

Arvin said he doesn't know the Brows, he's not a runner and doesn't even own a Speedo, but he felt that something drastic was needed to get people to give.

Arvin's company says it will match the $4,000 if it's raised.


Man Found Inside Boone County Mine

The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training sent mine rescue teams from Patriot Coal and safety inspectors to the Old Dorothy #2 Mine in Prenter Hollow of Boone County Wednesday afternoon after state officials say they received a report that a man went inside the mine. The Boone County Sheriff's Department also responded. Forty-nine year old Frank Toath was found inside the mine just before 7:00 P.M. He was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center Hospital to be evaluated. Deputies say they believe Toath was trying to steal copper.


Large Reward Offered In Poisoning Death

In June, Jerry Stout of Horner and Melinda Brown, his girlfriend of more than 10 years, went to a birthday party in Buckhannon, where police believe Brown ingested methanol in an alcoholic beverage. After feeling sick that evening and the next morning, Brown called 911 the following evening. En route to the hospital, she became unconscious while in the ambulance. Police are still seeking leads, and Jerry Stout, the owner of Jerry's Sporting Goods, is offering a $50,000 reward for tips. If you have any information, contact State Police at 304-269-0500.


Charleston Murder Suspect Wants New Defense Attorney

Brandon " Young Gunna" Sherrod, a Charleston murder suspect charged with allegedly gunning down James Williams in his West Side apartment last year didn't think his court appointed attorney, Ed ReBrook, was putting in enough time on his case. A judge granted his motion to replace ReBrook, who has seven murder acquittals to his record, but the judge told Sherrod he was making a mistake. It's unclear if a new defense lawyer will be ready for Sherrod's scheduled February 28, 2011 trial. Co-defendant Michael Serrano plead guilty to wanton endangerment and will probably testify against Sherrod.


Former Prison Guard Sentenced

Thirty-eight year old Michael Lloyd Stevens of Huntington, a former prison guard convicted of plotting against a Pagan’s Motorcycle Club member, has been sentenced to four years and two months in prison. In August, Stevens was convicted after prosecutors said he conspired with members of the Pagan’s and a support club to have Vincent Morris assaulted at a federal prison. Morris had been branded a snitch for helping the FBI investigate a 2004 bank robbery. Stevens was charged in a racketeering case brought in October 2009.


Senator Manchin Wants Seat On Energy Committee

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seems reluctant to give him the seat he wants on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee starting next year. Manchin, who during his campaign for U.S. Senate, used a rifle in a television ad to shoot a mock cap and trade bill, says it's clear he would have a lot to say about the issues the Energy Committee would address. Manchin says his public criticisms of the federal Environmental Protection Agency along with his vocal support for the coal industry could be part of the reason why he may not be assigned to the Committee. Even without the assignment, Senator Manchin says he will attempt to work on energy issues, starting in 2011, by forming a bipartisan group to work for an energy policy for the entire country.


St. Albans Police Chief Resigning

St. Albans Police Chief Joe Crawford, who joined the Department in 1986 and became police chief in July 2006, is leaving the department after 25 years of service to take a job for a private company that provides security at federal courthouses. Captain James Agee will be acting chief while Mayor Dick Callaway decides on Crawford's replacement. Crawford, who is also vice president of the state Fraternal Order of Police, will remain vice president. In addition to serving as police chief, Crawford also previously was a member of the SWAT team, worked in the detective bureau, and served on the multi-jurisdictional drug
task force for six years.


Bridgemont College To Begin Classes At South Charleston Technology Park

The state of West Virginia took possession of the South Charleston Technology Park on December 15th. In January, Bridgemont Community & Technical College will begin classes with welding and diesel technology. As the advanced technology center on campus comes online, more classes will be added. The advanced technology center should begin construction soon and be open in 2012. Bridgemore, the former community college branch of West Virginia Tech, was founded in 1966 and split from Tech in 2008.


Kanawha County Sheriff's Department To Get New Pistols And Cruisers

Kanawha County deputies will soon have new firearms at their sides and a few new vehicles after the Kanawha County Commission voted to take $62,000 from their capital outlay account to pay for 120 new guns. The department plans to purchase Springfield .45 pistols. The department is kicking in an additional $10,000 to $15,000 to pay for upgrades like night vision. The department also plans to purchase 11 new vehicles including seven 4-wheel drives and four new Dodge Charger cruisers. The four cruisers will cost $88,000, which will come from a Public Safety Grant and the department's Pistol Fund and will be on the road in the next few weeks. Chief Deputy John Rutherford says they plan to wait a couple more months to purchase the 4-wheel drives to allow time to test several models.


Lack Of Manpower Hampering Fire Marshal's Office

State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis says a lack of manpower is hampering the West Virginia Fire Marshal's Office's ability to do its job and serve the public the way it should. Lewis says the office has 10 investigators and about 300 open cases, and twice as many investigators are needed. Lewis says money is there to increase the office's staff, but he needs legislative approval. Lewis says his office's investigators pay is insufficient.


Cabell County BOE Votes On New School Calendar

The Cabell County Board of Education will vote on a new school calendar at its next meeting January 4th. During its meeting Tuesday night, the board approved starting school August 15th with the last day being May 29th. The earlier start will allow for better management of snow days and ensure that students are in school 180 days by June 8th. Spring break in Cabell County will be from March 17-21. If the plan fails to get approval, it will go back to the calendar committee, but if it's approved, it will move on to the State Board of Education, which has final approval over all state school system calendars.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Grant To Promote Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Equality

Kentucky's state-wide Fairness Coalition organization has received a $50,000 grant from the Tides Foundation’s State Equality Fund to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality across the commonwealth in 2011. The coalition is made up of equal-rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Louisville's Fairness Campaign, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, the Kentucky Fairness Alliance and Lexington Fairness. Last year, the coalition was awarded $30,000 from the State Equality Fund that was used to increase lesbian and gay awareness and education across Kentucky and to conduct a state-wide survey of public opinion on gay and lesbian-related issues which will be released in January.


Former Scott County Mail Carrier Indicted

A federal grand jury has indicted former Scott County mail carrier Melinda Ann Rutland on two counts of theft. Nicole Alexakos, a Georgetown resident along Rutland's route, contacted a postal investigator, who determined Rutland appeared to have opened some of the letters on her route and stole the money inside. If found guilty, Rutland faces up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines and could also be forced to pay back all the money that went missing. That amount has yet to be determined. Rutland's trial is set to begin February 7, 2011.


Double Hand Transplant Recipient Delayed In Return To Oklahoma

Jewish Hospital in Louisville says Rich Edwards, a chiropractor from Edmond, Oklahoma, underwent surgery Tuesday to remove dead tissue from his right hand after a 17 1/2-hour double hand transplant operation in August. Doctors say he will stay in Louisville this week, delaying his return to Oklahoma.   Edwards is expected to go to Paducah on Friday to spend Christmas with his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren before returning to Louisville. Then if the recovery goes well, the hospital says Edwards will return to Edmond for the new year. His double hand transplant was the first performed at Jewish Hospital and the third in the nation.


Dates Announced For Paperless Benefit Checks

Every year, the government has to process about 600,000 claims for lost or stolen checks. More than 58 million retirees, disabled people and surviving family members receive Social Security or Supplemental Security benefits. Already eight out of 10 people getting federal benefits receive those payments electronically. Officials have settled on the dates when millions of people will no longer be able to get their Social Security and other benefit checks by mail. New recipients of benefits will have to accept paperless payments starting on May 1 of next year, three months later than first proposed. Those already on Social Security will have until March 1, 2013 to make the switch to direct deposits or a debit card. In response to public comments, the government has decided to allow people who are 90 and over and are still getting Social Security benefit checks to continue to receive their benefits the same way. The government estimates there are 275,000 people who fall into that category. Social Security will save $1 billion over the next decade from phasing out paper checks.


Man Charged With Otter Creek Drug Smuggling

Larry Ellison, 25, of Somerset has been arrested in connection with a drug smuggling operation at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County. He's charged with one count of 2nd degree trafficking in a controlled substance. Otter Creek Warden Randy Stovall contacted Operation UNITE’s Big Sandy office on December 7th, after corrections officials discovered 10 Suboxone strips concealed in a book addressed to one of the inmates. Payment for the drugs, estimated at $250 for the strips, was apparently made using the same method. Through an investigation, UNITE detectives identified Ellison as the sender. Ellison faces promoting contraband and another second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance charge when the case is presented to a Floyd County Grand Jury.


Seized Gambling Machines Returned In Knox County

One year ago, Kentucky State Police raided about a half a dozen Bell and Knox County businesses and seized nearly 50 gambling machines and more than $60,000 in cash. Under an order from Knox Circuit Court, for three hundred dollars each, workers with the Parkway Fuel Plaza BP Station got 12 machines back Tuesday afternoon. Police say the $3,600 the gas station company spent to get the machines back will go to the Kentucky State Treasury.


Knox County Woman Found Dead

Kentucky State Police are investigating after 67 year old Catherine Mills was found dead on the porch of  her home in Knox County Monday afternoon by a package delivery worker. State Police said the results of the autopsy will direct how they proceed with the case.


Preschools Will Be Encouraged To Collaborate

An early childhood education task force is recommending more collaboration between preschools to ensure that Kentucky children are ready for entry into elementary schools.
That was a key recommendation the Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education presented to Gov. Steve Beshear.

The group was charged two years ago with reviewing early childhood education and recommending ways to improve early learning experiences and opportunities for Kentucky children from birth to 6 years old.

Beshear said he will review the recommendations, saying a child's earliest years are critical for future achievement. He called it vital that Kentucky strengthen the educational foundation for its youngest citizens.


Kentucky Unlikely To Lose Representation

One of Kentucky's leading demographers predicted the state won't face the loss of a congressional seat after the U.S. Census Bureau releases fresh population totals on Tuesday.

Ron Crouch, former executive director of the Kentucky State Data Center at the University of Louisville, said population estimates showing Kentucky has had modest growth since 2000 bodes well for the state.

The Census Bureau's once-a-decade count will be used to reapportion the 435 U.S. House seats among the 50 states. The last time Kentucky lost a congressional seat was after an unfavorable 1990 Census count.

That reduced the state's congressional districts from seven to the current six.


Beekeeping Schools Set

People who want to learn about beekeeping and those who already have beekeeping experience can attend one-day schools in Kentucky on the subject beginning next month.

The state apiarist's office says the schools have multi-session classes with topics appropriate for all levels of beekeeping experience, from beginners up. Vendors will also set up at the schools, offering equipment for beekeepers.

The schools will be held Jan. 22 in Hazard, Feb. 5 in Scottsville, Feb. 12 in Corbin, Feb. 26 in Morehead, March 5 in Henderson and March 12 in Frankfort.


Underground Mines Under Development

A western Kentucky official says two underground coal mines are under development and could employ up to 650 people.

McLean County Judge-Executive Larry Whitaker said Massey Energy and Buck Creek Resources are developing mines in the area.

Whitaker said Monday that Massey plans to begin work within 10 days on a mine near Delaware on the Daviess-McLean county line that will employ up to 250 miners to extract 2.2 million tons of coal over 20 years. He said Buck Creek plans to develop a larger mine near Rumsey that could employ up to 400 miners to extract 3.2 million tons of coal.

Both mines could both be producing coal within two years, Whitaker says, but the Delaware mine is ahead in the permitting process.


Goose And Duck Hunters At Greatest Risk

Kentucky officials say goose and duck hunters have to take extra precautions during the winter to avoid harm from cold water.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources says the Coast Guard reports cold water shock, hypothermia and drowning account for more deaths of goose and duck hunters every year than firearms.

State officials recommend wearing a life jacket. Fish and Wildlife boating law administrator Capt. Mike Fields says someone who isn't wearing a life jacket when he hits the water doesn't have much chance of getting one on.

The agency also warns against overloading the boat and says hunters shouldn't wear waders or hip boots in the boat. Also stay near shore and avoid crossing large open water areas, especially in bad weather.

The department also advises making sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return. And ask that person to call for help if you don't make it back on time.


Pizza Delivery Drivers Robbery Targets

Lexington Police believe someone is targeting pizza delivery drivers for armed robbery.
The latest robbery came on Monday evening when a pizza delivery was ordered to an apartment. No one answered the door when the driver arrived. Then a man in a mask appeared, hit the driver with a handgun and demanded money. The driver handed over his wallet and the robber fled.

Wright said there was no doubt the pizza order was a setup.

It was the fourth time a pizza delivery driver has been robbed in recent days.


Highway Fatality Report

Preliminary statistic indicate that thirteen people died in ten separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, Dec. 13, through Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010.   

All of the crashes involved motor vehicles and six victims were not
wearing seat belts.  Single-fatality crashes occurred in Boyle, Bullitt,
Butler, Letcher, Owsley, Pike, and Russell counties. 

A quadruple fatality crash occurred in Clinton County and none of the
victims were wearing a seat belt.  The suspected use of alcohol was a
factor in this crash.

Through December 19, preliminary statistics indicate that 737 people
have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2010.  This is 30 less
fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2009.   There were
576 motor vehicle fatalities and 307 of those victims were not wearing
seat belts.


Manchin Apologizes For Missed Votes

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin apologized Tuesday for skipping Senate votes Saturday on repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and on an immigration proposal known as the Dream Act because he had a prior family commitment. Manchin stressed that he wasn't trying to duck controversial matters and had informed colleagues that he opposed them both. Manchin said he spoke in advance with the lead sponsors of both measures. He then relayed messages to fellow Democrats on Friday, and added his comments against each to the Congressional Record on Sunday. The DREAM Act would have granted young illegal immigrants a route to legal status. It failed. On the other, the Senate voted to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Three Republicans also missed votes on both measures: Senatorss Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.


Kanawha County Couple Charged With Grand Larceny

Twenty-nine year old Robert Estep and 25 year old Michelle Bays, both of Tornado, in Kanawha County, are charged with breaking and entering, grand larceny and transferring or receiving stolen property. Deputies say they broke into a storage trailer at a cell tower site, owned by Global Power Partners, in the Upper Falls area of Tornado on December 15th and stole tools, equipment and copper wire. Deputies found the roll of copper wire in the back of  Estep's truck, but Estep told deputies he had sold some of the power tools. Estep was also charged on an outstanding warrant for employment fraud. Estep was in the South Central Regional Jail Tuesday on a $40,000 bond. Bays was being held on a $30,000 bond.


Maple Coal Co. Warned To Improve Safety Record

The Mine Safety and Health Administration warned Maple Coal Co. to improve Fayette County's Maple Eagle No. 1 mine's safety record or face stricter enforcement for having a pattern of violations. Federal regulators say the mine was underreporting its injury record to avoid stricter enforcement. MSHA says it missed the mine in a November screening for mines with bad safety records because the company had 12 unreported or underreported injuries that resulted in miners missing 124 days of work. Maple has 110 days to come up with a plan to cut the rate of serious violations in half. If Maple chooses not to craft a plan, it has to cut the violation rate 70 percent. Maple is owned by British Columbia-based Western Coal.


Milton Accident Injures Driver

Police say it took emergency workers nearly 30 minutes to cut Evans Harbour out of his car following a single vehicle crash on I-64 near Milton Tuesday afternoon. Harbour lost control and crashed into the guardrail, sending the guardrail through the drivers side of the vehicle. He was transported to a local hospital.


Georgia Man Sentenced For Part In Huntington Drug Ring

Twenty-three year old Antonio Whitehead of Macon, Georgia was sentenced earlier this week to nine years in prison on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine base while participating in a drug ring operating in the Huntington area. Investigators say, from February 2005 to at least June 2009, Whitehead participated in a drug conspiracy with Charles Anthony Williams, Nekoase Antwan Vinson, Thomas Antonio Redding, and Kenneth E. Pertillo. Williams has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, Vinson to 14 years in prison and Redding almost 6 years in prison. Pertillo is scheduled to be sentenced in February.


Counterfeiting Tip Leads To Arrest Of Cross Lanes Couple

Information received late Monday afternoon led South Charleston State Police to search a home in Cross Lanes where they found a copier and paper they believe was used to counterfeit money that has been passed at places in Cross Lanes and Nitro. Police arrested 29 year old Janelle Newsome who's charged with giving false information to an officer and possession of marijuana. They also arrested 33 year old Richard Gladfelter and charged him with obstructing an officer. Police believe Wesley Camp, who is in jail in Barboursville and was originally arrested on a different counterfeiting charge, is involved. Charges related directly to counterfeiting will be filed at a later date after multiple agencies involved in the investigation meet.


DHHR Delays Medicaid Reorganization

West Virginia currently has contracts with three firms, The Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley, Unicare and Carelink, to provide basic health care to more than 160,000 Medicaid recipients. By entering into agreements with these companies, the state controls its costs by paying the companies a lump sum each year, shielding the state from unexpected expenses. The DHHR wants to shift dental and behavioral health benefits and roughly 55,000 recipients of Supplemental Security Income to the three managed care companies. The managed care companies stood to receive an estimated $270 million boost in business. Lawmakers have criticized the plan mainly because competitive bids were not sought. The Department of Health and Human Resources says a plan to reorganize West Virginia's Medicaid program is on hold until after the 2011 legislative session in order to give agency officials and lawmakers more time to review the plan. House Health and Resources Chairman Don Perdue says the delay will give state officials time to make the right decision.


Charleston Officials Focus On Retiree Pensions

At Monday's regular city council meeting, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones revealed some details of a plan aimed at fixing the skyrocketing costs of police and firefighter pensions. Jones wants active duty and currently retired police officers and firefighters to be enrolled in a pay-as-you-go system, while new hires would be enrolled in a new plan approved by the state Legislature that is fully funded. At first, city leaders thought they would be able to simply switch to the new plan, but, earlier this year, they discovered that the Legislature required the city to fully fund current actives and retirees over 40 years, which would cost an additional $8.4 million this year alone. The city is paying about $7 million per year into the plans, but, under the current system, that number could increase to as much as $27 million per year by 2030. Jones says sticking with the current system is simply not an option. He says it is state officials, not city officials, who are to blame for the current mess, and he plans to take the proposal to state lawmakers in the upcoming session next month to try to get it approved. Jones said he doesn't want to see any taxes increased on those who work in the city in order to fund the plans. City Manager David Molgaard and Jones say more details will be revealed next week.


Lincoln County Woman Pleads Guilty To Fraud

A Lincoln County woman, 36 year old Leslie R. Nelson of Ferrellsburg, pleaded guilty Tuesday to filing a fraudulent Social Security claim so she could continue receiving disability benefits. Nelson started receiving Social Security benefits in October 1993. In March 2003, she got married and resided with her husband, but never informed the Social Security Administration. As a result, she received more than $30,000 in benefits she should not have received. Nelson faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 in addition to restitution, when sentenced March 20, 2011.


Charleston City Officials Want Ban Of Synthetic Marijuana

Some Charleston city officials want the city to follow in the footsteps of Huntington, which moved recently to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana in city limits. Synthetic marijuana is marketed locally as incense under the brand name K-2. Councilman Jerry Ware says he has talked with Mayor Danny Jones about the issue, and he wants to see a bill outlawing the substance. State lawmakers are eyeing a statewide ban in the upcoming session.


Charleston Approves Inspection Of CSX Train Trestle Property

Charleston city officials have been given the green light for the city to conduct its inspections of the old CSX train trestle where they plan the possible creation of a biking and walking trail. City Manager David Molgaard says he has confirmation that CSX is willing to sell the structure and the four acres surrounding it to the city for $25,000, but the city wants to be sure that the structure is sound and that there are no environmental problems before purchasing the property. According to past reports, the Friends of Kanawha Trestle group has secured $3 million in federal and state funds, and the city has promised an additional $475,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to the project. Council members have approved $62,500 for Michael Baker Jr. Inc. in Cross Lanes to conduct a structural inspection of the site and compile a construction cost estimate.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Holiday Mailing Deadline

For last minute mailers, it's time to get moving. Monday marked the Postal Service's busiest mailing day of the year with more than 800 million pieces of mail expected to enter the system, marking a 40 percent increase in the average daily volume of 559 million pieces of mail. Monday, December 20th, was the recommended mailing date for sending greeting cards and holiday letters to arrive in time for Christmas. Tuesday, December 21st, is the recommended deadline for sending packages using Priority Mail. Wednesday, December 22nd, is the last recommended day to ship packages using Express Mail. 


Hearing Set For Pike County Man

Police say 39 year old Danny Smith stabbed 42 year old Lancell Blankenship several times during a fight at a home in the Phyllis community of Pike County Friday, causing Blankenship to suffer serious injuries. Smith appeared in court Monday, where he pleaded not guilty after being charged with assault. A preliminary hearing is set for December 29th.


Pike County Man Pleads Not Guilty

Twenty-seven year old Jeffrey Mullins, a Pike County man charged with manslaughter and drug possession after a deadly crash on Friday, pleaded not guilty in court Monday. Police say Mullins was driving on Highway 460 in the Regina area when he crossed the center line and hit a car driven by Janice Baker of Elkhorn City. Seventy-six year old Marie Stiltner of Elkhorn City was pronounced dead at Pikeville Medical Center. 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. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 29th. Bond is set at $100,000.


Leslie County Traffic Stop Results In Drug Arrests

State Police in Leslie County arrested 28 year old Brian Couch and David Hoskins Jr. after a trooper pulled over a car Couch was driving along HWY-421 for failure to use a turn signal. The trooper discovered drug paraphernalia on Couch, and, after obtaining permission to search the vehicle, found an active meth lab and items used to manufacture meth in the trunk. Police also seized a .25 calibre handgun and some cash. Both men face drug charges.


Grayson Announces Deadline To Change Political Party Affiliation

Secretary of State Trey Grayson said Monday Kentucky voters who want to change their political party affiliation in time for the May primary election have until the end of next week to do so. State law requires party switches to be completed by December 31st in order to vote in May, when Kentuckians will be choosing a governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and agriculture commissioner. Grayson said changing parties is as simple as filling out a voter registration card and submitting it to the local county clerk’s office.


Survey Shows Kentucky Retailers Uphold Tobacco Laws

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says an annual survey conducted by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control found more than 94 percent of retailers in Kentucky are doing a good job of upholding the state law banning sale of tobacco products to people younger than 18. States are required to conduct the survey each year and show that compliance by retailers is at least 80 percent. The agency says Kentucky’s rate has been around 94 percent since 2003. The national average for 2009 was 89 percent. States that fall below 80 percent compliance are subject to a penalty of 40 percent of federal grants for substance abuse prevention and treatment.


Kentucky Speedway Anticipating NASCAR Sprint Cup Race

In anticipation of a NASCAR Sprint Cup race scheduled for July 9th, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority has approved incentives for the Kentucky Speedway, making the track eligible for up to $20.5 million in tax rebates over a 10-year period. Kentucky Speedway is undergoing an $82 million expansion. Governor Steve Beshear said in a statement Monday that the Sprint Cup race will have an annual $150 million economic impact in Kentucky. To accommodate the Sprint Cup race, seating capacity is being expanded from 60,000 to 102,000, and parking and camping areas are being enlarged.


Preliminary Approval For Noah's Ark Theme Park

 A group of investors looking to build a replica of Noah's Ark as part of a proposed $172 million theme park has been granted preliminary approval for state tax incentives from the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, but an economic analysis must be done before being considered for final approval.

Mike Zovath, co-founder of the Answers in Genesis ministry that opened the Creation Museum in Kentucky three years ago, said investors are looking to build a full-scale replica of the ark on an 800-acre site in what would be an expansive theme park near Williamstown, just off Interstate 75. Investors say it could draw some 1.6 million visitors a year.

Governor Steve Beshear, who gave the proposal in a Capitol press conference earlier this month, has said he favors tax incentives for the ark park that is projected to create about 900 permanent jobs and have a $214 million economic impact in its first year of operation.

Some detractors, including Americans United for the Separation of Church and State executive director Barry Lynn, have objected to the state providing tax incentives for a project with a religious theme. Lynn said religious projects should be supported by voluntary donations, not the government.


U. S. Attorneys' Office In Eastern KY Rank High In Collections

Federal prosecutors in eastern Kentucky have ranked high among U.S. attorney's offices around the country in collections from defendants in criminal and civil cases.

The U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Kentucky says it collected $705 million in fiscal year 2010, the third highest among 94 federal prosecutors' offices.

The Department of Justice announced it reached an all-time high in collections, taking in $6.68 billion for the fiscal year.

A statement from U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey's office says the total in the Eastern District of Kentucky includes $692 million recovered from the drug company Pfizer in the government's largest civil settlement ever. Prosecutors say Pfizer paid the government $2.3 billion after illegally promoting drugs to doctors in eastern Kentucky and elsewhere, causing overpayments by Medicare and Medicaid.


Attempted Abduction Unsuccessful

Louisville police say an 11-year-old boy was abducted Sunday night but was able to escape by fleeing from the car.

Police say a bi-racial male grabbed the boy Sunday evening as he was taking out the trash at an apartment complex off Breckenridge Lane in Louisville.

The Courier-Journal reports the man put the boy in a black 4-wheel-drive vehicle, but the boy was able to get out of the car and run to safety.

The victim described the man as 5-feet-8-inches tall, in his late 20s and wearing a red cap and a white long-sleeved shirt with blue jeans.


Classification Of Coal Ash In Doubt

Two years after the Tennessee Valley Authority's huge coal ash spill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it still isn't sure when there will be a decision on whether to classify coal ash as hazardous.

The agency held eight public hearings on proposed regulations and has received more than 200,000 comments.

One proposal would regulate coal ash as hazardous waste under federal enforcement.

The other would regulate it as a nonhazardous material, with enforcement handled through "citizen" lawsuits.

The agency said it was unsure when regulations will be finalized.

About 5.4 million cubic yards of sludge spilled from an earthen coal-ash storage dam Dec. 22, 2008 at TVA's coal-powered Kingston Plant west of Knoxville.


Rockefeller And Manchin Send Letter To EPA

The Spruce No. 1 Mine would mean the investment of $250 million into Mingo County. The Mingo Logan Coal Co. estimated 200 jobs would be created if the mine is allowed to open. The average salary would be $65,000 per year.

U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., sent a joint letter Monday to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency asking for approval of the Spruce No. 1 Mine permit. In the letter, Manchin and Rockefeller stated they understand that the EPA has a specific mandate from Congress, but ensuring the economic stability of our Nation is not part of the Agency's mission, and while the environment and the economy are not mutually exclusive, the country's current economic situation must not be ignored.


Police Searching For Illegal Immigrant

Police are searching for a man who was mistakenly released from jail. Thirty-one year old Aaron Martinez Mateo was taken into custody December 15th by West Virginia State Police and charged with driving under the influence. Officials with the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority, say, Sunday night, his bail was posted and he was released before officials realized there is a detainer for Mateo from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Mateo is a Hispanic man, 5-feet, 6-inches tall, weighing approximately 185 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.


Dunbar Couple Charged With Burglary

Jeffrey Kitts of Cross Lanes says he left his house for work Friday and returned Saturday morning to find someone had forced open a door and broken into his house and several items, including firearms, missing...the items worth about $5,000. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department has charged William Harper, 31, and Tamara Morton, 28, both of Dunbar, with daytime burglary. The stolen guns and other items were found in their home.


Hunter Found Dead

Investigators with the state Division  of Natural Resources say a Fayette County man collapsed and died while muzzle-loader hunting. Randy McCoy, 40, of Mount Hope was found dead in the Meadow River Wildlife Management Area in Greenbrier County at about 7:00 A.M. Saturday morning.


Belle Man Charged With Kidnapping And Sexual Assault

Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies arrested 29 year old Aaron D. Hudgins of Belle Saturday afternoon and charged him with kidnapping and sexual assault. He is accused of choking a  26 year old female acquaintance to unconsciousness and then sexually assaulted her multiple times. Deputies say the woman had "numerous injuries" and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.


Former Pagan's National President Sentenced

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston sentenced 50 year old David Keith "Bart" Barbeito, former national president of the Pagan's Motorcycle Club, to two-and-a-half years in prison on weapons and racketeering charges Monday. Barbeito pleaded guilty in June to two racketeering charges stemming from illegal motorcycle raffles and weapons charges for illegal firearms found by federal agents searching his Myersville, Maryland home in 2009. Barbeito admitted that he had a Colt .45 with an obliterated serial number and an unregistered semi-automatic shotgun known as a "streetsweeper" and that he received thousands of dollars in raffle proceeds from Pagans chapters up and down the Eastern seaboard, some of which was collected in St. Albans by Pagans national vice president Floyd "Jesse" Moore.


Union Accepts Walker Machinery Contract

Walker Machinery and its union workers agreed to a new three-year contract Friday, after rejecting it twice. The Belle-based Caterpillar equipment dealer's contract with the local chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers expired at the end of October. The contract runs through October 31, 2013.


WVU Hospitals Workers Prepare To Strike

A meeting is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10:00 A.M. after Local 814 workers at West Virginia University Hospitals rejected a contract Friday. The two sides met Monday morning to let the hospital hear the concerns of the workers, but the meeting only lasted 12 minutes. The Local 814 of the AFL-CIO says, if talks fail, it's ready to give its ten days strike notice on Tuesday.

Local 814 Business Manager Sherri Dezzutti believes the hospital's proposal is simply unfair, and, while hospital officials say they are not going to move on wages and benefits, Dezzutti says the union has several issues with the contract...a couple points being deal breakers. Dezzutti says the proposal includes a net 25 cent hourly raise, but also a hospital admission fee of $150 where employees currently pay nothing and doubling emergency room co-pay from $50 to $100. Dezzutti says workers offered 70 cents an hour raise with 15 cents going into the benefit trust. The proposal also states an early quit would now fall under a major offense that could include termination on the first offense.

Bruce McClymonds, President & CEO of WVU Hospitals says the contract offers a cumulative average pay increase of 13.2 percent over the next three years, and, while taking into account a needed increase in health insurance premiums, the net increase of 8.3 percent is still quite significant.

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