Thursday, May 26, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-27-'11
- Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials were in the remote mountains of North Carolina Thursday to determine what caused a twin-engine plane to crash. The National Transportation Safety Board identified the plane as a twin-engine Beechcraft BE-58. Officials say the plane was flying from suburban Atlanta to the Wendell Ford Airport in Hazard, Kentucky when it crashed about 4:15 P.M. Wednesday, some 125 miles west of Asheville, near Unaka, a small community in the westernmost tip of North Carolina, near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The North Carolina Forestry Service contained a 5-acre brush fire started by the crash. Federal records show the plane was made in 1976 and registered to Aero Resources Corp. of Hazard. According to Peter Kundson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot was cruising in level flight at an altitude of 9,000 feet, well above the highest peaks in the area, when he reported an emergency because of fire on board. Air-traffic controllers reportedly lost radio and radar contact with the plane soon after. Keith Lovin, Sheriff of Cherokee County, says several witnesses saw the plane descending and reported hearing an explosion on impact. Lovin says all those on the plane, the pilot and three passengers, died on impact. Authorities did not release the names of the victims on Thursday. Lovin said he had talked with family members of the victims on Thursday and will likely be able to release the names of the victims on Friday. Families in Knott County say there were supposed to be three young women on board ... Miranda Morgan, Tiffany Maggard, and Kassie Robinson.
- By a 250-153 evening vote in the House, Congress on Thursday passed a four-year extension of post-September 11th powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. Congress bumped up against the deadline mainly because of the stubborn resistance from a single senator, Republican freshman Rand Paul of Kentucky, who saw the terrorist-hunting powers as an abuse of privacy rights. Paul held up the final vote for several days while he demanded a chance to change the bill to diminish the government's ability to monitor individual actions. The bill passed the Senate 72-23. The roving wiretaps and access to business records are small parts of the USA Patriot Act enacted after the September 11, 2001, attacks. But unlike most of the act, which is permanent law, those provisions must be renewed periodically because of concerns that they could be used to violate privacy rights. The provisions were set to expire at midnight.
- Kentucky State Police say aggressive driving, failure to use seat belts and driving while impaired are the top three dangers faced by motorists on Kentucky highways during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. KSP plan to intensify traffic safety and patrol efforts, beginning at 6:00 P.M. Friday, May 27th through 11:59 P.M. Monday, May 30, 2011. KSP Spokesman Lt. David Jude says the Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the beginning of the summer, and traffic on the state roadways is expected to increase significantly during this time period. Last year, there were 1,238 crashes in Kentucky during the Memorial Day weekend. Eight people lost their lives and 432 were injured. Jude reminds motorists that Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy regarding driving while impaired by alcohol, and, although driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 is illegal, you can also be arrested for lower levels if you are under 21 years of age or operating a commercial vehicle.
- As part of the "Click It Or Ticket" campaign, which started May 23rd and continues through June 5th, state troopers will be working overtime during the Memorial Day holiday. Operations will include increased saturation patrols and traffic safety checkpoints in high crash, high traffic locations, radar and laser details and coordinated enforcement activities with local police and sheriff's departments for maximum coverage. KSP reminds motorists that Kentucky law requires them to slow down and use caution when they see a law enforcement or emergency vehicle stopped alongside the road with its lights flashing. They must move over to the lane farthest away from the vehicle if they are on a four-lane road with two lanes proceeding in the same direction and can do so safely.
- James "Chum" Tackett, 69, of Jenkins, the former operator of Golden Years Rest Home in Letcher County was indicted Thursday for allegedly stealing thousands of federal dollars that were intended to pay for the care of the rest home's residents. A federal grand jury in London returned the indictment which charges Tackett with 19 counts of theft of government funds after he allegedly stole more than $92,000 out of nearly 400 federal checks between 2007 and 2009. At the time of the alleged offenses, Golden Years cared for approximately 40 residents who obtained money from a variety of federally funded programs such as social security to help pay for the care they received. In addition, part of the federal money that Tackett allegedly stole included 34 federal stimulus checks worth $8,500 that were mailed to some of the residents. Tackett's appearance before the United States District Court has not yet been set by the court in Pikeville. If convicted, Tackett faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
- Kentucky is turning most of its $6.5 billion-a-year health plan for the poor and disabled over to outside managed care organizations in an effort to improve efficiency and cut costs. The program will be reshaped for more than half of the roughly 800,000 Kentuckians who depend on Medicaid for health care. A deadline for vendors to submit bids to manage most of Kentucky's Medicaid program ended Wednesday. The state plans to award a contract or contracts by July 1st, when the new fiscal year begins.
- Investigators from the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the University of Kentucky Police Department have arrested 21 year old Eric Gaines of Lexington on charges of distributing fake IDs, trafficking in the drug Ecstasy and with possessing heroin, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. An an investigation began when a UK student arrested by campus police had a fake ID in his possession. That ID, investigators allege, turned out to be one of more than 150 fake driver's licenses that had been distributed in Fayette County, many of which went to high school students.
- Officials in western Kentucky are investigating a possible drowning at the Windy Hollow Campground about 10 miles southwest of Owensboro. Capt. Bill Thompson of the Daviess County Sheriff's Department says it appears the 29 year old man from the Bloomington, Indiana area died of accidental drowning after checking in Wednesday. The body was pulled from the water after a resident called authorities around 10:45 A.M. CDT Thursday. Thompson says the man was supposed to start work in the Owensboro area on Thursday.
- National groups and local volunteers gathered at the K-9 shelter in Morehead, in Rowan County, Wednesday to begin renovating the facility. Plans include new roofing, new beds and other repairs. The facility currently has about 30 animals, but Vicki Fragasso, director of development for the Petfinder.com Foundation, says the shelter takes in about five dogs each week and sees hundreds every year. Shelters in Rowan County and other parts of the region often have problems with overpopulation and have to euthanize animals. Emily Valentine, a spokeswoman for sponsor Bissell Homecare Inc., says the goal is "to place more pets in loving homes.
- A hearing in Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Richie Farmer's divorce case has been canceled. Farmer and his wife, Rebecca, had been scheduled to appear in court Thursday. A one-sentence document in the case file said the cancellation was arranged by mutual agreement. Rebecca Farmer filed for divorce last month in the midst of a GOP gubernatorial primary battle. Richie Farmer, the running mate of state Senate President David Williams, won the Republican nomination last week. Rebecca Farmer had asked for primary custody of their three sons and that Richie Farmer be required to pay child support. Richie Farmer responded by asking that the divorce petition be dismissed, and, if not, that joint custody be awarded with reasonable time-sharing for both.
- A former grand wizard of a Kentucky-based Ku Klux Klan organization has been sentenced to 48 months in prison on federal drug and gun charges. Ronald Wayne Edwards, who founded the Imperial Klans of America in Dawson Springs in 1996, was sentenced Thursday before U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley in federal court in Owensboro. Edwards pleaded guilty in March to charges he trafficked in methamphetamine and painkillers and carried a gun during at least one drug transaction. His longtime girlfriend, Christina A. Gillette, who admitted to drug charges, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. Both also received three years of supervised release.
- The Louisville Arena Authority is disputing property assessments and penalties of $55,321 that have been placed on the KFC Yum Center. Louisville's Downtown Management District collects fees based on the assessed value of property within its boundaries. Records from the Jefferson County Clerk's Office show the arena owes the district $34,154 plus $21,167 in fines. Arena Authority Executive Director Harold Workman says in a May 18th letter to Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell that a Kentucky Department of Revenue ruling granted the authority a "property tax exemption." Workman requested that a lien placed on the Yum Center be removed. Deb DeLor, who is the district's executive director, says the organization considers the arena assessable property. O'Connell spokesman Bill Patteson says the county attorney's office is preparing its response to Workman.
- A Lexington child has been killed in a fall from a lawn mower. Authorities say 2-year-old Adelaide McReynolds fell when her father made a sharp turn. Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said the girl's 7-year-old brother was also on the machine. Neither he nor the children's father was injured in the accident Wednesday evening. Ginn says the events leading to the child's death occurred too quickly to have been prevented. Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn says McReynolds died from multiple blunt-force and sharp-force trauma.
- Frankfort native Jill Midkiff, one of Governor Steve Beshear's press liaisons has moved into a new position in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Midkiff, a 14 year state government employee who had been deputy press secretary for Beshear since 2008, began her new duties last week. For six years, Midkiff was communications director for the Finance and Administration Cabinet. Midkiff said it had been an honor to work for Beshear, and she said she's flattered that Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller asked her to join her agency. Midkiff, a 1990 graduate of the University of Kentucky, is a past president of the Kentucky Association of Government Communicators.
- Thirty-seven year old Lynda Chase, a former secretary at Madison Central High School in Richmond, entered a guilty plea Thursday to third-degree rape and four counts of third-degree sodomy. The charges stem from her relationship with a 15 year old boy at Madison Central. Under a plea deal, she will be required to undergo treatment and must register as a sex offender. The prosecutor is recommending a three-year sentence. Formal sentencing is set for July 7th.
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