Saturday, January 08, 2011


Chinese Delivery Driver Shot

Police responded to a shots fired call Friday evening at an apartment on Main Avenue in Nitro where they found Min Lin had been shot in the back of the head while delivering Chinese food from the Golden Wok to someone in another building of the apartment complex. Arthur Jackson Byrd III told police he went outside and shot Ms. Lin with a 12-gauge shotgun. Byrd was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. Lin was not severely hurt and refused medical transportation, despite bleeding from the head.


PSC Delays PATH Decision

On Friday, the PSC granted a request for a delay on the 765 kilovolt Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline, also called PATH. Officials with Allegheny Energy and American Electric Power say they need more time to review the latest power load forecast for the region. The PSC has postponed its decision whether to approve the plans from July to February 2012. The evidentiary hearings that had been scheduled to start in March are now set for October. The $2 billion project has been billed as a way to shore up the electrical grid. If approved, PATH could run 275 miles from Putnam County to Maryland. PSC staff members and representatives with the PSC's Consumer Advocate's Division are among those who have called on the PSC to dismiss the PATH application outright, saying other power options should be considered.


Rahall To Vote Against Repeal Of Heath Care Reform

West Virginia Third District Congressman Nick Rahall says he will vote against repeal of the heath care reform law. He says the law has produced positive results in West Virginia. Rahall says more than 30,000 seniors in West Virginia have received additional assistance in paying costly Medicare prescription drug bills, and now receive fifty percent discounts on generic drugs, while also providing numerous benefits that state residents need. "West Virginians are no longer subject to lifetime limits on their health insurance, and those who have been denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition can now apply for affordable insurance," Rahall said. "Young adults now are able to stay on their parents’ insurance through age 26." Rahall says his decision to vote against repeal of the law does not mean he doesn't want changes. Rahall, who voted in favor of the bill when it passed in the House in October 2009, has cosponsored legislation to remove overly burdensome reporting requirements for small businesses, the so-called 1099 requirement.


Kentucky Coal Academy Offering Surface Mining Certification

The Kentucky Coal Academy (KCA) of the Big Sandy Community & Technical College
(BSCTC) is offering a 24-Hour Surface Mine Safety Certification Class on the
Hager Hill Campus. 

This class is being offered January 24th - 27th from 8:30 a.m.
to 3:00 p.m.  This certification is required before working on surface mines. Do not
miss this exciting chance to start a career in mining.  Enrollment is limited, so
register today!  For more information, call (606) 788-2940 or (606) 788-2946.


Massey Subsidiary Cited For Safety Violation

Federal regulators have cited the foreman of a construction company working at a Massey Energy Co. subsidiary after a contractor was observed not wearing safety gear.

Richmond, Va.-based Massey disclosed the imminent danger citation in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday.

The incident occurred Thursday at Long Fork Coal Co.'s mine. According to the citation, the construction worker was near the edge of a 75-foot wall without a safety belt and line. No one was injured.

Massey's safety practices have come under criticism since an April explosion killed 29 miners at its Upper Big Branch coal mine in Raleigh County.


Illegal Immigrant Bill Passes Kentucky Senate

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants by giving police broad authority to check on the immigration status of people they stop.

The proposal would allow police to arrest illegal immigrants on trespassing charges for setting foot in Kentucky.

The measure cleared the Senate on a 24-14 vote Friday and now goes to the House, where it's fate is uncertain.

Supporters say the measure sends a strong message that Kentucky won't tolerate illegal immigration.

Opponents say it will add to jail and prison overcrowding, and will strap state and local governments with sharply higher costs.


VA Surgery Patient Possibly Exposed To HIV

A disabled veteran in Kentucky says VA hospital officials in Lexington have told him that he and five other patients were possibly exposed to equipment contaminated with HIV and hepatitis.

Fifty-eight-year-old Daryl Baldwin of Richmond he and his wife are most upset because the VA didn't inform him about the possible exposure until December, nine months after his eye surgery.

Baldwin said he has since tested negative for the infections. He told The Associated Press in a Friday telephone interview that he and his wife are "terrorized" by the continuing possibility that he might yet test positive.

Officials at the hospital said in a statement Friday night that all six veterans have been notified and any needed care will be provided. The statement included an apology to the six patients by the medical center's acting director, Donna Jacobs.

Friday, January 07, 2011


NCAA Denies UK Appeal For Enes Kanter

It's official. The NCAA announced Friday that it denied the University of Kentucky's appeal seeking to restore the eligibility of freshman basketball player Enes Kanter. UK Coach John Calipari voiced his disappointment but said his job now will be to prepare Kanter for his entry into the NBA Draft, and he plans  to be by his side in the green room whenever he is drafted. projects Kanter as the fifth player chosen in this year's draft. Draftexpress projects him as the fourth player selected. The NCAA ruling does not prohibit UK from continuing to give him a scholarship. He just cannot compete or practice or travel with the team as a player. The university has indicated it plans to designate Kanter as an undergraduate student-assistant coach. In this capacity, Kanter could perform limited coaching duties with the team.


Public Schools To Receive Budget Cut

Public schools across Kentucky are receiving more financial bad news from the state. The Kentucky Department of Education says an unexpected funding shortfall means $50 million needs to be cut from the basic operating budget for the state's public schools for the months of April, May and June. Officials are blaming the shortage on unanticipated growth in student enrollment statewide as well as other surprise expenses. Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday is urging local school districts to make up the loss with federal funds they recently received under the federal "EduJobs" program.


MSHA Says Installation Errors Caused Miner's Death

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration released a report Friday that concluded the death of 60 year old Wilbert Starcher, who was killed in White Buck Coal Company's Pocahontas Mine in Greenbrier County last July, was caused by a lack of communication and improper equipment installation on a shuttle car. MSHA investigators say Starcher was killed when the driver of a shuttle car had his vision blocked by a sideboard that was not installed correctly, and he could not see Starcher because a piece of metal obscured his vision. Starcher, an electrician in the mine, was dragged beneath the car after being hit. The report also says Starcher and the shuttle car operator did not communicate effectively.


Senator Drafting Truancy Bill

State Senator Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, said Friday that, during the upcoming legislative session which begins Wednesday, he plans to introduce a bill targeting unexcused absences from school. Under the bill, parents would lose their drivers licenses if their child or children have 10 unexcused absences. He acknowledged the law would likely be challenged in court.


Kimberly Osborne Appointed Press Secretary

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Kimberly Osborne to the position of Press Secretary Friday. Osborne's first day on the job will be Monday January 10th. Before her appointment, Osborne served as Director of Communications for the West Virginia Department of Revenue. Osborne graduated from West Virginia University with a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications in 2006 and earned her undergraduate degree in Communications from the State University of New York at Cortland College in 1997.


St. Albans Woman Admits To Shooting

Police say Roger Dale Cobb, 47, of St. Albans, was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center for treatment after being shot early Friday morning. Officers say Dana Womack, also of St. Albans, admitted to the shooting her mother's boyfriend, but she told police she was acting in self-defense after being assaulted by Cobb. Womack told police her mother and Cobb were fighting when her mother called Dana to come get her, but, when she arrived, Cobb attacked her, so she grabbed the gun and shot him. An investigation will reveal whether or not it was indeed self-defense. If so, Womack will not face any charges.


Foreman Cited At Massey Operation

Federal regulators have cited the foreman of a construction company working at a Massey Energy Co. subsidiary after a contractor was observed not wearing safety gear. The incident occurred Thursday at Long Fork Coal Co.'s mine. According to the citation, the construction worker was near the edge of a 75-foot wall without a safety belt and line.


Five Sentenced In Lincoln County Drug Case

Five West Virginians were sentenced earlier this week for participating in a prescription-drug trafficking ring in Lincoln County. They pleaded guilty earlier to dealing Oxycodone from 2007 through April 2010. Prosecutors say Todd Anthony Gibbs, 34, of Huntington was the middleman between the other defendants and out-of-state suppliers. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Also sentenced were Clint Farris, 33, of Harts, who was sentenced to two years in prison; Andrewiena Lynn Corathers, 35, of St. Albans, and Allen "Stevie" Williams, 39, of Chapmanville, who each received 12 months in prison; and JoAnna Sue McCann, 24, of Harts, who was placed on three years' probation.


Health Department Reissues Permit For Kiddie Academy

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department reissued a permit Friday for Kiddie Academy Childcare Learning Center. The center had been closed after health inspectors found rodent droppings and other unsanitary conditions. The state Department of Health and Human Resources revoked the center's license on Thursday, and the facility will remain closed until DHHR reviews and approves Kiddie Academy's new application.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


Rite Aid Offering $10,000 Reward For Pike County Robbery

Rite Aid is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in three burglaries at its Robinson Creek store in Pike County. A person broke in the store's front door and stole $20,000 worth of medication and about $1,500 in cash on December 18, 22 and 28th. Surveillance video seems to implicate the same person in all three break-ins. Kentucky State Police Detective Jason Merlo and two other troopers are investigating. Rite Aid loss prevention District Manager Ryan Kinder and KSP spokesman Trooper Shaun Little are asking people with tips to call Rite Aid or the Kentucky State Police.


Floyd County Inmate Escapes

A manhunt got underway in the Prestonsburg area after inmate 21 year old Steven Rogers escaped police custody in Floyd County around 2:00 P.M. Thursday afternoon. Rogers was being transported back from court after being arrested Wednesday night on kidnapping charges. Witnesses say he is no longer wearing his inmate uniform and shoes.


Mine Safety Law Survives Court Test In Kentucky

The U.S. Department of Labor says it used an overlooked provision in the 1977 Mine Safety and Health Act for the first time in the law's 33-year history to sue Richmond, Va.-based Massey in November, citing repeated problems of methane gas leaks, ventilation problems and roof collapses at its Freedom Energy No. 1 mine in Pike County, Kentucky. U.S. mine regulators say Wednesday's victory attests to the fact that the enforcement provision used in the case could survive a court challenge, and they are poised to use the long-ignored portion of the law to haul operators of other troubled mines into court for repeatedly violating safety laws. U.S. Labor Solicitor Patricia Smith said regulators had recorded nearly 2,000 safety violations at the Freedom mine and its workers were in "constant danger." Most enforcement actions are handled by administrative law judges in less formal proceedings, but mine safety experts say the little-used provision is the "strongest tool" in the 1977 Mine Safety and Health Act because of the involvement of a federal judge.


Beshear Files For Re-election

Governor Steve Beshear, with running mate Jerry Abramson, former mayor of Louisville, filed to run for re-election to the office of Governor of Kentucky on Thursday. Beshear says he has created and saved thousands of jobs across the state and balanced the state budget eight times without raising broad-based taxes on Kentucky families and businesses. Beshear says Abramson will be a terrific lieutenant governor for all of Kentucky. Beshear also announced that Bill Hyers, who has run gubernatorial, senatorial and mayoral campaigns across the nation, has joined the campaign as campaign manager.


Pike County Board Of Education Selections

Long-time Phelps, Ky., area Board Member Frank McGuire has been selected to serve as chairman of the Pike County Board of Education and Pike Central area Board Member Earl Thacker has been chosen vice-chairman for 2011.

McGuire has served on the Board since January of 2000 and Thacker has been a board member since 2005. The men were elected by their fellow board members after returning members Virgil Osborne (Shelby Valley area), Dr. Chuck Johnson (Belfry area), and Frank Ratliff (East Ridge area) were sworn into office at a special called meeting January 4.

Meeting times for the year were set for the same dates and times, the third Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m., with the exceptions of April and May, which were set for the fourth Tuesday because of spring break in April and Election Day in May.


Female Inmate Sues Otter Creek Correctional

A German woman has filed a lawsuit against a private company and some of its employees who ran a former eastern Kentucky women's prison, saying she was forced to trade sex to call her ill mother.

The suit filed Wednesday in Louisville is the latest in a series of sexual assault cases out of the Otter Creek Correctional Complex in Wheelwright. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear ordered all the female prisoners removed from the facility a year ago when a scandal involving corrections officers and inmates reached its height.

The lawsuit says the inmate, a 38-year-old German citizen, was serving five years for theft and other charges. Although the lawsuit names the inmate, the Associated Press does not generally identify those who say they have been sexually assaulted.


Sypher Wants New Trial

The woman convicted of trying to extort University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is asking a federal judge for a new trial and to allow an outside examination of evidence in her case.

Karen Cunagin Sypher's new legal team filed the request late Wednesday night, saying Pitino, prosecutors and businesses in Louisville "worked to ensure they destroy" Sypher, who accused Pitino of forcing her to have sex in a restaurant in 2003. Pitino was never charged.

Sypher is also requesting that audio tapes and photographs used at her trial be examined by reviewers of her choice.

Sypher was convicted in August of three counts of extortion, two counts of lying to the FBI and a count of retaliation against a witness. Her sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 18 in U.S. District Court in Louisville.


WWE Sued Over Injury

A southern Indiana man has filed suit against World Wrestling Entertainment claiming he was injured while attending an event in Kentucky.

An attorney for 18-year-old Ronald Basham III of Clarksville, Ind., filed the suit Monday in Jefferson Circuit Court, alleging his client's leg and knee were injured at a 2000 wrestling match in Louisville when he was 7.

The lawsuit says the match between Dwayne Johnson, known as "The Rock," and Paul Levesque, known as "Triple H," spilled over a retaining wall separating them from the audience. It says the wrestlers ended up pushing another spectator, who fell on Basham and caused his injuries. The suit accuses the WWE of failing to maintain adequate security and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Justine Sacco, a spokeswoman for the WWE, said told The Courier-Journal that the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.


Reward For Dog Posted

A West Tennessee man has posted a reward for the return of his late wife's dog, stolen from outside a western Kentucky bar.

Rick Volner of Parsons, Tenn., says that Dakota was the pet of his wife, Lee, who died in October. Someone took the carrier containing the black Labrador retriever from the back of Volner's pickup truck while he was inside Rockabilly's Bar in Paducah the night of Dec. 27.

Volner has run a classified newspaper ad, offering a $10,000 reward for the return of Dakota. He got responses, but none about his dog.

Volner says he and his wife didn't have children and Dakota is part of his family. He says if he gets Dakota back, he won't ask questions.

Police are still investigating the theft.


Boyd County Plans Layoffs

Some Boyd County employees will be without work after Friday, when the northeastern Kentucky county plans to lay off 17 workers.

Judge-Executive William "Bud" Stevens says officials have been putting off looking at the possibility of layoffs for about a year. County commissioners approved the layoffs Tuesday. Stevens told The Independent in Ashland that the county isn't over budget yet but that finances are tight.

Commissioner Carl Tolliver says he agreed with the layoff of eight parks department workers, because the department's work decreases during winter. But he voted against the others, saying workers' seniority wasn't given proper consideration and that cuts could have been made in other areas.

Stevens says he looked at finances and which departments could spare some workers when making recommendations but that county ordinances allow him to keep more qualified employees regardless of seniority. He says he hopes the county will be able to hire back some of the laid-off employees at some point.


Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Social work faculty and researchers from three Kentucky universities will work with youth groups in hopes of reducing teen pregnancy, violence and sexually transmitted diseases, using a $4.8 million federal grant.

The University of Louisville says the grant will be used to work with more than 1,260 teens who are involved in participating community-based organizations.

The team includes researchers from U of L's Kent School of Social Work and faculty from Western Kentucky University and Spalding University.

U of L says 10 community groups are to take part at first, including six serving urban youth, three serving immigrant and refugee youth and one serving former foster youths.

The university says course leaders will be trained in the spring with young people starting to participate this summer.


Hemlock Trees Threatened

A Kentucky official has launched an effort to stop an insect that is threatening the state's hemlock trees.

Energy and Environment Secretary Leonard Peters says the hemlock woolly adelgid could potentially destroy some of Kentucky's 76.6 million eastern hemlock trees. Peters says that would have a great impact on forest ecosystems, as well as tourism and recreation.

Peters has issued a declaration of public nuisance against the insect, which directs the Division of Forestry to protect forest resources from infestations and to seek funding for projects aimed at saving the hemlock trees.

Infestations of the insect have been found in 15 Kentucky counties since 2006. The cabinet says the insect feeds on hemlock needles and can spread rapidly, reproducing during warm weather.

For more information, visit Save Kentucky's Hemlocks website at


Oldham County Schools Sued

Two parents have filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the Oldham County Schools discriminate against female athletes at North Oldham High School.

One of the plaintiffs, Dick Richards, said the issue is the fieldhouse at the school, which the lawsuit claims doesn't have space for use by female athletes. The suit claims the facility violates Title IX, which mandates gender equality for athletes.

Board of Education attorney Anne Coorssen say when Richards first complained, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and the Office of Civil Rights reviewed the building and did not find it in violation.

Coorssen says even so, the board spent money to tweak the fieldhouse.

The suit was filed Dec. 23.


Homicide Ruled Accidential

The death of a Lexington man that appeared to be a homicide has been ruled accidental.

The coroner's office found the 44-year-old victim fell on a liquor bottle, shattering it and cutting his neck, .

The man was found dead in the yard of a home just north of the downtown area of Lexington on Tuesday.

Authorities haven't released his name because they're having trouble locating family members in eastern Kentucky.

Catholic Action Center co-director Ginny Ramsey says the victim was homeless and was a client of the charity.


Insurance Claim On Coal House Approved

The Mingo County Commission received a report on the status of the Coal House, which was damaged in a fire in October of last year.

The 77-year-old building housed the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce as well as the Williamson Visitors’ Bureau. It is owned by the MCC.

Mingo County Grant Coordinator Leigh Ann Ray told the Commission the insurance company had accepted proof of loss, and the entire amount of the policy, $182,000, was approved for repairs to the building.

The contents of the building were the property of the Chamber of Commerce, and were listed as a total loss. The Chamber held the insurance policy on the contents, which has been accepted as a total loss.

Charles Keefer, with Associated Architects, told Commissioners the next step in the renovation process was environmental phase one, which consists of testing materials in the building to see if they are hazardous.

The Coal House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, so repairs will have to follow strict guidelines put in place to maintain the historical integrity of the building.
The Commission will begin the process of getting cost estimates and bids for the environmental phase one. That testing is expected to cost less than $15,000.

The Coal House repairs have taken longer than anticipated, Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith said, because of conflicts between two insurance companies involved.

The Chamber and the Commission hope to have the Coal House open by Memorial Day weekend.


Virginia Woman Sentenced For McDowell County Theft

Judy Hall, 58, of Abington, Virginia, was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay $389,000 in restitution after pleading guilty in August to stealing money from the Tug River Health Care Association, a nonprofit health clinic in McDowell County, West Virginia. Hall admitted she stole $389,000 over 18 months beginning in April 2008, while she was the clinic's chief financial officer.


Charges Dropped Against Trucker

Charges have been dropped against Michael Joyce, a trucker involved in a fatal accident in Kenova in 2009. Joyce had been charged with negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident, but a grand jury in November failed to return an indictment in the case. Joyce was driving a truck through Kenova when he made a turn onto 14th Street, and the back wheels of his truck went up on the curb, striking Deris Scott, killing him and dragging his wheelchair for more than two city blocks.


Environmental Groups Sue WV Surface Mine

The Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy filed a lawsuit in federal court in Huntington earlier this week alleging Maple Coal Co. is violating pollution discharge limits at the Sycamore surface mine, located in parts of Kanawha and Fayette counties. The environmental groups say Maple Coal is illegally allowing excess selenium to pollute a couple of creeks. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Maple to stop discharging excess selenium, civil fines for past violations and lawyers fees. Canadian coal producer Western Coal owns Maple Coal Co.


Attorney General Weighing Options Against Allcare Dental

West Virginia officials are considering options for dealing with consumer complaints about Allcare Dental and Dentures, a national dental chain that closed abruptly this week, citing financial problems. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Stonestreet says the attorney general's office hasn't decided what legal steps it will take against New York-based Allcare, but the state received about 40 complaints about Allcare before the shutdown and is bracing for more calls because of the closure. For now, Stonestreet says the agency is encouraging customers to attempt to retrieve records, and, if they paid by credit card, to dispute charges. He says the chief concern is people who've paid for work that hasn't been completed or even started.


West Virginia Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty

West Virginia real estate developer Donald R. Carter II, 38, of Poca has pleaded guilty to a two-count information charging him with bank fraud and tax evasion. A joint investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division revealed that, in November 2005, Carter purchased 23 undeveloped lots in the Lamplighter Valley subdivision in Lewisburg. He sought financing from United Bank to build several residential homes, but could not obtain multiple construction loans in his own name. With the aid of a corrupt loan officer, he enlisted friends and family to act as “straw buyers” and sign construction loan applications in their own name. Several of the applications contained false statements, including income, assets or net worth. In exchange for allowing Carter to “borrow their credit,” Carter paid the straw buyers $15,000 per loan, which were not disclosed on loan documents. Carter admitted to evading taxes for the year 2006. Former United Bank loan officer, Roy Leon Cooper, is scheduled for a plea hearing on January 13th.


Tea Party Groups Announce Rally

West Virginia tea party groups will host a rally beginning at 11 a.m. during the first day of the Legislative Session, Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the State Capitol Complex in Charleston.

Tea party group members from throughout the state will be wearing gold scarves with the "Don't Tread on Me" logo. The group will meet at the complex for their rally from 11 a.m. to noon before protesting at the offices of Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller from 3 to 4 p.m.

Speakers at the rally include Aaron Kidd, a 19-year-old economics major at Marshall University and chair of the West Virginia Federation of College Republicans; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots; Jonathan Miller, a state delegate from Berkley County; and Eric Householder, also a state delegate from Berkley County.


Vote-By-Mail Pilot Program

The secretary of state's vote-by-mail pilot program will get its first test in the spring.

Morgantown City Council approved the city's participation in the program. Morgantown voters will cast ballots by mail in the April municipal election.

Three council members who opposed the measure said they're concerned about rushing into the program without considering the possibility of fraud and other factors.

Councilwoman Jenny Seilin says the city can drop the program if it doesn't work out.


DUI Checkpoints Report

The W.Va. State Police have released their numbers in arrests and citations from DUI checkpoints set up around the state on New Year's Eve.
On Dec. 31, the state police conducted two DUI checkpoints in Monongalia County and Kanawha County, with several roving DUI patrols in West Virginia, according to a news release from the W.Va. State Police.
In both Monongalia and Kanawha counties, one DUI arrest was made in each county.

In total, 32 DUI arrests were made on New Year's Eve. In addition, 11 felony arrests were made, along with 44 misdemeanor arrests and 11 driving revoked DUI arrests were made, the news release states. Also, 32 drivers were given citations for driving while on a suspended or revoked license

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Labor Department And Massey Settle

Federal regulators have settled a lawsuit seeking to force Massey Energy Co. to close a Kentucky mine with a long history of violating safety laws.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Labor and Richmond, Va.-based Massey filed a joint motion for approval of a settlement Wednesday in U.S. District Court in eastern Kentucky.

The Labor Department sued in November seeking an order closing the Freedom Energy mine until Massey fixed numerous problems at the Pike County operation.

Massey has since decided to close the mine permanently. Court documents show Massey is now preparing to seal the mine.

Labor Department solicitor Patricia Smith says the settlement is a big victory for the agency.

General Counsel Shane Harvey says Massey is pleased to resolve the matter.


Rand And Ron Paul Make Congressional History

Wednesday, U.S. Representative Ron Paul stood in the back of the Senate chamber with a smile as he watched Vice President Joe Biden administer the oath of office and make his son, Rand Paul, the new junior senator from Kentucky. Ron Paul, R-Texas, was sworn in a few hours later for a 12th two-year term in the House of Representatives. The swearing-in of each of the Pauls marks the first time in congressional history when a child will serve in the Senate while the parent simultaneously serves in the House. Rand Paul, who says the debt problem is enormous, fired a warning shot at his own party in a television interview, saying that Republicans better not renege on their promise to implement $100 billion in spending cuts within a year of taking control of the House. Paul vows to keep his promises to Kentucky.


Felony Fugitive Arrested In Johnson County

A man on the run since September was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon. Gary L. Gamble, Sr. was wanted on drug and persistent felony charges. He was arrested by Johnson County Sheriff Dwayne Price and Paintsville Police Chief Bill Holbrook.


LIHEAP Emergency Assistance Begins

Governor Steve Beshear announced Wednesday that Kentucky families facing a crisis and needing help paying for heat during winter's colder months can apply for assistance this month. The assistance is part of Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This fiscal year, Health and Human Services has released more than $2.7 billion for LIHEAP. Kentucky received $34 million, and about $11.8 million is available now for families facing a home-heating emergency. Benefits are distributed through Community Action Agencies across the state. The program's crisis phase began on January 4th and ends March 31st, or when funding runs out. Families applying must bring a past due or disconnect notice from their utility provider.


Williams Campaign Fundraising Surpasses $750,000

Democratic Governor Steve Beshear has surpassed $3.5 million in campaign fundraising and has most of it stockpiled in the bank for his re-election bid, but Republican rival David Williams made up some ground with a strong end-of-the-year showing. The Kentucky Senate President outraised Beshear during the fourth quarter of 2010, but still trails by a big margin in overall campaign funds. Williams amassed more than $750,000 in campaign funds that mostly came in the final two months of last year, his campaign said Wednesday as candidates filed campaign finance reports with the state.


Bill Seeking Review Of Tax Code Clears Senate Committee

A proposal by Kentucky Senate President David Williams to create an outside commission on revamping the state's tax code won Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee approval Wednesday. However, it drew an ominous dissent from House Speaker Greg Stumbo who suggested the approach would abdicate the General Assembly's role in shaping tax policy. Stumbo predicted the measure would face "great difficulty" passing the House. The measure would limit lawmakers to an up-or-down vote on any tax modernization plan crafted by a group of economists and others without the ability to make substantive changes.


Bill Seeking Review Of Tax Code Clears Senate Committee

A proposal by Kentucky Senate President David Williams to create an outside commission on revamping the state's tax code won Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee approval Wednesday. However, it drew an ominous dissent from House Speaker Greg Stumbo who suggested the approach would abdicate the General Assembly's role in shaping tax policy. Stumbo predicted the measure would face "great difficulty" passing the House. The measure would limit lawmakers to an up-or-down vote on any tax modernization plan crafted by a group of economists and others without the ability to make substantive changes.


Bill To Reward Math And Science Teachers Passes Senate Committee

A bill seeking to reward Kentucky teachers with extra money for guiding students through advanced math and science classes won approval from the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The state's initial yearly price tag would be $1.2 million, but the incentives would spur teachers to steer more students to take Advanced Placement exams in math and science, said Sen. Ken Winters, the bill sponsor. Families would benefit by having students earn college credits while still in high school.


Bill To Reward Math And Science Teachers Passes Senate Committee

A bill seeking to reward Kentucky teachers with extra money for guiding students through advanced math and science classes won approval from the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. The state's initial yearly price tag would be $1.2 million, but the incentives would spur teachers to steer more students to take Advanced Placement exams in math and science, said Sen. Ken Winters, the bill sponsor. Families would benefit by having students earn college credits while still in high school.


Kentucky Senator Proposes Tougher Ethics Law

Kentucky Senator Kathy Stein, a Lexington Democrat, is proposing legislation that would toughen state ethics law for legislators and candidates and shed more light on spending by lawmakers. Stein said Wednesday that her proposal would restrict campaign contributions to lawmakers or legislative candidates by businesses and groups that employ lobbyists and also prohibit such contributions when the General Assembly is meeting in regular session. Her proposal would require the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission to dismiss an ethics complaint that was publicly disclosed by the complainant. Another proposal calls for the Legislative Research Commission to post lawmakers’ travel and expenses records online.


Two Arrested In Bell County

Thirty-two year old William Kenneth Mann of Wallins and 23 year old Andrew W. York of Hulen were arrested in Bell County Wednesday afternoon following an armed robbery that caused the lockdown of a nearby school. State police say they robbed a business at the Vendors Mall near Middlesboro at gunpoint and then fled the scene. A short time later, they were located in the parking lot of the Bell County High School. Police say Mann attempted to flee in a vehicle, almost hitting a Bell County Sheriff Deputy and KSP Trooper Tyson Lawson. He then ran into a parked vehicle before being arrested.

Mann was charged with first-degree receiving stolen property under $10,000, first-degree robbery, first-degree fleeing or evading police, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer and resisting arrest. Other charges are pending. York was charged with first-degree complicity to commit robbery.


Lexington Police Investigating Correctional Officer

Kevin Lawson, a correctional officer at the Fayette County Detention Center, is the subject of a criminal investigation. Lawson, who has been with the jail since September 2008, is accused of inappropriate sexual contact with a female inmate. He turned himself in early Wednesday on charges of sexual abuse and indecent exposure. Lexington Police say they were contacted by jail officials at the end of December and were asked to look into the accusations reporter earlier that month. Just two days earlier, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray launched an investigation into the jail's policies, procedures, and management. Lawson is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.


Breathitt County Drug Bust

Operation UNITE and Kentucky State Police troopers conducted a drug roundup in Breathitt County Wednesday, arresting 13 individuals of the two dozen targeted. During an investigation that spanned six months, UNITE detectives along with officers from the Jackson Police Department purchased a variety of pills, primarily Percocet, OxyContin and Lortab. Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for UNITE, says one-third of those wanted in this latest roundup have previously been arrested by UNITE for drug trafficking. Through November, 816 calls were made to UNITE's drug tipline (1-866-424-4382) by Breathitt County residents.

As of early afternoon police had located and charged 13 individuals. All were being held in the Three Forks Regional Jail in Beattyville:

• Ann Barrett, age 36, Jackson, served in jail, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, second offense, and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Stephanie Jean Combs, age 35, Old Quicksand Road, Jackson, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Larry Davidson, age 51, Airport Road, Jackson, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and one count second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Jacob Henson Jr., age 45, Stamper Drive, Jackson, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• French Howard, age 34, Highway 541, Jackson, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Sheila Jimenez (aka Kay Hensley), age 53, Railroad Street, Jackson, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Adam Morris, age 24, Jackson, served in jail, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.

• Cynthia Morris, age 45, Ivy Court Drive, Jackson, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• James D. Napier, age 43, Sycamore Street, Jackson, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, second offense, and first-degree persistent felony offender.

• Bert Noble, age 48, Highway 15 South, Jackson, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Toby Noble, age 32, Highway 315, Booneville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, second offense, and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Sarah F. Robinson, age 54, Sewell Street, Jackson, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, second offense.

• Sam Wilson Jr., age 45, Town View Apartments, Broadway, Jackson, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

Those suspects not located during Wednesday morning's roundup will continue to be sought by UNITE detectives and officers from the Jackson Police Department.


Massey Production Falls Short Of Expectations

Massey Energy Co. says production fell short of expectations in the final three months of the year. Massey says it produced and sold 8.9 million tons during the quarter. That's 1.4 million less than the company had predicted in October. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting Massey to neither produce a profit nor a loss per share for the period.


Charleston Couple Sentenced

Lisa A. Knotts, 33, and her husband, 42 year old Ross A. Knotts, of Charleston were sentenced Wednesday to three months in prison, followed by a 3-year term of supervised release, along with being ordered to pay $78,530 in restitution. The couple pleaded guilty in September 2010 to the charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, admitting they stole merchandise from various Target stores in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and resold the items on the online auction site eBay, allowing them to be delivered via the U.S. Mail. Investigators say the couple instructed their minor to assist with hiding merchandise in shopping carts and child strollers. The Court allowed each defendant to serve their prison term separately. Lisa Knotts will serve her sentence second. Ross Knotts is set to report to the U.S. Marshal on January 17th.


Raleigh County Doctor Indicted

Forty-one year old Angela Basham-Calloway, a Raleigh County physician who practiced in Beckley and Oak Hill, is charged with fraudulently obtaining and conspiring to distribute Oxycodone and Adderall. A grand jury indicted Basham-Calloway on Tuesday. Basham-Calloway faces up to 24 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines if convicted. A judge has ordered Basham-Calloway detained until her trial, which has not been set.


Preliminary Hearing In Wayne County Murder

Clinton Douglas Skeens was in Wayne County Magistrate Court Wednesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing after being charged with the murder of former Wayne County football coach Jess "Scott" Jarrell. Police say Jarrell was the only one home on Friday, December 31st when the murder took place. Fifty-two year old Clinton Douglas Skeens of Huntington was arrested Friday by the West Virginia State Police. Trooper Chapman with the West Virginia State Police testified Jarrell suffered 43 stab wounds, and the fatal stab was to his heart. The stab wounds were confirmed by the autopsy report presented in court. Jarrell's son, Scott Jarrell, and his son-in-law, Paul Morrison, were charged with willful disruption of a government process after they attempted to attack Skeens.


MSHA Director Unveils Safety Standards

During a conference call Wednesday, MSHA Director Joe Main discussed 11 items scheduled for the next year aimed at planning, preventing and protecting the safety of miners. The standards deal with a number of issues, including regulations for impoundment dams, coal mine dust and dust monitors, operations with a pattern of violations and standards for proximity detective systems. The agenda calls for six new rules to be on the books in the next six months. MSHA plans to issue regulations to limit miners' exposure to coal dust that causes black lung and toughen standards for preventing coal-dust explosions in underground mines. MSHA says it will not be deterred by the failure of reform legislation last year or by the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.


WV Supreme Court Set To Hear Gubernatorial Succession Case

At 2:00 P.M. next Tuesday, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the Citizen Action Group and Thornton Cooper's consolidated case seeking a special election for governor. The Action Group and Cooper both filed against Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, House Speaker Rick Thompson and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant asking the Supreme Court for a ruling on a time line for a gubernatorial election for West Virginia. Justice Robin Davis has disqualified herself from hearing the case and Preston County Circuit Judge Lawrance Miller, Jr. has been appointed to take her place.


WV School Building Authority Seeking State Superintendent

Reports indicate that Chairwoman of the West Virginia University Board of Governors Carolyn Long, who is a former Braxton County Superintendent, West Virginia School Building Authority Executive Director Mark Manchin, former superintendent in Webster and McDowell counties, along with Deputy State Superintendent Jorea Marple, a former Kanawha County superintendent, have applied to be the new superintendent of West Virginia Schools. Former state Superintendent Steve Payne retired this week, and Ted Mattern took over as interim superintendent on Tuesday. The state board hopes to have the position filled by March.


Cabell Huntington Hospital A Finalist For National Award

Cabell Huntington Hospital has been selected as one of the 33 hospitals from across the United States as a finalist for the national 2011 Hospital Charitable Service Awards which honors medical facilities for their community impact, innovation, collaboration and best practices. The hospital was nominated for the award for its efforts to reduce obesity and improve community health in the Tri-State area. Of the 33 finalists, 10 will be selected to share a $100,000 award fund, which will be announced February 3rd at a national hospital charitable services conference in Atlanta.


Cabell Huntington Hospital A Finalist For National Award

Cabell Huntington Hospital has been selected as one of the 33 hospitals from across the United States as a finalist for the national 2011 Hospital Charitable Service Awards which honors medical facilities for their community impact, innovation, collaboration and best practices. The hospital was nominated for the award for its efforts to reduce obesity and improve community health in the Tri-State area. Of the 33 finalists, 10 will be selected to share a $100,000 award fund, which will be announced February 3rd at a national hospital charitable services conference in Atlanta.


Health Department Closes Kiddie Academy

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department closed Kiddie Academy Child Care Leaning Center last week, citing unsanitary conditions. Health Department Director Dr. Rahul Gupta says they gave the owners, Andrew and Michelle Fizer, the weekend to clean the building and bring it up to code after inspectors found evidence of the presence of rodents in the kitchen and problems in the diaper changing area. But Gupta says when his staff returned Monday, there were still problems. Inspectors returned on Tuesday and found that the conditions still did not meet the criteria they had set forth last week. The Health Department suspended Kiddie Academy's permits until all 21 problems are corrected. While the center remains closed, the Fizer told parents they could drop their children off at the Blessed John XXIII Pastoral Center, a place the day care uses as an emergency shelter. Wednesday, Anita Ray, director of environmental health for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said that action was completely illegal, and they didn't ask anyone for permission as far as moving the center there temporarily. The day care center's permit from the health department has been suspended.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Massey Hearing Set For Pike County Mine

Freedom Energy plans to call three miners to testify about safety policies and procedures at a hearing set to begin Wednesday in an effort to persuade a federal judge not to order a Pike County mine closed. The hearing will focus on specific violations, general policies and overall safety culture at Freedom Energy's Sidney Coal Corp. mine. In October, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration targeted the mine in its first attempt to use the courts to shut down the mine which is considered to be on a "pattern of violations." Testimony is scheduled to last three days, but attorneys for Massey Energy and the Department of Labor told the judge during a status hearing Tuesday that they were trying to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Terry Mike Jude, who now works as a ventilation specialist and inspector for MSHA, participated in mine rescue and recovery operations at the Massey Energy Aracoma Alma fire and participated in the rescue of two people at the Mammouth No. 15 mine. He was a safety official at Massey from December 2004 to October 2006.


Rand Paul Readies To Join Father In Congress

For much of his 21 years in Congress, Representative Ron Paul has been a party of one, but that's all about to change. Rand Paul will not only share his father's Virginia condominium after winning an election of his own, but he will bring a tea party agenda of deficit reduction and limited government that is remarkably similar to the ideas that Ron Paul has been pushing for decades. Both father and son want to reform monetary policy and slash government spending and regulation. Ron Paul says the dollar will be "ruined" unless Congress limits the "amount of power that the Fed has to monetize debt." Rand Paul agrees and says that stricter oversight of the Federal Reserve will be among his top priorities in the Senate. Rand Paul also plans to introduce term-limit legislation, something his father, now a veteran incumbent, supported during his first years in office. Rand Paul says lawmakers need to live with the rules they create. Political analysts say it would be a mistake to say that Rand Paul is a carbon copy of his father.


Floyd County Domestic Violence Hires New Workers

Kentucky State Police say, in 2009, around 90 victims called the state's Domestic Violence Association every day, while 7,909 emergency protection orders were issued, 119 of them in Floyd County. Recently, the Floyd County Fiscal Court voted to award a $400,000 grant to the Mountain Comprehensive Care Center's Victim Services Program to hire new advocates to help victims. With the grant, the center was able to hire Kimberley Freeman, Sabrina Rose and Dustin Newsome who are on call 24/7. Freeman, Rose and Newsome plan to implement training and other initiatives to improve community, police and judicial collaboration, as well as victim safety. The group has already taken steps to implement training sessions for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, advocates and medical professionals. This training will focus on improving response to the complexities of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. If you need to talk to someone or report a case of domestic violence, the crisis hotline is 1-800-422-1060.


Murder Suspect Appears In Court

Woodie Sons Jr. appeared in court Tuesday in Powell County after being charged with the murder of Charles Maggard, who was found stabbed to death in his home in Stanton in December 2010. State Police arrested Sons at a home in Clay City on December 29th. Woodie Sons owned Universal Fitness Center in Stanton, which was destroyed by a fire in October. A preliminary hearing is set for January 11th.


Immigration Bill Filed

On the first day of the 2011 legislative session Tuesday, Senate Republicans followed through on a promise to file a bill aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants in Kentucky. Republican state Senator John Schickel of Union introduced the legislation, and Senate President David Williams said the measure could be approved and sent to the House for consideration by week’s end. The measure would allow police to determine the immigration status of people they detain and to charge them with criminal trespass if found on public or private property in the state.


Bill Filed For Nursing Home Background Checks

Tuesday, State Senator Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, filed a bill that would require criminal background checks for all employees of nursing homes. Currently, the state requires such checks for nursing home and assisted living employees who care directly for residents, but not for staff such as custodians.


Tax Filing Deadline Extended

Taxpayers will get an extra three days to file their federal tax returns this year, giving taxpayers until midnight Monday, April 18th, to file their 2010 returns. The filing deadline is delayed because the District of Columbia will observe Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15th. Emancipation Day marks the occasion when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill on April 16, 1862, ending slavery in the District of Columbia.


Former Governor Loses Bid For Senate Minority Leader

Former Governor Julian Carroll, now a Democratic state senator, was rejected by his colleagues Tuesday in his bid to become Senate minority floor leader. Instead, Democrats chose Senator R.J. Palmer II, a Winchester banker with a reputation as a mild-mannered lawmaker. Carroll says his rocky relationship with Republican Senate President David Williams likely caused his colleagues to opt for Palmer heading into what is expected to be a tension-filled series of legislative meetings that will extend into mid-March. Palmer, who has been in the Senate since 2001, called Carroll a "very talented" leader from whom he will seek advice in his new role. He replaces retired Minority Leader Ed Worley, who didn't seek re-election to the Senate last year.


KY Prison Recidivism Rate Down

Kentucky currently spends $447 million on prison corrections annually. New data from the Department of Corrections shows 29.5 percent of inmates released in 2008 have been returned to prison, either for new felony offenses or parole violations. That two-year recidivism rate is the lowest since 2000, when the state posted a 28.9 percent rate. Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson says a study showed that, between 2007 and 2009, the number of parolees returned to prison for technical violations went down about 25 percent. She says changes in probation and parole, alternative sentencing, including home incarceration and drug courts and mental-health courts, and state funding for substance-abuse treatment  may have contributed to the reduction, saving taxpayers money.


KY Food Prices Rose During Fourth Quarter Of 2010

According to data prepared by the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, retail food prices in supermarkets across Kentucky rose 2.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with the third quarter. Of the six food groups included in the survey, fruits and vegetables saw the greatest increase with an average price jump of 10.9 percent. A 32-ounce bottle of vegetable oil had the largest price increase with an average jump of 10.9 percent. The largest single-item decrease was a pound of chicken breasts, which fell 49 cents on average in price.


Governors Explore Savings On Bridges

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced plans on Tuesday to explore options  they say could reduce the cost of the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges project by more than $500 million.

They say cost savings could come from rebuilding Spaghetti Junction instead of moving it, reducing the East End bridge from six lanes to four lanes and completing the Big Four Bridge pedestrian walkway and bike path instead of including walkways and bike paths on the new downtown bridge.

The Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridges Authority will look at other ways to reduce costs in design, construction and financing.


Attempted Escape Causes Wounding Of Deputy Jailers

 A northern Kentucky inmate has been charged with wounding two deputy jailers during an attempted escape.

The Lewis County Sheriff's Office says 26-year-old Dustin Egbert asked the deputy jailers for help, then attacked them with a homemade knife.

Sheriff Johnny Bivens said deputy jailer Joshua Lewis had the most severe injuries, including a 6-inch laceration to his throat. Another deputy jailer, Wayne Hensley, suffered lacerations.

Egbert briefly got out of his cell during the altercation Sunday night, but was restrained before police arrived.

Egbert was charged with attempted murder, assault, promoting contraband and attempted escape.


Education Council President Will Visit Community Colleges

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King will be on the road again later this month, paying visits to community colleges around the state.

King has already visited colleges in Bowling Green, Edgewood, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville and Madisonville. Next he'll head to Ashland, Elizabethtown, Henderson, Maysville, Owensboro and Somerset, among others.

The council says King previously visited the state's public four-year universities.

King says it's rewarding to meet with the people who make the colleges run and that personal visits give meaning to the information he must use every day.

King decided to visit each school to learn about academic programs and have a look at facilities. The council says he also likes to meet with campus leaders, faculty and staff, students and community leaders.


Weather Related Death In Lee County

The death of a Lee County women appears to be related to cold weather.

Lee County Coroner Ray Shuler says 47-year-old Peggy Little was found dead Monday morning near her home in the St. Helens community east of Beattyville. National Weather Service records show the low temperature in Beattyville early Monday was 20 degrees.

Shuler says Little left the home she shared with her mother in the middle of the night, might have been confused and wasn't dressed for cold weather.

Shuler says it's possible she died from hypothermia.



Federal Authorities Seek To Keep Money From Mingo County Raid

In a civil action filed in U.S. District Court last week, federal authorities are seeking to keep almost $600,000 they seized during searches of the Williamson apartment and offices of  Mingo County Dr. Diane E. Shafer. Assistant U.S. Attorney Betty Pullin says the money confiscated from her apartment, safety deposit boxes and bank accounts in January 2010 could be traced to illegal prescription practices. Shafer, 58, voluntarily surrendered her medical license in December 2009, the same month State Police investigators found illegal pre-signed prescriptions at her office. Shafer has not been charged, but  previous court filings indicate she was in plea negotiations with federal prosecutors. Lisa K. Baisden, of Dingess, who worked for Shafer between 2004 and 2009, was sentenced to three years probation after admitting she handed out pre-signed prescriptions for pain medication in exchange for some of the pills.


Kessler Plans To Replace Mingo County Senate Majority Leader

Last month, Senator Jeff Kessler secured enough votes in a Democratic caucus for a Senate rule change that will create the position of acting president. Anticipated state Senate Acting President Jeff Kessler has named key members of his leadership team. Kessler has chosen Senator John Unger to serve as his majority leader, replacing longtime majority leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo. Kessler says Wyoming County Senator Richard Browning will serve as majority whip and Senator Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, will be Senate Pro Tem. The actual votes will take place when the legislative session begins Wednesday,  January 12th.


Pinch Man Charged With Malicious Wounding

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department says what started as a physical fight ended in gunfire. Corey Roush, 22, from Pinch, has been charged with malicious wounding after 23 year old Lucas Scott Burdette, also from Pinch, was shot in the arm around 10:00 A.M. Tuesday morning, sending him to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital.


Man Pleads Guilty In Marijuana Conspiracy

A sweeping marijuana conspiracy investigation which has netted 15 arrests since July in states from Nevada to West Virginia landed its first conviction Monday when Mark Chappelear, also known as "Chappy," of Zanesville, Ohio, admitted to trafficking more than a ton of marijuana between 2007 and September 2009. Chappelear and Charleston defense attorney Tim C. Carrico, appeared before U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers where Chappelear signed a stipulation of facts agreeing that he helped Jacob Dodson, also of Zanesville, on at least 15 occasions. Investigators say a Mexican drug trafficking organization pumped massive amounts of marijuana through central Ohio and into the Tri-State between summer 2002 to May 19, 2010. The indictment outlined a nearly eight-year, $10 million marijuana conspiracy that later court documents show extended into Mexico.


Sentencing Postponed For Former Patriot Foreman

At the request of prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley postponed Tuesday's sentencing hearing for former Patriot Coal Corp. underground mine foreman John Renner of Granville. Renner pleaded guilty to filing a false inspection report at Patriot's Federal No. 2 mine in Fairview. He is cooperating with an ongoing investigation. Patriot has said in regulatory filings that it has turned over methane detection equipment and test results from the mine to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


Cross Lanes Woman Pleads Guilty

Twenty-three year old Sarah Elizabeth Browning of Cross Lanes will be sentenced March 16th after pleading guilty to stealing a South Charleston city vehicle on July 19th. Police arrested Browning and Richard Ollie Williams Jr., 32, of Ripley after the two crashed the truck in Sissonville. Police say a driver had left the Public Works pickup truck running while he stopped at a 7-Eleven convenience store in South Charleston. Browning faces 1 to 10 years in jail for grand larceny.


Environmental Director Dies

Coal River Mountain Watch Executive Director Judy Bonds died Monday night of cancer at the age of 58. Bonds is remembered for her strong stand against mountaintop removal mining. Bonds was very outspoken during the overweight coal truck debate in the West Virginia Legislature in 2002, where she was one of the featured speakers at a rally at the state Capitol. The legislature later passed a bill regulating coal truck weight and creating a coal hauling transportation system. In 2003, Bonds was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, a prestigious award given annually to grassroots activists around the globe.


Teen Dies After Being Hit By Train

A 16 year old male from Branchland was killed Monday night when the vehicle he was driving was struck by a train at a railroad crossing on Nine Mile Road in Midkiff in Lincoln County. State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous says indications are he was trying to beat the train across the tracks.


Charleston City Leaders Consider Pension Plan

City leaders in Charleston say the pension plan for police officers and firefighters is no good, but they have a plan that would allow them to pay them without putting the city in debt. A new pension system passed by the Legislature in 2009 could help by closing the existing pension plan to new hires, but Charleston doesn't qualify. The new bill calls for the city to be able to manage itself out of debt within 40 years, but, with the pension fund debt being more than $2 million, that simply can't be done. Mayor Danny Jones says, under the existing plan, the city would be fine for the next 15 to 20 years, but the long-term effects could be devastating. Jones plans to ask the Legislature for a self-funding formula that would allow the city into the new pension system, as well as calling on help from police and firefighter unions.


Chemical Safety Board To Hold Public Meeting

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board will hold a public meeting at 6:30 P.M. January 20th in the Wilson Building at West Virginia State University. The purpose of the meeting is to share its final report on the investigation of a deadly August 2008 chemical explosion at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute. The CSB investigative team will present their findings on the causes of the accident to CSB board members and the public. The Board can then question the investigators and then the public will be invited to comment. Investigators will also present safety recommendations. Two workers, Barry Withrow and Bill Oxley, died as a result of the explosion.


Charleston Urban Hunt Nets Record 60 Deer

Although Charleston issued 124 permits, down from 184 in 2009, hunters killed a record 60 deer during Charleston's month-long urban hunt which ended December 31st. Forty-two of the deer killed were does. Charleston has allowed deer hunting on approved tracts since 2005, and each year's kills have topped the previous year's total. The previous record was 54 deer killed in 2009.

Monday, January 03, 2011


HELP In Need Of Monetary Donations

HELP Director Charles "Monk" Sanders is appealing to the public in an effort to save the HELP Charity Warehouse which has been put up for sale. The owner of the building is selling it, and Sanders says they do not have the $125,000 needed to buy it. Sanders says everything in the charity's warehouse goes towards home repairs, and is donated by Home Depot through the Appalachian Outreach program. The group is trying to get a bank loan, but they only have until the end of the month to come up with the money or lose the warehouse. Anyone who wants to make a donation can contact the HELP charity at 606-437-0389.


New Sheriff In Whitley County

Retired Kentucky State Police detective Colan Harrell has been sworn in as the new Whitley County Sheriff. Harrell, who beat incumbent Lawrence Hodge says his one priority to be the best law enforcement in the state is a goal which his department will achieve. Harrell has hired nearly one dozen new people, and several surrounding sheriff departments have donated vehicles, guns, and other equipment needed to run a sheriff's department. Hodge is facing a 21 count indictment with charges ranging from abuse of public trust to tampering with physical evidence.


Judge Orders Lawson Statement Released

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled Monday that the news media may see a statement that Kentucky highway contractor Leonard Lawson gave to the Kentucky attorney general's office in 1983 while his former company, Mountain Enterprises, was under civil investigation. In 2008, Lawson and others were indicted on charges of illegally obtaining estimates for road projects, but Lawson was later acquitted. Federal prosecutors planned to use the statement in the federal criminal trial, and the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Courier-Journal and the Associated Press asked for the statement under the Kentucky Open Records Act in 2009. Attorney General Jack Conway’s office initially denied the request because of the ongoing criminal case. Lawson's attorney, Guthrie True, had argued that Lawson's privacy rights justified blocking its release. In his ruling, Wingate said because Lawson had agreed as part of the anti-trust investigation to cooperate with law enforcement that he had no expectation that the1983 statement would remain private. Attorney Jon Fleischaker, who represented the news organizations, says he's pleased with the decision. If Lawson appeals, the statement may not be immediately available to reporters.


Attorneys May Use Mental Defense In Nunn Murder Trial

Warren Scoville and Bette Niemi, defense lawyers for former state Representative Steve Nunn filed documents last week showing they intend to use expert testimony and other evidence of mental and emotional defects in Nunn's murder trial. Nunn is scheduled to go on trial August 1st for the murder of his former fiancée, 29 year old Amanda Ross, who was shot to death outside her Lexington home on September 11, 2009. Prosecutors have the option of seeking a death sentence if Nunn is convicted. Defense attorney Mark Stanziano of Somerset says the notification does not necessarily mean Nunn's lawyers will introduce expert testimony and other evidence of a mental or emotional condition, but attorneys are required under Kentucky law and rules of criminal procedure to file such a notice in order to be allowed to use such proof. Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine told defense attorneys previously they had until December 31st to give notice, and prosecutors have until January 31st to have their own expert evaluate Nunn if the defense gave such a notice.


State Representative To Push Proposal Involving Prison Costs

Kentucky has one of the country's fastest-growing prison populations, up by some 45 percent in the past decade. Records from the Kentucky Department for Corrections show the cost of incarcerating a single state prisoner ranges from $13,000 to $31,000 a year, and the total cost of operating the state prison system now stands at $477 million a year. Looking for ways to reduce those annual prison costs, Kentucky is paying the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Center on the States to do an analysis and recommend solutions which are expected to be released on January 19th. Democratic state Representative Brent Yonts intends to push a proposal to give jurors information about prison costs during the sentencing phases of criminal trials. Yonts says jurors might not put prisoners in jail for so long for a lesser crime if they know what it's going to cost.


More Than 400 Bills To Be Filed In Legislative Session

More than 400 bills are expected to be officially filed on the opening day of the legislative session which begins Tuesday, January 4th. Governor Steve Beshear says he'll be pushing a limited agenda that includes balancing the Medicaid budget and passing legislation that would raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18. House Democrats will press for a "right-to-hunt" constitutional amendment to head off a perceived push by animal rights groups to stop people from going afield with guns. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says Democrats also are proposing legislation aimed at fighting the state's methamphetamine problem by requiring certain over-the-counter drugs with pseudoephedrine to be sold only to people with prescriptions. Senate President David Williams says GOP lawmakers want to reform the state tax code to make Kentucky more inviting to business expansion. He wants to create a commission made up of economists, accountants and business leaders to develop a "revenue neutral" tax proposal. And he wants lawmakers to approve or reject the eventual proposal without considering amendments.


Objection Filed In Sypher Case

In an objection to a pre-sentence report compiled by federal probation officers in advance of Karen Sypher's January 18th sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford filed an information on December 31st saying the probation office's estimated value of some of Sypher's demands were lower than prosecution estimations. Prosecutors say Sypher tried to extort University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino of at least $2.5 million and potentially more than $7 million in exchange for keeping quiet about a sexual encounter between the two in 2003. Ford said, among the things, Sypher sought a home valued at close to $1 million and a $45,000 Lexus SUV. Sypher was convicted in August of three counts of extortion, two counts of lying to the FBI and a count of retaliation against a witness.


Florida To KY Pill Pipeline Monitoring System Delayed

In April 2009, Florida lawmakers passed a law to help cut the pill pipeline coming from their state to Kentucky. Dan Smoot, director for Operation UNITE, says vanloads of people continue making the trip of 14 hours or more to South Florida clinics. It took many months for Florida officials, with the help of Kentucky leaders, to draw up specifications and seek proposals to implement the system. On December 21st, the state named an Alabama company the top bidder but the losing bidder plans to challenge that, further delaying the system. The Florida Department of Health says it doesn't expect to see the system up and running until June. The state got donations and grants to start the system, including $800,000 through a federal program named for U.S. Representative Harold "Hal" Rogers, but it would take about $500,000 a year to run after that. And, with the state facing a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion, it's not clear lawmakers will provide the money.


KSP Highway Fatality Report

Preliminary statistics indicate that three people
died in two separate crashes on Kentucky roadways during the New Year's
Eve holiday enforcement period (Thursday, December 30, 2010 through
Sunday, January 2, 2011).  Last year there were five highway fatalities
during the same enforcement period. 

Through December 31 747 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2010.  This is 44 less
fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2009.   There were
585 motor vehicle fatalities and 311 of those victims were not wearing
seat belts.  Eighty-one of these crashes involved a commercial motor

Fifty-nine pedestrians and six bicyclists have been killed.
Seventy-nine fatalities involved a motorcycle, sixteen fatalities
involved an ATV and two involved a scooter.  A total of one hundred
fifty-one fatalities have resulted from crashes involving the suspected
use of alcohol. 
Citizens can contribute to highway safety by reporting erratic drivers
to the Kentucky State Police toll-free at 1-800-222-5555. Callers will
remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location,
direction of travel and license number if possible.

*These statistics are still preliminary as KSP waits for all local law
enforcement agencies throughout the state to report any crashes and
fatalities that may have occurred in their areas.  Crash data for this
report is generated from the Kentucky Fatality Analysis Reporting System


Neighbor Shoots Dog In Letcher County

Kentucky State Police have arrested a teenage boy  after a man found his 15-year-old dog dead on his property in the Vicco community, east of Hazard.

Alger Williams said he let his dog loose every Sunday morning for a run. This time, a neighbor called out to him that someone had shot the dog, named Barney.

Police handcuffed the boy and took him to the Breathitt County Juvenile Detention Center. They also confiscated a rifle.

Chris Sizemore of the KSP says a neighbor's animals can be nuisances at times, but there are humane solutions to conflicts.


Radio Network Wins Horse Racing Eclipse Award

A Lexington-based radio network has received an Eclipse Award for its live coverage of this year's Breeders' Cup races at Churchill Downs.

The award was announced Thursday for Horse Racing Radio Network. The Courier-Journal reported the network received the media award in the audio-multimedia Internet category.

Network president Mike Penna said winning the award was "overwhelming."


Prison Escapee Re-captured

A minimum-security inmate who walked away from a Kentucky women's prison has been caught.

Jamie Strang of the Kentucky Department of Corrections says 38-year-old Laura Chase was caught at in Munfordville. Chase was reported missing from Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Peewee Valley Saturday.

Chase was serving an 11-year sentence for Manufacturing Methamphetamine, 1st Offense. Her parole eligibility date was October, 2012.


Knott County Banning Pain Clinics

 The Knott County Fiscal Court has passed an ordinance banning pain clinics in the county that are not legitimate. Lola Patterson, the director of the Knott Drug Abuse Council, says, while there are legitimate pain clinics, the mass distribution of prescription medications has become an epidemic. The drug council will work with police to enforce the ordinance. If a pain clinic is caught, one of the punishments is a $5,000 fine per day of operation. This ordinance went into effect on January 1st.


Whooping Cough Concern

Health officials in northern Kentucky are planning to immunize childcare workers in an effort to stop the spread of whooping cough.

The campaign begins this month and is part of a national effort to encourage adults to get vaccinated against the disease.

Epidemiologist Joyce Rice said people usually associate the disease with children, but anyone can catch and spread it.

Rice said health officials recorded 127 cases of whooping cough in northern Kentucky in 2010, compared to 38 in 2009.


Mingo County Project To Soon Begin

Last October, state officials announced TransGas Development Systems' plans to open a coal to gas plant in Mingo County. Project Manager Randall Harris says construction is scheduled to begin this spring. Harris estimates is it will take about 40 months of actual construction and about six to eight months of start up and testing, and the plant will be operational in 48 months. Harris says, at the peak of construction, around 2,400 people will be working at any given time. Permanent job estimates would be about 300 at the job site and about 200 indirect contractors, and, with about 3 million tons of coal needed, another 200 mining jobs. Once it is built, the facility will put coal through a several step process that results in the creation of gasoline. The plant will churn out about 18,000 barrels of premium grade gasoline per day, the majority of which will be sold to refineries.


Accident Kills Mingo County Woman

West Virginia State Police say 69 year old Gabriella Lester died after losing control of her car Saturday afternoon on Gilbert Creek Road in Gilbert. Lester was pronounced dead at the scene.


Preliminary Hearing Set In Murder Of Wayne County Coach

Clinton Douglas Skeens of Huntington is set to appear in court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing for the New Year's Eve murder of former Wayne County Pioneers football coach Jess “Scott” Jarrell. Police say Skeens played football for Jarell in the past, and that seems to be the only connection. Jarrell coached the Pioneers from 1962 to 1983. It's not known what prompted the altercation that led to Jarrell being stabbed to death.


McAteer Wrapping Up UBB Investigation

J. Davitt McAteer, the man appointed by former Governor Joe Manchin to head up the investigation into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion, will head underground later this week for a look at part of the mine. McAteer says his investigative team is also wrapping up interviews, but it's unfortunate that several key people, many of them Massey Energy executives, including former chairman and CEO Don Blankenship, refused to answer their questions. McAteer says the big task ahead is reviewing testimony from nearly 300 interviews along with the evidence and information they collected from inside the mine. McAteer says he plans to release their report by the end of the first quarter of this year.


Murder Trial Set For Charleston Man

David Kinney, 32, of Charleston, was in Kanawha County Circuit Court Monday charged with murder, but his trial was continued because the defense just received evidence prosecutors had collected in the case last month. Police say, in July 2010, Kinney shot Jeremy Parsons several times as he drove on  Virginia Street. Parsons was pronounced dead at Charleston Area Medical Center. Judge Carrie Webster set a trial for April 4th and issued a $250,000 bond for Kinney. If he posts bail, he will be on home confinement.


Three Plead Guilty To CSX Thefts

Darrell G. Deerfield, 47, of Rush, Kentucky, Joey Williams, 52, of Greenup, Kentucky and Paul D. Smith, 40, of Barboursville, West Virginia, each face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced April 4th. The three entered guilty pleas Monday to one federal count of conspiracy to transport and sell goods stolen from interstate shipments from April 2007 to September 2008. Prosecutors say the men plotted to steal diesel fuel meant for CSX locomotives and then sell the stolen fuel, valued at more than $900,000, to various businesses and people in West Virginia and Kentucky.


Charleston Meth Lab Busted

Acting on a tip, West Virginia State Police went to a residence on Dutch Hollow Road near Dunbar Sunday where they discovered a meth lab. Charles Summers was charged with operating a meth lab and possession of pseudoephedrine.


Tomblin Names Legislative Director

Acting-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has named former state tax official and legislative lawyer Jason C. Pizatella as his legislative director. Pizatella is a former deputy commissioner and chief of staff in the Tax Department. He also served as counsel to the state Senate's Government Organization and Finance committees. The Fairmont native is a 2007 graduate of West Virginia University's law school.


State Authority Approves Hospitals Rate Increases

The state Health Care Authority has approved rate increases for West Virginia University Hospitals and Fairmont General Hospital. The cost of an average patient stay at West Virginia University Hospitals will increase by 5.17 percent to $32,474.40. At Fairmont General, the average cost of an inpatient stay will increase by 1.98 percent to $11,390.55. The cost of outpatient visits at both hospitals will increase.


WV Preparing To Clean-Up Abandoned Mines

West Virginia is preparing to spend its $51.3 million allotment of federal abandoned mine reclamation funds provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior. State Department of Environmental Protection official Eric Coberly says the agency is taking bids on seven projects and is close to taking bids on four more. The first project going to bid is the $586,695 cleanup of a Preston County mine abandoned in 1932. Other early projects include mines in Harrison and Taylor Counties and four others in southern West Virginia. DEP has about $40 million worth of reclamation projects on the drawing board.


WV Revenue Growth Exceeds Estimates

State Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow says, metallurgical coal and manufacturing exports up, West Virginia's revenue growth is 8.4 percent above last year. West Virginia's tax collections are nearly $160 million ahead of where the state Tax Dept. thought they would be in the current budget year. Muchow says Corporate Income Tax collections led the way in December outdistancing estimates by $40 million dollars. Since July 1, 2010 that tax, along with personal income tax, consumer sales tax and severance tax have all exceeded estimates. The current state budget uses $200 million in federal stimulus funds, but that will go away next budget year.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?