Saturday, January 15, 2011


Mining Fire Extinguished

A fire near a western Kentucky coal mine that apparently happened when a drilling rig hit a gas pocket has been put out.

The fire was extinguished Friday afternoon, a day and a half after it started near the mine owned by Warrior Coal. The mine remained idle, as it has been since Wednesday, when a roof convergence disrupted ventilation.

Two men, whose names Alliance declined to release, were injured and taken to a Madisonville hospital, where one was treated and released and the other remained hospitalized Friday.

Warrior Coal parent Alliance Resource Partners said earlier that the drilling was being done Thursday to address problems caused by the convergence.

Alliance Resource Partners general manager Heath Lovell said convergence occurs when pressure pushes the floor up toward the roof


Former UK Star Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor Theft

Former University of Kentucky basketball standout Ed Davender has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft by deception for taking money for basketball tickets that he didn't produce.

Defense attorney Dennis Shepherd said Davender pleaded guilty to the amended charge Friday in Fayette County Circuit Court.

Davender is serving eight years at Blackburn Correctional Complex stemming from a ticket scam. Prosecutors recommended 12 months for the charge he pleaded guilty to on Friday.

In that case, Davender was accused of taking $4,000 from Richard Adams of Louisville for 14 NCAA men's Final Four tickets and not giving Adams the tickets. Shepherd says Davender has been helped by friends and has repaid $3,600 of the $4,000 and wants to have the rest paid back before his sentencing on March 24.

Davender played for Kentucky from 1984 through 1988, scoring 1,637 career points, making him 11th on the school's all-time men's scoring list. He is fourth in career steals with 191.


Cursive Writing Instruction On Decline

Schools aren't emphasizing cursive writing like they used to.

Kentucky educators say that with the prevalence of computers and the need to spend more time on subjects such as math and reading, cursive writing has taken a back seat in both public and private schools.

Educators said cursive is taught primarily as a part of other subjects, and students usually don't get a separate grade for it.

Terry Price, director of elementary education for Bullitt County Public Schools, told The Courier-Journal that cursive writing isn't part of Kentucky's core content while many other things are.

Charleen McAuliffe, deputy superintendent of Oldham County Schools, says it is considered "best practices" to work cursive instruction into other subjects.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Bill Seeks Drug Testing For Adults Receiving Public Assistance

Represemtative Lonnie Napier from Lancaster has filed a bill for the 2011 session that would require drug and substance screening for any adults in Kentucky receiving public assistance, including food stamps and state medical assistance. Napier says most employers require drug testing as a requirement for employment, and it is essential to require anyone receiving government assistance to submit to testing. The random testing through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services would be a prerequisite to an individual being declared eligible for public assistance, but it would allow for exceptions if the individual has a prescription for a controlled substance.


"Rally For Coal" At State Capitol

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will lead a "Rally For Coal" at the State Capitol at 2:00 P.M. next Thursday. Members of the Legislature will join the Acting Governor, along with those with labor groups and the coal industry. The rally will come one week after officials with the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to pull the Clean Water Act permit that had already been issued for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County.


Huntington Police Officer Fatally Shoots Man

Huntington Police are investigating an incident which ended with an officer fatally shooting 59 year old Raymond Adkins after he refused to allow police in his home Thursday night. Police were responding to a domestic violence call where Adkins was allegedly in an argument with his daughter Leanna when his wife called the police. Officers say they kicked in the door after Adkins refused to let them in. Police say Adkins went after an officer's bean bag gun, prompting another officer to respond. Police say officer Travis Hagan used a .45-caliber pistol to shoot Adkins in the back. Leanna Adkins says her father never threatened the police. She denies there was any struggle, nor that her father even reached for a gun.


Police in Beckley Arrest Ohio Murder Suspect

Police in Beckley, West Virginia arrested 31 year-old Rodney R. Stutzman of Ohio Thursday. Authorities in Wayne County, Ohio filed two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated robbery against Stutzman Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of his parents, Mervin and Viola Stutzman. Police discovered the bodies in the blood-splattered basement of their farmhouse on Thursday after another son, living in Indiana, reported he had not heard from his mother and father for days. A preliminary investigation indicates they were shot with a shotgun.


Tomblin Proposes Hiring Additional Mine Inspectors

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is proposing spending nearly $1 million to hire an additional 12 mine inspectors. Each of West Virginia’s nearly 175 active underground mines is required to be inspected four times a year, keeping the state's 84 inspectors extremely busy.


UBB Public Hearings Postponed

The Obama administration on Friday backed off its promised public hearings to release witness statements taken as part of its closed-door inquiry into the April 5th explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine. Labor Solicitor Patricia Smith attributed the decision to a request from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, who says he fears public discussion about the disaster "could hinder" his ongoing Department of Justice criminal investigation. Smith says Labor Department officials remain committed to holding public hearings once they are assured by the criminal prosecutors that doing so will not impede their ability to bring any wrongdoers to justice.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Pikeville Drug Bust Nets Six Arrests

Pike County Sheriff Deputies went to a home on Perry Street in Pikeville Wednesday night looking for ecstasy, but what they found was some of the strongest smelling marijuana they have ever encountered, jars and bags full of marijuana, a smoking device called a volcano, used for huffing, bags of ecstasy, guns and hundreds of dollars in cash. Anthony Gibson, his father Lonnie Gibson, Benjamin Johnson, Christopher Villalovoc, Seth Blankenship, and Michael Ray were all arrested and lodged in the Pike County Detention Center with four charges, including trafficking within 1,000 feet of a school and drug paraphernalia. Each was placed on a $20,000 cash bond.


Knott County Man Shoots Brother

Kentucky State Police say, Wednesday, Steven Puckett shot his brother Vincent Puckett on Diamond Road in the Soft Shell community of Knott County, sending him to Hazard ARH. Steven Puckett is charged with assault, menacing, and resisting arrest.


Auxier Woman Arrested In Johnson County

Twenty-four year old Brittany Porter of Auxier was recently arrested in Johnson County after officers with the Paintsville Police Department found more than 100 pills in her possession for which dhe had no prescription. Officers were assisting the Johnson County Sheriff's Department on a stolen vehicle complaint and were waiting for a ride to arrive for Porter when pills starting falling from the pocket of her pants. Porter was charged with second-degree possession of a controlled substance. Later, as she was being booked at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, 39 more pills were found in a bag she was carrying. Porter was then charged with second-degree promotion of contraband.


Man Charged With Letcher County Robbery

Police in Letcher County have arrested Mark Morton in connection to the December robbery at the Super Eight Motel in Whitesburg. Morton is charged with robbery and theft by unlawful taking after police say he held a knife to a hotel clerk and demanded cash.


Former Road Manager For Billy Ray Cyrus Sues

A former road manager for Billy Ray Cyrus has sued the country music star for a half-million dollars over claims that he was fired because of his age.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday in Davidson County Circuit Court, Cyrus, a Flatwoods, Ky., native, complained that 61-year-old Paul A. Abraham was "old and dumb and didn't know anything about running a farm."

Abraham's attorney, Charles J. Fridell, told The Tennessean that his client had worked as the road/stage manager since September 2007 and when not on tour, worked at the musician's Tennessee farm. He was fired on May 1.

In addition to asking for $500,000, Abraham wants a jury to assess compensatory and punitive damages for "pain, humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress," the lawsuit said.


Hand Transplant Doctor Going To Arizona

The doctor who led the Louisville surgical team that performed the country's first hand transplant is leaving to become chief of reconstructive and plastic surgery at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Warren C. Breidenbach has been leader of the transplant team starting with Matthew Scott in 1999. Six patients have received transplants in the program that involves a partnership of Jewish Hospital, Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center and the University of Louisville.

Kleinert Kutz and Associates says the team of surgeons, including Breidenbach, would continue collaborating in the field of hand transplantation.


Former Kentucky Lawmaker Dies

Former state lawmaker Raymond D. Overstreet of Liberty has died. He was 68.

McKinney Brown Funeral Home in Liberty said Overstreet died of an apparent heart attack. He died Sunday at Casey County Hospital.

The Republican was elected to the state House in 1971 and served until 1992.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says Overstreet could be serious when he needed to be but also used humor in its place. The Prestonsburg Democrat called Overstreet "an outstanding, positive character" in the legislature.

Overstreet worked to allow Kentucky residents to carry concealed guns and against tougher drunken-driving laws. He also opposed attempts to restrict access to abortion, saying it would hurt poor, rural women.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Ashby Overstreet of Liberty, and a daughter.

Visitation will be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home with funeral at 2 p.m. Friday at Liberty First Baptist Church.


First Bluegrass Album Recorded At IBM Museum

The first album recorded at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro is on sale.

The album by Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike contains six songs and is called "Blame It On The Bluegrass." It's available at the museum's gift shop.

Twelve songs were recorded during a session at the museum last January. Bell Buckle Records says the other six songs will go on sale later this year.

Smith says she and other artists were working with the museum to teach at 24 schools in Daviess County for two weeks, and she decided it would be a good opportunity to record at the museum.

They brought along recording equipment and turned the Radio Bluegrass International Cave at the museum into a makeshift studio.


Summer Jobs Program

A federally subsidized summer jobs program was able to find temporary work for 9,314 low-income youths and adults with children in Kentucky last year.

The state has compiled figures for the WorkNow Kentucky program and says 1,442 people were able to get a permanent job as a result of the program.

Gov. Steve Beshear's office says the program used $27.7 million in federal stimulus funds, and the state added a little more than $1 million to cover the balance required by the federal government.

State figures show nearly 3,000 public, private and nonprofit employers had the opportunity to employ temporary workers through the program.


Campground Changes

 Some changes are in store for several campgrounds around Kentucky beginning this year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says Barren River, Green River, Nolin River and Rough River Lake campgrounds are affected by the changes.

The agency says the changes are being made to increase efficiency and provide better service for open campsites.

The campgrounds may have portions closed during non-peak periods in the spring, summer and fall, but closed portions may be opened for a short period if all open sites are filled or reserved.

The changes mean campers at Barren River Lake may not be able to reserve certain sites for longer than a weekend in some portions of the campground during non-peak periods.


Sixteen Counts Of First-Degree Robbery

A grand jury in Lexington has indicted a man on charges of robbing 16 businesses last fall.

Most were restaurants.

The Fayette County grand jury charged 22-year-old Charles William Davidson with 16 counts of first-degree robbery, a count of being a felon with a handgun, a count of being a persistent felony offender and two counts of wanton endangerment.

Police say the endangerment charges relate to the incident that led to Davidson's arrest.

Davidson's girlfriend told police he intentionally crashed his car into hers in November. Then, police said, she told officers he had committed the robberies.

Records show Davidson was paroled in March from an earlier robbery and arson sentence.


EPA Revokes Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 Permit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made good on a 9-month-old threat Thursday when it revoked a Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine in Logan County, saying it would cause irreparable damage to the environment. EPA says the nearly 2,300-acre operation would bury 7 miles of streams and would likely hurt downstream water quality. St. Louis-based Arch Coal had planned to invest $250 million in the project, creating 250 jobs. The mine was permitted in 2007 but has been delayed by lawsuits. Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vows to continue with all efforts to get the decision reversed. In a letter to President Obama, Senator Jay Rockefeller expressed outrage at the decision, saying it is wrong and unfair, and this fight is not over. West Virginia Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito says, for nearly a year, the EPA kept the permit in limbo, and, while being purposefully slow to act, put hundreds of mining jobs at stake. Capito says this action is hard evidence of the EPA’s anti-coal agenda, as well as their intent to use their regulatory authority to dismantle the coal industry.


State Police Arrest Sex Offender

West Virginia State Police in Beckley arrested 37 year old William Gene Smith for failing to update his sex offender registry. Smith, of Beckley, was convicted in 1991 for third degree sexual assault of a 13 year old girl from Raleigh County, meaning he must register as a sex offender for life and notify police of any changes. Smith failed to tell state police he changed jobs in November. He faces 1-5 years in prison. Smith has been released on bond. 


Charleston Residents Sentenced On Drug Charges

Three Charleston residents were sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. for selling cocaine base in the Charleston area. Forty year old Delcoria Carter was sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by six years of supervised release, after entering a guilty plea in September 2010. Twenty-one year old Levi Carter was sentenced to a year and one day in prison, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Thirty year old Danny Fortune received a sentence of 70 months in prison to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Both Levi Carter and Fortune pleaded guilty in September 2009 to distributing crack to confidential informants. An investigation found that Delcoria Carter aided and abetted Levi Carter with distributing a quantity of cocaine base to a confidential informant in October 2009.


Putnam County Mother Charged With Child Neglect Causing Death

Putnam County Deputies arrested 28 year old Tracy Wright of Teays Valley Thursday morning and charged her with child neglect resulting in death. Wright is accused of neglecting her 3 year old daughter, Ashley Wright, who died December 29th. Police say the child had cystic fibrosis, and Wright failed to get proper medical attention and did not fill or administer her daughter's prescriptions properly, although she did fill ones for herself. Wright is being held on a $50,000 bond.


Charleston Man Sentenced To Home Confinement

William Anderson of Charleston was sentenced Thursday to two years home confinement after police responded to an incident on Madison Street in June and found him with a shotgun in his jacket, along with  two bombs, a fuse, black powder, guns and ammunition inside his car.


Hurricane Man Leads Deputies On Chase

Daniel Wilcox of Hurricane is facing numerous charges after leading Putnam County Deputies on a chase around 3:30 A.M. Thursday morning. The chase involved both a vehicle and foot pursuit along Route 35 and I-64. The Toyota Tacoma Wilcox was driving was reported stolen from the Teays Valley area on Wednesday. Wilcox faces felony charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and wreckless fleeing and two counts of obstruction and fleeing on foot.


Former United Bank Loan Officer Pleads Guilty

Roy Leon Cooper, 56, of Hico, a former loan officer with United Bank's Fayetteville branch, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of bank fraud and one count of tax evasion. Cooper admitted he helped falsify loans for developer Donald Carter. Between November 2005 and August 2006, Cooper and Carter used straw buyers, who never intended to build or live in homes in the Lamplighter subdivision in Lewisburg, to circumvent the bank's lending limits. Carter bought almost two dozen lots in the subdivision intending to build homes without a buyer already in place. If Carter's straw buyers didn't have the proper financial backgrounds, Cooper falsified their income, assets and net worth. Cooper also admitted he used $100,000 from construction loans for homes in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to buy six lots in the Country Roads subdivision near Glade Springs. He also admitted he underreported his income for the year 2006, and he didn't file tax returns in 2003, 2004 and 2005 until he had been charged by federal prosecutors. Cooper and Carter are scheduled for sentencing on May 5th.


U.S. Postal Service Announces Capitol Station Closure

The U.S. Postal Service has announced their Capitol Station post office in Charleston will close its doors for good on March 31st. Those who use the Capitol Station Post Office will pick up their mail at the main post office in Charleston, which is located at the corner of Washington and Lee Streets. Customers will have the same PO Box numbers, so nothing will change except for the location.


Hazelton Inmates Receive Additional Sentences

Thirty-six year old Aaron Thomas, an inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary at Hazelton will serve an additional nine years for assaulting and threatening to kill a corrections officer. Federal prosecutors say he assaulted a guard in January 2010. U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II said Thursday that three other Hazelton inmates were sentenced this week to an extra year for possessing homemade weapons in 2010, and another inmate received an additional nine months for assaulting a corrections officer in November 2009.


Beckley Teacher Named 2011 WV Teacher Of The Year

Drema McNeal, a National Board Certified teacher who instructs language arts at Park Middle School in Beckley, was named the 2011 West Virginia Teacher of the Year Thursday morning in Charleston. McNeal, a sixth-grade language arts teacher, was awarded $5,000 and a new Toyota car. McNeal, who has a master's degree plus 60 credit hours and is in her 24th year in the classroom, will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition. The Teacher of the Year is the longest, ongoing awards program honoring classroom teachers in the country. West Virginia granted its first award in 1964.


Tomblin Delivers State Of The State Speech

During his first State of the State speech Wednesday, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin unveiled his 2011 legislative agenda, calling for business development incentives, a cut in the state's food sales tax and one-time salary "enhancements" for teachers and other state workers. He also called on lawmakers to lower the state’s 3 percent tax on unprepared foods to 2 percent in 2012. The proposed tax cut on foods will result in $11 million loss in state revenues for the first half-year it is enacted and a $26 million for the first full-year after that. Tomblin’s proposed budget calls for spending nearly $4.38 billion in general, lottery and excess lottery funds, nearly half of that going to public schools. Health and human services makes up the next largest chunk of the proposed budget at 18 percent while higher education accounts for 11 percent.


WV BOE Narrows Search For Superintendent

The West Virginia Board of Education has announced that its members have narrowed the search for a new superintendent to Jorea Marple, Mark Manchin and Carolyln Long. Marple currently is the West Virginia Department of Education's deputy state superintendent, Manchin is head of the state School Building Authority and Long is chairwoman of the West Virginia University Board of governors. Ted Mattern was hired as superintendent when Steven Paine stepped down January 3, 2011. Paine, who had served as superintendent since 2005, announced his retirement in November 2010. Reference checks and interviews will be completed in January and February, and the board expects to have a permanent superintendent in place by March.


House Judiciary Committee Approves Ethics Bill

The House Judiciary Committee approved legislation Thursday requiring candidates to list their spouses’ sources of income and any business interests in which they or their spouses had earned at least $10,000 within the last year in campaign disclosure forms. The proposed law also prohibits lawmakers, elected officials and various government officials from lobbying state government within a year of leaving office. However, committee members removed language that would have prohibited a staff member of a constitutional officer, such as governor, from lobbying within the remainder of their term in office. The bill directs the ethics commission to publish financial disclosure statements of lawmakers and many other office seekers online and make the best effort to publish those of other candidates required to disclose their sources of income.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Pikeville Medical Center Partners With Cleveland Clinic

Pikeville Medical Center is now working with the Cleveland Clinic. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Pikeville Medical Center President/CEO Walter E. May announced that the hospital has become affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic's heart surgery program. The Cleveland Clinic heart program has been ranked #1 in the nation for the past 16 years by U.S. News and World Report. Cleveland Clinic was described by Newsweek as "a hospital trying to be a Toyota factory."

Some groundbreaking procedures to come out of the Cleveland Clinic include development and refinement of coronary bypass surgery, the first minimally invasive aortic heart valve surgery and the world's first heart/liver transplant patient with a total artificial heart.

The Pikeville Medical Center/Cleveland Clinic heart surgery affiliation will provide opportunities for new treatments and therapies to PMC patients, and it accelerates Pikeville Medical and Cleveland Clinic's mutual accomplishments in leading cardiac surgery care. Cleveland Clinic will provide training to deal with complex medical situations, utilizing new technologies and innovations. The two facilities will also share surgical outcome data and research.

Walter May says Pikeville Medical Center has set a high goal for the Heart Institute. P MC did its first heart surgery 12 years ago. Officials say working with the Cleveland Clinic Heart and Vascular Institute will save more lives, and help PMC become the #1 heart hospital in this region.


MSHA Extends Comment Period

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday it is extending the public comment period on proposed rules aimed at limiting dust exposure in coal mines until May 2nd. Comments had been due by February 28th. MSHA wants to cut the amount of breathable coal dust in underground mines in half, among other things. The agency is aiming to eliminate black lung disease, which has killed thousands of miners.
While the disease was once thought to be beaten, government scientists have noted a resurgence among younger miners in recent years. Particular problems have been noticed in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.


Martin County Man Indicted

Sherman Perry, 38, of Pilgrim in Martin County has been indicted on charges of murder, assault, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and drugs, along with several other charges. Police say, in November, Perry crossed the center line on Highway 2032, crashing into a pick-up truck driven by 40 year old Fred Marcum. Marcum died at the scene, while his passenger, Robin Perry, suffered serious injuries.
Sherman Perry is scheduled to be arraigned on January 20th.


Perry County Men Plead Guilty

Two Perry County men, 57 year old Pearl Combs Jr. and  72 year old Lewis Baker, pleaded guilty Wednesday during a federal jury trial on vote-buying charges. Prosecutors say Combs pleaded guilty to conspiracy to buy votes and three counts of vote buying, while Baker pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
Forty-seven year old Charles Marvin Herald pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and two counts of vote buying. Charges against 36 year old Michael Ray Combs were dismissed. They were indicted last summer on charges stemming from the May primary election. The men could receive up to five years in prison when sentenced in April.


Stumbo Files Smoking Bill

A bill filed by House Speaker Greg Stumbo would make it illegal to smoke in a car containing children under 17 years of age. The legislation is similar to laws in Louisiana, Arkansas, Maine and Oregon. It proposes a fine of $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. State Representative David Floyd, R-Bardstown, says if you allow the state to dictate smoking inside of your own private vehicle no matter who the occupants are, you've just opened the door to government intrusion in every single aspect of your life. If the law is passed, there would be a probationary period until January 1, 2012. During that time, courtesy warnings would be issued instead of tickets. The Washington D.C. advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says that 363,000 Kentucky children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home.


Paducah Mayor Named New KLC President

Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton will become president of the Kentucky League of Cities. Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker was named Secretary of State last week after Trey Grayson announced he would leave the office to take a post at Harvard University. Paxton will assume Walker's duties until the executive board can take official action and will remain eligible for a full term as KLC president. He will work with the new executive director of KLC, Jon Steiner, as the organization tries to revamp after  a state audit revealed excessive spending, conflicts of interest and high salaries. The former top three officials at KLC have left or have been fired. Paxton and Steiner will oversee a new culture of transparency required by legislative action, including a database that shows all the group's expenditures. In addition, KLC has new rules for open meetings and open records.


Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal Banning Protests At Military Funerals

Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal involving Kentucky's now-repealed law banning protests at military funerals. A federal district judge in Lexington threw out the law, aimed at Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, in 2006, ruling it was too broad. The state later repealed the law but appeals continued through the court system.

The law banned protests within 300 feet of military funerals and memorial services. Westboro Baptist Church frequently announces plans to protest at military and high-profile funerals, often citing various deaths and tragedies as a sign of God punishing America for tolerating homosexuality.


Williams And Rand Differ On Key Issues

Senate President David Williams and House budget committee Chairman Rick Rand made a joint appearance Wednesday in Louisville, where they took competing stands on education, immigration and tax modernization legislation pending in this year's legislative session which resumes in February. The two differed on bills dealing with neighborhood schools and raising the dropout age. On education, Williams promoted a Senate-passed bill aimed at allowing children to attend the public school closest to their homes. Williams said the bill would give parents needed "leverage" in deciding where their children attend school. Rand spoke out against a Senate-passed bill to give Kentucky law enforcement broad authority to check the immigration status of people they stop. Williams, in turn, criticized a House measure to require that anyone doing business with the state verify the legal status of their employees.


KSP Looking For Murder Suspect

Kentucky State Police are trying to locate a man wanted for murder in the death of a central Kentucky woman.

Police say 47-year-old Terrence "Terry" Allen Cram has used the woman's debit card in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida in the past week. He is believed to be driving a green 2000 Nissan Frontier XE with a camper on the bed and Kentucky license plate 137-GGZ.

Cram is wanted in the death of 49-year-old Tena L. McNeely of Anderson County, who died of blunt-force trauma to the head.

Police say Cram is considered dangerous and may be armed.

McNeely was the daughter of state Trooper James McNeely, who died in the line of duty during a flood rescue in Frankfort in 1971.


Soccer Coach Sentenced

A former public school teacher and coach has been sentenced to five years in prison on his guilty plea to having sex with a student.

Stanley Wren Vickers was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Bernice Donald in Memphis on Tuesday to 77 months in prison and 35 years of supervision after his release.

The Commercial Appeal reports prosecutors accused the 45-year-old Vickers of using "dares and bets" to entice a then- 14-year-old boy into sex acts at various places in Tennessee; Paducah, Ky.; and St. Louis. The abuse continued from 2002 to 2005.

The boy was a member of a soccer team Vickers coached at Martin Middle School. He transferred to Westview High School when the student went there.


Man Pleads Guilty To Getting 2-Year Old Girl Intoxicated

 A northern Kentucky man has pleaded guilty to getting his toddler stepdaughter drunk.

Raymond Jackson's plea to first-degree criminal abuse lets him avoid a trial that was scheduled to begin Wednesday in Kenton Circuit Court, reports The Kentucky Enquirer.

Prosecutors accused Jackson of offering the 2-year-old girl sips of ice tea that contained gin, making her intoxicated. The girl's mother found the child passed out when she returned home from work.

Emergency room record show the alcohol concentration in the child was as high as 0.231 -- three times the threshold of presumed intoxication under the DUI statute.

The commonwealth's attorney is recommending more than seven years in prison when Jackson is sentenced on Feb. 8.


Louisville Animal Shelter Faces Review

The new mayor of Louisville has asked for a review of the agency that operates the city animal shelter.

Mayor Greg Fischer ordered the review of Louisville Metro Animal Services with a goal of having what Fischer termed "a world-class services center."

The mayor wants adoptions increased and fewer animals destroyed.

The station quotes Fischer, who said there have been controversies surrounding the center.

The mayor expects a review team to be in place by Jan. 28.


Five Arrested On Outstanding Warrants

Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies targeted the Sissonville area Tuesday looking for people with outstanding arrest warrants. Freddy Bell, 30, of South Charleston was arrested during the sweep and charged with domestic assault. Hubert Strickland, 55, of Elkview, was arrested and charged with domestic assault and domestic battery. Keith Hudson, 29, of Charleston, was arrested and charged with domestic assault. Robert Reed, 25, was arrested and charged with petit larceny. Darrell Crowder, 34, of  Sissonville, was arrested and charged with failing to appear in court on proof of insurance and registration violations.  


Charleston Police Arrest Dunbar Man

A man who tried to turn himself in on nonexistent criminal warrants later found himself behind bars. Brian Keith Peters, 40, of Finney Hollow Drive in Dunbar called the Charleston Police Department Tuesday night and said he wanted to turn himself in because of outstanding warrants, but he was told there were no warrants out for his arrest. A few minutes later, an occupant at the same address as Peters called police saying Peters was causing a disturbance, while screaming and profanity were heard in the background of the call. When police went to the residence, they found Peters continuing to cause a disturbance and holding a bottle of vodka. An officer asked him to put the bottle down so that it would not become a weapon, but Peters refused and walked toward the officer in what is described as a threatening manner. After a brief struggle, Peters was charged with obstructing an officer.


Kessler Elected Acting Senate President

During a lengthy floor session Wednesday, the state Senate voted 21-12 to change its rules to create a new position of acting president, although some Senators argued the change is unconstitutional and could ultimately nullify any actions by the Senate this session. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, was elected to the position. Senator Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, called the rule change a "train wreck coming" that will likely be challenged before the state Supreme Court. He also said the House of Delegates could refuse to take up any bills passed by the Senate, and signed by the acting president, as invalid. Senator John Unger, D-Berkeley, who will serve as majority leader in the new Senate, argued the state constitution demands the election of an acting president while Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, is absent from the body while serving as acting governor.


Parole Measure Passes House of Delegates

The West Virginia House of Delegates voted 98-0 Wednesday to approve a measure aimed at fixing the state's parole process. The measure would eliminate annual parole hearings for inmates serving life with mercy. House Speaker Rick Thompson says no one should have to go through such an ordeal every year.
Thompson says the measure has been in the works for months after Wayne County resident Hazel Powell brought the problem to his attention last summer. Powell's 16-year-old son was murdered in 1992. The law formerly set parole hearings every three years.


BOE Votes To Close Mount Hope High School

State Board of Education members voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to close Mount Hope High School in Fayette County. The state Department of Education took over the school system last February after state education auditors described the county's high school curriculum as "weak and thin" and largely ineffective, noting that students there had the worst math test scores in the state.


Ohio Man Suing John Amos Power Plant

Joshua D. Weaver, of Racine, Ohio, is suing the John Amos Power Plant in West Virginia. Weaver was struck by a large piece of steel while he was working at the plant in January 2009. Weaver alleges he has suffered serious, permanent physical and emotional disability.


Dominion To Build Natural Gas Processing Plant

Virginia-based energy company Dominion Transmission announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement with PPG Industries on an option for a 56-acre site in Natrium, Marshall County for the future construction of a natural gas processing plant. The company expects to break ground this summer and have the first phase done in 2012. The plant is designed to eventually process up to 300 million cubic feet per day of natural gas. Separation capacity for up to 38,000 barrels a day of natural gas liquids would be available.


Local Dentists To Accept Allcare Patients

The West Virginia Board of Dental Examiners is seeking access to Allcare Dental & Denture patient records so treatment can be completed. Citing cash flow problems, Allcare shut down operations in West Virginia and 13 other states last week. Dental examiners board Executive Secretary Marc Harman says several dentists in West Virginia have volunteered to examine the records and prioritize patients. Patients who've paid for treatment can complete the care with dentists who've volunteered to do the work or have their records forwarded to their dentist of choice. Harman says the board is working out legal issues so dentists can enter Allcare's South Charleston office and review the records.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Governor Beshear Urges Kentuckians To Claim Tax Credit

Gov. Steve Beshear is urging low- and middle-income Kentuckians to apply for a federal tax credit that will increase their refunds.

Beshear said Tuesday the Earned Income Tax Credit is an important anti-poverty tool.

Eligibility for the tax credit is based on income and household size. Beshear said a family consisting of two parents and two children can earn up to $45,373 and receive credits up to $5,000.

Kentuckians filed more than 400,000 claims for the credit in 2008, the latest year for which information is available, and received $870 million in benefits statewide.

The average credit was a little over $2,100.

The Internal Revenue Service reports that 15 to 20 percent of eligible workers do not claim the tax credit, largely due to lack of awareness.


Catlettsburg Building Goes On Auction Block

A Catlettsburg building that was once the headquarters for Ashland Inc. is going on the auction block this week.

Auctioneer Kevin Teets says the building's current owner, the non-profit Kentucky Appalachian Foundation, decided to sell the building because it preferred receiving the proceeds over being in the property business.

Teets told The Independent in Ashland that there hasn't been much interest in the building leading up to the sale, which is scheduled for Friday.

Ashland Inc. left the building when it moved to a new corporate headquarters in Russell.


Keeping Highways Passable In Kentucky

Salt trucks equipped with snow plows were out in force across the Commonwealth to clear roadways of snow that is widespread across Kentucky.

In areas where the snow was expected to arrive first, many of the crews reported in at midnight or in the early morning hours as local highway districts monitored the storm’s approach. By midday, plowing and treating activity was reported across much of the northern half of the state. Treating or spot treating was underway in nearly every county in the rest of the state.

With continued snow in the forecast, crews expect to be salting and plowing highways throughout the day in many areas. The cabinet keeps supplied with salt through contracts with vendors from as far as New York, Louisiana and Kansas.

Motorists should use extra caution when driving in winter weather. Allow plenty of room for snow plows and other equipment. Remember that bridges and overpasses typically freeze before surface-level roadways.
Condition reports on major routes are available at or by dialing 511.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has responsibility for clearing about 27,000 miles of roadways, including more than 1,400 interstate and parkway miles.

The cabinet’s vehicle and equipment fleet includes 1,065 snow plows. In addition, the cabinet contracts with 361 private plow operators.


Holsclaw Considering Run For Governor

Republican Bobbie Holsclaw is still considering a run for governor in Kentucky, though she hasn't yet settled on a running mate.

Holsclaw, in her fourth term as Jefferson County clerk, said she won't enter the GOP primary race until she is joined by a strong lieutenant gubernatorial candidate.

Already, state Senate President David Williams and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett have entered the Republican primary. Gov. Steve Beshear has drawn only token opposition on the Democratic side from Harlan County scrap metal dealer Otis Hensley.

Lexington lawyer Gatewood Galbraith, who last week received the endorsement of country music star Willie Nelson, is running as an independent.


Man Robbed Leaving Drugstore

Police say a northern Kentucky man leaving a drugstore had narcotics taken after being shoved to the ground by two men wearing hoods and ski masks.

Independence police arrested 24-year-old John Lemberg and 33-year-old Richard Bartlett after the incident Monday morning.

Police reported 56-year-old Kenny Murphy was leaving the drugstore when two men pushed him down as he walked toward his truck in the parking lot. Police say one took a prescription of oxycodone from Murphy before the men fled.

Lemberg and Bartlett were charged with first-degree robbery.


Winter Weather Blankets The State

Snow is falling across much of Kentucky and more is on the way.

A winter storm warning was posted early Tuesday for the northern tip of the state, near Cincinnati. The rest of Kentucky was under a winter weather advisory, posted by the National Weather Service.

While less than a half-inch of snow was predicted for Paducah, the precipitation was followed by mid-teen temperatures.

Snow was falling in Louisville by dawn Tuesday, with up to 2 inches expected. The same snowfall was expected in Lexington while Bowling Green was tagged for about an inch and Owensboro for 1-2 inches.

Freezing drizzle wasn't expected to add much ice to Hazard and Pikeville, but around an inch of snow is likely.

Frigid temperatures will settle in statewide.


VA Filing System Computerized

Kentucky veterans should see quicker filing of benefits claims, thanks to a new computerized system installed by the state.

Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Ken Lucas says the E-Vet Assist system makes it faster, more accurate and more efficient to help veterans obtain the benefits and services they earned.

The new system allows the department to file veterans' claims electronically, reducing the time to get a claim from the veteran to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from a week to the same day.

The department can also check on the status of a claim more quickly.

The new system is made possible by a $90,000 grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund. It uses donations to support veterans programs that don't receive state funding.


Jailer Resigns After One Week On Job

It didn't take long for the new Whitley County jailer to realize that he wouldn't be able to keep his campaign promises.

He said the financial situation at the jail was "beyond being fixed" and he felt it'd be better to "leave it the way I found it."

Moses said he had wanted to start programs for drug rehabilitation and job placement.

Judge-Executive Pat White appointed former jailer Ken Mobley as a replacement. Mobley acknowleged the jail budget is tight, but said jails across the state are facing similar circumstances.


Fayette Murder Case Bound Over To Grand Jury

A Kentucky judge has bound over to a grand jury the case of a man charged with killing three others in what police described as a drug-related killing.

Fayette District Judge Kim Wilkie on Tuesday sent 41-year-old William Lee "Willie" Blancet to the panel, finding enough evidence to continue the prosecution.

Blancet is charged with three counts of murder, robbery and possession of oxycodone stemming from the Jan. 5 shooting in Lexington.

Killed were 33-year-old Donald L. Adams Jr., 57-year-old Donald L. Adams Sr., and 28-year-old Ronnie L. Sparks.

Lexington police Detective Bill Brislin testified on Tuesday that Blancet admitted shooting the men but said he feared for his life.


Pretrial Hearing For Rand Paul Volunteer Rescheduled

A pretrial hearing for an ex-Rand Paul volunteer charged with kicking a liberal activist before the final Senate campaign debate has been rescheduled for a second time.

Assistant Fayette County Attorney Liz Bancroft said Tuesday the hearing for Tim Proffit was rescheduled until Feb. 22 to allow time for the alleged victim to provide video of the incident, which was videotaped by a television station and broadcast widely across the Internet after it occured Oct. 25 in Lexington.

Profitt has pleaded not guilty to a charge of fourth-degree assault in the scuffle, during which 23-year-old Lauren Valley, an activist with the group, was pulled down, her faced pinned to the concrete, was kicked and her head stepped upon.

The incident occured outside the final debate between Paul and Democratic opponent Jack Conway.


Leslie County Rock Slide

Kentucky transportation officials say it could take a few days for a contractor to haul away rocks that slid onto an eastern Kentucky highway.

The slide Sunday dumped boulders onto Highway 2009 in Leslie County. The largest rock is about 15 feet tall and will have to be broken apart so it can be removed in pieces. Work began Monday night.

The detour adds about a half-hour to the drive near Hyden.
Utility officials had to run a temporary water line to about 30 homes because the force of the slide disrupted service to them.


Lexington Schools Save On Energy Costs

A consultant to the public school system in Lexington says the schools have saved $700,000 on energy since last summer.

Consultant Scott Smith told the Fayette County Board of Education on Monday that the savings came in a variety of ways.

Smith says intervention to get better rates from Kentucky Utilities brought about $200,000 in annual savings and renegotiating the natural gas contract with MXenergy realized $300,000 per year.

More savings are anticipated as the school district develops an overall plan to reduce energy waste and promote efficiency in all of its schools. The system operates 33 elementary schools, 12 middle schools, five high schools, two technical centers and four alternative programs.


Highway Fatalities Down

Eight people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011.  This is thirteen
less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2010.  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.


O'Hanlon Voluntarily Recuses Himself From Good Case

In a letter to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, retired Judge Dan O'Hanlon voluntarily recused himself from the trial of Donald Good. O'Hanlon stated he will be traveling out of town as well as attending various meetings with his position in the Higher Education Policy Commission. O'Hanlon was appointed to preside over the 1987 Huntington Mall rape trial of Good last October even though he was set to retire in November. O'Hanlon had presided over the case when Glen Dale Woodall was convicted in 1987 and subsequently approved his release five years later in 1992, when it was proven  Woodall wasn't guilty.
A grand jury indicted Good on 22 counts, including kidnapping, robbery and rape. Good is currently in prison for a 1992 murder. O'Hanlon recently sent the case to the state Supreme Court as a result of Good filing a recusal motion.


Kanawha County Deputy Arrests Kentucky Felon

During a traffic stop Tuesday along Interstate 77 near Charleston, a Kanawha County Sheriff's deputy arrested 37 year old Marvin Lee Ford from Rush, Kentucky after he noticed a handgun stuffed in Ford's waistband. The deputy secured the loaded pistol and charged Ford with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Ford had been convicted for an attempt to commit murder, burglary and grand larceny.


Logan County Couple Pleads Guilty To Distributing Oxycontin

Thirty-five year old Ada Sparks and her husband, 32 year old Charles Vance of Mount Gay in Logan County pleaded guilty earlier this week to distributing Oxycontin. Federal prosecutors say Sparks and Vance sold Oxycontin pills to a confidential informant on June 16, 2009 in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart at Fountain Place Mall in Logan and again on June 18, 2009 in the parking lot of Wendy’s restaurant located in Logan and then outside of an unidentified residence located in Mount Gay on June 29, 2009. Each faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when sentenced in April.


Longtime Charleston Bartender Found Dead

Fifty-three year old Patrick Shinn, a longtime bartender at the Tidewater Grill in Charleston, was found dead on his back porch Monday. Charleston Police say Shinn's body was outside in below-freezing temperatures for days before being discovered. Police say, when Shinn failed to show up at work Monday, co-workers knew something was wrong. Shinn's body was frozen when police found him.


Calhoun County Man Charged With Felony Dogfighting

Dwayne Smith, 30, of Calhoun County, was arrested and charged Tuesday with felony dogfighting. It is the first dogfighting arrest in West Virginia since the state statute was changed in 2003 to list dogfighting as a felony offense.


Alum Creek Man Pleads Guilty

Matthew Dewayne Turner, 26, of Alum Creek pleaded guilty Tuesday to the felony charges of unlawful wounding and wanton endangerment, while prosecutors dropped charges of first-degree robbery and attempted murder. Police say Turner shot 21 year old Nicholas Neophytou of Charleston in the head at the intersection of McClung and Elizabeth Streets last February 15th. Turner said he met Neophytou to collect a $4,000 debt for marijuana. Turner says the two men ended up in a struggle and both men grabbed for a handgun that fell from Neophytou's waistband. Turner said it discharged while he was holding it.  Assistant Prosecutor Tera Salango says the state's evidence against Turner says the victim told police he went there to meet a man he knew only as "Cue." There was a struggle, and at that point the victim ran. Turner shot at him and chased him, and  Turner was standing over top of the victim with the gun in his hand demanding the money. Turner asked to be sentenced immediately, but Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman requested a pre-sentence investigation. Kaufman will sentence Turner in March.


Man Sues Teays Valley Bar

Jerry McCallister of Putnam County is suing a Teays Valley bar in connection with a shooting incident two years ago. McCallister alleges in his suit that, in November 2008, the doorman at Sneeker's allowed an intoxicated customer back into the bar with a gun in the front of his pants. McCallister tried to protect himself and others from being shot, but he was shot in the stomach. He alleges Sneeker's failed to properly train personnel and have proper communications to alert personnel of potentially dangerous customers. The matter is scheduled for trial Thursday.


Scabies Outbreak At CAMC Hospital

Kanawha-Charleston Health Department officials say about 30 employees at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital have been treated for scabies. CAMC spokesman Dale Witte says CAMC received the first report of employees with scabies early last week. When they were identified, they were given a prescription skin cream and sent home until it cleared up, which is about a day. All employees in the unit were also given a medicated skin cream for scabies, and all patients were checked for rashes.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scabies is a condition where microscopic mites infest the skin, causing intense itching and bumps or a rash. People get scabies through skin-to-skin contact, sharing of clothing, towels or bed sheets, and it can spread rapidly in crowded areas such as hospitals and schools.


Supreme Court Hears Gubernatorial Election Arguments

The state Supreme Court spent two hours Tuesday listening to arguments over whether West Virginia should hold a special gubernatorial election. Attorney Kathryn Bayless with the West Virginia Citizen Action Group told the Court that state law and the Constitution provide for a new election sooner than the next general election in 2012.  Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's attorney, Tom Flaherty, argued those trying to force an election want the Court to act as a "super legislature" by ordering the vote to take place. Flaherty argued you cannot change the Constitution simply because you do not like it. Others arguing for an election as soon as possible include South Charleston attorney Thornton Cooper, House of Delegates Speaker Rick Thompson and the West Virginia AFL-CIO. The Supreme Court did not indicate when it would make its decision.


Bayer CropScience Announces Layoffs

Bayer CropScience announced Tuesday that it plans to begin curtailing production of several pesticide products at its Institute plant in Kanawha County, resulting in the loss of 220 jobs over the next two years. In cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency, the company had announced plans in August 2010 to stop producing Aldicarb, the active ingredient in its Temik brand pesticide used on crops such as potatoes and citrus fruits. The chemical no longer meets EPA’s food safety standards. Aldicarb at levels higher than those typically found in food can cause sweating, nausea, dizziness and blurred vision, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. MIC, methyl isocyanate, will also be removed from the Institute plant. Bayer plans to stop production of Aldicarb by the end of the second quarter of 2012. A federal ban takes effect in 2014, and Bayer has put their plan in motion to comply with that ban.


Alcan Plans $50 Million Investment

Alcan Rolled Products says it plans to invest $50 million in its Ravenswood plant, provided the facility meets the objectives of a turnaround plan. Alcan spokesman Nicolas Brun says the turnaround plan includes an injury-free workplace, making targeted plant investments, developing strategic customer relationships, improving competitiveness, and providing open and ongoing communication. The Ravenswood plant is Jackson County's largest employer with 940 workers, and Brun says the company's goal is to remain a key employer in the region.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Beshear Orders Flags At Half-Staff

Govermor Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff from Monday to Friday in honor of the victims in Saturday's Tucson, Arizona shooting tragedy. Authorities say 22 year old Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner made his initial court appearance in federal court on Monday in Phoenix. He is charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. The judge asked if he understood that he could get life in prison - or the death penalty - for killing federal Judge John Roll.
His newly appointed lawyer, Judy Clarke, stood beside him as the judge ordered Loughner held without bail. His attorney also defended "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says state charges will also be filed. A military official says Loughner was rejected from the Army in 2008 because he failed a drug test.

Governor Beshear says, "Saturday's senseless act of violence is truly unthinkable and its repercussions have affected not only the citizens of Arizona, but this entire nation. I ask that Kentuckians join with me in honoring and praying for the victims, their friends and families."


No Changes At Pike County Detention Center

Pike Jailer Rodney Scott says, after jailers at the Pike County Detention Center started monitoring calls made by inmates, officials discovered early last week that Linda Cornette, 60, and Courtney Bartley, 22, were placing drugs through a hole in the facility wall where inmates had pulled loose the caulk in order to bore the hole. Scott says, though arrests have been made and the plot uncovered, he sees no real means to enact a change in policy at the jail, saying that he and his staff can only keep a closer eye on the inmates.


Willie Nelson Backing Gatewood Galbraith For Governor

Willie Nelson and his newly formed Teapot Party are backing Lexington attorney and independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith for governor of Kentucky. Galbraith, who has run several times for governor, said he was “so proud to have Willie’s endorsement again. He’s been a dear friend for many years." Nelson formed the Teapot Party last November after he was arrested for possession of marijuana. He said its motto is “We lean a little to the left.” Frankfort political consultant Dea Riley, released a statement Monday saying many people have confused Galbraith’s stand on marijuana. She says he has never advocated legalization of marijuana but regulation of marijuana.


Knox County Couple Reaches Plea Agreement

Twenty-nine year old Crystal Garland and 33 year old Jeremy Strunk, both of Knox County, have reached a plea agreement with prosecutors after being charged with murder in late 2009 in the death of Garland's son, Troy McClendon. The two year old died on the way to the hospital after he was found unresponsive at his home in August 2008. The pair admitted to an amended charge of criminal abuse. Sentencing is set for next month. The couple is also facing charges of assault and criminal abuse regarding an eight-month-old child. Both Garland and Strunk are being held in the Knox County Jail.


Magoffin County Vote Fraud Trial On Hold

The Magoffin County vote fraud trial has been put on hold after attorneys for Judge-Executive Charles "Doc" Hardin and Sheriff Carson Montgomery made a motion for an immediate decision. Court is expected to resume on January 24th in order to allow the judge time to consider the motion.


Harlan County Man Charged With Counterfeiting

Thomas J. Holden, 27, of Evarts, in Harlan County, was arrested Sunday after Kentucky State Police say they executed a search warrant at his home and found  several fraudulently obtained credit cards and a box of blank checks. The blank checks were being used in a home printer for counterfeiting purposes and were passed off to multiple businesses. The investigation stemmed from a complaint received from the Harlan County Court House, where police say Holden paid a traffic fine with one of the counterfeit checks. Holden is charged with second-degree forgery, with other charges pending.


Man Allegedly Scams Bank

Williamsburg Police arrested Jason Miracle Friday on charges relating to forgery and identity theft. Police say he stole thousands of dollars by dropping an empty deposit envelope into an ATM at Forcht Banks and then withdrew money. Police believe the scam began in Ohio. Det. Bobby Freeman says Miracle admitted to the bank scams when they arrested him, but now he says he's innocent. The investigation is ongoing, and police are looking for 35 year old David Rider. Forcht Banks at several locations have disabled the deposit feature at the ATM.


Cats Cruiser To Offer Safe Rides

A new program aimed at student safety at the University of Kentucky and surrounding neighborhoods is starting this Thursday. The program, called "Cats Cruiser," will offer four late-night fixed stop bus routes with buses that will circulate every 20 to 30 minutes. The idea is to allow students and other passengers to safely return to campus or surrounding neighborhoods. The service is to run during the academic year when classes are in session on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 9:00 P.M. until 3:00 A.M. Students will be able to ride free with a valid UK student ID, and non-students can ride for $1.


U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Kentucky Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up Kentucky's effort to reinstate a death sentence for a man convicted of murder.

The high court on Monday rejected the case of Phillip L. Brown, who was convicted in the 2001 slaying of Sherry Bland in Columbia in Adair County. The Kentucky Supreme Court in June ruled that Brown should not have faced a death sentence at a retrial in 2006 because he was given life in prison at his first trial three years earlier.

The state high court ordered a resentencing for Brown.

Kentucky prosecutors asked the justices to take the case in an effort to keep the death penalty option open. The U.S. Supreme Court did not issue an opinion saying why the case was rejected.


Veterans' Nurse Pleads Guilty

A former nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kentucky has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a World War II veteran.

Maria Kelly Whitt entered the plea Monday morning in U.S. District Court in Lexington. The plea ends a case that started with 90-year-old Jesse Chain's death from acute morphine intoxication on Sept. 3, 2006, in the hospital's intensive care unit.

Whitt, who has been free on bond, is set to be sentenced on April 1 in Lexington. She was originally charged with murder. Her trial was to start Jan. 18.

Chain served with the 445th Bombardment Group of the Army Air Corps.


Kentucky's General Fund Revenue Up

Kentucky's general fund revenue has increased 5.4 percent since July, reflecting an improving state economy. State Budget Director Mary Lassiter said Monday revenues from the state's sales tax and income tax rose substantially, as did property tax collections, while revenues from the state's cigarette tax and coal severance tax declined. Road fund receipts, generated primarily by fuel taxes, rose by 12.3 percent since July. Lassiter attributed the revenue growth to stronger holiday spending in December.


New Operation UNITE Program Begins

The first drugs abused by teens often come from the family medicine cabinet. A new Operation UNITE program is using statistics from a University of Kentucky research which confirms that rural teens were 26 percent more likely to abuse prescription drugs than their urban peers, but there were no differences between urban and rural rates for use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens. Overall, 13 percent of rural youths said they used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, compared with 10 percent of urban youths, the study found. In the study, researchers analyzed data from 17,872 participants aged 12-17 in the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Operation UNITE's program, "Don't Be an Accidental Drug Dealer" began last week in Knox, Clay and Wolfe counties and will expand.


University Of Kentucky In Religious Discrimination Case

The University of Kentucky has found itself in the middle of a religious discrimination case being watched nationwide. At issue is whether UK decided not to hire C. Martin Gaskell, a candidate for director of its observatory in 2007, because of his religious views. In November, U.S. District Judge Karl S. Forester rejected a motion for dismissal filed by UK, allowing Gaskell vs. University of Kentucky to go to trial February 8th. Gaskell's suit claims the university violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which banned employment discrimination on the basis of religion. Francis Manion of the American Center for Law and Justice and one of Gaskell's attorneys, asked during a pre-trial conference in U.S. District Court last week whether the case would be going to trial if the issue was one of racial, rather than religious, discrimination. Gaskell, a research fellow at the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, was an unsuccessful candidate in 2007.


KSP Investigating Fatal Cumberand County Shooting

Kentucky State Police are investigating after they say they believe 75 year old Blanton Howard shot his wife, 39 year old Stephanie Howard, during a domestic dispute, then took his own life Sunday morning at a home on Scott River Drive in Burkesville in Cumberand County. Autopsies were performed Monday and preliminary results confirmed that both victims died as a result of gunshot wounds.


Boone County Accident Kills One

Travis Dewayne Clendenin, 31, of Peytona, died as a result of injuries from a traffic crash that occurred about 9:30 A.M. Monday morning near Racine in Boone County. Police say Clendenin was driving southbound when his car drifted across the centerline and collided head-on with a tractor trailer carrying steel railroad rails and driven by Johnny Fauch Jr., 36, of Williamson. Fauch had one passenger in his vehicle but neither were injured. Investigators believe Clendenin may have fallen asleep at the wheel.


Accident Kills Charleston Woman...Injures Two Others

A Charleston woman was killed and her daughter and granddaughter injured after being ejected from a vehicle in a rollover accident on Interstate 79 in Kanawha County about 6:00 A.M. Monday morning. Vera Mae McMillan, 63, was killed after losing control of her vehicle between Mink Shoals and Big Chimney. Police say the vehicle slid off the right side of the road, striking an embankment, causing it to roll several times. McMillan was pronounced dead on the scene. Sherry Lynn Lottig, 38, and Amanda Lottig, 15, were taken to Charleston Area Medical Center. Deputies say the surface of the road was dry at the time of the accident, and ice was likely not a factor.


Police Investigating Alleged Sexual Assault At Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital

Huntington Police and the Department of Health and Human Resources are investigating a report that a patient sexually assaulted another patient at the Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital, a state psychiatric hospital. Huntington Police say the incident allegedly occurred between 9:00 P.M. on January 5th and 7:40 A.M. on January 6th. The victim was a 30-year-old male patient. Police Capt. Rick Eplin says the suspect and the victim are both court-committed patients. DHHR spokesman John Law says the agency will conduct an internal investigation.


Senator Manchin Kicks Off Statewide Tour

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin kicked off his two-week "Call for Common Sense'' tour Monday. Manchin is traveling in a statewide tour to hear what West Virginians want out of the federal government. At more than a dozen events, he plans to meet with senior citizens, veterans, the National Guard and leaders from education, labor and small business. Two town hall-style meetings are in the works, including one on Friday at the West Virginia Wood Technology Center.


Hurricane Bans Synthetic Marijuana

Hurricane City Council has unanimously adopted a resolution outlawing the sale, possession and use of synthetic marijuana in the city. Several other synthetic drugs are also listed in the new law, which takes effect immediately. Penalties include fines and jail time. Mayor Scott Edwards says stores that had been selling it were informed of the new law, adding that council will keep adding to the list of synthetic drugs banned in the city.


Lawmakers Concerned About Open Door Policy

Lawmakers were at West Virginia's Capitol Sunday for the start of interim committee meetings as they began preparing for the beginning of Wednesday's legislative session. Delegates and senators, who are a little on edge after the Arizona shooting, say maybe it's time they should be taking more steps from a security stand point. Lawmakers say this incident is making them more aware of the open door policy at the Capitol building, but they don't want to react in a way that people can't come there, but they agree they do need to have a tighter set of security. Steps have been taken recently to secure the Capitol grounds.


WV Lawmakers Focus On Texting While Driving

Some West Virginia lawmakers are determined to get a bill banning texting while driving through the legislature this regular session. An interim committee forwarded the bill to the full legislature following a meeting Monday. The proposal would make texting while driving a primary traffic offense with a $50 fine for first offense, $100 for second offense and $200 for third offense. There would be no court costs and no points deducted from the driver's licenses of those cited. Delegate Dale Martin, D-Putnam, who believes the bill has a good chance for passage this year, says there's an agreement not to combine the bill with the less popular banning cell phones while driving bill. The state already has a law that prohibits texting for drivers under the age of 18, but a ban for all drivers has died in the last few sessions. The proposed bill would allow texting by emergency responders in certain situations and by drivers who have pulled off the side of the road.


Several Await Supreme Court Decision

State Treasurer John Perdue is among many who will be watching Tuesday afternoon as the state Supreme Court hears arguments on the case calling for a special gubernatorial election this year.   Perdue, who announced his intention to run when former Governor Joe Manchin resigned to become a U.S. Senator, says he's ready to run, no matter what the Court decides. Perdue says his hat was already in the ring to be a candidate for governor in 2012, but he will  be prepared to run in 2011, if that's what the Court rules. He says he's prepared to do that and be the Treasurer at the same time. In addition to Perdue, likely candidates on the Democrat side include Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, House Speaker Rick Thompson, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, incoming Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler and Kanawha County State Senator Brooks McCabe. Republicans who have already announced their plans to run are former Secretary of State Betty Ireland and Randolph County State Senator Clark Barnes.


New Regulations Proposed For Marcellus Shale Drilling

Proposed new regulations for horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale could be a heated topic in the 60-day regular West Virginia legislative session set to start Wednesday. A legislative interim committee discussed two proposed bills and forwarded one plan for consideration without a recommendation that it pass. The bills are aimed at bringing more money to the state and protecting property owners and communities. There are currently 12 inspectors for 59,000 gas wells in West Virginia. The state Department of Environmental Protection bill would use the increased revenue to add 15 inspectors.

Currently a drill permit costs about $650, but the bills up that amount to $10,000 or $15,000 per permit. Industry lobbyist Corky DeMarco claims growing the horizontal drilling market in West Virginia is already at a competitive disadvantage because of a five percent severance tax and a tax to help pay back a workers' compensation debt. Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, says no one wants to shut the industry down. They just want to make sure it's properly regulated, and citizens aren't left holding the bag and roads aren't being destroyed for out of state operators to profit from.


State Police 61st Cadet Class Begins

Monday kicked off the first day of training for the West Virginia State Police's 61st Cadet Class.  A total of 46 men and one woman will spend the next 30 weeks training to become a West Virginia State Police Trooper. State Police Academy Commandant Major Mark DeBord says it's going to be extremely tough,  and cadets will have to work hard in the classroom, on the firing range and in the gym to prepare to protect and serve the people of West Virginia. The 47 cadets have already passed a strenuous physical test and a written exam as well as an interview and background check. DeBord says, normally, they usually lose between 20% to 25% during the training process.

Not all of the cadets are from West Virginia. The 61st Cadet Class has members from North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.  DeBord says the West Virginia State Police has a great reputation nationwide and is one of the highest rated State Police academies in the nation. West Virginia is the fourth oldest state police agency in the country.




I-65 Crash Claims Life

Indiana State Police say a Kentucky woman was killed when she lost control of her car while passing a semi on snowy Interstate 65 on the south side of Indianapolis.

Police spokesman Sgt. Rich Myers says the crash happened about noon Friday near Interstate 465. Myers says the woman's car went out of control and collided with the semi.

Police say in a statement that 23-year-old Michelle L. Adams of Louisville had severe head injuries and died.

The crash blocked all three northbound lanes of I-65 and caused traffic to be backed up at least two miles as police routed traffic onto adjacent I-465.

The crash was one of several reported as light snow fell in central Indiana.


Man Dies After Being Shot By Sheriff's Deputies

A man shot by a sheriff's deputy in south-central Kentucky has died, and Kentucky State Police are investigating.

Simpson County Sheriff Chris Cline said he was notified Thursday that 48-year-old Kelly Halcomb of Franklin died that morning at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
State police say Halcomb was injured Monday night. Police say two Simpson County deputies saw a suspicious vehicle in a field and that when they approached it, Halcomb, who was inside the vehicle, allegedly tried to hit the deputies with it. Police say that when Halcomb disregarded commands from the deputies and brandished a firearm, Deputy Roy Lotz fired his service weapon, hitting Halcomb.

Neither Lotz nor the other deputy, Matt Freeman, was injured. Cline said both are assigned to administrative duty while the investigation continues.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Lexington Accident Kills Morehead Woman

The Fayette County Coroner's Office has identified the person who died after a wreck Friday night on Leestown Road as 32 year old Julie Reeves of Morehead. Police say Reeves was a passenger in a vehicle when the driver lost control and crossed the center line, hitting a UPS tractor-trailer head on. Police say the UPS driver tried to brake but could not stop on the snowy road. The driver of the pickup truck was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, while Reeves, who was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene. The driver of the UPS truck was not injured.


Lawmaker Urging Attorney General To Investigate Aramark

Representative Brent Yonts, D-Greenville wants Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate possible violations of Aramark Correctional Services' $12 million food service contract with the Kentucky Corrections Department. Yonts says Aramark broke the terms of the deal last year by refusing to provide cost-related records to state auditors who were conducting their own investigation of food served to inmates at Kentucky's 13 prisons. In a January 4th letter to Conway, Yonts also listed other "examples of contract breach" identified in state Auditor Crit Luallen's final report, including Aramark overbilling the state and serving old food to inmates that was not stored properly. Yonts says it is obvious that the contract has not been complied with and that Aramark is in substantial breach of it.  Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis says the company has provided excellent service that has saved the commonwealth more than $30 million. The Corrections Department is in the process of renewing Aramark's contract for two more years.

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