Saturday, January 22, 2011


Marine Widow Sues U.S. Government

Twenty-two year old Tiffany Anestis, the widow of a Marine is suing the U.S. government, claiming two Veterans Affairs facilities refused to provide her husband psychiatric help hours before he took his life. Cameron Anestis, a Marine Corps reservist who served in Iraq, was 21 years old when he fatally shot himself at his Scott County home on August 17, 2009. The lawsuit, which seeks $22.5 million in damages, claims the negligence of VA officials directly led to Anestis' death.


Stumbo Urges Lawmakers To Look Closely At Senate Immigration Bill

House Speaker Greg Stumbo distributed a letter to lawmakers Friday warning them to look closely at an immigration bill that breezed through the state Senate on a 24-14 vote on January 7th. The Kentucky Head Start Association claims, if passed, the legislation could subject staffers and bus drivers to felony prosecution for assisting undocumented immigrants. Stumbo says no one thinks the bill was written to deny children the benefits of Head Start, but rushing legislation through the process with no opportunity for public hearings can lead to terrible errors. The measure awaits action in the House, where its future is uncertain.


EPA To Review State's Air-Quality Regulations

Berea-based Kentucky Environmental Foundation says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to review some of the state's air-quality regulations. The EPA agreed as part of a lawsuit to decide by April 15th whether Kentucky's plan for controlling ozone is adequate. The agency also agreed to make a decision by March 15th on the state's plan to regulate visible haze. The foundation argued in the lawsuit that the EPA failed to make the determination in the required time frame. Foundation executive director Elizabeth Crowe says the group is concerned that the state's proposed ozone plan downplays concentrations in Lexington, Ashland and the Edmonson County area.


Kanawha County Man Gets Maximum Sentence

A judge handed down the maximum sentence of 15-to-35 years in prison to a Kanawha County man convicted of incest and sexual abuse. Larry Darby had admitted to fathering a child with his daughter when she was 19. Darby was a convicted child sex offender in Ohio and a registered sex offender in West Virginia when the crimes happened. Darby will be subject to court supervision for 50 years when he's released.


Monroe County Man Confesses To Murder

A Monroe County man has confessed to the murder of  his wife and stepdaughter. State Police say Gerald Allison, 70, of Lindside turned himself in Friday and told police they would find the bodies of his wife and stepdaughter in the driveway of his home. Allison is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is being held at the Southern Regional Jail without bond.


Huntington Police Investigating Shooting

Fifty-one year old Mitchell L. Dunn  was transported to Cabell Huntington Hospital early Saturday morning following a shooting involving the Huntington Police Department. Officers were responding to a shots fired call on Washington Avenue when they say Dunn, who was standing on the porch of his home, fired at least one round at the officers. A police officer returned fire, hitting Dunn. When Dunn is released from the hospital, he will be charged with one count of wanton endangerment and one count of attempted murder. The Huntington Police Department and the Criminal Investigation Bureau are investigating. 


Meth Bust In Nitro

Twenty-three year old Edward Lamon Moore and 27 year old Kimbra Donette Hughes were taken to the South Central Regional Jail Friday after Kanawha Bureau of Investigation officers with the  Nitro Police Department and Child Protective Services went to their home on 1st Avenue South during a child-welfare visit and found a meth lab. No children were present at the time, but four dogs were removed from the home.


Tomblin Makes Brief Return As Senate President

Friday, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin made a brief return as Senate President to preside over the day's floor session before turning the session over to acting Senate President Jeff Kessler. Tomblin made the move after meeting with a handful of senators who are threatening a legal challenge in connection with the Senate's new rules that created the position of acting Senate President. Tomblin told a group of reporters that he is the Senate President, and there are no separation of powers issues, and he will return to the Senate whenever he's available.


Thomas Memorial Hospital Warns Of Active TB Case

Thomas Memorial Hospital has notified a group of patients and medical personnel to get tested for tuberculosis after a patient with the bacterial infection was treated in the South Charleston hospital in late November or early December as an outpatient. He was later diagnosed with active TB. Tuberculosis is a contagious, airborne bacterium that can destroy body tissue, usually the lungs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also can damage the brain and other organs.

There are two types of tuberculosis -- active TB, where someone is contagious, and latent TB that means you've been exposed and you have the bacteria in your body, but it doesn't mean you're contagious or sick.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Groundbreaking In Pike County

Ground was broken Friday afternoon in Pike County for another link in a $500 million project which will complete a corridor of the Appalachian Development Highway System. Governor Steve Beshear, the keynote speaker, said the new U.S. 460 will give those who live in this region, or travel through it, something they badly need, a modern and safer four-lane highway. The new U.S. 460 will cover 16 miles from U.S. 23, south of Pikeville, to the Virginia line near Breaks Interstate Park and will have ramps to access Elkhorn City.

Dignitaries and the public gathered at the Artists' Collaborative Theater in Elkhorn City to celebrate the beginning of the project, scheduled to be completed by 2020.  Funding for this phase came from the Appalachian Regional Commission...$94-Million.


Attorney General Jack Conway Seeks Re-Election

On Friday, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway officially filed to seek re-election. He has no Democratic opponent. Hopkins County Attorney Todd P'Pool is seeking the Republican nomination and is the only GOP candidate in the race after former Kentucky Chief Justice Joseph Lambert announced he won't seek the Republican nomination. Lambert dropped out because he would have had to resign his post as senior judge.


Former Jackson County Attorney Sentenced

Jessica Sullivan, a former Jackson County attorney, has been sentenced to one to five years in prison after she pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to committ a felony and delivery of meth. She was arrested in July, 2010 after investigators caught her trading meth for material needed to make the drug. She was also caught using the drug. Sullivan's law license was suspended by the Supreme Court.


Tomblin Announces Gubernatorial Election Date

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced Friday that the next election for governor will be held October 4th. Tomblin said he consulted with the Secretary of State's Office before choosing a date. He says the date provides ample time for the Secretary of State’s Office to certify the election result and also enables the newly-elected Governor to take the oath of office prior to November 15, 2011, as mandated in the opinion of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued this week. Tomblin also submitted legislation to the West Virginia Legislature to call for a primary to select candidates for the election.


Manchin Denies Putting Profit Ahead Of Public Health

Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., denied Friday he was putting corporate profit ahead of public health in sponsoring legislation that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from retroactively vetoing permits. Manchin argued he was instead seeking “balance” between economic and environmental concerns while hoping to prevent the agency from taking actions such as it did with Arch Coal’s Spruce Fork No. 1 surface mine when it vetoed a permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted to the company in 2007. While still governor last year, Manchin directed the state to sue the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for delaying issuing several surface mine permits, including Spruce Fork. Manchin says, once a company has gone through the proper channels of a permit, the EPA should not be able to revoke it.


State Police Arrest Woman For Embezzlement

West Virginia State Police have arrested 27 year old Florence Parker from Gassaway and charged her with three counts of embezzlement and 29 counts of falsifying accounts. Police say Parker took money from three individuals' bank accounts at Calhoun Bank in Glenville. She was arraigned in Gilmer County Magistrate Court and has been released on bond.


Kanawha County House Fire Ruled Arson

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department says a house fire that happened just before 2:00 A.M. Friday morning on Bryant Lake Road in Cross Lanes is arson. Twenty-nine year old Jamie Juzwik from Cross Lanes was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital with serious burns on several parts of his body after deputies say he set the garage at the residence where his former girlfriend Misty Prusack, 31, and her 6-year-old-son lived on fire.


Woman Arrested On Probation Violation

Twenty-nine year old Paula Gibson was arrested Friday after Kanawha County Deputies and U.S. Marshals found her hiding inside a clothes dryer in a trailer near St. Albans. Gibson was wanted in Kanawha County for failing to appear for a probation violation in Kanawha County after being convicted of possessing the materials used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Pike County Grand Jury Indicts Man On Attempted Murder

A Pike County Grand Jury has indicted 33 year old Charles Hocker of Louisville on two counts of attempted murder. Pikeville Police officers Addison Baisden and Chad Branham shot Hocker multiple times on August 13th after investigators say he tried to run over them. Investigators say Hocker was violating an emergency protection order when Baisden and Branham responded. Police say Hocker then drove off with no headlights and led officers on a chase for several miles before he stopped at a gravel drive on Hurricane Creek Road, where police say he rammed his car into their cruiser and tried to strike the officers, causing the officers to open fire. Hocker is also charged with DUI and fleeing and evading police. Baisden and Branham, have returned to regular duty.


Floyd County Man Indicted

A Floyd County man has been indicted for wanton endangerment. Forty year old David Hall was shot by Kentucky State Police Trooper Cassondra Mullins when he pointed a gun at her at his home in the Allen community of Floyd County in October. Hall was taken to Cabell-Huntington Hospital in serious condition but has since improved. The grand jury said the shooting was justified and cleared Mullins. Hall was originally charged with attempted assault on a police officer.


Johnson County Grand Jury Fails To Indict Man

Johnson County Circuit Clerk Vicki Rice says murder and DUI charges against 32 year old Robert Powers was dismissed by the grand jury Thursday because there was not enough evidence to indict him. Sheriff Deputies say, in October 2010, Powers was speeding at 90 m.p.h. when he hit a car in Johnson County, killing 11 year old Austyn Stapleton, a passenger in that car. Powers failed every sobriety test. However, toxicology tests found that Powers had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he was involved in the crash.


Energy And Environment Cabinet Won't Intervene In ICG And Frasure Settlement

Calling environmentalists' demands "an unwarranted burden," the state Energy and Environment Cabinet has opposed a motion by eight groups and individuals to intervene in a $660,000 settlement with coal companies ICG and Frasure Creek Mining. The lawsuit and settlement occurred after several environmental groups filed a notice of intent to sue ICG of Hazard and Knott County and Frasure Creek Mining. The groups said they had evidence of thousands of instances of false reporting of the amount of pollutants discharged into the waters of Kentucky. The state said they found no evidence of fraud in the reporting. On December 3rd, the Energy and Environment Cabinet announced it had found around 2,700 instances of poor record-keeping by the laboratories that test the water for the companies and report it to the state and one instance of excessive pollution by the companies. Frasure Creek Mining agreed to pay $310,000, and four subsidiaries of ICG, East, Knott County, Hazard and Powell Mountain Energy, agreed to pay $350,000.


Family Foundation Files Appeal Involving Instant Racing

The Family Foundation filed an appeal Thursday in a case involving Instant Racing. The group disagreed with a Franklin Circuit Court ruling last month that regulations currently being considered by the Beshear administration are consistent with current law. Family Foundation says current law only allows pari-mutuel wagering on actual horse races, and Instant Racing is neither pari-mutual nor is it an actual horse race. Martin Cothran, spokesman for the group, says the bettor would be the only ones betting on a particular race, and they would be betting on videos of past horse races, many of whose horses and jockeys are long dead, not actual horse races anticipated under the law. Cothran says, "Wagering on ‘live' racing with dead horses might make a good Twilight Zone episode, but it isn't legal in Kentucky."


Wal-Mart Reformulating Thousands Of Products

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest grocer, says it will reformulate thousands of products to make them healthier and push its suppliers to do the same, joining first lady Michelle Obama’s effort to combat childhood obesity. The first lady accompanied Wal-Mart executives Thursday as they announced the effort in Washington. The company plans to reduce sodium and added sugars in some items, build stores in poor areas that don’t already have grocery stores, reduce prices on produce and develop a logo for healthier items. Wal-Mart plans to reduce sodium by a quarter and cut added sugars in some of its private label products by 2015. It also plans to remove remaining industrially produced trans fats. The foods Wal-Mart will concentrate on are products like lunch meats,  fruit juices and salad dressings, items that contain high levels of sugar or sodium.


Clay County Residents Arrested For Copper Theft

Jerriet B. Wagers, Jason D. Hubbard, James B. Hart, and Timothy L. Hubbard are charged with theft after being accused of stealing thousands of feet of telephone lines containing copper wiring in Clay County. Windstream estimates that, between November 2010 to January, more than five thousand feet of wiring was stolen across the county, causing about 8,000 homes to lose service at some point. At one spot on Lower Rader Road, more than 200 feet of telephone wire was stolen on three different occasions, knocking out service for more than 100 customers. During the past year and a half, Windstream has had to replace about $1.5 million worth of stolen wiring across the state.


Richmond Man Arrested Following Pulaski County Standoff

Thirty-five year old Jason Edward Singleton of Richmond, a man whose wife, Angela, was found dead in a field Wednesday took hostages at a Somerset trucking company Thursday afternoon before he surrendered and police arrested him. Police in Pulaski County arrested Singleton following a standoff in which Singleton held six people hostage while barricading himself inside Super Service, a local trucking company in Somerset Mall. Two hostages managed to escape and the remaining were held at gunpoint for about 15 minutes. Police say the incident began after Singleton crashed a vehicle stolen from Enterprise Drive behind the Somerset Mall near Tucker Ready Mix. Singleton was confronted by Somerset Police and shot with a "less than lethal" bean bag round while trying to flee on foot. Earlier, a security guard at Somerset Mall observed Singleton coming out of a women's bathroom into a hallway and had approached Singleton after getting a report about a man smoking in the mall.


Officials Investigating Seizures After Children Got Flu Shot

Government officials are investigating an apparent increase in fever-related seizures in young children after they got a flu shot. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said there have been reports of 36 seizures this flu season in children ages 6 months through 2 years. All the seizures occurred within one day after the youngsters got a vaccine called Fluzone, which is made specifically for younger children.
Ten of the children were hospitalized, but all recovered. The maker of the flu shot says there's no clear link between the vaccine and seizures, and they may have been coincidental.


WV Rally Blasts EPA

Thursday, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and other top elected leaders appeared at a rally in the state Capitol rotunda to criticize EPA for its January 13th decision to revoke a Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal Co.’s Spruce Fork No. 1 surface mine in Logan County. The agency cited concerns about the mine’s effect on water and wildlife, but state leaders say federal regulators have created an atmosphere of uncertainty for miners. Tomblin says the rally wasn’t about any single coal company or about lobbying for the industry, but was meant to send a message to Washington in relation to the blatant actions of the EPA. House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, says the agency’s decision has implications beyond Spruce Fork, and, if left unchecked, could create a rippling effect that could stifle the entire coal industry. Acting state Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, says his chamber had passed a resolution asking EPA to reconsider its decision. Senator Joe Manchin is seeking additional sponsors for a bill he is proposing that would stop the federal Environmental Protection Agency from being able to retroactively rescind mining permits it has already granted. Environmental activists say Manchin should be putting people harmed by air and water pollution ahead of corporate profits. The mine's parent company, Arch Coal, says it will continue fighting the EPA decision.


City National Bank Robbed At Gunpoint

Deputies with the Cabell County Sheriff's Department responded to an armed robbery at the City National Bank on Route 60 outside the Huntington city limits around 10:26 A.M. Thursday morning. Sheriff Tom McComas says a slender black male approximately 6 feet, 2-inches tall, wearing a ball cap showed a gun and gave a bank teller a note demanding money before fleeing Eastbound on Route 60 with an undisclosed about of cash. The West Virginia State Police, FBI and the Barboursville Police Department are also involved with the investigation.


Elkview Man Charged With Sexual Assault

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department arrested 27 year old Kenny L. Harper of Little Sandy Road in Elkview Thursday after his 35 year old ex-girlfriend alleged he forced her to have sexual intercourse with him during the early-morning hours of January 15th. The woman told police she left a friend's house in Elkview and started walking, and the suspect allegedly followed her, forcing her behind a store where he continued to sexually assault her while she resisted both physically and verbally.


Bluefield Regional Medical Center Reduces Full Time Positions

On Thursday, Bluefield Regional Medical Center reduced approximately 20 full time positions, approximately 2 percent of the hospital's total workforce of over 874 people. Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Rebekah Ritter, says the hospital is supporting affected employees during this transition, including providing severance packages, and there will be no impact on patient care. Most of the affected positions are non-clinical.


WV Developer Arrested As Texas Fugitive

Hancock County Sheriff Mike White says deputies arrested 68-year-old Albion Arlo Norman Jr., a man promising to build a $2 billion coal-to-liquid fuel plant in Weirton. after learning during a traffic stop that he was a fugitive wanted in Arlington, Texas, on grand larceny charges. Norman is chief engineer of Weirton Energy, a company that says it's trying to buy property owned by steelmaker ArcelorMittal. United Steelworkers 2911 President Mark Glyptis says he's been working with Norman for the past year and was surprised by the news.


Clay County Man Charged With Charleston Murder-For-Hire

Brent Boggs, 53, from Big Otter, in Clay County, has been arrested and charged with solicitation of first-degree murder after allegedly trying to hire someone to kill a former business associate from Charleston. Troopers had been investigating the case for several weeks with the cooperation of the individual who claims Boggs had asked them to commit the murder. No charges are expected to be filed against that person. Boggs is in Central Regional Jail on $500,000 bond. State Police are still investigating and may release further details soon.


Fayette County Deputies Searching For Escapees

The Fayette County Sheriff's office is attempting to track down two fugitives that escaped from the Fayette County Community Corrections Program. Michael Wesley Grimmett, 26, and Cindy Canady,27, also known as Cindy O'Hara, have been on the run since January 13th. Grimmett is considered armed and dangerous and has been heard stating he won't be "taken alive." Grimmett stands 6-feet, 1-inch and weighs around 198 pounds. He has very short blond hair, a tattoo on his neck that reads "Becky" and another on his hand reads "Eva." Canaday is a 5-feet, 6-inches tall white female weighing around 120 pounds. She has long blond hair with "Jay" tattooed on her right bicep. Anyone with any information on their whereabouts is urged to contact the Fayette County Sheriff's Office, or to call Crimestoppers at 304-574-STOP.


Putnam County Teacher Receives Suspended Sentence

Putnam County teacher Lura Jo Fisher of Eleanor has received a suspended sentence and placed on two years probation after pleading guilty to domestic battery. She still must serve 30 days at the Western Regional Jail on weekends. In December of 2009, Fisher was arrested for punishing her daughter for getting bad grades. The criminal complaint says those punishments included making the girl stand outside for 20 minutes, and when the daughter threw up Fisher made her pick it up with her hands and carry it into the house and put it in the commode.


Tennant Announces Run For Governor

At a meeting in Lewisburg on Thursday, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced she will run for governor in the 2011 special election. Tennant says she will use the same go getter approach she has taken as Secretary of State in the Governor's office. When asked about her chances, Tennant said she thinks she has a good shot because she serves West Virginia well in her current roll. A bill before the House of Delegates proposes a special primary election on May 14th, followed by a general election on August 6th.


House Judiciary Committee Endorses FOIA Measure

The House Judiciary Committee endorsed a measure Thursday that would define what that law considers a public record and which records can be revealed under the Freedom of Information Act. The bill says it's any writing prepared or received by a public body, if its content or context relates to the public's business. The committee endorsed a second measure that would exempt certain Division of Juvenile Services records from FOIA. It aims to protect details regarding detention facilities and security policies. Both bills head to the full House.


Chemical Safety Board Releases Final Report On Explosion

During a media briefing Thursday at West Virginia State University in Institute, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released its final report on the August 28, 2009 Bayer CropScience explosion that killed two workers and injured eight others. The report found multiple deficiencies during a lengthy startup process resulted in a runaway chemical reaction inside a vessel, creating pressure that caused an explosion, and that vessel soared into a manufacturing unit, spreading fire as it went. The CSB found that the startup of a unit which, after a long period of maintenance, was premature because the company was pressured to resume production of its pesticides. The CSB report cited "numerous critical omissions," including a too complex Standard Operating Procedure that was not reviewed nor approved, incomplete training for a new computer control system and inadequate control of process safeguards. The CSB says the deaths of the workers as a result of the accident could have been prevented had Bayer CropScience provided adequate training and required a comprehensive pre-startup equipment checkout and strict conformance with appropriate startup procedures.


Capito Named To House Subcommittees

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito has been named to three House subcommittees, Highways and Transit, Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials and Water Resource and Environment. All three are subcommittees of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Capito also sits on the Financial Services Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Beshear To Ask Lawmakers To Shift Medicaid Budget

At a news conference with several top Democrats who control the House, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg and budget chairman Rick Rand of Bedford, Governor Steve Beshear said Wednesday that he will ask lawmakers to shift $166.5 million from next year's Medicaid budget into the current fiscal year. The move  would allow Kentucky to draw more federal matching money for Medicaid from federal stimulus funds. The stimulus funds expire June 30th, which is also the end of the current fiscal year. Beshear says, if nothing is done, Kentucky’s $6 billion-a-year Medicaid program could wind up as much as $600 million short this year. Beshear said payments to health care providers who see Medicaid patients would fall by 30 percent if the General Assembly does not approve his proposal. The federal-state health plan for the poor and disabled serves more than 800,000 people.


Pike County Man Stabbed To Death In South Carolina

A Pike County man has been stabbed to death in South Carolina, and a Pike County woman has been charged with his murder. Police say 59 year old Lawrence Branham died from a stab wound to the chest last Wednesday in Abbeville County, South Carolina. Police arrested 35 year old Stacy Hobson in connection with the murder.


Former Big Sandy Jail Board Chairman Found Not Guilty

After the jury deliberated for about an hour and a half Wednesday afternoon, John Harmon, the former Big Sandy Jail Board Chairman accused of using jail funds for personal use, was found not guilty. Harmon took the stand in his own defense and told the Johnson Circuit Court he has cancer. Harmon was reimbursed around 43 dollars for each 100 mile round trip from his home in Martin County to the jail in Johnson County, but prosecutors say he was not allowed to get reimbursed for all those trips. Rules say he could only get reimbursed for the monthly board meetings. Harmon, who resigned from the jail board in early 2008 and was elected a Martin County magistrate in November, was charged last year with theft of $4,752 in unauthorized travel reimbursements in 2007 and 2008.


Former Big Sandy Administrator Enters Blind Plea

Henry "Butch" Williams, 54, the former administrator of the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, entered a blind plea Friday in Johnson County Circuit Court to charges of abuse of public trust and official misconduct. In May, Williams was indicted on charges he accepted a bribe from an inmate in January 2009. Williams could face up to five years in prison when sentenced February 18th. A blind plea is a guilty plea made by a criminal defendant when they have not entered a plea agreement and do not know the punishment the judge will impose.


U.S. Attorney Urges Court To Reject Sypher’s Request For New Trial Motion

First Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn Jr. has asked U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson to reject Karen Cunagin Sypher’s request for more time to file a new trial motion. Simpson has twice delayed the sentencing of Sypher, who was convicted in August of trying to extort University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, lying to the FBI and retaliating against a witness. Her sentencing, originallyset for October, is now set for February 18th. Sypher’s new lawyer, David Nolan, has asked for additional time to allow expert witnesses to examine photographs and tape recordings used by the government in Sypher’s trial, but Kuhn says the “purported ‘expert’ testimony” is a smokescreen, and there is no reason that Nolan couldn’t have filed his motions sooner other than for “tactical reasons” or to “pursue fictions.” Kuhn is urging the court “to shut the door upon her wild and groundless allegations of conspiracies between unrelated witnesses, the prosecution, former defense counsel and even the court itself.


Magoffin County Vote Fraud Lawsuit Dismissed

A judge has dismissed a Magoffin County vote fraud lawsuit filed by losing candidates in November's judge-executive and sheriff's races. Two unsuccessful candidates proved there was vote-buying in the election, but Perry Circuit Judge William Engle, sitting as a special judge in the case, ruled Wednesday the evidence was not strong enough to warrant throwing out the results. John Montgomery and Bob Jordan claimed that incumbent judge-executive Charles “Doc” Hardin and sheriff-elect Carson Montgomery bought votes. Engle said it was clear there was fraud in the election, and the losing candidates had, to some extent, raised strong suspicion that Carson Montgomery and Hardin knew about the illegal acts of their supporters. The decision means both elected officials will stay in office, but there could still be criminal charges filed.


Kentucky Coal Association Says Mine Safety Perception Distorted

Last year was the deadliest in the U.S. coal industry in nearly two decades, with 48 miners killed - 29 of those in a single explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia. That's the highest yearly total since 55 died in 1992. A new report from the Kentucky Coal Association says fatalities and serious accidents have "dramatically decreased" since the 1980s. KCA says coal mining in the U.S. has become safer over the last three decades, but recent tragedies in Appalachia have distorted the public's perception of mine safety. The Kentucky Coal Association blames increased enforcement by federal regulators for raising allegations that coal industry safety compliance has declined, but mine safety experts say gains in safety are the result of better regulations and technological improvements that have been opposed by the industry. MSHA said in a statement Wednesday the federal MINER Act passed in 2006 increased minimum penalties and established new fines for flagrant violators.


Winchester Daycare Directors Charged With Trafficking

Tammy Litteral, the assistant director of Just Like Home Daycare in Winchester, was arrested Wednesday and charged with trafficking in a controlled substance. The daycare was shut down earlier after the director, 29 year old  Shannon Johnson, was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of first-degree trafficking of a controlled substance. Johnson was arrested after police say detectives made two controlled buys at Johnson's home and another at the daycare center.


Human Remains Found At Eastern State Hospital Site

Human remains have been found at the Eastern State Hospital site in Lexington where the new Bluegrass Community and Technical College will be built.  Officials say about 20 to 30 human remains were found at the site during the prep work, and they may have been there for 100 years. Remains were also found in the 1980's and again in 2005. Those remains were dug up and given a proper burial at the Eastern Hospital Cemetery. Now, officials say these latest remains will also be properly laid to rest. The land is owned now by the state Finance Cabinet, and they are waiting on a permit from the coroner before they can move the bodies. They are also bringing in archaeologists from UK to examine the bodies.


Prison Reform Plan Presented To Interim Joint Judiciary Committee

Kentucky has had one of the fastest-growing prison populations in the country over the past decade. The number of inmates grew by 45 percent during that time, compared to 13 percent overall in state prison systems. Corrections spending in the state increased 214 percent between 1990 and 2010. Recommendations aimed at reducing prison costs and population were presented to the interim joint Judiciary Committee Wednesday. According to a report from a task force that has been studying Kentucky's justice system, the state could save money by putting fewer non-violent drug offenders in prison and instead supervise them through probation, parole and substance abuse treatment programs. According to the report, if the state does nothing, the prison population will increase by nearly 1,400 inmates and spending will increase by $161 million over the next 10 years.


Mutual Respect In School

A northern Kentucky public school district is focusing on student mutual respect in an effort to reduce bullying.

More than 70 middle school students performed skits, songs and dances Tuesday night in a program called "No Scars,".

The effort has gone district wide in the Kenton County Schools after its beginning at Turkey Foot Middle School last year. An effort called "Justice for All" was started by parent Lisa Hughes and her then- eighth grader daughter.

The group made a public service video, which was shown at the school, and produced anti-bullying pledges for students to sign.

Hughes says all involved need to improve the culture of schools, rather than telling students to tough it out.


Allman Release This Week

When Gregg Allman asked his doctors for permission to start touring again just a few months after a liver transplant, he got quizzical looks.

But Allman says going back on the road helped his recovery.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, who this week releases "Low Country Blues," his first solo recording in 14 years, has experienced the healing power of music firsthand. Allman had his transplant on June 23 after hepatitis and the rock-star life left him in a state of deteriorating health.

The 63-year-old Allman says he wasn't prepared for the amount of pain he had, but said playing on stage was a balm that eased it.

Another thing that helped him through was his anticipation over the release of "Low Country Blues," produced by T Bone Burnett of Memphis.


Preliminary Vote On Smoking Ban

Bowling Green City Commissioners have taken a preliminary vote to ban smoking in the south-central Kentucky city.
Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday night in favor of the ban that would prohibit smoking in all public and work places. Another vote is required before the ban is approved.

A special-called city commission meeting is scheduled Monday for a final vote on the measure. If city commissioners approve it, the smoking ban would take effect 90 days later.


KSP Highway Fatality Report

Preliminary statistics indicate that six people died
in six separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, Jan. 10,
through Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. 

All of the crashes involved motor vehicles and five of the victims were
not wearing seat belts.  Single-fatality crashes occurred in Barren,
Casey, Graves, Jefferson (2), and Morgan counties.   The suspected use
of alcohol was a factor in one of the Jefferson County crashes.

Through Jan. 16, preliminary statistics indicate that fourteen people
have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011.  This is
twenty-four less fatalities than reported for the same time period in
2010.   There were thirteen motor vehicle fatalities and ten of those
victims were not wearing seat belts.  Three of those crashes involved a
commercial motor vehicle.  One crash involved a pedestrian.  A total of
four 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


Murder-Suicide In Jackson County

A shooting around 3:00 A.M. Wednesday morning about one mile off Stone Lick Road in Kenna, Jackson County, left a man and his wife dead. Deputies say Jackie Westfall, 46, and his wife, Jeanette, 34, were found in a pickup truck. Deputies say they believe Jackie Westfall shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself. Investigators say Jackie called relatives to say he had just shot his wife and was going to shoot himself, but he wouldn't reveal a location. That's when the relative called 911. The Westfalls were found at Aplin Cemetery off of White Pine Cemetery Road, not far from the couple's home.


MSHA Releases Preliminary Conclusions For UBB Explosion

The Mine Safety and Health Administration hosted a briefing for families of the Upper Big Branch Mine accident Tuesday. According to MSHA’s preliminary conclusions, worn bits on the longwall shearer are the likely ignition source of the April 5th explosion, but MSHA administrator Kevin Strickland says other hazardous conditions turned that into an explosion that killed 29 miners and injured two others. Strickland says a low volume of methane provided the fuel for an initial fire that then ignited the massive coal dust explosion, and water sprayers designed in part to quench such ignitions were missing. When pressed at a  conference call Wrdnesday as to whether Massey Energy Co. operated the mine unsafely, Strickland carefully avoided a direct statement, saying that MSHA’s investigation is only partially complete. MSHA plans to complete its technical analysis within 90 days, according to Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main. Massey Energy General Counsel Shane Harvey says their findings are the mine was well rock dusted and exploded due to an infusion of high levels of natural gas. Harvey says Massey plans on discussing its findings with UBB families as soon as possible, will brief the media in more detail at a later date and is very interested in meeting with MSHA officials to understand their conclusions.


Mexican National Sentenced In Connection To Huntington Overdoses

Twenty-five year old Joel Adolfo Borjas-Hernandez, who uses the name "Carlos Salazar," a Mexican national, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to 25 years in prison. Hernadez pleaded guilty last year to charges stemming from his role in the distribution of black tar heroin that was linked to several fatal drug overdoses in the Huntington area.


Kanawha County Deputies Recover $50,000 In Stolen Property

Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies say, when they went to a residence on Sexton Road near Tornado Tuesday to investigate a drug tip, they recovered about $50,000 worth of stolen property. Deputies say Joseph Scott Cooper, 36, from St. Albans, jumped out the back window of the trailer and ran into the woods, getting away. But, deputies found a 2008 John Deere all-terrain vehicle, worth about $12,000, reported stolen over the weekend from the St. Albans National Guard Armory, a 33-foot 2006 Rockwood camper worth $8,000 reported stolen from a storage lot near Poca and a $30,000 2010 Ford F-150 pickup truck reported stolen from Moses Ford in St. Albans.


Boone County Man Arrested On Porn Charges

Justin D. Miller, 22, of Danville, Boone County has been arrested and charged on six felony counts of possession of child pornography. An ongoing investigation led police to Miller after investigators received complaints and tips from citizens complaining that Miller was showing the child porn in the community. When investigators searched Miller's computer at his business on Lick Creek Road in Danville, deputies located multiple sexually explicit images of underage females. The investigation revealed that some of the images were students who were involved in taking and sending the pornographic images by cell phones and e-mails.


Warrant Issued For Man Shot In Charleston

Charleston Police have issued a warrant for 28 year old Alexander Brown, a Charleston man who was shot during an altercation Monday night on West Side Charleston. Police say Brown threatened a woman with a gun less than 12 hours after he was shot. A 15 year old male was was shot in the face Monday remains in critical condition at the Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital.


Nitro Woman Sentenced For Credit Card Fraud

Thirty-three year old Kelli Reed of Nitro has been sentenced to six months home confinement and five years probation and was ordered to pay $13,742 in restitution after pleading guilty to credit card fraud charges in October. Reed, who worked as a corporate administrative assistant for a Nitro area business, used a company credit card to charge more than $10,000 in personal expenses.


House And Senate Leaders Consider Food Tax

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin wants to whack another penny off the food tax, but finance leaders in both the House and Senate questioned Wednesday whether state government could afford that. Tomblin's request would reduce the sales tax on groceries from 3 percent to 2 percent, to become effective next January 1st. Officials estimate the cut would save consumers $26 million annually, but House Finance Chairman Harry Keith White, D-Mingo, cited the corresponding general revenue loss. White referrrd to another Tomblin proposal that would provide one-time payments to teachers, school workers and state workers totaling $47.5 million. Administration officials have said the state has enough revenues both to fund those payments and afford the tax cut. White says lawmakers may seek a permanent raise for the public employees, and he considers that a higher priority than reducing the food tax.


House Bill Calls For May Gubernatorial Primary

House Bill 2552 introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates Wednesday by Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, calls for a special gubernatorial primary election May 14th and a special general election August 6th. The state Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that a general election be conducted before November 15th, which will be the one-year anniversary of Acting Govrtnor Earl Ray Tomblin assuming the office. In the ruling, nominees would be selected by political party conventions. The court, however, ruled that the Legislature could change the process, which includes conducting a primary election.


U.S. Marshals Service Seeking Help In Tracking Fugitives

The U.S. Marshals Service needs your help tracking down two fugitives thought to be in the Beckley area. Steven Russell Gibson Jr., 38, is wanted in Mercer County for probation violations after originally facing charges for forging and uttering, breaking and entering and grand larceny. Gibson is about 5-feet, 9-inches tall and weighs around 270 pounds. Investigators are also looking for Brian K. Berry, 43. He's wanted by law enforcement in Raleigh County on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, two counts of forgery and two counts of uttering. Berry is around 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighs approximately 170 pounds.


Groups Attempting To Restore Historic Elkins School

Two community groups, Riverside School Association and Youth Empowered Solutions have raised $100,000 to restore the Riverside School in Elkins which was built more than a hundred years ago. They say another $400,000 is needed to stabilize the deteriorating facility that served African-American and some American Indian students until segregation was ruled illegal in the 1950s.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Letcher County Cities At Odds Over Childers Oil Settlement

Whitesburg and Jenkins, two Letcher County cities, are at odds concerning a nearly $240,000 settlement from Childers Oil after the company contaminated the water in Whitesburg a few years ago. Jenkins applied for the money last year to make improvements to their sewer system, but Whitesburg officials claim the money was meant for them. Jenkins Mayor G.C. Kincer says Jenkins applied for the money to improve the sewer system on Dairy Hollow, which has dirty water flowing by a daycare. Allison Fleck, with the Kentucky Division of Water, says the Jenkins wastewater treatment plant proposed project was appropriate for funding because it would finance the entire project. Whitesburg Mayor James Wiley Craft says Whitesburg officials thought the money would be going to them to improve water pressure near Solomon Creek. They filed a motion to intervene in the Division of Water's recommendation for Jenkins to get the money. Wednesday both sides will get their day in court. Kincer and Craft say this is not a fight between cities, and, whatever the outcome, the bottom line is Letcher County wins either way.


Martin County Accident Kills Two

Kentucky State Police say Charles Sartin,40, of Lovely and his passenger Diane Fuggitt,40, of Warfield, were killed in a single vehicle accident on KY 139 on Meathouse Road near Warfield in Martin County shortly after 6:00 A.M.Tuesday morning. Troopers say Sartin lost control of his pickup, crossed the road, traveled down an embankment and struck a tree. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.


Floyd County Inmate Arraigned On Escape Charge

Twenty-one year old Steven Rogers escaped from custody on the way back to the Floyd County Jail after a court appearance on January 6th. He turned himself in to police over the weekend. Rogers, who originally faced kidnapping charges, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon on the escape charge. Bond was denied. A preliminary hearing is set for January 25th.


FBI Manhunt Ends In Kentucky

The FBI says John Erwin Kolbek, the fugitive behind numerous brutal beatings of children and adults, died last Thursday of an apparent heart attack at a home just outside of Blaine in Lawrence County, Kentucky. According to the FBI, Kolbek administered savage beatings in 2008 to discipline children and adults at a cult's compound in Arkansas. Kolbek's wife, Jennifer, told Lawrence County Sheriff Garrett Roberts her estranged husband called her from Somerset, Kentucky saying he was sick and needed her to come get him. Two days later, Kolbek called 911 to report her husband was not breathing. She identified herself to police as "Michelle Jones" and said her husband "John Jones" needed help. John Kolbek died a short time later, but it wasn't until his body was taken for an autopsy that authorities realized he was wanted by the FBI.Kolbek was the focus of a manhunt by the FBI since 2008, and had appeared on the TV show "America's Most Wanted." 


Thieves Steal Church Heating/AC Units

Laurel County Sheriff's deputies arrested 25 year old Jordan Woods Tuesday afternoon after they say he stole heating and air conditioning units at two churches.

Sheriff's Deputy Gilbert Acciardo says the churches, the New Harvest Church and Soul's Harbor Church, weren't far apart, near London.

The deputy says the motive for the weekend thefts was to strip the copper from the units and sell it for scrap. Officers were able to recover some of the stolen copper from the units at area junk yards.

New Harvest Pastor Bill Stewart says theft from churches hurts every member of them.


"Survivor" Coming To Northern Kentucky

The search for the next "Survivor" is coming to northern Kentucky.

The show is holding an open casting call for the next "Survivor" season at Turfway Park in Florence. The audition is January 28th from 4-9:00 P.M.

Participants will have one minute on camera to convince producers they can outwit, outplay and outlast other contestants to become the next winner of the show.


Williams Files For Gubernatorial Run

Republican Senate President David Williams has officially entered the race for governor.

Williams is running on a ticket with former University of Kentucky basketball icon Richie Farmer, who now serves as the state's agriculture commissioner.

Williams and Farmer were accompanied by their families as filed papers Tuesday with the Secretary of State's office.

Louisville businessman Phil Moffett also is running in the GOP primary.

So far, Williams has raised more than $750,000 in his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and says job creation is his "top priority."


Kentucky's Transportation Issues

 A conference that will study Kentucky's transportation problems and opportunities is expected to attract local, state and national leaders to Lexington this week.

The conference at the Lexington Hyatt Regency is sponsored by Kentuckians for Better Transportation.

Gov. Steve Beshear will speak at a Thursday lunch, and Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo will speak at a Thursday dinner.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will speak at a closing luncheon Friday.


Theme For 2011 Kentucky Derby Festival

The theme for this year's Kentucky Derby festivities will be announced on Facebook.

A statement from the Kentucky Derby Festival office says Facebook fans will learn the theme at 9 a.m. Wednesday and see how it will be incorporated into the festival.

The theme will be featured prominently during the festival, including at events and on websites, as well as on items such as Pegasus Pins.

The Derby Festival has worked on community celebrations surrounding the Run for the Roses since 1956. The Festival is an independent community organization and entertains more than 1.5 million people in a two-week period.


EMS Academy Graduating Class

Eight recruits are set to graduate from Louisville's first EMS academy, a training regimen similar to the one used by police and fire departments.

Louisville Metro Chief of Operations Capt. Craig Rodgers says the academy is a way to get employees who are already invested in the community and train them in the service needs the agency wants.

The Courier-Journal reports that until now, EMS only hired people who already had been certified EMTs or paramedics.

The academy launched in September. Recruits undergo 16 weeks of training, with the first graduation ceremony in early February. Recruits take all the coursework and testing to become a nationally certified EMT.

The class of eight contains four African Americans, two of whom are the only women in the class.


Murderer Denied Parole

A northern Kentucky woman, convicted of fatally shooting her husband, has been denied parole.

The Kentucky Parole Board made the decision Tuesday in the case of Cheryl McCafferty. She won't be eligible for another parole hearing for five more years.

The 46-year-old McCafferty was convicted in March 2009 of manslaughter in the 2007 death of Robert McCafferty in the couple's bedroom in Fort Thomas.

She told a parole board panel last week that she killed her husband to end years of abuse, but it couldn't agree on whether she should be released and sent the case to the fill nine-member board.


Putnam County Toddler's Death Case Going To Grand Jury

The case against a Putnam County mother charged with child neglect causing death has been bound over to the grand jury. Prosecutors say 28 year old Tracy Wright of Teays Valley failed to take her 3 year old daughter Ashley to the doctor or give the girl her prescriptions as prescribed. Ashley had cystic fibrosis and died in December. Wright's attorney Dave Moye contends that Child Protective Services had an open case file for 13 months and never thought Ashley was in danger enough to remove her from the home. Wright remains at Western Regional Jail on a $50,000 bond.


Kanawha County Deputies Arrest Kentucky Fugitive

Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies arrested 48 year old Terry E. Ratcliff of Willard, Kentucky Monday after, during a traffic stop on Interstate 77, they discovered he was a wanted fugitive from Kentucky for transporting narcotics. The driver, Michael W. Sagraves, 20, of Grayson, Kentucky, whose driver's license was revoked for dropping out of high school, was issued a citation and his vehicle was towed.
Deputies discovered empty prescription bottles in the vehicle.


Supreme Court Orders Tomblin To Set Special Gubernatorial Election

The West Virginia Supreme Court has ordered Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to set a special election date for governor no later than November 15th, the date which marks the one-year anniversary of when Senator Joe Manchin resigned as governor and the anniversary of the day Tomblin, the Senate president, became acting governor under the constitution. Tomblin had contested that the constitution and state law didn't allow the next election to replace the governor until the general election in 2012, but the West Virginia Citizen Action Group and lawyer Thornton Cooper disagreed, and petitioned the Supreme Court stating that the state’s constitution only allowed Tomblin to serve no more than one-year in the position as acting governor. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant held a news conference Tuesday stating that from the day Tomblin declares an election date for the governor's seat, the state would have to have the entire election process completed by November 15th at noon.


Skeletal Remains Found In Belle Home

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department is investigating after partial skeletal remains were found in a bag inside a home on Hastings Avenue in Belle in Kanawha County. What appears to be two human skulls and small bones were found after the home was recently purchased at an estate sale. The previous owner died about two years ago. The bones were turned over to the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and preliminary analysis has not ruled out the possibility of the bones being used for academic training.


Charleston Police Investigating Shooting

Police are investigating after a 15 year old male and a 28 year old male were both shot in an alley on the west side of Charleston Monday evening. The 15 year old was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center in critical condition after being shot in the face. The 28 year old male was shot in the leg area and received a graze-type wound to his right ankle. The Charleston Police Department is investigating the shooting and asks if anyone has any information to contact the Criminal Investigation Division at 304-348-6480.


Two Brothers Enter Alford Pleas In Crawford Death

During a hearing Tuesday morning, Phillip and Nathaniel Barnett entered Alford pleas to voluntary manslaughter for their roles in the death of 21 year old Deanna Crawford of Huntington. Phillip also took an Alford plea to malicious wounding. Crawford's decomposing body was found in a secluded area of Salt Rock in August 2002. The brothers had been convicted of 2nd degree murder, but, in July, the West Virginia Supreme Court overturned their second-degree murder convictions due to an error by the judge during the trial. The brothers agreed to the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Phillip will also serve an additional 2-10 years on the malicious wounding charge. Formal sentencing is set for January 31st. The men will remain on home confinement until then. An Alford plea means the brothers maintain their innocence but accept the punshishment for the crime.


St. Albans Woman Charged With Domestic Battery And Possession

Lisa Kay Casdorph, 40, of St. Albans has been charged with domestic battery and possession of meth. Kanawha County Deputies say she stabbed her boyfriend, 41 year old Richard Lee Vaten, in the nose after they became involved in a domestic argument in the parking lot of Go-Mart on Main Street West in St. Albans. Deputies say they found methamphetamine on Casdorph. Casdorph was placed on a $10,000 bond.


Senator McCabe Wants Legislative Session To Consider OPEB

Kanawha County State Senator Brooks McCabe says he's hoping lawmakers take significant steps to address the debt for, what are called, Other Post Employment Benefits or OPEB before the 2011 Regular Legislative Session ends on Saturday, March 12th. McCabe is heading up a legislative working group charged with coming up with ways to address the $8 billion unfunded liability, the money promised to public employees for health care coverage when they retire. McCabe says the money owed, per retiree in West Virginia, is one of the highest in the United States and growing at a rate that's twice that of the general revenue budget. Some possible solutions include benefit cuts and tax increases, redesigns for health care coverage to control costs and overall service reviews.  State workers could also be required to work longer before they retire. Earlier this month, officials with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy said reports of a "crisis" for OPEB had been overestimated.


Retiring Adjutant General Urges Finance Committee To Fund National Guard

Retiring state Adjutant General Allen Tackett gave his last budget presentation to the House Finance Committee Monday. Tackett, who spent more than 15 years as head of West Virginia's National Guard, asked the committee to approve three improvement packages to Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin's recommended budget for the guard. Tomblin had presented plans to use just more than $18 million on the guard, but Tackett asked the committee to add about $1.5 million for utility costs, nearly $1.9 million for construction costs to maintain old armories, and $7.2 million to match federal funds on additional construction costs. Tackett also urged lawmakers to continue the tuition assistance program for the guard. He says the guard has $4.5 million that is used to send kids to college and pay their tuition and fees. Tackett is scheduled to be honored in retirement ceremonies at the state Culture Center Friday.


Bill To Reform Parole Hearings Approved By Senate

The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved an amended version of a bill limiting parole hearings for offenders serving life terms with mercy. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to restore language allowing the Parole Board to limit their hearings to every three years. The bill passed the House of Delegates the first day of the regular legislative session.  On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee also passed the bill. The legislation is an effort to change an unintended consequence of a bill passed last year that expanded parole consideration for certain non-violent offenders in an effort to address prison overpopulation. Part of that bill, however, included some violent criminals who are serving life sentences with mercy. Those offenders are now able to come up for parole every year, instead of every three years. Delegates must agree to the Senate's changes before it can go to Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Sypher Sentencing Postponed

Karen Cunagin Sypher was scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday, but U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson signed an order last week moving it to February 18th. Simpson said attorneys need more time to respond to a revised presentence report. Her new attorney filed a motion Friday seeking e-mails and other communications from attorneys and her ex-husband. David Nolan says Sypher received three boxes of evidence from one of her former attorneys that had never been reviewed. He's asking for her former attorneys, Pitino and his attorney Steve Pence and her ex-husband, Tim Sypher, to turn over e-mails and text messages concerning the case. Sypher was convicted in August of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliation against a witness after being charged with attempting to extort Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.


McConnell Wraps Up Visit To Afghanistan And Pakistan

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wrapped up a visit Monday to Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying he was encouraged by his findings after touring the region and meeting with military officials, political leaders and U.S. troops. McConnell was accompanied by GOP Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. McConnell says the goal of the GOP senators was to "gain a general orientation" to the overall efforts in the Afghan and Pakistan theater. McConnell said the goal is to hand over increased responsibilities to Afghan security forces by 2014, but he warned that doesn't necessarily mean NATO withdrawal.


Armed Robbery At Floyd County Pharmacy

Kentucky State Police are investigating an armed robbery which occurred in Floyd County early Monday morning. Police say a man between 5'8" and 5'10", slim build and wearing a blue jacket, entered the Betsy Layne Pharmacy about 9:25 A.M., showed a weapon and demanded medication. The man fled the scene on foot, with an undisclosed amount of drugs.


Kentucky Weighing In On Alternative Fuels

With gas prices on the rise, Kentucky is weighing how to making alternative fuels a reality. State Senator David Givens, R-Greensburg, who was part of a state task force that a year ago made recommendations for biomass and biofuels development in Kentucky, said implementing the group's recommendations will take time. State universities are doing much of the research, with some cooperation from energy production companies. Tim Hughes, a policy analyst for the Governor's Office of Agriculture Policy, suggested that within a year, fuel will be produced from corn cobs and stover for $2 a gallon.


Rally To Focus On Pseudoephedrine

Police say about 77% of Pseudoephedrine sales in Kentucky are used to make meth. A rally is set to take place in the Capitol Rotunda February 3rd relating to a bill that would require a prescription for some cold medicines. U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, founder of the anti-drug task force Operation UNITE, called Friday for state lawmakers to require some over-the-counter cold medicines to be sold only to people with prescriptions. Rogers says a proposal pending in the Kentucky General Assembly is crucial to curbing the state's meth problem. The bill would require a prescription for drugs with Pseudoephedrine and would place a limit on how much could be purchased. Those against the bill argue it would put an unfair hardship on law abiding citizens who need cold medicine.


Floyd County Man To Be Arraigned On Escape Charges

After more than a week on the run, Steven Rogers, who escaped custody from the Floyd County Jail, turned himself into police this past weekend. Rogers originally faced kidnapping charges but now also faces escape charges. He will be in court Tuesday for an arraignment on the escape charges.


Knox County Man Pleads Not Guilty To Sexual Abuse

More than three years after 46 year old Larry Stayrook Jr. of Corbin allegedly sexually abused a 12 year old girl, a judge will determine whether the case should be presented to a Knox County Grand Jury. According to an arrest warrant issued January 29, 2010 based on information provided by Kentucky State Police, Stayrook sexually abused the girl on June 1, 2007. Stayrook, who pleaded not guilty to the charge at his arraignment last Thursday, remains in the Knox County Detention Center on a $25,000 cash bond.


Kentucky Hall Of Fame Journalist Dies

Larry S. Craig, a former journalist, professor and Baptist minister, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Morgantown in western Kentucky. He was 61. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, Craig taught journalism at Western Kentucky University and was president of the Kentucky Press Association in the late 1980s. He was also publisher of the Green River Republican in Morgantown.


Powell County Fire Injures Three

One man was critically injured and two others, including a firefighter, were hurt in a house fire in Powell County Monday afternoon. Officials say fire broke out around noon at a home on Upper Paint Creek Road in Stanton. Firefighters say the fire started as a grease fire but quickly spread through the home, which was fully engulfed by the time they arrived. Family members say David Hall was critically injured in the blaze while his father, Franklin Hall, suffered less serious injuries. A firefighter was also treated at the scene for minor burns. The fire leveled the home and left several dogs dead.


Logan County Man Points Shotgun At Deputies

Deputies say Gregory Lincoln Aldridge, 36, of Logan County pointed a shotgun at them when they came to his house to serve a warrant Friday after he allegedly assaulted his aunt three days earlier. Aldridge fled before officers arrived on Tuesday, but deputies caught up with him Friday when they went to his home wherehe opened the door and pointed a 12-gauge Remington shotgun at them. After coaxing him out of the house and arresting him, deputies discovered the shotgun he wielded was reported stolen out of Kanawha County. Aldridge was charged with domestic battery, domestic assault, wanton endangerment, two counts of assault on a police officer and transferring or receiving stolen property. He was placed on a  $50,000 bond.


State Police Conduct Heroin Bust

Acting on an anonymous tip, West Virginia State Police conducted a traffic stop around 11:10 P.M. Sunday night and found 55 bundles of heroin inside a duffel bag. Alicia Ciccarelli, of Weirton, West Virginia, Rahman Terry, of Keysrock, Pennsylvania and Kristen McClure, of Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, were all arrested and charged with possession of heroin with intent to deliver, transporting heroin into the state of West Virginia and conspiracy to commit a felony. Ciccarelli and McClure admitted to police they were heroin addicts and had been recruited by Terry to drive him from Crafton, Pennsylvania to WV State College in Institute where he planned on selling it. They say in reward for transporting Terry and the drugs that he would reward them with heroin. Terry pleaded guilty to similar possession charges in Pennsylvania on January 3, 2011 and will be sentenced on that charge next month.


Former Marshall Running Back Charged With Domestic Battery

Former Marshall running back Darius Marshall, who played for the Herd from 2007-09, was arrested early Sunday morning on a warrant for domestic battery. He was selected to the All-Freshman Team in 2007 and was Second Team All-Conference USA in 2008 and 2009. Marshall left school after his junior year to enter the NFL draft, but he was not drafted.


Kanawha County Commission And Magic Jack To Battle Before PSC

The Kanawha County Commission's battle to get West Palm Beach, Fla.-based YMAX Communications and a subsidiary, Magic Jack, to collect and pay 911 fees will go before the state Public Service Commission on March 1st. Commission President Kent Carper says Magic Jack is not paying a penny, and their position is they don't have to. In filings with the PSC, Magic Jack asserts it doesn't have to pay the 911 fees because the company is not a "voice-over-Internet" provider, and it's unable to collect the fees because of the way its products are sold. The company alleges it's not an Internet telephone company as defined by the Federal Communications Commission. The federal agency defines voice-over-Internet providers as those that offer a "single service" that allow customers to receive and make calls. Magic Jack and YMAX say they offer two separate services, a "magicIn" service for getting a phone number and receiving calls, and a "magicOut" program for outgoing calls. Billy Jack Gregg, the PSC's former consumer advocate who was hired as a consultant by the Kanawha County Commission, testified that YMAX and Magic Jack customers don't have the option of selecting separate services. Carper says Magic Jack's refusal to collect and pay 911 fees affects the county emergency operations center's ability to serve the public.


School Boards Coping With Snow Days

Snowfall in West Virginia has caused students throughout the state to miss school because of inclement weather. Superintendent Ron Duerring says Kanawha County schools have closed five days because of snow, one more day than students missed during last year's entire winter season. The Kanawha County Board of Education decided to have children make up one of the five snow days Tuesday in order to help reach the required 180 educational days. They'll also hit the books June 2nd, 3rd and 6th. Students started school August 20th this year after the Legislature opted to remove the mandatory school beginning last year. The last day was supposed to be June 1st. Since 2005, Kanawha County has hit the required 180 instructional days only once. Putnam County students have also missed five instructional days because of snow, after missing eight last year. School board members built in six additional days at the end of the year. Five of those days will be used to make up for what has already been missed. Classes for the summer were set to end on May 27th, but they will now go at least until June 3rd. According to unofficial statistics from the state Department of Education, Upshur County has had the most school closings this year with 13, and Hampshire County students have only missed one instructional day this year.  


Tomblin Proposes $2.5 Million For Volunteer Fire Departments

Representatives of Volunteer Fire Departments in West Virginia are hoping a $2.5 million funding proposal from Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will help keep stations open. Starting , July 1st, stations are expecting a 500 to 600 percent increase in workers' compensation premiums. Without additional funding, many fire stations would not be able to afford the increased premiums. It's expected the money will go into a risk-management pool. Officials say, so far, BrickStreet Insurance, which announced the rate increase in 2009, is the only one that's willing to write policies for the departments. Leaders say there has to be some plans for the money and on how to cover worker's comp premiums in the future.


Tomblin Proposes Loan Forgiveness Program For Teachers

West Virginia has a lack of qualified teachers, but Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin believes an incentive program might help keep graduates in the state. In his budget proposal released last week, Tomblin included $5-million to go toward a loan forgiveness program for teachers. It would help those just graduating to pay off their debts if they agree to stay in West Virginia and fill teaching assignments in critical need areas. West Virginia American Federation of Teachers president Judy Hale calls the loan forgiveness program a great idea, but Dale Lee, the president of the West Virginia Education Association disagrees, saying  all that would do is educate a workforce for other states. Lee says a loan program would only solve the situation for a short while. Hale says this is a first-step in getting subject certified teachers instructing the students.


State Mileage Reimbursement Rate Increases

The West Virginia Department of Administration says the state mileage reimbursement rate increased from 40.5 cents to 42.5 cents a mile Saturday. The rate is the amount the state will reimburse employees for privately owned vehicles used on state government business. The state has more than 48,000 employees on its payroll. Analysis by the Federal Energy Information Agency shows an expected increase of 5 percent in both unleaded and diesel fuel costs. On January 1st, the Internal Revenue Service raised the federal rate from 50 cents to 51 cents. West Virginia is not required by law to follow the federal mileage reimbursement rate.


Retailers Lobby To Repeal Election-Day Ban

According to a report issued by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, the August 28th special election for U.S. Senator cost West Virginia liquor stores an estimated $1 million in lost sales, and the state lost $110,000 in liquor taxes. Tennant’s report covering the cost of the special election lists $1.34 million in indirect costs, including the lost liquor sales. Other costs included $207,476 in overtime pay for an election with a scant turnout of 12.28 percent. The state reimbursed counties more than $3.08 million for direct costs. West Virginia bars liquor sales on Sundays and election days, and the primary for the special Senate election occurred on a Saturday. Retailers have been lobbying through their West Virginia Spirits Council to repeal the election-day ban, which dates in various forms back to the state’s creation in 1863.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


New Drug Abuse Program For Rural Teens

A nonprofit corporation that fights drug abuse in eastern Kentucky has started a new program to help teenagers.
Operation UNITE said the initiative is called Don't be an Accidental Drug Dealer. It cites results of a University of Kentucky study showing that the first drugs teens abuse often come from the family medicine cabinet.

The study also showed that rural teens were 26 percent more likely to abuse prescription drugs than urban teens.

The Operation UNITE program will include community meetings and public service announcements. It began earlier this month in Knox, Clay and Wolfe counties and was expected to expand to other eastern and southern Kentucky counties by the end of January.


Rogers Urges Curb On Meth Ingredients

A Kentucky congressman who has led the fight against drugs in the Appalachian region is encouraging state lawmakers to require some over-the-counter cold medicines to be sold only to people with prescriptions.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, founder of the anti-drug task force Operation UNITE, said Friday a proposal pending in the Kentucky General Assembly is crucial to curbing the state's meth problem. The proposal would restrict the availability of medications containing pseudoephedrine, which is the key ingredient in meth.

Rogers distributed a guest column to Kentucky newspapers this week offering his support for a state-level proposal intended to restrict the availability of pseudoephedrine to meth-makers.


Woman Pleads Guilty In Slaying Of Covington Man

A woman who is one of four people charged with robbing and killing a 28 year old man in northern Kentucky then setting his body on fire has pleaded guilty. Thirty-six year old Mary Ann Hartbarger's plea allows her to avoid the death penalty in the slaying of Shawn Davis of Covington. Hartbarger admitted in Kenton Circuit Court last week that she helped lure Davis to an apartment where he was robbed, beaten and strangled on January 31, 2009. Prosecutors recommended a 25 year sentence for Hartbarger. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against 29 year old Marion Lawson Parker III, of Covington, 26 year old Patrick Cooke of Covington and 21 year old Samantha Mayse of Independence. The three are set for trial on April 12th. Hartbarger is expected to testify against them.


Commonwealth's Attorney Requests Psychiatric Evaluation Of Steve Nunn

Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson has asked that former state Representative Steve Nunn undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center at La Grange. Nunn is accused of fatally shooting his former fiancée, 29 year old Amanda Ross, outside her Lexington home September 11, 2009. The prosecutor's office also asked the court to order Nunn to provide the prosecution's psychiatric expert with copies of all records reviewed or considered by Nunn's own expert in an evaluation of Nunn. In late December, Nunn's attorneys notified the court that they intended to use expert testimony and other evidence of mental and/or emotional problems during Nunn's murder trial, which is set to start August 1st. Defense attorney Mark Stanziano of Somerset, who has handled more than a dozen death penalty cases, says the notification did not necessarily mean the defense would introduce expert testimony and other evidence of a mental or emotional condition at the trial, but attorneys are required under state law and rules of criminal procedure to file such a notice in order to be allowed to bring forward such proof.


Committee To Propose Ways To Cut Inmate Population

This year, Kentucky will spend more than $460 million on its Corrections Department. A committee created to find less-costly alternatives to prison while keeping the public safe is set to meet Tuesday in Frankfort and propose legislation for the 2011 General Assembly. The group will suggest ways to cut the state inmate population of nearly 21,000, one-fourth of whom are serving time on drug charges. Among possible proposals, the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act is weighing changes to the law about drug trafficking near a school. The Pew Center on the States was paid $200,000 for its counsel for the task force. The committee includes the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, a former prosecutor, a defense lawyer, the secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Kentucky's chief justice.


Court Of Appeals Tosses Judgment Against Klan Leader

The Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Friday to toss out a $1.3 million civil judgment against Ron Edwards, a former leader of the Imperial Klans of America. A Meade County jury had awarded 19 year old Jordan Gruver $2.5 million against then-Imperial Wizard Edwards and Klan member Jarred Hensley, while two other Klan members settled with Gruver out of court, following a July 2006 beating. The jury ruled that Edwards created an atmosphere of hate and violence within the group before the beating, but the Court of Appeals ruled there wasn't enough evidence to hold Edwards liable. Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represented Gruver, vowed to ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to reinstate the award.


Judge To Hear Evidence In Elkhorn City Lawsuit

Friday morning, Pike County Circuit Judge Steven Combs set a hearing date for Thursday for both sides to present evidence in the vote fraud lawsuit for Elkhorn City's mayoral election held in November. Losing incumbent Mayor Bill Powell accuses precinct workers of vote fraud and is seeking a new election. Elkhorn City Mayor Mike Taylor took office this month and says he will give the city 100 percent unless he's told otherwise by the court. Attorney Steve Owens accuses precinct workers of not following the rules and says precincts did not have the proper ballots for a time on election morning. He also says people were voting in the city election who were not eligible. Owens says these things could have affected the outcome of the election.


Appeals Court Rules To Allow Minor Abortions

In a 2-1 ruling last week, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that minors from other states may ask Kentucky judges to give them permission to have abortions without their parents' knowledge or consent. The state appellate court reversed Jefferson District Court Judge David Bowles, who ruled he had no jurisdiction to consider an Indiana girl's petition under Kentucky's bypass law. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states which require parental consent for abortion must allow an exception in which minors can petition a judge to make the decision on their own without their parents' permission. Margie Montgomery, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life Association, says she fears the ruling could result in Kentucky becoming a haven for girls seeking abortions without their parents' permission. She said the association's board would consider asking the General Assembly to “tighten” the law.


UK Charter Bus Catches Fire

The floor at the University Of Kentucky wasn't all that got hot for the Wildcats Saturday. A charter bus carrying UK fans to the Wildcats' game against LSU caught fire, but officials say no one was injured. The bus, traveling from Paducah to Lexington, caught fire at about 11:00 A.M. CST on the Western Kentucky Parkway. The driver saw smoke coming from a rear wheel, pulled over and got all 65 passengers off safely. By the time firefighters arrived, more than half the bus was engulfed in flames.


Interstate Coal And Use Act Bill Introduced

The Interstate Coal and Use Act bill co-sponsored by Delegate Rupert Phillips, D-Lincoln, and Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral, was introduced for consideration during a brief Friday morning session in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Proposed legislation would help West Virginia bypass the EPA's ability to issue mining permits. The bill says that mining manufactures have to meet all the same strict standards as the current federal EPA requirements call for. Under its current form, the bill would allow West Virginia to issue mining permits for mining operations within the state. The legislation would only work if all mining products were operated and sold within the state. The bill will be sent to several committees, including the Natural Resource Committee, before being sent to the house floor for readings and further discussion.


Two Indicted On Charges Involving Minors

Gabriel Hargus, 33, of South Charleston, and Benson Cline, II, 36, of Cedar Grove, were indicted Friday. Hargus was indicted on possession of child pornography, soliciting a minor via Internet, third degree sexual abuse and forgery of a public record. He's accused of using Facebook to begin a relationship with a 13-year-old girl and lying to police about his real identity. He told police he was 23 year old Ethan Tyler Stone. Cline was charged with soliciting a person believed to be a minor via Internet. Both are scheduled to be arraigned January 19th.


Rockefeller Vows To Continue Fight For High Speed Internet

Senator Jay Rockefeller, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, says West Virginia is one of the least connected states in the nation for high speed internet, and it shouldn't be that way. That's why he says he's trying to force telecommunications companies like Frontier and Comcast to make high speed internet available to everyone in the state, not just those who live in cities. Rockefeller says, over the past 15 years, he's heard a lot of promises from company leaders, but many still depend on dial up or lack access to the internet all together. Rockefeller says he will continue to fight with the telecommunications companies.


Charleston Man Indicted For Incest

Frederick Thomas Butts, Jr., 41, of Charleston has been indicted for incest and first degree and second degree sexual assault. Prosecutors say Butts began sexually assaulting his niece when she was about 5 years old, and the abuse continued for about nine years.


South Charleston Man Indicted For Death Of Child

Larry Allen Hayes, Jr., 22, of South Charleston, has been indicted for the death of a child by a custodian.
Hayes is charged with the death of an 18-month-old girl who suffered a massive skull fracture and multiple bunt force trauma to the head, later dying from the injuries. Police say Hayes' was caring for the child while the child's mother was at work, and the child was returned by Hayes non-responsive and in cardiac arrest. Hayes will be arraigned on January 28th. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.


Two Pose As State Police During Break-In

Fayette County Deputies say two suspects, identifying themselves as state police, broke into a residence in the Montgomery Heights area around midnight Saturday, armed with a handgun and a shotgun. Fayette Sheriff Steve Kessler says they wore dark masks and clothing with what looked like some type of police insignia on their jackets. The suspects sprayed the people inside with pepper spray, bound their hands and feet with duct tape, and tried to rob them. After identifying themselves as police, they told the victims they were there to search the residence for drugs and money and demanded the combination to a safe in the home, but none of the victims were able to supply the combination. The suspects then said they were going to "bring in the dogs" and left. The suspects are described as white men around age 30, approximately 6 feet tall, and weighing 200 to 220 pounds. The victims identified as Timothy Tucker, 51, Patsy Tucker, 45, Timothy Estep, 28, Robert Robison, 30, all of Powellton, and Brooke Tucker, 18, of Gauley Bridge, sustained minor injuries.


More Than 3,200 Lifetime Sex Offenders In WV

According to West Virginia State Police, more than 3,200 people in West Virginia are registered as lifetime offenders on the state's Sexual Offender Registry. As of mid-January, 3,228 people in the state were required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of their lives, while another 84 people were required to register for 10 years. According to the registry, there are 29 sexually violent predators living in the state. Two live in Charleston, while the rest of Kanawha County and Putnam County have none. More than 1,250 people have been arrested for failing to register with the state as a sex offender since 2008. About 400 people are added each year to the registry, which was started in 1993. Most offenders are required to update their registration every year, but those designated as sexually violent predators must update their registration every 90 days. There have been almost 8,000 arrests reported in West Virginia that involve a sexual aspect since 2005.

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