Saturday, March 19, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-20-'11
- The state collected $285 million from the coal severance tax in 2010. About $73.5 million was distributed to the counties in the 12-month fiscal year that ended in June 2010. Changes to the payout system in the mid-1990s sent more money to the counties and regional development projects, but an even split has remained elusive, leaving less for the coal counties that contribute to it. Local leaders in coal-rich Kentucky counties say they are grateful for the money they receive, but getting an equal share of coal severance tax dollars would boost budgets in a tight economy. Mining companies pay the 4.5 percent tax on coal sales, which should amount to a fund of about $260 million for the 2011 fiscal year.
- Governor Steve Beshear will reimburse the state for using a state plane for his two-day tour to nine cities as a way to gain public support with his Medicaid plan. Senate President David Williams, who is running in the GOP primary, called the tour an election year ploy, but Beshear says it was not related to the governor's race. Friday, Beshear campaign manager Bill Hyers said Beshear attended a political event in Louisa in northeastern Kentucky on Monday evening. "As is the strict policy of the Beshear administration," Hyers said, "the campaign will reimburse the state for any non-governmental use of the state plane." Hyers said Beshear kept the news conferences he made on the trip separate from the political event. Beshear implemented a policy in February 2008 that outlined guidelines for use of state aircraft. Hyers said the campaign would wait to hear from the state on how much the campaign owed for the trip to Louisa.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-20-'11
- Early Saturday morning, Nitro Police went to the Crossroads Village Apartments after receiving several calls about shots fired and a black male seen breaking into cars. Police arrested 22 year old Allan Eugene Belcher II and charged him with wanton endangerment following a foot chase. Several witnesses say Belcher shot at an individual who tried to confront him about breaking into cars.
- A police standoff that lasted nearly 10 hours ended with the suspect dead, his home burnt to the ground, an officer wounded and a K-9 fatally shot. Responding to a call about gunshots fired, a Lincoln County deputy went to a home along Route 10 in Ranger about 6:00 P.M. Friday, where 60 year old Jesse Roger Stacy barricaded himself in. Troopers from Hamlin, Huntington, Logan, Wayne and Special Operations responded to the scene. After hours of being barricaded inside, Stacy started shooting at police, a Special Response Team entered the home and a fire broke out. State Police say, when Stacy wounded one of the officers and killed one of their police dogs, they were forced to kill him.
- West Virginia state tax officials say appraisers will conduct property assessments this year in 12 counties. Independent appraisers are working as contractors for the state Tax Department and will review land values, neighborhood boundaries, validate sales and collect other information. The counties are: Boone, Fayette, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne and Wyoming.
Friday, March 18, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-19-'11
- Lisa Gilliam, the wife of 59 year old Larry Gilliam, a former well-known Laurel County attorney, has been indicted for his murder. Gilliam was found fatally shot in the chest in his London office on January 7th. Police said Lisa Gilliam was the only one there when it happened and was the one to make the 911 call. She was questioned by police, but they were waiting on autopsy results to determine the cause of death.
- House lawmakers are nearing agreement on a plan to fix the budget for the state’s Medicaid program. The proposal will be presented privately to rank-and-file lawmakers on Monday to gauge support before being presented to the Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Details of the plan won’t be released before it is presented to lawmakers, but Republican Leader Jeff Hoover says it will include no cuts in education spending to free up money for Medicaid.
- An federal lawsuit has been filed that shows an eastern Kentucky judge has been under investigation for possible misconduct. An attorney for Judge Russell D. Alred filed a federal lawsuit Thursday asking for an injunction barring the Judicial Conduct Commission from continuing a case against the Harlan judge. The lawsuit alleges the commission intends to remove Alred from office. The lawsuit does not list the allegations, and the commission has not disclosed them. The lawsuit confirms that Alred has been under scrutiny by the conduct commission for months.
- Attorney Patrick Nash of Lexington says Croatian-born 52-year-old Azra Basic (BOSH) will fight efforts to take her from Kentucky to Bosnia to face charges she committed war crimes after the breakup of Yugoslavia. Basic was ordered held without bond Thursday pending a status hearing, but Nash says he plans to request bail. A complaint filed Tuesday in federal court accuses Basic of committing crimes at three camps near the majority-Serbian settlement of Cardak in Derventa. Authorities say that as a soldier in the Croatian army, she killed a prisoner and tortured others.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-19-'11
- Lincoln County Commissioners have unanimously passed a resolution urging Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to sign House Bill 2505 which bans the sale and possession of synthetic drugs. The legislature passed the bill during their last session. Lincoln County Sheriff Jerry Bowman says he believes the public doesn't realize the danger of synthetic drugs.
- Bayer CropScience announced Friday that it will not restart the transitional production of methyl isocyanate, or MIC, at its Institute site Kanawha County this year. Bayer officials say the company will begin the process of decommissioning the unit, and 220 people at Institute and another 80 at Woodbine, Georgia, will lose their jobs as a result. Following a 2010 agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bayer had agreed to phase out production of its Temik brand insecticide after the 2012 crop year. About 17 present and former Kanawha County residents had sued Bayer to prevent the restart of the MIC unit. U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin had issued a temporary restraining order preventing the startup and had scheduled a March 21st hearing to consider a permanent injunction.
- West Virginia lawmakers have fixed 13 bills vetoed because of technical errors. The seven House and six Senate bills include one increasing ethics disclosure requirement for public officials. Another offers water utility rate relief for low-income seniors. One provides short-term loans for unemployment benefits. The other creates the Cabinet Department of Veterans' Assistance. Other bills address court and mining-related fees, specialty license plates, and access to cemeteries on private land. Measures regulating optometrists, social workers, medical aides, health programs and water quality standards also were corrected.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-18-'11
- Fifty-two year old Croatian-born Azra Bašic (BOSH), a woman who was arrested by U.S. Marshals Tuesday in Stanton, Kentucky made her first appearance in federal court in Lexington Thursday accused of war crimes against ethnic Serb civilians during the Bosnian Civil War in 1992. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier set an April 1st date to decide when to hold an extradition hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart wrote in a complaint requesting extradition that Bašic is wanted in Europe on charges of murder and torture. Bašic is accused of killing at least one person and torturing others at three camps from April to June 1992. Witnesses say Bašic forced one man to drink gasoline, another to drink human blood and carved crosses into the flesh of a third man. Bosnian authorities charged Bašic in January 1993 as an unknown, using witness statements, medical examinations and forensic experts between 1992 and 2001 to identify her. Interpol traced Bašic to Kentucky in 2004 and an international arrest warrant went out in 2006. Witness said the Croatian military took ethnic Serbs from the Cardak settlement around April 26, 1992 and subsequently tortured them.
- Jason Singleton, 34, who is facing murder charges in the death of his wife, 25 year old Angela Frazer Singleton, was indicted by a Pulaski County grand jury March 7th on four counts of kidnapping, one count of first-degree burglary, one count of first-degree criminal mischief and one count of theft by unlawful taking of an automobile. On January 20th, he took several people hostage at the Super Service in Somerset before he surrendered to police after a stand-off of around 20 to 25 minutes. Singleton is now being held on a $500,000 cash or $1 million property bond. When he is extradited to jail in Madison County for murder, Singleton will be held on a $1 million bond.
- Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has called on the government to take action against increasing gas prices. After a crackdown on protesters in Bahrain Thursday, oil prices soared more than 3 percent, climbing back above $101 per barrel. The rebellion in Libya has forced the country to halt oil shipments of about 1.5 million barrels per day. Prices are also rising as Japan recovers from its earthquake and tsunami and is expected to boost fuel imports. The U.S., the world's largest oil consumer, reported Thursday that unemployment claims dropped to the lowest level since July 2008, raising hopes that oil and gasoline demand will soon increase. Gasoline pump prices dipped for a third day, to $3.546 per gallon, though the national average is still up about 42 cents per gallon since the middle of February. A gallon of regular unleaded is 75.7 cents more expensive than last year.
- The Senate has passed a bill that will allow the state’s public schools to receive an additional $133 million in federal funding this year. The measure involves a simple fund transfer that shifts $19 million from next year’s higher education appropriation to be used this year. That move, under rules attached to federal stimulus funding, will allow the state to capture the additional money for public schools. A similar measure is pending in the House as part of a bill that includes a proposal to balance the Medicaid budget.
- Thursday, the Harlan County Sheriff's Chaplain Corps, along with deputies and others in the community, came to the fiscal court meeting uninvited after the Corps received an eviction notice last month from Harlan County Judge Joe Grieshop. Attorney Otis Doan tried to speak on their behalf even though they were not on the agenda, but Doan said he had made efforts to be put on the agenda. Things got heated, and Grieshop walked out. After consulting with the county attorney, Magistrate David Kennedy presided over the remainder of the meeting. Grieshop said later he left the meeting because he felt threatened.
- Governor Steve Beshear vetoed one House bill and one Senate bill Wednesday over concerns that the provisions in the bills would be too costly for the state to implement. Beshear vetoed Senate Bill 143, a bill dealing with tax liens and other aspects of the state's uniform commercial code, because parts of the measure conflicted with federal law and would cause problems for county clerks, where tax liens are filed. He also vetoed House Bill 107, which would allow a legislative contract oversight committee to review more executive branch contracts. Beshear said, because the legislature passed Senate Bill 7, which requires more information about contracts to be posted online, HB 107 is not needed.
- In a report to the Food and Drug Administration, the tobacco industry argues menthol cigarettes aren't riskier than regular cigarettes. The industry is trying to defend a lucrative business as the agency weighs whether to ban the minty flavoring. The industry says it believes there's no scientific basis to regulate the menthol any differently. It concludes that menthol cigarettes don't make it easier for people to start, harder for them to quit or raise their risk of disease. An FDA advisory panel says, while menthol cigarettes may not be more risky, use is high among minorities, teenagers and low-income people.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-18-'11
- Federal prosecutors want to block Massey Energy Co. shareholders from reviewing documents gathered during civil and criminal investigations into last April's deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine. Shareholders, who are suing Massey, its officers and directors, want a chance to review documents turned over as part of ongoing civil and criminal investigations. The class-action fraud lawsuit accuses Massey of misleading investors and seeks damages for artificially pumping up its stock price. The U.S. Attorney's office for southern West Virginia is asking a federal judge to deny the shareholders' request, saying releasing the documents at this time would hurt efforts to prosecute Upper Big Branch security chief Hughie Stover who has pleaded not guilty to one count of lying to FBI and federal Mine Safety and Health Administration investigators and one count of obstruction of justice. His trial has been set for April 25th.
- Clinton Pugh has been charged with cultivating marijuana after the Kanawha County STOP Team, acting on a tip. went to his home in Marmet Wednesday night and found 120 marijuana plants, along with a large amount of the drug packaged to sell.
- Charleston Police are investigating after a man riding a bike was hit by a car at the foot of the South Side Bridge in downtown Charleston shortly after 9:00 A.M. Thursday morning. Dispatchers say the man was taken to the hospital with a broken leg.
- Despite a courthouse protest and loads of e-mails, phone calls, and letters, Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia says he's uninfluenced in the case of 40 year old Rudy Falbo of Hurricane. According to police and rescue personnel, Falbo attempted to intervene as they were trying to free his daughter, Caitlyn Falbo, 16, who was trapped in a wreck in January. Officials say he became aggressive when the effort wasn't going as quickly as he would like. Police officers, paramedics and firefighters wrestled Falbo to the ground. The incident ended in Falbo being dragged away from the car and tazed by police to subdue him. His son, Joshua Falbo, was also arrested after police say he attempted to intervene in the incident. Family, friends, and interested supporters of Falbo are pushing to have charges against him dismissed.
- According to the Charleston Police Department's year-end report, instances of violent crime, including homicide, rape and malicious wounding, were up across Charleston in 2010. There were 11 homicides last year, including one where 25 year old Charleston resident Timothy Paul Burdette was charged with murder after his girlfriend lost her baby shortly after a fight in June where he punched her in the stomach. Later, prosecutor Mark Plants dropped the murder charge after a medical examiner's report showed the miscarriage could not be definitely linked to the punch. This past year saw the highest rate of homicide since 2004, when there were 11 murders. In 2009, there were six murders, up from four in 2007 and 2008 and three in 2006. Of the 11 murders inside city limits, six occurred on the West Side, three on the South Side and two on the East End. The number of homicides on the West Side in 2010 doubled from the 2009 amount.
- Wheeling Jesuit University is hosting the fourth International Mining Health and Safety Symposium in Charleston on April 7-8 at the Charleston Civic Center. The event will bring together hundreds of leaders in the coal industry, labor and government to find solutions to the many challenges facing coal operators. Wheeling Jesuit vice president J. Davitt McAteer says the goal is to keep pace with technological advancements in safety. McAteer is also former head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. The symposium will open with a moment of silence in memory of the 29 men killed April 5, 2010, in an explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal.
- Following a 3-2 approval by state the Home Rule Board Thursday, Huntington officials will move ahead with plans to levy a 1 percent occupation tax and a 1 percent sales and use tax. Mayor Kim Wolfe said the City Council has approved both taxes already. The city plans to begin collecting the occupation tax on July 1st and the sales tax on January 1st. The 1 percent occupation tax levied on the wages and earnings of people who work in the city is capped at the first $125,000 of income, meaning no one will pay more than $1,250 a year in occupation taxes. When the occupation tax takes effect, the city will no longer collect its $3-a-week user fee. When the sales and use tax takes effect, the city would repeal the business and occupation tax on manufacturers and halve the B&O tax on retail and service-based companies. City officials say the taxes could increase revenues by as much as $3.5 million a year. There could be one or more court challenges to the city’s plan.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-17-'11
- Engineers with Abandoned Mine Lands have confirmed that a mudslide on Pine Fork Road in the Shelbiana area of Pike County is caused by drainage from an abandoned mine. Abandoned Mine Lands officials in Frankfort say they will start working on a design plan Thursday to fix the problem. They say the mine is "pre-law 1982," but they do not know how old it is.
- Police say 24 year old Brandon Moses was trying to pass a vehicle in front of him while traveling on Kentucky 3606 in Corbin Wednesday morning when he lost control, ran off the road, and hit a tree. Moses died at the scene, while his passenger,18 year old Jonathan Troutman of Woodbine was taken to the University of Tennessee Hospital.
- Highway District 12 employees are among the groups in the seven-county area who help keep state roadways litter free. This group works a two-mile stretch of KY 1384 between Cedar Creek and Hurricane in Pike County. Look for volunteers on the shoulders of state roads next week during Adopt-a-Highway $B!G (Js 2011 Spring Clean.
- In a letter released Wednesday addressed to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman and ranking Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and two U.S. Senate colleagues, Wyoming Republican John Barrasso and Kentucky Republican Rand Paul are seeking hearings on the Obama administration's plans for protecting streams from coal mining. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is drafting stream protection rules designed to replace Bush-era regulations. An OSM official recently told Congress the agency has demanded a contractor redo its economic analysis of the proposal, which could cost thousands of mining jobs nationally. Manchin, Barrasso and Paul say in their letter that OSM should explain why it wants the analysis redone.
- Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White Jr. told the Whitley County Fiscal Court during its monthly meeting Tuesday night that a pain clinic ordinance needs to be passed in a few months. There were 5 drug-related deaths in the county in just one week, and as court was in session Tuesday, the vast majority of cases were in some way drug related.
- Kentucky State Police say 45 year old Ernie Ferguson was flown to the University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville, where he died, after being shot by his mother, Judy Gregory, around 7:30 P.M. Tuesday night. KSP and Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson say Ferguson kicked in the door of his mother's and stepfather's home on Engine Branch Road in Clay County and attacked his stepfather. Gregory got a 22.-caliber rifle and shot him as he was on top of his stepfather. Ferguson had been out of jail only about 24 hours before the attack. No charges have been filed. Sheriff Johnson says there are indications that the altercation was related to a decision by Ferguson's grandmother to leave money in her will to her daughter instead of him.
- Williamsburg Police say, after they were asked by the Whitley County 911 center to do an inventory of former Mapping Coordinator Larry Howard's office, they were surprised when they found close to $2,000 worth of medical equipment from Knox County. Police searched Howard's trailer right next to the 911 Center and seized thousands of dollars worth of equipment belonging to Knox County agencies. Howard's personal car was searched, and police found about $8,000 worth of items, including a $5,000 laptop, that are property of the county. During the investigation, a deliberator from Knox County Hospital was found. Howard used to work in emergency services in Knox County, and was also employed at the hospital in Barbourville. Williamsburg PD Chief Wayne Bird says police want to figure out which items belong to which agencies before charges are filed.
- A Mercer County grand jury has indicted James M. Kelley of Lexington on a charge of murder in the December shooting death of his former business associate, John "Bud" Dacci. Dacci and Kelley had been business partners in Dacci's Heating and Air Conditioning in Lexington. Kelley also was indicted on charges of first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and first-degree assault for allegedly shooting Dacci's wife, Maryann. Court records say Kelley forced his way into the Dacci house on Ashley Camp Road and shot John Dacci. Maryann Dacci tried to escape but Kelley prevented her from doing so and then shot her. Police sought Kelley for more than a day, but the search ended when Kelley shot himself in his truck outside the emergency room doors of Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center in Richmond on December 22nd. Kelley is at the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center in La Grange for a mental evaluation. His bond is set at $1 million. If convicted, prosecutors could seek the death penalty.
- Kentucky Office of Homeland Security Director Tom Preston has resigned, effective Tuesday. Preston, a long-time public relations executive, had served in Governor Steve Beshear's administration since he took office in 2007, most of that time in Homeland Security. Beshear appointed Gene Kiser as acting director until a permanent replacement is named. Kiser has been deputy homeland security director for the past three years.
- Michael Adam Carneal, now 27, who is serving a life sentence for killing three classmates and wounding five others in a school shooting at Heath High School near Paducah when he was 14, testified Wednesday during a hearing about his mental state at the time of the December 1, 1997 shooting and when he entered a guilty plea in 1998. Carneal testified he was commanded to commit the attack in a series of delusions and hallucinations, saying voices in the delusions threatened to kill him if he didn't carry out the assault. Carneal claims his mental illness rendered him not responsible for the shooting and made him incompetent to plead not guilty.
- A 600-pound bell that was missing from a north-central Kentucky church has been recovered, with some damage, and returned to the church. Kentucky State Police arrested 34-year-old Eric C. Klink of Bedford on Tuesday night. He was charged with theft and was being held in the Carroll County Detention Center. Members of Sulphur Christian Church in Henry County say the century-old bell was ripped down and stolen from its monument sometime last week. Some church members worried that the bell would be sold for scrap metal.
- As the tax season progresses, the Kentucky Department Revenue reminds taxpayers they will have a few additional days to file their taxes this year. The 2011 deadline is Monday, April 18 due to Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, which falls on Friday, April 15. By law, District of Columbia holidays affect tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file or pay any taxes due this year. All valid six-month extensions filed on or before April 18, 2011 will likewise extend the due date for filing a 2010 calendar year income tax return to Oct.17, 2011. Individual taxpayers may avoid the last-minute rush by filing early, taking advantage of the speed and convenience of electronic filing, and choosing direct deposit for any refunds. More than one million Kentucky taxpayers may be eligible to prepare and file their taxes electronically at no cost thanks to a public-private partnership called the Free File Alliance. To find out if you qualify, visit http://www.revenue.ky.gov/.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-17-'11
- One person is dead after they were hit by a train near the Dollar General on the Fayette Pike in Montgomery, in Fayette County around 8:00 P.M. Wednesday night.
- Wednesday, during Stacie Smith's murder trial, Joseph Hardwick testified against Timothy Sutherland. He said Sutherland paid him to help cover up Smith's murder. Hardwick will be sentenced Thursday afternoon. His sentence is expected to be lighter because of his testimony against Sutherland. The jury was also shown Sutherland's videotaped confession. Sutherland said, when Smith called him a junkie, he stomped out of the room, got a butcher knife and stabbed her in her chest. Closing arguments will begin Thursday.
- West Virginia has the nation's highest rate of drug overdose deaths. House Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue is calling on Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to find at least $10 million in the state's $4 billion budget to fight drug and alcohol abuse. In a letter dated Wednesday, Perdue wrote that the cost of drug and alcohol abuse includes incarceration, medical expenses, lost productivity, and meth lab cleanups. During the legislative session that ended Saturday, Perdue and other lawmakers unsuccessfully pushed to nearly triple West Virginia's tobacco tax to fund substance abuse programs and other health initiatives, but the tobacco industry and retailers fought the proposal.
- U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley has sentenced four inmates at the federal prison in Gilmer County for assaulting guards. Thirty-seven year old Toma Bates will do an additional 36 months, while 28 year old Odell Glass, 29 year old James Jenkins and 26 year old Donelle Kirlew will each serve an additional 24 months. U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld says the four took part in a protest at the prison on September 30, 2009, and refused to return to their cells when ordered, but instead, aggressively rushed and assaulted guards who tried to restrain them. Bates and Jenkins caused injuries to the staff.
- Twenty-eight year old Jeremy Midkiff of Huntington, a convicted felon, has admitted he tried to sell a gun with a destroyed serial number. Federal prosecutors say Midkiff was a passenger in a car pulled over by Huntington Police who found a .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol and an extra magazine of ammunition on the floorboard beneath the passenger seat. Midkiff told officers he had handled the gun and tried to sell it a few days prior. He had been convicted of felonious burglary in Lawrence County, Ohio, in October 2002, so he did not have a right to possess a firearm. Midkiff faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced July 5th.
- Putnam County Sheriff's deputies are searching for 50 year old Carolyn Lykins of Grayson Kentucky. According to a complaint filed in Putnam County Magistrate Court, Lykins would take a fake check to a First State Bank branch, request the tellers deposit part of the amount into her new account, and give her the balance in cash or a traveler's check. She would then go to another county branch of First State Bank and repeat the process before the banks received notification the checks were fraudulent. On May 5, Lykins went to the First State Bank in Hurricane and gave the teller a $1,250 check from a closed Citizens Bank account and asked the employee to deposit $250 into her First State account and give her the rest in cash. She returned to the bank later that day and gave a teller $3,500 in cash and a $2,500 check from another closed account from a Kentucky credit union and asked for a $6,000 traveler's check. The teller made the traveler's check, but told Lykins she needed to step inside and sign for it. Lykins told the teller to deposit all of it into her account and drove away. During an investigation, it was found that Lykins never had an account at either Citizen's Bank or the credit union. From April 28th to May 5, 2010, Lykins allegedly made $15,000 in fraudulent transactions.
- Police are searching for 27 year old Jerod Miles Gatens of Leon, in Mason County, who allegedly used a stolen debit card to make purchases at a Hurricane Wal-Mart. Gatens faces felony charges of computer fraud and access device fraud after he allegedly made $124.21 worth of purchases and rent a $1 DVD from a vending machine at the store.
- Acting Governor Earl Tomblin has asked Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Randy Huffman to draft emergency in-house regulations for Marcellus operations for the short term until a compromise can be reached. Tomblin wants lawmakers to spend $2 million to hire eight to 10 new inspectors.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-16-'11
- Pikeville College Alumni and Friends Dinner and Dance April 2, 2011 Reception - 5:30 p.m. Dinner and Awards Ceremony - 6p.m Landmark Inn’s Mark V, Pikeville, Ky. For more information about the event visit alumni.pc.edu or call (606) 218-5276.
- American Pharmacy Services Corp., a trade group representing the family-owned corner drug stores in many small towns in Kentucky, warned the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday that cuts to the Medicaid program could have dire consequences, including closures. State Representative Rick Rand, D-Bedford, chairman of the House budget committee, agreed. Kentucky Medical Association attorney Bill Doll said cuts could also hurt physicians, especially pediatricians who care for Medicaid-dependent children. Doll says doctors would have to absorb about $41 million of the overall cuts. Michael Rust, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, urged lawmakers to move quickly to head off the cuts that would cost Kentucky hospitals about $130 million. Rust said rural hospitals that have a larger load of Medicaid patients would be among those most severely impacted.
Remember the Miners: http://remembertheminers.org/events/
- Jury selection will continue Friday in the Leslie County murder case of Clayton Jackson of London who was arrested in 2007 and charged with the February 2004 murders of Chris Sturgill, his wife Amanda, and their three sons. Kentucky State Police say the family was found deceased in their partially burned residence located in the Jacks Creek community of Leslie County. Enough jurors could not be found last week in Leslie County so the trial was moved to Clay County.
- Trial is scheduled to begin in May for John Combs, a man charged with murder after Doctor Dennis Sandlin was fatally shot in December 2009 at the Leatherwood-Blackey clinic in Perry County. Combs was in Perry County Circuit Court Tuesday, where defense filed motions, one for public funding for expert witnesses and one for a change of venue. Both were denied. The defense claims Combs will not receive a fair trial in Perry County because too many have already formed opinions. If convicted, Combs could get the death penalty.
- In August of 2008, Prestonsburg Police charged Floyd County inmates Chris Newsome, Ivan Gunnels, Matthew Ritchie, Stephen Jervis, Michael Rowland, Kevin Woods, and Larry Adkins with first degree assault after jail officials said they beat accused child molester Terry Fisher nearly to death. They were scheduled for trial this week, but the commonwealth's attorney says it is postponed and no new date is set yet.
- The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department and the Whitley County Coroner are investigating after a brother and sister were found dead Saturday at the same house, 9 hours apart. At 11:18 A.M., 40 year old Carol Stevens was found unresponsive by Whitley County EMS at her residence in Emlyn. Nine hours later, just before 9:00 P.M., officials were called back to the residence where Steven’s brother, 49 year old Robert Rains, was found unresponsive. He was taken to the Jellico Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
- U.S. Senator Rand Paul has revamped his previously filed budget bill and is trying to attach it as an amendment to legislation now being considered in the Senate. Paul said Tuesday the amendment, if approved, would achieve savings of $200 billion by reducing most discretionary spending to 2008 levels, adding deeper cuts in some agencies and no cuts in others. The amendment would cut military spending by 5 percent and would not impact war funding. It would leave entitlement programs and veterans' benefits at current spending levels. And it would reduce funding by 50 percent to the Department of Energy, Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Funding for some independent agencies would be eliminated entirely.
- After weeks of debate and trying to save the organization, Rowan County Judge Executive Jim Nickell officially eliminated the Morehead Rowan County Rescue Squad Tuesday. Nickell said there was too much liability and budget concerns to keep the squad running, and other organizations in the county, like the fire department, offer some of the same services. The search and rescue squad has been in Rowan County for 37 years. The rescue team has been in talks with the rescue team in Bath County, and anyone who wants to join the squad in Bath County is welcome to.
- Oil prices fell sharply Tuesday. Gasoline pump prices across the U.S. fell slightly for the first time in nearly a month to a national average of $3.556 per gallon. Prices are still higher than ever for this time of year. A gallon of regular is 42.8 cents more expensive than a month ago and 76.6 cents higher than last year. Oil prices are still higher than they were in mid-February when uprisings in Libya shut down that country's oil production and sent benchmark crude from about $85 a barrel to more than $105 a barrel last week, its highest level since September 2008. Investors worried about diminished demand for oil and other products in Japan, the world's third-largest oil importer, after the country was hit by an earthquake and tsunami Friday. However, Wall Street analysts say they expect Japan eventually to increase imports of oil, coal and natural gas. Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it will send liquefied natural gas and fuel oil to Japan to help meet power shortages. Japan produces most of its energy from coal-fired power plants, but can also run generators on LNG and even crude oil. Shell says the refineries it operates in Japan were not damaged by the earthquake.
- The House Education Committee has approved a bill to raise the minimum dropout age to 18, changing a generations-old law allowing 16-year-olds to drop out of school. The bill approved by the House Education Committee on Tuesday would raise the minimum dropout age incrementally to 18. Supporters believe allowing teens to dropout at 16 is a relic of past generations when most jobs didn't require at least a high school diploma. Critics fear that teens required to stay in school against their wills will be disruptive in classrooms. A similar bill was approved in the House but died in the Senate in a legislative session that ended last week. Governor Steve Beshear added the issue to the agenda for a special session that began Monday.
- Volunteers will be out in force next week for a spring cleaning of Kentucky's roadways. The state Transportation Cabinet says more than 900 groups participate in Kentucky's "Adopt-a-Highway" program, which started in 1988. Volunteers clean about 6,800 miles of roadside annually. Volunteers adopt 2-mile sections of highway under a two-year, renewable contract with the Transportation Cabinet. Litter pickups are held at least four times each year. The program's spring clean week is set for March 20th to 26th. Each year, the Transportation Cabinet spends about $5 million and 200,000 worker hours to remove 96,000 bags of highway litter.
- Attorneys are picking a jury for the state's fourth attempt to convict Brent Burke, a sergeant in the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell. Burke is charged with murder in the killing of his former wife, Tracy Burke, and her former mother-in-law, Karen Comer. The two women were found at Comer's home in Rineyville in September 2007. Burke has been held since his arrest a month later. Mistrials were declared during three previous court proceedings.
- Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate increased to 10.4 percent in January 2011 from a revised 10.3 percent in December 2010. The January 2011 rate is .6 percentage point lower than the 11 percent rate recorded in January 2010. It is the highest rate since May 2010 when it was 10.4 percent. The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate decreased from 9.4 percent in December 2010 to 9 percent in January 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Six of the 11 major nonfarm job sectors reported an employment increase in January 2011, while five decreased. An increase of 4,000 jobs in January 2011 brought Kentucky’s nonfarm employment to a seasonally adjusted total of 1,781,700. Kentucky’s nonfarm employment has grown by 24,300 workers since January 2010.
- Volunteers can put the long, cold winter behind them by having fun outside together during PRIDE Spring Cleanup Month in April. Locally, the Spring Cleanup is being organized by Pike County PRIDE Coordinator Jimmy Dale Sanders, Pikeville PRIDE Coordinator Jesse Bowling and Mayor C. Laverne Dye, who serves as the PRIDE Coordinator for Coal Run Village. "The Spring Cleanup is important because it gets communities involved," Sanders said. "They really see first hand what we are dealing with. It encourages them to make a difference." "We are grateful to the PRIDE Coordinators who spearhead the Spring Cleanup in their communities," said PRIDE's Tammie Wilson. "Last year, they helped recruit 31,200 Spring Cleanup volunteers in the 38 county area, and we've challenged them to break that record in 2011." "The free T-shirts for volunteers have the slogan, 'Put PRIDE in Your Hands,' and that reminds us that a clean, healthy environment is up to us," Wilson added. "Please work with your PRIDE Coordinator to make this your best Spring Cleanup ever. PRIDE will support you all the way." PRIDE Coordinators are volunteers who are appointed by mayors and judge-executives. They work with the PRIDE staff to organize cleanup activities, recruit volunteers and track cleanup results. They assist local officials with the programs of PRIDE, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental cleanup and education in 38 counties. PRIDE Coordinators now are planning each community's Spring Cleanup activities. Throughout April, volunteers will pick up litter. Some communities also will offer free trash disposal events or clean up illegal dumps during the Spring Cleanup. PRIDE will provide volunteer T-shirts, cleanup supplies and funding assistance for local governments.
- Highway District 12 issued a warning to motorists using KY 292 in Martin County. The road is closed to all traffic at the 1 mile marker. A pavement collapse completely destroyed one lane of pavement and made the other lane dangerously unstable. People who insist on driving through the state-installed barricades and past the Road Closed Ahead warning signs are not only subject to fines from law enforcement, they are risking property damage, bodily injury, or worse. District 12 Martin County Superintendent Jerry Todd said the earth beneath the remaining lane of pavement is unstable. People have removed the barricades more than once already, and someone even ran over one of the posted warning signs. This is irresponsible, not to mention against the law. The 500-foot section of highway is one mile into Martin County from KY 468 at the Pike County line. People need to stay off this stretch of 292, Todd said. Take another route, for your own sake and that of your passengers.
- A state bridge on KY 160 over Carr Creek Lake is reduced to one-lane traffic for the next several weeks. Chuck Childers, Section Engineer for Highway District 12, said a hole has developed through the bridge deck, and the area around the hole is cracked. The westbound lane is closed and flaggers are directing traffic. Portable traffic signals will be installed to control traffic until repairs are made, which Childers said would take a couple of weeks.
• Wayne Back, age 45, of Linefork, second-degree trafficking in a controlled
substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.
• Billy Ray Fields, age 54, of Court Road, Partridge, second-degree trafficking in a
controlled substance. At the time of his arrest a quantity of hydrocodone was found
and he will be charged with a second count of second-degree trafficking in a
• Clarence Halcomb, age 55, of Galloway Acres, Partridge, first-degree trafficking
in a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.
• Billy Hubbs, age 50, of Highway 3073, Partridge, first-degree trafficking in a
• Johnny Osborne, age 44, Highway 199 South, Partridge, second-degree trafficking in
a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.
• George Thomas, age 69, Circle Drive, Whitesburg, second-degree trafficking in a
controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.
• Matthew Alan Whitaker, age 25, of Highway 119 South, Partridge, second-degree
trafficking in a controlled substance and first-degree persistent felony offender.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-16-'11
- Frank Buckles, the last American veteran of World War I, was laid to rest Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, just 50 yards from the gravesite of General John Pershing, under whose command he served. Before the burial, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden paid their respects to Buckles and offered condolences to his daughter, Susannah Flanagan. After the service, Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli handed the flag to Buckles' daughter. Buckles, who died at the age of 110, outlived the approximately 4.7 million Americans who served in WWI.
- West Virginia State police are investigating a death inside the Southern Regional Jail. Sergeant Greg Duckworth said Euseph Shehab, 35, from Ansted, was found dead in his cell, hanged with a bed sheet. Shehab was facing first degree murder charges in connection with the death of his own niece, Jamie Fae Withrow, 25, who was shot in the head on February 27th and died a few days later. Shehab's death is being ruled a suicide, but the state police are investigating.
- Sam Littleton II, 37, appeared in Mercer County Court before Judge William Sadler Tuesday morning where warrants to extradite him back to Ohio to face charges were served. Public defender Sarah Harman said Littleton will be contesting that move. Littleton is currently facing charges in Ohio in connection to the murder of 26 year old Tiffany Brown, the daughter of his girlfriend. Littleton was captured in Princeton, West Virginia on February 23rd. Littleton's next court appearance is set for April 21st. At that time, Ohio Police are expected to provide evidence to prove he should face murder charges in their state. Investigators also believe he kidnapped Richard and Gladis Russell. Richard Richard's body was found in Tennessee on February 26th, while the body of Gladis Russell was found in Georgia on March 9th. Littleton has not been charged in those deaths.
- Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster sentenced Clayton "Gino" Rogers to life in prison without mercy Tuesday. A jury found Rogers guilty of first-degree murder in rhe death of his ex-girlfriend, 25 year old Laura Amos, who was found fatally stabbed last August in an abandoned house in St. Albans.
- Timothy Sutherland is charged with the murder of his cousin, 32 year old Stacie Smith, who was found in her home on Carson Street in Saint Albans in December 2009. Monday, defense lawyers were unable to convince a judge to throw out several statements Sutherland gave to police. The victim's three-year-old son was found unharmed in the residence. Trial continued Tuesday With Sutherland admitting to the crime, saying Smith lashed out at him, calling him a junkie.
- Emanuel Armond McCarty, 24, of Charleston was arraigned Tuesday morning after Charleston Police say he turned himself in and was booked into South Central Regional Jail. Police say, on March 9th, he shot 48 year old Michael Jerome Grady twice while he was in a min-van on Madison Street. Grady tried to drive away, but plowed through a fence, crashing into a home.
- The state Public Service Commission has released $3.4 million from a special account to reimburse Frontier Communications for expanding high-speed Internet across West Virginia. The Communications Workers of America, which represents Frontier employees, had asked PSC to hold up the first payment from a $60 million escrow account. The union wanted more time to review how Frontier spent the money last summer and fall. Frontier agreed to set up the account last year, provided the PSC approved their purchase of Verizon's landline business in West Virginia. The commission signed off on the sale, and Frontier took over Verizon's telephone access lines July 1st. Frontier put $48 million into the escrow account to expand high-speed Internet in West Virginia, and another $12 million to improve service quality.
- Two muggers plead guilty Monday for their part in a 2010 attack that left a Kanawha County man with permanent brain injuries. Earl Moore, Junior plead guilty to robbery. Prosecutors said he threw the punch that sent Jeff Moore crashing to the pavement on a downtown Charleston street. Whitney Avery plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy for acting as a lookout in the incident and another mugging. Under Moore's plea deal, prosecutors can only recommend a 40-year sentence, but the victim's family will ask for much more prison time when he and Avery are sentenced in May. Co-defendant Telisa McCauley ,who plead guilty last week, wore a wire to help gather evidence against Earl Moore. Prosecutors will recommend a ten year sentence for her.
- A bill which made it through both the House and Senate during the regular legislative session will change the way the state Public Service Commission handles public hearings. Under the bill, at least one commissioner will serve or stand at every public hearing across the state, and the public will be allowed to file public comments electronically with the PSC. Up until now, they only accepted written comments. The bill came out of a situation that happened in 2010 when the PSC held a meeting on utility rates in Beckley, and not one of the three PSC commissioners showed up even though hundreds of people, many of them seniors, braved bad weather to be there.
Monday, March 14, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-15-'11
- Office of Education Accountability officials have confirmed they are investigating the Pike County School District. OEA officials will not give any other details, but Pike County Schools Personnel Director, Ralph Kilgore, says investigators are looking into complaints that non-tenured teachers were transferred without using the site-based decision making process. Kilgore claims the transfers were because of decreased enrollment at some schools, and school officials are cooperating with the investigation.
- Preliminary statistics indicate that ten people died in ten separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, Mar. 7, through Sunday, Mar. 13, 2011. 110 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011. This is ten less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2010. A total of sixteen fatalities have resulted from crashes involving the suspected use of alcohol.
- Thursday night, a mudslide occurred on Pine Fork Road in the Shelbiana area of Pike County, forcing some people to voluntarily evacuate. This past weekend, mud, trees, and debris kept falling. Pike County Emergency Management Director Doug Tackett has asked officials with the Abandoned Mine Lands Department to determine what is causing the slide. Emergency management officials submitted pictures and paperwork to abandoned mine lands officials Monday morning and hope to get a response in a few days.
- Kentucky transportation officials are assessing what caused a section of Ky. 292 in Martin County to slide into the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River in eastern Kentucky Saturday morning. Officials will decide how to build the road back, and what it will cost.
- President Barack Obama focused Monday on the big concerns of parents and lawmakers on how student progress is measured and how schools that fall short are labeled. Obama says, under provisions of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, four out of five schools may be tagged as failures this year. Obama, who says what we're doing to measure success and failure is out of line, is urging Congress to send him a new education law by fall. Obama has also called for better efforts to prepare and support teachers with a system that encourages their creativity yet holds them accountable for student progress and does not make excuses for the occasional bad teacher.
- Governor Steve Beshear announced Monday that Huntington, West Virginia-based J.H. Fletcher & Co. is locating a new $3.37 million manufacturing facility in Wurtland, Kentucky, creating 20 new jobs. Greenup County officials say they're extremely pleased J.H. Fletcher & Co., a leading manufacturer of mobile underground mining equipment, is locating to the Riverport facility. The new operation will manufacture underground drilling, roof support and other equipment used in the mining industry.
- A Fayette Circuit Court jury on Monday found Fayette County Detention Center prisoner 31 year old Bass Webb guilty of assaulting a corrections officer at the jail on June 6, 2010. Webb was charged with third-degree assault after throwing a telephone, ripped off a jail wall, at officer Bryan Richardson during a disturbance at the jail. Webb is in jail awaiting trial on murder and rape charges. The jury is considering what sentence to recommend and whether to convict Webb of being a persistent felony offender in the first degree. Webb could face one to five years in prison on the conviction of third-degree assault. If he is found guilty of being a persistent felony offender, his sentence could be enhanced to 10 to 20 years.
- Lexington police say a sharp-eyed Meijer store worker helped crack an interstate crime ring involving counterfeit credit cards thought to have been used by Chinese citizens in at least five states. The employee observed them "acting strangely" Friday while they were allegedly using fake cards to buy iPod music players. Le Yu, 22, Lei Tian, 22, and Liye Zhai, 23 are each charged with 86 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and one count each of false making or embossing of a credit card and receiving goods by fraud under $10,000. Not guilty pleas were entered on their behalf Monday.
- Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist who works and teaches at the University of Virginia, testified Monday in federal court in Paducah that Michael Adam Carneal was likely incompetent when he pleaded guilty in 1998. Carneal pleaded guilty to killing three classmates and wounding five others when he opened fire on a prayer group at Heath High School on December 1, 1997. Cornell, who has treated Carneal periodically for the last decade, testified hallucinations and voices known as "the danes" were influencing Carneal's behavior, and Carneal stayed quiet about the voices and hallucinations until going on a more powerful medication while in prison in 2004 that allowed him to realize the voices in his head were not real and enabled him to talk about them. Cornell testified Carneal did not gain enough control over his mental illness to rationally understand his crime until May 2004. If Russell rules in Carneal's favor, it would open the door for Carneal to challenge his guilty plea on grounds that he was too incompetent to accept responsibility for the shooting. Should Russell rule against Carneal, he would be able to appeal the case to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Carneal is eligible for parole in 2023.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-15-'11
- Tanyelle Hardy, 33, of Huntington, has been charged with attempted murder and first degree arson. Huntington Police say witnesses saw Hardy fight with an unnamed person at the home of William Erwin early Saturday morning. At some point Erwin went to sleep in his bedroom and Hardy left. Witnesses say Hardy returned for some belongings, and, while there, she set some clothes on fire on the couch knowing Erwin was asleep in the other room. Hardy then fled the home.
- Ashli Logan Burdette, 27, of Campbell's Creek, pleaded guilty Monday in Kanawha Circuit Court to a charge of first-degree robbery. Burdette told Circuit Judge Charles King that, about 9:30 A.M. on July 28th, she approached 19 year old Tiffany Workman's vehicle in the parking lot of Mardi Gras Casino, showed Workman a gun she had hidden in her pocket, then grabbed Workman's purse and fled. She then used the victim's identification and credit cards to take several thousand dollars out of her bank account to purchase drugs. Burdette said the gun, taken from underneath her parents' bed, was not loaded. In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors dropped charges of forgery, identity theft and uttering but required her to make restitution. Burdette could face a minimum of 10 years in prison when sentenced in April. She told the judge she has been undergoing drug rehabilitation, and her attorney says she will ask for probation.
- Monday, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and CONSOL Energy detailed a settlement in relation to the 2009 finding of a fish kill in Dunkard Creek. CONSOL does not admit any liability related to the fish kill, but, under the agreement, CONSOL will pay the EPA $5.5 million and the DEP $500,000. The company will also construct a $200 million water treatment facility to handle discharges from four of the company's area mines. A series of pipelines to transport water from the Blacksville No. 2, Loveridge and Robinson Run mines will be built and should be running by May 2013. The facility would be able to treat 3,500 gallons a minute and would remove 95 to 98 percent of pollutants.
- The Charleston Police Department has issued an arrest warrant for 24 year old Emanuel Armond McCarty, a man wanted on first-degree murder in connection with the March 9th fatal shooting of 48 year old Michael Jerome Grady of Charleston. Grady was hit by two bullets as he drove down Madison Street and then traveled two blocks before the van he was driving plowed through a fence and hit a home. Police recovered three 9 mm shell casings at the scene and a 9 mm Glock pistol that had been thrown in the yard of a nearby house. McCarty said he didn't know about the shooting, but police found his grey hooded sweatshirt at his girlfriend's house. McCarty was injured in a shooting outside the American Legion Bar on Seventh Avenue in December 2007.
- A warrant has been issued for 39 year old Christopher Cunningham who escaped from the custody of the Charleston Work Release Center after he signed out for work around 8:30 A.M. Friday. Cunningham was convicted on a worthless check charge in Berkeley County. Cunningham has several tattoos. On his right front forearm, he has a "bear in sun" and on his left forearm, there is a tattoo with a bear over a cross. On his left upper arm, he has a bear with Johnny LP above it and Christopher Robin below it. He has a Winnie the Pooh tattoo on the upper part of his right arm.
- Larry Parsons has been named the new executive director of the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority, effective April 1st. Parsons retired from the Authority in November 2009, after most recently serving as administrator for the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville for 10 years. Parsons worked for the Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority for 17 years, serving as administrator for two of the agency’s ten regional jails and personnel director, as well as operations specialist.
- State Senator Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, says the reason a bill where coal producing counties would have gotten more coal severance revenue did not make it out of a House-Senate conference committee Saturday night is because the House put the money in the hands of county commissioners and made it easier for them to spend it on many things. The Senate's original version of the bill put the state Development Office in an oversight position and the money could only be used for water and sewer development, broadband extension and road development. Browning says the House plan could have opened the door for the money to be spent other than the way it should be spent.