Saturday, April 02, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-3-'11
- According to documents filed in Cumberland County, State Senate President David Williams, who opposes expanded gambling in Kentucky, in his 2003 divorce case, reported more than $36,000 in gambling losses in the four-year period from 1999 to 2002. Documents state that Williams has to have won a greater amount than he lost during that period in order to have reported those losses on his taxes. Williams said Friday that he has long acknowledged gambling at tracks and casinos, but he does not think that is inconsistent with his public opposition to expanded gambling, which he believes is not in the best interest of the people of Kentucky.
- Kentucky's Attorney General Jack Conway has written a letter to the editor of the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in South Florida urging Florida residents to speak out for their state's prescription drug-tracking law, which he says would help crack down on so-called pill mills feeding addictions in Kentucky. Conway is encouraging residents to contact their state representatives and senators to let them know they support efforts to implement an electronic monitoring program in Florida. South Florida is a region widely regarded as the national epicenter for illegal dispensing of prescription drugs such as the highly addictive painkiller Oxycodone. Conway called it "a matter of life and death" in urging Floridians to follow through with their state's planned database for tracking prescription drugs. Conway cited estimates from federal law enforcement that 60 percent of illegal pills in Kentucky come directly from Florida. Conway said 34 states, including Kentucky, have prescription monitoring programs in place. Florida Governor Rick Scott has proposed scrapping the pill-tracking database, claiming privacy concerns. In February, U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, wrote to Scott urging him to back off repealing the pill-monitoring law. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi opposes repealing the system and has been working with Scott to find an alternative.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-3-'11
- An ATV accident on mine property near Witcher Creek in the Belle area of Kanawha County Saturday morning took the life of Harold Eugene Sizemore. Investigators say he had been riding ATV’s with a friend Friday night and got stuck. The friend went for help, but when he returned, Sizemore was found dead.
- Cabell County Deputies believe black ice may have caused a three car crash Friday morning along Route 2 near the Cabell-Mason line that killed 44 year old Mark Cade of Glenwood, West Virginia.
- According to Human Rights Watch, Charleston neurosurgeon Dr. Rida Mazagri, who went to Libya in February to treat the injured, has been missing since March 16th when he was last seen leaving Ajdabiya. The U.S. State Department has contacted his family, but both have declined to provide additional information.
- Hoping to boost the number of college graduates in West Virginia, officials with the state Higher Education Policy Commission want more public colleges and universities to reduce the credit hours a student needs to graduate. Kathy Butler, senior director of academic affairs at the policy commission, said many students finish their college years with lots of debt, and the financial burden lasts for years. That's one reason for the new approach.
- U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston heard arguments Friday in a lawsuit by eight West Virginia community health centers seeking to improve Medicaid reimbursement rates. Johnston didn't immediately rule on the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction against the state Department of Health and Human Resources and its Bureau for Medical Services. The lawsuit claims the bureau has failed to follow both federal law and its own state plan for reimbursing providers under Medicaid. The state wants the lawsuit dismissed.
Friday, April 01, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-2-'11
- During a child abuse awareness event in Pikeville Friday, a tree was dedicated to be planted in memory of Randy Jones, a popular East Kentucky Broadcasting DJ who died last year. Jones' wife, Paulette Jones, and son accepted the tree and then donated it to the city of Pikeville. It will be planted at the Randy Jones Memorial Playground. A bass tournament will be held Sunday at Paintsville Lake to raise money for the Universal Park.
- Prosecution has rested its case in the murder trial against Clayton Jackson, and the case will now go to Jackson's defense attorney, Barbara Carnes, Monday. Carnes says the goal is to convince the jury that it was impossible for Clayton Jackson to walk from the area that Chris Sturgill's stolen truck was found back to his own house.
- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has taken supplies of sodium thiopental, a key lethal injection drug from Kentucky and Tennessee, effectively preventing any executions in three states while it investigates how the drug was imported during a national shortage. In March, the DEA took Georgia’s entire supply, putting a hold on executions there following claims from a defense attorney for a death row inmate that the state bought the drug from a fly-by-night company in the United Kingdom. Kentucky officials confirmed Friday that they turned their supply over to the DEA, and Tennessee officials said they relinquished theirs on March 22nd. There are currently no scheduled executions in Kentucky because of a court order that has temporarily halted them. In Tennessee, four inmates are scheduled for execution in September and October of this year.
- Jefferson County Circuit Judge Barry Willett ruled Friday that Isaiah Howes, a former University of Louisville baseball player can't be prosecuted in the September shooting death of former U of L football player Daniel Covington. Prosecutors concluded Covington illegally entered Howes' vehicle and was punching him and a passenger repeatedly when Howes shot him. Willett ruled that there was no probable cause to conclude that Howes' use of self-defense was unlawful. Howes' lawyer, Bart Adams, asked that the case be kept out of the hands of a grand jury, saying Howes was protected from prosecution by a Kentucky law that lets people use deadly force against anyone trying to get into their house or occupied vehicle.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-2-'11
- Before noon Friday, a jury convicted Donald Good for the 1987 Huntington Mall rapes of Janet Johnson Smith and Rebecca Hobson. The women were kidnapped and taken elsewhere then repeatedly assaulted and raped. Jurors found Good guilty on 20 of the 22 charges against him. They exonerated him on two aggravated robbery charges. Although Good testified he was a delivery driver at the time and his job never took him to the area and he had never been to the Huntington Mall, forensic experts testified semen left on the victims' clothing matched the DNA of Good. Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles said, “If we would have had DNA in 1987, Glen Dale Woodall would’ve never been charged and I do regret that…the evidence that cleared Woodall is the evidence that convicted Donald Good.” Woodall eventually was awarded $1 million from the state for the wrongful conviction. Good was sentenced to two life terms, plus an additional 162 to 380 years. Good is eligible for parole in 222 years. In addition, he is currently serving a life sentence for a 1992 murder. He has 30 days to file an appeal.
- Dustin Shaver was sentenced Friday to two 25-year sentences to be served consecutively, making him eligible for parole in 12 1/2 years, for his role in a pair of 2009 armed robberies at the Marquee Cinemas in Huntington. In September, Shaver pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree robbery. Kidnapping and conspiracy charges were dropped in exchange for his testimony in the trial of his best friend, Joshawa Clark, who was sentenced to up to 60 years in prison. Clark worked at the Marquee Cinemas at the time of the robberies.
- Leslie Dewain Southers, 55 of Randleman, North Carolina, has been arrested on three felony charges of possession with intent to deliver and three counts of delivery of a controlled substance. Deputies say Southers had been bringing pills to Boone County for the last six or seven months and giving them to local residents who would then sell them. Deputies stopped his vehicle on Rt. 85 between Van and Madison Thursday night and found 400 pills in his car, including hydrocodone, alprozolam, carisprodal and others.
- Under legislation signed into law Friday by acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, insurance providers soon will be required to cover the cost of treatment for autistic children. The law requires insurance providers to cover children up to $30,000 a year the first three years of treatment and $2,000 a month every year after that. It does not apply to policies covering companies with 25 or fewer employees. Insurance companies have warned that a mandate could raise the cost of providing insurance to everyone. The mandate takes effect in 2012.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-1-'11
- Cristy Honaker, former employee of the Pike County Extension Office, was recently named an “Ambassador to Pike County” by Judge-Executive and member of the extension office board Wayne T. Rutherford. Honaker is leaving the extension office to pursue her teaching career at Letcher County Central High School where she will teach family and consumer science.
- Porter Morgan and Arthur Johnson, two men accused by Clayton Jackson of committing the 2004 murders of Chris and Amanda Sturgill and their three sons, testified in the murder trial for Jackson. Officials say Jackson wrote a letter to police detectives from prison saying Morgan and Johnson were the men who were at the scene the night of the murders, but Johnson denied knowing Morgan.
- The case of former UK basketball player 26 year old Rekalin Sims has been sent to a grand jury. Sims, who spent just one year at UK under coach Tubby Smith, was arrested March 4th and charged with trafficking drugs within a thousand yards of a school. Lexington Police say Sims had marijuana shipped to him from California via Fedex to the "Fedex Express" shipping center on Mercer Road. Someone else picked up the package and led police to Sims. Sims, a 6'8" junior college transfer from California played in 29 games for UK before being granted a release from the team. Sims left for Fresno State, but was kicked off that team after being charged in connection with the beating and robbery of a disabled man. That charge was later dismissed. Sims is being held in the Fayette County Detention Center on a $25,000 full cash bond.
- Kennithea Beatrice Clark, 39, of London is charged with four felony counts of theft of mail matter. Clark was charged after a mail carrier and other witnesses told police they observed her stealing mail from rural mail boxes, and stolen mail was later recovered from Clark's mobile home.
- A Knox County Sheriff's Deputy was taking 20 year old Tiffany Elliott and 26 year old Jason Sutton, both of Corbin, to the Knox County Detention Center when they attempted to escape. Both now face second degree escape along with other charges. Elliott's boyfriend, 23 year old Justin Dodd of Rockholds was arrested for allegedly assisting Elliott during her escape.
- Kentucky has reached a $10.2 million settlement with pharmaceutical manufacturers Alpharma USPD Inc. and Purepac Pharmaceutical Co. in a case brought by the office of Attorney General Jack Conway. The case involved allegations that the companies claimed inflated average wholesale prices for their drugs. The Kentucky Medicaid program relies on average wholesale prices to calculate reimbursement rates. As a result, the attorney general's office claimed the Kentucky Medicaid program paid substantially more for Alpharma and Purepac drugs. Conway's office has recovered more than $175 million over the past three years for the Medicaid program in verdicts and settlements involving pharmaceutical companies.
- Jefferson Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman in Louisville handed down the maximum sentence for Nereida Allen and her ex-boyfriend, Joshua Peacher, who were convicted in the August 2008 beating death of Allen's 2 year old nephew, Christopher Allen. Allen and Peacher were found guilty of wanton murder and other charges during a trial in February. Burkman sentenced Allen to 47 years and Peacher to 70 years in prison. Prosecutors say Christopher Allen was beaten over two days, with the majority of his injuries inflicted by Peacher. Defense attorneys indicated to the judge that they will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.
- Mine Safety and Health Administration director Joe Main is renewing his call for tougher legislation to protect miners. Main told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee his agency has made progress in fixing flaws in the enforcement system that came to light after the April 2010 disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, but he says legislation circulating on the Hill would make it easier to shut down problem mines, impose tougher criminal penalties and protect whistleblowers. Efforts to pass sweeping mine safety legislation failed in the House last year. Committee chairman, Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said the Senate is ready to focus on a mine safety bill.
- Kentucky State Park Resort Parks will be offering the annual Easter Buffet meals on April 24th. The dinners will be served from noon until 8:00 P.M. at all 17 resort parks. The menu includes beef carved on the line, baked country ham, golden fried catfish and hushpuppies. The meal will also include fresh fruit, a cheese bar, garden vegetables, salad and desserts. The price for adults is $17.95 and children (12 and under) are $7.95 (includes beverage), not including tax. For more information about resort parks and their locations, visit www.parks.ky.
- Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) welding student, Tabatha Vanderpool recently earned her Kentucky State Welding Certification. The Welding Certification is based on the principals and guidelines observed by the American Welding Society (AWS). Known to friends and family as Tabby, Vanderpool is the first female student in BSCTC Assistant Professor John McKenzie's class to claim this distinguished honor. Vanderpool is a student on the BSCTC Mayo Campus and will graduate with honors in May 2011.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-1-'11
- Charleston Police arrested 35 year old Shawn Thomas Lester Thursday morning in connection to the Kanawha Valley sniper shooting of Jeanie Patton whose body was found next to the gas pumps at the Speedway Convenience Store on Campbell's Creek Drive in Charleston in August 2003. Police spoke to Sam Ranson, a long-time friend of Lester on Wednesday. Ranson told police Lester admitted to killing Patton because she and Marty Walker stole a Chevrolet big block motor from a Rutledge Road garage after he had packed it with a large amount of methamphetamine. Ranson says Lester told him the drugs had been supplied by "a Mexican national named Tito, also identified as Gilberto Lopez-Reyna, and he was responsible for them. Sandra Shaffer told police on Tuesday that Lester had gone to her Sissonville home before Patton's murder to ask her and her husband, Rodney Shaffer, if he could hide on their property because someone had broken into his garage and stolen "the engine and the dope," Lester told the Shaffers he needed to hide because someone was after him due to the theft of the drugs. He was arraigned via video conference from the South Central Regional Jail, and his preliminary hearing was set for April 8th.
- Testimony ended early Thursday afternoon in the trial of a Charleston man charged with rape, and the case was put in the hands of the jury. Donald Good took the stand Thursday during his trial on charges that he raped Rebecca Mowery Hobson and Janet Johnson Smith, two women he had kidnapped from the Huntington Mall in 1987. Good told the court he worked as a delivery driver at the time and his job never took him to the area. Good produced paycheck stubs for his full-time job covering some days in January and February of 1987, but he did not have a stub for January 22nd or February 16th, the days of the rapes. He also testified he had never been to the Huntington Mall. A forensic expert testified on behalf of the prosecution on the validity of the DNA evidence. Forensic officials also testified, saying semen left on the victim's clothing matched the DNA evidence of Good and that only one person out of a quadrillion people could have that unique DNA.
- In a ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers has allowed environmental groups to continue lawsuits over selenium pollution against Arch Coal and Massey Energy. The environmental groups allege the companies have been discharging toxic selenium into streams for years, violating both state and federal law, including the federal Clean Water Act. The environmental groups accuse the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection of failing to enforce selenium limits.
- Huntington Police have charged 33 year old Michael James Burd with first degree armed robbery after they say he entered the the Rich Oil Gas Station in Guyandotte Tuesday afternoon, laid a knife on the counter and reached in and grabbed around $100 from the cash register before fleeing. Between the time of the robbery and Thursday morning, Burd had been arrested on an unrelated charge.
- Forty year old Lisa Buttermore of Morgantown has pleaded guilty to three counts embezzlement, admitting that, between 2008 and 2010, she stole more than $140,000 from Gianola, Barnum, Wigal & London, a law firm where she worked. Each embezzlement charge carries a possible sentence of one to 10 years, but Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Fitz says he'll recommend five years of probation. Buttermore also must make monthly restitution payments and forfeit money in her retirement account.
- Responding to a call about an outbuilding on fire in the Sanger Road area of Fayette County Wednesday night,the Oak Hill Fire Department was dispatched to the scene of the blaze, where they found a male's body inside the outbuilding. A preliminary investigation between the sheriff's department and the State Fire Marshal indicated the fire was intentionally started. The body was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for positive identification.
- Appalachian Power Co., Wheeling Power Co. and American Electric Power had requested an annual rate increase of 13.8 percent on May 14, 2010, but the West Virginia Public Service Commission issued a final order Thursday that modified the annual rate to 4.6 percent. On December 15, 2010 the electric companies, along with the Commission Staff and the Consumer Advocate Division, presented a settlement to the PSC recommending a rate increase of about 5.36 percent annually which would have become effective March 31st. Thursday's order is nearly $9 million lower than contained in the joint stipulation. The PSC also allowed the companies a lower rate of return and limited the recovery of storm damages. The commission excluded American Electric Power executive bonuses or supplemental compensation. Appalachian Power also will donate $500,000 over the next two years to the Dollar Energy Fund, the West Virginia Utility Assistance Program to help low-income residents pay their utility bills.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-31-'11
- The UK Wildcats are headed to their first Final Four since 1998, after their 76-69 win over North Carolina Sunday in Newark, New Jersey. The UK Wildcats basketball team left Blue Grass Airport late Wednesday afternoon aboard a chartered Delta flight taking them to Houston, where they will play UConn in the semi-finals in the NCAA Final Four beginning at approximately 8:49 P.M. Saturday night. A bus carrying the team left Wildcat Lodge at about 4:00 P.M. with fans giving them a rousing send-off.
- Stephen M. Lyon of Louisiana, a pain-clinic officer accused of conspiring to pour large amounts of methadone into the black market in eastern Kentucky plans to plead guilty. Lyon was CEO of Urgent Care Services, a company which, according to court documents, had offices in Slidell, La., Philadelphia and Cincinnati where drug addicts and traffickers from eastern Kentucky got prescriptions for methadone and other pills, often after little or no real medical examination. Two doctors and another employee who worked at the offices have pleaded guilty in Kentucky. The doctors said they questioned writing prescriptions for dozens of people from Kentucky, but Lyon pressured them to keep seeing the Kentucky residents. Michael Leman, who owned the company, also has been charged in Kentucky.
- The Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has upheld $761,000 in fines from flagrant safety violations at a Massey Energy Co. coal mine in Kentucky in 2006. Inspectors found the violations while following up a tip about weak roof conditions at Stillhouse Mining LLC's Mine No. 1 near Cumberland. MSHA said Massey was cited for not following proper procedures after the mine's ventilation fan shut off, illegally changing its ventilation plan, not following a roof control plan and for failing to adequately inspect the mine for safety problems. MSHA says it has issued 142 citations for flagrant violations since 2006, but 92 remain on appeal. Massey has agreed to a $7.1 billion buyout by rival coal producer Alpha Natural Resources.
- Former Perry County Sheriff's Deputy David Gray was sentenced last week to 24 months of supervised diversion, which includes drug testing and continued counseling, after pleading guilty to three amended counts of wanton endangerment. Police say he fired a gun in the vicinity of three other people during an attempt to shoot himself inside an apartment in the Christopher community of Perry County in February 2010. He has since taken a position as a deputy sheriff in Nicholas County.
- Karen Hodge and Stephanie Travis, two licensed practical nurses at the Fayette County Jail, have been placed on limited probationary status for three years following an investigation by the Kentucky Board of Nursing. Hodge and Travis, who were employed by Correctional Medical Services Inc., were working at the jail last July 9th when inmate 54 year old Dean Ferguson of Lexington died of a pulmonary embolism after complaining of leg pain and shortness of breath. The order suspended the women's licenses for three years, but the suspensions were stayed. If they work as nurses, Hodge and Travis will be under rigid supervision by their employer and monitored by the board. Hodge and Travis both agreed there was enough evidence against them to show they ignored Ferguson's medical needs. The family of Ferguson plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nurses and the jail.
- Officers with the Hazard Police Department have responded to at least seven vehicle break-ins at the Hazard ARH Medical Center in the past month. Police say three of the break-ins were accomplished by breaking out windows on the vehicles. Officers say most of the vehicles targeted were usually parked next to taller vehicles and had objects, like purses or other valuables, in clear view from the outside.
- Leaders from counties across eastern Kentucky will have an opportunity to come together during the 24th annual East Kentucky Leadership Conference April 28-29 in Pikeville. Established by the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation, the conference has been instrumental in providing an important forum for discussing educational, economic, environmental and social agendas for the citizens of the region. The conference is not for a few speakers and a lot of listeners. "The goal is to make everyone a speaker and a listener,” said leadership foundation Chairman Bill Weinberg. The two-day conference will be held at both the East Kentucky Expo Center and on the Pikeville College campus. Session highlights include health care issues in the region, the future of coal and other alternative energy sources, “The Pill Pipeline Flowing in the Mountains,” philanthropy for community development, the Pike County Youth Leadership Council’s animal rights advocacy project, Pikeville College’s acknowledgement of university status, topics of interest on women and children, Young Professionals of Eastern Kentucky (YPEK), East Kentucky women in politics, funding early childhood development and a workshop on ARC Flex-E grants. Pikeville College President Paul E. Patton, this year’s conference co-chair, says, “The conference provides an excellent opportunity for those who want to be involved in leadership in eastern Kentucky.” Early bird sessions and an awards banquet featuring Governor Steve Beshear, keynote speaker, will be held on Thursday, April 28th, at the expo. A highlight of the conference, the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Awards Showcase honors leaders who have made a contribution to the region. This year’s honorees include: Public Individual, Donovan Blackburn – Pikeville; Private Individual, Bill and Linda Francis – Prestonsburg; Organization, MACED (Mountain Association of Community Economic Development) – Paintsville and Hazard locations; Culture & Arts, Artists Collaborative Theatre – Elkhorn City; Media, Appalachian News-Express – Pikeville; and the Tony Turner Award, Willard Kinzer – Kinzer Drilling. General and concurrent sessions will also be held on Friday, April 29th, at Pikeville College’s Record Memorial Building, with the exception of a luncheon at 12:30 P.M. at the expo center. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. For more information, contact the Pikeville Main Street Program at (606) 444-5284. Details, agenda, cost and online registration are also available at http://www.eastkentuckyleadership.org/.
- Kentuckians who have taken the General Educational Development (GED) test since July 2010 and achieved at least a 2700 composite score may apply for a Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship. The scholarships, worth up to $1,500 per year, are administered by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA). GED graduates may apply through Zip Access at www.kheaa.com. To apply, sign in to Zip Access with your user ID and password. Those who have not used Zip Access should register to create a user ID and password. Interested GED graduates should apply as soon as possible, allowing adult education counselors adequate time to certify applicants for consideration before the June 30, 2011 deadline. The Byrd Scholarship is named for longtime U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, who authored the legislation establishing the program in 1985. Kentucky receives enough funding to award 90 scholarships to high school seniors and GED graduates each year. GED recipients are chosen by an independent panel, based on GED scores and adult education counselor recommendations.
EKB Capsule News....West Virginia...3-31-'11
- Brenda Good, the mother of one of Donald Good’s two children, and West Virginia State Police Sgt. Mike Parde, the lead investigator in the Huntington Mall rape case testified Wednesday. Brenda Good testified Donald Good hauled junk cars, carried a greasy smell and had a certain physical characteristic that matched the man whom two women say attacked them in early 1987. Parde followed her testimony, recounting the chain of custody for one woman’s skirt and the other’s panties, both with DNA left on them matching that of Good’s known DNA. Parde’s testimony detailed who had possession of the evidence from early 1987 to present day. That included transport to various testing facilities in Maryland, California, Florida and Boston.
- Raymond Adkins Jr., 31, was sentenced Wednesday to at least three years in jail on breaking-and-entering charges of breaking into three Lincoln County houses from May to December of 2010. Adkins escaped custody last week when he used the chain on his handcuffs to choke a Hamlin police officer who was escorting him to a squad car outside the courthouse after a Lincoln County magistrate arraigned him on a fourth breaking-and-entering charge. Adkins was charged with several other felony counts, including malicious wounding of a police officer, which will be presented to a grand jury next month.
- Dennis J. Cooper, 36, of Verdunville, in Logan County pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to distribute Oxycodone at a home in Mud Fork. He also admitted to selling several oxycodone pills to an informant for more than $700 in cash between October 6, 2009 and March 29, 2010. Cooper faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when sentenced June 30, 2011.
- Brandon Rakes, 25, of Ranger, has been arrested in connection to nearly two-dozen cable copper wire thefts in the Lincoln County area. Rakes was pulled over on W.Va. 10 in West Hamlin around 9:30 A.M. on Wednesday after officers were told he was transporting stolen copper in his vehicle. Police found about 300 pounds of burned copper wiring in the vehicle, along with several tools and items commonly used to steal wire. Representatives of Frontier Communications identified the recovered copper wiring as cable consistent with their stolen property. Rakes was charged with receiving stolen property.
- Harold Daniel Toney, 49, of Harts, has been charged with night-time burglary after investigators say he forced his way into a house located off Six Mile Road near Danville. Boone County Sheriff Rodney Miller says Toney confessed to consuming "Bath Salts" before committing the crime.
- State Treasurer John Perdue said Wednesday he wants West Virginia residents to sign petitions asking the state Public Service Commission to freeze utility rates for electricity, water and natural gas companies until January 1, 2012. At a Wednesday press conference outside the PSC office in downtown Charleston, Perdue said the PSC should reject a rate increase of 8.9 percent requested by American Electric Power. If the PSC approves AEP's latest request, West Virginia customers will be paying $131.60 for every $100 they paid AEP in 2008. Perdue says he recently asked Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to intervene on behalf of West Virginia customers, but he has done nothing. After the PSC approved a 3.5 percent rate increase for West Virginia American Water in 2009, the water company also is now asking the PSC to approve a new increase of 15.1 percent in water prices. AEP says it needs more money, but Perdue says they made a $1.2 billion profit last year and increased their CEO's salary from $7.5 million to $9 million." Mark Dempsey, Appalachian Power's vice president for external affairs, says, nationally, the average residential rate is 11 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity, while the current rate in West Virginia is 9.1 cents per kilowatt-hour and would only increase to 9.8 cents per kilowatt-hour if the PSC approves AEP's latest request.
- Several law enforcement agencies have launched a joint effort to address drug trafficking on U.S. 19. Task Force 19, which was spearheaded by the Fayette County Sheriff's office, has recruited 31 officers who, in eight-hour increments, have been patrolling 30 miles of U.S. 19 periodically since March 21 in hopes of curbing the steady flow of drugs making their way across state lines. In its first three days, the task force handed out 225 traffic citations, some resulting in arrests for small amounts of controlled substances, but, during one routine traffic stop, a handgun was confiscated from William Kendall Bane, 39, of Hico, who recently had been released from prison after doing time for a cocaine trafficking conviction.
- The Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals is expected to vote April 28th on plans for a Sheetz convenience store to be built a the former Chi-Chi's location on MacCorkle Avenue in Kanawha City. If the plan is approved, Highland Hospital would build a parking lot on the rest of the property. Sheetz recently opened new locations in Milton and Hurricane and is now in the process of trying to build another location near the Mt. Vernon Road area of Putnam County.
- The city of Hurricane is getting a $20,000 grant from the state, half of the money going to the police department to buy equipment like Tasers and bulletproof shields. Chief of Police Mike Mullins says assaults against police officers are on the rise, and officer safety is the reason behind the purchases.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-30-'11
- Kentucky State Police are investigating after skeletal remains were found in a remote area near the Breaks Interstate Park in Pike County, a few miles from the Virginia state line, Saturday afternoon. Grondall Potter and a friend called the KSP after they spotted the remains while fishing on the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River. Officers spent hours combing the woods near the river collecting the bones and looking for clues. The remains have been sent to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Frankfort. Investigators say it appears to be an adult, but it could take several days to get the answers they need.
- Testimony continued Tuesday in the Martin County murder trial for Ross Brandon Sluss of Inez, the man accused of driving under the influence of drugs when he crashed head on into a car driven by Blanche Robinson, the grandmother of 10 year old Destiny Brewer, in June 2010. Brewer died as a result of the crash, and Robinson spent days in intensive care. Emergency responders testified for the prosecution. The commonwealth's attorney rested the case, and the defense began calling witnesses. The jury is expected to start deliberating Wednesday. Sluss has a long criminal history, including a number of DUIs and drug-related offenses.
- Kentucky State Police Post 11 in London is investigating after receiving a report of a robbery at the “Ona Whim Antiques” on south Stewart Road in southern Laurel County. Police say a white male subject attacked the female owner and then fled the business with an undisclosed amount of cash. The subject is described as a white male, heavy set, approximately 6’ 2” tall, with short dark colored hair and wearing glasses. Anyone with information is requested to contact the Kentucky State Police at (606) 878-6622 or 1-800-222-5555.
- The deadline is approaching for candidates seeking public office as an independent or political group candidate in a partisan office to file their Statement-of-Candidacy form. In order to be placed on the ballot for the November 8th general election, the appropriate filing paperwork must be received by the Secretary of State’s office by Friday, April 1, 2011 at 4:00 P.M. The Statement-of-Candidacy form for independent candidates is required by KRS 118.365(5) which was enacted by the 2003 General Assembly. There is no filing fee for the filing of the Statement-of-Candidacy. Failure of candidates required to file the Statement of Candidacy shall result in the rejection of any nominating petition submitted to the appropriate filing official by the August 9, 2011 deadline for attaining ballot access in the November 8, 2011 general election.
- An April 14th murder trial has been set for Robin Maple a man accused of kidnapping and killing his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Patrick, and then fatally shooting her in November 2008 in Morgan County. Maple had escaped custody from the Montgomery County jail, where he was being held on charges he kidnapped the couple's two year old son, Wyatt. The Morgan County Commonwealth's Attorney said at the request of Patrick's family he will not seek the death penalty against Maple. The family says "that's too easy of a punishment" for Maple. The trial could be moved to Carter County.
- James Faller of U.S. Justice Watch, which is part of Karen Cunagin Sypher's legal team, said in an email Tuesday that Sypher is to report April 6th to the federal prison in Marianna, Florida. Sypher, the woman convicted of attempting to extort University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has once again asked for a new trial, her third such request since being convicted in August and being sentenced to more than seven years in prison. U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson has twice rejected new trial bids from Sypher. David Nolan, the attorney for Sypher, claims more than one person called Pitino and threatened to publicly accuse him of rape. At Sypher's trial, an acquaintance of Sypher's testified to making all three threatening calls to the coach.
- A Bowling Green tea party group has endorsed Louisville businessman Phil Moffett in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Paul Keith, chairman of the Bowling Green Southern Kentucky Tea Party, says Moffett best represents the values of fiscal responsibility, limited government and free markets.
- Maker's Mark has unveiled its latest commemorative bottle, this one honoring Keeneland's 75th anniversary. The bottle, with gold wax in place of the trademark red covering the top, goes on sale April 8th and will benefit an arts endowment in honor of retiring University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. and his wife, Patsy. Keeneland officials say the bottle's design features Keeneland's anniversary logo and notes the 15th anniversary of the distillery's sponsorship of the Maker's Mark Mile. Maker's Mark President and CEO Bill Samuels Jr. expects about $200,000 from the sale of more than 18,000 bottles statewide. A bottle signing will be held at Keeneland on April 15th.
- Tuesday, Kentucky Downs president Corey Johnsen of Midway was elected chairman of the board of Kentucky Equine Education Project, which has lobbied for expanded gambling. Johnsen replaces former Governor Brereton Jones, who retired from the board. While president of Lone Star Park in Texas, Johnsen hosted the Breeders' Cup championships in 2004. KEEP vice chairman Bill Casner says Johnsen, who is passionate about the racing and breeding side of the business, has led tough industry fights in other states and has gotten results, including leading one of the most successful Breeders' Cup events at Lone Star Park.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-30-'11
- The state Air Quality Board has ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection to make changes to an air quality permit for a proposed coal-to-gasoline plant TransGas Development System is developing near Wharncliffe in Mingo County. The board wants developers to guarantee that controls will destroy 99.5 percent of pollutants. Project manager Randy Harris said Tuesday the changes are relatively minor. He says the project needs written guarantees from pollution control equipment and safety valve providers. It also needs more documentation about the plant's water treatment facility. The facility is expected to convert coal into 756,000 gallons of gasoline a day. The Sierra Club applauded the decision.
- Trial got underway Tuesday in Cabell County Circuit Court for Donald Good, the man accused of kidnapping two women from the Huntington Mall on separate occasions, taking them elsewhere and repeatedly raping them in 1987. The day started with the jury selection, then both sides gave their opening statements. The day then got emotional when both victims, Rebecca Mowery Hobson and Janet Johnson Smith, testified before the jury. The trial resumes Wednesday morning with testimony from West Virginia State Trooper Mike Parde, the man responsible for following a tip and a hunch that eventually led to Good’s arrest. Good, who is charged in a 22 count indictment released in October, is currently serving a life sentence for the 1992 murder of Terry Kidd in Kanawha County. Glen Dale Woodall, a Huntington cemetery worker, was convicted of the rapes in July 1987 and sentenced to two life terms without parole plus an additional 203 to 335 years in prison. During the trial, state police chemist Fred Zain testified that hair and body fluids taken from the victims matched Woodall’s. But, in May 1992, DNA evidence overturned the conviction and cleared Woodall. Prosecutors say this past summer new DNA testing showed Good committed the rapes.
- Representative Nick Rahall released a letter Tuesday asking the Obama administration to reconsider tighter water quality standards adopted last year to curb Appalachian surface coal mining. Rahall wants the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to examine the Environmental Protection Agency's clean water permit guidance memo issued April 1, 2010 before it becomes final Friday. Rahall says he hopes the White House can check what he calls the EPA's more "abusive" actions. The EPA says the policy is designed to virtually eliminate the practice of burying streams with mine waste to protect aquatic life and water quality.
- State Police Sgt. Andy Perdue says, while synthetic drugs remain legal, there's not much he or his office can do about the growing and increasingly dangerous problem associated with its use and its overdoses. In March, State Police investigated four deaths linked to bath salt and between 10 and 15 overdoses. West Virginia State Police in Boone County are taking a close look at the death of Pamela Harmon, which was initially thought to be from the use of synthetic cocaine, but police say Harmon’s death seems like it may be from prescription drug use.
- A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond has unanimously rejected Jennifer Workman's challenge against West Virginia's child immunization law. Workman sued after Lenore Pre-K to 8 School refused to admit her daughter without the vaccinations against childhood diseases. Workman claimed the law violated her religious rights, and she was concerned the vaccinations would cause her daughter to develop autism.
- West Virginia has the nation's ninth-largest percentage of veterans. Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed a bill Tuesday elevating an existing state agency to a Cabinet-level department devoted to its military veterans. The new Department of Veterans' Assistance will have an $11.5 million budget when it launches July 1st. It will succeed the Division of Veteran's Affairs, now part of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
- Bluefield Mayor Linda Whalen says the city will oppose Bluefield Gas' proposed rate increase requested Friday in a filing with the Public Service Commission. If the rate hike were approved, residential customers would pay an additional $6.78 a month on average. Commercial and industrial customers would pay more. The proposed increase would go into effect April 23rd.
- State transportation officials plan to redistribute to other road projects $80 million in federal bonds set aside to upgrade a section of U.S. 35 to four lanes. Another $30 million in federal funds earmarked for the U.S. 35 project may be used to improve the existing two-lane road.
Monday, March 28, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-29-'11
- After a petition containing more than 250 signatures, voters in the city of Jenkins have a choice in May to stay dry, or allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in certain restaurants. If voters support the measure, restaurants that seat at least 50 people can apply to sell alcohol. Mayor GC Kincer says it is a positive for the city in terms of growth, and he believes it will attract businesses that pass up the city because it is dry. Kincer says a moist vote could help transform Jenkins from a "drive-by" city, to a "stop-by" city. Emmanuel Baptist Church is next door to Jenkins City Hall, and Pastor Jeff Foster says alcohol sales would cause taxes to go up because more law enforcement would be needed, and domestic violence, robberies and other problems of that nature would increase.
- According to a recording heard Monday by a Clay County jury, Clayton D. Jackson, the man on trial accused of killing a family of five in Leslie County steadfastly denied involvement when detectives interviewed him the day of the slayings. However, the story Jackson told that day didn't match details he later put in a letter. The bodies of Chris and Amanda Sturgill and their three sons, Michael, Robert and Jordan, were found in their burned-out mobile home at Roark in the early morning of February 6, 2004. On the tape, state police Detectives Johnny Griffith and Dean Craft told Jackson they'd heard he'd had a sexual affair with Amanda Sturgill, and they suggested the relationship was the motive for the killings. Jackson repeatedly denied having an affair with Amanda Sturgill. Jackson told police he and Sturgill drank together before Sturgill dropped him off at his house, where he got sick and passed out. He didn't wake up until well after the time the killings were discovered. Jackson told police in a letter in 2005, written from a federal prison where he was serving time on an unrelated weapons charge, that he thought three other men killed the Sturgills as he ran out the back door of their mobile home. An investigation cleared those three men.
- Tiffany Brook McIntire, 25, of Prestonsburg, Kentucky, has been charged with felony child neglect and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. Officers were called to Cabell Huntington Hospital around 7:00 P.M. Friday to review security footage of McIntire in the room with her four month old son who is a patient. Huntington Police officers stated McIntire was seen on surveillance video taking her son's intravenous pain medication and giving it to herself. McIntire, who told police she has a prior addiction to pain medication, was taken to the Western Regional jail and placed on a $105,000 bond.
- House minority floor leader Representative Jeff Hoover called Monday for lawmakers to reconvene on April 6th to override some provisions Governor Steve Beshear vetoed in a Medicaid budget bill passed last week. Hoover says he and other Republican lawmakers are concerned about numerous items struck from the bill. Hoover says he's particularly upset that Beshear vetoed provisions that would stop furloughs of state employees, reduce personal service contracts and limit debt restructuring. Hoover said Beshear went too far with the vetoes, and what was left after he had finished marking it up was similar to his original proposal. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a statement Monday the House has no plans to return until the 2012 regular session convenes. Stumbo called for the Senate to adjourn so legislative pay could stop. Stumbo said, "By failing in this simple duty, the Senate is costing taxpayers $65,000 a day."
- Davis Sledd, a federal prosecutor credited with improving the health and safety of coal miners in eastern Kentucky retired Friday from the U.S. attorney's office in Lexington. Sledd spent 20 years litigating civil and criminal cases involving coal mine operators who violated federal mine safety and health laws. A statement from the office of U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey says Sledd successfully prosecuted nearly 150 coal mine operators from around 1994 to 1998 for submitting false dust samples to authorities to avoid detection of safety violations. Retired Mine Safety and Health Administration agent Ricky Hamilton says Kentucky mining companies followed the rules regarding dust samples after the wave of prosecutions.
- Kentucky health officials are considering a move to restrict cancer medications that Medicaid patients can receive without prior approval. The move has raised questions from some, including James Sharp of the American Cancer Society, who says the organization doesn't want anything that would remotely restrict access to care. A committee of health care providers has recommended that Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller put three drugs on Medicaid's non-preferred list. The drugs are relatively new and can be expensive. A decision is expected in the next month.
- Governor Steve Beshear, joined by Representative Mike Denham, of Maysville, and Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC) Chief Executive Officer Richard L. McQuady, signed into law a bill that will help families purchase and live in homes they can afford. HB 256 enables KHC, the state housing finance agency, to create a new program for homeowners whose incomes are up to 175 percent of the area median income. Many two-income families had combined incomes that were above the income limits that KHC could serve, which disqualified them from receiving a KHC home loan and the down payment and closing costs assistance only available through KHC. Without the down payment and closing costs assistance, homeownership was out of reach for these middle-inome families.
- Republican Senate President and gubernatorial candidate David Williams has hired a Washington-based media consulting firm for his campaign. FP1 Strategies has among its founding partners GOP political operative Terry Nelson who was the 2004 national political director for the Bush-Cheney campaign. Williams faces Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw in the May 17th primary election. The winner will take on Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, who is unopposed in the primary, and independent Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith.
- The driver of a car has been killed in a collision with a deer in northern Kentucky. Kentucky State Police identified the victim as 30-year-old Trisha Sullivan of Corinth. Sullivan was driving a car on U.S. 25 in Corinth on Saturday night when it struck a deer in the road. Two juveniles in the car weren't hurt, but Sullivan was pronounced dead at the scene.
- Marshall University says it's going to host a health summit with the University of Kentucky focusing on obesity. Marshall says the one-day Appalachian Health Summit: Focus on Obesity is set for April 21st at the Lexington Convention Center. Dr. Richard Niles, Marshall medical school's associate dean, says the summit will focus on learning more on obesity, its prevalence and coming up with ways to counteract the problem. Speakers are expected to include Dr. William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sessions also are planned on behaviors in Appalachia; childhood obesity, food and nutrition.
- The GED test will be free in Kentucky through June 30th. Kentuckians taking the test during that timeframe will not have to pay the usual $55 fee. Kentucky Adult Education, a unit of the Council on Postsecondary Education, will pay the fee. Free GED classes are available through local adult education programs in all 120 Kentucky counties. To be eligible to take the GED, students must first successfully complete the GED Official Practice Test to make sure they are prepared for the actual test. In 10 years, nearly 105,848 Kentuckians have earned a GED, ranking Kentucky 13th highest in the nation in the percentage of non-high school completers earning a GED.
- Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton and several state, local and elected officials will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday, March 29th at 11:00 A.M. for the upcoming Route 460 Connector Phase I construction project in Buchanan County. The event will be held at Breaks Interstate Park Conference Center, located on Route 80 in Dickenson County.
The project includes design and construction of:
* Twin high-level bridges, 1700 linear feet in length, located
over Conaway Road (Route 610) and Grassy Creek. When completed the over
250-foot-high bridges will be the tallest in Virginia.
* A .8-mile four-lane divided highway (US Route 460) starting at
the Kentucky State Line.
* An access ramp to Route 80, improving access to Breaks
Interstate Park. This includes the construction of a bridge crossing
Route 768 and Hunts Creek.
Secondary connections to Routes 609 and 693 from Route 80.
The ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony is open to the public.
- An effort to raise awareness about the dangers posed by prescription and over-the-counter medications kept in the home will conclude with a free “Clean Your Medicine Cabinet Out Day” program on Wednesday, March 30th. Citizens are urged to bring all unused, unwanted or out-of-date medicines to the Salyersville City Hall, 315 East Maple Street, between 11:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. There is no cost. All pills will be fed to UNITE’s “Pill Dragon,” a mobile incinerator sponsored by UNITE, Eastern Kentucky PRIDE and the Kentucky Army National Guard.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...3-29-'11
- Thirty-four year old James L. Parsley and 29 year old April Parsley were both arrested Sunday in Gilbert and charged with child neglect resulting in serious injury and three counts of delivering a controlled substance. West Virginia State Police say the couple's 2 year old son swallowed Oxycodone.
- Monday, Joshawa Clark was sentenced to two, 25 year sentences on two counts of armed robbery, and two, one to five year sentences on two counts of conspiracy. Clark was found guilty in February of helping Dustin Shaver commit two robberies at the Marquee Cinemas in Huntington in 2009. The sentences will be served concurrently, making Clark eligible for parole after 12 and a half years. Shaver testified against Clark during the trial as a part of his plea deal.
- U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington, D.C., has overturned the Interior Department's decision to remove the West Virginia northern flying squirrel from the endangered species list. Five environmental groups sued to restore the animal's protected status in 2009, arguing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to follow its own rules in recommending the delisting of the squirrel that's found only in higher elevation forests of West Virginia and Virginia. Sullivan agreed, saying the agency wrongly ignored two unambiguous rules, but the agency argued it was complying with the intent of rules that had become outdated. Judge Sullivan says ignoring them effectively changed the federal recovery plan for the species without the required public-input process.
- Sixty-two year old Robert Clark of Kanawha County pleaded guilty Monday to being a felon in possession of firearms. Clark admitted to having two firearms in his home on September 21, 2010 after a 1989 conviction for conducting a business enterprise through racketeering activity. Clark faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced in June.
- Brent Collins of Charleston is facing kidnapping charges after being accused of punching his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach, while holding her hostage, threatening her and telling her he hoped she lost the baby. The woman told police he barricaded her in their house, disconnected the phone lines and threatened to kill her and her kids if she tried to leave. Police say she managed to get away after Collins fell asleep.
- Massey Energy Co. has been hit with more than 80 citations for safety violations. MSHA said Monday that the Massey citations are among 166 issued at eight mines in five states during special inspections in February. Four Massey mines in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky accounted for more than half the violations issued nationally. MSHA also cited mines in Alabama and Pennsylvania.
- James Hall, 52, of Mount Gay, in Logan County, has pleaded guilty to distribution of Hydrocodone and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Hall admitted he sold 56 pills to an informant from June 2009 to August 2010 in exchange for $333 cash and to selling a total of 9 ounces of marijuana to a confidential informant on three separate occasions from June 2009 to August 2009 in exchange for $1085 in cash. Hall faces 15 years in prison and a $750,000 fine when sentenced on July 13th. He also agreed to forfeit $15,000 cash in lieu of his real estate used to facilitate his drug trafficking.
- Investigators say, around 1:00 A.M. Monday morning, a 19 car train carrying about 100 loads of coal derailed near Man while on its way to the Pardee Mine in Logan.
- Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jim Stucky agreed Monday to postpone the trial of 24 year old Zerlinda White of St. Albans to June 6th. White was scheduled to go on trial Monday. She is charged with child abuse resulting in death. Her two-month old son Ayden died last April.
- Four Suddenlink Communications sales workers, who formerly worked for FiberNet, filed a counterclaim Monday, alleging FiberNet forced them to sign an "employee confidentiality and non-solicition agreement," promising not to solicit FiberNet customers for a competitor for a year after leaving FiberNet. The workers say FiberNet has no legal right to enforce the agreements. In a previous lawsuit, FiberNet accused its former workers of "giving erroneous information" and "coaching customers" to switch their accounts to Suddenlink.
- Administrators say the $1 million funding for the West Virginia Prescription Drug Abuse Quitline is expected to run out next year. The program started in 2008 with $1 million derived from a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the painkiller OxyContin. Under the program, callers are connected to phone educators at West Virginia University, who direct them to drug treatment centers, educational materials and programs such as Narcotics Anonymous.
- Charleston Mayor Danny Jones says South Charleston plans to take over control of the fire station on Corridor G. The city is still awaiting the results from a study being done by a consultant who is looking into things like staffing and efficiency. Jones says 12 positions would be moved from Charleston to South Charleston's payroll, but there would be no layoffs, no cuts in pay nor any change in service.
- Keith Gwinn, director of the West Virginia Division of Veterans Affairs, says they are right on schedule to hold the opening ceremony for the new Donal Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in southern West Virginia on Veterans Day. Gwinn says they're ahead of schedule on about 75 percent of it, and they should be caught up other 25 percent in a couple of weeks. The $14 million cemetery is on a 100 acre site donated by Dow Chemical just above the State Police Academy in Institute. Most of the money is coming from the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. It's the largest sum the agency has ever handed out for a state cemetery, and it's the first state veterans cemetery in West Virginia.