Saturday, April 09, 2011


EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-10-'11


EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-10-'11

Friday, April 08, 2011


EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-9-'11


EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-9-'11

Thursday, April 07, 2011


EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-8-'11


EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-8-'11

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-7-'11

A Clay County Circuit Court jury on Wednesday found 30-year-old Clayton Jackson guilty of murder and arson in the deaths of 4-year-old Michael Sturgill, 3-year-old Robert Sturgill and 18-month-old Jordan Sturgill in 2004 in Leslie County. The jury deliberated for about eight hours over two days but could not reach a decision in the deaths of Chris and Amanda Sturgill. The couple died after being shot with a bow and arrows. The children died of smoke inhalation after their mobile home was set on fire.
Jurors split 10-2 on whether to convict Jackson in the deaths of Chris and Amanda Sturgill.

Karen Cunagin Sypher, 51, checked into the minimum-security federal women's prison in Marianna, Florida at 1:50 P.M. on Wednesday to begin serving a sentence of more than seven years.  Sypher's attorneys have made repeated requests for her to remain free while she appeals convictions on charges of extortion, lying to the FBI and retaliating against a witness in connection to a 2003 sexual encounter with University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino.. On Tuesday the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati denied Sypher's latest request to stay out of prison, siding with a lower court judge who rejected the request last week. Sypher's attorneys have asked the appeals court to reconsider the ruling.

Police arrested Bill Crider at the EZ Pawn Shop in Prestonsburg Wednesday afternoon.  Crider was indicted on drug trafficking charges.  Police say undercover officers made several buys of illegal prescription pills at the store. Last June, police raided the business and found pills, $17,000 in cash, and guns. Police closed the store, but it can reopened if Crider is released on bond.

After passing a series of non-binding veto resolutions  to shore up the state's Medicaid budget, the Senate adjourned late Wednesday, ending what had become a lengthy and costly special legislative session. Lawmakers had been caught in limbo when the House adjourned and the Senate took a two-week legislative recess, an unusual circumstance that required the state to continue paying the salaries of all 138 members of the General Assembly even though they weren't at the Capitol. The cost of salaries and expenses during the legislative recess were estimated at more than $600,000. House Speaker Greg Stumbo blamed those costs on the Senate for not adjourning sooner. Senate leaders insisted Wednesday that they won't accept pay for the legislative recess.

An Amber Alert was canceled Wednesday afternoon after  6 year old Shelly Bailey was found safe. Larry Bailey took her from an apartment in the Loyall community of Harlan County Tuesday. Shelly Bailey was ordered into protective custody, although Larry Bailey presented a birth certificate in court that showed he was the father. Despite Bailey's repeated claims, "She's my daughter," authorities say the kidnapping charges will hold for now.

The future of Kentucky Kingdom is uncertain after the city of Louisville said it won't help pay for the amusement park to reopen this year, according to businessman Ed Hart, who heads the group trying to reopen the park as a public-private partnership. Hart recently asked the city to approve a $20 million bond issue to help open part of the park in 2012, but the city declined the request. Mayor Greg Fischer's spokesman, Chris Poynter, says the city decided the deal was "too risky for taxpayers."
Hart says the earliest the park could open is 2013 and that is questionable. Six Flags abandoned the park in 2009 after going into bankruptcy.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has awarded six contracts totaling more than $7 million for eight highway projects impacting four counties in the Department of Highways District 10.

Contracts awarded as part of the March 2011 letting are:

On Saturday April 2, 2011 two Whitesburg Police Department Officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the City of Whitesburg. During the stop the perpetrator, Kenneth Ray Traywick Jr. age 22 of Concord, Alabama refused to comply with officers commands and attempted to strike the officers with his vehicle. He fled the scene and his vehicle was later found abandoned in a parking lot of a local
business. Traywick fled on foot and a search was conducted in the Whitesburg area but he was never located. Traywick is also a fugitive wanted by two police departments in the state of Alabama. Kentucky State Police in Hazard are investigating the attempted assault on the Whitesburg Police Officers. Arrest warrants have been obtained on the perpetrator. State Police are asking anyone with information as to the location of Kenneth R. Traywick Jr. to contact them at (606) 435-6069 or 1-800-222-5555. He is approximately 6 feet tall, weighs 150 pounds, brown eyes, and dark hair.  Traywick is also considered to be a dangerous individual.

First lady Jane Beshear is singing the praises of her husband, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, in a radio ad. Campaign manager Bill Hyers declined to say how much the Beshear campaign is spending on the ad that is airing on rural radio stations across the state. Jane Beshear talks in the radio spot about her husband being a man of small-town values, the son and grandson of preachers. She says he is "rock solid" and is the right governor to lead Kentucky through tough times. Beshear will face one of three Republican candidates in the November election -- state Senate President David Williams, Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw or Louisville businessman Phil Moffett. Lexington lawyer Gatewood Galbraith is running as an independent.

The City of Pikeville Board of Commissioners will meet in regular session on Monday, April 11, at 6:00p in the public meeting room at City Hall on College Street.

The Kentucky state fire marshal's office has concluded that a man who was killed in last week's explosion at a plant in Ashland triggered the explosion when he opened an access panel to a high-pressure gas line. The fire marshal's office released that finding on Tuesday and said 61-year-old Forrest Finley of Milton, W.Va., had intended to work on a nearby electrical panel instead at AK Steel's coke plant. Finley worked for a contractor, Dixon Electrical Systems and Contracting.

The University of Kentucky will award five honorary degrees at the school's May commencement. The recipients will be engineer and educator Robert Drake Jr., researcher Pearse Lyons, journalist Al Smith and South African activists Ahmed Kathrada and Barbara Hogan. Drake oversaw the development of UK's College of Engineering as its dean and later became special assistant to UK President Otis Singletary He also was a driving force in creating the high-tech company Projectron. Lyons is the founder and president of Alltech, a global animal health company based in Kentucky. Smith's journalism career spanned 60 years. He's best known as the founder, host and producer of "Comment on Kentucky" through 2007. The weekly round table is aired on Kentucky Educational Television.

An annual report from the Kentucky Center for School Safety says student policy violations have decreased by 23 percent in the last five years. That decline was despite an increase of 20 percent in Louisville schools during the same period. The report said 16 percent of Louisville students violated school policy, compared with a statewide average of 10 percent in 2009-2010. Violations include such problems as fighting, disturbing class and defying authority.The annual report measures student discipline in each Kentucky school district, separating the data as violations of school policy and crimes committed by students. Statewide, the rate of students breaking laws has remained relatively unchanged at 1 percent since 2005-2006.

Jockey Robby Albarado has pleaded not guilty to charges that he assaulted his wife in Kentucky. Albarado entered the plea Tuesday in Jefferson District Court. A judge ordered him not to have any contact with his wife, Kimberly. Albarado was charged last week with wanton endangerment, domestic assault and intimidating a witness after an incident at the couple's home in Louisville.

Two environmental groups that pressure banks to stop funding mountaintop removal coal mines say Credit Suisse and Wells Fargo have the strongest lending policies. The Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club issued their second report card Tuesday, ranking 10 of the world's largest banks in their dealings with coal companies. Since January 2010, the report says those 10 have provided more than $2.5 billion in loans and bonds to companies that use the highly efficient and highly destructive form of strip mining in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. The report says five banks adopted policies on mountaintop removal after last year's report -- Chase, Wells Fargo, PNC, UBS, and Credit Suisse.  It gave Deutsche Bank and GE Capital an F for having no policy.


EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-7-'11

West Virginia's State mine safety director C.A. Phillips said Wednesday emergency refuge chambers that survived the deadly Upper Big Branch mine worked properly when tested last week. Phillips said  it's an important finding because it tells miners they can rely on shelters if they're trapped. State and federal officials and Massey Energy Co. tested the three Upper Big Branch shelters last Thursday.
Click here to find out more!
West Virginia and later the federal government mandated airtight underground refuges after 12 trapped miners ran out of air and died following the Sago Mine explosion in 2006. Federal rules now require refuges with four days of food, water and air at all underground coal mines.

Swiss eye care products maker Alcon Inc. has opened its expanded West Virginia manufacturing operation. Alcon President and CEO Kevin Buehler told the State Journal that the new plant just north of Huntington is expected to bring 300 new jobs over the next few years. The company employs 750 at its other plant in Huntington. The plants manufacturer intraocular lenses, which replace the clouded natural lens removed in cataract surgery.

The widows of two men killed in a coal mine fire are appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Delorice Bragg and Freda Hatfield asked the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to take the case Wednesday. U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr. dismissed it last July, ruling that MSHA wasn't liable for the men's deaths. The lawsuit was filed in April 2010 by the widows of miners Don I. Bragg and Ellery Elvis Hatfield. The men died in a conveyer belt fire at Massey Energy Co.'s Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine on Jan. 19, 2006. The lawsuit accused MSHA of negligence in its regulation of the mine and argued that federal inspectors should be liable under West Virginia law.

Fort Gay is without a police department after the Wayne County town's new mayor fired the police chief and an officer. Rose Devaney took the action Tuesday night during a town council meeting following her appointment as mayor. A former officer, firefighters, Wayne County Sheriff's deputies and others gathered outside the meeting to protest the firings. Devaney declined to disclose her reasons. She says the officers' services are no longer needed.

Three Charleston men were robbed early Wednesday morning on the city's West Side. Sgt. Eric Hodges of the Charleston Police Department said Dillon King, 18; Timothy Smith, 21 and Corey Cantley, 19, had just pulled into the driveway of a house on Hunt Avenue at a little past midnight when a gold-colored Chevrolet Cavalier pulled up behind their car. Hodges said two men allegedly got out of the Cavalier, pulled guns and ordered the three men out of their car. They were robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash and other valuables.

Deborah Joyce, 38, of Hurricane, who admitted she participated in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme in the Stonegate subdivision in Hurricane, was sentenced to almost four years in prison Wednesday. In September, Joyce pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud and tax evasion. Federal prosecutors put the losses associated with the Stonegate mortgage fraud at more than $2.3 million. According to court filings, Joyce provided inflated appraisals of several Stonegate properties to a Salt Lake City-based company called 100X, which lined up customers to buy them as investments. Because of the scheme, the new buyers were immediately underwater, and some of the properties were later foreclosed.

As Appalachian Power workers tried to restore power to those still affected by Monday's storms, at least 600 residents lost power on Wednesday for the first time since the storms. But the additional outages aren't unusual, especially after windstorms, according to Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye.  As of 10:30 A.M. Wednesday, about 10,000 Appalachian Power customers in Southern West Virginia -- mostly in Kanawha County -- had no power. By 1:30 P.M., that number had dropped to 6,705 residents. But less than an hour later, the number jumped to 8,426 people without power.
During repairs, Moye said, crews will sometimes deactivate a live power line so they can safely restore power to other customers without the risk of electrocution.

Three health centers in West Virginia are receiving federal funding to continue and improve operations.
U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin announced the funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday. The funding includes $140,662 for Belington Community Medical Services Association, $462,157 for Martinsburg-based Shenandoah Valley Medical System, Inc., and $313,048 for Beckley-based Community Health Systems, Inc.

West Virginia's Chamber of Commerce is supporting three candidates in the upcoming primary for governor. The business group endorsed acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on Wednesday. He's among six Democrats seeking the party's nomination. The chamber also is backing two of eight Republicans running: Betty Ireland and Bill Maloney. The chamber called Ireland and Maloney leaders in the business community who understand the struggles of employers. It said Tomblin has long been a steady voice for lower taxes and a supporter of jobs and economic development. The primary is May 14th.

The families of a mother and two teenage girls who were killed in a head-on collision in Cabell County in 2009 have sued the doctor who wrote prescription after prescription for pain medication for the driver of the other car. In separate lawsuits filed April 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court, the families of Carole Lynn Crawford and Meaghan McGuire Crawford and Kelsey Rebecca Kuhn allege that Dr. Anita Dawson ignored signs that her patient Erma Marie Brown was dangerously addicted to prescription narcotics

Massey Energy Co. announced a new severance package as it begins its merger with Alpha Natural Resources, but Massey officials say they have no plans to lay anyone off. Massey has sent letters detailing the plan to an undetermined number of administrators and office staff. The notices weren't sent to the company's coal miners. Massey, based in Richmond, Va., employs about 7,300. Alpha, also based in Virginia, employs 6,400 people and is acquiring Massey in an $8 billion deal. Massey's letters are dated April 1. Massey also filed the letter and a detailed severance package plan with financial regulators on the same day.  A day later, Alpha and Massey said in a joint statement they had received antitrust approval for their merger, meaning the companies have overcome a key hurdle.

Thers' no doubt the campaign season is underway in Mingo County with visits from two candidates for the Governor of West Virginia. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was in Gilbert; Rick Thompson visited Matewan. Tomblin, who became governor when Joe Manchin was elected to fill Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat after Byrd’s death, explained he has three main planks in his political platform. “We need to make sure we are financially stable,” Tomblin said. “When I attended the Governor’s Association convention, I was proud to be able to say West Virginia has a surplus.” Tomblin went on to explain the other areas he is focusing on during the campaign are education and bringing jobs to the state. He said the state has the highest high school drop out rate in the nation.

Kanawha County sheriff's deputies each got a check for $1,000 this week. Chief Deputy Johnny Rutherford said he and his brother, Sheriff Mike Rutherford, decided to take $99,000 from the county's pistol permit fund to give each deputy in the department $1,000. When state lawmakers put county sheriffs in charge of issuing concealed weapons permits, they gave the sheriffs discretion over how to spend leftover money from processing the permits. Many sheriffs rely on extra pistol permit money to buy equipment or supplement their budgets. Sheriff's officials previously took about $70,000 from the pistol permit fund to help buy new cruisers and four-wheel-drive vehicles for the Sheriff's Department.

West Virginia's business tax collections were up 700 percent in March compared to the same month last year, a sign that West Virginia's economy continues to improve significantly.  The combined collections of the state's corporate net income tax and business franchise tax stood at $55.7 million last month, exceeding projections by $25.6 million. The taxes raised $6.7 million in revenues for the state in March 2010.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-6-'11

Two Huntington residents pleaded guilty in federal court to crack charges. Stephen Hicks, 48, pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine base, also known as crack.
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Lakasia Woolfolk, 24, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the distribution of crack. In June 2010, an undercover agent arranged through Woolfolk the purchase of two 8-balls of crack cocaine to be delivered by Hicks to Smokin' Aces in Huntington. Hicks admitted to arriving at the store to deliver the crack cocaine and while inside, called Woolfolk to discuss the details of the drug transaction. Hicks also admitted to the amount of crack sold to the undercover agent was short of the original agreement. Hicks also admitted to making additional sales of crack cocaine at the same location three other times in June 2010. Both Hicks and Woolfolk face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when they are sentenced on July 11, 2011.

A Charleston man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell more than 3.4 million contraband cigarettes. Basim Ali Talouzi also pleaded guilty Monday to distribution of oxycodone. He faces up to 25 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine when he is sentenced June 27 in U.S. District Court in Huntington. According to prosecutors, Talouzi conspired with others to buy, transport and sell contraband cigarettes between July 2010 and last month. The total tax loss to West Virginia on the 17,112 cartons of contraband smokes was just over $94,000. Talouzi also admitted selling oxycodone pills to undercover federal agents.

A jury has found a Charleston man not guilty of domestic battery after he punched his pregnant girlfriend in the belly. The victim, Nastacha Caudill, told jurors that Timothy Paul Burdette was so mad that she wouldn't give him money that he also threw pizza at her and jerked her out of a recliner chair.  Caudill called police after the altercation at a Sixth Avenue home and became ill while being questioned. She miscarried the three-month fetus a few days later. Prosecutor Mark Plants originally charged Burdette, 25, with murder under the state's Unborn Victims of Violence Act. He became the second person in Kanawha County charged under that law.  But the charge of murder against Burdette was dismissed in September when Plants said a report from the state Medical Examiner did not confirm that the fetus died as a result of the punch. Burdette denies he punched Caudill, and on Monday his defense attorney insisted to the jury that prosecution did not introduce evidence sufficient to convict him.  His court-appointed defense attorney, Barbara Brown, told the jury Caudill's testimony was inconsistent and should not be believed, saying  he never struck that woman.

Frederick Thomas Butts, 42, of Charleston, was supposed to go on trial this week, but a circuit judge agreed to postpone to give defense attorneys more time to prepare. He's charged with 274 counts of sexual abuse and incest. The trial is now scheduled for May 2nd.  In the meantime, an assistant prosecutor asked Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King to limit Butts' phone calls and visits at South Central Regional Jail. Erica Lord told King that Butts and his sister, Lori Butts, had conspired in telephone calls to intimidate a witness and do everything possible to keep her from coming to the trial.
The victim was 5 years old when the alleged sexual abuse began, and she told police it occurred every weekend for years. Now 15, she is in the custody of Child Protective Services. King agreed to the limitations on Butts, who is being held without bond. King denied a motion to reduce that.  Butts has pleaded not guilty.

Central Appalachia's largest coal producer idled dozens of mines across three states for a time to honor the 29 miners who died at one of its West Virginia mines a year ago.  Massey Energy's action was to honor the victims of last April 5th's Upper Big Branch mine explosion. Public and private memorial services were held in the state Capitol, Beckley and Whitesville throughout the day. A candlelight vigil was held for the evening in Whitesville. Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis participated during the day. The explosion was the deadliest to strike the U.S. coal industry since 1970. Regulators and federal prosecutors are still investigating. Massey operates mines in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.

Authorities are urging Kanawha Valley residents to check their credit and bank statements after
Charleston police have received numerous complaints of debit and credit card fraud in the past two to four weeks.
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The  U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney's Office are investigating the thefts.

Two Kentucky men and one West Virginian have been sentenced to one year and one day for conspiring to steal diesel fuel worth more than $900,000. The men were sentenced Monday in federal court in Huntington. They are 47-year-old Darrell Glen Deerfield of Rush, Ky.; 52-year-old Joey Williams of Greenup, Ky.; and 40-year-old Paul David Smith of Barboursville. The defendants pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to transport and sell goods stolen from interstate shipments. According to prosecutors, Deerfield worked for a company that transported diesel fuel to be used by CSX trains. They say Deerfield conspired with Williams and Smith to steal fuel from a facility in Russell, Ky., and that Smith then sold the fuel to businesses and individuals in West Virginia and Kentucky.  

A major storm ripped through the area causing over 29,000 customers to lose power in Kanawha County Monday night.  Monday's severe storms left a mark on several homes throughout the area, as well as Kanawha County's Metro 911 phone service. According to Metro 911, phone calls made to 911 were not able to connect. As of 8:18 p.m., according to Metro 911, their  line was back and working.  According to Appalachian Power, several counties reported power outages.  As of 11:03 p.m., according to Appalachian Power's website, over 26,000 customers in Kanawha County are without power.  At one point, Kanawha County was reporting over 29,000 customers without power.
At least one person has been killed while riding an ATV over the weekend.  According to the Belle Fire Department, the two individuals were out riding the ATVs when they became stuck in some mud by a slate mine in the area of Witcher Creek.  One of the individuals went back for help while the other stayed with the vehicles.  Over the course of time, the person left behind, Harold Sizemore, suffered from a medical condition and was unresponsive when help came to retrieve the ATVs.  The Belle Fire Department used different vehicles with 4-wheel drive capability to reach Sizemore.
A new study put out by a group called Transportation for America ranks West Virginia’s bridges as the eighth worst in the nation. The report cites the Federal Highway Administration’s claim that nearly 70,000 bridges nationwide are classified as structurally deficient.  The report states that one out of every six bridges in West Virginia are likely to be deteriorating “to some degree,” and 16.7 percent of bridges in the state are rated “structurally deficient” by government standards. Only 11.5 percent of bridges nationwide are rated structurally deficient.

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin ranks the health of counties in the United States, and West Virginia’s rankings aren’t a big surprise.  The report was released Wednesday and it looked at more than two dozen indicators, such as smoking, income, physical environment and access to health care.  McDowell County with its ratio of deaths before age 75 was ranked as the least healthy and Pendleton County, without great access to hospitals, was ranked the healthiest. The top 10 healthiest counties, according to the study, are Pendleton, Tucker, Monongalia, Grant, Wirt, Jefferson, Putnam, Hampshire, Marshall and Berkeley.  The 10 unhealthiest counties, according to the study, are McDowell, Mingo, Wyoming, Logan, Boone, Lincoln, Mercer, Wayne, Gilmer and Summers.
The state Supreme Court on Monday affirmed a circuit court judge's ruling that allows a man with developmental disabilities, who had been institutionalized for a decade, to participate in an assisted living program that allows him to live in the community.  In a unanimous opinion, the justices ruled that Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman had sufficient evidence to conclude that Shawn Shumbera's deficiencies were caused by mental retardation. The state Department of Health and Human Resources had repeatedly denied Shumbera admission to the federally funded Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Program, saying that his deficiencies were due to his mental illness.  "Upon thorough review of the record, this Court does not find clear error in the circuit court's factual determinations regarding [Shumbera's] satisfaction of the specific eligibility requirements for the Waiver Program," the opinion states. "Although the DHHR contended that his deficits were caused primarily by his mental illness, the record does not reflect clear error in the circuit court's conclusion that the mental retardation was the source of [his] severe and chronic disabilities."
An Elkview mother has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $9,000 from the Pinch Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.  Sarah E. Harless, 33, was arrested last August. She admitted Monday to Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib that she took the money for her personal use. She was scheduled to go on trial this week.  Harless was elected vice president of the PTO in November 2009, but when treasurer Polly Stuart stepped down for personal reasons, Harless took over her duties.  According to the criminal complaint filed against her, Harless opened a fraudulent business account with Capitol One on behalf of the organization and obtained a credit card. She used that card to make $900 in unauthorized purchases.   In addition, police said Harless used credit cards issued from the group's Chase Bank and United Bank Accounts to make another $8,000 in personal purchases.


EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-6-'11

A missing 68-year-old man from Pike County, Ky. has been found dead.  A Golden Alert was issued for Robert Hamilton Monday night after he was last seen in the Virgie area Monday morning.
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Kentucky State Police Trooper, Shaun Little says Hamilton was found dead around 1:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon about a mile from his residence. Search crews from the Pike County EMS and the Shelby Valley Fire Department took part in the search for Hamilton.

 More arrests have been made and officials are searching for six more in a Floyd County drug roundup. Sheriff's deputies say all of the people are accused of bringing pills from Florida and Georgia to Floyd County to sell.
Click here to find out more!
The round-up ends a three-month undercover investigation.
Officers say the suspects are allegedly selling Roxies, a new drug they say they are starting to see a lot of in our region.
The following is an updated list of arrests:
• John Sherman Moore, McDowell
• Gregory Moore, McDowell
• Estill Newsome, Jr., McDowell
• Scott Hamilton, Teaberry
• Victor Rhea
• Carol Bryant, Weeksbury
• Elizabeth Shapiro, Wheelwright
• Gregory Salisbury, McDowell
• Darvis Newsome, Prestonsburg
• Crystal Dawn Newsome, Auxier
• Harry Skeens, Allen
• Brandon Leslie, Allen
• Muril Moore, McDowell
• Wendell Burchett, Harold
• Mary Burchett, Harold
• Talsha Bentley Clover Fork
• Jimmy John Adkins, Betsy Layne
• Louann Bartrum, Martin

Bush & Burchett of Allen plans to begin construction of a bridge connecting the community of Concord in Johnson County to KY 40 on April 18. The Floyd County company was awarded the $3.4 million contract March 1 and held its preconstruction meeting with Highway District 12 officials last week.  There has never been a bridge connecting KY 1145 to KY 40, said Doug Wright, resident engineer for Highway District 12.  This new bridge will provide much faster and safer access to US 23 and US 460.  Access to Concord and Thealka by first responders and other service providers will also be enhanced.

Through  Apr. 3, preliminary statistics indicate that 141 people have  lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011. This is 28 fewer than reported for this time period in 2010. Of the 117 motor vehicle fatalities, 67 victims were not wearing seat belts. Of the four
motorcycle fatalities, three were not wearing helmets. Two of the three ATV fatalities were not wearing helmets. Seventeen pedestrians have been killed. A total of 19 fatalities have resulted from crashes involving the suspected use of alcohol.

The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) and the Kentucky Genealogical Society (KGS) will host a free family-history workshop focused on KHS cemetery preservation resources from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in downtown Frankfort.  Ann Johnson, KHS cemetery preservation program coordinator, will discuss KHS resources available to family historians and cemetery preservationists. These resources include tracking databases, advice on legal issues governing property and descendent rights, stone cleaning and rubbing techniques and cemetery mapping practices.  The workshop will also feature Phil DiBlasi, staff archaeologist at the University of Louisville, who will discuss the use of GPS to document cemeteries.  There will also be an on-site visit to Frankfort Cemetery for a stone cleaning and GPS demonstration.

As part of a national level EXERCISE on May 16, 2011, a major earthquake will rock the mid-South and unleash an unprecedented level of destruction upon more than eight states.  Unlike other forecasts of doom, this prediction is based on the certainty of a National Level Exercise (NLE) scheduled to put local, state and federal officials through the paces of responding to a catastrophic earthquake in the heart of the United States. Unlike the weather, experts cannot predict when and where an earthquake may occur.  However, we can tell you with certainty what will happen in Kentucky during the EXERCISE on May 16, 2011:  A 7.7 earthquake will strike the New Madrid Seismic Zone in Western Kentucky and the impact on the Commonwealth during the EXERCISE will include:
        Approximately 235,000 people will seek shelter
        330,000 households will be without power
        Approximately 6,500 will be injured
        Approximately 300 deaths will occur
        68,500 buildings will be damaged
        Critical infrastructure will be damaged or destroyed
        250 bridges damaged or destroyed, limiting transportation into and out of the impacted area
        Communications will be greatly impaired or fail
        Emergency responders will scramble to get information from the area and local emergency management will be  limited getting information out
The Tier I exercise, known as NLE 2011, will simulate the decisions and actions that top officials should be prepared to take in the first 96-hours after such a devastating earthquake. This is the first NLE to focus on a natural hazard, rather than a terrorism-focused scenario.
"Is Kentucky ready for a 7.7 earthquake? No.

A public workers rally -- billed as a "block party" -- was held in downtown Louisville as part of a national day of solidarity to defend the public sector. About 200 people attended the Monday evening event to support collective bargaining rights for Kentucky's public sector workers. Musicians, including the Grammy-nominated Nappy Roots, played to a home crowd in a show of support. The rally was relocated to the Kentucky International Convention Center from an outdoor venue at Jefferson Square due to rainy, windy weather.

Keeneland is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a new book about the history of the central Kentucky race course. "Keeneland: A Thoroughbred Legacy" is the third in a series and includes 12 chapters written by local authors. Veteran Kentucky journalist Al Smith says the book is a reminder that Keeneland is a special source of pride to the community. The 231-page book sells for $39.95. Profits are to be distributed through the Keeneland Foundation to various community non-profit organizations. The book is available at the gift shop at Keeneland, which opens Friday for its three-week spring meet.

Top University of Kentucky officials say they're in the final stages of the school's presidential search and hope to make the selection May 3. In a campuswide e-mail Monday, UK Board of Trustees Chairman Britt Brockman and search committee Chairman Jim Stuckert laid out a tentative schedule leading to the selection of the next president. They said the search committee will meet April 11 in hopes of forwarding three to five finalists to trustees. Under their timetable, trustees are scheduled to meet April 30 in northern Kentucky to review the finalists, then interview them the next day. That evening, the trustees will vote for a preferred candidate who will be introduced. The finalist will visit the Lexington campus on May 2, and the next day will come a final decision.

The death toll has risen to six people after fast moving storms hit the South with high winds, hail, lightning and power outages.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lisa Janak says four people have been killedin Georgia, two of them, a father and son who died when a tree fell onto a home in Butts County. Dodge and Colquitt counties also each had a death.
Tennessee and Mississippi also each have reported a death related to the storms.

A fourth mistrial has been declared in the case of a former Fort Campbell sergeant accused of killing his estranged wife and her former mother-in-law. Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision after deliberating through the afternoon and into the evening Monday, Brent Burke was being tried on murder charges in the death of Tracy Burke and Karen Comer in 2007 in Rineyville. The trial started three weeks ago. It is the fourth time Burke has faced the charges. Two mistrials were declared when witnesses were unavailable, and a jury last year was unable to reach a verdict. A new hearing is scheduled for April 26. Prosecutors wouldn't comment since the case is continuing, and the families of Traci Burke and Comer left without commenting.

Paintings, lithographs, mixed media works and photographs by 26 Kentucky artists are on display in the Governor's Derby Exhibit through May 10 in the Capitol Rotunda. The show's theme is spring, and it is part of the Governor's Derby Celebration More than 200 entries were submitted to be considered for the show. The exhibit is open during public visiting hours at the Capitol, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and during the Governor's Derby Celebration on Kentucky Derby Day, May 7.


EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-5-'11

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has proclaimed Tuesday a day of prayer and remembrance for the 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion near Montcoal, the deadliest U.S. coal mining accident since 1970. Tomblin has asked for observance to start at 3:01 P.M., the estimated time of the explosion, and for churches in the state to ring their bells 29 times at that time. Massey Energy has announced it will hold a "company-wide, one minute and twenty-nine second moment of silence" Tuesday on the anniversary of the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine which killed twenty nine miners. Massey plans to idle production and hold a safety stand down at all 92 of its underground coal mines.

The National Park Service Chief Ranger Jeff West said a second man's body was pulled from the New River on Monday afternoon after three men went missing in a weekend boating accident when their boat capsized Sunday afternoon. Hours earlier, searchers recovered the body of Paul Malone, 23, of Lester. Those reported missing were Malone, Dean Halsey of Lester and Sam Acord of Richmond, Virginia. Two others, Jeff Acord of Sandstone and Daniel Malone of Lester, swam to shore safely.

Darrell Glen Deerfield, 47, of Rush, Kentucky, Joey Williams, 52, of Greenup, Kentucky and Paul David Smith, 40, of Barboursville, West Virginia, were sentenced Monday in federal court in Huntington to one year and one day for conspiring to steal diesel fuel worth more than $900,000 from April 2007 to September 2008. The defendants pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to transport and sell goods stolen from interstate shipments. According to prosecutors, Deerfield worked for CEVA Logistics, Inc., a Texas corporation which contracted with CSX to transport diesel fuel to various locations throughout Kentucky and West Virginia for the purpose of refueling CSX locomotives. Deerfield conspired with Williams and Smith to steal fuel from a facility in Russell, Kentucky. The three men admitted the stolen fuel was subsequently given to Smith who would sell it to various businesses and individuals in West Virginia and Kentucky.

Twenty-three year old Katharine Janelle Boozer of Mercer County is expected to enter a guilty plea  Wednesday to a neglect charge in the death of her 6-month-old son, Joshua Isaiah Boozer, who died in February 2010. Boozer was indicted for first-degree murder and death of a child by abuse in June 2010. Prosecuting attorney Scott Ash says she'll plead to child neglect resulting in injury. That charge carries three to 15 year in prison.

Twenty-three year old Rusty Morrison of Huntington was killed Saturday morning when a blaze broke out at a camp in the Branchland community of Lincoln County. West Virginia State Police say, when the fire started, Rusty woke up Brandon Newton of Altizer, a friend who was also staying at the camp. Newton escaped the burning structure while Morrison died in the fire.

Twenty-eight year old Willard Lewis, an Elkins police officer accused of kidnapping and domestic battery. has been suspended until the charges are resolved. Lewis, who has been on the force since July 2008, is charged with domestic assault on his wife, Roxana.

David Kinney, 32, of Charleston, is accused of shooting and killing 31 year old Jeremy Parsons on Charleston's West Side last July. Kinney was indicted on murder charges by a grand jury in October. Parsons was shot three times at the intersection of Park Avenue and Virginia Street West.

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has lifted a ban on discretionary pay raises for classified employees of the executive branch of state government. The freeze on discretionary raises had been in place since April 29, 2005. It affected 22,000 classified state employees in 26 pay grades and about 1,007 classifications. Joe Smith, a personnel consultant to Tomblin, says the turnover rate in state government averages about 9.98 percent a year, and that requires significant costs in recruitment and training. Smith says lifting a freeze that is almost six years old could be costly, but reducing turnover could offset some of those costs. The governor’s office will watch pay increases carefully to ensure they don’t cause expenses to get out of line with state revenues, and it will watch agencies to be sure the raises are used to retain employees with critical skills.

This time last year, drivers in West Virginia were paying about $2.87 for a gallon of regular gasoline.  Now, the AAA Fuel Gauge Report puts that price at about $3.67 a gallon. U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller says it isn't all about what's going on in the Middle East, but it's about what's going on on Wall Street. Rockefeller says he believes oil trades by greedy speculators, those guessing at the future price of oil, have driven up prices at the pumps. Rockefeller says, since January, speculator prices have jumped by 35% while U.S. gas prices have grown by 40%. He has called on the Federal Trade Commission to review gas prices to make sure people are paying fair prices for gasoline. In addition, Senator Rockefeller says President Barack Obama needs to be prepared to open the country's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The AAA Fuel Gauge Report puts the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline at around $3.61 compared with $2.80 this time last year.

Cathy Yarosky, the spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service says a lot of money will be saved now that all of the mail processing operations that had been done in Beckley and some of the mail processing operations that were handled in Huntington have been consolidated in Charleston. After feasibility studies for those moves last June, the U.S. Postal Service announced the consolidation plans in December. Consolidations were finished last month and, Yarosky says, the changes have had little impact on jobs. The Beckley site is no longer handling any mail processing. In Huntington, overnight processing has been moved to Charleston. Daytime processing work continues there and there are no plans to change that. A total of 38 Huntington positions could be impacted because of the change. Feasibility studies continue for the possibilities of moving processing work from Martinsburg to suburban Maryland and from Bluefield to either Charleston or Johnson City, Tennessee.

State Deputy Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow says collections for the state's Corporate Income Tax surged in March, rocketing ahead of estimates by $25.6 million dollars. The total collected was 700 percent higher than last March. Muchow says corporations have been improving their balance sheets in recent months, while payments  coming in were running over 50 percent higher than last year and refunds to corporations were a good 76 percent below last year. Muchow says that combination created the gain.
Consumer sales tax collections were also up for percent higher than last year at this time. Muchow says a new federal law that reduces the Social Security tax that employees must pay by 32 percent is helping. State tax collections continue to run about $200 million ahead of estimates for the fiscal year.

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