Saturday, April 23, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-24-'11
- Kentucky State Police say Jimmie K. Scott, 35, of Irvine was pronounced dead at the scene of a two-vehicle collision near Irvine Friday. Troopers investigating the crash say a pickup truck driven by Ronnie Abney Jr., 36, of Irvine, was traveling south on Ky. 89 when it crossed the center line and struck a vehicle driven by Scott. Abney and his wife, Kimberly, 31, were treated for minor injuries at Marcum & Wallace Memorial Hospital in Irvine. Scott’s wife, Jessica, 30, was also treated at the Irvine hospital for a minor injury.
- State legislators have received a portion of their pay for the disputed final 13 days of this year's special session. Another round of checks on May 10th will pay salaries for the final six days. The Treasury recently distributed paychecks for the first seven days, which came after the House adjourned but the Senate did not, accounting for roughly half of the $580,000 owed to legislators. The legislators were called into special session after the House and Senate were unable to deal with a major shortfall in the Medicaid budget, but the two chambers continued to disagree. The House adjourned with a pledge from Governor Steve Beshear to veto objectionable parts of the Senate-passed bill. Friday Senate President David Williams said senators must return their compensation to the state, or he will deduct an equivalent amount from any salary and expenses senators receive this year for such things as attending conferences. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has largely left the matter up to individual members, saying some members have plans to return the pay. Others intend to make donations to charity or to the family of Representative Dewayne Bunch, a teacher who was seriously injured while breaking up a school fight in Whitley County.
- Hazel Dickens, a folk singer and bluegrass musician who advocated for coal miners, died Friday morning at a Washington hospice of complications from pneumonia at the age of 75. Dickens, a vocalist and double-bassist, became a fixture in the bluegrass circuit in the 1960s and 1970s with her musical partner, Alice Gerrard. The duo performed as Hazel & Alice and released several albums, emerging as some of the earliest prominent women in bluegrass and paving the way for other female folk singers. Dickens's music was later featured in the "Harlan County, USA," Barbara Kopple's 1976 Oscar-winning documentary about Kentucky coal miners. Among her honors was a 2008 induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that a Winchester man found guilty in the beating death of his 10-year-old daughter should be granted a new trial. The court on Thursday found that Patrick Watkins' wife, Joy, had made 17 incriminating statements about him that were played for jurors, but Patrick Watkins was never allowed to respond to or refute those statements, violating his right to confront his accuser. Patrick Watkins was the father of Michaela Watkins, who was found dead in March 2007. Joy Watkins was her stepmother. Both were convicted in Michaela's death and were sentenced to life in prison in September 2008. During the Watkins’ trial, Deputy Coroner Dr. Andy Hamon testified that Michaela suffered from a crushed chest and second and third degree burns on the backs of her legs, buttocks and her heels. She also had multiple bruises on her face. The state medical examiner, Dr. Cristin Rolf, also testified that Michaela’s injuries were the result of an assault, and that burn marks indicated she was placed in scalding water.
- A collision between a CSX train and a passenger car has sent two occupants of the car to the Emergency Room of the Pikeville Medical Center. The accident happened at the Vera Drive Crossing behind the Pikeville Wal-Mart Supercenter on Thompson Road. Pikeville City Police and emergency crews responded to the incident. The identity of those involved was not released.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-24-'11
- The trial stemming from a federal lawsuit filed by Mary Webb, the widow of Robert Webb, a Raleigh County man who was shot to death by two deputies in 2006 at his home, is scheduled to start May 2nd. The lawsuit alleges Deputies Greg Kade and John Hajash, two sheriff's deputies responding to a neighbor's complaint on July 4, 2006, that Webb was playing loud music and shooting his semiautomatic gun, shot Webb, then improperly denied him immediate medical treatment. He died at the scene. The Deputies claim they shot Webb after Webb pointed the gun at them. County officials have said the deputies followed proper procedures. Mary Webb and other family members say they were celebrating Webb's 44th birthday and Independence Day.
- Police in Hurricane are investigating after a business was robbed at knifepoint around 2:00 A.M. Saturday morning. Police say a man showed a knife at Mama Rosa's, a gambling establishment located in the 400 block of Hurricane Creek Road, and demanded cash before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of money.
- A body found burning in a dumpster at an apartment complex in Woodbridge, Virginia on March 23rd has been identified as Erica Maynor, 23, of Kenova, West Virginia. Virginia Police say, when officers arrived, the body was burned so badly they could not determine the sex of the victim. Family members say Maynor grew up in Kenova and had recently moved to Virginia with her 1-year-old daughter. The cause of death is still under investigation.
- Donald Smith, 45, of Davis, died Friday while kayaking with friends on the Blackwater River in Tucker County. Hoy Murphy, public information officer for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, says the friends were in individual kayaks. When Smith did not return, his friends went looking for him and found him pinned in the water. He was dead at the scene.
- Congressman Nick Rahall and Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin announced Friday Logan County is getting $1 million for water and sewer projects. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It includes an $840,000 grant and a $230,000 low-interest loan. Rahall says it will extend sewer service to about 105 households.
Friday, April 22, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky..4-23-'11
- The University of Kentucky plans to install a new $6.25 million sound system and video scoreboards in Commonwealth Stadium before the first home football game in September. The proposal has raised questions among some faculty at the cash-strapped university, which hasn’t given raises to most employees for three years. UK’s athletics association said it would fund $3.1 million of the upgrade with an internal loan and $3.15 million from private money. It would reimburse the loan over a period of no more than five years, if the upgrade is approved by the board of trustees and other committees. UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the school found money for the loan in its working capital, dollars used for daily operations.
- Ross Brandon Sluss was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after a jury convicted him last month of driving under the influence and causing a crash in Martin County that killed ten year old Destiny Brewer. Last month, a jury convicted Sluss of murder, DUI, and four other charges. Prosecutors presented evidence that Sluss, who crossed the center line on Ky. 40 on June 25th, had smoked marijuana and taken Hydrocodone and other prescription drugs. Commonwealth's Attorney Anna Melvin said there was also evidence that Sluss did not apply his brakes before his car hit Blanche Robinson's head-on.
- Winchester Police say 38 year old Randall Hagan, a Perry County man involved in a chase and shooting on April 1st, ran from officers because he was having a tough time emotionally. Following a chase, Hagan refused to show his hands and appeared to be reaching for something when a detective fired, hitting Hagan in the shoulder. Police say Hagan told them he was on his way back from visiting his sick mother in Ohio, and the prognosis wasn't good. Hagan told officers he was just focused on getting home to Perry County.
- A jury recommended a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday afternoon after convicting Robin Mapel Thursday afternoon in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Patrick. Mapel was accused of kidnapping Patrick and fatally shooting her in November 2008 after he 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 murder happened in Morgan County, but the trial, which began on April 14th, was moved to Carter County. The Morgan County Commonwealth's Attorney said at the request of Patrick's family he did not seek the death penalty against Mapel. The family says "that's too easy of a punishment" for Mapel. Formal sentencing for Mapel is set for June 6th.
- A judge in Louisville has found a Somali immigrant guilty of killing his four children, ages 2 through 8, as well as raping and trying to kill his wife. Biyad was accused of slitting their throats in 2006 following an argument with his wife. It took about 20 minutes for Jefferson Circuit Judge James Shake on Friday to rule that Said (sy-EED') Biyad was guilty on all counts. He had taken the stand in his own defense Friday, the final day of the trial, and claimed he did not kill his children. His defense team argued an insanity defense, but Shake ruled he was sane. Sentencing is scheduled for June 9th. Biyad could receive life in prison without parole.
- Attorney General Jack Conway has joined 17 other state attorneys general in calling on Pabst Brewing Co. to stop marketing "Blast by Colt 45" toward youth. Pabst introduced the fruit flavored malt beverage with an alcohol concentration of 12 percent earlier this month in 23.5 ounce cans. Conway said each can contains the equivalent to nearly five servings of alcohol. Conway says he believes Blast poses "a serious health and safety risk" for youth at a time when the country is fighting to prevent binge drinking. The attorneys general have sent a letter to the company asking the alcohol content be lowered.
- The Council on Postsecondary Education, the panel charged with approving tuition increases for Kentucky's public colleges meets next Wednesday and Thursday in Elizabethtown. On the agenda is whether to give the thumbs up to as much as 6 percent tuition increases for undergraduates. Officials at the universities of Louisville and Kentucky have said they want to raise their in-state undergraduate tuition by 6 percent. Eastern Kentucky University is considering a 5 percent increase. The council's staff has recommended that community colleges be allowed to raise tuition by 4 percent. Also on the agenda is a proposal that would effectively allow the University of Louisville to charge students $98 per semester to help pay for the construction of a new student recreation center.
- Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael has refused to allow public defender Eden Davis Stephens to withdraw from the murder trial of Timothy Meskimen. Meskimen, 39, was arrested after Edgar Hurst, 50, was found beaten to death and hidden under some brush along North Broadway in Lexington last year. Meskimen appeared in court for a status hearing Friday. Stephens, who is resigning to become a stay-at-home mom to her newborn child, has been out of the office on maternity leave since December. Ishmael expressed some concern with releasing the lead attorney on the case so close to the trial date scheduled to begin May 17, especially after Meskimen told his attorneys he did not wish to have the trial postponed. Meskimen is scheduled for another status hearing May 6th after DNA evidence is expected to be returned in the case. If convicted of murder, Meskimen faces 20 years to life in prison.
- Leo Marcum, a Republican state representative from Inez from 1978 to 1979 and Commonwealth’s Attorney in the 24th Judicial District, which covers Lawrence, Johnson and Martin counties from 1987 to 2002, was suspended from practicing law for three years by the state Supreme Court, which acted Thursday on a recommendation from the Kentucky Bar Association. Marcum, who is also facing charges of not paying state and federal income taxes, was suspended for mixing client money and his own money in an escrow account and not answering truthfully when asked by the KBA about the money. Financial records of Marcum’s escrow account show he was using the account to pay for his personal expenses as well as expenses relating to his clients’ cases. Lawyers are not allowed to mix client money with office or personal funds. Marcum pleaded not guilty in April to six felony counts of not paying state income taxes from 2004 to 2009. He also faces charges in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky for not paying $1.3 million in back federal taxes. That case is still pending.
- The state Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that would decide whether the state can regulate betting on videos of previously run horse races, including the game Instant Racing. The state Supreme Court denied a motion to transfer the case from the state Court of Appeals to the state Supreme Court, meaning the appeal of a lower court ruling on Instant Racing will go to the state Court of Appeals. In December, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled the state can regulate Instant Racing. The Family Foundation, which had filed suit challenging the state's ability to regulate Instant Racing, has asked the Court of Appeals to hear the appeal. But the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the racetracks and the Kentucky Department of Revenue filed a motion to have the state's highest court hear the case. The Family Foundation, a Lexington nonprofit, is opposed to the expansion of gambling.
- The Keeneland Association announced Friday that it plans to launch an advanced deposit wagering system this fall. The ADW platform, which will be powered by TwinSpires.com, will allow horse players to wager on Keeneland racing in the spring and fall, as well as throughout the year on other tracks. A statewide initiative to gather photos of every Kentuckian whose name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will kick off at a May 9th breakfast at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset. The photos will be used in the Education Center at The Wall, a learning facility being built near the Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln Memorials in Washington, D.C. The Education Center will build on the visitor's experience at The Wall by showing a photo for every name and telling their stories. The Wall That Heals will be in Somerset from May 9th to the 14th. Planned activities include wreath layings, leaving flags at The Wall and reading the names of all those on The Wall from Kentucky.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-23-'11
- Earlier this week, families of the miners who died at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine received letters from the FBI informing them that they may be eligible for certain government services provided to crime victims under federal law. The two-page letter was signed by Joseph I. Ciccarelli, supervisory special agent for the FBI's Charleston field office and also carried the name of Michael A. Rodriguez, special agent in charge of the agency's Pittsburgh office. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in Charleston has filed two criminal cases related to the Upper Big Branch mine and continues an investigation of the April 5, 2010, disaster. Documents previously made public indicate federal criminal investigators are looking not only at the Upper Big Branch explosion, but also examining potential criminal activity related to hundreds of safety and health violations cited at the Massey mine as far back as 2006.
- The state Supreme Court has put a hold on a decision by Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury to have three workers with the state Regional Jail Authority arrested. The High Court voted 3-2 Friday in favor of a "show cause" ruling. Thornsbury had Southwestern Regional Jail correctional officers Anthony Elkins and Zachary Bassham arrested Thursday for getting jail inmates to his courtroom late for their scheduled hearings. Their supervisor, Sgt. Richard Powers, later showed up in Thornsbury's courtroom and he had him arrested. The Regional Jail Authority says it had several inmate transports to make from the Holden-based jail, but the judge says the jail workers are consistently late with inmates. Judge Thornsbury has until May 6th to file a formal response, and the Regional Jail Authority can answer by May 13th. The case will be submitted for decision May 25th, without oral argument. The Supreme Court says the three arrests are stayed until it makes its final ruling. Justices Menis Ketchum and Thomas McHugh voted against the "show cause" ruling.
- Terry Donaghey applied online a few weeks ago and received an e-mail saying he was chosen as one of the top ten finalists, out of more than 12,000 other hopeful voices, to be the next Aflac Duck. Terry is originally from New York but has lived in West Virginia for 6 years. He is retired now but was a member of the Pinch Volunteer Fire Department until last year. Gilbert Gottfried was making six figures as the voice of the duck but was fired after tweeting inappropriate comments regarding the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March. Aflac plans to notify the winner Monday. Aflac is the No. 1 insurance company in Japan in terms of individual policies in force, according to Fox Business News. One in four homes in Japan buys health insurance from Aflac, according to the Associated Press. About 70 to 75 percent of Aflac’s earnings come from Japan, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
- Developers with TransGas Development Systems say they're ready for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Mingo County site of a proposed coal-to-gasoline plant. TransGas has scheduled the event for May 9th in Wharncliffe. The $4 billion Adams Fork Energy plant will produce 756,000 gallons of gasoline from coal each day. It would be the first of its type in the country. Construction is expected to take four years and create 3,000 construction jobs. TransGas has a state air quality permit and authority to issue bonds from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority.
- West Virginia appears to be getting very close to $4.00 a gallon gasoline prices. Motorists say they are already there with $3.99 popping up at stations in several counties including Putnam, Mason and Kanawha. AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report Thursday listed the average price for regular unleaded at $3.84. It was $3.54 a month ago and $2.85 last year at this time.
- The Kanawha County Commission is going ahead with plans to dispute a claim made by Sandra Shaffer who wants the county's insurance to pay for damages after the Sheriff's Department and Charleston City Police did some digging on her Sissonville property in connection with the ongoing 2003 sniper investigation. County Commission President Kent Carper says the commission rejected a request Friday made by Shaffer's attorney Mike Clifford concerning the attorney representing the county's insurance carrier. Clifford thought the attorney should be excused because of a conflict of interest. Carper says the commission is not terminating the lawyer who actually was retained by the insurance company. Carper says the insurance carrier is now checking out the claim, but he doesn't think Shaffer should receive any money because the property was in terrible shape to begin with and had several meth labs on it. Carper says he does not intend to support any payment whatsoever, but he admitted the controversy is likely headed to court.
- The Wyoming County Sheriff's Department is leading an investigation following the discovery of a body over a hillside off Crumpler Road in the community of Herndon in Wyoming County Friday.
- Two men and a woman are charged with hiding two female teenage runaways in an attic crawl space of a home on Monroe Avenue. The Huntington Police Department arrested Edgar and Terri L. Henderson, along with Timothy Allen Smith. Each was charged with two counts of concealment or removal of a minor child from custodian. They were jailed on individual $200,000 bonds.
- The Boone County Sheriff’s Office arrested eight people Friday and have charged 11 people in total with 46 different charges as part of a drug sting. The arrests have come after drug investigations and purchases from sheriff’s deputies and members of the U.S. 119 Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.
* David “Yogi” White, 60, of Jeffrey, was charged with two counts of delivery of a controlled substance and two counts of conspiracy.
* Matthew Scott Cook, 23, of Madison, was charged with grand larceny.
* Robert L. Bias, 24, of Danville, was charged with grand larceny.
* Scotty Dwayne Wheatley, 31, of Danville, was charged with grand larceny.
* Tommy Ray Berry, 55, of Danville, was charged with delivery of a controlled substance, conspiracy, transferring stolen property and fraudulent schemes.
* Gary Wayne Cooper, 53, of Danville, was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and conspiracy.
* Eric Dale Aleshire, 41, of Jeffrey, was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and conspiracy.
* Jo Ann Jarrell, 51, Madison, was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and conspiracy.
* Robert L. Bias, 24, Danville, was charged with grand larceny.
- The search for a missing Mason County man ended around 11:00 A.M. Friday when the body of 75 year old Bill Mayes was found in a creek about 75 yards from his home on Ashton-Upland Road in Apple Grove. He was last seen April 12th near his home. Family, friends and emergency crews had been searching for Mayes for 10 days in the same area.
- Authorities have identified the body found floating in the Ohio River near Schooner's Waterfront Grille in Huntington Wednesday as 42 year old Charles Russell Cantrell of Charleston. Huntington Police are working to determine what lead to the Charleston man's death.
- Special Agent Steven Jackson, of the FBI, says 56 year old Randall Kyser of Barboursville, was arrested Thursday after responding to an online job posting with an Akron area construction development company in March while posing himself as Major General R. Thomas Keyser with the United States Army and a commanding officer of the Department of Defense's Joint Construction Command. Kyser sent the company a seven-page resume with what appeared to be the seal of the United States Department of Defense and said he answered directly to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his present command. The company requested an interview with Kyser, for which he was paid around $200.00 as reimbursement for his overnight meals and lodging for the interview. A federal investigation revealed there is no record of Randall Thomas Kyser or anyone using the multiple social security numbers associated with his name in the U.S. Army -- current or retired. If Kyser had been hired, his salary would have been $175,000.00, plus benefits.
- The federal sentencing hearing for Charleston wallpaper business owner Clark Deihl has been postponed until August 8th. Deihl was scheduled to be sentenced Monday after pleading guilty in January to bypassing the official bidding process when he redecorated the Capitol office of then Governor Joe Manchin for $300,000 in 2006. Federal prosecutors asked for a postponement a couple months ago saying a federal investigation was still ongoing. Diehl has been cooperating with federal prosecutors for some time. Judge John Copenhaver reminded U.S. Assistant Attorney Hunter Smith he has granted many sentencing continuance requests in the past.
- West Virginia is seeking a federal Medicaid waiver to offer a program that would help people with traumatic brain injuries remain in their homes. In 2009, a Kanawha County Circuit Court judge ordered the agency to apply for the waiver and secure funding for the program. The state Supreme Court denied the agency's appeal of the order earlier this month, saying the waiver application was submitted while state officials awaited a decision on the appeal. The Legislature has appropriated $800,000 for the program.
- The Health Statistics Center at the state Department of Health and Human Resources released a study Thursday detailing how much the average West Virginia smoker could spend on cigarettes over a lifetime. It found that, between 1980 and 2009, the average smoker, who consumes one and a half packs per day, spent about $31,000 on cigarettes. In 2009 alone, that smoker spent $2,121. Over the next 30 years, the average smoker will spend about $119,000 on cigarettes - roughly equivalent to the cost of buying a small house.
- Emergency crews were kept busy after a tractor trailer rolled over in the northbound lanes of the interstate, near the Sharon exit, just after 12:30 P.M. Friday, spilling about 40,000 pounds of steel coil onto the West Virginia Turnpike.
- Work has begun to remodel a 13-story building which will become the new headquarters for the West Virginia Lottery. The Lottery Commission bought the City Center West building along Pennsylvania Avenue in Charleston last year. Lottery officials say they have to replace elevator shafts, make the bathrooms handicap accessible, update the building's electrical system and create a claims office in the lobby, but they hope to be in the building by the end of the year.
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-22-'11
- Kentucky State Police Post #13 in Hazard reported a single vehicle collision on Hwy. 205 in the Vancleve community of Breathitt County. Preliminary investigation indicates Scottie J. Jackson, age 34 of Vancleve, lost control of his vehicle, ran off the roadway striking a rock embankment and a utility pole. The victim was pronounced deceased by the Breathitt County Coroner. Safety belts were in use at the time of the collision and the investigation is continuing by Trooper Glen Combs.
- The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Thursday that federal inspectors issued 134 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at eight coal mines and eight metal/nonmetal mines last month. On March 4th, an inspection party arrived during the evening shift after production had begun at ICG Knott County LLC's Classic Mine in Knott County, Ky. Inspectors captured and monitored the phones to prevent advance notice of their arrival. Classic Mine was issued four unwarrantable failure orders for accumulations of float coal dust, coal dust and loose coal along four conveyor belts in the mine. The operator had been cited 51 times in the last two years.
- James Bargo was arrested Thursday morning in Knoxville, Tennessee after Kentucky State Police say he shot Harold Croley and Charity Carter Tuesday as they sat in a vehicle in a wooded area in the Woodbine community of Knox County. Police said Croley was shot in the head while Carter was shot in the stomach and hand. Both were flown to UK Hospital. Tennessee officials say someone called 911 Thursday morning, reporting the man he'd seen on the news wanted for a double shooting in Kentucky was inside a McDonald's. When Knoxville Police asked Bargo for identification they say he provided a fake ID. Another ID was found on him that indicated he was James Bargo. Police also reported finding several types of pills in a bag belonging to Bargo. Bargo is now in jail in Tennessee facing drug charges along with charges of criminal impersonation. He's also charged with assault and drug trafficking in Kentucky.
- Thursday, the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed an earlier decision and declared Mike Taylor the official Elkhorn City Mayor. A Pike County Circuit Court decision had voided the results in the November race in which Mike Taylor won following complaints that poll workers improperly gave ballots to non-Elkhorn City residents. The city council selected Councilman Johnny Mack Potter to serve as interim mayor.
- Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. and Frontier Nursing Service, Inc. have announced they have entered into a letter of intent for ARH to acquire Mary Breckinridge Hospital and all related healthcare services. ARH and Frontier hope to finalize the transaction within the next 60 to 90 days. The sale will ensure that Hyden and Leslie County will continue to have local access to quality healthcare.
- A Perry County grand jury has indicted 42 year old Deisha White of Dice for allegedly stabbing a woman and burglarizing a home. The indictment says White stabbed Anna Lee Stacy in February. She faces up to ten years in prison on each charge. Her bail is set at one hundred thousand dollars.
- City of Pikeville Regular Commission Meeting will take place Monday, April 25, at City Hall in Pikeville.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that inmates who mail legal documents through a prison postal system have met their court-mandated deadlines, even if the filing doesn't reach the courthouse in time. Justice Will T. Scott found that as long as the inmate put proper postage on the filing and dropped it into a prison's mail system before the deadline, the document is considered filed. The decision, a first for Kentucky, overturns a Court of Appeals ruling. Kentucky changed its rules for inmate filings on January 1st, saying a legal document is considered filed if it has proper postage and is marked as deposited in an institution's internal mail system on or before the deadline set by the court.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court has fined Della Tarpinian of Owensboro $5,000 for contempt of court, saying she continued to improperly practice law without a license after being warned to stop. Chief Justice John Minton, ruled that Tarpinian, who wrote legal filings while running her business, Legal Docs, LLC., had been warned by the Kentucky Bar Association in 2003 about the improper practice of law. The high court found that, despite her denials, Tarpinian continued to offer legal advice and practice law without a license. She has 30 days to pay the fine to the state.
- The U.S. Army has announced that some 500 jobs will be cut at Fort Knox in a cost-saving move that will streamline human resources and training responsibilities. Army spokesman Brian Lepley said Thursday they will be told in 60 days how this inactivation will occur. The trimming, a result of the Department of Defense and Army efficiency reviews, will shave $50 million off the Army’s expense budget. Headquartered in Fort Knox, the U.S. Army Accessions Command will be phased out by the end of the 2012 fiscal year. But the base, which employs approximately 18,600 military and civilian personnel and 2,800 contractors, will continue serving as the national headquarters for human resources and training. By mid-July, there will be a transfer of 81 additional employees to Fort Knox from Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, which is shutting down. The changes will eliminate 195 military and civilian jobs and 290 contracted jobs in Fort Knox. The accessions support brigade, which employees 326 people, will remain in Fort Knox and be consolidated under the Army Marketing and Research Group.
- Norton Healthcare, one of Kentucky’s largest health-care systems, has settled allegations of Medicare overbilling by paying $782,842 to the federal government. Prosecutors say, from January 2005 to February 2010, the Louisville-area health-care provider submitted charges for services that were never performed. The settlement was about twice the overbilled amount. Stephanie Collins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Louisville, says prosecutors could have sought up to three times the overbillings. Norton said the settlement was not an admission to the government’s claims.
- Kentucky State Parks is offering children ages 12 and under free admission to park museums and historic sites. A child receives free admission with the purchase of an adult ticket through October 31st. Coupons for the free entrance are available at www.parks.ky.gov. State park museums and historic sites cover a range of topics, including Native Americans, pioneers, historic homes, natural history and the Civil War.
- Members of a Christian Church in Louisville say a vote to stop signing the state marriage licenses of couples wed in their church is a show of support for gay couples who can't enjoy the same legal benefits. Leaders say the vote by more than 60 members at the Douglass Boulevard Christian Church on Sunday was unanimous. The Rev. Derek Penwell, the church's senior pastor, says members had been discussing the gesture for more than a year. Penwell says they believe it is unfair that ministers can bestow legal rights on a straight married couple but not on same-sex couples. Those benefits include tax savings for couples who file jointly. Church congregations in Ohio, New York, Virginia and Oregon have voted in support of similar actions.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-22-'11
- Thursday, Shirley Bowen took the stand in defense of her husband, retired Huntington Police Captain Foster "Pete" Bowen. All the alleged victims say many of the sex acts between them, Bowen and each other occurred in the couple's Barboursville home in Bowen's bedroom while Shirley Bowen was often home. However, Bowen testified she was very religious and was often out of the home at church or choir practice, and the young boys often came to their home to play and seemed to flock around her husband, but Mrs. Bowen denied seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary. She said it wasn't unusual for the couple to take some of the boys out to eat or even on summer vacations, and that she and her husband have slept in separate bedrooms for years, but when they did have relations, it always happened in her room in her bed. Mrs. Bowen testified the two had a healthy sexual relationship during the years of the allegations and she's never had any marital problems with her husband when it came to sex. The case will resume Monday.
- The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said Thursday it issued 134 citations during its latest round of inspections targeting problem mines. The agency said 60 of the violations were uncovered at coal mines in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee during March. Another 74 citations were issued to metal and non-metal mines in Utah, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada and Idaho.
- Mingo County Sheriff's Deputies say Stephen Hatfield was shot four different times in the head, neck and hand after he got into an argument with Elbert Addair around 12:30 A.M. Thursday on Ned's Branch in Gilbert. Later Addair called Wyoming County dispatchers and reported he had been stabbed. Both men were taken to the hospital.
- Three corrections officers from the Southwestern Regional Jail were held in contempt of court, and each worker was fined $50 Thursday in Mingo County because they failed to bring inmates from the jail to court on time after they had been given warning before this incident.
- Two Charleston Police officers were responding to a backup call from an officer attempting to arrest Thomas Means a fugitive located at the Hardee's on Bigley Avenue Thursday morning. Means was on the run after skipping out on a burglary trial. When Cpl. Keith Peoples showed up to arrest him, Peoples says Means fought back. 911 heard the scuffle coming through the radio and called for back-up. It appears an officer on Washington Street was pulling through a green light at the intersection when he was "T-boned" by the officer on Court Street. The officers were not injured, but both cruisers sustained significant damage. Means was taken to the hospital after the scuffle. When he was released into police custody, he took off and tried to escape.
- Two people pleaded guilty and were sentenced Wednesday for their roles in the murder of Edward Ferrell who was killed at his home in the Madison community of Boone County. Police arrested Ramsey and Davis in February 2009. Jason Ramsey pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and Natasha Davis pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the murder. Ramsey was sentenced to 45 years in prison, while Davis was sentenced to six to 10 years.
- Local dignitaries cut the ribbon on a runway extension project Thursday afternoon which adds 500-feet of space to landing and departing aircraft at Huntington's Tri-State Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration has been pushing airports nationwide to have a 1,000-foot safety zone. Until the construction, Tri-State could operate its runway without the changes, but wasn't comfortable with the plan. The airport now has 500 extra feet of paved surface so larger aircraft can come in or aircraft that have been landing there can now take on more fuel to go greater distances.
- U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller says he has confidence in Toyota Motor Company that it won't have to lay off any workers at its Buffalo plant in Putnam County. The company announced earlier this week plans to slow down its production schedule in the U.S. for the next month and a half because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last month. Rockefeller says he's spoken with the president of Toyota and has been given full assurance the company does not plan to make any layoffs in the near future.
- As he seeks a third term, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones says the next four years could be the most difficult and challenging the city will possibly see in his lifetime. Jones believes climbing out of the firefighter and police officer pension plan holes will be difficult. He noted the problem arose in 1991 before he became mayor. Jones says the city has a total unfunded pension liability of about $200 million, and the Legislature recently passed a measure that will allow Charleston to address the unfunded liability while putting new hires in the police and fire departments into a new pension plan. The city's contribution into the plans will increase by $1.5 million if Charleston leaders opt into the new program, meaning the city would have to pay about $7.8 million into the plans during fiscal year 2012 as opposed to $6.3 million. However, this will keep the city's contribution rate from ballooning to about $27 million in 2031. Jones is just the third mayor in the city's history to seek a third term in office. If he wins and serves a full third term, he will tie D. Boone Dawson who served from 1935-1947.
- The Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District will consider tranferring Veterans Memorial Field House property to Marshall University which wants the property to be used as part of an athletic facilities upgrade that includes a new soccer complex. The group says Veterans Memorial Field House, which badly needs costly repairs, continues to lose money. The park board has had to transfer an average of $67,912 annually the past three years to maintain operations at the facility. Park Board president Dr. Ken Wolfe says, in the past ten years, the board has transferred more than a half million dollars from other park enterprises just to keep the utilities on, and there are not enough revenue raising activities to keep the Fieldhouse operating. If approved, Marshall University would be responsible for the costs of the demolition of Veterans Memorial Field House. The park board will consider the transfer at its meeting April 27th.
- The Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, called on state economic development officials Thursday to disclose details of the incentive package used to entice Macy's to build a $150 million distribution center in Berkeley County. Steve White, director of the Trades Foundation, told state Economic Development Authority members that West Virginians deserve to know the specifics of the deal because the state and Berkeley County Commission are giving Macy's significant tax breaks. Thursday, the state Economic Development Authority voted unanimously to authorize the sale of up to $176 million in bonds to finance the Macy's distribution center. The Development Authority will own the 1.3 million square-foot warehouse and lease the facility and equipment to Macy's so the department store chain won't have to pay property taxes. In exchange, Macy's has promised to create a minimum of 600 jobs. State officials have previously said that the packaging center would employ about 1,200 people full-time and another 700 seasonal workers.
- Thursday, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller sat down with the CEO's of Clark International Logistics of Poca and Ideal Innovations of Clarksburg, two companies that have teamed up to produce a state-of-the-art military vehicle. Clark International is known around the world for rehabbing military vehicles...rebuilding, working on frames, blasting and coating. Currently 91 percent of their business transactions are from outside the U.S., but company president and CEO Eric Clark wants to change that and vie for U.S. military contracts. Clark employs about 35 workers, while Ideal Innovations employs about 60.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-21-'11
- Part of Highway 881 in the Brushy community of Pike County collapsed this past weekend, creating an emergency situation. Highway officials say there is no lane at all, not even a path there now. The road started falling apart last Friday. Highway officials say the embankment was so unstable, a drilling rig that was brought in to help make repairs overturned and fell down the hill. The weekend rain caused the rest of the pavement and everything underneath it to give way. Highway department officials say it will take weeks to make repairs and re-open the road. First, they must stabilize the ground above the highway. They must also replace and stabilize the embankment under the road, and they must get permission from property owners above the slide to do some of the work. There is also an abandoned mine engineers must work around to prevent other problems. Alternate routes are across Ford Mountain and Wolf Mountain, with one lane and no guardrails.
- Kentucky State Police say a tree fell onto U.S. 421 and struck the windshield of a vehicle shortly after 6:00 P.M. Tuesday in the Bledsoe community of Harlan County, killing 44 year old Debra Brock and injuring the driver, Elmer Napier, who was airlifted to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee.
- Officials with the University of Kentucky issued a safety warning Wednesday night after two assaults occurred Monday in the basement of the W. T. Young Library. UK Police say in each case, the alleged victim told them a man crawled under the desk and punctured their feet with a sharp object. The man is described as a white male standing approximately 5'8" to 6'0" with short hair. He was wearing a hat and bright orange shorts or shoes. The victims last saw him walking toward the vending machines in the library's basement.
- Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams released a financial report Wednesday that shows he has raised more than $1.2 million for his GOP primary race, including $446,000 in the past three months, providing him with enough cash on hand to mount a statewide television advertising campaign ahead of the May 17th primary election. The report showed the Williams campaign still has $670,000 in the bank after expenses that included a limited advertising campaign on radio and cable television. Williams faces Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett in the May 17th GOP primary.
- In a move to help the cash-strapped state government, Governor Steve Beshear put up two well-maintained airplanes for sale Wednesday. The planes, a 1975 twin-engine Piper Navajo and a 1967 single-engine Cessna Skyhawk, will be offered for sale on eBay, an online auction site. The Navajo, purchased by the state as surplus property in 1997, had been used by the Kentucky State Police. The Cessna, previously operated by Somerset Community College, was acquired through surplus in 1998. Beshear says the state will save more than $63,000 a year in costs to maintain and insure the two aircraft. The state generated $4.3 million last year by selling surplus real estate and $3.3 million by selling surplus personal property. After the sale, the state will still have five planes and eight helicopters, primarily used for law enforcement.
- Attorney General Jack Conway announced Wednesday that Kentucky, as required under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between the major tobacco manufacturers and 52 states and territories, received its annual payment of nearly $100 million in tobacco settlement money this week. Conway says the money Kentucky receives each year from the MSA provides funding for many invaluable programs from agriculture to education. Kentucky's share of the settlement is approximately $3.45 billion over the first 25 years. Payments are determined according to a formula that is calculated, in part, by the number of cigarettes sold by companies that have agreed to join the settlement. This year's payment totals $99.8 million.
- State Auditor Crit Luallen released a critical review Wednesday of the Kentucky State Board for Proprietary Education, the board that oversees more than 120 for-profit colleges in Kentucky, calling its oversight inadequate. Luallen called for the Board to increase monitoring of the colleges to protect the financial investments of some 19,000 students a year who are paying for educational training and services. The board, which was created by the General Assembly in 1976, is funded by fees paid by proprietary schools. Luallen charged that board members, some of whom work for propriety colleges, lack a clear understanding of their role and lack historical knowledge of some lingering issues. She proposed a stronger orientation program for new members. Proprietary colleges have been under fire at federal and state levels after students complained they picked up substantial debt attending the schools but didn't get the educations or the jobs promised in slick TV ads. In an ongoing investigation, Attorney General Jack Conway has subpoenaed records from six for-profit colleges seeking information about student loan default rates, recruitment practices and job placements. The Kentucky Office of Occupations and Professions said in response to the audit that new procedures will be implemented to improve oversight and that a corrective action plan is in the works.
- The National Weather Service in Louisville reports that at least four tornadoes touched down in Central Kentucky early Wednesday during a storm that hammered several states. Crews were investigating damage in several Kentucky counties, confirming one tornado in Oldham County and another in Simpson County. All confirmed tornadoes were classified EF-0 and EF-1, the least destructive on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Two tornadoes touched down in Clark County about 12:30 A.M. An EF-1 tornado, with winds reaching 80 to 90 mph, started in the Sunset Trailer Park north of Jeffersonville, where 90 mph winds damaged more than 20 trailers. In Franklin County, an EF-0 tornado with 70 mph winds damaged trees and pulled shingles from roofs about 1:30 A.M. The tornado traveled about four miles, touching down about a mile southwest of Frankfort and lifting off several miles east of the city. A stronger tornado caused significant damage in Scott County. An EF-1 tornado, which was on the same path as the Frankfort tornado, leveled buildings on a horse farm on Leesburg Road. The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management says, among the damage reports, were a trio of overturned semi-trucks along Interstate 75 in Boone County, two homes in Calloway County were damaged by fallen trees and a roof blew off a house in Oldham County.
- The board of the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium announced Wednesday that it will join the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners for an international summit when the racing industry comes together sometime this summer to ponder eliminating race-day medication, including common anti-bleeder drugs. Various industry groups are weighing in both for and against a proposed five-year phase-out of all race-day medication. Wednesday, the Keeneland board adopted a resolution supporting measures to work with other thoroughbred organizations to adopt a pragmatic approach for the phasing in of uniform medication rules, testing rules and penalties that will result in thoroughbred racing being conducted in a medication-free environment, both nationally and internationally. After it was revealed that 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown ran legally on steroids, industry groups vowed to ban the drugs from U.S. racing, and within a year most jurisdictions had done so.
- Kentucky State Police say remains found in western Kentucky were those of a man reported missing more than a year ago. Turkey hunters discovered the body on Saturday in southern McCracken County and it was examined at the state medical examiner's office in Madisonville on Tuesday. The KSP says the remains were those of 46-year-old Roger S. Norton of Marshall County. Norton disappeared in February 2010. Positive identification came through comparison with dental records.
- Ohio Governor John Kasich (KAY'-sik) and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear say they're creating a task force to determine how the states might help the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, where business has decreased in recent years. Ohio's Republican governor met Tuesday in Cincinnati with his Democratic counterpart from Kentucky. It was their first in-depth meeting since Kasich took office in January. The pair say their priorities include determining how to fund a $2.5 billion replacement for a nearly 50-year-old Ohio River bridge that links Cincinnati and Covington, Ky. They're considering public-private partnerships and aren't ruling out tolls. They also want their states to share information from prescription drug monitoring programs to help fight prescription drug trafficking. They say a pilot information-sharing program will start this summer.
- The Lyric Theatre has named Los Angeles theatrical entrepreneur Yetta Young as executive director. Young is a performer, producer and director who has presented shows such as "The Pocketbook Monologues," a production of "The Vagina Monologues" with a cast of all African-Americans. Lyric board chair Freda Meriwether said Young "embodies ...experience, energy, enthusiasm and a vision of what all the Lyric can mean to Lexington." The Lyric Theatre served black residents of Lexington before the civil rights movement, when other theaters were segregated. It was a hot spot from 1948 to 1963, then languished for decades before being renovated.
- The Louisville Zoo is planning to celebrate Earth Day with a tree planting, a wetlands restoration effort and a discounted admission for visitors. A statement from the zoo says the Bingham Fellows' Do Something Green campaign will announce an initiative during the event Saturday encouraging residents across the state to be more environmentally conscious. Afterward, volunteers will be invited to help remove invasive plant growth and restore the zoo's wetland as part of the initiative. In addition, the zoo will charge a discounted $2 general admission for the day.
- A former western Kentucky preacher convicted of raping a young girl has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of taking the girl across state lines to engage in sex. The U.S. Attorney's office in Louisville says Jody Dewain Lusk pleaded guilty to the charge as part of a plea agreement that includes a 10-year sentence. Lusk is already serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in Logan County to six counts of second-degree rape and second-degree sodomy. He was accused of taking a 13-year-old girl to a campground in Illinois to have sex in 2009. He says the relationship wasn't sexual at first but the devil "attacks your weaknesses." Lusk is scheduled to be formally sentenced July 21st in Bowling Green.
- The University of Kentucky is showcasing some items it owns that tell the story of the Civil War in Kentucky. An exhibit opens Thursday called "Our Only Hope Was Kentucky," a phrase taken from a letter a general wrote to his wife during the war. Items taken from the rare book, manuscript, photograph and oral history collections at UK tell stories of soldiers, women and divided families. The exhibit also looks at the publishing industry and the development of photographic processes in Kentucky. The exhibit is part of the nation's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
- Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners spoke to hundreds of students in Bell County about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. Nearly 300 students attended the prevention and awareness program at Bell County High School with Attorney General Conway, Operation UNITE, a task force created by 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers to combat drug abuse in Eastern Kentucky, and Mike Donta, an Ashland, Ky. parent who lost a son to prescription drug addiction. Non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, according to Office of National Drug Control Policy. In Kentucky, prescription drug overdose deaths have more than doubled from 403 in 2000 to nearly 980 in 2009. Today, there are more overdose deaths in the Commonwealth than traffic fatalities. The problem is particularly acute in Eastern Kentucky.
- The Music Department of Big Sandy Community and Technical College wishes to invite the entire eastern Kentucky community to their first ever Appalachian Old-Fashioned Gospel Hymnal Sing-A-Long, held on Thursday, April 28th, in the BSCTC Pike Building, first floor, Gearheart Auditorium, at 7:00 P.M., with doors opening at 6:30 P.M.
- Annual unemployment rates were lower in 76 Kentucky counties in 2010 than in 2009, according to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training in the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. In addition, 38 Kentucky counties had a higher annual unemployment in 2010 than in 2009 while Bourbon, Hickman, McCreary, Morgan, Pulaski and Taylor counties each had the same rate for both years. In 2010, 90 Kentucky counties had an annual jobless rate at or above 10 percent compared to 98 counties that recorded double-digit rates in 2009.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-21-'11
- A Cabell County Circuit Court jury listened to some strong allegations, during day three of the trial for retired Huntington Police Captain Foster "Pete" Bowen, when another alleged victim took the stand Wednesday and testified that Bowen took him around several well-respected professionals in the community, including a doctor, dentist and a high-ranking law enforcement leader, and engaged in sexually suggestive conversation with them and even make comments to them about the victim's genitals. The alleged victim testified that he recalled one incident where Bowen cornered him in Bowen's bedroom, threw him on the bed and performed a sexual act on him. After that, he said he shied away from Bowen. Defense Attorney Jay Love has said of the claims, "It's all lies." He says his client was trying to help troubled young boys, not abuse them. There are still dozens more witnesses who could be called to testify during the trial that's expected to continue into next week.
- Police are investigating after a body was found in the Ohio River in Huntington Wednesday morning by a worker at Schooner's Waterfront Grille. Emergency workers recovered the body after it was spotted floating in some debris. The man's body has been taken to the West Virginia Medical examiner's office for an autopsy and identification. Reports indicate the person was wearing a ring and also had a bus card from Kanawha County.
- Radical Action of Mountain People's Survival, a coalition of coalfield residents in Virginia and West Virginia, is asking Alpha Natural Resources to halt mountaintop removal and other surface mining near their homes. The group presented letters to Alpha officials Wednesday asking the company to adopt a more sustainable future for Appalachia. Residents are particularly interested in having Alpha halt mines now operated by Massey Energy. Residents say they hope Alpha officials will be willing to talk about ways to find alternatives to surface mining in the two states.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will re-examine a permit for Massey Energy's Highland Mining Co. in Logan County. In a federal court filing, the Corps says it's seeking a remand of the Reylas surface mine permit granted in March. The agency told U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers it could reinstate, change or revoke the permit. Environmentalists sued days after the permit was granted, alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act. They claimed the permit would wrongly let Highland bury more than 2 1/2 miles of stream. Chambers issued a preliminary restraining order and scheduled another hearing for May 10th.
- Following a tip concerning a meth lab, State Police Troopers L.W. Price and J.S. Crane went to a home on Sugar Creek Drive in Charleston Monday where they spoke with 47 year old Juanita Carrie Haynes, who allowed them to search the home. Price found a trash bag hidden under the back porch steps about six feet away from a garage where they were searching. Inside the bag, troopers found a gas generator, rubber gloves, used coffee filters, an empty bottle of Heet, a reddish-orange coffee filter with purple crystals and a cup containing black crystals. Sgt. L.G. O'Bryan, a certified meth technician, responded to the scene and confirmed the items were components of a meth lab. Haynes was charged with conspiracy, operating a meth lab and possession of altered pseudoephedrine.
- Thirty-nine year old Rogina Helmick of Elkins has been charged with three felony counts of embezzlement, fraudulent schemes, and uttering. Authorities say Helmick embezzled more than $100,000 from several accounts, including payroll and employee Christmas Club accounts, while working at Select In-Home Services for two and one half years. Helmick has posted a $30,000 bond.
- The state Supreme Court has denied Charlie Vance's petition for a new trial. Vance is serving a life-with-mercy sentence for first-degree murder after being convicted in 2000 of fatally shooting Bradshaw Police Chief Chloe "Frankie" Stanton in McDowell County in 1998. The shooting took place inside the police department after Vance was detained for creating a disturbance. Vance's petition asked the court to overturn a circuit court ruling that rejected his claim of excessive interference by the trial judge, but the Supreme Court found no error in the circuit court's decision.
- Seven West Virginia University students were arrested Wednesday morning by the Mon Valley Drug Task Force after search warrants were executed on three residences in the city. All seven are charged with possession with the intent to deliver controlled substances after undisclosed amounts of drugs and currency were seized in the raids. Those charged are Nelson Soelho, 22, Michael Priolo, 22, Brandon Israel, 20, Emeka Nwosu, 20, all from New Jersey, Steven Telo, 21, from Connecticut, Stephen Graziano, 19, of Melville, NY and William Lockard, 20 of Elizabethtown, Pa.
- The city of Milton should soon have more protection. The Milton City Council has approved the hiring of three new, full-time police officers. One of the men who will join the force still has to go to the police academy, but is eager to join the department.
- Tom Bell, Executive Director of the Huntington Municipal Authority, says 200-300 jobs are coming to Kinetic Park. Bell says, because of confidentiality, he cannot release what company, or companies, are bringing the jobs or when the the governor will make the announcement, but he says the future of Kinetic Park has a very bright outlook.
- The Department of Health and Human Resources announced Wednesday that Garrett M. Jacobs, the interim commissioner of the state Bureau for Child Support Enforcement, has been named commissioner. Jacobs is an attorney who worked for two years as staff counsel with the Department of Tax and Revenue. He then spent seven years with the state Attorney General's Office, managing the workers' compensation litigation unit. He started work with the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement as general counsel in 1999 and was promoted to deputy commissioner in 2001. He's been interim commissioner since December 2009.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-20-'11
- Police in Knox County are investigating after two people were shot on Hedden Flats Road in the Woodbine community around 1:45 P.M. Tuesday afternoon. Investigators say James Bargo, 57, of Woodbine, shot his girlfriend, 30 year old Charity Carter of Woodbine, and Harold Croley, age 60 of Corbin, the man he caught her with in what police describe as a lover's quarrel. Kentucky State Police say Bargo walked up to a vehicle parked in a wooded area and shot the two multiple times and fled the scene. Carter managed to make it to Hedden Lane where she was found by people passing by. Carter and Croley were flown to UK Hospital.
- Four Prestonsburg High School students are charged with arson and criminal mischief after allegedly setting a fire in a bathroom setting off the sprinkler system during school. Police say Monday morning four girls were mad at school officials about some suspensions due to a fight. Police say the four girls, age 15 and 16, hung toilet paper from the sprinkler head, sprayed it with hairspray, and set it on fire. The sprinkler quickly put out the flames, but water flooded the bathroom, hallway, and nearby classrooms. The school was evacuated for nearly four hours. Police took them to the Juvenile Detention Center in Breathitt County.
- Appalachian Regional Healthcare registered nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia voted Tuesday to ratify a new three-year contract. The contract covers more than 750 ARH registered nurses represented by the Southern United Nurses and will be effective May 1st.
- Prosecutors laid out evidence Tuesday in the death of 21 year old Jamie Stice, whose body was found last week in a wooded area. Kentucky State Police charged 33 year old Kathy Michelle Coy in the death. She remains in custody at the Warren County Jail in Bowling Green. Hospital employees called investigators after Coy showed up at a Bowling Green hospital with a baby. Kentucky State Police Detective Chad Winn testified Tuesday in Warren County District Court that Coy had told Stice they were going shopping for baby supplies. Winn said Coy used a stun gun to subdue Stice before attacking and killing her with a drywall knife. After attacking Stice with the stun gun, Coy slit Stice's throat and wrists, then cut the baby out of her abdomen. Coy took the baby to a friend's house, where the friend called EMS. Warren County District Judge Sam Potter sent the case to the grand jury. The case could qualify for the death penalty.
- Kentucky State Police have arrested 18 year old David Howard of Manchester on charges of burglary, theft by unlawful taking over $500.00 and criminal mischief for breaking into the Manchester Elementary School on north US 421 in Clay County. Police say two men entered the school illegally, caused property damage and removed several items including an undisclosed amount of cash.
- As part of a budget proposal that includes the first pay raises in three years for faculty and staff, University of Kentucky students would dig deeper to cover a 6 percent tuition increase next school year. The tuition boost would amount to an extra $259 per semester for lower-division undergraduate students from Kentucky, UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. said in a campus-wide e-mail sent Tuesday. Higher tuition would generate nearly $14.8 million in revenue, still leaving a $20 million budget hole. The proposed tuition hike must be approved by UK trustees and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. The tuition proposal goes before UK trustees on May 3rd on the Lexington campus. UK's budget proposal includes a pool of $11.2 million to reward non-UK HealthCare faculty and staff with an average 3 percent salary increase, Todd said. The raises would be awarded based on merit.
- The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents has approved a tuition hike at the Richmond school to the maximum allowed by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. The council has not yet set the maximum percentage. It meets April 28th. A news release from Eastern Kentucky University says the board of regents voted for the undergraduate tuition increase Monday in a regular session meeting. The board also approved a graduate tuition increase and a 3.75 percent increase in meal plan rates.
- Sixty-three year old Jerry L. Cannon, a former pastor at the nondenominational Church of God in Dry Ridge, Kentucky pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of distribution of child pornography. The Federal Bureau of Investigation began an investigation after Fairhope police referred a complaint made by a resident who reported seeing child pornography on a Facebook page. Authorities say Cannon used a total of 13 phony accounts in addition to his real profile, and had more than 600 pornographic images linked to his accounts.
- Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobbie Holsclaw filed a financial report Tuesday showing she raised $22,774 between January 25th and April 15th. The disclosure shows that Holsclaw, who faces state Senate President David Williams and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, doesn't have nearly enough to mount an effective TV advertising campaign before the May 17th primary. During a news conference, Holsclaw, the Jefferson County clerk, plugged expanded gambling as an option that protects the horse industry, while funneling a fresh source of revenue into the state's education system. She touted choice as a key component in improving education. Holsclaw was the last of three candidates to enter the GOP primary race.
- Five remaining stores in the Joseph-Beth Booksellers' chain in Kentucky and three other states are going on the auction block. Lawyers in the case expect several bidders will want to buy and operate the chain. Four of the chain's nine stores have closed as part of a bankruptcy, and company leader Neil Van Uum had hoped to emerge a healthier bookseller without the under-performing stores. But some creditors rejected his plan, making an auction necessary. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in November after suffering declining sales the past five years.
- A May 10th trial date has been set for a Missouri man charged with fatally shooting a western Kentucky man two years ago. Graves County Commonwealth's Attorney David Hargrove says the new date was set on Monday for the murder trial of Robert James "Jimmy" Arnold. Originally scheduled for January, the trial was postponed after a defense attorney had to withdraw for financial reasons. Arnold is charged with shooting 37-year-old Donald Dwain Morris of Hardin in February 2008 and dumping his body under a bridge. Police arrested Arnold in December 2009 in Charleston, Mo, where he moved after Morris' death. Authorities said the men were friends and they and their families were living together when Morris was killed.
- A Louisville woman faces a potential life sentence after her conviction in the death of an 11-year-old boy who was killed while riding a bicycle. Prosecutors argued that 31-year-old Angela Baumia was driving drunk and not paying attention to the road when she hit Dylan Geitgey last June. Defense attorney Elgin Crull argued that Baumia hit him after swerving to avoid another child riding a bicycle. Jurors deliberated about four hours Monday before returning a verdict of guilty on charges of murder, first-degree wanton endangerment, criminal mischief and drunken driving. She faces 20 years to life in prison.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-20-'11
- Three alleged victims took the stand Tuesday, testifying they were abused by former Huntington Police Captain 81 year old Foster "Pete" Bowen. One victim testified he was abused for eight years, and his brother was also victimized. The victim says Bowen would tell him “you don’t let me fondle you as much as your brother does.” One victim says Bowen made him perform oral sex on his brother. Another man testified that, as he approached 12 years of age, he stopped coming around Bowen’s home but he would see other young boys going into the home, and he knew what would happen to them. He says at that point, he regretted not telling anyone. Defense attorneys questioned inconsistencies between testimonies and prior interviews. One man testified his son had been to Bowen’s home to play one time. The defense questioned the alleged victim, saying in previous interviews the phrase “multiple times” was used.
- Three people are facing federal charges related to an attempt to serve an arrest warrant in Elkins that ended in the death of a U.S. Marshal. On February 16th, Deputy U.S. Marshal Derek Hotsinpiller, 24 of Bridgeport, was shot to death and two other deputy marshals were injured while trying to arrest 50 year old Charles Smith, a fugitive wanted on drug and firearm charges. A 14-count federal indictment released Tuesday named Sherry Lou Smith, 49, of Elkins, Anthony Lambert, 23, of Montrose, and Cassandra Smith, 25, of Elkins in a conspiracy to conceal Charles Smith's whereabouts. Authorities say they knew where Smith was living, but lied to investigators both before and after Smith fatally shot Hotsinpiller. Federal authorities found Smith and raided a house at 319 Central Street in Elkins to execute the warrant. Smith was armed and shot and killed Hotsinpiller. Police returned fire and Smith was also killed. The indictment also alleges Sherry Smith, the wife of Charles Smith, lied when she purchased a 12 gauge shotgun in Elkins on July 10, 2007 claiming she was purchasing the gun for herself when it was really for Charles Smith. It's believed to be the gun used to shoot Hotsinpiller. Cassandra Smith is Charles Smith's daughter and Lambert is believed to be her boyfriend. All three defendants made their initial appearances before a federal magistrate judge Tuesday and were released on bond.
- The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday that inspectors have a new tool to alert them to potential flagrant violations of health and safety laws. MSHA says software used by inspectors will now pop up a message when a citation meeting the criteria for a flagrant violation is entered, and it will automatically pop up a form for inspectors to fill out so the violation can be reviewed. Congress authorized the use of flagrant violations carrying higher fines in 2006.
- The National Park Service has identified a body found in the New River Monday morning near Quinnimont as that of missing boater Dean Halsey of Lester. The body was found about 10 miles downriver from where a boat carrying Halsey and four other men capsized on April 3rd. Two men made it to shore and the bodies of two others were recovered the following day. The accident remains under investigation.
- Fifth Ward Charleston City Council member Teresa "Tricky" Reed was arrested in the early morning hours of Tuesday after she rear-ended a vehicle at the intersection of Washington and Clendenin Streets in Charleston. Reed failed a field sobriety test, indicating she was above the legal limit. She could not blow into a machine to gauge her blood alcohol content and then gave consent to have her blood drawn. Councilwoman Reed told police she had two glasses of wine. This is the fourth time Reed has been charged with driving under the influence, but this is considered her first offense DUI because one charge was pleaded down to reckless driving and the other two were dismissed.
- Police say 48 year old Hermie "Ginger" Moore of Dunbar was arrested Monday after she allegedly made threats on her Myspace page toward a Kanawha County family court judge. Moore appeared in front of a judge in March after her child was put in the custody of the state. Police say Moore began posting frequent and erratic statements on her MySpace page on April 4th but on Saturday she made a post that "could be construed as threats to the health and wellbeing of the presiding judge and that judge's family," the complaint says. Those statements referenced kidnapping and hiring "hit men" to kill the judge and the judge's family. Moore has been charged with retaliation against a public official and threatening to commit a terrorist act. She is being held at South Central Regional Jail on $250,000 bond.
- A $459,000 project to enhance security around the Capitol Complex is nearing completion, and nearly all 58 barriers are in place, but the Department of Administration never got approval for the project from the Capitol Building Commission, as required by state law. Under state law, the commission is to review and approve or reject "all plans for substantial physical changes to the grounds and buildings of the state Capitol Complex. State Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury, an ex officio member of the commission, says it is clearly a violation of the rules and the law. In September, the General Services Division put out a request for bids for "Capitol campus landscaping enhancements." They awarded the contract to Oval Construction, the lowest of three bidders, two months later. The project got underway last month and is nearly complete.
- A widely criticized plan to restructure part of Capital High School to fully house East Academy Alternative School as a day program has stalled. Kanawha Superintendent Ron Duerring says a feasibility study had shown restructuring would be too expensive. More than $1 million price tag was the main reason to change the plan.
- U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller announced Monday that about $5 million in federal funding will go to repair highways in seven West Virginia counties that were damaged by strong storms in March and June of 2010. The funding, through the federal Department of Transportation's Highway Administration Emergency Relief Program, will allow for highways in Logan, Mercer, Raleigh, Summer, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties to have work done. Counties affected by the March 12, 2010 flooding will split $2.6 million. That includes Logan, Mercer, Raleigh and Summers counties. The June 11, 2010 flooding damaged roads in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties. Those counties will split $2.4 million for repairs.
Monday, April 18, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-19-'11
- Investigators with the state Mines and Minerals Department were at the scene Monday where Pike County Emergency Management officials say a possible mine blowout spilled slurry across Highway 611 and into yards on Caney Creek. Local officials say it did not get inside any homes.
- Governor Steve Beshear reported Monday that he has banked $4.8 million since beginning his re-election campaign, a total that sends a strong message to potential Republican challengers that they have their work cut out for them in the fall. The campaign had taken in an additional $1.27 million between January 1st and April 15th, and, after expenses, still has about $3.3 million in the bank. “I am grateful for the support of Kentuckians of our hard work to bring economic recovery and prosperity to every community,” Beshear said in a statement. “Though I remain focused on creating jobs and running an efficient and lean state government, I am nevertheless pleased with the campaign’s fundraising success.” Beshear is unopposed in the May 17th Democratic primary. The leading fundraiser on the GOP side as of the last reporting period was state Senate President David Williams, who documented $750,000. Williams campaign manager Scott Jennings said Monday a new campaign finance report is undergoing review and will be filed when that’s complete. The total is expected to exceed $1 million. Louisville businessman Phil Moffett said his campaign finance report will show total contributions of less than $100,000. The Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw campaign submitted a report for a portion of the latest reporting period showing contributions of more than $7,000. The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance requires candidates to file periodic reports on fundraising and spending. The deadline for the latest reporting period is Wednesday.
- Officials in the University of Kentucky health system say they are concerned about an uptick in unpaid bills. UK HealthCare reported $45 million in bad debt during the past seven months, a 49 percent increase over last year and $13 million more than anticipated. The percentage of UK HealthCare’s total billing that went unpaid was 12.9, more than double the national average of 6 percent in 2009. UK HealthCare includes University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, UK Good Samaritan Hospital, Kentucky Children’s Hospital, Kentucky Clinic, and all of UK’s clinics. Sergio Melgar, senior vice president for health affairs and chief financial officer for UK HealthCare, says, while $13 million may seem like a big number, it is a small portion of the overall hospital budget of $1.1 billion. When you are working with such large numbers, an increase of one percentage point can make a multimillion-dollar difference, he said. Caroline Steinberg, vice president of trends analysis at the American Hospital Association, says bad debt at U.S. hospitals jumped 8 percent to $39 billion between 2008 and 2009. Melgar says UK’s overall bad debt is higher than the national average because it serves a high percentage of poor, uninsured patients and is a trauma center where the sickest of the sick are provided care.
- A third suspect has been arrested in connection with copper thefts from Blue Diamond Mine in Perry County. Darin Hensley was arrested after he was found at his mother's house in Bell County Monday afternoon. State police took him to the Bell County Detention Center where he will later be taken to the Leslie County Detention Center. Two other men were charged Thursday for allegedly stealing copper from Blue Diamond Mine.
- Ten people died in eight separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, April 11th, through Sunday, April 17, 2011. All of the fatalities involved motor vehicles, and six of the victims were not wearing a seat belt. Through April 17th, preliminary statistics indicate 171 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011. This is thirty less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2010.
- State police are investigating the discovery of human remains in rural western Kentucky. Police say in a statement that the remains were found Saturday by turkey hunters in a heavily wooded area of southern McCracken County. Coroners from Graves, Marshall, and McCracken counties helped at the scene on Sunday, and the skeletal remains were confirmed to be human. The remains were scheduled to be analyzed on Tuesday by the state medical examiner's office in Madisonville.
- Kentucky State Police have charged a man in the critical injury of his son with a baseball bat. KSP spokesman Don Trosper says officers arrived at a home in Rockcastle County on Sunday morning to find the 9-year-old boy had been struck in the head with the bat. The child was flown to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington and was listed in critical condition. Troopers arrested the boy's father, 34-year-old Jesse Vanwinkle of Livingston, on a criminal abuse charge. He was taken to the Rockcastle County Detention Center, where he remained Monday. The Rockcastle County Sheriff's Department and Child Protective Services are aiding the investigation by the KSP.
- A rock slide in northeastern Kentucky has closed all lanes of U.S. 23 in Greenup County. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says engineers were at the scene of the slide late Sunday night, but all four lanes of the highway were closed through the Monday morning commute. Fallen rock must be removed and engineers must assess the stability of the hillside. Traffic is being diverted through Flatwoods on Ky. 207.
- Four years after throwing his daughter a lavish Sweet 16 celebration, Kentucky oilman Gary Milby is still paying for that party. Milby goes on trial Tuesday in Lexington on federal charges he defrauded more than 375 investors of almost $20 million while he and his associates bought yachts and real estate. A 34-count indictment against Milby says that Milby claimed there was no risk for investors and that he had an extensive record of success in oil and gas production. Prosecutors say he actually had a spotty history of success and every investor lost money. His trial is expected to last four weeks. He faces 20 years in prison on 20 of the charges against him and a maximum fine of more than $5 million.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-19-'11
- James River Coal Co. announced Monday it's completed the $475 million acquisition of International Resource Partners and its marketing subsidiary Logan & Kanawha Coal. The Richmond-based producer of steam and industrial-grade coal says it used a portion of the proceeds from the recent sales of common stock and two sales of notes for the acquisition. James River says the deal expands its offerings of metallurgical coal used to make steel and increases access to export markets. International Resource Partners was a privately held partnership based in Charleston, W.Va. It operates a total of nine underground and surface coal mines in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. The company's mines produced 1.9 million tons in 2010. James River operates mines in Kentucky and Indiana.
- Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants says a letter from accused murderer Shawn Lester proclaiming his innocence will not change how he approaches prosecution. Lester was arrested earlier this month and charged with the August 2003 sniper-style killing of Jeannie Patton. In his letter Lester says he is "confident" he will be acquitted of all charges mainly because he is innocent. Plants says his office will collect all the evidence that exists, that they can find, review it, analyze it and figure out what can be presented to the grand jury and ultimately to a jury and let them make a decision. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 25th.
- Greenbrier County Circuit Judge Joseph C. Pomponio has overturned the conviction of 32 year old David Lee Hurt, saying Hurt's counsel at trial was ineffective. Hurt was convicted in July 1998 after being accused of acting as a lookout when Freddie Lester was fatally shot during a robbery at a Rich Oil gas station in Bluefield. Co-defendant Michael Hopkins confessed to shooting Lester and later recanted testimony implicating Hurt in Lester's death. Judge Pomponio vacated Hurt's life with mercy sentence and ordered he be released on bond.
- Scott Lester Harless, 41, of South Charleston, was arrested early Monday morning and charged with malicious wounding after police say he cut the throat of his wife, 35 year old Elizabeth Harless, with a hunting knife. Elizabeth Harless told police she and Scott Harless had been arguing all day. She said, when she was going to bed, he grabbed her from behind and put a hunting knife to her throat. Harless says there was a cover on the knife and he didn't think he could hurt her. Harless has been discharged from Charleston Area Medical Center where she was treated for a three- to four-inch laceration.
- State Division of Natural Resources spokesman Hoy Murphy says a patrol found a body in the New River near Quinnimont in Fayette County about 11:00 A.M. Monday. The body was located about 10 miles downriver from the scene of an April 3rd accident when five men went into the river after their fishing boat capsized. The search for missing boater Dean Halsey was suspended last Wednesday.
- Thomas Zamow, 58, a Logan attorney, was sentenced April 11th in U.S. District Court to one year in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Zamow was also ordered to immediately pay a $25,000 fine. He pled guilty November 17th to under-reporting his income and under-paying his income tax from January 1, 2006, through October 17, 2007. He is free on bond and is expected to report to a federal institution.
- Fred Hammon and Anthony Randolph were arrested in September after a fight broke out in the parking lot at Andrew Jackson Middle School in Cross Lanes, ending with Hammon firing several shots. Hammon pleaded guilty Monday to wanton endangerment and having a gun on school property, and Randolph pleaded guilty to battery, for hitting two people with brass knuckles. Hammon will be sentenced May 23rd and Randolph will be sentenced June 1st.
- Police say Ronnie McCallister was driving along Coal River Road near St. Albans early Monday morning when he passed a police cruiser, and the officer couldn't see his license plate because of a burned out light. The officer pulled him over and found he had a suspended license, marijuana in his pocket and meth in his truck.
- Jane Kennedy, a physics teacher at Riverside High School, was honored last week when the Kanawha County Board of Education named her the county's Teacher of the Year. Kennedy has spent 27 years as a teacher. Before going to Riverside, she worked in Wayne County, and at Sissonville High School and George Washington High School. Mark Gibson, a custodian at Montrose Elementary School, won the service worker of the year award.