Saturday, April 30, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-1-'11
- Here are the most recent death tolls in the states hit hardest by the storm system that spawned dozens of tornadoes across the Southeast, killing at least 341 people:
-- Mississippi: 35 dead
-- Tennessee: 34 dead
-- Georgia: 15 dead
-- Virginia: 5 dead
-- Louisiana: 2 dead
-- Kentucky: 1 dead
- Whiskey distilleries are making a slow comeback in Tennessee, two years after a state law overturned Prohibition-era restrictions on the manufacture of distilled spirits. Corsair Artisan Distillery in Nashville is one of only two distilleries that have set up shop so far in the state, The Tennessean reports. The other is moonshine-making Ole Smoky Distillery in Gatlinburg. Local distillers say the modest beginnings are the start of a growing movement for Tennessee to reclaim its whiskey-making heritage. They predict in less than a decade whiskey enthusiasts will be flocking to Tennessee's micro-distilleries just as wine lovers visit the Napa wine country in California. Several other distilleries are in development. Andrew Webber, distiller and president at Corsair, said startup costs can range from about $500,000 to as much as $12 million.
- Pikeville College took a bold step forward Saturday as it changed the name they held for 121 years. Beginning July 1, the college on the hill will be known as the University of Pikeville. The name change was announced by Terry Dotson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The decision of the Board was announced as unanamous. President Paul E. Patton said the University would continue to seek ways to serve the citizens of the region.
- Kentucky Lake could reach record levels before next Friday. According to a news release from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the utility is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to retain water behind Kentucky Dam to reduce flooding on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers downstream. TVA expects the lake on the border between Tennessee and Kentucky to reach about 374 feet on Thursday, 15 feet above the normal summer pool level. Neighboring Lake Barkley is also expected to be high as well as other reservoirs along the Cumberland River basin as the corps reduces flows from those dams. The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area has warned visitors who use the trails, roads, camping areas and boat ramps to be extremely cautious and observe all closures.
- A central Kentucky church is hosting an exhibit to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible being published. The exhibit at Harmony Christian Church in Georgetown will include pages from an original 1611 King James Bible, as well as will pages from earlier versions of the Bible. Exhibit organizer Perry Ryan told the Georgetown News-Graphic that he hopes it will result in a greater awareness of struggles that English-speaking scholars endured to get an English translation of the Bible printed. The exhibit runs 4-8 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.
EKB Capsule News..West Virginia....5-1-'11
- Jeffrey Allen Acord, 46, of Sandstone, who pleaded guilty to three counts of negligent homicide in connection with three drownings on the New River earlier this month will avoid jail time, but will have to pay a total of $1,080.42 in fines and court fees. On April 3rd, Accord was operating a jon boat headed upstream on the New River near Meadow Creek when the boat flipped after one of the four other passengers stood up. Acord and another man swam to shore safely, but the three other men drowned.
- Mary Bowles, 67, was arrested Thursday evening at a residence in the Hinton area of Summers County and charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Cathy Jo McCoy. McCoy's remains were found on Hix Mountain last month after she was last seen in Hinton in 2004.
- The special primary election for governor is scheduled for May 14th, but early voters began casting their ballots Friday. Early voting runs until May 11th.
- Charleston Police arrested 61 year old Charles Bumphas Friday after witnesses say Shaminique Prosper was crossing the street at Washington and Rebecca Streets on Charleston's West Side when she was struck by a car, knocked to the ground and run over by the tire. Witnesses tell police Bumphas stopped, got out of his car, and then got back in and took off. Prosper was taken to the hospital with a broken leg. Bumphas was taken to South Central Regional Jail on charges for failing to render aid to an injured person and driving on a revoked license. He was placed on a $5,000 cash-only bond.
- Late last week, Gary Belcher of Prichard was charged with fourth-offense cruelty to animals and violating an order that he was not to have dogs on his property for five years. Seven dogs were taken from his home. Nearly one year ago, 90 malnourished dogs, horses and mules were taken from his home.
- Cabell County and Steel of West Virginia plan to challenge Huntington's new 1 percent occupation tax. John O'Connor with Steel of West Virginia says the lawsuit will challenge the tax's constitutionality and the way it was approved through the state Home Rule Board. The new tax is part of a tax reform package adopted by Huntington City Council to replace its user fee.
Friday, April 29, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-30-'11
- The East Kentucky Leadership Conference wrapped up Friday in Pikeville. At the East Kentucky Leadership Conference, everyone from teenagers to state officials, discussed the region's issues related to health, education, economy, and the drug problem and how to fight them. State Commissioner for Local Government Tony Wilder was the keynote speaker Friday.
- Sixty-three year old James David Gibson is awaiting extradition back to Arizona after being arrested in the Jenkins area of Letcher County. Gibson allegedly sexually assaulted his niece repeatedly in the late 1970's and early 80's.
- Leland Stephens, a Tennessee man charged with murder, entered a guilty plea Friday morning in a Knox County courtroom. Stephens pleaded guilty to a variety of charges, including complicity to commit murder, tampering with physical evidence, and arson. State Police arrested Stephens last year for the 2005 murder of Kenneth Wilson. Police believe Wilson was killed in his Woolum home with a hammer before his house was burned down.
- Kentucky transportation officials are temporarily suspending some regulatory restrictions for vehicles involved in flood-relief efforts. Governor Steve Beshear says easing the restrictions will expedite the delivery of supplies and emergency services to stricken communities. At Beshear's direction, state Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock temporarily lifted some restrictions on commercial vehicles delivering food, water, medicine and other critical supplies. The order also applies to vehicles involved in restoring public utilities. Under the order, drivers can be exempted from maximum driving times and from the requirement to stop at weigh stations. The order also allows for a temporary waiver of size and weight restrictions in certain instances. However, carriers must obtain all necessary permits and comply with all other safety requirements. The order is in effect until May 15th.
- U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove on Thursday sentenced 58 year old Pearl Combs Jr. to 18 months in prison; 72 year old Lewis Baker to 10 months in prison and 47 year old Charles Marvin Herald to six months in prison. The men, all from Hazard, were indicted last summer on federal vote-buying charges related to last year's primary election. The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Kentucky says all three admitted they conspired to buy votes in the election.
- Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says a grand jury has indicted three people in connection with a scheme to mail large quantities of prescription pain pills to the state from Florida. The indictment charges 27 year old Peter Nibert of Pasco County, Florida with conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances and being a persistent felony offender. It also charges 36 year old Scotty Dewayne Highsmith and 24 year old Cary Alder, both of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, with conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances. Governors of both Kentucky and Florida have urged Congress to help states fight the illegal distribution of prescription drugs.
- Cumberland Circuit Judge Eddie Lovelace says he plans to rule before the May 17th primary on whether to unseal depositions in the 2003 divorce of GOP gubernatorial candidate David Williams and his ex-wife, Elaine Webb, who have both objected. Williams' attorney, Angie Capps, says Williams wants to protect his ex-wife's privacy and has questioned the urgency to unseal them. The Courier-Journal filed a motion to unseal the documents. Newspaper attorney Jeremy Rogers says it was a "game changer" when Williams, the state Senate president, filed to run for governor.
- Friday, University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari toured several Excel Mines in Martin and Pike Counties that are owned by Joe Craft's Alliance Coal. Craft told workers if they made it to 400 days without time lost due to an accident, he would bring the coach to the mines. On his Twitter page, Coach Cal said, “I get to feel for what my relatives did during their time in the mines. You want to talk about salt-of-the-earth folks? These are them." “It means so much to me and my family that I'm able to share time w/all these hard-working folks,” Coach Cal tweeted.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-30-'11
- Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman with the Mine Safety and Health Administration has confirmed that Massey Energy wants to abandon and seal up the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County where 29 miners were killed in an April 5, 2010 explosion. The mine has been under federal investigation since the disaster. Louviere says a meeting is scheduled for May 5th to discuss the closure. The meeting will include officials from Massey, MSHA, state leaders and the United Mine Workers of America. Louviere says it is unclear whether there are any legal issues with sealing the mine, since the explosion has civil and criminal cases pending against it.
- Mason County Sheriff's Department confirmed the state Medical Examiner has ruled Bill Mayes' death as suspicious. Mayes, 75, of Ashton, in Mason County, had been missing since April 12th. His body was found on April 22nd near his home.
- Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding has granted a new trial for Joseph Lavigne Jr., vacating a jury’s ruling in his 1996 conviction. Judge Spaulding ruled on the basis of inconsistent statements, circumstances surrounding the crime, deficiencies in the police investigation, erroneous jury instruction, allowing an incompetent witness to testify and limiting Lavigne to four character witnesses. Lavigne has been at Mount Olive Correctional Complex since the jury found him guilty of raping his 5 year old daughter outside their Hurricane home.
- State Police say Ronnie Britton II, 40, of Alum Creek, in Lincoln County, was armed with a shotgun when troopers arrived at his home Friday morning after receiving a complaint from volunteer firefighters. Troopers say they tried to talk Britton into dropping the gun, but he refused and came toward them in an "aggressive manner." Two troopers fired their weapons. Britton was taken by helicopter to Charleston Area Medical Center in critical condition after being shot three times. Britton was in the news earlier this week when the state Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals voted to suspend his four coal mining certificates for one year. State regulators say Britton falsified his credentials to work as a foreman.
- Brent Boggs, 53, of Ivydale, in Clay County, a man accused of a murder for hire scheme, was in court Thursday on charges he violated his home confinement by cutting off his electronic monitoring device. The Clay County Sheriff's Department says cutting off the device is a felony, but Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Dotson didn't present any evidence Thursday, causing the charge to be dismissed. Clay County Sheriff Randy Holcomb says, "When you cut the strap, that constitutes escape." However, Clay County Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Dotson says it's not that clear cut. Dotson says, "being on home confinement in lieu of bond is not a custodial situation." Boggs had been sent to jail on half a million dollar bond, but was given home confinement after being accused of attempting to hire two undercover state troopers to kill Daniel Kessler, a former business associate in Kanawha County. According to police, in January, Boggs unknowingly offered two undercover West Virginia State Troopers cash and gifts to kill Kessler. Kessler says, "Brent Boggs offered these troopers money and a vehicle to cut my head off and bring it back in a five-gallon bucket." Kessler said, "I'll probably be on the news or in jail. Because I'll be the one who ends up shooting him. What other choice do I have?"
- Christian Bowles, the 19 year old accused of stealing ATVs in Sissonville in January, was sentenced to between six months and two years in the Anthony Center Friday. Bowles pleaded guilty in March to one felony and three misdemeanor charges of burglary of vehicles and outbuildings. Shoe prints in the snow in January along Poca River Road led police to Bowles and Shane Peck, who faces several criminal charges.
- Right now, the federal debt ceiling is set at $14.3 trillion. U.S. Treasury officials say the country is on track to reach that ceiling by the middle of May. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin says he is not going to vote to raise the federal debt ceiling next month unless such an increase comes with a clear long term plan for reducing the U.S. debt. Manchin says the government needs to get its financial house in order. He has signed on to support the American Prosperity Act, called CAP, along with a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would require a balanced budget every year. Many Republicans are taking similar stands. Illinois Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. issued a statement saying the two measures "allow gutless politicians to sound tough on spending without proposing real solutions." The statement from Jackson continued, "I am afraid that Senator Manchin has bought hook, line and sinker, the Republican falsehood that Washington doesn't have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. Buying into this fabrication implies that there is only one solution to this problem -- cut spending." In response, Senator Manchin said, "I'm just surprised that a Congressman from Chicago, Illinois named Jesse Jackson, Jr. would attack Joe Manchin, a freshman Senator, thinking that I, for some reason out of the clear blue sky picked something, and tried to use the fear factors, and that he would do that unsolicited."
Thursday, April 28, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-29-'11
- During the East Kentucky Leadership Conference Thursday in Pikeville, leaders from across the region gathered to discuss topics aimed at decreasing obesity, cancer rates and other illnesses. They also focused on education and the economy. Leaders talked about the good and bad of the region and discussed how to tackle problems together.
- Eighty-three year old Willard Kinzer, the owner of Kinzer Drilling in Floyd County, is this year's Tony Turner Award Winner. After being expelled as a high school freshman, Kinzer joined the Navy at the age of 16 and served during the last months of World War II. In 1951, he took over his family owned business and began expanding it. The Kinzer family companies now operate more than 2,200 wells. He's been a big supporter of Pikeville College and the arts in the Big Sandy region, is actively involved in his church and helped form the Wesley Christian School. Kinzer says he ha no plans to retire.
- Governor Steve Beshear traveled to western Kentucky Thursday to personally view storm damages. During a stop in Paducah on Thursday morning, Beshear announced he has asked the White House for federal assistance to help the state recover from severe flooding. Beshear said, "Every agency of state government is fully engaged in assisting people in this commonwealth in every way that we can." Beshear has estimated damages from flooding, storms and tornadoes at $34 million and climbing. He says the state has exceeded the $5.2 million threshold needed to start the process of requesting federal damage assistance. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Senator Rand Paul, both of whom have been at odds with the Obama administration on federal spending, co-authored a letter to the president on Thursday urging Obama to give "timely and serious consideration" to Beshear's request.
- Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway wants victims of recent severe storms and torrential downpours to be aware of scam artists who may try to prey upon their misfortune. Conway says consumers needing work done quickly to repair storm-damaged homes and property are at risk of falling victim to fly-by-night contractors, also known as "storm chasers." Common natural disaster scams include outright fraud, shoddy construction, charity scams, impersonating officials, and loan scams. Conway is urging consumers to call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 to report any incidents of possible fraud or shoddy construction work and repair.
- Lawyers for Kentucky are calling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to detonate a Missouri floodwall to prevent catastrophic flooding in the city of Hickman. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said Thursday he had intervened in a federal lawsuit asking a federal judge to allow the Corps to breech the levee. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also intervened in the case to protect Cairo, Illinois, from flooding. Missouri Assistant Attorney General Jack Mc Manus says breeching the levee would flood about 90 homes, displace 200 people and could sweep up fertilizer and other chemicals, creating environmental hazards.
- So far in Kentucky, one death has been attributed to the storms and flooding. Off-duty Kentucky State Police Officer 30 year old Andrew Washington of Murray, in western Kentucky, died Wednesday after his car hit a pool of water and slammed into a utility pole. Washington, who worked for the Mayfield Police Department, joined the Mayfield police in 2007.
- Jason Fields and Crystal Baker were taken to the Leslie County Detention Center Wednesday and charged with manufacturing meth after police went to an abandoned house on a hollow just off of U.S. 421 just outside of Hyden and discovered an operating meth lab.
- University of Kentucky officials said Thursday they are no longer asking for approval of an internal loan to the school's Athletics Association to partially pay for new scoreboards and a sound system at the University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium. Instead, the Athletics Association asked the board of trustees to allow it to use private funds. The UK Senate Council passed a resolution Monday saying it "strongly opposes" a $3.1 million loan for the project. The $6.25 million project will now be financed entirely by private funds, including a withdrawal of up to $4.6 million from an athletics department endowment fund.
- Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, is seeking a national ban on performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing, calling for a federal role in a sport that lacks uniform standards. Udall plans to unveil the bill next week, ahead of the Kentucky Derby. Under the legislation, any person with three violations of the ban would be permanently banned from horse racing. A horse that tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs three times would receive a two-year ban. The bill comes three years after some in the industry urged the federal government to get involved.
- A horse farm and condo are being auctioned to help recover money that lawyers stole from clients in a multimillion-dollar fen-phen diet drug settlement. Attorneys Shirley Cunningham and William Gallion are serving federal prison sentences after being convicted in 2009 of defrauding their clients. A federal judge has ordered them to pay more than $100 million in restitution and property forfeitures. Federal authorities hope to collect more than $3 million from the sale on Friday of Hillcrest Farm in Georgetown, a 160-acre complex once owned by Cunningham. The U.S. Marshals service also ordered the auction of Cunningham's $266,000 condo in downtown Lexington.
- Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams and his running mate, Richie Farmer, defended Farmer's controversial state expenses Thursday before boarding a big blue-and-white bus to start their "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way" campaign tour of the state. Williams, president of the state Senate, and Farmer, state agriculture commissioner, appeared together at a news conference in Louisville before leaving on their bus tour that will run every day except Sundays through May 16th. Farmer was peppered with questions by reporters about state-paid expenses including a $359-per-night Lexington hotel suite for four nights last month during the Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament, a trip to a conference at a Caribbean resort, a new sports utility vehicle for his use and an about-face to participate in the state's six furlough days. Farmer first refused to participate in furloughs but agreed this week to donate six days of his $110,346-a-year salary to charities. He said the Sweet Sixteen trip was to promote his department's "Kentucky Proud" program to urge Kentuckians to buy local food products. As for the Caribbean trip, Farmer said he does not pick where the conference is held.
- Thursday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett's campaign dismissed as "absurd" a complaint that it may have coordinated with an out-of-state tea party group that is running at least one radio ad in Kentucky promoting Moffett's candidacy. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance attorney Emily Dennis warned the Moffett campaign in a letter to "cease and desist" any discussions it may have had with Western Representation PAC. Dennis said the Moffett campaign could end up in violation of state law if it is cooperating with the political group. Nevada-based Western Representation PAC, chaired by former Alaska tea party Senate candidate Joe Miller, endorsed Moffett for governor in March. And Miller was in Kentucky last week campaigning for Moffett. Miller said in a statement on March 30th that his group had launched an independent expenditure campaign to benefit Moffett. He said the group also would make a direct contribution to the Moffett campaign and activate volunteers in the state to work to get him elected. Moffett campaign manager David Adams said Thursday. "I'd love to have a real fight over this on the merits or on the basis of our free speech rights. We won't be scared off by this nonsense."
- The Council on Postsecondary Education met Thursday in Elizabethtown where they set maximums for tuition increases at state-funded colleges and universities. The panel set a maximum tuition and fee increase of 6 percent for the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, 5 percent for comprehensive universities and 4 percent for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Council officials said the tuition increases were necessary to help offset cuts in state funding and expected increases in operating expenses and maintenance. The six comprehensive universities are Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-29-'11
- After nearly six hours of deliberation, a jury returned a verdict Thursday convicting former Huntington Police Captain 81 year old Foster "Pete" Bowen of 34 counts of sexual abuse on boys, occurring more than 20 years ago. Bowen's attorney, Jay Love, says an innocent man was convicted on very weak evidence, inconsistent evidence and evidence so far beyond the realm of belief of common sense. Cabell County Prosecutor Chris Chiles said it took courage for the victims to get on the witness stand in front of 14 strangers and tell them about the terrible things that happened to them. Bowen could face a maximum sentence of well over 400 years when sentenced June 23rd.
- U.S. Marshal's Service task force members, acting on a tip, apprehended 32 year old Crystal Seigler Clark without incident at 10:30 A.M. CDT Thursday at a motel in Jackson, Tennessee, about 90 miles northeast of Memphis. Clark's 13 month old daughter, Chloe Clark, was found unharmed and was turned over to Tennessee Child Protective Services. Clark was transported to the Madison County sheriff's office for processing on a fugitive from justice warrant and to await extradition proceedings back to Mingo County, West Virginia, where she's charged with first-degree murder in the death of her husband, David Clark.
- National Weather Service investigators have confirmed a tornado touched down Wednesday about five miles north-northeast of Richwood in rural Nicholas County. According to the preliminary storm survey, the twister touched down at 10:58 P.M. and skipped up and down off the ground several times before lifting some 1300 yards later. Maximum wind speeds with this storm were rated at 110 miles per hour which would place it as an EF-1 rating on the enhanced Fujita damage scale. At its maximum width, the tornado was estimated at 100 yards wide.
- Forty-nine year old Sherry Lou Smith, her 25 year old daughter Cassandra Smith, and Cassandra's 23 year old boyfriend, Anthony Lambert of Montrose, will stand trial May 31st in Elkins on charges related to a February 16th shootout that killed U.S. Deputy Marshal 24 year old Derek Hotsinpiller and 50 year old Charles E. Smith. Federal and state officials had gone to Smith's Elkins home to arrest him on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The three suspects pleaded not guilty earlier this week on charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice, making false statements and possessing a machine gun.
- Law enforcement officials will be posted at several locations in the Kanawha Valley Saturday to accept unwanted or expired prescription drugs as they participate in the second annual U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's nationwide "Take Back" initiative. Last year the program netted a little more than a ton of pills in West Virginia alone. The nation as a whole turned in more than 121 tons of pills, according to the Office of Diversion Control, which operates under the DEA. A survey conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy shows one-third of the people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 started by abusing prescription drugs. More than 70 percent of people who abused prescription pain medications got them from family members or friends while only 5 percent got them from a drug dealer or over the Internet.
- More than 5,000 customers were without power Thursday morning in the wake of severe storms that moved across West Virginia. Appalachian Power's website reported 5,360 customers were without electricity, the majority in Kanawha County, where 1,228 customers had no power.
- Police are investigating after a gas station on Charleston's West Side was robbed at gunpoint just before 9:00 P.M. Wednesday. Police say a black man walked into the Exxon gas station in the 1400 block of Kanawha Boulevard West and brandished a handgun at the store clerk, demanding money from the register before fleeing on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.
- Police arrested 22 year old Kelly Lynn Redman of Ripley on April 21st after Ripley Patrolmen Michael Cummings and Brian Anderson say they found her small children, who were 1 and 2 years old, sitting naked and eating cookies off of a floor covered with garbage, used diapers and animal feces. Redman faces a felony charge of child neglect creating a risk of injury. Cummings and Anderson were responding to Kelly Redman's home on a call of a domestic disturbance between Redman and her husband Albert.
- The Cabell County Commission has voted to challenge the constitutionality of Huntington’s one-percent occupation tax. The 2-1 vote came during Thursday’s Commission meeting. Commissioners Bob Bailey and Nancy Cartmill voted in favor of taking legal action against the Home Rule Board and the City of Huntington. Commissioner Anny Yon says she supports the tax. The one-percent tax is supposed to take effect July 1st.
- A West Virginia coal miner has been disciplined by state regulators who found he falsified credentials to work as a foreman. The Coal Mine Safety Board of Appeals on Wednesday suspended four certificates held by 40 year old Ronnie Britton. The panel also barred Britton from seeking any supervisory certificates for three years. While the state said Britton never held a valid foreman's certificate, he claims to have worked as a foreman for 17 years.
- The Affordable Housing Program has announced nearly $800,000 in grant money that will be used to create housing for low income individuals across the state. Once spent, the money will create 148 new living spaces.
$81,200 to restore 10 homes and make them energy efficient
* Algoma Apartments, Northfork
$250,000 to build eight low income apartments
* Fairmont Southside Home Rehab Program, Fairmont
$98,483 to restore seven homes
* The Flats, Wheeling
$41,370 to convert building into 18 housing units for the homeless
* The Healing Place, Huntington
$250,000 to transform Old Lincoln High School into 100 rehab units
* White Sulphur Springs AHP Project, White Sulphur Springs
$70,000 to build four new homes with Habitat for Humanity and restore another
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-28-'11
- Governor Steve Beshear has estimated damages from flooding, storms and tornadoes at $34 million and climbing. That's more than enough to qualify the state for federal funding to help the state repair infrastructure. Beshear said Wednesday his administration will find the money somewhere to make sure residents in hard-hit areas get the help they need. Kentucky has been under almost constant storm warnings since last week. Rainfall has been measured at 10 to 14 inches over the past six days. Some 25 counties and 11 cities have declared local disasters. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Keith A. Landry said he expects the Ohio River to top the floodwall at Smithland, which is already under an evacuation order.
- KSP Post 9 in Pikeville conducted a search warrant in the Nippa area of Johnson County and arrested 20 year old Zachary Morris on a charge of distribution of matter portraying sexual performance. Morris was lodged in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.
- Despite the rain, state and local officials and members of the Belfry Volunteer Fire Department held a groundbreaking Tuesday for the department’s new satellite station which will be located along U.S. 119 in South Williamson. It is being built through coal severance tax funding secured by Representative W. Keith Hall and Senator Ray Jones, and allocated through the Pike County Fiscal Court. The property was obtained through a partnership with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Construction is slated to begin this summer.
- J.J Wright, a former Letcher County teacher and coach, has arrested on drug charges. Wright is charged with first and second degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with physical evidence. Wright was accused of sexually abusing a 14 year old student during an after school program in 2003. Two mistrials were called before an agreement allowed those charges to be dismissed. Wright was released on a $5,000 surety bond.
- Three lawmakers, Senators Jack Westwood of Erlanger, Bob Leeper of Paducah and Democratic Representative Jim Wayne of Louisville, have reimbursed the state treasury for wages they received during a recess in a special legislative session last month. The state Constitution requires lawmakers be issued checks, even though the legislature was left in limbo for about two weeks in March with the House adjourned and the Senate in recess. The total bill for the period was estimated at more than $600,000. Senator Jack Westwood said, "The law says we have to be paid, but it doesn't say we have to keep it." Treasury documentation showed Westwood repaid $3,309; Leeper, $2,827; and Wayne $3,029.
- Kentucky State Police in Hazard and Alcohol Beverage Control Officials say they seized about $7,000 worth of what's believed to be synthetic marijuana that was being marketed as incense from a liquor store in Glomawr. They will be sending everything they seized to a lab to be tested and charges could follow.
- According to a report published by former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, one of the candidates for the presidency at the University of Kentucky has been identified as Eric D. Fingerhut. Strickland called Fingerhut "a wonderfully gifted person" who built a broad-based coalition of business and education, Democrats and Republicans, during his four years as Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents which oversees 14 universities and 23 community colleges. Fingerhut is a former United States congressman and Ohio state senator. He currently works for a nonprofit organization called Jobs for the Future.
- Three candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run for governor in Kentucky have staked out positions opposing abortion. State Senate President David Williams, Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw and Louisville businessman Phil Moffett say human life begins at conception and should be protected. Republican voters will choose a gubernatorial nominee in a May 17th primary election. The winner of the GOP primary race will face Democratic Governor Steve Beshear and independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith in the fall general election.
- Drop-off sites have been designated across Kentucky to allow residents to participate in this weekend's prescription drug "Take-Back" day. The event, the second nationwide prescription drug collection day, is set for 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. local time Saturday. The service is free and anonymous, and any expired, unused or unwanted medications can be dropped off to be destroyed. Attorney General Jack Conway says taking advantage of the service can help reduce the threat of drugs to families and children.
- Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners spoke to hundreds of students at Prestonsburg High School in Floyd County about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. Approximately 300 freshmen and sophomores attended the prevention and awareness program hosted by Conway and House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “We are in danger of losing a whole generation of kids to prescription pill abuse,” said Conway. “That’s why I am going to schools across Kentucky to warn kids that they are putting their lives and futures at risk by taking pills that are not prescribed to them.” 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 University of Kentucky’s fight song is in the middle of a legal battle. Bro ‘N Sis Music Inc., a New York music publishing company, has sued Louisville-based Papa John’s alleging unauthorized use of “On! On! U of K” in a television commercial, claiming Papa John’s did not seek or obtain a license to use the song. The University of Kentucky believes they have “exclusive proprietary rights” to the song, though they were not named in the suit. Papa John’s, an official corporate sponsor of UK Athletics, claims it was advised in writing that it has permission to use the UK fight song in its advertising. Bro ‘N Sis Music Inc. is asking that it be awarded damages and profits from the infringement in an amount of no less than $150,000.
- A bankruptcy judge has approved the results of last week's auction of Joseph-Beth Booksellers pending the entry of a sales order. The order was expected Wednesday afternoon with the deal closing Thursday. Booksellers Enterprises LLC entered a high bid of $3.9 million for three Joseph-Beth-owned stores in Lexington, Cincinnati and Cleveland and the corporate headquarters, in Cincinnati. It was expected to take over operations Friday. The second-highest bid of $3.8 million was from Joseph-Beth founder Neil Van Uum, who has struck a deal to continue operating the company's store in Memphis, Tennessee. Joseph-Beth was founded by Van Uum in 1986 in Lexington and expanded to include nine Joseph-Beth and Davis-Kidd stores in several states. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in November after five years of declining sales.
- State officials have approved a plan to fix the most troubled schools in Jefferson County. In a letter sent to the Jefferson County Public Schools district on Monday, the state said it accepted recent revisions by district officials in a plan that outlines improvement strategies. The state said the changes better addressed concerns about inexperienced teachers in struggling schools, the number of strategies being attempted for improvement and accountability standards. JCPS planning specialist Dena Dossett says the district made changes after meeting with state officials last week. Two previous plans had been rejected. The Kentucky Department of Education's approval clears the way for up to $4 million in federal funds to help pay for teacher professional development, academic coaches and other instructional support services.
- Fido and Fluffy are now welcome to vacation in Kentucky state resort parks lodge rooms, or some of them anyway. The Department of Parks says its new policy will allow pet owners to bring pets into lodge rooms that have been designated for pets by paying a $25 fee. Each park will have a limited number of rooms available for pets, and an extra $100 charge will apply in pets are taken into non-pet rooms. Pets aren't allowed in cottages but may be taken to campgrounds as long as they are on a leash.
- The Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) Carpentry Program is immersed in the construction of another teaching and learning project in the Cross Creek Community of Johnson County, Kentucky. The BSCTC Carpentry Program prepares students with the skills necessary to sustain competitive careers in residential and construction carpentry. Spearheaded by BSCTC Assistant Professor Michael K. Froman, the Program provides technical and general education studies that encompass classroom and practical experience in field projects. Program criteria includes, blueprint reading, site layout, foundation work, rough framing, roofing, finish work, cost estimation,material list preparation and practical experience.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-28-'11
- Closing arguments began Wednesday afternoon in the Foster "Pete" Bowen sexual abuse case. After seven days of testimony from alleged victims, defense attorney Jay Love argued there were so many lies and inconsistencies in the testimonies that it looked like a machine gun went all over the courtroom and tore it to shreds and all that was left was a bunch of lies hanging from the ceiling. Prosecutor Chris Chiles’ closing arguments said, "This is either the greatest conspiracy since Kennedy was shot, or these seven victims are telling the truth.” The jury will begin deliberations Thursday at 9:00 A.M.
- There is a new person of interest in the death of 2003 sniper victim Jeannie Patton. Shawn Lester has already been charged with her murder, but police say they've questioned Monk Ivanhoff of Charleston, and he's a person of interest. Police say Lester and Ivanhoff were friends in 2003 and ran a drug operation out of a garage they shared, which held the motive for Patton's killing. Ivanhoff says he's shocked by the implication. Lt. S.A. Cooper says a witness saw, "Tito Lopez along with Lester, and Monk Ivanhoff was present at times when they conducted a drug operation and were hiding an amount of methanphetamines in a motor block Patton and her boyfriend stole from the garage. Cooper says Ivanhoff asked for immunity if he talked, but he told him no. Ivanhoff says he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and you should pick your friends wisely, but he wasn't involved in the sniper style shootings. In 1996, Ivanhoff was charged with posession and delivery of a controlled substance. He was picked up twice in 1997 on the same charge.
- During his plea hearing Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court, James Michael Downey, 61, of St. Albans, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for fatally shooting his daughter's boyfriend, 27 year old Brandon Hall, on July 4, 2010. Downey admitted he went to his daughter's house in St. Albans, where she lived with Hall, to confront him after his daughter had been arrested for driving under the influence. Downey said he went at night with a handgun, and he shot Hall five times. Downey waived his right to a pre-sentencing report and asked to be sentenced.Judge Charles King sentenced Downey to life in prison with mercy, making him eligible for parole after serving 15 years.
- Small businesses and nonprofit organizations in parts of West Virginia that sustained damage from storms, drought and other weather-related losses that occurred from April 1st through August 3, 2010 have until May 31st to apply for U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans. The SBA said Tuesday that businesses can borrow up to $2 million. Agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers are ineligible for the loans.
- Jerry Southall, a prominent Jackson County businessman charged with molesting his 12-year-old granddaughter in 2008, has been cleared of all wrongdoing. Last June, a jury cleared him of most charges, but was hung on one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse and one count of felony sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust. The verdict from his second trial finds Southall not guilty on all the allegations of improper sexual contact.
- More than a month after a Belle garage and dumpster were set on fire on March 23rd, a 17 year old Riverside High School student has been charged with first-degree arson. The fires were set in the pre-dawn hours at two different locations in the same alley. A preliminary hearing will be held within the next 10 days. Belle Police Chief Darrick Cox says he has been working with the State Fire Marshal and Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants on the investigation, and they plan to try the suspect as an adult.
- Accused Cross Lanes arsonist Jamie Juzwik had his bond raised to $200,000 dollars and was ordered to stay on home confinement while he awaits trial after pleading not guilty Tuesday to burglary, arson, and domestic battery. Juzwik spent 17 days in the hospital with life threatening burns after prosecutors say he torched the home of his girlfriend, Misty Prusack.
- California fugitive 49 year old David Carnes has been arrested after failing to register as a sex offender in West Virgina. Carnes is also wanted by police in Long Beach, California for the same crime.
- The Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship, which was founded by the late U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd in 1985, has lost its federal funding and will be phased out. The merit-based program provided an annual $1,500 grant to students across the country for four years. By last year, 28,000 students were receiving the scholarship, including 146 in West Virginia.
- Amazon.com has announced it is moving into its new customer service center in Kinetic Park in Huntington. The company says the expansion will create 200 new full-time jobs by the end of 2014. Amazon, a globally recognized company, decided to open its East Coast customer service center in Huntington in 2000.
- The Kanawha County Commission passed an ordinance Tuesday that will require pawn shops in unincorporated parts of the county to register detailed information online for items bought and sold in their stores. The ordinance won't go into effect until June 10th. A public hearing is set for June 9th to allow pawnshop owners another chance to give the commission feedback, but Commission President Kent Carper says he doesn't expect any opposition. A significant difference in the ordinance is the elimination of scrap yards. Those dealers will be dealt with in a separate ordinance. During a county Planning Commission earlier this month, several salvage dealers spoke out against the ordinance that mandates dealers upload information such as the name and birth date of customers, a photo ID of customers, photos of purchased items, and serial numbers for items involved in transactions to a website called LeadsOnline. Under the new proposal, salvage dealers will be permitted to register information with scraptheftalert.com, instead of LeadsOnline, but pawn shops will still register the information with LeadsOnline. Commissioners will vote on the salvage ordinance at the commission's next meeting on May 5th.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-27-'11
- During the regular meeting of the Pike County Fiscal Court last week, both Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and District 6 Magistrate Chris Harris expressed concern about the closing of the Belfry clinic of the Pike County Health Department. “I was out of town last week, but I had access to the Internet,” Harris said. “I read in the paper that the health department was planning to close its Belfry clinic. I was disappointed to read that. I hate to lose it. It is an asset to the community – it does get used. ”Rutherford expressed similar feelings about what he heard about the clinic’s closing “I read it in the paper, too, and I’m on the health board,” Rutherford said. “It (the closing of the clinic) was brought to our attention, but not discussed among the board at our last meeting. What’s the health board for? That decision needs to be made by the people on that board.” The article was published in the April 16-17 edition of the Appalachian News-Express and Cindy Hamilton, human resources director for the Pike County Health Department, said in the article that the clinic plans to close within two months, citing “harsh economic times.”
- Pike County officials say they're faced with more than a three million dollar budget deficit as Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford is trying to craft a budget for the next fiscal year. Johnda Billiter says expenses are going up quicker than revenue is coming in. Pike County received three and a half million in coal severance funds this year, compared to nearly seven million two years ago, and Rutherford says the floods the past two years wiped out extra funds. County officials say there's also $750,000 less property tax dollars coming in. Rutherford plans to present a proposed budget at a special called meeting of the Fiscal Court Friday. Rutherford says he will keep all employees and not touch insurance, but he is closely studying everything else.
- An arrest has been made in connection with a Prestonsburg teen found murdered Friday night outside an apartment complex on Arbor Place Drive, just off Clifton Drive, in Versailles. Alex Muniz, 27, was arrested Tuesday by Versailles Police in the shooting death of 18 year old James Crowe. Muniz is charged with murder. Police say Crowe and Muniz were friends and had known each other for about a week.
- Pikeville College hosted a job fair at their campus in Pikeville Tuesday. Local companies and state agencies who are hiring came to talk to job-seekers about what kinds of jobs and careers are available.
- Governor Steve Beshear has signed an executive order that triggers provisions of a law that holds people and businesses accountable for price gouging during a state of emergency. The executive order allows Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate price-gouging complaints involving gasoline, building supplies, hotels and other goods and services after Beshear declared a state of emergency in Kentucky on Monday. Heavy rains have led to flooding in much of the state, and more storms are in the forecast through Thursday. More than 80 Kentucky National Guard troops have been deployed to flood-threatened areas of the state, all headed to western regions, where flooding is expected to be the worst. Forecasters are calling for severe storms to continue Wednesday, with possible record-breaking flooding in some areas of western Kentucky.
- The National Weather Service has reported a tornado destroyed several homes and barns in Grayson County Tuesday night. The most severe damage seemed to be along St. Paul Road five miles north of Clarkson, where a couple of houses were reported to have been destroyed. One-inch hail was reported in Grayson County and nearly one inch in Hardin County.
- State Police and an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are investigating following a fire in a couple of garbage cans outside Ron Reynolds’ Williamsburg law office. Reynolds was recently disbarred after pleading guilty in a federal extortion conspiracy with former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge in which they're accused of working together to extort money from people charged with drug offenses. Reynolds questions if the fire started from rags that had been used to stain the building, but investigators say it could take weeks to get lab results back.
- The University of Kentucky Senate Council, the executive arm of the faculty senate, has passed a resolution, by a vote of 7-0, strongly opposing the university lending $3.1 million to the UK Athletics Association to help fund a $6.25 million project for new video scoreboards and a new sound system at Commonwealth Stadium. The athletics association would repay the loan to UK over a period not to exceed five years at a variable interest rate that is now 1.64 percent. The remaining $3.15 million needed for the project would use private funds. The new video boards would be ready for the fall 2011 football season. When UK spokesman Jay Blanton was asked why the athletics department, which is self-supporting and has a budget of nearly $80 million, didn't pay for the project using its own endowment funds, Blanton said those funds are invested on a long-term basis, and it makes more financial sense, in this instance, to purchase the new boards in this manner.
- The winner of this month's Florida Derby remains No. 1 on The Associated Press' final list of Top 10 Derby contenders. "Dialed In" leads most other weekly polls as well. With upsets and injuries to several Derby hopefuls, Dialed In moved to the head of the 3-year-old class last week.
- The Food and Drug Administration plans to regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes as tobacco products and won't try to regulate them under stricter rules for drug-delivery devices. The federal agency says it intends to propose rule changes to treat e-cigarettes the same traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and produce vapor instead of smoke. Users and distributors say e-cigarettes address both nicotine addiction and the behavioral aspects of smoking without the chemicals found in cigarettes.
- A marker memorializing Kentucky's most highly decorated World War I veteran is set to be unveiled in western Kentucky. The ceremony honoring Mary Arvin, who worked as a Red Cross nurse during the fighting, is scheduled at Fernwood Cemetery in Henderson. John Trowbridge, the command historian for the Kentucky National Guard, pushed for Arvin's recognition and will attend the ceremony. Arvin, born in Henderson on April 21, 1879, came under enemy fire at least twice while treating people injured during the war, The Henderson Gleaner reported. In March 2006 Arvin was inducted into the Kentucky Commission on Women's "Kentucky Women Remembered" program, and her story and portrait currently hang in the Kentucky State Capitol.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-27-'11
- Mingo County Sheriff's Deputies were called to a home in the Spice Branch area near Varney about 1:30 P.M. Tuesday afternoon where they found a man dead with two gunshot wounds. Deputies say the man's wife, 33 year old Crystal Seigler Clark, is a "person of interest" in the the shooting. Police are also looking for 13-month old Chloe Clark. Crystal Clark was last seen Monday driving a silver mini-van with North Carolina plates. Deputies are investigating the shooting as a homicide.
- Average gas prices are rising again in West Virginia. AAA's Fuel Gauge released Tuesday shows the average price for self-serve unleaded rose 6 cents in the past week. It now averages $3.93 per gallon. Gas prices in the state have gone up about 40 cents in the past month. A year ago, gas prices averaged $2.88 in West Virginia. In the areas surveyed, prices ranged from $3.88 in Morgantown to $3.97 in Bridgeport and Huntington.
- As the trial continued Wednesday for Foster "Pete" Bowen, Bowen testified in his own defense. When asked by the defense attorney if he desired sex with men, Bowen responded, “I am not a homosexual, I'm not a pedophile." Bowen said growing up poor made him and his wife want to help people ever since he started working, and that’s why young boys were often around his home. Earlier in the day, defense witness Mike McCallister, a retired Cabell County Sherrif's Deputy, testified as an expert on how to properly interview a sexual abuse victim. In previous testimony, the alleged victims testified Bowen took them around a dentist, Dr. James Aldridge, a physician, Dr. Donald Klinestiver, and former Wayne County Sheriff, Toby Shy. Several of the victims said Bowen either fondled them, commented on the size of their genitals or had discussions about masturbation with them in the presence of one or all of these individuals. Dr. Aldridge denied Bowen ever brought a child to his office, and Dr. Klinestiver testified he never had a conversation with Bowen and a child about masturbation. Toby Shy, who was Wayne County Sheriff from 1993-2001, and an officer at the Huntington Police Department for 30 years before that, testified he had a farm complete with a fishing pond that Bowen regularly brought the boys to, but he never saw Bowen molest kids in his presence, and he never witnessed Bowen touch the boys in any inappropriate way.
- Huntington Police arrested Timothy D. Holloway, 31, of Ashland, Kentucky, Tuesday evening and charged him with two counts of robbery. The two robberies occurred earlier Tuesday at Mug and Pia along 3rd Avenue and Latta's, both near Pullman Square in downtown Huntington.
- One person is dead after an early morning crash Tuesday on Route 214, also known as Midway Road, in the Yawkey area of Lincoln County. The body of Larry Weddington from South Charleston was found nearby a car that was spotted in a creek by someone driving by. Police believe Weddington crashed his convertible into a bridge, causing the car to go airborne, ejecting him from the car. The West Virginia State Police in Hamlin is investigating.
- Huntington Police say James Smith, a Cabell Huntington Hospital security guard, was cut with a pocket knife after trying to stop a man from breaking into an employee's car. Smith says the suspect, Shane Burton, ran from him, and he chased him to Columbia Avenue, where a bystander helped him tackle and take Burton into custody. Police found the driver's license, credit card and cash stolen from the CHH employee's vehicle in Smith's pocket. Her checkbook and an emergency hammer were found in an alley near the parking lot. Burton is charged with a misdemeanor count of breaking and entering and a felony county of malicious wounding.
- Investigators in the Fayette County Sheriff's Department say the autopsy performed on the body of 27 year old Stacey Nicole Wilson has left them with unanswered questions. Captain Jim Sizemore says the autopsy showed Wilson, of Victor, did not die of blunt force trauma, but she also did not drown. Wilson's body was found in the Gauley River near Jodie Saturday afternoon after she called her parents around 7:30 A.M. Friday and told them her car was stuck in a large mud hole and she didn't know where she was. Investigators say the mud hole is some distance from where her body was found floating in the Gauley River. Investigators say she and another woman who was with her became separated and the other woman made it out of the area safely. Captain Sizemore says he can't really rule out homicide, but not having an exact cause of death is making the investigation difficult. Captain Sizemore says the toxicology report, which usually takes a little longer to complete, will let investigators know if there were drugs or alcohol in Wilson's blood.
- Cabell County Sheriff deputies say William Scott Harbour is charged with DUI causing injury after his vehicle hit Chief Deputy Doug Ferguson's cruiser and caused the deputy to run off the road and over an embankment Monday afternoon on Route 10 in Salt Rock. Harbour was arrested at the scene and taken to the Western Regional Jail where his bond was set at $35,000.
- According to a poll of 590 likely Democratic voters and 274 likely Republican voters conducted from April 21st to the 25th by Public Policy Polling and released Tuesday, Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and former West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland are showing double-digit leads in their respective primary races. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent for Democrats and plus or minus 5.9 percent for Republicans. Tomblin is one of six Democrats seeking his party’s nomination in the May 14th special primary to replace former Governor Joe Manchin, while Ireland is one of eight candidates seeking the Republican nomination.
- Work will begin soon to prepare the site for the new Marsh Fork Elementary School. Site preparation bids will be received by May 3rd, while construction bids will be received later in the summer. The new Marsh Fork Elementary School will house about 226 students in pre-K through fifth grades. Williamson Shriver Architects from Charleston has designed the new school which is funded by the West Virginia School Building Authority, the Raleigh County Board of Education, Massey Energy and the Annenberg Foundation.
- Hughie Stover, 59, of Clear Fork pleaded not guilty in March to making false statements to federal agents and obstructing a federal investigation. Those charges stem from the investigation into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. Pre-trial motions are set for June 28th with a trial in federal court in Beckley to begin July 18th. Federal agents were investigating allegations that security guards routinely notified mine personnel when Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors arrived. Investigators said Stover falsely denied such a practice existed and told the agents he would have fired any security guard who provided advance notice. But according to an indictment, Stover himself instructed UBB security guards to notify mine personnel whenever MSHA inspectors arrived.
- With gas prices in West Virginia around $4.09 a gallon, the operators of the city's bus system say more people are buying bus passes and taking the bus. The Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority, or KRT, reports more than 100,000 additional riders, compared to a year ago. Doug Hartley, Assistant KRT Manager, says drivers are reporting routes with standing-room only and having to make extra stops, but he said KRT is happy to accommodate riders.
Monday, April 25, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-26-'11
- Well, Mike Taylor, who just last week returned to the office of mayor of Elkhorn City, says he's ready to get Elkhorn City moving again following the three-month long legal struggle to regain his office. In the General Election Taylor defeated Richard "Hank" Salyer and Bill Powell. Powell filed suit, claiming there were improprieties in the voting process. The suit was filed in Pike Circuit Court. Circuit Court Judge Steve Combs ruled in favor of Powell. Two weeks ago the appelas court in Kentucky overtuned Combs' ruling, and Taylor was reinstated in the office of Mayor.
- The National Weather Service office in Paducah held a conference call with state officials on Sunday evening, during which forecasters said people in Kentucky should use extreme caution during this week because heavy rain and severe weather is expected to continue. Most of Kentucky got 3-4 inches of rain on Sunday. Rainfall totals for the last week range from 10 inches to 15 inches, causing flooded rivers, streams and tributaries. Officials in western Kentucky cities and towns along the Ohio River scrambled Monday to take as many precautions as possible, putting up floodgates and evacuating residents from flood-prone areas. Doug Harnice, the deputy judge-executive in McCracken County, said officials there haven't seen the Ohio River at levels this high since 1937.
- Freddy Smith, 52, of Bear Branch, in Clay County, has been charged after fatally hitting a pedestrian with his vehicle. Police say Smith was driving south on U.S. 421 eight miles south of Manchester Saturday evening when he ran off the road and hit Leroy Gilliam, 62, of Goose Rock. Smith kept driving for about a mile before losing control of his vehicle and hitting a guardrail. Smith was arrested on charges of murder, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, having no insurance and drug related charges.
- Lisa Gilliam, a woman indicted for the murder of her well-known husband, London Attorney Larry Gilliam, was scheduled to be arraigned Monday, but she did not enter a plea because her attorneys asked the judge to recuse himself, due to the fact he knew the victim. Larry Gilliam died after being shot in the chest at his law office in January. The judge plans to make a decision whether to recuse himself by May 23rd. Lisa Gilliam remains out of jail on a $100,000 bond.
- Amythyst Brown and Lachrisha Moberly were arrested after police were called to the Whitley County Country Club Friday night. Police say both Brown and Moberly were scantily clad. Brown was caught with a blue Ecstasy pill that police say she was trying to sell. She says she was told to sell alcohol, but didn’t know that Whitley was a dry county.
- In response to Johnson County officials seeking advice on a local grassroots petition to ban clinics that prescribe high amounts of addictive painkillers, Assistant Attorney General James Herrick says county governments don't have the right to ban pain management clinics. Because such local ordinances infringe on the state's right to regulate medical practices, counties cannot ban legal medical practices within their borders. The issue could end up in court, if counties decide to pass such bans anyway. The attorney general's opinion said only the state and federal governments have the authority to regulate medical practices. Several other counties, particularly in eastern Kentucky, have already sought to fight prescription drug abuse by calling high-volume pain management clinics a public nuisance.
- Monday, the Kentucky Parole Board deferred for 10 years parole for Tina Marie Hickey Powell, a woman convicted of killing five people in Lexington in the 1980s. The full parole board cited the seriousness and violent nature of the crime, the fact that a life was taken and the use of drugs and alcohol by Powell in declining to grant her request for a shortened sentence or release. Powell and 47 year old LaFonda Fay Foster were convicted in 1987 of five counts of murder in the deaths. All five victims were stabbed and shot on April 23, 1986.
- Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell raised nearly $1.9 million since January for a re-election campaign that’s still more than three years away. Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show he banked $940,000 between January 1st and March 31st. Chief of staff Josh Holmes said in a statement Monday the next step toward ending the liberal agenda in Washington and replacing it with serious conservative reform is ensuring that Mitch McConnell is the next majority leader of the United States Senate. McConnell’s fundraising success puts potential Democratic challengers on notice that he is bent on having plenty of money on hand when he runs for his sixth term in 2014. McConnell spent $20 million on his last campaign to get 52 percent of the vote and defeat wealthy Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford.
- A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Kentucky by Sandy Travis of Dixon and Melissa Carter of Hanson, whose husbands died in the April 28, 2010 collapse at the Dotiki mine in western Kentucky, alleges production was emphasized over safety. Justin Travis, 27, and Michael Carter, 28, were clearing loose rock in the mine on the Hopkins-Webster County line when the roof collapsed, trapping and killing both men. They also filed claims with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration seeking $9 million each for personal injury and wrongful death. Travis is seeking up to $5 million in punitive damages, while Carter, who is also suing on behalf of her son, is asking for up to $10 million in punitive damages. Both are asking for an undisclosed amount in compensatory awards. State and federal officials cited the mine, run by a subsidiary of Oklahoma-based Alliance Resource Partners, more than 1,000 times between January 2009 and the day of the roof collapse. Among those citations were 13 closure orders and at least 57 citations in the two years before the roof collapse.
- A crowded field of candidates seeking the job of agriculture commissioner took part in a televised debate. Kentucky Educational Television hosted the debate at 8 p.m. EDT on Monday. Democrats Bob Farmer, Stewart Gritton, John Farris Lackey, David Williams and B.D. Wilson faced off, as well Republicans James Comer and Rob Rothenburger. The eventual Democratic and Republican nominees will square off in the fall general election to replace current Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who had served the maximum two terms in the office. Farmer has signed on as running mate to Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams.
- Governor Steve Beshear is calling attention to a new website that highlights state government's initiatives to be more environmentally friendly. Beshear said his administration is saving money with green initiatives that can be reviewed on the website. People can access the site at http://greeningkentucky.ky.gov to check out initiatives within various areas of government. For example, the Finance and Administration Cabinet has a project under way to reduce energy consumption in state buildings with new energy management software and controls. And the Department for Environmental Protection is challenging residents and businesses to reduce water, conserve water and cut energy usage by 10 percent over the next three years. Beshear said his administration wants Kentuckians to be aware of how choices at home and at work affect the environment.
- A high school student from Elizabethtown scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test during the statewide assessment of juniors. Elizabethtown High School student Rebecca Hinkle learned the results of the college prep test from her father, Tim Hinkle, a teacher at the school. The 16-year-old took the test earlier in the spring. Hinkle says she's considering majoring in an engineering field when she enters college. Hinkle has taken the test twice before, once as a seventh-grader for the Duke University Talent Identification Program and again after her sophomore year. She received a 24 and a 34 on the test at those times, respectively. ACT, the company that administers the test, said generally, about one-tenth of 1 percent of students taking the test receive a 36.
- Preliminary statistics indicate that thirteen people died in thirteen separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, April 18th, through Sunday, April 24, 2011. Two motorcycle involved fatal crashes occurred in Fayette County. The victims were not wearing helmets. 187 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011. This is twenty-four less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2010. A total of twenty-four fatalities have resulted from crashes involving the suspected use of alcohol.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...4-26-'11
- Shawn Thomas Lester, the 35 year old man charged with the 2003 sniper-style shooting of Jeannie Patton, appeared in front of a Kanawha County Magistrate for a preliminary hearing Monday. Patton, who was found outside a Speedway in Campbell's Creek in Charleston August 14, 2003, was one of three victims who were killed in similar shootings in 2003. Police say the killer, or killers, used the same gun in each shooting. However, Lester has been charged only in connection to Patton's death. Prosecutors called Charleston Police Investigator Steve Cooper and Charles Roberts, a former inmate who "became close" with Lester while incarcerated. Roberts testified that Lester confided in him and detailed his part in the shooting death of Patton. The case has been sent to the grand jury.
- Monday, 27 year old Brent Davis pleaded guilty to a charge of DUI causing death. Police say, in September, Davis was drunk when he crashed into a motorcycle on MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston and didn't stop to help. The driver of the motorcycle, Mike Frame, lived for 6 days following the accident. Davis faces 2-10 years in prison when sentenced in June.
- Mercer County Sheriff Don Meadows says Emanuel Ray Jackson, 22, of Montcalm, was arrested Monday morning and charged with the first-degree murder of Erika Goad, 21, of Princeton who has been missing since April 12th. Her body was found in a remote wooded area between Lashmeet and Spanishburg on Sunday. Jackson has also been charged with the theft of her car. Sheriff Meadows says Jackson was a distant cousin of Goad's husband.
- Earl Albert Moore, 65, formerly from Glen Rogers in Wyoming County, West Virginia, is the subject of a nationwide manhunt. The FBI is searching for Moore in connection with an attempted bombing at a mall in Littleton, Colorado. The incident occurred on the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy. Moore pleaded guilty in June 2005 to robbing the Whitesville State Bank in Crab Orchard and was originally sentenced to 15 to 19 years in prison, but a federal appeals court reduced his sentence to seven years. He was released from jail a week before the attempted bombing.
- Gregory Seftick, 31, of Afton, Wyoming, a former emergency room doctor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Buckhannon until around February 2011, has been found dead after being reported missing for more than a week in Grand Teton National Park. Seftick and his friend, Walker Kuhl, were found by park officials under 13 feet of snow, still inside their sleeping bags in a tent. The pair had planned to climb Grand Teton, then ski back down, but severe weather caused an avalanche that killed them both.
- Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito says Congress must develop an energy plan to address gas prices that are near $4 per gallon in West Virginia. Capito says the U.S. should be drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and using our own resources. She says the ongoing debate over an energy plan has been pushed aside, and, as Congress debates issues like spending cuts and tax policy, West Virginians have seen gas prices climb by nearly $1 per gallon over the past year.
- It's been nearly 30 years since the West Virginia State Police rode motorcycles, the agency will soon have two BRP Can-Am Spyders. One is already at State Police headquarters in South Charleston. They're blue with the gold stripes, much like current cruisers. There will be a total of nine Can-Am Spyders distributed statewide to various police agencies through a state program. State Police Director of Traffic Records Sgt. Jerry Dornburg says using the three-wheeled motorcycles for anything from patrols to parades will heighten public awareness when it comes to driver safety.
- John King II, the director of operations for the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority has been suspended without pay after his arrest on DUI charges Sunday morning. Police in South Charleston charged King with aggravated DUI after his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.239. Regional Jail Authority spokesman Joe DeLong says King has been suspended without pay pending the completion of the criminal and internal investigations, which is standard procedure. John Lopez, director of programs, will take King's position on an interim basis.
- Early voting for the May 14th special gubernatorial election begins Friday and continues through May 11th. The special general election to fill the remainder of former Governor Joe Manchin’s term is October 4th. Six Democrats and eight Republicans are running in the primary. Two Mountain Party candidates are seeking their party’s nomination, which will be decided by convention in May.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...4-25-'11
- A homicide investigation is underway after 18 year old James Michael Crowe of Prestonsburg was found shot to death in the parking lot outside an apartment on Arbor Place Drive in Versailles around 9:30 P.M. Friday. Police say Crowe had been shot multiple times. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Woodford County Coroner.
- Thirty-five year old Wesley Martin of Wayland and 33 year old Robby Dwain Allen of Dema have been charged with first degree rape and second degree assault after they allegedly assaulted a man and raped a woman on Potato Branch in the Topmost community in Knott County. They were arrested Thursday night and transported to the Kentucky River Regional Detention Center.
- Kentucky State Police with the Morehead Post say Samantha Kenley was driving Westbound on Flemingsburg Road in Rowan County around 6:00 P.M. Saturday night when her car hit Teresa Howell's vehicle. Kenley was sent to Saint Claire Medical Center where she was treated and released. Kenley was arrested shortly after when troopers found she had an outstanding arrest warrant for driving over the speed limit in Fleming County. She was taken to the Rowan County Detention Center.
- KY 1760 in Lawrence County, between mile markers 8 and 9, known as Swafford Curve, will be closed today through Wednesday, so District 12 maintenance specialists can replace a failed culvert. The temporary inconvenience is necessary to improve drainage and make the road safer. Superintendent Tommy Queen thanks all motorists in advance for theirpatience and understanding.
- Leaders from counties across Eastern Kentucky will have an opportunity to come together during the 24th annual East Kentucky Leadership Conference April 28-29 in Pikeville. Established by the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation, the conference has been instrumental in providing an important forum for discussing educational, economic, environmental and social agendas for the citizens of the region. The two-day conference will be held at both the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center and on the Pikeville College campus. Session highlights include health care issues in the region, the future of coal and other alternative energy sources, “The Pill Pipeline Flowing in the Mountains,” philanthropy for community development, the Pike County Youth Leadership Council’s animal rights advocacy project, Pikeville College’s acknowledgement of university status, topics of interest on women and children, Young Professionals of Eastern Kentucky (YPEK), East Kentucky women in politics, funding early childhood development and a workshop on ARC Flex-E grants. Early bird sessions and an awards banquet featuring Gov. Steve Beshear, keynote speaker, will be held on Thursday, April 28, at the expo. A highlight of the conference, the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Awards Showcase honors leaders who have made a contribution to the region.
- A trio of women in northern Kentucky has found a way to help students who need formal wear for end-of-the-year dances. Barbara Waddell, Sheila Lucas and Jeanetta Golden have collected dozens of dress styles and sizes for young ladies and some attire for young men. The items were donated to project Dream to Dance in Brooksville. The dresses and suits are free for students in Bracken County, St. Augustine and Augusta Independent School districts who are attending their school proms or eighth grade dances. Waddell says economic times are hard for everyone and this is a way to help out.
- The Ohio River is expected to rise 3 to 4 feet above flood stage by Monday.Robert Szappanos, of the National Weather Service, told The Courier-Journal he expects heavy rain over the weekend, but no tornados. Rain already has swollen the Ohio to 23 feet, which is right at flood stage. That has forced a planned Easter morning sunrise service at New Albany's Riverfront Amphitheater to be moved. Louisville's MetroSafe reported several road closures and the weather service is warning residents never to drive through floodwaters. Metropolitan Sewer District Executive Director Bud Schardein said the agency has begun putting up flood gates. Fourteen of Louisville's 16 flood pumping plants have been put in service. If the river reaches 27 feet, all 16 will be put into service.