Saturday, May 07, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-8-'11
- Kentucky State Police are investigating after a body was found in a pond Friday in a rural area near Manchester in Clay County. Charles Sizemore and his family have been looking for Tammy Sizemore since she was reported missing on April 28th. On a tip that his niece, Tammy, may be in a rural part of Clay County, Sizemore went to a pond where he found a body in a metal storage cabinet that was sticking out of the middle of the pond. He says he was able to get the cabinet open and found a female wrapped in plastic and duct tape and called police to report it. Clay County Sheriff's Deputies were on scene for roughly two hours. An autopsy will be done for identification and to find the cause of death. KSP say foul play is suspected.
- It was a record-setting day at Churchill Downs when the biggest crowd on record turned out to watch the 137th Kentucky Derby. The track says 164,858 people crammed into the Louisville track on Saturday to watch the Run for the Roses. That beats the previous record crowd of 163,628 in 1974. Animal Kingdom, ridden by John Velazquez, held off Nehro to win the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
- UK's 6-foot-9 freshman forward Terrence Jones kept the Big Blue Nation waiting Saturday before making his much-anticipated announcement he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the 2011 NBA Draft and would return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. During a morning news conference held in Memorial Coliseum on the UK campus in Lexington Friday morning, Brandon Knight started by listing everything he loved about Kentucky and his time at the university, but he announced he is leaving his name in the NBA draft thus ending his UK basketball career. University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari has told John Wall and other former UK players in the NBA that they're welcome to work out in Lexington this summer if the league locks out its players in an expected labor dispute. Calipari has suggested Wall and other players could return to UK to take summer classes during the lockout and practice with the Wildcats to stay in shape.
- Governor Steve Beshear said Saturday his administration will implement the sixth planned furlough day for most executive branch employees even though the state budget is expected to end the fiscal year June 30th with a surplus of almost $70 million. Beshear has said the six furlough days this fiscal year, which the legislature authorized, will cut about $24 million from the budget.
- Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear insisted Saturday that his decision to meet with business executives at Churchill Downs over standing with President Barack Obama at Fort Campbell Friday wasn’t a snub of his fellow Democrat. Beshear said he didn’t have enough time to alter his Kentucky Oaks schedule to meet with CEOs to promote Kentucky as a place to do business. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, says the governor should have adjusted his Friday schedule to be at Fort Campbell, where Obama honored the U.S. commandos he sent after terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. Stumbo says it wasn’t a political event, but it was an event to honor the bravery of those men, and he believes he should have been with the president. Stumbo says Beshear could have helicoptered back for the Oaks presentation. Beshear and Stumbo made their separate remarks Saturday while making social rounds at the Kentucky Derby.
- Kentucky Republicans have two choices in their May 17th primary for state auditor. Last year, State Representative Addia Wuchner of Florence settled a lawsuit against her insurance company in which she claimed to be "permanently and totally disabled" and unable to work more than 15 hours a week because of a car crash that seriously injured her knees, shoulders and back. She now says she's capable of working full-time as auditor. Lexington developer John T. Kemper III, whose campaign slogan is "A Debt-Free Kentucky," might lose his home soon in a foreclosure auction related to his personal bankruptcy. Kemper used $124 from his campaign fund to pay his vehicle tax in February. The winning Republican will face Democrat Adam Edelen, former chief of staff to Governor Steve Beshear, in November. Auditor Crit Luallen, a Democrat, is finishing her second term, the limit allowed by law. Some of Luallen's high-profile audits have led to criminal convictions.
- Sentencing has been set for July for a former central Kentucky Boy Scout leader and volunteer teacher who pleaded guilty to producing and possessing child pornography. Prosecutors say 56-year-old Robert G. Dundon of Lexington faces at least 15 years in prison when he is sentenced July 15. The U.S. attorney's office in Lexington says Dundon pleaded guilty April 22 to the charges and acknowledged he is a former volunteer at Estill County Middle School and former Scout leader in Fayette and Estill counties.
- A Warren County school and a Natchez casino are closing because of the flood threat. The National Weather Service said Friday the Mississippi River will crest at 64 feet at Natchez on May 22. Currently, all areas along the water body are above flood stage. Flood warnings have been issued for Warren and Issaquena counties, and several others in the Delta region. Vicksburg-Warren County School District Superintendent Liz Swinford says Redwood Elementary School was closed on Friday because it's located in a threatened area. An Isle of Capri spokeswoman says the Natchez casino will close at 3 a.m. on Saturday. Several Delta casinos have also closed because of the flooding. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Kavanaugh Breazeale says all the levees along the river are expected to withstand the flood.
- The Kentucky AP Broadcasters will hold its annual awards presentation and banquet on Saturday evening, May 21, at the Galt House in Louisville. At the request of broadcast members, KAPB is holding an evening event this year to honor the top broadcast journalism achievements of 2010. All broadcast finalists are urged to attend to support this event and enjoy an evening of fun and fellowship. The deadline to register for the banquet is Friday, May 13, 2011. There is an early bird discount available for registration for tables of 8. To receive the early bird discount, registration and payment must be received by April 29. The event will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern with a reception, followed by dinner and the awards presentation. For information about the banquet and discounted hotel rates at the Galt House, go to http://www.ap.org/kentucky/
- Louisville Metro Government has suspended two MetroSafe communications supervisors for failure to sound warning sirens when a tornado touched down in February. A report on the Feb. 28 incident -- reviewed by Mayor Greg Fisher and the Metro Council in March -- cited confusion in the dispatch center and technology failure, but concluded the alarms should have been set off manually. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for Jefferson County. Edward Cox and DeAnna Glynn will serve five-day suspensions without pay. Supervisors now receive text alerts on cell phones and e-mail notifications from the weather service when warnings are issued.
- Emergency Management officials report that because of controlled water releases from some Kentucky lakes, the lower Ohio River will continue to rise slightly. No additional evacuations are expected at this time; however, officials remind residents to heed directions if asked to evacuate. According to river authorities, levels on the lower Ohio River from Smithland downstream are projected to rise an additional six inches before cresting this weekend. The expected rise is due in part from controlled water releases from Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-8-'11
- According to a report by the West Virginia Hospital Association, West Virginia hospitals spent more than $721 million on charity care and bad debt in 2009. In 1999, state hospitals spent about $286.8 million in uncompensated care for residents without insurance or who were underinsured. Charleston Area Medical Center officials say the hospital wrote off $18 million in charity care and $20 million in bad debt in 2009. Officials at Thomas Memorial and Saint Francis Hospital, both part of the Thomas Health System, say they paid out about $9 million in charity care in 2009, an increase from about $6 million from the pervious year. West Virginia hospitals admitted more than 250,000 patients, delivered about 21,500 babies, and reported more than 1 million emergency room visits in 2009.
- Robert "Bob" Raines, former president of the Pocahontas Land Company, the late Johnson C. McKinley, a pioneer of the northern coalfields region, Purnal "Judge" McWhorter of McWhorter & Associates and formerly of Phillips Machine Services and the late J. Robert Fletcher of J.H. Fletcher & Co. were inducted into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Charleston Friday. The hall of fame, established in 1993, is located in the Mineral Resources Building of the West Virginia University College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in Morgantown.
- Saturday's 11th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure drew an estimated record 8,000 participants. Runners and walkers who took part in the 5K walk and run started at the Capitol Building and made their way to the Southside Bridge and back. The event celebrates breast cancer survivorship, honors those who have lost their battle with the disease and raises money and awareness for the fight against it. Seventy-five percent of the funds raised remain for use in West Virginia to provide breast health research, diagnostics, screenings, treatments, services and education for uninsured and underinsured women, while the remaining 25 percent goes to fund national research for potential cures. Organizers said they hope to raise more than $500,000 this year.
Friday, May 06, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-7-'11
- The Magoffin County Coroner's Office is considering the death of four year old Cameron Bryce Mullins of Salyersville a homicide. Mullins died just days before Christmas. A few days before his death, he was flown from a local hospital to Cabell-Huntington Hospital where he later died. The autopsy report from the Kentucky Medical Examiner lists assault as the cause of death. The autopsy report was also forwarded to the West Virginia Medical Examiner's Office for review because that is the state where Mullins died.
- The Golden Years Rest Home in Jenkins has received a Type-A Citation. A resident was allegedly taken to the emergency room for treatment of wrist injuries in March after an altercation, and six residents claimed there was no staff member on the floor at the time. The administrator says he expects to appeal because a staff member had just stepped out for a moment and was there 15 seconds later.
- Perry County Commonwealth's Attorney Teresa Reed has confirmed an investigation into the November 2010 election is underway. All of the county's voting machines were recently impounded after some candidates said they believed voting machines were rigged.
- The state treasurer's office released names Friday of the sixteen lawmakers who have reimbursed the state treasury more than $44,000 for wages they received for a recess in a special legislative session last month. The state Constitution required lawmakers to be paid after the legislature was left in limbo for about two weeks in March with the House adjourned and the Senate in recess. The treasurer's office reported that Senator Jack Westwood returned $3,309 and Senators Bob Leeper, Joe Bowen, Ernie Harris, Jimmy Higdon, Paul Hornback, Tom Jensen, Vernie McGaha, John Schickel, Brandon Smith, Denise Harper Angel, Jared Carpenter, David Givens and Ken Winters each returned $2,827. Representatives Jim Wayne returned $3,029 and Brent Yonts returned $947.
- Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams has received an additional $70,460 in campaign contributions since April 16th, bringing his campaign total to nearly $1.3 million. Williams filed a report Friday with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance showing his most recent fundraising and spending. The report shows Williams, who has been running television ads for several weeks, with about $200,000 on hand less than two weeks before the May 17th primary election. He spent more than $500,000 in roughly a two-week period ending May 2nd. Williams faces Louisville businessman Phil Moffett and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw in the GOP primary.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-7-'11
- Crystal Seigler Clark, who's accused of killing her estranged husband, David Clark, inside his home in Varney and taking off with her 13 month old daughter, Chloe Clark, has been extradited back to West Virginia. Friday, Mingo County Sheriff's deputies brought Clark back from Tennessee to face a charge of murder.
- David Camehl has been charged with wanton endangerment after allegedly pointing a gun at police Friday evening in South Charleston. Officers were investigating a vandalism complaint along E Street when Camehl went inside his house and came back out with a gun and pointed it at the officers, yelled at them, went back inside the house and barricaded himself in. Investigators say he was intoxicated.
- Massey Energy has stopped production at one of its mines in Boone County in order to focus more on safety. A three-day safety stand down at the Randolph Mine began Friday and will continue Monday and Tuesday. The response follows an announcement from MSHA concerning a surprise inspection it did at the mine recently in which MSHA issued 20 withdrawal orders and five citations. Massey officials say they have reviewed the issues pointed out by MSHA which include combustible materials accumulating in active workings, coal dust built up enough that it was engulfing the continuous miner operator and shuttle car operator, unused ventilation curtains, and insufficient water pressure on the continuous miner's water sprays. Massey CEO and President Baxter Phillips says he ordered the stand down to reinforce safe mining practices and provide additional training in safety, ventilation and the requirements of the mine plan.
- Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib sentenced Earl Moore Jr., 43, of South Charleston, to 50 years in prison Friday for his role in a May 2010 beating and robbery along Fife Street in Charleston that left Robert "Jeff" Moore, who is not related to his attacker, in a coma for nearly two months. Jeff Moore had to go through extensive therapy to regain basic motor skills and still has severe problems completing simple tasks, such as zipping a jacket, has to be assisted to walk around on a walker and needs to be managed and cared for on a 24/7 basis. Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of up to 40 years for Earl Moore. Twenty-one year old Whitney Sue Avery, who previously pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, was sentenced to six months to two years at the Anthony Correctional Facility after the state had asked for a 10 year sentence. Nineteen year-old Telisa McCauley who pleaded guilty earlier this year to robbery charges is currently under evaluation at a facility in North Carolina. Avery admitted to acting as a lookout while Earl Moore assaulted Jeff Moore and McCauley took his wallet. The trio got away with $40.
- Huntington Police are investigating after they say Henry Clinton Earle Jr., 28, of Proctorville, Ohio, was killed during a shooting in Huntington on Thursday night. Police say Earle was hanging out with a crowd in the 1600 block of Artisan Avenue, apparently having a good time. But, when the fun ended, the shooting started. Earle suffered at least one gunshot wound.
- Elizabeth Glover, of Hurricane, pleaded guilty to malicious assault and wanton endangerment in Putnam County Court Friday afternoon. Police say, in June 2010, Glover shot her ex-boyfriend in the cheek and then in the back because he brought Glover's daughter a puppy to entice her to go home with him. Sentencing is set for July 14th.
- Jeremy Goodall, 31, the father of Logan Goodall, a Putnam County toddler killed in 2005, was in Kanawha County court Friday on charges of wanton endangerment and attempted first-degree robbery. He pleaded guilty to wanton endangerment after being arrested in January for allegedly pointing a gun at a couple in a parked car and demanding their money at Rite Aid on Washington Street West. His sentencing is scheduled for July 15th.
- Raymond C. Dawson, 57, of Raysal, in McDowell County, has pleaded guilty to federal charges of lying to investigators, admitting he made false statements to Mine Safety and Health leaders about training he gave to miners employed by Griffith Construction Co. The company is an independent contractor that performed construction and other services at the Brook's Run Cucumber Mine near Iaeger. The Mine Act requires that new miners at a coal mine receive a certain number of hours of initial training. Dawson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced in August.
- More than 1,500 Marshall University students will become Marshall University graduates as Marshall's 174th Commencement begins at 9:00 A.M. Saturday at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. Of the total, 401 students will be graduating with honors and there are 12 students who have earned perfect 4.0 grade point averages along with their degrees. Julia Keller, a Pulitzer Prize winner and two time Marshall University graduate, will deliver the commencement speech.
- Putnam County Sheriff Mark Smith says Pinnacle Security, a company selling alarm systems in the county, is a legitimate company, but the sheriff's department has not endorsed the product although sales people have told customers the sheriff’s department endorsed it. Smith says the company is investigating the incidents, but he is no longer looking into charges.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-6-'11
- President Obama will be heading to Ft. Campbell this Friday to talk to members of the 101st Airborne Division. President Obama will make an appearance at Ft. Campbell to talk with the soldiers who just returned from Afghanistan. The president also has a trip to Indianapolis planned on Friday. He is visiting a company that makes automatic transmissions for commercial vehicles and will discuss his energy agenda.
- Indictments were handed down Wednesday for five suspects charged with beating Norman Adams of Leslie County to death in October, then sending his body on a four-wheeler down a hill to make it look like he died in an ATV accident. The suspects are accused of beating Adams to death, tampering with evidence by removing his body from the scene of the incident, and abuse of a corpse for pushing Adams down a hill on an ATV. Harold Pennington and Millard Miniard have been arrested.
- A new golf course and housing subdivision is planned for a one thousand acre mountaintop removal site the city purchased at Marion's Branch in Pikeville. The Marion's Branch Advisory Board plans to use the site and turn it into a neighborhood of around 300 homes to make housing affordable for the working couple. City officials want to use 600 acres to build a golf course, something they say will help them attract more conferences to the Expo Center and tourists to the city. City manager Donovan Blackburn says because it is currently government owned, they will offer incentives for people to buy the homes. Officials hope to have it finished in a few years.
- U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced HUD will speed federal disaster assistance to the State of Kentucky and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes following severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding last week. President Obama has issued a disaster declaration for Ballard, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carlisle, Carroll, Carter, Crittenden, Daviess, Fleming, Fulton, Gallatin, Henderson, Hickman, Kenton, Lawrence, Livingston, McCracken, Morgan, Nicholas, Oldham, Owen, Union and Washington counties in Kentucky. The President’s declaration allows HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to certain families living in these counties.
- Kentucky State Police are asking for help in locating a woman and two children missing since last month. Police said in a statement Thursday that 28-year-old Staphne Ann Hall and her children, 9-year-old Cynthia Hall and 7-year-old Robert Hall, were last seen in Grayson, Kentucky on April 15th. The statement says they were possibly traveling to Beaumont, Texas. The family was last known to be traveling in a White 1996 Ford Thunderbird. Staphne Hall is described as being 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. Cynthia Hall is about 40 pounds and has blonde hair and blue eyes. Robert Hall is about 60 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555 or 606-928-6421.
- Attorney General Jack Conway has written a letter promising to follow "appropriate investigative protocol" in reviewing passage of a law that allows optometrists to perform some uncomplicated medical procedures now reserved for ophthalmologists. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobbie Holsclaw, while not alleging wrongdoing, said the measure had sailed through the legislature so quickly earlier this year that it raised eyebrows. It allows optometrists, who made some $250,000 in campaign contributions to state lawmakers over the past year, to perform a variety of simple surgical procedures. American Optometric Association President Joe Ellis has said lawmakers passed the bill because of a need to modernize state law.
- Thursday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati found Kentucky's decision to shorten the waiting period for seizing old traveler's checks from 15 years to 7 years is constitutional. The ruling in upholding a change to the law makes the state unique in the country. The Court found the law doesn't violate the Constitution, but it sent the case back to federal court in Frankfort because other issues remain in question. The decision reverses a 2009 ruling overturning the law. Kentucky lawmakers in 2008 shortened the period after which Kentucky can declare the checks abandoned property. Traveler's check issuer American Express challenged the law in 2008, saying it allowed the state to improperly take uncashed checks. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have 15-year waiting periods before traveler's checks can be seized.
- Kentucky Environmental Secretary Len Peters testified Thursday before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, saying he's troubled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to talk with states and listen to suggestions regarding the issuance of coal mine permits. Peters said Kentucky intervened in a lawsuit against EPA because state officials believe the agency's actions over the past year have been arbitrary and that his attempts to resolve issues have been disappointing. Peters says EPA has unlawfully reviewed and objected to mining permits required by the Clean Water Act. He said the EPA has objected to permits that it had supported a year ago. A lawsuit is pending in federal court.
- Governor Steve Beshear has asked that 16 additional counties be included in a request for disaster assistance from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as a result of storms and flooding since April 17th. Beshear requested assistance for 21 counties on April 29th. Thursday, he added Anderson, Boyle, Bullitt, Calloway, Christian, Franklin, Jefferson, Logan, Meade, Mercer, Ohio, Spencer, Todd, Trigg, Trimble and Woodford counties.
- The U.S. Postal Service is moving another mail processing and distribution operation in eastern Kentucky to West Virginia. The work will be transferred from a facility in Ashland, Ky., to one in Charleston. The Postal Service had announced earlier that it plans to close a mail sorting operation in Pikeville, Ky., and move the work to Charleston. Similar operations in Beckley and Huntington also are being moved to Charleston. Kentucky District Manager James W. Kiser attributes the consolidations to a 20 percent decline in mail volume since 2007. U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says he's concerned about the consolidations' impact on mail delivery. The Postal Service says local mail delivery won't be affected.
- Republican Todd P'Pool has received an additional $114,000 in contributions since April 15th for his campaign for attorney general. P'Pool filed an updated report Thursday with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance showing his total contributions at more than $466,000. The report showed he still had $411,000 on hand. P'Pool is unopposed in the May 17th GOP primary, but he will face Democratic incumbent Jack Conway in the fall general election. Conway also is unopposed in his primary.
- A deaf University of Kentucky football fan is suing the school, seeking to force the Wildcats to put closed-captioning on the scoreboards at Commonwealth Stadium. The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Charles Mitchell of Lancaster, Ky., is similar to suits brought against Ohio State University and the NFL's Washington Redskins. Mitchell sued in U.S. District Court in Lexington. He is seeking an injunction to force the university to put captions up for all game announcements. The suit against Ohio State resulted in a settlement in 2010 under which the school will post captions to announcements. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in March upheld a decision requiring the Redskins to provide captioning.
- Two years ago, the economic meltdown dampened the run up to the Kentucky Derby. Rooms were still available in Louisville's downtown hotels. Restaurant and bar tabs were down. Even fashion took a hit, as recycled Derby hats were more in vogue. This spring, Derby spending appears to be making a strong comeback in what amounts to a second Christmas season for Louisville businesses. Jim Wood, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, predicts the bonanza for businesses will return to the $120 million level of pre-recessionary times. Wood says most major hotels sold out weeks ago and restaurants are full. It's not a total recovery yet. The president of the organization that puts together local events such as Thursday's Pegasus Parade says sponsorships are down slightly from a year ago
- A jury has convicted a 23-year-old southern Kentucky woman of killing her toddler son. Amanda Johnson was facing murder and abuse charges stemming from the October 2009 death of 23-month-old Stephen Carl Troy. A jury in Laurel Circuit Court deliberated about 2 1/2 hours Wednesday before returning a guilty verdict on both counts. The newspaper reports the state medical examiner's office found bruises on the child's abdomen, fractures on his left leg, a bruise on the lower part of his back and a bruise on the top of his head.
- A crash involving a car and a truck has killed three people in western Kentucky. Hickman County authorities identified those killed as 19-year-old LaRay Lightner and 27-year-old Jewell Smith, both of Columbus, and 62-year-old Ralph Bogle of Arlington. Hickman County Sheriff Mark Green says all three victims were dead at the scene on Wednesday. The crash occurred on Ky. 58 about three miles from Clinton. Green called it a side impact crash. Investigators are trying to determine the cause. Several people said they heard it, but police have found no one who saw it happen.
- A southern Indiana casino is back open after being closed for much of the past two weeks because of flooding along the Ohio River. The Horseshoe Southern Indiana casino near Elizabeth let gamblers in again Wednesday evening and its 500-room hotel was reopening Thursday -- just in time for Kentucky Derby weekend activities in nearby Louisville. Flooding on the casino's grounds forced it to close on April 23. It reopened Monday, but had to close again the next day. Casino vice president Jonathan Jones says officials don't know how much money was lost during the shutdown, but that employees were paid their normal wages.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-6-'11
- Massey Energy announced last week the company wanted to seal the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County where 29 miners were killed in April 2010. Massey has offered the families of the victims $3M each to settle their claims out of court. Thursday afternoon, Massey officials were meeting with a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) official in Beaver, in Raleigh County, to present plans about how to shut the mine down for good when attorneys for the victims families showed up, and Massey cut the meeting short.
- Police are searching for two men who robbed an Exxon convenience store located at 1402 Kanawha Boulevard on the west side of Charleston around 5:00 P.M. Thursday afternoon. Charleston Police Chief Lt. S.A. Cooper says one of the men is about 6 feet tall and was wearing a black shirt and red pants. The other man is slightly shorter and was wearing a plaid shirt. Cooper says the robbery is not connected to a string of robberies on the West Side over the past couple of weeks.
- Average gasoline prices in West Virginia have hit a record $4.15 for a gallon of regular gas, topping the old record of $4.12 a gallon in July 2008. Thursday morning, AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge showed the average cost of a gallon of regular gas is up 9 cents from a week ago, and $1.10 higher than a year ago. Across the state, gas prices range from about $4.28 a gallon in Charleston, Huntington and Parkersburg to about $4 in Weirton.
- Joseph Lavigne Jr. of Hurricane is free on an appeal bond. Thursday, Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Stowers set bond at $150,000 for Lavigne, the man who has already served 15 years in prison for raping his daughter who was five years old when she was brutally attacked. Last week, Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding released an order that overturned Lavigne's 1996 rape conviction and called for a new trial. Judge Spaulding cited a number of problems with Lavigne's first trial including improper jury selection, an incorrect limit on character witnesses and insufficient evidence. Public Defender Greg Ayers says there is no physical evidence that links Lavigne to the crime. Lavigne is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in Putnam County Circuit Court on June 30th to set a new trial. His daughter says she believes her father was not the person who attacked her, even though she initially claimed he was.
- Thirty-one year old Angelo "P.J." Miller of St. Albans was sentenced Thursday to 2-10 years on fleeing charges. Police say, in October he was drunk and weaving in and out of traffic in the westbound lanes of MacCorkle Avenue in St. Albans when Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputy A.R. Crawford attempted to stop him. Miller led Crawford on a chase. When they reached a red light at an intersection near the Nitro-St. Albans Bridge, the deputy exited his vehicle to confront Miller, but, when the light turned green, Miller sped off. Near the Amandaville Bridge Miller rear-ended a black pickup driven by Paul Parog, 18, of Hurricane, causing the pickup to roll onto its top. Miller's SUV crossed the median and slammed into a concrete barrier, finally coming to a stop.
- Arron Henry, 21, and Roddruss Clay, 22, both of Clarksburg, have been arrested in connection with the April 26th shooting of Marlan Joseph Robinson, the son of former West Virginia University basketball player Maurice Robinson, a player from 1975 to 1978 and a teammate of current WVU coach Bob Huggins. Robinson is now listed in fair condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, where he was taken after he was found lying on the ground around 9:15 P.M. in a parking lot off First Street just off WVU's campus. He had been shot once through his forearm and a second time through his stomach. That bullet pierced his spleen and part of his intestines before coming out the other side of his body. Henry is charged with felony first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and wanton endangerment with a firearm. Clay is charged with felony first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and malicious assault.
- Jerry Lee Hanna, 55, of Nicholas County, was sentenced Thursday to nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty in January to being a felon in possession of a firearm and money laundering. Hanna admitted he was a member of an Oxycodone distribution ring operating in and around Nicholas County from 2007 through September 2008. During that time, Hanna used money from selling drugs to purchase property, which he titled in someone else's name. In June 2009, police seized nearly 80 firearms and other items from his Craigsville residence. Hanna admitted he stored approximately 24 firearms at the residence in March 2009. Hanna will forfeit two pieces of real property, $9,000 cash and more than 40 firearms.
- The federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement has issued a notice of violation to the state Department of Environmental Protection in relation to an old Consolidation Coal Co. coal refuse slurry pond in Harrison County that was reclaimed and approved by the Office of Surface Mining more than 20 years ago. Over time, the pond began seeping acid mine drainage. OSM issued a notice of violation in June 2010 and then agreed to DEP’s solution of permitting Coal Valley LLC, a division of Targe Energy of Pittsburgh, to remine and more fully reclaim the site. The site continues to discharge AMD to Bingamon Creek of the West Fork of the Monongahela River and, in late April, OSM issued DEP another 10-day notice of violation as well as a technical report that lists 21 violations.
- The Army of Corps of Engineers Huntington District says it will gradually release water that's been held by dams in the Ohio River Basin to keep flooding from worsening. The decision follows the Ohio River's crest at Cairo, Illinois. The river has reached historic levels this week, and all of West Virginia's dams except Bluestone have been used to hold back water, raising the lakes' levels above normal levels and closing some boat ramps and campgrounds.
- A group of door-to-door salesmen saying they're selling security systems endorsed by the sheriff's department have deputies in Putnam County on high alert. Putnam County Sheriff Mark Smith says they're asking potential customers for information they have no right to be asking. Smith says they have taken reports about the problem from the Winfield and Poca areas where callers say the salesmen said they would put the system in but needed a voided check. Smith says never, ever give anyone a voided check. They can get your account number and possibly your Social Security number.
- A ribbon cutting ceremony took place Thursday afternoon at the Huntington Veterans Affairs Medical Center to celebrate the opening of the new mental health complex located on the west end of the hospital campus. The facilities, which include a 3-story, 18,000 square foot Mental Health Clinic and a 3-story, 10,000 foot Psychological Rehabilitation and Recovery Center, are in buildings originally built in 1932 as housing for nurses and staff. Renovations on the two buildings cost about $7.4 million.
- Less than three months after they were installed, the Capitol Building Commission voted unanimously Thursday to remove the 56 security bollards on the grounds of the state Capitol. General Services spent $63,000 to install the barriers, but they never sought the approval of the Commission which has final say on any physical changes to the inside or outside of the capital complex. Steve Canterbury, a ex officio member of the Commission, says the bollards present a terrible message to the public, as if we're trying to keep them out of "their buildings, their Capitol." Although he is not a voting member of the Commission, Canterbury made a motion for the bollards to be removed, and the three voting members agreed. The state will spend an additional $15,000 to $23,000 to remove the bollards, the metal pipes inside and the cement that was poured into the ground to hold them in place. The total price for taxpayers is $78,000.
- The special primary to select the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor is slated for Saturday, May 14th. State officials are reminding employees that, unless they typically work on a Saturday, they won't get the Friday before the election off as a holiday. The employee handbook for state workers stipulates that if a legal holiday falls on a Saturday, the previous day is to be considered a holiday. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, workers are off the following Monday. A memorandum sent this week to cabinet secretaries, bureau chiefs and agency heads from the state Division of Personnel said the State Attorney General's office released an opinion in August stating that such special elections are legal holidays that only affect those employees scheduled to work and working on that day. State employees scheduled to work and working on the Saturday special election are entitled to a comparable day off, not to exceed eight hours.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-5-'11
- Governor Steve Beshear was notified Wednesday that President Barack Obama has approved his request for a major disaster declaration for Kentucky. After learning that Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel in Kentucky had submitted a letter to the President recommending granting the disaster declaration, Governor Beshear immediately called the White House to urge a quick response. Beshear declared a state of emergency on April 25th to allow local officials immediate access to state resources to assist in public safety and recovery efforts. Requests for Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation have been granted. All other requests are under review. Beshear has also requested a disaster declaration for Kentucky's farm families from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and directed the temporary suspension of restrictions on certain motor carriers and utility vehicles delivering disaster relief supplies. In addition, he implemented an executive order to protect consumers from price gouging. Damage assessments continue across the state.
- In Pikeville Wednesday morning, officials announced the newly created Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. The Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, made up of Pike, Lawrence, Magoffin, Martin, Johnson, Knott and Letcher Counties, wipes out county lines when it comes to business. Officials plan to recruit new industries not related to coal, and new retail stores and restaurants. Brad Hall says the new Chamber will represent the entire region, while bringing together a population of 216,000 people. The Southeast Kentucky Chamber will also work as a liaison between businesses and state legislators. Any business that wants to become a member of the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce can call 1-877-738-4400.
- Former Whitley County High School football standout Jamie Lebanion is being held on a $10,000 cash bond at the Whitely County Detention Center charged with second-degree burglary, third-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft. Lebanion admitted to stealing $1,500 worth of jewelry from his former high school coach, Jim Black, whom he lived with while he played football for the Colonels before going to Georgetown College on a football scholarship. He's also accused of stealing $140 from the Whitley County High School athletic trainer. Lebanion says he did it because he has a drug problem that caught up with him. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 16th.
- Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer didn't report or pay taxes for six years on his personal use of a state vehicle, even after multiple warnings from state auditors. Farmer, who is running for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, plans to get amended wage and tax statements and have an undetermined sum of money deducted from his paychecks in coming months to compensate retroactively for his past failure to pay. An attorney for the state auditor's office wrote a letter Monday to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and Kentucky Revenue Department about the issue. Farmer is the running mate of state Senate President David Williams for the May 17th primary.
- A Jefferson County prosecutor entangled in a drug investigation has resigned, but did not disclose the reason. Matt Conway, the younger brother of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, turned in a two-sentence letter on Friday. Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel says he did not demand Conway's resignation and it was unrelated to drugs. Matt Conway was the subject of drug investigations in 2008 and 2009, but not charged either time. Conway admitted to investigators that Louisville Police Detective Ronald Russ had tipped him off that he was a subject of a drug probe. Police Chief Robert White fired Russ in December. A spokeswoman for Jack Conway said he was unaware of his brother's resignation.
- Employees with the Perry County Clerk’s Office are busy readying an alternate set of voting machines for the upcoming primary election after the county’s machines were recently impounded, apparently as part of an investigation by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office. A new set of machines recently arrived from Lexington, some of which were still in the hallways of the courthouse Wednesday afternoon. Perry County Clerk Haven King said he didn’t have any further information as to what authorities are investigating, but he does expect the alternate set of machines will be up and and running in time for the May 17th primary election.
- Attorney General Jack Conway has announced the successful implementation of an electronic warrant management system (eWarrants) in the 24th Judicial Circuit (Johnson, Lawrence and Martin counties). This brings to 54 the number of counties that have received the eWarrant system under a $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant awarded to the Office of the Attorney General in 2009. A total of 64 counties, including urban areas not covered under the ARRA grant, now have eWarrants.
- The Kentucky Floral Clock on the Capitol grounds in Frankfort is 50 years old, and Wednesday first lady Jane Beshear marked the occasion with a celebration of the clock and the rose garden at the opposite end of the Capitol grounds. The clock was installed after Governor Bert Combs came up with the idea in 1961 following a trip in which he saw one at Niagara Falls. The Kentucky clock was designed by Frankfort architect Bill Livingston. The hands of the clock were painted gold to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Beshear says everything for the garden project was donated.
- Kentucky Kingdom was formerly operated by Six Flags, but was abandoned in 2010 during a bankruptcy filing. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is pitching a proposal aimed at reopening Kentucky Kingdom amusement park in 2012 by issuing $17.5 million in city bonds. Fischer says parking fees, a third-party investor and taxes collected from jobs at the park would pay off the bonds. Under the proposal, the city would commit its portion of the occupational tax revenues collected at the park toward the bond payment, up to $1 million. The park's operators would commit parking fees generated toward any difference between the taxes collected and the $1 million. Fischer has presented the plan to Kentucky Kingdom investor Ed Hart and Kentucky State Fair Board President Harold Workman.
- At the direction of Governor Steve Beshear, nearly 600 Kentucky National Guard troops are currently assisting flood relief efforts in six western Kentucky counties. About 3,800 people have been evacuated because of flooding concerns. Most people have sought shelter with family members and about 37 residents are spread out between four shelters, and two shelters are on stand-by, if needed. The cities are Hickman in Fulton County along the Mississippi River and Ledbetter and Smithland in Livingston County along the Ohio River.
- A Louisville teenager has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in a planned robbery that prosecutors say turned into a murder. Hardin County Circuit Judge Kelly Mark Easton sentenced Jason William Gowers on Tuesday, just more than a month after he pleaded guilty to charges of complicity to commit murder and complicity to tamper with physical evidence. The charges stem from the death of 18-year-old Mackenzie Smyser, whose remains were found in November near Interstate 65 and Fort Knox. Two others, Ryan Wilt and Connor Galenski, both of Louisville, are scheduled for trial on October 10th. Police say the trio planned to rob Smyser, but instead shot him over a debt for a gun.
- A northern Kentucky city could lay off 25 full-time employees, including police and firefighters, if the economic situation doesn't improve in the next two months. The Covington City Commission, by a 4-1 vote, put a contingency plan in place to help meet a projected $3.8 million shortfall for the next fiscal year. City Commissioner Steve Casper said layoffs might be averted if revenues increase, or if costs decrease or health care concessions are made by employees before the end of June. If the city enacts the contingency plan July 1st, it would lay off 10 full-time employees in the fire department, eight full-time employees in public improvements, four full-time and one part-time employee in the police department as well as a school resource officer.
- The Kentucky attorney general says two caregivers have pleaded guilty in the abuse of a mentally disabled patient at a Carter County care facility. Attorney General Jack Conway said 55-year-old Robert Thompson of Ironton, Ohio, entered guilty pleas on Tuesday to three separate indictments of knowingly abusing a vulnerable adult and one count of wanton endangerment. Ira Griffith of Mount Sterling pleaded guilty to one count of wantonly neglecting a vulnerable adult. Investigators said Thompson and Griffith unreasonably confined and intimidated Craig Martin, who was a resident at Community Presence, Inc., in September 2007. Thompson's sentencing is scheduled for May 26th and Griffith is scheduled for sentencing June 20th in Carter Circuit Court.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-5-'11
- West Virginia State Police launched a manhunt for 37 year old Craig Edward Hite Wednesday morning in Mingo County after Williamson troopers discovered, around 8:00 A.M., a woman was killed and two other people were injured at a home on Weed Patch Lane in Varney. Charla Hite was fatally stabbed, and Homer Hite was stabbed in the stomach and the arm, while another woman was also injured. Police say Craig Hite is also wanted for a home invasion in Georgia. Police arrested Hite Wednesday evening not far from where the crime occurred.
- A preliminary hearing was held Wednesday for 67 year old Mary Louise Bowles, a Raleigh County woman charged with the murder of her daughter, Cathy Jo McCoy. Bowles was arrested on April 28, 2010, after the bones of her daughter, which were found on Grace Walker Mountain in March, were identified. McCoy had been missing since June of 2000. In Wednesday's hearing, Trooper T.L. Bragg said Bowles collected her daughter's Social Security checks for three years, and at no point reported her missing. Geraldine Tincher testified that she was living with Bowles and her husband when McCoy first disappeared. She said Bowles told her she was taking her daughter to Hinton to pay bills on the day she went missing. When Bowles returned that night, Tincher said she was soaking wet, with the bottom of her pants covered in mud. McCoy's son took the stand and testified he was never able to get a straight answer from Mary Bowles about what happened to his mother. When asked whether she killed her daughter on her way out of the hearing, Mary Bowles named her deceased husband as her daughter’s killer. The case is headed to the Summers County grand jury.
- Massey Energy Co. says it's offered families of the 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion $3 million each to settle their claims. Massey held out for months before accepting a $7.1 billion buyout from Alpha Natural Resources. Massey secured a sweetened offer of 1.025 shares of Alpha stock plus $10 in cash for each of its shares. Massey and Alpha filed the proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday and are seeking shareholder support in a June 1st voting for the deal.
- On April 29th, the same day Massey Energy Co. announced a nearly $8 million first quarter loss, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration issued 20 withdrawal orders and five citations to the Randolph Mine, an underground coal mine operated by Inman Energy in Boone County. An inspection revealed violations of the ventilation plan in the underground mine, combustible materials accumulating in active workings, coal dust built up enough that it was engulfing the continuous miner operator and shuttle car operator, unused ventilation curtains, and insufficient water pressure on the continuous miner's water sprays. MSHA Chief Joe Main says the conduct and behavior exhibited when the mine operator was caught by surprise was nothing short of outrageous.
- Putnam County Delegate 59 year old Dale Martin of Poca was found dead in his truck Wednesday in South Charleston. Martin's family had filed a missing person's report with the State Police because they had not seen him since Monday. Martin, the chairman of the House Roads and Transportation Committee, was first elected to the House in 2000 to represent the 13th district which includes parts of Putnam, Mason and Jackson counties, a member of the West Virginia AFL-CIO and a Union Carbide retiree.
- Gregory Alan Jeffries of Belle is facing a felony charge of witness intimidation after telling another man he would beat him up if he testified against his 17 year old son who was charged with three counts of first-degree arson after allegedly setting fire to a trash bin behind Belle Elementary School and a carport at a Fifth Street home in March.
- Jeremy Keil and his father Robert Keil of St. Albans were in Kanawha County Circuit Court Wednesday after being arrested in December and charged with operating a meth lab. They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to operate a meth lab, and as part of that plea, all other charges were dismissed. They are scheduled to be sentenced in July.
- Forty-one year Donald Melvin Powell Jr. of Elkview has been charged with operating a meth lab, exposing children to meth, possession of pseudoephedrine out of its original state, and cultivation of marijuana. State Police went to his home on Walker Road Tuesday to investigate a tip of a possible meth lab on the property. Inside a garage, they found marijuana plants and meth making materials, including muriatic acid, a gas generator and tubing. Inside the home they found Powell's 15 year old son and 9 year old stepson and several other adults. All were evacuated.
- Sixty-year-old Darryl J. Hodgkinson of Huntington pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court this week to theft of public money. Federal prosecutors say Hodgkinson falsified his service record in Vietnam, including combat awards, citations and experiences, in applying for Veterans Affairs benefits he wasn't entitled to receive. He received nearly $325,000 in benefits from 2001 to 2010. Hodgkinson faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced August 15th.
- Police are asking for your help after a man walked into the Kentucky Fried Chicken on West Washington Street in Charleston just before 9:00 P.M. Tuesday night and robbed it at gunpoint. Police say the robber entered the store wearing a mask and hooded sweatshirt and demanded money then got into a vehicle and took off. This is the fourth robbery in Charleston in the last week. Lt. S.A. Cooper says the suspect in all four incidents has been described as a black man standing between 5 feet, 7 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches and weighing about 160 pounds. He is between 35 and 45 years old and has jaundiced eyes. He also has worn a hooded sweatshirt in all of the robberies.
- Members of the Kanawha Sheriff's Tactical Operations Patrol team conducted a traffic stop near Marmet Tuesday in which deputies found Lori Lucas, 44, of Hernshaw, of Kanawha County, had prescription pills and 10 plastic bags of marijuana in her vehicle. Lucas was taken into custody and deputies went to her Lens Creek Road home to search for more drugs. Deputies found 1.9 pounds of packaged marijuana inside the home and 124 marijuana plants growing behind the home.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-4-'11
- Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy Jay Burke has resigned from the department after being arrested on DUI charges. Sheriff Dwayne Price says a deputy pulled over Deputy Burke early Sunday morning after he was allegedly swerving on the road. State Police also responded and made the arrest.
- Johnson Central High School AP English Teacher Amiee Cantrell-Webb has been chosen as the national Math and Science Initiative All-American Teacher of the Year for Kentucky. Officials say under her guidance, the English department at J.C.H.S. has become a model for the state. She will receive a trophy, $2,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to the awards ceremony in Washington D.C. in May.
- Governor Steve Beshear visited Fulton, McCracken and Marshall counties in far western Kentucky Tuesday. He says rising floodwaters still pose significant danger to homes and communities along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. He also visited the recently opened Regional Emergency Coordination Center at the Benton Armory. Beshear says he supports the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to breach the Birds Point levee. Approximately 400 National Guardsmen and 140 tactical vehicles have been deployed in six counties to assist in security operations, sandbagging efforts and other flood protection details. More troops are on standby and will be deployed as needed.
- On a 12-6 vote Tuesday, University of Kentucky trustees approved a 6 percent tuition increase for students in the next academic year. The tuition boost amounts to an extra $259 per semester for freshmen and sophomores from Kentucky. In-state juniors and seniors will pay $266.50 more per semester. Out-of-state students face increases of $531 per semester if they are freshmen or sophomores and $538 more if they are upperclassmen. The tuition hike will go before the state Council on Postsecondary Education in June. UK's outgoing president, Lee T. Todd Jr., says the higher tuition won't cover the school's full budget deficit. He has proposed merit-based pay raises for non-UK Health Care faculty and staff who have gone three years without pay raises.
- University of Kentucky trustees on Tuesday hired Eli Capilouto to succeed Lee T. Todd Jr. as the school's 12th president. Capilouto, 61, has been provost at the University of Alabama at Birmingham since 2005 and was acting provost before that. He rose through the ranks as a professor and dean of UAB's School of Public Health before serving as the school's chief academic officer. Capilouto starts his new job July 1st. UK spokesman Jay Blanton says Capilouto had reached an agreement in principle with UK trustees on terms for a five-year contract that includes a base salary of $500,000 per year, a maximum $50,000 bonus for achieving target goals determined by trustees. It also includes retirement contributions and deferred compensation totaling $125,000, for a package totaling $675,000. UK also will provide Capilouto with an automobile and membership dues. Todd's current salary and benefits total $657,000.
- The state made $230,000 off the sale of 2 surplus planes. Governor Steve Beshear said Tuesday that a 1975 Piper Navajo brought $190,100 on eBay.com, and a 1967 Cessna Skyhawk generated another $41,330. The sale of the two surplus planes Beshear ordered to be sold in an online auction brought more than expected. All of the proceeds from the sale will be returned to the state's General Fund that pays for basic government services and programs. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Department of Aviation had hoped to get at least $175,000 for the twin-engine Navajo.
- Governor Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet are taking action to repair a slide on Cannell Coal Gap Road in Johnson County and a rock fall on Burgess Branch Road in Lawrence County. Appropriations of $36,000 to the Johnson County Fiscal Court and $17,300 to the Lawrence County Fiscal Court have been made by the Cabinet. When emergency situations require repairs, it is our goal to make those repairs as quickly as possible said Mike Hancock, Transportation Cabinet secretary. These projects should make travel safer for those who use these roads each day to get to work or school. The projects will be completed by the respective fiscal courts. Costs will be paid from the Rural Secondary Emergency Fund, which is administered by the Transportation Cabinet Department of Rural and Municipal Aid.
- A General Motors executive has plans to visit the company's assembly plant in south-central Kentucky. A statement from the company says GM North America President Mark Reuss is scheduled to arrive Wednesday at the Bowling Green plant where Corvettes are assembled. GM is expected to announce a major investment in the plant. Last month, the state approved $7.5 million in tax incentives for the company if it moves forward with an expansion at the plant. Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes, who was among a group from Kentucky to visit GM headquarters in Detroit last week, says he expects a formal announcement Wednesday and hopes to be there for it. Governor Steve Beshear is also expected to attend.
- Jury selection is expected to take several days for the murder trial of two men charged in the shooting of a University of Kentucky student five years ago. Attorneys began picking the jury Monday in Lexington to try 31-year-old Adrian Lamont Benton and 29-year-old Raymond Larry Wright. They are accused of fatally shooting 23-year-old John Graves Mattingly III in May 2006. Investigators said Mattingly was shot in the head after two men knocked on his door, then pulled a gun and demanded money from people in the home. Mattingly died more than a month later at University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center. He was the son of Marion County Judge-Executive John Mattingly Jr. and Janet Mattingly and was a senior, majoring in secondary education.
- Kentucky State Police report collecting 309 pounds of prescription drugs statewide during a national effort that ran over the weekend. The 16 state police posts collected drugs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, along with some 5,300 other sites across the country. It was the second national "Take-Back" day, with the idea of helping prevent increased prescription drug abuse and theft. State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer says the program offers people a way to clean out their medicine chests when they aren't sure how to properly dispose of prescription medication. Brewer says prescription drugs are being abused and misused "at alarming rates" and are a public safety issue.
- The messages came in a fast and furious onslaught: a series of massively powerful tornadoes were ripping across Alabama and other parts of the South. On the receiving end of frantic descriptions of entire neighborhoods wiped out by last week's storms that killed 342, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate urged President Barack Obama to immediately sign an emergency disaster declaration for Alabama. The near immediate response was starkly different from past catastrophes. It looks like Fugate's decision to risk being criticized for sending too much too soon to flattened towns than be left explaining why help took so long to arrive worked to at least make victims feel as if the government cared. Fugate was on the ground a day after the storms subsided. Obama joined him Friday.
- Officials with the Blue Grass Army Depot in central Kentucky are investigating what sparked a fire in a building where anti-tank mines are demilitarized. Depot spokesman Sam Hudson said in a statement that a depot fire crew responded to the scene early Sunday to find heavy smoke and 6- to 8-foot flames coming out of a roof ventilation pipe. The statement says fire damage was contained to a 15-by-15-foot room of the building where M15 anti-tank mines are destroyed. The statement said workers in the building were evacuated, but no one was injured and "the surrounding community was not in danger." The chemical weapons were not affected, according to the statement. The building will remain closed until the cause of the blaze is determined.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-4-'11
- Crystal Seigler-Clark, the woman charged with allegedly killing her estranged husband, David Clark, and abducting her 13-month-old daughter Chloe, from Mingo County, waived extradition in a court in Madison County Tennessee Tuesday morning and will be brought back to West Virginia later this week. The Mingo County Sheriff's Department will bring Seigler-Clark back to West Virginia to face a charge of murder. The department will wait a few days for possible evidence found in Tennessee to be processed.
- A jury has been seated and opening statements made in connection to a 2010 murder in Raleigh County. In opening statements Tuesday, prosecuting attorney Kristen Keller laid out a case against 38 year old Christopher Bowling of Daniels, the man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife. Tresa Bowling was shot in the head on the night of January 31, 2010. Keller pointed to statements from Tresa's daughter from another marriage. Keller says the girl reportedly overheard her mother say "it's not my fault" just before she was shot. Bowling's defense team painted the shooting as a tragic accident after a long day of drinking. They claim Bowling squatted down to talk to her after a funeral of a friend, and the gun was pinching him. As he was pulling the gun out, it accidentally discharged. Investigators say the evidence pointed out inconsistencies in his story.
- Michael Fannin, 41, of Huntington, was arrested Tuesday and charged with child abuse by a parent, guardian, or custodian leading to death. Saturday, Cabell Huntington Hospital reported a 4-month-old girl was admitted with a "severe head trauma." The baby died Monday. Police say the head injuries happened at Fannin's home at Marcum Terrace where he was babysitting. Police say Fannin admitted to dropping the baby on her head on the bare concrete floor of the living room. He is in the Western Regional Jail. Bond has been set at $1 million.
- Emanuel Ray Jackson, 22, of Montcalm, in Mercer County, was arrested April 25th on first-degree murder charges, grand larceny and felony destruction of property after being accused of killing his cousin's wife, 21 year old Erika Goad. Sheriff's deputies believe the motive for the murder centers around a relationship between Goad and Jackson. Goad had been missing for nearly two weeks, before her body was found on Little Rich Creek Road between Spanishburg and Lashmeet. Jackson appeared in court Tuesday for a probable cause hearing, and his case was sent to the grand jury.
- Dustin C. Hill, 27, of Barboursville, was arrested Monday after West Virginia State Police in the Crimes Against Children Unit were notified by Wal-Mart employees in Barboursville that photos were developed and it appeared to be minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Police obtained a search warrant for Hall's home where they confiscated electronic evidence for examination. Hall was charged with possession of material visually portraying minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He was taken to the Western Regional Jail and placed on a $50,000 bond.
- West Virginia State Police in Boone County were responding to a call at Toney’s Branch Apartments in Bloomingrose. While on the way, troopers say Christopher Thuener from Ashford almost ran them off the road. Troopers attempted to pull him over, but Thuener wrecked his car and ran into a nearby house where he knew the people inside. A trooper and a K9 went into the house and was attacked by a pit bull which was shot by the trooper. Thuener was found in a bedroom with a shotgun. The K9 bit him and the trooper was able to get the gun away from Thuener. Thuener was taken to CAMC where he was treated for a bite wound from the K-9.
- Boone County Deputies have charged Greg Hensley with child neglect creating a substantial risk of injury after deputies found him passed out while he was supposed to be watching his three young children, a 2 year old, 1 year old and a 2 month old. Deputies were called to Hensley's home Monday after the mother of the children called police and told them she got a call from the 2 year old saying their father would not wake up. Deputies say they also found the children living in "deplorable" conditions.
- A gallon of regular unleaded in West Virginia is now going for $4.29. The national average for a gallon of gas is at $3.96. AAA says the average in West Virginia is at $4.10. But drivers in larger areas like Charleston and Huntington are paying 19 cents more. According to www.gasbuddy.com, the most expensive gasoline in the state can be found in Ravenswood at $4.39.
- Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin raised more campaign funds in the most recent election reporting period than the other five Democratic candidates for governor did combined. The reports show Tomblin brought in approximately $776,000, most of that at various fundraising events. Fellow Democratic candidates reported raising approximately $644,000 including Jeff Kessler ($72,200), John Perdue ($211,000), Rick Thompson (227,000), Natalie Tennant ($131,800), and Arne Moltis ($1,160). Tomblin also spent more than any of the other Democratic candidates in the period at $1.2 million. Half of that was for television commercials.
- In an effort to start paying off the more than $200 million unfunded liabilities in the current system, the Charleston City Council approved a move Monday that will phase out the current retirement system for police and firefighters. Any new hires will enroll in the new system, while current employees and retirees will remain in the old system. The state Legislature passed a bill this session that allows the city to become a part of the West Virginia Municipal Police Officers and Firefighters Retirement System. City Manager David Molgaard says the new system will cause the city to pay about $1.5 million more in retiree costs next fiscal year, which begins July 1st. The city has only about $856,000 currently available to put toward that, meaning it needs to find about $650,000. Under the new plan, employers and employees will both contribute 8.5 percent, some to go into a trust fund to be invested. The city has had a hiring freeze since March 2010. Molgaard says four new police officers could be in the academy by July.
Monday, May 02, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-3-'11
- Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford is proposing a one percent occupational tax to help lower a more than $3 million dollar budget deficit. Rutherford says alternatives were to either make cuts or increase revenue, and he chose revenue. He says his budget plan doesn't take away money from fire departments, senior citizens or the road program. The proposed tax would not apply in Pikeville, Coal Run, and Elkhorn City where an occupational tax is already paid to the cities. The new tax would only affect those in the county. If approved, the tax is expected to raise around $5 million dollars this year. Brad Hall, Director of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce says officials worry the tax could affect recruiting businesses to the region, but the Chamber has not taken an official position on the proposal yet. The Fiscal Court will consider the proposal at the May meetings.
- U.S. Representative Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) released the following statement, commending the U.S. Armed Forces in their successful mission to take down al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden:
- "Almost ten years ago, Osama bin Laden orchestrated the most heinous terror attacks on American soil. Instead of cowering and capitulating, our nation and our allies rose up against this international menace. I applaud the men and women of our Armed Forces who have pursued relentlessly and fought bravely, some paying the ultimate sacrifice, to bring this villain to justice. Today, while our flag flies strong and true, we must never forget the families or the lessons of 9/11."
- The Floyd Co. School board is discussing consolidating Allen Central and South Floyd High School.
Many on the board believe having a bigger school would allow more opportunities for the students. "When you have a small school you don't have a teacher for every subject. When you are a larger school you can afford to have a teacher for English, for Spanish so sometimes a larger school is beneficial" explains school board member Chandra Varia.
This idea is only in the early stages of consideration. If passed by the board, they’ll have to decide on a location. Henry Webb said it would most likely be a central location since the schools are 20 miles apart from each other.
A public meeting will be held on Tuesday May 24th at May Valley Elementary.
This proposal also includes turning the South Floyd building into an elementary school and combining McDowell and Osborne Elementary Schools. Allen Central would become what officials are calling a technology building.
- The first time 61 year old Eli Capilouto toured the University of Kentucky campus, he was an anonymous visitor, but, on Monday, he took center stage as the man in line to succeed Lee T. Todd Jr. as UK's 12th president. Capilouto, provost at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, met with faculty, staff, students and others in a whirlwind get-acquainted visit, while he calmly delved into issues ranging from the role of athletics on a college campus to UK's pursuit of top 20 status as a public research university, a goal set by the Kentucky General Assembly. Capilouto said he has lived in Birmingham for 35 years, with the exception of time spent in Boston for graduate school, but his impromptu visit to UK last week to check out the campus and chat with people sold him on the job. UK trustees who singled out Capilouto as their preferred candidate on Sunday are scheduled to take a final vote on his selection at a meeting Tuesday on campus.
- Sixty year old Tommy Hutton, a well known high school basketball referee, has been arrested in Letcher County and charged with trafficking a controlled substance. Hutton was a long-time official in the 14th region and most recently called games in the 15th region. He's also worked many state tournament games. Hutton is being held in the Letcher County Jail on a $50,000 cash bond.
- Governor Steve Beshear has announced Lexington-based Tempur-Pedic, an international company focused on innovative sleep products, is reaffirming its commitment to Kentucky with the expansion of its global headquarters. The company, which is one of the fastest growing public companies in Kentucky, will add 65 new jobs over the next five years to its existing employment base of 237, consistent with those of a worldwide headquarters. Tempur-Pedic, a billion dollar company that started in Lexington in 1993, plans to invest approximately $18 million as a result of the project, which will involve the construction of a new, approximately 100,000 square-foot facility in the University of Kentucky’s Coldstream Research Campus. Construction is expected to begin this fall and should be completed by December 2012.
- The state is projecting a $64 million surplus in its General Fund for the fiscal year that ends June 30th. The state’s revenues from taxes and fees are growing faster than estimates lawmakers used to craft Kentucky’s two-year budget. State officials say any surplus money will first go to pay for emergencies, such as clean up costs associated with last week’s storms that ravaged much of western Kentucky. The legislature has already mandated that any excess funds not used for emergencies must go into the state’s rainy day fund. According to the Third Quarterly Report on the state’s revenues, much of the increase over the official estimate was a result of an increase in coal severance taxes. The total projected surplus is expected to be $97.3 million, but a portion of coal severance tax money is returned to local governments in the areas where coal is mined. That means about $31.1 million will be returned to the counties, resulting in a projected surplus of $64.6 million in the state’s General Fund.
- At first blush, it seems so simple. Kentucky has a 6 percent sales tax, and all retailers pay that same tax on covered items. Not so, though, some say. States are missing out on millions from purchases made via the Internet from companies that don't have a physical store or presence within their borders. That is the crux of the argument to get a federal law passed to require sales tax collections on Internet purchases. Preliminary projections indicate Kentucky could collect the sales tax on internet sales of upward of $108-million. The Commonwealth is keeping a close eye on the progress of the initiative at the federal level.
- The spring forest fire season in Kentucky has officially come to an end. The state Division of Forestry says fire hazard season ended April 30th, but they urge Kentucky residents to use caution.The statement says although heavy rains have pounded the state lately, more than 650 wildfires burned more than 14,000 acres since January 1st. Although most wildfires are due to arson, outdoor burning is also a culprit. Wildfires are less likely in the summer, but can still happen when conditions are dry.
- Students at some Kentucky schools plan to celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees on a mine site in eastern Kentucky. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement says more than 100 students from R.W. Combs Elementary School in Happy will attend the event Wednesday at the Montgomery Creek mine site near Vicco. Some high school students from Lexington are also expected to attend. Students and teachers will plant more than 700 native hardwood seedlings on the surface mine site. Students will also attend sessions on wetland construction and honey bee yard management. Others involved in organizing the event include the James River Coal Company, the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources and the Kentucky Department of Forestry.
- Kentucky State Police have charged a student at the Earl C. Clements Job Corps training center in western Kentucky with second-degree assault. Police say Markea S. White of Laurinburg, North Carolina attacked security guard officer Jason Newton late Saturday. Newton was taken to Union County Methodist Hospital in Morganfield and then transferred to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana after he sustained head injuries. White is being held in the Union County Detention Center in lieu of $10,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
- Kentucky Lottery officials are warning about a phone scam targeting some lottery players. Kentucky Lottery Vice President of Communications Chip Polston says someone is calling people from an out-of-state phone number saying they’re from something called the ‘Mega Bucks Sweepstakes.” After telling the person they’re on the way to their home to present their prize, they request a $1500 processing fee. Polston says prizes don’t have processing fees, and that should be an immediate signal you’re about to be scammed. According to Polston, some of the confusion stems from the fact that the Kentucky Lottery recently conducted a legitimate second-chance promotion involving a similarly-named ticket (“Big Ol’ Bucks”). In addition, a current Final Top Prize entry ticket also shares a similar name (“Jumbo Bucks”).
- Here are additional tips from the Kentucky Lottery to prevent possible scammers from succeeding:
- • Unless you specifically entered a promotional game sponsored by the Kentucky Lottery Corporation, you will never be contacted by us informing you that you have won a prize.
- • Never accept a collect call from anyone claiming to be a lottery official.
- • Keep your credit card and bank account numbers to yourself. Scam artists will often ask for them during an unsolicited sales pitch. The Kentucky Lottery will never ask for this type of information.
- Preliminary statistics indicate that seven people died in seven separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, April 25th, through Sunday, May 1, 2011. All of the fatalities involved motor vehicles and two of the victims were not wearing seat belts. Single-fatality crashes occurred in Calloway, Carroll, Jefferson, Meade, Montgomery, and Pike counties. Through May 1st, preliminary statistics indicate that 197 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011. This is twenty-two less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2010.
- Although the Kentucky Derby is in Louisville, visitors to Frankfort will still have a chance to get in on the fun. The Governor's Derby Celebration is scheduled for Saturday morning in the state's capital city from 8:00 A.M. to noon. The celebration will feature music, an arts and crafts fair, food and children's activities. Retired racehorse Danthebluegrassman, who now lives at Old Friends horse retirement farm near Georgetown, will be at the celebration for those who want a close-up look at a thoroughbred.
- Kentucky transportation officials closed a section of U.S. 60 in Livingston County in western Kentucky Sunday because of rising water. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials say floodwaters from the Ohio River were starting to cover traffic lanes near where the highway meets KY 137/River Road about 2 miles east of the Cumberland River Bridge at Smithland. Based on the Smithland Gauge reading of 50.99 Sunday morning with a crest predicted at 53 feet at 7:00 A.M. CDT on May 3rd, water was expected to be about 2 feet deep along this extended section. The water is not expected to drop until Thursday.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-3-'11
- An extradition hearing is set Tuesday morning in Jackson, Tennessee for Crystal Seigler-Clark, the Mingo County woman wanted in West Virginia for the murder of her estranged husband, David Clark. Last week, Crystal Seigler-Clark turned herself in to U.S. Marshals in Tennessee after spending a couple of days on the run with her 13-month old daughter, Chloe. Last Tuesday, the body of David Clark was found inside his home in Varney. Reports indicate he was shot once in the head and once in the chest.
- Charleston-based Highland Hospital will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at 10:00 A.M. Tuesday in Kanawha City for a 73,000-square-foot behavioral health facility. The four-story expansion will cost $29 million and include 98 beds. In 2008, a volatile bond market forced the nonprofit psychiatric hospital to delay its expansion plans.
- Sontez Lomax, 31, of Huntington, pleaded guilty Monday to distribution of cocaine base, admitting he met with an undercover ATF agent at Smokin’ Aces located in Huntington and told the agent he could provide cocaine at a price of $1,300 per ounce. Lomax also admitted he sold the agent two ounces of cocaine in exchange for $2,600. Lomax faces up to 20 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine when sentenced August 22nd.
- Joseph Duffield, 22, of Milton, was sentenced Monday to three years probation for using counterfeit currency at fast food restaurants on several occasions in the Milton and Barboursville areas. Duffield admitted he attempted to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at a McDonald’s restaurant in Huntington in February 2009 in an attempt to receive real money as change. Huntington Police say, when they searched Duffield’s car at the McDonald's, they found 33 more counterfeit $100 bills and one counterfeit $20 bill. Duffield was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
- Keival Kelly, 27, of Huntington was sentenced Monday to nearly 3 years in prison after pleading guilty in January to selling 2.65 grams of cocaine base to a confidential informant in September 2009.
- The trial for 39 year old Christopher Bowling of Daniels, in Raleigh County, began Monday morning. Bowling is charged with first-degree murder. Police say he shot his wife, Tresa, in the head on January 31, 2010 while she was sitting on a couch in their home following an argument. She later died at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital.
- The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is giving the coal industry more time to comment on proposed rules designed to better protect the nation's 73,000 miners from black lung disease. The comment period had been scheduled to end on Monday, but the agency extended the deadline for comments to May 31st. MSHA is holding four public hearings next month while taking comment on a proposal that would tighten requirements for examining work areas in underground coal mines. It's also taking testimony on new standards for determining whether mines are exhibiting a pattern of safety violations. MSHA says hearings are set for June 2nd in Denver, Colorado, June 7th in Charleston, West Virginia, June 9th in Birmingham, Alabama and June 15th in Arlington, Virginia.
- St. Louis-based Arch Coal announced Monday it's buying International Coal Group for $3.4 billion, or $14.60 per share. ICG, headquartered in Scott Depot, in Putnam County, will provide key metallurgical coal reserves to Arch. The combined company will be the second-largest U.S. metallurgical coal supplier. The Arch-ICG buyout is expected to be completed sometime in the second quarter.
- Massey Energy Co. says it lost $7.7 million, or 7 cents per share, in the first three months of 2011. Massey earned $33.6 million, or 39 cents per share, in first-quarter of 2010. Revenue rose to $949.8 million, compared with $688.6 million in the year-ago quarter. The latest results include Cumberland Resources, a company acquired in 2010. Massey has lost money for four consecutive quarters since the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine.
- Michael Duane Lacy, a St. Albans man accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl and impregnating her, pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault Monday. Lacy admitted he had sex with the girl but says he was groggy from taking prescription drugs and thought he was having sex with his wife instead. Lacy was arrested In July 2010. He could be sentenced to 15 to 35 years in prison, plus up to an additional 50 years supervision upon release. He will be sentenced in July.
- William Rollyson of Braxton County has pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse, admitting to molesting his then 8-year-old step granddaughter in 2007 in Kirby Hollow in Kanawha County. He faces up to five years in prison when sentenced in July.
- Lt. Bryan Stover of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department says Mark Thompson, 19, of Greenview Road in South Charleston, was high on bath salts when he stole and killed his neighbor's pygmy goat about 3:15 A.M. Monday morning. According to witnesses, they entered Thompson's house while searching for the animal and found Thompson standing by the goat, half naked and wearing a bra and panties. The goat was lying on the floor with blood coming from its neck. Thompson ran from the house and into the woods before police arrived, but he was found and taken into custody several hours later. Thompson told police he was on bath salts for about three days. Thompson is charged with animal cruelty.
- In the Governor's Reception Room in Charleston Monday, West Virginia's first lady Joanne Tomblin announced a new military initiative. The goal of the program, called "Serve West Virginia Military: Serving Those Who Serve Us" is to encourage people to lend support for members of our armed forces.
- Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey says commissioners had no choice but to join Steel of West Virginia and several other Cabell County businesses in a lawsuit to stop Huntington from implementing a 1 percent occupation tax. Bailey says over 300 county employees would be taxed, and they have no representation whatsoever, and that's very, very unconstitutional. The lawsuit centers on the Home Rule Board's decision in March to allow Huntington to enact the tax on July 1st as part of a five-year home rule pilot program the state Legislature approved in 2007. The city plans to eliminate its $3-per-week user fee and impose a 1 percent tax on anyone who works in Huntington, even if they live elsewhere. Bailey says the lawsuit will likely be filed June 1st.
- Hino Motors in Wood County, the only vehicle assembly plant in West Virginia, cut overall production at the Williamstown location by 20% in April and plans to reduce that production by 30% total during the month of May. Hino Motors Vice President for Marketing and Dealer Operations Glenn Ellis says the cuts are a direct impact of the earthquake and the tsunami aftermath in Japan. At this point, Ellis says there are no plans to lay off any workers. Hino makes a medium duty conventional truck in Williamstown that meets the federal Environmental Protection Agency's emissions requirements for diesel engines without the use of emissions credits.
- So far this budget year, revenue growth for the state of West Virginia is 8.5 percent and it appears the state will end the fiscal year, June 30th, at about $200 million above estimates in tax collections. Deputy State Revenue Secretary Mark Muchow says several timing issues put April's collections below estimates by nearly $9 million, but year-to-date collections exceed estimates by approximately $268 million. Personal income tax and sales tax collections were higher than expected last month, and Muchow believes that will increase for May. The state Road Fund is approximately $30 million more than last year because more people are buying more vehicles and the Privilege Tax is going to the Road Fund.
Sunday, May 01, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-2-'11
- Pikeville College is out, UPike is in. The school's board of trustees unanimously adopted the University of Pikeville name on Saturday. The new name goes into place on July 1. The private, four-year liberal arts school founded in 1889 by Presbyterians has added enough departments and graduate programs to become a university, said President Paul Patton, who was governor of Kentucky from 1995 to 2003. The school has 1,000 undergraduate students and 300 medical students. University of Central Appalachia, University of Southeast Kentucky and Kentucky Commonwealth University were other names considered.
- The U.S. Postal Service announced Friday it is closing a mail sorting operation in Pikeville by January and moving it to Charleston, West Virginia. Postal service district manager James W. Kiser says the facility in Charleston has the capacity to handle the work and will save the U.S. Postal Service money. Postal officials say local mail delivery will not be affected by the consolidation, but delivery times to Lexington, Louisville and Frankfort will be two-day deliveries, where they are currently overnight deliveries. The announcement ends an Area Mail Processing survey that started in September. Mail-handling numbers have dropped from 213 billion pieces of mail in 2005 to 169 billion pieces by 2009. Postal service spokesman David Walton says the service projected in September that about 177 billion pieces of mail would have been processed by the end of the year.
- In an effort to offest a more than $3 million financial shortfall, Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford has proposed imposing an occupational tax, which he says could result in another $7 million in revenue for the county annually. During a special meeting on Friday, the Pike Fiscal Court heard the first reading of an ordinance to begin the tax.
- University of Kentucky trustees have chosen Eli Capilouto, provost of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as their finalist to become the school's next president. Capilouto, 61, was introduced as the preferred candidate after a conclusive round of closed-door meetings where trustees interviewed the final pool of candidates at a northern Kentucky hotel. The full UK Board of Trustees voted 19-0 Sunday afternoon for Capilouto after two days of interviews and deliberations. Capilouto is in line to succeed outgoing UK President Lee T. Todd Jr., who announced last September he is retiring in June after a decade of leading the university. UK has about 28,000 students and a nearly $2.5 billion budget. Next up for Capilouto will be a whirlwind, get-acquainted tour Monday that will include meetings with faculty, staff, students and alumni on the Lexington campus. Trustees will decide Tuesday whether to extend a formal offer to him. Capilouto is a Montgomery, Alabama native who graduated from the University of Alabama in 1971 and has two advanced degrees from Harvard University. He joined the faculty at UAB in 1975 and has spent his entire career there. He began as a professor in dentistry and was dean of the School of Public Health from 1994 to 2001.
- A new high school that will combine South Floyd and Allen Central is part of the Floyd County School District Facilities Plan. A special meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:00 P.M. Monday at May Valley Elementary School to set a public hearing date for concerns and input from the community. The plan, which was approved last week by the Local Planning Committee, will allow Allen Central High School to be renovated to become a permanent Area Technology Center/District Transportation and Maintenance Department, and South Floyd High School will become the new home for students from McDowell Elementary and Osborne Elementary. The new high school is estimated to cost over $24 million and have a 750-student capacity. The site for the 112,853 square-foot high school is yet to be determined. A new alternative school is also part of the plan at an estimated cost of over $5 million. The plan is subject to approval by the Kentucky Board of Education, with a tentative date set for June.
- Sara Elizabeth Shallenberger Brown, known around Louisville as "Sally," the matriarch of the family that founded Brown-Forman Corp., died Saturday night at the age of 100. Brown's late husband, W.L. Lyons Brown, who died at age 66 in 1973, was chairman and president of the distilling company, founded by his grandfather, Garvin Brown. Two of her children, W.L. Lyons Brown, Jr., and Owsley Brown II, also headed the company, which makes Jack Daniels whiskey, Little Black Dress Wines and Woodford Reserve bourbon. Brown was known around Louisville for her philanthropy, including gifts to the Speed Museum and Actors Theatre of Louisville, which named the main lobby after her.
- A lawsuit, naming the University of Louisville and the School of Dentistry as defendants, was filed last week by Lucille Bickett, Jessica Gossman-Poynter and Melanie Peterson, alleging they were retaliated against when they spoke out against sexual discrimination at the dentistry school. Bickett and Gossman-Poynter say they were forced out of their jobs after they reported to university officials that Christopher Morgan, the director of dental informatics, had allegedly misused a university-issued credit card. According to the lawsuit, Morgan discriminated against women in his department, assigning women set times when they could take their lunch breaks, while not doing the same for male employees, and that Gossman-Poynter and Bickett were excluded from departmental meetings. Peterson was pressured to resign in June 2010, Poynter was forced to resign in August 2010 and Bickett was fired in March after she made several more complaints against Morgan. U of L spokesman Mark Hebert says the university investigated and “found no suspicious or unjustified charges associated with” Morgan's use of the credit card.
- The nation's largest retailer has a plan to try and boost sales. Wal-Mart is putting guns back on the shelves at more of its U.S. stores. About 1,300 Wal-Mart’s nationwide currently sell shotguns, rifles and ammunition. The retail giant says it plans to up that number to 2,000. Stores that will begin selling firearms will be in areas where hunting and fishing are popular. Customers will have to complete the necessary forms and background checks, before they can buy a gun.