Saturday, June 04, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-5-'11
- Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen says a woman in northwest Louisiana allegedly went to an adoption agency after having an abortion, and is accused of taking more than $19,000 from people in Louisiana, Virginia and Kentucky who wanted a baby. Sheriff's spokeswoman Erin Habich (HAH-bik) says 21-year-old Heather Hill was booked Thursday on charges of theft by fraud, money laundering, racketeering and extortion, and is being held on $180,000 bond. Hill was arrested in Texas, but Habich says she had been living in Haughton. Habich says people in Rhodelia, Ky., and Denham Springs, La., allegedly paid to support the supposed pregnancy. She says Hill did have a daughter -- the baby a Roanoke, Va., woman allegedly paid to adopt. Habich says that baby's name is tattooed on Hill's neck.
- A second triplet injured in a wreck in Danville has died. The Fayette County coroner's office said Friday that 7-year-old Chase Padgett of Junction City died Thursday from the injuries he suffered in the wreck. His sister, 7-year-old McKenna Padgett died in the wreck Tuesday, and the other triplet, Connor, was critically injured but has improved to serious condition. Also injured were the children's mother, Stephanie Padgett, who was in fair condition, and another sibling, 6-week-old Madeline Oblisk, who was expected to be released from the University of Kentucky Hospital soon. The accident happened when Stephanie Padgett lost control of the van she was driving. Police said she crossed the center line and was struck broadside. The Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville is accepting donations for the family.
- Authorities in Kentucky say a jockey who was found dead in his car at Churchill Downs died from an accidental overdose of cocaine and a prescription pain medication. Michael Baze was pronounced dead last month in his vehicle in the stable area of the Louisville track. Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Jim Wesley said Friday that the cause of death was multiple substance intoxication. He said significant amounts of cocaine and the pain medication Oxymorphone were found in Baze's system. The 24-year-old Baze was facing a cocaine possession charge at the time of his death. Baze amassed earnings of more than $32 million in a nine-year career. Horse racing was in his bloodlines. He is the son of retired jockey Mike Baze, and one of his cousins is all-time leading rider Russell Baze.
- A former Louisville high school teacher who was found partially clothed in a car with a 17-year-old male student won't go to jail as part of a plea agreement reached Friday. Under the deal, 39-year-old Carrie M. Shafer pleaded guilty Friday to felony custodial interference and misdemeanor unlawful transaction with a minor. During her sentence of three years' supervised probation, Shafer cannot take a teaching job. She must also pay a $1,000 fine. The ex-teacher at DuPont Manual High School was found with the teen at a park in Louisville in March. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jon Heck acknowledged the pair had "sexual contact." The plea won't require Shafer to register as a sex offender. Shafer's attorney, declined to comment after a court appearance Friday.
- A 19-year-old western Kentucky man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison in a robbery and slaying. Joshua Orr was charged with murder in the Feb. 10, 2010 slaying of 23-year-old Joshua E. Newcomb. He pleaded guilty in March to fatally shooting Newcomb during a robbery attempt in Daviess County. Three others have also entered pleas in connection to the incident. Orr read from a statement during his sentencing hearing Thursday, apologizing to Newcomb's family and calling his actions "a horrible mistake." He said he fired the gun to scare Newcomb, not to kill him.
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe is charging that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discriminated against the town of Fort Kent because of its remote location in extreme northern Maine. The charge came after community officials in Fort Kent were told their grant for an underage drinking prevention program had been rejected because the community was "WAAAAAAYY off the beaten path," making it inconvenient for program staff to visit. Instead, the Traffic Safety Administration chose Mason City, Iowa, and Louisville, Ky., for the $175,000 grants. Fort Kent is about 290 miles north of Augusta. Snowe says the transportation agency's decision to deny Fort Kent's application because of its location is "wrong" and "unfair." Snowe is asking Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland to fix the situation immediately.
Paving operations on US 23 in Greenup County willswitch to northbound lanes beginning Monday, June 6, as contractors work
between Ashland and Raceland. There will also be some shoulder work that
will impact traffic on southbound lanes next week. One lane of US 23 will be closed in areas where crews are working -
approximately 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. All lanes will reopen at night,
although travel may be on rough surfaces at times. During construction, efforts are being made to keep lane closures short
and minimize delays. However, motorists should be prepared for longer
drive times, especially in heavy traffic, and should plan routes accordingly. Motorists are advised to slow down, "Drive Smart" in work
zones and remain aware of workers and construction equipment at all times. The work is part of a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet project to improve 4.48 miles of US 23 between the Boyd County line and KY 750 at Raceland under a $2 million low-bid contract with Mountain Enterprises Inc.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-5-'11
- The trial of 24 year old Zerlinda White of St. Albans was scheduled to begin Monday in front of Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jim Stucky, but the judge was notified by the Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office the indictment against her would be dismissed. Judge Stucky signed the order Friday. White was arrested in April 2010 after the death of her two-month-old infant son Ayden. Police originally said the boy died of an abusive closed head injury. No word from prosecutors on why the decision was made to dismiss the indictment or if they plan to refile charges.
- James A. Maddy, 68, and his wife, Charlotte, 66, died Friday after a wreck on Interstate 64 between the Eisenhower Drive and Beaver exits. Police believe James Maddy experienced some type of medical problem while he was driving his motorcycle down the fast lane, and he began shifting to the right, as if he were trying to get off of the road, when the front tire dropped off the roadway into gravel and the front of the bike twisted, ejecting the couple over the handlebars. James Maddy was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the emergency room of Beckley Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital, while Charlotte Maddy died later Friday evening at the hospital.
- A Kanawha County Judge denied bond Friday for Shawn Lester, the man charged with first-degree murder in the 2003 sniper-style shooting of Jeannie Patton, who was shot to death at a Speedway near Campbells Creek. Prosecutors claim to have a slew of new evidence, including statements from several witnesses saying the suspect admitted to the crime. Lester's defense attorney, George Castelle, argued that bond should be set at a reasonable level based on Lester's cooperation with investigators and the fact his client was not a flight risk, considering he hadn't left the Charleston area in eight years since the shooting. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Don Morris claimed a number of witness had come forward since April's preliminary hearing and given crucial statements to police. At least three of those statementsinclude new witnesses claiming Lester directly confessed to killing Patton and one who alleges Lester admitted to committing all three sniper-style shootings. Police say Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier were killed with the same .22 caliber rifle used to kill Patton. Morris also cited numerous other statements from witnesses who say Lester either implied he committed the crime, or implicated himself in some other form, including statements from three people who say they saw Lester with a .22 rifle less than half an hour after Patton's murder. Many of those statements corroborate investigators' theory that the killings happened over stolen drugs. Police say Lester owed money to a man known as "Tito" after an engine was stolen from Lester's car garage on Rutledge Road. The engine, full of Tito's methamphetamine, was allegedly stolen by Meadows, Carrier, Patton and her boyfriend, Marty Walker.
- James Whitt from Chapmanville was arrested Friday evening and charged with the first degree murder of Michael Richards, whose body found in the Switzer area on Thursday. Troopers say Michael Richards took a serious hit to the head, which is what killed him. During a search of Whitt's home, police seized some clothing they say Whitt wore during the crime. They also took the pickup truck they say he was driving at the time.
- Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies arrested 48 year old Samuel Glenn Garwood of Charleston, South Carolina Wednesday at a Cross Lanes motel on a fugitive complaint involving the robbery of a credit union in South Carolina. Deputies continued to investigate and now believe he robbed the Pioneer Federal Credit Union in South Charleston on May 26th and the Universal Federal Credit Union in Barboursville on Wednesday, June 1st. Garwood will be extradited to South Carolina.
Friday, June 03, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-4-'11
- During a press conference in Bowling Green Friday, U.S. Senator Rand Paul called for Senate hearings to get answers on how two Iraqi refugees were granted asylum to live in the United States. Thirty year old Waad Ramadan Alwan and 23 year old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, who were arrested in Bowling Green, are facing charges of plotting to send explosives, guns and missiles to Iraqi insurgents. Neither is charged with plotting to launch attacks inside the United States, and authorities said their weapons and money didn't make it to Iraq.
- Margaret Morgan, 59, of Louisville was flown to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital Thursday, where she was treated for multiple cuts after she was thrown from a boat on Herrington Lake and was then cut by the boat's propeller. The accident happened near the Ky. 34 bridge that spans the lake at the Boyle-Garrard County line. Morgan was a passenger in a 14-foot rented johnboat that was operated by Dave Wiseman, 50, of Louisville. The boaters became distracted by something, and the boat hit a tree stump or some other submerged object, throwing Wiseman and Morgan into the water. The boat circled the two, and the propeller apparently struck Morgan, cutting her in several places. Wiseman was able to pull Morgan to a private boat dock, where some nearby fishermen gave assistance.
- In an address to shareholders and associates packed in a University of Arkansa arena about 30 miles from its Bentonville headquarters Friday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unveiled a $15 billion share buyback program as it sought to reassure shareholders at its annual meeting that the world's largest retailer is still growing. The buyback will replace a previous $15 billion repurchase plan begun a year ago. The company bought back 244 million shares worth $12.9 billion under that program. In March, the company increased its dividend in its current 2012 fiscal year from $1.21 to $1.46 per share, an increase of 21 percent that returned $1.3 billion to shareholders. While international sales are sizzling, the company is still trying to reverse a two-year sales slump in the U.S., with no clear sign of when that will happen.
- Christopher Branum, an inmate at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty, claims that, on May 1st, he found a mouse in his soup. Prison reports show Branum complained less than a minute after being served and that Corrections Capt. Paul Fugate described the mouse as "saturated as though it had been in the soup for some time." The incident was investigated by the Department of Corrections and Aramark Correctional Services, which has a contract with the state to provide prison food. Aramark food service director Jody Sammons said in a May 12th memo that the incident appeared isolated and that it wasn't likely the mouse was cooked with the batch of soup.
- Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a new law aimed at controlling the state's "pill mills" by penalizing doctors who overprescribe painkillers, tightening rules for operating pharmacies and authorizing a prescription-drug monitoring database. Florida is considered the epicenter of prescription drug abuse, with pain-management clinics supplying drug dealers and addicts with illicit prescription painkillers. Many of those people come from other states, including Kentucky. Scott originally opposed the prescription-drug monitoring database, calling it a waste of money and an invasion of privacy, but Attorney General Pam Bondi and several GOP legislators pushed for the database and Scott eventually agreed.
- As part of TVA's Generations Partners Program, Bowling Green should have its first large-scale solar generating facility by the end of the month. This week, workers were installing poles that will hold up some of the 7,000 solar panels planned for a 10-acre site at Scotty's Development. The poles will have a metal fulcrum that allows the panels to move with the sun and collect the maximum amount of solar energy. Business owner Jim Scott says the energy produced should be more than enough to offset the costs of powering the three warehouses on the property. Developers expect the $6 million solar farm to pay for itself in about six years by selling the energy produced to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-4-'11
- Huntington Police say Mary Robinette, 25, was driving westbound on I-64 near Huntington around 10:30 P.M. Thursday when she crossed the median and hit a vehicle driven by 62 year old Nicola Graham. Graham's Jeep caught fire, trapping her inside. Three people who were passing by stopped and pulled Graham out of her vehicle. Both Robinette and Graham were taken to St. Mary's Medical Center where they were listed in serious condition. Police believe the crash is alcohol-related.
- Michael A. Clark was arrested Thursday night and charged with two counts of animal cruelty, one count of failure to process and one count of public intoxication after police say he threw kittens in a dumpster behind the Central City Market in Huntington. If convicted, Clark faces up to 10 years in prison and several fines.
- People who possess or sell "bath salts" and K2 in South Charleston can now face 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. Thursday night, the South Charleston City Council passed two separate ordinances, one banning the possession and sale of synthetic cocaine and the other banning synthetic marijuana in city limits. Also at Thursday night's meeting, South Charleston welcomed three new firefighters. The men were officially sworn-in and given the city's blessing to perform their duties. The new hires bring South Charleston's ranks to 40 full-time paid firefighters.
- Felony sex charges against 27 year old Autumn Faulkner, a former Elkins Middle School teacher, have been dismissed for a second time. Faulkner was charged with sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian and third-degree sexual assault. The charges involved a 15-year-old male student. Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong dismissed the charges because prosecutors failed to provide discovery items to the defense. The items include a video interview of the teenager and an audiotape of statements Faulkner gave to investigators. Wilfong dismissed the charges without prejudice, meaning a grand jury could re-indict Faulkner. Wilfong dismissed the charges last December after ruling that a member of the grand jury panel had prior information about the case.
- Early voting in Putnam County started June 1st and will continue through June 11th. Hurricane, Buffalo, Bancroft, Poca and Winfield residents who wish to vote in their municipal election can do so in their town hall during regular business hours on weekdays. All early voting sites will be open during regular town hall business hours on weekdays and from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on Saturday, June 4th and June 11th. The official Election Day is on Tuesday, June 14, when polling places will be open from 6:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M.
- The FBI is asking the public for help in solving a string of robberies at financial institutions across southern West Virginia. Wednesday, a white male robbed the Universal Credit Union in the Huntington Mall in Barboursville. That robbery marked the sixth robbery at a bank or credit union since mid-January in the southern part of the state. FBI detectives and local law enforcement are linking the most recent robbery to one on May 26th at the Pioneer Federal Credit Union in South Charleston. Law enforcement is seeking the public's help to solve the following four robberies:
* Jan. 20 -- a black male robbed the City National Bank on U.S. 60 East in Huntington
* March 8 -- a black male robbed the Blennerhassett Federal Credit Union in Vienna
* April 30 -- a white male robbed the Chase Bank at the Kanawha Mall in Charleston
* May 16 -- a white male robbed the BB&T Bank on Hal Greer Boulevard in Huntington
- The FBI is working with Barboursville, Charleston, Huntington, South Charleston and Vienna police and the Cabell County Sheriff's Department on the cases. Anyone with information regarding any of the robberies is asked to call the nearest FBI office or their local 911 center.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-3-'11
- Storm victims in Pike and Lawrence Counties can now apply for FEMA individual assistance for storms that hit the area from April 22nd through May 20th. Pike County Emergency Management directors say nearly 30 homes were destroyed or damaged in the storms from the end of April through mid-May. The damage is estimated at $200,000. After applying for FEMA aid, an inspector will then visit the home or business to evaluate the damage and determine what kind of assistance you can receive. To apply for assistance or get more information, you can visit the FEMA website at www.disasterassistance.gov.
- Post 9 Pikeville received a call Wednesday night of a shooting in the Betsy Layne Community of Floyd County. KSP Troopers arrived on scene and contacted Brian Iricks who stated he had been shot by Jeffery Iricks. Information at the scene indicates that this incident began as a verbal argument between the two parties. Brian Iricks received injury to the right arm and was transported to UK Trauma Center in Lexington, Ky. Where he is listed in stable condition. Jeffery Iricks was arrested and lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center. This incident remains under investigation by KSP Detective Jason Merlo.
- Federal inspectors issued 30 citations at an underground coal mine in Letcher County during a special inspection last month. Citations allege that the operator of Vision Coal Inc.'s Mine No. 2 failed to follow the approved plans for supporting the mine roof and drilling test holes, exposing miners to potential injuries from roof falls and the danger of being inundated by water and harmful gases. MSHA also issued 30 citations at Leeco Inc.'s No. 68 mine in Perry County. MSHA says its inspectors issued a total of 255 citations and orders in the April inspections at eight coal mines and seven other types of mines.
- Kentucky State Police say James Slone was traveling east on Kentucky 122 in the Hunter community in Floyd County Wednesday night when his pickup truck crossed the center line and hit a truck driven by 36 year old Jeffery Hamilton of McDowell. Hamilton and 43 year old Karen Mitchell of Hi Hat were pronounced dead at the scene.
- Sherman Doug Perry of Martin County was charged with murder and DUI in November after his vehicle crossed the center line and hit a pick-up truck head on, killing Fred Marcum. Police say Perry admitted he took drugs before driving, but Perry's attorney made a motion to dismiss the murder charge, claiming there was no evidence he drove impaired. The request was denied.
- Thursday, Fayette County Circuit Court Judge Pamela Goodwine ruled that jurors in the murder trial of former state lawmaker Steve Nunn will be allowed to hear evidence that he engaged the services of prostitutes in the week leading up to the death of his former fiancée, 29 year old Amanda Ross. Ross was gunned down outside her Lexington apartment September 11, 2009. Goodwine ruled that prosecution evidence showing contacts between Nunn and women from an online dating service in August and September 2009, just before the shooting death of Ross, was relevant to the murder case. Defense attorneys had sought to have information about the dating service excluded from the August 1st trial. Another status hearing is set for June 21st.
- Officials of the state's utility companies told lawmakers Thursday that all Kentucky customers can expect average rate increases of 20 percent during the next five years. Officials say a host of new Environmental Protection Agency regulations will mean upgrades and changes to the state's coal-fired power plants, resulting in increased costs to customers. LG&E and Kentucky Utilities are the only companies that have filed with the Public Service Commission for an environmental surcharge that would allow them to pass along the costs for the changes needed to comply with the regulations, but all of the utility companies told the interim committee on Natural Resources and Environment that they plan to file similar requests in coming months.
- U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves has ordered that a lawsuit alleging that the state is improperly withholding records about child deaths be heard in state court. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services wanted the complaint heard in federal court, but Reeves said the agency's arguments for having the case decided in federal court were incorrect. The cabinet is accused of improperly blocking public access to records about children who die or are severely injured as a result of abuse or neglect while in the state's care. It also claims that the cabinet improperly adopted regulations in January that would limit information about the actions of child-protection workers in such cases. The cabinet has argued that it acted properly and that the records are exempt from disclosure.
- Attorney General Jack Conway announced that six Kentucky counties were chosen in a random drawing to undergo independent inquiries for any potential irregularities that may have occurred during the primary election on Tuesday, May 17. The counties are:
"These audits supplement the work our investigators and prosecutors did on the ground leading up to the primary election, and the process, as defined by Kentucky law, will ensure that voters in every corner of our Commonwealth encounter procedures at polling places that are fair and equitable," General Conway said.
- The post-election audits, which are required by law (KRS 15.243), will be conducted by the Office of the Attorney General. Pursuant to KRS 15.243 (3),(a), the Kentucky Attorney General is required to conduct a post-election audit investigation in no fewer than five percent of Kentucky's counties following each primary and general election. The counties are selected in a public drawing that must be done within 20 days of the election. In each county, these routine inquiries will include checking election forms and interviewing county officials. The selection of these counties does not imply that irregularities are suspected.
- A man suspected of stealing an iPhone was arrested after the owners used an application to trace the device. When Amy Petty realized her purse had been snatched from her Union City home on Monday, her husband, Todd Petty, got online. The couple said they used an app designed to locate the phone if it gets lost and found it was only a few blocks away. They called police who said 23-year-old Wesley Coleman threw down the phone and ran away when they approached him. Coleman was jailed on $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 9. He is charged with theft and burglary.
- An eastern Kentucky city that exists only on paper is the focus of an effort to dissolve it by county officials. Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop says because no one in the city of Wallins ran for office in the last election it appears residents have accepted that the municipality must be dissolved. Grieshop said county officials will go door-to-door to gather signatures on a petition to start the process of formally dissolving the city by circuit judge's order. Wallins has about $30,000 to $50,000 in funds frozen in Frankfort. Grieshop said that money would go to Harlan County if the city were dissolved. Kentucky League of Cities spokesman Joseph Coleman said only Visalia in Kenton County has been dissolved by court order since 2000.
- A western Kentucky man who admitted he placed his infant son in a cold oven has been sentenced to two years in prison. Then-5-week-old Reece Long was not harmed in the 2010 incident in which the infant was placed in a cold oven on a cookie sheet. Police arrested Long after he called a crisis line to ask if he would be in trouble for placing a baby in an oven that was not turned on. Police say 34-year-old Larry Christopher Long told them he had smoked marijuana and drank whiskey the night of the incident. Long, who was sentenced Wednesday, entered an Alford plea in May to first-degree wanton endangerment. An Alford plea does not admit guilt, but concedes prosecutors have sufficient evidence to convict.
- School districts in Kentucky are beginning to move away from naming valedictorians for graduating classes. Instead, districts such as the one in Bullitt County have plans to de-emphasize what could be seen as unhealthy competition and recognize all high achievers. Dave Marshall, who is Bullitt County's director of secondary education, says that district will begin a new tradition with this year's freshmen class, who will graduate in 2014. He said under the new plan students can graduate "summa cum laude" with a grade-point average of 4.25 or higher and "magna cum laude" with a GPA of between 4.0 and 4.24. Students would come up with a system to pick which high-achievers speak during the graduation ceremony.
- Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) told state lawmakers how it reviews the coal-related environmental compliance costs that electric utilities in Kentucky are entitled to pass on to their customers.
State law “grants a utility the presumption of the timely recovery of environmental compliance costs,” PSC Executive Director Jeff Derouen said in testimony before the Joint Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. “In other words, if a utility is required to incur environmental compliance costs, it is entitled to recover those costs through its rates, in the form of the environmental surcharge.”
However, the PSC has the authority to review a utility’s environmental compliance plans and the associated costs and surcharges, he said. The PSC determines whether the utility has made reasonable and cost-effective decisions in how it complies with federal, state or local environmental regulations; whether its compliance costs, including operating expenses, are reasonable; and the rate of return a utility is allowed to earn on capital investments made in connection with environmental compliance, Derouen said.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-3-'11
- Wednesday, Mingo County Sheriff's Deputies arrested Harold Daniel Canterbury, Jr., 24, Nicholas Nathaniel Cantrell, 25, and a 17 year old juvenile after they allegedly broke into a woman's home in Varney, held her at gunpoint, sprayed her in the face with mace and stole the woman's prescription medication. Cantrell and Canturbury were taken to the Southwestern Regional Jail. They are being held on $8,000 bond each. They are scheduled to be in Mingo County Magistrate Court June 9th. The teenager was taken to a juvenile detention center in Boone County.
- MSHA regulators say Cliffs Natural Resources closed the Pinnacle Mine in Wyoming County on May 20th due to elevated carbon monoxide levels. Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere says approximately 1.6 million gallons of water had been pumped into the Pinnacle Mine by Thursday afternoon. The mine's atmosphere is being monitored to see if carbon monoxide levels have dropped. MSHA records show it produced 1.1 million tons of coal last year. Cleveland-based Cliffs says it hopes to resume production by July 1st.
- Twelve-hundred special athletes from around the state will take to the track, the pool and the golf course this weekend for the annual West Virginia Special Olympics Summer Games held in Charleston. Athletes from 31 counties around West Virginia will compete in everything from the 100-yard dash to bocci, tennis to the long jump. Competition gets underway Friday afternoon. The opening ceremonies will take place that evening at Haddad Riverfront Park. The games run all day Saturday and wrap up Sunday afternoon. If you'd like to volunteer, you can call the West Virginia Special Olympics office at 304-345-9310.
- Thursday, Bobby Hanshaw who State Police say shot and killed Guy Dwier May 11th near the community of Procious, appeared in court for a preliminary hearing. Dwier was shot at close range with a .30-30 rifle and killed instantly. Troopers say Hanshaw was mad at Dwier for allegedly stealing his ATV in 2010. State Police testified the two men have had previous disputes. The court ruled there was enough evidence to send the case to the grand jury. Hanshaw is charged with second-degree murder and wanton endangerment with a firearm. He remains in jail without bail. The Clay County grand jury next meets July 12th.
- A fourth arrest has been made in connection to the armed robbery of Java Joe's. Huntington Police say 21 year old Kimberly Deel of Huntington turned herself in Wednesday. Deel was charged with felony first-degree robbery. Police say Joshua Deel, 24, was the man who actually robbed Java Joes. Authorities also have arrested David Deel, 28, and James Perry, 25 in connection to the robbery.
- Mitchell Alderman, 43, of Nettie, was charged with nighttime burglary, two counts of destruction of property, three counts of battery on an officer and escape after Nicholas County Deputies say he forced his way into Cpl. David Hopkins home at about 1:40 A.M. Thursday. Alderman pushed Hopkin's son as he entered the home. Hopkins was then able to apprehend Alderman outside where he was arrested. While Alderman was in custody at the Nicholas County Courthouse, he escaped into the parking lot. He was again apprehended and taken inside where he began to fight with officers, injuring one and doing damage to a room in the booking area. While traveling to the Central Regional Jail, Alderman kicked out the glass in a cruiser.
- Robert Foster, a man who allegedly stole copper gutters off of a house in the Kanawha City area of Charleston, was in court on Thursday where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of grand larceny. His trial was set for August 29th. Police say Gary Withrow helped steal the gutters which were found in the back of their truck.
- Felicia Lupson, the wife of a Logan County man who died while trying to steal copper, has been charged with grand larceny, destruction of property and conspiracy. Police said Felicia was the lookout for her husband, Steven Lupson, who died after climbing a utility pole. Felicia is expected in court Friday, June 3rd. Police said Lupson's friend, Joshua Drake, was another "lookout." He was also charged with conspiracy, destruction of property and three counts of grand larceny. Drake waived his preliminary hearing and his case will be presented to the grand jury.
- The Kanawha County Planning Commission has joined a growing group of county officials calling for the immediate closure of Secret Pleasures, an adult store in Jefferson. West Virginia State Police seized more than $100,000 worth of synthetic marijuana from the store on May 19th. Under county zoning laws, adult book stores are not permitted to be within 2,000 feet of a church or schools. Secret Pleasures is located across the street from a church and near two schools. The owner, Kenneth Holliday, signed an agreement with the county last August to refrain from selling illegal drugs and other items in order to receive special permission to open at its location. The store voluntarily closed Wednesday, and will stay closed until the West Virginia State Police can test the product seized from the store. A hearing has been continued until July 7th.
- The state Public Service Commission handed down a new order Thursday afternoon clearly stating West Virginia American Water Company must follow the PSC's original order from earlier this week that stopped the layoffs of several employees by the company. The PSC said it saw nothing new in the company's argument against the order in a response the company filed Wednesday. The PSC wants to further investigate the layoffs American Water says had to take place after the commission refused to grant the company a double-digit rate increase earlier this year. The commission said even though the 31 workers in question may not be actively working they are still on the payroll until June 3rd. American Water maintained it had moved on with a new organizational structure. The PSC said, "If the employees were not legally terminated as of May 31, 2011, and American Water does not allow them to return to work, American Water will be in violation of the May 31, 2011 Commission order and subject to possible penalties and remedies as provided by law."
- In West Virginia, 436,000 people get benefits from Social Security while 371,000 are covered through Medicare. Officials with AARP West Virginia are calling on members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to reject any budget proposals that would dramatically alter or reduce Medicare and Social Security benefits. Gaylene Miller says, "Those are benefits that people have earned over a lifetime of hard work." She says she knows changes need to be made to limit federal spending and reduce the federal debt, but cutting the benefits so many people depend on is not the way to do it. Miller says the "bedrock" programs of Medicare and Social Security need to be protected and strengthened. A national AARP campaign to do so is underway through www.aarp.org/protectseniors.
- Tri-State Airport near Huntington will receive $461,173 in federal funding which will fund design work for rehabilitating the older of the airport’s two runways and to do an investigation of why part of the taxiway has a slight slope to it. The slope is very slight and can’t be seen, but airport officials want to learn why it is sloping and correct it before it becomes a safety problem. The grant was awarded through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-2-'11
- Pike County Central High School will be the site of the Pike County Remote Area Medical Expedition on June 11th and 12th. Pike County Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford says “RAM is one of the greatest things to ever happen to the people who have fallen through the cracks in regard to medical care.” He says the groups, individuals and local businesses who are involved every year are what makes RAM possible. The publically supported, all-volunteer program offers free dental, vision and medical to people in need of medical attention. Medical services include screenings for cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease; exams for males and females including breast, cervical and prostate; diabetes management; and education and screenings for all major cancers. The event is sponsored by Kentucky RAM, the Pike County Government and the University of Louisville School of Dentistry.
- The 15th annual Shelby Railroad Homecoming Reunion will take place on June 25, 2011, on the grounds of the Grace Baptist Church at Shelbiana. Registration, which is free, will begin at 9:30 A.M., and the opening ceremony will take place inside the church at 10:45 A.M. The ceremony will be open to the public, Attendees are asked to bring a dish. The meal and drinks will be provided. The reunion is sponsored by the Shelby Railroad board and is a county event. Everyone who registers will be eligible to win two tickets on Amtrak’s New River Train Excursion, which leaves from Huntington and goes to Hinton, West Virginia, valued at around $400 and sponsored by the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Society. It will take place in October. Inductees chosen by the board for the Shelby Railroad Hall of Fame for 2011 are Terrell Coleman, Charlie Potter, Richard Lowe, Ruby Bevins and Ruth Jackson. The Joyce Charles Clark Scholarship winners will also be announced and presented at the reunion. The scholarships are made possible by William Lee Clark Enterprises and the reunion committee.
- Wednesday, Kentucky State Police Post 13 in Hazard arrested James D. Warren age 54, and Preston Halcomb Jr. age 22 both from Blackey, in connection with numerous copper thefts in the Letcher and Perry County area. Preliminary investigation led police to a scrap yard in Letcher County which had received over two tons of copper from three individuals. Warren and Halcomb were lodged in the Letcher County Dentention Center charged with receiving stolen property over $500. Additional charges are pending. A third perpetrator is being sought. The investigation is continuing by Det. Joel Abner and Det. Billy Pollard. State Police are asking anyone with information relating to copper thefts to please contact them at 1-800-222-5555 or 606-435-6069 and you may remain anonymous.
- A cooperative agreement among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The Pike County government and Pike County Sheriff’s Office was recently signed to provide law enforcement services at Fishtrap Lake. The law enforcement officer will patrol the dam site recreation area, Grapevine recreation area and Lick Creek recreation area. The agrement was recently concluded among Charles Holbrook of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and Pike County Sheriff Charles “Fuzzy” Keesee.
- Former Prestonsburg High School basketball star Warren Blackburn has pleaded guilty after being arrested in January for drug trafficking within one thousand yards of a school. Blackburn will be sentenced July st. The recommended sentence is one year in jail.
- Timothy S. Briggs, 46, the FBI special agent who headed an investigation into public corruption in Clay County, died Tuesday after apparently suffering a heart attack. While jogging with another agent near the FBI office in London, Briggs suddenly collapsed. The other agent and a bystander immediately began CPR but were unable to resuscitate him. The Clay County case began with a drug investigation that turned up evidence of vote-buying and corruption by public officials, including former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle, and former school Superintendent Douglas C. Adams. Briggs had been with the FBI since February 1997, working all that time at the London office.
- Eric Hubert Hayden, one of two men convicted of murder in the 1986 stabbing death of 36 year old Stafford Clay Nelson of Richmond, a former restaurant manager at Columbia Steak House on Alexandria Drive in Lexington, appeared before Kentucky parole board members Wednesday at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County, where he is housed. Parole board chairman Verman Winburn and board member Caroline Mudd, after interviewing Hayden in his first parole hearing since his 1987 conviction, decided he should not be considered for parole again for 60 months. Nelson was stabbed 51 times, and his body was left inside the restaurant, which was set on fire during the robbery in which more than $4,600 was stolen. Hayden and Clarence Lee Jones were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years on the murder charge and 20 years for robbing the restaurant. Jones was a busboy at the restaurant, and Hayden was his roommate at the time. Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson had sought the death penalty for Hayden and Jones. Jones has a parole hearing scheduled for next week.
- In a speech to the Kentucky Coal Association, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell bashed the Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday, claiming federal regulators have "declared war" on the coal industry, while putting many Kentucky mining operations in limbo. McConnell said what the EPA is doing is outside the scope of its authority and the law, and it represents a fundamental departure from the permitting process as originally envisioned by Congress. McConnell said it's time for Congress to rein the EPA in. He accused the agency of "changing the rules in the middle of the game." McConnell has proposed legislation that would require the EPA to move faster in granting federal permits needed to open coal mines. He said the agency's intent is to "run out the clock," a strategy he said is backed by President Barack Obama's administration and fellow Washington Democrats. The EPA and the Justice Department have been suing electric utilities to get them to install the latest technology to capture pollution-causing emissions from coal-fired power plants in an effort to bring the utilities in line with the Clean Air Act. McConnell said that would amount to a backdoor national energy tax that would hit consumers every time they start their car or turn on a light bulb. McConnell said the EPA's real goal is not to see the Kentucky coal industry comply with its boatload of regulations and red tape but to see the Kentucky coal industry driven out of business altogether. McConnell said the stakes are high for Kentucky, the nation's third-leading coal producer. He said we cannot just rely on solar, wind or other energy sources that may be viable in the future but can't come close to fulfilling this country's energy needs today.
- Fifty-five year old Enoch Ray Smith of London, a former candidate for jailer in Laurel County, was named in a three-count indictment last week for allegedly selling HydroCodone to police informants. Smith has a prior felony conviction from 2006 when he was found guilty of trafficking a controlled substance and received a 2 year sentence. Smith later requested to have his voting and candidate filing rights reinstated, and they were restored in 2009.
- Officials say an elderly woman was abducted at gunpoint and taken across state lines. Seventy-four year old Ann Lee Ernst of Fort Wright, Kentucky, was shoved into her car outside the Crestview Hills Mall in Crestview, Kentucky Tuesday afternoon by a man armed with a knife and pistol. The man then drove her to a wooded area in Ohio, gagged her and left her tied to a tree before taking off in her car.
- Shannon Davidson of Flat Lick was arrested and charged with 2nd degree and 3rd degree burglary after Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Smith responded to a burglary complaint at 7 Boone Way in the Gray community in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Smith went to Davidson's residence where he found numerous items that had been reported stolen. Around $6,000 worth of items were recovered and returned to their owners. Police say Davidson confessed to all the crimes.
- Attorney General Jack Conway announced that six Kentucky counties were chosen in a random drawing Wednesday afternoon to undergo independent inquiries for any potential irregularities that may have occurred during the primary election on Tuesday, May 17th. The counties are Wolfe, Boyd, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Estill and Clark.
- Salyersville Mayor Stanley Howard is stepping down but giving no reason for his retirement. The next meeting is scheduled for June 13th. Officials are planning for a special election in November to elect a new mayor.
- Al Smith, the founding host of Kentucky Educational Television's "Comment on Kentucky" is receiving an award this week named in his honor. The Smith award will be presented Thursday at Fasig-Tipton in Lexington. Smith is the first recipient of the award established by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Smith, who owned weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee, is the main founder of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and is chairman of its advisory board. He recently received an honorary UK doctor of letters award.
- Governor Steve Beshear announced a new state program Tuesday to boost economic development and tourism in Kentucky. The Kentucky Cultural District Certification Program allows local communities to seek a special state designation for areas with a concentration of culturally significant activities, such as Farmer’s Markets, performing arts or historic preservation. Communities that qualify for a district designation can receive training to help market the area, reap financial incentives and develop educational opportunities or events. The Kentucky Arts Council is administering the program and accepting applications.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-2-'11
- The $7.1 billion buyout of Massey Energy was finalized Wednesday when shareholders from both companies approved the deal. Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield and acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin helped unveil the new Alpha sign outside the former headquarters of Massey Energy in Boone County early Wednesday afternoon. Alpha Natural Resources now has five billion tons of coal reserves, including 1.7 billion tons of metallurgical coal, making it the third largest supplier of metallurgical coal in the world. The deal comes with a lot of questions including how will Alpha deal with Massey's safety issues and the fallout from the independent report blaming the company in part for the disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County in April 2010 where 29 miners were killed. Crutchfield says the new company will operate under Alpha's Running Right program. The new company has 14,000 employees. Crutchfield says 83 percent of Alpha shareholders voted Wednesday and 98 percent were in favor of the deal while 77 percent of Massey shareholders voted with an approval rate of 99 percent.
- Scott Depot-based International Coal Group and St. Louis-based Arch Coal announced Wednesday that the the antitrust waiting period on Arch's proposed $3.4 billion takeover of ICG has expired. Arch agreed to buy ICG on May 2nd and has since started a $14.60-a-share tender offer. The offer expires June 14th. Arch says the combined companies would be the nation's second largest supplier of metallurgical coal.
- Barboursville Police say a man walked into the Federal Credit Union on Mall Road about 3:45 P.M. Wednesday afternoon, handed the teller a note and then fled with an undetermined amount of cash, but he didn't show a weapon. Police believe this man is possibly the same suspect that robbed the South Charleston Credit Union on May 26th.
- West Virginia State Police say 59 year old Glenn Cline has not been charged in connection to Tuesday night’s shooting death of 40 year old John Campbell of Charleston, but the case will likely be presented to a Kanawha County grand jury. Witnesses said Glenn Cline and John Campbell were arguing before neighbors heard gun shots. The shooting happened at Gap View Drive in Campbells Creek. On May 25th, Glen Cline's neighbor called 911, reporting that Jonathon Campbell was on Cline's porch and refused to leave. The next call came Tuesday night when Cline told dispatchers he had shot Campbell twice after Campbell attacked him on his property.
- Julie Eplion, 23, of Huntington, has pleaded guilty to selling more than 100 Oxycodone pills. Eplion admitted that, in August 2009, she sold 93 80-milligram oxycodone pills and 14 40-milligram Oxycodone pills to an informant working with the West Virginia State Police who gave her $5,500 cash to settle a previous drug debt. Officers executed a search warrant at Eplion's home and found the $5,500 cash the informant gave her, along with more than 1,000 more Oxycodone pills. Eplion faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1million fine when sentenced October 11th.
- James Adam Roberts, who told police his name was Justin C. Roberts when he was arrested on February 8, 2011, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second degree robbery and was sentenced to 5 to 18 years in prison. Police say Roberts robbed Clark's BP Station in Huntington on February 9th and threatened to shoot the clerk if he didn't give him all the money in his hand and in the cash register. Roberts got away with between $300 and $400. Erika Ellis Rudolph was also charged. Her case is still pending.
- Former Logan County Delegate Joe C. Ferrell was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to two years in prison. He'll also have to pay a $250,000 fine, forfeit $527,540 and pay the Internal Revenue Service $75,000 in unpaid employment taxes. U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver turned down Ferrell's request for home confinement. The defense called one of Ferrell's doctors to the stand. His podiatrist testified Ferrell needs critical foot surgery and it can't be put off for long. The condition is one reason why Ferrell's attorneys were requesting Ferrell be sentenced to home confinement so he can have the surgery and recover at home, which the doctor testified would take at least 6 months. Ferrell admitted last year to racketeering and tax evasion charges in connection with his video lottery business, Southern Amusement.
- Marmet Police say, Tuesday night, 33 year old Angela Dawn Selbe died after being struck by a CSX train. Police say it appeared Selbe was talking on her cell phone and was walking west toward Charleston on the railroad ties when the train approached her from behind. Marmet Police Detective Charles Buttrick says Selbe made no attempt to get out of the way. The Marmet Police Department has ruled the death accidental.
- State Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis says she will seek reelection next year, although she admits she considered other options, including a possible challenge to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin in the Democrat Primary Election in 2012. Davis says the state Supreme Court has made so much progress over the past 15 years, including the recent overhaul of appellate court rules that had not been done in 34 years, and, if she's going to be a public servant doing what is right for the people of West Virginia, she needs to stay where she is. Davis, a Boone County native and a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan and West Virginia University, was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 1996 for an unexpired term and reelected to a full term in 2000. Her current 12 year term on the Supreme Court will end next year. She says she will seek re-election.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-1-'11
- Eighteen year old Dylan Lawson of Whitley County has been missing since Monday, May 23rd, and his family is asking for help in locating him. The family filed a missing person’s report Wednesday with the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department. He has dark hair, cut into a buzz cut, and drives an orange Chevy Colorado. If you have any information on Dylan Lawson’s whereabouts you are urged to contact the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department at 606-549-6006.
- Preliminary statistics indicate that two people died in two separate crashes on Kentucky’s roadways during the official Memorial Holiday period, which began at 6:00 P.M. Friday and ended at 11:59 P.M. Monday night. Both fatalities involved motor vehicles and one of the victims was not wearing a seat belt. The crashes occurred in Pike and Jefferson counties.
- Twenty-three year old Amanda Johnson of Laurel County has been sentenced to 45 years in prison after being convicted of killing her 23-month-old son. Earlier this month, a jury found Johnson guilty of murder and criminal abuse in connection with the 2009 death of her own son, Stephen Troy. Johnson’s boyfriend reported seeing her throw the toddler and punch him in the back. An autopsy revealed bruises on the child’s lower back, abdomen and the top of his head, as well as fractures in his legs. The jury recommended 35 years in prison for the murder charge and 10 years for criminal abuse.
- Kentucky State Police in Pikeville say an accident Monday afternoon on Ky. Route 1441 at Raccoon Road resulted in the death of John Charles, 77, of Newaygo, Michigan, who was a passenger in the car. Police say the driver ran off the roadway and struck a support beam, causing the car to overturn. Pike County Coroner Russell Roberts pronounced Charles dead at the scene.
- The body of Brian Jacob Gayheart was found in the Big Sandy River in Boyd County, but police say he was killed in Floyd County. Prestonsburg Police have arrested 20 year old Benjamin Meek and his wife, 21 year old Kaitlyn Crum Meek. Benjamin Meek is facing charges of murder, robbery, assault, theft, and tampering with physical evidence, while Kaitlyn Meek faces complicity charges. Prestonsburg Police say Meek and his wife met Brian Jacob Gayheart in the Goble-Roberts community on May 1st with plans to rob him. Prestonsburg Police Chief Mike Ormerod says it appears the motive for the robbery was drug-related.
- Two Bowling Green residents have been indicted on federal terrorism charges. Thirty year old Waad Ramadan Alwan and 23 year old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi were arrested last week following an investigation that began months after they arrived in the U.S. in 2009. According to court documents unsealed Tuesday, the two Iraqi men living as refugees in Kentucky tried to send sniper rifles, Stinger missiles and money to al-Qaida operatives in their home country, and both boasted of using improvised explosives against American troops there before moving to the U.S. Alwan is charged with conspiracy to kill a United States national, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and knowingly transferring, possession or exporting a device designed or intended to launch or guide a rocket or missile. Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States, and authorities said their weapons and money didn't make it to Iraq because of a tightly controlled undercover investigation. Criminal complaints against the two men say they entered the United States legally in April 2009 and had refugee status. By late 2010, Alwan had told the informant he wanted to help terrorists in Iraq, and he recruited Hammadi early this year.
- Investigators say the body of 19 year old Dillon Bryant, known as Nemo, was found in April in a shallow pond in the Sinking area near KY-1620 in Elliott County, but he didn't die there. The Elliott County coroner says Bryant died after he was shot, and police confirm they are now investigating the death as a homicide. Bryant went missing on February 28th.
- Kentucky Senate President and Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams is offering further details into why he is not directly reimbursing the state treasury for pay during an unusual idle period in March. Williams said Tuesday that he has opted to work without pay for 13 days when he is in Frankfort during the legislative interim, a move that lets the state save more money by avoiding Social Security or retirement contributions.
- Former longtime Kentucky lawmaker Joseph "Eddie" Ballard, who championed veterans issues including the development of state-run nursing homes for ex-military members, died Tuesday at a hospital in Madisonville, his hometown. He was 81. Ballard joined the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1987 and served in the chamber through 2010. During part of his House career, the Democrat served as chairman of the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee. Ballard, who served in the Air Force, sponsored legislation to create Kentucky's Department of Veterans' Affairs.
- Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo and his wife, Allison Patrick Mongiardo, are expecting a son due this fall. The couple have a daughter, Kathryn, born December 22, 2009. Daniel Mongiardo, 50, and Allison Mongiardo, 25, married in 2008 after an 18-month engagement. The last child born to a couple in the lieutenant governor's office in Kentucky before Kathryn Mongiardo was to Steve and Heather French Henry, who had two daughters while he was in office. The last before that was a daughter to John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham and his wife, Jean Raphael Fuqua Beckham, in 1901.
- A preservation group says the state's picturesque small towns are in danger of fading away. Preservation Kentucky's Most Endangered Historic Places for 2011 highlights the history being lost in small hamlets across the state. Rachel Kennedy, executive director of Preservation Kentucky, part of the Kentucky Heritage Council, says disinvestment in small towns is "a serious problem" in the state.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-1-'11
- The West Virginia Supreme Court released an order Tuesday denying a request for a preliminary injunction by Massey shareholders seeking to block the proposed buyout of Massey Energy by Alpha Natural Resources. The order states the Court does not have jurisdiction to award an injunction in this matter. The case has not gone through a circuit court from which it could be appealed to the Supreme Court. The order clears the way for a shareholder vote on the buyout that is scheduled for Wednesday. The High Court says the information contained in the court filing should be made public.
- Federal regulators say they issued 255 citations for violations found during special inspections at 15 U.S. mines in April. The Mine Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday inspectors found 161 violations at eight coal mines in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and three other states. The remaining 94 citations were issued to non-coal operations in seven states. One of the inspections occurred at Massey's Randolph Mine. MSHA disclosed May 6th that the inspection resulted in 25 citations, including 20 that required miners to be withdrawn until problems were fixed. MSHA has issued more than 5,000 citations during special inspections that began after 29 miners died in an explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine.
- Rose Mary Brunetti Tennant, the mother of Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, died Tuesday at the age of 79 following a short illness. Tennant, the mother of seven, was a native of Harrison County and a longtime school teacher.
- Denise Briscoe, 38, of Buffalo, in Putnam County, was arrested Tuesday and charged with felony embezzlement after allegedly stealing more than $50,000 from the Goodwill Retail Store in Teays Valley from January 2009 until February. Briscoe worked as the manager of the Goodwill store in the Putnam Village Shopping Center from 2003 until February when she left the company after Goodwill Industries of Kanawha Valley received two anonymous letters stating that Briscoe was stealing money and merchandise from the store. Briscoe told detectives during a May 13th interview she falsified sales reports and that she was stealing money, but she didn't know how much money she'd taken from the company.
- Nancy Bowen Kerr, 58, a former Kanawha County Schools transportation director, has pleaded guilty to embezzlement involving a scheme to enrich herself by overpaying employees. Kerr was accused of doctoring payroll records at the Elkview bus terminal to cover money she was owed for Mary Kay cosmetics. She was indicted by a grand jury in October. Several bus drivers and aides were also involved in the scheme, but no criminal charges have been filed against them. Some of those employees were accused of selling Mary Kay cosmetics while on the clock for the school system. The school board has recovered about $20,000 of the $70,000 erroneously paid to those employees in overtime.
- Joe C. Ferrell, a former West Virginia legislator from Logan County, is set to be sentenced Wednesday, but he has petitioned for probation and home confinement. Ferrell pleaded guilty in October, admitting that video poker machines he provided to a Kentucky tobacco store operated illegally, and that he failed to relay taxes owed for employees after paying them in cash. As part of the gambling-related racketeering count, Ferrell also said he bribed a West Virginia Lottery investigator. Ferrell served seven terms in the House of Delegates between 1983 and 2006, but, in 1992, he was convicted for illegal campaign spending. Defense lawyer Ben Bailey of Charleston says Ferrell, who is now facing up to 3 years and 4 months, suffers from at least 19 serious medical conditions, which "result in severe chronic pain, loss of mobility, and an impairment of virtually every aspect of his life." Bailey argues that, with medical expenses over the next three years at $248,000, home confinement would best serve justice while ensuring Ferrell's access to his small team of health care providers.
- Emergency crews treated more than 100 children who were verging on heat exhaustion while sitting in the sizzling heat at Appalachian Power Park Tuesday afternoon while attending the West Virginia Power baseball game. At least three children were taken to the hospital and treated for heat exhaustion, and a 9 year old girl was hospitalized after a baseball struck her in the shoulder blades. Emergency officials were prepared for a hot game and had already set up several cooling stations around the ball field.
- The American Electric Power Foundation presented a $25,000 grant check to Habitat for Humanity of West Virginia Tuesday morning. The money was awarded to the nonprofit's state support organization to help affiliates in providing Energy Star rated homes for Habitat partner families.
- In a scheduled press conference Tuesday, police and state officials said manufacturers and distributors of synthetic drugs cannot circumvent a newly enacted state law banning the products by adding certain chemicals to alter the drugs' makeup. Officials explained that any derivative or analogue of the illegal products are also prohibited in West Virginia. In an attempt to get around the recently passed House Bill 2505, which specifically outlaws most of the products, manufacturers have recently been adding chemicals like fluoride to alter the drugs, which usually take the form of incense or bath salts. However, the bill also outlines a process to prevent the sale or consumption of drugs that produce the same effect but have a slightly changed chemical formula. Cabell County Senator Evan Jenkins says the broad language in the bill was needed, because the Legislature could have never put in statute every possible, conceivable formula of the drugs.
Monday, May 30, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-31-'11
- Another funeral will be held Tuesday for one of four Kentuckians killed when a plane crashed in western North Carolina Wednesday. A memorial service for pilot Matt Shuey, a Lexington native, was held Sunday night in Lexington. Tiffany Maggard, Kassie Robinson and Miranda Morgan, all from Knott County, died in the crash. Tiffany Maggard's funeral was held Monday. Robinson's funeral will be held at 11:00 A.M. Tuesday morning at Hindman Funeral Services. Morgan's visitation will begin after 6:00 P.M. Tuesday, and her funeral will be at 1:00 P.M. Thursday at Nelson Frazier Funeral Home in Hindman.
- In 2009, Cynthia Mullins took a steak knife off a Walmart shelf in Pikeville, Kentucky and stabbed Lora Damron several times. Damron was eight-months pregnant at the time. Last Wednesday, a Pike County jury convicted Mullins but found her to be mentally ill. The jury recommended a 20 year sentence for Mullins, but that she serve her time in a mental health facility. Police say Mullins stabbed another woman four years prior and was on probation for that crime when she stabbed Damron.
- Friends and family of Michael Crowe, a former football player at Prestonsburg High School, gathered at the school Monday to celebrate his life, on what would have been his 19th birthday. Crowe was shot in a Versailles Apartment complex parking lot in April. Police have arrested Alexander Muniz and charged him with Crowe's murder. Muniz is expected to appear in Woodford County court Wednesday.
- The Knox County Grand Jury indicted James Bargo of Haber Heights, Ohio last week on two counts of first degree assault for the shooting of 60 year old Wade Croley and 30 year old Charity Carter. The shooting occurred near a cemetery off Hedden Flats Road near Woodbine on April 10th. Bargo is being held in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was arrested. He faces charges in both Tennessee and Kentucky.
- Kentucky prosecutors are seeking to extradite from Ohio 36 year old Rodney Dodson, 43 year old Ronald Fairchild and 36 year old Jason Jackson, three men charged with the May 2005 shooting deaths of 43 year old Donald Walker and 23 year old Marlane Mauk. Fleming County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Adkins says the men are fighting extradition, where they were arrested May 10th. Adkins says a governor's warrant needed to return the men to Kentucky is being sought. Kentucky State Police say theft and drugs were the motives for the slaying of Walker, while Mauk was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Kentucky's top two legislative leaders, aren’t among a growing list of lawmakers who have reimbursed pay they received for a two-week period in March with the House adjourned and the Senate in recess. The total bill for the period was estimated at more than $600,000. The disputed pay became a heated issue in the final days of a special legislative session that had been called by Governor Steve Beshear to balance the state’s Medicaid budget. Williams and Stumbo have taken other routes to deal with the pay issue, which explains why they aren’t among some 23 lawmakers who have refunded the state more than $61,000. Williams spokeswoman Lourdes Baez-Schrader says Williams has opted to forgo pay during the legislative interim until the state is fully reimbursed for the disputed wages paid to him between March 25th and April 6th. Stumbo and House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins say they and many other House lawmakers have given their wages to charities, a move that provides them a tax write-off. Some also have followed Williams’ lead.
- T.C. Drake, a tight end for the University of Kentucky Wildcats from 2006 through 2009, remained in serious condition at University of Louisville Hospital Monday after his motorcycle was struck by a car about 9:00 P.M. Sunday night. Police say Drake, a Bardstown native, was thrown from the motorcycle when a car made a left turn in front of him on U.S. 62 in Nelson County. Police say 35 year old Jennifer Reed has been charged with first-degree assault, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drake, a walk-on at Kentucky, had a total of 20 catches for 281 yards in his career with the Wildcats.
- In an effort to reduce teacher absences, beginning July 1st, Knox County teachers will receive a cut in the amount of emergency days they’re granted. In 2010, the district spent over $618,000 for substitute teachers, enough to pay up to 12 first-year teachers. Knox teachers are given ten paid sick days and two paid personal days each year. Unused days are allowed to accumulate. Rather than eliminate the three emergency days granted to teachers, the board opted to reduce the number from three to two and limit them to use for bereavement. Beginning in August, the district will report to the state the percentage of teacher absences by school.
- James Davis Jr. describes spending nine months in jail on a murder charge as "God testing my faith." Prosecutors in Louisville have dropped a murder charge against him, choosing to pursue a case against a man who served as an informant against him. Jefferson County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Erin White says a case against the informant, 19 year old Stephen Sykes, will be submitted to a grand jury. Sykes was charged in the April 5, 2010 death of Jeffrey Lay after charges were dismissed against Davis. Davis, 20, was initially charged with killing Lay, a California man, in a drug deal gone bad. White said the theory of the crime changed after they received information that Sykes was involved in the murder, but the decision to drop charges doesn't clear Davis. White says he's not convinced James Davis isn't involved, but he doesn't believe he can prove he is the triggerman. Sykes pleaded guilty in 2008 to a robbery and burglary of a convenience store as a juvenile but was given probation when he turned 18. His probation was revoked after he was arrested in May 2010 in a restaurant shooting, and he is now serving a 10-year sentence. Police say Sykes allegedly confessed to other inmates recently that he was responsible for the killing.
- The Legislative Ethics Commission says special interests spent $7 million lobbing Kentucky lawmakers from January through April. Most of that money, $6.1 million, was paid to the lobbyists who work the halls of the state Capitol pushing for legislation that benefits their employers. So far this year, health care has been the highest spending industry, putting $1.5 million in lobbying efforts at the state Capitol. Hospital operators accounted for about $300,000 of that. Among the biggest spenders, the Kentucky Hospital Association spent $56,000. Norton Healthcare spent $44,631. Baptist Healthcare System spent $42,800.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-31-'11
- Monday, Huntington Police arrested Joshua Kevin Deel, 24, James D. Perry, 25, and David Deel, 28, all from Huntington, and charged them with felony counts of armed robbery. Police say, Thursday night, Joshua Deel held a knife to the throat of an employee at Java Joe's, while robbing the shop. David Deel and Perry pretended to be customers at the time of the robbery.
- Kanawha County Deputies have charged 37 year old James Slater with malicious wounding after he allegedly stabbed Arthur Burdette in the chest in the Sissonville area Saturday.
- The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is investigating a Memorial Day weekend drowning in the South Branch of the Potomac River near Springfield. The DNR, Springfield Valley volunteer firefighters, Springfield rescue squad and the Hampshire County Sheriff's Department responded to the accident which occurred about 8:00 A.M. Sunday near the Blue Beach Bridge.
- Kanawha County Judge Duke Bloom has awarded nearly $3 million to Billy J. Berkhouse, a man suffering permanent brain injuries after he was struck by a drunk driver while walking down Capitol Street on June 7, 2008. Police say Melissa Newman drove her vehicle onto the sidewalk and hit him. Newman had just left downtown nightclub Impulse, but had done her drinking earlier that night at the Charleston Moose Lodge. Berkhouse was taken to the hospital with injuries to his left leg, facial fractures and severe head injuries that left him in a coma for a short time after the accident. In 2009, Newman pleaded guilty to DUI causing injury, second offense DUI and driving without insurance and was sentenced to a year in prison and an additional year on home confinement. Bloom ordered the Moose Lodge's insurance provider, The Great American Insurance Co., to pay the settlement. Berkhouse's attorney Bobby Warner is still locked in a legal battle with other Moose Lodge insurers to determine whether Berkhouse is eligible for damages under additional policies. The additional damages could range as much as $5 million.
- West Virginia State Police Trooper P.T. Kelly is being assigned to the Kanawha County prosecutor's office. Kelly will work only on the agency's cases but will remain on the state's payroll. Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants says Kelly will be in charge of following up on state investigations in the county. Plants says some of those cases get overlooked because there are no state police detectives.
- Kevin Crutchfield, CEO of Alpha Natural Resources, which hopes to buy Massey Energy Co. Wednesday, says the company has plans to deal with what's expected to be a sharp drop in Appalachian coal production. Crutchfield says the company is prepared to cope with a fall in coal production by carefully choosing its customers, selling premium coal to foreign steelmakers and eventually buying mines outside the United States. A vote is set for Wednesday by shareholders of both companies on whether to approve Alpha's purchase. If the deal goes ahead, the combined company and its 14,000 employees would have the bulk of its 110 mines in the Central Appalachia basin. The basin, which includes the coalfields of southern West Virginia, is expected to produce less and less coal each year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This year, the region is expected to produce 188 million tons a year. By 2015, the agency predicts the region will be producing only 112 million tons a year, a decline of 40 percent. Crutchfield says the combined company would be the third-largest metallurgical coal producer in the world, and he hopes to take advantage of increased demand by steelmakers abroad.
- In 2010, the Legislature approved a program that allows charitable organizations to request their own special plates, under the condition that they market it themselves and register 250 prepaid applicants. The Friends of Coal Association became the first nonprofit group to be approved for its own special license plates through the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. The special plates, such as breast-cancer awareness plates or NASCAR fan plates, generate about $1.2 million dollars in revenue, most of which goes to the State Road Fund. Mountain State University will be the next group to have custom plates generated, and Bethany College has begun the process of collecting its prepaid applicants.
- Construction is going as scheduled for the first state-run veterans cemetery, which is scheduled to open this December next to the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute. Construction on the Donel Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery began last October. Kinnard was a Vietnam veteran who retired from the Navy after 22 years of service during which he was awarded the Navy Cross, seven Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. He died in February 2009 at the age of 72. A $14.1 million grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant program to develop a portion of the 354 acres of land donated by the Dow Chemical Corporation.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...5-30-'11
- Two year old Cameron Baldridge, a Floyd County toddler, was laid to rest Saturday after he drowned in a neighborhood pond across the street from his home in the Minnie community. The boy's funeral was Saturday at 11:00 A.M. at the Drift Pentecostal Church.
- Former Governor Ernie Fletcher's "resort-like" home in Frankfort is now for sale with an asking price of $465,900. Fletcher and his wife, Glenna, bought the home and nearly 4 acres near the Kentucky River in northern Franklin County about eight years ago for $313,000, but now have begun making plans to move back to Lexington to be closer to aging parents. Fletcher, chief executive officer of Alton Healthcare, was governor from 2003 to 2007 and had previously served in the state legislature and Congress. The home has undergone major improvements since they purchased it.
- Ciara Williams, 25, a former Lexington woman, was in critical condition at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta Sunday but doing "better than anticipated" after falling from a 10th floor window of the W Atlanta-Midtown about 3:15 A.M. Saturday. Police say Williams and LaShawna Threatt, who died, were celebrating Threatt's 30th birthday and "play fighting" when they hit a window and crashed out of it. Police say Threatt hit a slanted sunroof on a structure below while Williams rolled off and fell further to the patio on the ground. Several who saw the women say "they were leaning against the glass and the glass caved in." Dallas Wright, who graduated from Bryan Station with Williams in 2004, moved with her to Atlanta in 2007.
- The Ohio State Highway Patrol Troopers say 56 year old pilot Steven Hall of Catlettsburg and 45 year old instructor Edward Edwards of Ashland suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene when a small plane lost power and crashed in a southern Ohio field. The plane took off from the Ashland-Boyd County Airport in northern Kentucky and went down Saturday evening a few miles northwest near Haverhill, along the Ohio River. Hall and Edwards reported that the plane's engine sputtered and it eventually lost power before crashing.
- Crews have begun to restore a historic one-room schoolhouse in central Kentucky that was built in the early 1900s to educate black students. The Rosenwald School in Sadieville was one of about 5,000 around the nation built for that purpose. After the school closed, the building was used as a fellowship hall for Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. The city of Sadieville bought the facility in 2008 with plans to restore it for use as a cultural heritage center. Volunteers are doing much of the work.
- Steven Michael Skidmore was sentenced Friday to a year and four months in federal prison for lying to the FBI about burying $250,000 belonging to Bill Erpenbeck, a homebuilder convicted of bank fraud. Erpenbeck was ordered to forfeit $34 million after his 2003 conviction for stealing from banks and home buyers. Skidmore buried the money at a private golf course, but, by the time federal agents dug it up eight years later, it was so deteriorated officials were not sure how much had been recovered.
- Efforts to restore American chestnut trees are taking root in the Louisville area. Nuts from a research farm in Virginia that were bred over 28 years to be blight resistant were planted at public and private sites in the Louisville area this year. Also, members of the Kentucky chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation are breeding offspring of the state's 20 surviving trees for blight resistance and research. An orchard in Oldham County is expected to bear nuts this fall for the first time. The president and CEO of the American Chestnut Foundation, Bryan Burhans, says the ultimate goal is to restore the American chestnut to the Eastern forest so it can again provide an abundance of high-quality food for wildlife and strong, rot-resistant timber.
- A wet spring in Kentucky has delayed planting grains and some farmers will have to decide whether to give up on corn crops and move on to soybeans. The entire state has had greater than average rainfall over the past 60 days, with some parts getting up to 13 inches more rain than normal. In Kentucky, corn and soybeans account for more than half and as much as three-fifths of the annual cash receipts for planted crops. University of Kentucky agronomist Chad Lee says that in a normal year farmers would switch over to soybeans by June 1st.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...5-30-'11
- The search for inmate Randall McGonagle, 38, of Mercer County, who escaped during work release ended when he was captured at the Marcum Terrace Apartments in Huntington Saturday night. West Virginia State Police Trooper R.N. Blankenship says McGonagle tried to hide, but later surrendered without incident. He had been on the run since he left the center on a two hour pass on May 14th and never returned. McGonagle is in jail for forgery and uttering out of Mercer County and was sentenced to 1-10 years.
- Huntington Police arrested Carsel Adkins and charged him with kidnapping after he took a 2 year old boy from the home of his estranged wife, the boy's grandmother, on Oney Avenue around 10:20 P.M. Saturday night. The woman told police Adkins threatened to kill her if she tried to stop him. When deputies showed up at Adkins' home on Route 1 in the East Lynn area, they found both Adkins and the toddler.
- John Lopez, acting chief of operations for the Regional Jail Authority, says 59 prisoners in the regional jails have attempted to kill themselves in the past 17 months. West Virginia's regional jail system has recorded three suicides since the start of 2010. Texas pastor Matthew Jarrell was found hanged May 21st in his cell at South Central Regional Jail after being accused of sexual assault. Lopez said the other suicides were at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington and the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville. Lopez says prisoners are screened for potential suicide risks based on the charges, past criminal behavior, drug abuse, including alcohol, and for a history of mental illness. Lindsay M. Hayes, author of the "National Study of Jail Suicides: 20 Years Later," says the first several days of confinement are critical, often for first-time offenders. According to the study, 24 percent of prison suicides in the United States occur during the first 24 hours of incarceration, 27 percent occur between the second and 14th days, and 20 percent occur between one and four months.