Saturday, June 18, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-19-'11
- Friday, a Johnson County judge followed the jury's recommendation and sentenced Donna Wheeler to 14 and a half years in prison after a jury convicted her on the lesser charge of manslaughter in May. Prosecutors say Wheeler shot her ex-boyfriend, James T. Sparks, at her home on Barber Branch in April 2010. The first deputy on scene said he found Sparks dead outside the home, next to the front porch after he was shot in the back. Deputies testified several rounds were fired from the gun. Police say Wheeler and Sparks had a history of domestic violence.
- Former UK basketball star Anthony Epps was arrested early Saturday morning in Marion County for drunken driving, his second drunk driving charge in a year. Epps played for UK 1993 - 1996 and was the point guard for the 1996 NCAA Championship team. Epps is a Marion County native. He resigned from his Marion County High School boys basketball coaching job Saturday.
- Pansy McCoy has been charged with assault and wanton endangerment after police say she shot Jeffrey Maynard on Olivene Drive in the Inez community of Martin County Thursday night. Eddie McCoy admits his wife shot Maynard, but McCoy claims she was only protecting him. McCoy says he and Maynard have fought for months over the driveway between their two homes. McCoy says Maynard was possibly drunk when he was spinning tires loudly in the driveway. McCoy says he walked over to Maynard's vehicle, and Maynard hit him. McCoy says the two kept hitting each other, and, when Maynard was holding him, he and his wife feared for his life. Pansy McCoy then shot Maynard in the arm and forehead.
- Kathy Coy was arraigned in Bowling Green Friday morning, where she pleaded not guilty, after a grand jury indicted her on murder, kidnapping, and tampering with physical evidence. Police in Warren County arrested Coy in April. Police say Coy attacked Jamie Stice with a stun gun, slit her throat and wrists, disemboweled her and removed her baby boy from her body, using a dry wall knife. Coy then went to a hospital in Bowling Green and announced to the hospital's staff that she had just given birth. Coy is scheduled to return to court September 19th for a pretrial conference.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-19-'11
- John Hayes is now being held at the Southwestern Regional Jail after being arrested Monday in Tennessee after telling the sheriff’s department there that he killed his wife’s uncle, 58 year old Robert Workman, in Mingo County. He is charged with first degree murder and concealment of a deceased human body. The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department believes he killed Workman on May 30th or 31st while he and his wife were in the Beech Creek area visiting family.
- Friday, United Mine Workers of America voted to ratify a new five and a half year collective bargaining agreement with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association that includes $6 per hour pay raises for workers. The deal was approved by 70 percent of the union members. UMVA International President Cecil Roberts says members will receive the largest pay increase in the 121-year history of the union and will be able to preserve full health care benefits for active and retired members and their dependents, as well as preserve pensions for current and future retirees with no cuts in benefits. Even though the agreement is initially only with BCOA companies, several other coal companies will fall under the pension plan. Patriot Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, Cliffs Natural Resources, Jim Walter Resources and others are bound by the pension agreement because they are part of the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds.
- Charleston Police arrested 19 year old Brandon Levert "BG" Gray Friday evening and charged him with the killing of 29 year old Timothy Thompson. Thompson's body was found last Thursday after police say Gray fatally shot him several times in the chest and head in an alleyway near Stockton Street and First Avenue on Charleston's west side. Gray maintains he's innocent of killing his friend's brother, but Police say they have phone records indicating Gray and Thompson were in contact shortly before the killing, and Thompson might have been meeting Gray to buy drugs.
- The West Virginia State Police are getting set to work with federal and local law enforcement agencies during marijuana eradication season. The Superintendent of the state police, Col. Jay Smithers, asks residents to report sightings of marijuana plants to the nearest state police detachment.
- Brickstreet, the state-created insurance program for workers' compensation coverage, has said it plans to stop covering volunteer fire departments after July 1st. The West Virginia State Firemen's Association says at least three other carriers are offering the coverage. Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed legislation in April making $5 million available to the fire departments for premiums. Tomblin says the assistance will be available in "a matter of weeks." Volunteer fire departments looking to offset anticipated increases in their workers' compensation insurance premiums can turn to a website launched by the office of State Auditor Glen Gainer.
Friday, June 17, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-18-'11
- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is at odds with Kentucky politicians over a trial for two accused terror suspects in Kentucky. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continued Friday to put pressure on the Obama administration, meeting with local officials in Kentucky and pressing his call for Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, two Iraqis arrested in Bowling Green on terrorism charges, to be sent to Guantanamo Bay and face a military trial. Governor Steve Beshear, Senator Rand Paul, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Representative Hal Rogers and Senate President David Williams agree with the move. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech Thursday that he “sharply criticizes” some in Congress who claim that utilizing our civilian court system would somehow jeapordize public safety. U.S. Attorney David J. Hale, the top federal prosecutor for the western half of Kentucky, tried Friday to defuse public fear. Hale said the investigation that netted the suspects "dismantled a potential terrorist threat. It did not create one." Hale said hundreds of people have been convicted of terrorism-related offenses in civilian courts. McConnell conceded that the decision on where to try the suspects rests with Holder. But, he said the attorney general was wrong in lumping the Kentucky case with hundreds of other terror cases. The Kentucky Republican asserted "there is no other case" like the one in Kentucky. McConnell says, "This is the only case in which alleged foreign terrorists have gotten into the United States as a result of a mistake made by the United States government and then are being given the protections of the Bill of Rights by a very bad decision on the part of the attorney general."
- Twenty-two year old Miranda Wallace of Pulaski County was flown to UK Hospital Thursday night after police say she was dragged by her own vehicle, then trapped underneath it. Police say Wallace was driving on HWY 80 when her Chevy Blazer ran out of gas, Wallace pulled over and got out to wait for help. Suddenly, the SUV began to roll, and Wallace was dragged underneath while trying to stop it.
- The state has been selling off property to generate cash, and the latest sale is a 2.1 acre parcel sold for the appraised value of $78,750 to Franklin County. In the last year and a half, the state has sold about 12 properties and right-of-way easements for a total of $7.45 million in surplus land. The parcel purchased by Franklin County will be used as a staging area for the construction of a new downtown courthouse.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that teachers have some limited discretion in what they consider reportable child abuse. The recent decision stems from a 2006 case filed against Dianne Turner, a now retired kindergarten teacher who taught for decades in the Fayette County Public Schools. Turner was a teacher at Southern Elementary when a parent alleged she neglected to report a child abuse incident involving her 5-year-old daughter and another 5-year-old girl. The parent contended that encounters between the two girls amounted to sexual abuse. The school district defended Turner's decision not to report the incident, and an investigation indicated that abuse had not taken place. Dana Collins, an attorney who represented the the Fayette County Public Schools, said because teachers and other school professional have some discretion, they are entitled to immunity from prosecution. The parent's case was initially dismissed in the Fayette County Circuit Court but was ultimately upheld on appeal before the Kentucky Supreme Court. The ruling makes clear that teachers and other school personnel don't have to report every incident between children including, for example, a kid pushing another kid while waiting in a lunch line
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-18-'11
- Al Roker with NBC's The Today Show was in Charleston Friday morning to unveil about $1.4 million in donations to Covenant House of Charleston. He has visited Anchorage, Alaska, Birmingham, Alabama, Las Vegas, Nevada and Houston, Texas, and Charleston was the final stop for Roker who is raising millions of dollars for charitable organizations across the United States. Roker gave away more than $9 million to charities across the country. This is the 10th year for the Lend A Hand Campaign which focuses on smaller, grassroots charitable donations. In addition to a new Toyota Tundra and thousands of pounds of food along with a $25,000 check from Malt-O-Meal, Covenant House received air miles, laptop computers, board games, clothing, strollers, shower gel, beauty tools, health products, appliances, windows and mattresses. Covenant House offers a variety of services to those in need in the Charleston community. The services include a food pantry that serves nearly 5,000 meals every year, a shelter for the homeless, community house and housing assistance.
- U.S. District Judge Irene Berger sentenced 32 year old Edward Miller of Beckley to nearly five years in federal prison for robbing the First Peoples Bank in Mullens on June 7, 2010. Miller entered a guilty plea in February. Police say he entered the bank and handed a note to a teller who gave him $2,607. Miller was arrested later that same day in Mercer County, and police recovered almost all of the money.
- Eight people were arrested during a drug raid at a house in the North Queens Court area of Huntington around 6:00 P.M. Thursday. All eight are charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance after officers confiscated heroin, crack, powdered coke, a large amount of money, pills and a handgun.
Alicia Ramella, 22, of Huntington
Angel Baldwin, 22, of Huntington
James Meeks, 33, of Huntington
Kristan Shaw, 29, of Vanceburg, Ky.
Adam Shaw,32, of Tollesboro, Ky.
Adam Bellew, 25, of Hurricane
Scott Crump, 43, of Detroit
Deon Powell, 42, of Detroit
- Crump and Powell, who are from Detroit, have extensive violent criminal histories that include rape and murder.
- The state Supreme Court has ruled that Jonathan Darby, a Kanawha County Schools bus driver, should be given back his job after the county Board of Education fired him for allegedly having an inappropriate relationship with a student. The ruling overturned a Kanawha Circuit Court decision that supported the firing of Darby. The circuit court's decision had overruled a judgment by the state Public Employees Grievance Board that ordered Darby be reinstated to his position because of inconsistencies in testimony and evidence. On December 2, 2008, Darby was fired on allegations that he had violated the Board of Education's sexual harassment policy. A parent complained to the director of pupil transportation in June 2008 that Darby was having an inappropriate relationship with a 17 year old girl who rode his bus. After Darby went to the state Public Employees Grievance Board, the girl said she and Darby had one sexual encounter. The stepmother said she discovered numerous calls between the girl and Darby on her cell phone bill and several unsigned notes in her stepdaughter's wallet detailing a bus crash and plans for the writer to leave his wife. The stepmother said she presumed that Darby wrote the letters. Though Darby admitted to having lengthy conversations with the girl, he denied having a sexual relationship with her.
- Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier Resort, has purchased the Black Knight Country Club in Beckley for $1 million. Black Knight shareholders voted Thursday to sell all of the country club's assets to The Justice Companies, including the clubhouse and restaurant, pool, tennis courts, 9-hole golf course and about 60 acres of land. Terry Miller, chief financial officer for The Justice Companies, says they hope to finalize the Black Night acquisition by the end of the month. Justice says he feels like Black Knight was a second home. He grew up there, he and his wife held their wedding reception at the Black Knight and he learned to play golf there. Justice says he has too many fond memories of the Black Knight Country Club to watch it fold.
- Thursday, the Senate voted 73-27 to repeal the $5 billion annual subsidy for producing ethanol. The tax credit provides 45 cents a gallon to oil refiners who mix gasoline with ethanol, a renewable, liquid fuel additive that comes mainly from corn in the U.S. West Virginia's Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., voted to end the ethanol tax credits. Rockefeller says it will reduce the federal deficit by nearly $2.4 billion. Rockefeller says we must end tax breaks that don't work, and this subsidy has been adding to the deficit without doing anything to help Americans who are just trying to make ends meet. Manchin says he's encouraged that the Senate voted to stop providing costly ethanol subsidies that do not even reduce gas prices and actually jack up food costs and grocery bills.
- The city of Elkins has agreed to pay nearly $130,000 in fines for federal clean water violations. The City Council accepted a consent decree Thursday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA initiated a lawsuit after the city failed to meet minimum guidelines in 1997 for reducing the amount of sewage flowing into the Tygart Valley River. Under the consent decree, the city must meet the sewage flow guidelines by July 30th or face daily fines, implement a yard-waste recycling program and come up with a long-term sewage flow plan.
- Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., will bring the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to Charleston on June 27th for a hearing titled “Making it in America: Innovate Locally, Export Globally.” The hearing will provide an opportunity to focus on American manufacturing, job creation and exporting. The hearing begins at 10:30 A.M. in the Ceremonial Courtroom on the seventh floor of the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse.
- Unemployment rates have fallen in 32 of West Virginia's 55 counties. Workforce West Virginia said Friday that 19 counties reported higher unemployment rates in May and rates in four others remained unchanged. Monongalia County's 6.0 percent unemployment rate was the lowest in the state. Pocahontas County reported the highest rate at 16.5 percent. West Virginia's unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in May, down from 8.7 percent in April.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-17-'11
- Attorneys in the case of two Iraqi men arrested in Bowling Green are scheduled to speak with a federal judge on June 21st about how the case will proceed. Governor Steve Beshear said Thursday that he wants terror suspects 30 year old Waad Ramadan Alwan and 23 year old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi out of Kentucky, adding that he's "fine" with having the federal government send the Iraqi men to Guantanamo Bay to face charges. Alwan and Hammadi are charged in a 23-count indictment with conspiring to send weapons and money to Al-Qaida in Iraq. Beshear says his main concern is to get them out of Kentucky, and he has contacted federal authorities to let them know his concerns and to ensure that wherever they are held and however they are tried is not going to put Kentuckians at risk. Senator Rand Paul says, "I want to know why the taxpayers are being forced to subsidize, give them government housing, government food stamps, how they got in here without a significant background check and why does America want to have 18,000 refugees coming here under asylum." Alwan and Hammadi were admitted into the United States with refugee status in 2009. Homeland Security officials have said the men slipped through cracks in the system that have since been fixed. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to the suspects as "foreign fighters" who should face the same system as combatants caught on the battlefield. McConnell says sending the men to Guantanamo Bay on the southeastern tip of Cuba is the best way to ensure that there will be no disruptions that could come with a civilian trial.
- Floyd County Judge James R. Allen, who has served the county for more than twenty years as a district judge and as Commonwealth's attorney, has announced his plans to retire after August. Former Circuit Judge Danny P. Caudill will fill the vacancy until an appointment can be made to replace Allen.
- Officials in Floyd County announced Thursday that their law enforcement team will now have the benefit of a new E-Warrant system which will allow them to share information with more than fifty other rural counties around the state.
- Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott ruled Thursday that a judge erred in not dismissing two prospective jurors in the case of 50 year old Nathan McDaniel Jr. of Manchester in Clay County. McDaniel is serving 30 years in prison for the beating death of Gerald Sizemore, who died August 19, 2007, a day after prosecutors say McDaniel beat him during a fight. Two jurors acknowledged knowing the victim in the case. Scott ruled that defense attorneys should not have had to use challenges to dismiss the two jurors. Instead, Scott ruled, the two jurors should have been dismissed automatically because of their relationships with Sizemore and his family. McDaniel was granted a new trial.
- A Kentucky Equality Federation gay rights rally in Hazard is scheduled for Saturday at 2:00 P.M. at the Hazard Pavilion Pool. Friday, June 10th, a pool manager at the city-owned Hazard Pavilion told two developmentally challenged gay men to leave the facility after one sat on the other's lap. The men had been swimming under the supervision of a staff member at Mending Hearts, a home for the developmentally challenged in Perry County. Hazard city officials say they're still looking for a way to resolve the controversy. Hazard Mayor Nan Gorman says she's sincerely sorry about the incident, and the city has a strict anti-discrimination policy.
- Ira Hall III, 32, of Jackson, in Breathitt County, has entered an Alford plea after originally being charged with murder following an October 2010 accident in the Krypton community of Perry County that killed his 12 year old son, Ira Hall IV. Hall could serve eight years in prison after entering an Alford plea to one count of second-degree manslaughter, a class C felony, as well as two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, one count of tampering with physical evidence and several traffic offenses. Hall will be sentenced July 28th.
- A Franklin County grand jury has indicted 39 year old Gary Hall of Lexington, the former executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association, with embezzling $78,000. Hall is charged with three counts of theft by deception over $500 and three counts of theft by deception over $10,000. Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland says Hall was fired in January after officials found he had used the association's credit cards for $16,000 in personal purchases between 2009 and 2011. Cleveland says Hall also gave bonuses to himself and staff members totaling $44,000 and paid $18,000 for a trip to Marco Island, Florida for himself, staff members and their families.
- Kentucky State Police say 47 year old Terrence Allen Cram was arrested Wednesday after officers received a tip that he was living in Goodyear, Arizona. He is being held in Arizona pending extradition after being indicted in Anderson County, Kentucky on charges of murder, tampering with physical evidence and fraudulent use of a credit card. Cram is charged in the January death of 49 year old Tena L. McNeely of Anderson County, who died of blunt-force trauma to the head. She was the daughter of state Trooper James McNeely, who died in the line of duty during a flood rescue in Frankfort in 1972.
- The American Red Cross says it's laid off eight workers in the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region because of rising costs and slow revenue growth. The cuts are among 400 to 500 layoffs nationwide. Staff cuts also are being made at the American Red Cross' national headquarters and local chapters. The organization has nearly 20,800 employees. The Greater Alleghenies Region serves 100 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The American Red Cross says its Biomedical Services expenses have risen by more than 4 percent while revenue is growing by less than 1 percent. The organization says it can't continue on that path.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday granted a hearing to death row inmate Brian Keith Moore, who is awaiting execution for the slaying of Virgil Harris in Louisville during a kidnapping and robbery. Preliminary tests on a shirt, jacket and check used as evidence at his trial showed DNA from multiple people and could not definitively include or exclude Moore. Moore sought to be allowed to conduct independent DNA testing on evidence from the 1979 murder after testing by state investigators found evidence from multiple people. The justices also ruled that Moore is not entitled to any relief because several items of evidence that would have been subject to DNA testing were lost.
- A prosecutor is set to drop murder charges against former Fort Campbell soldier Brent Burke who has been tried four times in the 2007 slayings of his estranged wife, Tracy Burke, and her former mother-in-law, Karen Comer. The commonwealth has failed to win a conviction. Comer's daughter, Michelle Kerstetter of Hershey, Pennsylvania, says she received a letter from Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Shaw, stating that he plans to file a motion to dismiss charges on Tuesday. Kerstetter says she doesn't know what prompted his decision. Tracy Burke's mother, Patricia Wilburn, said her ex-husband, David Wilburn, also got the letter from Shaw.
- Illinois lawmakers are meeting with that state's governor to discuss reducing a bill that would allow expansion of gambling, but Churchill Downs Inc. officials say they don't know of any attempt to make changes that would affect the company's properties there. The Illinois legislation would allow slots at Churchill's Arlington Park in Arlington Heights and its Quad Cities Downs, a simulcasting facility. Churchill CEO Bob Evans told shareholders Thursday that approval of the Illinois bill would give Churchill about 5,500 slot or video poker machines next year at its properties in four states where such gambling is allowed, up from fewer than 1,000 in 2007 in Louisiana only.
- Kentucky's jobless rate has dropped below double digits for the first time in more than two years. The state Office of Employment and Training said Thursday the unemployment rate fell to 9.8 percent in May, down from 10 percent a month earlier. The jobless rate was 10.4 percent in May 2010. Labor market analyst Justine Detzel says nonfarm employment was weighed down by supply disruptions due to the tsunami in Japan along with high food and gas prices. Kentucky's jobless rate in May was above the 9.1 national rate. The state says the leisure and hospitality sector added 700 jobs, but other sectors reported drops, including the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which plummeted by 1,300 jobs.
- The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether a former Boone County judge who oversaw a settlement involving the diet drug fen-phen should be disbarred permanently. The Kentucky Bar Association unanimously recommended the action against Joseph "Jay" Bamberger when in met Tuesday in Lexington. The panel voted to disbar prominent attorney Stan Chesley for the role he played in negotiating the $200 million settlement for people who suffered health problems from taking the drug. Three other lawyers who participated in the case have already been disbarred. A hearing officer said it was "inconceivable" that Bamberger didn't know lawyers in the case were taking excessive fees.
- A former judge in south-central Kentucky has been suspended from practicing law for a year after a conviction for passing a bad check to a lawyer. The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Roger P. Elliott to serve a year's probation that could be converted to a further suspension if he violates the law again. Elliott was a district judge in Adair and Casey counties from 1984 through 2007. He entered an Alford plea in July to passing a bad check for $8,194 to an attorney in Pulaski County for legal services. Elliott was sentenced to 30-days house arrest and put through a pre-trial diversion program, which required him to stay out of trouble for two years.
- A western Kentucky county is seeking laid-off workers to help with flood cleanup. McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry says federal funds are paying for temporary laborers who have been laid off from work. He says jobs that include cleaning and painting are expected to last up to six months and workers will be paid $10.50 an hour. The Purchase Area Development District in Mayfield received a check from U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield last week to employ 317 workers throughout the state. The total grant was for $4.2 million with $2.7 million given to the West Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, which will provide jobs for 200 temporary jobs in 16 western Kentucky counties.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-17-'11
- Authorities say a 2 year old boy died after firefighters removed him from the smoke-filled Blue Ridge Manor Apartments on State Route 27 in the Wellsburg area of Brooke County after fire broke out Wednesday afternoon. Wellsburg Assistant Fire Chief Stanley Kins identified the victim as Lucas Eric Parr. Kins says firefighters found the boy in a bed in the apartment. He was pronounced dead at a landing zone while awaiting transport to a Pittsburgh area hospital. Brooke County Sheriff Richard Ferguson says a 16 year old babysitter apparently was outside of the apartment building when the fire began in the bathroom.
- Ricky Spaulding, 39, of Logan County, was sentenced Thursday to more than two years in prison after admitting that on June 9, 2009, he sold two Oxycodone 80-milligram pills to an informant working for the US 119 Task Force at a residence located at or near Verdunville in Logan County. Shanda Watkins, 33, also of Logan County, was sentenced to three years probation for aiding and abetting the distribution of Oxycodone. Watkins and Spaulding admitted that on June 16, 2009, they sold two 80-milligram Oxycodone pills to an informant.
- Five victims in a deadly collision in Jefferson County early Wednesday morning remain hospitalized. The crash on State Route 9 claimed the life of Ho Young Won, 68, of Fairfax, Virginia. He was in one of the vehicles hit by a stolen SUV being driven by Michael Brown, 40, of Washington, D.C. Police across the line in Louden County, Virginia tried to stop Brown on a traffic violation, but he kept going and wrecked shortly after entering Jefferson County. Police say, when the vehicle came around the curve Brown was in the wrong lane. Brown is one of those hospitalized. He'll face criminal charges in Virginia and West Virginia.
- The Charleston Fire Department shut down the intersections of Brooks and Lee Streets, Morris and Washington Streets and Leon Sullivan Way and Washington Street for nearly two hours after construction crews in the area broke a major gas line Thursday morning, sending some people to the emergency room at Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital. Mountaineer Gas spokesman Moses Skaff says a contractor hired by Mountaineer was replacing a natural gas line feeding into CAMC General when he dug into the existing line. Skaff says Mountaineer took extra precaution to keep everyone safe.
- The U.S. Department of Energy issued a report Thursday saying West Virginia has mismanaged a $38 million federal weatherization grant. Government auditors say the state can't account for more than $60,000, and one agency fixed up homes owned by its employees first, before helping handicapped and elderly homeowners. Auditors say they also found evidence of poor workmanship and improper billing for unfinished jobs. The report chastises the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity for poor management. Auditors are recommending immediate state action to address the poor quality of services and require agencies doing the work to document their activities. They also want tighter state control of the remaining money. The state says it's working to fix the problems.
- Residents in the Lindbergh Edition of Fayetteville are fighting against a halfway house for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts on Short Street. Oxford House, an organization dedicated to providing a sober safe haven for its residents, leased a home on the street, causing considerable controversy. The town attempted to obtain an injunction against the lease. Oxford House argues residents of the neighborhood have interfered with the establishment of the home, and are in violation of the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.
- State lawmakers could be back in Charleston by August to take up legislation dealing with a regulatory framework for drilling in the Marcellus shale. Several members of the state Senate and the state House of Delegates will make up a House-Senate study committee that will work on a compromise proposal for the full Legislature to consider. Such legislation was debated throughout the entire 60 day 2011 Regular Legislative Session but no final bill was approved after many questions were raised about rights for surface owners and environmental issues. Supporters of the legislation say now is the time for the Legislature to set some state standards for drilling, with many cities, including Morgantown, taking steps to implement their own limits or bans on the drilling.
- At Beckley's Common Council Meeting Tuesday, pay raises were discussed in which council members would see an increase from $4,800 dollars a year to $6,000 dollars. The Mayor's pay would also raise from $42,500 dollars a year to $55,000 dollars. Not included in the conversation was if city employees would receive a raise. No decision has been finalized. The public can voice their concerns and comments over the raises at the next Beckley Common Council meeting on June 28th. If the raises aren't passed during the next meeting, they can't be brought up for another five years.
- Unsuccessful Charleston mayoral candidate Janet "JT" Thompson asked the Kanawha County Circuit Court on Wednesday to issue a default judgment in her favor to hear her complaint against the May 17th election. On Thursday, she filed an emergency petition for a temporary injunction to delay the swearing in of newly elected City Council members scheduled for Tuesday. On June 3rd, about 2 1/2 weeks after Mayor Danny Jones beat her by more than a 2-1 margin in her quest to become mayor, Thompson filed her first "notice of election contest." Thompson alleged numerous election irregularities by city and county election officials that amounted to voter fraud. She asked that the election be voided, a general election be held and/or she be declared the winner. City Attorney Paul Ellis and County Commission President Kent Carper say state election laws are clear: When someone challenges a municipal election, the city council of that municipality judges the case.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-16-'11
- A jury has convicted 38 year old Sherman "Doug" Perry of Pilgrim, a Martin County man charged in what prosecutors say was a DUI related crash. Perry was charged with the November 2010 death of 40 year old Fred Marcum of Warfield. Prosecutors say Perry was driving under the influence when he crossed the center line on Highway 2032, hitting Marcum’s truck head-on. Robin Crum, a passenger in Marcum’s truck, was seriously hurt. The trial began Monday. Sentencing is set for June 21st. The jury recommended up to 10 years for manslaughter, 20 years for assault, and six months for DUI and recommended they be served consecutively.
- More than $3.5 million is being awarded to local governments in Kentucky to expand recycling and manage household hazardous waste. The Kentucky Pride Fund is awarding the 73 grants, 59 for recycling and 14 for household hazardous waste. Governor Steve Beshear says the household hazardous waste grants allow residents to safely dispose of chemicals and other materials that threaten health and the environment. The Kentucky Pride Fund is administered by the Energy and Environment Cabinet's Division of Waste Management. It is funded by a $1.75 fee for each ton of municipal solid waste disposed of in Kentucky landfills.
- Two Blytheville, Arkansas police detectives are in Hardin County, Kentucky while investigating the death of a Kentucky man with ties to Radcliff who was found dead in Blytheville. Dexter Burgess, 33, was found Friday slumped over the steering wheel of his car with injuries consistent with a homicide. Darvin Burgess, Dexter’s uncle who lives in Radcliff, says his nephew was shot, and the family believes Dexter was in Blytheville for a work-related project. Dexter Burgess went through the electrician program at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College before moving to Richmond to study construction management at Eastern Kentucky University. Captain Scott Adams of the Blytheville Police Department. says tools in his car suggest Dexter Burgess was an electrician and possibly in town working at a local factory. The investigation is ongoing.
- U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves has scheduled a hearing for July 13th in Frankfort to determine an appropriate sanction for radio personality Eric Deters and Larry Forgy, a lawyer who sued the Kentucky Bar Association and state Chief Justice John Minton Jr. The lawsuit, filed in January, was an attempt to stop the bar from proceeding with disciplinary charges against Deters. Forgy withdrew the suit when Reeves declined to issue an injunction blocking the release of a suspension recommendation that Deters be suspended from the practice of law for 181 days. Reeves said Deters "must learn to think before he acts." Deters said he would appeal any sanction handed out by Reeves, and Forgy said Deters had done nothing wrong.
- Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested 25 year old Travis L. Wilson and charged him with first-degree robbery after he allegedly stole lottery tickets from the Circle K off Cumberland Falls Highway in Corbin Monday night then tried to cash those tickets the following day at the Pilot station in Williamsburg. Deputies caught up with Wilson at a residence on Cumberland Falls Highway, less than a mile away from the Circle K. The gun he was armed with when he robbed the store, a child’s BB gun, was found outside the residence.
- An important highway improvement project started Monday, June 13th, on KY 15 in Letcher County. A section of the road will be widened so a left turn lane can be added northbound to access KY 160 and southbound to access KY 1811. Chuck Childers, Whitesburg Section Engineer for Highway District 12, says the project was let out for bids in March, and the contract was awarded to Mountain Enterprises in the amount of $1,140,179.60. The contract is for 64 working days and should be finished by the end of September. This is a project included in the current State Highway Plan, formerly called the Six-Year Plan, and the funding is from the federal government's HES program.
- Gil Lawson, spokesman for the state Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, says his office plans to apply for a liquor license to sell alcoholic beverages at five state parks. He said the intent is to offer alcohol at state resort park restaurants located at Lake Barkley, Jenny Wiley and General Butler, and to offer beer at golf courses in Audubon State Park and My Old Kentucky Home. He said there's no plan for additional bars or lounges so that parks will keep their family-friendly environment. Lawson says the change is being made because studies have recommended it.
- Eleven employees of the Kentucky Division of Forestry reported Wednesday in Florida to help with the state's wildfire emergency after about 300 fires burning more than 100,000 acres prompted Florida Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency on Monday. Kentucky sent equipment as well to assist with the emergency. The Kentucky firefighters are to be assigned to Flagler County northwest of Daytona but may be transferred to other areas if wildfires in the Flagler location are controlled quickly. The detail is expected to last two weeks, and the Kentucky agency says Florida will reimburse the state for personnel and equipment costs.
- City officials in Lynch have turned to the county for help in getting the thousands of dollars needed to match a grant to restore the old fire station. Lynch Mayor Taylor Hall says he was told by Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop the city needed to change its stance against mountain-top removal, quit being stiff-necked and be cooperative, and encouraged him to negotiate once again with the coal companies. Hall says what Grieshop said to him falls under criminal coercion. Grieshop said Harlan County makes its living from coal, and if the funds will come from coal severance, everyone needs to work together. Mayor Hall says he plans to speak with the Commonwealth's Attorney's office.
- The Kentucky Department of Health announced Wednesday that regulations governing the state’s immunization schedule for infants, toddlers and school-age children have been amended to put the Commonwealth in line with national pediatric standards. The new regulation, taking effect on July 1st, requires age appropriate vaccination with pneumococcal vaccine and a dose of meningococcal vaccine for 6th grade entry. A second dose of T-Dap vaccine will be required for entry into 6th grade, and a second dose of MMR vaccine is now required for children by the age of 6 years old. All certificates for school or day care entry submitted on or after July 1st should meet the new requirements. For more information, visit www.chfs.ky.gov.
- MSHA director Joe Main says the long-awaited deadline has arrived to improve safety in the nation's 540 underground coal mines by adding technology capable of tracking miners and communicating with them after a disaster. Whether the mandate will immediately improve safety for the nation's 46,000 underground coal miners is unknown because it's uncertain how many mines installed everything they needed in time. The most recent numbers from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration show that as of April, 64 percent hadn't fully installed the required wireless equipment, but Main says mines are obligated to have their communications systems in, and MSHA is going to be applying the strength of the Mine Act. He says communications and tracking equipment will be checked during regular inspections. Former President George W. Bush signed the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act on June 15, 2006. The National Mining Association estimates that companies have since spent $1 billion complying with the law. The final piece is communications and tracking.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced Wednesday that Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois have been chosen as the first states for a new federal program making it easier to provide school meals to children in low-income areas. The program will give needy children better access to healthy school meals and reduce paperwork for schools and parents. Under the option, schools can use the percentage of children from households receiving food stamps as the basis to provide free meals to all children free of charge. The schools will be responsible for paying costs above the federal reimbursement amount. The program will be available by the 2014-2015 school year.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-16-'11
- The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday that the new District 12 office within the agency's Coal Mine Safety and Health division is now operational. The move comes after a decision earlier this year to split jurisdiction over southern West Virginia coal mines which were previously covered by District 4. MSHA decided to split jurisdiction after demand for southern West Virginia coal continued to rise. MSHA Chief Joe Main says, “Splitting this district will allow MSHA to more effectively execute its mission, provide adequate oversight and keep pace with the evolution of the coal industry." The new office is temporarily being run out of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, but will eventually move to a permanent home in Pineville. It will have jurisdiction over offices in Pineville, Logan and Princeton. District 4 will continue operations in Mt. Hope, while overseeing offices in Mt. Hope, Mt. Carbon, Madison and Summersville. Timothy Watkins, a former assistant district manager in Pikeville, Kentucky was selected as the new District 12 manager.
- West Virginia State Troopers say 59 year old Charlotte Booth from Branchland was killed in a car crash along Corridor G in Lincoln County Wednesday morning. Police say Booth was crossing the southbound lanes when she was hit by a flatbed truck carrying a trailer.
- More than 125 United Mine Workers are scheduled to vote Friday on a tentative 5 1/2-year contract with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association. The United Mine Workers says members would get a $6 an hour raise over the duration of the contract, and miners would average about $30 an hour by 2016. President Cecil Roberts says the increase would be the largest in the union's 121-year history.
- Tuesday night, Brian Wilson, 33, of Poca, tried to swim across the Poca River to get away from the West Virginia State Police who had responded to a complaint of a stolen car from Country Roads Mobile Home Park, which Wilson was driving. He fled from police, wrecked the vehicle and swam through the Poca River but was arrested as he got out the river. Troopers learned Wilson had just left a home with an active methamphetamine lab. Officers went to the trailer at 303 Country Roads Mobile Home Park and found evidence of a meth lab along with three children. James Cash, 38, and Jennifer King, 34, were charged with operating a methamphetamine laboratory, conspiracy and exposing a child to methamphetamine.
- The case against Kenneth Murdock, a Putnam County man who attempted to rob the Exxon gas station in Hometown, has been forwarded to the grand jury. Murdock allegedly took out a knife at the Exxon and attempted to rob it, but the clerk there beat him with a baseball bat, knocked the knife out of Murdock's hand, and Murdock fled. He's now being held on $250,000 bond.
- Gary "Wayne" Taylor of Red House was in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing after being charged with two counts of malicious wounding. Police say he stabbed his estranged wife, Joyce Taylor, with broken pieces of a dinner plate and banged her head against a concrete wall, knocking her unconscious. During the incident, Taylor's four-month-old granddaughter, who was in his wife's arms, was also seriously injured. Joyce Taylor testified about the incident during rhe preliminary hearing. After the prosecutor rattled off previous charges against Gary Taylor, including attempted murder in Kanawha County, the judge refused to reduce Taylor's bond. Taylor remains jailed on a $50,000 cash only bond, while the Putnam County Grand Jury prepares to consider the case. According to the criminal complaint, the whole thing started with Wayne wanting to fix their marriage, and Joyce saying it wasn't going to happen.
- Arch Coal, Inc. announced Wednesday that its $3.4 billion deal to acquire International Coal Group, Inc. has been completed. Arch acquired about 92 percent of ICG’s outstanding shares of common stock earlier this week. Steven Leer, Arch chairman and executive officer said, “This acquisition extends Arch’s reach into every major U.S. coal supply basin, enhances our low-cost and leadership position in core operating regions.” Arch now becomes the second-largest U.S. metallurgical coal producer and a top 10 global supplier to steelmakers. Arch has plans to expand and boost its metallurgical coal output to nearly 15 million tons by 2015. Arch’s coal reserves will increase 25 percent as a result of the acquisition, which is the largest in the company’s history. Arch will operate 24 mining complexes across five U.S. coal supply basins.
- Brian Daniel Mills, 36, and his wife, Mary Ann Byrd, 37, are charged with operating or attempting to operate a clandestine meth lab after Raleigh County sheriff's deputies responded to a complaint of a possible meth lab on Coal City Road in Mead and found evidence that indicated meth had been made at the location several times.
- The PSC has approved a number of rate increases for American Electric Power and its subsidiaries mainly based on the price the companies have paid for coal. Appearing before members of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary Wednesday, Mike Albert, the chairman of the state Public Service Commission, predicted future electricity rates are not going to go down. Albert explained to lawmakers how the PSC decides a rate case, showed them examples of information that's considered and detailed the thorough process. Albert says there's no source of power cheaper than coal, but federal EPA regulations limiting its future use will have an impact on rates.
- Republican members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works have criticized the Obama EPA for going too far with the Clean Air Act and stepping beyond its authority in regulating things like coal-fired power plants. Speaking before members of a congressional committee Wednesday, federal EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said her agency plans to continue to make its public health decisions on the principles of "the law and the best science." Jackson says, "The mercury standards are authorized by the toxics rules chairman, the standards for soot, the standards for smog, the standards that are designed to fight asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and premature deaths are all specifically called out in the Clean Air Act." The U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works that held Wednesday's hearing is chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer, D-California.
- Representative Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to show how it considers jobs and the economic impact when proposing new regulations. Capito says the EPA claims the agency calculates job and eco impact when they put out a rule or regulation, but the reality is they do not. Capito sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson a week after American Electric Power announced it would close five coal-fired power plants, three of which are in West Virginia. The closings will result in the loss of 242 jobs and $17 million in wages as well as a 10 to 15 percent rate increase. Capito said she thinks AEP is illustrating what impacts the EPA could have on the rest of the country. In the letter, Capito referred to the EPA’s regulations as the “EPA Regulatory Train Wreck.” She said this collection of rules require retrofits and modifications to equipment in power plants, manufacturing plants, boilers and refineries. Capito said the EPA has evolved under the Obama administration and now operates “in a vacuum.” A bill introduced last month by Capito, H.B. 1872, also known as the Employment Protection Act, would require the EPA to “examine the economic and employment impact of its actions and to hold public hearings in certain situations.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-15-'11
- The Pikeville City Commission has approved a one and a half percent restaurant tax officials say is needed to fund the East Kentucky Expo Center. The tax is expected to raise around $650,000 each year. City Commissioner Donovan Blackburn says, on a $10 meal ticket, which is an average ticket, you're talking about 15 cents tax. City leaders believe the extra revenue will bring in more events to the Expo Center. The restaurant tax goes into effect on July 15th.
- Eighteen year old Christopher Diskey of Prestonsburg is set to appear in court Wednesday after allegedly using counterfeit money at the Water Gap Trade Center in May. Diskey is said to have used the counterfeit money at four different vendors.
- The University of Kentucky board of trustees has approved a five-year contract for incoming president Eli Capilouto with a base salary of $500,000 in a deal close to that of Lee T. Todd Jr., whose current compensation is $657,000. Capilouto indicated he would not accept a performance bonus for the first year he is in office, but he will be eligible for a bonus of at least 10 percent of his salary beginning with his second year. Capilouto, who earned $371,664 as University of Alabama-Birmingham provost before being hired at UK May 3rd, will also receive $125,000 in retirement contributions.
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the Obama administration Tuesday to send two Iraqi nationals arrested recently in Bowling Green to the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, McConnell said 30 year old Waad Ramadan Alwan and 23 year old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, two Iraqis facing terrorism-related charges in Kentucky, should be subject to the same system as combatants caught on a battlefield. McConnell wants Alwan and Hammadi sent to the prison at Guantanamo Bay rather than allow them to face trial in a civilian court. McConnell said sending the men to the facility on the southeastern tip of Cuba is the best way to ensure that there will be no disruptions that could come with a civilian trial. McConnell says, "Sending them to Gitmo is the only way we can be certain there won't be retaliatory attacks in Kentucky." Alwan and Hammadi are charged in a 23-count indictment with conspiring to send weapons and money to Al-Qaida in Iraq. Alwan is also charged with attacking American soldiers in Iraq. A grand jury in Bowling Green charged the men last month.
- After a 90-minute open hearing in Lexington Tuesday, the Kentucky Bar Association board of governors voted to disbar prominent Cincinnati lawyer 75 year old Stan Chesley, agreeing with a trial commissioner who said he should repay $7.6 million and be permanently disbarred for his role in a settlement over the diet drug fen-phen. Retired Franklin County Circuit Judge William Graham, the hearing officer, said in February that Chesley lied to a judge, covered up his colleagues' misdeeds and took excessive fees. During Tuesday's hearing, Chesley's lawyer said Chesley successfully negotiated the fen-phen settlement from $20 million to $200 million. Chesley can ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to review the decision.
- Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford received a letter and a contract from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock on May 30th notifying him the transportation cabinet is going to provide funds to build interior roads at EQT’s site. This money is part of the original package of more than $2.8 million in tax breaks, etc., offered by the state to EQT so the company would locate its facility in Kentucky. “We are moving right along with the EQT project,” Rutherford said. “Construction has begun on the site and now we are ready to improve the interior road so it can accommodate the trucks and other traffic that will be entering and exiting the site.” Pike County Director of Energy and Economic Development Charles Carlton said he is pleased at the progress of the EQT project. PRAY Construction began working on the site in early May. “We have come a long, long way in the course of getting this project off the ground,” Carlton said. “The site prep is finished now and construction of the building has begun. It’s evident the state is on board with this project and this money for the interior roads is proof of that. It won’t be long until everything is operating at full speed and EQT has a permanent home here in Pike County.”
- Lexington, Kentucky-based mine operator Rhino Resource Partners has bought 32,600 acres of coal reserves in West Virginia for $7.5 million. Rhino hopes to mine metallurgical-grade coal for the steel industry from the properties in Randolph and Upshur counties. Rhino operates mines in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Colorado.
- The three-day Kentucky River Mine Rescue Contest is being held at Hazard High School. The program is aimed at preparing miners by creating disaster simulations. The mine rescue portion of the competition will begin Wednesday and run through Thursday. Miners from all across the nation are participating in the events. Judges grade teams in three different contests, bench, first aid and pre-shift.
- The Helen Brown Bridge next to Walters Toyota on US 23 north of Pikeville will be closed Wednesday morning, June 15th, for its annual inspection. The bridge will be closed to all traffic from 8:00 A.M. until 10:00 A.M. This is a routine inspection and does not imply that there is anything wrong with the bridge. All bridge inspections are done according to a schedule, said Robin Justice, Highway District 12 Bridge Engineer, and it is this bridge's turn.
- Metro Louisville Police are investigating the shooting of a 12 year old boy which occurred late Monday night in southeastern Jefferson County. Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell says witnesses told officers the boy and several of his friends were ringing doorbells or knocking on doors in the neighborhood and then running away. Jim Natsis, who lives in the neighborhood, says the wounded boy appeared to have been hit in the back with shotgun pellets. He was sitting up and conscious when an ambulance arrived.
- Students who make good grades in high school and perform well on the ACT or SAT can earn money for college through the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship program. The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority says students earn a base award for each year they make at least a 2.5 grade point average at a certified Kentucky high school. Students who earn at least one base award can also earn a bonus award for scoring 15 or higher on the ACT or at least 710 on the SAT. There are also bonus awards for students who qualified for free or reduced lunch programs during high school if they score at least a three on any Advanced Placement exam or five on International Baccalaureate exams.
- A graduation ceremony is planned this week at a western Kentucky prison, where the graduates have spent 12 weeks being schooled by inmates. The graduates are rescued dogs, who will next be paired with wounded soldiers at Fort Campbell, the sprawling Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Green River Correctional Complex at Central City has operated a dog rescue program since 2004 but recently decided to work with the Army to help provide wounded soldiers with therapeutic dogs. After the dogs deploy to Fort Campbell, they will begin specialized training geared toward each soldier's specific needs. The graduation ceremony is the first in the Dogs2Vets program and is set for Wednesday afternoon at the prison.
- The U.S. Department of Labor is requiring the owner of two Louisville restaurants to give more than $90,000 in back pay to 53 employees. The federal agency says the owner of the restaurants, Louisville Irish LLC, failed to pay tipped employees the federal minimum wage at required meetings and for hours worked. Workers at Sully's Restaurant and Saloon and Maker's Mark Restaurant also didn't receive proper overtime pay. A statement from the Department of Labor says the company has agreed to pay the back wages for the time period of the investigation, from 2008 to 2010. Karen Garnett, director of the federal Wage and Hour Division's Louisville District Office, says the Labor Department "has zero tolerance" for companies that don't comply with laws that protect low-wage workers.
- Preliminary statistics indicate that ten people died in nine separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, June 6th, through Sunday, June 12, 2011. Nine of the fatalities involved motor vehicles and six of the victims were not wearing seat belts. Single-fatality crashes occurred in Boone, Grant, Laurel, Menifee, Monroe, Pendleton, and Wolfe counties. Alcohol was a factor in the Menifee, Monroe and Wolfe county crashes. A double-fatality motor vehicle collision occurred in Butler County and neither victim was wearing a seat belt. One ATV involved fatal crash occurred in Whitley County and the victim was not wearing a helmet. Through June 12th, preliminary statistics indicate that 267 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2011. This is thirty less fatalities than reported for the same time period in 2010.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-15-'11
- John Hayes was arrested Monday in Tennessee after telling the sheriff’s department there that he killed his wife’s uncle, 58 year old Robert Workman, in Mingo County, West Virginia. Workman was reported missing June 9th after his sister hadn’t heard from him and couldn't get in touch with him. The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department searched the area with the Beech Creek Fire Department, and conducted local interviews. Workman's body was found Monday afternoon next to his home in Beech Creek. The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department believes Hayes killed Workman May 30th or 31st while he and his wife were in the Beech Creek area visiting family. Hayes was charged with murder and concealing a body and will be brought to West Virginia.
- Monday night, search teams in St. Petersburg, Florida located the body of 65 year old Clark White of Moundsville, West Virginia after he was buried in the rubble of a collapsed structure in Florida on Thursday. White worked for Frontier Industrial Corp., the company sub-contracted out to dismantle an old boiler unit at the Power Bartow Power Plant in St. Petersburg, owned by Progress Energy. White and 20 other employees of Frontier Industrial and Progress Energy were preparing to demolish the building when it suddenly collapsed a little over an hour earlier than expected. White, who had been in the demolition business for 15 years, was inside when the 180 feet tall building with a base of 10,000 square feet, a lot of concrete, steel and other materials came down.
- Arch Coal, Inc. announced Tuesday the completion of a cash offer for shares of International Coal Group, Inc. stock. More than 187 million shares of ICG common stock were tendered at $14.60 per share. Scott Depot-based ICG will be merged with Atlas Acquisition Corp. following a merger agreement, and function as a wholly owned subsidiary of Arch Coal. Arch expects to complete a “short form” merger under Delaware law and complete its acquisition of ICG by Wednesday. Arch offered to buy ICG in May for $3.4 billion. Arch plans to purchase additional shares of ICG common stock directly from ICG, which would result in Arch owning one share more than 90 percent of the outstanding shares of ICG.
- Twenty-seven year old Ernest Young Jr. of Handley was arrested just after midnight Monday for the murder of 81 year old Wilfred Naylor of Mammoth who was discovered dead in his home in the Cedar Grove area Saturday night. Police say Naylor's vehicle was also stolen. A criminal complaint says Young admitted to hitting Naylor with a club that was located inside the residence.
- Jasper Wemh, 26, of Delaware, has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty in March to possession of crack cocaine with intent to deliver. Detectives with the Metro Drug Unit approached Wemh at a storage facility in Cross Lanes on December 29th, conducted a pat down and found $5,752 on him. A search of his vehicle turned up a plastic bag containing 15 grams of crack cocaine in a flip down compartment between the sun visors and a set of digital scales in the center console. Wemh admitted he intended to sell the crack.
- U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller took to the Senate floor Monday to defend Medicaid and its recipients whom he said were not politically active enough to defend their own interests. Rockefeller slammed Republican plans to cut taxes on corporations while simultaneously cutting Medicaid. Rockefeller says 60 percent don't want Medicaid touched, and 82 percent don't want Medicare touched. Democrats have been speaking out against a plan to cut Medicaid, and Rockefeller is one of 41 Democrats in the Senate who have vowed to fight the cuts. A Republican plan would cut $1 trillion in Medicaid for 2012. Rockefeller says it's an easy place for Republicans to cut, because it's not a politically risky move, but the program is needed. President Lyndon B. Johnson created Medicaid in 1965.
- Wade Davis, a former Kanawha County sheriff's deputy has had his probation reinstated after pleading guilty to violating it. Davis was ordered Monday by Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jim Stucky to write letters of apology to a 17 year old girl and her mother who claimed Davis pushed the girl during an organized youth activity. During last month's trial, other teenagers testified on behalf of Davis saying there was no criminal intent behind the conduct, and he pushed them in a playful manner. Davis was convicted of second degree murder following a 2003 stabbing death at a Sissonville gas station. He was later placed on probation.
- Brent Davis was sentenced Monday to 2-10 years in prison after an April guilty plea to the charge of DUI causing death. Police say Davis was intoxicated last September while driving on MacCorkle Avenue in South Charleston when he slammed into a motorcycle driven by Mike Frame, who died shortly after the accident. Davis was given credit for the three months he's already served in jail.
- West Virginia Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler says better treatment programs for people with drug and alcohol addiction issues would help reduce the growing populations in West Virginia's prisons and regional jails. Kessler says 80% of the people behind bars have substance abuse issues and will commit more crimes when released because those issues have not been properly treated. Regional Jail Authority Director Larry Parsons says more and more inmates are sleeping on mattresses on regional jail floors, even though almost 1,200 new bunks have recently been added. Parsons says the largest problem is that 1,800 inmates who should be in state prisons are being housed in regional jails and estimates indicate that number will only grow in the coming years. State officials are considering a plan to build another 300 bed medium security state prison, but Senator Kessler says, "You can't build your way out of this problem." Several measures designed to reduce the prison and jail populations are being considered during interim meetings for lawmakers, and new proposals could come up when the 2012 Regular Legislative Session begins in January.
Monday, June 13, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-14-'11
- The Kentucky Equality Federation says it is planning a public protest because two gay men with intellectual and developmental disabilities were kicked out of a recreational center run by the city of Hazard Friday. The Federation says the men, who were not identified, were swimming at the Hazard Pavilion with a group from Mending Hearts Inc. when Pavilion staff immediately entered the pool area and asked them to leave. Shirlyn Perkins, executive director of Mending Hearts, said in a news release issued Monday by the Kentucky Equality Federation that, "My staff asked the Pavilion staff why they were being asked to leave, and they were informed that 'gay people' weren't allowed to swim there." Ollie Adams, co-owner of Mending Hearts, says a staff member told her the Pavilion employee told the group to leave after one of the men sat on the other's knee and put his arm around him while sitting outside the pool. Paul Collins, the city's attorney, says he is still investigating the matter, but a lifeguard said he saw the two men repeatedly hugging and kissing in a corner of the pool.
- Tim Proffitt, a former Rand Paul campaign volunteer accused of stepping on the head of Moveon.org activist 23 year old Lauren Valle on October 25th before the final US Senate debate between Rand Paul and Jack Conway in Lexington, agreed to a plea deal Monday morning after being charged with 4th degree assault. Paul, who entered an Alford Plea in the case, said he was trying to protect Paul when Valle approached the candidate with a fake award. As part of the plea deal, Proffitt will be on probation for one year, and he will have to pay $600 in restitution for Valle’s medical bills.
- Katie Dailinger, the director of communications and policy in Governor Steve Beshear's administration, is changing jobs to take a role in the Beshear-Abramson campaign as communications director. Beshear made the announcement Monday, her last day on the job in the administration. Beshear said Kerri Richardson will assume the role of director of communications in his administration. Richardson has been serving as spokeswoman and deputy communications director in the governor's office.
- The Kentucky Bar Association Board of Governors is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Tuesday at a Lexington hotel as it prepares to decide the fate of class-action legal specialist Stan Chesley, the Cincinnati attorney known as the "Master of Disaster." A trial commissioner who recommended disbarment also wants Chesley to return $7.6 million of the $20 million he was paid in fees from a Boone County settlement for people sickened by the diet drug fen-phen. The trial commissioner says Chesley was fully aware that more than half of the $200 million fen-phen settlement was not going to the 431 people he helped negotiate it for. The commissioner called Chesley's behavior "shocking and reprehensible." Since Kentucky has a reciprocal agreement with Ohio, Chesley could lose his law license in Ohio if he is disbarred in Kentucky. Chesley could appeal any disbarment to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which has the final say on disciplinary matters. The bar association has already disbarred the three lawyers Chesley worked with in the fen-phen class-action case: William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr., who were sentenced to federal prison and Melbourne Mills Jr., who was acquitted.
- Several Christian police officers led a prayer meeting in Hazard Monday, seeking God's help and urging Christians in the crowd to witness to their neighbors and co-workers in an effort to help with eastern Kentucky's devastating drug problem. Chris Fugate, a narcotics officer with the Kentucky State Police who helped arrange the service, said the event should not be seen as any criticism of the work he and other police do to arrest drug dealers, but, rather, the event was an acknowledgment that the problem is bigger than police, prosecutors, courts, jails and treatment centers can handle. Fugate says, while there is a role for police and courts in dealing with the issue, they can't arrest enough people to end the problem.
- Kentucky officials are heading to Louisville this week to try to find the owners of unclaimed property potentially worth $69 million. State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach's office says each year the Treasury receives millions of dollars from holders such as banks or insurance companies. By law, they are required to transfer the assets of inactive accounts, and in the past, about 20 percent has been returned to the owners. Under its Treasure Finders program, the state Treasury will work with local volunteers to set up a phone bank, review the property and contact residents to let them know about the unclaimed property. The first event in Louisville will be held on Saturday.
- A Corbin man is dead after an ATV crash Saturday afternoon on Ward Cemetery Road in Whitley County. State Police say 29 year old Travis Cox was riding an ATV when it traveled off the shoulder, crossed a gravel driveway and became airborne before overturning. Cox was ejected from the ATV and struck a wooden fence before landing in a ditch, submerged in 4 feet of water. Cox was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries.
- State Police say 31 year old Travis Mahan of Corbin was headed south on US 25 in Laurel County over the weekend when he crossed the center line and hit a semi head-on. Mahan was cut from the vehicle and flown to UK Hospital where he died. State Police suspect drugs to be a factor in the crash. The driver of the semi, 55 year old Jimmy Gray of Barbourville, was taken to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries.
- Kentucky is dropping a state regulation clearing the way for the distinguished Commonwealth Diploma program, with officials saying it has become irrelevant to many students' college careers. The program, established about a decade ago as a way to honor high-achieving high school graduates, allowed students to take college-level courses and earn credit by passing a year-end exam. Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross says the state board wanted to move in a new direction and start fresh. The new state standards, which are beginning to be implemented, will push all students to become better prepared for college.
- A key strategist behind U.S. Senator Rand Paul's political rise is forming a political action committee in Kentucky to support tea party candidates. The PAC, called Kentucky Knows Best, will recruit candidates, stage rallies and make campaign contributions. David Adams, the group's executive director, says he hopes the PAC donates exclusively to Republicans but says it will look for the best candidates in state races. He says the group will endorse candidates in contested Republican primaries. Adams was campaign manager for Louisville businessman Phil Moffett, whose underfunded campaign finished second in last month's Republican gubernatorial primary. Adams was campaign manager during Paul's successful run for the GOP Senate nomination last year.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-14-'11
- Eric Counts, 23, of Sissonville, was sentenced Monday to 25 to 100 years in prison for raping an 11 year old family member. Counts asked for home confinement to stay with his father who has terminal cancer, but Judge Jim Stucky denied the request. Counts faces another 25 years of court supervision when he finishes the 25 to 100 year sentence. Counts is planning to appeal his convictions.
- Samuel Garwood, a man suspected of robbing two area banks appeared in court before Judge King Monday as a fugitive from justice from South Carolina where he is also suspected of being involved in bank robberies. Garwood, who was arrested in Cross Lanes earlier this month, will be turned over to federal custody.
- Fayette County Sheriff's Department Captain Jim Sizemore says toxicology test results received recently taken from the body of 27 year old Stacey Nicole Wilson of Victor, in Fayette County, show she did not die of a drug overdose. Wilson's body was found in the Gauley River near Jodie on April 23rd, one day after she called her parents and told them her car was stuck in a large mud hole and she didn't know where she was. Investigators say the mud hole is some distance from where her body was found floating in the Gauley. A previous autopsy ruled out both blunt force trauma and drowning as possible causes of death.
- To settle a lawsuit over a tree-sitting protest in 2010, anti-mining activists have agreed to stop trespassing on West Virginia coal mine sites formerly owned by Massey Energy. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger issued a permanent injunction Monday which bars five defendants from protesting at former Massey operations in 23 counties, among other things. Massey sued after protesters climbed trees and refused to come down for up to nine days at its Beetree surface mine in January 2010. Lawyer Thomas Rist says he's also trying to settle cases stemming from protests in Boone and Raleigh counties. The mines are now owned by Alpha Natural Resources, which bought Massey June 1st.
- The United Mine Workers has reached a tentative deal with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association on a new 5 1/2-year contract. Members of about 125 locals will vote on the deal Friday, June 17th, after being briefed Wednesday. United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts says the deal covers key issues including pensions, health care and wages. The union typically uses the Bituminous Coal Operators contract for a model in negotiations with non-member coal companies. The association represents primarily Canonsburg, Pa.-based Consol Energy's unionized subsidiaries.
- There is only one more new episode left of SPIKE TV's COAL, a reality television show focused on a McDowell County coal mine. The last of the ten episode series COAL, which premiered in March, will air at 8:00 P.M. next Sunday, but Cobalt Coal Company CEO Mike Crowder says there is talk of a second season. Crowder says the experience that has put he and his 40 employees on the small screen, along with their struggles with the day to day operations of a coal mine, have now shown the entire country it's a tough industry that takes tough people who face a lot of challenges, and, when you go through the battle together, you tend to have more passion.
- Kanawha County Board of Education President Pete Thaw says a proposal was introduced last week to start school on August 9th in 2013, the earliest he's ever seen. Schools generally start somewhere around the third or fourth week of August, and Thaw says he expects some members of the public to be upset about the date. Thaw says schools could be unbearable during August heat. The end date of the proposed calender falls on May 16th, which Thaw says is likely a good idea. The current calendar keeps students in classes for up to three weeks after the WESTEST. Thaw says that practice should end. The board will discuss the calender again at its regular meeting in July, and Thaw says they definitely want input from the public.
- The Kanawha County Commission says its decision to outsource drug testing for county employees will save $100,000. Commission President Kent Carper says there will be drug testing, but it will be done by a private company. Carper says the county was prohibited from testing certain people, meaning the operations was not money efficient. Carper says, if they had been able to drug test people on probation, federal employees and others, the program would have worked and paid for itself and actually could have made money. Carper says the best thing for the county to do is hire a private firm to conduct drug testing, but the policy change does not mean the county will go soft on drug use in the county.
- The Internal Revenue Service announced Monday that 1,989 non-profit organizations in West Virginia have automatically lost their tax-exempt status after failing to file legally required annual reports for three years in a row, from 2007 to 2009. Steps are in place for any existing organizations to apply for reinstatement of their tax-exempt status, but the IRS says the vast majority of the named organizations across the country are probably defunct. The Pension Protection Act Congress passed in 2006 requires most tax-exempt organizations to file an annual information return or notice with the IRS. Small organizations only had to file for the first time in 2007. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman says, the IRS mailed more than 1 million notices to organizations that had not filed and last year published a list of at-risk groups, as well as giving smaller organizations an extra five months to file, but there may be some legitimate organizations, especially very small ones, that were unaware of their new filing requirement.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...6-13-'11
- Robert Branham, 37, of Louisa, was reported missing by his wife Laura Branham at 6:00 P.M. Saturday. Laura told Kentucky State Police she had received a text message from Robert’s cell phone saying, “Your man has gotten exactly what he deserves, he is at the mouth of 645, sorry for your loss." Kentucky State Police discovered his cell phone was actually “pinging” in the area of Torchlight Road, near KY 645, prompting KSP and other agencies to search for Branham. According to a press release, Branham saw his name on a newscast, contacted the KSP and agreed to meet with Detective Ben Cramer and a Post 9 Pikeville Trooper at Danco Fuels in Johnson County to let them know he was alive and well. Kentucky State Police met with Branham at Danco around 1:30 P.M. Sunday. When troopers met with Branham they found he had an outstanding Boyd County traffic warrant. He was arrested by the Post 9 Trooper and taken to Big Sandy Regional Jail. The incident is still under investigation.
- The public and locally elected leaders are invited to an informational and organization meeting of The Jenny Wiley Trail Conference at 7:00 P.M. Tuesday, June 14th, at the Jenny Wiley State Park Lodge. Steve Barbour, executive director of the Jenny Wiley Trail Conference will outline the plans for resurrecting the trail and its return to National Recreational Trail status. The Jenny Wiley Trail was first designated as a National Recreation Trail by the Department of the Interior on July 29, 1980 but it has gone unsupported since the early 1980's when the state suspended its funding. Traversing more than 180 miles from South Portsmouth in Greenup County to the lodge at Jenny Wiley State Park in Floyd County near Prestonsburg, this neglected trail system is still in use by local groups along some sections where evidence of shelters and blazes remain.
- Kentucky plans to speed traffic toward the inaugural Sprint Cup race in the state by stopping a half-dozen construction projects along Interstate 71/75 during the weeks around the race. The Quaker State 400 is set for July 9th. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman Nancy Wood says nearly all the work being done as part of the $91 million Revive the Drive-NKY project will be halted from June 30th to July 12th. Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger says halting the work will be a huge assist to the track as it handles what it expects to be a crowd of more than 100,000.
- Jeffrey A. Runyon, from Franklin Furnace, Ohio, was arrested Sunday after undercover sheriff's deputies in Boyd County, Kentucky say they purchased Oxycodone from him near the Kyova Mall in Ashland. Prescription medication and money were seized during the arrest.
- A Tompkinsville man accused in a federal vote fraud case has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Owensboro. Billy Proffitt admitted on Thursday to conspiring with his uncle Tony Gumm and four other Monroe County residents to elect Gumm for county magistrate in the 2006 election. Proffitt's plea agreement says the group instructed voters to cast absentee ballots. They also accompanied voters into the voting booth to mark their ballots during the general election. Vote-buying allegations against Proffitt were dropped under the agreement. Defense attorney Jim Deckard says he hopes Proffitt will receive probation and be able to put this behind him. He is scheduled for sentencing on September 14th in Bowling Green. Prosecutors have recommended a five year sentence and $250,000 fine.
- The estate of a nursing home resident who choked to death is accusing employees of falsifying documents. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued a citation to the Johnson Mathers Nursing Home in Carlisle on May 10th regarding the 2010 accident. Both the citation and the suit claim that nurse Joyce Fulton saw Lorrine Wheeler choking on food but left her alone and spent 15 to 20 minutes cleaning a dirty suction machine. The nurse eventually suctioned Wheeler but was unable to clear the food. She then notified other staff she thought Wheeler was dead. The nursing home has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, filed in Nicholas County Circuit Court.
- An Owensboro police officer was injured after he said a driver dragged him and tried to run him over. Officer Jeremy Mulligan was at home when he heard a vehicle doing burnouts Friday. After he approached the vehicle and identified himself as a police officer, driver Anthony Palmiero put the car in reverse, hitting Mulligan with the open door and dragging him a short distance. Mulligan then pushed off the vehicle and was crawling away when the 21-year-old Palmiero swerved toward him and a passerby who was helping him. Palmiero was charged with assault, wanton endangerment, fleeing, DUI, resisting arrest and driving on an expired license.
EKB Capsule News...West Virginia...6-13-'11
- After receiving a request for a wellness check, Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies went to a home on Launa Lane in Mammoth Saturday night where they found the body of 81 year old Wilfred Naylor. Officials with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department and the Kanawha Bureau of Investigation are investigating Naylor's death as a homicide. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office at 304-357-0169.
- Deputies with the Greenup County, Kentucky Sheriff's Department Drug Interdiction Division arrested 32 year old Leo L. Buggs, of Columbus, Ohio, Sunday on a fugitive from justice warrant out of Logan County, West Virginia for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Buggs was arrested in South Shore after he became involved in a physical altercation with Shawn Kimble of Barnabus, and Buggs shot Kimble in the neck. At the time of his arrest, Buggs had a quantity of narcotics and $730. Buggs was charged with possession of marijuana, and giving officers false name or address.
- St. Albans Police Sgt. M.A. Gilbert went to a home on Zerkle Street Saturday to follow up on leads from a burglary investigation. While there, he smelled a chemical odor and asked for and was granted permission to search the residence. During the search, he found the makings of a meth lab and a gun with the serial number filed off. Laura Hill and her husband Christopher Hill were arrested on meth charges, while other charges are pending.
- West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman is establishing a commission to investigate the February 23, 2009, death of Benjamin Hill which occurred inside the Industrial Home for Youth, the state's only maximum security correctional center for juveniles. An autopsy and various investigations have not determined how Hill died, but Workman says, "I want to know what happened to this child." The commission Workman will lead is called the Adjudicated Juvenile Rehabilitation Review Commission.