Monday, March 07, 2011
EKB Capsule News...Kentucky...3-8-'11
- Richmond-based James River Coal Company, a producer of steam and industrial-grade coal says it plans to purchase International Resource Partners and its sales and marketing subsidiary Logan and Kanawha Coal in a deal worth $475 million in cash. CEO Peter Socha says the deal expands its offerings of metallurgical coal and gives the company greater access to overseas coal markets. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2011. International Resource Partners is a privately held partnership based in Charleston, which operates a total of nine underground and surface coal mines in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. The company's mines produced 1.9 million tons in 2010.
- Kentucky State Police continue to investigate after an armed robbery in Floyd County. Police say a male suspect, about 5’10” and weighed 230 pounds, wearing a camouflage shirt, blue pants, and white tennis shoes and a blue mask over his face, entered the Compton's Quick Stop in Weeksbury Sunday and stole an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing on foot. Anyone with information is asked to call KSP Post 9 Pikeville at (606) 433-7711 or 1-800-222-5555.
- Two Perry County Kentucky men were shot this weekend when Tennessee police say they broke into a home in Hawkins County, in East Tennessee, and tried to collect on a $3,800 debt. Police say the homeowner, Michael Brandon Dykes, opened fire when Cletus Robbins Junior and Liston Josh Shepherd entered his home with a 20-gauge shotgun. Dykes was charged with possessing drugs, while Robbins and Shepherd will be arrested for armed robbery once they're released from the hospital.
- The capital murder trial of Clayton Jackson, a Leslie County man charged with killing five members of the same family, was set to start Monday, but officials were not able to seat a jury. Police say, in 2004, Jackson killed Chris Sturgill, Sturgill's wife Amanda, and their three sons, Michael, Robert, and Jordan. According to an indictment, Jackson shot Sturgill and his wife, then set their trailer on fire. The three children died from smoke inhalation. Clayton Jackson was arrested in 2007. The Commonwealth's Attorney says he's hopeful they will be able to hold the trial in Clay County, but if not, they will try to move it to the western part of the state. Jury selection is set for next Monday morning in Manchester.
- Sentencing begins Tuesday and goes through Friday in federal court in Frankfort for those convicted of vote fraud in Clay County last year. Former County Clerk Freddy Thompson, former schools superintendent Doug Adams, former circuit court judge Cletus Maricle, and former magistrate Stanley Bowling were among those convicted of trying to buy or steal votes between 2002 and 2007.
- A parole board in Frankfort ruled Monday that John Anthony Harris of Louisville will have to serve an additional 10 years in prison for murdering 22 year old Sabra Ann Diamond before getting another chance at parole. Police say Harris repeatedly asked Diamond out on dates while the two were co-workers at the Sears Roebuck Co. store in the Jefferson Mall, and, when she continually turned him down, his fixation escalated to the point he began to stalk her and threaten her. Police say, just after midnight on April 8,1986, Harris and a friend, James Elmore, came across Diamond as she was driving home from a movie. Harris and Elmore cut her off and Harris confronted her, which led to him shooting her in the head then taking her body and dumping it in a wooded area and covering it with a blanket to try to hide what he’d done. Harris has served nearly 25 years in prison for the murder. Diamond’s family hoped the board would order him to serve the entire life sentence with no chance at parole, an option not available to the jury that convicted him in 1987.
- Sunday, Kentucky State Police were called to a home in the Ezel community of Morgan County about an intoxicated man firing shots towards a home. Troopers took 76 year old Curtis Harvey, Jr. into custody for wanton endangerment, along with firearm and public intoxication charges.
- Kentucky lawmakers began negotiations Monday on two vastly different proposals to balance the state's Medicaid budget. The House is pushing a proposal developed by Governor Steve Beshear that would shift $166.5 million in Medicaid funds from next fiscal year’s appropriations to be used now. The Senate is calling for cuts of 2.26 percent to all government programs to make up for the Medicaid deficit.
- The University of Kentucky has hired Scott McLeod, an education professor from Ames, Iowa, who will mostly work from his home, making him UK's first remotely based professor who will hardly ever set foot on the Lexington campus. McLeod will be an associate professor in the UK College of Education and director of technology and innovation with assignments including helping educators use technology to improve achievement of students from kindergarten through college. He'll also teach one course each semester. McLeod is director of the national Center for Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education, which is relocating to UK. McLeod says his hiring is an acknowledgement by UK that "the world is now digital and global."
- In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, Senator Tom Jensen, R-London, said 1,100 meth labs were found last year in the state, and current laws are not stopping them. Jensen's Judiciary Committee approved SB 45 on February 3rd with testimony from U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, but the measure since then has not been called for a vote in the Senate. Disappointed over the demise of his bill to ban over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, Jensen urged his colleagues to help him come up with a solution to stop deadly meth labs in the state. Senator Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, say her problem with Jensen's bill is the state has not been able to tame prescription drug abuse, and adding more medicines to prescriptions would not solve the problem of abuse, but she would be more than willing to work with Jensen to come up with a way to curb meth labs.
- Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has told Jefferson County Public schools that the district needs to make more efforts at fixing the lowest performing schools or risk losing millions of federal dollars and possibly control over the overhaul process. Holliday says the district's staffing changes may not be meeting state and federal requirements at some of the 12 Jefferson County schools marked for overhauls. Doss, Fairdale and Seneca high schools were targeted because their reading and math scores are some of the worst in Kentucky.
- State forestry officials say arson is the leading cause of forest fires in Kentucky. Friday, officials from several Kentucky agencies will work in Bell County to try to increase public awareness about wild land arson as they go door to door to talk to individuals about how to prevent and report arson. The team is the work of the Kentucky State Police, Division of Forestry, Division of Fire Prevention and Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
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