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.
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