Local News 2-10-2014

Johnson Co. Man Found Passed Out After String of Robberies

Members of the Van Lear community put their neighborhood watch skills to the test Friday evening. According to reports, volunteers were working at the Van Lear historical society and museum headquarters, preparing for weekend fundraiser, when they heard the sound of glass shattering. The women looked out the window and seen a man standing with a hammer in his hand near one of the women’s truck he had just busted the window out of. After one of the women confronted the man, he took off running. The police were called, but they also got the word out to other community members to be on the lookout for the individual.

It seems the man had been busy Friday night, robbing several other individuals and stashing the stolen items around the post office. The man 3eventually got away from community members later that night, but it didn’t take long for them to discover where he ended up early Saturday morning. One of the community members was traveling to work early Saturday morning and discovered the guy passed out and laying in the road.

Police identified the man as Travis Blair. They report they found Blair with stolen tools scattered around his body and keys to a 4-wheeler in his pocket. Blair was arrested and taken to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, facing several charges including burglary and public intoxication. Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Dept. are continuing to investigate this incident and they want to remind residents of Johnson Co. that if you have knowledge of any illegal activity, to please contact the Sheriff’s Office at 789-3411. Remember, they only need your information, not your name.

Prestonsburg home condemned, woman facing animal cruelty charges

According to reports out of Floyd Co., a Prestonsburg home was condemned and the woman living at the residence was arrested for cruelty to animals for a second time. According to WYMT-TV, Prestonsburg Police and Fire Departments responded to an alarm at a home located on North Front Avenue. Prestonsburg Assistant Police Chief Bryan Hall told WYMT that, “When they got to the residence they found water coming out of the doors and seeping out of the windows. When they made entry they found cats locked in one of the rooms."

Official’s immediately condemned the home and the cats were taken because the home was in such deplorable conditions. Police say they found Vanessa Howard living in the home and she reportedly was not to be in possession of animals, due to a recent animal cruelty case nearly a year ago. .

Howard pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges after originally being charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty. As part of that agreement Howard was given two years probation and ordered not have any animals. Howard now faces a second degree cruelty to animals. At last report, Howard remains at the Floyd County Detention Center without bond.

Pike Co. Man Facing Disorderly Conduct Charges for a Pike Co. Judicial Center Evacuation

A Pike Co. man is in police custody after causing a brief scare at the Pike County Judicial Center last week. According to Pike Co. Sheriff's Department, Richard Maynard was walking out of a Pike Co. courtroom and pulled the fire alarm, causing the entire building to be evacuated for about 15 to 20 minutes. Officials cited Maynard for disorderly conduct. Maynard entered a not guilty plea in court Thursday and scheduled for a pretrial conference on February 17th. Police say after his arraignment, he was arrested on outstanding warrants and taken to the Pike County Detention Center.

Man Accused of Putting Child in Deep Freezer Pleads Guilty

A Harlan County man accused of putting a child in a freezer pleaded guilty in court Thursday. Police say Randy Hammons placed the child into a working deep freezer and sat on the lid for 20 minutes. Hammons pleaded guilty to assault, criminal abuse, and unlawful imprisonment. He will be sentenced March 5. The child's mother, Connie Jenkins, was charged with criminal abuse. She is schedule to be sentenced Feb. 20.

Minimum Wage Bill Clears Ky. House

Kentucky House has passed a bill to raise the state's minimum wage for the first time since 2009. Under the bill, the minimum wage would gradually increase from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 per hour by July 2016. There would be 95-cent increases in three phases. The bill cleared the House on a 54-44 vote after a three-hour debate Thursday. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says his bill would help an estimated 400,000 workers. He says they are entitled to living wages that let them buy life's necessities. Opponents said the higher wage would force some employers to cut jobs. They said it would add costs for school districts and local governments to pay low-wage employees. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Offshore Loophole Costs KY Taxpayers $29 Million/Year

FRANKFORT, Ky. - One offshore loophole is costing Kentucky nearly $29 million in lost state taxes each year, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Dan Smith, a tax and budget advocate, helped to write Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole for PIRG. He says corporations are cheating Kentucky out of millions of dollars in state taxes - by claiming the so-called water's edge loophole and pretending their businesses are based at a P.O. box in a low-tax country, such as the Cayman Islands.

"That income wasn't made beyond the water's edge," he insists. "It's not like companies are putting up factories or doing research and development in the Cayman Islands." Smith maintains hiding profits in overseas tax havens cheats the federal government. But he stresses it also cheats state tax systems out of a billion dollars a year, altogether. According to the report, Kentucky lost $187 million in 2011 to offshore tax havens.

"Companies that are dodging taxes to the federal government are also dodging taxes that they pay to states," he points out. Corporations argue it's perfectly legal for them to keep the profits they make in another country overseas, and pay the local taxes. Smith says a simple reform, often a single page, has already closed the loophole in Montana and Oregon.

6 School Districts Get Grant to Help Cut Cost

Six school districts in Kentucky have received a $40,000 grant for a pilot program to help find ways to cut costs. The initiative is designed to save school systems across the state millions of dollars.

The Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the American Productivity and Quality Center have partnered to "train and implement process and performance management techniques among the six districts." The districts that received funding from the state Department of Education include Daviess, Boone, Garrard, Lee, Martin and Nelson counties.

Nine other school districts received $10,000 each to audit current leadership processes to "determine how best to improve performance in all processes," the news release said. The main aim is to promote a more effective and efficient use of resources, especially in administration and operation. Another goal is to put any net savings toward better classroom instruction. The American Productivity and Quality Center says it has documented more than $120 million in savings among school districts with which it has worked in the last decade.