Local News 7-3-2014 (Updated)

Fire Destroys Trucking Business in Floyd County

Fire crews from several fire departments in Floyd Co. were on scene Wednesday afternoon and evening, fighting a fire that eventually destroyed a trucking business. Officials say that nearly 70 firefighters from 13 departments responded to the blaze at Worldwide Equipment, located off of Ky. 1428, that’s according to Prestonsburg Fire Chief Bobby Carpenter. "The humidity, the heat, accessibility, and water supply was a major issue in this fire," Carpenter would add. The fire was reported about 4 p.m. Wednesday and officials think the fire may have started on the second floor attic of the building, which became unstable as fire spread through the ceiling. Chief Carpenter said the ceiling started to cave in early during the fire, forcing crews to evacuate and take a defensive stance. He said it was too dangerous for firefighters to stay inside. Prestonsburg city officials say there hasn't been such a large commercial fire such as this, since the mid-80s when a commercial lumber company burned. Fire crews stayed at the scene for several hours Wednesday and into early Thursday and will be back at the scene today, investigating what might have caused such a devastating fire.

New Allegations in Vote Buying Case in a Floyd Co. City

According to the Floyd Co Times, there has been new allegations of vote-buying in the city of Martin in Floyd Co, following a federal indictment. The indictment was handed down last week by a federal grand jury against Ray D. Hagans, charging him with one count each of false testimony and accepting payment for voting. Hagans allegedly lied while under oath, testifying in the vote-buying trial of former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and four others.

Hagans allegedly lied when he made the statement, “Mr. Howell and Mr. Castle did come over to my house one time and offered me money to vote for [then-candidate and current Martin Mayor] Sam [Howell].” Hagans had previously made a written statement to authorities that Howell gave him $40 to vote him in the Martin mayor’s race and told him that he could keep his job with the city. He further alleged that Anthony Castle paid him another $50 to vote and campaign for Howell.

Floyd Co. Times says the indictment says Hagans knew those statements were false, “in that he had not taken money from Sam Howell or Anthony Castle to vote,” but the second count of the indictment alleges that, in weeks leading up to the Martin mayor’s election, Hagans did accept payment to vote, and further states that the payment was made by “S.H. and A.C.” Hagans has been ordered to appear July 21 in U.S. District Court.

Lawrence Co. Man Pleads Not Guilty to Variety of Charges

A Lawrence County, man, who pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and kidnapping, is expected to face the death penalty once prosecutors file notice with the court. Aaron Uhlmann, 41, of Webbville is facing charges of murder and kidnapping of his wife Jennifer Priddy, 54. Uhlmann was arrested by Lawrence Co. deputies in Carter County on December 20, 2013 after investigators in Lawrence County say he called 911 telling them he had beaten his wife.

Jennifer Priddy, 54, died at an area Hospital on March 11. Investigators say she was tied up and beaten by Uhlmann to the point where she suffered head injuries. Uhlmann remains in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, awaiting trial.

Floyd Co. Woman Sentenced to 2 Years for Disability Fraud

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar has sentenced the first of three Floyd Co. residents, convicted of Social Security disability fraud. Ginger Michelle Halbert Stumbo received the most lenient sentence possible, based on her cooperation with authorities and lack of a criminal record. Stumbo pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to conspiracy, federal program fraud and aggravated identity theft. In return for her guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed six counts of Social Security fraud, as well as a conspiracy charge in an unrelated vote-buying case.

Judge Thapar sentenced Stumbo to a statutory mandated 24 months on the identity theft charge and a total of one day for the conspiracy and fraud charges, after noting her cooperation with authorities. In addition, Thapar also ordered that Stumbo be held jointly and severally liable, along with the other defendents (former Martin Mayor Ruth Thomasine Robinson and Rita Whicker), for repaying $176,949.71 in restitution. Robinson and Whicker took their cases to trial and were convicted on all counts.

According to the indictment against the women, Robinson and Whicker conspired with Stumbo to hire her as a city employee, while writing her paychecks in her son’s name, so Stumbo could continue drawing disability benefits.

Ashland Man Arraigned in Shaken Baby Case

The 20-year-old man arrested for what police say is a case of Shaken Baby Syndrome was in court Wednesday morning. Joseph W. Blankenship, of Ashland, has been charged with Criminal Abuse of a child less than 12 years of age. Blankenship was arraigned on the charge during a hearing in Boyd District Court. Blankenship entered a not guilty plea and had his bond was set at $10,000. Ashland Police says Blankenship admitted to shaking his girlfriend's 2-month-old son while babysitting. Police said he told them the baby was crying and wouldn't stop. Investigators said the mother was at work when it happened. The baby remains in critical condition. Blankenship remains in the Boyd County Detention Center.

Road Projects Delayed Because of Federal Shortfall

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says the state has postponed $185 million worth of construction projects because of a looming shortfall in the federal Highway Trust Fund. The delayed projects include the widening of Interstate 65 and various highway repaving projects. Beshear blamed Congress for the shortfall and said he hopes they can pass a bill fixing the problem so the projects can begin this fall. Kentucky receives about $650 million each year from the federal Highway Trust Fund. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx appeared at a news conference with Beshear on Wednesday at the Capitol and said unless Congress acts, states can expect cuts of 28 percent on average. Foxx said Congress could make up the shortfall by taxing overseas profits of American corporations. But Republican lawmakers oppose that idea because it would raise taxes.

State Animal Control Board Offering Funding For Animal Shelter Construction or Improvement

The Kentucky Animal Control Advisory Board (ACAB) is seeking applications for grants for animal shelter construction and improvement projects. Applicants will compete for $60,000 in grant funds. Twenty percent of the total project cost must be contributed locally. Contributions may include cash, land, and/or labor. Only county or urban-county governments may apply. An application may be submitted by one county or by multiple counties under one application. The proposed project must be on land owned by the applicant government and must be completed within one year of receipt of grant funds.

Applications and more information may be downloaded from the ACAB website at www.kyspayneuter.com. The deadline for submitting an application is July 15. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. For more information, contact Joyce Parman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

KSP Increasing Patrols During Fourth Of July Holiday

Kentuckians will see increased patrols beginning Wednesday, July 2, as troopers prepare for a busy July fourth holiday travel weekend. As part of the ‘Blue Lights Across the Bluegrass' safe driving campaign, troopers will be maximizing their efforts to save lives by arresting impaired drivers, ticketing speeders and enforcing the seat belt law.*

With this increased enforcement effort, KSP troopers will be conducting saturation patrols and safety checkpoints across the state. You'll see more troopers on the road and enforcement will be stringent. Impaired drivers will be arrested and motorists exceeding posted speed limits or not using seat belts will be ticketed. Citizens can help save lives by reporting impaired, erratic or speeding drivers to the KSP toll-free hotline at 1-800-222-5555. Callers will remain anonymous and should provide a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.

4th of July Fireworks Displays/Activities

Paintsville – Thursday, July 4:
Free Swimming at Paintsville Pool begging @ 6 PM until Fireworks show @ 10 PM. Fun inflatables, music and food will also be available on Escom Chandler City Park, which is near the city pool.