Local News 7-14-2014

HRMC Employees Vote No on Proposed Contract; No Strike as of Now

Union workers at Highlands Regional Medical Center, have ‘overwhelmingly’ rejected the latest proposed contract offered by management. Service Employees International Union 1199 director Joyce Gibson said the decision not to call a strike at this time was made to keep the two sides talking, in an effort to avoid a work stoppage that neither side wants. Union negotiators are expected to return back to the bargaining table Thursday, July 17 with HRMC management, to try and hammer out a final offer. If workers again reject a contract the following day, Gibson said the union would likely issue a 10-day strike notice at that time. This notice is required by law, even though the current contract ends July 19. She said workers would simply work without a contract during the notice.

The primary source of contention is over employee health insurance, in particular coverage for spouses. Under the current contract, the hospital provides coverage to employees and their spouses. However, when negotiations began on a new contract over a month ago, the hospital sought to end coverage for spouses. According to the Floyd Co. Times, HRMC President and CEO Harold “Bud” Warman justified the cuts by saying in a statement released last week that Highlands is trying to deal with recent changes in the health care system that have put a squeeze on small community hospitals. Again the two sides will be back in discussions on Thursday in Paintsville.

Deputies find Marijuana Growing in a Hidden Field in Floyd Co.

The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department received an anonymous tip last week about possible marijuana growing in a field. The tip said the deputies could find the plants growing in a field along Cow Creek Road in Prestonsburg. Upon arrival, investigators said they could imediately smell the plants and eventually found 59 marijuana plants with a street value around $120,000. Sheriff Deputy Landon Hall said it looked like a professional set up because of the layout of the plants, as well as the location.

Deputies went on to say that the plants were near a stream, so that the plants would have a constant source of water. The Floyd Co. Sheriff’s Department is continuing to search for those responsible.

Identity Released of Man Killed in a Knott County Crash

The Kentucky State Police has released the identity of a man killed in a Thursday afternoon crash in Knott Co. The man was identified as, 76 year-old Johnny Childers. Childers died when the SUV he was operating, collided with a Pepsi truck. Police said the fatal crash happened near Carr Creek Lake in Knott County around three at the junction of Highway 15 and Kentucky 160. Highway 15 was shut down for several hours, while emergency crews worked at the scene. KSP in Hazard are continuing to investigate the accident.

Sentencing Delayed for a Former Paintsville Doctor

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar has postponed the sentencing for a former Paintsville Dr., who pled guilty to a drug charge back in March. Dr. Rano BoFill attorney’s requested the sentencing delay, which was originally scheduled for today, July 14, but is now rescheduled for August 13, 2014. A telephone conference will be held on Friday, July 18 to determine if BoFill will be detained prior to the new sentencing date. BoFill pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully dispense Oxycodone in a federal case against a former Paintsville Pain Mgmt. business.

Michigan Man Arrested for Heroin Possession in Boyd Co.

A Michigan man was arrested over the weekend in Boyd Co. after Police say he hd heroin in a container of peanut butter. According to the Boyd County Sheriff's Dept., they had been conducting a drug investigation and located Deon Cohen leaving an Ashland Bus Station in a taxi cab when they pulled the cab over to speak with Cohen, who from Detroit, Michigan. When deputies searched the taxi and Cohen, they found a large amount of heroin mixed inside a peanut butter jar. Cohen told deputies he was heading to Portsmouth, Ohio. He was arrested and charged with possession and trafficking heroin and was lodged in the Boyd County Detention Center. No further information has been released at this time.

Kentucky Ends 2014 with $90 Million Shortfall

Kentucky's state government finished the 2014 fiscal year about $90 million short. State officials predicted they would collect $9.6 billion in taxes and fees in the fiscal year that ended June 30. But they collected $9.5 billion instead. The reason was what State Budget Director Jane Driskell called a significant slowdown in income tax collections. State income tax collections grew less than 1 percent from the 2013 fiscal year. Kentucky's road fund was also short about $22.2 million. The state made more money from the gas tax because the tax automatically increased as the wholesale price increased. But it was not enough to offset the fact that people are buying less fuel. Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has not said how he plans to make up for the shortfalls.

New Study shows Kentucky as one of the Most Politically Corrupt States

A new study suggests Kentucky is one of the ten most politically corrupt states in the country and taxpayers are suffering from it. Research published through the Public Administration Review suggests political corruption occurs in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Dakota and Alaska at a higher rate than the other states. Federal conviction rates of public officials from 1976 to 2008 were used to determine the level of political corruption in each state.

The study concludes the 10 most corrupt states could have saved $1,308 per person annually if corruption was reduced to an average level, relative to other states. A public official being caught breaking the law has a far-reaching economic impact, said Richard Crowe, a former economics professor at Hazard Community and Technical College. The states with the least amount of political corruption are Oregon, Washington and Minnesota, according to the research. The full study is available by visiting: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/puar.12212/pdf