News 11-12-2012

Minor Damage Reported After 4.3 Magnitude Earthquake

If you imagined you felt your house trembling Saturday afternoon, you was not alone and you wouldn't be wrong. According to the Kentucky's Division of Emergency Management, a 4.3 magnitude earthquake shool Eastern Kentucky. The tremor happened just after noon Saturday. The United States Geological Survey initially reported it to be a 5.3 magnitude, then it was reduced to a 4.3. The epicenter of the shallow, light earthquake was 0.7 miles deep under the Appalachian Mountains town of Blackey, near the Virginia border in Letcher Co. Although this is the largest magnitude earthquake Kentucky has felt in nearly 25 years, it's classified by the USGS as a minor earthquake. Kentucky's Division of Emergency Management says Perry County and Letcher County officials found cracks to drywall in some homes as a result of the earthquake. A few government buildings also had cracks in the floors. So far, no structural damage has been reported in Eastern Ky. "It doesn't appear like there's any major structural damage to any buildings that we've been made aware of. But it's a good time to remind people Kentucky is in earthquake country and you should know the earthquake drill stop cover and hold on," says Buddy Rogers with Kentucky Division of Emergency Management. This minor eathquake could be felt from Cincinnati all the way down to Atlanta.

KSP Investigating Accident on US 460 in Johnson Co.

Acording to a news release from the KSP, on Wednesday November 7, 2012 Post 9 Pikeville received a call of a single vehicle accident on U.S. 460 in the Barnetts Creek community of Johnson County. Information obtained at the scene indicates that 32 year old William Salisbury of Langley, Ky. was traveling Eastbound on U.S. 460 when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed the Westbound lane and struck a rock wall. Salisbury was air lifted to Cabell Huntington Hospital where he passed away Thursday November 8, 2012 as a result of his injuries. Salisbury was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. The collision remains under investigation by KSP Trooper Dustin Thompson. Salisbury funeral was held on Sunday.

Reward Offered Regarding Road Sign Thefts

The Johnson County Fiscal Court is offering a $2500 Reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons stealing road signs from county roadways. Johnson County Judge/Executive Tucker Daniel said theft of road signs is a continuing problem that threatens the safety of the general public. “Road Signs are used by Police, Fire & Rescue, Ambulances, and other agencies in cases of emergency to locate residences, accident scenes and other locations when responding to 911 calls or other public safety issues. The theft or destruction of these signs pose a significant threat to their ability to do their job in a timely manner which could have catastrophic results in some cases,” Judge Daniel said. “People who steal or destroy road signs may think it’s a harmless prank, but it is a serious criminal act that comes with serious consequences. We will prosecute offenders if we catch them and we are hopeful this reward will encourage someone to come forward with information,” Daniel said. “This is not a small issue to us. It costs tax-payers thousands of dollars a year to replace signs and every time a sign is taken, the safety risk to families in that area is increased,” Daniel added. $2500 dollars is a lot of money but it is worth it if we can help stop this senseless vandalism and we can pay the reward anonymously if the information proves valid, the Judge said and encouraged anyone with information to call the Judge’s office at 606-789-2550, the Sheriffs office or Paintsville City Police Department.

Lawrence Co. Sheriff's Office Searching for Man Possibly INvolved in a Video Store Burglary

According to the Lawrence Co. Sheriff's Office, they are asking for the public's help with information pertaining to a video store burglary at the New World Video store, that happened this past weekend.  Officials say if anyone has any information to please call the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office at 638-4368.Your identity can remain anonymous.

Man Injured in Accidental Shooting at a Floyd Co. Flea Market

According to Kentucky State Police, they say a man was accidentally shot over the weekend at a popular Floyd Co. flea market. Police sais a man was shot, when another man was inspecting guns at the Bull Creek Trade Center. William Fannin was shot in the foot when a gun being handled by another person nearby went off. The shooting took place at 8:30 a.m.  KSP Trooper Shaun Little said “there were two parties looking at weapons, and as one was looking at it, it discharged and struck the other man in the foot."  Little said Fannin was transported to a local hospital in a personal vehicle. The shooting is still under investigation by the Kentucky State Police. Trooper Dave Watkins is the investigating trooper.

Louisa Police Execute Search Warrant for Drugs; Arrest Made

According to a news release from the Louisa Police Dept., the Department with assistance from the Lawrence County Sheriff Department deputies and K-9 unit, executed a search warrant based on an investigation by Detective Greg Powers and Officer Steven Wilburn in reference to the trafficking of heroin. A significant amount of heroin, cash, drug paraphernalia were found during the search along with a small amount of pills and marijuana. “We are seeing a growth in the presence of heroin in Louisa mostly due to the increasing cost of pills. Based on other investigations and information we will be making more arrested soon.” stated Chief Greg Fugitt. Arrested during the bust were Gregory Todd Isaac II and Sara Walker Isaac both were charged with Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 1st degree (Heroin), Possession of marijuana, Trafficking in a Controlled Substance 2nd degree, Illegal Possession of Legend Drug, Trafficking Controlled Substance with 1000 feet of School, and Drug Paraphernalia Possession. Both were lodged in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center on a $10,000 cash bond. Chief Fugitt would like to also thank County Attorney Michael Hogan for his assistance during the investigation.

TECO Layoffs Affect 90 in E. Ky.

Officials with TECO Coal Corporation on Friday announced the layoffs of around 90 people from several different mines across the region. Perry County Coal, a subsidiary of TECO, will be losing around six employees from support and administrative staff, but no coal miners. Back at the first of the year TECO announced the company would layoff 13 percent of their workforce at Perry County Coal due to the economic downturn in the coal industry. This translated to around 85 people, most of whom were coal miners. Paul Matney, personnel director for TECO, said that while around two-thirds of the 90 people affected in the current round of layoffs work in the area of coal production, most of those will be coming from the Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Company in Pike County. Matney said the company is remaining hopeful that the future of coal could mean these jobs will be coming back. They have very closely watched the markets and adjusted their production, and thus their workforce, so they could avoid having one major layoff or shutting down a mine. All of the company’s mines will remain open at this time, though Matney noted with a smaller workforce and lower production numbers. Those affected by the current round of layoffs were notified on Thursday and Friday morning.

Critics Says Prescription Drug Law Has Negatives

Gov. Steve Beshear recently touted the success of a new law that cracks down on prescription drug abuse. But critics of the law complain those claims are overblown and the law's negative effects are being ignored. Gregory Hood, governor of the Kentucky chapter of the American College of Physicians recently told the Courier-Journal that the law has prompted some practices to require eight-page written agreements with patients. He also said the number of administrative tasks and follow-up visits required by the law prevent doctors from treating other patients.

Income Tax Revenue Boosts State Budget In October

Income tax revenue rose in Kentucky in October while sales tax receipts declined sharply, sending mixed signals about economic recovery in the state. Budget Director Mary Lassiter said Friday that General Fund revenue rose by 3.7 percent for the month, largely thanks to growth in individual and corporate income tax receipts. At the same time, Lassiter said she's concerned about lackluster collections from the state sales tax and from the coal severance tax. "Revenues remain on pace to meet budgeted levels, but we are closely watching several accounts, which have recently underperformed," Lassiter said in a statement. Individual income tax collections rose 3.7 percent for the month to nearly $303 million, and property tax collections skyrocketed by nearly 90 percent to $32.5 million. Sales tax collections fell by 2.5 percent to $297 million. And coal severance tax revenue nosedived by 41 percent to $16.7 million, largely because coal sales declined in a slumping market. Revenue from the state's cigarette tax, which had been in a free fall, actually rose in October by 5.4 percent to just over $20 million. Cigarette tax revenue began a decline when Kentucky approved a 30-cent-per-pack tax increase some three years ago.
Road Fund revenues rose 19 percent to $135.9 million in October, largely because of rising vehicle and fuel sales. Lassiter said the spike helped the state to rebound from lower-than-projected revenues since July. The fuel tax generated more than $76 million in October. The motor vehicle license tax accounted for another $42.4 million. "October's surge in Road Fund receipts brings year-to-date revenues back in line with projections used in the budgeting process," she said. Kentucky continues to operate under a tight budget. Lassiter, as the governor's point person on financial matters, has led the state through multiple budget cuts since 2008. Nearly all state government programs and services have been affected.

Emergency road aid funds awarded to Magoffin Co.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet today announced that the Magoffin County Fiscal Court will receive $18,300 in County Road Aid emergency funds. These funds will be used for slide repairs on Bill Howard Drive (CR 1174A). “It is important that we help cities and counties fund emergency repairs to local roadways, because those routes are vital links in the state’s transportation network,” Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. “Solid transportation infrastructure is vital in Magoffin County and across the Commonwealth.” The Magoffin County Fiscal Court is responsible for administering the work.

Coal Jobs Returning To Pike County

An eastern Kentucky official says nearly 150 coal jobs are returning to the area. Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said in a statement on Tuesday that two different coal mines are bringing a total of about 150 miners back to work. He cited new orders for coal as the reason the companies are bringing back workers. Rutherford said he hopes the move helps "boost our local economy" and is a sign that the trend of cutting jobs in the industry is over.

PSC Accepts Settlement in Big Sandy RECC Rate Case

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has accepted a proposed settlement in a rate adjustment case filed by Big Sandy RECC. Under the agreement Big Sandy RECC reached with the Kentucky office of attorney general, the utility will receive its requested 3.7 percent increase in annual revenue. Its annual revenue will increase by about $911,000, to about $25.3 million. But the settlement changes the manner in which the additional revenue will be generated. Less will come through the flat monthly customer charge and more from usage-based energy charges, according to a PSC news release. The PSC approved the settlement in an order issued Wednesday and allowed the new rates to take effect from the first of this month. Big Sandy RECC had proposed to increase the monthly fee for residential customers in three annual steps, from the current $10.38 to $12.87 this year, $15.50 next year and $18 in 2014. The settlement allows an immediate increase to $12.69 and a further increase in a year to $15 per month. The settlement calls for the residential customer charge per kilowatt-hour (a kilowatt-hour is the amount of electricity used by a 100-watt light bulb in 10 hours) to increase from 8.886 cents to 9.083 cents initially. When the monthly charge rises to $15, the charge per kilowatt-hour will decrease to 8.9 cents. For a customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, the total monthly bill initially will increase by $4.28, with another 48-cent-per-month increase in a year, bringing the total monthly increase to $4.76. Big Sandy RECC serves about 13,200 customers in Breathitt, Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Magoffin, Martin and Morgan counties. It is one of 16 rural electric distribution cooperatives that own and purchase electricity from East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc.

The settlement agreement commits Big Sandy RECC to continuing existing demand-side management and energy efficiency programs and to expanding those programs in the future. In its order, the PSC said it “is encouraged by the commitments Big Sandy has made in this case,” adding that it is “appropriate to encourage Big Sandy and all other electric energy providers to make a greater effort to offer cost-effective demand-side management and other energy efficiency programs.” Big Sandy RECC filed its application for a rate adjustment on April 19, saying it needed additional revenue to maintain its financial integrity and comply with its loan agreements. Big Sandy RECC’s last rate increase was in April 2009. The Kentucky Office of Attorney General was the only other party to the case. The settlement agreement was filed on Sept. 17 and was the subject of a PSC hearing on Oct. 4. The PSC’s order, other documents in the case and a video of the hearing are available on the PSC website, psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2012-00030.

Hunting Amendment Wins In Kentucky

Kentucky voters have approved a measure that makes hunting and fishing a constitutional right in the state. With 14 percent of the vote counted Tuesday night, the constitutional amendment received approval from 180,709 voters, or 84.1 percent, and was rejected by 34,013, or 15.8 percent. The effort is backed by the National Rifle Association, which has pushed similar measures in other states to try to prevent any possible future attempt to ban hunting. Some have said the amendment isn't necessary because there's no threat to eliminate hunting or fishing rights.

Domestic Violence Awareness Begins Young

Domestic violence may be as old as humankind, but a lot more people are conscious of it now than was the case before the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed 25 years ago October. Before 1987, violence in the home was "a private, quiet, domestic issue," according to Jessica Morgan, prevention coordinator with the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association. She says that, fortunately, times have changed. While crisis intervention remains crucial, Morgan says a "giant effort" has been made to increase awareness. For instance, the KDVA is now exploring creative ways to educate children about domestic violence, while keeping them safe. "So what we're doing is trying to think creatively about how to increase the protective factors for our Kentucky youth in order to prevent violence." Morgan says the goal of her organization is to create a "constant reminder," not just a month-long campaign. Last year alone in Kentucky, Morgan says, the state's 15 domestic violence shelters received more than 11,000 crisis calls. "That is a lot of calls. That's a lot of people seeking help." According to findings from the National Violence Against Women study, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.