LOCAL NEWS

Local News 7-23-2014


Lawrence Co. Man Charged with Sexual Assault

A Lawrence Co. man has been indicted on charges of Sodomy First Degree, 1 count - Use of a Minor under 16 in a Sexual Performance, Promoting a Minor Under Sixteen in a Sexual Performance and Possession/View Matter Portraying Sexual Performance By a Minor. Harold Keith Shannon, 66, was arrested on June 12 by the KSP. Police say on or about the Summer of 2008, Harold Keith Shannon knowingly and unlawfully engaged in deviate sexual intercourse with a 14 year old. The indictment also charges that on or about December 13, 2013, through June 3, 2014, Defendant induced the minor to engage in a sexual performance, namely the production of various photos of her sexual parts, according to the indictment.

Man Arrested Following Bank Robbery in Hazard

A grand jury is scheduled to hear the case of a man accused of robbing a Perry County bank. Police say Floyd Fletcher stole more than $2,000 from the People's Bank and Trust inside Walmart in Hazard, after he went up to the front counter of Bank with a small pocket knife and demanded money. Unfortunately for Fletcher, a Hazard Police Officer was inside that same WalMart when the robbery occurred and that officer followed Fletcher out to his vehicle and made the arrest. Fletcher of course has pleaded not guilty to the robbery charge. Hazard Police are continuing to investigate this crime.

Troopers Investigating Gas Station Robberies

For the 2nd time in less than a week, Police are investigating another gas station robbery in Eastern Ky. The first robbery occurred in Floyd Co. at the Skeans Marathon @ Bull Creek along US 23. In that robbery a male entered the store and demanded money from the female cashier, who complied with the intruder demand with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber fled the scene on foot. He was described as average height, last seen wearing black pants, a black mask, and a black sweatshirt with a white skeletal design.

The latest robbery happened in Knott County at the Double Kwik at 28 West Highway 80 in Hindman just before 4 AM Sunday morning. Police said an employee was outside when they were approached by someone "covered up" and asked them to go inside and get the money. Police add that the person got away with about $500. No injuries were reported in either robbery and police have not made any arrests at this time. The owners of Skeans Marathon is offering a reward in the amount of $5000.00 for information leading to the arrest, conviction and subsequent incarceration of this individual. If anyone has any information on these robberies, you’re ask to contact the Prestonsburg Police Dept. or the KSP.

Alltech has BIG Plans in Eastern Kentucky

A Nicholasville-based animal nutrition company is planning to build a new bourbon distillery and aquaculture and poultry farms in Pikeville as part of an initiative to develop business in eastern Kentucky. Alltech will get $13.7 million in support from the state to widen roads and build a bridge to accommodate the new businesses announced Monday. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet would provide up to $5.73 million for an access road wide enough to accommodate tractor-trailers to the site of the farms. The state also will provide $8 million for a bridge connecting the access road with U.S. 23. The distillery will be in downtown Pikeville. Alltech co-founder Deirdre Lyons says said construction would start on the Dueling Barrels distillery when engineering and demolition were completed on the site Alltech now owns. Construction on the poultry and aquaculture farms will start when the access road and bridge are completed. The project is part of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, initiative, which focuses on reviving eastern Kentucky's economy. The aquaculture and poultry farms will be on 380 acres known as Marion Branch, formerly the site of a surface coal mine. The aquaculture facility will produce 1.2 million pounds of fish a year. The poultry farm will house only hens that lay eggs.

Child Health and Education Improve in Kentucky, but Poverty Prevails

While a year-by-year indicator of child well-being shows steady improvement in the health and education of children in the Bluegrass State, the number of children living in poverty is continuing to grow. The results, published in the 25th annual national Kids Count Data Book, were released Tuesday. Terry Brooks, executive director for Kentucky Youth Advocates, says a bright spot is over the last two decades the number of children without health insurance has been cut in half. "Health is an unqualified win," says Brooks. "Kids are now covered with health insurance who previously were not." The annual report is based on 16 indicators of child well being. According to the report's state-by-state rankings, Kentucky is 28th in childrens' health and 30th in education. Brooks calls the situation with Kentucky schools a "classic good news, bad news situation." Over the past 25 years reading and math proficiency have improved, more children are attending preschool, and high school graduation rates have increased. But Brooks cautions Kentucky faces persistent problems with student achievement.

"We still have two out of three kids who can't read at proficiency in fourth grade," he says. "We have seven out of 10 kids who still can't do math at proficiency at eighth grade." According to Kids Count, poverty is Kentucky's "albatross." The percentage of children living in poverty has grown by 13 percent since the first report in 1990. Brooks says over the past four years more than one in every four Kentucky children has lived in poverty, and the poverty "crisis" is something state lawmakers could do something about. "There are common sense, bipartisan solutions on the table," notes Brooks. "Like a refundable state earned income tax credit, increasing child care supports to 200 percent of poverty level, and tackling predatory lending, which is really a plague across the Commonwealth." Despite the state's economic troubles, this year's Kids Count report ranks Kentucky 35th in the nation for overall child well-being. Brooks says that's an improvement after years of Kentucky's near-perennial ranking in the bottom 10.

Labor Department Grant to Assist Unemployed

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky is getting more than $6 million from the federal government to help people who have been out of work for a long time. Gov. Steve Beshear's office says the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Labor Department will be used to create and expand job-driven training programs for laid-off workers. The state intends to use the funds to provide services such as on-the-job training, customized training and apprenticeships. Funding will also be used for coaching, counseling and direct job placement to help connect laid-off workers with jobs. The state also plans to use the grant to further develop and strengthen partnerships between workforce and industry organizations and align services with other federal, state and local programs.

Local News 7-22-2014

 

Lawrence Co. Fire Destroys Home, Injures One

Firefighters in Lawrence Co. were busy early Monday morning fighting a house fire along Route 581 near the Ulysses area of Lawrence Co. south of Louisa. Officials say the fire left the home destroyed and left one of the two people with minor injuries, who were inside the burning structure. The fire was said to have started around 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. There is no word on what caused the fire at this time. The Lowmansville, Cherryville, and Inez Fire Departments all helped in fighting this fire. No further information has been released at this time.

Troopers Investigating Gas Station Robbery

For the 2nd time in less than a week, Police are investigating another gas station robbery in Eastern Ky. The first robbery occurred in Floyd Co. at the Skeans Marathon @ Bull Creek along US 23. In that robbery a male entered the store and demanded money from the female cashier, who complied with the intruder demand with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber fled the scene on foot. He was described as average height, last seen wearing black pants, a black mask, and a black sweatshirt with a white skeletal design.

The latest robbery happened in Knott County at the Double Kwik at 28 West Highway 80 in Hindman just before 4 AM Sunday morning. Police said an employee was outside when they were approached by someone "covered up" and asked them to go inside and get the money. Police add that the person got away with about $500. No injuries were reported in either robbery and police have not made any arrests at this time.

The owners of Skeans Marathon is offering a reward in the amount of $5000.00 for information leading to the arrest, conviction and subsequent incarceration of this individual. If anyone has any information on these robberies, you’er ask to contact the Prestonsburg Police Dept. or the KSP.

Third Person makes Plea in a Greenup Co. Double Murder Case

A third person has pleaded guilty to their role in a double murder case out of Greenup County. Sammy Bertram, 24, of Grayson has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and is expected to get a sentence between 5 and 10 years for the crime. Bertram is scheduled to be sentenced August 15 in Lewis County, were he faces unrelated charges of drinking while driving. Bertram was one of five people arrested and charged in connection with the murders of Jeff Long and Pamela Willis. Long, 45, and Willis, 21 were both found dead in Long’s burned out trailer on Leatherwood Road in February 2008.

In 2010, Mitchell Royster, 27, of Garrison was charged with two counts of capital murder and one count of 1st degree arson and in February 2013, Bertram, Willie Burns, 25, of Grayson and Chrissie Royster, 25, of Grayson were each charged with two counts of murder, robbery, arson and tampering with physical evidence in the deaths. Another person, Ashley Craft, 24, of Garrison, Ky., was also charged with complicity to commit robbery.

All four were arrested and charged after Mitchell Royster made a plea deal with prosecutors in February 2013, pleading guilty to manslaughter. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison and he agreed to testify against the others as part of his plea deal. Ashley Craft will be sentenced Jul 24. She recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and her plea deal calls for a 10 year sentence, but she will only serve two tears. Willie Burns has a status hearing at the end of the month and Chrissie Royster’s trial is set for October 2014.

Arch Coal Idles Mine Complex in Virginia and Kentucky

More bad news for the coal industry, as officials with Arch Coal says they are idling the Cumberland River Coal Company complex in Wise County, Virginia, and Letcher County, Kentucky. Officials said more than 210 full-time positions are being eliminated by this move. Arch Coal CEO John Eaves says the company is responding to market challenges for metallurgical coal used to make steel. Eaves said the company's strategy is to shift its portfolio toward higher-margin, lower-cost metallurgical coal operations. The mining complex had previously shuttered two contract mines during the second quarter of 2013. Idling the operations will reduce the company's 2014 metallurgical coal sales volumes by about 200,000 tons. Arch Coal now expects to ship between 6.3 million and 6.9 million tons of metallurgical coal for 2014.

More than $2.1M Approved for Farm Projects

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - More than $2.1 million has been approved for agricultural diversification projects in Kentucky. The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board says the funding goes to 19 projects, ranging from a farm-to-table program in Louisville to a livestock slaughter facility in McLean County to a shared-use equipment program in Carter County. Gov. Steve Beshear is chairman of the development board, which awarded the funds Friday. He says the projects help increase market opportunities, provide education and enhance on-farm investments. He says farmers are able to use the fund to help grow, diversify or upgrade businesses or farm operations.

Groundbreaking held for New Magoffin Co. High School

Excitement was in the air Monday, as county and city officials, as well as teachers, students and parents joined members of the Magoffin Co, B.O.E. for the groundbreaking of the new Magoffin County High School. The new school will be built along the Mountain Parkway in Salyersville. Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Stanley Holbrook said, "This is the largest education project and most expensive project to ever be accomplished in Magoffin County."

Construction is scheduled to begin in August, with the building to be used by July 2016. Crews are currently working on finishing the football field, which Holbrook said will be ready for the first home game on August 22. The construction of the new high school will be the first time Magoffin has ever built a school at state high school specifications, Holbrook said. The project, totaling at roughly $40 million, is hoped to positively affect education and athletics for decades to come, Holbrook said.

The high school and middle school students currently still share the Magoffin County High School building, due to the middle school being damaged by the EF3 March 2012 tornado. When the high school moves to the new location on the Mountain Parkway, the current high school building will become the middle school.

 

Local News 7-21-2014

 

HRMC Management/ Employees Agree on a New Contract

After weeks of negotiations, members of the Service Employees International Union approved a contract offer from Highlands Health System Friday evening. 207 Highlands employees agreed on the new contract offered by HRMC management and by doing so, avoided a potential strike. Negotiations began as members of SEIU District 1199 became unhappy with proposed health care benefits including high deductibles and removing spouses off of their plans, but Hospital officials say the cuts are necessary to keep the hospital financially viable.

The new contract is said to include pay increases each year of the three year contract, hourly wage increases for patient access, billing, phlebotomists, and ER assistants. Also, one of the primary source of contention was 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. Part of this new contract allows spouses to remain on the employees insurance, but at a small cost to the employee. Union employees began voting on the proposal at 6:30am Friday morning and the voting remained open through 8:00p.m. Union representatives say after a hard battle of negotiations employees ultimately decided what they can and cannot live with through this vote.

Floyd Co. Man Headed Back to Prison for Stealing Electricity

A Floyd County man is headed back to prison, after admitting to a violation of his federal probation. According to a Floyd Co Times report, Manis Risner, 55, of Martin admitted he had stolen electricity by using jumper cables to connect his electric box to an electric line. Risner had been one of five people indicted back in September 2009 as part of a conspiracy to travel to Pennsylvania to illegitimately obtain Methadone and prescription painkillers. Risner would later plead guilty to conspiracy and money laundering and admitted to providing a portion of the pills he received to another person for resale. Risner was originally sentenced in November 2010 to 46 months in prison, but was released in March 2013.

On Wednesday, Risner admitted to the electricity theft and Judge Amul Thapar sentenced him to serve a recommended nine months in prison. It was requested by Risner’s attorney, for him to be given some time before reporting to prison, because Risner was recovering from a recent heart attack and it was also requested that Risner serve his time in the Federal Medical Center Lexington, which Judge Thapar agreed to give Risner until Aug. 18 to report to prison.

Police Continue Search for Robbery Suspect in Floyd Co.

Police in Prestonsburg again is asking the public for their help in locating a suspect wanted in connection with continuing a robbery that took place at the Skeans Marathon @ Bull Creek in Floyd Co. Police Chief Mike Omerod said the robbery took place Sunday morning at around 3:30 a.m. A male entered the business and demanded money from the female cashier, who complied with the intruder demand with an undisclosed amount of cash. The female cashier t old police that the man said he had a weapon, but Chief Omerod didn’t think he showed it. After receiving the cash, the robber fled the scene on foot towards Town Branch Road in Prestonsburg. The man was described as average height, last seen wearing black pants, a black mask, and a black sweatshirt with a white skeletal design.

If anyone has any information pertaining to this robbery, Chief Omerod said to please contact the Prestonsburg Police Department at 606-886-1010. The owners of Skeans Marathon is offering a reward in the amount of $5000.00 for information leading to the arrest, conviction and subsequent incarceration of this individual. No one was injured during this robbery.

Kentucky among States with Highest Earthquake Risks

A new federal earthquake map dials up the shaking hazard just a bit for about half of the United States and lowers it for nearly a quarter of the nation. The U.S. Geologic Survey updated Thursday its national seismic hazard maps for the first time since 2008, taking into account research from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast and the surprise 2011 Virginia trembler. Parts of 16 states have the highest risk for earthquakes: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Date Set for Russell Wet-Dry Vote

Residents in Russell will vote in September whether to allow alcohol sales in the city. Greenup County Judge Executive, Bobby Carpenter says the wet-dry vote will take place September, 23 in the city’s three precincts. He says the local Kroger was behind a petition drive that led to the special election. Carpenter says a petition with more than 800 names was submitted to his office earlier this week. 451 verified names were needed to put the issue on the ballot. A wet-dry vote was held for all of Greenup County failed to pass back in January.

Kentuckians Urged to Get Outdoors During National Park and Recreation Month

LEAD: Kentuckians are being encouraged to venture beyond their homes and offices, and head outdoors during "National Park and Recreation Month." Greg Stotelmyer has more.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentuckians are being encouraged to venture beyond their homes and offices this month, and head outdoors during National Park and Recreation Month, running throughout July. Part of National Park and Recreation Month is the theme "Out is In." Lauren Hoffman, director of marketing and communications with the National Recreation and Park Association, says her organization is challenging Americans to move an indoor activity like a work meeting or meal into the outdoors. She hopes this will lead to people developing a more active lifestyle throughout the year. "There are various studies that show parks and outdoor time can really help improve your mental health and reduce stress," says Hoffman. "Parks and recreation provide the opportunity to get outside and get physically active."

Hoffman says a recent study shows about 30 percent of Americans don't spend any time outdoors on a daily basis. The same study found that even those who manage to get outdoors are typically there for less than 30 minutes per day. Brad Chambers, director of Lexington Parks and Recreation, says getting kids away from their video games is also a challenge. "The question is what can we do to encourage kids to get back outside and realize the value of play, not to mention the physical exercise component and how valuable that is," says Chambers. "The obesity rate for kids nowadays is horrendous, and part of our responsibility is to combat that as much as we can."

Chambers says in Lexington they've tried to expand what parks offer to children beyond the typical playgrounds and ball fields experience. He notes a variety of summer camps as well as nature-based adventure programs. "It demonstrates how many great opportunities there are to really get back to nature," says Chambers. "Finding out what fireflies look like in a natural habitat is just one example.

"Operation School Shoe/Sock” a HUGE Success

Organizers with Operation School Shoe say over 500 pairs of shoes were given out to Johnson Co/Paintsville school children Saturday free of charge. The event took place at the Paintsville Recreation Center and was the third year for the event, put on by local churches, businesses, and private donations. For the first time, socks were also handed out to the kids when they received their new pair of shoes, available to students in the Johnson Co. and Paintsville Independent School System, who might not otherwise be able to have a good pair of shoes to start the school year. Efforts are already underway for next year’s Operation School Shoe/Sock event.

 

Local News 7-18-2014

Drug Round-Up in Johnson Co. Nets Several Arrest

The Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Office conducted another drug round-up Thursday morning, as efforts continue to get drug users and dealers out of Johnson County. According to the Sheriff’s Office, a total of 10 people were indicted by a grand jury that were wanted in this round-up and as of news time, 8 of those 10 were arrested Thursday. Sheriff Dwayne Price says there are some new names in this roundup as well as some repeat offenders, but he says these roundups are important to keep sending the message that drugs will not be tolerated in Johnson Co. and you will continue to see these drug round-ups. The following is a list of those people arrested on Thursday.

- Brandon Bolden
- Brandie Gibson
- Mary Shaina Kestner
- John F. King, Jr.
- Michael Walters
- Melissa A. Tackett
- James Fredrick Blanton
- Charlene Flannery Hensley

Police Continue Search for Robbery Suspect Who Robbed a Prestonsburg Business

Police in Prestonsburg again is asking the public for their help in locating a suspect wanted in connection with continuing a robbery that took place at the Skeans Marathon @ Bull Creek in Floyd Co. Police Chief Mike Omerod said the robbery took place Sunday morning at around 3:30 a.m. A male entered the business and demanded money from the female cashier, who complied with the intruder demand with an undisclosed amount of cash. The female cashier t old police that the man said he had a weapon, but Chief Omerod didn’t think he showed it. After receiving the cash, the robber fled the scene on foot towards Town Branch Road in Prestonsburg. The man was described as average height, last seen wearing black pants, a black mask, and a black sweatshirt with a white skeletal design.

If anyone has any information pertaining to this robbery, Chief Omerod said to please contact the Prestonsburg Police Department at 606-886-1010. The owners of Skeans Marathon is offering a reward in the amount of $5000.00 for information leading to the arrest, conviction and subsequent incarceration of this individual. No one was injured during this robbery.

Sentencing Delayed for a Former Eastern Ky. Mayor, Daughter

The sentencing hearing for a former Eastern Ky mayor and her daughter, has been delayed until later this year. Earlier this year, Ruth Thomasine Robinson, 69 and her daughter, Christine Whicker, 42, were both found guilty on several counts of Social Security fraud, which is a Federal offense. The new sentencing date has been set for October 7 in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, according to court officials. Robinson will also be sentenced on that day for an unrelated federal vote-buying conviction. According to WSAZ, the delay is over how much in restitution the mother and daughter will be required to repay.

Robinson and Whicker were convicted on eight separate counts, including conspiracy, federal program fraud, theft of social security disability benefits and aggravated identity theft. From 2006 until January 2013, Halbert was purportedly working on a volunteer basis, but was secretly being paid with federal funds. Reports indicate that the funds used to pay Halbert were intended for the Martin Community Center and the Martin Housing Authority. To conceal the scheme, the defendants allegedly arranged for the checks to be made payable to Halbert’s son.

All charges against another suspect, Ethel Clouse were dismissed in a motion by the U.S. Attorney and a fourth co-defendant, Ginger Halbert pleaded guilty to conspiracy, federal program fraud and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced to two years and one day last month. Whicker was the former director of the Martin Community Center. Halbert was a volunteer city employee. The four were indicted in October 2013.

Perry Co. Man Arrested/Charged with Indecent Exposure

According to a Floyd Co Times report, a Perry County man was arrested earlier this week in Prestonsburg, following claims by two women that he exposed himself at a local business. Larry Orosz, 52, of Combs in Perry Co. was arrested and charged with second-degree disorderly conduct, fourth-degree assault, second-degree indecent exposure and alcohol intoxication. The assault charge was recently amended to a menacing charge.

According to the Prestonsburg Police citation, one woman alleged that Orosz pinned her between two cars in the Wal-Mart parking lot and “exposed his private part to her,” while a second woman alleged that when she walked past his vehicle, he got out and exposed himself to her as well. The paper said Officer George Tussey said Orosz explained to him that the exposure was accidental, because he had a hole in his pants and the underwear he was wearing underneath were too small. Upon search of Orosz’s vehicle, police say they discovered an undisclosed number of women’s panties. Orosz was arrested and lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center under a $5,000 partially-secured bond. He is next scheduled to appear in court Aug. 26.

Governor Signs Order to Plug $91 Million Budget Shortfall

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has signed an order to plug a $91 million hole in Kentucky's $9.5 billion state budget. State officials announced the shortfall last week following sluggish collections on state income taxes. Beshear's order Wednesday cuts just $3 million in state spending. Beshear made up the rest by transferring money from other sources, including $21.2 million from the state's reserves. State officials said they had few options to make up the deficit because the shortfall came at the end of the fiscal year when most of the money had already been spent. Beshear's order also dealt with a $22.1 million shortfall in the state's road fund, with just $300,000 in cuts to construction projects. This was the 14th budget reduction Beshear has implemented since taking office in 2007.    

Operation School Shoe (O.S.S) this Saturday

Operation School Shoe will be held this tomorrow (Saturday), July 19th from 10:00 am -3:00 pm at the Paintsville Recreation Center. Operation School Shoe provides back to school shoes to Johnson County/Paintsville students who are in need. The student must be a student in Johnson County or Paintsville Independent schools and must be present & fit for their shoe by O.S.S volunteers. O.S.S is sponsored by Local churches, businesses, and private donations. For further information please call (270)-505-5487

 

Local News 7-17-2014

Identity Released of Woman Killed in a Magoffin Co. Crash

The identity of a woman killed in a Monday morning accident on the Mtn. Parkway in Magoffin Co. has been released. Kentucky State Police identified the woman as Christy Mullins, 34, of Pikeville. Police say Mullins was a passenger in a car that hit head-on with a semi around 11 A.M Monday. She was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Magoffin Co. Coroner’s Office. Troopers say the driver of the vehicle Mullins was driving in, lost control in a steep right curve and crossed into the eastbound lane, hitting the semi head-on. The driver of the car, Merion Phillips, from West Liberty, is listed in critical condition at Pikeville Medical Center. The driver of the semi was treated at the scene. The KSP is continuing to investigate this incident.

Police Continue Search for Robbery Suspect Who Robbed a Prestonsburg Business

Prestonsburg Police are continuing to investigate a robbery that took place at the Skeans Marathon @ Bull Creek in Floyd Co. According to Police Chief Mike Omerod, at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning a male entered the business and demanded money from the cashier. The man indicated that he had a weapon, but never showed the cashier. The female cashier complied with the intruder as per store policy and gave an unknown amount of money to the man, who then fled the store on foot towards Town Branch Road in Prestonsburg. No one was injured during the robbery. The man was described as average height, last seen wearing black pants, a black mask, and a black sweatshirt with a white skeletal design.

Chief Omerod said his department is investigating this robbery and ask that if anyone has any information pertaining to this robbery, to please contact the Prestonsburg Police Department at 606-886-1010. The owners of Skeans Marathon is offering a reward in the amount of $5000.00 for information leading to the arrest, conviction and subsequent incarceration of this individual.

Johnson Co. Man’s Motion for Bond Reduction Denied

A Johnson Co. man charged with murder in the death of a Sitka woman, has been denied his request to reduce his $300,000 cash bond. Circuit Judge Kimberly Childers, said Gary Ward, 37, of Meally, will remain behind bars, awaiting his trial of allegedly murdering Christina Barnett, 34, and abusing her corpse. Ward has also been charged with tampering with physical evidence. Ward was by the KSP back in October 2013.

Christina Barnett was last seen on Sept 18, 2013 when she told family members she was traveling to the London, Ky area with a man, but she never returned. On September 25, family and friends were searching along Rt. 80 in Knott County, when they found a decomposed body over a hill that would later be positively identified as Christina Barnett. Ward remains lodged in the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard.

HRMC Management/Employee Union Reps Back at the Bargaining Table

On Friday, Union workers at Highlands Regional Medical Center, ‘overwhelmingly’ rejected the latest proposed contract offered by HRMC management. Service Employees International Union 1199 director Joyce Gibson said the decision not to call a strike last week, 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 today (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 today in Paintsville.

Pikeville Airport Moves Closer to Getting Planes in the Air

A consultant says Appalachian Air has cleared another hurdle and can start working toward flying in and out of Pikeville. According to Luke Schmidt, who is an advisor for the new airport, said the Pikeville-Pike County Airport won't need a certification from the federal government before allowing the airline to start flying, however the Transportation Security Administration still must approve the airport's plan and security measures. Schmidt says until that approval comes through, there's no way to know when Appalachian Air can start flying, but he hopes for TSA approval within the next month.

State Auditor holds public hearings on fiscal health of rural hospitals

State Auditor, Adam Edelen, was in Prestonsburg Tuesday discussing small rural hospital networks. He says he believes folks in rural areas should have the same access to healthcare as those in more urban areas. However, with recent changes to healthcare laws and regulations ... some say it is tougher than ever to survive. Auditor Edelen says small hospitals are critical to their communities. "Rural hospitals aren't only primary drivers of healthcare in our communities, they tend to be some of our largest employers and tend to be our leading corporate citizens. So, you can't overstate the importance of rural hospitals to the communities they serve," explains Edelen. However, he says rural hospitals are in crisis which is why he is holding ten public hearings listening to challenges providers are facing. Edelen says it is his job to evaluate how efficiently public dollars are spent.

Labor Department Grant to Assist Unemployed

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky is getting more than $6 million from the federal government to help people who have been out of work for a long time. Gov. Steve Beshear's office says the Job-Driven National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Labor Department will be used to create and expand job-driven training programs for laid-off workers. The state intends to use the funds to provide services such as on-the-job training, customized training and apprenticeships. Funding will also be used for coaching, counseling and direct job placement to help connect laid-off workers with jobs. The state also plans to use the grant to further develop and strengthen partnerships between workforce and industry organizations and align services with other federal, state and local programs.

Operation School Shoe (O.S.S) this Saturday

Operation School Shoe will be held this Saturday, July 19th from 10:00-3:00 at the Paintsville Recreation Center. Operation School Shoe provides back to school shoes to Johnson County/Paintsville students who are in need. The student must be a student in Johnson County or Paintsville Independent schools and must be present & fit for their shoe by O.S.S volunteers. O.S.S is sponsored by Local churches, businesses, and private donations. For further information please call (270)-505-5487