LOCAL NEWS

Local News 7-30-2014


Sheriff’s Office Locate Stolen Car while Making Fugitive Arrest

According to a news release from the Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Office, on the afternoon of Thursday, July 24th, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office received a tip of a fugitive from justice staying at Point View Trailer Court in Paintsville. Upon the arrival of Sheriff Dwayne Price and Deputy David Pridemore, they located the subject, James Miller, age 29 of Prestonsburg. Miller was arrested for an outstanding indictment warrant for Trafficking in a Controlled Substance-Methamphetamine. As a result of locating Miller, the officers also located a stolen vehicle that appeared to have been stolen by Miller. The vehicle matched the description of one that had been stolen from Athens, Ohio. A preliminary search of the stolen vehicle yielded various methamphetamine precursors. As a result of this investigation, Miller was charged with Possession of Meth Precursors, Receiving Stolen Property and other various charges. Miller was taken into custody and lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center. The case is currently under investigation by Sheriff Dwayne Price and Deputy David Pridemore. Sheriff Price reminds everyone that if you have any tips for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, please call us at 789-3411. Remember, we need your information, not your name.

Monday Accident on 172 Leaves Two Injured

In a separate news release from the JCSO, a 2 vehicle accident on Rt. 172 Monday, sent two people to area Hospitals. According to Dputy Tim Clark with the JCSO, Megan Keaton of Flat Gap was traveling west on Ky 172 in her GMC SUV when she was struck head on by an east bound Chevrolet Lumina driven by Canisha Jaynes of Dixon Branch. A witness told Deputies that the vehicle driven by Jaynes came over into the lane directly in front of Keaton. Jaynes’s vehicle spun around in the roadway and stopped against the hillside.

The impact was so severe that one of the vehicle’s engine assembly was ejected and thrown approximately 165 feet from the impact point. The hood was approximately 200 feet from the initial impact point and landed under the bridge at McKenzie Branch. Deputy Clark said “An accident with this severe and violent of an impact does not happen very often, and I have only seen an ejected engine assembly one other time in my career “.

The accident took place near the McKenzie Branch bridge on Ky 172 at approximately 4:40 pm. Jaynes had to be extricated from her vehicle, then air lifted to Pikeville Medical Center, while Keaton was transported to Paul B. Hall with her injuries. Both Keaton and Jaynes were said to be wearing their seat belts. The accident remians under investigation by Johnson County Deputy Tim Clark. Clark was assisted by Constable Bob Hyden. Flat Gap Volunteer Fire Department, and Paintsville Ems were the first responders to the accident.

Man Charged with Murder in aPike Co. Triple Shooting

Kentucky State Police are continuing their investigation of a shooting that happened early Sunday morning and left two people injured and another man dead. The shooting took place off of Pond Creek Road on Straight Hollow in Pike Co. Troopers say they found three people with gunshot wounds at a motorcycle club meeting. Two of the injured were taken to the hospital and 29-year-old, Bradley Coleman, was pronounced dead at the scene. Evidence at the scene indicates, Daniel Ward, was the man responsible for shooting and killing Coleman and injuring the other two.

Ward was arrested at a later time, following a traffic stop on US 119 unrelated charges. He admitted to Police that he had been drinking and officials found a pair of brass knuckles in his vest pocket...which is considered a concealed deadly weapon in Kentucky. Ward also faces several charges in addition to murder including DUI, fleeing and evading, and carrying a concealed weapon. The shooting remains under investigation and Troopers say they expect more charges to be filed. Ward has already entered a not guilty plea and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on August 6th.

No Indictment in a Lawrence Co. Shooting

A Lawrence Co. grand jury has found insufficient evidence to issue an indictment in a deadly shooting that happened back on May 30 in Lawrence Co. The shooting took place in the Woodland Drive off of Highway 32, west of Louisa and left Ricky Baisden, 49, of Cedgap dead. According to Lawrence Co. Sheriff Garrett Roberts, Basiden came out of a wooded area, armed with a 20-gauge shotgun and threatened to shoot two men working on a rental cabin. Sheriff Roberts says the two men told them there was a struggle over the gun and one shot was fired into the porch ceiling. The men said that Basiden regained control of the gun, reloaded, and fired at them again, missing them a second time. As Basiden was reloading for a possible third shot, one of the men pulled out his own handgun and shot at Basiden, killing him. The man claimed it was in self-defense. Sheriff Roberts says that alcohol was believed to be a factor in Baisden’s behavior.

Kentucky County Jobless Rate at 5.5 percent for June

Boone County had the lowest unemployment rate among Kentucky's 120 counties in June at 5.5 percent. Kenton County, also in northern Kentucky, had the second-lowest rate at 5.8 percent. Next were Campbell, Larue and Woodford counties at 6 percent. Caldwell and Shelby counties had rates of 6.1 percent. Meanwhile, Jackson County had the state's highest unemployment rate at 16.5 percent in June. It was followed by Magoffin Countyat 15 percent, Harlan County at 14.5 percent, LeslieCounty at 13.6 percent and Letcher County at 13.1 percent. The state says unemployment rates fell in 117 Kentucky counties between June 2013 and June 2014. The jobless rate went up in three counties.

Different Images in Snapshot of KY Health Challenges

The majority of Kentuckians want a statewide smoke-free law, tobacco free school campuses and mandatory physical education for school children. The snap shot of Kentuckians' views on health-related issues was commissioned by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The organization's president, Susan Zepeda, says she was surprised how similar people's views were, but there were some regional differences. "Folks in Louisville had an easier time of purchasing healthy foods than some of their neighbors," she points out. "Folks in northern Kentucky were more likely to be eating the daily amounts of fruits and vegetables. "Adults out in eastern Kentucky were more likely to have been offered help to quit smoking." One thing people in every region agreed on, almost unanimously, was the need for children to have at least 30 minutes of physical exercise every day at school. Zepeda says that's been slow to happen in Kentucky's schools, but there are some innovative programs in place to incorporate physical activity into the academic curriculum.

"Some school districts have stepped up and mandated recess and even said that recess can't be withheld from a wiggly kid in the classroom as a punishment for being wiggly in the classroom," she says. The Kentucky Health Issues Poll found stark regional differences on the level of support for the Affordable Care Act. Four out of 10 people surveyed in the greater Louisville area supported the idea, but only two out of 10 in eastern Kentucky. Yet, Medicaid expansion, which was made possible by the Affordable Care Act, got overwhelming support across the state. Zepeda says she was surprised at the intensity of the positive response. "People don't like the name, but they like the provisions as they've come into place," she says. Statewide, eight out of 10 Kentuckians were in favor of offering Medicaid to more people.

Several Kentucky Colleges on Best College List

Money Magazine has released its list of best colleges and several Kentucky schools have made the cut. The highest ranking Kentucky school is Berea College, coming in at number 57. Centre College ranks 138th. Louisville is 382, while UK is 389. WKU ranks 400th, Murray State is number 471, and Transylvania at 480th.

Researchers with Money Magazine say the rankings are based on value. Meaning students who attend the top schools are most likely to get a high paying job after they graduate.

Local News 7-25-2014


Appeals Court Rules in Magoffin County Judge Executive Primary Election

What looked to be a loss for the Democratic Primary race for current Magoffin Co Judge Executive Dr. Charles “Doc” Hardin has now been ruled a victory. That victorious decision was handed down Thursday by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, as they ruled in favor of “Doc” Hardin. Hardin had originally lost a very close decision by 3 votes to H.B. Arnett on primary election night back in May. Hardin would immediately ask for a recount, but the result stayed the same, a close loss. Hardin would then ask for and was granted another recount and those results would go in favor of Doc Hardin and he was shown as having 3 more votes over Arnett, but Judge Kim Childers would not declare Hardin as the winner because of the vote count turnaround.

Within the findings of facts and conclusions , Childers reiterated what happened during the recount, held in court on June 13, stating the results from the voting machines of the various precincts, as well as the absentee voting machine, were all consistent with the original and recanvass totals for the judge executive primary race. Judge Childers says the court cannot direct the Magoffin County Board of Elections to issue a certificate of nomination due to the difference in the absentee vote count between the initial count on election night and the statutory recount conducted by the Court.

On Monday, June 23, attorneys James Deckard and Eldred Adams, representing Hardin, filed a notice of appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals from the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and judgment. Without the recount results certified, currently Arnett is the democrat nominee for judge executive, as certified by the Magoffin County Board of Elections. The election materials are in the custody of Kentucky State Police. On Thursday, the Court of Appeals three-judge panel ruled in favor of Hardin.

Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals

Opinion and Order Reversing and Remanding

BEFORE: ACREE, CHIEF JUDGE; CAPERTON AND MOORE, JUDGES.

This is an appeal and cross-appeal from a final judgment of the Magoffin Circuit Court in a primary election recount proceeding under KRS 120.095 to determine the Democratic nominee for the office of County Judge Executive of Magoffin County, Kentucky. After conducting a recount as provided in the statute, the circuit court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law holding that it was unable to direct the board of elections to certify a candidate for the office due to the county clerk's inability "to explain the discrepancy in the total votes cast between Election Day and the recount." Candidate Charles Hardin appeals and candidate Haden Arnett cross-appeals from that determination. We reverse and remand with directions to enter judgment in conformity with the recount.

 

Prior to addressing the merits of this appeal and cross-appeal, two preliminary motions must be addressed. Arnett has filed a motion to file an amended brief to correct a typographical error. The motion is hereby GRANTED and the tendered brief is ORDERED FILED on the date of entry of this order. Arnett also moves to supplement the record with the record in Magoffin Circuit Court action 14-CI-00152. The motion to supplement is DENIED. As noted in the response to that motion, the time for certifying the record is strictly limited by the explicit language of KRS 120.075 and there is no indication that the circuit court considered this outside material in reaching its decision in the recount proceeding.

Turning now to the merits, as stated in the judgment on appeal, the election results reported on May 20, 2014, primary election day, were as follows:

Charles "Doc" Hardin 2,019

Haden "H.B." Arnett 2,022

At Hardin's written request, a recanvass was conducted on May 29, 2014, which produced the same numerical results for the candidates as on election night. Thereafter, Hardin filed a timely request for a recount pursuant to KRS 120.095 and the circuit court conducted the recount proceeding on June 13, 2014.

In its findings, the circuit court stated that at the conclusion of the recount, the results from the voting machines for the various precincts and the absentee voting machine were consistent with the original and recanvass totals for the office. The court then entered the following finding with respect to the paper absentee ballots:

               That the two locked boxes containing the paper absentee ballots were counted next. That Susie Salyer and Lisa Montgomery, members of the Magoffin County Board of Elections, unlocked the boxes. A deputy sheriff then cut the remaining locks off the ballot boxes with a set of bolt cutter. By agreement of the parties, the County Clerk fed the absentee ballots into the scanner counting while simultaneously calling off the name of the candidate whose name appeared marked on the ballot. A few ballots were rejected because the name of the candidate was not adequately marked so that it could be read by the scanner, but none of those related to the County Judge/Executive's race. The Court then completed marking the ballot for the appropriate candidate so that it could be read; it was then fed into the scanner and counted. Both the manual tabulation and scanner showed 83 votes for Haden "H.B." Arnett, 178 votes for Charles "Doc" Hardin, for a total of 271 votes with 4 undervotes (a ballot was not marked for either candidate) and one vote not counted by the scanner despite being run through the scanner. The initial tabulation on election night differed in that it showed 94 votes for Haden "H.B." Arnett and 173 votes for Charles "Doc" Hardin with 9 under votes. The County Court Clerk was unable to explain the discrepancy in the total votes cast between Election Day and the recount.

The circuit court cites this finding as the basis for its conclusion that it could not direct the board of elections to certify a certificate of nomination in that primary race.

In his direct appeal, Hardin argues that the circuit court erred in refusing to enter the results of the recount as required by KRS 120.095 and in refusing to direct the board of elections to issue him a certification of nomination as the "party entitled thereto as show by the recount." In support of this contention, Hardin cites the finding of the circuit court that Renee Arnett-Shepherd, the Magoffin County Clerk, testified under oath that "the machines and ballots had been in her custody and control since the election and confirmed their integrity in accordance with KRS 120.095...." Hardin argues that when the integrity of the ballots are not in question, KRS 120.095 removes any discretion from the circuit court as to the results of the recount. We agree.

               KRS 120.095 provides in pertinent part:

               On the day fixed, the court shall proceed to recount the ballots if their integrity is satisfactorily shown and shall complete the recount as soon as practicable, and file and enter of record the results thereof, and direct the state board or county board, whichever would issue the certificate of nomination, to issue a certificate to the party entitled thereto as shown by the recount.

(Emphasis added.) As Hardin argues, the trial court entered a specific order concerning the integrity of the ballots and proceeded with the recount. Implicit in the finding is the fact that the circuit court must have been proceeded with the recount. In addition, there is no indication that Arnett questioned the integrity of the ballots prior to the recount or that he requested a more specific finding regarding the integrity of the ballots as required by CR 52.04.

We find the statutory language to be clear in requiring the circuit court to enter the results of the recount and to direct the board of elections "to issue a certificate to the party entitled thereto as shown by the recount." (Emphasis added.) The circuit court need not determine why there was a discrepancy between the results announced election night and the day of the recount because the statute plainly dictates that the result of the recount is determinative of the outcome. The circuit court fully complied with the statute up to the point that it determined it could not reach a conclusion as to which party was entitled to the certificate of nomination. That conclusion is clearly at odds with the mandatory nature of KRS 120.95 which requires that the results of the recount dictate the candidate entitled to be certified. Thus, we are persuaded that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in refusing to direct the board of elections to issue a certificate of nomination to Hardin and that the judgment based upon that conclusion must be reversed. On remand, the circuit court shall enter judgment directing the board of election to issue a certificate to Hardin, the party entitled as shown by the recount.

In his cross-appeal, Arnett argues that, given the discrepancy between the vote totals for the absentee ballots on election night and the recount, the circuit court should be required to void all of the undervotes and accept the tallies from election night and the recanvass. We disagree.

Arnett appears to conflate a recount proceeding under KRS 120.075 with a primary election contest under KRS 120.055. In Hogg v. Howard, 242 S.W.2d 626 (Kr. 1951), Kentucky's highest court explained the differences and purposes of the two statutory election remedies:

               The defeated candidate who believes that certain ballots should not have been counted by reason of some irregularity in the conduct of the election has an adequate and complete remedy through a contest suit, in which he may ask for a recount on the ground of fraud or mistake. We can find no evidence of any legislative intent that election irregularities be permitted to be litigated in a simple recount proceeding.

               The whole background of the recount law indicates the intention of the legislature to provide a simple, speedy means of determining the accuracy of the work of the canvassing board. The recount law as originally enacted, Chapters 50 and 51 of the Acts of 1930, required that the recount proceeding be instituted before the election commissioners issued the certificate of election. It referred to the proceedings as proceedings for an 'immediate' recount. The law now requires that the recount be completes 'as soon as practicable.' KRS122.060 and 122.100. No provision is made in the recount law for pleadings by which an issue may be raised as to irregularities in the conduct of the election.

242 S.W.2d at 629 (emphasis added.)

Furthermore, the Court in Hogg emphasized that in conducting a recount, the circuit court is constrained by what appears on the face of the ballot:

               It is now the opinion of this Court that the circuit court, in conducting a recount under KRS 120.060 or 122.100, has no greater powers with respect to determining what ballots shall be counted that has the board of election commissioners, and that the court may not hear parol testimony as to the legality of a ballot. The court, in determining whether a ballot is to be counted, is to be governed by what appears on the face of the ballot, the stub book, and the other election records.

Id. (emphasis added.) It is therefore clear that the trial court did not err in refusing to void the challenged absentee ballots as a recount is not the appropriate forum in which to lodge such a request.

Finally, to the extent that Arnett appears to argue that Hardin's failure to voice a challenge to the absentee ballots in the recanvass proceeding precludes him from proceeding with the recount, we are persuaded that the plain language of the recanvass statute, KRS 177.305, unequivocally dispels that contention:

               Nothing in this section shall prohibit an individual from requesting, in addition to a recanvass, a recount as authorized by KRS Chapter 120.

 

 

 

Accordingly, the judgment of the Magoffin Circuit Court is reversed and the case remanded for entry of a judgment directing the board of elections to issue a certificate in accordance with the results of the recount proceeding.

Chief Judge, Court of Appeals

Entered July 24, 2014

 

Two Injured in U.S. 23 Collision in Floyd Co.

Police are investigating a head-on collision that happened Thursday in Floyd Co. at the intersection of Town Branch and U.S. 23. The collision sent both drivers to the hospital and had traffic stopped in both directions for a while. The Prestonsburg Police Department, said the investigation into the accident is in the preliminary stages, and nothing is currently confirmed, but they say witnesses at the scene said the driver of a black Nissan Altima, turning left onto the southbound lanes of U.S. 23 from Town Branch, veered into the northbound lanes and collided head-on with a red Chevrolet pickup truck. Police have not released the condition of those injured and the investigation is ongoing.

Condemned Inmate Seeks New Trial

A death row inmate from eastern Kentucky has is asking a federal judge to throw out his conviction and sentence, saying a judge erred in accepting his guilty plea. According to a petition filed in federal court in Lexington, 47-year-old Donald Herb Johnson says a judge in Floyd County didn't recount all the rights he'd be giving up by admitting to the stabbing death of Helen Madden on Oct. 30, 1989. Johnson claims he may not have been competent at the time to enter the plea. Madden was attacked at the Bright and Clean Laundry in Hazard where she worked. Johnson entered the guilty plea on Oct. 1, 1997. Kentucky is currently under a court order suspending all executions in the state.         

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.

Detroit Man Arrested in Undercover Drug Buy Near Ashland, Ky. School

A Detroit man was arrested by the Boyd Co. Sheriff’s Department Wednesday, after an undercover drug buy near Fairview High School. Deputies arrested Jajuan M. Cannon and charged him with first-degree trafficking of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of heroin, fleeing and evading police on foot, and tampering with physical evidence. Deputies bought about 2 grams of heroin from Cannon. Reports say he took off running and threw heroin out of his pockets during the chase. Cannon is lodged in the Boyd County Detention Center.

Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers

A multi-state effort to crackdown on distracted drivers by state police begins this weekend. Troopers in six states, including West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, are going after drivers who aren't keeping their eyes on the road. This new push began yesterday and continues through next weekend. Troopers say it's all about trying to save lives. They'll be doing extra patrols, especially in high-traffic areas. Police aren't just going after drivers on their cell phones. They say they'll be targeting any distracted drivers.

Different Images in Snapshot of KY Health Challenges

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The majority of Kentuckians want a statewide smoke-free law, tobacco free school campuses and mandatory physical education for school children. The snap shot of Kentuckians' views on health-related issues was commissioned by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The organization's president, Susan Zepeda, says she was surprised how similar people's views were, but there were some regional differences. “Folks in Louisville had an easier time of purchasing healthy foods than some of their neighbors," she points out. "Folks in northern Kentucky were more likely to be eating the daily amounts of fruits and vegetables. "Adults out in eastern Kentucky were more likely to have been offered help to quit smoking." One thing people in every region agreed on, almost unanimously, was the need for children to have at least 30 minutes of physical exercise every day at school. Zepeda says that's been slow to happen in Kentucky's schools, but there are some innovative programs in place to incorporate physical activity into the academic curriculum. "Some school districts have stepped up and mandated recess and even said that recess can't be withheld from a wiggly kid in the classroom as a punishment for being wiggly in the classroom," she says. The Kentucky Health Issues Poll found stark regional differences on the level of support for the Affordable Care Act.

Four out of 10 people surveyed in the greater Louisville area supported the idea, but only two out of 10 in eastern Kentucky. Yet, Medicaid expansion, which was made possible by the Affordable Care Act, got overwhelming support across the state.

Zepeda says she was surprised at the intensity of the positive response.

"People don't like the name, but they like the provisions as they've come into place," she says.

Statewide, eight out of 10 Kentuckians were in favor of offering Medicaid to more people.

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.