LOCAL NEWS

WSIP News 6-30-2016

 

Suspicious Fire Investigated in Johnson Co.

According to a news release from the Kentucky State Police a Tuesday morning fire in Johnson Co, is being investigated as arson. Investigators say the fire started around 5 a.m. at an apartment on Combs Drive (near W.R. Castle Fire Dept.) in Wittensville, just north of Paintsville. Firefighters are very familiar with this apartment building, having battles fires there on at least 3 occasions. Residents and witnesses say black smoke could be seen coming from the top and side of the building, but by the time firefighters arrived on scene, the fire had subsided. Firefighters at the scene said all signs led them to immediately suspect the fire had been intentionally set because the pattern of the fire on the floor, the way the fire ignited and put itself out, and you could smell an accelerant. Investigators say no one was living in the apartment at the time and no one was hurt. W.R. Castle Fire Chief Paul Burchett says the fire department has already put out two other fires at the apartment in the past few months and those were also suspicious. Kentucky State Police continue to investigate the fire as arson and they ask if anyone has any information about this fire, please call the Pikeville KSP post at (606) 433-7711.


Jury Trial Date Changed in Mayor Porter’s Federal Case

The jury trial of Paintsville Mayor Robert “Bob” Porter has been rescheduled in Federal Courthouse in Pikeville on Thursday, July 14 @ 9:30 AM. Porter was indicted last year on 2 counts of theft of government property and government corruption. Former Utilities Mgr. Larry Herald was also named in these indictments, as well as one count of intentionally making false statements to the FBI.


Ky. Court of Appeals Overturns School Tax Ruling

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has overturned a decision of the Johnson Co Circuit Court to invalidate a petition against raising the Johnson County School District’s tax rate. According to information, back in September of 2014, the Johnson Co B.O.E. initially proposed raising real estate tax to 52.6 cents per $100 and motor vehicle taxes to 52.5 cents per $100 to support the district improving technology, purchasing textbooks and providing for future renovation. Protest from concerned citizens caused the B.O.E. to vote instead on a 4% increase, adding a 5.7 cent recallable nickel increase each year. A petition was then filed with County Clerk Sallee Holbrook to get enough signatures to force a vote in a special election in October of 2014. 771 certified signatures were required to hold this special election. Out of the 1,808 collected signatures, 1,347 were certified. The B.O.E then had the choice of either carrying out the election, to drop the petition or appeal through the Johnson Co. Circuit Court. The B.O.E. chose to file an appeal on the petition on the basis that they claimed Holbrook erred on several points while certifying the petition signatures.

Judge John David Preston ruled in February 2015 that the board had made its case and the petition was invalid and the tax bills, with the 4 % increase were then mailed to residents and have been in effect ever since. In March of 2015, the petition committee raised enough funds to file an appeal with the Ky. Court of Appeals. Last Friday, the Appeal Court ruled Holbrook was in the right and by a vote of 3-0 ruled that the issue should had been put on the ballot and voted on by the citizens. The Johnson Co. B.O.E. is now looking at their legal options and will be discussed at the July B.O.E. meeting.


KSP Searching for Vehicle in Fatal Hit and Run in Floyd Co

Kentucky State Police are trying to find a vehicle after a fatal hit and run that occurred earlier this month. KSP says on June 18, Jeffrey Turner, of Martin, was found lying in the the road on Kentucky Route 80 in Martin. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators say his injuries were the result of being hit by a vehicle and the driver left the scene of the accident. KSP was able to get surveillance footage of a white car in the area at the time of the incident. No word on the make and model. If you have any information, call KSP at 606-433-7711.


Breathitt Co. Woman Arrested, Charged with Murder and Injuring 2 Others

KSP report they have arrested a Breathitt Co. woman, who they say is responsible for murdering her husband and shooting her own son and another female in the chest. Sandra Hurt of Jackson was released from a medical facility where she was being treated for a suspected drug overdose following the June 25th shooting. Police became aware of the shooting after Alex Hurt and Heather Sizemore arrived at Kentucky River Regional Medical Center with a single gunshot wounds to each of their chests which they received when Hurt open fire on a vehicle in which the two were sitting. Troopers went to a home located at 212 Cook Fork Road where Sandra Hurt was found in bed with her husband Henry Hurt who suffered a fatal gunshot wound to his head, an arrest warrant says. Sandra Hurt was unresponsive from a suspected drug overdose in bed with her dead husband. Hurt is now in the Three Forks Regional Jail and is facing murder, attempted murder and wanton endangerment charges. The KSP continues to investigate this shooting.


Woman Claims Breathitt Co Surgeon Offered her Money for Sex

A Breathitt Co. surgeon has been arrested after his hair dresser claims he offered her money in exchange for sex. KSP Troopers arrested Dr. Sreenivasa Reedy Alla, who is an orthopedic surgeon, on Tuesday night at his Jackson home. Linda Noble, an employee at The Hair Loom, which is a Jackson beauty salon, claims in an arrest warrant that Dr. Alla solicited her to have sex with him in exchange for money after she cut his hair. Police say Noble also claims she refused his advancements and when she did Dr. Alla grabbed her arm and would not let go for about two minutes. Dr. Alla has been charged with unlawful imprisonment and prostitution and was taken the Three Forks Regional Jail and was released on a surety bond on Wednesday morning. The KSP is continuing to investigate this incident.


Mixed Verdict in a Perry Co. Murder Case

A mixed verdict in the trial of a Perry Co man who caused deadly crash. The jury found Bobby Snell guilty of:

* Reckless homicide
* Two counts of second degree wanton endangerment
* Fourth degree assault with reckless conduct
* Operating a motor vehicle under the influence

Snell was found not guilty of:

* Murder
* Second degree manslaughter
* Two counts of first degree wanton endangerment
* Second degree assault
* Fourth degree assault with wanton conduct

In October of last year, Snell was drunk when he crashed an SUV along Old Highway 80. Caitlin Simpkins was thrown from the vehicle and died at Hazard ARH. Two others in the SUV were also injured but survived the crash.


Ashland Man Re-Indicted in Murder Case

A man from Ashland has been re-indicted in the murder of a Greenup Co man. Carlton Todd Gallman, 39, of Ashland, is named in a 10-count indictment in connection with the April 2013 murder of Christopher Frazier, 29, of Westwood, Kentucky, who was found shot to death. Those charges include murder, second-degree arson, tampering with physical evidence, receiving stolen property, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and being a persistent felony offender in the first degree. Gallman has gone to trial twice of similar charges. Both times resulted in a mistrial. Two other people arrested and charged for their roles in the case have agreed to plea deals.


Fireworks Safety Tips

The 4th of July is fast approaching. People will be celebrating our Independence with several outdoor activities, including fireworks. According to state information, an estimated 9,700 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks last year. More than half the injuries were burns and most involved the hands, eyes and head and 50 percent of the victims were children under age 15. As the 4th of July holiday approaches, people need to know that the Home Safety Council urges families to enjoy fireworks the safer way, by attending locally sanctioned fireworks shows presented by professionals who adhere to safety codes. Fireworks are not toys, they are devices designed to reach high temperatures, to burn and spark, and to explode and launch. They are unpredictable by nature and can be dangerous for nonprofessional users.

Everyone is encouraged to follow these safety tips.

* Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
* Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

* Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

* Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

* Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
* Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
* Avoid dry grassy areas and woodlands where fireworks will be displayed.
* Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
* Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

* Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
* After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Although many states permit fireworks use by consumers only trained and experienced experts should use or transport fireworks. Be aware fireworks safety is not a supervision issue. A fireworks injury can happen in the blink of an eye, whether or not a parent is standing by with a bucket of water. During this holiday, keep in mind that the safest amateur use of fireworks is none at all. If you choose to use fireworks, please be careful and never allow children to handle these dangerous devises. This public information has been provided by Gary McClure, Paintsville/Johnson Co. Emergency Management Director.



WSIP News 6-29-2016 - UPDATED

 

Suspicious Fire Investigated in Johnson Co.

According to a news release from the Kentucky State Police a Tuesday morning fire in Johnson Co, is being investigated as arson. Investigators say the fire started around 5 a.m. at an apartment on Combs Drive (near W.R. Castle Fire Dept.) in Wittensville, just north of Paintsville. Firefighters are very familiar with this apartment building, having battles fires there on at least 3 occasions. Residents and witnesses say black smoke could be seen coming from the top and side of the building, but by the time firefighters arrived on scene, the fire had subsided. Firefighters at the scene said all signs led them to immediately suspect the fire had been intentionally set because the pattern of the fire on the floor, the way the fire ignited and put itself out, and you could smell an accelerant. Investigators say no one was living in the apartment at the time and no one was hurt. W.R. Castle Fire Chief Paul Burchett says the fire department has already put out two other fires at the apartment in the past few months and those were also suspicious. Kentucky State Police continue to investigate the fire as arson and they ask if anyone has any information about this fire, please call the Pikeville KSP post at (606) 433-7711.         

KSP Searching for Vehicle in Fatal Hit and Run in Floyd Co

Kentucky State Police are trying to find a vehicle after a fatal hit and run that occurred earlier this month. KSP says on June 18, Jeffrey Turner, of Martin, was found lying in the the road on Kentucky Route 80 in Martin. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators say his injuries were the result of being hit by a vehicle and the driver left the scene of the accident. KSP was able to get surveillance footage of a white car in the area at the time of the incident. No word on the make and model. If you have any information, call KSP at 606-433-7711.


Lawrence Co. Wrongful Death Lawsuit Sent to Federal Court

According to information provided by the Levisa Lazer website out of Lawrence Co., Ky., insurance attorneys in the Billy Collins lawsuit have moved a lawsuit filed by the estate Collins, who died after being arrested in Louisa in 2015, to federal court and asked that the complaint be dismissed. Collins death was recorded by a body cam worn by one of the officers involved in the case. The lawsuit was filed on May 20th, 2016, against the following people and agencies for “ALLEGEDLY CAUSING THE DEATH OF BILLY COLLINS: officer Stephen Wilburn, officer Jordan Miller, Chief Greg Fugitt, Sheriff Garrett Roberts, deputy Mason Keefer, deputy Mack Wilhite, The Louisa Police Dept., The City of Louisa, and The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, were all named in the complaint.

The suit was initially filed in Lawrence Circuit Court, but attorneys for the defendant removed the case to U.S. District Court in Ashland, which they say has proper jurisdiction to hear the allegations. The attorneys Robert T. Watson and Chris J. Gadanksy of Louisville, and Jonathan C. Shaw of Paintsville, also filed a motion to dismiss the complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Reports indicate that Lawrence Co and the City of Louisa have separated in the case and will use different attorneys. The suit claims that while Collins was in the custody of the Louisa Police Department, city officers and Sheriff’s deputies’ “use of force against the decedent was willful, negligent, grossly negligent, excessive and caused his death” and was “so blatantly a violation of decedent’s rights under both the United States Constitution and Kentucky Constitution such that punitive damages are warranted.” Billy Joseph "Joe" Collins is the administrator of his father’s estate. The estate is represented by Ashland Attorney Michael Curtis. A lawsuit or its answer spell out only one side of a case.


KSP Investigating Shooting Incident in Wolfe Co

According to a news release from the KSP in Morehead, on Monday, June 27, 2016 at 7:14 p.m. Kentucky State Police Post 8 Morehead received a report from the Wolfe Co Sheriffs Office of a male subject that had sustained a minor gunshot wound on KY191 near Campton, Kentucky. Austin J. Hays, age 18, of Campton, Kentucky sustained a non-fatal gunshot wound after a shotgun was fired in the area of a dispute at 2683 KY191 in Campton, Kentucky. Austin J. Hays was transported to the Kentucky River Medical Center in Jackson, Kentucky and later transferred to the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky where he was treated for minor injury and later released. The incident remains under investigation by Trooper Anthony Bowling.


Pike Co. Inmate Charged with Escape and other Charges

According to reports out f Pike Co. an inmate tried to escape from the Pike Co Jail Monday night, through the walls and ceiling. Pike Co Jailer Freddie Lewis says Bruce Cordell, from Louisville, somehow got out of his cell and into the jail's duct work. He was in the ceiling when it gave way and fell through. Cordell is now also charged with attempted escape and criminal mischief.


Perry Co Clerk Haven King will not Appeal Conviction

Perry Co Clerk Haven King will not appeal his official misconduct charge. King was found guilty of harassment and official misconduct after a video surfaced on Facebook of him questioning a woman about her disabled Veterans license plate. A judge ordered King to pay $750 in fines based on the jury's recommendation: $250 for harassment and $500 for official misconduct.


Statewide Coal Production Declines in First Quarter

Coal production at Kentucky mines decreased by 12.8 percent during the first quarter of 2016 to 11.3 million tons, according to the Kentucky Energy report. Coal production at surface mines decreased by 28 percent during the first quarter and accounted for 25 percent of total Kentucky production. The energy report states underground mines in the state produced nearly 8.5 million tons, a reduction of 6.1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015, and accounted for 75 percent production. Western Kentucky coal mines decreased production by 5.7 percent to 6.8 million tons, and Eastern Kentucky mines decreased production by 21.6 percent to produce 4.5 million tons. According to the energy report, the rate of Kentucky coal production in 2016 is the lowest statewide production since 1939 and the lowest in Eastern Kentucky since 1917.

Approximately 85 percent of coal mined in Kentucky in 2015 was used to generate electricity at 89 power plants in 15 states. Of that amount, 3 percent went to power plants that retired coal-fired generating capacity in 2015 and another 13 percent went to plants that will close capacity before 19 percent, according to the energy report. Perry Co led the state in coal production with 1.05 million tons produced in the first quarter. Pike Co was a close second with 1.02 million tons produced, an 89 percent decrease from the peak production of 35.6 million tons in 1996. Harlan Co ranked third in Eastern Kentucky with 812,880 tons produced in the first quarter. Floyd Co ranked eighth in Eastern Kentucky with 153, 780 tons produced. The report states there were 3,981 people employed at Eastern Kentucky coal mines during the first quarter, a decrease of 21.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015. Mines in Western Kentucky decreased total employment by 405 jobs.


BSCTC to Break Ground on Advanced Technology Center

Just weeks after the SOAR Innovation Summit in Pikeville, Big Sandy Community and Technical College is entrenched in a variety of projects that promote innovation and job creation. The college has partnered with SOAR, the East KY Concentrated Employment Program, and Interapt and will soon break ground on the state’s first Advanced Technology Center. The facility will be built on the Pikeville campus and will serve as a hub for high-wage, high-speed jobs across the southeastern United States.


Groundbreaking Ceremony Set for New High School in Martin County

The Martin Co Board of Education has awarded a bid for construction of a new high school. The Mountain Citizen reports Hinkle Construction of Lexington submitted the lowest bid. The bid will also need to be approved by the Kentucky Department of Education. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for this Thursday (June 30) at the future site of the school.

 

WSIP News 6-28-2016

 

Elkhorn City Police Chief Arrested for DUI

Elkhorn City Police Chief Crystal Davis was arrested for DUI following a single vehicle crash on Sunday night in Pike Co, Davis was not on duty at the time of the crash. Davis, 33 of Jenkins was involved in a single vehicle collision on Highway 197 north at Shelby Gap just after 9 p.m. According to an arrest citation from the KSP, troopers spoke with Davis at Pikeville Medical Center Emergency Room where she was transported by ambulance and noticed she smelled strongly of alcoholic beverages. The report said Davis admitted to Troopers that she had drank 4-5 drinks, her eyes were bloodshot and glassy and she told troopers that she was the only occupant in the vehicle and stated she had not drank or taken any intoxicating substances since the time of the crash, an arrest citation indicates.

A portable breathe test was given to Davis at the emergency room which did show a presence of alcohol, Davis declined her own blood test and declined an offer to contact an attorney, and was arrested at 10:45 p.m., according to an arrest citation. Davis was charged with DUI 1st offense, license to be in possession and no registration receipt and was taken to the Pike Co Detention Center. Davis entered a not guilty plea in Pike Co District Court Monday morning. A pre-trial conference was set for November 3rd, court records indicate. Davis was released from the Pike Co Detention Center Monday after singing herself out on a $1,000.00 at 10% bond. Crystal Davis has been the Elkhorn City Police Chief for about six months, has nearly 14 years of service as a police officer. Davis began her career in law enforcement as a dispatcher and deputy for the Letcher Co Sheriff's Department and served as the Jenkins Police Department Deputy Chief for nearly two years before taking over command of the Elkhorn City Police Department. Elkhorn City Mayor Mike Taylor said Davis has been suspended from her duties without pay pending the resolution of the situation.


Pike Man Rescued after a Hiking Accident at the Breaks

A Pike Co man had to be rescued after a harrowing fall on Saturday at Breaks Interstate Park. According to Breaks Interstate Park Superintendent, Austin Bradley, Bobby Conway, 45, was hiking in the Breaks Interstate Park with his family. While crossing a rock, the rock loosened under him, and he fell from the grassy creek trail, then rolled 30 feet down a hill and then fell 15 feet from a steep vertical drop, which left Conway bleeding badly from his head. Park Rangers treated Conway for his immediate injuries before other emergency workers arrived at the scene to assist. Conway was flown to Pikeville Medical Center by Wellmont Health Services Medflight and has since been discharged from the hospital and is said to be doing OK. No other information has been released.

Boyd Co. Deputies Searching for Suspects in Two Armed Robberies

The Boyd Co Sheriff's Department is continuing to investigate two armed robberies that occurred Friday night, into Saturday. The first happened around 10 p.m. Friday at the Shell Service Station on Jane Hill Road in Westwood. Deputies say a man walked into the store just before it closed, pointed a gun at the clerk and demanded money. According to deputies, the man took off after he grabbed money from the register. Investigators say the man was then picked up by a vehicle that was last seen heading south towards the Westwood/Ashland area. The man was last seen wearing a red ball cap, dark colored long-sleeve shirt, black shorts and had his face covered with a red bandana.

The second robbery happened around 1 a.m. Saturday in Carter Co at the Marathon Service Station on State Highway 1 in Grayson. Deputies say the man involved in this robbery had a different description, however, they say the circumstances were similar and the gun used was possibly the same type used in the other robbery. Investigators say they are looking into the possibility that the two robberies are related but they have not been connected. If you have any information, call the Boyd County Sheriff's Department at 606-739-5135 or 606-329-0800.


Coal-to-Gas Conversion Completed at Big Sandy Power Plant

The Big Sandy Power Plant is now producing electricity for customers using natural gas, according to a release from Kentucky Power. “The conversion of Big Sandy Unit 1 from coal to natural gas is a significant accomplishment,” said Kentucky Power President and COO Greg Pauley. “Our employees have done a fantastic job over the years and will continue to provide eastern Kentucky with safe, reliable and affordable electricity, generated now from natural gas at Big Sandy, as well as from coal at our Mitchell plant in West Virginia.” The plant opened in 1963 and operated until 2015 as a coal-fired plant. “The flat land at Big Sandy is located between a four-lane highway and the Big Sandy River,” Pauley said. “It has not only highway and river access, but also rail. It has the potential to be an ideal industrial park site and we look forward to pursuing that possibility for the region.”


Supreme Court to Hear College Funding Case In Kentucky

The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of state colleges and universities. The court has agreed to hear the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, and set a hearing date for Aug. 18. Bevin reduced allotments to state colleges and universities by nearly $18 million without the approval of the state legislature. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him, saying Bevin overstepped his authority. A state judge sided with Bevin last month. Beshear appealed that decision. Normally the case would first go to the state Court of Appeals. But Beshear asked the Supreme Court to hear the case and skip the appeals court process. Bevin opposed Beshear's request, saying the case was not of "great and immediate public importance.” Monday, the court granted Beshear's request.


Fireworks Safety Tips

The 4th of July is fast approaching. People will be celebrating our Independence with several outdoor activities, including fireworks. According to state information, an estimated 9,700 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks last year. More than half the injuries were burns and most involved the hands, eyes and head and 50 percent of the victims were children under age 15. As the 4th of July holiday approaches, people need to know that the Home Safety Council urges families to enjoy fireworks the safer way, by attending locally sanctioned fireworks shows presented by professionals who adhere to safety codes. Fireworks are not toys, they are devices designed to reach high temperatures, to burn and spark, and to explode and launch. They are unpredictable by nature and can be dangerous for nonprofessional users.

Everyone is encouraged to follow these safety tips.

* Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
* Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

* Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

* Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

* Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
* Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
* Avoid dry grassy areas and woodlands where fireworks will be displayed.
* Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
* Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
* Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
* After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Although many states permit fireworks use by consumers only trained and experienced experts should use or transport fireworks. Be aware fireworks safety is not a supervision issue. A fireworks injury can happen in the blink of an eye, whether or not a parent is standing by with a bucket of water. During this holiday, keep in mind that the safest amateur use of fireworks is none at all. If you choose to use fireworks, please be careful and never allow children to handle these dangerous devises. This public information has been provided by Gary McClure, Paintsville/Johnson Co. Emergency Management Director.