LOCAL NEWS

WSIP News 2-27-2017

 

Man Arrested after Setting 271 Acre Wildfire in Kentucky

A Floyd Co. man has been arrested and charged with setting a fire in the woods. Johnathan Shepherd, 36, of David has been charged with wanton endangerment and two counts of willfully setting a fire. The arrest was made Wednesday by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The fire was set off of Highway 1210 in Floyd Co and was 271 acres, according to a release. Shepherd was placed in the Floyd Co Jail.


One Person Dies following a Logging Accident in Lawrence Co

According to Officials in Lawrence Co., the victim of a logging accident on Friday morning, passed away. Lawrence Co Emergency Management says the person died late Friday afternoon after the accident on the Left Fork of Cains Creek Road just west of Blaine earlier that morning. According to a release, the person was cutting a tree and when it fell, it hit another tree causing limbs to fall and hit the person. The name of the victim hasn't been released.


Burglary Arrest after Suspect caught on Camera Stealing from Laundromat

A suspect has been arrested for allegedly stealing merchandise from a laundromat Saturday in Martin Co. According to the Martin Co Sheriff’s Dept., they report that Rush Fletcher, 47 of Inez was seen on surveillance stealing from Cardinal Laundry on Thursday, Feb 23. Deputies report they got a warrant for Fletcher's arrest and searched the home of another man Jerald Castle of Debord, Ky. While at that home, Deputies say they determined that Castle was involved with drug trafficking and was charged with receiving stolen property under $500, possession of marijuana and second-degree trafficking a controlled substance. Fletcher was charged with second-degree burglary. Both men are currently being held at the Big Sandy Detention Center.


Martin Co. Man Arrested for firing several Gunshots at a Housing Complex

In a separate news release from the Martin Co. Sheriff’s Dept., a man was arrested Saturday afternoon after firing off several gun shots at a residential housing community. Deputies said Brandon L. Puckett, 25, allegedly fired three shots at the Dempsey Housing Complex around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Sheriff John Kirk and Deputies said they found Puckett hiding inside an apartment closet. They also found a loaded handgun inside the closet and several shell casings at the housing complex. Puckett was arrested and was charged with wanton endangerment. He was lodged at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.



Boyd Co Man Arrested after allegedly trying to run over a Deputy

A Boyd Co man is in jail facing several charges after deputies say he set a barn on fire and tried to run over a deputy with a car. According to the Boyd Co Sheriff’s Department, Deputies responded to a barn fire shortly after midnight Sunday. Deputies say it was apparent the fire was arson because of flammable materials stacked up against the barn door. According to a release, a deputy was talking to the barn owner when he noticed a car matching the description of an earlier attempt to locate call, where a man allegedly went through the Summit McDonald’s drive-thru and told an employee to “remember his face.”

While investigating the car, deputies say they saw a man inside another car parked nearby. When deputies told the man to show his hands, the man allegedly started the car and tried to hit the deputy. The release says the deputy feared for his life and fired several shots at the suspect. The bullets hit the car but missed the man, who drove off. Deputies say they chased the man until he crashed his car at the intersection of State Route 5 and Indian Run Road, but then took off running. Joseph A. Smith, 31, of Catlettsburg, was arrested and faces several charges including attempted murder of a police officer, seven counts of wanton endangerment, arson, resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon. Smith was taken to the Boyd Co Detention Center.


3 People Arrested as a result of sexual offense investigation

In a separate news release out of Boyd Co., three people were arrested on sexual offenses last week in Ashland. The three have been identified as Felicia A. Rowe, Tina M. Scerba, and Rebecca J. Scerba. According to The Ashland Police Department, the arrests are a result of the investigation of a sexual offense involving a child with a mental disability.

* Felicia A. Rowe, 43, of Ashland is facing sodomy, rape, unlawful transaction with a minor and promoting a minor in a sexual performance charges.

* Tina M. Scerba, 38, and Rebecca J. Scerba, 37, of Ashland, both face unlawful transaction with a minor (illegal sex act under 16 years of age), complicity to sodomy and complicity to rape charges.

All three were booked in the Boyd Co Detention Center. Ashland police contacted the Department of Social Services to ensure safe placement for the child during the investigation. The child remains under the care of Social Services.



Former Prestonsburg Mayor Accused of Spending City Money on Football Team

Former Prestonsburg Mayor Jerry Fannin was indicted for theft on Wednesday. According to media reports, in 2015 the state auditor accused Fannin of misusing more than 100,000 dollars in city funds. In a federal indictment unsealed last week, Fannin is accused of spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to benefit the football team, The Eastern Kentucky Drillers. In 2014 current mayor Les Stapleton took office and began looking into how money was spent. The indictment said Fannin spent more than 7,000 dollars on the drillers. If convicted Fannin could face up to ten years in prison and 250,000 dollars in fines.

Two Eastern Kentucky Banks Plan Merger

Two historic Eastern Kentucky banks announced plans to merge. Officials with First Commonwealth Bank and First Guaranty Bank made the joint announcement of a definitive agreement and plan of merger. President and CEO of First Commonwealth Bank; Greg Wilson, says the merger will join together two strong community banks that will allow them to better serve the region. The merger creates total combined assets of nearly 350-million-dollars. Though both banks have approved, the union is still subject to regulatory approval. It is anticipated that the merger of the banks could occur as early as the second quarter of this year.


Statewide Tornado Drill Scheduled for Feb 28

Just ahead of Severe Weather Awareness Week, running from March 1st through the 7th, a statewide tornado drill will be held on Tuesday, February 28. Beginning at 10:07 a.m. EST (9:07 a.m. CST,) a tornado warning test message will be sent. The test message will emphasize this is only a test of the alert system. During the drill, outdoor warning sirens may sound across Kentucky communities, weather alert radios will activate, and television, radio, and mobile devices will broadcast the alert. The drill is intended to give the public an opportunity to practice tornado safety measures. During the test alert, all Kentuckians, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, educators and government agencies are encouraged to practice their tornado safety drill and update their emergency plan.



WSIP News 2-23-2017

 

2 Dead, 2 Injured in Ashland House Fire

Officials in Boyd Co. are reporting that 2 women were killed and 2 adults were injured in an early morning house fire in Ashland Wednesday morning. According to Ashland Fire Capt. Carl Stambaugh he reported that the blaze was called in about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday by a neighbor who was awakened by his barking dog. Stambaugh said the neighbor went over to knock on a door and try to get people out while his wife called 9-1-1. Stambaugh said fire crews arrived to find flames coming out the door and the windows. He said the neighbor “absolutely saved lives.” The injured were taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital in West Virginia. One person escaped unharmed. Stambaugh said firefighters did not find any smoke detectors in the home. This fire remains under investigation.


CVE Officer Arrested on Domestic Violence Charge

According to media reports, a Kentucky Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer working out of Region 5 in Morehead was arrested on domestic violence allegations early this morning in Pikeville. Clinton Combs, 43, of Kimper, was charged with a misdemeanor count of fourth-degree assault. Information says Combs is accused of allegedly pushing a female relative and then scratching her arm. He has since been released from jail.


Boyd Co. Pawn Shop Burglar Arrested

A suspect has been arrested in Boyd Co. for a Pawn Shop Burglary. The Tri-State Pawn & Jewelry in Ashland was burglarized on February 12, with the suspect escaping with over $2,000 in firearms. The burglar was later identified as a juvenile and was arrested by the Ashland Police Dept. along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Friday, February 17. His name has not been released, but he was lodged with the Department of Juvenile Justice and all weapons were recovered and returned to the business.


West Liberty Police Department Report Phone Scam

The West Liberty Police Department has received reports of citizens getting calls from individuals claiming to be with Publisher’s Clearing House. The West Liberty Police Department reminds residents to be mindful of suspicious calls during tax season, especially ones claiming you have won something but request the victim send money first or supply them with personal information. If you receive a suspicious call, contact your local law enforcement agency.


Nearly 60% Kentuckians Voted in the Presidential Election

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes confirmed Tuesday that nearly 60% of Kentucky voters cast ballots in last November’s presidential election. The State Board of Elections recently finalized voter credit for the cycle. “More Kentucky voters than ever – 1,955,195 – voted in the 2016 election,” said Grimes, Kentucky’s chief election official. “After our successful effort to launch online voter registration at GoVoteKY.com and make our voter rolls more accurate, a historic number of Kentuckians showed up and made their voices heard at the ballot box.”

The turnout represented 59.1 percent of the electorate, a short decline from 2012’s 59.7 percent turnout and 64 percent in the 2008 presidential election. “These numbers still show that we have plenty of work to do to get Kentuckians engaged and that includes pushing for election reforms like early voting which make it easier to vote,” Grimes said. About 62.8 percent of Republicans voted compared to 58.5 percent of Democrats. Forty-five percent of voters identifying as Independent or affiliated with another party cast votes. Turnout was strongest among Republican men 62 years old and older – 73 percent – followed by Republican women between the ages of 50 and 61 who voted at a rate of about 70 percent. The lowest turnout was among women, 25 to 34 years old, at 36 percent.

The turnout rates among the political parties when compared to the 2012 election was mixed. Republicans voted at the same rate as in 2012 with 62.8 percent of GOP voters going to the polls. Democrats saw their turnout decline by a percentage point from 59.5 in 2012. There was no change in turnout for voters identifying as other or registered in other parties with about 45 percent casting ballots in November. Since 2008, the rate of voter turnout is down across the board. Republicans saw a decline of more than two percent since that election and the turnout among Democrats declined by about six percent. Turnout of all other voters declined by more than five percent. Official voter turnout totals are available at GoVoteKY.com.


Pension System’s Woes could be worse than Previously Thought

Kentucky’s public pension system, which officially faces an $18.1 billion unfunded liability, might be in worse shape than previously thought. According to The Lexington Herald-Leader, the bigger potential problem means taxpayers could be on the hook for more money to honor pension commitments to about 365,000 public employees. Kentucky Retirement Systems board chairman John Farris told fellow trustees Thursday that KRS made math errors in recent years. He says it relied on overly optimistic assumptions about its investment returns, growth of state and local government payrolls and the inflation rate. Some KRS trustees say they thought the assumed numbers were correct because the agency’s actuarial adviser did not balk when it received them. In coming weeks, KRS will select a company to perform another assessment of its financial health.


Statewide Tornado Drill Scheduled for Feb 28

Just ahead of Severe Weather Awareness Week, running from March 1st through the 7th, a statewide tornado drill will be held on Tuesday, February 28. Beginning at 10:07 a.m. EST (9:07 a.m. CST,) a tornado warning test message will be sent. The test message will emphasize this is only a test of the alert system. During the drill, outdoor warning sirens may sound across Kentucky communities, weather alert radios will activate, and television, radio, and mobile devices will broadcast the alert. The drill is intended to give the public an opportunity to practice tornado safety measures. During the test alert, all Kentuckians, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, educators and government agencies are encouraged to practice their tornado safety drill and update their emergency plan.


Long-Awaited Bridge Replacement Project Awarded in Johnson Co

Construction on a new state bridge on KY 1559 (Sitka-Stambaugh Road over Tom’s Creek near the junction of KY 201) should begin within the next several weeks, said Mary Westfall-Holbrook, PE, Chief District Engineer, Highway District 12 of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The bridge was closed on July 28, 2015, immediately after severe flooding caused millions of dollars in damages to homes and property in Johnson County. Frederick & May of West Liberty, Kentucky, was awarded the low-bid contract in the amount of $495,830.03 to build a new structure and demolish the old bridge. The company has 48 working days to complete the project. It should be noted that official Construction Season begins April 1. Any work the company does prior to April 1 does not count toward the contract’s working days. In other words, if the firm begins before April 1, those days do not count against the contract’s working days.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will pay for the work up front, reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 75% of the project. Doug Wright, D12 Section Engineer for Johnson County, said a preconstruction meeting with the contractor is set for March 2, with work expected to begin before the first of April. The contractor has 48 working days to complete the project to avoid liquidated damages. Forty-eight working days generally means eight-hour days Monday through Friday, not including holidays or days of inclement weather. The contractor can choose to work weekends, nights, holidays, and double shifts, but is not required to do so. “There is a tight turnaround on this job,” Wright said. “We know that people have been without a bridge since the summer of 2015, and the contractor understands how important it is to get this job started as soon as possible and finished on time.”

 

WSIP News 2-22-2017

 

Robbery in the Betsy Layne Community

Two former employees of a Betsy Layne business were apprehended Tuesday afternoon, following an attempted robbery. Police say the owner of Zippy’s Pizza reported to them that 2 former employees (identities unconfirmed) rushed into the business, assaulted the owner and took an undisclosed amount of cash from the register. Police also report that the owner of the business and the robbers exchanged gunfire during the robbery. The suspects, a man and a woman, ran from the scene. Officials say the robbery happened around 2 PM Tuesday and a short time following the robbery, KSP Detectives apprehended the suspects in the Prestonsburg area. WSIP news has not received official word on the identities of the suspects and an investigation is currently underway by the KSP.


Cemetery Vandalized in Perry Co

According to reports, a Church cemetery in Perry Co was recently vandalized. Members of the Vicco Worship Center noticed headstones knocked over, some more than 100 years old, including that of a man named Bad Tom Smith, a legendary figure in the Perry Co. area. Police are investigating the vandalism and ask the public that if they have any information to help in the investigation, to please notify law enforcement.


Missing Lee Co Man Found Dead

Officials in Lee Co. report that a missing Lee Co. man has been found dead in the Middle Fork of the Kentucky River. Randy Cress, 52, went missing early Sunday morning. Crews were searching the area near his home along Mill Branch School Road, just outside of Beattyville. On Sunday, crews searched mostly on land. However, they focused on water Monday. Crews used boats and Sonar equipment Monday to see if they could find any clues as to where Cress could be. On Sunday, officials found some prescription pill bottles along the river. We are told Cress struggled with seizures and was staying with his parents at the time he went missing. Crews were unable to find anything in the water Monday, but found his body in that same region on Tuesday. His cause of death has not yet been released.


Five Arrested on Prostitution Charges in Ashland

Five people are facing prostitution charges after an undercover investigation in Ashland. Ashland police conducted the undercover operation targeting prostitution February 1-10. Detectives from the Criminal Investigations Section posted a personal ad on the internet. When someone responded to the ad, the detectives arranged a meeting and then arrest the person when they arrived at the meeting spot. A total of five people were charged with prostitution as a result of this operation.


Protesters Greet Mitch McConnell in Anderson Co. Tuesday

Nearly one thousand people crowded behind a chain link fence Tuesday to try to catch Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's attention as he made his first stop on a tour of Kentucky during the congressional recess. The protesters chanted, "No ban, no wall, Mitch McConnell take our call," a reference to the senator's clogged voicemail system during the first month of Donald Trump's presidency. The Anderson Co Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday is the first of several events where McConnell is scheduled to speak. Demonstrators promised to follow him to each stop.


Long-Awaited Bridge Replacement Project Awarded in Johnson Co

Construction on a new state bridge on KY 1559 (Sitka-Stambaugh Road over Tom’s Creek near the junction of KY 201) should begin within the next several weeks, said Mary Westfall-Holbrook, PE, Chief District Engineer, Highway District 12 of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The bridge was closed on July 28, 2015, immediately after severe flooding caused millions of dollars in damages to homes and property in Johnson County. Frederick & May of West Liberty, Kentucky, was awarded the low-bid contract in the amount of $495,830.03 to build a new structure and demolish the old bridge. The company has 48 working days to complete the project. It should be noted that official Construction Season begins April 1. Any work the company does prior to April 1 does not count toward the contract’s working days. In other words, if the firm begins before April 1, those days do not count against the contract’s working days.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will pay for the work up front, reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 75% of the project. Doug Wright, D12 Section Engineer for Johnson County, said a preconstruction meeting with the contractor is set for March 2, with work expected to begin before the first of April. The contractor has 48 working days to complete the project to avoid liquidated damages. Forty-eight working days generally means eight-hour days Monday through Friday, not including holidays or days of inclement weather. The contractor can choose to work weekends, nights, holidays, and double shifts, but is not required to do so. “There is a tight turnaround on this job,” Wright said. “We know that people have been without a bridge since the summer of 2015, and the contractor understands how important it is to get this job started as soon as possible and finished on time.”



WSIP News 2-21-2017

 

Pike Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Investigating a School Break-In

The Pike Co Sheriff’s Dept. are continuing their investigation into a recent burglary of a Pike Co. School. According to Deputies, they identified Dustin Morley, 27, of Pikeville and said he allegedly broke into John's Creek Elementary early Sunday morning. When Deputies arrived on scene, they say Morley ran away. Officials were able to recover $1,500 in stolen items that belonged to the elementary school. The case remains under investigation.


Fire Destroys Home Outside of Louisa

According to officials in Lawrence Co. a fire destroyed a home along Red Branch Road around 3:45 a.m. Monday morning. Reports say when fire crews arrived at the scene, the home was already engulfed in flames. Lawrence Co 911 dispatchers say the home was occupied, but no one was injured. Fire officials are working to identify what sparked the fire.


Prestonsburg Police Nab Suspected Drug Trafficker

According to a news release from the Prestonsburg Police Dept. Officer Nick Bingham received a complaint of a vehicle driving erratically traveling Northbound on US 23 on Friday (Feb. 10). Upon observation, Bingham witnessed the vehicle swerving and crossing the center line several times. He initiated a traffic stop on a 2004 Dodge Ram driven by a female subject and an arrest followed. As Officer Bingham made contact with the woman, she identified herself as Jamie Frasure. She was given a field sobriety test and was unsteady on her feet, had trouble balancing and could not perform the HGN test. The HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) test is a standard field sobriety test often used to determine if a suspected DUI driver is under the influence of alcohol. The officer observed her pupils were constricted and unresponsive to light change.

After failing to successfully complete a field sobriety test, Bingham once again asked the female subject what her name was, in which at that time stated her name was Judith Stepp. She then said she had an ID in her purse. When asked why she lied originally, she claimed she was nervous because she was driving on a DUI suspended license. Upon further questioning, Stepp admitted she had taken Oxycodone and she had more inside her purse. A search of the purse located six Oxycodone pills in a cigarette wrapper, along with several more Oxycodone, Morphine, Xanax and numerous unidentified pills. A total 45 Suboxone strips were found inside a Ziploc baggie. While searching the vehicle, a money bag containing approximately $20,000 cash was discovered with an additional $400 cash inside her wallet. Stepp was arrested and lodged in the Floyd Co Detention Center, charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving on DUI suspended license, possession of a controlled substance – second degree, possession of a controlled substance – third degree, trafficking in a controlled substance – first degree, trafficking in a controlled substance – second degree, prescription controlled substance not in the proper container and giving an officer a false name or address. She was released on February 13 on a $2,500 partially secure bond.


KSP Continue Search for a Magoffin Co Man Wanted for Assault 2nd

KSP in Pikeville are continuing their search for a Magoffin Co. man wanted on assault charges. According to the original news release, in the early morning hours of Monday, February 13, 2017, Post 9 Pikeville responded to a residence in the Trace Branch community of Magoffin County concerning a domestic assault complaint. Troopers arrived at the scene as Marcus Eugene Sparks, 30 of Trace Branch, fled on foot into a wooded area. Troopers at the scene were unable to locate Sparks. An arrest warrant has been obtained for Sparks for Assault 2nd Degree. The Kentucky State Police is asking the public for any information on the whereabouts of Marcus Sparks, and can call the Kentucky State Police Post 09 at (606) 433-7711. Callers can remain anonymous. This incident remains under investigation by KSP Trooper Mike Goble.


Flu-Levels Reported As Widespread

Statewide flu levels has risen enough that the state has now classified the virus as widespread. According to officials with the Cabinet of Health, the numbers have risen since las week. There is now activity in 15 regions across the state. Officials numbers of cases have not yet been released. Multiple schools have cancelled classes across the region due to flu-like illnesses being reported. Both KentuckyOne Health and UK Hospital have instated flu visitation rules to avoid spreading the illness to patients


Forest Fire Hazard Season Begins

This reminder once again concerning the current Forest Fire Season which began on February 15. Now through April 30th, burning is prohibited within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland in Kentucky, except between the overnight hours of 6PM and 6AM. The ban is also lifted during times the ground is covered with snow. You can get more information by contacting your local division of forestry office.