Local News 10-23-2013

Paintsville Police Dept. Investigating Separate Burglaries

According to the Paintsville Police Dept., the agency is investigating several incidents that occurred Tuesday morning, of unknown person(s) entering vehicles at two businesses located on Broadway and Depot Roads. Stealing purses that were left inside the vehicles. Officials are requesting that anyone that might have any information concerning these incidents, to please contact the department at 606-789-2603. These incidents remain under investigation by Officer Danny Smith and Paul Witten.

In a separate news release, the Paintsville Police Dept. is currently investigating a burglary that occurred at Arby's restaurant during the early morning hours of Saturday, October 19th. Police ask that anyone with any information on this burglary is urged to contact local law enforcement at 789-2603. This Incident remains under investigation by Sgt. Nathan Caudill.

Officials Investigating a Fire at a Martin County Business

Officials are investigating a suspicious fire at a popular Martin County business. The fire happened at the Pigeon Roost Dairy Bar on Route 1714, Sunday evening around 11:00 pm. Reports indicate the business was owned by Lonnie and Dottie Robinson. Officials have not determined the cause for the blaze that destroyed the community hang-out, but speculation is that the fire may have started around the heat pump. No injuries were reported with the fire. Firefighters from the Warfield, Inez and Kermit, W.Va volunteer fire departments responded to the scene. No further information has been provided at this time.

Names Released of Two Victims in a Pike Co. House Fire

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of a mobile home fire that killed two people in Lick Creek in Pike County over the weekend. Officials say the fire broke out inside the home on Left Fork of Elswick Fork Rd. sometime before 1:30 a.m. Kentucky State Police say when first responders entered the trailer they found two bodies. Family members believe they are their loved ones, Jesse Slone, 33, and his wife, Sara Horn Slone, 27. At this time, Trooper Shaun Little says the fire doesn't seem suspicious. The fire remains under investigation by Kentucky State Police.

State Auditor Releases Examination of Martin County Schools

State Auditor Adam Edelen has released a special examination of the Martin County Schools, finding lax oversight by the Board of Education and questionable activities involving the former superintendent.

The examination found that the former superintendent, Mark Blackburn, assigned his wife to a position that allowed her to maintain her previous salary and job duties, which appears to have resulted in grant non-compliance causing the use of Title I, Part A grant funds to be questioned. The wife was paid $50,000 more than the previous employee who held this position, which in total cost the District an additional $200,000 over four years. This issue was referred to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) for further investigation.

The examination also found that the former superintendent awarded a privately funded scholarship to two of his children and two other known relatives of District personnel. District staff and Board members had no or minimal knowledge of the scholarship or recipient selection process.

Board Chairman Craig Preece said in the response to the exam, "When first notified that your office would be conducting an examination of certain administrative activities in our district, the thought of yet another negative blow to the integrity of Martin County Schools was not a pleasant one. However, it was quickly welcomed as an additional strategy to help us correct course in several areas of district operations."

The examination is the 14th completed by the Auditor's office in the past year. These examinations are the first-ever meaningful entry by the Auditor's office into public education.

The Martin County Schools examination also found that the former superintendent's contract contained redundant or unclear benefits and that the Board did not adhere to statutory requirements related to the evaluation of the former superintendent.

The Auditor's office has found issues with superintendent contracts in exams conducted in five other school districts. The Auditor previously recommended that KDE require districts to submit superintendent contracts to KDE for posting on a publicly-accessible website. KDE accepted the recommendation and all but one district have submitted their superintendent contracts.The full report can be found on the Auditor's website.

Seven Die On Kentucky Roadways Last Week (Oct. 14 through Oct. 20)

Preliminary statistics* indicate that seven people died as the result of injuries sustained in seven motor vehicle-related crashes on Kentucky’s roadways from Monday, Oct. 14 through Sunday, Oct. 20. One single-fatality, motor vehicle crash occurred in each of the following counties: Barren, Carlisle, Crittenden, Jefferson and Warren. The victims in Barren, Jefferson and Warren counties were not wearing seat belts. One pedestrian was killed in Fayette County and one in Jefferson County.

 Through Oct. 20, preliminary statistics* indicate that 514 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2013. This is 71 less than reported for this time period in 2012. Citizens can contribute to highway safety by reporting erratic drivers to the Kentucky State Police toll-free at 1-800-222-5555. Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.

Ky. Awarded $2.8 Million in Security Grants

Kentucky has received nearly $3 million in homeland security grants that will be distributed to agencies across the state. The $2.8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be divided among 119 projects. Gov. Steve Beshear's office said Monday the money will be used for training, citizen preparedness and equipment for first-responders, communications and infrastructure. Some $1.4 million in grants was approved for communications equipment such as alert systems, 911 projects, computers and radios. Slightly more than $1 million in grants will go for equipment used in bomb detection as well as medical, protective and search-and-rescue items. Gene Kiser, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, says local agencies submitted 235 applications totaling $13 million in grant requests.

Senators Ray Jones Pre-files Legislation Allowing Consumers a Voice on PSC

To give consumers more of a voice on their utility rates, Senators Ray S. Jones II, D-Pikeville, pre-filed legislation Friday requiring Public Service Commission (PSC) members to be elected by the public. Under BR 250, the Public Service Commission (PSC) would consist of seven members, one from each of the six United States Congressional Districts and one from the state-at-large. Members of the PSC would be elected during the regular election in even-numbered years for terms of four years. Currently, PSC members are appointed to the commission by the Governor.  

The proposed legislation states that each member’s term would begin upon the first day of January of the year succeeding their election. One member of the commission from each U.S. Congressional District and one state-at-large member would be elected during the November 2016 election. Members elected from the even-numbered U.S. Congressional Districts would then be elected during the November 2018 election. Members elected from the odd-numbered U.S. Congressional Districts and the state-at-large member would be elected in 2020.

The at-large commission member will serve as chair of the PSC. If BR 250 gains approval, all appointments made to the PSC by the Governor prior to or subsequent to the effective date of this law would expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

Under the proposed legislation, an individual would not be qualified to run for commissioner if he or she holds any official relationship to any utility; owns any stocks or bonds of any utility, or has any financial interest to any utility for three years prior to his or her election. BR 250 will be considered during the 2014 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 7.

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is October 26

Residents living in southern and eastern Kentucky wishing to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medications have plenty of options at this coming Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Over the past year, Operation UNITE has helped establish 41 permanent medication drop box sites in 34 counties. These boxes are available free to citizens during operating hours that vary by location.

In addition, special take-back sites will be available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on October 26 at Kentucky State Police Posts and other law enforcement agencies in 12 of UNITE’s counties. During the Take-Back Day event held this past April, nearly 1,200 pounds of prescription medications were collected at UNITE drop-box locations. Residents are asked to please remove all identifying labels from prescription bottles before bringing them to the drop-off sites.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which began in October 2010, aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications. More than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of pills were removed from circulation in the first six DEA Take-Back Days. For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org<http://www.operationunite.org.