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.