Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flu Hits Kentucky

Ten states report widespread flu activity, which is the highest level described by the Centers for Disease Control.

Kentucky joins 22 other states in the regional activity level, which is the second highest on the CDC scale.

A person is diagnosed with the virus through a flu screen and can be treated with a prescription.

Health officials say hand washing is a great way to help prevent yourself from coming down with the flu.

Health officials say a healthy diet and exercise are also ways to keep a strong immune system.

Local Charity Thrift Shop Closing

For about eight years folks in Pike County have been going to The Charity Thrift store on US 460 to buy discounted items.

Now, with local donations dwindling and their main merchandise supplier in Maryland cutting off their monthly shipments, owners say the store is forced to close.

Store Owner Charles Sanders says he knows closing their doors at the thrift store will hurt many in the community. "I hate to shut it down for that very purpose, because our goal is to help those who can't help themselves....but it is also to help those that want to help themselves but can't afford to shop at the big box stores."

Owners plan to close for good on January 18th.

KY Industrial Hemp Commission Meets in the Capitol

The Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission met in the state capitol on Monday.

Lawmakers fielded questions from the public on the controversial issue.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is leading the push to bring hemp production back to the blue grass.

The state legislature passed a law make in March allowing that to happen, if the federal government ever lifts a ban on the crop.

KYNECT Enrollments Increase Close to 93 Percent

Enrollments for Kentucky's healthcare system have increased close to 93%.

Officials say more than 116,000 people are enrolled thanks to KYNECT.

Kentucky health administrators say thousands of Kentuckians made their final decisions on their family healthcare plans by December 23rd.

However, open enrollment continues through March 31st for any person seeking health insurance.

Those who apply the next few weeks can have coverage activated as soon as February 1st.

Pike Man Arrested on Drug Charges While Small Child Was with Him

Pike County deputies say a man is behind bars for selling drugs while he had his young child with him.

Deputies say 44-year-old Christopher Irick sold undercover officers Suboxone strips in the parking lot of the Shelbiana Food City.

Rhey arrested Irick and say they found more prescription pills when they searched him.

They also say his five-year-old child was with him at the time.

Irick is charged with drug trafficking and wanton endangerment.

Floyd County Sheriff Announces Department Layoffs and Cutbacks

Layoffs and cutbacks are coming to the Floyd County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff John K. Blackburn says the cutbacks are due to mismanagement on the part of members of the Floyd County Fiscal Court.

The sheriff says the fiscal court is punishing the citizens of Floyd County by not making law enforcement a priority.

The sheriff says the Floyd County Fiscal Court cut his department's budget nearly in half.

Blackburn says the fiscal court will no longer pay for health insurance, retirement, workers compensation, or liability insurance, and is tacking on additional expenses like rent at the courthouse and McDowell annex, utilities, phone service, and the cost of county audits.

Sheriff Blackburn announced an end to evening and night dispatch services, and all law enforcement after 4 p.m.

The changes are to go into effect January 1st.

Not All Telemarketers Are Scam Artists

The holiday season is a popular time for charitable giving, but officials with the Kentucky State Police Professional Association said holiday seasons also come with common scams.

Officials with the KSPPA said every year they get complaints of phone scammers soliciting money on their behalf.

Officials from KSPPA verified they do ask for donations year-round.

“You must watch for folks who want you to send your credit card information over the phone or if they want you to send them cash,” said Treasurer Phil Crumpton.

Officials said holiday shoppers should be careful to avoid scams.

Phil Crumpton said, “Our telemarketers will ask you if you'd like to make a donation and then they will send you a packet through the mail.”

To verify whether or not you are the target of this scam Crumpton said you can call their office at 502-875-1625.

Monday, December 30, 2013

More Than 400 Candidates Have Filed For Election

More than 400 candidates have filed to run for congressional, legislative and judicial seats across Kentucky in next year's elections.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's chief elections official, said that number is expected to grow larger still because the filing deadline isn't until Jan. 28.

The number doesn't include the multitude of candidates for city and county offices.

Candidates running for seats in Congress and the Legislature have to file with the secretary of state's office, as do those seeking to become justices on the Kentucky Supreme Court, judges on the Court of Appeals or on circuit or district courts around the state.

Candidates for city and county offices file with their local county clerks.

KSP Working to keep Fatalities Down

Kentucky State Police spokesman Trooper Paul Blanton says the number of highway fatalities in the state this year is the lowest since 1947.

Blanton credits stepped-up enforcement and education programs as well as motorists who are vigilant about wearing seat belts, reducing speed and using designated drivers.

By last week, the state had 628 traffic deaths, 15 percent less than last year. Police are hoping people out during the New Year's holiday can help keep the number down.

Blanton says police will be arresting anyone caught driving impaired. The holiday enforcement period starts at 6 p.m. Monday and continues through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

In Kentucky, impaired or erratic drivers can be reported by calling (800) 222-5555. Highway safety officials also recently unveiled a new app that lists taxi and limo services and allows users to report drunken drivers.

Some Ky. Communities see Economic recovery

An analysis by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has found that many communities across the state have rebounded from the 2008 recession.

The report released this week found a largely positive picture of the state economic health.

According to reports, the analysis found that three cities - Owensboro, Lexington and Elizabethtown - support more jobs now than they had in 2007. It also found that Louisville jobs have increased to pre-recession levels and wages and salaries increased in urban areas.

It wasn't all good news, though.

Wages and salaries fell in 17 counties mostly in eastern Kentucky. The region also saw a loss of about 6,000 coal jobs.

Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson said "it's a mixed picture," but clearly shows some recovery.

Undercover Drug Buy Leads to Three Arrests

Three people are behind bars after police say an undercover officer was able to buy prescription drugs on Friday.

Police say they arrested J.B. Jordan, Chasity Jordan, and Michael Napier while they were searching their home.

During the search, police found hydrocodone tablets, marijuana, suboxone strips, and money.

J.B. Jordan was charged with trafficking a controlled substance. Chasity Jordan was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Napier was charged with prescription drugs not in a proper container.

All were taken to the Knox County Detention Center.

Federal Health Market Surpasses 1 Million Signups

The Obama administration says that following a December surge more than 1.1 million people have now enrolled for health insurance through the federal government's improved website.

Nearly 1 million signed up this month through the federal exchange serving 36 states before the Dec. 24 deadline to enroll for coverage to start in January. Compare that to a paltry 27,000 in October, the website's first, problem-plagued month.

The Health and Human Services department says in the week leading up to Dec. 24, nearly twice as many enrolled as in the first part of December.

Sunday's number is only partial, because the administration didn't provide an update on the 14 states running their own websites. California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and 
Connecticut have done well, but others are still struggling.

Floyd County Firefighters Sharpen Driving Skills

About a dozen firefighters from various departments in Floyd County spent yesterday training at Betsy Layne High School.

It was not the training you typically think about firefighters going through, this one was a driving course required by the state.

Participants drove through an obstacle course simulating different situations.

The course focused on driving personal vehicles since the departments are volunteer.

Officials say many firefighters respond to calls in their own vehicles.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Unemployment cuts to affect thousands locally, millions nationwide

A government report says, in our region, nearly 40-thousand Ohioans will lose their benefits on December 28th, along with nearly 20,000 in Kentucky and about 6,300 in West Virginia.

That is because Congress has decided to bring down the number of weeks a person can draw unemployment to pre-recession levels.

Benefits were extended from 23 weeks up to 63 weeks, in some states, to help blunt the effects of the 2008 financial collapse.

Kroger Warning Customers About Possible Scam

Kroger is warning its customers of a hoax being spread on social media this holiday season.
Company officials say the scam offers a $250 Kroger gift card on Facebook.
A spokesperson says Kroger is not giving away the gift cards and recommends customers ignore it.


Coalfield Counties Top for Unemployment

The top 10 Kentucky counties for unemployment are all in Eastern Kentucky.
The state's jobless rate decreased slightly in November, but unemployment is still prevalent in coal-producing counties, according to statistics released Thursday by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.
Leslie County posted the state's highest unemployment rate last month at 16.4 percent.
The county with the second highest jobless rate is Magoffin County, followed by Harlan, Letcher and Knott Counties.
Bell, McCreary, Jackson, Perry and Clay Counties round out the top 10.
The jobless rate for the whole state in November was 7.7 percent, compared to 7.4 percent for the same period in 2012.

Driver Indicted for Murder in Johnson County

Nearly seven months after a deadly crash in eastern Kentucky a grand jury has indicted a driver for murder.
On May 29, police say Gene Helton was driving a coal truck while under the influence when he slammed into the back of a pickup in Johnson County.
Police say Miranda Martin, 36, was thrown from the bed of the truck and died at the scene.
The grand jury also indicted helton for assault and DUI.
Police say they are now looking for Helton, who's from Magoffin County.

Brothers Killed in Knott County Crash

Two brothers are dead after a crash Knott County Thursday morning.
It happened just east of the the Knott-Perry line on Highway 80 around 9 a.m.
The crash happened between a BMW car and a pickup. Kentucky State Police say the driver and a passenger in the car were killed.
According to KSP the driver, Philip Huff, 65, of Garner, was heading west when he apparently lost control. The car went across the median into the eastbound lane. The truck, driven by Saka Disu, 53, of Proctorville, Ohio, was heading east, overturned on the driver's side, landing partially on the shoulder in the eastbound lane.
Huff's brother, Carlos W. Huff, 44, of Hindman, was a passenger in the car. He and his brother were both pronounced dead at the scene by the Knott County coroner. KSP report that no seatbelts were being used in the car.
Disu was taken to Hazard ARH by ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.

Toxicology reports are pending. The crash remains under investigation by KSP.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

First-class Stamps to cost 49 cents as of January 26th

The cost of mailing a letter is a month away from increasing by three cents. That means the rate will be 49 cents for a first-class stamp.
But many consumers won't have to pay the extra cost immediately. That's because 'forever stamps' can be purchased at the lower price until the new rate is effect Jan. 26.
The temporary rate increase will remain in effect only until the Postal Service can recoup $2.8 billion in losses. The independent Postal Regulatory Commission rejected a request to make the price hike permanent.
Bulk mail, periodicals and package service rates will rise 6 percent. The new price of a postcard stamp, raised by a penny to 34 cents in November, also is effective next month.
The post office has been hit hard by declining mail volume because of the recession and growing Internet use. It also struggles because Congress requires it to prepay $5.6 billion annually for the health care costs of future retirees.

Letcher County woman gets Parole hearing in Husband’s 1991 death

An Eastern Kentucky woman serving life in prison for the 1991 slaying of her husband will get a chance to argue for her freedom in February.
The Kentucky Board of Probation and Parole will hear from 73-year-old Rebecca Kincer in February.
A judge sentenced Kincer to life in prison for the May 1, 1991 shooting of 67-year-old Vernal L. Kincer at the couple's home in Mayking.
Police say Rebecca Kincer used a 16-gauge shotgun to shoot her husband as he lay on a mattress in couple's home.
Kincer's last parole hearing occurred April 2, 2004, after which action was deferred for an additional 120 months.
Kincer is being held in the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex.

Kentucky won’t appeal ruling halting executions

Kentucky will not appeal a judge's ruling keeping a ban on executions in place with state officials opting instead to fight out a lawsuit brought by inmates challenging the way lethal injections are carried out.
Justice Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin also told The Associated Press that there won't be an attempt to rewrite the regulations for executions to deal with concerns raised by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd.
Earlier this month, Shepherd opted to keep in place an injunction that has stopped Kentucky from carrying out any death sentences since 2010. Shepherd raised concerns about how the state would determine if an inmate is mentally disabled.
Shepherd did not object to the state's choice of drugs or the one and two drug methods it proposes to use.

A woman is on the run after escaping from a hospital

Whitesburg police say 24 year old Amanda Yonts broke out of the Whitesburg ARH around 4:00 Tuesday afternoon.
Officials say Yonts has warrants out of Pike County, and was admitted to the hospital for a drug overdose.
Police say they recovered the stolen ARH vehicle Yonts used in her escape in the King's Creek community of Letcher County around 9:00 Tuesday night.
Police have not found Yonts.
If you have any information about Yonts, contact Whitesburg PD at 606 633 3714.

Sentencing of former Mingo County, WV judge delayed until April

The sentencing of a former Mingo County circuit judge has been pushed back to next spring.
Michael Thornsbury was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13. Court documents show that U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston on Monday granted a prosecution request to delay the proceeding.

Thornsbury's sentencing is now set for April 21, 2014.

Federal prosecutors sought the delay to given them more time to investigate information Thornsbury provided in a corruption probe.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty in October to a federal conspiracy charge and resigned from the bench.

He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Expanded Gambling Looms as Big Issue again in KY

Supporters of legalizing casinos in Kentucky are mounting another campaign that promotes expanded gambling as a lucrative revenue source during lean times. They're hoping for a strong stretch run for a proposal that's been mired in defeat.
The latest version will be presented as a proposed constitutional amendment that would go on the 2014 general election ballot if approved by the General Assembly. Proposals have been drafted for introduction in the House and Senate.
Its most ardent backers insist it's not such a long-shot this time, but even they sound worn down by years of setbacks.
Democratic Rep. Larry Clark of Louisville says this is probably the last chance to get it passed.
Critics sound confident the proposal will fall short again.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Floyd County Facebook Angels

A group in Floyd County is using social media to provide what they call Christmas miracles for some in their community.
It started as a simple question five years ago. "If we put it on social media, would people actually come through? Would people actually have the Christmas heart, the Christmas cheer of making that miracle happen for people in nursing homes, adult crisis centers, and kid crisis centers," explains Brent Graden.
Now, each year around Thanksgiving Graden posts wish lists on Facebook for residents at nursing homes and crisis centers in Floyd County...almost instantly folks begin commenting picking a name to provide a little Christmas miracle for.
Graden says, "We got together a list, we checked it twice and now we can officially say we have 175 gifts here ready to give out."
They call themselves 'Facebook Angels', and through the power of social media this year's angels come from eight different states.

Earthquake Reported in Parts of Central Kentucky

Kentucky Emergency Management is reporting that an earthquake was felt near Mt. Sterling around 5:58am Monday.
The USGS reports that the disturbance was centered near the Sharpsburg area.
Officials with the National Weather Service measured the earthquake around 2.3.
Officials with the Kentucky Geological Survey based at the University of Kentucky say they measured the quake at 2.7, but based on the measurements from the NWS they believe it was probably somewhere closer to 2.5.
Officials report that this type of event is relatively minor. However, if you notice any damage to your home, you are asked to report it to the dispatch center at 859-498-8720.

A Solder’s Christmas Homecoming

Many folks gathered at the Johnson County Rescue Squad building to welcome home 19-year-old Jonathan Benham, a Private First Class in the Kentucky National Guard, after a nine month tour in Afghanistan.
Private-First-Class Benham says he is looking forward to good food and a lot of rest now that he's back home. He is a volunteer firefighter at both the Johnson County Rescue Squad and at a station in Van Lear.

One Hurt, Another Arrested following Stabbing in Mingo County

A fight in Mingo County ended with one man arrested and another in the hospital in critical condition.
Investigators say David Manns stabbed Joseph Harmon in the neck following an altercation at the Miner Mart in Taylorville, W.Va. Harmon suffered an 8-inch slash from his throat to the base of his neck.
Manns was arrested by West Virginia State Police on a malicious wounding charge and turned over to the custody of the Mingo County Sheriff's Department. He was then booked in the Southwestern Regional Jail.
Harmon is being treated at a Huntington area hospital.

Plans for a community center in Prestonsburg are moving forward

The Prestonsburg City Council approved the purchase of land next to City Hall for one million dollars.
It was a tie, 4-4 vote...causing Mayor Jerry Fannin to use his tie breaker vote.
Fannin says discussions at the SOAR meeting in Pikeville helped motivate him to move forward on the project.
The other possible location was at the community college. Fannin says the land next to City Hall is right in the middle of town and will hopefully draw more people into Prestonsburg, creating more business for local stores and restaurants. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tax on Fuels will drop on New Year’s Day

Kentucky's tax on the sale of gasoline, diesel and ethanol fuels will drop by one and a half cents per gallon on New Year's Day.

State officials say the reduction reflects a drop in the calculated average wholesale fuel price.

The decrease would result in the loss of about $45 million to the Kentucky road fund on an annualized basis. That supplies revenue to build, improve and maintain the state's roads and bridges.

State officials say any loss of revenue is concerning.

Floyd County Financial Woes

With a budget $400,000 in the red, Floyd County Judge-Executive Doc Marshall and county magistrates met Friday to make some tough decisions before the state intervenes.

Dozens of people fearing layoffs and service shutdowns showed up to the fiscal court meeting to put in their two cents to county leaders.

The county leaders went into executive session for about two hours Friday and came out with a plan of what would happen going forward. County attorney Keith Bartley presented the plans to the crowd gathered in the courtroom.

Upon hearing that county departments would have to pay for insurance and retirement, Sheriff John Blackburn and his department said, “How do we do that?” and asked why they had to pay for “the court’s mistake.” Bartley acknowledged that the county judge and magistrates understood that asking the departments to pay these bills on their own would result in layoffs.

Other steps the county plans to take include soliciting bids for insurance and workers’ compensation to see if any better deals exist, charging money for tournaments held at Allen Golf Course, leaving vacant county positions open and limiting transportation to and from Frankfort for autopsies to only those cases where the coroner has ordered an autopsy.

When the fiscal court held a special meeting Wednesday, they decided to park all county 
vehicles and shut off all county cell phones right away.

Leaders say they are trying to avoid shutting down the county completely or turning it over to the state’s control.

Singer Montgomery’s Restaurant to be Sold

A central Kentucky restaurant run by singer Eddie Montgomery is set to go on the auction block in January to settle $12.7 million in defaulted loans.

Central Bank & Trust of Lexington won a judgment against Eddie Montgomery's Steakhouse in Harrodsburg over unpaid loans and forced the auction, set for January 10 in Harrodsburg.

According to reports the bank sued Montgomery and his ex-wife, Tracy Nunan, in Boyle Circuit Court earlier this year, claiming the couple owed money on loans related to the business.

Montgomery is half of the country music duo Montgomery Gentry, which had a string of hits between 1999 and 2008, including My Town, Gone and Daddy Won't Sell the Farm.

The restaurant opened in late 2009 but closed in early May

New Pill Container Designed to Battle Drug Abuse

A Louisville company has created a secure pill dispenser with the aim of combating prescription drug abuse.

The Pill Guard is designed to ensure patients get the prescribed dose of medicine at the right time, and it prevents a user from taking too many pills at one time.

Pill Guard president Roger Hayes says the device is a step up from the child-resistant caps that came out in the 1970s. He says this device makes the drugs "adult-resistant."

The company launched the product as a pilot effort in late October, and it has become part of a small but growing market of smarter pill dispensers. The idea came from a local orthopedic surgeon who lost a patient to a drug overdose.

The device can hold 60 pills.

Health Plan Sticker Shock Ahead for Some Buyers

Many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government health care marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They're picking the cheapest one.

Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year - and discover they're on the hook for most of the initial cost.

Monday is a key enrollment deadline for the health law. The prospect of sticker shock after Jan. 1, when those who sign up for policies now can begin getting coverage, is seen as a looming problem.

Counselors who have been helping people choose policies say many are focused only on the upfront cost, not what the insurance companies agree to pay.

Attorney General: Not Enough Evidence in Case of Former Kentucky Official

State Attorney General Officials say there is not enough evidence to bring charges against a former official of Governor Steve Beshear's administration.

A letter from Jack Conway's office to former Deputy Justice Cabinet Secretary Charles Geveden Senior's attorney says the matter is closed.

The is following an investigation into whether cabinet employees were targeted for campaign contributions.

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has charged Geveden with violating the state governments ethic's code.

The hearing is scheduled for February 5th.

Lawrence County, KY assault suspect turns himself in after stealing a vehicle at gunpoint

Sheriff's deputies in Carter County, KY say they arrested Aaron Uhlmann after he assaulted his wife and stole a 1996 red Chevy truck at gunpoint. 
According to a press released issued by the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, authorities received a 911 call from a man stating he had beat up his wife.
When deputies arrived at a residence in Webbville, KY where the call was placed, they found a female who was tied up and who appeared to be suffering from head injuries. Deputies with the Lawrence County Sheriff's office say the victim was taken to an area hospital and was placed in the Intensive Care Unit.  There is no word on her condition.
Uhlmann fled the scene immediately after the incident.
Carter County, KY deputies have not released where and when he stole the vehicle. However, they say in the press release Uhlmann showed up at the detention center of his own free will and that is when he was placed into custody.

Safety Net Alliances Helps Low-income Families

When the Safety Net Alliance first met in June 2007, representatives of five nonprofits discussed ways they could work together to avoid duplication of services and better serve Northern Kentucky families in need.

Today, the Safety Net Alliance has grown from a handful of social service agencies, churches, educational institutions, government entities and other groups to a collaborative representing more than 100 organizations and nearly 250 individuals. Safety net services are considered those that meet basic human needs, including food and shelter.

Northern Kentucky's Safety Net Alliance has become so successful that it inspired Clermont County's social service agencies and other nonprofits to form a similar group.

Founded in 2010, the Clermont County Safety Net Alliance has nearly 50 member partners. 

And like Northern Kentucky's Safety Net Alliance, it's constantly growing.

Thousands Celebrate Christmas at Marlow’s Annual Giveaway

Thousands filled the Old Virgie High School Gym for a Christmas party complete with music, presents, Santa Claus, and lots of love. It is Marlow Tackett's 35th annual, 'Christmas for the Needy'. Earning him the nickname, Mountain Santa.

Each year Tackett gives out thousands of apples and oranges...as well as toys, clothes, furniture, and other necessities. All donated, with many donations coming from other states like Tennessee and North Carolina.

Bringing miracles throughout Eastern Kentucky for the past 3 decades, this year being the first in this part of Pike County.

Tackett says he is thrilled to bring his annual Christmas party to Virgie, just down the road from where he grew up.

To the thousands in the gym, it is clear where this man's heart is, and what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.

Tackett says about 8,000 people came through the gym in Virgie

Friday, December 20, 2013

Police Investigating Series of Copper thefts in Wise County, Va.

Nearly 250 Verizon customers in Pound, VA have been left with no phone or internet service due recent copper thefts that occurred on 4 different occasions over the past 18 days.

Verizon officials say the public's safety is at risk - due to not having access to 911.

"These thefts needlessly put people's lives in danger and cost thousands of dollars to repair," said Marlon Gunter, Verizon's area customer operations manager for southwest Virginia

"When phone lines are cut, citizens lose an important avenue for calling 911 and other emergency services. This loss of emergency communications can also result in injury or worse due to delayed response."

Verizon says it's had nine cases of copper thefts in Wise County this year alone.

If you have any information on the copper thefts call the Wise County Sheriff's Office at 276-328-9647. If you see any thefts in progress call 911.

Soldiers Home For Christmas After Year-long Deployment

Just in time for the holidays, the Kentucky National Guard will hold a welcome home ceremony for the 149th Vertical Construction Company at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

The Cynthiana and Olive Hill-based Soldiers are returning from a nearly year-long deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Since 9/11, nearly 16,000 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized in support of the Global War on Terror.

Proposal Seeks to Curb Heroin Abuse in Ky.

With heroin overdoses on the rise in Kentucky, the Kentucky Attorney General and two state legislators announced plans Thursday to combat the problem.

The bill, set to be introduced in state legislature in 2014, would strengthen penalties for high-volume drug traffickers and expand substance abuse treatment for opiate addicts.

Under the proposed bill, drug traffickers selling large amounts of opiates would be required to serve at least half of their sentences before coming up for parole. If a drug user overdoses as a result of buying from a high-volume trafficker, the trafficker would face a homicide charge – similar to federal laws. Under the current Kentucky laws and House Bill 463, drug offenders must serve 20 percent of sentences before they are eligible for parole.

The bill would also require Kentucky’s Medicaid program to cover more substance abuse treatment for opiate addicts.

Ky.’s Unemployment Rate Falls in November

The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training is reporting a slight improvement to the state's unemployment rate in November.

According to the report, the jobless rate stood at 8.2 percent in November, down from 8.4 percent in October.

The rate remains higher than the 8 percent recorded in November 2012.

Employment boomed in November in the state's professional and business services sector, which added 5,200 jobs. The leisure and hospitality sector expanded by 1,200 positions.

The financial activities sector grew by 900 jobs. The government sector also added 900 positions.

The biggest loser was the construction sector, which shed 2,100 jobs in November. The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 300 jobs.

KSP Trooper Remembered

Paying tribute to a fallen officer, family and friends of trooper Jonathan Leonard gathered in his memory seven years after he died in a crash.

A native of Pike County, he is remembered well.

The community lit up the night in honor of the officer.

Jonathan Leonard served more than 3 years with Kentucky State Police.

On December 19th, 2006, the unthinkable happened.
Leonard died in a crash while responding to call on US 119 in Pike County.
Leonard was 28 years old when he died.

Before his death no troopers had died on duty in 18 years.

Miscalculation Causes Issues for Kynect Customers

A miscalculation by the Kynect healthcare company is causing some confusion for thousands of customers.

The cost customers are paying out of pocket is considerably different than what they were expecting.

If you happened to be one of the 2,000 folks who enrolled in the silver plan through Kynect, the amount you expected to pay out of pocket for deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance could be much higher or lower than you initially thought.

"Some of those situations where they had believed their deductible was $750, that's what was displayed on our shop and compare tool, but those individuals were actually really entitled to a $4,000 deductible and those individuals who saw a $4,000 deductible were entitled to a $750 deductible, it worked both ways," said Carrie Banahan of the office of KY Health Benefit Exchange.

Out of the two thousand individuals affected, she says 300 of them benefited from the miscalculation ; 1700 customers were disadvantaged

The healthcare company has already contacted all of the folks affected to notify them of the changes. Individuals will find a toll free number within the notice that they can call with questions, or if they're interested in switching plans.

If you decide to shop for a new plan, you must enroll in that new plan by December 23rd. If you keep your current plan, you're already enrolled for coverage beginning January 1st.

Pike County Students Spread Christmas Cheer

Some Pike County kids spent Thursday morning spreading Christmas cheer.

Several students from Valley Elementary in Pike County visited folks at Parkview Nursing Home handing out gifts and singing carols.

31 students walked the halls of Parkview Nursing Home Thursday delivering a little Christmas cheer.

Ranging from 3rd to 8th grade, the students made their way to each room delivering gifts and smiles.

The students filled up 121 bags full of blankets, coloring books, hairbrushes, lotions and body wash for all of the residents at Parkview Nursing Home.

All the students in the school brought in items to help fill the bags.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Patriot emerges from bankruptcy

More than 17 months after first filing for bankruptcy, Patriot Coal is getting a fresh start.
On Wednesday, company officials said Patriot had closed on its exit financing, completed the rights offerings and officially emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“We look forward to a new beginning as a well-capitalized company providing a competitive product to the electric utility and steel industries,” said Ben Hatfield, Patriot chief executive officer, in a statement.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Missouri approved Patriot’s plan of reorganization which was the final step in the process.
Patriot first filed for bankruptcy in July 2012.  Since then, company officials have worked streamline the company’s operations to put it back on solid financial footing.

A key part of that work was reaching an agreement on health care benefits for retirees, including those who had formerly worked for Peabody Energy.

Floyd County Fiscal Court Facing Possible State Takeover

The Floyd County Fiscal Court recently learned they are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and state officials met with them Wednesday warning of a possible takeover.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, the Floyd County Fiscal Court's budget is like a ticking bomb.

The court learned in a heated meeting last week that they have to make up for nearly $500,000 dollars.

Representatives from the Department for Local Government were at Wednesday's meeting basically warning the Fiscal Court to figure it out by the next fiscal year or the state will take over.

But no matter where the fault lies something has to be done, including probable layoffs of county employees.

County officials decided Wednesday to park all county vehicles and shut off all county cell phones.

They voted to hold other items until the regular scheduled meeting Friday.

The end of this budget year is June 30, 2014.

Anonymous Donor Feeds Hundreds for Christmas

More than 200 people in Floyd County received a free Christmas meal Wednesday.

The Garrett Church of God handed out hams and other food items to hundreds of folks.
Church members say all of the food was donated by one man who wishes to remain anonymous.

They say the man donates food every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

McConnell Discusses Pikeville Listening Session on Senate floor

Senator Mitch McConnell made an appearance on the Senate floor Wednesday to discuss a recent listening session held in Pikevile about the future of coal jobs in the state.

The December 6 informal hearing took place after McConnell says the EPA refused to host a listening session in the state.

During his Senate speech Wednesday, McConnell said, "I traveled to Pikeville, Kentucky, to hear first-hand from coal miners, their families, those in the energy industry, and others about how their communities are being ravaged by the EPA's excessive, overly burdensome regulations on coal."

"The EPA did not want to listen to these folks, so I did. I held this listening session to put a human face on the suffering that is being felt in Appalachia due in large part to this administration's War on Coal. I want to share with my colleagues just a little of what I heard," said McConnell.

The EPA held listening sessions for its new regulations in New York, Boston, Seattle, Atlanta, and San Francisco.

"That is why I convened the listening session in Pikeville that resulted in the powerful testimony I've shared with my colleagues today. Since the EPA would not come to Kentucky, I've brought the voices of Kentuckians to the EPA," McConnell said.

McConnell says the EPA has the testimony he heard in Pikeville.