Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bothersome coyotes wear out their welcome in Ky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Coyotes could be shot night or day under a bill that appears headed for passage in the Kentucky Legislature.

The dog-like animals have proliferated across Kentucky to the point that lawmakers are being pushed by constituents to do something about it.

What has become one of the most popular bills of the year breezed through the House and appears to be on a fast track through the Senate as well.

The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee passed the measure 10-0 on

Wednesday and sent it to the full Senate where it is expected to pass easily.

The measure would allow hunters to use shotguns and lights to kill coyotes at night. Already, they're fair game during daylight hours.

Wise County woman wins big in the Virginia lottery

APPALACHIA, Va. -- A Wise County, Virginia woman scratched off $250,000 in winnings this month.

Amy Payne, of Appalachia, Va., was in the passenger seat when she scratched a Virginia Lottery "Big Winning Numbers" to reveal the winnings, according to a written statement from the lottery.

Her husband had purchased the ticket at Scotchman on West Main Street in Appalachia, the statement said. Payne said she and her husband have no immediate plans for the money, but the couple recently had a baby.

This is the second top prize in the "Big Winning Numbers" game, the statement said.

Three more prizes worth $250,000 remain.

Old, new coming back to West Liberty

WEST LIBERTY, Ky. -- In the eastern Kentucky town of West Liberty, a slow recovery is under way.

Sections of the town of 3,200, which is the county seat of Morgan County, were reduced to rubble by an EF-3 tornado packing winds up to 140 mph on March 2, 2012. It was part of an outbreak of twisters that hit several states.

Twenty-five people died in Kentucky as a result of the storms, including six in Morgan County, where the damage estimate is pegged at about $250 million by the local judge-executive.

Fort Campbell outlines impact of furloughs, cuts

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- With military budget cuts set to take effect Friday, Fort Campbell's leaders are preparing to give more details on furloughs facing thousands of civilian employees and local impact of those cuts on soldiers and their families.

Fort Campbell's commander Maj. Gen. James McConville has said more information will be provided in the coming days through town hall meetings.

The installation's garrison commander, Col. David L. "Buck" Dellinger, is providing details on the local impact during a media briefing on Thursday.

The Pentagon faces a $46 billion budget reduction through the end of September and has warned that some 800,000 civilians stand to be furloughed without pay for up to 22 days. More than 30,000 troops are based at Fort Campbell, and many are currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Panel approves second bill to resolve Medicaid disputes

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A Senate Panel has cleared the second bill introduced this session to address Medicaid disputes between hospitals and the organizations that provide reimbursements.

The bill would force the organizations to pay for all emergency treatment required under federal standards.

Hospitals complain the organizations won't pay for procedures, such as a CT scan, if they fail to reveal a serious condition, such as a brain hemorrhage. Hospitals say they're federally required to perform these precautionary measures, which they say aren't financially viable without proper Medicaid reimbursement.

The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare approved the bill Tuesday morning. It will proceed to the Senate for full consideration.

A bill in the House would allow hospitals to appeal all disputes to the Department of Insurance.

Community action program head says sequester will impact services

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. -- The massive package of federal spending cuts known as the sequester is expected to take effect in just two days. If the sequester goes into effect, more than $1 trillion worth of spending will be removed from the federal budget over the next ten years, mainly from military and social programs. At this point, it seems unlikely lawmakers in Washington will strike a deal to avoid the sequester.

The executive director of the Big Sandy Community Action Program says he is worried what these cuts will mean for people who rely on their services.

The sequester clock is ticking, and come March 1, $85 billion in federal spending will be automatically cut. President Obama's plan to avoid the sequester involves increasing revenue by closing tax loopholes for the rich, but Republicans say that is unacceptable.

The deadline to reach a deal to avoid the sequester is this Friday, but with no deal in sight, people that administer social programs that rely on federal funding say they are bracing for the worst.

Big Sandy Area Community Action Program executive director Mike Howell says they are already feeling the effects of the sequester. He says BSACAP received ten percent less funding this year for its heating assistance program.

If the sequester goes into effect, Howell expects their Head Start program will lose about $500 thousand.

"Which would amount to probably around 70 to 80 children that would have to be cut from our program," he said.

Howell says there are moral choices in the sequester debate, and he says he hopes lawmakers will take them into consideration.

Big Sandy's Head Start program currently serves more than 1,100 children.

Plea deal leads officials to missing couple's bodies

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. -- Just a few days have passed since the bodies of a Johnson County couple were found buried in a shallow grave, and a person of interest in the case has struck a deal with prosecutors.

That agreement ended what police call five long months of searching.

Officials found both bodies buried behind their barn.

It seems a plea agreement is what led them there, signed by Amanda Fannin, girlfriend of the couple's son Willie Blanton and a person of interest in the disappearance.

The plea agreement shows in exchange for information about what happened to the couple Amanda Fannin cannot be charged with anything regarding the Blanton's case unless there is proof she was involved in their death.

Another part of the agreement states that, if charged with the murders, Willie Blanton will not face the death penalty.

Investigators plan to take the case to the Johnson County grand jury March 20.

Both Willie Blanton and Amanda Fannin are still behind bars on other charges.

Senior citizens impacted by budget cuts

HINDMAN, Ky. -- The Knott County Fiscal Court may have balanced their budget but some county employees are now facing the consequences.

Eight county employees have been laid off, and eight others were reduced to 32 hours a week.

Yet, county officials say the Senior Citizens Program was hit the hardest.

The program still receives state and federal funds but the county's latest round of budget cuts has taken the majority of its funding away.

Officials were forced to cut 86 people from the program's list of "Home Delivered Meals."

The director says she hopes to see an improvement in funding in the next few months.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Committee chairman seeks to scale back hemp bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky House committee chairman is planning to scale back an industrial hemp bill to allow the University of Kentucky to seek permission to study the crop currently banned by the federal government.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McKee said Tuesday his amendment would have UK test hemp if it received a federal permit. McKee said he plans to offer the amendment when the Agriculture Committee takes up the hemp bill Wednesday in Frankfort.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is opposing efforts to overhaul the measure that has passed the state Senate.

The bill backed by Comer would set up a state system to license hemp growers and regulate its production if the crop is legalized by the federal government. Hemp is classified as a controlled substance related to marijuana.

Proposal would give Gov. Beshear extra year in office

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Governor Steve Beshear would get an extra year in office and Kentucky's statewide elections would be aligned with national elections under an amendment that has passed the senate.

If it makes it through the house where democrats are skeptical, it would have to be ratified by voters next year.

If passed, Kentucky elections for constitutional offices would move to 2016.

If Beshear got an extra year, he would become the longest serving governor in Kentucky history.

Police arrest man charged with stealing & selling nearly 30 guns

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. -- A man accused of stealing guns in Johnson County is now behind bars.

Deputies say Joshua Amburgey was arrested Tuesday.

He's charged with receiving stolen property.

The 18-year old allegedly stole nearly 30 guns and re-sold them.

House bill could let counties do away with constable posts

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky is one step closer to letting voters decide if they want to amend the constitution to make constables optional. The powers and privileges of constables are guaranteed by the Kentucky Constitution. If Kentuckians approved the amendment, counties would have the option to end their constable posts.

Lawmakers have been trying for years to pass a bill that would limit the authority of constables, if not do away with them all together. State Representative Adam Koenig is sponsoring a bill that could do just that. He says constables are obsolete.

Constables are elected and have the same law enforcement powers as sheriffs, but lack the same requirements. Koenig says Kentucky is better served by trained officers.

Constables are guaranteed their power by the Kentucky Constitution. This bill would amend the constitution to let counties decide whether to keep their constables.

Kentuckians would need to ratify the amendment for it to become law.

Body found in Tug Fork River

SOUTH WILLIAMSON, Ky. -- Police are investigating the discovery of a body that washed up on the banks of the Tug Fork River on the West Virginia/Kentucky border.

Not much is known about the body or how it ended up there, and officials say the investigation is just beginning.

Mingo County officials say they are working a case of a missing man, but they are waiting for the medical examiner to make a positive identification to determine if this body is that missing man.

The body was taken to Frankfort for an autopsy and positive identification.

Kentucky State Police are handling the investigation.

Bodies Identified as Missing Johnson County Couple

OIL SPRINGS, Ky. -- A coroner has confirmed the identities of two bodies found on property owned by a missing Johnson County couple.

Johnson County Coroner J.R. Frisby said that autopsy results found the bodies are those of Larry, 60, and Sandra,53, Blanton.

The Blantons were reported missing in September. Their bodies were found buried behind a horse barn on their farm in Oil Springs late Friday night.

Sheriff Dwayne Price said Investigators went back to farm after getting a tip about the where the bodies could be found.

There is no word on how the couple died.

Investigators have called the couple's disappearance suspicious.

The couple's son, Willie Blanton has been called a person of interest in the case.

Willie and his girlfriend,Amanda Fanin are in jail in Johnson County on charges not directly related to the disappearance.

Wayne County Man Sentenced for Role in Second Murder

MORGAN COUNTY, Ky. -- A man from Wayne County, W.Va., already sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his father, was sentenced Monday to an additional years for his role in another murder.

Last month, 37-year-old Shane Elkins pleaded guilty to complicity to murder in connection with the death of Michael Dean Bartlety, of Ezel, Ky. The plea took place in Morgan County, Ky. Circuit Court.

Kentucky State Police say that in 1988, Shane Elkins drove his father, Melvin Elkins, to Kentucky and that his father was the one who killed Bartley.

Elkins was not indicted for his role Bartley’s murder until August 2011.

Court officials in Morgan County say Elkins was sentenced to five years on the conspiracy charge during a hearing Monday.

Elkins is already serving a life in the Mount Olive Correctional Center for the shooting death of his father in 2009.

That murder happened in the front yard of his father’s home in Glenhayes in 2007. Elkins pleaded guilty to the murder.

Pikeville Police arrested a Pikeville man after an off-duty police officer reported a reckless driver.

According to a press release, Pikeville Police officer Addison Baisden contacted the police station regarding a reckless driver near 109 Prater Place.  Baisden, who was off-duty, told responding officers that the subject was armed with a handgun.  Officers arrested 20 year old William Scott of Joe’s Creek Road without incident and charged him with carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence and menacing and reckless driving and lodged him in the Pike County Detention Center.

Attorney General Conway Announces Kentucky's Participation in $28 Million Multi-state Settlement with Healthpoint

Attorney General Jack Conway today announced that Kentucky will join the federal government and 15 other states in a $28 million settlement with Healthpoint, Ltd. The settlement resolves a lawsuit against Texas-based Healthpoint over allegations it unlawfully marketed its prescription skin ointment, Xenaderm.

In 2002, Healthpoint began marketing Xenaderm, a prescription medication used primarily to treat nursing home patients' bed sores, also known as "decubitus ulcers," without approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Healthpoint also allegedly promoted that Xenaderm was "Medicaid reimbursed." Generally, Medicaid only pays for drugs that have been approved by the FDA.

"Even after Healthpoint received questions from state Medicaid programs, the company failed to disclose that Xenaderm was ineligible for Medicaid reimbursement," General Conway said. "I am pleased that we were able to stop these deceptive marketing practices and recover money for a vital state program and for Kentucky taxpayers."

Under the terms of the settlement, the Kentucky Medicaid program will receive nearly $194,000.

Since Attorney General Conway took office in January 2008, his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded nearly $295 million dollars for the state and federal Medicaid programs.

These cases range from lawsuits and settlements against pharmaceutical companies to cases against individual providers.

Secretary Grimes' Fight for Military Voters Heads to House

The state Senate voted 37-0 to approve Senate Bill 1, which is based on Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ recommendations to protect military and overseas citizens’ voting rights.

The version of the bill passed by the Senate would allow military and overseas citizens to register to vote and update their registration online, ensure that military and overseas voters have sufficient time to vote in special elections and extend existing protections to state and local elections and National Guard members.

But the bill as passed does not address delays caused by the requirement that military and overseas voters return their ballots via mail. In the 2012 General Election, nearly 10 percent – more than 300 – of the military and overseas ballots that were returned could not be counted for various reasons, including that they were received after 6 p.m. on Election Day or lacked postmarks.

Kentucky law already permits military and overseas voters to apply for and receive absentee ballots by mail, email or fax. Provisions that were stricken from the original bill by amendment would have allowed military and overseas voters to also return executed ballots via electronic means and, under certain circumstances, for ballots received after the polls have closed to be counted. 

“The problems that have silenced military and overseas voters could effectively be eliminated if SB1 was passed in its original form,” said Grimes. The current system, said Senator Kathy Stein (D-Lexington), “lets down military personnel.”

As Sen. Tom Buford (R-Nicholasville), said, the electronic return of military and overseas ballots via electronic means is not a new idea, “we’ve just failed to take action.” Senator Jerry Rhoads (D-Madisonville) told the body, “The time is now to give our military a fighting chance to return their ballots on time.” 24 states currently permit military and overseas voters to return ballots via email or the Internet, and 19 states allow ballots to be counted even if they are received after the close of the polls.

Senators Stan Humphries (R-Cadiz) and Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) acknowledged Senate Bill 1, as passed, leaves work to be done. Many others expressed hope that a stronger bill, with the stricken provisions restored, will come back to the Senate from the House.

“I will continue to fight to fully protect Kentucky’s military and overseas citizens’ right to vote,” said Grimes. “I hope the House will join me in that fight and take measures to strengthen the bill. Our military stands up for us, and they deserve to have us stand up for them.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kentucky Senate passes bill blocking more federal gun laws

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would prohibit Kentucky from enforcing any federal gun control laws if they're enacted.

The vote was 34-3 Monday afternoon. Three of the Senate's 14 Democrats voted no, stating that the bill would be trumped by the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause.

Berea Republican Sen. Jared Carpenter sponsored the bill. He said the Supremacy Clause applies only if Congress is acting in pursuit of its constitutionally authorized powers, which he said wouldn't apply to stricter gun measures.

The one-page bill deems unenforceable federal bans on gun ownership and registration.

It specifically mentions semiautomatic firearms and their magazines.

The bill applies to federal laws as well as federal rules, regulations and orders.

Pikeville Fire Department now using iPads in ambulances

PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- Some new technology in Pikeville may help you in the event of an emergency.

The Pikeville Fire Department is now in their second week of using a new iPad program.
Officials say they had been using notepads and a computer based system at their stations.

Now with these iPads, they can do all of their reports and assessments while out in the field, then send them directly to the ER and billing companies.

All records will also now be stored on an electronic database.

Officials say that this new technology will have great benefits for their patients

Officials say with such a big change, everyone is still getting used to the new system, but once they get past the growing pains, it will have major benefits for everyone involved.

Fourteen Die On Kentucky Roadways Last Week (Feb. 18 through Feb. 24)

 (Frankfort, KY) -- Preliminary statistics* indicate that 14 people died in 13 separate crashes on Kentucky's roadways from Monday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013.

One double-fatality, motor vehicle crash occurred in Owen County.

One single-fatality, motor vehicle crash occurred in each of the following counties: Carter, Casey, Daviess, Garrard, Hopkins, Jessamine, Livingston, Magoffin, Oldham, Pike and Rockcastle. The victims in Casey, Garrard, Magoffin, Pike and Rockcastle counties were not wearing seat belts. The crashes in Casey, Jessamine, Livingston, Oldham and Rockcastle counties involved the suspected use of alcohol.

One pedestrian was killed in Jefferson County.

Through Feb. 24, preliminary statistics* indicate that 73 people have lost their lives on Kentucky roadways during 2013. This is 26 less than reported for this time period in 2012.

Of the 63 motor vehicle fatalities, 34 victims were not wearing seat belts. One of the two motorcycle fatalities was not wearing a helmet. Seven pedestrians have been killed.

One fatality involving an animal drawn vehicle has been reported. A total of 17 fatalities have resulted from crashes involving the suspected use of alcohol.

As of Feb. 24, Kentucky has had 16 days with zero highway fatalities reported during 2013.

Tweaks to prescription drug law get initial OK

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Lawmakers are considering modifications to Kentucky's prescription drug law to exempt patients in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice centers from rules intended to make it more difficult for addicts to get painkillers.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 15-0 on Monday to approve the modifications.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the changes are warranted because patients in those facilities are not likely to sell their medications.

Lawmakers passed a tough drug law last year in an attempt to crack down on widespread prescription drug abuse. But Stumbo said the law had some unintended consequences that needed to be worked out on behalf of legitimate patients.
The legislation is House Bill 217.

Tax on lottery sales no longer being considered

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Lawmakers won't pursue a 6 percent tax on lottery tickets as a source of revenue to shore up Kentucky's financially troubled pension system for government retirees.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that idea was rejected out of concern that a tax might have stifled sales of lottery tickets that generate money for education programs in Kentucky.

Instead, Stumbo said lawmakers will unveil legislation on Tuesday that will call for the lottery to create new games, including Keno, that could generate about $25 million for the pension system. He said the legislation would also call for tax revenue from slot-like machines, called Instant Racing machines, at horse tracks to be designated for pensions.

He said that could eventually net $100 million a year for pensions, if the Supreme Court approves.

Police warn of scam

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. -- Police say some people have received threatening phone calls.

The callers claim they owe money.

The Whitley County Sheriff's Office says they've received many complaints of this happening.

Each time, the caller claims the potential victim owes money for an outstanding speeding ticket or for a loan.

The caller then threatens an arrest if the money isn't paid.

Investigators say this is just a scam.

Company hiring hundreds of laid-off coal miners

NORTON, Va. -- Laid-off coal miners across the region are getting a chance to go back to work.

Officials with Professional Contracting in Norton, Virginia, are accepting applications to fill more than 800 coal jobs for mines they are opening in Virginia and Southeastern Kentucky.

Officials at Professional Contracting in Norton, Virginia, are hoping to reverse the decline by opening up five mines and two prep plants, putting miners back to work here in Eastern Kentucky with two mines in Harlan County.

Officials hope to have nearly 850 miners to work within the next month, and they say if all goes as planned they might be able to open up enough spots for nearly 4,000 new jobs.

Officials say so far nearly 2500 miners have applied.

You must apply in person at Professional Contracting, 850 Park Avenue, Norton, Virginia. Officials ask you bring your driver's license and miner's certification cards with you.

Pike County Man Killed in Crash

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. -- A man from Shelbiana, Ky. was killed in a car crash in Pike County on Saturday.

Kentucky State Police say 69-year-old Lonnie Keen died in the single-vehicle crash on Ky. 3226 in Greasy Creek.

Troopers say Keen lost control of his car, went off the road and then hit a tree.

Keen died at the scene.

Monday, February 25, 2013

House getting closer to redistricting proposal

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A Republican state representative from northeastern Kentucky could end up facing one of the state's most powerful Democrats for re-election next year under a legislative redistricting plan that could be unveiled later this week.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said work is nearing completion on the always divisive task of redrawing legislative boundaries.

Stumbo said the latest proposal would have GOP state Rep. Jill York of Grayson in the same district as Democratic House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins of Catlettsburg. The two had been placed in the same district under a measure that passed last year but that was later struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Redistricting is supposed to occur every 10 years to account for population changes found by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Extra money secured for energy assistance program

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Additional money has been secured to help low-income people pay for their home heating costs in eastern Kentucky.

Attorney General Jack Conway says his Office of Rate Intervention helped obtain nearly $50,000 for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The extra money comes from a settlement between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Constellation Energy Commodities Group over Constellation's alleged manipulation of the wholesale energy market.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission assisted Conway's office in determining the amount of money that Kentucky was due as a result of the settlement. Kentucky's share was paid this month to Community Action Kentucky and distributed to five community action agencies.

The funds will assist eligible households in paying heating costs in the 20-county service territory affected by the settlement.

Bill being considered to protect juvenile victims of the sex trade

FRANKFORT, Ky.--- Kentucky lawmakers are considering enacting laws to protect juvenile victims of the sex trade.

House bill three would prohibit authority from charging a minor with prostitution related offenses and require the minor receive social services. If the bill passes, the state would join eleven others with "safe harbor" protections.

More than 800 coal jobs come to the region

HARLAN, Ky. -- After many rounds of layoffs, hundreds of coal mining jobs are coming back to the region. Officials with Professional Contracting say they are currently looking to fill more than 800 jobs.

Ever since Alpha Natural Resources idled four mines and laid off hundreds of workers in January, It's been the word about town.

Officials with Professional Contracting in Norton, Virginia say they plan to employ workers at 5 mine sites that have been previously shut down.

The mines are located in Kentucky and Virginia, and officials say they have ongoing negotiations to purchase more, which is good news that many people need to hear.

Officials say more than 2,000 people have already applied for the jobs, but they are still welcoming applications.

They say you must apply in person at their office at 850 Park Avenue, Norton, Virginia, which is open from 8:00a.m. to 4p.m.

Couple indicted on murder charges

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. -- A Knox County couple arrested on murder charges were indicted Friday.

Angela and Jesse Jaynes were arrested and charged with murder after 35-year-old James Cox was shot and killed at the Jaynes home in December.

Jessie claims the shooting was in self defense, but investigators say a relationship between Angela and Cox is now at the center of the investigation.

Both Angela and Jesse were each indicted on one count of murder.

Two Bodies Found on Farm of Missing Johnson County Couple

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ky. -- Police found the bodies of two people believed to be Larry and Sandra Blanton, who disappeared in early September. Initially, police received tips and calls almost daily, but none of them led anywhere, and eventually the calls stopped.

On Friday, police got a tip about where the bodies were buried on the Blantons' Oil Springs farm in Johnson County -- behind the barn. They searched late last night and dug up the bodies, buried about four feet underground.

The bodies have been taken to Frankfort to be autopsied and identified. Police should know by early next week what the cause of death was in this case.

The couple's son Willie has been a person of interest in this case since the beginning. He moved into their home after they disappeared, claiming his parents had gone on vacation to Florida.

Willie Blanton is currently in jail on drug charges unrelated to his parents' disappearance.

Police are now investigating this as a double homicide, rather than a missing persons case.

Lee drug roundup marks 4,000th UNITE arrest

BEATTYVILLE – Operation UNITE made its 4,000th drug-related arrest during a roundup of suspected dealers in Lee County on Friday, February 22.

“This is a significant milestone for UNITE’s Law Enforcement Drug Task Force,” said Paul Hays, UNITE law enforcement director.

Law enforcement officers had arrested 17 of 25 individuals sought in the sweep and seized a small quantity of marijuana by mid-afternoon.

UNITE detectives have been investigating reports of street-level to mid-level dealers operating in Lee County since early 2012.

During the investigation officers were able to purchase a variety of drugs from heroin and methamphetamine to Percocet and Lortabs.

“We received a tremendous amount of assistance from Lee County Sheriff Wendell Childers throughout the investigation,” said Keith Napier, Big Sandy Task Force manager for UNITE. “The Beattyville Police Department also assisted in gathering information and making cases.”

UNITE detectives were assisted by Lee County deputies, Beattyville Police officers, Kentucky State Police troopers and the Lee County Constable in serving arrest warrants on Friday.

The UNITE Drug Task Force began conducting roundups on April 6, 2004, the culmination of investigations within the eight-county Kentucky River region. At the time it was the largest drug sweep in Kentucky history, targeting 210 individuals.

On July 27, 2005, Operation UNITE became only the second law enforcement drug task force in the state to become accredited by the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, reflecting that they met or exceeded 157 professionally accepted standards of law enforcement. The Task Force was reaccredited for another five years in 2010.

“While UNITE believes that making arrests is an important component to the overall effort at stopping substance abuse, it is important to remember that education and treatment are equally critical,” Hays said. “We encourage anyone wanting to get help for an addiction to contact our toll-free Treatment Help Line at 1-866-908-6483.”

Those arrested as of 3 p.m. Friday and lodged in the Three Forks Regional Jail were:

• Deborah “Debbie” Creech Bowman, 53, Lucas Hollow Road, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Amber N. Brandenburg, 26, Beattyville, theft by unlawful taking under $500.

• Lelia Caldwell, 25, Old Fincastle Road, Booneville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Mary Conley, 34, Highway 399, Booneville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Billie Sue Combs, 44, KY 1938, Booneville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance

• Heather Mays Foister, 34, Mays Subdivision Road, Beattyville, first-degree possession of a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Jamie Law, 26, Main Street, Beattyville, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Jared Mays, 23, Manor Drive, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Michael Mays, 31, Manor Drive, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Amanda McIntosh, 27, New Yellow Rock Road, Beattyville, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Gentry McIntosh, 56, Highway 399, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance (second offense) and persistent felony offender.

• Doug Phillips, 62, Highway 52 West, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Ashley Shuler, 27, Highway 52 West, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Jeremiah Shuler, 26, Old Hopewell Road, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Jordan Shuler, 26, Old Hopewell Road, Beattyville, three counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

• Crystal Slone, 28, Beattyville, first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and second-degree persistent felony offender.

• Alfred Thompson. 47, Shoemaker Ridge Road, Beattyville, two counts first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance.

Police were still actively seeking to make additional arrests.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Research shows ordering prescriptions through computer is more efficient

Prescriptions from doctors, with the exception of controlled substances, are usually ordered electronically. Carrie Combs, a pharmacist, says she used to have trouble reading prescription orders when they were all handwritten.

"You would see that just about every day. sometimes we would have to call the physician to verify that's what it actually said," said Combs.

Dr. Mitchell Wicker, of Hazard, says that sometimes even your own handwriting can be hard to make out.

"How many of us have written ourselves a note, pulled it out of our pocket and can't read it, because we're in such a hurry to write it?" Wicker said.

A recent study by the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association shows that ordering prescriptions through computer programs significantly cuts down on handwriting mistakes. However, some say this still has its faults.

"The biggest disadvantage that we've seen is sometimes the prescription doesn't come over when it's supposed to and therefore the patient has to wait longer than if they had the prescription in hand," said Combs.

Researchers say if more hospitals used computer programs, 50 million drug errors might be prevented each year.

Man stabbed woman in hand

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. -- A Floyd County man accused of stabbing a woman is behind bars.

Police say they got a call on Tuesday of a stabbing in Prestonsburg at B&O Apartments.

When they got to the scene they found a woman with a stab wound in her hand.

Police say she told them James Salisbury stabbed her, but they do not know why.

"Myself and Officer George Tussey went around to that apartment, made contact where he was actually bleeding from a stab wound himself," said Sgt. Brian Walker.

Salisbury is charged with first degree assault.

Magistrates expect layoffs of some Knott County workers

HINDMAN, Ky. -- An Eastern Kentucky county that has been struggling financially has a budget, but as part of the proposal, magistrates in Knott County say layoffs are coming.

Officials say they tried to keep as many county workers as they could, but desperate times called for desperate measures. They say they think they have a spending plan the Department of Local Government can approve of.

Magistrates say Thursday's Knott County Fiscal Court meeting brings a budget negotiation months in the making to a close. The talks became more urgent lately due a directive from the Kentucky Department of Local Government, approve a budget or the organization would step in to do it.

On the second reading of the revised budget, the Knott County Fiscal Court included a payroll reduction of up to 25 percent for the Knott County Sportsplex. Magistrates say layoffs there are likely.

The budget requires final approval from the Department of Local Government.

Magistrates say they expect to hear back from the D.L.G. in a few days.

The fiscal court members said they could not share any specific information about which county employees will be laid off. They said those workers will be notified of their termination by the end of the work day Friday.

Students make mock bus crash look, feel realistic

SANDLICK, Ky. -- People driving through Letcher County on Thursday might have noticed firefighters, paramedics and the coroner on the scene of a bus crash.

But, no worries. It was all fake.

Students from the drama team at Letcher County Central High School played the victims, sporting fake blood and screaming to simulate injuries while stuck inside the overturned bus.

First responders used the jaws of life to cut their way to the victims.

Some walked out with minor injuries. Others were taken away on stretchers. The coroner was even called to pronounce one student dead

Some of the students faking injuries were actually taken to the hospital in order to simulate the response to an actual bus crash.

Senate passes bill to raise dropout age to 18

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The Senate has passed its own version of legislation that would require students to stay in school until they're 18, up from the current dropout age of 16.

The vote was 36-2 Thursday, a week after the House unanimously passed a similar proposal. Each chamber will consider the other's legislation.
Both bills would give local school districts the power to raise the compulsory school age to 18.

Proponents of both bills have said a high school diploma greatly increases a person's quality of life. Critics have said the requirement would be unfunded and counterproductive. They said it could disrupt classes by forcing students who want to drop out to stay in school.

The legislation is House Bill 224.

Bomb threat forces factory evacuation

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. -- A southern Kentucky factory was evacuated Thursday morning, following a bomb threat.

Workers were forced out of the Williamsburg Plastic Factory after a woman called and said that she had placed a bomb in the building and was going to blow it up.

Police said that their bomb dog alerted to an area inside the factory, but when the Kentucky State Police Bomb Squad arrived and investigated, it was revealed that the dog had alerted to chemicals used in the factory.

Amanda Johnson of Tennessee was arrested on suspicion of making the bomb threat and charged with terroristic threatening. She is awaiting extradition to Kentucky.

Threat made against a college is under investigation

WHITESBURG, Ky. -- The President of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College said that police and college officials are investigating a threat on the Whitesburg campus.

Officials say a college employee overheard a student make a threat about not receiving some financial aid.

As a precaution, campus officials locked down the Whitesburg campus and evacuated students.

The campus will be closed Friday, Saturday and Monday while officials investigate.

No students were ever in danger.

Conviction Upheld in Martin County Murder

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of an eastern Kentucky man in a case that went unsolved for eight years before an arrest.

The high court Thursday found no cause to grant 30-year-old Jimmy Cornette Jr. a new trial in the 2002 death of Patrick Blackburn in Martin County.

In writing for the court, Justice Mary Noble wrote that there was no proof of pretrial publicity tainting potential jurors in the case nor any reason to delay the trial.

Cornette was convicted of killing Blackburn on June 23, 2002. Police said Cornette and two other men killed Blackburn over a drug debt. All three were arrested in 2010. They were sentenced to life in prison.

Two Men Face Charges for Selling Synthetic Drugs

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. -- A tobacco shop in Kentucky has been busted for selling synthetic drugs.

Prestonsburg Police say a tip led them to the Tobacco Express. Officers say a quick search turned up 80 packets of synthetic drugs.

Store owner, William Spradlin, was arrested Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, police arrested former Smoke Shack owner, Thomas Jones. In May of 2012, The Smoke Shake was busted twice. Police say thousands of dollars worth of synthetic drugs were sold inside the store.

Police also discovered Jones was having the drugs shipped to his other business, an accounting firm, as well.

Police say synthetic drugs are a growing problem in Kentucky. They say synthetic cannibinoids in tobacco stores is becoming common.

Both Jones and Spradlin are charged with trafficking in a synthetic cannibinoid, which is a class A misdemeanor.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lawmakers pass halfway mark in legislative session

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky lawmakers have passed the halfway point in the current legislative session without a deal in sight to shore up the financially troubled pension system for government retirees.

They have only 14 working days remaining before adjourning for the year. However, Gov. Steve Beshear has said he may call lawmakers back into special session if they adjourn without taking action to bolster the pension system, which has a $33 billion unfunded liability.

The Senate passed a measure earlier this month that requires the state to fully fund the pension system but that did not specify where the money would come from.

The House is considering a variety of options to pay the state's contribution, including raising the cigarette to $1 a pack to generate about $100 million a year.

Attorney General Conway Announces $12 Million Multi-state Settlement with Victory Pharma over Illegal Kickbacks

Attorney General Jack Conway today announced that Kentucky has joined with other states and the federal government in reaching a more than $12 million settlement with Victory Pharma, Inc. (VPI) to resolve allegations of an illegal kickback scheme. VPI paid the states and federal government $12.2 million in civil damages to compensate Medicaid, Medicare and various federal healthcare programs for harm suffered as a result of its conduct.

The settlement resolves allegations that San Diego, California based VPI paid unlawful kickbacks to health care professionals to induce them to prescribe four of its drugs, Naprelan (osteoarthritis pain), Xodol (narcotic pain killer), Fexmid (muscle relaxant) and Dolgic (migraine headaches).

"Drug companies that engage in illegal marketing tactics to sell their products will be held accountable," General Conway said. "Illegal kickback schemes waste taxpayer money, undermine the integrity of medical decisions and put the public's health at risk."

The states and federal government allege that from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009, VPI sales representatives made payments, in cash and in-kind to persuade physicians to prescribe the four drugs in question. The illegal kickbacks included direct cash payments to doctors, cash payments disguised as preceptorships or speaker fees, meals, gifts, entertainment, event tickets, recreational activities, and other valuable goods and services. The resulting prescriptions were paid for or reimbursed by the Kentucky Medicaid program, as well as other state Medicaid programs and government health plans.

The Kentucky Medicaid program will receive a total of $426,843 from the VPI settlement, of which it will retain approximately $120,000 after reimbursing the federal government for its share of the settlement.

Since Attorney General Conway took office in January 2008, his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control has recovered or been awarded more than $292 million dollars for the state and federal Medicaid programs. These cases range from lawsuits and settlements against pharmaceutical companies to cases against individual providers.

Grand jury will hear case where a man had a gun in nursing home parking lot

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. -- A grand jury will hear the case of a Prestonsburg man who allegedly carried a gun outside a nursing home.

In early February, police say Philip Baldridge was going through construction tools outside the Riverview Nursing Home.

The construction foreman told him to leave.

Baldridge left but came back with a rifle.

Police say he never directly threatened anyone, but they say he was acting recklessly with the weapon.

Floyd Co. Rescue Squad getting new headquarters

FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. --For nearly five decades the Floyd County Rescue Squad has called one building home, but they say they have since outgrown that building.

Rescue squad members say through the generosity of others they are now able to begin work on a new headquarters.

It is hard to imagine now what the bare piece of land on Old Abbott's Creek Road will soon be.

"Monday when we pretty much broke ground here it was a very very historic day for our squad, and I think it will be for our county," said Floyd County Rescue Squad Captain Tim Cooley.

The Floyd County Rescue Squad's establishment came following a bus crash that killed 26 children and their driver more than 50 years ago. Since then they have been in the same building which they say they have outgrown.

Rescue squad members say some funding came from the state, but they say what really makes it possible are the people who are donating their time and energy to help get the project completed, beginning with the excavation work which is all being done at no cost.

The new building will have eight bays to house the squad's vehicles and swift water rescue boats and can be used as an emergency operations center during major disasters.

Squad members say the location is also key, as it puts them closer to US-23 which will give them quicker response times.

It is expected to be completed by the end of this year.