Friday, August 30, 2013

Police Hold Checkpoint at State Border

Police on Highway 23 are getting a head start on Labor Day weekend traffic.

"We're looking for occupant protection violations such as not wearing their seat belts, folks that have children in the car that don't have them properly restrained," said Gene Vanover Wise County, Virginia Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy. "We're looking for any type of violation or infraction that jeopardizes folks' lives."

This is the 13th year for the checkpoint, which includes officers from the Letcher County Sheriff's Department, Kentucky State Police, Jenkins Police , Whitesburg Police, the Wise County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police, Norton Police, Coeburn Police, and Appalachia Police.

Opening Convocation Held at University of Pikeville

The University of Pikeville held their Opening Convocation on Thursday.

The ceremony marks the official start of the academic year.

Jim Booth, President and CEO of Booth Energy Group, was the keynote speaker.
Both Mr. Booth and his wife, Linda, received honorary doctorate degrees from the university for their hard work and dedication to the school and also to Eastern Kentucky.

President James Hurley says, "It was a wonderful message by Jim and Linda. They encountered many bumps in along the road as we heard today and they were able to navigate those bumps and become successful. So I think they portray what our students want to become and are striving to become."

This is the 124th year of the school's opening.

Two Arrested After Car Goes into Sears

Two people were arrested after their car went into a Sears building.

Police say Wendy Kimbley and Frank Perry were arrested yesterday afternoon when their car backed into the Sears building in Mayking.

There was damage to the bricks and glass in the front of the building.

Kimbley was charged with Wanton Endagerment and operating a vehicle under the influence and Perry was charged with Public Intoxication.

Both were taken to the Letcher County Jail. No one was injured. 

Gov. Beshear Announces Army Cadet Training to Move

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today announced that the U.S. Army Cadet Command Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) will move to Fort Knox, bringing thousands of cadets and their training cadre to Kentucky for summer training.

“I am very pleased with the Army decision to relocate the Leader Development and Assessment Course to Fort Knox,” Gov. Beshear said. “This move indicates the importance of Fort Knox as a premier installation that provides considerable military training resources, provides cost efficiency and enables Cadet Command to streamline its operations.”

LDAC is currently located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

The Army announced in June it would inactivate the brigade combat team based at Fort Knox, which will remove nearly 10,000 military and dependents from the area. With today’s announcement, LDAC will bring approximately 7,000 Army ROTC cadets from across the country during summer for their advanced training. The move will also bring approximately 2,500 additional cadre personnel during the summer in support of the training. The move will take place for the summer training of 2014.

Gov. Beshear continues to communicate with the Department of Defense (DOD) to ensure that Fort Knox is leveraged to the fullest extent for its proven capability, as well as its potential to become a point of consolidation for Human Resources and Recruiting functions DOD-wide.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky will continue to partner with our military as they work hard to accomplish their mission, despite resource constraints,” said Gov. Beshear.

Major active Army commands at the installation include Human Resources Command, Cadet Command and Recruiting Command. The U.S. Army Reserve’s 84th Training Command, 100th Division, and 11th Aviation Command are also headquartered at Fort Knox.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kentucky receiving grant to help pay advanced placement test fees for low-income students

Kentucky will receive nearly a half-million dollars to help pay advanced placement test fees for low-income students.

The U.S. Education Department says the funds are part of $28.8 million being given to 42 states for the effort. The grants are based on the expected number of students who will take the tests and other factors.

The department says it expects the grants will pay all but $10 of the cost of each test.

States may require students to pay part of the costs.

The Education Department said in a news release the program is meant to encourage the students to take the exams and gather college credit while they're in high school, cutting down the time needed to finish a college degree later.

Kentucky is receiving $473,640.

KSP Want to Reduce Holiday Accidents

 Kentucky State Police will be trying to keep the numbers down on serious vehicle collisions during the upcoming holiday weekend.

With troopers' "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, the agency will increase enforcement and use saturation patrols and safety checkpoints to improve this year's Labor Day weekend statistics.

State police say there were 1,532 crashes last year with 470 injuries and nine fatalities. Of those fatalities, four cases were alcohol-related, eight involved motor vehicles with no seat belts in use by the victims and one involved a motorcycle rider who was not wearing a helmet.

The weekend period begins at 6 p.m. local time Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Judge Restores Privileges to Breathitt County School Board Members

A judge Wednesday restored privileges to all five members of the Breathitt County School Board.

Breathitt County District Judge Frank Allen Fletcher wrote the following in an order:

"The Breathitt School Board is restored to the status of participation in school board meetings and business. Mr. Hammond, superintendent, shall consult the Breathitt School Board and major decision making and the board and Mr. Hammond, superintendent, shall do so in good faith."

Board members filed a lawsuit after they claim Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday took away their rights as elected officials by minimizing their roles in meeting

Kentucky truck driver admits to Charleston bank robbery

CHARLESTON, W.Va.A Kentucky truck driver pleaded guilty Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court to robbing a bank in Charleston earlier this year.
William Douglass Young, 40, of Louisville, told Kanawha County Circuit Jim Stucky he didn’t remember what happened on Feb. 1 at the BB&T branch in the Patrick Street Plaza but he did agree to plead guilty to second degree robbery.
In several of the surveillance videos, an 18-wheeler could be seen parked about 50 yards away. Charleston Chief of Detectives Lt. Steve Cooper previously said the detectives handling the case decided to make a phone call about it.
Young’s coworkers in Kentucky identified him after seeing the video.

Young faces 5-18 years in prison when he’s sentenced Oct. 7. He remains in the South Central Regional Jail.

Hatfield/McCoy Heritage Days in Pikeville, Revised Schedule of Events

Pike County Tourism has released the Hatfield McCoy Heritage Days’ revised
schedule of events, that is now available from their office in the Hampton Inn of
Pikeville, KY, as well as the Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, located at the
Garfield House, also in Downtown Pikeville, KY. The schedule is available online at
New events added to the schedule include:
• The Hatfields & McCoys Paintball Tournament. Members of the Hatfield and McCoy
families have a paintball shootout in Downtown Pikeville, August 31 beginning at
6:00 p.m.
• The Hatfield McCoy Hawg Trial Motorcycle Show, Saturday, August 31, from the
Main Street Courthouse to Pike Street. Lineup and registration is open at 10:00
a.m., and judging will be at 4:30 p.m.
• Hatfield McCoy Shootout, featuring a Muscle on Main car show, Sunday, September
1, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Main Street. $1000 Best in Show will be awarded, along
with a 5 foot trophy.
• Muscle on Main Cruise-In, Monday, September 2, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Main
• Hatfield McCoy Ruff, Tuff, Cuss Obstacle Race, Monday, September 2, 8:00 a.m. to
12:00 p.m., Bob Amos Park, Pikeville.
Also remember that Rodney Atkins will be performing at the Eastern Kentucky Expo
Center, Saturday, August 31, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets available at Appalachian Wireless
Box Office, charge by phone 1-800-745-3000 or Hatfield McCoy tours
will be available Saturday and Sunday, featuring local historian Reed Potter,
beginning at 10:00 a.m. from the Pike County Tourism Office. Gospel music will be
featured on Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Pikeville City Park. The Carnival
will be available Friday, August 30, at 6:00 p.m., and will be featured throughout
the event. With two theatre productions available, a major Geocaching Event, arts,
crafts and food, Hatfield McCoy Heritage Days is a must see event.

Kentucky increases number of permanent RX disposal

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear announced today that Kentucky now has 149 permanent prescription drug disposal locations in 97 counties, creating more opportunities for residents to safely dispose of unused, unneeded or expired medications.

“The effects of prescription drug abuse are devastating to our families and our communities,” Gov. Beshear said. “Medications, once they are no longer needed for their prescribed purposes, should be disposed of properly to reduce their risk of being diverted and abused. With nearly 150 disposal locations around the state, it’s easier for Kentuckians to properly discard of these medications.”

The permanent disposal boxes are monitored and are located in law enforcement buildings. Individuals can deposit their unneeded medications into the boxes with no questions asked. The agencies will ensure the drugs are disposed of in an environmentally safe manner.

“This is a perfect example of the state working with local communities to attack a problem,” Gov. Beshear added.

The Governor has worked with lawmakers and other state officials throughout his administration to reduce the destructive impact of prescription drug abuse on Kentucky families. He signed House Bill 1 in April 2012 to require health care professionals to use the state’s electronic prescription monitoring program and to require that pain clinics be owned by medical practitioners.

“One in five of our Kentucky teens has abused prescription medication for an off-label purpose, and that abuse is starting in the home when children have access to their parents’ unused or expired pain medications,” Attorney General Jack Conway said. “I have worked with Gov. Beshear on prescription take back initiatives, and I am thrilled to see options expand that Kentuckians can utilize throughout the year.”

The disposal boxes are funded by Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (KY-ASAP), Operation Unite, Kentucky League of Cities, and state and local law enforcement agencies.

The prescription drug disposal boxes address vital public safety and public health issues: medicines left in home cabinets are susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. According to Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, more than 60 percent of the adolescents who use prescription drugs for off-label purposes reported that they obtained the medications from family and friends, often from the drugs not being properly disposed of or stored in the home.

Kentucky to Host 2013 Southern Governors

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear will welcome state chief executives, industry leaders and subject matter experts from the nation’s largest region for the 2013 Southern Governors’ Association (SGA) Annual Meeting in Louisville, Sept. 7–9 at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel.

The meeting’s theme is “Advancing Manufacturing in the American South” and will concentrate on the region's job-creating manufacturing sector and how to support its continued growth.

Gov. Beshear has served as SGA’s chairman for the past year and has led the organization in an examination of the current viability and future growth of advanced manufacturing in the region.

“As chair of the Southern Governors’ Association, I wanted to zero in on a subject that can really move the entire South forward,” said Gov. Beshear. “The South has been an epicenter of manufacturing over many, many years. We’re now moving into an advanced manufacturing age, and the South can still be that epicenter. I want to ensure that the South is the leader in advanced manufacturing for years to come.”
Gov. Beshear said the meeting will explore subjects such as taxes and regulation, energy, workforce skills, infrastructure and innovation.

Business sessions during the 2013 meeting will include the following topics:
·         Understanding the manufacturing resurgence
·         Energy policies impacting manufacturing
·         Economic growth through exports, supply chains and innovation ecosystems
·         Building the talent pipeline
·         Maintaining the region’s logistical competitiveness
·         A private sector perspective on health care trends
·         Creating a regional manufacturing action plan

During Gov. Beshear’s chairmanship, SGA commissioned the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) to conduct an economic analysis of advanced manufacturing in the American South. The results of the analysis will be issued in a report at the close of the meeting.

Gov. Beshear will conclude his yearlong chairmanship during the meeting’s final business session, slated for 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., Monday, Sept. 9. At the conclusion of the meeting, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe will assume the SGA chairmanship.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Man Charged with Criminal Mischief in Floyd County

A man accused of destroying property at Stonecrest Golf Course in Floyd County has been indicted.

Court officials say 23 year old Sean McManus is charged with criminal mischief and tampering with evidence.

Police believe McManus caused thousands of dollars worth of damage by driving on one of the course greens and doing doughnuts.

A pre-trial conference is set for November 14th.

He is out of jail on a $20,000 dollar bond. 

Complaints Filed Against Pikeville Doctor

The state medical board has filed a complaint against a Pikeville doctor.

According to the board,  Thad R. Manning is accused of conspiring to sell prescription drug samples in exchange for office rent and free or discounted prescription drugs for his employees.

The complaint says he's also been indicted for lying to FBI agents.

A bond hearing on the complaint is scheduled for February, 2014.

KSP Cutbacks

Kentucky State Police are making cuts to make up for a nearly $6 million budget deficit by cutting some of the most experienced troopers on the force.

According to reports, state police cut all 20 members of the Trooper R program, which was designed to keep retired troopers with 20 years of experience in rotation.

Five of those troopers were from Post 13 in Hazard, the largest cut than any other post in the state. Post 9 in Pikeville lost 1 trooper.

State police say more than 60 cadets will graduate from the State Police Academy in November and hope that will help with their numbers. 

Geocaching event will commemorate historic Kentucky-West Virginia feud

The second annual Hatfield-McCoy GeoTrail Event will be celebrated Labor Day weekend in Pike County and West Virginia.
The event is a commemoration of the historic feud. It begins Friday, Aug. 30, with the popular Stolen Pig Roast.

The Kentucky Tourism Cabinet says interest in the Hatfield and McCoy feud has significantly increased over the last two years, due in part to the miniseries that aired on the History Channel.

Last year, geocachers from several states visited eastern Kentucky and West Virginia to take part in the event.

All of the caches along the trail are designed to be family friendly, and finders of all ages and experience levels are invited to come out for the event.

More information can be found at .

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

David Gooch Funeral

Funeral services have been set for a Pike County coal advocate.

David Gooch died Friday at UK Hospital.

Funeral service is scheduled for today (Tuesday) at 1 p.m. at the J.W. Call Funeral Home Chapel in Pikeville.

David Gooch lobbied for the coal industry throughout the commonwealth and the country.

Several Join In Lawsuit Against Road Builders

Some road construction in Martin County has residents fearing for their homes and safety.

Several homeowners have joined in a lawsuit to try to protect their property.

They've joined in a lawsuit against Ohio-based Kokosing Construction Company and Brandywine Explosives & Supply of Paris, Kentucky.

Both companies are contracted to build a road in the area, and the plaintiffs say the explosions are too big and too close for comfort.

Earlier this month, school board members chose to shutter nearby Sheldon Clark High School, citing concerns the blasting could weaken the building.

"It's just really been one thing right after another, with this debris, noise, vibration that's damaged homes and kind of disrupted peaceful life in this area," said Phillip Blair, a lawyer with Kirk Law Firm, which is representing the plaintiffs.

Weeks stretched into months and the blasting continued. Eventually folks in Hardin Bottom said they'd had enough.

More than 20 people have filed suit against the companies so far.

Martin County Students Start School Year in Different School

One by one they arrived starting a new school year in Martin County, but these high school students are now walking middle school halls after Sheldon Clark High School was closed because of safety concerns.

"I'm finally glad that we have our kids in school. It's been a long time waiting," said Martin County Superintendent Steven Meadows.

Officials say the move was not an easy one that actually delayed the first day by three weeks.

Officials say there is a facilities plan in place that outlines a lot of work to be done to make the middle school building conducive to high school students, but they say while it may be a tight fit right now everyone is in the classrooms and ready to get the school year started.

Inez Middle School students combined with Warfield Middle School.

District officials say the Inez Middle School building is being used as a drop off hub for those students who can be taken by bus to Warfield.

Monday, August 26, 2013

David Gooch Dies

An influential coal advocate from Pike County died Thursday.

David Gooch lobbied for the coal industry throughout the commonwealth and the country.
Gooch served as President of Coal Operators and Associates in Pikeville for nearly a decade, and Executive Director for many years before that.

Friends say lobbying for the coal industry was not just part of his job, it was part of who he was.

Former Governor Paul Patton says he remembers Gooch from his time in office.

"I think he was very concerned about his community and totally impacted the coal industry which certainly impacted the entire area of Eastern Kentucky," said Patton.

Gooch's friends say his good qualities were endless.

They say his loss will be felt throughout the community, the region and the coal industry.

2nd Annual ALS Ride For A Cure Held in PIkeville

Dozens were out taking in the great weather in Pikeville on Sunday to help find a cure for ALS.

The 2nd annual 'ALS Ride for a Cure: In Memory of Alma Jo Warren' started at the Harley Davidson of Pikeville.

Folks rode through Pike County for a couple of hours and then enjoyed a cookout and door prizes after the ride.

Warren's family decided to organize the event after she died in October 2011 following a long battle with ALS.

Coal Power Rally

Dozens of people gathered on the side of U.S. 23 in Lawrence County on Saturday with one goal – to save the Big Sandy power plant, which could be seeing some major changes within the next two years.

By 2015, the plant will not be in compliance with environmental regulations. AEP is looking at a plan to close down one of the two units at the Big Sandy plant and transfer it to another plant in Moundsville, West Virginia. The second unit could be converted from coal to gas, provided the conversion costs less than $60 million, according to Ronn Robinson of Kentucky Power.

Robinson said that while most of the 100 workers at the plant would lose their jobs, some might be able to keep their jobs working in the converted unit, but he said there will not be as many jobs as there are in the coal unit.

Kentucky Rep. Rocky Adkins (D) said plant workers aren’t the only ones whose jobs are at risk. Miners and truck drivers could also be affected, with what Adkins describes as a “devastating impact” on the eastern Kentucky region.

Kentucky Power says this is the best move for rate-payers, who will see an 8 percent increase in their rates – about 10 dollars a month for the average homeowner. The rates could go up in about eighteen months, Robinson said.

Adkins and others said they would rather pay to “put the scrubbers on,” or bring the plant into compliance with EPA regulations. Adkins noted that process could cost close to $1 billion.

“40 percent of that $940 million will go into the pockets of those construction workers,” Adkins said. “They'll spend that right here in this region.”

Robinson with Kentucky Power said they will likely know in a few weeks what the plan is going forward. He noted that people who would lose their jobs in 2015 at the plant would have the option to transfer within the company, but that there are no guarantees. He also said that some workers could choose to retire if they lose their jobs and don’t get a severance package.

Drain install on KY 3409 affects traffic Tuesday

Highway District 12 maintenance specialists will install a new drain on KY 3409 at the bottom of Dunham Mountain on the McRoberts side (at the junction of Tom Biggs) on Tuesday, August 27.

Superintendent Billy Smallwood said that work should begin about 8:30 a.m., after the morning school bus runs, and finish before 3 p.m. when buses run in the afternoon.

There is already one drain underneath the pavement at this location. Smallwood explained that a second drain will be installed to double the flow of water and improve the drainage. “This will be next to the one that’s there; we call it a double barrel. We think people will be happy about this because hopefully it means this area shouldn’t flood out anymore.”

Smallwood said no traffic will be allowed through because installation requires that the pavement be cut all the way across the road. He said that they will try to make some temporary accommodations for emergency vehicles if necessary.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friends Scaling Back Search for Missing Attorney

A friend of a missing Floyd County attorney says they are scaling back their search after finding proof that he is alive.

Martin city attorney Clyde Johnson went missing last month.

His friend Ned Pillersdorf was helping the investigation and says records from a Tracfone Johnson was using show he is moving around the southwest, probably staying at campgrounds.
Pillersdorf says he believes Johnson is in Texas and says he does not believe Johnson is in any trouble and that he does not want to be found.

Pillersdorf has been appointed to run Johnson's law office.

Governor Stands Ready to Sign Redistricting Bill

A legislative redistricting bill that steamrolled through the House is scheduled for a Senate vote Friday morning.

Gov. Steve Beshear said he stands ready to sign the measure into law on Friday, after lawmakers finish up their work of redrawing boundary lines around House and Senate districts.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee unanimously approved the proposal Thursday.

Redistricting is undertaken every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate to comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate. The state's overall population rose from 4 million to 4.3 million while shifting largely from rural communities to urban areas.

Cleanup Continues Following Flash Flooding in Pikeville

Flash flooding left a mess to clean up in Pikeville Wednesday night.

Officials say several roads had to be shut down, and water flowed into streets, parking lots and some buildings.

Thursday city officials surveyed the damage left behind.

The National Weather Service estimates nearly 1.7 inches of rain fell in Pikeville Wednesday evening.

"We've experienced this over and over and over. This was another one of those rainstorms that we tend to get," said Paul Maynard, Pikeville Public Safety Director.
hat 1.7 inches of rain may not sound like a lot, but city officials say it caused its fair share of problems.

Streams overflowed into roads, parking lots, even some buildings.

Crews spent Thursday cleaning up the mess because wherever the water was it left a thick coating of mud after it receded.

Lawmakers To Receive Sexual Harassment Training

House lawmakers would have to undergo annual sexual harassment sensitivity training under a resolution approved Thursday, after three legislative staffers filed sexual harassment complaints with the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The allegations against Democratic state Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis triggered a public outcry, forcing House Speaker Greg Stumbo to address the matter on the floor Thursday evening. He assured angry colleagues the matter "will be dealt with responsibly" and that Arnold could be expelled from the House if the charges are proven.

Arnold refused to answer questions about the allegations on Wednesday and was absent on Thursday.

Pikeville Medical Center vice president to serve on Operation UNITE’s Board of Directors

PIKEVILLE – Emphasizing the importance of having the medical community’s input on efforts to stop substance abuse, Operation UNITE and Pikeville Medical Center have teamed up to provide a seat on the anti-drug organization’s Board of Directors.

This partnership, and appointment of Cheryl Hickman, hospital vice president-assistant to President/CEO Walter E. May, was announced by Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers during a stop in Pikeville on Thursday, August 8.

“UNITE’s success continues to thrive through great partnerships across Kentucky, and this partnership with the Pikeville Medical Center is another example of two forces teaming up against the drug abuse epidemic,” Rogers said. “Cheryl Hickman is passionate about healthcare and substance abuse treatment. I am confident that her presence on the board will help UNITE plan for the future.”

Hickman, who will serve a three-year term, attended her first board meeting on Tuesday, August 20.

“I consider it a privilege and an honor to sit on the UNITE Board of Directors,” Hickman said. “UNITE has worked very hard to make a difference in the war on drugs in Eastern Kentucky and, because of this, inroads have been made to stop the pill mills in this area. This is making a difference for the future of Eastern Kentucky.”

Now in it’s 10th year, the organization works to rid communities of illegal drug use through undercover narcotics investigations, coordinating treatment for substance abusers, providing support to families and friends of substance abusers, and educating the public about the dangers of using drugs. UNITE’s goal is to educate and activate individuals by developing and empowering community coalitions to no longer accept or tolerate the drug culture.

UNITE is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors.

“I am proud to have Cheryl Hickman representing Pikeville Medical Center on the Operation UNITE’s Board of Directors,” May stated. “Operation UNITE is immensely important to our community in the battle against drug abuse. I am confident that Mrs. Hickman will represent Pikeville Medical Center and the community well.”

Pikeville Medical Center has long been involved with UNITE initiatives and the UNITE Pike community coalition.

“Any time Pikeville Medical Center has been asked to support youth activities or treatment programs they have generously provided funding or staff,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “The hospital has been an active member of UNITE’s Medical Advisory Committee since its formation in early 2011, and have assisted with statewide forums to educate medical professionals about substance abuse issues and regulations.”

“In addition, Pikeville Medical Center has been a fantastic partner with UNITE’s first two National Rx Drug Abuse Summits,” Smoot continued, noting the Summit is the largest national collaboration of professionals from local, state and federal agencies, business, academia, clinicians, treatment providers, counselors, educators, state and national leaders, and advocates impacted by Rx drug abuse.

Hickman earned an associate degree in nursing from Prestonsburg Community College, bachelor of nursing from Morehead State University, and masters in health service management from LaSalle University. She is board certified in nursing administration with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and a certified specialist in healthcare accreditation.

In her current position, Hickman provides oversight for all certification programs and clinical oversight for all outpatient services. In addition, she is responsible for the Hospital of the Year Survey from the American Alliance of Health Care Providers (which the hospital won the national award for customer service), and is a member of the administrative team to oversee and ensure that budgets are met.

Previously Hickman served as Pikeville Medical Center’s chief nursing officer, director of children’s services, unit manager for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatrics, house supervisor and assistant director of nursing service, and head nurse in the Critical Care Unit.

Feds say scheme bilked millions in taxes and fees

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — A scheme which bilked the state and federal government and Brickstreet Insurance out of millions of dollars will send at least three people to prison and more could be coming.
Jerome Russell, 50, of Williamson, W.Va. and Frelin Workman, 58, of Belfry, Ky. will soon be sentenced for their role in a monetary structuring scheme uncovered by federal investigators. Russel and Workman were the principles of Aracoma Contracting. A third individual, Arville Sargent, 52, of Chapmanville, W.Va. will also face prison time for his role. Sargent is a former field auditor for Brickstreet.
According to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin Aracoma officials arranged for numerous transactions at the Bank of Mingo Williamson Branch in which they withdrew cash in amounts just under the limit which required federal reporting. The cash became the payroll for Aracoma employees and helped the company avoid Millions of dollars in taxes and withholdings.
“It should have triggered reporting requirements for the bank,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Booth Goodwin. “That did not occur.”
So far, nobody connected to the bank has been named in the investigation and Goodwin isn’t saying much about whether the probe is looking into any bank employees who may have been complicit in the scheme.
“They were able to funnel millions of dollars in cash out of the bank and use that cash to pay under the table cash payments to employees to avoid taxes and Social Security,” Goodwin said. “As well as bribe an official with Brickstreet Mutual Insurance Company to keep their workers comp premiums low.”
A federal information named Sargent as the Brickstreet official who accepted the bribe.  He faces 25 years in prison and a half million dollar fine.
The scheme would entail individuals showing up at a teller window and being presented with a cashier’s check. The check was endorsed and the individual handed precounted cash. Federal investigators said many times the checks exceeded Aracoma’s 10,000 dollar line of credit, but no currency transaction reports were filed by the bank as required by law.

“Our investigation is ongoing down there in Mingo County and I think facts will continue to emerge about this particular incident,” said Goodwin.

Suspect In Moonshine, Marijuana Bust Turns Self In

A suspect wanted in connection with an alleged moonshine and marijuana bust turned himself into McDowell County deputies Thursday.

Lewis Harper Lester, 70, of Jolo was charged with four counts delivery of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy. He was arraigned, taken to Southwestern Regional Jail and a bond was set at $75,000.

Deputies executed a search warrant on Lewis’ farm last week and said they found 50 marijuana plants growing 15 feet tall next to an active moonshine still.

More moonshine was found in the barn and a firearm was seized, deputies said.

Lester was not home at the time, but deputies arrested his daughter, Melissa Lester, and charged her with one count of operating a moonshine still, one count of cultivation of marijuana, five counts of delivery of a controlled substance and one count of conspiracy,

Governor Beshear Orders Flags to Half-staff on Aug. 23 for Spc. Grace

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 in honor of a Fort Campbell soldier who died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to the Department of Defense, Spc. Keith E. Grace Jr., 26, of Baytown, Texas, died on Aug. 11 in Paktia Province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire. 

He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.
Funeral services for Spc. Grace Jr. will be held on Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. Central time at First Baptist Church in Baytown, Texas. Interment will follow at 11:30 a.m. Central time at Houston National Veterans Cemetery in Houston, Texas

Gov. Beshear encourages individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in this tribute.

Relief for Kentucky Homeowners Tops $63 Million under National Mortgage Settlement

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway today announced that the nation's five largest mortgage servicers continue to provide direct relief to homeowners in Kentucky and across the country as part of the historic national mortgage foreclosure settlement. According to the fifth and final post-settlement report released today by the independent settlement monitor, 1,833 Kentucky homeowners received more than $63.7 million in settlement-related relief from Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, Chase and Wells Fargo through June 30, 2013. Borrowers each received an average of $34,771 in assistance.

The report compiles information provided by the servicers and has yet to be verified by the compliance monitor.

The various forms of relief provided to Kentucky borrowers included 178 completed first lien modifications, 576 completed second lien terminations, 436 short sales and 296 completed refinances.

"This settlement provided real relief to hundreds of Kentucky families, who otherwise may have lost their homes." General Conway said. "I am proud that the total settlement relief provided to Kentuckians has exceeded our original estimate. The Office of the Attorney General has received some complaints from consumers that servicers are not meeting their obligations under the settlement. There are currently ongoing discussions with other Attorneys General about the best way to resolve these complaints to ensure that consumers receive assistance and that banks are upholding the servicing terms outlined in the settlement."

Nationally, the report found that more than 642,000 borrowers received some type of consumer relief during the same period totaling $51.18 billion. On average, each borrower received $79,704 in relief.

Governor Beshear Orders Flags to Half-staff on Aug. 23 for Sgt. Hicks

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 in honor of a Fort Campbell soldier who died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to the Department of Defense, Sgt. Jamar A. Hicks, 22, of Little Rock, Ark., died on Aug. 11 at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire in Paktia Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Funeral services for Sgt. Hicks will be held on Aug. 23 at 11 a.m. Central time at Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Ark. Interment will immediately follow at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at North Little Rock in North Little Rock, Ark. 

Gov. Beshear encourages individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in this tribute.

Governor Beshear Orders Flags to Half-staff on Aug. 23 for Staff Sgt. Herrera

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 in honor of a Fort Campbell soldier who died while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to the Department of Defense, Staff Sgt. Octavio Herrera, 26, of Caldwell, Idaho, died on Aug. 11 in Paktia Province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire. 

He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

Funeral services for Staff Sgt. Herrera will be held on Aug. 23 at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time at Our Lady of the Valley Church in Caldwell, Idaho. Interment will immediately follow at Idaho Veterans Cemetery in Boise, Idaho.

Gov. Beshear encourages individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in this tribute.

Gov. Beshear, First Lady and Education Commissioner Announce Statewide Screening for Kindergarteners

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Within the first few weeks of school, every Kentucky kindergartener is being screened for school readiness – the results of which will provide a vast amount of valuable information to assist teachers, schools, families, child care providers and preschools in preparing Kentucky’s youngest students for success.

Governor Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear and Education Commissioner Terry Holliday announced today that every school district will utilize the Brigance Kindergarten Screener, a tool used by many states to gauge a child’s preparedness for school.  During last year’s pilot program, 109 school districts voluntarily used the screener, which helps teachers and schools target the best ways to meet the needs of each child in the classroom.   

Kentucky is proud to be implementing a common kindergarten screener that considers the whole child,” said Gov. Beshear. “With the implementation of the screener, we will now have data to inform and build upon the work in early childhood that has taken place in Kentucky for more than 20 years.”

“As a former teacher, I understand how getting to know a student’s needs and abilities early in the school year can make a big difference in helping that child to succeed,” said Mrs. Beshear.  “This screener can quickly show teachers each student’s ‘starting point’, and lesson plans and teaching styles can be molded to maximize their effectiveness.  This will be a wonderful tool not only for the schools, but for families as well.”

The Governor, First Lady and Commissioner made today’s announcement at Frankfort’s Early Learning Village, which has a full-day kindergarten program.  The school is using the screener for the first time this year.  Most kindergarteners were screened at a registration day before school began.

Attorney General Conway Names 2013 Outstanding Commonwealth's and County Attorneys

Attorney General Jack Conway today presented the awards for the 2013 Outstanding Commonwealth's and County Attorneys as part of the Kentucky Prosecutors Conference at the Lexington Convention Center

Nearly 700 prosecutors, Commonwealth's and County Attorneys, staff members, as well as law enforcement from across Kentucky are attending the three-day conference sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General and the Prosecutors Advisory Council (PAC).

The recipients of the 2013 Outstanding Commonwealth's Attorney Awards are Laura Donnell, Commonwealth's Attorney for the 53rd Judicial Circuit representing Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties, and Brent Turner, who serves as Commonwealth's Attorney for the 31st Judicial Circuit representing Floyd County.

When presenting Donnell's award, General Conway said, "Laura is an enormous help to my Office of Special Prosecutions, having accepted five felony appointments as special prosecutor this year alone. I applaud her diligence, dedication to the criminal justice system, and work cracking down on drug dealers and re-offenders within the 53rd Judicial Circuit."

Of Turner, General Conway stated, "Brent is a tremendous asset to the prosecutorial system. His work as special prosecutor resulted in the removal from office of Knott County Judge Executive Randy Thompson following his federal conviction for theft of federal funds and conspiracy. I also appreciate Brent's service as a member of the Executive Board of the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)."

The recipients of the 2013 Outstanding County Attorney Awards are Jenny Oldham, Hardin County Attorney since January 2011, and Mark Metcalf, who is in his third term as Garrard County Attorney.

"Jenny is committed to cracking down on drunk drivers in her community and across the Commonwealth. Her office consistently has one of the highest DUI conviction rates in Kentucky, reaching 93.5 percent in 2012. 

She has been a strong advocate for increased fees and penalties for drunk driving offenses and received an Outstanding Service Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Jenny is also a tireless advocate for victims of abuse and neglect. She serves on the Kentucky Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Panel and has been recognized for her extraordinary work in the prosecution of rape and sexual abuse cases."

Of Metcalf, General Conway stated, "Not only does Mark have one of the highest DUI conviction rates in the Commonwealth, his attention to detail and thorough review of special prosecution cases have made him an exemplary special prosecutor. I would also personally like to thank Mark for his service to our country. He spent a year serving as Garrison Command Judge-Advocate at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad, Iraq with the 149th Brigade from Louisville. Mark's commitment to his community and country are to be applauded."

In concluding his remarks, General Conway thanked all of the members of Kentucky's prosecutorial community who work every day to make our communities safer places to live, work and raise families.

Photos of this year's award winners are available here: