Friday, November 29, 2013

Federal Judge Clears Farmer for Travel

A federal judge has cleared the way for former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner to travel to Florida for five days to watch his son play basketball.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier approved Richie Farmer's request to travel outside southern Kentucky from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31.

Farmer pleaded guilty earlier this year to government corruption charges in a deal with prosecutors.

The former University of Kentucky basketball star-turned-politician faces about two years in prison for misdeeds while serving as the state's agriculture commissioner. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Frankfort in January.

Farmer was a shooting guard for the Wildcats from 1988 to 1992, a team known as "The Unforgettables." His jersey hangs as a monument in the rafters of Rupp Arena.

Ky. Faces Potential Loss of federal Road Funds

Kentucky's transportation secretary is warning lawmakers that the state could lose nearly $650 million in federal funding in 2015 unless Congress shifts additional money into the Highway Trust Funds.

Mike Hancock told the Joint Transportation Committee earlier this week that all 50 states could experience the same financial wallop if the Highway Trust Fund isn't replenished.

That fund, which receives federal gas tax revenue and redistributes it to states for road construction and maintenance, is forecast to run out of money. in the 2015 fiscal year.

Hancock says he's hopeful general government money will be transferred to the Highway Trust Fund. Congress has routinely made such transfers beginning in 2008, when the fund ran short of cash.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

KSP Launches Nighttime Enforcement Campaign: 'Operation Holiday Lights'

 The Kentucky State Police (KSP) is launching a nighttime holiday enforcement campaign designed to reduce traffic fatalities on Kentucky roadways. 'Operation Holiday Lights: All Night. Every Night.' began last night and extends through January 1, 2014 at midnight.

KSP spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb says the statewide enforcement effort will utilize collision analysis data to determine which counties have the highest instance of injury and fatal crashes.

"Each post has been asked to identify the counties in their patrol area where crashes are prevalent," says Webb. "Specifically, they are looking at the time and exact location of those crashes and scheduling heavier patrols for those areas."

Webb says crash data indicates that a majority of the fatal crashes involve unrestrained drivers.

"Last year, nearly 53 percent of drivers who were killed in traffic crashes on Kentucky roadways were not wearing seat belts. We can't stress enough, the importance of wearing a seat belt. Our goal is to make sure everyone arrives home safely for the holidays."

All KSP posts and commercial vehicle regions will utilize traffic safety check points, covert details in high traffic areas and night vision equipment to assist in the campaign.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that nighttime drivers are less likely to buckle up than daytime drivers.

Shop Local, The Theme in Prestonsburg

As we all know with Thanksgiving comes Black Friday shopping, but if you are not one to hit the major retailers and fight the massive crowds some Floyd County stores might have a solution.

Several local shops are opening their doors and asking folks to shop local.

For several local shops in Prestonsburg Black Friday sales are coming soon, in fact a few hours early, with doors opening at some hometown retailers Thanksgiving night.

The downtown shops are banding together for the second year in a row hoping to keep folks shopping at home.

Kentucky Officials Again Approach DEA on Hemp Issue

Persistent Kentucky officials have again approached the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration about growing industrial hemp in the state.

This time they've sent a letter to the DEA asking the agency to clarify its position on industrial hemp.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and U.S. Reps. John Yarmuth and Thomas Massie want the DEA to specifically address whether growing hemp remains illegal in states like Kentucky that have enacted a framework for licensing and regulating the crop.

Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission Chairman Brian Furnish joined in the request.

The federal government has said it will respect laws in other states that have legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana, and Comer said he believes industrial hemp should be treated the same way.

Another Pike County Bank Robbery

A US Bank branch in Meta, Ky., was targeted by an armed robber Wednesday afternoon, Kentucky State Police say.

The robbery was reported about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Witnesses say a man entered the bank, showed a weapon and demanded money. That man ran away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The man is described as about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and wearing a black hoodie, black jacket, black material over his face, blue jeans and white tennis shoes.

No one was hurt.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Kentucky State Police or local 911 agency.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pike County Man Accepts Plea Deal

One Pike County man could spend 17 years behind bars.

Court officials tell us Richard Ratliff accepted a plea deal on Monday.

Ratliff pleaded guilty to an amended second degree manslaughter charge and first degree assault charge.

Last December, police arrested Ratliff for the murder of Ricky Coleman. Officials found Coleman shot to death along Adams Lane in October of 2012.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Pikeville Business Raises Money for Breast Cancer Awareness

A Pikeville business raised several thousand dollars for breast cancer awareness.

Walters Toyota-Nissan presented a check for $10,000 to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation Tuesday.
Dealership officials say they took $50 from every car sold until they reached $5,000 and the Toyota Corporation matched their donation.

The company says they plan to do the fundraiser again next year.

Musical Duo From Eastern Kentucky Takes to the Grand Ole Opry Stage

A musical duo from Eastern Kentucky hit the stage at the Grand Ole Opry Tuesday night.

Sundy Best band members Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson say it is a dream come true for them to be able to sing their own songs at the Opry.

They say it gives them something to be extra thankful for this Thanksgiving week.

Both Bentley and Jamerson are from Prestonsburg.

The duo received a rare standing ovation from the Opry crowd.

Apartments Destroyed by Tornado Set to Rebuild in West Liberty

The EF-3 tornado that ripped through West Liberty nearly devastated the community. More than one year later, people in the town are still taking steps toward rebuilding.

Organizers gathered Monday to break ground for a new apartment complex to replace one that was destroyed in the twister.

The Kentucky Housing Corporation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development worked to fund the project and create affordable homes for tenants.

The townhome style complex will have seven one-story buildings, four of which will be accommodate people with disabilities, a community building and a playground.

Organizers hope the new complex will be finished in late 2014.

Kentucky Lottery Corporation Reaches $15B in Sales

The Kentucky Lottery Corp. says it has reached $15 billion in overall sales since the lottery was started in 1989.

At a board of directors meeting Monday, officials also announced $9 billion has been paid in prizes to players and $4 billion has been turned over to the state. Lottery President and CEO Arch Gleason says the lottery has given more than $2 billion for college scholarships and grants since 1999.

Vice President of Finance Rick Kelley said year-to-date sales remain below budget but above last year with overall sales of $273.6 million through October. That is less than the $277.3 million budgeted but greater than last year's $270.1 million.

The lottery started a new game, Keno, on Nov. 4 and reported $1.7 million in Keno sales through Thursday

State Agency Offers Tips for Safe Holiday Food Prep

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is wishing you a happy and illness-free holiday season, offering advice on food preparation and storage to avoid foodborne illness.

The agency recommends keeping hot food hot and cold foods cold, meaning 135 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer for warm food and 41 degrees or below for cold items. Anything on a buffet table longer than two hours should be discarded.

Also, be sure to wash your hands before handling food, and keep raw meat, poultry and fish prep on one cutting board and cooked food and salads on another.

Health officials say don't thaw the turkey or other frozen meat at room temperature, and cook foods to a safe internal temperature.

Store leftovers, including pumpkin pie, in the refrigerator within two hours after cooking.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Arrest Made in Man’s Death

A man was found dead in his Pike County home Friday and now another man is charged with murder.

Police say 32-year-old Gregory Todd Martin of Elkhorn City was found dead Friday evening inside a home on Harless Creek.

35-year-old Ervin J. Smallwood of Regina was arrested and charged with one count of murder.

He is in the Pike County Detention Center.

Police have not released a cause of death.

The case remains under investigation.

Police Looking for Two Men Caught on Camera Stealing Cigarettes

The Martin County Sheriff's Office is looking for two men they say broke into Horn's BP early Monday morning, stealing more than $1,000 worth of cigarettes.

Store owners are making repairs at the convenience store after they say the men used a large rock to shatter the front door.

Martin County Sheriff Garmon Preece says the two men came into the store through the front door, they busted the glass out, took cigarettes.Only in the store for about three minutes, but long enough to fill up several large bags, cleaning out one particular owners say is valued at more than $1,000.

Officials say thanks to the high quality security system installed just two weeks ago, they have a better chance of catching the thieves.

Officials are looking at the video hoping to identify the two men responsible.

If you think you know who the two men in the video are or have any information, you are asked to contact the Martin County Sheriff's Office at 606-298-2828. 

Operation Fall Harvest

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office teamed up with Kentucky State Police hitting the streets early Monday morning going after more than two dozen people facing drug charges.

One by one deputies walked them out, handcuffs in place, a host of drug charges to answer to.

Sheriff Dwayne Price says a combined effort between his office and KSP led to indictments on 28 people--the results of a two and a half year investigation that allowed officers to make more than 80 undercover buys.

Officers say most of the people charged are accused of trafficking narcotics. Some of them are facing meth charges.

By early afternoon nearly half of the 28 were in custody.

The sheriff says they have done a hand full of these roundups this year resulting in a total of more than 70 arrests.

Those charged in Monday's roundup:

Jennifer D. Harris
Kristen A Shoptaw
Paul Daniels
David Blevins
Kendra Wells
Sara Dennison
Shyla Selvage
Billy J. Collinsworth
Donald Davis
Joshua Doderer
Ronald Lee Ward
Jeff E. Blair
Stephen T. Rose
Shawn King
James Mar LeMaster
Michael Wallace Salyers
Kenneth Stephen Lazar
Jessica Marlene Penticuff/Blair
Ralph Vanhoose
Matthew Joseph Meek
Raymond Kevin Roman
Morgan Trimble
Connie Penrod
Nancy Vanhoose
Eddie G. Adams
Larry Dooley
Orville Allen Doyle

State Police Start Annual Food Drive

Kentucky's lead police agency has started its annual food drive across the state.

Food collection sites have been set up at all 16 Kentucky State Police posts and at the agency's headquarters in Frankfort.

The food drive running through Dec. 13 collects non-perishable foods for needy families.
KSP spokesman Trooper Paul Blanton says the agency collected more than 100,000 pounds of food during the 2012 campaign.

Blanton says the food will be distributed to local shelters, churches and other organizations serving people in need.

Suggested donations include canned fruit and vegetables, canned meat, macaroni and cheese, cereal, peanut butter, canned soups, brownie and cake mixes, coffee, water, powdered milk and juices.

Police Officer Memorial Goes Up in Pikeville

A memorial for fallen police officers has been put up in Pikeville outside the courthouse, but it remains covered and won't be unveiled until next month.

Terry Thompson, president of Pike County's local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, says the monument was a labor of love.

Thompson said multiple FOP chapters have worked for more than five years toward the goal.

In its current state, Thompson said the memorial is about 12 feet tall and includes the names of about 25 officers killed in the line of duty since the early 1900s.

An unveiling is scheduled on Dec. 11 and a formal dedication ceremony will be held next May. 

First Recycling Center Opens in Lawrence County

The first recycling center in Lawrence County opened for business on Monday.

The Louisa Recycling Center will accept paper, cardboard, metal, and plastics. County officials say places like this are important for future generations.

County leaders say neighbors already stopped by on Monday to drop off recyclable materials.

KY Power Files to Withdraw Rate Case in Connection to Power Plant Transfer

Officials with Kentucky Power want the state's Public Service Commission to withdraw a base rate case filed by the utility last year.

Kentucky Power officials filed the case in June 2012 to recover costs associated with buying half the Mitchell power plant in West Virginia.

The company still plans to shut down one of the coal-fired units at the Big Sandy plant in Lawrence County in 2015.

Kentucky power officials estimate customers will see a five percent increase in their bills in January 2014, and another increase of eight to nine percent about 18 months later.

UPike Addresses Campus Violence

Following fights on campus last week, several students no longer attend the University of Pikeville. That is the message from UPike President James Hurley.

On Monday, everything looked like business as usual on the University of Pikeville's campus.

But last Thursday and Friday, that calm was disrupted by fights across campus.

In a statement released by the university Monday, President Hurley said, "this administration will not tolerate inappropriate behavior". He went on to add that those involved were dismissed for violating school policy.

Hurley also said in the email that the university will not tolerate similar situations in the future.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Death Investigation in Pike County, Foul Death Play Suspected

A man was found dead in his Pike County home Friday and now an investigation is underway.

Police are not releasing many details right now.

The man, who the coroner says could be in his 30's, was found dead Friday evening inside a home on Harless Creek.

Police are not releasing his cause of death and are calling it a death investigation, but detectives have confirmed that foul play is suspected.

Detectives say they are interviewing some people of interest.

The Pike County coroner took the man's body to Frankfort for an autopsy.

Kentucky May Lose $45 Million of Tobacco Settlement Money

If Kentucky loses $45 million in tobacco settlement funding next year, it could mean financial woes for state programs in agriculture, health and early childhood development.

Kentucky may lose the funding due to a ruling in September by an arbitration panel that the state didn't properly enforce a portion of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. State officials deny the allegation and have appealed the ruling.

With some uncertainty over whether the state will lose the funding, state officials say contingency plans are being made.

Half of the money Kentucky receives from the settlement goes toward agricultural programs. 

The other half is split evenly between public health and early childhood development.

A ruling on the appeal is expected in the spring.

Santa Train

Santa Claus rolled through Pike County on Saturday morning. Santa was on his way to the volunteer state. The annual, Santa Train, operated by CSX is a family tradition for many in our region.

Rolling through the hills of Appalachia for its 71st 110-mile-trip, running from Shelby, Kentucky to Kingsport, Tennessee. The Santa Train makes several stops along its journey like in Elkhorn City where children anxiously wait to catch a glimpse of Mr. Claus.

Santa along with many helpers give out toys, candy, and clothing, at each stop. American Idol season 12 runner-up, Kree Harrison, helped pass out gifts as the group delivered more than 15 tons of items to children in Appalachia.

This year was the first year long-time organizer and supporter Ed Moore wasn't on the Santa Train. Moore passed away earlier this year, but volunteers tell us Moore would want the train to keep rolling to help others.
EKB News was on hand and pictures of the Santa Train can be found on EKB News Facebook Page.

Pikeville High School Teacher and students Earn Honors

Pikeville High School received a unique honor from special guests from Frankfort.

Officials with the Kentucky Environmental Education Council presented a banner to congratulate the school on becoming only the eight in the state, certified as a 'Green and Healthy School'.

Teacher Kelly Scott was also honored as the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools Teacher of the Year. Scott is the first teacher to receive the award. Officials say she has created a very strong green and healthy program at the school by implementing the program into her curriculum.

Police Searching for Two Men Accursed of Armed Robbery

Police are searching for two men they say robbed a gas station at gunpoint.

Police say the men robbed the Fast Lane convenient store in the Eastern community in Floyd County Saturday night.

It happened around 10:30 pm, police say the men took off on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes.

This incident remains under investigation, anyone with information should contact state police.

College Students Provide Early Thanksgiving Dinner at Pikeville Shelter

Residents at the WestCare Emergency Shelter enjoyed an early Thanksgiving dinner thanks to some students from Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

For the 10th year, the CARE Club, made up of human services students is volunteering at the shelter.

Even during one of the busiest times of the year, residents say there is an outpouring of love and support for the shelter.

Residents say they are blessed to live in such a giving community, with donations coming in daily but they hope to see that spirit of giving continue beyond the holidays.

Residents say even in hard times they can find reason to be thankful because of the shelter and the strong support from groups like the CARE club.

Students from the University of Pikeville and the organization 'Hope in the Mountains' also helped with the Thanksgiving dinner.

SOAR Summit Announces Agenda

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Job creation, entrepreneurship, tourism, lifelong learning, and leadership development will be among the topics discussed at the upcoming “SOAR: Shaping Our Appalachian Region” summit next month.

Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers released the daylong conference agenda today. Already, more than 1,100 people have registered to attend the summit, which will be held on Monday, Dec. 9 at the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville.

In an effort to focus on the future success of southern and eastern Kentucky, Gov. Beshear and Rep. Rogers organized the summit to gather ideas and recommendations about how to move Kentucky’s Appalachian region forward.

The summit will be moderated by Chuck Fluharty, President of the Rural Policy Research Institute. Sessions will focus on a number of topics, including how to encourage regional innovation, the importance of infrastructure, and developing youth engagement.

One part of the day will be dedicated to the story of the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board, which channeled the collective energies and ideas of the people of the iron-mining region of northeastern Minnesota to forge a new and successful future.

The SOAR Summit will host hundreds of attendees from across southern and eastern Kentucky with varied occupational backgrounds and interests– including individuals representing education, business, nonprofits, arts, finance, tourism, local government and more. The summit is open to any Kentuckian with an interest in the strength and future of Kentucky’s Appalachian region. Interested individuals are invited to attend the SOAR Summit by registering at

Kentuckians can also participate in SOAR by following the latest updates through social media: “Like” the Official SOAR Facebook page at and follow SOAR on Twitter @SOAR_EKY, using the hashtags #SOAR and #SOARSummit.

Dept. of Revenue: No increase in tax interest rate for 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. – (Nov. 22, 2013) – The Kentucky Department of Revenue has set the 2014 tax interest rate, which remains unchanged from the previous two years.

The interest rate is four percent; the rate charged by the Department on unpaid taxes is six percent; and for interest due on a refund, the rate is two percent.  

Each year the Department of Revenue, pursuant to KRS 131.183, is required to review the annual tax rate and change or keep the same rate.  The new interest rate is based on the adjusted prime rate charged by Kentucky banks during the month of October.

A recent survey of Kentucky banks revealed that the average prime interest rate was four percent during the month of October 2013.  The interest rate is effective Jan. 1, 2014. 

56,000 Enrolled in Health Insurance through kynect

FRANKFORT, KY. – Thanks to kynect, more than 56,000 Kentuckians are enrolled in new health insurance, and 41 percent of them are under the age of 35 – a rate that has held steady for several weeks. Kentucky’s health exchange, kynect, continues to enroll about 1,000 Kentuckians each day into new health coverage.

kynect has been hailed as a national model since its launch Oct. 1 for its continuous smooth operation and easy interface for users looking for affordable health coverage.

As part of continuing outreach and education, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is mailing notices this week to 300,000 Kentuckians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and child support to advise them to check kynect for opportunities for health insurance for their families. Over the coming weeks, more outreach will be targeted for population groups who may benefit from kynect.

The below statistics reflect activity on kynect as of as of 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21:
·         492,838 unique visitors viewing 13.6 million web pages
·         404,865 people conducted preliminary screenings to determine qualifications for subsidies, discounts or programs like Medicaid
·         56,422 enrolled in new health coverage, including Medicaid and private insurance
·         45,622 have enrolled in Medicaid and 10,800 have enrolled in a qualified health plan
·         27 percent of the enrollees in qualified health plans are 35 years old or younger
·         22,401 have been found eligible for a subsidy to purchase a qualified health plan, but most have not yet chosen a plan
·         3,716 have enrolled in dental plans
·         1,000 small businesses have started applications for employee coverage; 392 of those businesses have completed applications and are eligible to offer coverage to employees
·         146,323 calls answered by the kynect call center

Additional data from Thursday, Nov. 21 show:
·         Highest enrollment numbers are in Jefferson (8,812) and Fayette (2,987) counties.
·         41 percent of total enrollees are under 35 years of age. About 31 percent are between 18 and 35.
·         The silver level plans remain the most popular at 40 percent of enrollment, followed by platinum level at almost 31 percent, gold at nearly 17 percent, and bronze at almost 11 percent. Catastrophic plans, available to residents under the age of 30, were less than 2 percent of enrollments.
·         Slightly more women (59 percent) have signed up than men (41 percent).

·         Nearly 1 out of every 4 enrollments so far is for a qualified health plan, including dental plans. However, 14,934 pending enrollments have qualified for a subsidy, which means enrollees are likely seeking additional information about the best qualified health plan for themselves and their families. 

We expect many of these enrollments will be completed before the Dec. 15 deadline for enrollment for coverage by Jan. 1. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clerk Fights Back Against Would Be Robber

He tried to rob a store but the clerk fought back and it was all caught on camera.

It happened at the Cardinal Country Store in the Stanville Community of Floyd County.

It is the second time the store has been robbed in less than two months, and employees say they have reason to believe the same man is behind both.

Surveillance video shows the man walking into the Cardinal Country Store--face covered, about six feet tall, with what appears to be a stick in his hand. Employees say maybe it was an ax handle.

It was just before 2:00 a.m. Thursday, and it was not long before things got heated.

The video shows the clerk fighting him off the register, even grabbing the stick from his hands, then reaching for his face.

The clerk continued by chasing the man out the back door with his own weapon in hand--the weapon employees say gives them reason to believe this man has been there before.

But fighting back is something police do not recommend.

"They don't know what they're capable of. Just observe well, take good mental notes, something that they can relay along to us," said Trooper Shaun Little.

The man ran before he could get anything from the register.

Anyone with information about this robbery is asked to call Kentucky State Police Post 9 at (606 )433-7711.

County budgets feeling the impact of the coal industry

Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise counties all rely heavily on coal production, but the budgets this year are already feeling the effects of a downturn in the coal industry.

More Than 1,100 Signed Up for SOAR Next Month

More than 1,100 people have signed up for next month's SOAR summit in Pike County.

SOAR stands for "Shaping Our Appalachian Region."

Leaders in Eastern Kentucky launched the initiative last month to give people the opportunity to share ideas on how to move the region forward.

The SOAR summit will take place December 9 in Pikeville.

Ky. Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Reinstate Former Pikeville Judge his License

The Kentucky Supreme Court rejected a bid by a former Pikeville judge to reinstate his law license.

The courts majority concluded Charles Huffman's willingness to trade lenient sentences for prescription medication too serious a violation to allow him to practice law again in Kentucky.

Huffman pleaded guilty in 19-95 to extortion while serving as a judge in Pikeville.

He admitted to promising a defendant community service in exchange for several prescription drugs and served 15 months in federal prison. 

Williamson, WV Selected as Finalist for Health Grant

One Mingo County town is one step closer to $25,000 dollars thanks to their culture of health.

Williamson, WV was chosen Thursday as a finalist for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s second annual RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize. Williamson, WV was selected along with eleven other communities from across the nation for their health improvement efforts and will now be considered for the prize, which will be announced June 2014.

The Prize was launched to further the work of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The program provides data, tools and potential solutions to help policy-makers and the public improve the many factors that influence health in their community.

One Dead, Two Hurt in Two-Vehicle Crash

A woman is dead and two others are hurt after a two-vehicle crash.

It happened about 6:10 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Highway 1690 and Highway 645.

The Lawrence County, Kentucky Sheriff's Office says there were two women in one of the vehicles.

One died at the scene.

The other woman was flown to Cabell Huntington Hospital.

The Sheriff says the driver of the other vehicle was also flown to Cabell Huntington.

No names or conditions have been released.

No word on what caused the crash.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate released for October 2013

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate rose to 8.4 percent in October from a revised 8.3 percent in September 2013, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The preliminary October 2013 jobless rate was .3 percentage points above the 8.1 percent rate recorded for the state in October 2012.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate went up to 7.3 percent in October 2013 from 7.2 percent in September 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ky. lawmakers may have to deal with casino gambling issue again when they convene in January

A Louisville Democrat has drafted legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to allow three stand-alone casinos, plus five others at horse tracks.

State Rep. Larry Clark said the proposal could generate needed cash for both state government and the horse tracks.

Gambling proposals have become perennial in the Kentucky Legislature, never garnering enough support to pass.

Gov. Steve Beshear has pressed lawmakers since he took office in 2007 to allow Kentuckians to wager on more than horse races. The Bible-belt state has a longstanding tradition of betting on horses and playing lotteries while barring casinos.

Clark said his proposal could generate $286 million a year in new revenue. If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would then be placed on the ballot for voters to ratify or reject next November.

Ky court rejects ex-judge's bid for reinstatement to legal practice, served time for extortion

The Kentucky Supreme Court has rejected a bid by a former judge who served time in federal prison for extortion to reinstate his law license.

The justices on Thursday by a 4-3 vote turned away Charles L. Huffman III's attempt to return to legal practice.

The court's majority concluded that Huffman's willingness to trade lenient sentences for prescription medication too serious a violation to allow him to practice law again in Kentucky.

Justice Will T. Scott led the dissenters, saying an addiction prompted Huffman's misdeeds and he has paid his dues.

Huffman pleaded guilty in 1995 to extortion while serving as a judge in Pikeville. He admitted to promising a defendant community service in exchange for several prescription drugs and served 15 months in federal prison.

Job losses in trade, hospitality sectors push state unemployment rate to 8.4 percent

Kentucky's unemployment rate has inched upward again, rising to 8.4 percent in October.
The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training blamed the increase in part on the partial federal government shutdown as well as baby boomer retirements.

The civilian labor force shrank by 9,869 between September and October.

State economist Manoj Shanker said the state's labor market has struggled since late spring, and has hovered around the 8.4 mark for the past five months.

The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 5,200 jobs in October. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector dropped by 3,800. And 2,100 manufacturing jobs were lost. The government sector shed another 1,700 jobs.

The financial services sector was down 1,000 jobs for the month, and the education and health services sector lost 300 jobs.

West Liberty Elementary School Almost Ready for Students

Several areas across the commonwealth can relate to what the people affected by Sunday's tornadoes in the midwest are going through. An EF-3 tornado ripped through West Liberty during the deadly tornado outbreak in March of last year.

More than a year and a half later, the area has made a lot of progress, including West Liberty Elementary.

The outside of the new school is finished, the inside of the school is still a work in progress. Crews are putting the final touches on classrooms, the gym, and library.

The original elementary school was one of a thousand structures destroyed by two tornadoes last year.

The school and other damaged structures are being rebuilt. Morgan County Judge Executive Tim Conley says the area still has a long way to go. He says the first step for any community looking to rebuild is to maintain normal behavior.

Officials will start moving equipment to the new school next month. Class will begin Jan. 6, after their winter break.

Judge Conley says 75% of homes and businesses destroyed have been rebuilt.

Loretta Lynn Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

She is known as the coal miner's daughter, and Wednesday Eastern Kentucky's own Loretta Lynn received a national honor of recognition from the president.

Lynn joined several others including a former United States president to accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

You would be hard pressed to find a person in Eastern Kentucky who doesn't know who that coal miner's daughter is.

Lynn grew up in the hills of Johnson County, spending her days in Butcher Hollow.

For decades she has carved a path through country music not many can rival.

Wednesday her lifelong career was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

An honor bestowed to this coal miner's daughter who lives on as the Queen of Country Music.

A total of 16 people received Medals of Freedom Wednesday including former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and the late astronaut Sally Ride.

Gov. Beshear Announces More than $1.1 Million for Recreational Trail Projects

Governor Steve Beshear has announced more than $1.1 million in 2013 Recreational Trail Program (RTP) grants to develop and maintain 20 trail projects throughout Kentucky.

“Developing Kentucky trails is key to increasing our state’s overall adventure tourism efforts and infusing money into local economies,” said Gov. Beshear. “This funding helps our communities to not only open new trail projects, but to also improve on existing ones so that they can bring in tourism dollars and enhance the quality of life for local residents.”

Since 2008, First Lady Jane Beshear has been a leader in improving and promoting adventure tourism across the state. She joins Gov. Beshear as a strong supporter for the RTP.

“We are fortunate to live in a state filled with unique natural resources that offer many opportunities to participate in outdoor activities and tourism ventures,” said Mrs. Beshear. “The RTP program funding helps Kentucky towns and counties develop top quality recreational destinations and promote healthy, active lifestyles in our communities.”

RTP grants may be used to provide assistance for acquisition of easements; development and/or maintenance of recreational trails; and trailhead facilities for both motorized and nonmotorized use. Examples of trail uses include hiking, cycling, inline skating, equestrian use, off-road motorcycling and all-terrain vehicle riding.

The RTP is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, and Kentucky’s RTP is administered by the Department for Local Government. It requires that nonmotorized trail applicants match the amount of funds requested to receive a 50 percent reimbursement on approved projects, and that motorized trail applicants match the amount of funds requested to receive an 80 percent reimbursement. Those eligible to apply include city and county governments and state and federal agencies.