Monday, March 31, 2014

Lawmakers reach deal on state budget

Early Sunday morning, the Kentucky Senate and House Budget Conference Committee reached a deal on the state budget that included how much money Rupp Arena will be getting for their upcoming renovation.

The House and Senate have reached an agreement on a two-year budget deal. That deal does not include the $65 million for the Rupp Arena renovation, but lawmakers say it does give a small fund to the arena for planning and engineering that will be matched with local funds so that the project can still move forward.

"It's something that we're supportive of. We think there still needs to be a little bit better planning, a little bit more information," Senate President Robert Stivers told a reporter from CN2.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said, "They will have a path forward. It'll be a fairly clear path, and if they accomplish what the General assembly would want them to do, then the path will be cleared for them,"

According to reports lawmakers said the project will have their support once more planning is done and more information is available. They say the arena project needs to present a financial plan and have a signed lease with UK before moving forward.

House members agreed to cut the funding for Rupp from the budget in order to avoid more debt.

Lawmakers say the budget is expected to be ready for final approval on Monday. 

Students Help research ecotourism in E. Ky.

College students are helping officials in Elkhorn City gather research to promote ecotourism.

Elkhorn City attorney Tim Belcher says the area offers several natural elements to draw tourists, including white-water rafting and trails for hiking. What Belcher doesn't have is research to convince local officials and residents that ecotourism will work.

College students from the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University are helping out with that aspect. They spent a recent weekend asking local residents how they feel about ecotourism. Earlier in the semester, they surveyed tourists in area campgrounds about why they were visiting.

Belcher says the students' work will help the city get designated as a trail town, which is one step that's needed to refocus the area's economy on ecotourism.

Federal Judge Forester Dies at age 73

A federal judge in the eastern half of Kentucky for almost a quarter-century has died.

Karl Forester was 73. He died Saturday at his Lexington home.

Forester became a federal judge in 1988, overseeing cases in Pikeville and Lexington during his career on the bench.

While Forester handled a variety of matters, his most-high profile case stemmed from the litigation surrounding the2006 crash of Comair Flight 5191 at Blue Grass Airport. Many of the suits brought by the families of the 49 people who were killed were settled without a trial.

Forester took senior status in 2005, allowing him to handle a reduced case load.

Hundreds of Walkers march against drug abuse

Hundreds marched through the streets of Inez Sunday afternoon, moving forward for a common cause.

The Martin County Ministerial Association organized the first-ever March on Drugs event, drawing church, school, and community members.

Organizers say the thousand of steps taken Sunday were the first in the right direction.

Members of the ministerial association say this event got the communities attention, and plan on hosting their next event on April 25th.

Two Morgan County Children injured in ATV Accident

Two children were injured in an ATV accident in Morgan County Sunday.

Kentucky State Police say around 3:30 p.m. yesterday, an 8 year old was driving the ATV with a 3 year old riding along.

Authorities say the four wheeler hit a fence.

Both children were taken to Morgan County ARH hospital. The 3 year was later airlifted to UK medical center.

Police say the children were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.

EKU Issues Crime Alert after Armed Robbery on Campus

A crime alert has been declared Sunday evening after an armed robbery near an Eastern Kentucky University dorm.

Authorities say it happened just before 11 p.m. when two armed men robbed some students near Clay Hall. Both men were wearing all black clothing and white face masks. 

The EKU Police Department is currently investigating this incident.

Ky. Redistricting Creates Political Stasis

Despite a contentious lawsuit and dramatic regional population shifts, Kentucky's 2013 congressional and legislative redistricting processes have resulted in political stasis.

Kentucky's congressional districts maintained a 5-1 Republican to Democratic split.

The Republican-controlled Senate was still able to reinforce Republican strongholds.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives likewise strengthened party centers.

Steve Voss, a political scientist at the University of Kentucky, says although the process of partisan entrenchment can often contribute to federal gridlock, Kentucky's regional concerns more often override partisan divides.

With state elections still months away, local party gains and losses remain unclear.

The new state legislative districts include fewer races in which incumbents faced each other than in previous years.

Currently, only two Democrat and two Republican incumbents are set to run against each other.

Friday, March 28, 2014

210 citations issued during MSHA's February special impact mine inspections

Federal impact inspections at U.S. mines in February resulted in 210 citations and eight orders.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted the inspections at nine coal mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois and Utah. In addition, a surface gold mine in Nevada and an underground salt mine and a crushed limestone operation in Kansas were inspected.

The inspections began in 2010 after the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 coal miners.

Gov. Beshear Declares Today as Blue and Red Day

Governor Steve Beshear announced today will be "Blue and White Day" in honor of the NCAA men's Sweet 16 game between cross-state rivals UK and UofL.

Today’s game will be the second time in three seasons that UK and UofL have met in the NCAA tournament. In 2012, UK prevailed in the game and went on to win the National Championship. The following year, UofL came out on top, winning the 2013 National Championship.

Juvenile Justice Bill Clears Ky. House

The Kentucky House has passed a bill promoted as making the biggest changes to the state's juvenile justice system in decades.

The measure is aimed at having fewer children locked up.

It would steer more young offenders toward community-based treatment as an alternative to detention.

The measure passed on an 84-15 vote. It returns to the Senate, which will consider minor changes by the House. If the Senate accepts those changes, the bill would be sent to Gov. Steve Beshear.

Supporters said the bill would save the state millions of dollars and ensure early intervention to help turn around the lives of troubled children.

The bill focuses on early treatment that could include behavioral health, mental health and substance abuse services.

The legislation is Senate Bill 200.

Rep. Hal Rogers Voices Concern over new drug Zohydro

Representative Hal Rogers heard from officials with the Food and Drug Administration Thursday about the controversial new drug Zohydro.

The House Appropriations Committee hearing focused on the hydrocodone-based painkiller, which the FDA approved last year and became available this month.

Rogers says the drug lacks any safeguards to prevent its abuse.

Rogers says he hopes the FDA will reconsider its decision and delay approval until a tamper-resistant formulation of the drug is available.

Rep. Hal Rogers Questions EPA on Rule Change

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are considering a change to a rule under the Clean Water Act.

Representative Hal Rogers says the rule change could seriously hurt the coal industry.
EPA officials say the rule change would simply clarify existing protections for streams and wetlands.

Rogers says the rule would make it nearly impossible for coal companies to acquire permits, and calls it the 'biggest land grab in the nation's history.'

Rogers and other lawmakers questioned leaders of the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday during a House Appropriations Committee hearing.

Rogers pressed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on a proposed rule change the congressman says would expand the EPA's jurisdiction of U.S. Waterways to include "seasonal or rain-dependent" streams.

"They're wanting to extend their jurisdiction over areas where there is a stream that may not be a stream," Rogers.

Rogers says he fully expects the courts to strike down the rule change.

Ky. Unemployment numbers released

State Officials say Jackson County now has an unemployment rate of 20%.

The new unemployment numbers show rates went up in 56 counties and fell in 55.

They stayed the same in 9 counties.

Magoffin, Leslie, Harlan, Letcher, Knott, Bell, and Wolfe Counties all had jobless rates about 15%.

EPA’s McCarthy disputes ‘War on Coal’ phrase

Federal EPA administrator Gina McCarthy told members of a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday the agency is seeking more than $1 billion in the next federal budget for climate change and air quality efforts.
McCarthy said $199.5 million would be specifically for climate change work. The administrator told members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works there’s proof the atmosphere is warming and that is having an impact on the health of Americans.
“What the science tells us is when the temperature gets warmer it increases the level of ozone and that ozone pollution actually has an impact on respiratory health, as well as cardiac health,” she said.
Some of the questioning by committee members focused on recent clean air rules aimed at reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, asked McCarthy about coal.
“We hear about the war on coal and you hear about that is well. Is there a war on coal?”
“Senator, I don’t think that’s fair to say,” McCarthy answered. “What we’re trying to do is our job to protect public health by reducing pollution from some of the largest sources.”
McCarthy’s work at EPA was applauded by some committee members including committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California. She said some Republicans are opposed to everything the EPA does.
“People are not with the Republicans on this,” Boxer said. “Seventy-five percent of Americans say the U.S. should take action on climate change even if other nations do not. Because they’re smart. We don’t wait on China to decide how to treat our people, or our economy, or human rights.”
McCarthy did pledge the EPA plans to further work with utilities and individual states on clean air issues.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ky. Part of Crackdown on Texting and Driving

Kentucky will be taking part in a Nationwide campaign designed to keep people from texting and driving.

The campaign called "You Drive, You Text, You Pay" is the first national texting enforcement crackdown.

State Police say they will be using federal overtime funds to increase enforcement.

It's illegal to text and drive in Kentucky, you can be fined $25 on the first offense and $50 each time after.

Mine Inspection Could Decrease if Senate Budget Passes

Mining inspectors might spend less time examining coal operations if a Senate budget passes.

State law requires each mine be inspected six times yearly.

Under the proposed budget, that number would be cut to only two annual inspections.

United Mine Workers International Vice President Steve Earle says the cutback will put miners' lives in danger.

Bill Takes Aim at Animal Rights Videos at Farms

Filming or photographing farm animal operations without a farmer's consent would be criminalized under a bill sent to the Kentucky Senate.

The Senate Agriculture Committee attached the language to a House-passed bill on Tuesday.

Kentucky Farm Bureau executive Jeff Harper says the provisions are needed because Kentucky is becoming a target of animal-rights activists who secretly film or photograph farm operations.

Paul Shapiro, a vice president with the Humane Society of the United States, says the state's meat industry is trying to silence whistleblowers seeking to expose animal cruelty or food safety violations.

He says the bill comes a month after Humane Society whistleblowers exposed animal abuse at a western Kentucky pig farm.

If the Senate passes the bill, it would return to the House.

Ky. House Panel Approves Anti-Heroin Measure

A Kentucky House panel has cleared a measure aimed at stemming the tide of heroin abuse in the state.

The bill would provide a three-pronged approach to the problem, combining treatment funding with harsher penalties for trafficking and education for kids.

The bill is sponsored by Republican Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine of Covington.
Stine says the bill would allow courts to treat high-volume heroin trafficking charges as a homicide.

But J. Guthrie True, president of the Kentucky Association of Defense Lawyers, says that the bill goes too far by placing the burden of proof on the defense and is unconstitutional.

The measure cleared the panel on a 12-0 vote.

The bill now moves to the full Kentucky House for consideration.

UK HealthCare Warns Patients of Health Information Breach

UK HealthCare is warning more than a thousand patients about a possible breach of their personal health information.

According to UK Hospital officials, Talyst, a vendor that provides pharmacy billing management services, reported a password protected laptop had been stolen in early February.

The employee had access to 1,079 patients' information like date of birth, medical records and medication. Some patients' insurance carrier and ID number may also have been on the stolen laptop.

But after investigating, hospital officials determined that social security numbers and bank account information was not on the laptop and they don't believe anyone's information has been misused.

If patients are concerned though, officials at the Better Business Bureau recommend getting a credit report.

UK Hospital officials also say to keep an eye on your health benefits. If patients notice anything unusual, they should contact their insurer. 

Commonwealth’s Attorney Seeks Death Penalty for Martin County Double Murder

Commonwealth's Attorney Anna Melvin says she filed a notice in Circuit Court to see the death penalty against Orie Spence, Jr.

Police say Spence shot and killed April and Edger Hedrick at their Tomahawk home last November.

A trial date has not yet been set.

House Approves Bill to form Adult Protection Registry

A bill aimed at creating an adult protection registry in Kentucky has passed the state House.

The goal is to provide more assurances that the elderly and disabled are receiving proper care.

The measure cleared the House on a 99-0 vote Tuesday. It returns to the Senate, which will consider changes by the House.

The registry would list people found to have abused, neglected or exploited vulnerable adults.
Care providers for those adults would have to check the registry to make sure potential employees and contractors don't have a history of abusing the elderly or disabled.

Care providers expected to check the registry would include adult day health care programs, assisted-living communities, group homes for people with developmental disabilities, home-health agencies and long-term-care facilities.

Ky. Legislature Reaches Deal on Snow Day Bill

Kentucky public school students won't have to cancel their summer vacations after state lawmakers agreed to relax school attendance laws following an unusually snowy winter.

House and Senate negotiators agreed Wednesday night to suspend the state law requiring school districts to have 170 days of classes, as long as they have at least 1,062 hours of classroom instruction.

If a school district cannot meet the 1,062-hour threshold after exhausting all other options, including canceling spring break and school holidays, the school year will end on June 6. State Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said fewer than 10 school districts would fit that category.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Senate Sets Up Gas Tax Showdown

Kentucky's Republican state Senate leaders rejected a gas tax increase of 1.5 cents per gallon on Tuesday.

The decision forces a showdown with the Democratic-controlled House over how to pay for roads.

Kentucky drivers pay a state tax of 30.8 cents for every gallon of gasoline they purchase. That tax is scheduled to drop to 30.1 cents per gallon on April 1.

House Democrats increased the tax to 32.3 cents per gallon. The change would give the state an extra $107 million during the next two years to spend on road construction.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said he did not think Kentuckians wanted to pay higher taxes. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Republicans are just trying to improve profits for oil companies.

House Moves to Block Obama Coal Rule

The House has approved a bill to prevent the Obama administration from imposing a stream-protection rule for coal mining that government experts say would eliminate thousands of jobs. 

The rule is intended to replace Bush-era regulations that set up buffer zones around waterways and were aimed chiefly at mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The House bill would reinstate the 2008 rule. The measure was approved Tuesday.

Republicans say the new rule is part of what they call President Barack Obama's "war on coal" and would cost more than 7,000 jobs while slashing production.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, saying it limits states' ability to tailor safeguards to their own needs and wastes millions of dollars adopting a rule that has been vacated by a federal court.

Eminent Domain Can’t Be Used For Pipeline

A judge has decided that eminent domain can't be used to take private land to build a natural gas pipeline through Kentucky.

Bluegrass Pipeline Co. has said it has the right to condemn property for its pipeline under Kentucky eminent domain law. But according to reports,  Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled Tuesday that the power of eminent domain can't be delegated to a private company unless the legislature finds it would be in the public interest.

Shepherd says the power has not been delegated to Bluegrass Pipeline for the project.

The citizens group Kentuckians United to Restrain Eminent Domain had sought a ruling on the question.

Ky. House Passes Bill to Reconsider Closure of Big Sandy Power Plant

The Kentucky House has passed a bill that would require the state's Public Service Commission to reconsider its decision allowing Kentucky Power Co. to shutter part of the Big Sandy Power Plant at Louisa.

The bill co-sponsored by Democratic House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins cleared the House on a 62-34 vote Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate.

The measure would require the PSC to reconsider any multistate deal rejected by another state. Adkins says the decision to close part of the plant sent "shockwaves" through the region and will cost jobs, revenue and demand for Kentucky coal.

Kentucky Power president Greg Pauley has said the plant needed a $1 billion renovation to comply with federal emissions standards. Instead, Pauley decided to close part of the plant and purchase half of the Mitchell Power Plant for $536 million.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

House, Senate far apart on School Snow Days Bill

State lawmakers have failed to agree on a bill that would relax the state's school attendance laws because of the unusual number of snowstorms this winter.

State law requires school districts to have at least 170 days and 1,062 hours of classroom instruction each school year. But some school districts have missed more than 30 days this year because of snowstorms, pushing the school year for some districts toward the end of June.

House and Senate negotiators could not agree Monday on when the school year should end. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the bill is so important he would be willing to appoint new negotiators to try again. Lawmakers have eight legislative days left to reach a compromise.

Bills Bottleneck in State Legislature’s Final Week

More than 250 bills are in limbo as the Kentucky state legislature enters the final week of the legislative session.

Twenty-two of the 824 bills filed this year have passed both the House and the Senate. Of those, eight have become law.

After Monday, state lawmakers will have eight legislative days to pass a $20 billion biennial budget, a $4.5 billion two-year road spending plan and a bill setting state revenues for the next two years that includes a gas tax increase in the House version.

Also pending are bills that would restore voting rights to some convicted felons, increase the penalties of high volume heroin dealers and stop lawmakers from boosting their pension benefits by taking a high-paying state job toward the end of their careers.

Derby Trophy Arriving at Churchill Downs

With Kentucky Derby 140 less than six weeks away, the solid gold trophy that the owner of the winning 3-year-old will receive is being delivered to Churchill Downs in Louisville.

The trophy is 22 inches tall with a 14-karat gold horse and rider atop it and horseshoe-shaped wreath handles. It sits on a jade base and weighs about 60 ounces.

Churchill Downs says the company that makes the trophy begins work on it the previous November. The process takes about 2,000 hours.

The $2 million Kentucky Derby will be May 3.

University of Kentucky Police Ready to Handle Friday Crowds

Big crowds, burning couches, even flipped cars. UK fans have been known for a few rowdy celebrations in the past. That's why police have already started preparing for this Friday's Sweet 16 match-up between the University of Kentucky and Louisville.

"We've been in close contact with the Lexington Fire Department as well as the Lexington Police," explained University of Kentucky Police Chief Joe Monroe. He's coordinating coverage of a campus-wide celebration, "we're going to partner with the students so they understand and we want them to have a good time and celebrate, but they have to do it responsibly."

During 2012 tournament play, students flipped cars, set furniture on fire, and threw beer bottles at crews trying to control the crowds. Police used the website to make several arrests after the State Street mayhem. This year they're relying on increased presence and proactive plans.

Appeals Court to hear case over prison visits

A federal appeals court is set to hear a case brought by Kentucky death row inmates challenging the rules governing how and when pastors may visit them at the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has scheduled oral arguments in the case for May 9 in Cincinnati.

Five death row inmates sued the Department of Corrections in 2011 accusing the Corrections Department and prison of violating their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion. The prison system changed its policy in 2010 requiring inmates to place pastors on one of three slots on an inmate's visitation list to meet with them one-on-one.

U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell dismissed the inmate's lawsuit a year ago.

Flood-prone Ky. River Towns to see Insurance Hikes

Thousands of Kentucky residents and business owners are facing yearly flood insurance premium increases as the federal government seeks to erase billions in debt from the National Flood Insurance Program.

Congress passed a law in 2012 requiring about 1 million policyholders to begin paying rates based on the true risk of flooding at their properties. But Congress amended that law this month after an outcry over the one-time increases. Policyholders would instead pay premiums that increase gradually each year.

About half of the 24,000 properties in Kentucky with flood coverage will have adjusted premiums, including about 8,000 single family homes or condominiums that will see annual increases in premium costs of up to 18 percent. About 1,400 businesses across the state will see a flat 25 percent rate increase.

Beshear, Rogers Announce Organizational Structure and Action Plan for SOAR Initiative

A diverse group of eastern Kentucky citizens will form the executive leadership structure of the Shaping our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative, Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers announced yesterday.

The 15-member executive committee, co-chaired by Gov. Beshear and Rep. Rogers, held its first meeting today in Hazard. The group developed a nine-month action plan to guide them as the initiative seeks continued conversations and deeper outreach throughout Kentucky’s Appalachian counties, which will culminate in a second regional summit in late fall 2014.

The executive committee will oversee design, execution, and funding of SOAR activities and will conduct the search for a permanent executive director.

Chuck Fluharty, president and CEO of the Rural Policy Research Institute, will serve as interim executive director of the SOAR initiative until a permanent executive director is named. Fluharty provided assistance to the SOAR Summit planning committee in designing the December 2013 event and has continued to work with Gov. Beshear and Rep. Rogers in planning follow-up strategies.
The executive committee will provide interim governance for the initiative until a permanent structure is established. Donovan Blackburn, Pikeville’s city manager, will serve as managing director. A SOAR office has also been established in Pikeville.

The executive committee includes:

• Bruce Ayers, Cumberland, president emeritus, Southeast Community and Technical College
• Jim Booth, Inez, CEO of Booth Energy
• Jean Hale, Pikeville; chair, president and CEO of Community Trust Bank
• Rodney Hitch, Winchester, economic development manager for East Kentucky Power
• Jim Host, Lexington
• Tom Hunter, Washington, D.C., retired executive director, Appalachian Regional Commission
• Kim McCann, Ashland, partner/attorney with VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann
• Hayley McCoy, Jackson, economic development advocate with Jackson Energy
• Bob Mitchell, Corbin, board of directors for The Center for Rural Development and retired chief of staff for Rep. Hal Rogers
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Senate President Robert Stivers, Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock, and Magoffin County Judge-Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin will serve as ex officio members representing state and local government.

Ten working groups will be responsible for leading discussions throughout the region on topics related to eastern Kentucky’s future economic well-being and quality of life. Based on citizen and organizational input, the groups will identify significant opportunities and a long-term vision related to their topics.

The working groups’ focus areas and chairs include:

• Agriculture/Community/Regional Foods: Daniel Wilson, Wolfe County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources
• Broadband: Lonnie Lawson, Somerset, president and CEO, The Center for Rural Development
• Business Recruitment: Greg Jones, Somerset, special project director, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corp.
• Business Incubation: Jared Arnett, Pikeville, president and CEO, Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
• Education and Retraining: Jeff Whitehead, Hazard, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program
• Health: Dr. Nikki Stone, Hazard, dental director/faculty, UK June Buchanan Clinic
• Infrastructure: Jack Sykes, Pikeville, chairman of the board, Summit Engineering
• Leadership Development and Youth Engagement: Jonathan Gay, Morehead, executive director of Morehead State University Innovation and Commercialization Center
• Regional Collaboration and Identity: Sandy Runyon, Prestonsburg, executive director of the Big Sandy Area Development District
• Tourism, including Natural Resources, Arts & Heritage: Phil Osborne, Lexington, president of Osborne and Associates

Membership of the working groups will be open to anyone interested in participating; contact the SOAR office at 606-444-5127 or 606-437-5127 for more information.

The Futures Forum, to be chaired by former Governor Paul Patton, will focus on long-term strategies to improve the region. Members of this group will work with the executive committee and work groups to translate immediate and ongoing efforts into future strategies. The Futures Forum will also develop a SOAR 2025 Vision to be presented to the region in a spring 2015 SOAR Futures Forum.

Supreme Court Won’t Review W. Va. Strip Mine Case

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a coal company fighting to reinstate a water pollution permit for a massive West Virginia strip mine.

The justices say they will not disturb a federal appeals court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency acted within its authority in 2011 when it retroactively vetoed a permit issued four years earlier by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. and its Mingo Logan Coal Co. subsidiary challenged the appellate ruling concerning the mountaintop removal coal mine in West Virginia's Logan County.

The case now goes back to a federal district court in Washington.

The case is Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. EPA, 13-599.

Prison Life for Ritchie Farmer

Former State Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is just days away from leaving civilization for 27-month stay at USP Hazelton.

The inmate handbook, given to all prisoners as they check into the federal prison in Bruceton, West Virginia, goes into great detail about what's expected of each inmate.

Hazelton is a high security prison. There is an adjacent minimum security satellite camp, which is where Farmer will reside.

The orientation manual goes through the inmate's daily routine. Farmer will have to be up every weekday morning at 6:00AM and 7:00AM on weekends and holidays. His bed will have be made, military style, by 7:30AM. He's responsible for cleaning up after himself and making sure trash in his wastebasket is empty by 7:30 every morning, as well.

Inmates are limited to five books, three newspapers and five magazines, which are to be stored in a foot locker provided in each cell.

Farmer will only be able to possess one radio and watch.

As for jewelry, inmates can have a plain wedding band and the value can not exceed $100.

Farmer pleaded guilty to misuse of state funds while agriculture commissioner.

Spring Spells Trouble for Allergy Sufferers

Spring is in the air, and that means allergies have come as well.

But saying goodbye to Winter, means saying hello to cold-like symptoms for about one-third of the population.

Pollen counts are springing up already across many locations in Kentucky.

If you typically have problems with allergies, allergists suggest starting with preventative care.

If you're a frequent allergy sufferer, allergists recommend keeping your windows closed at night or while driving your car. After spending a lot of time outdoors, they suggest immediately removing your clothing and hopping in the shower, so you don't carry pollen around your home.

Senate Unveils it’s version of Kentucky Budget

A Kentucky Senate committee has advanced a proposed $20 billion, two-year state budget that differs from the House-passed plan on some key points.

The version that emerged Monday significantly reduces the amount of bonded projects.

The proposed Senate version restores a 2.5 percent cut in operating funds for universities included in the House's budget.

But the Senate plan removes a number of bonded construction projects for the universities that the House backed.

The Senate version also removes a proposed $65 million bond for Rupp Arena's renovation and a new convention center in Lexington.

The Senate plan maintains putting more money into the state's main funding formula for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms.

The Senate also backs funding cuts of 5 percent for many state agencies, as the House did.

The legislation is House Bill 235.

Monday, March 24, 2014

UPIKE Student Killed in Weekend Crash

Timothy "Cole" Thomas, a freshmen and track standout at the University of Pikeville was killed in a vehicle accident along I-64 in Clark County.

Investigators say Thomas was driving east on I-64, in Clark County, KY, late Saturday evening when Thomas lost control of his car. They say the car flipped, slammed into a guard rail. The vehicle flipped and Thomas was thrown from the vehicle. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Thomas was a freshman at the University of Pikeville and one of the school's rising track stars.

The exact cause of the accident is still under investigation at this time. 

Pike County Native’s Song Hits Number One

A Pike County musician is celebrating a big accomplishment.

On Friday, Elkhorn City native Dave Adkins learned his song "Pike County Jail" is number one on the bluegrass charts.

His CD "Nothing to Lose" is available on iTunes.

Adkins is preparing to tour across the country

A Red Colored Creek No Cause for Alarm

Several people were left shocked Saturday afternoon, after a creek ran red outside McDowell in Floyd County.

Officials with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection say the McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corporation reported the incident around 2:30 Saturday afternoon.

They say vandals tampered with a plastic container, spilling about 10 gallons of potassium permanganate.

Officials took samples to find out if concentrations of the material exceeded authorized limits.

They say the spill is no cause for alarm, and should not impact drinking water quality.

Hospitals Treating More Addicted Newborns

The number of drug-addicted babies in Kentucky who are hospitalized has increased significantly in a little more than a decade.

According to a recent report from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, the number has gone from 28 in 2000 to 824 in 2012.

Although a multi-pronged effort was launched last year to fight the rising number of addicted newborns, medical professionals say it's not enough. Treatment centers are struggling to stay open, there are waiting lists to get in, and too many babies are born struggling.

Preliminary figures in the state report suggested that number of newborns treated for addiction rose even further in 2013 to more than 900.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Escaped Inmate Turns Himself In

An inmate who escaped from Three Forks Detention Center showed up at the Big Sandy Detention Center Thursday night and turned himself in.

Kentucky State Police say Melvin Scott Garland, 29, of Royalton, escaped about 8:30 Thursday morning while on a work release detail at the Wolfe County Highway Garage in Campton, Ky.

Troopers believed Garland was picked up by a private vehicle and was initially headed to Magoffin County.

Garland is being held in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center on 2nd degree Escape. 

Ky. Senate Passes Bill to Toughen Voyeurism Law

The Kentucky Senate has voted to update the state's voyeurism law to punish people who take photos up women's skirts.

The proposal takes aim at a practice known as "upskirting."

The bill would make it illegal to photograph or videotape an undergarment that isn't publicly visible.

Republican Sen. Julie Denton says the voyeurism law needs to be expanded to keep up with the increasing use of mobile phones to take photos.

Her bill passed the Senate on a 37-0 vote Wednesday. It now goes to the House.

Voyeurism can result in jail time in Kentucky.

House Panel Advances bill to Save Power Plant

A House panel has approved a bill designed to save about 80 jobs at a coal-fired power plant in eastern Kentucky.

But the president of Kentucky Power said if the plant stays open, the company would have to raise power rates by 30 percent.

Democratic Rep. Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook sponsored the bill that would force the Kentucky Public Service Commission to reconsider its decision to allow Kentucky Power to close the Big Sandy Power Plant in Louisa. Kentucky Power President Greg Pauley told lawmakers it would cost $1 billion to retrofit the power plant - a cost the company would pass on to its customers.

The committee approved the bill Thursday on a 12-2 vote, with five lawmakers voting "pass."

Hundreds attend job fair in Prestonsburg

Hundreds came out for a job fair held Wednesday at Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg.

Organizers say there were about twenty booths set up at the fair with companies looking to fill positions as well as non profit groups there to help folks through the job search process

One of the most popular booths was GMS, a company hiring out of work miners for jobs in the mining industry in Western Kentucky.

Health Law Concerns for Cancer Centers

Some of the nation's best cancer hospitals have been left out by insurers selling coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law.

For example, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance was excluded by five out of eight insurers in the state's insurance exchange. MD Anderson is in less than half the exchange plans in the Houston metro area. Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis is in some plans offered by one of two insurers on the Missouri exchange.

Only four of 19 nationally recognized cancer centers that responded to an Associated Press survey said patients have access through all the insurers in their state's exchange.

Before the new health care law, a cancer diagnosis could make you uninsurable.

Now, you can get coverage, but the obstacles may be more subtle.