Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pikeville Dog Park Opened

A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Pikeville Dog Park held yesterday. The event began with a presentation of the colors, followed by comments from City Council members and Mayor. 

The new dog park is located at Bob Amos Park, across from the YMCA and offers a safe locale to take your furry friend, as well a small obstacle course.  

Pike County Man Arrested after Grand Jury Murder Indictment

Kentucky State Police at the Pikeville Post have arrested a Pike County man following a grand jury indictment on a murder charge.

According to authorities, 47 year old Daniel Little was arrested in the death of Tiffany Mullins on May 4th.  Mullins was found dead in a residence in the Little Robinson Creek area.

400 Kentuckians use new online absentee ballot system

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says about 400 Kentuckians in the military or living overseas have used a new system to request and receive absentee ballots electronically for the November elections.

The system is part of a 2013 law that allows military voters or people living abroad to register to vote, update their voter registration or request and receive absentee ballots online. The system is paid for by a $2.2 million federal grant from the Department of Defense.

Local Colleges Share Federal Grant

Federal officials announced Monday Hazard Community and Technical College is one of nearly 270 community colleges across the nation to receive a portion of 450 million dollars in grants for job training.

A consortium made up of six Kentucky community colleges: HCTC, along with Big Sandy, Somerset, Jefferson, Southeast and West Kentucky, are to receive $10 million during the next four years.

The funds will allow HCTC to expand its Learn on Demand program, which offers online training to students in a number of careers in computer and medical information technology.

With the grant, school officials say they will be able to offer five new associates degree programs and thirteen job-specific certifications.

Fire Truck Accident

A wooden bridge collapsed early Monday morning as firefighters were driving a fire truck over it, sending the truck into a creek.

It happened about 3 a.m. on Pigeon Roost near Warfield.

Warfield Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Alex Alley was driving the truck.
Firefighter Rhonda Estepp was in the passenger seat.

The truck fell about 25 feet.

The two firefighters in the cab were taken to Three Rivers Hospital in Louisa. Estepp suffered sprains in her neck, back, and arm. Alley had a concussion.

The Warfield Fire Department says they'll be able to call out the Kermit, W.Va. or Inez fire departments for help, if necessary, until they can get that truck replaced. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Floyd County Kayaking Death

After searching for hours the Floyd County Rescue Squad found the body of missing kayaker, Milford Boyd.

Boyd was reported missing Saturday when he became separated from his group of kayakers in the Levisa Fork by Betsy Layne.

Boyd, 49, regularly kayaked along the Levisa Fork.

Authorities have not released an official cause of death.

Kentucky child abuse numbers on the rise

A new report just released shows the number of child abuse cases in Kentucky is up.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services released data, showing in 2013 there were just over 11,000 cases.

This year, more than 12,000 cases have been reported.

It is against the law in Kentucky to not report cases of child abuse.

Sheriff Resigning

Floyd County Sheriff John K. Blackburn will resign this week, according to reports.

Blackburn's term was to end in a little over three months. He decided not to run for re-election.

Earlier this year, the sheriff was arrested and sentenced to four days in jail for a DUI.

Sheriff-elect John Hunt will be sworn in as Sheriff this week, according to reports.

Hunt won the Democratic nomination for Sheriff in the May primary. Republican Joey Collins, who would have challenged Hunt in November, dropped out of the race in July.

Hunt will serve the remainder of Blackburn's term, and barring a write-in candidate, will be Sheriff for the next four years.

Former Judge’s Pension in Question

A former West Virginia judge's public pension is being called into question following his corruption conviction.

The West Virginia Consolidated Public Retirement Board on Thursday asked a circuit judge to determine that ex-Mingo Judge Michael Thornsbury is ineligible to receive his pension due to his felony conviction.

According to reports,  the petition seeks to end retirement benefits for Thornsbury and any marital benefits received from his ex-wife Drema Thornsbury.

The petition asks the Kanawha County Circuit Court to find that Thornsbury "rendered less than honorable service" under state code.

Earlier this year, a federal judge sentenced Thornsbury to four years and two months in prison after he pleaded guilty to depriving a man of his right to choose an attorney. 

Mountain Water Receives Grant

The Pike County Mountain Water District is receiving a $1 million grant to relocate pumping stations that experience outages due to flooding.

According to a news release from Kentucky Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing the bulk of the grant - more than $893,000. Another $152,000 comes from the commonwealth. The water district is providing $155,000.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Indictment Returned in Letcher County

A Letcher County grand jury has indicted a former secretary at Whitesburg Middle School on theft charges.

Peggy Cook was indicted on a theft by failure to make required disposition of property charge.

It is alleged Cook took at least $10,000 worth of property from the school.

If convicted, Cook faces up to 10 years in prison.

Jobless rates drop in all 120 Kentucky counties

By: Nathan Lyttle
The unemployment rates dropped in all 120 Kentucky counties between August 2013 and 2014.

That's the first time on record the year-over-year jobless rate declined in every Kentucky county at the same time, according to the state Office of Employment and Training.

Last month's lowest jobless rate was 5.1 percent in Owen, Simpson and Woodford counties.
Magoffin County had the highest rate at 13.3 percent.

Earlier Start to Mountain Parkway Expansion

The Mountain Parkway Expansion Project could get started sooner than expected and at a lower cost.

Yesterday, Governor Steve Beshear, along with other state leaders, gathered in Winchester to announce how they will save millions while widening 46 miles of road in eastern Kentucky.

Expanding the Mountain Parkway to Prestonsburg is estimated to cost more than $750 million. But according to Beshear, some key changes will lower the price tag.

Construction crews will do that by building straighter roads, avoiding costly excavating when possible and avoiding the relocation of nearby roads. 

"We are unveiling the first of a series of innovative, engineering improvements. They are changes that will reduce the cost of this project by at least $40 million," said Beshear.

"When we finish this, we will have a four lane artery that runs the entire length of Kentucky, all the way from Paducah to Pikeville. It is going to open up eastern Kentucky like you have never seen before," said Beshear.

Work will begin later this year near Salyersville.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

TV Personality Indicted

An Animal Planet reality TV show star has been indicted.

Letcher County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Verlin Short earlier this year on drug trafficking charges.

Short is known as the Snake Man of Appalachia.

Officials say Short allegedly sold Percocet and Oxycodone to an informant.

Enterovirus continues to spread in Kentucky

The number of confirmed Enterovirus cases in Kentucky is growing.

Reports indicate there are now eight confirmed cases.

The state recently sent twenty samples to the Centers for Disease Control for testing, most from the Louisville area.

Three of those came back positive for the virus.

The state had only five confirmed cases earlier this month.

The virus primarily affects children and so far has been found in 30 states. 

Angel in Adoption

A Pike County Central High School teacher is being recognized for her work on adoptions.

Angela Lockhart was awarded the 2014 Angel in Adoption award during a ceremony earlier this month in Washington, D.C.

Lockhart urges everyone to do research when thinking about adoption and she is hoping this recognition will allow her to voice concerns regarding issues dealing with adoption like health care needs and insurance.

Vandalism Reported in Johnson County

Vandals damaged equipment and property at Twin Ridge Development in Johnson County.

According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s office, the owners of the property put the act at happening sometime Monday night.

An Excavator at the site was used to damage other equipment and property.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Johnson County Sheriff’s office at 789-3341.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Floyd County Tobacco Store Crashed

50 year old Edward Lemartz faces several charges for crashing into a tobacco store in Martin.

Authorities say alcohol was found in the vehicle.

No one inside the store was injured.

Lemartz faces criminal mischief, open container charges among others.

Mountain Parkway Improvements Discussed

The KTC held a public information meeting at Campton Elementary School Tuesday evening to discuss the improvements for the Mountain Parkway.

This project will close the only gap in a 400-mile, four-lane corridor.

The expansion costs more than $700 million and could take six to 10 years to complete. 

Tourism, agriculture seen as key in Appalachia

A new report says state government needs to spend more money promoting eastern Kentucky as a tourism destination to help the region pull itself out of poverty following the loss of thousands of jobs because of the declining coal industry.

That was one of dozens of recommendations from a group tasked with creating new economic opportunities for eastern Kentucky. The group presented its findings on Tuesday to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers.

Other ideas included offering small loans to out-of-work Kentuckians to help them purchase the equipment and livestock necessary to start farming.

The group plans to meet again in November to discuss which recommendations it should tackle first. The Appalachian Regional Commission has committed up to $750,000 over the next four years to pay for the group's administrative expenses.

Hemp Harvest

For the first time since World War II, industrial hemp was legally harvested in Kentucky Tuesday morning.

The industrial hemp is part of a pilot program that began in May through the University of Kentucky and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

While industrial hemp is still illegal to grow without a research permit and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Researchers say they plan to expand the hemp project next year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DEA to hold 9th Drug Take-Back Day Sept. 27

Operation UNITE along with Kentucky State Police posts throughout southern and eastern Kentucky will be participating in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s 9th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, September 27.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the DEA will collect potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs at KSP Post locations in Ashland, Harlan, Hazard, London, Morehead, Pikeville and Richmond.

In addition, Operation UNITE accepts medications year-round at 42 dropbox sites within its service region. For a list of the permanent drop-off sites visit http://operationunite.org/investigations/med-drop-box-sites/.

In the eight previous take-back days, the DEA and its state, local and tribal law enforcement and community partners have removed more than 4.1 million pounds (2,123 tons) of prescription medications from circulation.

“Having a safe way to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter pills is a proven method reducing the potential for their abuse and misuse,” said Dan Smoot, president/CEO of Operation UNITE. “This spring we collected nearly 1 ton of pills and are hoping to top that total this weekend.”

Kentucky had 1,007 overdose deaths in 2013, with five of the top six counties being in UNITE’s service region, according to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.

Kentucky had the third highest rate of overdose deaths in 2010 (23.6 per 100,000 people), noted Michael Botticelli, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), speaking to participants at last week’s National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta.

These deaths follow a corresponding and dramatic increase in number of prescriptions being written for opioid medications. Enough pills were prescribed in 2012 to give every American 18 years of age or older 75 opioid pills, according to the IMS Health’s National Prescription Audit.

“This means there are a lot of medications just sitting around your home,” Smoot said, adding a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) survey found that more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.

Another benefit of the drop-box program is protecting the environment.

For years, the generally accepted method for disposing of old or left over medications was to flush them down the toilet. This practice, however, has been strongly discouraged because of concerns about potential health and environmental effects of antibiotics, hormones, painkillers, depressants and stimulants making their way into our water system and soil.

Residents are asked to please remove all identifying labels from prescription bottles before bringing them to the drop-off sites.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which began in October 2010, aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications.

School Textbooks Scam

School districts in Kentucky are being warned about a nationwide scam involving textbooks, according to information from Commonwealth Attorney General Jack Conway's office.

Schools nationwide, including at least one school in Kentucky, have received invoices in the mail from Scholastic School Supply for books they never ordered, the news release states. The bogus invoices are for $647.50 for the bulk purchase of “English-Language Arts Practice Books” or $388.50 for math workbooks.

The Better Business Bureau first received a complaint on Aug. 20 and has since received 90 complaints from schools in 27 states.

Schools are advised to not pay suspicious invoices, but instead report them to Attorney General Conway’s Office of Consumer Protection at www.ag.ky.gov/consumer or by calling 888-432-9257.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Road closed today at bottom of Prater Hill

FLOYD COUNTY – September 22, 2014 – Weather permitting, KY 1426 in Floyd County at the bottom of Prater Hill on the Prater side will be closed from 8 o’clock this morning until about 6 o’clock this evening so that state highway workers can replace the cross drain that runs underneath the pavement.

Brady Conn, Allen Maintenance Superintendent, said if weather prevents the work from happening today, the crew will postpone the work until the first clear day this week. “We are sorry for the inconvenience,” Conn said. “We need to get this drain replaced in order to improve drainage on this part of the road. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding.”

Calendar set for General Assembly’s 2015 session

The 2015 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly is scheduled to begin on Jan. 6 and will last 30 legislative days.

As usual during an odd-numbered year, in which sessions are half as long as in even-numbered years, the session will have two parts. The first four days of the session – Jan. 6 to Jan. 9 – will focus on organizational work, such as electing legislative leaders, adopting rules of procedure and organizing committees. The introduction and consideration of legislation can also begin during this time.

The second part of the session begins on Feb. 3, with final adjournment scheduled for March 24.

Legislators will not meet in session on Feb. 16 in observance of Presidents’ Day.

The veto recess – the period of time when lawmakers commonly return to their home districts while the governor considers possible vetoes – begins on March 10. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on March 23 and 24 for the final two days of the session.

No Brewery in Whitesburg

The move to bring a distillery to downtown Whitesburg is on hold as of late last week.

Mayor James Wiley Craft said opposition from members of the First Baptist Church among other has caused the issue to be table for the time being.

The mayor said the city county could eventually revisit the issue.

Ambulance Service Director Sentenced

47 year old Mary Morton was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to theft and forgery charges.

Morton was the director of the now closed Elkhorn Ambulance Service.

According to authorities, Morton is estimated to have stolen at least $68,000 from the service but the exact amount is not known.

Morton was booked into the Pike County Detention Center after her sentencing.

Felons pushing for right to vote in Kentucky

Felons can't vote in Kentucky, but nothing stops them from lobbying for the right to do so.

Supporters of the automatic restoration of voting rights for most felons are banking on the next session of the Kentucky General Assembly in January to grant them the same rights they have in 38 other states.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth estimates there are 180,000 felons out of prison in the state.

Kentucky is one of only four states requiring a pardon from the governor for a felon to vote.

Kentucky aiming to revamp services for elderly

Kentucky is overhauling its elderly services with the aim of stretching resources and helping aging baby boomers remain independent. Officials are hoping more elderly residents will have the choice to live out their final years at home, rather than in an institution.

The state has struggled to keep up with demand, forcing many elderly residents to remain on waiting lists for critical programs or enter nursing homes earlier than necessary.

More than 13,000 people remain on waiting lists at the Department for Aging for meals, transportation, home-based services and caregiver services, with some applicants waiting as long as five years.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Another Date Set for Commercial Flights

Appalachian Air has set yet another goal to get commercial flights started in Pikeville.

According to officials, the first daily flight is set for the morning of October 27th from Pikeville to Nashville, Tn.

No word yet on when tickets for the flight will go on sale.

Wal-Mart to hire 60,000 temporary workers for the holidays

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it plans to hire 60,000 temporary holiday workers for the crucial holiday season, an increase of 10 percent from last year.

The world's largest retailer also says current workers who want more hours during the holidays will get priority for them.

The news follows similar announcements from UPS, FedEx and Kohl's, which are also making more temporary hires this year.

Kentucky nears full job recovery from recession

A state economist says Kentucky is on pace in the coming months to fully regain all the jobs lost during the Great Recession.

Economist Monoj Shanker said Thursday that Kentucky has regained 96 percent of the 122,100 jobs that were shed as a result of the deep economic downturn, and that a full pre-recession recovery is expected by year's end.

Shanker says nonfarm employment in Kentucky totaled 1,865,800 in August, up by 24,000 positions from a year ago. Last month's total is 4,800 jobs away from reaching the state's peak employment in January 2008 before job losses began mounting during the recession.

The state says last month's jobless rate in Kentucky dropped to 7.1 percent, down 1.3 percent from a year ago.

Kentucky's unemployment rate remains above the national rate.

Geocaching event planned at Kentucky parks

The sport of geocaching is coming to the Kentucky State Parks system.
A GeoTour at all 49 state parks will start on Sept. 27, which is National Public Lands Day.
The event will allow participants to explore the parks. Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then try to find the geocache hidden at that location.
State parks officials say the GeoTour features 49 new geocaches. The caches for the tour will be in place for one year. The cache containers each have trade items for those who find them. Parks officials say some of the caches will have prizes, including certificates for free lodging, camping or museums.

Light The Night

Walkers of all ages participated in the fourth annual Light the Night Walk last night in Pikeville.

The event, which raises money and awareness of Leukemia and Lymphoma, was held at the Pikeville City Park with the walk going through downtown Pikeville.

Last year, more than $30,000 was raised.  This year’s total has yet to be released.

Bill seeks fairer treatment for black lung victims

Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Bob Casey are unveiling legislation aimed at ensuring fairer treatment for coal miners with black lung disease as they pursue benefits claims.

The bill by the two coal-state senators Thursday comes after an investigation examined how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, helped defeat the benefits claims of sick miners. The investigation was done by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News.

Among other things, the bill requires parties in a case to disclose all medical evidence, and strengthens criminal penalties for making false statements in the claims process.

Black lung is an irreversible and potentially deadly disease caused by exposure to coal dust, where the dust particles accumulate in the lungs.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vietnam War commemoration planned in Frankfort

Vietnam War-era veterans and their families are being invited to Kentucky's first major event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the war.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs says the event is set for 2 p.m. EDT Sept. 25 at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort. The names of Kentucky's 1,103 fallen soldiers in Vietnam are carved into the base of the memorial.

Guests will include Gov. Steve Beshear, Medal of Honor recipient Don Jenkins and Joe Galloway, author of "We Were Soldiers Once."

The event is part of the national 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration, which runs from 2013 to 2025.

Louisa Man Pleads Guilty in Assault Case

A Louisa man is facing three decades behind bars after he plead guilty to second degree sodomy and unlawful transaction following a sexual assault of a 14 year old girl.

67 year old Harold Shannon was arrested in June after investigators say he had sexual contact with the teen and photographed the assault.

According to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, he is being held in the Big Sandy Detention Center and will be formerly sentenced next month.  He faces 35 years in prison.

UPDATE: 11-year-old girl charged with terroristic threatening to Greenup County, KY schools

According to a news release issued by the Kentucky State Police, the 11-year-old girl responsible for creating a fictitious social media account and posing a threat of violence toward Greenup County Schools has been charged with terroristic threatening in the 1st degree.
This is a Class C Felony, punishable by imprisonment not less than five years or more than 10 years.
No further details are being released.

The investigation is ongoing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Long Time Court Employee Dies

Letha Reed, who worked for more than 20 years in the Pike County court system, passed away Monday. She retired in January 2013.

To allow workers a opportunity to attend her funeral, the Pike County Judicial Center will be closed Friday from 10:30am – 1:30pm.

Letha Reed was 57.

Severe respiratory illness confirmed in 12 states

Health officials say 12 states now have respiratory illnesses caused by an uncommon virus - enterovirus 68.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania together have 130 lab-confirmed cases. All are children.

The virus can cause mild to severe illness, with the worst cases needing life support for breathing difficulties. Kids with asthma have been especially vulnerable. No deaths have been reported.

Investigators say it's not yet clear what triggered the outbreak. 

UPike Receives Grant

The University of Pikeville has been awarded $2.2 million to create a center for student success.

The grant came from the US Department of Education as part of the Title III Strengthening Institutions Program.

UPike officials say the grant would be used to create a center for student success with a centralized approach to advising, tracking and supporting first-year students. 

Online Threat Closes Greenup County Schools

Kentucky State Police say they have located an 11-year old girl who posted a threat online against schools in Greenup County.

Greenup County Schools canceled classes Wednesday because of the threats, which were posted on a social media site Tuesday evening.

Troopers say the investigation is on-going, but they do not believe there was anyone else involved. The 11-year-old girl accused of posting the threats is from Greenup County, and charges are pending.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Former state worker fined for mistreating women

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has finished its investigation into the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, fining a former assistant director on Monday for mistreating women.

Kenneth "Scott" King told female employees to wear short skirts and high heels to meetings in order to get what they want, according to a settlement agreement.

He also allegedly told one female employee to show him her breasts and would point out which body parts of his female employees he and other male supervisors preferred.

King was fined $2,750 and given a public reprimand.

King did not admit those allegations. But he did not contest the charges, according to a settlement agreement.

Eight current or former Fish and Wildlife employees have been fined more than $21,000 since January. The commission hired a new commissioner in May.

Kentucky ranks 13th for car crashes involving deer

Kentuckians have a better chance at hitting a deer with their car than drivers in most other states.

New data from State Farm shows Kentucky ranks 13th in the country for most deer crashes. The odds a Kentucky driver will hit a deer is 1 out 107. The national odds are 1 in 169.

For the eighth year in a row, West Virginia topped the list with 1 in 39 odds. Hawaii is the place you're least likely to hit a deer, with odds of 1 in 10, 281.

In Kentucky, drivers are most likely to hit a deer in the fall and early winter. October, November and December are the top months.

NTSB Looking at National Ban on cell phones while driving

The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for a nationwide ban on the use of electronic devices while driving.

The NTSB says with the increase in portable electronic devices, including cell phones, messaging, navigation systems and entertainment devices, they are seeing a disturbing growth in accidents due to distracted driving, often with deadly consequences.

They cite a study done by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which found 70 percent of drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving in a 30-day time frame Another 25 percent admitted to texting or email while behind the wheel, and another 35 percent admitted to reading text or emails while driving..

Along with vehicles, they want electronic device usage to be banned for those operating planes, trains, ships, pipelines and vehicles.

RAM in Virginia

It was another successful RAM event this past weekend.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kentucky selling tree seedlings

The Kentucky Division of Forestry is selling tree seedlings to the public.

Forestry officials say more than 50 species of tree are available, including white pine, bald cypress, black walnut, white oak, yellow-poplar, dogwood, redbud, pawpaw, hazelnut and pecan.

Seedlings will be available for shipping from January through April; they can be purchased in bundles of one, 10 or 100 and range in price from .23 cents per tree to $5 per tree, depending on the quantity ordered. Seedlings are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Contract awarded for next phase of Ky. rail trail

A construction contract has been awarded for the next phase of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail in eastern Kentucky.

Gov. Steve Beshear's office says the Transportation Cabinet awarded the contract to Mountain Enterprises Inc. on a low bid of $1.47 million.

Beshear says the next phase will give people more area to explore on what will be Kentucky's longest rail trail when complete.

The first section of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail stretches 18 miles from Hagerhill in Johnson County to Royalton in Magoffin County. It opened to hikers, cyclists and horseback riders in summer 2013.

The second phase will extend the trail by nine miles from Royalton to near Carver Tunnel in Magoffin County, ending near the Breathitt County line. That phase is scheduled for completion in May 2015.

Precinct Election Officers Needed

Kentuckians are being encouraged to serve as precinct election officers in November.

There are at least four workers needed in each precinct, and with over 3,000 precincts statewide, that means 15,000 precinct workers across Kentucky.

To qualify you must be a registered voter, not have changed your party affiliation in the past year, and you can't be a candidate, or the spouse, parent, sibling or child of a candidate.

Call your county clerk or your party's county executive committee to find out more.

Governor Beshear Issues Order Changing Tobacco Use Policy At Some State Buildings

An executive order is changing where tobacco can be used on state property.

In the order signed Thursday by Governor Beshear, the use of all tobacco products in executive 
branch buildings is prohibited starting November 20.The order also bans tobacco use in all state vehicles and on the grounds of any executive branch building.

Beshear says there are limited exceptions to the ban and says it does not apply to the legislature or courts.

The governor says human resources officials in all branches of government will work with employees who smoke to help develop plans that will help them drop the habit.

Chief Justice Seeks Pay Raises for Ky. Judges

The Chief Justice of Kentucky's Supreme Court says lawmakers need to increase pay to judges in the state.

Chief Justice John D. Minton, Junior, delivered his annual State of the Judiciary to a legislative committee in Frankfort on Friday.

He says it's his duty as head of the judicial branch to make sure lawmakers know Kentucky judges earn about 17-percent less than the national average.

Minton adds, he fears with no raises for six years and changes to the pension system, it'll become more difficult to attract the most qualified men and women to become judges.

Legislators hear pitch for new lottery game

Legislators heard details on Friday about one man’s quest to get the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to purchase a game of chance he conceived to promote and create additional revenue for Kentucky’s horse racing tracks.

“I think anything we can do to help the horse racing industry is something we as a General Assembly ought to be interested in,” Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said after hearing testimony from the game’s creator, EquiLottery President Brad Cummings.

Cummings testimony came during the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations’ meeting at Keeneland Race Course. Members also heard testimony on declining wagering at tracks and doping of race horses.

EquiLottery is like most lottery games, except the winning numbers are determined by the outcome of a horse race and not by ping pong balls falling randomly down a chute. For the EquiLottery to remain a pure game of chance, the numbers are randomly picked by a computer. Players can not pick their own.

If the lottery commission does not take steps to adopt EquiLottery within the next 30 days, Thayer said lawmakers should write a letter to the lottery commission asking why.

“I think we need to let the lottery commission to know we expect action and answers soon,” Thayer said.

Rep. David Osborne was the other legislator who showed support for EquiLottery. He said it is only fair to the horse racing tracks to adopt EquiLottery because the state lottery has competed directly against the tracks since its inception.

“If you find the lottery corporation is not receptive … there may be a way for us to compel them to engage further in that,” Osborne said to EquiLottery’s creator.

Cummings said he began pitching EquiLottery to lottery officials in February 2010 but hadn’t met with them since September 2013. Cummings said he hopes to resume those discussions.

Lottery corporation officials didn’t testify at the hearing but committee members were provided copies of an email dated Wednesday from lottery President Arthur Gleason to Cummings.

In the email, Gleason said he had concerns regarding the EquiLottery proposal, including its ability to be conducted under the present Kentucky Lottery Corporation statute, financial viability and marketability among lottery players and racing patrons.

“Certainly, we can meet with you to learn how the current EquiLottery proposal may have evolved over the past year and about how it is being received in the industry marketplace,” Gleason wrote. “Representatives of the racetracks necessarily should be involved, since they would be essential partners and beneficiaries, and they have not previously contacted us concerning the game.”

Cummings said his attorney, Lisa Underwood of Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, who didn’t testify, thinks the lottery currently has the statutory authority to implement EquiLottery without any action being taken by the General Assembly.

Variations of the proposed game of chance are played in France and Sweden, Cummings said, but it nothing like it has been tried in North America.

In a meeting that was dominated with questions about EquiLottery, Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, asked what other governments were interested in EquiLottery.

Cummings said he has made or plans public visits to California, New Mexico, West Virginia and Ontario, where government leaders have been mandated to integrate state-sponsored lottery and horse racing. He declined to identify other states where he says his negotiations have remained confidential.

Cummings told legislators the winning numbers in EquiLottery would be determined by one horse race a day, preferably from a Kentucky track. EquiLottery would cost the player $2 per bet and it would revolve around a particular existing racetrack bet like a superfecta, with the winning numbers at the track the same as the winning lottery numbers.

Of the $2 lottery play, $1 would go to the lottery corporation.

The remaining half would go into the track’s pari-mutuel pool, with the track taking its customary cut or takeout rate. The lottery winner would receive whatever the exotic wager pays in the track plus a bonus payoff that would be determined by how many lottery players hit the bet.

Cummings said racks would benefit by new money flowing into the betting pools from those who otherwise wouldn’t bet on racing.

“If Kentucky becomes the first adaptor of this game, we will have the international spotlight on the state and its signature industry,” Cummings said. “There will be significant press coverage. Having Kentucky out there leading the way continues to connect us to the industry that is so part of our DNA.” 

Pike County Fatal

Kentucky State Police at the Pikeville post are investigation a fatal Pike County accident.

Troopers say 31 year old Selena Thacker died in the crash on Ky. 194 East in Grapevine.

Authorities say Thacker apparently lost control, crossed the center line and went into a ditch causing her vehicle to overturn.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Judge Asked to Dismiss Mingo Magistrate’s Suit

A judge is considering motions to dismiss a lawsuit alleging a Mingo County magistrate was targeted for opposing corruption.

Magistrate Deloris Sidebottom’s lawsuit says former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury, former prosecutor Michael Sparks and former West Virginia State trooper Brandon Moore consipired to force her out of office.

Attorneys for Moore, Sparks and Thornsbury have filed motions seeking the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Charles King conducted the hearing but didn’t rule on the motions.

Thornsbury and Sparks were sentenced earlier this year on federal corruption charges and are serving their sentences.

Beshear appoints anti-bullying task force

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed a 22-person committee to study bullying and how to stop it.

The committee members include 11-year-old Morgan Guess of Paducah, who was diagnosed with clinical depression after being bullied as an 8-year-old. The experience prompted Guess and her mother, Susan, to start the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation.

The Kentucky legislature passed anti-bullying legislation in 2008 that made it a crime to bully someone online and required school districts to have anti-bullying policies.

But Beshear said he appointed the task force because bullying is still a problem in Kentucky schools. The Kentucky Department of Education reported 15,520 incidents of bullying during the 2013 school year, or one incident every four minutes of the school day.

Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice appoints director

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice has appointed a new director for Community and Mental Health Services.

Samantha Woods will oversee case management, supervision, assessment and treatment to identified department youth and families.

Woods began her career with the agency in 1998 and became a juvenile services worker in 2001 and then in 2009, she was promoted to southeast district regional manager.

She graduated from Union College and earned a master's degree at Lindsey Wilson. Her appointment was effective Sept. 1.

Pike County Man Dies in ATV Crash

Kentucky State Police at the Pikeville Post are investigating a ATV Crash that killed a Pike County man.

According to a press release, 40 year old Johnny Gooslin was riding along Woodman Creek Road in the Freeburn area when he apparently lost control of his ATV in a curve and was ejected.

Gooslin was pronounced deceased at the scene by Pike County Deputy Coroner Ernie Casebolt.