Friday, October 31, 2014

U.S. Senate Race Poll

After more than a year of campaign ads bombarding the airwaves and the candidates jockeying for votes, the latest Bluegrass Poll finds Kentucky voters set to re-elect Sen. Mitch McConnell to a sixth term rather than punish the nation’s top Republican by sending Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes to Washington.

The poll - conducted for various media outlets statewide - found the longtime Kentucky senator's re-election bid leading 48 percent to Grimes’ 43 percent in his strongest showing to date.

Bluegrass Poll results found Grimes leading the race by two percentage point in September and leading the race by four percentage points in February.

Drug Arrests

A Lawrence County man and woman face meth related charges.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Hope Hundley and Scott Bunyard earlier this week.

Officers wrote in an arrest citation, they found items to make meth and finished meth in a glass baking dish at a home the pair were at in Louisa.

Both face manufacturing meth and possession of a controlled substance charges.

Bed Money Thief Arrested

Authorities say a woman is facing charges after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from a man who kept his money underneath his bed mattress.

According to an arrested warrant filed in Floyd County, Gena Cavins, 41, of Columbus, Ohio is charged with theft of more than $10,000.

Over several weeks, starting in August 2013, Cavins is accused of stealing $25,000 from a man who lived in Floyd County. According to the complaint, the victim had the money in envelopes underneath his bed mattress.

Cavins was arrested last week in Georgetown, Kentucky.

She is expected to be in court in Floyd County next week. 

Hi Tech Vote Buying

Be careful if you use your cell phone while you're voting next Tuesday.
Many, but not all poll workers are on the alert for cell phone vote buying.
Local election officials say with so many hotly contested races, conditions are ripe for this high tech criminal act.
What exactly is cell phone vote buying?
Authorities say it’s when someone sneaks their cell phone into the voting booth.
They mark their ballot, take a picture of the ballot, take that picture and go down the street and sell their vote.
Authorities say that cell phone vote buying suspect can expect swift prosecution.

State highway workers ready to ‘kick ice’ this winter

When it snows this winter in Johnson County, the pavement might turn green.

Seriously. It is nothing to worry about, according to Sara George, Information Officer for Highway District 12. “We are trying a new material called Clear Lane that is a combination of rock salt and dehydrated calcium chloride, which is supposed to work better at lower temperatures. We are told it turns the pavement green. Should be interesting, that’s for sure. We want to assure everyone there is nothing wrong. This is not a hazardous substance, just colorful.”

In addition to 1,000 tons of Clear Lane for Johnson County, Highway District 12’s materials keep arriving daily in preparation for the coming winter weather.

The district’s snowfighters are set to “kick some ice,” George said. “We are ready for whatever the weather brings: rain, snow, sleet, ice, freezing temperatures, or any combination of adverse conditions. We are prepared to work as long and often as necessary to ensure that state-maintained roads in our seven counties are as safe as we can make them.”

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spent just over $75 million on snow and ice work last winter. District 12’s cost was $6,362,248.00, about 8 percent of the state total. A breakdown of the expenditures looks like this: Labor -- $1,980,613.00, Materials -- $2,718,237.00, Contract Equipment -- $802,434.00, State Equipment -- $854,981.00. Miscellaneous -- $5,983.00.

Statewide, the Cabinet used 440,355 tons of rock salt, 1,926,803 gallons of salt brine, and 1,545,466 gallons of liquid calcium chloride. District 12 used 37,657 tons of salt, 146,925 gallons of liquid calcium chloride, 1,121 bags of calcium pellets, and 40,549 gallons of salt brine.

As of Friday, October 31, District 12’s materials inventory included 22,500 tons of salt, 80,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride, and 1484 bags of chloride pellets. The District manufactures its own salt brine as needed. Brine is used to pre-treat dry roads prior to an expected snow event. The brine solution prevents snow from bonding with asphalt and makes the plowing and removal process faster and easier.

Heavy equipment operators completed mandatory annual training October 13. Each operator must have a valid CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) and must submit to random drug testing. The Cabinet has a “zero tolerance” policy on drug and alcohol abuse. 

Stamina is an important part of the job, too. Darold Slone, Engineering Branch Manager for Lawrence, Johnson, Martin, and Floyd counties, explained that crews work 16-hour shifts during major weather events. “It messes up your internal clock,” he pointed out. “You have to stay awake and alert for 16 hours, go home and sleep for eight, and then get back on the road again for another 16. It doesn’t matter if it’s Sunday and you miss church – nobody else is going to get to church if we don’t get the road plowed – or if it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. That’s just the way it is. Even though most people don’t know who we are or what we give up to make the roads safe, like time with our families, it is very satisfying to know that what you do actually makes a difference in people’s lives. In fact, we know there would be more lives lost on our roads if we did not do what we do.”

There are 10 maintenance garages in the seven counties in District 12 – Lawrence, Johnson, Martin, Floyd, Knott, Pike, and Letcher – three in Pike County, two in Floyd County, and one each in the other five counties. A district-wide Equipment Garage in Pikeville serves all 10 garages with mechanics, welders, and heavy equipment technicians who work the same hours as the snowplow drivers. “That would be 24 hours a day for as long as each weather event lasts,” George explained. The Equipment Garage stocks everything from batteries, light bulbs, and windshield wipers to truck tires and backup plow blades.

“Our people are trained in every aspect of emergency weather response,” George said. “The men and women driving the plows are on the front line, for sure, but each driver has an entire team of people who have his back – dispatchers, radio operators, mechanics, inventory specialists, people who monitor radar, and those of us who keep citizens informed as each storm runs its course.”

Roads are worked according to a priority system that is based on traffic counts and importance of the road as a critical route for emergency vehicles to get to medical facilities. County maps which show the Cabinet’s “A,” “B,” and “C” routes are available on its website at .

The goal for clearing Priority “A” Routes is a two-hour turnaround from the time of crew mobilization.

Priority “B” Routes should be salted completely during a routine winter storm within four hours of crew mobilization, and only after all Priority “A” routes have been addressed.

Priority “C” Routes are worked only after both “A” and “B” routes are worked and within eight hours after crew mobilization.

George said that the District maintains a Facebook page, KYTC District 12, which features road condition updates during major weather events. The page also offers reminders about road safety and winter driving tips.

“Crashes that occur on wet or slick roads are usually the result of failure to maintain control, excessive speed, or following other vehicles too closely,” George said. “We encourage everyone to buckle up, slow down, and make sure you are well rested and alert every time you venture out, especially if you are driving in less than ideal weather conditions.”

Additional safety tips for motorists during the snow and ice season:

·        Make sure your vehicle is sufficiently winterized – check the battery, antifreeze level, heater, defroster, wiper, and windshield washer.
·        Dress for the weather in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies.
·        Try to keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent fuel line freezing and to prepare for possibly lengthy delays on the roadway.
·        Make sure a friend or relative is aware of your travel route. Carry a mobile phone.
·        Make sure your vehicle has an emergency care kit. The kit should include jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, an ice scraper, blankets, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and traction material such as cat litter or sand.
·        Give a wide berth to snow removal equipment. Do not tailgate or try to pass a snowplow.
·        Check the forecast and call 5-1-1 before you leave or check the 5-1-1 website (http:/511/ If conditions are dangerous, avoid travel unless necessary.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

State Police Looking for Wanted Man

Kentucky State Police at the Pikeville post need your help in locating a wanted man.

Troopers say they are looking for Jonathan Dwayne Robinette.  Authorities say Robinette is wanted on burglary and theft charges.

The alleged crimes occurred in Floyd and Pike Counties.

If you know where Robinette is you are asked to contact KSP at 433-7711.

Election fraud hotline available for Tuesday's election

Attorney General Jack Conway says you can help his office combat vote buying by utilizing his election fraud hotline.

He says it is an important tool to ensure honest and fair elections for all Kentuckians.

During the Primary Election in May, the hotline received more than 205 calls from more than 60 counties.

If you witness election irregularities or election law violations, call the hotline at 800-328-VOTE.

Scholarships available to victims of drug abuse

The Kentucky Attorney General's Office and two other organizations are offering two $1,500 college scholarships to graduating high school students whose lives have been impacted by prescription drug abuse.

The donations to the scholarship funds, which are also being put forth by the Prosecutors Advisory Council, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), and two concerned parents who have lost children to prescription drug abuse, are tax deductible.

One "Sarah Shay Memorial Scholarship" and one "Michael Donta Memorial Scholarship" will be awarded each year to a graduating high school female and male, who meet the scholarship criteria, to put toward postsecondary education expenses.

Judge blocks Kentucky law barring judge's party link

A federal judge has blocked a Kentucky law barring judicial candidates from disclosing their party affiliations to voters.

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar Wednesday found that the rule violates the First Amendment to the constitution. Thapar's ruling comes less than a week before voters across the state will vote on state Supreme Court judges and other jurists down the ballot.

The state's canons of judicial ethics ban candidates from the bench from disclosing an affiliation with either party.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

EPA adjusts public comment period on Clean Power Plan

The federal EPA has received 1.5 million public comments on the agency’s Clean Power Plan that will impact the emissions of existing coal-fired power plants.
EPA acting assistant administrator for the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe told reporters yesterday the agency is making more information available for comment.
McCabe said there have been lots of comments made about natural gas, the response by states to the new rule and timelines. She said that information will now be made available for other people to see so they can comment.

The public comment period ends Dec. 1.

OSHA Class held

The Big Sandy Community and Technical College is working in conjunction with businesses in Pikeville to improve their knowledge on Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines.

The school recently held a 10 hour course created to give a better understanding of OSHA regulations to businesses in the area.

This is the first OSHA class that has been held, the community college plans to hold more in the future.

Shipment Delays Flu Shots

A delay in some shipments of the flu vaccine is forcing some health care providers nationwide to put off offering the vaccine.  While the delays are affecting some health departments in Kentucky none of the departments in our region is currently affected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the overall vaccine supply is behind by about ten million doses.

While manufacturers originally said they planned to have most doses available by the end of October, shipments will now continue into November

More than 35,000 Kentuckians have voted absentee

The polls don't open until Tuesday, but more than 35,000 people have already voted in Kentucky.

The State Board of Elections said 22,390 people have voted absentee at their county clerk's office as of Monday morning. That's about 4,500 more people than at this time in 2010, the last time a U.S. Senate seat was on the ballot.

Another 12,716 people have voted absentee by mail. Tuesday was the deadline to request mail-in absentee ballots. To be counted, the county clerk must receive all ballots by 6 p.m. local time on Nov. 4.

Kentucky's high profile U.S. Senate race between Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes is likely increasing turnout in absentee voting.

State officials could not say how many people have voted from each party.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Poll Shows Slight Change

With two weeks to go before the November 4 election, a new Bluegrass Poll found Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in a near dead heat with Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The poll - conducted for various media outlets - found the longtime Kentucky senator has a slight edge in the race with Grimes leading 44 percent to 43 percent. Libertarian candidate, David Patterson, remains a distant third. Just two weeks ago, a Bluegrass Poll found Grimes leading the race by two percentage points.

Groundbreaking for Marion’s Branch

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Marion’s Branch Industrial Park held yesterday indicates the start of phase one, which is a nearly six million dollar access road to the industrial park.

The next phase will be the building of an 8-million dollar bridge that will create easy access from US 23 to the site.

Senator Ray Jones says, "This project is vitally important to the growth of our region."

Leaders say the site will bring good paying, solid jobs to an economy that desperately needs diversity.

The Kentucky Transportation Department of Aviation announced that they will be donating nearly $750 Thousand for the 400 acre project.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Arrests made in Morgan County Murder Case

Kentucky State Police have arrested two people in connection to a murder investigation in Morgan County.

According to authorities, 20 year old Christopher S. Peyton of West Liberty was arrested and charged with the murder of Randy Williams.

55 year old Kimberly D. Peyton was arrested and charged with complicity to commit murder.

33 year old Randy Williams was found dead in a home Thursday.  Authorities say Williams was shot several time in the chest.

Both Peytons are lodged in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center.

Stalled policies find new life in Ky. counties

Kentucky's local governments are reviving a pair of proposals that have been bogged down at the state and federal level.

The Louisville Metro Council's Democratic majority is trying to increase the county's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. In more conservative areas, Republicans have pushed back by trying to pass local laws that would weaken unions.

The issues are playing heavily in the fall elections that could determine who controls the U.S. Senate and the state House of Representatives. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has campaigned to raise the minimum wage while Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell said he opposes the increase because he said it would cost jobs.

Republicans have promised to pass right-to-work laws should they win control of the state House of Representatives.

Appeals court rules in Kentucky electioneering ban

A federal appeals court has issued a ruling that will allow Kentucky to enforce its buffer zone prohibiting campaign activity on public property near polling places but not on private property.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday on a ruling by U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman, who said the state law violates First Amendment speech rights. He issued a permanent injunction Tuesday blocking the law's enforcement.

But a three-judge appeals panel lifted the part of the injunction that applies to public property or polling locations, allowing the state to enforce the electioneering ban on such property within 300 feet of the polls.

Another year, another small Social Security bump

For the third straight year, millions of older Americans who rely on government benefits can expect historically small pay increases come January.

Preliminary figures suggest the annual cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees will be less than 2 percent.

That translates to a raise of about $20 a month for the typical Social Security beneficiary.

The government is scheduled to announce the increase Wednesday, when it releases the latest measure of consumer prices.

By law, the increase is based on inflation, which is well below historical averages so far this year.

More than 70 million people receive benefits affected by the annual increase.

The average monthly Social Security payment is a little less than $1,200 a month.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mountain Parkway Expansion begins

It’s been more than 50 years since the Mountain Parkway opened and yesterday, Gov. Steve Beshear and Eastern Kentucky leaders marked the beginning of the Mountain Parkway Expansion.

Initial construction on the Mountain Parkway Expansion will begin in a matter of weeks just west of Salyersville – the widening of nearly six miles of the existing parkway from two to four lanes, the addition of a new interchange and the modernization of two existing interchanges.

The 2014 Kentucky General Assembly supported Gov. Beshear’s plan to expand the parkway, providing funding to support pre-construction and construction work on all segments of the 46-mile corridor. The plan calls for widening about 30 miles of existing parkway from two to four lanes, and extended beyond Salyersville along Ky. 114 to Prestonsburg

Kentucky’s Unemployment Rate Drops

Kentucky’s seasonally adjusted preliminary unemployment rate dropped to its lowest rate in more than six years in September 2014 at 6.7 percent from a revised 7.1 percent in August 2014, according to the Office of Employment and Training (OET), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

It marks the single-biggest one-month drop in unemployment rates since 1976, when the current methodology for measuring the rate was adopted.

This is the lowest rate for the state since July 2008 when it was 6.6 percent, which was during to the financial crisis.

The preliminary September 2014 jobless rate was 1.6 percentage points below the 8.3 percent rate recorded for the state in September 2013.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted jobless rate slipped to 5.9 percent in September 2014 from 6.1 percent a month ago, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Morgan County Murder

A man was found shot to death in a home near West Liberty in Morgan County and now a murder investigation is under way.

According to authorities, the victim has been identified as Randy Williams and his death has been ruled a murder.

The Morgan County Coroner’s office says the body will be taken to Frankfort today for an autopsy.

No arrests have been made.

Ebola Preparedness in Kentucky

On Thursday afternoon, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) announced it's coordinating multiple efforts related to Ebola preparedness. There have been no cases of Ebola in Kentucky. The goal is to increase the level of readiness for hospitals, local health departments, health providers and others who might have to deal with a potential case of Ebola.

Ebola is not spread by air, water, casual contact or food in the U.S. You can only get Ebola from contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick or had died from Ebola. You can also contract it from exposure to contaminated objects, such as needles. Symptoms of Ebola include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure, although 8-10 days is most common. People are not contagious before they show symptoms.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wet/Dry Vote in Louisa

A petition for a wet/dry vote in Louisa, Kentucky was approved by the Lawrence County Clerk's office.

A petition was filed last year with the same request but was denied, because Kentucky laws wouldn't allow class 5 cities like Louisa to hold a wet/dry election.

Community members took their concerns to lawmakers during this past legislative session. They passed a bill that would allow Louisa and other class 5 cities to temporarily become class 4 cities so that an election can be held.

The Lawrence County Clerk’s office said the petition needed 204 signatures to be filed. It had more than 400 but only 205 were certified as eligible Louisa citizens, giving them just enough to hold the election.

The election will be held on December 16th. This will be the first wet/dry vote in Louisa since the 1940s.

Flu or Ebola?

Flu season is here and some physicians are worried people may confuse flu symptoms with Ebola symptoms.

Two recalls from national stores in our area were announced Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mingo County family judge to be sworn in Oct. 27

An October 27th swearing-in ceremony is set for Mingo County's new family court judge.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Sabrina L. Deskins to the position on Sept. 17.

The West Virginia Supreme Court says the swearing-in ceremony will be held at noon on October 27th in the main courtroom of the Mingo County Courthouse in Williamson.

Deskins will complete the remainder of Miki Thompson's term. Tomblin appointed Thompson in July to replace former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury.

Thornsbury resigned and pleaded guilty in October 2013 to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from a corruption probe.

Judge blocks law banning campaigning near polls

A federal judge has struck down a Kentucky law that prohibits campaign activities within 300 feet of polling places.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman on Tuesday comes three weeks before voters go to the polls. The races include the hard-fought Senate campaign between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Bertelsman ruled in a lawsuit brought by a northern Kentucky man who in 2012 allowed campaign signs to be placed at his auto body business. The signs were removed by sheriff's deputies because they were within 300 feet of a polling place at a church. The man responded by suing the state.

The judge ruled that the state law violates the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He issued a permanent injunction blocking the law's enforcement.

Ads Stopped by DSCC

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has stopped running TV ads in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.

It’s a troublesome sign for Alison Lundergan Grimes in her challenge of Republican Mitch McConnell.

In a statement, the committee says it has spent more than $2 Million in Kentucky.

Mock Disaster Drill

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) will be taking part in a full-scale mock earthquake disaster planned on Oct. 15.

The exercise will begin throughout the region at 9 a.m. and conclude around 11:30 a.m.

PMC medical personnel, along with first responders, and mock patient volunteers will participate in the disaster drill that will include eight other regional hospitals.

The Region 10 Healthcare Planning Coalition (HPC) has been meeting since 2003, planning such mock disaster to better train medical personnel in treating a mass number of patients at one time.

HPC covers the counties of Pike, Floyd, Martin, Magoffin, Lawrence, Johnson, Greenup, Elliott and Boyd.

In addition to PMC and other hospitals, emergency management teams, long-term care centers, health departments, emergency medical services, rehabilitation centers, schools, coroners, fire department personnel, mental health facilities, as well as the American Red Cross and Christian Appalachian Project will participate in the disaster drill.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No more green slips for Kentucky lawmakers

Officials in Frankfort are working on a modernized system of getting messages to lawmakers during the General Assembly.

In the past, legislative staffers would take "green slips," containing phone messages from constituents to lawmakers during the legislative session.

Marcia Seiler, interim director of the Legislative Research Commission say she hopes a new system will be in place by the Jan. 6 start of the 2015 legislative session. She says the system will relay messages electronically, and lawmakers will be able to retrieve their messages and handle them like email.

She says there won't be any more green slips unless lawmakers ask for messages to be printed.

Governor's Mansion to host murder mystery theater

Kentucky's Governor's Mansion will be the setting for a murder mystery theater event during the Halloween season.

The Governor's Mansion Centennial Celebration Committee says the performance of "Death Comes Knocking" will take place at 6:30 p.m. EDT on Oct. 23. The performance will feature actors from the Bluegrass Mystery Theatre troupe.

"Death Comes Knocking" is about four strangers who are being blackmailed by the same unknown individual, and who all arrive one stormy night at the Devil's Due Inn. Each person has been paying to keep their secrets confidential, but when one of them is fed up and determined to quit paying, everyone's secret is in danger of being exposed, ruining their careers and reputations.

Tickets for the event are $75 each. Proceeds will benefit the Kentucky Executive Mansion Foundation Inc.

Hope Wall on display at Pike County Judicial Center

Even before all the photos were in place, visitors to the Pike County Judicial Center Thursday afternoon, October 9, were quick to point out familiar faces.

The more than 180 images on Operation UNITE’s Hope Wall are more than portraits of friends and loved ones; each picture represents a successful struggle over drug addiction.

“It’s important for those still in active addiction to see their stories and know that they can recover,” said Jennifer Looney, program supervisor for the Pike County Drug Court.

“Drugs touch every family. By just looking at these faces you won’t know the terrible, destructive path they have been through,” Looney added. “What is obvious is the joy and excitement that comes from living a drug-free life.”

Unveiled in August 2013, the 20-foot long wall features individuals who are now in recovery and living clean, sober lives. It demonstrates that substance abuse addiction has no boundaries, that all walks of life are affected.

The Hope Wall will remain on display in Pike County through Friday morning, October 24.

Providing inspiration and encouragement to seek help for an addiction, or for those currently in treatment or recovery, is the primary reason for the Hope Wall. The wall represents a tremendous success in the lives of those individuals who have been able to rebuild their families, their lives, and are now contributing to society.

“It is important that the public know about the positive results that are possible from Drug Courts and other rehabilitation programs supported by Operation UNITE,” said Vice-Chief Regional Circuit Judge Eddy Coleman. “It is important for those dealing with addiction – either themselves or within their family – know that they can change the direction of their life by seeking help.”

“A majority of the folks featured on the Hope Wall have received a UNITE Treatment Voucher to help them overcome their addiction,” noted Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “These are people who may have otherwise continued down a destructive path of drugs.”

More than 3,400 people – including nearly 200 Pike County residents – have entered a substance abuse treatment program using a UNITE voucher since the initiative began in 2005, Smoot said.

School Lockdown Again

A Martin County High School was under lockdown for a time yesterday.

Sheldon Clark High School was placed under lockdown after a bullet was found in the school.

This is the second time a bullet has been found forcing officials to lockdown the school.

School officials and Kentucky State Police are investigating the incident.

Flood Threat Again

The Big Sandy Region is saturated from light rain over the past couple of days, so the stage is set for heavy rain to flood the place for the third time in as many months.

Heavy rain is possible again on today.

The September 4th flooding that damaged foundations, washed away pieces of road and clogged passageways with debris in several counties.

That was the second flooding episode of the summer.

The first one was during the week of August 18th.

Afterward, Governor Steve Beshear asked the Whitehouse for federal disaster relief assistance for local governments, and that request was granted.

Stay tuned to the stations of East Kentucky Broadcasting for the very latest on this potential flooding situation.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hackers Continue to hit big Stores

The list of stores that have had their payment systems hacked continues to grow.

Sears Holding Co. announced that it’s Kmart stores were compromised.

The company reports they were infected with a form of malware. They would not say which stores were affected.

Dairy Queen reported its systems were breached by hackers. This affects a number of stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.  None of the stores affected were in the immediate area.

Other similar thefts have happened at Home Depot and Target.

Simulated Emergency

Magoffin and Johnson County emergency crews simulated a rescue yesterday on the Dawkins Line Rail Trail near Paintsville.

The training scenario had two people trapped over a hill along with a six hundred pound plastic horse.  Crews treated the simulation as if it was a real emergency.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Confirmed Tornado in Pike County

A National Weather Service survey team officially declared an EF1 Tornado did in deed touch down in the Buffalo Creek community in Pike County Tuesday.

With that determination, that brings the number of Tornados that hit the state Tuesday to 9.

According to records, the tornado that hit Pike County was only the second ever documented in the county.  The other was an F-0 in 1998 that hit the Kimper community

PMC Honored

5th District Congressman Hal Rogers made several stops yesterday in the region.  One of those stops was to present Pikeville Medical Center the Health Impact Award.

The award was in recognition of the Center’s Heart and Vascular Institute.

Pikeville Medical Center will mark its 90th anniversary this December.

Eastern Ky. couple to be sentenced in cockfighting case

An eastern Kentucky couple faces sentencing in Virginia for participating in a major cockfighting enterprise.

Walter Stumbo of Floyd County, Kentucky, and his wife, Sonya Stumbo, will be sentenced Thursday in federal court in Abington.

Walter Stumbo pleaded guilty in July to charges including possessing an animal for use in an animal fighting venture. A jury convicted his wife on 14 charges in August. Their son, Joshua Stumbo, also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Tuesday.

Jonathan Robinson of Wise County, Virginia, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for his role in the enterprise Wednesday. His father, Wesley Robinson, previously was sentenced to six months. Both had pleaded guilty.

Authorities say the McDowell, Kentucky, cockfighting venue featured arena-style seating, multiple fighting pits and a restaurant.

Kentucky program collects used hearing aids

A new state program is collecting used hearing aids to refurbish and distribute to Kentuckians who have hearing impairments and need assistance.

The Statewide Hearing Aid Assistance and Reuse Program is accepting hearing aids of any age or condition.

The Kentucky Assistive Technology Service Network says donated hearing aids will either be refurbished to like-new condition with a one-year warranty, or used for parts. Refurbished hearing aids will be provided to people who qualify through a statewide network of hearing health professionals.

Officials say recipients will be responsible for covering the cost of the audiologist fees such as exams, fittings and follow-up visits.

Donors can call the KATS Network at (800) 327-5287 to request a self-addressed stamped envelope or drop hearing aids off at a participating collection center.

Pike officials sue over coal severance tax process

Officials in Pike County have filed suit against state officials over a new process it must go through to receive coal severance tax proceeds.

A lawsuit filed by Pike County Fiscal Court in Frankfort on Oct. 1 says the change was included in the budget bill approved by lawmakers during the 2014 session. The lawsuit says the change is unconstitutional because it affects only one county.

Pike officials say the change will "severely hamper" the county.

Democratic State Sen. Ray Jones of Pikeville said one reason for the change was that Pike County asked for $11 million in coal severance proceeds and had only about $4 million to spend.

He said lawmakers wanted to make sure money approved would be used for "viable projects."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rural issues aired before state lawmakers

The state’s Build-Ready program is helping communities attract companies to Kentucky with construction-ready sites instead of existing buildings. 

All ground work at a Build-Ready site –including environmental work and grading—must be finished for a site to qualify under the new program announced in April, Will McDowell with the Cabinet’s Department for Business Development explained to the General Assembly’s Subcommittee on Rural Issues today. “We’re just short of an existing building, but we can now compete with projects that require a building.” 

McDowell said two Build-Ready sites will be announced by state officials within the next month.

 More companies are looking for existing buildings in which to locate, said McDowell, although Kentucky “is somewhat lacking in inventory” compared to competing states like Ohio, Indiana, and TennesseeKentucky has about a quarter of the existing building inventory that those states have, he said.

“Our answer to that is to work with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is plenty of land,” he said.
 “The goal of (this) is to help more communities qualify and compete for more projects” without requiring communities to build a “spec,” or shell, building that can require millions of dollars in investment, said McDowell. Spec buildings can cost a community anywhere from $2 million to $4 million “on up… With this, it’s probably a safe estimate (that) you’re looking at maybe a dollar a square foot, maybe a little bit more of investment,” he said.

Subcommittee Co-Chair Rep. Mike Denham, D-Maysville, explained how the program—which offers developed ready-to-build land—contrasts with undeveloped lots called greenfields. Companies aren’t interested in developing greenfields anymore, said Denham.

 “They want to see the streets, and the gutters, and the curbs and everything ready for them. It used to be 20 years ago they didn’t mind developing a greenfield, but not anymore—that’s a thing of the past,” he said.

 Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, asked McDowell to clarify how Build-Ready standards are applied in communities. “One community can say we’ve got the plans and another community can say we’ve got the plans and the financing and the contractor’s ready to go. So what is the standard?” McDowell said a full development plan “with timelines and cost” concerning extending utilities to the site is part of what’s required.

“That’s all laid out and planned, and it’s committed by the utility providers themselves rather than the communities,” he told Givens.

The subcommittee also heard from the Cabinet for Economic Development’s Chief of Staff Hollie Spade and Shawn Rogers from the Cabinet’s Office of Entrepreneurship on programs like the SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) initiative which is focused on economic development in 54 East Kentucky counties.

Spade said the Cabinet continues “to assist those who are coming up with some creative solutions and trying to help where we can with those.” Other Cabinet programs affecting rural Kentucky are marketing of the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway, the Kentucky Innovation Network, among others.

The meeting concluded with a report on trends in the state’s job market from Ron Crouch and Melissa Aguilar of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. Crouch, who works in demographics, said his rural data shows the largest increase in education performance in the state is in rural counties.

 “Now they’re still behind…but they’re making progress,” said Crouch.

Weather Service Team in Pike County today

A survey team from the National Weather Service will be in the Buffalo Creek area of Pike County today to see if a Tornado touched down.

Tuesday’s severe weather caused considerable damage in the community which sits near the Floyd County line.

At this point Emergency Management officials say some of the damage looks like straight line winds while other damage looks more like a Tornado had caused it.

The survey team will determine which caused the damage.

6 tornadoes confirmed in Kentucky

The National Weather Service has confirmed six tornadoes hit Kentucky during storms that dragged wind and hail across parts of the state.

The weather service reported one woman was injured in Bourbon County when an EF-1 tornado pulled her from her home Tuesday. The weather service said she landed in her driveway and required stitches.

Four other twisters - two in Bath County, and one each in Scott and Harrison counties - were also designated EF-1, which is next to weakest on the scale and indicates winds were 85 to 110 mph. The remaining tornado was a weaker EF-O, near New Columbus in Owen County.

Lee County Hospital Hearing

It has been a little over a year since Wellmont Health System shut down Lee Regional Medical Center in Pennington Gap, Virginia.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Heating Assistance

The Big Sandy Agency is preparing to serve more people this year by offering preregistration for some LIHEAP applicants.
The applications process for those who qualify for preregistration will be the same as normal applicants. Preregistration is set to begin October 15th.
Helping heat about 15,000 households last year in Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Martin, and Magoffin counties...officials do expect an increase this year.
Preregistration will run through October 31st. The statewide LIHEAP subsidy program begins November 3rd. 

Applicants must apply in their county of residence. Applications will be taken at the following BSACAP service offices from 8 a.m. to 4:30pm.

Advanced Placement test participation doubles

The number of Kentucky public school students taking Advanced Placement tests has more than doubled since 2008.

The Kentucky Education Department says the number of tests achieving a score high enough to earn college credit at most colleges has also more than doubled in the same period.

Figures released Tuesday also show participation and performance of ethnic groups in AP tests in Kentucky public schools has increased significantly.

The department credited a statewide math-science initiative designed to expand Kentucky high school students' access, participation and success in rigorous coursework such as AP classes.

The department said average scores of students taking the SAT college entrance exam remained relatively flat, while mean scores of sophomores and juniors taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test showed slight increases.