Tuesday September 24, 2013

The Whitesburg City Council had a special called meeting last night and passed the 1.5 percent payroll tax.

The first reading of the proposed payroll tax for all employees within Whitesburg's city limits was held last Thursday and last night was the second reading and vote on the tax.

The vote was not unanimous with one council member voting no, however the legislation did pass and is effective as of January first of next year.

City leaders said the local papers will publish more details and every employer will receive a copy.

The city attorney said this tax includes provisions and exemptions that everyone needs to know.

City leaders say anyone with questions or concerns should feel free to reach out to council members and the mayor James Wiley Craft.


Police are investigating after a man stole a woman's purse in the parking lot of the Hazard Food City, and the whole incident was captured by security cameras.

Police say the robbery took place Monday evening around 8:30.

Police say the man drove up in an older model red pickup truck as the woman was putting groceries into her car.

Hazard policeman Timothy Feltner says the man got out and acted like he knew the victim.  She thought he was going to ask for directions when he grabbed her purse, pushed the woman to the ground and sped off.

The man is described as being in his early 20s wearing a gray top.

Anyone with information is asked to call Hazard Police.


A Harlan County business owner is offering a $1,000 reward to catch the person who stole from him.

Harlan Police say someone stole about 3 thousand dollars worth of items from Hamrick Bowling Center.

Blanton Hamrick says last Thursday when the business was closed, someone threw a rock through the side door, smashed the arcade games and got away with the prizes inside including iPads, iPods, and other expensive items.

Police have leads but no suspects yet.

Anyone with information on the burglary should call the Harlan Police Department.


Appalachian Wireless made an exciting announcement on Monday for the region.

Beginning October 1st, they will carry the newest Apple iPhone products...the 5c and 5s models.

Appalachian Wireless will offer the phones for a lower price than Apple and many other retailers.

They are two products officials say they are thrilled to offer to their customers.

Just like you saw from stores around the world, officials expect folks to line up early in Eastern Kentucky when the new phones become available next Tuesday.


Pikeville City Officials have talked about a new shopping complex for several years and on Monday that project took a big step forward.

Several store names were revealed at the groundbreaking ceremony for the project where officials discussed the importance of this project for the region.

Six national brand name stores coming to Eastern Kentucky bringing with them hundreds of jobs, which city officials say are much needed after last week's loss of more than 500 coal mining jobs.

In addition, officials say about 100 construction and development jobs will also come to the area.

The stores that were announced at the ceremony were Marshalls, Hobby Lobby, Maurices, Ross, Rack Room Shoes, and Ulta.

Officials say there are many other stores and restaurants that will be announced soon.

There will also be 200 apartments in the complex.

Construction will begin within seven to ten days.

The project will be completed in phases with the first store opening in four to six months.

Monday September 23, 2013

Police are asking for help in finding a man they say robbed a gas station.

It happened Saturday evening a little after 8:00 p.m.

Police received a robbery call from the Double Kwik in the Virgie community in Pike County.

Officials tell us an unknown man demanded money, and took off.

He is described as a 6' man wearing a green hoodie sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to call KSP at (606) 433-7711 or 1-800-222-5555.


A dispatcher with the Kentucky State Police confirms 34-year-old Christina Barnett of the Sitka Community in Johnson County is missing.

Family members say last Wednesday night, Barnett was supposed to be back home six hours after telling them she was going to London with a man.

But that was the last time they saw her or heard from her and she always had her phone.

Police told her that her daughter was last seen at a gas station in Hazard on last Wednesday.

Family members say Barnett was last seen wearing a pink dress and cowboy boots.

She is 5'6" and weighs 130 lbs. with hazel eyes and blonde hair.

If you have information about Christina Barnett, call Kentucky State Police at (606) 435-6069.


A federal appeals court will consider a request by a former eastern Kentucky school superintendent to overturn his guilty plea and two-year prison sentence for leading a vote-buying conspiracy during the 2010 primary elections.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will take one-time Breathitt County Superintendent Arch Turner's appeal under advisement on arguments in briefs on Oct. 3.

Turner ran Breathitt County schools from 2005 until his retirement in 2012 after he was charged.

Turner pleaded guilty in July 2012 to distributing money to others to buy votes for candidates he supported in local races.

Eleven others, including a former sheriff, were convicted or pleaded guilty in related cases.

The 67-year-old Turner is being held in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.


Classes resumed early Friday morning at the University of Pikeville following a lockdown.

School officials tell us some sort of tweet suggested a possible threat on campus.

However, following an investigation by police they found no threat.

Police tell us they are no longer investigating the incident.


A trial date is set for a Harlan County man accused of stuffing a child in a freezer.

Police say Randy Hammons beat the child and then stuffed him in a small freezer, because the child would not stop crying.

The child's grandmother, Connie Jenkins, also faces charges because officials say she did nothing to stop Hammons.

He will face a jury on January 21st.


Friday September 20, 2013

Crews are on the scene of an apartment fire in Barbourville.

It happened around 3:00 Friday morning on Pitzer Street, also known as Kentucky 459.

Dispatchers tell no injuries have been reported.

No word on what caused the fire.


Whitesburg's Mayor James Wiley Craft said dwindling revenue is to blame for their city's proposed payroll tax.

At a special called City Council meeting last night, Craft said a 1.5 percent payroll tax for all employees within city limits is necessary to move the city forward.

Dozens of people gathered on Wednesday night to voice their concern.

Craft estimated this tax could bring in nearly $200,000 per year.

He also said the ordinance would not impact retirement benefits.

Mayor Craft said the council could meet again as soon as Monday for a second reading on the ordinance.


He was hired to protect people but a Pike County Sheriff's Deputy and dispatcher is behind bars.

An undercover purchase of Oxycodone by Operation UNITE officials in the Marrowbone community on Wednesday, led to the arrest of a Pike County sheriff's deputy on Thursday.

Officials say an undercover officer working with a confidential witness made the purchase from Bradley Childers...Childers was with off-duty sheriff's deputy Matthew Blanton.

During the transaction Childers became suspicious and UNITE officials say threatening phone calls were then made to their witness.

On Thursday, Childers was arrested and gave officials information that led to the arrest of Blanton.

Blanton has been relieved of all duties as a sheriff's deputy.

The sheriff's office referred all questions to UNITE officials who say the office cooperated fully with the investigation.


A crash in Pike County Thursday morning leaves three people dead and one recovering.

It happened on US 119 in the Belfry area around 9:30am.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Bryan Layne says a white Kia car spun out of control right into oncoming traffic.

After losing control the driver made made sideways contact with a Toyota Tundra.

Two of the people in the Kia died at the scene, 25-year-old Teshia Henry of Prestonsburg and 43-year-old Howard Ravin of Salyersville. The third person in the car, 48-year-old Bambi Davis of Salyersville, died at the hospital.

The driver of the Tundra truck, Steven Douglas Viars II of West Virginia, was also taken to the hospital but is expected to recover.

Police say a combination of speeding, wet roads and worn tires was likely the cause.

Kentucky State Police are investigating.


A second woman, accused of stealing money from the Martin County Clerk's Office, is headed to prison.

41 year old Tamberlyn Sue Hairston was sentenced Thursday to five years behind bars.

She and her sister, 47 year old Tonya Mills, were charged after auditors found $20,000 in unaccounted funds in the Martin County Clerk's Office in 2012.

The two women are sisters.

Their mother, Carol Mills, is the Martin County Clerk.

Carol Mills said that after learning the money was missing she terminated her two daughters for misconduct.

Mills said she believed Hairston may have been helping her sister with an overwhelming addiction problem.

Tonya Mills was sentenced earlier this month to five years behind bars.


Thursday September 19, 2013

A woman has died following a three-car crash near the Watts community on Highway 15 in Breathitt County Wednesday Morning.

Trooper Bryan Layne of Kentucky State Police says Joyce Campbell was driving a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado and traveling southbound, when she crossed the center line and became out of control.

The truck then slid sideways and crossed into the northbound lane.

State police say Campbell first barely hit an AEP Power Company truck and then continued on to strike a Chevrolet Tahoe head-on

The Tahoe's occupant, Tabitha Perkins, died at the scene.

Investigators do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.


The Whitesburg City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight to hear the first reading of a proposed new ordinance that would levy a 1.5 percent tax on all employees working inside the Whitesburg city limits.

Officials voted unanimously at the September meeting of the Whitesburg City Council to institute the tax, which would not affect retirement benefits or entitlements including unemployment and Social Security.

If the city council approves the proposal, Whitesburg will join other county-seat towns such as Pikeville, Hazard and Prestonsburg with taxes on the incomes of workers.

Most of Kentucky’s larger cities also have payroll taxes.

A large crowd is expected at the meeting to show their disapproval of the tax.

Whitesburg council members and Mayor James Wiley Craft say that if the payroll tax were to win approval the city will do away with business and occupational licenses and city automobile stickers.


School officials say the new property tax rate adopted by the Letcher County Board of Education is estimated to generate about $4.6 million for the school district.

The board voted 3-2 to approve a four percent increase on the property tax rate after a required 30-minute public hearing was held in the conference room at the school bus garage.

For more on both tax stories see this week's edition of the Mountain Eagle.


Floyd County Social Security Attorney Eric C. Conn has pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal attempt to make a gift to another person to contribute to a candidate on his behalf.

A plea agreement calls for a 12 month sentence, conditionally discharged for two years.

Conn must also pay $5,600 in restitution to the attorney general's office.


Marty Childers, the executive director of the Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonsburg has resigned.

No reason was given for the resignation.

Board Member Miriam Sillman says the Jenny Wiley Theatre has been a vital part of the region for 49 years, and it will continue for many years to come.

The hunt for a new Executive Director will begin immediately.

Wednesday September 18, 2013

Officials with James River Coal Company have confirmed they have furloughed 525 coal miners at three mines across our region.

Officials with the Richmond, Virginia based company said Monday night the layoffs occurred at operations at the McCoy Elkhorn complex in Pike and Floyd counties, the Bledsoe complex in Leslie and Harlan counties and the Long Branch Surface mine in London.

The company says the layoffs are due to a weak coal market and says the restart of the operations is subject to market conditions.

James River mines thermal coal for power generation and metallurgical coal used to produce steel.

It also has operations in southern West Virginia and southern Indiana.

The company also idled several mines and reduced production at others back in March.


The Lawrence County Attorney says the wet-dry petition for the City of Louisa is invalid.

In a press release Tuesday, Michael T. Hogan said after a review of the wet-dry petition submitted to the Lawrence County Clerk to set a wet-dry election, it has been deemed as invalid under Kentucky law.

Hogan says that under changes to Kentucky law earlier this year, only the first four class cities are permitted to sell alcohol.

Louisa is a class five city.

The classes are primarily based on population.

Hogan says that there are options with moving forward. He says the petition can be rewritten and it be called a "moist vote", which means alcohol could be sold in some restaurants, organizers can ask for the city to be reclassified, or they can challenge it in court.


There are more than 65,000 bridges in America in need of repair or replacement.

Sara George, information officer for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 12 said several bridges are slated for maintenance in District 12, which includes Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Martin and Pike Counties.

None in District 12 are "fracture critical," a term used to describe a structure that could collapse should a critical component fail, but federal records show more than 100 bridges in the Commonwealth do carry that distinction.

State transportation officials say there is no cause for alarm.

In Eastern Kentucky, transportation officials say the biggest hurdle remains securing funding for future projects.

Kentucky spends about $30 million annually on bridge repair and another $30 million on bridge replacement.


A Knott County man accused of avoiding police pleaded not guilty.

Rocky Wicker Junior was in court Tuesday morning after he was charged with running from police and possession of a controlled substance and a firearm

His father Rocky Wicker Senior was charged with shooting a parole officer after police say he fired at probation and parole officers who were looking for Wicker Junior last week.

Wicker Junior will have a preliminary hearing next Tuesday.